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The Rise and Fall of the World, Part 3

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 8, 2021 4:00 am

The Rise and Fall of the World, Part 3

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Jerusalem is a focal point of God's plan. This marvelously blessed city, this incredible place that lingers in the plan of God yet to be unfolded. This city had departed from God. And while the people in captivity were great at remembering Jerusalem, they were not so great in remembering what made Jerusalem great.

They were loving the city without loving the God whose city it was. In 1984, psychologist Philip Tetlock launched an ambitious project. His goal was to put the predictions of experts from many fields to the test. And over the next 20 years, he cataloged the predictions of 284 respected professionals.

The results were actually quite discouraging. Even when predictions were supposed to be sure things, they were wrong more than a quarter of the time. Well, thankfully, when God tells you what's going to happen in the future, you can be sure it's going to happen. And that's the focus of John MacArthur's current study on Grace to You, the future events that lead to Christ's return and how you can prepare for that great day. John's titled this prophecy series, The Rise and Fall of World Powers. And with that, let's get to today's lesson.

Here's John. about the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been a focal point for the attention of the world for many years now. And I suppose that even the unknowing world and the world of people who don't understand its significance can't help but be amazed by the fascination that the world has with this marvelous and ancient city. If you know anything about the Bible, you know that Jerusalem is a very, very special place. There's no city like it in the world. Throughout history, it has been the focal point for the drama of redemption.

Center stage. In the book of Daniel, as we pick up the scene, the Jewish people have been taken from Jerusalem. They've been made captives in the land of Babylon to the east. And according to Psalm 137 verses 5 and 6, this is their cry. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.

If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Even in captivity, they longed for the city of Jerusalem.

Even in captivity, they said that they would rather sacrifice anything than lose their great love for Jerusalem. Was it the ground? Was it the bricks and the mortar that made the walls and the building?

What was it? Why Jerusalem? Why the hungering heart for that city? Why 70 years later was it such a major issue with Nehemiah that he go back and rebuild the walls of this ancient city?

Why in our own modern times have Jews been immigrating back to that land of Israel to live in that city of Jerusalem? Well, I guess the first time Jerusalem was ever mentioned in the Bible, it was mentioned in Genesis chapter 14 and that makes it pretty old. And it says from Jerusalem there was a priest of the most high God, only it doesn't call the city Jerusalem, it calls the city Salem.

Salem, peace, most likely an ancient name for the city which became Jerusalem. There was a famous mountain in the middle of that city called Mount Moriah and Abraham actually prepared to sacrifice Isaac on that mountain when God provided a ram fitting that before the city had even become what it was to become, God had marked it out as a place of sacrifice. The first specific reference to Jerusalem is found in the 10th chapter of Joshua. As the children of Israel were coming out of the Egyptian captivity and being led into the promised land by Joshua, they came to the knowledge of this particular city of Canaan known as Jerusalem. And Jerusalem stood like other cities such as Ai and Jericho in the path of the conquering Israelites. That's where we first meet it and from then on it dominates biblical teaching. God marvelously sets his affection on that city.

God has great plans for it even yet in the future. Jerusalem is an amazing place. Jerusalem is on a plateau. The plateau moves up out of the surrounding area. And on three sides, Jerusalem is surrounded by valleys three to four hundred feet deep. Only one side is level and that's the north. So that the only effective way to attack the city is from the north and thus it becomes easy to defend Jerusalem because there's only one way in which the enemy can be coming. In other words, it was an ideal setting for a city, a natural fortress. It became the possession of the Israelites who came into the land of Canaan. But not much was said of it after that.

It just was kind of there. When David became king, he reigned in Hebron and Hebron is about 30 miles south and a city of the plain that would be very difficult to defend. David reigned in Hebron for about seven years and then he decided to move the capital city to Jerusalem and he did that according to 2 Samuel chapter 5 and Jerusalem became the royal capital where David reigned for 33 years. And from then on, Mount Zion, which is a hill in the middle of Jerusalem, became identified as the royal seat. From David on then, Jerusalem is the royal capital, the political center, the economic center, the religious center, the cultural center, the social center of Jewish life.

And may I add, it is the center of God's redemptive plan. It was just down the road from Jerusalem that Messiah was born. It was just outside the wall of Jerusalem that he died. It was equally just outside the wall of Jerusalem that he rose again.

It will be just outside the wall of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives where he will descend and then finally he will enter the city of Jerusalem and establish his throne. Jerusalem is a focal point of God's plan. But as we come to the book of Daniel, this marvelously blessed city, this city which God above all other cities had marked out for a place in redemptive history, this incredible place that lingers still, not in the memory but in the plan of God yet to be unfolded, this city had departed from God. And while the people in captivity were great at remembering Jerusalem, they were not so great in remembering what made Jerusalem great. While remembering their love for the city, they had forgotten the place of God. They were loving the city without loving the God whose city it was.

And so God took them out of that city. An invader came along by the name of Nebuchadnezzar. And Nebuchadnezzar, this powerful monarch who for all intents and purposes established the Babylonian empire, the greatest empire of the world of its day, this Nebuchadnezzar sacked, destroyed, plundered, pillaged, and made captive of the people of Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 52, 12 it says, Now in the fifth month and the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuchadardin, captain of the guard who served the king of Babylon into Jerusalem and burned the house of the Lord and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem and all the houses of the great men burned he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans that were with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls of Jerusalem round about. Nebuchadardin, the captain of the guard, carried away captive certain of the poor of the people and the residue of the people who remained in the city and those who fell away who fell to the king of Babylon and the rest of the multitude. All he left were a few vine dressers and farmers to make sure they got some product out of the land. They wiped the place out, smashed all the houses, crushed the temple of God, destroyed the palace of the king.

They obliterated the city. Nebuchadnezzar did that. He had two great objectives in mind. First, his objective was to destroy the house of God.

Why? He wanted to break the back of their religion. Secondly, he destroyed the palace. That was to break the royal house, the political order. He wanted to destroy their religion and their politics and thus render them impotent. And in 586 B.C.

he succeeded and it was an end of the great era. At that particular point in history there began a time which our Lord Jesus calls the times of the Gentiles. And in Luke 21-24 the Lord said that Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Now Jerusalem was initially trodden down by the Gentiles when Nebuchadnezzar came and destroyed it. And Jesus said in Luke 21-24 that it would stay that way until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

So there would be this tremendous period of history in which Gentile power would hold sway in the city of Jerusalem. I believe Jesus reiterated this very same judgment in Matthew chapter 23 verse 37. He said, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not.

Now listen, he said, behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. In other words, the Lord is saying this, Jerusalem will be desolate until you recognize who I am. And then you will see me and then will come the end to the desolation of Jerusalem. Christ was reiterating then that Jerusalem would be desolate until he returned, until he came to set up his kingdom.

And he would not do that until they recognized him for who he was. The point is this, the times of the Gentiles then must end with the coming of Christ. And Christ cannot come until the Jews see him for who he was. Until as Zechariah puts it, they look on him whom they have pierced and mourn for him as an only son.

Until they say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. That's why we believe that prior to Christ coming and establishing his kingdom, during the period known as the Great Tribulation, there will be a tremendous revival among the Jews. And Israel will be redeemed.

Revelation 7 and 14 tells us that. So beginning with Nebuchadnezzar, there came this time of the Gentiles. When Jerusalem was trodden down by the Gentiles. And it will exist until the return of Jesus Christ. You say, well, aren't there periods of time when the Jews were in Jerusalem?

Yes, right today is one of them. The Jews went back to Jerusalem 70 years after the Babylonian captivity and tried to rebuild it. But they never had the freedom and the autonomy they had before. They were oppressed by the nations around them.

They were living really on thin ice. No sooner had they rebuilt their city than it came, not only was it under the control of the Medo-Persians at that time, but it came under the control of the Greeks. And even though they had a little bit of liberty to live there and to dwell there, the Greeks assigned a man who was a raving maniac by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes to rule over them. It was then followed by Roman rule and the Romans took charge of them and they were vassals really to the Romans. Even their Idumaean kings, the Herod's, were nothing but the servants of Rome.

And so there have been times while they have been there, they have not yet had the autonomy that they should have and the absolute freedom and right to rule their own land that God had promised them in the beginning. You'll remember that in 70 AD, Titus, the son of Vespasian, brought his Roman legions into Jerusalem and he destroyed it again. In fact, some Bible scholars tell us that they probably killed 1,100,000 Jews in that one massacre in 70 AD. And after the destruction of 70 AD, an interesting thing happened. There were some remaining Jews and they wanted to pray for the restoration of their city as they had prayed through all the times of the Gentiles that God would give them back their city and all their land to rule freely without any intervention by anyone else, any Gentiles. And they wanted to pray about this and so they began to congregate in a place where the temple originally stood. And they would meet there in the morning and in the noon day and in the afternoon and in the evening and they would always seem to be meeting at the same place, the last remnants of the temple. And it became such a familiar place of prayer that it got a name, the Wailing Wall. It was the place where they went to pray that their city would be restored and that it would no longer know Gentile dominion.

They would weep and they would wail as the psalmist said, praying for the peace of Jerusalem, praying for God to send a deliverer, praying that God would break Gentile dominion so they could rebuild their temple and repossess their city. It was controlled by all different kinds of people, Arabs, Turks, even the British. Persians had it for a while. They never got it, not until 1948 when they became a nation. Did they even get a piece of much of anything? But still they didn't get the Wailing Wall, the place where they had prayed so often for the peace of Jerusalem. On Wednesday, June 7, 1967, they broke through the Arab resistance, you remember it? In the Six Day War and they arrived at the Wailing Wall and they began to pray and they began to shout. One of them said, for 2,000 years our people prayed for this moment.

They stood in the old city and they said it is now ours. And some people said, aha, the times of the Gentiles is over. There's no more Gentile dominion in the land and the nation and the city of Jerusalem.

Oh? You think that's true? The times of the Gentiles doesn't end when the troops get the Wailing Wall. The times of the Gentiles ends when the Messiah returns. You can ask any thinking Jew in Jerusalem today if the Jews have absolute and free autonomy in their land. Or if they feel the burden of Gentile oppression and you'll get the same answer. They feel the burden of Gentile oppression.

You know where it comes from? It comes from the United Nations for one thing. It comes from the international imposition that other nations have put upon them. More than anything it comes from the presence of the mosque and the Dome of the Rock that sits right on the very place where the temple is supposed to be and they can't do a thing about it without starting a Middle East war that would be a holocaust. And there they are occupying their city. But this great big round thing representing Gentile intrusion faces them every day. And the one thing you see when you look at Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock. It's the only thing in the whole city that's got a gold top on it. You know you can't even build anything in Jerusalem today unless you use Jerusalem stone?

You can't bring anything in and it all has to fit the code. Everything in there looks the same. It's all that same white stone. Except the Dome of the Rock and the mosque. The Dome is gold, the mosque is silver and it sits on the temple ground. And there's a sign outside the temple ground for all the Orthodox Jews and it says do not enter here and it's signed by the Chief Rabbi.

And the reason is you might inadvertently step on the Holy of Holies because they're not too sure where it was. It's still under Gentile dominion. They've never really had their own self-rule and dominion that they lost when Nebuchadnezzar came. And in the future, people, there is going to be a Gentile invasion of that land like nothing that's ever happened in the past. Zechariah chapter 12 verse 2, it says, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the peoples round about when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. There's going to come a siege against that city in the end time. It says in Zechariah 14, the day of the Lord will come and I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle and the city shall be taken and the houses rifled and the women ravished and half of the city shall go forth to captivity and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the earth. And then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations as when he fought in the day of battle and his feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the east and the Mount of Olives shall split in the middle toward the east and toward the west. That's the coming of Christ, isn't it? But prior to that coming there's going to be a gathering of nations to Jerusalem. There are four fronts where the battle of Armageddon will be fought.

One is in Jerusalem, south of Jerusalem, north of Jerusalem and at the plain of Megiddo. And the blood will be as deep as the horses bridles for 200 miles in this great conflagration. Now listen, the peace of Jerusalem has not yet come.

Not at all. And so the peace of Israel awaits the peace of Jerusalem. Now we have been studying the flow of Gentile history from the Babylonian Empire to the Medo-Persian Empire to the Greek Empire to the Roman Empire.

And last time, having looked at the dream received, the dream recalled, the dream revealed, we focused particularly, and I want you to look back at this now, on the final phase of this world empire. The final phase is indicated in verse 34. Verse 33, I'm sorry. The legs are of iron, and that speaks of Rome, but the feet are part iron and part clay. Part iron and part clay. Now go down to verse 40. And the fourth kingdom, and there's the explanation of that, shall be strong as iron, for as much as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things, and as iron that breaks all these, it shall break in pieces and crush.

But it doesn't end there. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes part of potter's clay, that's tile-like material, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided. There shall be in it of the strength of iron, for as much as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, and as the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men, but they shall not adhere one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.

Now watch. The final world empire was Rome, right? But it appears in two phases. The first part is all iron, the two legs, the east and the western empires of Rome. But the final phase changes, and it's a mingling of iron with clay. It has an inherent weakness. It is more diverse than it has ever been, because the weakness, the tile, represents the seed of men. The final form of the Roman empire will be a diverse situation, trying to mingle strength with weakness, but they cannot coexist any more than you can connect iron to clay.

You can't do it. The final form will be partly strong and partly brittle. The Bible doesn't see the period in between. The Bible sees Rome as the final world empire, strong and then weak. Rome was never conquered by any other world empire. No nation has ever taken Rome's place.

Did you know that no nation ever conquered Rome? In the eastern part of the empire, it took 1,500 years before they finally kind of faded out. I believe the Bible tells us they went into an abeyance. Their head was wounded, as if they were dead, only to rise again in the future.

The Roman empire simply disintegrated, but its influences are still here through Roman thought and Roman law. And it doesn't see the period in between, the church age. But that isn't surprising, because the Old Testament never did see the church age. That's why in Ephesians 3, Paul says this is a mystery. This is a mystery. I'm a preacher of a mystery. God has given me a message to give to you that is a mystery. The dispensation of the grace of God to me is to preach the mystery. The mystery was hidden.

A mystery is something hidden that is now revealed. The Old Testament never saw the church age, and so we're not a bit surprised when we find an interval in the New Testament era that isn't discussed in the Old. For example, you have passages in the Old Testament that prophesy things about Christ, half of which are of his first coming, half of which are of his second coming, and yet the Old Testament puts no time period in there.

Why? Because it doesn't see that mystery period known as the church age. That's the mystery. That's that which was hidden and is revealed in the New Testament. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John's current study from the book of Daniel is looking at the rise and fall of world powers. John, of all the biblical prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled, there are two main books of Scripture that come to my mind.

One is Daniel. That's the focus of your current study here on Grace to You. The other, of course, is Revelation, and those two books fit together remarkably, don't they? You spent years studying Revelation.

What lasting impression did that leave on your life? Well, I think the difference between the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation is, in Daniel's case, you have visions of the future, visions of the coming of Christ, but you don't necessarily have a chronology. When you get to the book of Revelation, you have also visions of the coming of Christ and all the events around it, but you have this crystal-clear chronology that flows from the church on earth to the new heavens and the new earth and all the steps in between. You know, people think the book of Revelation is so difficult to understand, and yet it begins with the promise, Blessed is he who reads and understands this book. I think it's one of the easiest books in the Bible to understand. Of course, there's graphic imagery and there are visions, but they're basically explained in the book of Revelation, and I think its chronology lays out exactly what the future is going to be around the coming of Christ. I remember teaching the book of Revelation in one day in eastern Russia to 1,600 pastors who wanted to know about the future, and when I finished teaching Revelation, they had never had any formal training. They said, We believe what you believe, and I was amazed, You believe what I believe? Because they had just read the book of Revelation, and it was that clear to them.

All of that is summed up. That's a jet tour through Revelation I'm talking about in a booklet that we would love to send you. The title of the booklet, A Jet Tour Through Revelation, it's the printed edition of a sermon I preached in an hour and a half and went through the whole book of Revelation.

Of course, it's free. We would love to send one to you. You will understand the bird's eye, the high-altitude view of the book of Revelation. Again, the booklet, A Jet Tour Through Revelation, free for a limited time to anyone who asks.

Yes, and do get in touch with us and ask. This booklet shows you what Scripture says about the return of Christ and the millennium, the final judgment, the eternal state, all of them powerful truths that can motivate you to a life of worship. Get the booklet, A Jet Tour Through Revelation.

It's free. Just contact us today. You can request your free booklet when you call 800-55-GRACE or visit our website, gty.org. A Jet Tour Through Revelation packs a lot of content into just a few pages, and it's a great reference tool for answering questions that you probably have. And again, A Jet Tour Through Revelation is our gift to you. Request yours at gty.org or call us at 800-55-GRACE. And for a more in-depth study of Revelation, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of John's book, Because the Time is Near. It's a resource that will guide you through the final book of Scripture, helping you understand what all the prophecies mean and showing you how the book of Revelation should shape the way you live as you anticipate Christ's return. It's an ideal gift for your pastor or perhaps a Bible study leader who's teaching through this vital section of Scripture. To order, call 800-55-GRACE or visit gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for listening today, and be back tomorrow as John continues his look at the rise and fall of world powers with another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-24 01:02:00 / 2023-09-24 01:12:34 / 11

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