First Thessalonians 4 informs us that he could come at any moment. In fact, the apostles thought he'd come in their day. John said, it's the last hour. Jesus is coming for the church.
It's the last hour. Paul said, effectively, he felt he'd be alive. When we who are alive and remain, we'll be caught up together with him in the clouds. He thought he'd be alive. We couldn't have imagined 1900 years.
I do know this, we are 1900 years closer. Like Daniel to Belshazzar, we are warning people that the meal they are eating could be their last meal. Stephen was just describing how we all should live. We should live each day with the realization that the Lord could return any day. When we keep that in mind, it shapes the way we live and it governs the choices we make.
Wouldn't you agree? If you thought that Jesus was coming back later today, wouldn't that change what you do in the time you have left? We're looking at a passage of scripture today that is a prophecy. It comes from the book of Daniel, where God revealed the future to a pagan king.
This is wisdom for the heart and here's Stephen Davey with today's lesson. He says, and four beasts, four great beasts were coming up from the sea different from one another. The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. Now he's giving clues certainly to those that live in this empire that he's talking about Babylon. In fact, winged lions were practically the national symbol of this great empire. The second kingdom, which is the Medes and Persians in verse five is pictured here as a bear. The conquering kingdom that conquers Babylon is that Medo-Persian empire. The third kingdom that shows up in verse six, which we know would be Greece who conquered the Medo-Persian empire, is referenced here as a leopard with four wings.
Now it's also significant that this leopard, you notice, has four heads. After Alexander's untimely death at the age of 32, his kingdom will be divided into four parts, taken by his four generals. History, of course, reveals wonderful details to what Daniel only could speak of metaphorically. What comes next in verse seven is a great, terrifying beast with iron teeth, that links you back to the iron statue, the Roman empire, which defeated Greece. Daniel explains in the latter part of verse seven that this kingdom devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder of these kingdoms with its feet.
But it was different from all the beasts that were before it. This beast had 10 horns. Now what Daniel slips in here for us is he tells us about the latter stages of the Roman empire, which in many ways is still the coalition of power.
Evangelical scholars, in fact, talk about the rise of the Roman or the Western empire. But Daniel, instead of talking about 10 toes, the metaphor shifts the symbolism into 10 horns. These are 10 kings.
Now how do we know that? Well, verse 24, as for the 10 horns out of this kingdom, that is this Roman kingdom, 10 kings will arise. So the 10 horns are 10 kings. And another king will arise after them. This coalition is formed.
And then another comes along. He's gonna be different from the previous 10 or those ruling because he's gonna subdue three kings. In other words, there's this empire of a 10-kingdom coalition that nobody can figure out. And the European Union, by the way, has many more than 10. And the prophecy experts supposedly said this was it when the 10th one signed on. We're now way past it.
It isn't that form. But verse 24 tells us that an 11th king comes along and subdues three of the 10. That's a biblical nice way of saying he kills them. And that's just the start of his rampage.
Now who does this sound like? Verse 25. He will speak out against the most high and wear down the saints or the believers, those that come to faith in Christ during the tribulation, as I'll show you, of the highest one. And he will intend to make alterations in times, that is he's gonna have his own calendar, and in law, that is he's gonna rewrite what's right and what's wrong. He's gonna become a world dictator. Now notice. And will be given into his hand, this kingdom, for a time, times, and half a time.
In other words, for three and a half years. He will blaspheme God. Notice verse 26. His dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the most high or the highest one. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom and all the dominions will serve and obey him.
Okay, are you out of breath yet? Take a deep breath and let me tell you what he's just prophesied, a number of events. Babylon will be the first world empire, check. The Medes and Persians will conquer Babylon, check.
They did that. Greece will conquer Persia, check. Rome will conquer Greece, check. A new Roman empire of 10 kings will arise. That hasn't happened yet. One ruler will interject, killing three of them and pursue world domination. That hasn't happened yet. That one, we know as the Antichrist, will be overthrown when Messiah comes to set up his kingdom as a stone rolling down a mountain, crushing him and setting up his dominion. That hasn't happened yet.
I'm pretty sure that one hasn't. Do you feel like you're in the kingdom? No. When we're in the kingdom, I won't be teaching you either. Amen. That was a trick question.
All right. Some would say, you know, Christ already came in his first coming and established the kingdom in our hearts. In a sense, that's true. He ought to be Lord in the palace of our heart. But in a prophetic sense, that is not true. In fact, if you back up to verse 13 of Daniel chapter seven, we're given a description of Messiah coming to set up his kingdom.
Obviously, this has not happened yet. But notice what he says. Daniel says, I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man was coming. And he came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, and to him was given dominion, glory, and the kingdom that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve him.
What a sight. Who could this be? He's referred to as someone like a son of man. What that means is he's a man. He's the son, as it were, of the human race. But it says he's like a son of man, meaning he's more than human. He's more than a man. And it tells us that he's going to be coming to the earth on the clouds.
That's an Old Testament illusion that shows up a number of times in Isaiah 19, Psalm 104, that God rides the clouds as his chariots. So Daniel is describing a person descending to earth to reign who happens to be deity clothed in humanity. Who could that be? Who are you? The Israeli Supreme Court asked Jesus, the Sanhedrin, who are you? Tell us.
Tell us clearly and plainly. Are you the son of God? And Jesus said, you've just said it, but you shall see the son of man coming on the clouds. And I think he patted his chest because as soon as he said that, they ripped their clothes and they said, he's blaspheming. He's claiming to be God in the flesh. We've got to put him to death.
And they did. But that was part of his plan in his first coming because Messiah came the first time to be pierced for our transgressions, to be crushed for our iniquities so that the chastening for the well-being of us who believe would fall on him. By his scourging, we would be healed because all we like sheep have gone astray and every one of us have turned to his own way.
But the Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him. He was born in his first coming to die. But here in Daniel chapter seven is his triumphant second coming to earth.
Following the coalition of this 10 Kingdom Western World Empire, following the rule of the Antichrist for a period of seven years, the first three and a half peaceful times where he rises in power, demonically empowered to bring peace to the Middle East, following another three and a half years where he desecrates that temple, sets himself up to be worshipped as God. Following that, the king will return with his beloved to set up a kingdom on earth. He will gather the saints who've come to faith in him during the tribulation period. He will gather Israel, which has survived not entirely but nationally and he will reconstitute them and they will see him coming in repentance, the one, the prophet said, whom they now recognize they pierced. And he will have kept that scar.
There will be no mistake. All that is yet to happen. Daniel sees this inauguration of the kingdom of Messiah. Look at Daniel 7 13 again. And he, the Son of Man, came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him and to him was given dominion.
Stop. Imagine this scene taking place in the court of heaven. What you have here is part of the scripted drama of the transfer of authority from God the Father to God the Son to reign in his kingdom. And so you have the Son of Man coming up to the Ancient of Days, the Son of Man as the Messiah, God the Son, approaching the Ancient of Days, that's God the Father.
By the way, revealing two distinct persons in the singular Godhead. And the Father symbolically hands with great pomp and circumstance, as you can imagine, the hosts of heaven singing, to him the scepter so that he will then come and with us, his beloved, set up a kingdom and all the peoples on earth that have survived believing in him, all the nations, tribes and tongues will serve him during this kingdom reign. Now we know from the book of Revelation that this kingdom of our Lord, as described by Daniel, will last a thousand years while Satan is bound in an abyss. Revelation chapter 20. We're also told that after a thousand years, and this still staggers my mind to think of it, that Satan is going to be released for a purpose and his purpose will be to gather from those who've lived on the planet during that thousand years and that incredible population explosion. Many believe but many do not and Satan is able to actually gather an army to march on Christ.
It's staggering to consider that they'll attempt that and of course with one word we're told, Jesus destroys the army, sends Satan to hell forever, then destroys the earth, judges all of humankind who didn't believe at this great white throne and then reconstitutes a new heaven and a new earth which we enjoy forever. Now if that was too fast, if you'd like to do a slower study, we spent three and a half years in the book of Revelation and it's all recorded, dive right in. The Mayans of the first century were obsessed with calendars, I learned in my research they were actually brilliant astronomers. If you can imagine it, they determined the sacred calendar by following the movements of Venus and cataloging them. They created a solar calendar, the lengths of days, months. In fact this solar calendar, they charted the movements of the moon and the sun. They actually calculated the length of a lunar month to be 29.532020 days within 34 seconds of what we now know to be its actual length. They came within 34 seconds of the length of a lunar month without any telescopes, without any calculators, without any computers.
They were absolutely brilliant in calculating the months. They could not calculate the end of the world. Based upon the prophecies revealed to the prophets, we know that the earth will be destroyed and a new one created but only after a thousand year reign. And we know that the kingdom of Christ for that thousand years will not come until after a tribulation period. The moment we're waiting for and we do not know when it will happen is the coming of Christ for the church. It could happen right now.
It didn't. But it could happen right now. Jesus Christ wants us to be ready in our hearts for his coming for the church. He won't come to earth. He's coming in the clouds. He'll take us up and away. His second coming to earth will be the kingdom. Maybe that countdown will start today as it were with the rapture of the church and the soon inaugurated time of horror on the earth called the tribulation period. In this USA article on preppers, the saddest thing I read was one man who said it was because of his Christian faith, I got my attention, his Christian faith that he has turned, and I'm quoting him, into an evangelist urging people to prepare for the coming catastrophes with extra water, food, clothes, a thumb drive of your financial information, and other essentials. What good will that do?
You don't have anything to plug your computer in. Now I'm not against prepping in a sense. You got extra water? I've got a generator in my shed. I don't think it'll start, but I've got it. Just in case. We've lost power.
You know what power outages are all about. We're headed into the next eight weeks. Where are we going to very well do that? Nothing wrong with preparing. These people are preparing to rebuild the human race. They're preparing for something to happen, a solar flare or something that wipes out most of the population.
They'll be underground and safe. No, their Christian faith is uninformed by Christian truth. We are evangelists, but our message is for people to prepare their heart for the next event when the church is taken. First Thessalonians 4 informs us that he could come at any moment. In fact, the apostles thought he'd come in their day. John said it's the last hour. Jesus is coming for the church.
It's the last hour. Paul said effectively he felt he'd be alive. When we who are alive and remain, we'll be caught up together with him in the clouds. He thought he'd be alive.
He couldn't have imagined 1900 years. I do know this. We are 1900 years closer to that moment, aren't we? That's what we are evangelists in telling people. They're appointed to die, and after that the judgment. Like Daniel to Belshazzar, we are warning people that the meal they are eating could be their last meal. Here's what we ought to be prepping for according to biblical prophecy as the kingdom eventually with us comes. By the way, that's how we can descend with him because we're already up there with him before this horror breaks out and Christ fulfills his promise to the church in Revelation 3 to be taken out of and away from the wrath of God. Revelation chapter 5, the elders representing the church are singing the lyrics of their redemption before the throne of God, before the time of tribulation is revealed over the next 13 chapters in the book of Revelation. What do we know about that kingdom that will follow the tribulation? What do we know about this moment Daniel prophesies of, this kingdom? There are five attributes at least.
I'll give them to you quickly. It will be a time of great peace. The prophet Isaiah said in chapter 2 and verse 4 that the nations are going to beat their swords into plowshares and they will not learn the art of war.
There will not be a standing army. Christ himself will rule and through us the immortals who glow like the sun will rule with them. It will be a time of great glory. The radiant glory of God will be manifested in Messiah's kingdom, Isaiah 35, Ezekiel 43. It's going to be a time of great worship. The lyrics of our unified voices that began to sing when the church was rescued from the wrath and out and away from it around the throne to him who sits on the throne and to the lamb be blessing and honor and glory and power forever and ever, Revelation 5.
We're just going to continue in that worship. It's going to be a time of great prosperity and health. All those promises of those guys that are trying to get your money right now, that's coming true but not now.
It will come true then. We're told that anyone who dies at the age of 100, Isaiah tells us, will be dying prematurely as a young person. In fact, it's hard to find any reference of death in the millennial kingdom as you study it.
The king's presence heals deformities and diseases and weaknesses for those that survive the tribulation and then marry and bear children and for a thousand years the population of this earth just literally explodes. Isaiah further said in chapter 33 that no resident in the kingdom will say, I am feeling sick. Interesting, isn't it? Have you said that recently?
You know, I'm feeling sick. No one will say that then. A time of unparalleled prosperity and health at last. Finally, number five, the kingdom will be a time of great joy. We're going to be glad in the presence of Christ, Isaiah says, with gladness like times of harvest.
Why? He says in that same chapter, because of this child that was born to us, a son, he prophesied, will be given to us. That happened. And the government shall rest upon his shoulders.
That has not happened yet, but it will. And who is he? He is a wonderful ruler. He is a mighty God, eternal father, prince of peace. Isaac Watts Sr. was a deacon and a clothier in England during the mid-1600s and he was a dissenter. He wouldn't go along with the Anglican church and that was considered treasonous and so he went to prison for a time. While he was there, his son was born and his mother nursed him on a rock outside the prison so the dad could see little Isaac Jr. In time, Isaac the father was released and he and Sarah noticed that their son had this precocious ability to write lyrics and poetry and in fact, at the age of 70, wrote some prose using his name as an acrostic, I-S-A-A-C. I am a vile, polluted lump of earth. So, I've continued ever since my birth. Although, Jehovah grace does give me, as sure this monster Satan will deceive me, come Lord from Satan's claws relieve me. That's an unusual seven-year-old.
Keep your eye on him. After returning home from college at the age of 19, he complained to his father about the monotone, dismal singing in the church. Only versified arrangements of the Psalms were allowed.
Now, Martin Luther was teaching his congregation to sing other hymns, some that he wrote, but John Calvin only allowed the singing of the Psaltery or the Scriptures, the Psalms. It was quite a debate. Aren't you glad there's no music debate today?
We're all past that now. Unfortunately, what God intended to unite us so quickly easily divides us, doesn't it? Well, after a heated discussion, his father said, well, if you think you can do better, write a hymn. So he did. And when he presented it to the church that week, they loved it and asked him to write one every week after that.
And he wrote 600 more. We're still singing them today. And one of those that's popular in just about every church that I know of sings about the kingdom. It's a Christmas hymn, but he wasn't thinking about Christmas.
He was actually thinking about the kingdom. But his reference to making room for him led the church to believe, well, this would be a great Christmas hymn. And it is, frankly, it's a great hymn to sing all year round.
The lyrics go like this. Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing and heaven and nature sing. Joy to the earth. The savior reigns. Let men their songs employ while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy. And here's Daniel's prophecy in this stanza.
He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love and wonders of his love. My friend, you cannot know the hour of Christ's coming in the clouds for the church, but you can know that he's coming for you. These things I've written unto you who believe in the son of man, that you may know that you have eternal life, that you might know it.
You can't know the year of his kingdom, but you can know right now that you will reign with him. Have you settled that today in your heart? The very first hymn I referenced that Isaac Watts wrote as a 19-year-old, it focused on the coming kingdom. And I close with two of the stanzas which read, Now to the lamb that once was slain, by endless blessings paid, salvation, glory, joy remain forever on thy head.
Thou hast redeemed our souls with blood, hast set the prisoner free, hast made us kings and priests to God, and we shall reign with thee. Those lyrics are a fitting end to this message, and I hope they encourage you today. You're listening to Stephen Davey and Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen's been working his way through a series on the life of Daniel entitled, The First Wise Man.
Today's lesson is called, The End of the World. If you missed any of the lessons in this series, we've posted them to our website and you'll find that at wisdomonline.org. The complete archive of all Stephen's teaching is on that website.
You can listen to the audio files or you can read his written manuscript. All of that is free of charge and all of it is available at wisdomonline.org. While you're at that site, there's a form you can use to communicate with us. We'd love to get a message from you. You can also make a donation to our ministry on that website.
Wisdom for the Heart is made possible by the gifts we receive from listeners like you and we'd be thankful for any gift you can give. Stephen is the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary in Cary, North Carolina. If you've ever thought about graduate level theological training or if you know someone who's thinking about attending seminary, please consider Shepherds. There's a link to Shepherds Seminary on our website and you'll find all the information you need there. If we can help you in any way, please let us know. You can send us an email if you address it to info at wisdomonline.org. Tomorrow Stephen begins the final lesson in this series. Please make plans to join us here on Wisdom for the Heart.
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