Daniel 2:20-21 “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.”
I heard a great sermon out of Daniel this weekend with a point that I believe bears repeating. Whenever a correlation is made from God’s Word that is relatable, it’s fun to think how God might be working in the same way today.
During the days of Daniel there were different nations that rose and fell. Babylon under the reign of KIng Nebuchadnezzar conquered much of the known world including Judah in 605 B.C.. Later, the Medes and Persians ruled over the empire when Babylon fell in 539 B.C.. Next came Greece, and Alexander the Great who conquered most of the known empire around 334 B.C.. After Greece ruled for nearly 500 years they fell to the Romans in 146 B.C..
Much of Daniel’s prophecies centered around these kingdoms and for good reason, they shaped the history of the world for a thousand years.
There is another aspect of these Kingdoms, specifically regarding Christianity and this is what I want to focus on today.
Paving the Way
Daniel 4:17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers,
And the sentence by the word of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’
When rulers arise, God is directly involved. There is a purpose for everything He does, no matter how much we question God’s sovereign will, if we look back in history we see God’s greater purpose.
When Babylon conquered Judah and took the exiles to their home country, they destroyed the Jewish Temple along the way. Since the temple was no longer an option for the Jews, synagogues took their place. Eventually these synagogues rose up all over the world as places of worship and for the reading of the Torah. When the Medes and Persians ruled over the land their atrocities included the newly formed method of crucifixion. It was this form of execution that was later perfected by the Romans and subsequently used on Jesus.
When Greece arose and ruled for nearly 500 years the language was taught throughout the kingdom. Eventually most of the known world spoke Greek and paved the way for international communication.
When Rome ruled the world they built 50 thousand miles of roads, the saying that “all roads lead to Rome”, was a cleverly designed plan to improve trade and move armies at rapid speed.
In every instance, these wicked nations arose because God placed them in their positions of favor…at least for a time.
God always acts with intent and purpose. His purposes can seem evident in some cases but there are many instances that we’ve yet to understand. There is just no way of knowing the scope of God’s intent, the One who formed mankind in a day cannot be understood fully by our meager attempts. Praise God, He gives us enough to get a taste of His magnificence.
The Gospel Foundation
Mark 16:15-16 “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
The great commission given by Jesus to His disciples was for them to spread the gospel far and wide. This gospel mandate was not something the Lord decided on at the last minute, He had been preparing this moment for a long, long, time.
When the disciples went forth with the gospel, they had the roadways the Roman empire had built to carry them from city to city. The language of the Greeks was known by many and thus communicating the gospel was made possible. Whenever Paul would enter an area he often found local synagogues to teach at, using these houses of worship as a foundational element to communicate the fulfillment of the old Torah law to those listening became a starting point for introducing the gospel.
The fulfilment of the law was death, Jesus died by crucifixion for the sins of the world, a manner of death that had been prophesied about hundreds of years earlier and developed by the Medes and Persians.
Psalm 22:16-18 “For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
For hundreds of years people must have wondered why God would allow these evil rulers to overthrow Israel and Judah. Why would God allow His Temple to be destroyed? Why would God allow these idolatrous nations to have victories when they dishonored Him in their practices?
In some ways, God used them to bring judgement on other idolatrous peoples, including Israel. In retrospect, we know God’s hand moved over these empires and shaped the world perfectly so the gospel could go forth.
Fulfillment of God’s Plan
In the 20th century there have been two world wars, multiple conflicts, rulers have risen and committed atrocities and those rulers have fallen. All along the way the world has been shaped into what we see today. The European Union, NATO, the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of China, the Arab Spring, and the decline of America. As Islam has spread like a cancer across the land, so has bloodshed and human rights abuses that rival any past evil. In every empire and nation in ancient times a belief in some form of deity or deities was prevalent. The Catholic church is only a wisp of what it was originally during the early church and denominational lines have been falling for several years, paving the way for God’s universal church.
What has become unique in our day is the rise of apathy. Atheism would have been unthinkable 200 years ago and yet multiple nations have not only forsaken God, they have ruled out any form of divine control. Mankind is on the throne and the lust for power continues to gnaw at the ego’s of those who find themselves in a position to take it.
The conflict of World War I paved the way for the rise of a dictator in World War II and the forming of a nation….Israel.
Ezekiel 33:7-14 “So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ”So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”
The forming of the nation of Israel, almost overnight has significance in the grand spectrum of events today. Because this prophecy was fulfilled, the return of Christ is now imminent. Every major conflict today is moving toward last days prophecy.
How is God shaping the world today that we can see the preparations for His return? There are signs everywhere, signs that people will just blow off because they’ve heard them before.
The events that are forming are happening for a purpose, from a worldwide pandemic to the advent of Russian aggression today, these are all forming for a purpose.
Look carefully, see the signs, and do not fear. The Lord has always been in control and He does not change. The Word of God will be fulfilled and Jesus’ return will be soon…just you wait and see.