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A Reminder About Some of the Points in Lesson 2
Our faith in the existence of God can be strengthened by arguments from reason, by the arguments based on fulfilled prophecy and by the teaching of the Bible. The wonders of nature declare the glory of God but it is only from the Bible that we can learn of His character and purpose.
The Bible reveals God as all-powerful and all-knowing and as a loving Creator and Father. There is only one true God, (1 Timothy 2. 5) and He is from everlasting to everlasting. By His power (Spirit) all things were created and we are told that the Bible was produced by His inspiration — prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
In the Bible God has revealed His purpose with the earth and with man. God declared, ‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the seas.’ (Habakkuk 2.14)
The purpose of God is centred in Jesus. The hope of eternal life depends on a proper understanding of these things. Look again at these two verses from John’s gospel record.
John 3. 16
John 17. 3
God’s plan and purpose
The love of God has been stressed in the previous lesson — His love for the world in giving His only begotten Son. This love which God shows and which we are asked to show in return must not be confused with sentiment or 'softness'.
The Bible emphasises the righteousness of God and His justice. It was the absolute justice of God as well as His love for man that was the reason that Jesus died and rose from the dead. Because Jesus did no wrong it was not possible that he should remain dead. It would not have been right for Jesus to remain in the grave. God raised him from the dead.
‘But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.’(Acts 2. 24)
In the same way, it is not right that the world should continue to be a place where wickedness flourishes and where so much that is evil takes place which God hates.
Look at these verses:
- ‘The Lord detests dishonest scales’ (Proverbs 11. 1)
- ‘The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked’ (Proverbs 3. 33)
- ‘When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.’ (2 Thessalonians 1. 7,8)
This is the side of God’s character that is often overlooked. The righteousness of God will not allow wickedness to continue. God is not going to permit the world to be ruled by men who may not set right standards. It is God‘s purpose that one day the world will be ruled in righteousness by the Lord Jesus Christ.
‘For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.’ (Acts 17. 31)
When he is king, many of the problems that man faces today will be solved. This wonderful time is called the Kingdom of God.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the Kingdom to come so that God’s will would be done on earth even as the angels now obey Him in heaven. (Matthew 6. 10)
The Dream of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar
In the days of the great Middle Eastern Kingdom of Babylon — before the Roman Empire and before the Greek Empire — one of the greatest kings of Babylon was Nebuchadnezzar. He was a great builder and a great soldier and under his rule the Empire reached its greatest power. Nebuchadnezzar wondered what was going to happen to his kingdom after his death. Daniel records a wonderful vision that God gave Nebuchadnezzar which provided an opportunity for Daniel the prophet to answer Nebuchadnezzar’s question.
Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, a great statue made of metals. The head, chest, thighs and legs were each of different metals and the feet were made of a mixture of iron and clay (the vision is recorded in Daniel 2). In his dream the king saw a little stone strike the statue on the feet to bring it toppling to the ground. It was broken and the stone rolled over it and ground it to powder. The little stone grew and grew until it became a great mountain which filled the whole earth.
Video (without audio) showing Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream, 1m 40s [3.5MB]
Daniel explained to the king what this dream meant. The head of the image, which was gold, represented Babylon. The next metal silver, of which the chest and arms were made, represented the next Middle Eastern Empire — the Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. The belly and thighs were of brass and this represented the Greek Empire which followed leads by Alexander the Great who was its greatest ruler.
Rome followed Greece. This was represented by the legs of iron. After the break-up of the Roman Empire, there has been no fifth Empire to equal any of the preceding four. Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome each ruled the Middle East area and most importantly, the Land of Israel.
Daniel concluded his interpretation of the King’s dream,
‘This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.’ (Daniel 2. 45)
Men have tried to establish Empires which would control the Land of Israel and countries surrounding it but since Rome this has not happened. Some nations have been weak and some strong. They have not been united any more than iron and clay can not be united. The state of the world today in the Middle East corresponds to the stage in the vision represented by the feet of the image.
‘In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever’ (Daniel 2. 44)
The rock destroyed the image of metal which represents human rule through the centuries and it grew into a great mountain which filled the earth. The ‘rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands’, represents Jesus who will return to the earth to set up and rule the Kingdom of God on earth.
This is only one of many prophecies which give us confidence that God's purpose with the earth will be fulfilled.
When the Kingdom of God is established, there will be divine justice in the way the kingdom is ruled. There will be no oppression and no persecution.
‘He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.’ (Isaiah 11. 3,4)
Then the words of Habakkuk 2. 14 will be fulfilled just as the angels sang at the birth of Jesus. When Jesus is king over all the earth, there will be, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ (Luke 2. 14)
The last book of the Bible describes the state of affairs which will exist when God‘s purpose is fulfilled.
‘He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21. 4)
A Real Kingdom
Peter was the spokesman for the other disciples when he asked Jesus a question, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’ (Matthew 19. 27)
The reply of Jesus is important. He emphasised that the kingdom he taught was a real kingdom in which his disciples would share.
‘Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And anyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. ’ (Matthew 19. 28.29)
Jesus Will Come Again
In order to establish a real kingdom on the earth, Jesus will come again. When he ascended to heaven at the end of his ministry, angels told the disciples.
‘Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’ (Acts 1. 11)
The return of Jesus to bring about the last stages of God’s purpose with the earth is dealt with more fully in later lessons. The teaching of many of the parables of Jesus shows that it is at his return that the righteous will be rewarded. It is, therefore very important that we are ready for his coming.
The Bible emphasises the righteousness and justice of God as well as His love.
God does not intend to allow the world to continue in its present state.
God will interfere in world affairs and Divine rule will be established with Jesus as King.
The outline of world events given in Daniel 2 gives us conﬁdence that the final stages of God's plan will certainly come to pass.
When Jesus returns to rule over the Kingdom of God, his followers will be rewarded with places in his kingdom, but they need to be ready for his coming.
Passages For Bible Reading
Daniel 2 “Dream of Empires” Video
Watch the full Dream of Empires Video (with audio)