A new book title recently caught my eye—The Habsburg Way: Seven Rules for Turbulent Times. It’s written by a descendant of the great European dynasty dating back to the 13th century. The Habsburgs ruled over a great portion of Europe and four other continents.
At its zenith the dynasty’s dominions included vast parts of the Americas, including California. Yet this great world power came to an end in the aftermath of World War I. Surviving family members keep the name alive through such books. But it’s a name of the past, largely unknown by today’s generation—one among the many influential empires that once existed.
Today’s “empires” will also disappear. America in its role as world superpower can be called an empire. China seeks to extend its global power in a bid to replace America at the top. Russia asserts itself on the world scene, seeking restoration of the power it once was under the old Soviet Union.
Other nations such as Iran, India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all seek to rise in their regions as powers that count. Empires and kingdoms still exist in fact, though they may not use the term. All will, in time, come to the same end as the Habsburgs and the others. They will cease. They will be replaced. But with what?
Human history has its glory and its futility. Every kingdom has ended, to be replaced by another. Studying the rise and fall of empires clarifies the words of Solomon: “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). But the Bible reveals a coming Kingdom that will stand forever. And the good news is that you can prepare to inherit that Kingdom by changing your life today!
One kingdom after another
The prophet Daniel interpreted a dream for the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The ruler of an empire that rose in the Middle East at a pivotal moment of history was frightened by visions and dreams as he lay sleeping. Of all the wise men in the king’s court, Daniel, a young Hebrew slave recently brought from Jerusalem, was the only one who could interpret the meaning of the dreams. Daniel told the king the God of heaven was revealer of secrets and through him would reveal to Nebuchadnezzar what would happen in the latter days, the end of the age (Daniel 2:28-29).
Daniel proceeded to explain the dream of a humanlike image composed of four parts from top to bottom, each of a different metal—gold, silver, bronze and iron, with the bottom section of the fourth part an unstable mixture of iron and clay. The four metal parts represented a succession of empires—Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, with the toes and feet of the image being the end-time revival of the Roman system (see our study guide The Final Superpower). This interpretation is given further detail through Daniel’s own vision recorded in chapter 7. It represents a remarkable vision of world history from the sixth century B.C. to the time of Christ’s second coming.
All these kingdoms rose and fell, and many more besides, including that of the Habsburgs referred to earlier. It’s what happens to all these kingdoms at the end of Daniel’s interpretation that is the key for you and me. History is a record of suffering, corruption and waste punctuated by hope, aspiration and God. God has guided human history according to His purpose, and there is something in that purpose little understood by those who despair of the sad record. Daniel’s final point in this story fits you.
Not left to others
Daniel focuses on the fourth part of the image, the portion made of iron. This fourth kingdom would break and crush all the others. But the feet and 10 toes, composed “partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron,” represent a strong but fragile union, its disparate peoples not adhering well to each other.
This final empire, called “Babylon the Great,” will meet its end when God intervenes in history to bring an end to human misrule of the world, portrayed by a stone smashing the image. Here is how Daniel describes this event:
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure” (Daniel 2:44-45).
Like the literal earthly kingdoms of the image, this Kingdom God establishes—the stone cut without hands (verse 45)—will also be a literal kingdom set on this earth. The Kingdom of God, foretold throughout Scripture, will come to earth with Jesus Christ and replace the kingdoms of this world.
Notice the statement that “the kingdom shall not be left to other people.” What does that mean? It means the Kingdom will not be left to the Habsburg dynasty of Austria. It will not be left to the Romanov dynasty of Russia. It will not be inherited by the Windsor dynasty of Great Britain. It will not be left to those who when faced with God’s judgment “blasphemed . . . and did not repent of their deeds” (Revelation 16:11).
To whom will it be left? Who will inherit this everlasting Kingdom? Daniel later records, “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints [those set apart] of the Most High” (Daniel 7:27).
Listen to what Jesus Christ says He will do, having separated out His true followers: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in’” (Matthew 25:34-35).
The coming Kingdom will be given to those who in this life have internalized the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. They are the disciples who gave everything for the pearl of great price, the Kingdom of God. They are those who are called, chosen and faithful (Revelation 17:14) in a world where faith has been abandoned. It will be given to a group who love truth as embodied in the life and teachings of Jesus—those who choose to turn from a world of lies and embrace truth.
You can be part of this group
The Bible calls those of this group “firstfruits,” a productive yield beginning a spiritual harvest among humanity (James 1:18). Notice how they are described in the book of Revelation, depicting the end of the age. Here spiritual deception has gripped the world. War has ravaged nations. Famine and pestilence have sown fear among the earth’s survivors. All that was once known has given way to another empire, the final world empire with all its empty promises and hopes. But there is a group of people who have resisted. They refuse to worship lies and deception.
These are said in Revelation 14 to be undefiled and spiritual virgins, set apart from the wrong ways and worship of the surrounding world (verse 4). “These are the ones who follow the Lamb [Jesus Christ] wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (verse 5).
Today God is preparing this group called “firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” It is composed of people who dare to resist the current culture that says good is evil and evil is good. They defy a woke, progressive world that rejects the natural order of creation. They value God and obey the teachings of Jesus. By resisting the ways of this world and embracing the laws and way of the world to come, the Kingdom of God, they prepare to inherit that Kingdom that will not be left to others.
And you can be part of that group if you choose to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and King, committing to live by the teachings of the coming Kingdom. But you must choose. You must choose to believe the Bible as God’s revealed instruction. You must believe the Bible has a claim on your life.
Your life has significance and meaning. There is a reason you have read this far into this article and this issue of Beyond Today. Embrace the fact of the Kingdom of God as a real “empire,” a literal kingdom that Christ will establish at His return to earth. That is what Daniel saw and foretold. God is preparing the people who will inherit that Kingdom and will with Christ begin to set in place a culture and society based on biblical truth.
We invite you to learn more about this amazing future. Jesus’ intervention in world affairs is the event to change all history. It will set humanity on the path to the final chapter of mankind’s eternal purpose on this earth. You can prepare now for that time!