If your life reflects an unsettled condition, discover the true way forward.
[Darris McNeely] The Kingdom of God on this earth to replace all the other kingdoms that have ever gone before. And you can prepare now for a role in that Kingdom, and your life today will be better for it. You will find hope in a confused world.
[Narrator] Join our presenters from the United Church of God, as we bring you hope for today and hope for tomorrow directly from your Bible, here on "Beyond Today."
[Darris McNeely] I read one time about a museum that sponsored a competition, calling for submissions of art to represent the concept of peace. They started coming in, all these submissions. There were pictures of peaceful water scenes. Some of the scenes that were depicted were beautiful pastoral scenes of the country, landscapes, majestic mountains, calm bodies of water were among the many submissions that came in. But the winning submission was something very unusual, it was apparently a scene of a very dark landscape with a sky that had lightning and thunder and wind. And in the center of this picture, there was a large tree. And on the branch of the tree was a nest with a bird nestled inside, a mother bird covering her chicks. As the wind blew and the rain poured, the bird was safe and secure in its nest, along with its infants. It was a scene of total peace in the midst of chaos and storm and wind. The inspiration obviously for such a picture would've been taken from the Psalm that says, "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young."
You know we live in a very restless, confused world today. The recent years that we have lived through have brought a great deal of change into our lives. We've had pestilence, we've had war, mass migration of populations out of Africa into Europe, out of Latin America into the United States. We've had a lot of culture wars and some very bitter political battles. When people look at all that has taken place in this short time, they sense that we are living in a different world, that things have changed, and it will never be the same again. And so I ask you this question, does your life reflect an unsettled and a restless condition? If it does, and if you're grappling with that, which many are, what I have to say to you is this. There's only one way forward for any of us, only one path to a solution, and a way of finding our way through a very critical period in human history. I believe that that path is found in a relationship with God that is described in His word, the Bible, it's the only way forward.
You see, the Bible holds this key to understand what God is doing in this world. You can know God and you can find your place within His plan that is described in this Book. And once that happens, we find that life has significance, that life does have indeed real meaning. And we can understand the wisdom and the knowledge which reveals the glory, the stunning purpose that God is doing with human beings on this earth. That indeed God is preparing a people who will inherit a Kingdom, and with Christ begin to set in place a culture and a society that is based on biblical truth and biblical teachings.
When we look at the pages of the Bible, we will see that there are countless prophecies describing what this new world will be like, a world that will come about only with the return of Jesus Christ to this earth and when He begins to reign. In fact, this is what the message of "Beyond Today" in our television program and in our magazines and all of our literature really explains. It's the gospel, it's the announcement of the Kingdom of God, a coming Kingdom, a literal Kingdom that is going to be upon this earth that Jesus Christ will establish. Your Bible shows that God is going to come to this earth. The stunning truth is we're not going up to heaven, that this life is about preparing to be with Christ on His throne in a literal government and Kingdom that He is going to bring to this earth. The Bible shows that we can have a part in that group with Christ, but we may have to make a choice. If we choose today to live by the teachings of that coming Kingdom, then it can impact our life for good. But the key is that we must choose. We must choose to believe the Bible as God's revealed instruction. We must also believe that the Bible has a literal claim on our life. If we do this, with that belief, confidence, and faith in mind, it can make a difference in the story of your life.
So I invite all of you that are watching and listening to this to join us to see what the Bible tells us about the coming Kingdom of God, and what can be done by each of us when we make the right choice to prove and to find meaning and purpose in our life. The Bible reveals a coming Kingdom, a Kingdom that is going to stand forever. And the good news is that we can prepare to inherit that Kingdom now, by changing our life and making conscious decisions. That's what the Bible says.
There's a remarkable prophecy in the Old Testament book of Daniel. It tells a story about a dream that was had by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Now, Nebuchadnezzar was a dictator who ruled an empire that rose in the Middle East at a pivotal time in world history. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream one night. He called in all of his magicians and his wizards and he asked them to interpret the dream, but they didn't know what he dreamed and he wouldn't tell them what it was. And it really came down to the point that those wizards were kind of worthless. And so he had to turn to another individual in his kingdom, Daniel, who came and interpreted the dream to him. Daniel did tell the king about the God of heaven who was the revealer of secrets. And that through him, Daniel, he would reveal to Nebuchadnezzar that dream. And in that interpretation would be a remarkable story of what would happen in the latter days at the time of the end of the age. And all of this is told in the second chapter of the book of Daniel. Daniel came because
Nebuchadnezzar was filled with anger when he put out a kind of death penalty upon all those who were in that particular position. But Daniel had a different approach to it, he took the king's request to God. Daniel was a young slave that had recently been brought from Jerusalem. And it came to, in the story, that he was the only one who could interpret this dream. He went to his friends. He told them about it, they prayed, they got an answer. And that answer not only saved their lives, but brings a remarkable story to us today. Daniel didn't take credit for that, he actually blessed the God of heaven for the revelation that was given to him. He said, "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might." This God, he said, changes times and seasons. "He removes kings and he sets up kings. He gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to those who have understanding." This God reveals deep things, He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. And Daniel's thanksgiving to God gave him thanks and praise for the wisdom and for the strength that He had given to him. And Daniel brought that into the king, and he made known of what was going to take place.
What Daniel was given was an understanding of world events from his day to the end of the age, and to the return of Jesus Christ. There in Daniel 2 is a remarkable prophecy, it's one of the most dramatic in all of scripture. And Daniel announced to the king that there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to the king what will be in the latter days. And so he began to explain the image, an image that was composed of four parts, of a head of gold, of silver and bronze, and iron, representing empires that would reign from the time of Babylon down to the future. The fourth was an odd mixture of iron mixed with clay, an unstable mixture. All these elements are understood to represent the four empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome and the toes of this image represent the end of the age, and a revival of that final system of the Roman Empire.
This interpretation is given a lot more detail through Daniel's own vision that is recorded in chapter 7, and it represents a remarkable vision of world history from the time of Daniel, which was in the 6th century B.C., down to the time of Christ's second coming, which is in that period of time yet ahead of us in our modern world today. All of these kingdoms represented by this image, they rose and they fell. Of course, throughout history, many others did as well, but the Bible's mainly concerned with these. And it's all about what happens to earthly kingdoms. There's a remarkable story behind the fact that Babylon fell, Persia fell, Greece fell, and Rome fell.
I was recently going through some magazines, and I read a about a new book that has come out. The title caught my eye because it deals with one of these, it's a book called "The Habsburg Way: Seven Rules for Turbulent Times." It's written by a descendant of this great European dynasty that dates back to the 13th century, called the Habsburgs, who actually have a part in this image that we just had on the screen here. The Habsburg Empire ruled over a great portion of Europe and four other continents. Today there are only surviving members of the family that keep the name alive, the empire vanished. And we have a book like this that even talks about it, and that name itself, the Habsburgs, it isn't known by too many people today. A once large and influential empire, among the many that have existed in history.
You know, today's empires, and we still have empires today, they too will disappear. The United States is called an empire by some, China seeks to extend its power to replace America. Russia asserts itself on the world scene as the power that it once was. There are other nations today, like Iran or India or Turkey or Saudi Arabia, that all seek to rise in their own regions as powers and as empires. Empires and kingdoms still exist, but we don't like to use that term so much today. Every one of them, in time, according to Daniel's prophecy, will come to the end, will have the same end as that of the Habsburgs. They will cease, and the Bible tells us they will be replaced, but with what? When we look at history, history's a record of a great deal of suffering, of corruption, of waste, punctuated by hope, aspiration, and God. When you read the story of history, you see that God has really guided human history according to his purpose, according to his design. And there is something in that purpose that is little understood by those who despair of the sad record of history, and it is a sad record.
But when we read history with the Bible in mind, and particularly this one prophecy of Daniel 2 and his interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar of his dream, we find something very interesting, because in that story Daniel's final point fits you, it fits me, we're in that story. You see, it's what happens at the end of Daniel's interpretation of this nocturnal dream of Nebuchadnezzar that has a key and an important lesson for us. And before I get to that, I'd like to talk about the real point of what Daniel is even saying in his book, and particularly in this prophecy, because there's something very important for us to consider. What it is, is this. It's the significance of life, of your life, of mine.
You know, we sometimes read the book of Daniel like it's a nice Bible story, something that we tell in a Bible class for children. And we tell the stories and they're very good and they're very important, but sometimes the way that they're used, they seem to come across as having little relevance to the reality of our life. And then there's people who pour over the book of Daniel and other books of prophecy with a technical, analytical mind, trying to figure out charts and timelines and dramatic imagery of strange beasts with multiple heads and horns. But doing either one of these misses the point.
The depth of a book like Daniel is his connection to God, to the infinite, to the glory of things beyond the normal sight line that we have in this life. A story like Daniel's takes us to the world we don't see, beyond what decays and is passing away. We can read a passage like this from Daniel 2 and we can be taken into the realm of the unseen, of the eternal. We can see and hear what Daniel saw as a gift from God, and that gift can be ours. It's a story of man lifted to see the transcendent glory of God, if we look at it with a whole different perspective. And you can see that too, but we have to stir ourselves out of our half-lived, comatose lives, at times. We're only living by half it seems, if we really are honest with ourselves. And the truth of this prophecy and what God reveals is that He is calling us to live fully alive in Christ, through His Spirit, and that's the story God is calling you to. That's the most vital story to learn and to live from Daniel, and ultimately the entire Bible.
When we go back to Daniel's interpretation, we can see what it means to our story and our life. Because Daniel focused on that fourth part of that image, remember, the iron. A fourth kingdom that would break and crush all others, but that kingdom had feet and 10 toes that were composed partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, an unstable mixture of strong and fragile, of iron and clay. What it's showing is a kingdom mixed with different people at the time at the end, and a final world empire that the Bible later will call Babylon the great. And that that kingdom will meet an unusual end.
This final world empire, unlike any before it, draws from all the peoples on the earth, and it will meet its end when God intervenes in history, bringing an end to human rule and the kingdoms of man. Here's how Daniel describes this event. "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," Daniel said, "what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain and its interpretation is sure."
And so, like the literal earthly kingdoms of the image, that stone cut without hands will be a literal kingdom upon this earth. It's foretold throughout scripture, it will come to earth with Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God with Jesus as its King will replace the kingdoms of this world. But notice what it says, and 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. It will not be left to the Romanov dynasty, and it will not be left to the Windsor dynasty of Great Britain or the United Kingdom. It will not be left to those people, any group who, when faced with God's judgment, blasphemed or did not repent of their sins.
Who will it be left to? Who will inherit this everlasting Kingdom? It's going to be left to people who accept the call of God to a different life today, it could be left to you. Listen to what Jesus says about those who will enter into this Kingdom from His own words. And the gospel says, "He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 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." You could be in this story. One to whom it is said, “well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the Kingdom.”
So what would it take for you to be a part of this group mentioned in Daniel's prophecy? Scripture tells us 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 sold all for the pearl of great price, the Kingdom of God. They are those who are called and chosen and faithful in a world where faith has been abandoned. The Kingdom will be given to a group who loved truth as embodied in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, those who choose to turn from a world of lies and embrace truth. The Bible has a name for this group, it's called first fruits. Notice how they're described in a scene out of the book of Revelation, a scene from the time at the end of the age, when spiritual deception has gripped the world and war has ravaged nations, and famine and pestilence have sown fear among earth's survivors. All that was once known, given away to another empire, a final world empire with all of its empty promises and hopes. But there's a group who have resisted, they refuse to worship lies and deception, listen to how they're described.
"Then I looked," John says, "And behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 having the Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps, and they sang a new song before the four living creatures and the elders that no one could hear and no one could learn, except the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women," it says, "They are virgins, and they follow the lamb wherever He goes. These are redeemed from among men being first fruits to God and to the lamb, and in their mouth was found no deceit, they're without fault before the throne of God."
God is preparing that group of people who will stand with Christ, they're called first fruits, to God and to the lamb. It's composed of people who dare to resist the current culture of this world, a culture that says good is evil and evil is good. They resist a progressive world that defies the natural order of creation, a world rapidly fusing commerce, politics, and godless spirituality into a new world religion. This coming world order, called in the Bible mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and the abominations of the earth, a Babylon rising today before our very eyes. They resist that.
These servants value God, and they obey the teachings of Jesus. And by resisting this world and embracing the laws of God and the way of that world to come, the Kingdom of God, today they prepare to inherit that Kingdom that will not be left to others. And you can be a part of that group, if you choose to live today by the teachings of the coming Kingdom, if you choose to change your life from what it is today. But you see, we have to make that choice. We must choose to believe the Bible as God's revealed instruction, to believe that this Book has a claim on our life. No one will be a part of that Kingdom that will remain as they are.
I was recently speaking to a person who examined the Bible and its teachings and what it says about this coming Kingdom. And after some very careful thought, she concluded that she could not change her life now. A true disciple of Jesus will be willing to change and to grow. What about you? Are you ready for a change in your life? Change is the hardest thing that we will ever do, but that's what biblical Christianity is all about, it's about change, it's about a whole life transformation.
With this program, I'm beginning a series to take us through the biblical process to transform your life. You can change your life for the better. You can turn around what might seem, at times, to be a hopeless dead-end existence, but first you must understand what it means to be called of God. There is a God, and the Bible is His Word. It shows us that God wants a relationship with us. The Bible shows us how to even develop that relationship. We will talk about what it means to repent, or to change our life. We'll talk about the step of baptism, a real biblical baptism. We will talk about faith, a living faith, and we will talk about transforming your life through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Your life has significance and meaning, and we're explaining the Kingdom of God, a real empire, that Kingdom that Christ will establish upon his return to this earth. That's what Daniel saw and foretold, God is preparing a people who will inherit that Kingdom with Christ and begin to set in place a culture based on biblical truth and the teachings of God.
Countless prophecies in the Bible describe what this world will be like when Christ reigns. That is what the title of this booklet, the study aid that we're offering on our program today talks about. We invite you to learn more about what this world will really be like with the booklet, "Christ's Reign on Earth, What It Will Be Like." Christ's intervention in world affairs will be the event to change all of history, that will set humanity on the path to the final chapter of God's eternal purpose on this earth. And we can prepare now for that time.
So I encourage you to call or write the toll free number that's on your screen for your copy of "Christ's Reign on Earth." Go online to beyondtoday.tv, and download and begin reading this study aid today. There is a new world coming, this is what Daniel's prophecy tells us. The Kingdom of God on this earth to replace all the other kingdoms that have ever gone before. And you can prepare now for a role in that Kingdom, and your life today will be better for it. You will find hope in a confused world. The Bible predicted today's restless world, the one we're living in, a world that is the product of ignoring God and rejecting God. Bible prophecy also predicts a future healing and restoration through a coming Kingdom of God. It's a message of hope and meaning that cuts through the confusion, and knowing God's certain plan will give hope, meaning, and real peace to our life now.
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet offered on today's program, "Christ's Reign on Earth, What It Will Be Like." Discover what Jesus' reign on earth will look like, and how you can be there to see it. Order now, call toll free 188-886-8632, or write to the address shown on your screen. You will read from your Bible how Christ will replace all human governments with His own Kingdom, bringing peace and joy to all mankind. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one year subscription to "Beyond Today Magazine." "Beyond Today Magazine" brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family, and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, "Christ's Reign on Earth, What It Will Be Like," and your free one year subscription to "Beyond Today Magazine." 1-888-886-8632, or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with the United Church of God. If you are looking for a church that encourages living what the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.