Although biblical prophecy can seem mysterious and obscure like a puzzle, learn how you can make real sense of it.
[Gary] Have you ever tried to put together a puzzle with hundreds of pieces?
By themselves, the various shapes and colors make it almost impossible to know how they fit together. You might be able to separate all of the straight edges and put together the frame, but you would have no idea what the puzzle is supposed to look like.
Now, if we have an image of what the puzzle is supposed to look like, or even a partial picture, we can begin to sort through the pieces and understand how they fit together.
Because biblical prophecy is revealed in pieces of different shapes and colors, it is the source of all kinds of speculation. Fortunately, the Bible contains some images showing how the prophetic pieces fit together.
Today, were looking at an important piece of "The Bibles Prophetic Puzzle."
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[Gary] How can we make sense of biblical prophecy?
Biblical prophecy can seem cryptic and mysterious - like pieces of a puzzle with no way to understand how the pieces fit together.
This book - the Bible - contain a number of visions with vivid prophetic images, like the picture on the box of a puzzle that gives us a glimpse into how future events will unfold. Now one of these prophetic images appeared in a vision to a Babylonian king almost 2,500 years ago. This vision is recorded in the Old Testament book of Daniel.
This prophecy spans events that have already happened and predicts the headlines of our very world today.
Daniels story begins when he was a young teenager living in Judah. His family was socially important. When the Babylonians, a powerful people from what is now modern day Iraq, invaded Judah in 605 BC they took the best and the brightest of Judahs youth back to Babylon to be "indoctrinated" into their way of life. Daniel was among those young people deported to this strange and foreign land to him.
Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, had a horrible nightmare. He called together all of his sorcerers and astrologers and demanded that they tell him the meaning of the dream, but first they had to describe his dream. When of course, they couldn't. And when they couldn't describe the dream, the sorcerers and astrologers began to find themselves unemployed - in the most permanent sense. The king began to have them killed.
Then some of Nebuchadnezzar's advisors told of a Jewish youth named Daniel who was blessed by his God. Daniel was summoned, prayed and God revealed Nebuchadnezzars dream - both in details and meaning.
Daniel described the dramatic vision to the Babylonian king:
"You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, [and] its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:31-35 Daniel 2:31-35  You, O king, saw, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before you; and the form thereof was terrible.
 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
 You saw till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image on his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces.
 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
American King James Version×).
Nebuchadnezzars dream was filled with vivid images of a giant statue. Now, Let's look at the five different elements of the image of Nebuchadnezzars dream, and start to understand what it all means.
God allows Daniel to see in a vision a stature in the shape of a man with head, arms, torso and legs. So, first Daniel describes the statues appearance. He sees the head of the image is crafted of fine gold. The chest and arms are made of silver, which is a material of lesser value than gold of course. The statues belly and thighs are casts of bronze. And finally, he sees the legs and feet of the statue are made of a mixture of iron and clay.
Daniel then announces to the king that God had revealed to him this dream and that it was divinely inspired. He explains to the awestruck king that the image was a prophecy of four successive empires.
"This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all - you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all [of] the earth" (Daniel 2:36-39 Daniel 2:36-39  This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
 You, O king, are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
 And wherever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven has he given into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all. You are this head of gold.
 And after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
American King James Version×).
From our present historical vantage point, we know that the Babylonian Empire was indeed followed by three other empires.
Understanding the historical background of this imperial succession is critical to understanding what the book of Daniel is telling us today about Bible prophecy.
After describing the vision and the dream to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel explains the individual symbols. He explains that the statues head of gold represents Nebuchadnezzar himself and the Babylonian Empire. This empire existed from 605-539 BC.
In 539, it was suddenly taken over by the Persian Empire. That means that the chest and arms of silver from Nebuchadnezzars dream, represents the Persian Empire which immediately followed Babylon.
The Greek writer, Herodotus recorded that the Persian armies, drained the river, entered the gates and took the capital of Babylon in one night. You know, Daniel was actually there when this happened and gives us a first-person account of the Babylonians belief and their own invincibility elsewhere in the book of Daniel. Read it for yourself.
The Persian Empire was in turn destroyed by the Greek Empire, represented by the statues belly and thighs of bronze. The Greek Empire was a powerful force in the ancient world from 332 B.C. to 63 B.C.
Now, these three kingdoms - Babylon, Persia and Greece - are all mentioned by name in the book of Daniel, but not the fourth. But following the pattern of the prophecy that each kingdom is immediately succeeded by the next one, we can actually discover the fourth empire. The Greco-Macedonian Empire was conquered by Rome. And the empire that ruled by the ferocity of the iron fist of the Roman legions.
We have Daniels prophetic description then of the fourth empire.
"And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. Whereas you saw [that] the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as [the] iron does not mix with clay" (Daniel 2:40-43 Daniel 2:40-43  And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: for as much as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
 And whereas you saw the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, for as much as you saw the iron mixed with miry clay.
 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
 And whereas you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not join one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
American King James Version×).
This fourth kingdom is the Roman Empire - but it is very important to understand that this part of the prophecy has not been completely fulfilled. You see, this fourth element - the Roman Empire - of the image of Daniel 2 fills in an important piece of the prophetic puzzle by leading us to the fifth element. It tells of future events!
But before we take a closer look at the image of Daniel 2 and future prophetic events, let me tell you about todays free offer.
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We've been exploring how the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, recorded in Daniel 2, supplies an important piece to the biblical prophetic puzzle. Now let's look at what we've covered so far.
We've examined the image of the statue from Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2 and we've seen that each section of the image represents a succession of powerful empires in the ancient world. The head of gold represented the Babylonian Empire. The chest and arms of silver represented the Persian Empire which conquered the Babylonian Empire. The belly and thighs of bronze represented the Greek Empire led by Alexander the Great, which replaced the Persian Empire. Finally, Daniel explained that the statues legs and feet are made of mixed iron and clay. We've seen that this represented the Roman Empire. Which existed from 63 B.C. through the time of Jesus Christ until its fall.
These four empires aren't the most important element of Nebuchadnezzar's vision however. There is a fifth element that trumps them all because it tells of events that haven't happened yet.
Now let's look at the most important fifth element of this prophecy:
"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; [and] 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 [it] known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure" (Daniel 2:44-45 Daniel 2:44-45  And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
 For as much as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
American King James Version×).
Who are the kings of this prophecy?
Notice - they are kings who exist at the last days of the Roman Empire and they are destroyed, when? At the second coming of Jesus Christ!
History shows that the Roman Empire became too large and complicated to be ruled from one location so it was actually divided into two empires - the Western part ruled by Rome and the Eastern from Constantinople. The Western Empire fell in the fifth century and the Eastern continued way up until the 1400's.
Now there have been numerous attempts to recreate the Roman Empire in the West over many, many centuries. Charlemagne, the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon, Hitler and others have desired to unite Europe and restore the former glory of empire.
We see in the image of Daniel 2 that the fourth empire, the Roman Empire, is divided into two parts. This has already been fulfilled. Its already happened, we can see it in history. But the prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar's dream doesn't end with the division of the empire.
Let's looks again at what Daniel was inspired to say about the feet which are part of the fourth empire - remember that. The ten toes of these two feet represent ten kings. It is in the days of these ten kings that Christ returns to set up God's Kingdom on this earth.
This is a vitally important prophecy about the time before the second coming of Jesus Christ!
Biblical prophecy reveals that there is coming an attempt to restore the Roman Empire. This union will involve ten kings. It will have the strength and power of the Roman Empire but the weakness of not really being a complete union. There will be disharmony over national identities and cultures.
This piece of the prophetic puzzle warns us to keep a close watch on events happening in Europe.
Now let's look at the book of Revelation, where the apostle John records prophecies of the events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ. These prophecies supply details of the time foretold in the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Here's how John described Christ at His return:
"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses…And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:11-14 Revelation 19:11-14  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war.
 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
 And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
 And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
American King James Version×, Revelation 19:16 Revelation 19:16And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
American King James Version×).
The prophetic piece of the image of Daniel 2 tell us of a stone that destroys the fourth empire. This stone is no other than Jesus Christ who is returning as King of Kings.
So how should this understanding of how these pieces fit together affect your life right now?
You and I live in a dysfunctional world where all human attempts to govern with justice and goodness fail. We live in a world of violence, war, poverty, crimes, dysfunctional families and billions of people living without purpose and meaning.
If you want your life to be filled with God's purpose, then you are going to have to do something. You must be preparing for the return of His Son to establish God's Kingdom here on this earth.
So what is it you must do?
First, you are going to have to do more than simply accept Jesus as your Savior. Thats right. You know, so many people say that is what Christianity is all about - simply accepting Jesus as your Savior. But its more than that. It is absolutely true that there is no salvation without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the substitute for the death penalty all of us deserve before the righteous God. But, we've read here in Revelation where Jesus Christ is returning as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! When He returns, He will be gathering together those who are already submitting to Him as King!
It is an empty Christianity that accepts Jesus as Savior and continues rejecting Him as King. In fact, it is not authentic Christianity at all.
This means that the second way you must prepare for this fifth element of the image of Daniel 2 - the Kingdom that fills all the earth - is commit every day, every day of your life to the values and laws of God's coming Kingdom. Begin each day by asking God to guide your steps. Search the Bible to discover His steps for your life. You may be surprised that many of your assumptions about the teachings of Jesus Christ are actually different than what He taught.
Authentic Christianity is a purpose-filled adventure. It involves daily commitment, obedience and living in relationship with the coming King. It involves anticipating His return. It involves trusting in God's goodness, even in times of stress.
The ways of the coming King aren't reflected in the tepid, immoral, half-hearted religion. It is not what He will accept in those whom have been called by the Almighty God to be prepared for His Kingdom.
Much of the prophecy of the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream has already been fulfilled. This should give you a sense of confidence in the authenticity of biblical prophecy. It should also inspire you to realize that the future prophecy of the stone to fill the earth is going to happen.
God is calling people to turn away from this present evil world. You have been given an opportunity to respond to God and be prepared for the coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Don't take this opportunity lightly. Ask God to open your mind, your heart to His truth.
How will you respond to this glorious opportunity?
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We're joined by fellow Beyond Today hosts Darris McNeely and Steve Myers, to discuss the coming Kingdom of God on the earth. Now well be going through Daniel 2 and the image there.
Understanding what that image represents, how does that affect the way Christians should look at biblical prophecy?
[Darris] Gary, one of the big lessons from Daniel chapter 2 is that God is in charge of world events and that it is not by random chance that empires, nations, rise and fall, come and go. They do it at the, basically upon the plan that God is working out on this earth and another portion of Daniel says that God sets up leaders and He takes them down. He is responsible for that. And I think that is a basis for a worldview to understand what is taking place in our world today.
[Steve] On a number of levels, its really a faith builder because we can see God is working in events today. We can look back at the book of Daniel and we can see very plainly that God brought these prophecies to pass. He brought them to pass in that time, He is going to bring those future things that are still lying ahead of us to pass as well. And Daniel records it several times throughout the book where he says, God rules in the kingdom of men.
And so, God is going to take care of things. As bad and as bleak as things may look, just like these prophecies came to pass, it's going to come to pass and Christ will return and it is going to be alright. It is going to be a wonderful time.
[Gary] And whats important to realize is God isn't causing the evil. Men create evil. Satan creates evil. But in the midst of our dysfunction, God is working out His plan. So in the end, He solves the problems by sending Christ back.
[Darris] And that should provide a measure of comfort.
[Darris] Today, as we look at our world, can seem to be out of control - a lot of chaos, a lot of confusion, especially in the Middle East. Let's go back to where Daniel's prophecies are set. We see a lot taking place in that part of the world today as it is being reshaped and once again, terrorism is on the rise and is threatening our way of life, causing a great deal of concern.
And, yes it is a dangerous neighborhood over there. And its a dangerous world, but proper study of the Bible and especially biblical prophecy and applying it to the world today, can give us a measure of comfort that there is a God and that He is in control of these events.
[Steve] God can work through those different events, too.
[Darris] He can.
[Steve] Whatever peoples decisions are, whatever evil lies out there, God can still work through events to bring about His purpose.
[Gary] When we look at the Middle East, you know we look at the Babylonian Empire, the Roman Empire included Europe but it also included the Middle East.
[Darris] Yes it did.
[Gary] So, all the events that are happening in Europe, the Middle East, this is all part of what Daniel was looking forward to. And you mentioned hope. Now theres a good question, good concept.
How do we look at all these bleak future events - this resurrected Roman Empire, the confusion of the world - how do we look at that and how can we see and maintain then a positive viewpoint of what God is doing?
[Steve] Well God is in charge. And I think as we look at these prophecies, there is no doubt God will bring these things to pass. He has made promises beyond the bleakness, beyond the doom and gloom that's there.
There is a hope beyond today.
And I think that is something we need to take to heart. It is going to happen on a national level, on a world scene, on that level. But it also means a change for you and I, on a personal level we can take hope.
We can take confidence that God is in charge. He is going to judge this world. He is going to judge evil. He is going to condemn it and there is hope that lies beyond that. So we can take that to heart.
[Darris] That hope really was embedded in the story of Daniel - the whole story of Daniel. That, here was a people without hope. Israel had been destroyed. Daniel was of the tribe of Judah that was taken captive to Babylon. And in the midst of what was seemingly a hopeless situation, God outlined to Daniel and his friends this purpose and this plan that culminates in the Kingdom of God. That's the last Kingdom that really supersedes all these other four.
And in that Kingdom, and in the knowledge and understanding of the Kingdom of God which brings us then into the realm of a gospel - the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, lies that hope for our future and our real purpose for our own lives. When we can understand that God is working out, not only a grand, global purpose but we have a place within that according to a relationship with Him. Therein is the real basis for the hope we might have from this prophecy.
[Gary] Remember our free offers today: our Bible prophecy study aid, The Final Superpower and our magazine, The Good News. Call 1-888-886-8632. Thats 1-888-886-8632 or go online at BeyondToday.tv. Or, write to us at the address on your screen.
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The biblical prophetic puzzle can be so confusing that many people just give up trying to put it together.
The Bible reveals pieces of the picture. And we can use these pieces to see where other pieces fit together. The image of Daniel 2 is one such image. Part of this prophecy has already been fulfilled, giving us a pattern to understand the elements that concern future events.
Here are the real questions:
Will this understanding change your life by motivating you to surrender your life to God?
Are you willing to commit your time, effort and resources to be prepared for this future that God has revealed?
Or, are you willing to walk away from what God is offering to you?
It's up to you.
Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
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