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Doug Batchelor - Dream of the Empires

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    Doug Batchelor - Dream of the Empires

There are few humans whose intellect could match the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest artists and inventors of all time. Probably, he's most renowned for his Mona Lisa painting. Leonardo also excelled in the fields of science, engineering, anatomy, botany, architecture, geology, zoology, mechanics, and many more. In many of these areas, he was far ahead of his time. For example, he drew designs that were the equivalent of a helicopter, one for parachute, a diving suit, an armored tank, and many other fascinating inventions of our day. He even build a robot capable of walking, sitting, and moving its jaw, and some of his robotic concepts are currently being put to use in robots for space exploration today.

Looking back, it almost seems like Leonardo could see into the future. We might wonder if anyone really can predict the future. In ancient Babylon, the Prophet Daniel informed King Nebuchadnezzar about the God of heaven who revealed the deep and secret things of the future. So join me now, friends, as we discover what God's Word really says about the mysterious beasts from the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.

Our study for tonight is called "Dream of the Empires," and we're going to literally be looking at a panorama of Bible prophecy tonight that you find in Daniel chapter 2. Just to give you the story, a little background of what's going on, Nebuchadnezzar II, but everyone calls him Nebuchadnezzar because no one knows much about the first, King Nebuchadnezzar was one of the greatest kings of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. That's about 585 BC. He actually conquered Israel and he told him as long as they obeyed, he'd give them a certain amount of freedom, but they continued to rebel. They didn't want to pay taxes. They tried to get Egypt to fight with Babylon so they'd be freed from Babylon.

Finally, he said, "Enough is enough." He carried away captive a lot of the people. He conquered the city. He carried away a number of captives. Nebuchadnezzar burnt Jerusalem. He burnt the temple. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Took all the gold, and the brass, and the treasures, and brought it back to Babylon. And along with the treasures and the people, he took some of the brightest young people in the kingdom, because he said, "You know, the Jews were brilliant." They were good architects and they understood language. And you know, David was a poet, musician, and he always took the best of the best from his kingdom. They'd kind of go through some college training and intensive training so they could serve in his cabinet as counselors to help him with ministry. And among the four young people that he took, you had Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

In fact, God had told through a prophet, King Hezekiah...Isaiah the Prophet told King Hezekiah, "Because of your pride when the Babylonian ambassadors came to visit, everything that they looked at is going to be carried off to Babylon, including your descendants." Daniel and his friends were descendants. The Bible tells us that the king of Babylon, it foretold this in Isaiah. King of Babylon will make some of your descendants eunuchs in his palace, and that's exactly what happened. So Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon, along with thousands of other Jews.

Nebuchadnezzar had conquered all of the surrounding kingdoms, and Babylon became incredibly wealthy and powerful, but he was an extremely ambitious king. And one night, he was wondering how long this kingdom of Babylon was going to last, and he became troubled about that. And this was on his mind evidently, and he fell asleep, and he had a dream. And this dream was very vivid that gave him an outline of the history from the time of Nebuchadnezzar up until the second coming of Jesus.

Now, why did God give this Babylonian king this dream? It says, "There is a God in heaven who reveals", what's it say there in yellow? "Secrets, and He's made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the," what days? "Latter days." So this dream is talking about what? The future. It says He, through this king, is revealing something that is coming in the future. And the Lord chose to give this dream to Nebuchadnezzar, and then He ultimately calls a Hebrew prophet who reveals what is coming. And just like the pharaoh of Egypt had a dream, and he didn't know what the dream meant, and he ultimately had to call his wise men and they didn't know what the dream meant.

Finally, there was a Hebrew that was in prison and he was able to interpret the dream, even though he was a captive in that land. Well, this sort of repeats itself in the story here that we find in Daniel. Now, I tell you what, before I get to the second question, let me read the first few verses right from the Bible. I get dependent sometimes on the screen. And if you have your Bibles, you can turn to Daniel 2. I'm going to read the first few verses here. "Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Nebuchadnezzar," he's the king, "had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. Then the king gave command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dream. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, 'I've had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.'"

So the king said, "Okay, time for you to earn your pay. I've had this dream. It was three-dimensional. It's very real, very vivid. There's something in it. God is trying to tell me something. What's the message?" And they said, “Okay, let the king tell us the dream and we'll tell the interpretation." And the king says in verse 5, "My decision is firm; you shall make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, or you'll be cut in pieces, and your houses will be made an ash heap. However, if you tell me the dream and its interpretation, you'll receive from me gifts, and rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation."

And you can imagine the consternation of the wise men when they said, "You know, we could concoct some interpretation for you, but you want us to tell you what you dreamed." They said, "The answer for that only belongs with the gods. How can we do that?" And the king was furious and he said, "Man, you guys are frauds." He says, "You're just stalling." "The king gave the command to," do what? "To destroy, execute all of the wise men in Babylon." Now, that always seems like a bad idea. If you actually killed all the wise men, what do you have left?

When Daniel learned about the death decree, what did he ask of the king and what did he tell his friends? "Daniel went in and he petitioned the king. He said, 'Give me time, that I might tell the king the interpretation.'" So he goes to the king and he asks for time. How long was that time? We don't know. He might have been a day. The reason I say that, there's prophecies in Daniel where it talks about a time, a times, and the dividing of a time, and that represented three and a half days, which in prophecy is three and a half years, but that's a subject for another night. So it may have been he said, "Give us 24 hours," and the king thought, "Well, you know, if I kill all the wise men, I've got to find new wise men. They're hard to find. And I would like to know what the dream means."

And the king interviewed Daniel and his three friends in chapter 1. It says he found them ten times wiser than all the other wise men in the kingdom. Why kill them all? They weren't at the first interview. Let's give them a chance. So the king thought, "Well, 24 hours, sure." So after that petition, the Bible said, "Daniel then went to his house, and he made the decision known to Hananiah, and Mishael, and Azariah, his companions."

Now, Daniel and his friends say, "We need to know what the king dreamed." They had a real heartfelt prayer meeting. And in that prayer meeting, they believe, "That they might seek mercies from God," and this is Daniel 2:17, "concerning this secret." It's a mystery. Does God reveal secrets? What does the Bible say we do if we lack wisdom? "If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally." They had very intense prayer meeting. And during that time, they felt a peace that God heard their prayer, so they finally went to sleep. And evidently during the night, Daniel had Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

Now, it just so happens that we've got a copy of that dream. I'm going to read it. And you start in Daniel chapter 2, verse 31. This is when Daniel's relating it to the king. We've got beautiful 3D animation video we're going to play for you that kind of gives, you know, at least a representation of what that dream is about based on the description. And we're going to show that to you now. "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. The image's head was of fine gold; its chest and its arms of silver; its belly and its thighs of bronze; its legs of iron; its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. And you watched while a stone was cut without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. And the iron, and the clay, and the bronze, and the silver, and the gold were crushed together and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth."

So here is sort of an overview of what happened in that dream. In that dream, you see there's a panorama for the history of the world because the angel of the Lord guided Daniel in interpreting the dream as well. So the first thing the king saw in the great image was this great image, and it's made of the following elements. So we notice that, and you see that up on your screen there. They head was of gold. It says the breast and the arms were of silver. The belly and the thighs were bronze. The legs were of iron. And the feet were iron and clay.

So here's an outline of what we're going to go through. Now, the only safe way to interpret the Bible is let the Bible explain itself, amen? So we're going to find out what the Bible says to understand this dream so we don't have to speculate, and I think you're going to be amazed. First of all, what does the head of gold represent? So the king is breathless, his eyes are wide, his mouth is open. He's on the edge of his throne listening to Daniel explain this. He said, "Okay, now I'm going to tell you, this is the dream. Let me give you the interpretation. You are the head of gold." Well, Nebuchadnezzar thought, "I like that. I'm the top. I'm the head of gold." And he felt pretty good about that. Would the Babylonian kingdom last forever? The prophecy tells us, "But after you shall another kingdom arise inferior to you."

Now, if I can say, "Look, I've got 10 pounds of gold I'm going to give you, or I'm going to give you 10 pounds of silver," which do you want? If you know anything about value, you're going to want the gold. People say silver and gold, but boy, they're not comparable. Gold is a lot more valuable than silver. But you know what? Gold is softer than silver. And what you're going to see happening now as you go through this prophecy is with each succeeding power, and that are represented by these metals, they get harder, the kingdoms last longer, but they're of less value. Starts with gold and ends with clay. If I tell you I'm going to give you a pound of clay, who's interested?

So there's an inferior kingdom that rises. And let me tell you how this happened. Now, Babylon, I just mentioned, was surrounded by the Euphrates River, and the river actually ran under the walls. Babylon, after Nebuchadnezzar died, his grandson was on the throne. The son of Nebuchadnezzar was off fighting another battle somewhere else and Belshazzar was on the throne. And he was sort of a reprobate, young king. He had grown up spoiled. He hadn't had to fight wars to get his privileges, and he kept having parties. And the Persians came and surrounded the city, the Medes and the Persians. And Belshazzar said, "I'm not afraid. Babylon's got enough food stored. We've got the river running under the walls. We've got enough food stored to last 20 years." That's actually what one historian says. "And they can't afford to besiege our city. They'll run out of money feeding their army. We'll outlast them."

So to show that they weren't afraid, they had a big party in the city. Well, I told you that there was a moat that went around Babylon. The river ran underneath the walls. This is actually a reproduction of the Ishtar Gate. They have actually found one of the gates of Babylon. It has beautiful, blue porcelain tiles everywhere. And you can see it in Germany to this day. They've reconstructed one of the gates of Babylon in Germany. And under the walls ran the Euphrates River.

Cyrus the Persian general, he thought, "Well, the way, if we can't go over the walls, let's go under the walls." And way upstream, he had his men dig a channel diverting the water of the Euphrates River into a low lake bed. And when he gave the signal, they broke the dam and all the water stopped running in the river and it ran off into this reservoir. The water level went down in Euphrates so low that at night, he had a contingent of soldiers that went under the wall. They went through the moat area. The inner gates had been left open because the soldiers had been drinking, and they were able to open the main gates and let the whole Persian army in. And in one night with hardly a shot being fired, Babylon fell to the Persians. And this was all foretold in prophecy.

Now, when the king was in the palace, King Belshazzar, having his party, he wanted to mock the God of heaven. He said, "I know my grandfather Nebuchadnezzar. He turned away from our gods to Jehovah." Do you know there's one section in the Old Testament that's written by a non-Jew. You know who it is? Nebuchadnezzar. There's a chapter in Daniel when Nebuchadnezzar shares his testimony of his conversion. He actually goes crazy for several years, and finally his mind returns and he turns to the Lord. And Belshazzar said, "We're not going to follow these Jewish gods." He was trying to undo the influence of Daniel and his friends over the people and the religion. He said, "We conquered those Jews. Matter of fact, we've got their vessels from the temple in my storehouse. Bring out all the holy vessels from their God of Jehovah." And he began to pour wine in these holy vessels from the Jewish temple, and he began to toast the gods of wood, and stone, and silver, and gold, and iron.

The Bible says that while they were at the peak of their party and he was mocking the God of heaven, a bloodless hand appeared and began to write on the plaster on the walls, burning letters. A bloodless hand just came out of nowhere and starts to write, and everybody at the party stood still. They were frozen with fear. And you know what the writing said? "The party's over." The king calls in his wise men. Now, once again, the wise men proven themselves useless all the time. Called in his wise men, and astrologists, and said, "Whoever interprets this, I'll make him third ruler in the kingdom," because Belshazzar was really only the second ruler. His father who was the king was off out of town. "I'll make him third ruler in the kingdom and give him great rewards." They couldn't interpret the writing.

They finally called in an old prophet who had worked for Nebuchadnezzar, who was still alive, by the name of Daniel. And he says, "I'm going to give you all these gifts." Daniel says, "Keep your gifts because I know how the story ends. I don't want them. But I'm going to tell you what the writing says: 'Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.' You are weighed in the balances and found wanting. And this night, the Medes and the Persians are going to conquer the kingdom and you will die." That's a paraphrase. And the very thing Daniel had foretold at the time he was fulfilling the prophecy, the Persians were going underneath the wall right then, and the city fell. And even the historians bear this out.

So the Babylonians fell to the Persians. Persian Empire started out led by Darius the Mede, and later Cyrus the Great, 539 to 331 BC. Each kingdom, the territory of Persia, is bigger than Babylon. They're growing bigger, they're lasting longer, but the value is less. The metal is less valuable. In the capital for Persia then was Persepolis, and unfortunately, later when Alexander came, he and his men were drunk and they burnt the city. These are some of the ruins of what was once a splendid palace of the Persians. And you know, the Bible even foretold that Cyrus the king would be letting the people of Israel go back to the promised land; that he would be doing a special work for the Lord, for His people. You can read about this in Isaiah 45.

Now, another example of the amazing power of prophecy: long before, hundreds of years before Cyrus is born, here's what Isaiah the prophet wrote. By the way, we know that Isaiah wrote this before it happened. The Dead Sea scrolls and the Jewish history tells us these, the prophecy of Isaiah is one of the most dependable prophecies. He's a real historical character. "Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus," calls him by name, "whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations. I'm helping him subdue nations before him to loose the armor of kings, to open before before him the double doors," the two-leaved gates of the inner city had been left open, "so that the gates of the city will not be shut."

What an amazing prophecy. Calls him by name. What metal would represent the kingdom that followed Medo-Persia? Says, "Another third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all of the earth." So you've got this third kingdom of bronze. Alexander the Great, a very brave soldier, one reason that he was so successful, he would lead his men into battle. Sometimes he was the first one over the wall and he nearly got killed once or twice. Because of his courage, his men would...they'd follow him anywhere, and conquered, and conquered, and conquered. And you've probably heard the story that he sat down and wept one day because there was no more places to conquer. That's not totally true. It is true that he wanted to keep going on and his soldiers, after 11 years on the road fighting, they said, "We've got families we haven't seen. We may never see them again. We're done. We followed you this far, but we're not going any farther." And he finally had to concede to his soldiers.

So this kingdom now, bronze, not as valuable, but it's harder than silver. Kingdom gets bigger. What happens next? What metal represents the fourth kingdom? Now any fifth grader knows what kingdom came after Greece. It tells us that you've got this fourth kingdom that is as strong as, what? Iron. And so Rome, they are the kingdom that they had the iron weapons. They had learned from the Phoenicians and others how to perfect this. And the Philistines were good with iron and they had a great deal of armor. And they were ruling the world during the time when our Savior was born. Rome was ruling the world. They had their iron spears. One of those pierced the side of Jesus. And the iron nails, iron cat o' nine tails. And so this was called the iron monarchy of Rome.

So, just doing a little review quickly. The head is of gold. It represents what kingdom? Babylon. Thank you. Then you've got the silver, which represents what kingdom? Medo-Persia, 539 to about 331. Then you move on to the bronze, and bronze represents what kingdom? Greece. Now, it's interesting. Daniel foretold this all before it happened. And then the Greek kingdom, 331 to the Battle of Pydna, where the Greeks fell to the Romans. Then you've got the iron that represents what kingdom? Rome, 168 to about 476 AD. Rome sort of disintegrated. It wasn't one decisive battle.

What would happen after the fall of the Roman Empire? It tells us, "The kingdom will be divided. As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile." Rome did not fall in a day. Rome kind of disintegrated little by little. You've got everything from Attila the Hun to the Barbarians that came down from Germanic kingdoms and continually ate away at the Western Empire of Rome until Rome fragmented into ten kingdoms. We can see this happen historically. This was all foretold, just like the ten toes in the image. But what are the feet made of? Iron and clay. Would these ten kingdoms ever succeed in uniting? No. It says, "They will mingle themselves with the seed of men, but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay."

Now, this is something that happened is that, you know, they kept trying to forge alliances all through Europe with marriages because they kept warring and fighting. Everybody tried to rebuild the Roman Empire, and you've got everybody from Charlemagne, to you know, Louis XIV, and Kaiser Wilhelm. Napoleon tried it. He got probably the closest of anybody, but he made the same mistake Hitler later made of trying to take on Russia. Russia was so vast, it just swallowed up their armies and they starved. They were never able to cling together again, even though they tried to do it through marriage. At one point, Queen Victoria was related to every leading country in Europe through marriage. She lived a long time and had a whole gaggle of kids, and they all married to try and forge alliances, but they kept fighting. They will not cling to one another.

Who will set up the final kingdom? "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom, which will never be destroyed; and the kingdom will not be left to other people; it will break in pieces and consume all these other kingdoms, and it will stand forever." So, quick review. We got the gold is Babylon; the silver, Medo-Persia, the bronze is Greece; the iron is Rome. Did this happen, friends? And did everything in Daniel's prophecy come true? Babylon ruled. Of course, Daniel was alive then, but he predicted the Medo-Persians, and then the Greeks. There was just a small tribe. Rome wasn't anything back then. Maybe, you know, Romulus and Remus were still with a wolf back then. I don't know, but to predict that they were going to be a world empire, who would've known that back then? And Greece is actually mentioned by name in the book of Daniel, that it would become a world power, and that the Roman power would divide into ten parts and they would never again be a world empire.

And we're living in the days of iron and clay right now, friends, those same divisions. United Nations, how successful have they been at uniting in the nations? What does the stone do to these other world kingdoms? The stone that was cut without hands, who is that stone? Jesus, the Rock of Ages. What does David use to bring down Goliath? A stone. What does the Word of God compare to? Jesus said, "He that hears these words of mine and does them is building on the rock." Christ is that Rock of Ages. "He strikes the image on its feet of iron and clay."

You know how you sharpen iron? With a stone, because stone actually can wear down iron. Broke them in pieces. "Then the iron, and the clay, and the bronze, and the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like the chaff from the summer threshing floors. And the wind carried them away. But the stone", it says, "They're carried away, no trace of them is found. And the stone that struck the image becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth."

Which kingdom is going to last? Will it be the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the divisions of Europe? What kingdom is the kingdom that will last? The kingdom of the stone, which is Christ. It is the one that ultimately fills the earth. This message that Daniel gave to Nebuchadnezzar, "You might be a world king now, and we might be captives in your kingdom, but when the end comes, the kingdom of God, King Jesus, the new Jerusalem that you burnt with fire," Daniel's telling Nebuchadnezzar, "it is going to rule the earth." And everything in this prophecy has happened exactly as foretold up to this time. Now, the question is, if you know that everything in this prophecy has happened, why would we doubt the last part? Friends, do you believe Jesus is coming again?
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