John Bradshaw - The Rise and Fall of World Leaders
We wanna thank you so much for joining us. I am Joseph Ikner, your host, and I wanna welcome you to Answers in Prophecy, brought to you by It Is Written. In yesterday's message, John talked to us about surviving the election. Today we're gonna have another interesting and fascinating topic, "The Rise and Fall of World Leaders". On the being on the verge of an election, what can we learn from history? You wanna stay tuned for this important subject.
— Today we're gonna be talking about an important subject, "The Rise and the Fall of World Leaders". It's gonna be brought to us by John Bradshaw, John, how are you doing today?
— Hey, doing well. Yourself?
— Hey, I am doing all right. I'm feeling pretty good. You feeling good?
— I'm all right. I'm encouraged about what we're about to look at. You know, this is an exciting subject. The Bible has a lot to say about what we're looking at, and as we do, it's gonna open up the future to us, give us certainty as we move forward.
— Yeah. Yeah. So, John, here's the thing, you know, we're right on the verge of an election.
— Right, just around the corner.
— And is there anything in history that we can learn from elections?
— You know, I think there is. No, I'm not gonna speak about an election just yet. 'Cause I've got one in mind that I spoke about last night.
— But let's say you were living in the Roman Empire in the year 300.
— You would never have dreamed that there would be anything other than a Roman empire... today, ruins, you know. So, kingdoms come and kingdoms go. Rulers come, and the ruler or the leader who is in favor today tomorrow is a footnote in history.
— So things are not always as we would think that they would be, right?
— Yeah. We have, we have these expectations, you know. I'm gonna talk about this in a few moments about how once-great empires are now just plain forgotten. In fact, some of them, it's really surprising as we think about it, looking through the lens that we have available to us today, that there were ever empires...or ever great. Things change.
— Sometimes elections, John, don't always go the way that we expect them to go.
— Yeah, that's right.
— In yesterday's presentation, you talked a little bit about Dewey and Truman, and it was certain that Dewey had won, but turned out that Truman pulled that thing out.
— Oh, it was certain; it was so certain, you know, that famous photograph, Truman's holding the newspaper... "Dewey defeats Truman". The Chicago Tribune was so certain; the polls had shown so clearly... didn't work out that way. So what we expect doesn't always work out, and I don't mean to intimate that God elects presidents, but we have to understand that, ultimately, God is ruler over all.
— So tonight we can expect to see how God is ruler, how God is sovereign. We can expect to see that things are not always so certain.
— Yeah, that's for sure. We're gonna see that there's a hand, there's a hand guiding what goes on in this country or any country, which indicates to us that there is an overarching divine purpose for the world, telling me that people like you and me, and, well, everybody, God has a special purpose for us. No one escapes His notice. There's a plan for every human being.
— Boy, that message sounds exciting.
— Oh yeah.
— We're gonna see God's sovereignty and God's rulership. And I'm excited about the word that John is gonna bring to us tonight, "The Rise and the Fall of World Leaders".
— Well, thank you very much for that. Hey, great to see you again. Thanks for being here. Let's pray. We need to pray. We'll dive in and we'll get into our second study in Answers in Prophecy. Let's pray now.
Our Father in heaven, thank You for the opportunity we have to open up Your Word to find the answers to some of the most important and challenging and significant questions that anybody could ever have. We ask You to guide us by Your Spirit. Speak to us. I pray that hearts would be open. Lord, there is a God, and I pray that You through Your Word would be very real to us now. And we thank You in Jesus' name, amen.
After World War II, things changed dramatically in Eastern Europe. A Communist bloc of nations was formed under the influence of the Soviet Union. Countries such as the Latvia, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, and others were part of the Soviet Union. And then there were Communist states, such as East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania, and Poland. But big changes took place as communism came to an end. East Germany no longer exists, with reunification with Germany taking place in 1990. Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Poland held historic elections in 1989. Although people were free to vote in Poland, it was the first real election held in Eastern Europe in decades.
Nobody knew what to expect. People had come to resent the Communist government. The main opposition to the Communist Polish government was a trade union group, Solidarity, which was led by a man named Lech Walesa. The government eventually allowed Solidarity, which until then had been classified as an illegal organization, to field candidates in the election...in certain seats. But nobody knew what to expect. With the Communist Party controlling the media, most people thought the Communist Party was gonna easily win the election. In fact, there were some in the Communist Party who were worried that Solidarity wouldn't win a single seat, which would therefore make it look as though the election had been fixed. It was an unprecedented time.
What would the election result be? History records that the election was an overwhelming victory for Solidarity. They were allowed to contest 161 seats in the Lower House, and they won them all. They also won 99 out of the 100 seats in the Senate. Thirty-eight million Poles knew it was a new day in Poland with big changes that no one expected or could have foreseen. Closer to home, one of the most surprising election results in American history took place in the state of Vermont. Democratic senator Pat Leahy was running for reelection. And a multimillionaire businessman named Jack McMullen ran for the Republican nomination so he could run against Leahy in the election for senator. But there was a man, a retired dairy farmer named Fred Tuttle, who lived in a town of about a thousand people, who didn't like the idea of an outsider coming in and winning the nomination and representing the state of Vermont.
McMullen was really from another state. He was from Boston, Massachusetts, but he owned a holiday home in Vermont. That qualified him to run in the Vermont election. Tuttle didn't like it. And he ran against McMullen. The retiree spent only a few hundred dollars on his entire campaign. In the debate between the two of them, Tuttle exposed McMullen as an outsider. He asked him questions about Vermont that any Vermonter would know, but McMullen had no idea about. At the age of 79, Fred Tuttle won the nomination for the Republican Party. But after winning the nomination, Tuttle said he didn't want to move to Washington, DC, if he won the actual election itself. So instead of campaigning to win, he endorsed Leahy, the Democrat. And Leahy went on to win the election.
Governments come and governments go. Same is true for presidents and prime ministers and politicians of all kinds. And we can't always predict how these things will go. I mentioned last night the famous election result when Truman defeated Dewey in the 1948 US presidential election. In 1945, Winston Churchill led the Conservative Party into the British general election. Now, Churchill had just successfully led Great Britain through World War II, so you might think that his party couldn't possibly lose. The election was held just two months after the end of the war. The election was a blowout, but the Labor Party won in a landslide. Churchill was out as prime minister, replaced by a man named Clement Attlee. You've heard of Churchill. You may never have heard of the man who defeated him. We can only see what we can see as human beings.
God says in the Bible, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" You find that in Isaiah chapter 55, verses 8-9. We'll come back to this passage. But what we know is that God sees things we do not. He sees things we cannot see. God understands things that are unknown to us. Scientists discover something incredible... the sequencing of the human genome, for example. Project started in 1990, took 13 years. Its aim was: determine the DNA sequence of human beings. It was an incredible and an incredibly beneficial research project. But God already knew all about the human DNA, for the simple fact that He created it. He designed it. God brought it into existence.
Think of the Hubble Telescope. It takes photos of outer space. Researchers look over those pictures and gain immense amounts of knowledge. God created the universe. He made the Milky Way. He called the stars and the supernovas into existence. God knows all about that already. We're just trying to figure out what we can. Our thoughts are not God's thoughts. Our knowledge and God's knowledge are as vastly different as anything you could imagine. In the book of Job, we read these words: "Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven...what can you do? Deeper than Sheol...what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea". That's Job 11.
So when there are changes in the world or in the world order, you might sometimes wonder why God is permitting things. There's something that is important to remember. There are things going on behind the scenes in this world. The Bible helps us to see that. In fact, the Bible is the only book that allows us to see that. The Bible introduces us to this in the first couple of pages. The story starts with God creating the world. The first words of the Holy Bible are these: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Genesis 1 and verse 1. The first chapter of the Bible is the Creation story. It continues in the second chapter with details being added about what happened next. God put Adam and Eve in a garden, making them responsible for the garden. He gave Adam ultimate responsible for tending it and keeping it. After He created Eve, following that little surgical procedure when He took one of Adam's ribs and from that made the first woman, we are then introduced to chapter 3, which starts by introducing us to a new character. Remember, this is just the third chapter of the entire Bible.
Genesis 3, verse 1 says, "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'" Eve answered by saying, "'We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die".'" And the serpent, the devil, answered by saying, "'You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'" And then Adam and Eve ate the fruit that grew on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In chapter 2, God had told Adam he should not eat the fruit. Shortly after, the planet was plunged into sin.
Now, this shows us several things. One, it shows us there's something going on. While God exists, there's another force that exists in this universe. In fact, more than a force, this is a fallen angel we're talking about. Satan is committed to separating every living person from God and to keeping us outside of heaven so that we would be lost. This is what many people are failing to remember. A British atheist was asked in an interview with Irish television what he would say to God. The man said, "[I would] say, bone cancer in children? What's that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault? It's not right, it's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain? That's what I would say". He went on to call God an "utter maniac," which is natural enough, I guess, if you choose to forget that evil is present in the universe. An angry, utterly evil devil has introduced sin into the world, and with it death and sickness and disease and heartbreak and tragedy.
And something else this battle between good and evil demonstrates is the goodness of God. If evil exists in this world because human beings fell into sin when they were tempted by Satan, it reveals that God is gracious and patient with human beings. Because after the record of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the entire rest of the Bible is the story of God doing everything He can to get us out of this broken world, into the hopeful, happy, beautiful world to come. Now, last time, we looked at the Second Coming of Jesus. Jesus is coming back to this world. And why? Because He's gonna get rid of sin, and He wants you and me to be in that perfect universe that will exist throughout all eternity. Blaming God for the existence of cancer would be like a child driving his parents' car into a power pole, getting terribly injured, and then blaming his parents for what happened. God didn't push human beings into sin. We went there willingly.
Now, God, willingly, is doing everything He can to save us and join our hearts with His great heart of love. So there's so much going on in the world today that we struggle to understand. There are things going on behind the scenes in this battle between good and evil that we might not understand as we might like to. But what we can know is that God knows it all, that beyond it all, there is a God who has a perfect plan, and while our lives are short, God is eternal, and God sees the big picture. We're going to look at the big picture in the Bible. But let me tell you this story first. I was driving west one morning, driving to an airport to fly home. I was driving a rental car, and I was short on time. My challenge was I couldn't remember where the rental car company was. I had to return my vehicle, but I didn't know where.
So I called my wife; I told her the problem. I asked her to look on a map, look online, and see if she could locate the rental car place and then guide me to it. I told her roughly where I was and let her get to work. So she told me to keep on driving, but in a couple of miles I would need to turn off the freeway and go south. I don't know why she told me that, because the rental car place was on the north of the freeway. South didn't make any sense, but my wife, Melissa, assured me, the computer is saying go south, and you're gonna go south on such-and-such a road. I really did not feel good about this. The last thing I wanted to do was drive on a freeway in the wrong direction and end up hopelessly late to catch my flight. I protested. I told my wife I didn't have time to be late. I asked her to please look again because I knew I had to go north and not south.
And then my wife said, "You're forgetting something". I asked her what I could be forgetting. She said, "You're forgetting that I can see the big picture". She said, "Go south. It'll be okay". So I turned south and hoped for the best, and then she said, "Now that you're going south, drive about half a mile, maybe less," which I did, and then she said, "Take the exit that veers off to the right," which I did, and the road to the right arced around and ended up going...where do you think? It went north, more or less directly, to the rental car place. I returned the car, made it to my flight in plenty of time, and I learned that seeing the big picture is very helpful, and I learned a thing or two about trusting your wife. We are living in an uncertain age, but what would help us is if we saw the big picture. We've got an election coming up in less than a month. Half the country's gonna be very disappointed, whatever the result is. But we're gonna see something from the prophecies of the Bible that will settle our nerves and give us a sense of assurance as we face an uncertain future.
One of the great books of the Bible is the book of Daniel. There are 12 chapters in Daniel, and very generally speaking, the first six chapters are historical, while the last six chapters are prophetic, although one of those first six chapters is prophetic, too, and it speaks to us right where we are today. It speaks to the end of time and is given in large part through visions and dreams given by God to Daniel. Daniel saw these things, and he wrote them down. Daniel contains the story of Daniel in the lion's den, the story of the three boys who were saved from a burning, fiery furnace. Daniel was a Hebrew, but he was captured from his home in Jerusalem when the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar attacked and destroyed the city of Jerusalem. Along with others, Daniel was taken to Babylon. Ultimately he occupied a place of great importance in the Babylonian government, having demonstrated that the Spirit of God was upon him and that he received from God visions and dreams.
I want to look at Daniel chapter 2 with you. This passage of the Bible should really inform your faith and encourage you and offer you very real hope. You're gonna see a very important principle revealed. If you get this principle, you'll find it will seriously impact your life. In Daniel chapter 2, the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, has a dream. Let's read about it, because what we're about to see is absolutely relevant for us today. We start in Daniel chapter 2, and we begin in verse 1. It says, "Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams, and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king, and the king said to them, 'I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.' Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, 'O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.'"
So we see the situation. A powerful monarch, Nebuchadnezzar employed wise men, "wise men" or counselors, to give him an understanding about certain things. This dream impressed him...not surprising. Dreams were important to ancient kings, because they believed the gods revealed their will to them through dreams. We're gonna see how God is able to quickly turn things around. It's a little like the story of Joseph in Genesis: sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of a wrong that he didn't commit, left to languish in a prison, forgotten by the very people he had helped, and then miraculously delivered, overnight promoted to a very important position in the Egyptian government, second only to Pharaoh himself. And God used Joseph to sustain his family and God's people, who were suffering through a terrible famine.
In fact, in the book of Acts in the New Testament, the Bible says that God sent Joseph to Egypt. As terrible as that trial seemed, God was with Joseph, and He was orchestrating things to work out in just the right way. So remember to trust God; He's working things out just as he did for Joseph, and, as we'll see, for Daniel. We'll see the big picture. On our own, all we can really look at is the surface, but God will take us deeper. Daniel chapter 2, starting in verse 5, the Bible says, "The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, 'My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and...honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.'"
Now, the reason this gets even more interesting is that Daniel was counted among the king's wise men. When the king gives the order to kill these counselors, a death sentence for some of them was a death sentence for all of them. And Daniel's life was on the line. "They answered again and said, 'Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.' The king answered and said, 'I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see my decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.'" It was getting harder, not easier, for them. And it was about to get worse. "The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, 'There is not a man on earth who can tell the king's matter; Therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.' For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon".
You can understand the situation they're in. They're even saying to the king, "King, this is unreasonable. No one's ever asked this before". Now, what you're about to see is that there's something at work that you can't see. In fact, it's a someone. There's something powerful going on that you don't wanna miss. Because it's going to reveal to you that whatever happens in elections, whatever happens in nations, whatever happens in your life, it isn't random. The world isn't really out of control. The executioners were on their way to apprehend Daniel to put him to death, seeing as Daniel and his three friends were counted among the wise men of Babylon. Why didn't they speak up when the king asked about his dream? Evidently they weren't present. But they were guilty by association. The king had outed his inner circle of wise men as frauds who couldn't do what they were paid to do. So he would kill them all. But Daniel did something wise. And this is something that we can learn from.
After learning about the decree, it says this happened: "Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven". What do you learn from that? You know, prayer is communication with God. It doesn't bring God down to us; it lifts us up to Him. "Prayer is the key in the hand of faith that unlocks heaven's storehouse". Prayer connects a person on earth with God in heaven. It's a wonder people don't pray more. The fact that prayer is even a thing at all indicates to us that God is serious about being close to the human family.
Daniel and his friends were looking at a death sentence, and they prayed. God answers prayer, you know. A couple of years ago I was in South Africa with a team who were teaching the Bible. At one of the locations, north of Pretoria, the projector that one presenter was using stopped working. It was really important to get this project going so that the pictures could be seen, and people there could read the Bible verses on the screen. But it just wouldn't work. Friend didn't know what was wrong. So they prayed. And what do you know, the projector started up, no more problems that night. They were just really grateful. But after they were finished, people discovered the reason the projector wouldn't work. And that's because the power had gone off in that whole area. There was no power, but the projector still worked. And that's because, even though there was no power in the power lines, there was power in the God of heaven. And God answers prayer. So Daniel had prayed about this. What was he praying? That God would show him the meaning of the dream King Nebuchadnezzar had.
Let's remember, Daniel didn't have the dream, so he couldn't possibly know what it was or what it meant. But he prayed, and God revealed it to him. Now he has to tell the king. Keep in mind, we're looking at the rise and fall of world leaders. What did God show Daniel? Daniel was ushered into Nebuchadnezzar's presence. And when he came to Nebuchadnezzar, he said this: "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 king had apparently dreamed of a statue, not surprising, as he was an idol-worshiper. God was reaching the king by speaking the language of the king. "This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay".
A statue made of different metals or minerals: head made of gold, chest and arms made of silver, midsection made from brass, legs made of iron, feet were made out of iron and clay. So that's what he saw, but what was to come was really quite astonishing. Daniel went on to say, "You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them [to] 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. This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king". That was the dream itself. What follows is the interpretation of the dream. Nebuchadnezzar didn't take any time to tell Daniel he had got it wrong, because it's clear Daniel had somehow seen just what Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed.
So he's halfway there. That was the dream. And now this is the interpretation, starting in Daniel chapter 2 and verse 37: "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". He said, "You are this head of gold". Now, we're seeing something important here. Notice what Daniel told the king: God has given you a kingdom. He has given them into your hands. He, God, has made you rule over them all. That's significant. Daniel is saying that, although Nebuchadnezzar was king, it was God who gave him the kingdom and God who had made him to be the ruler over that dominion. So let's keep that in mind as we read further, as we think about the world in which we live.
God says this: "But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 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". Look at what God is saying. He's saying, "Listen, Nebuchadnezzar, I gave you a dream showing four nations. You're the first. And I gave you that kingdom, but you're gonna pass off the scene. There'll be a second kingdom, represented by silver, then a third kingdom, represented by bronze, and finally, a fourth kingdom, represented by iron".
God is saying He placed Nebuchadnezzar in power and that Nebuchadnezzar would move off the scene, and his kingdom, Babylon, would one day be overtaken by another kingdom. It turns out that kingdom was Medo-Persia, the joint kingdom of Media and Persia, which defeated Babylon in 539 BC. And we know the kingdom of silver is Medo-Persia because later in the book of Daniel, in Daniel chapter 5, Babylon is defeated by Medo-Persia, and Medo-Persia is named. But then the Medes themselves were conquered, conquered by Alexander the Great of the Greek Empire in 331 BC. Although my Macedonian friends will want me to point out that Alexander was Macedonian, Alexander of Macedon. Greece was defeated in 168 BC by Rome, which then ruled until the 5th century AD. Ancient Roman ruins can be found all over the Roman Empire... or the former Roman Empire... in Bath in England, in the UK, in Lebanon. You'll find Roman ruins in Germany and in Turkey.
In Pula, Croatia, there's a magnificent amphitheater that'll make you think of the Colosseum in Rome. There are Roman ruins in France and Algeria and Albania and Jordan. Rome was a mighty kingdom. But what are we reading here? Let's go back in Daniel 2 to right after Daniel's prayer is answered. And here's what we see Daniel saying. And this speaks to us today. "Daniel answered and said: 'Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.'" That's Daniel 2, verses 20 and 21. That is significant. The Bible says it's God who "removes kings and raises up kings".
Now, we need to be careful how we apply this. This is not to say that God's candidate wins every presidential election or that God even has a candidate, but the rise and fall of kingdoms fulfills God's ultimate plan. Remember, there's something going on behind the scenes that we can't see. Remember that big picture my wife could see when I asked her for directions, the one that I couldn't see? God sees the truly big picture, and He'll make sure that things work out so that the world can see that He is the true God, that He is a God of love, and that Jesus is the Savior of the world. Now, think about this. In the Bible, God calls Abraham "[my] servant," God's servant. God calls Moses "my servant". You're not surprised by that. God refers to David in the same way: "my servant". Job: "my servant". But look at Jeremiah 27:6. What does that say? "And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field I've also given him to serve him".
Nebuchadnezzar brought about the destruction of Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar was responsible for the death of many of God's people. He very nearly had Daniel and his friends executed. But here God calls Nebuchadnezzar "my servant". He describes him that way at least two other times. Look at what God says about Cyrus, the Medo-Persian ruler who conquered Babylon. Here's what God says: "That saith of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, "Thou shalt be built"; and to the temple, "Thy foundation shall be laid".'" You read that Isaiah 44, verse 28. In the next chapter we read these incredible words: "Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held". And look at what Cyrus said in Ezra 1 and verse 2: "All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah".
Someone in some far-flung corner of the Babylonian Empire likely would have said, "Well, there goes the neighborhood. Nebuchadnezzar has been defeated. What a disaster! Things will never be the same again". When, in actual fact, it was in the will of God for Cyrus to defeat Nebuchadnezzar. Now, let's not misunderstand this. This isn't to say that God approved of everything Nebuchadnezzar did, or everything Cyrus did...far from it. But God was moving things. He was using circumstances, working with political changes to ultimately bring about His own desired purposes. We see an election result we don't like; we think somehow God isn't aware of what's going on. We think God is oblivious to what's happening in the world. We think God failed to act when He should have. But God sees it and He says, "I'm gonna work out my purpose here". Remember what we read earlier? "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways".
We don't see everything that's going on. You know, it's like an illusionist doing a card trick. You could say, "The illusionist magically knew which card was taken from the deck". Or you could say, "There's something going on there that I don't quite understand, but I know there's an explanation for what he or she just did". Did the magician in Las Vegas really cause people to disappear on stage and magically reappear in the back of the auditorium? No. There's, there's stuff going on with that. You shouldn't see an entertainer pull a rabbit out of a hat and then say, "The entertainer actually, magically produced a rabbit out of thin air". No, you see that and you say, "There are things I couldn't see, but something was going on out of my view". That's how it is with election results. That's how it is with the rise and fall of kingdoms.
Empires come, and nations come and go. The British Empire, it's just a shadow of its former self. The Soviet Union is gone. It's no more. There's no Austro-Hungarian Empire anymore. There's no Yugoslavia. No, I'm not saying that was an empire, but what was once a collection of nations coupled together is gone. There's no Mongolian Empire. The Ottoman Empire existed until just 200 years ago. If I asked you to explain how great the Ottoman Empire was, would you be able to do it? The Ottoman Empire controlled southeastern Europe, western Asia, and north Africa. Did it really? Yes, it did. How long for? For 600 years. How does an empire like that simply cease to exist? Well, for many reasons, obviously, but God is in the midst of that, working out His perfect will. It doesn't make God party to the terrible behavior of some of these empires and kingdoms or nations. It simply shows that God's aware of what's happening in the world, and He's working out His will in preparation for the return of Jesus.
Back to Daniel 2, and here's what you have. You have Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome. And then we read this in verse 41: "Whereas you saw 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 iron does not mix with clay". Well, what day would this point to? What did we have? The four kingdoms, and then the fourth one, Rome, divides. The legs become the feet and toes. And just as iron doesn't mix with clay, these kingdoms, these 10 nations that came out of the Roman Empire, will never adhere to one another. They won't join back together. You know, during the Second World War, preachers familiar with this prophecy would preach in England that Hitler simply couldn't win.
Now, most of us can't remember this, but things were perilous for England during World War II. There was no guarantee the Allies would win. German bombers blitzed London. The D-Day invasion, which landed on the beach at Normandy in France, could easily have come unglued. In fact, U.S. President Eisenhower drafted a statement, he actually wrote the thing out, announcing the D-Day invasion had failed. He had that statement prepared, just in case he needed to make that statement. But in spite of things often looking shaky for Britain, with western Europe firmly under the control of Germany, preachers familiar with Daniel chapter 2 would preach boldly that Hitler couldn't succeed. Magazines would publish articles about how Hitler's doom was certain, and they based their conclusions simply on what the Bible said. And sure enough, when it looked like Britain couldn't possibly win, the Bible was right, again.
There are other places in the Bible where you see these kingdoms named. Daniel 2 has the rise and fall of nations depicted by the different metals that made up the statue Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. In Daniel 7, the same scenario is presented, but instead of using minerals and a statue, this time the symbols used are animals. Daniel had a dream in which he saw a lion, a bear, and a leopard, and then an animal that he couldn't really classify, but he called it "dreadful," "terrible," and "exceedingly strong". And when you look at those animals, you see that, once again, God is pointing to the rise and fall of those same world powers. Babylon was represented, the Bible says, as a lion with eagle's wings. I was in Babylon, New York... it's on Long Island... a number of years ago. I thought it was interesting: My wife and I, we saw statues, or tall pillars, that had on top of them lions with eagles' wings. It was outside of business in Babylon.
Makes sense, because the lion with wings of eagles was and is a symbol of Babylon. Medo-Persia was the bear, raised up on one side, because Persia was more powerful than Media. Now, the leopard, that was Greece, depicted as having four wings in Daniel 7... speed...because under Alexander the Great, Greece rapidly overtook the world. Then came Rome. A fearsome animal is brought into view, because Rome was a terrible persecutor of people. It's essentially the same information as is shared in Daniel 2, but with some additional details. There are those four kingdoms again: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. And this time, instead of dividing into the feet and toes, as happens in Daniel 2, the fourth nation divides into 10 horns. What we're seeing is that there's a divine hand at work when it comes to the rise and fall of kingdoms and of world leaders.
Now, again, I know I've said it already, but I'll say it again. Don't stretch this too far. This isn't to say that God voted for every despot that ever ruled a kingdom or a nation or that God approves of every election result, but what we know is that election results don't take God by surprise, and He'll work through them to see to it that His purposes are ultimately worked out. And what's God's purpose? I'll show you what John wrote, over here in 1 John chapter 5. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God".
As I said earlier, we can only see what we can see, and when we can't see, we can trust. There is a well-known Bible verse, written in Romans chapter 8 and verse 28. It says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose". It can be challenging to believe that: All things work together for good? So you don't like the President, or the next president, whoever he or she may be, and you don't like the direction your country is going. Well, we have a political process that allows you to influence the outcome of elections. And...we have trust, faith that the God of heaven is alive and on His throne, and that His purposes will eventually be worked out. You know, with an election, you really don't want it your way. You really want it God's way. You want an election to go in the way that's gonna advance God's causes and ultimately bless and benefit your relationship with Him. And look at how that's gonna happen.
Daniel chapter 2, and we'll pick it up in verse 44. Let me get there. Daniel 2 and verse 44: "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". This is the only prophecy in the Bible that is called both "certain" and "sure". After the rise and fall of kingdoms, there's gonna be another kingdom, a final kingdom, and it will never pass away. It's gonna be here to stay.
That stone cut out of the mountain is Jesus, the Rock of ages. And He's gonna return to this world and establish His eternal kingdom, and He wants you to be part of it. We've seen some pretty amazing things. We've seen that the Bible is reliable. What we've looked at is validated by history. Kingdoms come and kingdoms go, and in this case, they came and went just as God said they would. And the next thing that's gonna happen is the return of Jesus. Oh yes, God certainly cares about what's going on in this world. It has to pain Him to see unjust leaders, tyrants, dishonest people. God has seen kleptocrats amass enormous fortunes at the expense of their countries. He has seen humanity at its very worst, but none of that is gonna prevent Him from establishing the greatest kingdom that history has ever known.
In 1940, just a year into World War II, British troops in France found themselves in a desperate situation. Germany was gaining the upper hand in France, and thousands of British and Belgian and French troops were surrounded by German forces. British prime minister Winston Churchill said it was, and I quote, "a colossal military disaster". The only hope was for the British to retreat back across the English Channel through Dunkirk. But even then, they'd have to fight their way to Dunkirk and defend the town from the Germans for long enough to give rescuers from Britain time to arrive. Evacuating 390,000 men seemed like an impossible task anyway. It was hoped that maybe they could get 50,000 out; 50,000 would be a good number. But for reasons that are still unclear to this day, Hitler ordered his tanks to stop pursuing the retreating Allied forces. It's said that Hitler had been assured that Germany's air force could do the job itself.
So in England a call was made for ships, any ships at all, large or small, little things if that's all we could get, ships that would be willing to help with the rescue. And people responded. They responded in ferries and in sloops and in fishing boots, in motor boats, in yachts, every other kind of boat imaginable. Piloted, they were piloted by bankers and longshoremen and taxi drivers and fishermen, by men and boys. The boats were guided to their destination by the smoke and flames that were visible from Dunkirk. Many of the boats used were just tiny. They'd be used to ferry men from the shore to larger boats waiting out in the deeper water.
And with the beach at Dunkirk under attack from German artillery, from bombers, from fighter planes, this ragtag rescue force managed to evacuate almost 340,000 British, Belgians, and French. It was an incredible rescue mission, nine days. How it was even possible no one understands. But when the chance to be rescued from certain death comes along, analysis is best left for another day. You accept the lifeline when it's thrown to you. You accept it gratefully. God is throwing you and me a lifeline right now. We're going to get out of this world one day, and God invites us to secure eternity by choosing to open our hearts to the God who sets up kingdoms and takes down kingdoms.
Whatever God does is done in our very best interests. And what we don't like or don't understand today, well, that'll be made clear to us in eternity. God is setting up a kingdom that He wants you to be part of. Would you be part of that eternal kingdom? The Bible says that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life". Verse 17 goes on to say, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved". Sin separated us from God. God is just. That means He has to recognize that infraction against His law. But instead of taking that out on us, what did God do? He allowed Jesus to come to this world and die on a cross.
What did Jesus do? He died for our sins. I don't know that it's really very easy for us to imagine just how terrible crucifixion was, or what an incredible thing it was that the God of heaven, the Creator... the Bible says that Jesus is the one who created all things...what was it that the Creator came from heaven all the way down to earth, born of a woman, lived as a man, and then allowed Him to be tried for crimes He didn't commit, sentenced by a sham court, taken by cruel men, and nailed to an old rugged cross made from wood taken from a tree that He created? How do we get our minds around that? This demonstrates to us that Jesus died for you because He loves you. There's nothing He wouldn't do to see you saved.
You say, "But I'm weak". Jesus knew that; He died for you anyway in your weakness. You say, "I'm disloyal. I can't be faithful to God. I've made mistake after mistake after mistake". Do you think that Jesus didn't know that? He did, He does, and He died for you anyway. You say, "Well, I've tried so many times to get it right, but it seems like I can never get it right, and I keep on messing up". Right. So what do you do? Turn from God and go it on your own? Is that what we do? No, we say to God, "I failed so many times. I need Your help". You know a mistake that many people make? They make promises to God. They say, "Okay, from now on, I'm gonna do it right, God. I'm sorry I failed You, but I'm gonna get it right now".
Did you know that God does not want you to make promises to Him? Instead, God simply wants you to believe the promises that He makes to you: "I will live my life in you, and then I'll come back for you. I will forgive you. I will make you new". The Bible says, if anyone is in Christ, that person "is a new creature: [the] old things are passed away," and "all things...become new". Don't worry about what you're not. Don't worry about what you are. Just thank God that He can make you new, because Jesus died for you, and He's coming back soon to take you home. Let me pray for you now. Can we pray together? Let's do that.
Our Father in heaven, we thank You that You are good, and we thank You that You are God. And as we pray, we are painfully aware of our own weakness, but I thank You that Your Spirit is speaking to us now and pointing us away from our weakness to Your great strength. Lord, You have said that You want to live your life in us. Please do that. And give us the assurance that Jesus died for us, and through faith in Jesus, we now have the gift of everlasting life. We believe it. Friend, do you believe it? We claim it. Friend, would you claim it? We thank You for it. In Jesus' name, amen, and amen.