Matt Hagee - The God of Hope
Whenever you mention the word "Apocalypse," people often envision dooms day scenarios. They see mushroom clouds over cities. They see scenes of disaster like your in-laws moving in with you. You see this topic of the end times and the apocalypse is not one that is intended to create confusion. But it's something for those who believe in Christ to be filled with confidence, hope, and faith, to stay focused on the big picture: that the God of the Bible is the God who is still on his throne today. He is in absolute control. And when the last word is uttered by the last leader on this earth, our God will still be in power, because no government can unseat him. No scientist can disprove him. No judge or court can overrule him. No force on earth can take him out. Our God is the great God. Our God is mighty. Our God is all knowing. He knows the very end from the beginning. He is faithful and he is true. He is the king above kings and he is the Lord above Lords. And he is great and greatly to be praised! Bless his holy name!
Today we begin in Daniel 2:19. If you're there, say, amen. Let's read it together. "Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision". So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever. For wisdom and might are his. He changes the times and the seasons. He removes kings, and he raises up kings. He gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things. He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank you and I praise you, o God of my fathers. You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you. For you have made known to us the king's demand".
Heavenly Father, I ask today that the same Spirit that gave Daniel understanding would reside upon this congregation and to those who are watching by television. Help us today to be made ever more certain that you are in total control: that your will shall be done: and that your kingdom of which there shall be no end, is soon coming to this earth. And we wait for you, king Jesus. In your precious name, we pray. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
You may be seated. So I like to keep things simple. And when it comes to the apocalypse, in order to keep it simple, you have to first understand what is an apocalypse. An apocalypse is not the end of the world. An apocalypse is not a nuclear war. An apocalypse simply means "An unveiling, the pulling back of the curtain". "Apocalypse" comes from the Greek word "To unveil or to pull back". And so we see, in the book of Daniel, the hand of God pulling back the curtain of time and showing Daniel what is on the other side. Now also one of the things that we need to keep in order is when did the last days begin. If you ask people today, "When did the last days begin," some of them will tell you, "Well they haven't started yet because the last days don't come until after the rapture".
That's not true. The last days began, according to scripture, 2.000 years ago on the day of Pentecost. The 120 people from Galilee, mostly, disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, they spill out into the streets of Jerusalem, and they begin to preach the gospel to the men who are in Jerusalem from other nations. And so they just assumed they're drunk. Peter's standing up. He said, "They're not drunk as you suppose... But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel". And then Peter quotes Joel 2:28 through 32. And here's where he begins, "And it shall come to pass in the last days". Say that with me, in the last days. When did he say it would come to pass? The last days. Joel prophesied it: Peter confirmed it. "It shall come to pass in the last days that i, God, will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. I'll show you signs in the heavens. I'll show you signs on the earth. The sun shall be turned to darkness. The moon shall be turned to blood", there's a good book in that title right there, "Before the great and awesome day of the Lord". And then he said, "And whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved".
Two thousand years ago, the last days began. You and I are walking in the last days of the last days. Don't fool yourself into thinking that we've got a whole lot of time left. For 2.000 years, we've been watching and we've been waiting. How do you know? Because 2.000 years ago, the prophetic clock moved into the delivery room. What do I mean by that? My wife and I have four children. She told me months in advance that we were expecting children. But I didn't know when I would meet that child until we got in the delivery room. Whenever we went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy, the doctor said, "Your baby will be born sometime in mid-April". Now how was he able to give that statement? He was able to give that statement because every gestation has a set period of time: just like the rapture of the church has a set period of time. And we know that the world has been in the labor and delivery room, because in Romans 8:22, Paul says, "The whole of creation groans and labors with birth pains".
Now the birth pains don't start until you're in the delivery room. And if they start before, you better get there quick. Now in regards to Kendal and Hannah, the closer we got to the date, the more natural developments took place that let everybody know the pregnancy was going along just as it was planned. And on the day that the baby was coming, I finally knew the day. So when it comes to this concept that no man knows the day or the hour, just like an expecting father waiting on the baby to arrive, you might not know the exact second, but you have a clue about what's happening when. And yet, rather than just use commonsense and consider all of the signs and the progress of the things that are around us, we would rather hang our hat on that one verse that no man knows the day or the hour, and just throw away this idea that Jesus is coming soon.
Listen to me, church. Two thousand years ago, the world went into the labor and delivery room. And every day and every hour since, we have been drawing closer, and closer, and closer to that moment when the trump of God shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall rise, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet him in the air. Church, I've got good news. We're getting ready to leave this world! So don't get distracted by the details. Keep it simple. God has unveiled the mystery. And everything that needs to be in place is there. What is this mystery that God unveiled? He unveiled the mystery of the end of time in several sections of the Bible. Today we visit Daniel 2 where we see an apocalypse, a pulling back of the curtain. And this first apocalypse, this pulling back of the curtain was not given to a prophet or to a priest. It was given to an idol-worshiping king. If you don't think that God can speak to wicked men, go check out the conversations he had with Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was no Sunday schoolteacher. He was a temperamental conqueror, who conquered the whole world.
Now in Daniel 2:1, we read that Nebuchadnezzar had visions on his bed. He had dreams and these dreams bothered him to the point that his sleep left him. And so Daniel petitions the king. He says, "Ask the king if I can have some time". Ask him if I can go talk to God, and if God will not tell me what the king knows. And Daniel is granted the time, and God gives him the answer. Now without getting off the subject, that right there ought to give you a very clear scriptural principle that if you are ever at a point in your life where you don't have the answer, you're not in a hurry. Take the time to talk to God, because God knows the answer. When Daniel gets the answer in verse 19, he begins with a praise to the Lord. He says, "Blessing be the name of the Lord forever: for wisdom and might are his. He changes the times. He changes the seasons. He brings a king up and he removes another... He reveals the deep and secret things". And then he says, "I thank you and I praise you". Say that with me, I thank you and I praise you.
Daniel got to see the curtain removed. And he saw the very end that God has been planning from the beginning. And Daniel didn't say, oh, dear Lord, what are we going to do? Daniel saw it, and he said, "God, I thank you and I praise you". I believe that God Almighty wants to hear his children on this earth not be filled with the spirit of fear, because he has not given us fear, but power, love, and a sound mind. But to look at what's happening in the world today and not throw up our hands in despair, but say like Daniel did, "God, I thank you and I praise you". Because you are the one who sits on the throne. I thank you that when this is finished, you are going to be the king above kings and the Lord above Lords, and every enemy will be defeated, and every stronghold will be brought down! And we shall have victory through Jesus Christ our Lord! Daniel praised God, and then he went to go see Nebuchadnezzar.
And here's what he said. He said, "King, the secret thing that you demanded from your wise men, from your soothsayers, from your astrologers, they cannot declare". But then in Daniel 2:28, he says, "But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets". And Daniel says, "He made known to you, Nebuchadnezzar, what will be in the latter days. And it was a dream and it was a vision. And the thing that you saw on your bed was this", and God pulls back the curtain and he shows Nebuchadnezzar an image. And Daniel describes the image as "Awesome and being full of splendor". And he says, "It's an image with a head of gold and a chest and arms of silver, and loins and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron, and toes of iron and clay". Now he gives this information to Nebuchadnezzar, and he says, is that what you saw? And Nebuchadnezzar says, it's exactly what I saw. Now what does it mean?
Now he gives this information to Nebuchadnezzar, and he says, is that what you saw? And Nebuchadnezzar says, it's exactly what I saw. Now what does it mean? Now let me tell you, if you're guessing weight at the state fair, that's pretty lucky. But when you can tell him in vivid detail the image, the color, and everything that he saw, you are receiving an apocalypse as God is pulling back the curtain and showing you what it means. Daniel begins the process of telling the king exactly every meaning of every piece of this statue. First, in verses 36 and 38, he says of the head of gold, he says, Nebuchadnezzar, this is you. He says, "You are a king". Say that with me, you are a king among kings. Now Babylon was the first global empire that came to power in the year 586 B.C., and it reigned for almost 50 years. In 539 B.C., it was taken over. He says, "Nebuchadnezzar, your kingdom," in verse 39, "Shall come to power. And there will be another to rise up is that is inferior to yours". This kingdom is the chest and the arms of silver. This represents the kingdom of the Persians and the Medes that took power in 539 and stayed in power until 332.
Now here's the situation with the transition between the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Medes. In Daniel's old age, Nebuchadnezzar's grandson is on the throne. Nebuchadnezzar's grandson goes into the vault and he pulls out all of the fine things that they took from the temple. And he starts to have a party, blaspheming the fine articles from the temple in Jerusalem with his absolute sick behavior. And suddenly a hand comes into the banquet room. You've read the story. And there's writing on the wall. And they can't recognize what the writing says, so they go find somebody who can recognize this writing. And they go get the Hebrew from Jerusalem, Daniel, to come and read it. And he says to Nebuchadnezzar's grandson. He said, "You've been weighed in the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom shall be removed from you tonight". And that night, the Persians and the Medes invaded Babylon. Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was killed. And Daniel was right. But he told Nebuchadnezzar this 50 years before it happened.
Now there's two arms on this chest, one for the Persian kingdom and one for the Mede kingdom. The Persians and the Medes are represented by silver, because silver is harder than gold. And this is indicative of the fact in history that each and every successive empire became more and more vicious and harsh as they came to power. Daniel continues to talk to Nebuchadnezzar. He says, "There will be a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule the earth". The midsection from the belly and the thighs and the loins of bronze represent the Greek kingdom that began under Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. And went until the Romans came in 63 B.C. This kingdom was harsher than the Medes and the Persians. And while we can say that Daniel saw the Babylonians and the Persians and Medes' transition, the Greeks did not come to power until hundreds of years after Daniel was dead.
So how is it possible that Daniel, a teenage boy in Babylon, could see hundreds of years into the future that the Greeks were going to come after the Persians and the Medes? From bronze, we transition to two legs of iron. And Daniel says of this fourth kingdom, shall be strong as iron. Just as iron breaks and crushes, this kingdom will break and crush all others. This represents the Roman kingdom that came to power 63 years before Christ was born and remained in power for over 300 years after his death. The Roman Empire was so strong that any form of resistance was met with absolute annihilation. They devoured their enemies. A left leg and a right leg are symbolic of the civil war that took place in Rome where Rome where divided into an Eastern and western kingdom. It was not reunited until Constantine won the battle that brought the empire of Rome back together. And when he did, he renamed it "The holy Roman Empire". And he put himself as the head of the church.
In verse 42, we see another transition. Out of this Roman Empire that controlled most of the world, we see a world begin to form that doesn't make much sense. Somewhere around the ankles, the feet and the toes. My Lord, this man needs a pedicure. In verse 42 of chapter 2, he says, "The ankles and the feet are of iron and clay. They're partly strong and they're partly fragile. They mingle and they mix with the seed of men but they do not adhere". That's the world we live in today. We live in a world that doesn't mix. It's divided. Let's consider religion. We've got nations with very weak moral fiber.
The United States is a secular humanist nation. I know that we like to tell ourselves that we're Christian, but the data just simply doesn't support it. But then there are other nations where they have a very strong and ironclad set of convictions. They want to live by Sharia law. They are called in the headlines "Radical Islamists" but they believe that the more infidels that they kill, the more righteous they become: and the more chaos they cause, the closer they get to their radical Islamic messiah coming back to earth.
How strong do they believe this? They're willing to die to prove this. And you might look at the ten toes of iron and clay, and you might wonder how are we going to solve this problem. Daniel didn't say that help is going to come from one party or one state or one nation. Daniel said that the help was going to come from heaven above. He said it in verse 45 whenever he let the king know that there was a stone that was coming from a mountain that was cut without hands. And this stone was going to break in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and gold. He let Nebuchadnezzar know, "The great God has made known to you what will come to pass after this".
Church, did you hear what Daniel said? He said, there is a great God and he is in total control. There is a great God who has carved from his holy mountain a stone that is cut without hands. And whenever it arrives here on earth, it will establish a kingdom. And of this kingdom, there shall be no end. Church of Jesus Christ, do not fear: help is on the way! Church, the stone, the stone that the builders rejected is now the chief cornerstone. That cornerstone was the seed of the woman that God spoke about in eden. He is the ark of salvation for Noah. He is the ram in the thicket for Abraham. He is the rock where Jacob laid his head to rest. He is the rock that Moses sat upon when he raised his hands for Israel to be victorious. He is the rock that was struck in the wilderness, and living water flowed. David said, "He is the rock of my refuge and my strength, a strong tower, and an ever present help in a time of trouble".
Church, I am excited to tell you today that that rock that is coming to establish a kingdom, he climbed the slopes of Calvary. And he grafted me into the promises of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He took my sin. He paid for my shame. He bore my sorrow and he set me free! And whom the son sets free is free indeed! There is a rock of salvation! There is a rock that is coming! There is a king that is above kings! There is a Lord that is above Lords and Jesus is his name!
Would you remain standing? Daniel finishes his conversation with Nebuchadnezzar. He said, "The dream is certain and the interpretation is sure". He didn't look at the king and say, I'm guessing. He said, I have had an unveiling. And I see and I know what God is doing. The question is not, was Daniel on target? The question is, are you ready? Have you placed your faith in the rock of your salvation Jesus Christ? Or are you going to be watching when he crushes the kingdoms of this world? And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
With every head bowed and every eye closed in this place today, you're here in this sanctuary and you say, pastor, I believe what the Word of God says. I believe there is a kingdom coming. I believe that Jesus Christ is the king in that kingdom. But I know today I'm just not ready. I haven't received him. I haven't gotten the forgiveness that he's purchased on my behalf. I haven't put my faith in him. I've doubted and I've debated rather than believed and obeyed. And if that describes you, and you know you need a Savior today, I want you to know that Jesus is his name. And I'd love for you to raise your hand so I can see where you are in this sanctuary. Hands all over this room, people knowing that the Holy Spirit is drawing them to the waters of salvation today. You say, "Pastor, I'm just not ready, but I want to be when the king comes". I want everyone in this room to repeat this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, your word says, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved". And today I'm calling on you to become my Savior, my redeemer, and my king. I receive, in faith, the free gift of your salvation. I ask you to take your shed blood and cleanse my heart and life today. I receive you, Lord Jesus. And I expectingly await your coming. I thank you that you are in control, and you, Heavenly Father, will establish your kingdom. And of your kingdom, there shall be no end. You are my king. Even so come Lord Jesus, in Jesus' name. Amen.