Robert Jeffress - America's Coming Storm
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Remember when hurricane Sandy swept across the eastern coastline a few years ago? In addition to terrorizing countless Americans, sandy inflicted billions of dollars of destruction. Well in the aftermath, we were all shocked to discover how many people had foolishly ignored the coming storm, even though the warning signs were clear and compelling. In today's study of Daniel chapter 7, we'll see the remarkable parallel in this book of prophecy that should send the sirens screaming in our country today. My message is titled, America's coming storm on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
We witnessed one of the most devastating storms in American history. Tropical super storm Sandy's damage is estimated at 50 billion dollars and still counting. Sandy was a severe storm, but it was not a storm that was a surprise storm. For weeks meteorologists had predicted Sandy's arrival. For days they had been able to track her path and predict when she would strike, where she would strike, the intensity with which she would strike. But that wasn't the only prediction. The New York Times reported this week that for the last 10 years meteorologists had been warning that such a super storm was going to strike the Northeast.
There had been all kind of signs over the last decades of the rising sea levels, the frequent flooding, the irregular weather patterns - all were precursors. They were warnings for a storm. And yet, even though the super storm had been predicted, when it struck the northeast was largely unprepared for it. The Bible says that there is another kind of storm coming. It's going to be a severe storm, but it's not going to be a storm that is a surprise. It's a storm that will have many signs that will accompany its arrival. In a way, the prophet Daniel was a spiritual meteorologist, because in his book, Daniel foretells what will precede this coming storm that will engulf all the world.
Daniel says there's going to be a churning among the nations. There is going to be political unrest and that political unrest will climax in the reign of a figure we call the antichrist. And his reign will one day, however, be toppled by the cataclysmic event known as the second coming of Jesus Christ. What's interesting is Daniel looked down the corridor of history 2.500 years ago and he was able to predict all of these events. And nowhere in the book of Daniel, nowhere in the Bible is there a greater panorama of human history that will result in the return of Jesus Christ than the passage we're going to look at tonight. If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Daniel 7. Daniel 7.
Now, let me remind you that the book of Daniel is divided into two parts. The first six chapters that we've already concluded, those six chapters are biographical. But when we get to Daniel 7-12 these chapters are prophetic. They're apocalyptic. They contain visions that were visions about the end times. Specifically, Daniel's visions had to do with a period of time in the Bible known as the times of the gentiles. Jesus spoke about the times of the gentiles. The times of the gentiles began when Israel was taken captive: Judah was taken captive and Daniel with them in 586 B.C.
From 605-586 BC, that's when Jerusalem was captured, the city was plundered, the temple was destroyed and the time of gentiles, the time of gentile domination of Israel will extend from then until now all of the way until the tribulation and the return of Jesus Christ. Not until Christ returns will the time of the gentiles be over. And so all of Daniel's visions had to do with this period of time that started in his day and ends with the coming of Jesus Christ. And that leads us to Daniel chapter 7 verse 1, "In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed: then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it".
Now, this is when Belshazzar was king. So, this dream takes place somewhere between chapters 4 and 5. Belshazzar, remember, was the last king of Babylon. So, sometimes between chapters 4 and 5 Daniel had this dream. If you ever had a dream and five minutes later you couldn't remember what it was, well, Daniel had that dream and he decided to write it down, so he would remember it. Look at verses 2-3, Daniel said: here's the dream, "I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another".
Now, in the Bible the sea usually refers to gentile nations and the constant churning of the sea is a reference to the churning, the strife between nations in the world. But notice where this strife was coming from - it was the heavens that were stirring up the great sea, and that is a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, that God is in control of human events. God has a plan that he is working out for the nations and that's what we see right here. Now, notice that Daniel sees four beasts in verse 3, coming up out of the sea. These four beasts as we'll see in just a moment, were the four great world empires beginning with Babylon in Daniel's day and extending to Medo-Persia, and to Greece, and ultimately to Rome.
Now, let's look at these beasts very quickly. In verse 4, "The first beast was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man: a human mind was also given to it". Now, when we see a lion with wings on it we know immediately what that is. Archeologists have told us that the winged lion we discovered in archeology was the sign of Babylon. Babylon ruled the world from 612-539 B.C.
Now look at the second beast in verse 5, and behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth: and thus they said to it, 'arise, devour much meat!' this was the Medo-Persian empire that ruled from 539-331 B.C. These ribs in its mouth probably referred to the kingdoms that Medo-Persia overtook: Egypt, Babylon, Libya. The third beast is found in verse 6 and that's Greece, "After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird: the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it".
Greece ruled the world from 331-63 B.C. The leopard probably is a reference to the speed with which the ruler of Greece, Alexander the Great overtook the world. We'll talk more about him next Sunday night. Remember when he died at the age of 33, his kingdom was divided among his four generals and that's the reference here to the four wings of the bird, and the four heads. But the bulk of this vision has to do with this fourth kingdom, the kingdom of Rome. Look at verses 7-8, "After this I was looking in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong: and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet: and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. And while I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up from among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it: and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts".
Now, what is this fourth kingdom? This fourth kingdom unlike any other was the Roman Empire. There was no empire more cruel or powerful than the Roman Empire. And notice what history tells us. Rome began ruling the world in 241 B.C. It ruled until 1453 A.D. when Mehmed II conquered Constantinople and the last Roman ruler died. But even though Rome ceased to exist as a world power it did not die. And that is key to understanding this fourth empire. Because, as we'll see in a moment, the Book of Revelation tells us that the Roman Empire though dormant is not dead and it is going to come alive again. The Roman Empire's not dead. We see vestiges of it still in our culture. Our law is based in large part on Roman law. We see the religious influence of Rome in the Roman Catholic Church. There is still a Roman influence in the world, but there is going to be a rebuilding of the Roman Empire - it's going to come in a different form that we'll look at in just a moment.
Now, in Daniel's vision about the fourth kingdom, keep in mind there is the beast who has 10 horns. Now, the horn on an animal was a symbol of power. So, you got a beast with 10 horns and then there is another, what is called the little horn that is separate from the 10 horns. If you will keep the beast, the 10 horns, and the little horn in your mind - this is going to make sense to you. Now look at verses 9-10. Daniel is seeing this disturbing scene of these beasts, especially the fourth beast with the 10 horns and the little horn, but then his dream shifts to heaven. Look at verses 9-10, "And I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the ancient of days took his seat".
Now notice his appearance, "His vesture was like white snow and the hair of his head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames: its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before him: thousands upon thousands were attending him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before him. The court sat and the books were opened". This is probably the only reference in the Bible where God the Father is described in human form. And what I want you to see is even though on earth there's great turmoil, the beast, the final world dictator is devouring the world - God is still on his throne. Nothing has changed.
Now, back to earth in verses 11-12, "Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn", that is the little horn, "Was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain, and his body was destroyed and given to the burning fire". Now this is the reference to the final judgment of the antichrist. Now look at Daniel 7:12, "As for the rest of the beasts", that is Babylon and Medo-Persia and Greece, "Their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time". These other world kingdoms, they weren't destroyed completely: they continue and in a form continue today, even though they're not great powers. But when the antichrist is destroyed, his power will be destroyed forever.
Now look at verses 13-14, these are the key verses in this chapter, "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold", as Daniel looks into heaven, he says, "With the clouds of heaven one like the Son of man coming, and he came up to the ancient of days and was presented before him". The Son of man is a reference to Jesus Christ. Daniel sees him being presented before God the Father, "And to him", that is to the Son, "Was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the prophets, nations and men of every language might serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away: and his kingdom is one which will not be destroyed".
Do you remember in Matthew 26 when Jesus was taken before Caiaphas the high priest of Jerusalem and Caiaphas asked him point blank: are you the Son of the living God? Remember his answer? He quoted from this passage, Daniel 7:13, "You will see the Son of man coming on clouds from heaven". He was quoting this passage. Caiaphas understood what he was saying. He was saying: I am the one Daniel prophesied of. And because of that Caiaphas, when he heard those words, tore his clothes and he accused Jesus of blasphemy and sentenced him to death.
This is a prophecy of the coming of Christ to reclaim his kingdom and when this happens, that is when the ancient of days, God the Father gives the right to rule the world back to his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ - this will be a fulfillment of the Messianic Psalm, Psalm 2:7-8. Remember what God says to his Son? "You are my Son: today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as your possession". Right now, the world is under satan's control, but it won't remain that way forever. There will be a great climax of the antichrist's rule, but one day God will topple the antichrist and give the kingdoms of this world to his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, beginning in verse 15 we see God's interpretation of Daniel's vision. Daniel was troubled. He wanted to know what all of this meant. Now look at verse 17. First of all, there's an identification of the beasts in general, "These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth". We've already talked about that. It's Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, but then beginning in verse 19, he centers specifically on this fourth beast. He recaps the vision beginning in verse 19, this awful fourth beast. He talks about the 10 horns on its head and then he talks about the little horn that subdues three of the horns on the beast's head.
Now look at verse 21 "And I kept looking, and that little horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them". In verse 23, "Thus he said, 'the fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down'". Rome was different in two ways. First of all, it was different in its power and cruelty, but it was also different in - the Roman Empire was thought to be dead. It's thought to be dead today, but unlike any other world empire it will rise to power again.
Remember the prophecy in Revelation? People think it's talking about antichrist that he was slain and miraculously came back to life. I don't believe that's the ruler antichrist: it's the kingdom of antichrist. It's the Roman Empire that was taught to be dead, but will rise again miraculously. Now look at verse 24, the Revelation of this little horn. Now we're honing in on what the real heart of this message is about. Verse 24, "As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise: and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue the three kings". Who is this little horn that Daniel keeps talking about? It is the final world dictator, the one we call antichrist.
Now remember, that word "Subdue" is sometimes translated in some of your translations "He will uproot" as if it's a violent action: that's not what the word means. It really is a gradual subduing, kind of like the new growth on a tree just gradually pushes away the old growth. And notice what he will do in verse 25 when he takes over the world. Verse 25, "He will speak out against the Most High and he will wear down the saints of the highest one, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law: and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time". That's a way of saying three and half years. A time is 1 year: times is 2 years: one plus two is three: half a time is half a year. That is always in scripture, in Daniel and in the Revelation, antichrist's reign of terror will last for three and half years of the great revelation.
Now I want you to look at each of these phrases and write them down that describe the antichrist's rule. First of all, he will speak against the Most High. He will blaspheme the name of God. Let me remind you that when you speak out against God's laws, you are speaking out against the Most High. In Psalm 2 we find these words, the Psalmist said, "Why are the nations in an uproar and the people devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed One, saying, 'let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us'"! That is what the pagans are saying today in America: we're not going to be bound up by the laws of God: we are going to cast those laws aside and follow our own way. That's what they will say in the days of the antichrist.
He will, first of all, speak out against the Most High. Secondly, he will wear down the saints. That is, he is going to launch an unprecedented attack against God's people, both the Jews and those who become Christians during the time of the Great Tribulation. He'll restrict their free speech: he will restrict their freedom of worship: he will restrict their ability to buy and sell unless they take the mark of the beast and declare allegiance to the antichrist.
Not only that, number three: he will alter the times and the laws. Altering the times, that's a reference to: he will change, try to change the religious rituals of God's people. But he will also alter the law. You see, when antichrist comes, he is not going to be able to suddenly seize power and suddenly make these radical changes. He's not going to be able to suddenly restrict speech, and religious worship, and commerce: why, to do that suddenly would cause a revolution that would topple his reign on the earth. And yet Revelation 6 says when antichrist comes, he will take over power automatically. Revelation 6 says he will ride a horse that has a bow with no arrow on it. His overtaking the world will be effortlessly. It will be without any effort at all.
How does that happen? The only way that's going to happen is if there is a gradual erosion of God's laws and our personal freedoms over a long period of time. And it will be that gradual erosion of our sense of morality, our adherence to God's laws, that gradual erosion of our personal freedoms that will make it relatively easy for antichrist to take over without any opposition whatsoever. As troubling as this vision was to Daniel he saw antichrist's ultimate destruction that will come about when the Son of God receives the kingdom from the ancient of days.
Look at verses 26-27, "But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One: his kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey him". Daniel was looking forward to that final coming kingdom, the coming of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. You know, the fact is, it has always been the prayers of God's people for that day when the Son of God would receive from the ancient of days the right to rule this earth. Jesus taught us to pray for that day. Remember the Lord's prayer? Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done: on earth as it is in heaven. That day is coming.