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       Recently people’s interest in prophecy has risen to the point of deciphering secret codes in the Hebrew Scriptures. Today we will study the open "code" in the Scriptures—Bible prophecy in plain language having to do with human destiny. The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind. He wants us to know truths dealing with our vital interests. They are not hidden in a secret code, and we don’t need a computer to decipher it. We will study the 2nd chapter of Daniel. It embraces 2600 years of history, beginning before Christ and coming down to the days of Christ’s kingdom on earth.

       1)That’s wonderful! Please tell us of the major points of this amazing prophecy.

       Answer: Daniel 2 tells the story of a dream that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had and then forgot. Yet he was impressed that it was an important dream, so he called all the wise men in his court and ordered them to explain it.

       "Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, ‘O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.’ " Please read the following passages selected from this chapter.

       2)"The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, ‘The thing is gone from me. 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 great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.’

       "They answered again and said, ‘Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.’

       "The king answered and said, ‘I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that the thing is gone from me. 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.’

       "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. So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men, and they sought Daniel and his companions to kill them.

       Answer: Among the wise men of Babylon were some young apprentices who were Jewish captives, among whom was Daniel. Because they were mere fledglings and had no rank, they had not appeared before the king. But when time came for the execution of the king’s command, the captain of the guard made them the first victims. Daniel asked Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, ‘Why is the decree from the king so urgent?" Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel, who thereupon asked the king to give him time. Please read on from verse 17.

       3) "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, . . . Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. . . 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. . . I thank You and 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.’ Dan. 2:17-23.

       Then was Daniel brought before the king, who asked him, "’Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?’ Daniel answered, . . and said, ‘The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.

       "Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretations to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart. You, O king, were watching, and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you, and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them 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. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all---you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all 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.

       "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. 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 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."

       Answer: So you see, a simple prophecy like this has summarized 2600 years of world history.

       4) Please explain what the head of gold, breast of silver, belly of brass, legs of iron, feet of iron & clay mean.

       Answer: All who know world history should understand. It was 603 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar had this dream. In 538 B.C. Babylon was taken by Medo-Persia, the silver kingdom inferior to Babylon. In 331 B.C. Medo-Persia was defeated by Alexander of Greece, the bronze kingdom. In 168 B.C. Greece was replaced by Rome, whose legions were clad in iron. Rome was truly the strongest monarchy and reigned the longest, yet time came for it to break up into ten kingdoms, which are today England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc. The prophecy of the first four empires was briefly stated, but words dealing with the feet of iron and clay take up more space. They will ‘mingle with the seed of men,’ referring to intermarriage, which fails to unify the many states. That is a true description of modern Europe. At first Charlemagne, then Charles V, Louis XIX, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II and finally Hitler, tried to unify Europe, and in the end the words of Scripture are proved true: "they will not adhere one to another."

       4) Is there any significance in the fact that there is a progression from precious metals to cheap?

       Answer: That means: world civilization appears to be progressive, but in morals it goes downhill. The character of the metals also has significance. Babylon had looted large quantities of gold from Egypt, Assyria and Israel, its gold reserves were most plentiful. Medo-Persia produced silver, while the Greek soldiers wore bronze helmets, and Roman legions had iron-clad armor. Modern buildings are made of clay and iron—the chief constituents in reinforced concrete. The vital element in computers chips is silicon, which exists in clay in the form of silicates. Aluminum, a modern metal, is produced from bauxite, a form of clay. So iron and clay are fitting Bible symbols of our modern age.

       5) Some say, this has to do with the West; why is Bible prophecy silent on the Orient, specially China?

       Answer: There are some 160 countries in the world; Bible prophecy can’t take them all in. God rightly begins the story of our age with Babylon and ends it with Europe. Where does the alphabet the Chinese use in pinyin come from? They come from the Latin of Rome, who received it from Greece, whose alphabet came from the Hebrew. In fact, "alphabet" is made up of the first two letters in Hebrew, which are "alef" and "beth". We just read that "the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic", whose alphabet was used by the Hebrews, which language is close to the Aramaic. So the Babylonian alphabet is the ancestor of that used by most modern nations, including China. Modern world history still revolves around developments in Europe.

       6) The most vital thing we should study is the rock that strikes the image on the foot, isn’t that right?

       Answer: Yes. The history of our age is soon to close. This is the solemn message of Bible prophecy. The rock "cut out without hands" that strikes the image, means that the sudden change will come not through human effort, but will be an act of God. It tells us that the power, wealth and glory of this world are short-lived, and will pass away. God wants us to learn from the Bible to see things from His eternal perspective. Daniel’s prophecy tells us that the kingdoms of this world come and go. Only the kingdom of God will stand through eternity. In daily living we want to buy articles which are durable. Yet the most durable things last only a few decades; they all wear out in time. Jesus prayed, "Father, glorify Your Son, that Your Son may also glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:1-3. Daniel points to a kingdom to come, where there will be no graveyards. So it must have inhabitants who don’t die. Wouldn’t you like to be one of the inhabitants who never die?

       7) Of course! Now I see that Jesus wants to build an everlasting kingdom, and people it with immortal inhabitants. He does not create a new group of holy immortal beings, but will rescue a group of people from this wicked world, and teach us to trust in the power of the Spirit to be born again into new creatures. We vanquish our sinful natures by the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit to partake of the divine nature.

       Answer: Correct! You have put to use all that we have studied so far. God certainly could easily create a group of new inhabitants. But He didn’t want to lose us poor sinners. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

       8) The prophecy explains itself, we need not guess its meaning. Is there any other truth in it we need?

       Answer: All thinking people can see that this prophecy could not have been written by human wisdom. For it begins in 600 B.C. and closes with the new earth. Only God can reveal it to us. It is a standing miracle that any one can demonstrate. In the face of this prophecy which has unfolded through 2600 years, and is soon to end, what is your reaction? Would you just ignore it, or prepare for Christ’s imminent return?

       Intelligent people can see that since the events of 2600 years have happened exactly as God has foretold, then the remaining events will surely take place as prophesied. That rock will very soon strike the image on the feet. Do not say, though the events of the past 2600 years have fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy, yet the final events may not happen as foretold. We should say, God loves us enough to forewarn us to save us from evil.

       Another truth to be learned is, the conflict between good and evil is not eternal. All things good, true and beautiful are of God, the self-existent One without beginning or end, but all the false, evil and ugly are of the devil, who has beginning and ending, and is doomed to perish. All who cling to this world will perish with it.

       9) Some say, good and evil must be together. You need evil to set off the good. How do you answer?

       Answer: That is wrong. If you must see others suffer in order to know you are happy, then why not let you suffer so others can know they are happy? Why not let you die, so others may value life? God so loved us that he was willing to endure infinite suffering, in order to eradicate suffering forever. This is the message of the cross. Some suppose that the sufferings of Christ were limited to the cross. That is not true. The cross reveals to our dull senses the infinite suffering which sin has brought to God since its very inception. He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that God, who cannot coexist with sin, hid His face from His Son, causing Him to cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? As a result, Christ died of a broken heart.

       10) What evidence is there to prove that Christ died of a broken heart?

       Answer: It is an extremely rare case in the annals of medicine. Under extreme agony, the muscles of the heart can rupture. Textbooks on forensic medicine say that muscles of a dead heart are normally shrunken, leaving very little blood in its cavities. Only a ruptured heart will let the blood from the head and arms of a crucified body to collect in the peritoneum—the sack enclosing the heart. After a time the blood separates into serum and hemoglobin. John 19:34 says that before the body of Jesus was removed from the cross, "one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out." This flow of blood and water is evidence that Christ died of a broken heart.

       11) Bible prophecy warns us to prepare for the future, what difference is that from fortune telling?

       Answer: A big difference. God forbids fortune telling. He presents two destinies before us, and lets us choose. As Jesus shows us the closing scenes of world history, He teaches us: "Enter by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matt. 7:13.

       Christ points out these two ways, and tells us that when He comes, there will be two classes of people in the world. One class will flee from Him for fear, and will be destroyed, another class will be ready to welcome Him. So we are to choose our own destinies. If we follow the way that leads to eternal life He points out for us, we will have a good fortune, if we follow the way that leads to destruction, we will have a bad fortune. The Bible plainly forbids fortune telling. Deut. 18:10 says, ""There shall not be found among you . . .one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord,." Only the word of God "is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Ps. 119:105.

       Our next study will be "Heaven on Earth’. We will see what God has prepared for those who love Him.

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