But to reiterate for now – the first beast – the lion – was the Babylonian Empire. The second beast – the bear – was to be that of the Medes and Persians – the Medo-Persian Empire. But of course, Daniel had not yet experienced the Medes or Persians, because it was in the first year of the reign of the last Babylonian king that this vision was given. The third beast – the leopard – was to be that of the Greeks, beginning with Alexander. And I believe that the fourth beast was, and still is, that of the Romans. These are the same nations as those given to Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2, during his dream of the colossal statue with the head of gold.
Beyond the description of these kingdoms, the primary point of both visions was that they would be destroyed. The kingdoms of men will be replaced with the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. That fifth Kingdom, if you will, will be universal and eternal. That final Kingdom will involve the eternal dominion of the Son of man, whom we know as the Lord Jesus.
I believe that you and I are living in the days of the fourth beast. These are a part of the “last days” toward the end of the rule of wicked men. For lack of a better word, we are living in a “Romanesque,” or a Romanized, world. I can’t tell you for sure whether or not the ten horns of the beast with the iron teeth have come and gone. It’s quite likely, but not necessarily. Whether or not they have come doesn’t change my interpretation of the fourth beast in any way. But as to the final, little horn – he has either not yet come, or he is alive today but still being groomed and prepared by Satan for his coming day in the spot-light. In contrast to the omniscient powers of some preachers, I cannot point to anyone on earth at this moment and declare – “there is the antichrist.”
I believe that the man which the Bible calls the “antichrist,” has not yet been made manifest. But the spirit of the antichrist has been gaining power in this world for a great many years. And just as there has always been a conflict between the kingdoms of this world and the reign of the Lord, this conflict continues. The antichrist is not on his throne as yet, just as the Messiah is not yet upon David’s throne. But the Kingdom of God is here nevertheless, and you and I are citizens of either the Kingdom of the Lord or one of the antichristian kingdoms of men and Satan.
My question for you this morning is this: Who is YOUR king? Of which kingdom do YOU belong? Are you a part of the Empire of the fourth beast – the dreadful and terrible beast of verse 7? Or is your allegiance with the Kingdom over which the Ancient of Days rules? Before we can answer that question, we need to know Who the Ancient of Days is. Before we can declare ourselves for Christ, we have to know Who this Son of man is. There are thousands, if not millions of professing Christians, whose understanding of these Two have been corrupted. There are thousands of people, who have “asked Jesus to come into their hearts,” but who have asked some other Jesus than the one of the Bible. They call themselves “Christians,” but their king is not the Christ of the Bible.
This week I read a little book called “Today’s Gospel,” by Walter Chantry. The man’s premise is that modern evangelism is centered entirely upon the sinner. As a race of sinners, we are riding a run-away train strait into Hell. We need to be delivered from our sins in order to enjoy eternity in Heaven. So we must repent and reach out to the Saviour in faith and love. But most of the people calling themselves “Christians” are far more interested in their well-being than they are in their potential Saviour. The message that they are given is almost entirely about themselves and their needs. And as a result the whole evangelistic effort collapses, because they can’t understand repentance, and they don’t know Who it is that they are trusting for salvation. They are professing to be Christians, but they are living in sin and the flesh rather than holiness and the Holy Spirit.
The One whom Daniel saw that night was and still is the Eternal One. He is “ancient” in the sense that He is from everlasting. He is the One to whom Abraham prayed in Beersheba, calling “on the name of the LORD, the EVERLASTING God.” He is the One to whom Moses prayed – “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from EVERLASTING to EVERLASTING, thou art God.” As Moses told us last week, “The ETERNAL God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Paul called Him “the King ETERNAL, immortal, invisible, the only wise God,” and to Him should “be honour and glory FOR EVER AND EVER. Amen.” The One whom Daniel saw was without beginning and will be without ending – eternal.
It is silly that some of those who laugh at what I am telling you right now, say that they believe in evolution. The evolutionist believes that something already existed at the very beginning of beginnings. It may have been a little piece of material or matter. It may have been a spark of energy. It may have only been a big bang, but he says that something existed and then started to evolve. No, my friend, before the beginning nothing existed except the Ancient of Days – Jehovah. Before there was energy, before there was matter, before there was thought, before there was noise. Before anything else, there was God.
When Daniel was privileged to see Him, He was covered with a garment which was as white as snow. I suppose that I could be charged with jumping to conclusions, but my conclusions are in perfect agreement with the rest of the Word of God. This spotlessly white garment speaks of the absolute purity – yea – the holiness of this eternal One. In Mark 9 where we read of the Lord Jesus’ transfiguration – His return to pre-incarnate condition – “Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.” Luke words it slightly differently – “As he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.” This brilliantly white clothing speaks figuratively of the absolute holiness and sinlessness of Heaven and the God of Heaven. Someone has correctly said that it represents the brightness of His majesty
And “the hair of his head (was) like the pure wool.” This is not the only place where we have God described in such words. But actually, in Revelation 1:14 it is the glorified Son of God who is described. He was “clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire.” Is there significance in this pure, white, woolly hair? Perhaps not. On the other hand it certainly could speak of the Lord’s wisdom and venerable appearance. Of course, God the Father is a Spirit, and doesn’t have actual hair, but there is meaning in the vision.
And His throne was absolutely formidable. It was “like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” Some commentaries suggest that these wheels indicate movement – ultimately referring to the universality of the Lord’s dominion. Whether or not that is the intention of the fiery wheels, they do roll toward this point – There is not a man, woman or child upon earth who can stand before a throne like this or a God like this. All the wood, hay, stubble and dross which make up our wretched lives, would burst into flames e’er we came within a hundred yards of this God. There was even “a fiery stream (which) issued and came forth from before him.” It was as though there was a molten lava flow which came out from under the throne of the Ancient One.
How many thousands of people – converts of modern evangelism – are going to come before God in their self-righteousness and pseudo-repentance, thinking that they are going to be warmly welcomed? A wealthy young man came to the Lord Jesus one day, wanting to know how to be “saved” – how to inherit eternal life. He called the Saviour “good,” but the Lord rebuked him, pointing out that there is none “good” except God. The man’s problem was that he had lowered his definition and standard of “good,” and had forgotten, if he ever knew, that God is absolutely holy. Then he claimed before the omniscient Christ to have perfectly kept the Ten Commandments. The Lord simply pointed out, in a most practical way, that he was living in contradiction to the last commandment – he was greedy – whether or not he was actually covetous of other people’s property. He was not willing to truly repent and to give himself and everything that he had to the Lord. This type person may think that he can stand before the Ancient of Days and sun-tan in the heat of the fiery throne, but it will not be. This fiery throne, with flaming wheels and a lava flow, should terrify everyone of us.
And yet there was an innumerable company of angels surrounding that fiery throne. “A thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” I won’t demand that these numbers be literal – in fact I’d say that they only begin to indicate the numbers. But if the first number is accurate, then a million angels actually serve the Lord and do His bidding at any particular moment. And if the second number is correct, while they are awaiting their turn to serve, a hundred million others are reverently standing in awe before Him. Matthew Henry said that they were “obsequiously” worshiping the Lord – hanging on his every gesture. “The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.”
And what is it that Daniel sees taking place in this fantastic throne room? Judgment! “The judgment was set, and the books were opened.” I noticed that Clarence Larkin says that this isn’t the judgment of the Great White Throne of Revelation 20. It isn’t the Bema – the judgment of the Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ. He says that it’s the judgment of the nations which takes place prior to the Millennium. I can’t fault his logic, but I’m not sure that the specific application is that important. The point is that sinners shall be judged. And the charges against them will be incontrovertible – undeniable – the books will be opened. If proof is necessary there will be enough proof to condemn every one of them to a billion years in Hell plus another million. According to the law of God every sinner there that day will be worthy of ten thousand executions, plus. The books will reveal man’s guilt, and books will be ready to record man’s guilt. There is not a Babylonian, a Persian, or a Roman who will not be exempt from this judgment. And if you are not sheltered under the wings of the everlasting Saviour, then you will be consumed by these flames.
This is an echo of the conclusion of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.”
Daniel saw one like the Son of man come with the clouds of Heaven. That he described this person as “the Son of man” is interesting. Throughout most of the Old Testament, this is a term used to describe various people – children of Adam. Sometimes it is used in a positive way, but often it is thoroughly negative. However, when we come to the New Testament, it is used 85 times to speak of the Lord Jesus. It might be argued that this is Jesus’ favorite term when describing Himself. There is no doubt in my mind that when Daniel used this term he was speaking of Christ Jesus, who is, in fact, the Son of God as well as the Son of man.
But why is he brought to the Ancient One as some sort of supplicant to be given this kingdom? It is because even though He is the eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, He is coming to the Father as “the Son of man.” This is the Son of God, after He became incarnate, born of a virgin, becoming the God-man. He lived among us a man; He died as a man for the sins of specific men; and He arose to Heaven as the theanthropic person – the God man. And it will be as the “the Son of man“ that he will be given the kingdom of his father David – the Millennial Kingdom. These statements in no way diminish the Lord Jesus’ deity or His authority, but in the sense that He became the “the Son of man“ He became a very special royal servant.
So this Son of man, after serving God the Father, the Ancient of Days, in other important ways, will come to the fiery throne to be given authority to destroy the feet of iron and clay of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, and to establish another Kingdom – an eternal, holy Kingdom. There is a sense in which the Kingdom of God exists today. The Lord has sovereign authority over every millimeter of His Creation. But to make a point, and for the sake of His ultimate glory, man and Satan, have been permitted to believe that they rule the universe. Actually, they rule nothing, as Nebuchadnezzar eventually learned, but they think that they do. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, and He turneth it whithersoever He chooseth.” There is a sense in which this kingdom of the Lord also exists in another way, in the hearts of God’s elect and saved. And here is the problem with Christianity today: There are millions of professing Christians whose king is not Christ. They are living in various degrees of sin, and under the rule of the spirit of the antichrist. Despite their profession, they are not people of the Lord.
Then in a third way, this kingdom of God, in a physical and very dramatic way, is going to crush every last remnant of the kingdoms of men. This is not my idea; this is the revelation of this chapter along with a dozen other scriptures. Soon the Son of Man is going to return with the clouds of Heaven to establish His kingdom here on earth. Christ will sit upon the throne of his earthly grandfather David, and He will rule every corner of the world with a rod of iron. Even though that kingdom will change in its nature just a bit after a thousand years of power, there will never be another human kingdom. And in that sense “his dominion (will be) an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
And those who are truly born again, indicate that birth through a complete surrender to the King. Citizens of this Kingdom repent – in a sense they sell all that they have and give it to the poor. That is, they willingly give up their sins and their life of sin in order to fully love and serve the Lord. Citizens of the Lord’s Kingdom repent of their sins, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you repentant and is your faith in Christ Jesus?