The Babylonian captivity.
Although God has used a pagan king to punish his people, he has not forgotten them. Even now it is God’s love that shines through in all He chooses to do. While the Jews are captives in Babylon, He allows them to witness to all the peoples gathered in the Babylonian Empire to learn about the God of heaven, about the God of Daniel.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah and Jerusalem, many were taken captive. Including Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. These were four young boys, perhaps in their mid or late teens. They had strong faith in their God and would not do anything contrary to God’s commandments and laws, not even if it were about life they would do it.
When they had arrived Babylon, these four boys, along with other boys of the same age, were taken out to be educated at the Babylonian court so that they could assist the king with the tasks he thought they could perform. This was also a good integration policy. The boys got a better life than the other prisoners and the king got loyal helpers. The boys who were educated were also to receive the same food and drink that the king himself ate and drank. Our four friends did not want this and asked for vegetables and water, because they would not defile themselves with food and drink dedicated to the Babylonian gods. God looked with pleasure on the four boys’ choices. They could have been killed for insulting the king, but God turned it in the boys’ favour. When the education was over, they were healthier and ten times wiser than all the other magicians and astrologers throughout Babylon.
It is part of the story that they got new names. Daniel which means God is my judge was named Belteshazzar, which means May Bel protect the prince. Hananiah which means the Lord is gracious was given the name Shadrach, which means the servant of Aku. Mishael which means Belong to God was named Meshach, which means Who is like Aku. Azariah means the Lord’s helper was given the name Abed-Nego, which means the servant of Nabu.
The four boys all had names that alluded to the God of Abraham and were given new names that all refer to Babylonian gods. This was done as part of the ´integration´ to forget their God so that they could more easily begin to worship the Babylonian gods.
These four, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were put to several trials because they were faithful to God in heaven. The first trial came when they wanted a different food than the one the king himself ate. As mentioned, this could have cost them their lives, but God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him, and our four friends graduated with the best grades both academically and physically. Now let’s look at two other trials they were subjected to. These two trials are images of events that we will encounter in the near future. Everywhere in the Bible we find this typology, type – antitype; thesis – antithesis – synthesis.
In chapter 3 we read about a statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up in the plain of Dura. This one was made of pure gold. As we know, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a statue consisting of four different metals, gold, silver, bronze and iron / iron mixed with clay. The head of the statue, which was of gold, represented Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, and it was probably problematic for Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom would perish. Maybe that’s why he made this statue of pure gold to say to God that my Babylon will last forever.
The statue was built, and King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to all officials throughout the Babylonian Empire that they should attend the dedication of this statue. Daniel is not mentioned here, but we know from chapter 2 verse 48 that he had been given the highest position in Babylon after the king, so he was probably busy elsewhere on this very special day. All the officials had come to the plain of Dura and we read the following: Then a herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, [That] at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, Daniel 3,4-6.
As we see, an image is set up of the king (the statue) that everyone must worship, and those who do not follow the order to kneel down and worship the image of the king will die. This is exactly what John says will happen in the last days. Then the beast from the earth will set up an image of the beast from the sea, and everyone must worship this image unless there is a death penalty waiting for those who do not worship the image of the beast, (Revelation 13,11-18). But back to the plain of Dura. Daniel’s three friends will not obey the command to worship the king’s statue. In verses 13-15 we read about the king’s reaction: Then Nebuchadnezzar in [his] rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, [Is it] true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; [well]: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who [is] that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Just notice the question Nebuchadnezzar asks. Despite the fact that Almighty God revealed himself to King Nebuchadnezzar and the entire Babylonian court when Daniel gave the God of heaven the honour when Daniel could tell the king what dream he had had and interpreted it, the proud king takes an arrogant attitude that somehow says that no power in the whole universe can stand against me, to make these three rebels bow to the king and his statue.
But these three boys were not afraid of the king’s threats of the death penalty, and they answered the king in verse 16 this: O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. I’m sure the king’s anger rose many notches. These three Hebrews were not only rebellious, but they were also rude and dared to answer the king, and then continued their answer saying this: If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up, Daniel 3,17-18. This is an answer that only those who know their God can give. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego must have spent a lot of time with their God, they must have persevered in prayer otherwise they would not have come up with the answer they did. And God looked upon the three boys and delivered them from the fiery furnace. They were thrown into the furnace, but God allowed this to show His love to those who are faithful to Him. When everyone standing around the fiery furnace expected the three boys to be burned, they are surprised, they see four people inside the fire, and when they come out of the furnace again not even a smell of the fire had passed on them. God was present in the furnace and freed the three boys from death. The boys honoured the God of heaven by not kneeling before the statue, and the God of heaven honoured the boys in his own way. Even Nebuchadnezzar honoured them by promoting them.
God showed His love for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they kept God’s word and kept God’s first commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me, Exodus 20,3 and God’s second commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of anything] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments, Exodus 20,4-6.
Conspiracy against Daniel.
Several years later, when Medo-Persia had conquered Babylon, Daniel was subjected to a conspiracy. King Cyrus had appointed Daniel one of three councils to administer the empire of the Medo-Persian king. In chapter 6 verse 3 we read that King Cyrus put three councillors, of whom Daniel was the first, over the satraps so that they would report so that the king would not suffer any loss. We can assume that Daniel was faithful to the king and made sure that everything was done according to the laws and regulations that applied. This probably fell heavily on the hearts of the others, because in the positions they had, it came with ‘fringe benefits‘. Here they had a golden opportunity to supply themselves with the king’s funds by taking too much in taxes from the population or underreporting what really came in.
The other councillors and satraps, advisers and governors knew Daniel and his habits. Three times a day he went to his room and prayed to the God of heaven. To get rid of the troublesome Daniel once and for all, they made a plan. They were to ask the king to introduce a law that said that if anyone in the course of thirty days worshiped anyone other than the king, they should be thrown into the lions’ den. They knew Daniel’s habits and knew that he would not care about the prohibition but go to his room and pray to his God as he had always done.
Here, too, the man of God ended up in trouble. He was cast into the lion’s den, and the king understood that he had been deceived by those who came to him and asked for this law. In verse 19 it says that the king fasted all night and in verse 20 that he went to the lion’s den early the next day. There he found Daniel alive. The first thing Daniel says when the king came was: O king, live for ever. Daniel showed no sign of revenge but greeted his king as he should.
Because Daniel was faithful to God and worshiped Him despite the threat of being thrown into the lion’s den and die, Daniel continued to worship God, and God rewarded his servant. Daniel saith unto the king: My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt, Daniel 6,23.
Although the four boys were absolutely faithful to God, He allowed them to be subjected to these trials. We too, in our daily walk with God, will face trials and tribulations, and no one knows how many people have given their lives in God’s service over time. But God was and still is right there with them, God suffers with us when we suffer, and cries with us when we cry, but He is always present even when we do not notice it, and He is powerful enough to deliver us from any torment or ordeal we had to face on our pilgrimage. We just have to do as our four friends did in Babylon, resisting the pressure that comes with trials.
Time and time again, we see God rescuing his faithful servants. In the book of Daniel we see the love of God through the way He saved Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. But God also cares for all people, even those who do not want to know about Him. We will see this as we continue with what God did at Calvary.
The cross, by far the greatest act of love in history.
Even before man was created, God had made the plan of salvation, which in short means that God himself pays the price for the transgressions man do. This price is as we know death, and instead of dying in our sin, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was willing to die in our place. The Apostle John writes this in his first letter chapter 2 verses 1 and 2: My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.
When Satan got the Jewish leaders to sentence Jesus to die on the cross, he thought he had won a final victory over Jesus, but it was precisely this that sealed Satan’s fate forever. I am not able to comprehend the scope of what Jesus did, but I have a blessed hope for an eternity with my Saviour so that I may have a better insight into the meaning of the cross. In any case, what happened on the cross is of crucial importance to me and to you and to everybody. Without Jesus’ death on the cross, I had to pay the ultimate price, but God saved me because He loves me so much that when I stood there sentenced to death Jesus took my place. This is a love so infinite, boundless and so deep that it embraces everything in the whole universe.
Jesus’ death on the cross is foretold several times in the Old Testament. First time in Genesis 3,15: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. In this verse, God addresses Satan who has used the serpent as a medium. God says there will be enmity between thee, who refer to the serpent/Satan and the woman, who is God’s people, between thy seed, who are those who walk the devil’s path and persecute God’s people, and her seed, who is God’s remnant in Christian times/end times. He in this verse refers to Jesus who will crush the serpent’s head, which means that Jesus will overcome Satan and those who follow him, but Satan will also ‘win’ a kind of victory, the Son of God had to die on the cross, but it was in reality the great victory because Jesus won over death and the realm of the dead when He rose from the dead.
When Jesus died on the cross, He was all alone. God the Father was present, but did not intervene in any way, this was a task Jesus was all alone to perform, God’s angels were not allowed to help or comfort Him, He had only the hope and the certainty that He could overcome death. This is the greatest proof of God’s love for mankind. Even the people who crucified Jesus would be forgiven if they surrendered their lives to God and the resurrected Jesus. There are no sins that are so bad that there is no forgiveness, except to mock the Holy Spirit, which is to reject the salvation in Jesus Christ that the Spirit tries to work in all people. God loves all people and does not want anyone to perish: Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33,11.
Jesus’ death on the cross foretold with incredible accuracy:
In Daniel chapter 9 we find the most remarkable prophecy in the Bible. It tells with incredible accuracy when Jesus was to die on the cross. As I said, the first prophecy of Christ was given in Genesis 3,15, but no hints were given to when this would happen. When Daniel was in Babylon, he was concerned about when the Jews would be allowed to return to their own land and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonian soldiers during the siege in 586 BC. One of the other prophets who worked at the same time as Daniel, Jeremiah, prophesied that the Jews would be in captivity for 70 years. Daniel was aware of this prophecy: For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place, Jeremiah 29 10. Daniel himself received several prophecies about the end times such as the one in chapter 8 which gives a time prophecy that spans 2300 evenings and mornings prophetic time, which is 2300 years real time. (See also The two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings under The time prophecies.)
I must add that when the Bible was written, it was not divided into sentences, verses and chapters as it is today. These are ‘modern’ inventions that have made it easier to find specific verses in the Bible, but in many cases make it harder to understand.
In chapter 8, Daniel gets his second vision, which is the second expansion of the dream/prophecy Nebuchadnezzar got in chapter 2. Daniel’s first vision is what we call chapter 7, which was also the first expansion and elaboration of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Chapter 8 concludes with Daniel’s deep sigh: And I Daniel fainted, and was sick [certain] days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood [it], Daniel 8,27. There is reason to believe that Daniel pondered this prophecy in chapter 8, and in chapter 9 verse 2 Daniel says: In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Verse 1 sets the time for this chapter, and it has gone 8 years since Daniel got the prophecy he did not understand in chapter 8. Now, when Daniel had understood that the Jews would be in captivity for 70 years, he began to count on the years he had been there, and he found that the time was approaching when God’s people would be set free from captivity. Daniel, who was a man of prayer, now begins to pray to God about this. It is well worth studying how Daniel prays and how he builds up his prayers. First he exalts God (verse 4) then he confesses his and the people’s sins and why they are in captivity (verses 5-15) after this comes a prayer for forgiveness (verses 16-19).
This was obviously a prayer after God’s heart, because while Daniel is kneeling and praying, the angel Gabriel comes to him with answers to his questions about when they could return, but the answer is not given with a specific date, but the angel gives Daniel a new prophecy. As a Hebrew, Daniel was well acquainted with the various ways of setting time periods, and he was aware that 2,300 evenings and mornings actually amounted to 2,300 years. Now came a new prophecy with a prophetic time, 70 weeks. In verse 23, the angel says the following to Daniel, and it applies equally to us: … … … understand the matter and consider the vision.
What could be the reason why the angel asks Daniel to understand the matter and the vision? The reason is that Daniel had pondered the time for their returning home and when Jerusalem and the temple would to be fully rebuilt, and the long-time prophecy of 2300 evenings and mornings in chapter 8. Now Daniel gets an answer that provides the solution to both problems, while telling us when Jesus was to appear. This is the most remarkable prophecy given, and we find it in Daniel 9,24-27.
Verse 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Verse 25 Know therefore and understand, [that] from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince [shall be] seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Verse 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof [shall be] with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Verse 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (See also the 70 Weeks in Daniel chapter 9 under Time prophecies.)
The time for the return of the Jews is given in verse 25: from the going forth of the commandment to retore and to build Jerusalem … … Three decrees were given for the return of the Medo-Persian kings, but the Bible considers them one decree. No more decrees would have been issued if the first or the second had led to the complete restoration of both Jerusalem and the temple. The third decree is thus what led to the completion of both the city and the temple. This decree was issued in the year 457 BC.
A kind of ‘last chance’ for the Jewish people is given in verse 24: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression … … From the same year that the third decree was given, the Jewish people will have 70 weeks, which is the same as 70 x 7 days = 490 days prophetic time, which in turn is 490 literal years, to reconcile with God and become the people God intended them to be when He chose Abraham as the ancestor of His special people. The alternative is to lose their right as God’s special people. This period then extends from 457 BC. to the year 34 AD. From the year 457 BC. to year 1 BC. amounts to 456 years, and from 1 BC. to 34 AD amounts to 34 years, (we must keep in mind that year zero does not exist) a total of 490 years. Verse 25 divides this time prophecy into three parts, 7 weeks (= 49 years), 62 weeks (= 434 years) and 1 week (= 7 years), where the following is to take place. The restoration of the city and the temple is completed during the first 49 years, then 434 years of tribulation for God’s people follow, after these 483 years something special will happen. Verse 26 tells us that the Messiah, the Anointed One, will be eradicated in the last week, and verse 27 says that this will happen in the middle of the last week.
Why does God tell this to Daniel? Wouldn’t it be just as well to say that it will still be 82 years before I will bring My people home again? I think it is because God loved his special people despite the fact that they had fallen from the faith in a way, so God had to punish them and try to get them back on the right path. God wanted the rest of the children of Israel, the Jews, to become the people He called Abraham to be the ancestors of. God wanted His special people to bring the good news of salvation to the whole world. It is always God’s infinite and boundless love that lies behind the actions God performs.
When God intervenes in history, it is to rebuke, correct, and lead His people back on the right path. Although many portray God as a vengeful God, it is only out of love for the people He acts. God is not quick to judge people. The Amorites had more than 400 years to turn to God before the judgment fell. Israel wavered from and to God for more than 800 years before their judgment fell. The Jews had 638 years to repent, from Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem and Judea in the year 605 BC. until the Jews stoned Stephen in the year 34 AD. and before they lost their birth right, that is; they lost the blessing of being God’s special people.
In this prophecy, Daniel chapter 9, God tells us when Jesus will come. He was to be baptized in the fall of 27 AD. and preach the gospel and teach his disciples three and a half years before he dies on the cross. When the Jewish people who were to study the scriptures saw Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth, performing miracles, both the scribes, the clergy, and ordinary people should understand that this was the Messiah they had been waiting for. But they had become hardened, and the religious leaders had more than enough to keep ordinary people away from studying the scriptures, and to stay on good terms with the roman secular authorities. It could not occur to them to study the signs of the times to find out when the Messiah would come.
Of course, there was talk of the coming Messiah in the synagogues and in the homes of the people, but that was only superficial. It was not in preparation for Jesus’ coming that they did this. However, there were a few shepherds tending their flocks outside Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth who actually spoke of the coming Messiah, and these were also visited by angels of God who told them that what they were talking about actually happened at the same moment, (Luke 2,8-11). Later, when Jesus had been baptized, a handful of fishermen on the Sea of Galilee left what they had to follow Him as His disciples (Matthew 4,19).
God in His love had given them every opportunity to see that the time had come, but they did not care. The blessing being Gods special people was taken from them in the autumn of 34 when they stoned Stephen, thus sealing their own destiny. This is probably not so different from what we see of the religious leaders of our time. They are also more concerned with keeping the people in good spirits, preaching what itches in their ears and satisfying powers and authorities that hate God than preaching the imminent return of Jesus, and God’s judgment. But what about the ordinary christian in our day? Is it so that we are better than the Jews were?
By and large, we, all the Christianity, are as ignorant as the Jewish people were in Jesus’ day. Most denominations talk about Jesus ‘return, but they are no more serious than the Pharisees and scribes were in Jesus’ day. However, there is a big difference between the religious leaders of the day and the religious leaders of our time. In the days before Jesus’ first coming, the religious leaders were most concerned with imposing burdens on people, and they introduced hundreds of rules and interpretations of God’s commandments that, among other things, made the Sabbath a burden for the people. The religious leaders of our day are more concerned with leading people away from God than leading them to the cross, by liberalizing and adapting the Bible and God’s Ten Commandments to the sinful, morbid, and in many cases perverse needs of mankind. The religious leaders of our day simply put aside God’s commandments. Mankind as a whole has not learned anything from history. They repeat the same mistakes that were made at Jesus ‘first coming, but like the shepherds outside Bethlehem and the fishermen of the Sea of Galilee, there are still some today who see that all signs of Jesus’ coming are being fulfilled to the letter. This relatively small group strives to prepare the ground for their King, and they preach the imminent return of Jesus and the end-time message in its entirety. They prepare for the climax of history, the return of Jesus, and look to the eastern sky to see the sign of their Saviour’s coming.
The great prophecies in the book of Daniel, Revelation, and Matthew chapter 24.
God has over time given us many prophecies that we should study and understand because many of these are about the last days. Several of these prophecies also have double fulfilment, one in the time of the Prophet and one in the end time. It is therefore very important to understand what happened in the past, because much of this will soon happen again. The wisest king of all, Solomon once said this: The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun, Ecclesiastes 1,9. The reason God gives us all these prophecies, and the ability to interpret them correctly, is God’s infinite and boundless love, and because God only wants the good for us. If we study the prophecies, we can find out what will happen, who is behind it and what methods the enemy uses. If we understand the prophecies correctly, we can avoid being seduced. (See also General information about the book of Daniel and Revelation; The time prophecies; Seven letters, seals, trumpets and vials, and The end times begin.)
The Book of Daniel.
In the book of Daniel we get the story from Daniel’s time to Jesus’ return. We learn what human powers Satan will use in his attempt to destroy God’s faithful remnant at any time, both in Daniel’s time, through the Middle Ages, and until the end time. It will surprise us what some of these powers are. When it comes to those powers we must be careful not to fall into the trap of judging other people. We must be able to distinguish between powers and authorities on the one hand, and ordinary sincerely seeking people on the other. If we fail to do so, we are no better than the powers we want to put the spotlight on to expose Satan’s machinations. A small example. There are many who cut all young people across a comb, and in that way they stigmatize all young people and say that they are bad people. But are they really that? This is far from the truth. Most young people are good people, with healthy values. This is also the case with members of denominations who we claim belong to the fallen church. Here it is very important to tread carefully because most are certainly sincere seeking people, the problem is that they have been seduced. We find support for such a view in Revelation chapter 18, where God’s final warning message is given to the people in the fallen churches: … … … And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird … // … Come out of her, my people, … … (Revelation 18,2-4). Babylon is an image of the fallen denominations, and those who are members there and hear the voice of God will leave these churches when this warning message is preached with power and anointing in the absolute end time.
When we read and interpret the book of Daniel according to sound biblical principles, it will surprise many that it is the Catholic Church that is mentioned in these prophecies. When history can confirm that this is what the Bible prophesies, it must be true. The book of Daniel talks about four metals in chapter 2, and the Bible itself explains the four metals as four empires that dominate ´the whole world´. The whole world must here be understood as the areas where God’s people live and dwell at all times. From the time of Daniel until the 16th century, this was the Middle East and Europe. It is only in the last four hundred years that God’s people have been found all over the world. In the rest of the prophecies in the book of Daniel we find the same empires, in chapter 7 in the form of a lion, a bear, a leopard and an indescribable beast. Admittedly, in Daniel 8, Babylon, the first empire, is omitted for obvious reasons. Babylon had played its role and that was just before Medo-Persia conquered the golden kingdom of Babylon. Otherwise, the same kingdoms are present here as well.
As for the fourth metal in chapter 2 and the fourth beast in chapters 7 and 8, we learn that this empire is going to change, Daniel 2,41; 7,8. It is different from the others, Daniel 2,43; 7,23-25; 8,23-25. The first three empires spoken of here are Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. The fourth kingdom is not named in the Bible, but when we take the history to help, we find that the empire that conquered Greece was the Roman Empire.
Are there any indications that the fourth empire has changed?
As for the first three empires, they were all conquered by the subsequent empire. Babylon was conquered by Medo-Persia, Medo-Persia by Greece, Greece by the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire has never been conquered. It underwent a change. The military-political state disintegrated, and the bishop of Rome took over the emperor’s throne and title and filled the political vacuum that arose when the emperor moved from Rome to Constantinople. The military-political emperor was replaced by a religious-political emperor, whom we know as the pope. This change is described in Daniel 2,43 as follows: And [as] the toes of the feet [were] part of iron, and part of clay, … … In Daniel 7,7-8 the change is described this way: After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it [was] diverse from all the beasts that [were] before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and behold, in this horn [were] eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
As we see, God tells us through the prophecies in the book of Daniel that the fourth power, the Roman Empire, will change, and this empire will be different from its predecessors, and it will be a real power factor on earth until the second coming of Christ, Daniel 2,43-44; 7,26-27; 8,25; 11,45-12,1.
To each epoch throughout the time that the prophecies span, God in His infinite and boundless love gives a characteristic of the powers and kingdoms that will be destructive to God’s people. The characteristics that have been given prove to be 100% reliable. If we want to avoid being seduced and falling away from God’s way, He the Almighty Creator has given us all the clues we need to be able to steer safely through all the traps and obstacles that Satan’s agents have set up and that they continue to set up for Gods faithful remnant.
In Revelation, God gives us another set of clues. Where the book of Daniel in a general way tells us who is behind the seductions, we get in the Revelation to know more specifically how this seduction will behave in the time after the cross. Through the seven letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3, we get an insight into the church’s religious history, and we see how the church develops. In addition, God brings praise, warnings, and exhortations to the Church in each of these seven periods. Under the seven seals, chapter 6, we get to see another side of the church’s history and development. We see the spread of the gospel and the devil’s countermeasures to prevent the spread of the gospel, the result of the devil’s actions and the signs that herald the transition from prophetic time to end time in the broadest sense. We get an insight into the great conflict between Jesus and Satan, and see a new beast rising from the earth (chapter 13). This beast from the earth was not part of Daniel’s prophecies, and is gradually becoming the most important partner of the little horn in Daniel 7. Chapter 17 gives us a complete overview of all the kingdoms that throughout history have tried to destroy and annihilate God’s people ever since Abraham was chosen by God as the ancestor of God’s own special people until Jesus’ return. In the book of Daniel we get only the four kingdoms that were from the time of Daniel until the end of prophetic time. Here, too, God’s motive is that His special people, be it Abraham’s carnal descendants or His spiritual descendants, should be able to see what forces are against them and thus be able to avoid falling from the loving and gracious God.
Matthew chapter 24.
In this chapter Jesus comes with a very special warning: Do not be deceived! He repeat this four times in different ways in verses 4, 5, 11 and 24. When Jesus emphasizes this in the way He does here it is important for us to take this to heart. Jesus follows the warnings by mentioning what He warns against, yet most of those who call themselves Christians look away from these warnings. The reason Jesus gives these warnings is that He does not want those He loves to be lost because of seductions and distortions of the gospel. Let us consider these warnings and how Christians generally respond to them.
In Matthew 24,4-5 tells Jesus the following: … … Take heed that no man deceives you! … // … For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ: and shall deceive many. How do many Christians react to this? There are countless people who in the last hundred years have claimed to be Christ, and who have gained thousands of followers. Many claim that Christ has returned in secret, and that he is here or there. But Jesus himself, the Messiah himself, says that His return will be of the spectacular kind: For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be, Matthew 24,27. By the way, it is not only Christians who come up with ingenious interpretations of this, but also Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists other groups have clung to the dispensational interpretation launched by Jesuit Robert Bellarmine (1542 – 1621) has launched. In verses 6 to 10 Jesus tells about the general signs of the end times and says in verse 11 that when this happens or is fulfilled then many prophets will stand up and seduce many. After this Jesus says that there will be a great tribulation over God’s faithful people, and when that tribulation is over (verse 22) Jesus says again in verse 24 that: … … there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.. What does Christianity look like today? We have ‘miracle preachers’ who make themself a fortune performing ‘miracles’. Many of these self-proclaimed miracle preachers have been exposed as charlatans. These are not very dangerous. But there are preachers who apparently perform true miracles. Some of the greatest charismatic preachers are in this terrain. One of them breathes the ‘spirit’ of those present and they fall over as if they had been shot with a cannon. These are such signs and wonders Jesus warns against, and these mislead those who do not have their religious immune system in order. Towards the end of the chapter, Jesus makes a comparison with the conditions that prevailed on earth in Noah’s day, verse 37: But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. We know from the Bible what it was like back then. Everyone lived a careless life, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage without thinking about tomorrow. We see the same thing today. Never has there been more focus on eating and not at least drinking, many marry two, three and four times, often with the same sex, and Jesus says about the people in Noah’s time that they did not understand anything before the flood came. This is exactly how it is in our time as well. People are gluttonous and live in sexual immorality, and they will not understand anything until the sign of the Son of Man appears in the clouds, but then it is too late. Therefore the Saviour says to us: Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh, Matthew 24,42-44.
Why does Jesus tell us about these signs? Is it because he does not indulge us to live the way we want? Has He not Himself given us our free will?
Jesus Christ died for you and for me because He loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him. It is not because He does not indulge us the good things He warns us, on the contrary because He loves us He also wants us to have the best life can give us – a community with our Creator and Saviour, and with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in all eternity and in a world more beautiful than any human being has seen. What does this world have to offer that can be compared to the eternal joys and benefits with our God?
This is why God through the Bible repeatedly reminds us, rebukes us, begs us, and calls us so that we can turn from our evil ways and turn to Him. All who do this will experience that God the Father will come running to meet us and ask His servants to kill the fatted calf because the prodigal son or daughter has returned home. (See Luke 15,11-32.)
The judgement, a real act of love.
I reckon for sure that many will not agree with me in this headline. Can a judgment where people die be an act of love?
I have tried to put into words the love of God through these three parts of God’s infinite and boundless love. I must emphasize that God loves all people, even those who do not want to know about God. Until I was a about 50 years I did not want to know anything about God, it was just a fairy tale for me. If the second coming of Christ had occurred before I repented, I would have been sentenced to the second death by God. The question then is whether it had been an act of love towards me. Let’s look at what God has done and what I have done.
Romans 5,8: … But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. How did I respond to that before I repented? I simply did not care. It could not interest me less.
Ever since Adam sinned, God has called on people, and He has been calling on me for almost 50 years, in Genesis 3,9 it says: And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where [art] thou? or in my case: And the LORD God called unto Torgeir, and said unto him, Where [art] thou? Every day for about 50 years, God called on me to wake me up from my sleep. What did I answer God on His call? I asked God to stay away.
I could have mentioned several examples, but these two are sufficient to make my point. If Jesus had returned before I repented, I would have faced the doom, but whose fault would it have been?Would it be God’s fault, or my fault? Obviously that would be my fault. God has done all that was in His power, without taking away my free will, to make me turn to Him. On the other hand, I did everything in my power to keep God at least two arms apart, just because because I abused my free will. I did not want to know about God. So I would have been sentenced to eternal damnation because God respects the choices I had made. We must bear the consequences of the choices we make. And because God loves us and respects the choices we make, He will not let anyone into heaven for eternal life as long as they do not want to know of Him who is the origin of life. God will not force anyone into eternity if they do not want to be with God with all their heart. God is good and just. All are treated equally, and all have the same opportunity to receive eternal life in Jesus Christ. Who we are or where we live and what we have done earlier in life means nothing. If we accept the greatest gift anyone can dream of, Jesus Christ as his Saviour, and live the way God wants us to live, the salvation is ours. So when Christ soon returns to judge the living and the dead, he will separate the people, dividing them into two groups, those who are saved and who have washed their robes in the blood of Jesus, and the wicked who stand there in all their naked shame. But the most important thing of all is that everyone will be judged according to where their hearts are. God wants to save everyone, but He does not force those who will not accept the gift. They have chosen themselves and their way of living, and through their choice they have justified God.
If we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, the God of heaven has given us many glorious promises, and God always keeps his promises. See what Christ says in one of His promises: And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son, Revelation 21,6-7. But in order to achieve this we must lay down our own. We must let Jesus into our hearts so that He can live our lives for us, He must change us so that we want to do what is in God’s favour. Bless ye the LORD, all [ye] his hosts; [ye] ministers of his, that do his pleasure, Psalm 103,21.
One day Jesus will return to earth to redeem his faithful people and judge the world. That is why God uses so much of the Bible to warn us of the inevitable. When Jesus first appeared over 2,000 years ago, John the Baptist was raised as the prophet to prepare the way of the Saviour. John the Baptist is also called the second Elijah. The first Elijah was the prophet Elijah who settled with the prophets of King Ahab and his queen Jezebel and the prophets of Ba’al on Carmel. The second Elijah took a stand against King Herod and the religious leaders in Jerusalem at the time he served, which was from the time just before Jesus was baptized and shortly after Jesus’ baptism. In Malachi chapter 4 we find an end-time prophecy: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: (verse 5). This Elijah, the third Elijah, is a prophetic movement, the Advent movement, which began at the beginning of the end times. This was an interreligious movement that in 1863 became the Seventh-day Advent Church (SDA). The mandate of this movement was, and is to proclaim the imminent return of Jesus, and the message of the three angels in Revelation 14,6-12, which says that the hour of God’s judgment is come (verse 7), that Babylon is fallen, is fallen (verse 8) and tell about the consequences to worship the beast (verses 9-11).
I will make the words of the psalmist my humble prayer: My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD, Psalm 104,34.
Revelation chapter 20 tells about the thousand years. This is explained by many as a millennial kingdom where the promises given to Israel and the Jews will be fulfilled on them, while the Christians (saved) are in heaven. This is a dispensationalist thought and has no roots in the Bible. There is no doubt that the Bible speaks of a period of a thousand years, but then the earth lies desolate and empty. There is not a living person to find. The saved are taken to heaven and will be co-judges for a thousand years so that they can see that God’s judgments are righteous. There are probably many who will be stunned and wonder why one they loved on earth is not there, and Stephen will probably wonder to see Paul, and ask why he who was more than willing to see Stephen be stoned to death is in heaven. During this whole period, the earth is deserted and empty. The prophet Jeremiah said this over 2,600 years ago: I beheld the earth, and, lo, [it was] without form, and void; and the heavens, and they [had] no light … // … I beheld, and, lo, [there was] no man… … Jeremiah 4,23.25.
After the thousand years, the new Jerusalem will descend from Heaven, with the triune God, Gods angels and the saved. Then the judgment of the wicked will be executed, they will suffer the second death, and never to be found again. God will then restore the earth to what it was from the Creator’s hand, and God and men can again walk together on an earth that is more beautiful than we can imagine.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful, Revelation 21,1-5.
After the cross, it is the Christians who make up God’s special people. Ethnicity and heritage are no longer a criterion for being called God’s people. All that is needed is to receive the salvation in Jesus Christ, Gods Lamb, who died on the cross for me and for you.
When God created the world, there were no Hebrews, no Israelites, no Jews. The two creatures, Adam and Eve, were both children of God. When they had children, they were also children of God, and the first proof that God loves his children, even those who do against God’s will, we got shortly after creation when Cain killed his brother. In order for no one to avenge Abel, who was killed, God put a mark on Cain so that everyone would see that he was a child of God, despite the fact that he had committed crimes against God in two ways. God so earnestly desired that Cain should return to Him and to his parents.
When there was a split between Adam and Eve’s descendants, Seth’s line, those who worshiped God in the prescribed manner, would bring the word of salvation to Cain’s line, those who worshiped God at their own discretion, if they at all thought about God . We know from personal experience that sin is like a cancerous tumour that cannot be stopped without serious actions. Once sin had entered the world, it only grew and constantly subjugated new areas and people, and today we see degeneration in all areas. Even the planet we live on suffers from the ravages of sin, and in Isaiah 51,6 we find the following text: Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
There are probably many who will shake their heads and say that this verse has no relevance to what we are dealing with here. But what does it mean for a garment to wax old? Well, it wears to pieces, it dissolves, and becomes rags. Then we can see what happens out in nature. Suddenly, sinkholes open up, creating huge craters and devouring high-rise blocks. Both the total number of earthquakes and strong earthquakes but a magnitude of more than 7,2 on the Richter scale have increased exponentially in the recent decades. The hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean is no longer just a short period, now the Caribbean islands and the Gulf of Mexico are hit by hurricanes with the highest intensity almost every month, and in periods they replace each other. There are more often large forest and grass fires, which burn for weeks despite enormous efforts from the fire brigades and volunteers. Even in the winter country of Norway, we have a grass and heather fire in the middle of winter a few years ago. We have long since passed the pain threshold for what our earth can withstand, and it wax old like a garment … … …
About 2,000 years after sin came into the world, God calls Abraham to set aside for Himself a special people who should be blessed in every way. They were to carry on the mission of Set’s line before the Great Flood. But even these special people failed when it mattered most. The Saviour they were to preach to the people of the world they denied when He first came. Instead of pointing to Jesus and saying with John the Baptist: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world … they cried out: … … Away with [him], away with [him], crucify him! … … We have no king but Ceasar. In this way, the cross became a new milestone in the history of the people of God. Now the task of bringing the gospel into the world was given to those who followed Christ, the Christians, who were given the same privileges, blessings, rights, and duties that Abraham’s carnal descendants had. The question many ask is why God spends so much time on a people who are as stubborn as we are. The answer to this the Creator gives us through Jeremiah 29,11 and Ezekiel 33,11: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end … //… Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
It is solely because God the Creator loves all people that He spends so much time making us turn from our evil ways. It is because He loves the people who, ever since Adam and Eve sinned, rebelled against the God of heaven that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die in my place, and in your place. And because Jesus died for us, we can live by Him: In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins., 1 John 4,9-10.
I urge you who have read this to think about what is written in Ezekiel chapter 34 and in John chapter 10,1-30 because this shows God’s infinite and boundless love.