HIS COMING AND THE GENTILES
It is well to remind ourselves of some of the purposes of prophecy. In no sense whatsoever is prophecy intended to be a peculiar favour granted to some special Christians wherein they can survey events that are unpleasant and calmly content themselves that the impending evils so surely revealed will not harm them. Prophecy is given to enlighten the people of God, to create a way of life in response to it and that way of life shall be so impressive that sinners will be drawn to the Saviour and so share in the blessed hope!
This is particularly so now because inside Christian circles to say nothing of the world, the books of Daniel and Revelation are largely ignored, if indeed not ostracised. The Christian who does not believe in prophecy may be tempted into secular and political affairs on the humanist level and often with disastrous results; for whenever the Christian is out of place he is the centre of confusion.
Our Lord's words concerning the future were largely addressed to His disciples. Never did He call the High Priest into conference. When He disclosed the future to the people it was by way of parable because heavenly truth requires a mind submissive to heaven and where the mind is not so submissive it rejects all sense of the future drawn in terms of Divine re-action. Men hold the view that in their ignorance God needs no worship and with that, man has no accountability to God. Christians have great need to take note of these facts lest with the best of motives and intentions we increase the darkness and perplexity of our times and ourselves are trusting in Christ without hope
It therefore becomes a divisive fact at the beginning, that if we are to understand the trends of the hour in which we live we must take account both of the books of Daniel and of Revelation. Carnal Christianity rejects them both. Each professing Christian therefore must recognise that our Lord confirmed the words of Daniel and in His exaltation Himself communicated the truth to John in Patmos. These then are the facts. Daniel is presented to us as a young man of principle, conviction and loyalty. He needs none of the luxury of the Babylonian court and he and his friends prove it. When in chapter 2 comes the crisis of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel and his friends go to prayer confident that God will hear them and their confidence is not in vain. Although Nebuchadnezzar has forgotten his dream, it is revealed to Daniel who forthwith proceeds to declare it to Nebuchadnezzar. The fact that he is able to recall for Nebuchadnezzar the dream that was forgotten, although it has troubled him, commends him to Nebuchadnezzar who is prepared to listen to his interpretation of it.
What is a troubled dream to the King, is a marvellous revelation of the purpose God has disclosed to Daniel. There are several observations to be made to Nebuchadnezzar. The Image is brilliant, but to Daniel that is a disguise. However impressive the image, it's metals deteriorate in character from gold to iron and clay. Then the image is top heavy for the feet of iron and clay are unstable. It is also clear that prophetic kingdoms are those with their centre in Babylon for Nebuchadnezzar sees nothing of the kingdoms of the east and west. The period covered in human history by the image is called "the times of the gentiles," since it is the period when the Jew is in subservience.
Certain facts about the ten toes need to be considered. In Revelation 13 you have the "Beast" energised by the Devil, and somehow restored to life. He is a remarkable personality placed in authority by the ten kings as being the answer to the needs of the hour, possessing ability, and placed in power to deal with the times and its issues. The three issues that will concern the world are there in Revelation 13. They are international politics, trade and religion.
Then of course the centre of attention is the STONE. This Stone is not the product of human ingenuity, wisdom, strength or power. It does not emerge out of human enterprise, invention, progress or education. In no sense does it evolve out of the image. Then it is to be noted that its whole impact, whosoever may be the impelling power is directed to striking the image on its feet. It does not strike the head, the breasts, the thigh or the legs but it strikes the image on its feet in the era of the ten kings at a point in history that is still future. Daniel 7: 13/14 is related to this impressive event. It describes One like the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven establishing an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and a kingdom that shall not be destroyed. (Matthew 26-34.)
I find it difficult to believe that any sincere and earnest true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ can lightly turn aside from such a fact. The words declared by Daniel and taken up and sealed by the authority of our Lord. What is the use of pretending that we are Christians, calling ourselves by the Name of Our Lord and yet in a clear matter of this kind seeking to make out that there is something erroneous in Daniel and our Lord?
The STONE therefore is the coming of our Lord in manifested glory even as He said and declared. The first coming of our Lord as a baby has affected the whole civilised world, so what will be the effect of His second coming? The whole massive complexity of what we call modern civilisation is doomed to collapse at His coming. John in Revelation confirms it. It will be an event for which history has no parallel. "On whomsoever it (the stone) shall fall, it will grind him to powder." This is not to be an idea, which we fancifully hold ,it must be the dominating issue in our minds as we look at the future. It means that before the stone strikes the image the Lord will have raptured His believing people to Himself. Therefore because there is no connection whatsoever between the civilisation being built up by the Gentiles and the STONE, men are trying to convince themselves that civilisation is making progress.
Never have people had more time for worship than now; seldom in history have they given Him less of their time. Education, commerce, with increase of knowledge, yet morality languishes. The Scriptures therefore set forth a disclosure of the future beyond question. Civilisation as we know it will develop by human ingenuity aided by Satanic power which will be more and more involved as man finds his civilisation overwhelming him. Humanism will be the order of the day; for man will find no being greater than himself worthy of his respect and worship. Man will be great in the arena of intellectual power but every generation will reveal to the spiritual mind the animal that dominated him.
The debasing of the metals from the autocratic head of gold indicates that man is going to find increasingly that he has no basis of authority. The Christian is to see that the interests of the Stone are entirely opposed to the interests of the image. Each of us must therefore decide before the Lord what is his duty. Our Lord refused all rights when He was on earth. He refused to be a judge between men. He was ever filled with pity, tenderness and compassion but His whole social ministry yielded nothing. When you belong to the Stone how do you react to the image? God has intercessors like Abraham who pray not vainly into the air but know that Sodoms are saved not by measures and acts of Parliament but by the faithfulness of the people of God within them. You cannot pray over the top of sodomy and expect Divine mercy. Neither can you battle with sodomy from within after the manner of Lot, It is not for any believer to decide the attitude of another believer but the principle is there: God's interests are in the Stone. That Stone represents the Lord and His redeemed people who by His blood have been redeemed out of this present evil age. It would seem therefore that to beseech men and women to be reconciled to God is our supreme task as it would also seem that Christians of all views are relatively weak and uncertain in this testimony. Whether we declare it or not every Christian is to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that modern civilisation is doomed. It is doomed to dust and that by the most momentous event in human history, the coming of our Lord and His believing people in manifested glory. I believe that if all of us were fully persuaded of this fact and allow it to shape our thinking and our actions it would most surely indicate to each of us our personal duty at this time. This is our sore need; for here we are rejoicing in prophetic truth and yet we are not proclaiming it to the world.
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