Luke 21-24, Daniel 2:31-42, Daniel 7:1-8 and Daniel 7:15-23
The expression, “Times of the Gentiles” covers the period during which Jerusalem is under Gentile domination. The Lord said, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” We believe that “the times of the Gentiles” began with the captivity of Israel during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and will continue until our Lord returns in triumph. Then the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our God and His Christ. And He shall reign over the earth for 1,000 years. The “Times of the Gentiles” have already covered a period of 2,600 years and is presented pictorially in the book of Daniel, first, in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great image (see Daniel 2) and again, in Daniel’s vision of the four great beasts (see Daniel 7). [Describe the dream and vision]
The Dream (Daniel 2)
The king saw a great image:
The head of gold
The breasts and arms of silver
The belly and thighs of bronze
The legs of iron
The feet of iron and clay
This is the interpretation:
The head of gold = Nebuchadnezzar (See Daniel 2:36-38).
The breasts and arms of silver = Medo-Persian Empire (See Daniel 2:39).
The belly and thighs of bronze = Grecian Empire (See Daniel 2:39).
The legs of iron and feet of iron and clay = Roman Empire in its two stages (See Daniel 2:40-48).
This dream draws one’s attention to the outward form of these world empires.
The vision of Daniel reveals their true character.
The dream is what man sees from his standpoint.
The vision is what God sees from His viewpoint.
It is not an attractive, resplendent image.
It involves four voracious beasts, which devour and kill (warlike and rapacious).
The Vision (Daniel 7:1-8)
Daniel 7 is the greatest prophetic chapter in the Bible. The following describes the vision we read about in this chapter:
He saw: “four great beasts come up out of the sea, different from one another.”
(1) A Lion…eagles’ wings…its wings were plucked…it was lifted up from the earth…made to stand on the feet of a man…a man’s heart was given to it. - This is a concise description of the rise and fall of the Babylonian Empire. This empire was lion-like in character: strong, powerful, regal, and king of beasts. Eagles’ wings depict strength and swiftness. This describes the kingdom’s regeneration. This empire was made to stand upon the feet of a man and a man’s heart was given to it. This was the divine description of the head of gold.
At the time of writing, Nebuchadnezzar’s power was at its zenith. No one could see its end. Note the Divine foreknowledge – by inspiration and revelation, Daniel foretold its downfall. Some years later the empire collapsed (see Daniel 5). [Stress divine inspiration – Prophecy]
(2) Next Daniel saw a Bear…it was raised up on one side, it had three ribs in its mouth…Arise and devour much flesh. - The Medo-Persian Empire was bear-like (breasts and arms of silver). This empire is depicted as being ferocious – unwieldy. There also seems to be an imbalance of power. This is seen in its raising one paw higher than the other. Of the Medo-Persian empires, Persia was the more predominant power. After a ruthless reign of 200 years, the bear-like power of the Medo-Persians was broken by the conquest of Alexander the Great of Greece.
(3) After this, Daniel saw a leopard with four wings and four heads (the belly and thighs of bronze). - The leopard speaks of strength, stealth and rapidity. These characteristics were seen in the rapid conquests of Alexander. He sat down and cried, because there were no more worlds to conquer. He directed that at his death his hands should be placed across his chest, palms outward. “Why?” he was asked, “To let all who look at me in death see that the man who conquered the world went out empty-handed.” He died in his early thirties – and his empire was divided between his four generals (four heads). All this is a matter of history now, but the prophecy was made 500 years before it happened. [Stress the faultless prophetical record of the Scriptures here]
(4) Finally, in his vision, Daniel saw a fourth beast; it was very strong, so dreadful and terrible that it could not be symbolized by the likeness of any known beast. – [Read Daniel 7:7 here] This spoke of the Roman Empire so differently from the three empires that preceded it. Its characteristics were: tremendous force, determination, and ruthlessness. It stamped the residue with its feet; it had ten toes, ten horns, and legs of iron.
This kingdom was at the height of power during the life of Christ. It disintegrated in 467 A.D. The cause of its fall was:
- The undermining of the sanctity of the home
- Higher and higher taxes
- A mad craze for pleasure
- The building of armaments when the real enemy was within
- The decay of Christianity
When John the apostle wrote the revelation he was a prisoner of Rome. These three world empires had passed away into history. By divine revelation John saw, as he looked down the corridor of time, not only the fall, but also the revival of this Roman Empire. Read Revelation 13:1-3. This empire, in its final form, will emerge as the feet of iron and clay. Believers will not see this kingdom in its final form (they will be translated before this). It will reach its zenith during the tribulation period under the Beast and the False Prophet.
Yet Future (Daniel 2:40-44)
The Revived Roman Empire
The final form of Gentile world power is represented in the feet of iron and clay with ten toes.” The ten toes represent ten kingdoms (three of which will be subdued). They are separate entities, yet seem to be under “one head.” He is described in Daniel 7 as “the little horn” and in Revelation 13 as “the beast.” “He had the eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things.” [Note: The Antichrist (Gentile) – The False prophet (Jew)] The iron and clay mixed would represent two forms of government: “Autocracy” and “Democracy.” Since the mixture of iron and clay is an unnatural one, it would seem to suggest that the federation is not brought about by force, but by mutual consent, so that each member of the alliance retains its own identity.
Consider the following: N.A.T.O is a stopgap. The reason for its formation follows:
- A common enemy – Communism
- The economic history – U.S.A.
- A shift of power from USA to Rome
- Churchill urged the United States of Europe – The unity between France and Germany
[Describe the common market of Europe] This, in essence, will be the revived Roman Empire taking shape, but yet future. An alliance of ten nations, but ruled by one head or dictator. This is a “sign of the times.” Other signs: The tree…trees (see Luke 21:29-33).
The End of the Gentile World Power (Daniel 2:35)
Daniel saw a stone, cut without hands, falling on the feet of the image, grinding them to powder. This stone became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. The stone speaks of the Lord Jesus. He will come in glory and power. And He will utterly destroy the last vestige of Gentile authority at Armageddon. Then He will establish His kingdom, which will be worldwide, and He shall literally fill the whole earth [The Millennium].
[Describe the coming of the Son of Man]
See Revelation 19 and Matthew 25 (The judgment of the living nations - sheep and goats - “I will put hooks in their jaws.”) Jerusalem is the prize in view (see Ezekiel 38:4).
The following will gather for these great battles: [Describe]
The ten-kingdom federation of nations from Europe under the Beast, the revived Roman Empire.
The great Northern Confederacy of Russia and her allies.
The kings of the south.
The kings of the East - the Asiatic peoples will be there.
Dr. Walter Holstein, former president of the European Economic Community said recently, that in about 1980 we might fully expect the great fusion of all economic, military, and political communities together into the United States of Europe (Rapture first). American news magazine had a feature entitled “Europe Dreams of Unity Revive.”
“The Common market could expand into a ten nation economic entity, whose might would far surpass the Soviet Union.”