The Supernatural Rock: The Present and Coming Kingdom of God , Part 2 (Daniel Sermon 5 of 17)
January 07, 2001 | Andy Davis
The Kingdom of Christ
I. Review: The Rise and Fall of the World
Please, if you would, take your Bibles and open to Daniel chapter 2. We're going to be finishing this morning, God willing, our look at this chapter. It's an incredible chapter in which the rise and the fall of the world is so clearly depicted in prophetic perspective. For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot. The dazed prisoners walked in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses alongside him. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning that all glory is fleeting.
With those words, one of my favorite movies ever, ended. It's the movie Patton. If you go see the movie Patton, that's the way that it ends. And that's an amazing ending to it, because it's right before that General of the Third Army of the United States of America, World War II, right before he died, the film doesn't cover his death, but it does give us this incredible reminder. All glory is fleeting. You see, Patton had ridden at the head of the Third Army. They had conquered or re-conquered 12,000 towns and villages, inflicted 1.5 million casualties on the Nazi armies facing them. And he knew enough military history to know that he was just another in a long line of conquerors riding over the same territory in front of mighty armies conquering the same land and that some day his glory and his triumph would sink back into the dust from which he came. I think it's a telling way for him to end or for them to end that film. All glory is fleeting.
Now, we have a reminder of that in our bulletins. If you look on the cover of the bulletin today, I've put a picture. And it's a picture of a desolate windswept plain near Pasargadae, which is in modern Turkmenistan, used to be the northeastern frontier of the ancient Persian Empire. And there stands a simple gabled edifice made of limestone blocks cramped together with iron bands, it's a small edifice, it rests on a stone platform of six courses. It contains a windowless chamber about 10.5 feet by 7.5 feet, 8 feet high, just a little room. And on it, according to the ancient historian, Plutarch, the inscription reads in old Persian characters: "O man, whosoever you are and whencesoever you come, for I know that you will come, I am Cyrus, who won for the Persians their empire. Do not begrudge me this little earth that covers my corpse." So here is Cyrus, and he conquered one of the greatest empires the world had ever seen, and now he's got a little room to show for it, a little limestone room with an inscription on it, that you have to be a scholar to read. And the inscription reminds you of the fleetingness of all human glory.
Well, the Scripture reminds us of that as well, Daniel chapter 2. It speaks of kingdoms that rise and fall, of empires that come and go, of emperors and kings that live and are raised up to incredible glory, and then sink back into the dust from which they came.
This is the vision and the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar, the first of these great emperors saw. Do you remember the story? Nebuchadnezzar was laying down on his bed, and he was thinking about the future, thinking about what would come, and as he was thinking, his mind turned to perhaps his own empire and perhaps who would follow him as a successor and he fell into maybe a fitful sleep. And while he was sleeping, he saw a vision, a dream, and the dream so terrified him and disturbed him that he could not sleep anymore. And so, he as soon as he could summoned his chief counselors and his magicians and astrologers and dream interpreters and they all came, and they were eager and ready to interpret his dream for him, but he was so eager and determined to have an accurate interpretation to that dream that he said that they must tell him what his dream was before they had the right to interpret it. So it was a two-fold test. They tried to wriggle out of it, but he wouldn't let them move. He said, "You've got to tell me my dream and then I will know that you can interpret it for me." And they said, "Nobody can do this, King. Nobody can read your mind. We don't know what your dream is. We're ready to interpret the dream if you'll tell us what it is, but if you will not tell us the dream how can we interpret it? No king however mighty, however powerful can ask this of his counselors."
And so, Nebuchadnezzar in a rage decreed death for all of the counselors of Babylon, because they could not do these two things, number one, to tell him his dream and number two, to interpret it accurately for him. This was a terrified man, he wanted to know what this dream meant. When Daniel received word, Daniel was a Judean, a Jewish young man. He had already been through the training that the Babylonians offered and he and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were junior counselors, I believe, at this point. Not full counselors, they'd not been asked to come and stand before the King yet, and they received news, what the king had said. And Daniel said to the king… He got an audience with Nebuchadnezzar and said, "Give me some time, and if you give me some time, I will interpret the King's dream for him." And then he went back and he and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, they gathered together in an incredibly urgent and passionate prayer meeting. And they prayed. They prayed as if their lives depended on it, because they did and they asked God for a miracle. They said God, "You've got to tell us what this dream is or else we will perish." God was gracious to them and gave to Daniel in particular, a night vision in which he saw the dream, and not only did he see the dream, but he understood the meaning, the significance of that dream, its interpretation.
Daniel Describes and Interprets the Dream
We saw last time what that dream was. Daniel stands before Nebuchadnezzar and after giving credit and praise to God, he says this, beginning in verse 31, "You looked, O King, and there before you stood a large statue, an enormous dazzling statue awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching a rock was cut out, but not by human hands, it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace, but the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole Earth." And then Daniel went on to interpret the dream, he said, "This was the dream and now we will interpret it to the king. You, O King, are the king of kings, the God of Heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory. In your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all, you are that head of gold.After you, another kingdom will rise inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth and finally there will be a fourth kingdom strong as iron, for as iron breaks and smashes everything, and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. Yet, it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. And as the toes were partly iron, and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united any more than iron mixes with clay. In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed nor will it be left to another people, it will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of the mountain but not by human hands, a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true, and the interpretation is trustworthy."
So here's the dream, it's a dream of a statue, an immense statue. And we've seen in the interpretation, and we talked about last time, that the statue unfolds a chronology, it unfolds history. It starts at the gold head, goes down through the chest and arms of silver, through the belly and thighs of bronze, into the legs of iron and then the feet partly of iron and partly of clay and the toes are mentioned as well. And so, we have traced out human history, we understand that Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold, he represents the Babylonian kingdom. As we talked about last time, we saw that he was in many respects the Babylonian kingdom. And when he died, it pretty much came to an end.
There were two others that ruled after him, but they did not have his power. And it wasn't long before the kingdom crumbled and fell to the Medes and the Persians, the second kingdom. Chest of arms, chest and arms of silver. The Medes and the Persians, and Cyrus the Great, whose tomb you have printed on the cover of your bulletin, conquered Babylon in 539 and then died 10 years later. Darius the Mede raised the empire to its greatest heights after that and ruled over that region, ancient near east, for 200 years. But they never did control the Greeks on the border. Never could really control them.
And then when the time was full, 4th century BC, 330 or so BC, Alexander the Great came crashing through and destroyed the Persian army and then conquered an area of immense size, 3000 miles from modern Yugoslavia to the Indus River Valley in Pakistan and India. About the distance from Los Angeles to New York. That's what Alexander the Great conquered, never lost a battle. Incredible speed, he conquered the world, but then he died. At the height of his power he was cut off, and his kingdom divided among his four top generals. And they continued on for a while until Rome rose in the west and took over. And so, history is somewhat like a relay race, one empire taking over from the next, as one empire sinks back into the dust from which it came. Now, we covered all this last time. This is just by way of review, but I left unaddressed some details. And there's a great deal of detail given specifically to the feet of the statue, the feet partly of iron and partly of clay with the toes, and of this stone cut out but not by human hands. What is the meaning of this?
And what does this passage teach us about the Kingdom of God? And what does this passage teach us perhaps about the future? Second coming of Christ. We're going to look today at the nature of the Kingdom of God. We're going to look at the triumph of the Kingdom of God, we're going to look at the timing of the Kingdom of God. And then some end time details and perhaps some millennial questions.
II. The Nature of the Kingdom of God
Let's begin with the nature of the Kingdom of God and realize that God in this vision is setting up a contrast. The contrast is between the statue, this immense glorious imposing statue and the rock cut out, but not by human hands. It's a contrast. They're being compared one to another. And they're being compared in four senses.
Origin: Human vs. Divine
First, in terms of origin. The origin of the human kingdoms, the human statue is human. Its origin is from the earth, and that is being contrasted by an origin which is divine, a heavenly origin. Now, the form of the statue is that of a human being, the empires represent humanity and all of its immense power and its glory and its strength and its ability, its intellect.
And all of the human empires are patterned after human mind, human lusts, human conception of glory and of power. They all sprang up, therefore, out of human imaginations. Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar, was a minor official in the Assyrian empire down in a corner called Chaldea. But he got ambitious. He started to have dreams of grandeur and glory, started to think about a kingdom, even an empire. And he started to come up along the Tigris and the Euphrates River and conquered the Assyrian empire. And he was successful and he committed to his son Nebuchadnezzar his most powerful army and they swept on down through, that's when they conquered Jerusalem and Egypt. Then, in the height of all this, Nabopolassar died and Nebuchadnezzar inherited that kingdom. But where did this kingdom come from? From the mind of Nabopolassar, the imagination, the thoughts, the ambition of a man. Was it any different with Cyrus the Great? Cyrus the Great was an official on the edge of the Babylonian empire, and he started to see the cracks around the edge, he started to see the toppling of the Babylonian empire. And so, the ambition filled his mind, and he started to organize his army and his men and he conquered Babylon. Was it any different with Alexander the Great?
Philip, his father, Philip of Macedon began to have dreams of glory, but he also just like Nabopolassar cut off before he could realize them. Alexander the Great picked up that baton of ambition and started to conquer. And so, it was with the Roman Senate, and Caesar's as well. The origin of human kingdoms is human imagination and pride and ambition. The origin is human, but the stone has an origin that is supernatural. It is a stone cut out but not by human hands; it has no human origin. Verse 34, "While you were watching a rock was cut out, but not by human hands." This missile, which is going to come in and destroy human government, comes from heaven, not from Earth, it has a heavenly origin, not an earthly origin. Now, some commentators believe this refers to the virgin birth of Christ. That Jesus was born without a human father, and it may be, but I think it means far more than that. I think it just talks about the Kingdom of God and how its origin was not human, but divine. Do you remember when Jesus Christ stood before the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate? And do you remember what the charge was against him? That he was a king, a rabble-rouser trying to organize a kingdom.
Well, Jesus couldn't rightly deny that he was a king, he is a king, he's in fact the king of kings. But he needed to show Pontius Pilate that he was thinking about his kingdom all wrong. Do you remember what he said? He said, "My kingdom is…" What? "Not of this world." "My kingdom is not of this world." That's John 18:36. He said, "If it were, my servants or my followers would have fought to prevent me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is my kingdom is from another place." Do you understand what Jesus is saying there? He's saying, if I were an earthly king, I would be leading a revolt with swords, you see, that's the way that earthly kings conquer. All who draw the sword will what? Perish by the sword. One sword comes along and devours the next. I'm setting up a kingdom not by that way. "My kingdom is not of this world.” Pilot says, "So you are a king? And Jesus responds, "You are right in saying that I am a king. In fact, for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth." Jesus is saying that his kingdom gets built with truth. When people hear the truth, they come into the kingdom. It does not get built with a sword.
Now, since the Emperor Constantine declared himself to be a Christian in the 3rd century, the church got a little confused about this, and so it adopted the sword and began to advance by the sword. You've heard of the Crusades, haven't you? And it got confused about the relationship between church and state. It took the Baptists to set them straight on that many years later. This confusion between church and state, but the kingdom of Jesus Christ does not advance by military power, or by political power. We get confused about this, we get wrapped up in the politics, we should get involved as American citizens, but realize, the Kingdom of Heaven does not advance that way. It advances by truth, by the preaching of the Gospel, by people who come to faith in Christ. And then we have a salt and light effect on society, it's true, and we must not neglect that. My kingdom is not of this world, said Jesus.
Essence: Earthly vs. Heavenly
Also, it speaks of the essence of the kingdom. What is the essence of human kingdoms? They are built of earthy stuff, aren't they? They're built of stuff you can find lying around on the earth. If you dig hard enough, you can find them.
Each phase of the statue, gold, silver, bronze, iron, where do they come from? Up out of holes in the ground, up out of the earth. Job testified to this. Job 28:1-2, "There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from its ore." He covers all four materials. They come up out of the earth, they're earthy. And I mentioned last time, so is the Tower of Babel. It was built of clay, thoroughly baked, and it rose supposedly to heaven, but remember what God had to do, he said, "Let us go down and see this great tower they're building. They haven't even come close to heaven, they're building up from the earth, but they'll never make it." Human ambition soars, but not that high. You can never reach heaven by earthy means.
And the feet of clay testifies to this as well. Have you ever heard of that expression, about someone's feet of clay? It means their... Perhaps their Achilles heel or their weakness. The thing that's going to destroy them, or their point of weakness. Well, ours is our humanity, our mortality, our sinfulness. It says in Genesis 2:7, "The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Paul picks up on this in 1 Corinthians 15:47 and said, "The first man is from the earth." Earthy, he's earthy. "But the second man is from Heaven," spiritual.
And then after the fall, after sin entered the earth in Genesis 3:19, God said, "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken, for dust you are and to dust you shall return." And so, the statue rises up out of the ground and then it falls back down into the dust. All that's left of Cyrus the Great is the photo you see on the cover there, that's it, that's all he's got left. And actually, there's nothing inside. You know, they... At some point, hundreds of years ago, they plundered it. It's just an empty room with an inscription that no one can read. That's what's left of Cyrus the Great and all that he accomplished. But the Kingdom of God is made up of supernatural essence. God does not build his kingdom by earthy means or earthy materials. I think we get confused about this in terms of money too. We think more money means more kingdom, it doesn't work that way. And for... Or that commercial, "There are some things that money can't buy, everything else put on a credit card." Well, you can't do that at church. We're not set up for that. Not yet. You can't buy the Kingdom of Heaven.
Remember when Simon tried to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter said, "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money." The Kingdom of Heaven doesn't advance that way. Now, money is important, very important. Jesus taught a great deal about money, so did Paul. It actually shows where your heart is. But God does not build his kingdom with earthy means, but rather with supernatural means and materials. And therefore, all of us who are presently earthy... Aren't we? Don't you feel your earthiness? The older you are, the more you'll feel it. Now, some of you are laughing, but you don't know anything, you're only 38. I'm feeling it as it is. There are some things I used to be able to do, I can't do anymore. And it goes on, we're earthy, we're decaying. And therefore, it says in 1 Corinthians 15:50, "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." We must be transformed and we're transformed first by the hearing of the imperishable Word of God, and secondly, by the glorification, the new resurrection body that only he can give. The Kingdom of God is not perishable.
Duration: Temporary vs. Eternal
Thirdly, the comparison is in terms of duration, temporary verses eternal. All human empires are temporary. Each empire had its first day and its last day. Because they are human, their mighty leaders eventually sink back into the dust and each empire is superseded by another human empire. Some day, if the Lord tarries, America will sink back down. Is that shocking to you? We are God's people, so we think. No, we're not. The church are God's people. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control will transform our lowly bodies, that's earthy bodies, into his glorious body. That's our citizenship. Don't hold on to earthly kingdoms too tightly, even this one will sink down. But God's kingdom is eternal.
Look at verse 44, "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms, and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever." This is ascribed to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. His kingdom will never end. It says in Isaiah 9:6-7, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government," interesting word, "the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."
And so, when Gabriel came to tell Mary of the birth of her son, this is what Gabriel said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." The Kingdom of Jesus Christ will never end. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ has already begun, and it's been growing for 2000 years. I'm going to talk about that in a moment, and it will never end. The final fourth point of comparison is that of power. Earthly kingdoms have power, a great deal by our standards, but they are nothing compared to God. And every one of them is vulnerable, but the Kingdom of God is unconquerable.
Each kingdom is vulnerable, for example, to the ravages of a more technologically advanced army. When Cyrus the Great came through, his army was just better trained and more able to conquer than that of the Babylonians. Alexander the Great brought a kind of warfare that no one had ever seen before, with the use of cavalry, he conquered armies 10 times his size by just knowing how to fight. And then there were the Roman legions with their discipline and their structure and their organization. Every human empire has limited power, also vulnerable to the ravages of time, and internal decadence. How did Rome fall? Internal corruption, sin, drunken feasts.
Also vulnerable to the law of succession. Who will be next, a wise man or a fool? Listen to what King Solomon said about this. He said, "I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless. A chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun because I must leave them to the one who comes after me, and who can say whether he will be a wise man or a fool, yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless." How many kings have hoped for a prince, a son who would be worthy, a worthy successor, and he ended up to be weak, ineffective, given to luxury, for example, not a good leader. But not so Christ's kingdom, Christ reigns forever, and he will never be taken from his throne. In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed nor will be left to another people.
It will crush all those kingdoms, and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. John Wesley in the 1700s knew the King of England. This was a time when England was just coming into its ascendancy and its power. Queen Victoria's reign just lay ahead. It was just in the middle of the building of its empire, and John Wesley knew the King. And he had a time to stand with the King one time, and this is what he said. "I was in the Robe Chamber, adjoining to the House of Lords when the King put on his robes. His brow was much furrowed with age and quite clouded with care. And is this all the world can give even to a king? All the grandeur it can afford, a blanket of ermine around his shoulder so heavy and cumbersome he can scarce move under it? A huge heap of borrowed hair with a few plates of gold and glittering stones upon his head. Alas, what a bubble is human greatness and even this will not endure." So we've seen the nature of the Kingdom of God.
III. The Triumph of the Kingdom of God
What of its triumph? Well, when the stone cut out but not by human hands smashes the feet, it gives rise to an instantaneous victory. In the dream, in the vision, the statue is smashed immediately. All the rival kingdoms are destroyed and a wind blows them away. But then there's a sense of growth of the kingdom as well. In verse 35, "the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth." So which is it? Is it an instantaneous victory or smashing or is it a gradual growth to fill the whole earth? Could it be both? And could it be even in reverse order that the gradual growth gives way to the final smashing at the second coming of Christ? That's what I believe.
If you read the commentators on this, they are divided. Is the smashing of the stone the first coming of Christ, or is it the second coming of Christ, which is it? You pay your money, you make your choice. I don't think that we should make a choice. I think it's both. Jesus Christ came and the key to the interpretation of this is, what is the rock? The rock is the Kingdom of God, it is the kingdom. And in order to understand the kingdom, we must look to the New Testament.
IV. The Timing of the Kingdom of God
Now, what is the timing of this kingdom? We get two clues about the timing of the kingdom. In verse 34 it says, "while you were watching a rock was cut out but not by human hands and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay..." So the feet give us an indication of the timing. There is a chronology here, isn't there? From gold to silver to bronze to iron and to the feet, partly of iron and partly of clay. So there's a flow of history, and at that point the rock comes. There's also a clear statement from Daniel in verse 44, "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed." Now, what does it mean in the time of those kings? Now, people who believe that Jesus will reign for a thousand years on earth point to the 10 toes.
By the way, it doesn't say there's 10, but we have to assume that the statue had 10, it's a human being and most human beings have 10 toes. So there were 10 toes, so they assumed. And so, could it be that there's going to be 10 final kings in the final form of the Roman Empire, and in the time of those kings Jesus Christ will return? So, it's looking to something yet future, so the interpretation goes. There's a mingling together of clay and iron. We didn't see that in the time of Jesus' first coming. No, the Roman Empire was strong, Caesar Augustus, he was their greatest strength of power. That was the legs of iron, but we get a final form of the Roman Empire, yet to come. And so, this whole interpretation goes this way. They're looking at Europe, they're waiting to see the 10 member nations and when the 10 nations are together, they're going to have a consortium or consolidation of power and those 10 kings will give their power to the anti-Christ, so the interpretation goes. And in those days, the stone will come. It's the second coming of Christ. That's how the interpretation goes. Well, I think that may be true. But if you're reading this, the most natural way to understand "in the time of those kings," is the kings we've been talking about, the kings of gold, the kings of silver, the kings of bronze and the kings of iron.
So, in the era when Gentiles are ruling Jerusalem, in the times of the Gentiles, in those days, God will set up a kingdom. I think that's a safer interpretation.
V. The Kingdom of Heaven: A Summary of the Issues
Now, what does this Kingdom of Heaven entail? What do we learn about the Kingdom of Heaven? Well, there are some lessons that we get from the New Testament. I printed them there in your bulletin. And if we follow this, I think we'll understand how to interpret Daniel chapter 2. First, the Kingdom of God made its appearance when Christ came the first time. That is a key point. The kingdom came when Jesus came the first time. How do we know that? Well, numerous ways. What was Jesus' first preached message? Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near or at hand. Kingdom of Heaven is, we say, near, does that mean yet to come? Well, it is yet to come, but it's also here now. He said, "The Kingdom of God is in your midst, among you." He also said, "If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you." Did Jesus drive out demons by the Spirit of God? Yes. Then the Kingdom of God has come upon us. It's already here.
Secondly, people can enter the Kingdom of Heaven now, so the kingdom is not near the future. You can enter the kingdom today, now. How do you do that? Well, in Matthew 5:3, it says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit…" The spiritual beggars, for what? "Theirs will be the Kingdom of Heaven?" No. "Theirs the Kingdom of Heaven," now. If you're a spiritual beggar, if you are poor in spirit, you get the Kingdom of Heaven through faith in Christ, now, today. Jesus in his day spoke of some that were getting converted and he was speaking to the Pharisees, the self-righteous Pharisees and they were always looking down on other people. And it says in Matthew 21:31, Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you," that settles it to me. You can enter the kingdom now. The Kingdom of God is here now, and has been for 2000 years.
Next, however, the Kingdom of God awaits a yet future fulfillment when Christ will reign on the Earth. How do you know that? Do you ever pray the Lord's prayer? What does it say about this in the Lord's Prayer? Thy Kingdom, what? Come. Let your kingdom come and then it gives an explanation after that, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Is that the truth now, is that the case? Do you look around in this world and see Christ's will being done or God's will being done on earth in the same way it's done up in heaven? Do I even need to ask? Absolutely not. And so we're praying for it. O Lord Jesus, come and be king here, down here on earth, so that we can see it.
Next, and this is a key step, Christ is ruling over the Earth now for the benefit of his advancing kingdom, and I mean over governments. He's ruling over governments, ruling over Eastern European governments to bring down the Berlin Wall, he's ruling over Russia, he's ruling over China, and over the US, he's ruling over all the kings of the Earth. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is sitting at the right hand of God, while God makes his enemies a foot stool for his feet. It's going on now. It's not yet future, it's happening now. Ephesians 1:20-22 says this, that God raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come and God placed all things under his feet, and appointed him to be head over everything for the Church. What does that word "for the church" mean? It means he's ruling over everything for your benefit. He's causing all things to work together for good for you, for the church. And that includes human governments. He has that kind of power, and he exercises that power.
Next, it says the Kingdom of God advances forcefully through the world, growing bigger and bigger all the time. The Kingdom of God is getting bigger and bigger all the time. Isn't that what happened to the rock? Remember the rock cut out but not by human hands, what happened to it? It got bigger and bigger and bigger until it filled the whole earth. Jesus spoke of this advance, Matthew 11:12 says, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it." The Kingdom of Heaven has been advancing from the time of John the Baptist until now, it's moving out, it's moving on. Jesus spoke of this in his parables, "the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. Though it is smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it becomes a garden plant, the largest of all garden plants, so big that birds can come and make nests in the branches." Is that not the principle of growth from small to big? It starts small, it gets bigger. And then the next parable teaches something very important about that growth.
The Kingdom of God is like yeast, which a woman took and hid into a large amount of flour until it permeated through the whole dough. It's a secret growth. It's a kind you can't see, you're not going to read about it in the New York Times. They're not going to talk about it on CNN, you're not going to see it in 20/20 or Nightline. It's secret permeating growth, and yet it is the story of human history. It is what God has been waiting for 2000 years, the growth of his kingdom. It's going on now.
Next step, kings and kingdoms are frustrated and defeated if they try to stop this advance. This is Psalm 2, you remember? Remember Psalm 2? "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed one. 'Let us break their bonds and shake off their chains,' they say… The one enthroned in Heaven laughs…and he terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 'I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.'" You can't beat him. You might as well join him. That's what he's saying. Therefore, you kings, be wise and be warned you rulers of the earth, Psalm 2, "serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry with you and his wrath flare up in a moment and you be destroyed in your way.
What is that saying? It's saying, Kings of the Earth, go ahead and be king of Turkmenistan and President of the United States and whatever, but don't fight me, because if you do, you're going to destroy yourself. Your kingdom is going to sink back into the dust anyway, you already know that, but you will lose your soul, do not fight me. The Kingdom of Heaven advances. My kingdom is not of this world. It's advancing spiritually not by the sword, but by the preached Word and nothing can stop it. At the second coming of Christ, the final form of human governments will be assembled and smashed forever. This is the final smashing. And I think it's also in view, in the vision of Daniel 2.
Now, in order to get this full story, you have to read Daniel 7. We'll talk more about it when we get there, and Revelation 19. But they are the kings of the earth, they're assembled together at a place called Armageddon, and the anti-Christ is there ruling over them, leading them, and Jesus Christ comes on a white horse with the armies of heaven, they're all clad in white. And we'll be there. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4 that we're going to meet the Lord in there, if we're still alive, we will go up and meet him and come down to do that battle, I believe. If you've died, you'll be there too. The wind will come in with him, and he's going to come and destroy, militarily destroy, those governments. And that is the wind that will blow those governments away and they'll be left with no trace, nothing left, but Jesus Christ, gone forever.
Now, I'm not going to talk now about that coalition of 10 kings. We'll get to that in Daniel 7. That's a better place. Why? Because do you see the number 10 here in Daniel 2? Now, I know you say there's 10 toes. Well, let's wait until Daniel 7. It's a better place to discuss the 10 kings. But what I say is there may well be a future final form of the Roman Empire mingled together with peoples and yet the strength of the Roman Empire and in that final day, Jesus will come. Let's talk more about that in Daniel 7. The final point is, at this point, Christ's kingdom will come and God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Revelation 11:15, the kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign forever and ever.
Now, what applications can we make about what we've learned here in Daniel chapter 2? First of all, this is a deep chapter, isn't it? We've been three weeks in it. We could spend more, but we're going to go on next week to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the burning fiery furnace. So let's learn some lessons from Daniel chapter 2. First, human kingdoms exhaust themselves for nothing. Did you hear that? Well, that's a quote from Scripture, Habakkuk 2:13-14. "Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:13-14 put together, that's Daniel 2. The nations exhaust themselves for nothing. God's kingdom is going to fill the whole world and nothing can stop it.
Alright, what application? Can I urge you, don't build an earthy kingdom? Don't waste your time building earthy things that aren't going to last. Can I ask you as stewards of your time and of your money and of your life, think about what you're building with your life? And ask, is it going to be swept away like chaff or is it going to last for all eternity? Think about it. How are you living your life? What are you spending your time on? Are you building a kingdom that will last or will it be swept away?
Secondly, all human glories is nothing. Can I urge you, don't be impressed by anything human? Don't be impressed by the mighty achievements of America, the skyscrapers of Chicago, the technological advances of Silicon Valley, the jets of McDonnell Douglas, the financial acuity of NASDAQ or Wall Street, don't be impressed by these things. They're all chaff, that's going to be blown away. Don't yearn for a business as successful as Microsoft. Don't yearn for a body that looks like Sylvester Stallone's, don't yearn for things that don't matter. All human glories is nothing.
And therefore, thirdly, Christ's kingdom, God's kingdom is everything. Realize that nothing in this world matters as much as entering the Kingdom of Christ. How do we know that? Well, Jesus said so. What would it profit a man to what, gain the whole world? Isn't that empire language? What would it gain... What would it profit if you conquered even the whole world? Has any one man ever conquered the whole world? No, there's never been an emperor that took over the whole world. And Jesus said, even if you did, it would be worth less than your soul. Imagine you're Napoleon standing on the edge of hell. I don't know whether he's in heaven or hell, I'm not making a pronouncement, it's not my place. But suppose you were Napoleon and you were asked, would you trade your European empire now for your eternal soul, what would he say? What would you say in a second? Would you hold any part back? Maybe Austria, that beautiful mountain... No, I wouldn't hold it back, I'd give it all. What would a man give in exchange for his soul? Can I ask you to look inward, what are you trading for your eternal soul?
Have you entered the Kingdom of Jesus Christ? And those of you that have, are you putting these kinds of questions to your American fellow workers and people around you who are losing their souls for earthly things? Are you being the evangelist God's calling you to be? To give them a warning that they're building their lives on sand, and it's all going to get swept away.
Final application, 2 Peter 3:11-12, "since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?" I'm quoting Scripture now. "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming." Three things that he's telling you to do, live a holy and godly life, look forward to the day of God, and speed its coming. Live a holy and godly life by not being polluted by this world. Look forward to the day of God by hope and put your yearning and your hope and your ambition in the day of God, and speed its coming.
How do you do that? By evangelism, by doing the work of the Kingdom. Next Sunday afternoon at 4:45, you'll have an opportunity to be trained in how to do outreach and evangelism. Whether you come to that training time or not, you will still be held accountable for evangelism on Judgment Day. Do you understand that? Whether you come to that training or not, you will still be asked by God about witnessing opportunities you had. We, the staff, are making available to you a chance to be trained and to be exhorted and helped in outreach and witnessing. Whether you come or not, however, you will still be held accountable. Look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. Please close with me in prayer.