World Kingdoms in ProphecySearch the Word | Vol. 27 No. 5 | Jul-Aug 2017
Even though God does not force His will on humanity, He has not left this world to chance. Alongside the movements of the rulers of this world can be traced the workings of Providence.
With His divine knowledge God has foreseen and predicted the great world empires. This He does to assure His people that He is in control of world events. Nothing comes upon the scene of history for which God has not made provision. Sometimes His people remain untouched by these developments. At other times they seem to be in the center of the storm.
The prophets Daniel and John were given insights into world history that come right down to our day. The accuracy of their visions of the great empires of the world should inspire us with confidence that God will see His people through to the end.
I. GETTING STARTED WITH PROPHECY
1. Who alone truly knows the future? Isaiah 46:9, 10
2. Has God revealed the future? Amos 3:7
3. Which prophecies did Jesus mention by name, saying we should understand them? Matthew 24:15
4. For what time period was the book of Daniel specially written? Daniel 12:4, 9; 8:17
Daniel and Revelation are both about the last days; but Daniel was written first, and Revelation builds on its prophecies. In order to understand the two books, we must start with Daniel, and with Daniel’s first prophecy. Each succeeding prophecy is built on the ones before.
II. DANIEL’S FIRST VISION
1. What crisis were Daniel and the wise men in when he received his famous dream? Daniel 2:1–23, 29
2. Who explained the dream, and what period of earth’s history did it picture? Daniel 2:19, 27–29
3. In the dream, Daniel saw a great statue. What did its head of gold represent? Daniel 2:36–38
There are two vital principles we must understand to interpret correctly Daniel and Revelation:
(a) These prophecies are given in symbols.
(b) The symbols are interpreted by the Bible itself. In this first prophecy, God makes it easy by giving the interpretation immediately.
Nebuchadnezzar represented Babylon. “King” and “kingdom” often mean the same in prophecy. (Daniel 2:39; 7:17, 23; Hosea 12:10; Isaiah 14:4)
4. What did the silver, bronze, and iron represent? Daniel 2:39, 40 and Daniel 5:28; 8:20, 21
III. THE RISE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
1. What would happen to Rome, the fourth kingdom? Daniel 7:23, 24
2. How is this breakup of Rome into modern Europe described in Daniel 2? Will Europe ever be permanently reunited? Daniel 2:44
IV. THE RISE OF THE LITTLE HORN POWER
1. To see how prophecy builds on itself, note how these same four kingdoms are described again, in greater detail, in the next major prophecy of Daniel. What symbols did God use this time? Daniel 7:2–7, 17
2. Out of what kingdom did the little horn (beast power) arise? Daniel 7:7, 8; Revelation 13:2
3. What happened to the Roman Empire that made it possible for this new power to arise from its midst? Daniel 2:40, 41; 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7
4. Pagan Rome was divided into 10 kingdoms between 351 and 476 AD. When would the little horn arise? Daniel 7:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:7–12
5. What happened to the three kingdoms before the little horn arose and exercised kingly power? Daniel 7:8
6. Would the little horn kingdom be like the others? Daniel 7:24
7. What religious-political power arose out of Rome around 538 AD?
8. What kind of words does the little horn speak? Daniel 7:25a
9. What would this power do to the saints? Daniel 7:25b
V. BABYLON IN END-TIME PROPHECY
1. Though the pope was wounded by losing his political power in 1798, how large an influence will he again exert in the world? Revelation 13:3
2. What does God ask His people to do who are still a part of Babylon? Revelation 18:4
Babylon, Persia, Greece and pagan Rome have all passed away. We are now living in the tiptoes of the image. Papal Rome has risen and then waned but is now reviving in our day. Yet we have been promised that a new kingdom will soon be set up! When God’s kingdom comes, with what group of people, as described in our last text, do you want to be found?
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