- Pain and suffering in the world
- Birth defects and intellectual disabilities
- The seemingly unchecked advancement of evil and cruelty
- Atrocities in the Bible (i.e. genocide)
- The concept of eternal damnation (which seems cruel and unjust)
- Sin often has physical and/or emotional consequences. The sin of fornication may result in venereal diseases or an unwanted pregnancy. Drinking may result in drunk driving accidents, fatalities, extra-marital affairs and damaged relationships (Proverbs 23:29-35). The Bible – especially the book of Proverbs – warns of the consequences of gossiping, losing your temper, falling prey to lust and adultery, laziness, greed, etc. The suffering isn’t always physical; it is often emotional. There are long term emotional consequences of sin: shame, guilt, bitterness, and so on. We often suffer because we’ve chosen to reject God’s will, or at least we fail to live by His will. “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always” (Deuteronomy 6:24).
- Suffering can also occur when God punishes us individuallybecause of our sin. Hebrews 12:3-7 makes it clear that God chastens His children when they sin. “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten” (vs. 7).
- We also find numerous examples in the Bible where God punished an entire nation or region because of its sinfulness. He rained fire and brimstone down on Sodom, Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain in Genesis 19. He often used one nation to punish another nation (Isaiah 10). The book of Revelation lays out God’s judgments against the Roman empire because of its godlessness and persecution of Christians. And believe it or not, the example of genocide (as recorded in the book of Joshua) was actually an expression of God’s justice. The ‘conquering of Canaan’ served a dual-purpose: it allowed the Jews to obtain the land which God had promised to Abraham, while also bringing God’s judgment against the Amorites and other nations which inhabited Canaan (Genesis 15:16).
- A person’s choice to sin not only impacts them, but others as well. No one lives in a bubble. If I cheat on my wife, I’m going to suffer for it. But my wife and six children will suffer for it as well, not to mention the many others that I would disappoint and let down. On a larger scale, a leader of a country may cause untold suffering by pursuing a course of cruelty (i.e. Hitler). In all such cases, God isn’t the cause of the suffering; the suffering is, instead, the result of man’s choice to make ungodly choices.
- Then there are the natural disasters, the birth defects and diseases. In each of these cases, the suffering does not appear to be tied to anyone’s sin in particular. What about the tsunami that kills a quarter of a million people? What about the innocent baby that is born with with cerebral palsy, severe autism or a mental illness such as schizophrenia? In response, I will quote Romans 8:18-21…
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
The “creation” here is the natural world. When mankind sinned, the natural world was “subjected to futility” and “corruption.” Whether God adjusted the system, stepped back from the system or allowed Satan to have more sway over the system I cannot say for sure. But what this passage tells me is that man’s sin has corrupted the natural world. If you view sin as a cancer and the natural world as a body, the more that the cancer goes untreated, the more corrupt and infected the earth will become.
In all of this, God allows us to deal with the direct and indirect consequences of sin.
First of all, this is an essential component of free-will. For every cause, there is an effect. If there are no consequences for bad choices, free-will is a game, an illusion.
Secondly, suffering has benefits. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Even the atheist should agree with this in theory. You’ve heard the expression, “No pain, no gain.” Suffering has a way of building our character.
Third, suffering shows us our need for God. Whether the suffering is the direct result of our sin or the indirect result of others’ sin, it reveals our vulnerability and mortality, which, in turn, points us to a God who offers a path to a better life. Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
So we can’t blame God when we’re suffering. We choose to sin. Those around us choose to sin. Sin has consequences. We live in a fallen world, and in this fallen world, our suffering ought to illuminate, if anything, our desperate need for God.
Finally, there are three forms of suffering that cannot be attributed directly or indirectly to sin:
- Suffering also exists because of Satan’s influence. The story of Job illustrates this. While God permitted Satan to inflict suffering upon Job, Satan is the one who did it…and he did it because he wanted Job to curse God and abandon his faith. Even today we’re told to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom He may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
- God may allow suffering because He has a greater purpose in mind. In John 9:1-5, we are introduced to a man who had been blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples asking Him, “‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'” There may be times where God allows suffering or even creates adverse circumstances, not because He’s punishing anyone, but because He has a greater purpose in mind. In this story, the man was born blind so that one day, Jesus could heal him and bring glory to God as a result.
- Sometimes, there is no particular reason behind a person’s suffering. In other words, God isn’t behind it. We’re told in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” Jesus affirms this in Matthew 5:45 when He says that “your Father in heaven…makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Before I move on to my final point about eternal damnation, I want to clarify two things about suffering in the world today. These points are critical.
- Rather than look for the reason for each instance of suffering, we ought to react to suffering by recognizing our own mortality and thus our need for God. When asked about a tragedy that had occurred at the hand of Pilate, Jesus responded, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered these things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3).
- The question, “Is God peace?” can be answered with a resounding ‘Yes!’ Likewise, we can all affirm without hesitation that He is love. But this is an oversimplication of His character. While this point really merits much deeper analysis and explanation, suffice it to say that (1) God is also a God of justice (Psalm 89:14), and that (2) In His infinite love, He allows suffering to exist because He respects our free-will and wants us to respond by turning to Him. By way of comparison, I deeply love my children. But I will still discipline them when they misbehave (thus robbing them momentarily of peace) and allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions in hopes that they will learn and grow from it. So there is no contradiction.
If you’re an atheist or skeptic, I don’t expect this article to totally convince you of anything. After all, you don’t accept my premise that the Bible is God’s inspired word. But hopefully you can have deeper insight into the mind of a Christian and how it is that we reconcile these things.
From a historical perspective, in the 1600’s it was finally realized that water could evaporate as a gaseous substance. In 1676, Pierre Perrault and Edme Marriotte made a scientific breakthrough by describing the hydrologic cycle in detail. Yet the Bible described the process thousands of years earlier. Even after people understood the hydrological cycle, they believed that rain, being fresh water, came from rivers and lakes. The discovery that rain comes mostly from seawater as described in the Bible is recent.
“The encyclopedic work Holt Pediatrics remains today one of the most influential works ever written about child care, pediatric disease, and other health concerns as they relate to children. First written in 1896 by L. Emmet Holt, Jr. and going through several revisions until the year 1953, the nearly 1,500-page work is a master compilation of the ‘modern’ medicine of its day. One section, starting on page 125 of the twelfth edition, is titled ‘Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn.’ The information included in the section details the occurrence of occasional spontaneous bleeding among newborns that can sometimes cause severe damage to major organs such as the brain, and even death. In the discussion pertaining to the reasons for such bleeding, the authors note that the excessive bleeding is primarily caused by a decreased level of prothrombin, which in turn is caused by insufficient levels of vitamin K. The text also notes that children’s susceptibility is ‘peculiar’ (meaning ‘higher’) ‘between the second and fifth days of life’ (1953, p. 126). In chart form, Holt Pediatrics illustrates that the percent of available prothrombin in a newborn dips from about 90% of normal on its day of birth to about 35% on its third day of life outside the womb. After the third day, the available prothrombin begins to climb. By the eighth day of the child’s life, the available prothrombin level is approximately 110% of normal, about 20% higher than it was on the first day, and about 10% more than it will be during of the child’s life. Such data prove that the eighth day is the perfect day on which to perform a major surgery such as circumcision”
- They believed in quarantining the diseased (Lev. 13:4-5).
- Bodily discharges were considered unclean (Lev. 15).
- The “water of purification” (Numbers 19:6-9):
- Lye soap is made by pouring water through ashes.
- Hyssop contains the antiseptic thymol.
- Water itself is useful in sanitation.
- They weren’t to touch a corpse (Num. 19:11-16).
“The heavier rain after or just about the time of more frequent lightning is probably not a coincidence. Research on lightning frequency and rainfall suggests that the action of hydrometeors (rain and hail) being carried around in the thunderstorm (in updrafts as well as downdrafts) creates electrical charge buildup in the clouds. The more active the storm and the more hydrometeors there are, the more electric charge is built up and the more frequent the lightning is. The more hydrometeors there are, the greater the likelihood of heavy precipitation, although it may occur after most of the lightning, as a downdraft has to set up or the updrafts decline to allow the hydrometeors to fall towards the ground”
- In 1844, Isambard K. Brunnel built the Great Britain with these same dimensions.
- Shipbuilders during World War II used these dimensions as well.
- “Noah’s Ark was the focus of a major 1993 scientific study headed by Dr. Seon Hong at the world-class ship research center KRISO, based in Daejeon, South Korea. Dr Hong’s team compared twelve hulls of different proportions to discover which design was most practical. No hull shape was found to significantly outperform the 4,300-year-old biblical design. In fact, the Ark’s careful balance is easily lost if the proportions are modified, rendering the vessel either unstable, prone to fracture, or dangerously uncomfortable. The research team found that the proportions of Noah’s Ark carefully balanced the conflicting demands of stability (resistance to capsizing), comfort (“seakeeping”), and strength. In fact, the Ark has the same proportions as a modern cargo ship,” (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ am/v2/n2/thinking-outside-the-box) NOTE: Dr. Hong is not a creationist.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who would agree with this statement by Bill Maher (at left). I have spoken with many atheists who view the Bible as a collection of fairy tales that classify as either horrific or unintelligible. Sure, they will admit that there are some nuggets of wisdom here and there – the famous “Golden Rule” or “Judge not that you be not judged” – but they cannot seem to get past the exclusivity, the apparent ‘contradictions’ or the simple fact that it’s a 2,000-3,000 year old collection of letters written by middle eastern goat herders.
I’ve been a Christian for almost 11 years, but I’ve been a Bible student for 15 years. While I can understand why many people are quick to ridicule or mock the Bible, I am convinced that they do so only because they don’t truly understand it. Now they will respond that it’s because they understand it that they ridicule and mock it.
“Cowboys don’t cry, and heroes don’t die. Good always wins, again and again. And love is a sweet dream that always comes true. Oh, if life were like the movies, I’d never be blue. But here in the real world, it’s not that easy at all. When hearts get broken, it’s real tears that fall. And darling, it’s sad but true, but the one thing I’ve learned from you, is how the boy don’t always get the girl here in the real world.”
“Remember to magnify His work, of which men have sung. Everyone has seen it; man looks on it from afar. Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunder from His canopy?” (Job 36:24-29).
“For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:14-15).
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
“…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets…”
If you’ve ever read a mystery novel (or seen a movie along these lines), you know how, at the end of the story, you say to yourself, “Ohhhh, I see! Now it all makes sense!” The Bible is like that. The Old Testament contains the mysterious plot, with hints and clues along the way. Then, in the New Testament, we find the climax – Jesus’ death on the cross – followed by a careful and precise explanation of the mystery and what it means for us.
- Jesus is contrasted with Adam in Romans 5:12-21.
- The tree of life lost in Genesis 3:22-24, but regained in Rev. 22:1-5, 14.
- Jesus is compared to Moses in Acts 3:19-26.
- Jesus inherited the “throne of David” (Acts 2:30-31).
- David crossed over the Brook Kidron when he was betrayed by his son, Absalom (2 Sam. 15:22-23). Jesus crossed over the Brook Kidron just before being betrayed by Judas (John 18:1).
- Read Galatians and the entire book of Hebrews.
- The symbolism of Revelation is based in Ezekiel and Daniel.
Having said that, these questions aren’t neatly listed and answered in any one place. Again, the Bible is layered and answers these questions at different times and in different ways. The more that we study the Scriptures – and I mean truly study – the more that we understand the answers to these questions. It’s not just that the Bible answers these questions; it’s how it answers them.
A skeptic might respond by saying that these questions, although natural, do not demand or justify a religious response. In other words, the fact that we ponder a higher purpose and life after death doesn’t mean that such exist. I disagree. The fact that we all ask these same questions is proof-positive to me that we have been created by a common designer. Indeed, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity in our hearts.
“There’s no better book with which to defend the Bible than the Bible itself.” -Dwight L. Moody
- The natural reading of the text demands literal days. It’s true that we find symbolic and poetic texts in the Bible, but these texts are clearly identified. In Psalms, for example, we’re told in many cases that these were songs. The metaphors and hyperbole are obvious. In Revelation, we’re told in the very first verse that this is a book of symbols and signs. However, there is no such indicator in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. These chapters read as historical narrative. In Genesis 1, an “evening and…morning” are attributed to each day. If we’re going to make the case that Genesis 1, or that Genesis 1-11, are symbolic or poetic in nature, we need to have some strong internal evidence.
- While many religious people attempt to harmonize the theory of evolution with the creation account, there are blatant contradictions between the order of evolution and the order of biblical creation. The Bible says that fruit trees came before fish, but the evolutionary theory says that fish came first. The Bible says that birds came before reptiles, but the evolutionary theory posits that reptiles evolved into birds. The Bible says that mankind came before thorns and thistles (which were a consequence of man’s sin in Genesis 3), but the evolutionary theory says the opposite. Consider this: in Romans 5:12, we’re told that “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” So there was no death before Adam’s sin. But, of course, the evolutionary theory sets forth that death dominated the earth for hundreds of millions of years before man ever emerged in the evolutionary process. By accepting even the timeline and order of Darwinian evolution, we are saying that Paul was wrong in Romans 5.
- Moses believed in six literal days. In Exodus 20, as God gave the Ten Commandments, He compared the work-week of man to the work-week of God (in creation). “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord your God…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (vs. 9, 11). Clearly, Moses, the author of Genesis, viewed the days as literal days.
- The genealogies in Genesis 1-11 match the genealogies found elsewhere in the Bible. First of all, if Genesis 1-11 are not historical in nature – if these were just stories and legends – then why do we find genealogical lists included in the first place (Gen. 5, 10-11)? As one preacher put it, the very presence of these genealogical lists prove the historical nature and intent of Genesis 1-11. Beyond that, these genealogical lists are repeated with precision in other places in the Bible. Compare, for example, the list in Genesis 5 with that in 1 Chronicles 1:1 and Luke 3:23-38. And this is especially significant when you realize that in Genesis 5:1, we’re told that 130 years passed from Adam’s creation (on the 6th day) to the birth of Seth (after he was out of the Garden).
- Jesus and His apostles viewed Genesis 1-11 as “historical narrative.” Wouldn’t you agree that if Jesus viewed the creation account (and all of Genesis 1-11) as literal and true, that we should as well? In Matthew 19:4, Jesus quoted from Genesis 1:26-27 and then, in verse 5, quoted from Genesis 2:24. Rather than placing man’s creation later in the earth’s history, He placed man’s creation “in the beginning” and viewed the account of the first marriage as literal. He also believed that Abel’s blood had really been shed (Gen. 4 – Mt. 23:35). In Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus reminded His audience of the account of Noah and the flood; He believed in the flood! Later in the New Testament, the apostles (inspired by the Holy Spirit), compared Jesus to Adam (Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:45), made reference to the account of Cain and Abel (Heb. 11:4; 1 John 2:12), and believed strongly in the account of the flood (Heb. 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20-21; 2 Peter 3:1-7).
“1 And it came to pass in the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, ‘Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.’ 3 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up. 4 And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. 5 It shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,’ says the Lord God; ‘it shall become plunder for the nations. 6 Also her daughter villages which are in the fields shall be slain by the sword. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.’7 “For thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. 8 He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you. 9 He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. 10 Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached. 11 With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. 12 They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water.13 I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more. 14 I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken,’ says the Lord God.”
- Many nations would come against Tyre (vs. 3).
- The city would be destroyed (vs. 4).
- The city would become bare as a rock (vs. 4).
- Fishermen would one day spread their nets where the city itself once was, proving its complete destruction (vs. 5, 14).
- Nebuchadnezzar would come against the city (vs. 7).
- The rubble of the city would be cast into the sea (vs. 12).
- The city would never be rebuilt (vs. 14).
- Multiple nations came against Tyre – Babylon, Greece.
- Nebuchadnezzar led the first assault.
- The rubble of the city was cast into the sea – Alexander’s “mole.”
- The city was scraped bare as a rock.
- Fishermen did use the old city foundation as a place for spreading their nets.
- The city was never rebuilt.
- “The modern city of Tyre is of modest size and is near the ancient site, though not identical to it. Archaeological photographs of the ancient site show ruins from ancient Tyre scattered over many acres of land. No city has been rebuilt over these ruins, however, in fulfillment of this prophecy.” (Dennis and Grudem, “Tyre,” The ESV Study Bible)
- “In point of fact, the mainland city of Tyre later was rebuilt and assumed some of its former importance during the Hellenistic period. But as for the island city, it apparently sank below the surface of the Mediterranean…All that remains of it is a series of black reefs offshore from Tyre, which surely could not have been there in the first and second millennia b.c., since they pose such a threat to navigation. The promontory that now juts out from the coastline probably was washed up along the barrier of Alexander’s causeway, but the island itself broke off and sank away when the subsidence took place; and we have no evidence at all that it ever was built up again after Alexander’s terrible act of vengeance. In the light of these data, then, the predictions of chapter 26, improbable though they must have seemed in Ezekiel’s time, were duly fulfilled to the letter—first by Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century, and then by Alexander in the fourth.” (Archer, “Tyre,” Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties)
- “No evidence supports the thesis that Ezekiel’s predictions were penned later than 400 B.C. Moreover, the book (Ezek. 1:1; 8:1; 33:1; 40:1-4) claims to have been composed by the prophet sometime in the sixth century, B.C., and Josephus attributes the book to the Hebrew prophet during the time in question” (The Prophet Motive, Kenny Barfield,1995, p. 98).
- In addition, Ezekiel was included in the Septuagint, which is the “earliest version of the Old Testament Scriptures” available—a translation from Hebrew to Greek which was “executed at Alexandria in the third century before the Christian era” (Septuagint, 1998,p. i).
- Simon Greenleaf, the lawyer who is renowned for having played a major role in the founding of Harvard Law School and for having written the Treatise on the Law of Evidence, scrutinized several biblical documents in light of the procedures practiced in a court of law. He noted one of the primary laws regarding ancient documents: “Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise” (1995, p. 16).
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21).
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).
Like the Thessalonians, I welcome the Bible as “the word of God.” I am a Christian because of the message it contains, and my belief that said message is from my Creator.
But how can I know that the Bible’s message is from God? Is this something I accept blindly, or because of tradition? While many Christians do not have solid reasons for their faith, I do. Yes, a degree of faith is essential, but by no means is it a blind faith.
In yesterday’s article, I explained Daniel’s Prophecy of the five kingdoms. In today’s article, I’d like to touch on another very detailed, very specific prophecy from the Old Testament that, once again, illuminates the divine inspiration of the word of God.
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone…Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’ and to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ Thus says the Lord to His anointed, toCyrus, whose right hand I have held – to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings” (Isaiah 44:24, 28-45:1).
- God would use an individual named Cyrus to accomplish His will.
- Cyrus would order the reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem.
- Cyrus would order the reconstruction of the temple.
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up'” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).
- A head of gold
- Chest and arms of silver
- Belly and thighs of bronze
- Feet of iron and clay
The prophet Daniel interpreted the king’s dream in Daniel 2:36-45. He prophesied that each of these four parts represented a kingdom. This is spelled out in the text.
“You, O king, are a king of kings…you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom, inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron…(44)And in the days of these kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed…”
Biblically and historically, we know this to be true.
“In the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
- God, the “Ancient of Days” sits in His judgment seat (vs. 9-10).
- “One like the Son of Man” goes to the Ancient of Days (vs. 13).
- The Son of Man is given “dominion and glory and a kingdom” (vs. 14).
- One of the Roman kings (vs.7-8, 11-12) makes “war with the saints” (vs. 21) until God is seen coming in judgment against it (vs. 21-22).
- Jesus was alive, not during the days of Persia or Greece, but of Rome (the fourth kingdom).
- His ministry revolved around the teaching that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). When asked by Pilate if He (Jesus) was a king, He answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:38).
- 40 days after Jesus was resurrected, He ascended “to the Ancient of Days.” His ascension is recorded in Acts 1:9-11.
- Not long thereafter, while preaching the first gospel sermon to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter said that Christ was raised up “to sit on his throne” (Acts 2:30) at the right hand of God (vs. 34). In other words, when Jesus came to the Ancient of Days, He received “dominion and glory and a kingdom.”
“The kingdom of God does not come with observation…for indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).
- King Cyrus of Persia conquered the city of Babylon in 539 B.C.
- Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. in Pelia. He died in 324 B.C. It was in the second century B.C. that a weakened Grecian empire was overtaken by Rome, becoming part of the emerging Roman empire.
- While Rome existed as a city-state as early as 753 B.C., it wasn’t until 338 B.C. that it really began to aggressively assert itself.
- There is a God.
- He is the God of the Old Testament.
- Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of God’s kingdom.
- Jesus is King over an eternal, spiritual kingdom.
- We are subject to the rule and reign of Christ.