In the Days of Those Kings

While in Babylonian captivity, Daniel had the opportunity to meet with King Nebuchadnezzar and interpret the king’s dream. The magicians and sorcerers of the land were unable to interpret the dream for the king because he required them to first tell him his dream. Daniel, however, was able to both tell and interpret the dream by the power of God. All of this is recorded in Daniel 2.

In the dream, the king saw a great statue with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. Then he saw a stone – cut out without hands – strike the statue and crush it. The different parts of the statue were completely destroyed. The stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35).

As Daniel went on to explain the dream (Daniel 2:36-45), he told Nebuchadnezzar that the four different materials that were part of the statue represented four different kingdoms. The first, the head of gold, was Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom – Babylon. As we look at world history, we see what kingdoms would follow. The silver represented the Medo-Persian empire. The bronze was the Greek empire. The fourth kingdom, the iron, was the Roman empire.

Daniel then explained that this dream was a prophecy of the establishment of God’s kingdom: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). The time was given for when God would establish His kingdom. It would be “in the days of those kings” – the Roman kings, the fourth kingdom represented by the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

The New Testament was written in the days of the Roman kings (Luke 2:1; John 19:12, 15; Acts 25:11). It was during this time that John the Baptist and Jesus both proclaimed, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17).

Was the kingdom at hand? Was it established, as the prophecy in Daniel 2 indicated, during the days of the Roman kings? Many professed Christians believe we are still waiting for the kingdom. They believe the kingdom will be established whenever the Lord returns. Some of these people believe that Jesus came the first time to establish a kingdom, but since He was rejected, He set up the church instead and has planned to return at some later time to establish the kingdom.

However, the New Testament teaches that the kingdom of God was established during the days of the Roman kings. More specifically, it was established in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. Jesus told His disciples, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 9:1). Jesus said the kingdom would be established in the lifetime of some who were listening to Him, not centuries or millennia later. Also, the kingdom would come with power.

Shortly before His ascension, Jesus told His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). Power, which would accompany the coming of the kingdom, would come with the Holy Spirit. After this we read of the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles (Acts 2:1-4). With the Holy Spirit they would receive power (Acts 1:8). The power would signify the coming of the kingdom (Mark 9:1).

The next chapter records the establishment of the church (Acts 2:47). What about the kingdom? Jesus used the terms “church” and “kingdom” synonymously (Matthew 16:18-19). They refer to the same thing. The kingdom of God – which is the church – was established on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. This was during the reign of the Roman kings as Nebuchadnezzar’s dream indicated.

Furthermore, Paul clearly indicated about thirty years later that the kingdom had been established: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). They were not waiting to be transferred to some future kingdom. They had already been transferred into an existing kingdom.

What if someone ignores or reinterprets all of the above passages and then believes that we are still waiting for the kingdom of God. There is another problem – the test to distinguish a true prophet from a false one. “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken in presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

How do we know if a prophet is of God? The words he speaks will come to pass. If they do not, he is not from God. If a prophet demonstrates, by his failed prophecies, that he is not from God, then “you shall not be afraid of him.” In other words, do not listen to him.

Many believe that we are still waiting for God’s kingdom to be established. Was God wrong in about His kingdom being established in the days of the Roman kings (Daniel 2:44)? After all, He was the one who gave the dream to Nebuchadnezzar and revealed it and its interpretation to Daniel (Daniel 2:28). Was Jesus wrong when He declared that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) or when He told His disciples that “there are some of you standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Mark 9:1)? If they were wrong, how can we listen to them? If they were wrong, Deuteronomy 18:22 instructs us to NOT listen to them. Who can accept this?

Those who believe in the future coming of the kingdom ought to seriously consider the consequences of their position. This idea makes Jesus out to be a failure – coming to set up a kingdom but being unable to do so. It also makes Jesus and the Father out to be liars – if the kingdom is yet in our future– because they prophesied (or revealed the prophecy) of the kingdom coming in the days of the Roman Empire. How can one believe a doctrine that so blasphemes God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ?

Remember the words of the apostle Paul: “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:4).

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