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Postmillennialism: "In the days of these kings …" The Prophecy of Daniel

How to interpret the prophecy of Daniel chapters 2 and 7 through 12 is one of the keys to understanding some difficult passages in the New Testament, namely Matthew 24, otherwise known as the Mount of Olives Discourse, and much of the book of Revelation.

I have a longer commentary on Daniel called, In the Days of These Kings …, which you can read for more information. For our purposes here, we will look here briefly at Daniel chapters 2 and 7 in which Daniel relates a dream that had been troubling the King of Babylon, Nebuchanezzar:

“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:31-35).

Although there are some minor variations in interpretation here, it is generally thought that the four kingdoms in Daniel 2 refer to the Babylonian or Chaldean Empire, then the Empire divided between the conquering Medes and Persians, the third kingdom refers to the conquest of the world by Alexander the Great, and the fourth kingdom refers to the successors of Alexander, the kings of Syria and Egypt, and the entire Greco-Roman period up until the time of the Roman Empire.

Now one might ask, “What does this have to do with the time when Jesus Christ would set up a future messianic kingdom?” The answer comes when we read Daniel’s interpretation of the Kings’ dream when he describes the overthrow of the fourth kingdom.

“And 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” (Daniel 2:44).

And in the days of these kings means simply, in the days of the Roman Empire. At that time, the kingdom of God would be brought to earth by Jesus Christ and would never be destroyed. Not only would this messianic kingdom be invincible from attack, but it would also overthrow kingdoms of this world and they would become part of the kingdom of God and of His Christ (Rev 11:15).

The question answered by this verse is when God would set up a kingdom on earth. He would set up His kingdom “in the days of these kings.”

We see the fulfillment of this prophecy in the Gospels. In fact, Luke begins his Gospel with an account of Jesus birth: “And it came to pass that in those days … [of] Caesar Augustus” (Luke 2:1).

Likewise, the beginning of Christ’s ministry began “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1). The writers of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke especially, take pains to identify the coming of Christ in the days of the reigns of the Roman Caesars.

Luke purposefully references Daniel, in order to answer the question, “When will Christ and the kingdom of God come on earth?”

The answer, “And it came to pass that in those days … [of] Caesar Augustus” certainly echoes Daniel’s prophecy, “In the days of these kings…” In other words, in the days of the Roman Caesars.

This is further revealed in the next verse of Daniel 2.

“Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold – the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure” (Daniel 2:45).

A stone made without hands does not refer to Jesus the Messiah himself at the time of the Second Coming as many futurists have imagined. But it is stated plainly in the previous verse that the stone is the kingdom of God.

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed …

This kingdom appeared in the days of the Roman Empire at the coming of Christ. The idea that the Messiah was to appear in the days of the Roman Empire is further illuminated in Daniel 7.

I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13,14).

The Son of Man speaks of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is fully God and fully man. In the Gospels, Jesus identities himself as the “Son of man” in order to identify himself as the Messiah.

Dominion, and glory, and a kingdom speaks of Christ being given the keys of the kingdom by God the Father when he sat down at the right hand of God after His resurrection and ascension. This kingdom is not a future kingdom. It began in the days of the Roman Empire. It overcame Rome and will overcome all the kingdoms of this world. It will last forever.

We see this image of Jesus as the exalted King, “one like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven,” throughout the New Testament.

When Jesus stood before the High Priest on trial and was asked if he was the Christ:

Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64).

When Stephen was stoned to death becoming the first Christian martyr:

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55)

And finally John, in the book of Revelation, uses Daniel’s image of a Son of Man Coming on the Clouds of Heaven:

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen (Revelation 1:7).

And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire (Revelation 1:12-14).

While there are many conflicting eschatological theories attempting to make sense out the difficult texts of Daniel and the book of Revelation, we can be sure of two things by comparing the consistent imagery of the Bible and using the historical grammatical hermeneutic. In other words, scripture must interpret scripture.

  1. The Son of Man is none other than Jesus Christ who came in the days of the Roman Empire.
  2. Jesus came to set up the kingdom of God on earth “in the days of these kings” – in the days of the Roman Caesars.

Thus Christ’s victorious kingdom is not an earthly kingdom that will appear only at the Second Coming sometime in the future. It is a heavenly kingdom that has it’s footstool on earth in the here and now.

Your comments are welcome!

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

$12.95 — ORDER NOW!

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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