Some of the world’s most ancient prophecies declare that our planet is about to experience one of the most dramatic events in human history: the end of the world as we know it. These prophecies do not specify a date—neither a year nor a decade nor even a century. Nevertheless, their outline of human history has been fulfilled so accurately that the final step—the only one left to be fulfilled—is absolutely certain.
The story begins with the tragic deportation of thousands of Jews from their homeland in Palestine. Among the captives whom King Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylon were four young princes named Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
In a move that seems strange to us but was common in those days, Nebuchadnezzar enrolled these four young men in the “University of Babylon” to be trained as royal advisors.
On the night our story begins (the story is recorded in Daniel 2) the king had a dream. Actually, it was a nightmare that haunted him but that he couldn’t remember the next morning. Convinced of the dream’s importance, Nebuchadnezzar called in his royal advisors and asked them to tell him both what he had dreamed and what his dream meant.
These “wise men” protested the preposterous demand. But the king said, “Either tell me the dream or I’ll have you executed!” Despite the death threat, however, the royal advisors couldn’t come up with a credible answer.
Now, Daniel and his three friends hadn’t been called to the palace with the rest of the king’s council. However, perhaps because they were wise-men- in-training, they were included in the king’s decree. When the officers came to arrest them, Daniel asked for a bit of extra time.
The request was granted, and that night God gave Daniel the very same dream Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed. God had been the One who had given it to the king in the first place. The next morning, the officer who had been sent to arrest Daniel brought him before the king.
After the formalities of greeting were over, Daniel told the king what he had dreamed. “ ‘You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue.’ ” The head of the statue was made of gold, its arms and chest of silver, its waist of bronze, its legs of iron, and the image’s feet were made of iron and clay mixed. Suddenly, a huge stone came out of nowhere, knocked the image down, and ground it to powder. The stone then became a great mountain that filled the earth.
Naturally, the king was anxious to know what the dream meant. And Daniel’s first words must have filled him with pride: “ ‘You, O king, . . . are that head of gold.’ ” But his next words weren’t so flattering: “ ‘After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours.’ ” Daniel explained that three kingdoms would follow Babylon, and most Bible interpreters agree that they represent Medo- Persia, Greece, and Rome.
But Rome was the last in the succession of powerful empires. It broke up, and its remnants eventually became the various nations of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East that we know today. The stone’s destruction of the image represents the destruction of these nations at the end of the world, after which God will establish His own eternal kingdom.
Now, here’s what’s so astonishing about this prophecy. Daniel wrote it somewhere around the year 600 B.C. He was acquainted with Babylon since he lived there, and he may have known of Medo-Persia at the time he wrote this prophecy—although that power didn’t overthrow Babylon until years later.
But humanly speaking, there’s no way that Daniel could have predicted the rise and fall of Greece and Rome or the break-up of the Roman Empire. Yet every high school textbook on world history testifies that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was fulfilled exactly as Daniel gave it to the king.
Many years later God gave Daniel a vision that, though much different from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, provides a similar outline of world history (Daniel’s vision is recorded in chapter 7). Daniel saw four great beasts rise out of the sea: a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a ferocious beast that we’ll call a dragon. These beasts represented Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The dragon had ten horns on its head. They represented the nations that followed Rome.
However, at this point a symbol was introduced that represented an aspect of history that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream had not contained. A small horn grew up among the ten horns on the dragon’s head, eventually achieving a dominant position. Daniel’s description of this “little horn” makes it clear that it represented a governing power with both religious and political authority.
Medieval Christianity did, in fact, hold both religious and political control over the nations of Europe for the better part of a millennium. This is an amazing prediction that Daniel could not possibly have known had God not revealed it to him.
However, Daniel scarcely had time to take in the part of his dream about the little horn when the vision shifted again. This time he found his attention focused on a scene in heaven: God seated on His throne surrounded by hundreds of thousands of angels. The purpose of this grand assembly is obvious. The Bible says, “The judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:10).
The purpose of the judgment is to condemn all the earthly powers that have ever ruled the world. Then, “ ‘ “the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His [God’s] kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him” ’ ” (chapter 7:27, 28).
Please notice that every specification of this vision has also been fulfilled except the last one. Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome have come and gone. Medieval Christianity has come and gone.
We live during the time of a divided Europe and of the judgment that is to immediately precede the second coming of Christ. His return is the only part of these extended outline prophecies that is yet to be fulfilled.
So, once again we are confronted with the amazing conclusion that a prophet who lived more than twenty-five hundred years ago peered down the stream of time and gave an outline of the future that has been so accurate he could only have gotten it from God.
Some biblical commentators claim that Daniel wrote about one hundred fifty years before Christ and that there was nothing supernatural about his outline of world history. Signs of the Times® does not accept this late date for Daniel’s prophecies. But even if he had written his prophetic book between 200 and 150 B.C., there is no way he could have known about the break-up of the Roman Empire, which occurred some six hundred years later. Nor could he have known about the remarkable way that Christianity dominated European politics during the Middle Ages.
The only conclusion we can draw from this is that Daniel received a snapshot of the future from none other than God Himself. And because everything else in Daniel’s outline of world history has been fulfilled, we can be sure that the last event will also happen.
The question is, are we ready for that final event? You can be. Simply invite God into your life. Tell Him you want to be a part of His eternal kingdom. Why put it off? Do it today.