Friday, October 30, 2015

1 Chron 12:32 report, 121: A view on Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the statue of four great kingdoms and the stone that shatters it

In this emerging series, we have emphasised a foundational principle of the Christian faith, that the concept of Messiah is inherently eschatological -- a manifestation of God's breakthrough power to bring salvation in these last days

For, Messiah is the rock cut out without human hands that strikes the proud kingdoms of man with shattering force; growing into the eternal kingdom of God that brings humanity into our ultimate destiny:

Now, I think it helpful to share a video that discusses this vision in insightful ways -- of course without necessarily endorsing every detail, opinion or proposed timeline:

The Dream of Daniel 2 and the Rise of Imperial Paganism from D. Paul Beck on Vimeo.

I am more interested in how this sort of reflection sets a context of understanding how God acts into the circumstances and times of men, including our own times. 

For instance, reflecting on a few striking points made and context:

 1: The whole context of the four kingdoms is one in which a scriptural witness exists, having been established through God's covenant nation and the prophets. (With apostles and gospel to follow, once Messiah comes.)

2: So, we should read all of the arrogance of demonically influenced worldly wisdom and the setting up of a king's college that is used to try to subvert Daniel and friends from Godly heritage and leadership as an attempt by the kingdom of man (under demonic influence) to frustrate and taint the people of God, thus undermine the redemptive purpose of God.

 3: This fails because -- in the teeth of captivity, likely castration (it is the administrator of the eunuchs after all), demonic renaming and intimidation -- Daniel and friends purpose to be true to God.

4: Let us note the effect of their courageous stand:
Dan 1:17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18 At the end of the time [three years -- think, a degree programme], when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king.
20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.
5: In this context, the famous dream is one way God broke in on the humanistic, demonically motivated agenda, having already raised up Daniel with the prophetic gifting and insight.

6: In effect, by posing a puzzle to the king and frustrating the demonised wisdom of the Chaldeans, soothsayers, magi etc, the opening was created for the equivalent of David's confrontation with Goliath or Joseph's dream; though the inherent danger is plain from what was happening, a blanket death sentence on the magi in grounds of failure to manifest the power the king demanded -- tell me the dream, that I may have reason to trust your interpretation.

7: Only Daniel could meet the test, and he had confidence in God to stand before the king to answer the challenge of the coded dream.

8: In the face of danger and upending the demonically influenced power factions and influences, God brought forth prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership that spoke to the mountains of influence as the greater mountain of God acted.

9: Where also, it is worth the while to highlight from the electronic NIV Study Bible's Bible Dictionary, a few points on the prophecy:
      The widely held view that the book of Daniel is largely fictional rests mainly on the modern philosophical assumption that long-range predictive prophecy is impossible . . . But objective evidence excludes this hypothesis on several counts:
          1. To avoid fulfillment of long-range predictive prophecy in the book, the adherents of the late-date view usually maintain that the four empires of chs. 2 and 7 are Babylon, Media, Persia and Greece. But in the mind of the author, "the Medes and Persians" (5:28) together constituted the second in the series of four kingdoms (2:36-43). Thus it becomes clear that the four empires are the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman . . . .
          2. . . . Linguistic evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls (which furnish authentic samples of Hebrew and Aramaic writing from the second century B.C. . . . ) demonstrates that the Hebrew and Aramaic chapters of Daniel must have been composed centuries earlier. Furthermore, as recently demonstrated, the Persian and Greek words in Daniel do not require a late date [e.g., the prior Assyrian Empire was familiar with Greek musicians and their instruments]. Some of the technical terms appearing in ch. 3 were already so obsolete by the second century B.C. that translators of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) translated them incorrectly.
          3. Several of the fulfillments of prophecies in Daniel could not have taken place by the second century anyway, so the prophetic element cannot be dismissed. The symbolism connected with the fourth kingdom makes it unmistakably predictive of the Roman empire (see 2:33; 7:7, 19), which did not take control of Syro-Palestine until 63 B.C. Also, the prophecy concerning the coming of "the Anointed One, the ruler," 483 years after "the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" (9:25), works out to the time of Jesus' ministry.
      Objective evidence, therefore, appears to exclude the late-date hypothesis and indicates that there is insufficient reason to deny Daniel's authorship.
10: As I noted (this is in the Government under God briefing, here on): "these facts so strongly testify to the authenticity of the prophetic element of the Bible that they mean that there is every reason to believe that God speaks through prophets to rulers and people, showing that He rules in the affairs of men – holding rulers and people alike to account before him."

Just so,  God acts in our day. And, I suggest that the stone that hits the feet of the image is likely a case of foreshortening from prophetic mountain top to mountain-top, leading to the compressed "accordion" effect the video notes:

More classically, seeing the peaks together (but not the interleaved valleys):

A real-world illustration, Long Mountain in Kingston, Jamaica viewed from the NW:

That is, the primary impact is the first coming of Messiah, and especially his passion at the cross, leading to the resurrection and the launching of the church on the strength of the witness of the 500 and the out-poured Spirit.

Where, I find in Eph 4 an operational form of the church's discipling the nations charter, commission and global mandate as a manifestation of God's kingdom:

Eph 4:There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 

Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
    and he gave gifts to men.”[a]
 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?[b] 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 

11 And he gave
[I] the apostles,
[II] the prophets,
[III] the evangelists,
[IV] the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d]
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 

15 Rather,
speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Earlier, we read in the same epistle (likely, we have the Ephesian copy of a circular letter to the churches by Paul):

Eph 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  

22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. [NIV: everything in every way]

Eph 2:But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

And, again:
Eph 3:14 . . . I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
There is clearly a process tied to the Christ event, that carries on in Gods power through the generations of the church, manifesting the growing fulness of Christ, even as the waves on a beach rise and fall but the underlying tide rises inexorably, irreversibly. And we see in this that the church is Christ's body, the fulness of him who fills all things, transforming them.

That then allows us to better lay the foundations of discipleship and go about the business of discipling the nations. 

Which -- let us recall from Matt 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" -- is actually the great sign of the Last Days.

Let us remind ourselves about foundations in a kingdom context:

In noting that, I cannot but notice that the approach I am suggesting will also help develop our skills and insight "by reason of use," better equipping us to be able to respond appropriately in the time of ultimate fulfillment.

So, let us watch, study, pray and act boldly under the leading of God. END