WILL THERE BE ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT?
On every hand there is the threat of another world war. Marching feet may be heard everywhere across the map of the world. Jet planes carry their deadly nuclear warheads around the circle of the earth. Missiles and nuclear bombs are stockpiled and waiting in dozens of strategic places around the world. The world itself is filled with fear. We fear war, and we ask, "Will a dictatorship one day take over the world? Will Europe be united under one government? Will tyranny and oppression raise its ugly head in lands now called democratic and free?" Fearful people turn everywhere for answers, to historians who seek answers in the past, to modern prophets who make their predictions by the hundreds (most of which fail), and to religions, beliefs, and leaders of all kinds.
But the answers are to be found in only one place which is often overlooked. That place is a book that tells of a God who knows the future as well as he knows the present and who controls them both. That book is the Bible. It tells us that God has his eye on everything. Nothing takes him by surprise. He knows the future and has told us all about it.
"I am God," he declares, "and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand." (Isaiah 46:9,10) This is our God speaking, who knows everything: "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them." (Isaiah 42:9) God has given us glimpses of the future to assure us that he knows and cares. As we study those glimpses, you can discover what the Bible says about the future.
The word of God tells us that "we have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19) God urges us to pay attention to his prophecies. He promises us that as we do so, the day star, who is Jesus, will fill our hearts. One of the books of the Bible that contains vivid prophecies is Daniel, so it would be good to study this book.
The writer, Daniel, was a young man when Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Jerusalem and captured it in 605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, a clever ruler, subjected the land of Judah and took with him the choicest of Jewish captives to Babylon. Among these were young Daniel and three of his close friends. In Babylon, Daniel and his friends underwent special training to serve the king. But Daniel and his friends never forgot the true God. They remained faithful to him in spite of discouragement, temptations, pressures, and promises of high position. God had great plans for Daniel, plans that would benefit even us today. This is how it came to pass.
Nebuchadnezzar tried to go to sleep one night, but at first he found it hard to do so. His mind filled with perplexing questions. Would his empire, Babylon, stand forever? Would it crumble like Egypt and Assyria before him? Finally however, the king slept. But a dream came to him, startling him and troubling him greatly. Unfortunately, when he awoke, he could not remember a single thing about his dream, but he could remember that it had been very impressive. Somehow, he had to recall it! So, he called the leading wise men of his court. "Bring back my dream and give me its meaning," he demanded, "If you do so, you shall live in honor. If you fail you shall die!"
Of course the wise men were stymied. "There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter," they answered. "There is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh." The king was angered by their answer. He decreed that all the wise men of Babylon should be executed. Even though Daniel and his three friends were not among those called before the king, they too faced the fate of the wise men. Daniel and his friends asked God to help them in this time of great need, and "then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision." (Daniel 2:19)
Then Daniel was taken before the king, and he told Nebuchadnezzar, "There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days." (Daniel 2:28) Thus Daniel related the king's dream to him. "Thou, o king, sawest, and behold a great image. . .This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay." (Daniel 2:31-33) At this point, the king was astonished. He knew that this was his very dream. But there was more.
"Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:34,35)
King Nebuchadnezzar knew that this was his dream to the smallest detail. But what did it mean? Daniel goes on with the interpretation. . .and as he does so we get a glimpse into the history of the world.
"Thou art this head of gold," Daniel told king Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 2:38) Babylon was the first world empire to exist in our world. Nebuchadnezzar had conquered all the then-known world. His empirewas literally golden, so rich it was with the gold of the earth.
The inspired prophecy continues: "After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee." (Daniel 2:39) The breast and arms of silver represented the world power that would follow Babylon. This power was Medo- Persia, for a time a dual empire. In 539 B.C., Cyrus, the Persian general, overthrew the Babylonian empire. From 539 to 331 B.C. Medo- Persia ruled the Mediterranean world, with the Persians eventually becoming predominant. Medo-Persia was never as great or as wealthy as Babylon. Silver was its medium of exchange.
"And another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth." (Daniel 2:39) The empire of brass was Greece. The Grecian empire never found its glory in gold or silver, but in its armor of brass. In 331 B.C., Alexander the Great defeated the Persians at the Battle of Arbela. From then until 168 B.C., Greece ruled the civilized world.
"The fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron." (Daniel 2:40) Rome has often been called the Iron Empire. It is well named, for it was built with iron swords and armor. Daniel described its unrelenting power: "Forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise." (Daniel 2:40) Rome conquered the world before it, and remained in power until 476 A.D. The Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ruled this great empire when Jesus was born. Christ and the apostles lived during the rule of Rome. The early church suffered severe persecutions under its iron rule.
What empire would follow Rome? Who would rule the world? Daniel said, "Whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter's clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided." (Daniel 2:41) There would be no more world empire. After Rome fell, the Mediterranean world became divided into ten kingdoms, never to be united again. These kingdoms and what they became are as follows:
Some of these kingdoms would be strong, and others would be weak. This was as Daniel related: "And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken." (Daniel 2:42)
Men would seek many ways to unite these kingdoms once again. They tried marriage: "They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men." (Daniel 2:43) They tried force. The mighty leaders, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler marched through Europe with their armies. When, at the height of his power, Kaiser Wilhelm was told of Daniel's prophecy, he said, "I can't accept it. It doesn't fit in with my plans!" Hitler vowed to create a united Europe that would last for a thousand years. But none could break God's word, which said, "They shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay." (Daniel 2:43)
In every detail the prophecy of Daniel has been fulfilled. But the prophecy continues. So far, we studied only the part of the prophecy that has become history. But what is to come in the future? The most glorious and encouraging part is yet to be fulfilled! The prophecy says that God will soon set up his kingdom! While Europe is still divided, "in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed. . .and it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2:44) The great stone of God's kingdom shall smite the great image into pieces. Then this great stone is to become a great mountain, and fill "the whole earth." (Daniel 2:35)
Do you see, friend, where our assurance lies? Daniel's prophecy has been fulfilled perfectly so far. We can only conclude that the rest of it will also be fulfilled, for Jesus said, "The scripture cannot be broken." Soon, He will return in his glory and with power, with a multitude of angels. His purpose will be to set up his kingdom which will have no end. Revelation, the last book of the Bible, says that the existing nations shall be broken to shivers as the vessels of a potter. In their place shall be a world of peace. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. . .and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
That glad day is coming! Just as surely as Medo-Persia followed Babylon, Greece conquered Persia, Rome overthrew Greece, and the nations of Europe have remained separated, so too Jesus will come! Until that time we might we might have to face many troubles. But knowing that Jesus cares about us and is planning a glorious future for us will strengthen us.
This confidence in God helped Daniel when he was cast into the lion's den for his faith. After spending all night with the starving lions, Daniel testified to the king, "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me." (Daniel 6:22)
Another test of faith came to Daniel's three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar had a large image built of gold and decreed that everyone should bow to it. But the three friends would not, for that would be breaking one of God's commandments. In anger Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a furnace heated seven times beyond normal. The men who threw the three men into the furnace died from the heat.
But even in the midst of the flames God walked with his faithful ones, and the king exclaimed, "Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?. . .Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Daniel 3:25) The three Hebrew men were not sure that God would deliver them from the flames. But they trusted him enough not to disobey him, and God honored their trust. Jesus himself walked with them.
We can also have a close companionship with our Lord. Jesus will walk with us through all trials. If we trust him, he will prepare us for his coming kingdom. Friend, the greatest decision you will ever have to make is this--Do you want to be in the coming kingdom? The Word of God assures us that his kingdom is coming soon. You can trust God on this point. Jesus wants you to be a citizen of his kingdom. So, friend, go to him. Go to Calvary and accept the sacrifice that he made so you might be with him. Listen to him when he says to you, "Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43) To discover what kind of people the citizens of Christ's kingdom will become through the leading of his Holy Spirit, read Matthew chapters 5 through 7.
Let us pray for a moment. "Thank you, heavenly Father, for your loving interest in me. Thank you for the assurance of your Word. Now help me to abide by your Word, to believe it wholeheartedly, to let my life be guided and molded through the power of Christ living in me. I want to be in your coming kingdom of peace and happiness. Guide me so that I can be a citizen there. In Jesus' name I ask this. Amen."
Look for the waymarks as you journey on,
Look for the waymarks, passing one by one;
Down through the ages, past the kingdoms four--
Where are we standing?
Look the waymarks o'er.
Look for the waymarks, the great prophetic waymarks,
Down through the ages, past the kingdoms four.
Look for the waymarks, the great prophetic waymarks;
The journey's almost o'er.
-F. E. Belden, 1886-