Blueprint Of The Ages - Part I
Dr. Joe Temple

The Purpose of Prophecy

The book of Daniel, we have learned in our introductory lessons, is essentially a prophecy. And yet Daniel the prophet was a man who lived so close to God that there are many personal lessons we can learn from his experiences that will draw our hearts close to God. We mentioned to you that if our hearts are not spiritually right in the study of prophecy, then we will have a few cold, empty facts which are related to the future, but they will not be in our hearts. The purpose of prophecy is to prepare our hearts for the great event toward which we are all looking, the coming of the Lord.

A Blueprint of the Ages

We told you that in chapter 2 of the book of Daniel we will find a blueprint of the ages, a blueprint of the ages known as “the times of the Gentiles.” To refresh your memories we would remind you that “the times of the Gentiles” first began when the Jews were taken captive under Nebuchadnezzar. They were affirmed when Titus and his Roman legions captured Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the dispersion of the Jews began. They are still in progress and will continue until the nation of Israel has possession of the city of Jerusalem once again.

So we repeat, the book of Daniel covers the entire period of time known as “the times of the Gentiles.” If you are thinking as I make that statement, you will realize that it has covered something like 2,500 years up to this point, and you will realize that a number of things that Daniel said were prophecy when he uttered them, but are history as we think about them. That is important for us to remember because if we do keep in mind that part of this prophecy has been fulfilled, we will expect the rest of it to be fulfilled as well.

The study of Daniel is always an intriguing thing to me because the longer I live in the latter days and the more I study the book, the more I am able to recognize the signs of the times and the more I realize that we are approaching the end of the age. I believe this will become evident in the discussion of this chapter.

Turn, please, to the book of Daniel, chapter 2, and notice in verse 1 these words:

Daniel 2:

1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
6 But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
7 They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.
8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.

A Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

That is as far as we are going to read at the moment. We are going back to verse 1 to notice that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams that troubled him greatly. We would like to point this out to you because you will need to remember it as we study the book of Daniel. There is a difference between dreams and visions. Dreams are what any ordinary person has when he falls into a troubled sleep. A vision is something that you have, not while you are asleep, but while you are in a trance, while you are temporarily transported beyond the realm of reality into a realm in which the vision is given to you.

Nebuchadnezzar, then, did not have anything supernatural happen to him; he had a dream. The dream that he had was one that troubled him exceedingly because, as we are going to see further on in the chapter, he couldn't quite understand what it was all about. It was such an unusual thing that it bothered him tremendously.

Someone may say, “Why did Nebuchadnezzar have this dream?” The reason is that Nebuchadnezzar was the key character in God's plan for the times of the Gentiles. The only way that God could bring about His plan was to trouble a man's sleep.

Troubled Sleep to Accomplish God's Purpose

This isn't the only time it happened, for you remember King Ahasuerus, who lived in the days of Esther. He couldn't sleep one night, either; God troubled him. But He didn't give him a dream in order to speak to him. He gave him a bad case of insomnia. Because he couldn't sleep, he got up and had the scribes read to him the history of his exploits as king, and in the providence of God, the scribe turned to a particular chapter in which there was a description of how a certain Jew by the name of Mordecai had rendered the king a great service. The king said, “Was anything ever done for that man?”, and they said, “No.” Well, you know the rest of the story. Mordecai was greatly honored. Now why? Because God stirred up a man, troubled his sleep, and gave him a message.

In Nebuchadnezzar's instance, it was a message in a dream. When we talk about this, we are often asked if there are any such things as dreams and visions today. There are some people who say no, that the final and complete revelation of God to the world is in the Word of God.

Visions From God Never Contradict His Word

We heartily agree with the last part of that: The final and complete revelation of God to the world is in the Word of God. But we would not want to go so far as to say that there are no such things as dreams and visions in our present day because there are individuals who have had dreams in which God has spoken to them, and there are individuals who have had visions that God has been pleased to give them. It would be rather foolhardy for us to deny the evidence just because it seems a little bit strange to us.

This we can say with perfect confidence: No dream or vision, whichever the individual has, will ever contradict the plain truth of the Word of God. Should a dream or vision contradict the plain truth of the Word of God, then you can be sure that the dream or vision did not come from the same source as did the Word of God.

We would add to what we have just said that in this day when we do have the complete revelation of God in His Word, dreams and visions are not as necessary as they were in the day when the Word of God was not complete.

Four Special Groups of Advisers

You will notice, in verse 2, that Nebuchadnezzar called his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans—four kinds of men—before him and said to them, “I want you to do something for me. I want you to tell me the dream that I dreamed and I want you to tell me what it meant.” Well, the last part of that request was not difficult. They had been explaining dreams to him. But the first part was an impossibility, and they were quick to say so.

Remember that these four classes of individuals were unusual people. They were above the average. The magicians, for example, were a class of men who could actually perform magic. Astrologers were a class of men who actually studied the stars and were able to forecast certain things in relation to the stars.

Example of Satan's Power Through Men

Don't say there isn't anything to astrology. There is. It is of the Devil, and the Bible warns you not to have anything to do with it. But don't dismiss it by saying there isn't anything to it. There is something to it, but you as a child of God ought not to have anything to do with it.

Sorcerers are those who have contact with people who have departed this life and who are impersonated by evil spirits. Our so-called spiritualists today are the same class of people as the sorcerers in this passage of Scripture. Now if you hear of a spiritualist medium—I think it would be better to say spiritist, because I don't think they are spiritual people—don't dismiss such an individual with a wave of your hand; don't say there isn't anything to that. There is! They are as old as the book of Daniel. They have contact with evil spirits who are able to impersonate loved ones who have died, and they hoodwink you into thinking that your loved ones who have gone on can come back and give you a message.

The fourth class of individuals here are the Chaldeans. This is not speaking of a nationality. This is speaking of a group of philosophers who spent their time in the study of science.

What happened here is that Nebuchadnezzar called together the cream of the intelligentsia of his reign and said, “I've got to know what this dream is that I dreamed, and I've got to know what it means.”

Nebuchadnezzar's Unreasonable Request

You heard the story as we read it. They said, “You tell it and we will explain it.” He said, “No, I don't remember it. But if you tell me, I'll recognize it, and if you have the power that you have claimed all these years, you will be able to do it.” They told him that no one had ever asked an unreasonable thing like that. Then he began to see through them and he said, “All you are doing is bargaining for time. You think that I'll forget about this thing and everything will be all right. But I want you to know that if you can't tell me what this dream is and if you can't tell me what the meaning of it is, you are going to be dead by this time tomorrow.” Now notice verse 10:

Daniel 2:

10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
12 For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy [and this is the reason we are reading this paragraph at the moment ] all the wise men of Babylon.
13 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

The first paragraph suggests that those men who were there—Daniel was not among them—would be slain if the interpretation could not be given. But they kept on talking to the point that the king said, “All right, all the wise men of Babylon are going to be destroyed if I do not know the interpretation and the dream.” So, as a matter of course, they sought out Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

Bringing Ungodly Men to Recognize God's Power

Don't be discouraged at what we have read so far. You have an illustration of the providence of God. God has to bring men to the end of themselves before they will recognize His power. He brought the wisest of all the men in Babylon to the end of themselves. He had them stand up and openly say, “This thing is beyond all human help.” When He had firmly established that fact, He went to work.

You see, Daniel didn't even know. Arioch knocked on his door and said, “Daniel, come on out. We are going to execute you.” Daniel said, “What is it all about?” “Well, the king said that all the wise men have to be executed.” Daniel said, “Why is the king in such a hurry?” Arioch told him, and then notice in verse 16:

Daniel 2:

16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
18 That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

Power of Four Men United In Prayer

Notice the tremendous step of faith that Daniel took, in verse 16, when he went in and told the king, “I need a little time. Then I will give you the interpretation.” There was not a question in his mind that he would be able to do it.

I want you to notice the difference between a man who knows God and men who don't know Him. I want you to notice the difference between a servant of God and a servant of the Devil. The servants of the Devil, when things didn't go well for them, when they came up against a blank wall, when they came to the end of the road, so to speak, were panicky and alarmed. But Daniel, because his faith was in God, was as calm as though there was no emergency at hand. Look at verse 14:

Daniel 2:

14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
15 He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.

Then what did he do? Did he run around and say to all of his friends, “What do you think the king dreamed about? What do you think it means? What do you think I ought to tell him?” Not at all! He gathered his prayer partners.

Do you have a prayer partner? If you haven't, you ought to find one. You ought to find someone with whom you can pray.

Daniel had these three prayer partners, and he got them together and said, “Fellows, we've got to pray. The king has forgotten a dream that he dreamed, and he is going to kill all of us if we don't find out what it is. Let's pray about it.” And they did. They prayed about it earnestly. Notice in verse 19:

Daniel 2:

19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

Praise To God For Victory

They had an all-night prayer meeting. Now notice the difference. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream; Daniel had a vision. God miraculously revealed to Daniel what Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed a night or two before. When Daniel got the vision, what do you think he did? Did he say, “Oh good! Now we won't lose our lives. Let's go tell the king about it. There is no time to waste. Let's hurry, hurry, hurry.” Not at all. Did you notice what he did? He had a praise service.

You ask, “He had a praise service with his life at stake?” Yes. You ask, “He took time out to thank God when the execution ax was just above his neck?” Yes. Why shouldn't he? His time was in the hands of God, and he didn't need to worry about anything.

I want you to notice the manner in which he prayed to the Lord. He said several wonderful things about God. Oh, I wish that when we got answers to our prayers we would take the time to praise Him, that we would take the time to thank Him. Look at verse 20:

Daniel 2:

20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:

Wisdom belongs to God. Have you followed Daniel's example? Daniel didn't know what it was all about, but his heavenly Father knew, so he asked Him! Isn't that simple? It's a simple manifestation of faith.

God's Ability to Change Time

Notice verse 21:

Daniel 2:

21 And he changeth the times and the seasons:…

I'm glad He is able to do that. He is able to stop the clock, and He is able to run it ahead, and it doesn't upset things at all. He has done that many times. One of the most interesting times He has ever done a thing like that occurred during the life of Joshua. You have heard of it as “Joshua's long day.” They were fighting a battle. Night was falling and if night fell, they would not have a chance. So what did God do? Speaking in relative language because God knows as much about science as you do, He commanded the sun to stand still. Now we all know that time does not stand still. But that is the way it appeared to the men on the earth. He changed the times and the seasons until His work was done, and He is able to do the same thing today. He is able to grant an extension of days if needed. He is able to hold things up for an hour or two hours in order to get accomplished the thing that needs to be accomplished in the lives of His children.

I'm a fanatic, I suppose, but I don't hesitate at all to ask God to push back the dateline or the deadline as the case may be, if there is a need for it. He is able to change the times and the seasons.

God's Control Over Selecting Rulers

Notice the next portion of verse 21:

Daniel 2:

21…he removeth kings, and setteth up kings:…

Thank God for that! We have our elections and we have our campaigns, and I would encourage you to do anything that is consistent with your testimony in the interest of better government. You'd better be sure it is consistent with your testimony, but I would encourage you as you do it to remember that it is God Who removeth kings and setteth up kings.

I believe the child of God has a bigger power in his hand than the average citizen because he has a direct line to the throne of God; and if he feels that things are not being done the way they ought to be done, he has every right in the world to ask God to remove the man in authority and put someone else in. You say, “Well, why don't we do that?” Well, why don't we? It might be an amazing thing to see what would happen if a group of Christians would band together to ask God for the removal of men from office and for the putting of men in office who are in line with the general truths of the Word of God. I challenge you to do that and see what happens.

God Gives Wisdom and Knowledge

Verse 21 again:

Daniel 2:

21 …he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

He giveth wisdom to the wise—those who know how to use it—and knowledge also to those who know how to use it.

God Reveals Secrets

In verse 22:

Daniel 2:

22 He revealeth the deep and secret things:…

My, how true that is. “Eye hath not seen, not ear heard…the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:9) But the Spirit of God has revealed them to us. It is exciting to be a Christian. It is exciting to ask God to reveal to you secret things in the Word of God. And He will.

God Lights the Darkness

Notice the last part of verse 22:

Daniel 2:

22 …he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

That is an expressive phrase: “He knoweth what is in the darkness.” There is nothing quite so awesome as darkness if you are not familiar with it. You may not particularly mind wandering around in your own house in the dark because you know pretty well where all the furniture is. Occasionally, someone might move a chair out of place and you bash your shin and wish you had turned on the light. But it is not too awesome to wander around your own house in the dark.

But haven't you all had a sense of awe if you have had to enter an unfamiliar building in the dark, not knowing who would be there or what would be there? Well, life is like that, and yet it need not be for those who know the Lord because He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.

The Psalmist said, in Psalm 139, that it is impossible to flee from the Lord because if you enter into darkness, all the darkness becomes light. Anywhere God is there is light.

Thanking God for Victory

Notice verse 23:

Daniel 2:

23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.

Did you see what he said here? “Lord, thank You for giving us the desire of our hearts. We made a request, and You've answered our prayer, and we want to thank You.”

Daniel 2:

24 Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.

Notice Daniel's concern for all men. He didn't say, “Don't destroy me. I have the interpretation.” He said, “Don't destroy any of them, for I have the explanation.”

Human Nature to Seek Self Glory

For an interesting commentary on human nature, notice Arioch, for he is so human. How we all try to grab the glory.

Daniel 2:

25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.

The old liar! He hadn't done it at all. But he made out as if he had made the discovery. Why? Because he wanted to ingratiate himself with the king. Remember, we are dealing in politics in this chapter. That is the best way to get an advancement—butter someone up. So that is what he was doing. He had someone who had the explanation.

The king ignored him. What Arioch had forgotten was in verse 17. You see, Daniel had had a little private session with the king before he had one with Arioch, and Arioch didn't know it, and that is what made him look so ridiculous. Perhaps it would be wise for some of us to learn that practical lesson. We are ridiculous when we try to grab glory that doesn't belong to us; everyone knows what we are doing.

Giving God the Glory

In verse 26:

Daniel 2:

26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;

The Key for the Book of Daniel

Did you notice the true character of this man, Daniel? God said that Daniel was one of the three greatest men who ever lived. He had a real opportunity to shine here. He had a real opportunity to talk about his own ability and his own power as a wise man, and the king would have accepted it. Instead he said, “King, no one could reveal this dream to you—absolutely no one. But there is a God in Heaven Who reveals secrets, and He is going to make known to you what shall be in the latter days.” God got the glory for the revelation that is contained in the remaining portion of this chapter.

Notice in verse 28 the phrase, “the latter days.” That is the key to the remaining portion of the chapter. Here is what he said:

Daniel 2:

28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.

Notice, three times in this paragraph Daniel says, “This dream is related to the latter days, to the things that are going to come hereafter.” In verse 28, there is the phrase, “the latter days”; in verse 29, there is the phrase, “what should come to pass hereafter”; in the last part of verse 29, the phrase, “what shall come to pass.” Daniel said, “Nebuchadnezzar, God gave you a dream that He might reveal to you what His program is for the future.”

Picturing Coming World Governments

In preparation for our next lesson, I would like for you to read carefully verses 31 and 49, and I would like for you to get fixed clearly in your minds the image which King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about. It was an awesome thing indeed. I would like for you to notice the materials with which the image was made and why the materials were so. I would like for you to notice the specific gravity of the materials involved and recognize what that would do to the image and what the significance would be. I would like for you to notice the difference in the first material that is mentioned and the last material that is mentioned, and see what it signifies about the governments of the world. I would like for you to notice the significance of the mixture that is suggested in the lower part of the image, and realize that we are speaking of a paradox even as we speak about a mixture because the elements there cannot be mixed. And yet, they appear to be trying to mix. What is the significance of that?

Then I would like for you to notice what is the significance of the legs of the image. What is the significance of the feet of the image? What is the significance, not of ten toes in connection with the image, but the significance of the five toes of each foot because the distinction is very definitely made.

Recognize that this was prophecy when Daniel described it to Nebuchadnezzar, but the major portion of it is history now. Where are we? Where are we in the image? Are we up near the head? Are we down about the breast? Are we down in the legs? Are we down in the feet? Where are we?

Notice the intense activity at the end of the chapter itself when a great stone that is cut without hands out of the mountain crashes against the feet of the image and destroys not only the feet but the entire image. Notice what happens to the stone, and see if you can determine what is the next thing on God's prophetic program.

All of these things will be discussed in the next lesson.

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