The Big Dream Part 2
So far I’ve related this tale pretty much in the order these things happened to me. But now I’m going to back track a little to tell you about some remarkable visions and dreams I’ve had from time to time. I’ve saved them till now because they don’t really fit into the theme of my story. You see, when the Lord judged our people and had us taken off to Babylon, He wanted to make sure we were going to be OK. He loved us and didn’t want to discipline us like this, but our behavior left Him no choice. He knew the best way to make sure we were treated all right during our captivity was to show our captors some of his powers, and he chose my three friends and me to help. Each dramatic event in our lives, while sometimes pretty scary for us, resulted in the Babylonians and later the Persians coming to know Him better and therefore to respect my people more. You get the idea? When our time in the penalty box was up, the Persians actually helped us get back to our land and get reestablished there.
As part of His reward to me for helping, the Lord showed me some of the most incredible things, visions that have been allowing Bible students like you to better understand the future in every generation since. You and I call these visions prophecy, but to the LORD Who knows the end from the beginning, prophecy is simply history written in advance. And indeed history has validated the accuracy of these visions beyond all doubt.
This first one came to me back when Babylon was still in control. It was after Nebuchadnezzar had died, but before the Persians took over, about 553 BC on your calendar. While asleep one night I dreamed I saw four great beasts coming up out of the sea. Since they were coming out of the sea rather than from the land I realized that each of these beasts represented a gentile kingdom. And since the sea was being churned up by the four winds of heaven, I knew each of these kingdoms was being created by a sovereign act of God. It dawned on me that I was having a dream very much like the one I had interpreted for Nebuchadnezzar back when I a teenager. Only now I was seeing things from God’s point of view.
The first beast was a lion with eagle’s wings. I had no problem identifying that one. The winged lion had always been a symbol of Babylon, carved in the stone over every gate in the city’s walls. When the lion stood up and was given the heart of a man, I knew it represented King Nebuchadnezzar, the man who really made Babylon into a world power.
The second beast, a kind of two-sided bear with one side bigger than the other, had to be Media-Persia, the coalition that would soon conquer Babylon. One side bigger than the other meant that the Persians would become the dominant partner. The 3 ribs in its mouth signified the 3 kingdoms it would conquer in gaining world dominance; Egypt, Babylon and Lydia, a people to the East.
The third beast was a flying leopard with four heads and four wings. History now tells us that this was Greece under Alexander. The four heads stood for the four generals who commanded his armies and took over upon his death; Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus. The four wings were symbolic of the speed with which Alexander conquered the known world.
The fourth beast was horrifying and different from all the rest and had ten horns. Then all of a sudden it sprouted another one, uprooting three of the originals in the process. This little horn had the eyes and mouth of a man and was filled with pride. I was about to ask for help from one of the angels standing nearby in my dream in understanding that one. But before I could I was whisked off to heaven, to the Throne of the Eternal One, at the End of the Age.
I’m one of only four prophets who actually saw God’s throne, the others being Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1 & 10) and John (Rev. 4). Each of us saw different things, so to get a comprehensive overview you should read all four accounts. One of the things that impressed me most was the huge number of people standing before Him. 10,000 was the biggest number we had in my day, so when I say 10,000 times 10,000 I’m trying to impress upon you the magnitude of the crowd. You would probably say millions and millions. Something big was clearly in the works and when the court was seated and the books opened, I knew it was Judgment Day.
Back on Earth this horn guy kept boasting and bragging till the 4th beast was totally destroyed, just as the other three had been. And then in Heaven someone who looked to me like the Son of Man approached the LORD’s Throne. He was given everlasting power and authority over all the Earth and its inhabitants, wherever they lived, and everyone on Earth worshiped Him.
Well, I was OK interpreting things until I got to the 4th beast, and then I became confused. So I asked an angel standing nearby for help. (I was still dreaming you understand.) He explained that the 4th beast represented a kingdom that would be different from all the others. History now tells us that the 4th kingdom is Rome and the reason it’s different is that it was never really conquered like the other three were. It self destructed from corruption and then transformed itself from a political entity into a religious one. The 10 horns are ten kings that will emerge out of it toward the End of the Age, and the little horn is another king who will subdue 3 of the original 10 in his rise to power. In your day this little horn has come to be known as the anti-christ. He’ll try to change everything in his efforts to remove every trace of God from the lives of mankind, even eliminating religious holidays, in his quest for power and worship.
For 3 1/2 years it will seem as though he’s succeeded, and God’s people on Earth have actually been defeated. (This is the time of the Great Tribulation.) But as He always does, the LORD Himself will intervene and destroy the anti-christ and his followers forever. Then the people of God will triumph, as the LORD sets up His promised kingdom and puts an end to Gentile Dominion forever.
You can see the similarity between my dream and Nebuchadnezzar’s. Both contained the message of four Gentile Kingdoms spanning the period of time between Babylon and the End of the Age, and both predicted a 5th kingdom to come, one set up by God Himself. This 5th Kingdom will never be conquered or given to another but will last through all eternity. Put together, these two dreams constitute the most detailed and comprehensive view of Gentile history in all of Scripture. Much of the content has already been fulfilled and documented in history books around the world, which makes the final outcome as predicted by these dreams that much more certain.
Why did the LORD give the dream to both of us? In Jewish law it takes the testimony of two witnesses to establish a fact. King Nebuchadnezzar and I are the two witnesses in this case.
Why did He give us the dream in the first place? Well, in this world there are many so-called Holy Books but only one that is self-validating. Through the prophets of old, the LORD has told mankind of future events to prove He is Who He claims to be. No other “religious writings” contain this kind of validation because only God can predict the future with 100% accuracy. Let Him tell you in His own Words. “I am the LORD, that is my name. I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare. Before they spring into being, I announce them to you.” (Isaiah 42:8-9)