God’s Plan and Purpose
The love of God has been stressed in the previous lesson – His love for the world in giving His only begotten Son. This love which God shows and which we are asked to show in return must not be confused with sentiment or ‘softness’.
The Bible emphasises the righteousness of God and His justice. It was the absolute justice of God as well as His love for man that was the reason that Jesus rose from the dead. Because Jesus did no wrong it was not possible that he should remain dead (Acts 2 v 24). It would not have been right for Jesus to remain in the grave. God raised him from the dead.
In the same way, it is not right that the world should continue to be a place where wickedness flourishes and where so much that is wrong takes place.
The Book of Proverbs tells us ‘A false balance is an abomination to the Lord’ (Proverbs 11 v 1).
Look at these verses.
‘God is angry with the wicked every day’ (Psalm 7 v 11).
‘The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thessalonians 1 v 7-8).
This is the side of God’s character that is often overlooked. The righteousness of God will not allow wickedness to continue. God is not going to permit the world to be ruled by men who may not set right standards. It is God’s purpose that one day the world will be ruled in righteousness by the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 17 v 31). When he is king, many of the problems that man faces today will be solved. This wonderful time is called the Kingdom of God.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the Kingdom to come so that His will would be done on earth even as the angels now obey Him in heaven (Matthew 6 v 10.)
THE VISION WHICH NEBUCHADNEZZAR SAW
In the days of the great Babylonian Empire – before the Roman Empire and before the Greek Empire – one of the greatest kings of Babylon was Nebuchadnezzar. He was a great builder and a great soldier and under his rule the Empire reached its zenith. Nebuchadnezzar wondered what was to happen to his kingdom after his time. Daniel records a wonderful vision that God gave Nebuchadnezzar which provided an opportunity for Daniel the prophet to answer Nebuchadnezzar’s question.
Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, a great statue made of metals. The head, chest, thighs and legs were each of different metals and the feet were made of a mixture of iron and clay (the vision is recorded in Daniel 2). In his dream the king saw a little stone strike the statue on the feet to bring it toppling to the ground. It was broken and the little stone grew and grew until it became a great mountain which filled the whole earth.
Daniel explained to the king what this dream meant. The head of the image, which was gold, represented Babylon. The next metal silver, of which the breast and arms were made, represented the Empire which followed – the Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. The belly and thighs were of brass and this represented the Greek Empire which followed in turn. Alexander the Great was its greatest ruler.
Rome followed Greece. This was represented by the legs of iron. After the break-up of the Roman Empire, there has been no fifth Empire to equal any of the preceding four. Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome each ruled all the civilized world that included the Land of Israel. There has been no fifth Empire like them.
Men have tried to establish Empires which would hold sway over all the world but since Rome there has been no universal Empire. Some kingdoms have been weak and some strong. They have not been united any more than iron and clay could be united. The state of the world today corresponds to the stage in the vision represented by the feet of the image.
This explanation is not the invention of the publishers of this course of lessons. READ Daniel 2.
Daniel said, ‘Because you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall happen hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation of it sure. ‘ (Daniel 2 v 45).
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Just as Medo-Persia followed Babylon; just as Rome followed Greece; just as certainly as there has been no fifth universal Empire, so the last part of the prophecy will also be fulfilled.
‘In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever’ (Daniel 2 v 44).
The little stone destroyed the image which represented human rule through the centuries and it grew into a great mountain which filled the earth. The little stone represented the Kingdom of God.
Daniel concluded the prophecy by saying, ‘the dream is certain and the interpretation thereof sure’.
This is only one of many prophecies which give us confidence that God’s purpose with the earth will be fulfilled.
THE TEACHING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE NEW TESTAMENT
Find in your Bible these two passages that you looked at in the last lessons – Numbers 14 v 21 Acts 17 v 31
When the Kingdom of God is established, there will be divine justice in the way the kingdom is ruled. There will be no oppression and no persecution.
‘he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears; 4but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth’ (Isaiah 11 v 3-4).
Then the words of Numbers 14 v 21 will be fulfilled just as the angels sang at the birth of Jesus. When Jesus is king over all the earth, there will be ‘Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men’ (Luke 2 v 14).
In a very figurative language the last book of the Bible describes the state of affairs which will exist when God’s purpose is fulfilled.
‘And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God’.
‘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 v 3-4).
A REAL KINGDOM
Peter was the spokesman for the other disciples when he asked Jesus a question, ‘Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?’ (Matthew 19 v 27).
The reply of Jesus is important. He emphasized that the kingdom he taught was a real kingdom in which his disciples would share.
‘Most assuredly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children…… will inherit eternal life. ‘ (Matthew 19 v 28-29).
JESUS WILL COME AGAIN
In order to establish a real kingdom on the earth, Jesus will come again. When he ascended to heaven at the end of his ministry, angels told the disciples,
‘You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you saw him going into heaven’ (Acts 1 v 11).
The return of Jesus to bring about the last stages of God’s purpose with the earth is dealt with more fully in later lessons. The teaching of many of the parables of Jesus shows that it is at his return that the righteous will be rewarded. It is, therefore, very important that we are ready for his coming
The Bible emphasises the righteousness and justice of God as well as his love.
God does not intend to allow the world to continue in its present state.
God will interfere in world affairs and divine rule will be established with Jesus as King.
The outline of world events given in Daniel 2 gives us confidence that the final stages of God’s plan will certainly come to pass.
When Jesus returns to rule over the Kingdom of God, his followers will be rewarded with places in his kingdom, but they need to be ready for his coming.
PASSAGES FOR BIBLE READING
Isaiah 11 Isaiah 35 Matthew 19 Daniel 2 Matthew 25