Sabbath, March 5, 2011

”… After … a third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron.” Daniel 2:39, 40.

The third empire

1. What empire followed that of Medo-Persia? How was the prophecy fulfilled?
Daniel 2:32, last part … His belly and his thighs of brass.
Daniel 2:39, second part … and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

“Few and brief are the inspired words which involved in their fulfillment a succession in world rulership. In the ever-changing political kaleidoscope, Grecia came into the field of vision, to be for a time the all-absorbing object of attention, as the third of what are called the universal empires of the earth.

“After the battle which decided the fate of the empire, Darius endeavored to rally the shattered remnants of his army, and make a stand for his kingdom and his rights. But he could not gather out of all the host of his recently so numerous and well-appointed army a force with which he deemed it prudent to hazard another engagement with the victorious Grecians. Alexander pursued him on the wings of the wind. Time after time Darius barely eluded the grasp of his swiftly following foe.” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, p. 52.

2. What is reported about the triumphal procession of Alexander the Great? What was the cause of his premature death? What were the consequences for the kingdom?
Proverbs 31:4, 5 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

“Alexander the Great, inheriting his father’s newly expanded Greco-Macedonian kingdom, set out to extend Macedonian dominion and Greek culture eastward, and conquered the Persian Empire. The prophecy represents the kingdom of Greece as following Persia, because Greece never became united into a kingdom until the formation of the Macedonian Empire, which replaced Persia as the leading world power of that time (for parallel prophecies see on chs. 7:6; 8:5-8, 21, 22; 11:2-4).

“The last reigning king of the Persian Empire was Darius III (Codomannus), who was defeated by Alexander at the battles of Granicus (334 B.C.), Issus (333 B.C.), and Arbela, or Gaugamela (331 B.C.).” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 774.

“Alexander found it much easier to subdue kingdoms than to rule his own spirit. After conquering nations, this so-called great man fell through the indulgence of appetite–a victim of intemperance.” –Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 29.

“With contemptible arrogance, he claimed for himself divine honors. He gave up conquered cities, freely and unprovoked, to the mercy of his bloodthirsty and licentious soldiery. He often murdered his friends and favorites in his drunken frenzies. He encouraged such excessive drinking among his followers that on one occasion twenty of them died as the result of their carousal. At length, having sat through one long drinking spree, he was immediately invited to another, when, after drinking to each of the twenty guests present, he twice drank, says history, incredible as it may seem, the full Herculean cup containing six of our quarts. He was seized with a violent fever, of which he died eleven days later, June 13, 323 B.C., while yet he stood only at the threshold of mature life, in the thirty-second year of his age.” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 53, 54.

The fourth empire

3. What are we told about the fourth empire? How far did it extend?
Daniel 2:33, first part His legs of iron,…
Daniel 2:40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

“ ‘The arms of the Republic, sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious in war, advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine, and the ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might serve to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by the iron monarchy of Rome.’

“At the opening of the Christian Era, this empire took in the whole south of Europe, France, England, the greater part of the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the south of Germany, Hungary, Turkey, and Greece, not to speak of its possessions in Asia and Africa….

“ ‘The empire of the Romans filled the world,…’ ” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 54, 55.

The most important event in world history

4. What important event took place under the rule of the Roman Empire? Were the leaders of God’s chosen people prepared for this event?
Luke 2:4-7 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

“An angel visits the earth to see who are prepared to welcome Jesus. But he can discern no tokens of expectancy. He hears no voice of praise and triumph that the period of Messiah’s coming is at hand. The angel hovers for a time over the chosen city and the temple where the divine presence has been manifested for ages; but even here is the same indifference.” –The Great Controversy, p. 314.

Great joy for those who were waiting

5. Why were the shepherds presented with these glad tidings?
Luke 2:8, 9 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

“There is no evidence that Christ is expected, and no preparation for the Prince of life. In amazement the celestial messenger is about to return to heaven with the shameful tidings, when he discovers a group of shepherds who are watching their flocks by night, and, as they gaze into the starry heavens, are contemplating the prophecy of a Messiah to come to earth, and longing for the advent of the world’s Redeemer. Here is a company that is prepared to receive the heavenly message.” –The Great Controversy, p. 314.

6. What was the theme of the heavenly message?
Luke 2:10, 11 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

“And suddenly the angel of the Lord appears, declaring the good tidings of great joy. Celestial glory floods all the plain, an innumerable company of angels is revealed, and as if the joy were too great for one messenger to bring from heaven, a multitude of voices break forth in the anthem which all the nations of the saved shall one day sing: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ Luke 2:14.” –The Great Controversy, p. 314.

7. Who else was watching for the fulfillment of the prophecy?
Luke 2:25-38 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Matthew 2:1, 2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
Numbers 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

“In the land of the heathen also were those that looked for Him; they were wise men, rich and noble, the philosophers of the East. Students of nature, the Magi had seen God in His handiwork. From the Hebrew Scriptures they had learned of the Star to arise out of Jacob, and with eager desire they awaited His coming, who should be not only the ‘Consolation of Israel,’ but a ‘Light to lighten the Gentiles,’ and ’for salvation unto the ends of the earth.’ Luke 2:25, 32; Acts 13:47. They were seekers for light, and light from the throne of God illumined the path for their feet.” –The Great Controversy, p. 315.

For personal study

• Matthew 2:1-12.

• Luke 2:1-38.

The Desire of Ages, pp. 31-49.