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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

“Thy Kingdom Come”

The Dilemma
Peter D. Lausevic

The God that we serve is One that knows the end from the beginning. We also develop some of this same characteristic to a very limited degree through experience when we know that something will happen as a result of certain events that we have faced in the past. This is called consequences to our actions. It is like a chemical reaction. Combine certain ingredients and you will know exactly the result.

But to God the future is the same as if looking at the past. This is one of the key evidences for identifying Him as having the right to our worship. “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10). Furthermore, there are things we need to know about the future in order to be prepared for the events that are to take place. For that reason God gives to His prophets messages that are essential for us to know so we can get ready. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

These messages to godly prophets are often given in symbols so that a person must really have a desire to know in order to understand what is being said. These symbols can be in the form of a prophecy or at times be delivered through parables. God utilizes symbols that would be familiar to a person as much as possible. Since the majority of the people in Israel were living in an agrarian society, many symbols in the Bible are related to agriculture, whether of plants or livestock.

In the Babylonian society everything centered around their pagan religion. Their views and understanding of deity and the divine will was through the various forms of idolatry which they worshipped through their elaborate temples, thus missing the character of the true God. When they associated something with an idol, they would immediately think that they were dealing with deity. This is why an image was used in the second chapter of Daniel to arrest the king’s attention and then explain to him the future empires that would hold world dominance.

Although the seventh chapter of Daniel still held interest to the Babylonian people and hence was written in their language, we find that beasts are used to describe these kingdoms rather than the non-expressive elements of gold, silver, brass, iron and finally a mixture of iron and clay. In an explanation of what this chapter means, Daniel was clearly told what these ferocious animals represented. “. . . The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth. . .” Daniel 7:23. Beasts show character traits that cannot be revealed by inanimate objects.

Turmoil between nations

“A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. It’s often portended by a dark, greenish sky. Black storm clouds gather. Baseball-size hail may fall. A funnel suddenly appears, as though descending from a cloud. The funnel hits the ground and roars forward with a sound like that of a freight train approaching. . . . The tornado tears up everything in its path. . . .

“Tornadoes form when warm, humid air collides with cold, dry air. The denser cold air is pushed over the warm air, usually producing thunderstorms. The warm air rises through the colder air, causing an updraft. The updraft will begin to rotate if winds vary sharply in speed or direction.

“As the rotating updraft, called a mesocycle, draws in more warm air from the moving thunderstorm, its rotation speed increases. Cool air fed by the jet stream, a strong band of wind in the atmosphere, provides even more energy.

“Water droplets from the mesocyclone’s moist air form a funnel cloud. The funnel continues to grow and eventually it descends from the cloud. When it touches the ground, it becomes a tornado.”1

This is the exact picture I get whenever I begin reading this vision: “Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea” (Daniel 7:2). Another prophet describes the destruction that happens when these winds collide: “Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled” (Jeremiah 4:13). When we read this in the context of nations, we can clearly see terrible war and bloodshed. This horrible picture of war is clearly between the nations because a sea is a symbol of “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Revelation 17:15). And the result of all this turmoil are “four great beasts” that “came up from the sea, diverse one from another” (Daniel 7:3). As we have seen already, these beasts are a symbol first of their king and then these nations.

The lion and the bear

The very first beast national power to come up is the king of the animal world. “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (Daniel 7:4). In order to properly describe its character, wings were added to it so that its swiftness to destroy in conquest can be seen. “For, lo, I raised up the Chaldeans [Babylonians], that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. . . . And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it” (Habakkuk 1:6–10).

Daniel was familiar with the writings of Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2) where a lion was used to represent the kingdom of Babylon. “Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away; first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones” (Jeremiah 50:17). By the time Daniel is writing this vision, the Assyrian kingdom was subdued by Babylon and thus formed a part of it. Therefore, a lion here could only represent the kingdom of Babylon.

Once we have established that Babylon is this first beast, then all we need to do is look at which beast nation conquered Babylon and became a world power. “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh” (Daniel 7:5). In this case, it would be a bear. Babylon was given to the Medes (combined with the Persians and thus called the Medo-Persian kingdom). We see this clearly when we read the 5th chapter that describes the last night of Babylon and how it was given to the Medes and Persians. This kingdom is represented by this vicious bear. In nature, a bear would not normally go around with three ribs in its mouth; but prophecy shows its true character to be more vicious even than a normal grizzly bear.

The leopard

The prophet then describes the next beast nation: “After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it” (Daniel 7:6). Which kingdom was to succeed Medo-Persia?

In a parallel prophecy found in Daniel 8, we see two beasts: “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.” Although different beasts are used showing additional characteristics, “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persian. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king” (Daniel 8:3–5, 20, 21).

Therefore, the kingdom of Greece was to follow Medo-Persia. As Babylon’s lion had two wings representing speed of conquest, so this leopard has four wings indicating even greater rapidity. So fast was it to conquer that in Daniel 8 it “touched not the ground.” This is very true when we consider the history of the conquests of Alexander the Great [the horn between the eyes of the he goat].

But that horn [Alexander the Great] was to be broken. “Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation.” Daniel 8:22. These four horns in Daniel 8 must be the same as the four heads on the leopard. When Alexander died from an overdose of alcohol, four of his generals eventually took control of the entire Grecian empire exactly as prophecy depicted.

The dreadful beast

The next beast mentioned in this prophecy is something that cannot be found in nature. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns” (Daniel 7:7).

The first three beasts were clearly named in prophecy, thus they set a precedent as to what we are to expect–how each followed the other. In our study of history, the next empire that controlled the world after Greece was the mighty Roman empire. “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.” Verse 23. How it controlled kingdoms, how it persecuted its dissenters is clearly revealed in the above verses.

“And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.” Verse 24. In the beginning of this kingdom, it did not have any horns; but later, ten were to arise out of it which were a symbol of ten kings or kingdoms who are still a part of the dragon. When we trace the history of Rome, we find that its original territory (western Europe) was conquered in a.d. 476 by exactly ten kings [the Anglo-Saxons (England), Franks (France), Alemanni (Germany), Suevi (Portugal), Visigoths (Spain), Burgundians (now part of Switzerland and France), Lombards (now part of northern Italy), Ostrogoths, Heruli, and Vandals (three tribes that were uprooted).

The dragon

This last beast has its description in folklore and the customs of nations. The Bible also uses the same term and calls it a dragon. The origin of this dragon actually began in heaven when there was a war for supremacy. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.” This dragon is none other than the devil himself. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7–9).

Although this is the same dragon as in Daniel with some slight differences in order to emphasize different characteristics just like between Daniel 7 and 8, this dragon was present to destroy the Christ child when He was born in a manger. “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12:3–5).

It is for this reason that we know that the devil actually uses nations who have the dragon spirit in them. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was the Roman power that was used to destroy Him at His birth. “Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome.”2 In reality, each of these kingdoms manifesting different characteristics had the spirit of a dragon. When you look at the actions of Egypt in persecuting the people of God and holding them in slavery, those actions were truly dragon-like. “Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself” (Ezekiel 29:3).

Some nations may have a more noble beginning and are described as lamb-like. However, whenever a nation has a taste for power and control, they are not so eager to give it up. This beast nation identified in the Revelation that at first has the horns like a lamb soon speaks like a dragon and then exercises the same power of a dragon. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Their eagerness for control is in ever facet of life. “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:11, 12, 15–17).

We are speaking here about affecting the economy, personal freedoms and even life itself all for the sake of control. Controlling people to obey its dictates regardless of what one may think or believe. When you read the spirit of the dragon in Daniel 7 you can see that we are talking about utter decimation of a person or nation that dares to challenge this dragon. “Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:23–25).

Those who cherish the freedom to think and act according to their own conscience are inspired by these words of the first apostles: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

The Lamb

The dilemma that we find in all of this is that there is also a lamb as it had been slain. Although Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) when describing certain characteristics especially in relationship to the closing scenes of this earth’s history and in the defense of His chosen people, He is primarily called the Lamb of God. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This term is used for Jesus once in the Old Testament and 30 times in the New, of which 28 are in the book of Revelation alone.

It is true that a lamb is also a beast of sorts, but what a different animal this is! Instead of seeking to devour and destroy in order to control, the lamb on the other hand reacts completely different when attacked. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). And we as Christians are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus our Redeemer. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). What does this mean personally to us? “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). This is a completely different attitude than is common in this world.

What a different way to look at life through the eyes of Jesus the Lamb rather than the characteristic beast of the nations of this world. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19–21). Leaving the Lord to fight our battles is the only way to be like Jesus. The way in which God works is completely different to the ways of the world. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

And yes, the lamb is still some kind of a beast although, as we have mentioned, a beast with a completely different character. As beasts do represent kingdoms, the Lamb also has a kingdom—an eternal kingdom that has no end. “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:27). Can you imagine an eternal kingdom that has the characteristics of a Lamb?

A change of nature

Our God wants to engage the conscience and obtain our approval rather than coming like a tornado and destroying anything in its path. For that reason He is inviting us to a dialogue. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). He uses the act of invitation instead of coercion. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Why is it possible for these beast nations to control the world? Because we all have a beast nature in ourselves and this beast nature must change if we desire to be a part of that Lamb Kingdom. How is it possible for a beast nature like you and me to obtain this radical change of nature to be like the Lamb of God? The Old Testament describes this process as a change of heart. This is not some remodel job but rather a complete heart transplant. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” And what is the natural consequence of this change of heart? “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26, 27). “There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.”3

Jesus in the New Testament describes this same transformation to Nicodemus. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies.”4 In other words, the transformation of a beast to a lamb. Are you that lamb?

2 The Great Controversy, p. 438.
3 20 The Desire of Ages, p. 172.
4 The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1101.