"Blessed is he who reads . . . this prophecy" (Rev. 1:3). This lesson begins our study of prophecy.
- Who alone truly knows the future?
Isa. 46:9, 10 [The Further-study verse is John 14:29]
- Is God revealed the future?
Amos 3:7 [2 Peter 1:19-21]
- Which prophecies did Jesus mention by name, saying we should understand them?
Matt. 24:15 [Rev. 10:1, 2]
- For what time period was the book of Daniel especially written?
Dan. 12:4 [Note: Daniel and Revelation are both about the last days; but Daniel was written first and Revelation builds on its prophecies. In order to understand the two books we must start with Daniel and with Daniel's first prophecy. Each succeeding prophecy is built upon the ones before. Dan. 8:17; 12:9]
- What circumstances led up to Daniel's first prophecy?
Dan. 2:1-3 [Dan. 2:1-23, 29]
- Who explained the dream, and what period of earth's history did it picture?
Dan. 2:27, 28 [Dan. 2:19]
- What was the dream?
Dan. 2:31-35 [Acts 17:26]
There are two vital principles we must understand to interpret correctly Daniel and Revelation:
- These prophecies are given in symbols
- The symbols are interpreted by the Bible itself.
- In this first prophecy, God makes it easy by giving the interpretation immediately. What did the head of gold represent?
Dan. 2:36-38 [Note: Nebuchadnezzar represented Babylon. "King" and "kingdom" often mean the same in prophecy (Dan. 2:39; 7:17, 23). Hos. 12:10; Isa. 14:4]
- What did the silver, bronze and iron represent?
Dan. 2:39, 40 [Note: The three kingdoms that followed Babylon were Persia (or MediaPersia), Greece and Rome respectively. Dan. 5:28; 8:20, 21]
To see how prophecy builds on itself, note how these same four kingdoms are described again, in greater detail, in the next major prophecy of Daniel.
- What symbols did God use this time?
Dan. 7:2-7, 17
- What would happen to Rome, the fourth kingdom?
Dan. 7:23, 24a [Note: As predicted, only three world powers followed Babylon. Rome was never succeeded, but from 351 to 476 A.D. it was divided up into the following divisions by warring factions within: AngloSaxons (England), Franks (France), Suevi (Portugal), Visigoths (Spain), Alamani (Germany), Burgundians, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Heruls, and Vandals.]
- How is this breakup of Rome into modern Europe described in Daniel 2? Will Europe ever be reunited?
Dan. 2:41-43 [Dan. 2:21]
- What will happen in the days of divided Europe?
Dan. 2:44 [Matt 21:44]
- How does Revelation describe this event?
Rev. 11:15-18 [Rev. 6:14-17]
Babylon, Persia, Greece, and pagan Rome have all passed away--we are now living in the tiptoes of the image, just before the new kingdom is set up! When God's kingdom comes, with what group of people, as described in our last text, do you want to be found?