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Eyes to See and Ears to Hear
February 11, 2007
1 Corinthians 2:6-8
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers (arches) of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers (arches) of this age knew, for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Note: Emphasis mine as highlighted arches that is translated rulers. The traditional exegesis as those ruling in the heavenly places as spiritual entities wielding their authority on earth through human agents.
You O king were watching and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent stood before you and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and gold were crushed together and became like the chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.
You O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all— you are this head of gold. But after you; shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything and like iron that crushes that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay; they will mingle with the seed of men but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever. In as much as you saw the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain and its interpretation is sure.
And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.
Hidden in these sets of Scripture is a uniquely Anabaptist experienced truth; namely the duality of kingdoms. The kingdom of the prince of the power of the air (which rules through its agents; the human rulers of nation states and false religions) and another in existence but not fully manifested, the one Jesus came to inaugurate. 1 Corinthians 2:6 states that these same rulers (arches) are coming to nothing. So therefore their rule through the political systems is coming to an end. Therefore the “cause of nations” is limited in time and purpose.
All through the New Testament epistles Paul attempts to show us that the “new creation in Christ” is a superior humanity; one that has been hidden from the beginning of time yet now apparent through the resurrection of Jesus. This is the good news of the Gospel Paul has communicated to us. This hidden truth is manifested in that these rulers (arches) have no authority over those transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. The only rule they have is over the sons of disobedience, those whose union remains in the prince of darkness. So why is this important for us today?
In the Daniel passages it is clear that God has appointed certain political rulers with power and strength for His ultimate glory. Throughout history earthly kingdoms rise and they fall. All are limited in duration and purpose moving toward the winding up of human affairs on earth. That great day that Paul says will come as a thief in the night. Not apparent to many but to some clearly inevitable.
Daniel answers the King’s question with a prophetic picture to prepare mankind. I view this as the successive rule of a world ruling empire system beginning with Babylon (ruled by one man), moving to Persia (modern day Iran), through to Greece and into Rome. By putting things in a layered pyramid with these four kingdoms it looks like the base is growing wider after each successive kingdom through time. When in reality the sequence has led to an upside down pyramid where the many ruling as one is as fragile as a pin teetering on its head. This can be seen in military might that has increased over our human history but has failed to produce true peace or actual stability. The part that has seemed fuzzy is the last transition from the iron legs to the partly iron and clay feet phase.
The more I prayerfully research the more I see the “toes” taking shape around the Age of the Renaissance (early 1600s). The toes of the feet are partly iron and partly clay. The partly clay resembles the moldable and shaping from process or the human will. More directly the ruling of governments by the will of the people or I like to call it the “rights of man”. The partly iron has the attributes of the old Roman system of authority and rule. A power or military might in the hands of the people. The emergence of the former Greek/Roman concepts of democracy has taken a fuller shape during this Age. This modern system looks strong in some ways but its psyche is fragile. The people who elect their officials want to be protected and have their interests taken care of but by not too much force. When they exercise force global opinion can turn on them.
It is also interesting that the toes support the weight of the frame as it stands. So to fully implement the “rights of man” a system would need to emerge to do this. We must additionally measure the interpretation to what man really becomes outside of Christ, one bent on ruling his own affairs. Therefore, the image King Nebuchadnezzar sees is as of a culmination in world history when the “human as individual” is in control and can largely order or implement ideas and concepts from inception to action. I must also add the collaboration “as individuals” toward a consensus that enables concerted action is the same thing just in a softer package.
In Daniel verse 43 the ruling concept of combining authority/might with the process of collaboration largely dependent by the people for the people is now a reality. However, there is a caveat, it will not really join or unite. The LXX uses the verb proskollomenoi which is the same word used for the covenant between man and wife and the sexual union, something that is really not breakable. So the appearance to the world is of a unity but there really is no unity. It is one forged out of the collective world soul or human experience. In other words what would a messiah really look like; maybe one that brings a peace or prosperity, or one that sees everyone as equal and all faiths leading toward the full enlightenment of man, a world in harmony. The only problem with this reasoning is that there is still a true remnant present, as seen in verses 44-45. So for a universal unity to truly emerge global consensus must marginalize or eliminate the true remnant.
In verse 44 the LXX uses a word hupoleipthesetai which implies that the translation “left to other people” has a fuller meaning in that this kingdom will not be an “under remnant”. The true remnant will in fact break in pieces and consume all the previous kingdoms and stand forever. This remnant can also be translated “fragments” or those called out of this world and into the kingdom of light. The true remnant is this one under the Lordship of Jesus Christ no matter how great the causes of the ruling nation states may appear. No matter how urgent they are called to be, even portrayed as the defining moment of this generation or our lifetime. No sudden movements from world rulers have gone unmeasured by the prophetic nature of this set of Scriptures.
God clearly is warning us for these last days. From Scripture I see the calling out of a remnant culminating in those from the original Jewish root alongside the closing of the Age of the Gentiles. When you see the blossom blooming where it is not supposed to then you know we are moving into a new season. A movement within Jewish peoples calling on the name of Jesus will signal this Age and its defining moment. In fact the calling out of the remnant of the chosen of God causes the breaking of the nations. The last kingdom arises through the people for the people and they will give their authority to another. This will be a similar betrayal as in the Garden when Adam and Eve gave their authority to another. However, this time the prince of darkness will attempt one more time to call out a unified people of Babel yet this time the Lord will destroy this work with the brightness of His coming. The lawless one who attempts to rule for the many will be the last. The dream is certain and its interpretation is sure. Amen!
Written by Lawrence R. Yoder - Director