Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with some dear friends who really needed some encouragement. Many years ago they went through a tragedy in the family, and ever since, they’ve been up and down – mostly down – and their focus has been mainly on the second coming of Jesus. I know, you might be wondering how that can become a focus for some Christians as a method of grieving, but to them, the second coming is the hope they hold onto as they wait for the day they can finally be reunited with their passed, loved one. They look forward to the moment when Jesus will appear in the clouds and take them to heaven, but while they wait, their hope in Christ – that’s supposed to bring freedom to their souls – only brings periodic torment and moments of confusion.
Now, I can understand why they might look forward to the second coming of the Lord as their source of hope, because it means all of the weight of grief they’re experiencing will be lifted and they will finally see the kingdom of God. But you see, even though I may understand why they think this future event of Jesus coming back with His kingdom is good and right to believe in, to be frank, I just don’t believe it myself. I can’t believe something in a way that brings confusion and torment to my heart. Yes, I believe Jesus is coming back, but if He’s returning because what He did the first time around wasn’t enough to set me free, and now I need Him to come back before I can live in freedom, then I must not understand what His first coming was all about – I must be missing something that happened in the past.
So, as I’m chatting with my friends about general stuff, I find an opportunity to share with them the freedom I’ve come to experience that simply came from understanding more about what Christ came to do during His first coming. You see, Jesus didn’t just come to be a lamb slaughtered during Easter in order to forgive us of our sins, and then rise again so He can leave us with just enough grace to last 2000 years until He returns with His whole kingdom in tow – no, He actually came as the King, born with parents whose lineage is royal, had His birth announced by the angelic servants of the kingdom He rules over, and He was given royal gifts by distinguished foreigners who were astrologers in the order of Daniel the prophet – the same prophet who interpreted a dream hundreds of years earlier, predicting the coming of Jesus the King and His kingdom.
What I wanted my friends to understand is that the kingdom came to earth when Jesus came the first time around – that they could experience the righteousness, the peace and the joy of the kingdom in the Holy Spirit of God now, even in the middle of their grief. We need to understand that the fullness of the kingdom and all of the glory of heaven has arrived on earth already and is totally accessible by anyone who choses to engage with its reality by faith. With people like my friends – who have been taught stuff about the second coming that undermine the achievements of Jesus during His first coming – when I bring up the dream of the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar that the prophet Daniel interpreted – you know, the one about the statue with a gold head and legs of iron – they will immediately recall the misguided teaching that says it prophesies of the future kingdom; the kingdom of God that’s yet to descend from heaven, and this is where we get confused and tormented about the hope we’re supposed to have in Christ.
As this is the last blog of the year this website will post before Christmas day, I want to share with you how that dream that King Neb had was not only a vision of the coming kingdom of God, but that it predicted its arrival to happen on Christmas day. To give a little historical context, approximately 595 years before before Christ, Babylon invaded Judah – the tribe of Israel who are known as the Jews – and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, taking captive many of the Jewish people. Of these Jews was a man named Daniel. During his time in Babylonian captivity, Daniel had the opportunity to minister as a prophet of God and in one instance, he interpreted the king’s dream of a huge statue that had a gold head, arms and chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and ten-toed feet made partly of iron and partly of baked clay, with the dream ending with a rock cut out with no human hands, smashing all five parts of the statue to smithereens and then growing from a rock to a huge mountain filling the whole earth. After a quick reading of Daniel chapter 2 verses 36-45, you’ll find that the metal parts of the statue represent five earthly kingdoms, and then if you do a quick google search of the meaning to these verses, you’ll find a unanimous agreement as to the identity of the first four historical kingdoms – the gold was the Babylonian empire, the silver was the Medo-Persian empire, the bronze was Grecian empire and the iron was the Roman empire.
While I’m talking about this with my friends, they ask me about the fifth kingdom, and whether or not I believe the statue’s feet with ten toes represents a future globalist kingdom, that according to a lot of people, looks ready to emerge any year now. I suppose with the current conspiratorial threat of a new world order, theory or not, many Christians who don’t walk in the hope and reality of heaven on earth agree with the idea that things are getting worse and that this growing darkness is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. My friends are of that number of believers who have allowed this prophetic dream to be only part-fulfilled in their mind and are waiting for the scary emergence of a world-wide empire ruled by the Antichrist. The reason this belief causes their hope in Christ to be periodically put into confusion, is the part of the dream that follows the fifth kingdom. You see, during the fifth kingdom with ten toes representing ten kings of a divided empire, God will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed; a kingdom that obliterates all of the other kingdoms leaving their memory to blow away into nothing.
Did you notice what some Christians believe? If the fifth kingdom in the dream is indeed in our future, and God sets up His kingdom after it arises, that means the kingdom of God isn’t here now and therefore we shouldn’t expect the nature of heaven to show up in our daily lives, let alone in the affairs of the nations. If this is the true meaning of the dream, that only after the evil empire of ten ruling houses arises, God will finally establish His kingdom on earth, then I can understand why the grief of loss became too much for my friends to overcome. To them, a theological misinterpretation of Daniel chapter 2 has added to the confusion in their minds concerning the nature of God and their purpose on earth. As Christians, we’re called to be the light of the world, in other words, we’re supposed to carry the reality of heaven in our spirit and release it on earth, advancing the kingdom of God forward.
Here’s the point: the ten toed kingdom isn’t in our future, it was in our past, and to be precise, it was in full swing when the first Christmas happened. You see, when you read in the bible about Jesus fulfilling the prophecy of being born in Bethlehem, the reason Mary and Joseph had to travel there while she was full-term in her pregnancy was because Caesar Augustus called for a national census and that was the town where Joseph hailed from. That particular Caesar is known historically to have split up the Roman empire into ten provinces in order to maintain order due to their widespread dominion. It was during the time of those provincial kings that God set up His kingdom. In the dream, the thing that brought down the statue was a rock cut out without hands. This earthly element formed by unseen, divine hands was a prophetic picture of Jesus, conceived by the Spirit and born in human flesh.
Once I had gone through all the details of the dream with my friends, it was this next point that I wanted them to understand the most, and that is, when God put on flesh in the form of a man – the very second He was born on Christmas Day – the kingdom came to earth. The kingdom was inside of Him and everything He did on earth was a manifestation of heaven. So when Jesus began His ministry and went about preaching the good news of the kingdom, healing the sick, casting out demons and raising people from the dead, this wasn’t just to prove He was God, it was to demonstrate what the kingdom is like, what it’s like to live in the domain of the king and to dwell under His rulership. In the kingdom of God, people aren’t sick, oppressed by evil spirits or dead, instead people are free, they’re healthy, of sound mind and alive. During the first coming of Jesus, He revealed the reality of heaven in a tangible way that was destined to be accessible by all who believe in Him by faith. You see, the bible says that although Jesus was 100% God, by choice He emptied Himself and operated on earth 100% as a human, fully relying on God as we are called to rely on God.
The point of His first coming was to show us how to live as normal human beings, fully connected to God in relationship, hosting the reality of heaven and sharing the treasures of His kingdom with everyone, every day of our lives. You see, I’m not waiting for Jesus to come back in the future with His kingdom following behind so that I can finally experience heaven, because I know I can live in His kingdom today. It’s the reality of heaven’s freedom that enables me to have supernatural hope, unwavering faith and to know the surpassing love of God. My friends wondered why they couldn’t see the kingdom as I could – they questioned how the kingdom could be here already while the world seems so dark. I told them that the kingdom is within us to begin with, and it’s up to us to see the kingdom in our hearts and minds, so that by faith we can make it a reality. I suppose if I thought the kingdom was only going to arrive after the world falls apart, I probably wouldn’t have much hope either.
So this Christmas, remember the first coming of Jesus and begin to see the reality He demonstrated as being the reality God wants us to release into the earth. Should we be celebrating the downfall of society as a sign of Jesus’ second coming, or should we be celebrating the increase of His kingdom that’s been growing for 2000 years so far? – the kingdom that will continue to grow with no end as more and more people of faith believe in a future where earth looks like heaven and by that same faith take action to make it a reality. To me, Christmas is about the birth of a kingdom as much as the birth of its King.
As I left my friends that night, they took in what I had told them. They said that what I shared made a lot of sense, because they really do believe in the kingdom and they walk in its supernatural power with God. However, the thing they told me that spoke to them the most about what I shared, wasn’t the information alone, but it was the fact that they could see the freedom of the kingdom in my life. I believe the grief they currently suffer is lifting off their life as they partner with the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God in their lives.
Written by: Drew Fraser