A continuation of the Daniel series
Although Nebuchadnezzar praised Daniel’s God as the Revealer of secrets and the “God of gods” he was not moved to forsake Babylon’s idolatry and exclusively worship the Supreme One. On the contrary. He nationalized idolatry.
The next chapter of Daniel (3) reveals that the king of Babylon erected an enormous golden image towering nearly 100 feet high. The account does not describe the features of the structure— only its dimensions— 60×6 cubits. And it was covered in gold. We do not know if the image was merely an obelisk or if it was in the shape of a human or if it was engraved with various symbols common to Babylonian iconography. However, in view of the fact that it is called an “image” and not merely a pillar or tower indicates that it resembled some thing.
Since Nebuchadnezzar sponsored the creation of the colossal idol and he himself was depicted as the head of the giant metallic man in the dream the God of gods had inspired— Daniel even acknowledging him as the king of kings who ruled over all men— Nebuchadnezzar may have felt justified in erecting an image in his own likeness— an impressive, glittering monument to himself.
Whatever the case, the king of Babylon summoned all the rulers and government officials throughout the vast realm to assemble themselves on the plain of Dura for the idolatrous inauguration of the golden image.
It was a grand occasion. And as soon as the band began playing everyone was required to prostrate themselves before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. Worship was mandatory. It was the law. Anyone who refused to bow before the idol would be summarily killed. There would be no trial. No reprieve. Only a horrible death in the flaming furnace.
In spite of the harsh order and certain consequences for disobedience Abednego, Shadrach and Meshach continued standing during the ceremony. (We do not know why Daniel was not present on that occasion.) Immediately, they were hauled before the king. Nebuchadnezzar considerately gave them one more opportunity to obey. The three princes did not need time to rethink their position. Instead, they took the opportunity to explain why they resolutely refused to bow down before the idol and verified to the king that they were willing to die rather than comply.
Even though Nebuchadnezzar had verbally acknowledged God’s greatness he still did not appreciate the power of God; otherwise, the king would not have taunted the Most High by saying: “If you refuse to worship, you will immediately be thrown into the burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who can rescue you out of my hands?”
The story has been told and retold for generations. It is worth telling again. It is one of the many amazing things recorded in the Bible. And it is so much more than a bedtime story.
Abednego, Meshach, and Shadrach had faith. They acknowledged before the king that their God could save them if he chose to. But even if he did not spare them from the flame they were on record as being true to God by their refusal to worship the gods of Babylon.
In a red-hot fury, Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be stoked to a raging blaze and for the three impudent Jews to be bound and hurled into the furnace. The fire was so intense the mighty men who were tasked with throwing them into the caldron themselves perished. And then the king beheld a sight! Although three men were thrown into the furnace, there, in the blazing inferno were four men— unfazed by the flames! And the fourth man looked like a son of the gods!
Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to step out of the furnace. That was an order that they happily obeyed. When they came out they appeared just as they were before. Not even a single hair was singed by the fire nor did their garments even smell of smoke.
Who was the fourth “man” resembling a son of the gods who appeared in the crucible? It surely was the one whom Daniel later identified as Michael, the great prince, who is standing in behalf of Daniel’s people. We know this Michael to be none other than Jesus Christ.
It truly was a miracle. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged as much, saying: “there is no other god who is able to rescue like this one.” Paul undoubtedly was alluding to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the 11th chapter of Hebrews— by faith, they “quenched the force of fire.”
Surely, though, God could have saved the three Hebrews without the appearance of the son of the gods. Some years later Daniel similarly faced certain death in the lions’ den and God sent his angel and tamed the beasts. However, on that occasion, there is no indication that the angel made himself visible. Again, why did the son of the gods appear in the fiery furnace? Was it just for show? No, it was a prophetic drama— an enactment of something much greater— a portent of things to come when Michael stands up.
There have only been a relatively few occasions when God directly and dramatically intervened in human affairs. Since Christ and the original Christians shook things up 2,000 years ago God has hidden himself. That is not to say that God has not acted behind the scenes in countless ways— just not miraculously, openly appearing, as in times past. God admits as much, saying through Isaiah: “Though Jehovah will give you bread in the form of distress and water in the form of oppression, your Grand Instructor will no longer hide himself, and you will see your Grand Instructor with your own eyes.”
We know by God’s own testimony that no mere fleshly organism may see God’s face and live. The Great Spirit is simply too glorious for fragile earthlings to behold. So, how is it possible for anyone to “see the Grand Instructor with your own eyes” and survive the encounter? And yet, if, after centuries of hiding, at some point, God “will no longer hide himself,” his manifestation must be an extraordinary phenomenon and not merely symbolic.
One man saw as much of God as is humanly possible. His name was Moses. God hid Moses in a crag and shielded him with his “hand” and walked by him so-to-speak so that Moses saw his “back” but not his face. As a result of the close encounter afterward, Moses’ face emitted an incandescent glow, for which he had to wear a veil when before the Israelites. Could the revealing of the Grand Instructor be something similar? Paul hinted that such is the case when he compared anointed Christians to Moses, but who minister without the veil. The similarity is that Moses met Jehovah during the inauguration of the law covenant, whereas, those who belong to Christ will shine like the sun in the Kingdom when the new covenant is accomplished.
The 11th chapter of Revelation states concerning God’s two anointed witnesses: “These are symbolized by the two olive trees and the two lampstands and are standing before the Lord of the earth.”
The prophecy of Zechariah states: “These are the two anointed ones who are standing alongside the Lord of the whole earth.” — Zech 4:14
Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to realize the significance of the phrase “standing alongside the Lord.” The Greek word “parousia” literally means “being alongside.” The two witnesses, although unnamed, are portrayed as Moses and Elijah— recognizable by the miracles they perform. Both Moses and Elijah were “taken” by God— Moses literally and Elijah figuratively. Not coincidentally, these same two prophets appeared in the transfiguration vision standing alongside the glorious Lord of the whole earth. The two witnesses of Revelation, being symbolized by Moses— the mediator of the covenant— and Elijah— the foremost Hebrew prophet— suggests the conclusion of the Law and the prophets. Except, their appearance in Revelation, earmarked for fulfillment during the Lord’s day, signifies the conclusion of the new covenant and the Christian era.
The fact that there are two witnesses fulfills the requirement of the law— at the mouth of two witnesses, every matter is established. The two witnesses represent the remaining ones who will see the manifestation of Christ. Since Jesus is now the very representation of the Father and the Wonderful Counselor, Christ is, in fact, the Grand Instructor who will be revealed. Anointed Christians will experience his coming alongside them, similar to Christ’s many post-resurrection manifestations— only this time much more glorious. The chosen ones will then become his witnesses— standing before governors and kings— as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
In the 10th chapter of Matthew Jesus forewarned his disciples not to fear those who can only kill the body but cannot kill the soul. The three Hebrews demonstrated this principle. They were as good as dead, but Nebuchadnezzar could not kill their souls because they were true to God. Paul explained that those who are killed during the parousia will not sleep in death but will be changed in the twinkling of an eye and meet the Lord in the air. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego enacted this very thing as they stood in the midst of the inferno alongside someone like a son of the gods, indeed— the Lord of all the earth.
In the first century, many Christians were killed— including some of the apostles. We are certain they will be among the first souls resurrected to immortality while the remaining ones serve notice on the world.
In modern times Jehovah’s Witnesses have been persecuted, often over the same issue as arose in Babylon— refusing to pay homage to national emblems. Hitler’s campaign against the “Bible worms” was the most severe persecution to date. Still, the hour has not come about which Jesus forewarned when he said: “Men will expel you from the synagogue. In fact, the hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.” (John 16:2)
The inevitable implosion of the Watchtower during the conclusion will bring about a situation where many will be stumbled and brothers will turn on brothers. No doubt Watchtower loyalists will refuse to accept Christ when he comes. The sons of the Kingdom will be expelled from the synagogue. Parents will hand their children over to death and children their parents.
Jesus went on to say: “Two sparrows sell for a coin of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.” — Matt. 10:29-31
Just as the fire did not even singe the hair of the Jews in the furnace, the sealed ones— the real Jews— cannot be harmed even by death— their very hairs being numbered.
THE IMAGE OF THE WILD BEAST
In Revelation we are presented with another image— amazingly, this one speaks! A two-horned wild beast ascends from the bowels of the earth and promotes the worship of the seven-headed monstrosity that suffered a mortal head wound, but then revived. The 13th chapter states: “It misleads those who dwell on the earth, because of the signs that it was permitted to perform in the sight of the wild beast, while it tells those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the wild beast that had the sword-stroke and yet revived. And it was permitted to give breath to the image of the wild beast, so that the image of the wild beast should both speak and cause to be killed all those who refuse to worship the image of the wild beast.”
Just as was the case with Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image, worship of the talking image and the wild beast is mandatory. Let us no longer delude ourselves with the Watchtower’s half-baked notion that the League of Nations was once the image of the beast or the equally preposterous idea that the United Nations has already become the eighth king. Most foolish of all is the Watchtower’s insistence that the wild beast suffered a mortal head-wound as a result of the First World War. You may be certain that none of these things have come to pass. All things having to do with the Lord’s day are in the immediate future.
The fatal wound upon the head of the beast portends the swift and unexpected downfall of the presently ruling Anglo-American dyad. Already at this late date, the world’s premier superpower stands at the edge of a yawning abyss of debt. The sudden collapse of the dollar— the world’s reserve currency for the past 75 years— will serve as the death-blow for the entire beastly system. Whatever entity comes back to life will not resemble the land of liberty. That is why Revelation reveals that the two-horned beast that ascends up from the earth— from the grave— will begin speaking like a dragon.
Jehovah’s angel revealed to Daniel that he (the angel) stood up as a strengthener of Darius, the king of Persia. This account reveals that although Persia was ruled over by a demonic prince the righteous angels can impose God’s will upon rulers in order to accomplish the divine purpose.
We should not suppose, though, that the occasion with Darius was unique. Given that Satan is the god of this world without the intervention of Christ God’s will could never be accomplished. Hence, Paul exhorted his fellow Christians to pray in behalf of kings and those in high stations so that we may go one leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion. (1 Tim 2:2) In order for that prayer to be answered would that not require Christ to intervene to restrain the dark overlords? Surely, we have greatly benefited from the relative calm and quiet afforded by the nations of the so-called Free World.
The mortal blow inflicted upon Satan’s wild beast will bring an abrupt end to peace. Does not the scripture say that the fiery colored horseman takes peace from the earth? That is why Revelation also goes on to say: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is meant for captivity, he will go into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. This is where it calls for endurance and faith on the part of the holy ones.”
Although it is doubtful that anyone has an ear at this stage, the coming collapse will serve as a rousing wake-up call. Or as Jehovah says in Joel: “Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you wine drinkers, because the sweet wine has been taken from your mouths. For a nation has come up into my land, mighty and without number. Its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and its jaws are those of a lion. It has devastated my vine and turned my fig tree into a stump, stripping them completely bare and tossing them aside, leaving their twigs white.”
The locust onslaught that denudes the fertile fields represents the end of the worldwide preaching and teaching work. The 13th chapter of Revelation confirms this, saying of the beast that revives: “It was permitted to wage war with the holy ones and conquer them, and it was given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.”
To underscore the absurdity of the Watchtower’s teaching concerning these vital matters, Revelation states: “It puts under compulsion all people—the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slaves—that these should be marked on their right hand or on their forehead, and that nobody can buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name. This is where it calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the number of the wild beast, for it is a man’s number, and its number is 666.”
Let the spokesmen for Jehovah’s earthly organization explain how the League of Nations or its’ successor has compelled the people of the world to obey. Let them expound upon the facts that show how Jehovah’s people have been prevented from buying or selling because of their refusal to accept the mark of the beast. The fact is, the Watchtower’s interpretation of Revelation is pure fiction— mere myth.
Although the details are not discernible at this point, anyone who is aware of the goings-on in the world knows that a plan is in operation to do away with the democratic, nation-state system and install a world government and a new financial system— devoid of cash.
There is no question that on any given day the central banks can intentionally detonate the implosion of the money system and bring the nations to their knees. The United Nations may well become the headquarters of the eighth king in the aftermath of the now-impending crash.
The technology is in place to regulate all financial transactions. Facial recognition and biometrics allow for our every move to be tracked and recorded. China has pioneered the use of such technology to create a social credit scoring system. Purchases are made using smartphones and buyers can be rewarded or punished for infractions. If your social score is rated poorly citizens may be prevented from traveling on public transportation. Such a system could be imposed that would require all people to pledge an oath of loyalty to the beast with every purchase. And because at that time the beast will be speaking as a dragon— channeling Satan himself— any relative subjection to the superior authorities then will amount to worshipping the Devil.
This worship-the-idol-or-die scenario is what we will be confronted with when the beast arises from the abyss. That is the situation that will call for endurance and faith on the part of the holy ones.
That is what was played out on the plain of Dura.
Regarding the 666 being a man’s number, Nebuchadnezzar represents the man. As previously mentioned, the entire metallic image with the head of gold represents the eighth king. Elsewhere in prophecy, Babylon is portrayed as the last kingdom that serves as the executioner of Jehovah’s judgments. For example the 13th chapter of Isaiah says of Babylon: “Listen! A crowd in the mountains; it sounds like a numerous people! Listen! The uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathered together! Jehovah of armies is mustering the army for war. They are coming from a distant land, from the extremity of the heavens, Jehovah and the weapons of his wrath, to bring ruin to all the earth. Wail, for the day of Jehovah is near! It will come as a destruction from the Almighty.”
to be continued…