Jesus Christ prophesied in detail the events that would occur before He returns. The Gospel of Luke records His summary of these events that will unfold just before “the end.” We are living in this short span of time now!
Notice that Jesus prophesied the world would enter a terrifying period: “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).
The Prophet Daniel prophesied about these same “times of the Gentiles.” God inspired Daniel to write a book of prophecy that is intended to be understood only in this end time (Daniel 12:4, 8-9). This is critical to understand. He revealed to Daniel which Gentile powers would rise to dominate the known world from his time to the time of Christ’s return. And He revealed something amazing about the leaders of these empires.
Daniel made intriguing and astonishing statements about these mighty leaders who would rise to rule the world. We need to think about these statements deeply. God tells us that these mighty military-political leaders have the minds of wild beasts! In other words, they no longer have a human mind.
‘A Beast’s Heart’
King Nebuchadnezzar rose to become the greatest leader ever of the powerful Babylonian Empire. God communicated to him through Daniel (Daniel 1). Daniel 2 records how God gave this king a dream and revealed through Daniel that it represented the coming Gentile world empires. Daniel 3 records three other Jewish captives giving Nebuchadnezzar a great witness when they refused to worship his idol; he cast them into a furnace, but God saved them, unharmed.
In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar states that he had another dream, this time of an enormous and fruitful tree. Then “a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven” who proclaimed that the tree would be cut down, a band of iron and brass affixed to the stump, and the stump left out in the open in the dew and among the grass and the beasts (verses 13-15).
“Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him” (verse 16).
This is a striking prophecy. As the rest of this chapter shows, Nebuchadnezzar’s spiritual advisers, who served other gods, were again unable to explain the dream. But God used Daniel to show that the tree represented Nebuchadnezzar himself and that his greatness would be cut down in such a way that he would not even live like a normal man but instead like a wild animal!
God allowed Satan the devil to change Nebuchadnezzar’s heart from that of a man to that of a beast! What a terrifying curse. To have the mind of a beast means to be insane!
Why did God allow this? “[T]o the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (verse 17). God made Nebuchadnezzar learn that lesson by punishing him in a way that nobody else had been before.
Nebuchadnezzar was ignorant and unyielding to God’s rule, His law and the way to peace. This has been true of most people throughout history—even most who think they are Christians. But what happened to Nebuchadnezzar went far beyond that: This great king was reduced to thinking like a wild, ravenous beast.
In the Plain Truth of September 1955, under the leadership of founder Herbert W. Armstrong, Dr. Herman Hoeh wrote, “Jesus understood that this prophetic vision of the great tree had reference to the times of the Gentiles, as well as to Nebuchadnezzar’s literal punishment.” He then quoted Daniel 4:17 and concluded: “So the Bible itself interprets this prophecy to have reference not only to the king of Babylon in that day, but also to teach the living—yes, all of the nations today—that God is Supreme Ruler” (emphasis mine throughout).
What does it mean that Nebuchadnezzar’s heart—his mind—was changed from that of a man to that of a beast?
Our Creator made human beings with a mind like His. With His help, we can learn to think like God! But that mind can be damaged and changed to the point that it is the opposite of God. We see this playing out frequently in the world around us. It is a danger we all need to beware.
Dr. Hoeh made the important point that this king represented the entire kingdom of Babylon. Daniel 7:17 and 23, for example, use these two words interchangeably.
In Daniel 2, God characterized the Babylonian Empire that Nebuchadnezzar led as gold. He then prophesied that after his empire, another, “silver” empire would rise, then one like bronze, then one like iron mixed with clay (verses 31-33, 37-38). History shows that these subsequent empires were Persian, Greco-Macedonian and Roman.
In Daniel 7, these same four empires, in the same sequence, are depicted. But here they appear as “four great beasts” (verse 3).
Again, we can view the leaders of those kingdoms as representatives of and prophetically interchangeable with the kingdoms themselves. And these world-ruling leaders had the heart of a beast! Their minds and their passions were fixed on world conquest. It bothered them not at all to oppress and even kill millions of people in pursuit of that goal!
This is what Nebuchadnezzar’s experience warns us about. He was cursed to live life like an actual beast. Only God could correct that problem, and in this case, He did so. After that punishment, God allowed the king’s understanding and reason to return (Daniel 4:33-37). God gave him a man’s heart once again.
But what a lesson that history teaches us! “King Nebuchadnezzar because of his stubborn refusal to submit to the rule of God—the only way that would have brought him peace of mind and satisfaction—was punished seven years by having his mind changed to that of a wild animal—until he learned that God ruled. He was dethroned and lived among the wild beasts,” Dr. Hoeh wrote. “In like manner, the Chaldean Empire, of which he was a type, was defeated and its dominion was taken from it. But just as Nebuchadnezzar continued to live like a wild beast, so the Babylonian system has continued with leaders having the minds of wild beasts: The Persians, Greeks, Romans—Europeans even to the days of Hitler and Mussolini—have all been cursed with leaders who think and act like wild animals, leaders who glory in war and conquest.”
How sobering! The leaders of these great powers no longer had the minds of human beings. They had the hearts of wild, raving beasts! That is why these empires are called beasts: They were ruled by men who took on the mind of a beast!
There is a crucial spiritual dimension to such a transformation. These men who became so brutal simply gave themselves over to an evil spirit. Such beastly thinking is inspired by Satan the devil!
There are several biblical examples of Satan influencing or even possessing human leaders. One powerful instance, found in Ezekiel 28, begins by talking about the “prince of Tyrus,” a human leader. This man had satanic arrogance! God tells him, “[T]hine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God” (verse 2). Clearly you see Satan-inspired thinking. Then in verse 12, God transitions to addressing “the king of Tyrus”—and this is obviously speaking of Satan himself, formerly the archangel Lucifer! This shows that this evil being had actually come to possess that king!
Most or all of the leaders of these world-ruling beastly powers were, at times, possessed by the devil! They did not have a human mind, or heart.
The God of This World
As terrifying as this truth is, you must realize that Satan does not restrict his efforts to a few powerful leaders. In fact, even among the masses of humanity, Satan is widely worshiped! 2 Corinthians 4:4 reveals Satan as “the god of this world.” He rules this world! Revelation 12:9 says he has deceived the whole world! Most people do not realize they are worshiping the devil. In fact, 2 Corinthians 11:14 shows that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
It is deeply alarming how susceptible the human mind is to such influence. Your mind is the most precious thing you have! You need to understand that, because it can be so easily damaged. Young people’s minds are often wrecked while they are still young. What a terrible tragedy. You must guard your mind.
What happens when Satan gets control of a political ruler who has power over many people? It is a satanic curse, and people have no idea where such leadership will take them.
Other world leaders will try to work with them and use diplomacy and talk peace and so forth, like Neville Chamberlain did with Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain kept giving in to Hitler, gaining nothing and giving away everything—up to and including a major chunk of Czechoslovakia. He did it so that the world could have peace, he thought. And after conceding so much to that man, he returned to England, waved the signed agreement in the air, and called it “Peace for our time.” Six months later, Hitler invaded all of Czechoslovakia. Less than six months after that, he invaded Poland and started World War ii. He plunged the world into the worst conflict in human history, killing 60 million people and demoniacally mass-murdering 6 million Jews. That is the mind of a beast!
When we are dealing with such a mind and fail to recognize it, that is deadly dangerous! Diplomacy does not work with such a man: He no longer has a man’s mind!
“Not one of the beasts, which followed the Chaldean Empire as described in Daniel 7, [had] a man’s heart,” Dr. Hoeh wrote. “They all were like ferocious, wild animals—conquering, pillaging, destroying one another by intrigue, alliances and war.”
King Nebuchadnezzar exalted his empire and himself, and God made him eat grass like a beast. God was showing everybody then and He is showing the world now that He will essentially do this to every world leader who has behaved like a beast. He is going to humble them like He did Nebuchadnezzar! He showed the world that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men! Yes, God has allowed men, deceived by Satan, to build their own nations and their own world and exert their own will, but that does not change the fact that He is the ultimate Ruler of all the universe. And the time is coming soon when He will replace the kingdoms of this world with the Kingdom of God on Earth!
As Jesus Christ proclaimed in His true gospel message, He is about to return for the purpose of ending man’s rule over man. Human beings do not know how to rule! Men never had the authority or even the capacity to rule over and control other men. The very first human beings rejected God, and He has allowed it. Ever since, we have taken for granted that men will form governments and rule over other men. Only God has that authority and that ability, and He is allowing us to prove our ineptitude the hard way. The beastly rule of Gentile empires is about to prove this reality in a terribly bloody and horrific way.
The entire reason Jesus Christ will return—must return—is to end the governments of man and reestablish the government of God over the whole Earth! That is what the stone smashing the Gentile empires in the vision of Daniel 2 represents.
Look at the nations today. You see great powers that have no misgivings about subverting, pillaging or destroying another nation when it suits them, simply because they want land or wealth. How many dangerous nations do you see like that in the world around you today?
And which nations are they? They are Gentile nations. That means they did not descend from ancient Israel. The modern nations that originated from the 12 tribes of biblical Israel include the United States, Britain, the Jewish state of Israel and most of the English-speaking nations. These nations have been blessed mightily by God—not because they are better or because they are His favorites, but because He wants to use them to bring all mankind away from Satan’s influence and into a relationship with Him. (Prove this truth by reading The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong. We will gladly send you a free copy upon request.) Because of these nations’ history with God, in general they have lived in closer accord with God’s law and truth and have historically been far less bloody and brutal than other nations.
Look again at the prophecy of Daniel 2. The fourth empire, made of iron, is the Roman Empire. Once those Gentile nations are taken over by an evil spirit, they become strong like iron. You definitely saw that in the mighty Roman Empire! But note: In this end time, the final resurrection of that iron empire will combine with nations that are like “miry clay,” which will weaken it considerably. The miry clay symbolizes Israelite nations, which have grown quite weak. Prophecy shows that some Israelite peoples will throw in their lot with an end-time European empire, but, just as iron does not bond with clay, that combination will not last long at all.
Study the rest of Daniel’s prophecy and you see that God will punish all of these men as He did Nebuchadnezzar. He is going to cause them to know Him. The inspiring prophecy of Micah 4:1-3 shows how God will give them a chance to repent, overcome their evil, and contribute to a peaceful world.
‘The Days of Vengeance’
Jesus Christ’s prophecies and other prophetic scriptures show that the Israelite nations are going to fall, and then the world will suffer “the times of the Gentiles.” One great Gentile power is rising in the Middle East, led by Iran, but it is going to be destroyed by the greater Gentile power in Europe. Then Europe will war against the other great Gentile power, Asia, led by Russia. (Request The King of the South, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and Russia and China in Prophecy for proof.)
These two enormous powers—Europe and Asia—are going to clash spectacularly! With corpses already littering a war-scorched Earth, they will be bracing for a battle that will lead to the destruction of all human flesh and even all animal flesh! This can only be stopped by Jesus Christ Himself!
“For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22). Here is a monumental, staggering statement: All this prophecy, 90 percent of which is for our day, will be fulfilled. It is already coming to pass before your eyes! You can see exactly what Jesus Christ prophesied.
What does all this mean to you and to me?
“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (verse 24). Jerusalem was the capital of ancient Israel. It is used here as a prophetic term for Israel’s modern descendants—principally the U.S., UK and the Jewish state. This means that these nations are going to be brought to ruin!
God is warning us! Even in 1955, Dr. Hoeh was talking about this, and you could see even then how this prophecy could happen; some of it was already coming to pass. Today, however, it is far more advanced and far plainer to recognize.
Doesn’t the fact that Jesus Christ Himself prophesied this give us reason to prove it to ourselves? You certainly can prove it, and you should!
The Kingdom Is Near
Christ wants us to learn something important. He says this about these times of the Gentiles: “And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:29-31).
That is a powerful scripture!
Notice: You will be able to see these events occurring. And when you do, you can know that God’s Kingdom is almost here! Jesus Christ is about to return!
These beastly leaders and beastly empires clashing and crushing millions and billions of people is a horrific end to mankind’s rebellion against God. But it is also a great sign that Jesus Christ will return soon! He must, or all human flesh would be destroyed by our weapons of mass destruction and our evil human nature.
Christ said that when you see these events unfold, you can know the Second Coming is near, “even at the doors”! (Matthew 24:33). It is extremely close, and we can see that! We can also see how to listen to God and be saved from these terrible destructions. God is sending His message as a witness against those who reject it, and also so some people will see and repent.
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (verses 34-35). What a promise! You can know that every word of God will come to pass! He explains all of this to warn us so we will act on it. God wants us to realize the danger we are in in these times, and He gives us a chance to repent.
Many people are going to suffer and die terrible deaths as the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. But thankfully, the Bible also teaches that all those who have not known God, who have not been called into His true Church, will be resurrected in the future and given the chance to know God and be begotten and then born into His Family. Most will accept that chance after seeing what terrible results we have had in 6,000 years of rejecting God and insisting on man’s misrule over man.
‘Escape All These Things’
Jesus Christ prophesied that, when the world descends into nuclear war, most people will be caught off guard (Matthew 24:36-39). But He gave us all these signs so we will recognize what is happening. “Watch therefore …. [B]e ye also ready,” He commands us (verses 42, 44).
Christ also said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
He said you can escape the suffering and death that so many will experience under these beastly Gentile leaders and their armies. What an opportunity! What a blessing! You can understand Jesus Christ and His message. You can understand Bible prophecy. You can understand the world events unfolding before your eyes.
Notice Christ’s warning to us in Matthew 24:41: “Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” A woman is a prophetic symbol for a church. This is talking about two churches who are doing a work, “grinding at the mill”—one is taken and protected by God from this horrific tribulation, but the other is left to endure all that suffering because they weren’t really serving God and didn’t heed God’s message!
Very soon, your very life will be dependent upon whether you are watching and praying, and whether you are supporting God’s Work!
We are deep into the times of the Gentiles already. You can see it happening. Look at Iran. Look at Europe especially, and at Asia. The times of the Israelite powers are over!
And the power of the armaments and weapons that are proliferating on Earth today truly should make the reality of Christ’s warnings very real to us.
God is reaching out! He created man with a godly type mind. He wants us to use that mind and choose to submit to Him and His laws. Tragically, we have refused to do that for 6,000 years, and we have killed each other like beasts. God is going to show us the results of our rebellion. And when we are on the brink of leaving no flesh saved alive on this planet, He is going to save us from ourselves.
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (verse 30). The powers of this world will mourn because Christ’s return ends their rule. But when this glorious event happens, those who love Christ and serve God will rejoice!
There is hope! And that hope is in the governments of man being smashed like the image of Daniel 2 and replaced with the literal, global government of Jesus Christ on Earth from Jerusalem!