Of Kennedy and Empire

The passing of Senator Ted Kennedy brings to mind the words of the wise man; “There is an appointed time for everything,” including “a time to die” (Eccl.3.1, 2). Every time we hear of death, it reminds us that we are finite. The idea of ‘coming to an end’ is a prison that mortals seek to escape. Whether one claims to be a theist or not, we all crave a different world where the pain of indefinite separation will not burden us because it will cease to exist. Indefinite separation must die. In order for this to happen, we must separate indefinitely from our present world and embrace a new one. The death of this American icon comes at a strategic time when Christians should be reflecting on the coming death of this world. This will include the death of the ‘empire-like’ United States. We may mourn the death of the Senator (pray for his family) and our love ones, but let us not mourn for the passing of the kingdoms of this world.

In Daniel chapter 2, the death of the world is presented in dreams to Nebuchadnezzar and the Seer (another word for prophet. See 1 Sam. 9.9). The dreams were given within the context of a changing world. This was especially true for Daniel who had witness the conquest of his nation by the Babylonians (Dan. 1.1, 2). So even from the very start of the book a kingdom is being subdued and another is portrayed as taking over. Though the Babylonian statesmen, Generals, or king may feel that it is because of their brilliance or the power of their god that they are a conquering machine, Daniel presents a different worldview. After calmly speaking of the coming of Nebuchadnezzar and the besieging of Jerusalem (1.1), he simply states; “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand” (1.2). Not that the Babylonians took, but that ‘Adonay handed the nation over. God is in charge of the destiny of nations.

This same God gave a vision to both Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel depicting the kingdoms of the world from Babylon down to our day. He does so by showing them one statue made of different materials from top to bottom (2. 32, 33). This is followed by a stone, cut from a mountain “without hands” (2.45), that came and struck the toes of the statue resulting in the destruction of the whole structure (2.34, 35a). The dream revealed that the kingdoms of the world will not go on forever but will come to a violent and sudden end. They will be shattered to pieces and God will establish His everlasting kingdom (2.44).

Whether we accept it or not the kingdoms of this world will be destroyed. Christians should never forget that. This should affect our attachments to this world and its political leaders. We must be grounded in the truth that the nations are only here for a time. Just like death strikes political giants it will also strike the nations. Have you thought of this lately?

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4 comments on “Of Kennedy and Empire

  1. No, I have not thought of this lately.But thanks for the reminder. I think it is a very timely article: we must understand that there is a time for everything, indeed. And most importantly, we need to learn to prepare for each season. Anyhow, the passing of Senator Kennedy is sad news. Let’s keep his family in our prayers.

  2. Yes I think of this often, the problem I have with thinking of this often is that I do not hear the warning from our Church much anymore. I do not see much in the teaching of Daniel and Revelation and this concerns me. By beholding we become change and change comes by hearing and hear by the Word of God.
    Great article and welcome reminder!

  3. Hey Denise,

    Thanks for the comment. It seems to me that problem with the church concerning prophecy is two-sided. The first side is that the church has to find a creative ways to communicate this part of scripture in a fast-paced world. The second side is for the members of the church to get back to “studying” the bible, instead of simply “reading” it. Studying and reading is necessary, but one section gets promoted over the other.

    Jerry

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