It was in the darkest of days that God spoke the most glorious of words: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). Here Martyn Lloyd-Jones comments on the encouragement this should bring us today:
King Nebuchadnezzar has had that dream which Daniel alone was able to recall and interpret. Now the precise time when all this happened was this: The children of Israel, because of their sins, had been conquered by Babylon and carried away into captivity. Jerusalem had been destroyed, the Temple was in ruins, and all that Israel had prided herself on, in a sense, lay there in desolate and hopeless condition. The land was derelict and the Israelites captives, indeed slaves, under the domination of Nebuchadnezzar. It was one of the lowest points in the history of Israel. They were the people of God, the people to whom God had made his promises, but here they were in this miserable and seemingly hopeless condition. But it was just there and then, in such a situation, that this tremendous thing happened and this message was given to them, full of hope and bright future, full of a certainty which nothing could remove and destroy.
Here is something thoroughly typical of God’s method, something that runs through the Bible as a recurring theme, even at the very beginning of Genesis. Watch those men on whom God has set his affections; constantly he allows them to get into some hopeless position. There they are feeling utterly disconsolate and their enemies are full of a sense of triumph and of rejoicing. But suddenly God comes in and the whole situation is changed.
Now that has always been God’s method, and it is an essential part of the message of the Christian faith, illustrated most perfectly of all in the coming of the Son of God into the world. When the Lord Jesus was born into this world, once more the situation was completely hopeless. Since the prophet Malachi there had been no word from God, as it were; for 400 long years there had been no true prophet in Israel. God seemed to be silent. The children of Israel seemed to be abandoned, and their country conquered by Rome. It was into that kind of situation, when it was least expected, that God did the greatest thing of all—he sent his only begotten Son into the world to rescue and redeem men.
That is the great thing that stands out in the whole history of the Christian Church; and that is why this message is of such comfort and strength to Christian people at the present time. How often the Christian Church has seemed to be at the very end of its tether—lifeless, helpless and hopeless. Her enemies had become loud, proud and arrogant, convinced that Christianity was finished; the doors of the churches seemed about to be shut for the last time. A bleak midwinter had settled upon the Church, and then suddenly and quite unexpectedly God sent a mighty and glorious revival. That message stands out on the very surface, and it is quite clear in this prophecy. The prophecy was fulfilled literally and it has continued to be fulfilled in principle ever since. Therefore as we look at ourselves today and see the Christian church as but a dwindling remnant in this sinful, arrogant world, and many begin to feel hopeless and anxious about the future—here is the message of God. It has been God’s custom throughout the centuries to come and visit his people when they least expect it. Who knows but that round the corner there may be waiting for us a mighty and glorious revival of religion! Let us take hold of this great principle.
(Excerpted from A Light Has Dawned, a collection of articles drawn from the archives of Christianity Today.