King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream around 600 years before the appearance of Jesus, which he struggled to interpret. He summoned the help of magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, and enchanters, expecting them to interpret his dream without giving them any details about it. They protested, telling him that no one could ever interpret a dream of someone who wouldn’t share the details, so Nebuchadnezzar did what all good kings of the time did: he had them executed.
When Daniel heard about this event, he prayed to God for help in interpreting the dream, which God then revealed to him. Then he approached Nebuchadnezzar and said the following:
“‘Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.’
‘This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.’
After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.’
‘In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.’”
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was later fulfilled. The first kingdom was Babylon under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar; the second was the Medo-Persian kingdom under Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian; the third was the Greek kingdom under Alexander the Great; and the fourth was the Roman Empire under numerous emperors. Jesus appeared during the Roman Empire around 2 B.C.
Daniel (9) also predicted the timing of Jesus’ appearance.
“From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
Scholars such as Harold Hoehner have determined that the most likely date for the rebuilding of Jerusalem occurred in 444 B.C. when King Artaxerxes issued a decree so Nehemiah could rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Using a 360-day Jewish calendar and counting down from 70 sevens less 7 (483 years) and skipping a “zero” year brings us to the year 33 A.D. Numerous scholars have found support for April 3, 33 as Jesus’ crucifixion date.
Throughout Jesus’ 3-year ministry, He often indicated that it was not yet His time to come out as the Messiah to the people of Israel. His time came on Monday of the Passion Week when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 and was recognized by His children as the Messiah. The Last Supper followed on Thursday of that week when He was arrested, beaten, and charged with blasphemy by the Jewish Pharisees.
“But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One’
‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
They had Him crucified on Good Friday. Just as prophesied by Daniel, the Anointed One was cut off in 33 and the “sanctuary,” or Jewish 2nd Temple, was destroyed by the Romans in 70. Malachi (3:1) said the Anointed One would appear in the 2nd Temple where Jesus often preached.
As you know, this isn’t the end of the story. Jesus resurrected on the third day, just as He had promised. He appeared over a 40-day period individually and in groups to His female disciples, Peter, the twelve, a crowd of five-hundred, His ½ brother James, and to Paul. These appearances were documented in the Gospels and in a Christian creed that Paul recorded in 1 Corinthians 15. Even agnostic and atheistic scholars acknowledge the creed was written within five years of Jesus’ resurrection, debunking any notions of Jesus as a mere legend.
Jesus’ apostles had their work cut out for them. They began their ministries in times of great tribulation and Christian persecution.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Following the great fire in Rome in 64 A.D., tradition holds that Peter was crucified upside down by Nero who had pinned the blame for the fire on Christians. Peter was executed at the base of Vatican hill in Rome and buried in a necropolis. Over the centuries to follow, other Christian disciples were sporadically persecuted and martyred by the Roman Emperors.
In 313, the Roman Emperor Constantine 1 finally granted Christians legal status. In 324, he built a basilica over St. Peter’s tomb, which a succession of popes expanded over the centuries to follow into what we know today as the Vatican in Rome, Italy.[i]
As Nebuchadnezzar’s dream prophesied, the Roman Empire split into its East and West halves (between 285 and 395). The Emperor Constantine founded Constantinople, which was the powerful capital of the East, while Rome was the much weaker capital of the West. The West eventually crumbled while the East thrived for another 1,000 years. Amidst the ruins of the Roman Empire in the West, the Roman Catholic Church grew and established its legitimacy in the centuries to come throughout Europe.
In medieval times, between 500 and 1,500, Catholics built breath-taking churches such as the Piazza Duomo in Milan, Italy, and the Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris, France. Pope Sixtus IV directed the building of the Sistine Chapel in 1479, where Pietro Perugino painted an image of Jesus handing St. Peter the keys to the Church in 1482 and where Michelangelo painted numerous Biblical images onto its ceiling between 1508 and 1512. Catholic clergymen, political authorities, artists, scientists, intellectuals, and lay persons thrived during medieval times and Christian values and ideas permeated the West.
By the 18th century, we know that certain truths were held to be self-evident, as codified on July 4, 1776 in the United States Declaration of Independence.
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Though at the time of its inception, only white male landowners were given full rights, the ideas brought forth from the founding fathers of the United States established a firm foundation for other nations to emulate and build upon. Today, similar axioms are recorded in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Humans are entitled to equality of opportunities and the rights to life, justice, and equity.
Today’s axioms were unheard of in Aristotle’s time in the 4th century, B.C. Aristotle and other philosophers and scholars living in ancient times believed humans varied in value – with women and slaves having lesser values than warriors and men who were free.
Jesus presented Himself as an “ebed,” or servant/slave who came to serve others and to serve the Most High Father. He broke the norms of His time by equalizing females with males and slaves with the free. He had both male and female apostles, yet while His male apostles hid in the time around His crucifixion, His female apostles were the first to discover His empty tomb.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
During the Renaissance, which began around 1300 and ended with the fall of Rome in 1527, the foundations upon which the Catholic Church had been built started to crack. People such as Martin Luther questioned its authority with his 95 theses on the Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences in 1517. Henry VII, Augustine the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ecclesiastical Commissioners founded the competing Church of England in 1534.
In the following centuries, the cracks on Christian foundations have grown. Numerous intellectuals have discounted tradition, religion, absolute truths, and objective moral values and duties in favor of reason, secularism, modernism, postmodernism, and moral relativism.
Today, the cracks are most pronounced in political movements and ideologies that are determined to eliminate our Christian beliefs and structures. The drive by some to destroy traditional family units, eliminate the patriarchy, and view life through the lenses of victimhood and power and oppression have fueled radical far leftist values and atheistic or Marxist agendas. They decry capital punishment for those guilty of murder while advocating for the murder of the innocent unborn. Their values are perverse and in opposition to our conscience.
What would Jesus do? He addressed the radical feminist movement when He gave us the Lord’s Prayer, which begins with “Our FATHER who art in heaven.” He addressed the destruction of the family unit when He said that marriage was between one man and one woman and divorce was only acceptable in cases of adultery. He addressed abortion through the words of Jeremiah the prophet.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jesus stood for peace, love, freedom, human dignity, and servant leadership. And how did the people of His time repay Him for His miracles, wisdom, and love? One of His twelve chosen apostles betrayed Him and the “strong bulls of Bashan” beat Him, spat at Him, stripped Him of His clothing, and crucified Him. Rather than claiming victimhood and scorning His earthly enemies, Jesus forgave them. In doing so, He set the example for us of how we’re to live, lead, and love.
Just as prophesied around 700 years before Jesus’ arrival, the Suffering Servant was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. He then saw the light of day and was glorified by God. God glorifies those who walk with Him.
Jesus fulfilled over 330 prophecies in the Old Testament. Fulfilled prophecies are one of many strong indicators for the truth of the Bible and Christianity. In the Bible, we’re told that we’re made in God’s image, He loves us, He forgives us, and He holds us accountable. To prove His everlasting love for us, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Thank you for your time. This is in the introduction to a new book I’m writing, which is entitled “The Power of One.” If you would like a free copy when it’s complete, email me at Alwayslearning1225@gmail.com.
SJ Thomason is a professor of business management whose research interests include cross-cultural psychology, personality, ethical decision-making, and personal values. She holds a Ph.D. in business administration from an AACSB-accredited university. She was raised as a Catholic, but she left the faith in her 20s in a quest for the truth. Jesus became very obvious to her years later through a variety of deep and insightful spiritual experiences. She’s since become a member of a Baptist church.
 Daniel 2: 31-49
 Daniel 9:25-27
 Mark 14:61-62
 John 2:19-21
 Luke recorded Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the paths His disciples took in the book of Acts. Peter and Paul were most prominently featured, yet their martyrdoms in the early 60s were not recorded. Luke only recorded the martyrdoms of Stephen and James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee. These exclusions suggest Acts was written prior to Peter and Paul’s martyrdoms. Luke indicated that he wrote Acts after he wrote Luke – and scholars believe Luke was written after Mark and Matthew.
 Mark 16:18
 Galatians 3:28
 Jeremiah 1:5
 Isaiah 53
 John 15:13