According to Nebuchadnezzar's dream everyone on earth will one day be ruled by the government represented by the legs and feet of the statue. This fourth kingdom represents classical Rome and the end-time revival of its influence over Europe and the Western world. At one time Rome was a government of unrivaled military power, yet of such low moral fiber that the tribes and nations they conquered had a higher standard than they. (Their own historians recorded this.) Today's decline in moral fiber is one indication that western society is being affected by the spiritual influence of that fourth kingdom.
Let's take a closer look at what life is like under the shadow of the statue. One aspect of its influence can be seen in the realm of sports. Human beings have always had games, but the Greeks first and then the Romans later set them up as goals in themselves worthy of devoting one's entire life to. By competing for prizes and the recognition of other men, they were in effect devoting themselves to what others thought of them, instead of living for what God thought of them. The highest purpose a man could live for was the brief exhilaration of one moment of triumph. For centuries men strove for those quickly-fading moments of glory. How little dignity people like that have! How strange that God's people would let themselves get caught up in things of this nature!
Today many good Christians think of sports as a healthy outlet for their teenagers. They train them to devote their hearts and bodies and to strive for the glory that comes only from man.1 Do you think the Master or the Apostle Paul would have taken time from their lives of faith to watch the games staged in the stadium in Jerusalem? While it stood only a hundred yards from the temple itself, it is never even mentioned in the New Testament.
Another legacy of the Greeks which the Romans adopted was education for its own sake. Both viewed cultivating the mind as important a discipline as the development of a healthy body. The gymnasium, a place of exercise and athletic events, was also a place for lectures to stimulate the mind. The Greeks set standards for intellectual achievement that are still honored in every field of study. The Word of God exposes such pursuit of knowledge apart from the fear of God as folly.2 Yet this is the standard upheld in the public schools and universities today. How many teachers in public school say in their hearts, "There is no God"?3
Perhaps the most valued legacy of Rome, though, was its tradition that government exists to uphold law and order so that citizens can freely buy and sell. Their society glorified wealth and the independence it seemed to offer. Yet, this life of individual striving after wealth had profound moral consequences. It fostered an atmosphere of moral permissiveness that has remained unrivaled until our own day. You can see this in the Apostle Paul's description of the Roman world recorded in Romans l:18-32. It is uncanny how vividly his description fits our own day. That's because we live in the midst of a similar society.
The toleration, if not outright promotion, of immoral or perverted sex is everywhere. Popular music, television, plays and literature are so loaded with it that what would have been considered pornography a generation ago is called "popular culture" today. The side effects of this moral decline can be seen in all the human tragedies, broken relationships, guilt, unwanted children, continual abortions, STD's and AIDS itself. Even for Christians there is a constant pressure to give up or compromise, even in small ways, the high standard of the Word of God. After all, Paul charged the believers in Ephesus to not allow these things to even be mentioned among them.4 He goes on to say, "No fornicator ... has any inheritance in the kingdom of God."5 What does this mean for all the Christian churches that regularly report the same rate of sexual immorality among their teenagers as that of their non-Christian peers? And what about the acceptance of sodomy and the continued spread of AIDS in Christianity? Claiming to worship Jesus Christ, there are now many large, active groups of sodomites clamoring loudly for full acceptance by their "brothers in the Lord." Denominations that at one time viewed such things as sin are now changing their teachings. Some of them are even ordaining sodomites as ministers. This atmosphere of moral permissiveness continues to spread despite the clear warning in the word of God that approving such deeds makes one worthy of death in the eyes of a righteous God.6
Our Master also warned His disciples about the pressures of making a living in this world, saying that they could not serve God and riches.7 This same economic pressure will be used by the beast of Revelation to cause all mankind to come under his rule. He "causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark."8 That pressure is at work on all mankind right now to begin to prepare them and their children for that evil rule.
There will be some who long for deliverance from all of this. They will be formed into the Stone Kingdom and will uphold the righteous standard of the Word of God. Even now the influence of the statue's rule in their lives is coming to an end.