The Dream Is Certain
Martin Luther King Jr. said that he had a dream of a time when people would respect each other no matter their race. Will his dream come true? If so, how?
On Aug. 28, 1963, in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his most famous speech. Known as the “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King eloquently articulated his belief in a time when all men would treat each other with respect and equality.
He said, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. … I have a dream that … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
His speech and his leading of various protests propelled the Baptist minister into the center of controversy. Some resisted the status quo. Some attacked his character—for he had well-documented personal faults. Some supported his efforts. Some African-Americans decried his peacefully orchestrated demonstrations, claiming they were too weak.
Though assassinated on April 4, 1968, Dr. King’s efforts sparked civil rights legislation that helped reduce institutional racism in the United States. Many people remember or have heard of his “I Have a Dream” speech. While the history is easy to document, the more difficult question is whether his dream will become a reality.
An assessment of racial equality
In the United States, most people acknowledge that racial tensions still exist. Although progress has been made, there are still nagging remnants of racial prejudice. Recently controversy has arisen over the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations for actors. Critics note that every acting contender is white and that there are no women nominated in several categories. They further state that this is a repeat of what occurred last year.
Mass shootings by Muslim terrorists have also ignited fears and spirited debate. One presidential candidate has said he would prohibit all Muslims from entering the United States until reforms are made to the screening process to ensure no terrorists enter the country. This idea, though largely condemned by nearly all politicians, still resonates with many of the candidate’s supporters.
The Kingdom of God will be established here on earth when Christ returns, and it will bring the peace among nations and respect among individuals that Dr. King hoped for.An international problem
Racial and ethnic tensions are not limited to the United States. In Europe many countries are re-thinking their open borders as migrants fleeing war and poverty overwhelm the fledgling infrastructures that support them.
In Germany hundreds of women reported being sexually assaulted by young Muslim men—presumably refugees—on New Year’s eve as they were out celebrating. The reaction has led to widespread anger by Germans against Angela Merkel’s welcoming of refugees and has lent credibility to a growing number of right-wing Germans opposed to foreigners entering the country.
Even within religions, there can be distrust and hatred of fellow devotees. Consider the ongoing tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Saudi Arabia supports the former sect of Islam, while Iran supports the latter. Though tensions have long existed between these two Muslim countries, the recent execution of a Shiite cleric by the Saudis seemingly burst the dam.
An attack on the Saudi embassy in Iran quickly followed and prompted the Saudis to recall their diplomats and cut off trade and travel to Iran. Though both nations are adherents of Islam, they deeply distrust each other and have very different positions on the problems in the Middle East.
When asked about the signs that will precede His second coming, Jesus said, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7). The Greek word for “nation” in this passage is ethnos, denoting race, tribe, ethnicity. His point was that national and racial divisions will continue to spark violence up until the end of this age. Later He added, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (verse 22).
So what about Dr. King’s speech? Was it just a pipe dream? Was it a feel-good, imaginary vision for his followers that would never materialize into anything real?
Another dream provides the answer
Over 2,500 years ago, a great Babylonian king had a troubling dream that has implications for us today. As revealed in the Bible, God was making known to King Nebuchadnezzar what would happen in the latter days—the time prior to Christ’s return to earth. The king dreamed of an ornate image that was eventually destroyed by a stone that struck the image (Daniel 2:1-35). God, through Daniel, revealed the dream’s meaning.
In short, Daniel explained that the king’s dream represented four notable earthly kingdoms that would be followed by a kingdom established by God. As Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
“Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure” (Daniel 2:44-45, emphasis added). To learn more about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, see our article about Daniel 2.
The dream that King Nebuchadnezzar experienced “is certain.” The Kingdom of God will be established here on earth when Christ returns, and it will bring the peace among nations and respect among individuals that Dr. King hoped for. Nations that formerly were bitter enemies will work together in peace (Isaiah 19:24-25).
Dr. King’s dream will be fulfilled. It is certain.