Daniel 12:1-13 – End Of The Lines

I saw an interesting article yesterday. Prominent business leaders were told to “pretend you can only ask your candidates a single interview question…to base your entire hiring decision on.” Barbara Corcoran, the Shark-Tank-famous real estate mogul said, “Tell me about your family. If their family couldn’t give them a positive attitude, there’s nothing I can do that’s going to change it.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn’t do the one question thing. A biography written about his leadership style describes how Cook would “wear people down through an endless barrage of questions.” “He’ll ask you ten questions. If you answer them right, he’ll ask you ten more. If you do this for a year, he’ll start asking you nine questions. Get one wrong, and he’ll ask you 20 and then 30.”

In this final chapter, after receiving this overwhelming vision, Daniel will ask a single question. He won’t get the full answer he was hoping for, but we do. And that’s a pretty remarkable thing to think about. Let’s get into it.

Daniel 12:1a – “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people…

The time being referenced is the time of Antichrist’s reign over the world and his merciless war against the Jewish people and believers in Jesus Christ during the second half of the tribulation. During this period, we’re told, Michael the Archangel will take action in the heavenly realm.

Michael is mentioned in just 3 books of the Bible: Daniel, Jude and Revelation. But we know a little bit about him. He’s called an archangel, which is a particularly strong class of being. In Revelation 12 it seems he is on par with Satan in strength and position, in that he leads an army of angels just as Satan leads his angels. Here in Daniel 12 we learn that he has a special assignment to watch over the people of Israel. We’ve seen before that there are, apparently, angels and demons assigned to different geographic locations or people groups. Matthew 18, verse 10 suggests that angels may also have personal assignment to individuals.

In our text, we note that the strongest of angels is given to guard over Israel. The Jews really are God’s special, chosen people. He has not abandoned them or forgotten them. Now, before we feel jealous about Michael being assigned to Israel, we remember what Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3, where he said, “The Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” Our Bridegroom watches over us. By no means are we being short-changed.

Daniel 12:1b – …And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.

For those who suggest that Daniel and Revelation are fulfilled either by Antiochus Epiphanes or by the 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, this verse becomes a problem. Even though both of those periods were tragic for the Jews, they can’t be described as more terrible than anything that had happened since there ever was a nation. Add to that the fact that Jesus talked about this same period of time as Daniel is writing about and He said, “…there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved.” So, it’s clear that these things have not yet occurred. Charles Feinberg writes: “The best way to test whether this prophecy has been fulfilled already is to ask ourselves whether Israel has been delivered from her enemies. It was not true in the time of Nebuchadnezzar; it was not true in the time of Titus; and it is still not true in our present hour.”

We also note here that, just because the nation of Israel will be saved, that does not mean that every Jewish person will be. Deliverance on the individual level will still be determined by who is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Verse 2 brings that out.

Daniel 12:2 – 2And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Some systems of theology teach that there is just one, general resurrection, all at once. Typically that position is held by those who don’t believe in a literal Tribulation or Millennium. As PreMillennialist, PreTribulationists, we identify two resurrections: Revelation 20 calls them the first resurrection and the second. The first resurrection is of the righteous, but that resurrection does not happen at one single point in time. As we read the Bible, we see it taking place in stages. If someone balks at that idea, you can point out is that, every Christian believes that Jesus is already risen from the dead, right? Even those who hold to a single, general resurrection of all people from all eras will say that, of course, Jesus has already been raised. So, even to them, there are at least 2 stages to the resurrection.

As we read the Bible, we find there are in fact 3 stages to the first resurrection and 1 for the second.

When Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, He became the first fruits of the resurrection. Then, at the rapture of the Church, all the Believers who have died between Pentecost and the Rapture will be raised to life. That’s stage 2 of the first resurrection. Then, after the second coming, all of the Old Testament believers and the believers who died during the Tribulation will be raised. That’s what we see in Revelation 20 and here in Daniel 12. That’s the third phase. Then, after the 1,000 year reign of Jesus on the earth we have the second resurrection. That is all of the unbelieving dead from all ages of human history – from Cain all the way through the Millennium. They will be raised and sent to the Great White Throne Judgement. No one comes out of that Judgement saved.

Now, sometimes people take issue with this position that the first resurrection happens over 3 stages. However, it’s interesting to learn that, in Jewish society, the harvest had 3 stages. You had firstfruits. Then later a larger harvest of the main crop and then a third phase called the gleanings. The stuff gathered up at the end. It’s a wonderful picture of God’s plan for the first resurrection.

Daniel 12:3 – 3Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

God values, rewards and commands that we share His good news of salvation. Proverbs 11:30 says, “he who wins souls is wise.” We are sent to go out and labor in the harvest and bring back spiritual returns on the Lord’s investment. That’s an exciting thought, but it can also be a sobering thought. What can I do to be like the industrious servants who made good on the talents the Master gave them, rather than being like the one who simply buried those coins in the ground, deservedly bringing the Master’s anger upon himself?

Daniel 12:4 – 4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

There are lots of ideas tucked away in the two halves of this verse. Let’s take the first and talk about Daniel sealing up the book. Some scholars feel the word means that the book of Daniel will be sealed in the sense that it is secured and kept intact. That’s certainly been the case. All the words of his prophecies, we’ve seen, have been true and reliable.

Other scholars feel that the book was sealed in such a way that its full meaning was kept concealed until the time of the end. That seems to fit well with what we’re going to read in verse 8 and following. From where Daniel stood, there were many, many things on God’s to-do list before you could even start thinking about the Tribulation and the second coming. The Messiah hadn’t even come the first time yet! But now we’re in a much different position. The only item left on God’s prophetic calendar before the Tribulation is the rapture of the Church. Peter and Paul both talked about how we are in the last days. Hebrews 1 verse 2 says that in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son. And so now, as we look at Daniel, we may understand everything perfectly, but we can look back through history, we can harmonize it with the rest of Bible prophecy and get a pretty clear handle on what is being said, in a way that was sealed shut in previous centuries.

The second half of the verse also has that phrase: “many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase.” Scholars debate the exact meaning and context of this as well. Some point to Amos, chapter 8 where it uses similar language to describe people seeking the word of the Lord. In this way of thinking, the interpretation is that in the end times people will be scouring prophecy, specifically Daniel’s prophecy, trying to find understanding and answers. And, as many people run to and fro over God’s word, their knowledge of spiritual things will increase. There’s nothing wrong with that interpretation. And, clearly, we see much greater attention and emphasis being given to Bible prophecy now than has ever been before. Not just in the Church, but by the wider world as well.

But others suggest that this half of the verse is also giving us a marker to look out for – signs of the times. The Bible is big into us watching the prophetic weather, as it were. In that case, it’s easy to see that people move about the earth more quickly and easily than ever. As of 2014 there were over 100,000 flights per day. These days, we regularly hear talk of manned voyages to Mars. Sub-orbital flights from London to Sydney in less than an hour. All sorts of fantastic developments in travel.

As for knowledge increasing, I may not get much smarter, but the collection of accumulated data is growing at an exponential rate. This is something that has been studied for a while now. It’s centered mostly on what’s called the “Knowledge Doubling Curve.” The idea is: How long does it take for all accumulated and transmitted human knowledge to double? In the year 1,750 it took about 250 years for human knowledge to double. By 1900, it was 100-150 years. By the end of 1945, it was every 25 years. As of today, researchers suggest that the amount of accumulated and transmitted knowledge is doubling every 12 hours. If we’re looking for markers along God’s prophetic road, these are pretty prominent.
Daniel 12:5-7 – 5 Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. 6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” 7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.

I appreciate that the angels asked on our behalf. It’s a gentle reminder that God’s word speaks to those questions you have in your heart. It’s an ancient book, but it’s alive and speaks to our real lives today. Those questions that you have nagging in your heart have answers already delivered in the Bible. And we don’t need to be afraid to ask God questions about the things going on in our lives. We can trust Him to answer and to direct us.

Here in verse 7 we’re given that formula again: All of these great trials for Daniel’s people would be for a time, times and half a time. We learned before that this refers to a period of 3 and a half years, the last 3 and half years of human history before the establishment of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. We’re told in this passage that those years will be characterized by the crushing and shattering of God’s people. We learn a lot about that in the Revelation. Luckily, Jesus gives us more insight in the Olivet Discourse, promising that this time will be capped off by the Second Coming, where God rescues and makes right all that’s gone wrong in this world.

Now, the answer given in these verses poses a real problem for the Post-Millennial view. In that view, the world will become more and more Christian, culminating in the return of Christ to receive His Kingdom from us. That’s the opposite of what we read here.

Daniel 12:8 – 8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?”

We’ve seen from previous passages in Daniel that he knew God would establish a never-ending dominion and that His people would receive that kingdom and rule with the Lord. But from his vantage point he simply couldn’t understand the whole picture of God’s plan. What a privilege it is for us to have the whole, completed revelation of Scripture at our fingertips.

Daniel 12:9-10 – 9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.

Daniel wasn’t going to get more of an explanation. Once again he’s told the book would be sealed to him and others until the time of the end. We sit up with anticipation when we read what John wrote almost 700 years later. An angel said to him: “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.”

Commentaries will often talk about how Revelation is a companion book to Daniel. It is, but it’s more than that. It’s also like a decoder ring. The cypher to these previously sealed prophecies found in the Old Testament. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes: “The value of the Book of Revelation is not that it provides a lot of new information, but rather that it takes the scattered Old Testament prophecies and puts them in chronological order so that the sequence of events may be determined. This book provides a framework for the understanding of the order and the sequence of events found in the Old Testament prophecies.” Of course, Revelation does provide new material as well. But it is the key that unlocks the seals of passages like Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and others. To discount Revelation, to dismiss it as unintelligible or strange or unimportant is to walk past a vast treasure trove of knowledge, wisdom and teaching from the Lord. It’s unacceptable to do so.

Daniel was desperate to understand prophecy. We should be too, especially since we have so much more to work with, such greater understanding and clarity.

Daniel 12:11-12 – 11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.

One last little prophetic tease here at the very end of the book. What does this mean? The Bible is very specific about the timing of the Great Tribulation. We’ve talked at length about the time, times and half a time. 3 and a half years. 42 months. In Revelation 11 and 12 it’s described as 1,260 days. God is belaboring the literalness of this time period. But then here have 2 other lengths. First, there’s 1,290 days, then ultimately 1,335 days.

While we can’t be absolutely certain about how this will all work out, there are some things we do know. We know that after the second coming the Kingdom will be established. And, this text indicates that there will be a transition period between the second coming and the opening of the Kingdom. It seems that there will be a total of 75 days in between. What’s going to be going on during that time? Well, we know from Ezekiel 20, verses 33-44 that the people of Israel will be examined by the Lord. They will pass under His rod like a flock of sheep. The rebels who did not believe will be purged and those who did believe will be brought into the bond of the covenant. We also know from the Olivet Discourse that angels will be sent out to gather the elect from one end of heaven to the other. And Jesus will preside over the sheep and goats judgment to determine which Gentiles will enter the kingdom and which will not.

It would seem all of this is going to take 75 days. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing during this time. Probably participating in some way. But, finally, 1,335 days after the Antichrist sets up his abomination which makes desolate, the kingdom will be established.

Daniel 12:13 – 13 “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.

Daniel is told again to go and rest, despite his questions. And then the book is suddenly over. No epilogue. No “and so Daniel lived long and happy years.” No, verse 13 sends Daniel off and he immediately sets down his pen. But, notice the close: Daniel is sent to live out his life in the hope of the resurrection. That’s how his story ends. That’s how his great book of prophecy concludes. He looks forward to his own resurrection and inheritance.

How does our great New Testament prophecy Book end? The Revelation closes, for us, with a somewhat different hope: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” We live out the rest of our lives in the hope of the rapture, the coming of the Lord. And, as we go, we can go in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We may have questions, we may face temptations, struggles, disappointments, lions and fires, but we know the end. We know what’s coming. The Lord is coming quickly. In the mean time, we can rest in His victory and busy ourselves with seeking His wisdom, seeking His kingdom, seeking His righteousness and turning others to righteousness. Not toward acts and works, but to Jesus Christ, our righteousness.

The Worser Of Two Evils (Daniel 11:29-45)

If you were a fan of the innovative television show 24, you got used to a pattern that seemed to emerge, at least to my recollection. The season would start, you’d get introduced to the bad guy. You’d get to know him a little, see the bad guy stuff he did. Then, at about the 12 hour mark, he’d get killed or captured and then the REAL villain would show up. And, man, if you thought the first guy was bad, buckle up!

The last quarter of the book of Daniel, chapters 10, 11 and 12, are the record of the last great vision he received. In this vision, God takes Daniel from his current day, through the end of the Persian empire, through Greece, then Rome and ultimately to the Great Tribulation, under a revived Roman empire, culminating in the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.

We’re in chapter 11, which thus far has covered the decline of the Persian empire, the rise and fall of Alexander the Great, and then the decades of war between the Ptolemys of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria. The vision then zooms in on one particularly evil king of the northern empire, Antiochus Epiphanes.

We highlighted the fantastic accuracy with with all of these things have been fulfilled. In fact, Dr. John Walvoord points out that, in the first 35 verses of the chapter, there are “approximately one hundred and thirty-five prophetic statements, all now fulfilled.”

We’re picking up in verse 29. We’ve seen Antiochus Epiphanes’ rise to power and his great success. Tonight we continue to learn about what he would do, but we won’t stop there. By the end we will have vaulted over the millennia to a time yet future for us, when the Antichrist steps onto the world stage. The first bad guy (Antiochus) gives way to the ultimate villain (Antichrist).

Daniel 11:29-30 – 29 “At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter. 30 For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. “So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.

Antiochus had been very successful against the Egyptian empire. However, on this campaign he was opposed by the Romans, who had come to the aid of the Egyptians. Rome was a fledgeling power, but effective in driving out the Syrians from the north. Angry and embarrassed, Antiochus turned toward home, with his tail between his legs. On his way, he’d stop off in Jerusalem to vent his frustrations against the defenseless Jewish people.

You can read about his dealings with Israel in the books of First and Second Maccabees. If you have YouVersion’s Bible app, select the King James Version with Apocrypha, American Edition and you’ll be able to read those books. You can also read about the period in H.A. Ironside’s The 400 Silent Years. You can find that for free online.

Daniel 11:31 – 31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.
Antiochus issued a command throughout his kingdom that everyone should abandon their own religions and, instead, follow after the Greek gods. He outlawed sacrifices, observing the Sabbath, circumcision and topped it off by setting up a statue of Zeus in the Temple and offering a pig on the altar, fully desecrating it for the Jewish people.

When reading prophecy it’s key to try to keep things that need to be separate in their proper place. There are two abominations of desolation in the Bible. You have this one, which took place in 167 B.C. and then you have one which Daniel will reference in the next chapter. It’s still the same vision, but the angel who is speaking to Daniel says that the sacrifices will again be taken away and another abomination of desolation will be set up. It’s that second abomination that Jesus talks about in the Olivet Discourse and is described in the Revelation.

Daniel 11:32 – 32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.

When Antiochus came to Judea, there was a group of Jews that were happy to join him in his cause. They were apostates who were ready to throw off Judaism for the Greek culture. But, like you see in the book of Exodus when many Israelites were worshipping the golden calf, there remained those who were faithful to God, no matter what. A priest named Mattathias and his sons followed in the footsteps of Phinehas, who fought against the pagan evil of the golden calf incident. This group of zealous men became known as the “Maccabees” and they lead a remarkable revolt against the forces of Antiochus. Judas Maccabeus, in particular, was amazingly successful in the fight, bringing his people, “great honor” while fighting “with cheerfulness the battle of Israel.” It’s written that “in his acts he was like a lion…wherefore the wicked shrunk for fear of him…because salvation prospered in his hand.”

Daniel 11:33-35 – 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.

Faithful Jews were mercilessly brutalized during this time. For a time, the Jews refused to fight or defend themselves on the Sabbath and the Syrians took advantage of this until the rabbis ruled that the people could, in fact, defend themselves on the Sabbath. Jews who were found with circumcised sons or not obeying Antichous’ command were killed immediately and savagely. Even still, there were many faithful believers who chose to suffer and die rather than disobey God.

At the same time, we’re told in verse 34 that hypocrites were joining the cause as well, not out of faithfulness, but for other reasons. Ultimately, the believing remnant would be purified.

Now, at the end of verse 35 there’s a big shift. So far, all the verses of this chapter have corresponded to events that have already happened. Now, in verses 36 through 45 we will be introduced to the ultimate villain of history: The Antichrist, for whom Antiochus Epiphanes was just the opening act. He was the preview before the movie.

The question that arises is: On what basis do we say that verse 35 is about a past Syrian king and verse 36 is about a future world ruler? That’s a fair question and a good question to ask. We want to be careful and thorough as we interpret this stuff. There are 3 major reasons why we see a shift here. First of all, at the end of verse 35 there’s that telling phrase: “until the time of the end.” Remember, chapters 10, 11 and 12 are all one vision. And this vision, we were told in chapter 10 verse 14, ultimately has to deal with what is going to happen “in the latter days.” So, in verse 35 we see “until the time of the end.” 36: “till the wrath has been accomplished.” Verse 40: “at the time of the end.” The language highlights the finality and culmination.

Second reason why we recognize this verse as a shift from 167 B.C. to the future Tribulation: The details discussed in the rest of the verses of chapter 11 simply haven’t happened yet. If you were here with us last time, we saw how each and every element was fulfilled meticulously in history. Those events are undisputed history. Once you set in on verse 36, what is described hasn’t happened. It wasn’t Antiochus and it hasn’t been anyone else since. Arno Gaebelein writes: “While there is no difficulty to prove the historical fulfillment of verses 2-35, it is impossible to locate anything in history which corresponds to verses 36-45.”

Third reason why we recognize a shift to the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation is how the descriptions line up with what we read in the rest of the vision (chapter 12), and the rest of Bible prophecy, particularly the Revelation.

So let’s get into it.

Daniel 11:36 – 36 “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.

So, first clue here: Antiochus didn’t do this. He set up an idol of Zeus in the temple. He demanded everyone worship the gods of the Greeks. The king of verse 36 behaves differently.

The Antichrist will arrive on the global stage with great charisma and effectiveness. He’ll be a genius. He’ll figure out a way to bring peace to the middle east, guaranteeing it in a 7 year treaty with Israel. But, at the midpoint of that treaty, he will enter the Temple, declare himself to be God, set up the second abomination of desolation and make war against God’s people. As we’ve seen in earlier visions of Daniel, he’s characterized by blasphemy and pompous words. Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:

2 Thessalonians 2:4 – [he] exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Daniel 11:37 – 37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.

Interpreters pull big conclusions from this verse. It has to do with the first 2 phrases. Some feel that, when it says “he shall [not] regard the God of his fathers” this is proof that the Antichrist must be Jewish. They also feel this is a logical conclusion because, so the reasoning goes, the Jews would ‘never’ accept a Messiah who wasn’t Jewish in heritage. There are a couple problems with the insistence that the Antichrist must be a Jew. One is textual, one is logical. First of all, when it says “the God of his fathers” Daniel specifically did not use the word Jehovah. Rather, the more generic term “Elohim.” Some commentators say, “The phrase ‘God of his fathers’ is a Jewish way of talking about Jehovah.” We’d agree…when the Bible uses the name Jehovah! Which is often does. But it specifically doesn’t here. Walvoord writes, “For Daniel to omit the word Jehovah or Lord in a passage where a specific name for the God of Israel would be necessary, becomes significant.”

The logical issue with the insistence that the Antichrist be a Jew is that, in this very passage we see many Jews embracing a ruler who was not Jewish! So, the argument goes, “they’d never accept a Roman Messiah.” But right here in chapter 11 we saw how many of the Jewish people turned to Antiochus and said, “Yes, we accept you, we accept your rule over us, we accept your gods.”

The other phrase that is often seized upon here is that the Antichrist will not “regard…the desire of women.” There are a variety of interpretations here. One is that this is referring to some deity that was, historically, sought after by women. Scholars reference Diana of the Ephesians or Venus of Rome. Another interpretation is that it is saying that the Antichrist will be homosexual. However, that’s a pretty far leap. First of all, it doesn’t fit the context of the sentence, which is all about God and worship. But, even if the Antichrist isn’t romantically attracted to women doesn’t by nature make him a homosexual. A third interpretation of this phrase points out that “the desire of women” to a Jew would have been a reference to the Messiah. Faithful Jewish moms were all hoping they would be the ones to birth the Savior, so in this interpretation it’s saying that Antichrist rejects the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ, instead seeing himself as god.

Daniel 11:38-39 – 38 But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. 39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.

The Antichrist will dominate the world through force and conquest. In the short term he’ll reward some of his followers with material spoils. Remember: Satan is always seeking to counterfeit the work of God. When the true Christ returns he doesn’t give us some spit of war-torn land. He rewards us with eternal riches and a place in His everlasting Kingdom.

But the good times for the Antichrist will be short-lived. By verse 40 he’s going to have some real problems to deal with.

Daniel 11:40 – 40 “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.

It’s not altogether clear who these 2 new kings are. There are those who believe that the Antichrist is not the beast of Revelation, but that there is, in fact, 3 prominent figures in the Tribulation: The Antichrist, the Emperor of the Revived Roman empire and then this King of the North seen here in verse 40. Their reasoning is complicated and, to me, creates more problems than it solves. While we can’t be specific, what we know is that many of the subjugated nations of the world will not be happy with the Antichrist’s rule and will mount revolts against him. A coalition from the south and forces from the north will make their stand against the Antichrist, but they won’t be successful. He will crush their attempt at independence.

Daniel 11:41-43 – 41 He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.

One geo-political problem follows another for Antichrist. But his strength will hold. He will decimate many foes, killing many and plundering their wealth. Jordan will be spared, we don’t know why. Egypt’s allies will abandon her and instead give allegiance to the Antichrist. And it will seem like he’s unstoppable.

Daniel 11:44-45 – 44 But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. 45 And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.

A huge army from the east will come to challenge the Antichrist. More opponents from the north also, and they will all gather together to wage the final world war in the valley of Megiddo. But before they can finish their fight, Jesus Christ will return to earth in His second coming, destroy these armies and cast the Antichrist and his false prophet into the lake of fire. The villain who seemed so powerful and so unstoppable will be helpless and defeated in the presence of the rightful King. These prophecies are just as sure as the 135 found in the first part of chapter 11. We can count on the power of God and the truth of His word.

But before we close tonight, one small devotional thought for us. There in verse 32 we have that wonderful descriptor of faithful believers. It says “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” They are contrasted with the wicked who turn their backs on God and, instead, choose the path of least resistance – those who choose flattery over integrity. It’s true that those who decided to follow the Lord paid a great price, but their lives were of great value. They carried out great exploits! Not just Judas Maccabeus, but those who gained wisdom and preached the truth and honored the Lord, even in martyrdom. They kept the covenant and, as a result, were found pure, refined and exalted by God. They shine like stars, the world was not worthy of them.

And we see there how they were able to withstand the intense trials they found themselves in: They knew their God and were strong as a result. The term “to know” here has to do with mental knowledge, of course, but it also means “to regard, recognize, pay attention to.” It’s a word of intimacy. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary says, “Essentially yada˓ means: to know by observing and reflecting (thinking), and to know by experiencing.”

It is through this intimate, personal knowing of God that we are strengthened to honor God and serve Him, no matter our circumstances. That’s what gave these Jews in Daniel 11 the ability to walk out of their houses with a book of the testament under their arm, knowing it would probably mean death for them. While we don’t want those kind of circumstances, we do want that kind of strength, don’t we? We want to be people who are carrying out exploits for the Lord? That’s the life He’s sent us out on. But it’s not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit. As we draw near to our God and know Him, experiencing His leading and His filling and His strengthening all the days of our lives.

The Happening (Daniel 11:2-28)

For references and footnotes, see the transcript on calvaryhanford.com/lionsandfiresandprayers

In Romans chapter 3 Paul said, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” The Bible you’re holding is a reliable revelation. It is sure and true and unbreakable. One of the great confirmations of God’s word is to look through history and see how Biblical prophecy has always been 100% accurate. That’s not just some parlor trick meant to impress people, it’s a powerful announcement that what God has said is not just true for history, but it is true for you personally.

Our text tonight is an amazing verification of the truth of the Bible. The prophecy given here is so detailed and so historically accurate that unbelieving critics must make up arguments to try to convince themselves that Daniel was written centuries after when it claims. Because, after all, how could anyone have known what Daniel wrote here? In reality, this passage proves the reliability of Scripture, the faithfulness of God and the fact that God likes to tell us what is going to come to pass.

You’ve heard from us countless times that over a quarter of the Bible was prophetic in nature when it was written. Sometimes those prophecies are very specific and plain. For example, in Isaiah, God identifies Cyrus by name. In Micah we’re told that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. And then you have other passages of prophecy that are much less direct. They’re difficult. They’re not altogether clear. Why is that? Why didn’t the Lord just give us a very clear list and specific timeline?

I don’t know the mind of God, but there are a couple of principles we find elsewhere in the Bible that can be helpful parts of the answer. First of all, God’s desire is that we seek Him. When Jesus taught the people in the Gospels He often used parables, so that those who really wanted to know Him would have to draw near and ask and commune and spend time with the Lord.

And, second, it seems that as God accomplishes His will, even in prophecy, there are some points of elasticity in how things will come to pass. For example: Jesus famously told the Jews that John the Baptist could have been the one to fulfill the prophecy of the man coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, if they would have accepted it. But they didn’t. We think of the Israelites on the edge of the promised land, being told to go in, as part of the fulfillment of prophecy. And yet, they refused and so the timeline was put on hold for 40 years.

As providence unfolds, some things must happen at specific moments through specific people. Cyrus. Bethlehem. 42 months. 1,260 days. And other things are accomplished in less specific ways. So, it follows that not all prophecy is going to be a set list of names, dates and places.

But here is a key to keeping a proper perspective on Bible prophecy: It must relate to real, actual events that either have taken place or will yet take place. Our text opens with an angel saying “Now I will tell you the truth.” And then goes on to give specific details about hundreds of years of world history. And when you go to history, you find that these things actually happened the way the Bible said they were going to happen. But that isn’t only true of Old Testament prophecies that have already been fulfilled. It must also be true of all prophecy.

Why is this important? This matters, because when you get to the book of the Revelation you read in the very first verse that what follows is a message of “things which must shortly take place.” Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse, “When you see these things happening.” Paul and Peter and Jude talked about the coming time of the end. And yet, even within the Church, there are so many who teach that Revelation is just imaginary or impossible to understand, that it doesn’t speak about future events, just sort of mystical images meant to “comfort” you in your daily life. That’s not how prophecy works! It works like Daniel 11. And Daniel 11 is the prophetic equivalent of Babe Ruth striding up to the plate, pointing to the center field bleachers, then hitting a home run to center on the very next pitch.

Charles Feinberg writes: “Secular history verifies every statement made in this chapter and confirms every detail of these predictions, which were made long before the events actually occurred.”

So let’s get into it. In the first section, verses 2 through 4, we learn about the next 95 years, or so, of Persian history, starting with Daniel’s day, then moving forward till the empire was toppled.

Daniel 11:2 – 2 And now I will tell you the truth: Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.

After we read each of these verses we can say, “This all happened.” It’s quite remarkable. We don’t have time to go through each element, but we’ll get to what we can.

So, this happened. 3 more kings came to the throne of Persia and then came Xerxes, who did wage fierce campaigns against Greece. His wealth was indeed fabulous. In fact, when Alexander defeated him and plundered the treasure house behind the palace of Xerxes, he took away between 8 and 9 million pounds of gold.

Daniel 11:3-4 – 3 Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. 4 And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.

This all happened. We saw in an earlier vision of the furious goat how Alexander vented his wrath at Xerxes by conquering Persia. But then, Alexander died suddenly. His sons were murdered and his kingdom was split into 4 regions, north, south, east and west.

Verses 5 through 20 are their own section, covering the ongoing wars between 2 of those regions: Syria in the north and Egypt in the south.

Daniel 11:5 – 5 “Also the king of the South shall become strong, as well as one of his princes; and he shall gain power over him and have dominion. His dominion shall be a great dominion.

This happened. Remember, Judea is always at the center of prophecy and it was at the geographical center of this political tug-of-war, between the northern and southern kingdoms of Syria and Egypt.

Now, as we read these verses, they will constantly refer just to “the king of the north” or “the king of the south.” But these aren’t just 2 individuals, they are dynasties that cover over a century of time. In the south you had the Ptolemaic dynasty and in the north you had the Seleucid dynasty. In your own study, it’s helpful to consult a chart or a side-by-side list as you read. You can find them online.

Historically we know that this first ruler of the north had, at the start, been subject to Ptolemy in the south, but then he was able to “throw off…Egypt and rule independently,” over a large territory.

Daniel 11:6 – 6 And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he nor his authority shall stand; but she shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her, and with him who strengthened her in those times.

This all happened. The Egyptian princess Berenice was given to the king of Syria in an effort to secure peace between the kingdoms. As part of the agreement, the northern king had to divorce his current wife and put her away, which he did. Her name was Laodice.

Well, shortly after this plan was put in motion, the king of Egypt died. And so, his daughter nor he, retained their power or authority. The king of Syria gave up Berenice and took back Laodice. Unfortunately, Laodice wasn’t too happy about how everything had gone down. So she poisoned the king of Syria and had Berenice and her children killed.

Daniel 11:7-8 – 7 But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail. 8 And he shall also carry their gods captive to Egypt, with their princes and their precious articles of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North.

This all happened. Berenice’s brother set out to save his sister, but he was too late. Hearing about her murder, he then avenged her by attacking and subduing much of the Syrian empire. The historian Jerome reports that Ptolemy took with him, on his return to Egypt, forty thousand talents of silver, a vast number of precious vessels of gold, and images to the number of two thousand four hundred.

Daniel 11:9-10 – 9 “Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land. 10 However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife.

This all happened. The king of the north died when he fell from his horse, and then his sons started waging war again against the Egyptian provinces.

Daniel 11:11-13 – 11 “And the king of the South shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy. 12 When he has taken away the multitude, his heart will be lifted up; and he will cast down tens of thousands, but he will not prevail. 13 For the king of the North will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment.

This all happened. Ptolemy IV came and fought against Antiochus the Great, who had mustered an immense army, but Egypt was victorious over Syria. Rather than take advantage of his victory, Ptolemy, we’re told, began to “display pride and self-confidence. He gave himself over to the indulgence of his every desire…abandon[ing himself] to a life of luxury and licentiousness. He began to lose the allegiance of his own subjects…[and eventually] his own people revolted against him.” So, as the text says, despite his victory over tens of thousands, he would not prevail.

In the mean time, the northern empire was rallying once more and in 203 B.C. Antiochus the Great assembled and even larger army to fight against Egypt.

Daniel 11:14-16 – 14 “Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South. Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall. 15 So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist. 16 But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power.

This all happened. A coalition of nations came together to support the Syrian kingdom against Egypt. Even some Jews joined him in the fight, just as Daniel wrote. As part of the campaign, the Syrian forces chased the Egyptian general into the city of Sidon and laid siege against it. Ptolemy did send a choice army, led by 3 select generals to rescue their trapped troops, but it was too late. The Egyptian army was forced to surrender.

At this point, Antiochus the Great was totally victorious. History records that no one could stand against him. He turned his attention to the Holy Land and subjected it as well.

Daniel 11:17-19 – 17 “He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do. And he shall give him the daughter of women to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him. 18 After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him. 19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.

Antiochus wanted to have control over all the Southern Empire, so he made a plan. He would give his daughter, Cleopatra, to the Egyptian prince, thereby securing peace, which he needed because by now he was also at war with the Romans, who had come onto the scene. Unfortunately for him, once married, Cleopatra didn’t side with her dad, but with her new husband.

At the same time, as Antiochus the Great was fighting and conquering islands of the Mediterranean sea, the Romans came and defeated him, causing him to turn tail and run home, as we read in verse 19. Once back, he attempted to take treasure from one of their sacred temples, which made the people so angry they murdered the king and his guards.

Daniel 11:20 – 20 “There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle.
This happened. Antiochus the Great’s successor imposed a ton of taxes. He “died [not in battle, but] by the hand of his own minister, who poisoned him.”

Now, in verses 21 through 28, we have the third section. The vision zooms in on the rise and reign of one particularly wicked man, Antiochus Epiphanes, the little horn of Daniel 8.

Daniel 11:21 – 21 And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.

Antiochus Epiphanes was not the rightful monarch, but schemed his way in, while the true heir to the empire was captive in Rome. He used flattery and deceit to usurp the throne without any bloodshed. It happened just like Daniel wrote.

Daniel 11:22-24 – 22 With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. 23 And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. 24 He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time.

All this happened. Antiochus pretended to be a friend of the young king of Egypt, but while he was glad-handing him, behind his back he was plundering the Egyptian countryside and overtaking fortified positions. Suddenly, the most productive and fertile portions of Egypt were under his control. As Daniel predicted, Antiochus Epiphanes was able to do what none of his forefathers were able to: conquer the kingdom of the south. And then he did reward his followers by sharing the spoils he had taken with them. But only for a time. The Romans came along and ordered him to leave Egypt.

Daniel 11:25-27 – 25 “He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army. And the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him. 26 Yes, those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him; his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. 27 Both these kings’ hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time.

This all happened. You can read about it in history books. In verse 26 it says, specifically, that the king of the south would be overthrown by members of his own court, and that’s exactly what happened.

Daniel 11:28 – 28 While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land.

Antiochus Epiphanies was on his way back to Syria with the spoils of war, but decided to stop off in Jerusalem. A report had come to him saying that the Jews had heard he had been killed and they were celebrating because of it. In his fury, Antiochus killed 80,000 men, women and children. Took 40,000 people as slaves and plundered the city. His atrocities are recorded in the book of Maccabees.

We’ll learn more about Antiochus Epiphanies next time, but for now we’ll have to pause.

All this prophecy, all these details, and all of it happened. Not metaphorically. Not imaginarily, but really. There is no reason to arbitrarily turn and look at prophecies of yet future events, like the Revelation, like the Olivet Discourse, like Ezekiel 38 through 48 and say, “Well that’s not really going to happen.” Let God be true and every man a liar.

But before we close, one small devotional insight. If you read straight through Daniel 11:2-28, a couple of ideas keep popping up. You see again and again people being “stirred up” to be led in these conquests. And you see the unending pattern of death and destruction, and for what? For riches. Wealth, riches, spoil keep getting mentioned. But as men hurry after those things, death and destruction is their reward.

Now, we don’t live in a day and age where men get mustered for crusades like we read about here. But the application is still there, and it’s simple: What are you stirred up for? It’s a phrase that gets used a lot in Scripture. And it means to be excited, or to rouse one’s self. To get yourself on the move toward something. While we’re not being mustered for battles against Egypt, there still are many people in this world who stir themselves up to try to go out and get wealth and plunder, like these armies of old. Of course, we’re reminded that God has called us to go out under His banner. He stirs us up to love and good deeds. And the Bible is full of verses like Psalm 57:8, which tells us to stir up praise in our lives. Or Isaiah 64:7, which tells us to stir ourselves up to take hold of the Lord.

Remember: The Book of Daniel, from the beginning, has shown us a contrast between God’s way and the world’s way. The world’s way is about wealth and power and pleasure, but also wickedness and destruction and death. God’s way is about life. Daniel 11 is the same. I’m “stirred up” for something. Some pursuit. Some cause. Is it the Lord’s? Is He the King leading me to His victories? I’ll close with some words of Paul found in Galatians:

Galatians 5:16 & 6:8 – So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

Archangels: Divinity War (Daniel 10)

More and more the word “war” is being used in regard to our relationship with China. You hear about the “trade war,” or that we’re headed to a new “cold war” with them. But some would say that we are already at war with China in the unseen cyber realm. An article on TheNation.com writes: “…little information is available on US-Chinese cyberwarfare. All that can be said with confidence is that an intense war is now being waged between the two countries in cyberspace.”

In Daniel chapter 10 we learn about another intense, invisible war. It’s not just between 2 countries, but spans the globe and the centuries. It’s being waged in the spiritual realm, where angelic beings engage one another, each fighting on behalf of their kingdom. While the outcome is absolutely decided, the battles have very real consequences in this world.

As we start in on verse 1, we’ve come to the final portion of the book. One last, fantastic vision in the life of this incredible servant of God.

Daniel 10:1 – In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.

This is 3 years after chapter 9. Daniel is probably around 90 years old. The first group of Jews have returned to Jerusalem, but, the work had stopped. If you’ve been with us on Sundays as we study Ezra we saw there was a 15 year gap in the effort to build the Temple.

Here we’re told that Daniel received a message in a vision. This message concerned a particular time described there in the New King James as “long.” Scholars point out that this is one of those difficult to translate phrases. Its possible meaning is that it referred to things that were going to happen far in the future, we’ll see that’s true. It can also be translated as being about a great conflict, a great war, or that it was a vision which detailed suffering that was out of the ordinary in degree and magnitude. All of these descriptions fit with what was revealed to Daniel.

Daniel 10:2 – 2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.

Why was Daniel in mourning? There are a variety of reasons suggested for why Daniel is so upset here in verse 2. One is that he must have heard that the Jews who returned from exile had encountered difficulty and the work on the Temple had stopped. This, it’s suggested, broke Daniel’s heart. Another suggestion is that, after that relatively small group of Jews left Babylon for Judea, Daniel surveyed the state of the much larger group of God’s people who were content to stay behind in the pagan land and that that broke his heart. A third option is that Daniel had seen this terrifying vision, realized it signaled intense future suffering for God’s people, that they would be brought almost to the point of extinction, and that’s what caused him to mourn. His mental process isn’t spelled out for us, so we’re left to guess and wrestle. At any rate, here’s what Daniel’s mourning looked like:

Daniel 10:3 – 3 I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
Here’s what I want us to note about this verse: Daniel’s mourning was done in a spiritual framework. Whatever was going on in Daniel’s life – whether he was about to be executed or being promoted or facing temptation or given a message to share – he always approached these situations with a heavenly mindset. What was the spiritual response? What was the Godly response?

It’s a reminder to us of our responsibility to live with that same mindset day by day. Paul commanded us in Philippians 1:27 to “let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” Peter wrote: “Be holy in all your behavior.” We cannot control our circumstances. In many cases we cannot even control what sort of feelings flood our hearts and thoughts. But we can walk worthy of Christ. And that means that we follow Daniel’s example and behave in a holy, spiritual way. If you’re mourning, mourn as a Christian. If you’re being promoted, ascend in holiness. If you’re being tempted or assigned or threatened, whatever it is, let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel.

Daniel 10:4 – 4 Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris,

Daniel hadn’t gone back with the returning exiles to Jerusalem. At his advanced age it probably would’ve been near impossible for him to make the trip. Not to mention his position in the Persian government. Perhaps the king wouldn’t allow him to go. We don’t know why, but we can be sure that he would have if he could have. After all, he was still setting his clock by Temple time. It must’ve been a huge disappointment for him, personally. I mean, think about what we know about Daniel. About his faithfulness. His love for the city of God, the house of God. He miraculously lived all the way through the exile in Babylon, and now, he can’t go back.

We’re used to getting what we want, and usually getting it pretty fast. But in our walk with Christ, that’s not always how it’s going to work. And this is one reason why it’s so important for us to develop our trust in the Lord. We know Daniel had piles and piles of trust in God, even when everything seemed impossible. But when a person really trusts God and disappointment comes, they’re able to say things like, “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” And, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Daniel is an incredible example of being content in the Lord, even in the face of life-changing disappointment.

Daniel 10:5-6 – 5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.

The rest of our chapter revolves around this vision of what is commonly called “The Glorious Man.” The question is: Who is this? He’s variously identified by commentators as God, Gabriel, Michael, some unnamed superior angel, or a Pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ. Most guys line up in 1 of 2 camps. They’ll either say it is Jesus or they will say it is simply a powerful angel. The problem with saying this is just an angel is that the description here is almost identical to what John sees in Revelation 1, and that Being is identified as Christ Himself, the Alpha and the Omega.

But some guys see a problem with identifying this as Jesus because in verse 13 the angelic being who speaks with Daniel says that he wasn’t strong enough to overcome a character known as the “prince of Persia” and that Michael the Archangel had to come help out. So, they say, this Glorious Man can’t be Jesus. Those who feel this way interpret that the angel speaking in the rest of chapter 10 is the same as this glorious man. That there’s only one angelic being that Daniel sees in this text.

However, there is no reason to think that there’s only this one, gold-girded being and no one else with Daniel in the rest of the verses. What seems to be happening is that Daniel sees this Glorious Man, an appearance of Pre-Incarnate Christ, and then another heavenly being (an angel) comes to speak with Daniel about what he’s seeing. In fact, depending on how you read the verses there may even be a third angel in the mix.

When we look on this Glorious Man, we’re to be astounded with the power, the purity, the strength and the marvelousness of this individual. Even His eyes and His voice are intense fountains of omnipotence. I was thinking about how the eyes aren’t very important in superhero movies right now. It’s the biceps our culture cares about. But even what is considered small and superfluous to us is absolutely limitless in power when you’re talking about God.

Daniel 10:7-9 – 7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8 Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.

Daniel is totally overwhelmed by the presence of God. This man, who could look Nebuchadnezzar in the eye, who spent a night in a den full of savage lions, a man who had multiple times been in the company of angels, who had helped oversee 2 of the greatest world empires the world has ever known, this man catches a glimpse of the Lord and collapses. He had complete inability to move or stand. In fact, we’ll see that he wasn’t even able to speak or breathe. We would all do well to dwell on the unspeakable power of our God.

Daniel 10:10-11 – 10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.

At this point it seems a new character enters: An angel, who helps lift Daniel onto his hands and knees and speaks to him, eventually getting Daniel up on his feet. Remember this: When God ministers to you, His child, His desire is to lift you. He’s the Lifter of our heads. He sets our feet upon solid rock. He’s not cruel or mean. He wants to lift you up with the tender love we see demonstrated here. Once again, Daniel is identified as one “greatly beloved.” We talked about that last week. And Daniel, for his part, had no pride or swagger. He was very humble, despite all his life experience and spiritual success. Beware of so-called ministers who behave with arrogance or braggadocio. The Bible says that God resists the proud and that they cannot stand in His presence.

Daniel 10:12-13 – 12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.

Before we get to what’s next, take this to heart: Your prayers are heard and they matter. God responds to the prayers of His people. This passage not only proves that, but also gives us a good lesson on why we should keep praying for things until we’re given a response or told to stop.

Daniel 10:13 – 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.

This angel very casually takes Daniel (and us) through the looking glass here and shows the unseen spiritual realm where a cosmic war is being waged. The “Prince of Persia” cannot be a man, for no man could stand against an angel. Rather, he is identified in a similar way as Michael, the archangel. They’re both called princes. What we learn here is that there are holy angels and fallen angels, organized in a way not unlike a military, and some of these angels are assigned to specific, geographic locales. Their role is to influence the human societies and leaders in that location on behalf of either God or Satan.

Now, this is an incredible thing for God to reveal to us. In the New Testament we’re told about how people and governments are under the sway of spiritual forces, that there are powers and principalities acting in ways we cannot perceive, but here we get a real example of it. And this has many implications for us. First of all, it gives us a lot of reason to be in prayer for our leaders and the leaders of the world, that God would be influencing them for good. Second, it means that when we as free individuals in a democratic society go to the voting booth, it’s not enough to have the “right” man or woman in office. We should be doing whatever we can to advance righteous men and women into leadership. People like Daniel. Because, it does no good to have a well qualified person if that person is going to be corrupted by sinister forces.

Third, when it comes to prayer, we can be greatly encouraged by how this played out. Just because it seems like nothing is happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Something intense and significant may be happening behind the scenes. We can’t see the heavenly realm. So keep praying.

In this case, the holy angel who was stationed in Persia had been instructed to go and speak with Daniel, but as he set out on his mission, he was engaged in battle with his fallen counterpart. It’s not clear exactly how this conflict took shape. Perhaps they were doing angel jiu jitsu, or maybe they were using natural means there in the palace of Persia to try to gain the upper hand over one another. Either way, whatever was going on was enough to keep this angel from getting to Daniel for 3 weeks, and at that point they were in a stalemate, neither party retreating. So, Michael, an Archangel who (by the way) we’re told in chapter 12 is assigned to the protection of Israel, he tags in to fight this Prince of Persia so the other angel can get on with his mission.

Daniel 10:14 – 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”

Once again, the focus of this prophetic message is the nation of Israel. And the scope of the vision will cover the near future for Daniel all the way till the establishment of the Kingdom after the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. Chapters 10 through 12 are all about this vision. That’s a quarter of the book! As we move through it in the coming weeks, we’ll see that it is complex and detailed.

Daniel 10:15-17 – 15 When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. 16 And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. 17 For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.”

Some feel that we have the entrance of a third angel here, that you have the the Glorious Man (who is Christ), then the speaking angel arriving at verse 10, then a third angel who appears in verse 16.

Daniel’s words here are what incline me to think that his mourning in verse 2 had to do with the fact that he had seen the suffering of God’s people in this vision that is now going to be explained to him. In chapter 12, verse 7 here’s how it’s described: “the power of the holy people has been completely shattered.” This was a hard thing to see and understand for a man like Daniel who loved God’s people so much.

A great devotional thought here is to, once again, notice the tender ministry the Lord gave to Daniel, his weakened servant. 3 times Daniel is strengthened. And God doesn’t yell at him to toughen up. He comes with a personal touch and helps him and strengthens him and lifts him. The Lord’s ministry is the helpful kind. It’s compassionate. He understands our weakness. He’s not offended by it. He remembers us in our weakness and supplies our every need.

Daniel 10:18-19a – 18 Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!”

Here is the character of God’s feelings toward you. His word is given to build you up, not to condemn you, but to invigorate you. That’s for Christians, by the way. If you’re not a believer, then God’s word does condemn you. It reveals that you are condemned to death and eternal punishment in hell unless you receive Christ as your Savior. You are not in the beloved unless you’ve been adopted as a son or daughter through Christ.

Daniel 10:19b – So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

By earthly standards, Daniel’s days of strength were over. But God is always able to invigorate us for service, no matter how weak we may feel. And, notice here: God’s word in Daniel’s life actually made a difference. It was an effective grace. Does God’s word actually give you power for living? It should. It’s designed to. Apply it and let it do its work.

Daniel 10:20-11:1 – 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince. 11v1 “Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.)

This angel would have to return to the front line and fight once again. But before that he’d flesh out this final vision for Daniel. It would, of course, be in line with the prophecies he had already seen, starting way back in chapter 2 and on through the long decades there in Babylon.

We learn here that God’s prophetic plan is written down. It’s set in stone in something called The Scripture of Truth. This refers to some sort of unchanging document in heaven. There’s a theological position called open theism that suggests that God doesn’t actually know how things are going to play out. He’s simply reacting to what we’re all doing down here. But texts like this one show that the Lord has a plan and He will have His way. While He has given free will to mankind, His prophetic plan will come to pass in the particular way that He has revealed.

One more quick and passing application before we close: We see how the angels here help each other out and labor with one another. In the Church we too are commanded to bear one another’s burdens and build each other up.

Daniel 10 gives us a shocking look into what’s going on in the heavenly realm around us. But, the Bible goes further than that and says that these things aren’t just going on around us, but we’re part of the fight too. We’ve been drafted into the war and told to get the full armor of God on so that we can do our part. It’s not just angels contending with demons, we’re also wrestling against principalities and powers. It’s like those scenes in movies where the hero hands the person they’re protecting a pistol and says, “do you know how to use a gun?” You’re in the fight already. Put on your equipment, take aim and take your stand.

Seven Years A Week (Daniel 9:20-27)

Daniel 9, starting in verse 20 this evening. Last week we took a look at Daniel’s humble prayer of confession. That prayer leads up to our text tonight, which many scholars consider to be one of the most important passages in all the Bible. It’s referred to as the “70 Weeks Prophecy” and gives the blueprint for how God would send the Messiah, deal with Israel and wrap up human history on this earth. It’s like that scene in any good heist movie, where the characters gather around a table and look at a diagram, then talk through how the plan is going to unfold. Then the plan is set in motion.

The prophecy itself is only 4 verses, but they are packed with information, showing the meticulous order of God’s program, foretelling the crucifixion, identifying where the Antichrist will come from and what he’ll do and it all covers thousands of years of history. So, let’s dig in.

Daniel 9:20-21 – 20 Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.

Even though Daniel has been in captivity for more than 60 years, he still thinks about things in his spiritual, Jewish context. He’s praying for Zion. He’s thinking about the evening offering. An offering that wasn’t happening, by the way. The city and the temple were gone. But, Daniel was never one to think God had failed. He was still setting his watch, as it were, by the temple clock, longing for a city that, at that time, didn’t exist. He still had faith and hope and trust in the God of Israel. And he thought idealistically about what would have been going on, had God’s people done right.

Now, before we get into the prophecy, we get a little bit of angelology. These interactions are always interesting to examine. We notice first of all that on this second visit of Gabriel, Daniel recognizes him and he isn’t afraid. Usually when angels appear to people in the Bible, they get really frightened. That was the case back in chapter 8. When Daniel saw Gabriel, he was afraid and fell on his face. This time around, he recognizes him, but seems to remain calm and comforted during their meeting.

Gabriel is referred to as a “man” here, but don’t let that confuse you. He’s an angel. In fact, Herbert Leupold points out the words mean this: “The servant, the strong one, of the strong God.”

We also note here that, apparently, angels are able to travel at different speeds. In this case, Gabriel had been commanded to “fly swiftly”. It’s a term that means as fast as possible. I like to think that Gabriel waited in the next room for Daniel to finish his prayer, then popped in.

Daniel 9:22-23 – 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:

It’s interesting to think about the obedience of angels. Pretend for a moment you’re a supernatural being that can stand in the presence of God, you can travel between time and eternity. You have incredible power and capacity. And the Lord says, “Go spell out a prophecy for this human down there.” I imagine it would be kind of like us trying to explain the plot of a movie to our dog. Maybe that’s not fair. But it reminds me of the super accomplished IT guy. He went to school and got his computer science degree. He can create amazing programs with lines of code. He’s part of pushing the limits of what connectivity means. And then he gets the trouble ticket at work, “Bill down on the 4th floor needs you to show him how to access his email.” But Gabriel doesn’t complain. He’s happy to do whatever the Lord asks him to do, whether it seems to be below his pay grade or not.

Now the prophecy begins, we’ll take it in phrases.

Daniel 9:24a – 24“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city,

Here we have the scope and the setting of God’s plan. Let’s start with the setting. God’s prophetic plan centers on a place and a people. The place is Jerusalem and the people are the Jews. That doesn’t mean that the Lord doesn’t have other things He’s accomplishing in other places and with other people. He does, of course. But the focus of Bible prophecy, both past and future, is a particular place: Jerusalem. Not New York. Not Paris. Not Tel Aviv. And it’s a particular people: Daniel’s people, the Jews. Not the Church or all believers in general. In the Church, we have a holy city, but it’s not Jerusalem, it’s the New Jerusalem, the city whose Builder and Maker is God. That’s what John says in the Revelation. So, the setting is Jewish, the epicenter is Jerusalem.

Now the scope. Gabriel says that “seventy weeks are determined.” The word “weeks” in English has a particular meaning attached. But, scholars and linguists are quick to point out that the word here is “heptads” or “sevens.” It’s like saying “seventy dozens.” But, in this case, it’s seventy sevens. The question is: groups of seven what? Days? Years? Millennia? Naturally, there’s a lot of argument, especially coming from those who do not interpret Bible prophecy in a literal, futurist sense. But we understand this to be saying that there are 70 sets of 7 years that pertain to God’s plan, which has partially unfolded and will ultimately come to pass, no matter what. We identify these sevens as groups of years for Biblical reasons and historical reasons. First, the Biblical. Remember when Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah when he wanted to marry Rachel? Well, in their discussion afterward, Jacob says, “Why did you deceive me?” To which Laban answers:

Genesis 29:26-28a – 26 And Laban said, “It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.” 28 Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week.

We also compare the timeline in Daniel 9 with what we learn about the end times in the Olivet Discourse and the Revelation, where we’re told about specific lengths of days and months, and it becomes clear that the 70 sevens refer to a total of 490 years which are set apart to accomplish God’s plan. So, we’re given the panorama, the people and the place. Now Gabriel gives 6 reasons as the purpose of this plan. Here are the first 3:

Daniel 9:24b – To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity,

We should remind ourselves that these purposes are primarily directed at Israel, God’s special, chosen people, but in making an end of sin and bringing reconciliation for iniquity, it was accomplished for us as well. The cross was part of this 70 sevens program. And in that incredible act, the Lord made a way for sin to be permanently atoned for, forgiven and dealt with. It is finished and the responsibility for that debt is forever settled for those who have received Jesus as Savior.

Daniel 9:24c – To bring in everlasting righteousness,

Clearly, this has not yet come to pass. Not globally, not personally. Paul lamented in Romans that we still have evil present in us. “O wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?”

The end of God’s plan is victory, not defeat. When Christ returns, He will usher in the era of everlasting righteousness. For us, sin will be gone, temptation will be gone, all will be made right not just around us, but in us.

Daniel 9:24d – To seal up vision and prophecy,

Some interpret this as referring to end of special revelation. Meaning, no new Scripture or prophecies that are outside of God’s word. Others see this as saying that, by the end of the 70 sevens, all God’s promises to Israel will be fully carried out. All His promises to Abraham and to David will be faithfully accomplished. He has not transferred them, He has not cancelled them. God has put the plan on hold, but will finish out this 490 year program once the Church age is over.

Daniel 9:24e – And to anoint the Most Holy.

There’s a lot of debate on the meaning of this 6th purpose. Some apply it to Jesus Christ, some apply it to the Temple after Antiochus Epiphanes defiled it. Some ascribe it to the Millennial Temple.

Gabriel continues in verse 25.

Daniel 9:25 – 25“Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

The 70 sevens are broken up into 3 groups. A group of 7 sevens, a group of 62 sevens, and then a single seven left over. Here, we’re told specifically what event starts the clock on the first 69 sevens. It is the command to restore and build Jerusalem, the city. Note the reference to streets and walls.

We’re studying Ezra on Sunday mornings. There are a few different decrees made about Israel and building projects. However, if you read this prophecy literally, it’s clear that the starting point of the 70 sevens is not the decree to rebuild the temple there in Ezra 1. Rather, what we’re looking at is in Nehemiah 2, where King Artaxerxes sends Nehemiah to go and build the city and the wall in 445 B.C. It seems that the process of rebuilding the city took 49 years (7 sevens), after which the next set of 62 sevens immediately began. We’re told that the job of rebuilding was done “in troublesome times”. And the book of Nehemiah records just how troublesome it was.

From the time of the decree until the appearing of Messiah the Prince would be a period of 483 years. Sir Robert Anderson was a writer, a theologian and a Scotland Yard official in the 1800s. He wrote a book titled The Coming Prince, in which he calculated the exact fulfillment of this prophecy, from the decree of Artaxerxes to the Triumphal Entry of Christ. He tabulated the 69 sevens, 483 years, according to the Jewish calendar, would yield 173,880 days and then goes on to prove how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt on the exact day. While his theory is debated, Anderson’s work is compelling. And, as John Walvoord notes: “No one today is able dogmatically to declare that Sir Robert Anderson’s computations are impossible.”

Daniel 9:26a – 26“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;

Cut off is legal language. Under the Law of Moses, if someone was “cut off” they were being executed. Jesus did not die of disease or accident. He was executed by the state. And there it says, “but not for Himself.” That can have a variety of meanings, all which describe what took place at Calvary. First, the Lord did not die for Himself, but for others. Second, the words can be translated as, “He will have nothing.” That was true of our Lord, who had no place to lay His head, no riches. In the end, He didn’t even have clothing. And third, the words can be translated as, “shall be cut off…appearing to have accomplished nothing.” That certainly seemed true on Good Friday, but when the sun rose easter Sunday, everything changed.

Daniel 9:26b – And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.

Some suggest that the prince here is the same as the Prince in verse 25. But this can’t be true. First of all, we’ll see this prince is responsible for the abomination of desolation in the temple. Second, we’re told the people of the prince in verse 26 are those who would destroy Jerusalem. The people who destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD were the Romans. So, here we see a second prince (little p), the counterfeit messiah, the Antichrist.

But notice: It isn’t him who will destroy Jerusalem, but his people. And so, we recognize that, in the future, the Antichrist will preside over a revived Roman empire. When the Romans destroyed the temple and the holy city in 70AD, it was indeed like a flood in its effect, washing all of the Jews out into the Gentile world. But now, after almost 2,000 years, more Jews have been regathered back into Israel than live anywhere else in the world.

Daniel 9:27 – 27Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

Jesus specifically quoted this verse in Matthew 24, saying that it was a future event, which would precede the 2nd coming of the Lord.

In verse 27 we see the final heptad. It’s starting point is when the Antichrist makes a seven year peace treaty with Israel, allowing them to once again worship and sacrifice in the temple. But, after three and a half years, he breaks the treaty, enters the temple, demands worship, sets up a blasphemous image and makes war against God’s people.

This means that we are currently living in a gap between the 69th seven and the 70th seven. Gaps in Bible prophecy aren’t unusual. Notice how the prophecy is arranged: The first seven is kicked off by a decree. The clock is stopped at the death of the Messiah. And now we wait for that final seven to begin. The starting point is the signing of that false peace, which will set in motion the events of the Great Tribulation. Luckily, we in the Church are not part of the 70th seven. We will be safe and secure in glory, face to face with our Lord.

In the end, despite the Antichrist’s power and his desolations, he, the Desolator, will be defeated and destroyed, all Israel shall be saved, and Messiah the Prince will return with power and great glory.

This is God’s prophetic program, centered on Jerusalem and the Jews. It’s on hold now, as God accomplishes His work in the Church age – the time between Pentecost and the Rapture – where God is drawing out individuals from all over the world to be a part of His Bride. Once that work is finished, the Lord will once again take up this prophetic program and start the clock on the final seven. He will do all He has said He will do, just as He said it would happen.

For us tonight as Church Age believers, there’s a small devotional application from our passage. And it has to do with prayer. Remember: It was Daniel’s prayer that led into this prophecy. And there in verses 20 through 23 his prayer is referred to again.

You’ve probably heard it said that God answers every prayer with either “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” That may fit on a meme, but it’s not exactly how we see things playing out in the Word. This prayer of Daniel is a good example. Daniel is confessing, he’s praying about the end of the Babylonian captivity. When Gabriel comes with an “answer”, it really has nothing to do with that! In fact, he says, “Actually, Jerusalem is going to be destroyed again!” What Daniel received from heaven had very little to do with his particular prayer that day. So, rather than say, “God answers every prayer with yes, no or wait.” It seems better to say that we can be sure God responds to our prayers. It’s clear He’s listening. It’s clear He desires to reveal Himself and speak to us and give us understanding. But His methods don’t fit on a meme.

For Daniel, the response came instantly, but Paul had to pray 3 times about the thorn in his flesh before he received a response. Samuel’s mother Hannah had to wait years before she received a response to her prayer. You probably have similar parallels for each of these examples in your own prayer life. But here’s what we know to be true: First, God does hear. There’s never a prayer in the Bible where an angel shows up and says, “What did you say? We weren’t really listening.” Second, God responds. Perhaps not the way we hope or even could anticipate, but we trust Him and know Him to be good and faithful. So keep praying. And third, and this is best of all, here’s what’s true: You are precious to God. What did Gabriel say in verse 23? “I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved.” That’s a term that means the best or most valuable thing available. A precious treasure. That which is most costly. That’s what God sees when He sees you. That’s not just something He thought about Daniel. He thinks it about you! We are beloved children in His eyes. And just as He has a plan for this world, He has a plan for you. He listens for you. He responds to you. He loves you more, more, more and has made us His own.

The Lord’s Pray-er (Daniel 9:1-19)

Daniel chapter 9 is where we find ourselves this evening. When I think of finding gold, the image that comes to mind is an old prospector, with his little pan down by a river, sifting through mud. In reality, the vast majority of gold is mined, deep within the earth. Gold usually exists in very small particles. The mining process gets lots of rock blown up, then smashed into dust, turned into a slurry and then chemically treated to suck the gold out. Sometimes in those mines they find great veins of gold, formed as a deposit. Those veins of ore might be a couple of yards wide, or they might be like one they found in Burma back in 2012. It’s 10 miles wide at some points and almost 120 miles long.

Daniel 9 is a vein of gold like that. In the treasure chest of God’s Word, it’s one of the crown jewels among the riches. This chapter contains what is known as the 70 Weeks Vision. It’s immensely important. Scholars call it the “backbone” to Bible prophecy. Dr. John Walvoord calls it the “key passage” to understanding Bible prophecy. Dr. Charles Feinberg wrote that it was “one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible.” Arno Gaebelein said the prophetic message in this chapter “is perhaps the most important not only in the Book of Daniel, but in the whole Bible.”

But not only is Daniel 9 significant because of the prophecy it contains, but it is also home to one of the most remarkable prayers in all the Scriptures. In fact, twice as much space is dedicated to Daniel’s prayer as is given to the vision of the 70 weeks. It shines like pure and polished gold.

Tonight we’ll take a look at that prayer, but I want us to resist the urge to look at it as a formula for our own prayer lives. It’s gold we’ve found here, not iron. If you read commentaries on these verses, the majority of them will call it a “model” prayer, breaking it down methodically. They’ll use this as an example of “how to be persuasive in prayer.” There are a couple of problems with that approach to a passage like this. First of all, the point of prayer is that it be genuine and personal. No one you know as a friend or a loved one wants you to communicate with them mechanically. They don’t want you to mimic the way someone else talks to them. That would be very strange, even offensive.

But, on another level, it’s almost comical to come to this inspirational prayer of Daniel, a man who had lived a faithful, fruitful, powerful life serving God for 80 years by this point, and then say, “Ok, I’ll just copy that for myself and have a great prayer life.” That’s not how it works. Earlier today I saw a video that had been uploaded by John Mayer, the pop singer. He’s known for his guitar solos. He’s a masterful guitar player. The video was 7 minutes of him, in the studio, working through the solo of the new song he recently released. He’s finding his way to what will be the impressive finished product. Now, we all know that someone could try to copy that video – use the kind of guitar he used, stand the way he was standing, mimic the notes he played – but that doesn’t make their playing as amazing as John Mayer’s. Because his playing, in that video, is the culmination of decades of growth and determination and dedication.

So, we shouldn’t bring Daniel’s prayer into a lab and try to reverse engineer it. “Ok, let’s copy the steps he took and then our prayer life will be powerful and persuasive.” Rather, we should focus on this Godly man, learn from his character and, more importantly, focus on the God he talks about in this prayer, not the schematic of his sentences. Look at the man, rather than the method. The object of Daniel’s worship rather than the arrangement of his words.

Daniel 9:1-2 – In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Daniel had been in Babylon for about 67 years at this point. The quick takeaways that are frequently pointed out are that, number one: though Daniel was a prophet, he was still a student of prophecy and a student of God’s word. He had spent his whole life looking into the Scriptures, but even here as an old man he was still finding new veins of gold in that inexhaustible mine. And number two: Daniel interpreted prophecy literally. He believed 70 years meant 70 years. It wasn’t an allegory. It wasn’t spiritualized. Daniel was doing the math and realized they were at the tail end of this thing. He would have, no doubt, also had a copy of Isaiah, written long before, which had pointed at Cyrus by name. And now, there was a Cyrus on the world scene. God was moving just as He said He would.

Daniel 1:3 – 3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

I find it interesting that, in all the commentaries that talk about how we should pattern our prayers in the manner of Daniel’s prayer here, none of them say, “But first, drive down to Michael’s and get yourself some burlap to wear. Start a wood fire to make some ashes and pour them over your head.” They say, “Ok, he started with saying this about God, then moved to confession, then went to his requests.” But, they skip over this first part. Instead they’ll just point out that Daniel “prepared” for prayer. Ok. But if we’re supposed to copy Daniel’s method, then copy his whole method.

In the Bible we see many “effective” prayers. Some were planned. Others were spontaneous. Some are long and complex. And one of the greatest in all the Word is, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Prayer isn’t supposed to be mechanical. It’s supposed to be personal.

Rather than mimic the mechanics of Daniel’s prayer, we note simply that, as he did when he was a youth back in chapters 1 and 2, Daniel believed in the power of prayer. He, clearly, believed it was a crucial part of every day life and it was something he practiced in a variety of intensities.

Daniel 1:4-6 – 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.

John Phillips and Jerry Vines write, “[Daniel] scoured the Hebrew language for words to describe how wickedly the Jews had behaved.” We note that Daniel included himself in the mix. It’s always “we” and “us.” He does not try to excuse himself or separate himself from the crowd of sinners. We think of Daniel and are quick to say, “He’s one the only figures in the Old Testament who has no sins attributed to him.” And yet, like Paul, Daniel was acutely aware of his sin before God. He knew there is none righteous, no not one. You only had to look at God for an instant to realize the bankruptcy of even the most religious, upright man. And Daniel would have us look on God in this prayer.

Here, we’re reminded of God’s greatness. His awesomeness. His fidelity and powerful grace. But, most of all, we see God’s mercy highlighted. Though His people had refused to do good and had, in fact, done evil, still God reached out to them. He showed His power through many infallible signs. He sent His word as a special revelation and as a prescription for their lives. He sent servants and prophets, messenger after messenger to try to coax His people back from the brink of sin. God reached out to the highest levels of their government, to the general population and individual families. And yet, again and again, they walked away from God’s plan and His commands. They rebelled. Sometimes violently, killing His servants.

Think about God’s love for rebels. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We were far from God, hostile in our minds toward Him, proliferating in evil. Yet, all the while, God was drawing toward us, trying to show us His love and show us that, while we’re busy in rebellion, He’s trying to set us free so He can get us into His royal family, that we might rule and reign with Him.

Daniel 9:7-8 – 7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You. 8 “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.

Their sin hadn’t done them any favors. It’s like those stupid, “all I got was this lousy t-shirt” shirts. Israel’s national motto could’ve been, “I went to the world, and all I got was this lousy captivity.” Sin is always a destroyer, always a deceiver. Look what it did to Israel. Look what it does all around us.

There is no failure on God’s part at all. He is full of love and compassion. He is full of righteousness. Mankind, on the other hand, so often chooses darkness rather than light. I appreciate how Daniel owned this stuff. He said, “this shame of face belongs to us.” By no means is he being too hard on himself or his countrymen. This is simply the reality of the human heart. Which makes us realize just how magnificent God’s long-suffering mercy is.

I also find it interesting that, in this prayer, which was prompted by reading about the promises of God, Daniel doesn’t spend time “declaring” things for himself or “claiming” promises. He spends time confessing and honoring God. I’m not saying that’s the pattern we always need to follow. But, right now, it’s in fashion the wider Christian community to emphasize claiming promises and declaring things in prayer. Perhaps there’s a time and a place for that, but it wasn’t part of Daniel’s prayer here, when he’s specifically praying about how God was going to accomplish His promises.

Daniel 9:9-12 – 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
The repetition here brings out the genuine, personal character of the prayer. He certainly wasn’t praying some formula. He’s pouring out his heart on behalf of his people, feeling the weight of his own sin, and glorying in the multiplied mercies of God.

Here Daniel points out that what had happened to Israel should have come as no surprise. It was the covenant they had agreed to, way back with Moses in the wilderness. They had signed on the dotted line. God had been very explicit, very clear about what would happen if they broke the covenant. And then, God waited hundreds of years for them to repent. When they wouldn’t, the Lord kept up His end of the bargain. We can be sure that God will keep His word.

Our spiritual decisions have real-world consequences for us and for those around us. And our real-world decisions always have a spiritual component. That’s why God has given us precepts and judgements, so that we can know the way we should go and how we can walk in obedience.

Daniel 9:13-15 – 13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!

As Daniel surveyed the spiritual condition of God’s people there in Babylon, it didn’t seem like things had improved much. Apparently, no one had been organizing prayer vigils or revival meetings. Back in the beginning of the book we saw that, out of all the captives from Judah in the palace, only 4 were interested in going God’s way.

We may hope for national revival, we certainly need it. But, even if the people around us aren’t setting their face toward the Lord, we can. We can pray. We can live faithfully. Daniel’s whole life is as testament to the fact that a person can honor God and be used by Him, even in the worst of circumstances. And, as we serve God, we remember that He’s still the God who brought His people out of Egypt. Out of Babylon. He’s still the God of the Book of Acts. He’s still the God of the Great Awakening, the Welsh Revival, the Jesus Movement. Our part, as individuals, is to turn toward Him, believe the truth and be transformed. To be spiritually revived in our own hearts and lives.

Now Daniel gets to his request.

Daniel 9:16-17 – 16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.

His prayer is not for himself, but for God’s glory. Yes, it is Daniel’s hope that the nation, the city and the sanctuary be restored, and along with them the people. But his concern is first for the glory of God. “For the Lord’s sake” he says.

Charles Feinberg writes, “This is the highest purpose of prayer, that God might be glorified. His glory outweighs every other conceivable argument or benefit that might appeal to mortal man, and no prayer can ever aspire to anything greater.”

Not only does Daniel pray for God’s glorification, he appeals to God’s mercy. There is no whiff of merit, or deservingness. No, he asks God to, by His mercy, bring them back into that relationship of love and protection. That once again their motto might be “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

Daniel 9:18-19 – 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

Daniel knows that no amount of works or penance or special prayers could merit God’s favor. But he also knows that God’s exceedingly great, abounding mercies far outweigh all of the sins of all the world. And he knows that the Lord wants to act on behalf of His people. He wants to move in mercy toward those who obey. Our friend Dennis Agajanian is fond of saying, “Jesus is a greater Savior than you are a sinner.” And that’s true. God’s merciful forgiveness is sufficient to cover all the sins of all the people of all the places in all the eras of human history. But, as Daniel said back in verse 4, God’s mercy is only activated and effective for those “who love Him and keep His commandments.” If you’re here tonight and you want God’s mercy, if you want forgiveness for the wrong things you’ve done and you want to be set free from your sin, God is ready and waiting to do it for you. But He only gives His mercy to those who love Him. How do you love Him? By believing and obeying. Jesus said in John 14:21 “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Daniel was a man who expected God to move in his life, and God did. But Daniel could only have that expectation because he went God’s way. He didn’t do it perfectly. He identifies himself here, over and over, as a wicked sinner, but he knew God’s mercy was enough to transform the best man or the worst man. To change them from captive to being called by God’s name.

You and I are called by a name. Paul said in First Corinthians chapter 1 that we “have been called by God to be his own holy people.” We’re called by a name, called to a life. We’re called to listen to the Lord and walk obediently in the paths He’s carved out for us. As we go, we can marvel at the incredible mercy He’s given us, day by day. And we can continually enjoy the richness of a personal relationship with the Living God. And, as we mine for gold in our prayer lives and our Bible study, we are refined as treasure in His hands, scattered throughout the world as jewels of God’s love, His power and His mercy.

The Horn Identity (Daniel 8:1-27)

In 1903 a felon named Will West was sent to Leavenworth prison to serve some time. It was the days before fingerprinting was widely used. Instead, the prison used a method called “anthropometrics” for processing. Inmates would have a variety of measurements taken in order to identify them, in the way we think of fingerprints identifying a person today. Will West had things like his height, the reach of his outstretched arms, width of head, length and width of his right ear, length of left middle finger and other things measured and cataloged. The officer processing him went through their database and discovered that Mr. West was a repeat offender and had already spent time in Leavenworth. This was an accusation West denied. The officer said, “Here’s your card with your name and all your measurements right here in front of me.” West kept denying it, so a subsequent investigation was made into the issue. The result? Officials discovered that Will West was already a prisoner there at the prison and he had been since 1901. There was another man, with the same name and with almost the exact same measurements, who was already serving a life sentence for murder.

Very similar in look, even in behavior, but not the same person. That’s an important theme for our passage tonight. Here in chapter 8, Daniel will have another prophetic vision, again dealing with world empires, but only 2 this time, not 4. And again there will be a lot of talk about horns. Specifically he sees, again, a ‘little horn.’ The question that immediately arises is: Is this the same little horn that we saw in chapter 7? Or, on the larger scale, what period and what people is chapter 8 talking about? As is normally the case when it comes to Bible prophecy, we’ll find that some people use what we’re about to see as a launching pad for heresy. Some of the information is crystal clear. And then there’s a lot left up for debate, even among great, scholarly believers.

We are not going to solve all these mysteries tonight and that’s ok. Let’s wade in and see what we can learn from Daniel’s next prophetic vision.

Daniel 8:1 – In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me—to me, Daniel—after the one that appeared to me the first time.

About 2 years have passed since chapter 7. And it’s, perhaps, about 12 years before the writing on the wall in chapter 5. There are a couple of very significant textual things going on here that are worth noting. First, you may recall that everything from Daniel 2:4 through 7:28 was written in the Aramaic language. With 8:1, Daniel is again writing in Hebrew. There is a shift in his method. Commentators point out that there is a particular focus on the people of Israel, the Temple, and God’s plan from here on out.

Second, notice that Daniel claims again to be the one writing this book, in a very specific time. This is important. Because what follows is so specific and so accurate when it comes to world history that this chapter (in particular) is held up by unbelieving critics as proof that the book must be a forgery. Yet, it’s right there on the page. Daniel knew centuries before what was going to happen.

Daniel 8:2-4 – 2 I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai. 3 Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.

We will be told outright in verse 20 that this ram is the empire of Medo-Persia. Now, while it was true that the Medo-Persians were growing in power and influence, at the time Daniel was writing, Babylon was still top dog. The vision opens with the city of Shushan. Shushan wasn’t significant in Daniel’s day, but under the Persian empire it would become the capital, the home of Nehemiah and the place where most of the book of Esther takes place.

Even more amazing is the fact that the ram was the mascot of the coming empire. The king would wear a golden ram’s head when he led his army, and rams were found on city pillars.

The two horns here also perfectly predict how the Medes would be the first and more powerful part of the empire, but with the arrival of Cyrus, power would forever tip from the Medes to the Persians.

Daniel 8:5-7 – 5 And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. 6 Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. 7 And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand.

Babylon was the current world empire, but Medo-Persia was growing in strength. Anyone in a political office like Daniel would’ve been able to see that was the way the ball was rolling. Babylon was in decline, as far as empires go. But, the kingdom which would come after Medo-Persia was impossible to know. Here Daniel sees a fierce and speedy western power coming and obliterating Medo-Persia, with intensity and rage.

We’ll be told outright who this is too (down in verse 21): It is the kingdom of Greece. Amazingly, this vision was spot on, down to the fact that the goat would be a mascot of the empire. One commentary writes this:

“The goat was a symbol of Macedonia. According to tradition…the first Macedonian king was directed by an oracle to take a goat for a guide and build a city. This he did, following a herd of goats to Edessa, which me made his capital, changing its name to Egaea (the goat city).”

The notable horn, we’ll be told, is the first king of the Grecian empire: Alexander the Great. Alexander, seeking to conquer the world and to bring revenge on the Persian empire for their attacks on Greece, decimated the kingdom of the ram with brutality and impressive speed. That ram, who had been so powerful and so unstoppable was suddenly just like one of the earlier victims, unable to withstand the might of this new kingdom. It’s a good reminder that only God’s Kingdom will endure forever. And it’s a good reminder that men and nations reap what they sow. The Medo-Persian empire had poured out merciless violence against the world, and they reaped that same crop.

Daniel 8:8 – 8 Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.

Alexander died suddenly before his 33rd birthday. His wife and son were murdered and, with no clear heir, the empire split into 4 parts, ruled by 4 of his generals. The vision will now focus in on the future of one of those quarter-kingdoms: The one that covered Syria, Babylonia and Media.

Daniel 8:9 – 9 And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.

Now, here we run into an area of great divide. The rest of the vision will deal with the character and actions of this little horn. It is uniformly believed that this little horn finds fulfillment in a future king of the Syrian branch of the Greek empire who was named Antiochus Epiphanes. The questions that come up, though, are these: Is this the same as the little horn in chapter 7? Does the prophecy in this text only refer to Antiochus, who lived during the time in-between the Old and New Testaments, or does it also speak of a yet future individual? If it also points to a future world leader, is it referring to the Antichrist, or some other figure?

There’s lots of debate among really solid guys. We don’t want to become dogmatic on this sort of thing, but there are some pretty evident answers to some of these questions. First of all, is this the same little horn as chapter 7? Reading the text in english, we’d prone to think, “Ok, ‘little horn.’ We’re talking about the same guy as before.” But, if we look at the context and the language it becomes clear that they are not one and the same. For example, their rise to power is different. The horn in chapter 7 uproots 3 others. This horn in chapter 8 simply comes out of 1 of 4. In chapter 7, it’s the 4th world kingdom in view. In chapter 8, it’s the 3rd. Also, linguists will point out that, where we read ‘little horn’, different words are used in each chapter. In chapter 7 the words mean “a horn, a little one.” In chapter 8 they mean, “A horn less than little.”

The next question, then, is: Is this prophecy totally fulfilled by this guy Antiochus Epiphanes? Well, we’ll see that he was the primary character in view. But, like many Bible prophecies, there is also another, ultimate fulfillment still to come. This isn’t an unusual arrangement in the Bible. For example: When God was making His prophetic covenant with King David in 2 Samuel chapter 7, God said this concerning David’s son: “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.”

But then the writer of the Hebrews says that the first part of that verse finds fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Of course, the second half does not, since the Messiah could never commit iniquity. So, we see that, in the same prophecy, we have a portion corresponding to a far future fulfillment while it also prophesies something in the nearer future, if that makes sense.

Our position is that the little horn of chapter 8 prominently foretells the life and character of Antiochus Epiphanes, who is also a type and foreshadow of the ultimate little horn: The Antichrist.

Daniel 8:10-12 – 10 And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. 11 He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. 12 Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.

Who are the host and the stars? Well, it can’t be that a man climbed up and pulled down any residents of heaven. The host refers to the people of Israel, the stars either to the priests or prominent leaders among them. This man, Antiochus, would come centuries after Daniel wrote these words, but was prefigured perfectly. He did exalt himself as high as a god, in fact the name he gave himself was “God manifest.” Once he came to power, he did go out conquering to the south in Egypt, the east in Babylon, and to Israel. He desecrated the temple, offering swine flesh on the altar and setting up an altar to Zeus in God’s house. He outlawed following the law of Moses and circumcision, under penalty of death. Verse 12 is, according to scholars, very difficult to translate, and our version there is pretty confusing. It’s better understood by either saying that the host of Israel was given over to him, or that the host of heaven was restrained from intervening on behalf of God’s people. Antiochus was powerful and successful in his attack on Jerusalem. Over 80,000 Jews lost their lives in his rage.

Daniel 8:13-14 – 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14 And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”

Here we have another great point of contention among readers and scholars. Some of you may know that verse 14 is foundational for the faith of the Seventh Day Adventists. Back in the 1800’s, the teaching of a group called the Millerites was that these 2,300 evenings and mornings meant 2,300 years and, at the end, Jesus would return. Well, then 1844 came along, the 2,300 years were up. Jesus didn’t come back. This is known as “The Great Disappointment.” Out of that disappointment came the SDA church. And now, the teaching is that at the end of the 2,300 years the investigative judgment began. Sadly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses also arose out of the Millerites after this false interpretation.

Within evangelical circles, it’s debated over whether the 2,300 days refer to Antiochus or foreshadow something of the future Antichrist. Within those who hold that they refer to the reign of Antiochus, there’s debate over whether it is 2,300 literal days, or if it is 2,300 morning and evening sacrifices, which would count out to 1,150 literal days. There’s lots of calculations and theories. In the end, we cannot make a definitive conclusion. However, there’s a lot more reason to associate this number with what was future to Daniel, but is now past to us: The reign of Antiochus, rather than looking forward to the Great Tribulation. Because Judas Maccabeus did cleanse and restore the Temple after the death of Antiochus.

Daniel 8:15-19 – 15 Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.” 18 Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright. 19 And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.

This is the first time in all the Bible than an angel is named. And, as is often the case, we see some fun angel/human interactions. It’s always kind of like The Odd Couple. Gabriel starts talking to Daniel, but Daniel isn’t conscious. When Gabriel realizes it, he has to wake him up, get him on his feet, and start over. He says, “Look, I’m trying to help you know what’s going on!”

Gabriel starts referring to the time “of the end.” From here out, there are definitely things that do not fit if you take the position that this vision is all, only about Antiochus. There’s something further being talked about here that wasn’t fulfilled by him.

Daniel 8:20-22 – 20 The ram which you saw, having the two horns—they are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. 22 As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.

The Bible was perfectly correct: That was the flow of kingdoms. And those that came to power after Alexander the Great never had the same power he did. Notice too, that these symbols, though strange, had real, literal fulfillment in history. It wasn’t some grand, mystical allegory.

Daniel 8:23-26 – 23“And in the latter time of their kingdom, When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes. 24His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; He shall destroy fearfully, And shall prosper and thrive; He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. 25“Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means. 26 “And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future.”

These descriptions measure out Antiochus Epiphanes pretty well, but not perfectly. It’s kind of like our man Will West. There’s a lot that lines up, but a few things just a little off. For example: It’s hard to make a case that Antiochus came “in the latter time” of the Greek Kingdom. He died a hundred years before the empire. Also, the phrase “when the transgressors have reached their fullness” is problematic if you try to say this whole vision has already been fulfilled. No, there’s something ultimate and final also in view here. Like Will West, there’s another guy who looks very similar, but has something even more going on. The “less than little” horn of chapter 8 is a prototype of the “little horn” of chapter 7, the Antichrist who will rule over a revived Roman empire in the Tribulation.

John Walvoord writes:

“It may be concluded that this difficult passage apparently goes beyond that which is historically fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes to foreshadow a future personage often identified as the world ruler of the end time. In many respects this ruler carries on a persecution of Israel and desecration of the temple similar to what was accomplished historically by Antiochus. This interpretation of the vision may be regarded as an illustration of double fulfillment of prophecy or, using Antiochus as a type, the interpretation may go on to reveal additional facts which go beyond the type in describing the ultimate king who will oppose Israel in the last days.”

Daniel 8:27 – 27 And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king’s business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.

I find it interesting: Gabriel said, “Hey I’m here to make you understand.” And he did his job, but Daniel still couldn’t full grasp everything that was being said. The was more that the Lord would share, even about this Antiochus era. That’s coming later in the book. And of course, there was a lot more God would reveal to other prophets, especially John in the New Testament. But, to me it’s an encouragement that we can continue to discover insights from God’s word, but we should realistically accept the fact that there will be gaps in our understanding. In the mean time, Daniel went about the king’s business. He lived out his life, faithfully and diligently. Paul had to address this with the Thessalonian church, right? Some people, thinking about the rapture, decided, “Well, we’ll quit our jobs and just hang around.” Paul said, “You better start working and being a productive member of the church and society.” With Daniel as our example, we’d say we need to be about the king’s business while being about the King’s business. Be faithful in your life.

As we wrap this up, what’s something we can think about to apply to ourselves? I was thinking about the emphases on horns in this vision. The ram’s horns, the goat’s horns. Horns are different than antlers. Antlers are solid and shed off regularly. Horns have a core but then are hollow with the shell around it. They grow throughout the life of the animal. When humans use horns, they use them to make noise or to fill up with oil and things like that. The horns in these visions represent terrible, wicked men. Guys who did (or will) fill themselves with bloodshed, with drunkenness, with cruelty, with blasphemy, with transgression. These historically ‘great’ men, Alexander, Xerxes, the Antichrist…they may accomplish big things, but would you want your children to be any of them? No. Their lives were full of evil and waste and hatred. In the mean time, as the horn of your life is growing day by day, you’re called to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Your mouth to be filled with praise. To be filled with the glory of the Lord. You are called to be filled with the fullness of God. Growing larger and deeper and fuller in the fruits of His righteousness, by Jesus Christ, as you go about your day-to-day life, being faithful and fruitful, not seeking the world’s greatness like some Alexander or Antiochus, but seeking the joy of the Lord and the knowledge of the Lord so that you can be a part of filling the earth with His glory.

You can find references and footnotes by downloading the PDF transcript of these notes at calvaryhanford.com/lionsandtigersandprayers

What A Difference A Dream Makes (Daniel 7:15-28)

Yesterday was Lincoln’s birthday, right? I learned something new about our 16th President this week: His law partner, friend and bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon wrote that, only a few days before his assassination, Lincoln told a small circle of friends that, in a dream, he had what can be described as a premonition of his own death. In the dream Lincoln saw the body of ‘the President’, on display in the East Room of the White House, after having been assassinated. It seems, though, he hadn’t been worried about his dream at all. It’s reported that Lincoln assured Lamon it was some other fellow who had been killed. But a few days later, Lincoln had been shot and was, in fact, put on display in the East Room.

We’ve been moving through Daniel chapter 7, where our hero has had an amazing dream. It’s a overview of God’s prophetic plan for mankind, culminating in the overthrow of the Antichrist and the establishing of the Millennial Kingdom, with Christ reigning forevermore. But, unlike Lincoln, Daniel is extremely concerned and distressed by what he saw unfolding in his vision. In our text this evening, he will seek out an explanation of what these things mean.

We pick back up in verse 15 of chapter 7.

Daniel 7:15 – 15 “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

I don’t know if you’re the type to have bad dreams. Maybe you can think back to a time where you had a nightmare and woke up in a sweat. The scare of the dream usually passes quickly. Daniel won’t be so lucky. He’s not even awake yet and he describes himself as grieved and terrified.

There’s a nice piece of language that scholars will bring out here. When he says, “within my body,” the words mean “in the sheath.” It’s a lovely reminder that it is your soul and spirit that makes you who you are. Your body is simply the sheath that holds the sword. As Christian author and minister George MacDonald once said: “Never tell a child, ‘you have a soul. Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body.’”

Daniel 7:16 – 16 I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:

God loves it when we turn aside to seek wisdom. It was when Moses turned aside to examine the burning bush that God spoke. It was when the disciples came asking that Jesus explained the parables. When we come asking God for answers and for wisdom, He doesn’t furrow His brow and say He’s too busy to meet with us. We see here, we also see with John in the Revelation, that when these guys turn aside for wisdom, the Lord has provided a tutor and a tour guide to walk them through what they’re witnessing. And it’s not just for prophetic visions. James says:

James 1:5 – 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

There’s a lot we don’t know and the Bible encourages us to be people who are humble enough and bold enough to ask for understanding. God doesn’t want to hide away. In fact, He makes provisions for those who come seeking wisdom.

Daniel 7:17 – 17 ‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.

Wait just a second! I thought we said that the 4 beasts are 4 kingdoms, not just kings! Well, the answer is yes and yes. The same pattern we saw in the vision of the Great Image in chapter 2 is found here. The kings and their kingdoms are connected. With each successive empire there is an individual ruler who is particularly associated. Daniel said back in chapter 2: “Nebuchadnezzar, you are the head of gold.” But in the very next verse he went on to say, “But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours.” Here in chapter 7, the beasts are identified with individual kings, but also we’ll read in verse 23 “the fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth.”

This isn’t unusual. We don’t think of the Soviet Union without Stalin or Stalin without the Soviet Union. Hitler and Nazi Germany. Mao and Communist China. The same thing is happening here.

Daniel 7:18 – 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’

This angel that Daniel is speaking to gives very little thought to the 4 beasts. He wants to get to the end of the story, with the rightful King on the throne.

There are several points of interest here. First, we should note that the kingdom is received by the saints, it is not built by the saints. We talk about doing “Kingdom work” in the here and now, and that’s fine, but we are not the ones who build the Kingdom. It is God who does the work and then gives it to us. And that is the more important point: You and I don’t just get to visit it or vacation in it or take a tour. We receive this incredible gift as our own. The term there means to hold occupancy and have royal authority. God gives His Kingdom to us. Imagine you were going to take a vacation to Disneyland, which would be great on its own, but upon arrival there is a delegation who stops you and says, “You’re an owner now. It’s all yours.” “But, I didn’t do anything! I don’t have the money to pay.” “No, no, it’s all taken care of. Enjoy.” And yet, the King of heaven and earth has done this to an infinite degree! What a stunning thing to think about.

Unfortunately, Daniel wasn’t able to marvel at this promise. He’s still quite upset at what he’d seen:

Daniel 7:19-22 – 19 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; 20 and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. 21 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

This is a rehash of what Daniel reported earlier, with a few additional details added in. Daniel is understandably bothered by the vision. He’s a captive, hoping that the ancient promises to Israel would soon be realized. Instead, he’s just learned that there will be, maybe centuries of delay before the ultimate restoration of God’s people. And, in the mean time, God’s people were going to be brutally persecuted. It’s not a criticism of Daniel. He’s receiving all of this at once, without the benefit of the other passages we have to study. It makes sense that he’s so troubled.

A couple of items for us here. First of all, it’s important that we see just how different this fourth beast and the little horn are. 3 times in these verses we’re going to be told he’s different, he’s different, he’s different! This matters because there are some who try to say that the fourth beast was Greece. Or the fourth beast was the historic Roman empire. Or the little horn was this guy Antiochus Epiphanes during the Maccabean period. But Daniel wants us to understand: This is different. Unlike any other empire, any other ruler the world has ever known.

Second, throughout this vision we see a very clear flow of events. There’s a succession of empires. The fourth empire has a succession of 10 rulers followed by 1 ruler. The final ruler will do some things, then heaven responds, and then the Son of Man begins His reign and the saints are given a Kingdom forever and ever. We see again and again this step-by-step process. “Then this happened,” “then this time came.” There’s a timeline.

The third note from this section not only speaks to God’s sovereignty over all things, but also God’s justice. In this world, it sometimes seems like might makes right. Sometimes it seems like the bad guys overpower and steal what doesn’t belong to them without consequence. But, in the end, justice will prevail. The Ancient of Days will make His judgment, and righteousness will repay.

The difficult part of this equation is: “Well, what about right now?” I thought God’s people were safe in His hands? If you’re Daniel, or if you’re us reading this tonight, it’s not a far leap to say, “Wait a minute, what about all the Bible verses that talk about God protecting His people?”

Psalm 138:7 – Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.

Psalm 34:19 – The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

This is a topic we talk a good amount about here at Calvary, because the reality is that God’s people are not always saved from pain or persecution or loss. There are a lot of reasons why people suffer and aren’t always, immediately rescued. If you want to get into that, I’d recommend you head to our website, type “suffering” into the search bar and see some of the studies we have there from the Psalms, from Colossians, other passages that get into this topic in depth.

For our text this evening we’re reminded that a significant part of this issue is that God has an ultimate goal He is working toward. Because of His longsuffering, we will live suffering. But, in the end, every single one of God’s people will be rescued into heaven, where all will be made right. We talked about that idea of being given ownership of Disneyland. In one sense, suffering is the traffic you have to endure on the way down. I don’t say that to make light of suffering, but that’s sort of how Paul characterized it.

One more quick note on verse 22 before we move on: The Kingdom is not delivered until after the Antichrist is gone from the scene. We’re not in the Kingdom now.

Daniel 7:23 – 23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces.

The empire on display here is, by definition, different from any other the world has ever known. And, we’re told it will cover the whole earth. This simply cannot be said of the Ancient Roman empire or the Ancient Grecian empire. In fact, historically speaking, they’re not even at the top of the list. The largest contiguous empire in history was the Mongol empire, which covered 16% of the world’s landmass and governed about 25% of the world’s population. History’s largest empire, as far as land is concerned? The British empire. Which covered 22% of the earth and over 20% of the world’s population. Those were the 2 biggest. But this final beast, ruled by the Antichrist, will hold the whole earth in its sway. That’s a size and scope nothing’s ever come close to.

Daniel 7:24 – 24The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings.

Here we not only see how the Antichrist will rise to power, we note that the 10 kings must be ruling together at the same time. If it were just a succession of 10 rulers, the Horn wouldn’t be able to uproot 3 at once. So, this revived Roman empire will be, at some point, ruled over by 10 individuals. Notice again the use of the word ‘different’ when describing the Little Horn.

Daniel 7:25 – 25He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.

First, let’s address the suggestion that this Little Horn was actually a Syrian king named Antiochus Epiphanes, who back in about 170B.C. made war with the Jews, desecrated the temple, brutally persecuted God’s people, until they were miraculously delivered.

We’re going to learn a lot about this guy in chapter 11. But we can say with confidence that he was not the Little Horn. For one thing, his persecution against the Jews was terrible, but relatively small in scale, compared to others. 2nd Maccabees records that 80,000 Jews died in his fury. In the mean time, 1.1 million Jews dies in Auschwitz alone. You can’t make a historical case that Antiochus was different than any other anti-Semitic world ruler.

More importantly, Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 that the abomination of desolation was an event that hadn’t happened yet. Antiochus lived close to 2 centuries before Christ, so he’s disqualified from being this Little Horn.

The Little Horn, we’re told, will intend to change times and law. Meaning he will follow the example of Jeroboam back in 1 Kings 12, and try to establish counterfeit rituals and a counterfeit calendar, in relation to Israel. And we’re told that the saints are given into his hand for time, times and half a time.

This is a term that’s used a few times in Daniel. Over in chapter 12 it’s used and then we’re told it’s a period of 1,290 days. It’s the 3 and a half years of the Great Tribulation, beginning with the setting up of the abomination of desolation, when the Antichrist breaks his treaty with Israel, goes into the temple and demands to be worshiped, and ending at the second coming of Christ to earth. In Revelation 11 and 13 we’re told it’s 42 months (again, 3 1/2 years). ‘Time’ here means a year. So time (1 year) plus times (2 years) plus half a time equals 3 1/2 years.

Daniel 7:26-27 – 26‘But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever. 27Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

So, again, this simply isn’t the reality we find ourselves in. For those who hold to the idea that we’re in the Kingdom now, why is it, then, that so many dominions of man do not serve and obey the Lord? It’s because these events have not fully unfolded. They will, but they haven’t yet.

In the mean time, the angel ends where he began, proclaiming the wonder of the King who shares His Kingdom.

Daniel 7:28 – 28 “This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.”

The weight of this vision actually showed on Daniel’s face. He wasn’t glib about what God had revealed. David Guzik points out that Daniel, obviously, believed these prophecies would be literally fulfilled, and that meant a lot of profound suffering for real people. And Daniel’s heart was tender to that fact. He wasn’t happy about it, he was deeply concerned.

Now, as we come to this passage, we’re at a much better vantage point than Daniel was. We’ve got the cross references he didn’t have. It sort of reminds me of the first National Treasure movie. At the beginning the heroes only have a bit of information on a little pipe. Then they see a little more in the Declaration of Independence, which leads them to some letters written by Ben Franklin, which leads them to find these glasses which provide the special lenses necessary to see what’s really written on the Declaration. Daniel received this vision and had very little else to go on. From where we sit we’ve got Ezekiel and Zechariah and the Olivet Discourse, all of Revelation. Specifically speaking, when you read Daniel 7, you should read Revelation 13 and 17, because they speak about the same things. They give additional layers and insight to this Old Testament vision. We don’t have to feel disheartened about what’s coming, because we can see it in full frame. In the mean time, there is a lot of discouragement and suffering that we face. And prophecy reveals that things aren’t going to get better and better, the world is going to follow worse and worse into sin. So, knowing that, what are the lessons we can apply to ourselves from Daniel’s example in this passage?

Well, first of all, we should allow the angel’s message to encourage us. The King is coming! Everything wrong will be made right one day and we get to enjoy and experience all that the Lord will do. Heaven is coming for us. Be encouraged.

Second, be like Daniel there in verses 16 and 19. When he was troubled, when he was confused, he asked for understanding. We need to continually develop an honesty before God in our prayer lives and in our minds, recognizing that we don’t know everything and that we can, humbly, go before the Lord and say, “Lord, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I want You to give me the wisdom You want to give.” I know that sometimes I’m too proud to pray a prayer like that, but I shouldn’t be. Daniel wasn’t, and we’re all the beneficiaries of his humility and openness before the Lord.

Third, Daniel endured and pressed on, despite the intense distress. He didn’t quit. This was in the first year of Belshazzar. And we know that, through and after those years, Daniel was still a man of prayer. Still a man who studied God’s word. Still a man who was willing to serve. Still a man who hoped in the Lord. Despite his incomplete understanding and the discouragement that he faced. Despite these shocking developments, Daniel trusted in God and remained faithful to him. Don’t quit. Even when suffering comes in like a nightmare. Remember the end of the book. Remember the inheritance that is coming. Any amount of traffic is worth enduring if they handed you the keys to Disneyland at the end of the trip.

Court Is In Heaven (Daniel 7:8-14)

The number 1 television show in syndication is? Judge Judy. In fact, Judge Judy has been top of the list by a wide margin for 5 years straight. In 2018, second place went to Dr. Phil, and coming in at number 3 was Hot Bench, another daytime courtroom show, created by Judge Judy herself. Judge Judy, The People’s Court, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Faith…it seems that a lot of folks can’t get enough of courtroom drama.

If that’s you, then our passage tonight should be right up your alley. In it, the heavenly court comes to order and the Judge makes His verdict. But this is no small-claims court case. This isn’t some petty dispute between roommates. What we see is God passing judgment and carrying out the sentence for the final, Godless world empire, ruled by the Antichrist. And then, finally, the Lord Jesus will be established as King over all the earth, Whose Kingdom will never end.

When we left off, Daniel had just seen a vision of 4 destructive and grotesque beasts. We learned that they are 4 world empires, spanning from Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, all the way to a Revived Roman Empire under the Antichrist. In between would be Medo-Persia and Greece. This is exactly how history has unfolded, just as the Bible has said. We find ourselves in a gap between the Roman empire and the revived Roman empire. The distinction is symbolized in chapter 2 through the legs of iron followed by feet of iron mixed with clay. In this vision we first see a terrible beast, then a distinct emergence of a little horn (the Antichrist) who speaks pompous blasphemies against the Most High. Though Rome rose up and overtook Greece, a second iteration is still on its way.

In verses 1 through 8, Daniel’s vision was like a horror movie. In verse 9, he suddenly changes the channel to a courtroom drama. He’s no longer seeing things on the earth, now he’s looking into heaven. And that’s where we pick up.

Daniel 7:9 – 9 “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire;

He sees a Person and a throne. The Person is identified as “the Ancient of Days.” One of the great titles for God. It’s only used 3 times in the Bible and all of them are found in this chapter. The whiteness of His hair and clothing speak to us of His absolute purity and the magnificent, mature wisdom associated with His timeless existence.

The question is: Who is this? The Mormons teach that the Ancient of Days is Adam, who (they say) is the same as Michael the Archangel. You find that lie in their Doctrines And Covenants. Reading the Bible, it’s plain and obvious that Daniel is seeing God, but commentators disagree over whether the Ancient of Days is God the Father or God the Son. Some point to verse 22 of this chapter, which seems to reference the arrival of the Ancient of Days to deliver the saints from the Antichrist, plus the description of the white garments remind us of the Transfiguration, therefore they conclude that the Ancient of Days must be Jesus.

But, in our verses tonight, we’ll also see the Son of Man, who Jesus specifically claimed to be, standing before the Ancient of Days, and so others says that the Ancient of Days must be God the Father.

While the debate is important and interesting, this sort of overlap makes sense since our God is a Trinity. One God, Three Persons. Jesus said “I and the Father are One.” It’s not that there’s a problem in the revelation, it’s that our ability to comprehend the Trinity is limited.

We’re told that the throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire. In visions of heaven, the throne of God is very prominent. John gives a lot of attention to it in the Revelation. Its flames speak to us of God’s consuming, holy judgment. In Psalm 97 we told that “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” God is love, but His love does not overlook sin. Sin must face the wrath of God one way or another. If you’re in Christ, Paul says in Romans 5, that you are therefore justified by His blood and are saved from the wrath of God. If you’re not a Christian, the wrath of God remains on you. And that wrath will, rightly, consume you in fiery judgment.

The references to fire and wheels also draw our thoughts to what we read in Ezekiel. We see wheels like this in chapter 1. And multiple times the Lord speaks to His prophet about “the fire of [His] wrath.” And that connection to Ezekiel is a good opportunity for us to remind ourselves that these Scriptures, especially prophetic portions, do not live in isolation from one another. These few verses in Daniel 7 connect either directly or indirectly to Ezekiel, to Revelation, to First Corinthians, to Thessalonians, to the Psalms, to Isaiah, to Acts, to Exodus. That’s why we study the whole Bible, because it is a whole revelation. It’s not simply a collection of standalone stories. When we see this passage, it should immediately draw our attention to Revelation 4 and 5 and 20 and Ezekiel 1 and all these other things that God has spoken about in His word. It all connects and is built together.

Daniel 7:10 – 10A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.

The fire streamed out. This is not some figurehead King. These are not court orders that can be ignored. From time to time you hear about Presidents ignoring court orders or celebrities violating them. People will disregard custody rulings or restraining orders. But not in this court. The fire of God’s wrath goes out and His judgement cannot be denied. His is a pure and absolute power, not confined to 1 jurisdiction. He is Ruler of all, and before Him stands an innumerable host, at least a hundred million, of angels and saints who throng in His presence to hear and to worship the Lord.

I’d have us note this: While we see the raw, unmatched, power of God’s holiness and judgment, pouring out from His throne in fierceness and fury, the people before the throne are not afraid, they’re in awe! You know, if a river of fire started oozing out from underneath the stage here, I think we’d all turn heel and run. But in the Bible we see, and one day we’ll see in person, that this God is not one to run away from. He is altogether right, altogether true, altogether wise. And this God has invited us into His presence, to not only worship His glory, but to be glorified by Him.

Now, here we’re told that the books were opened. Couple of things here: First of all, we’ve taken a break so it’s not as fresh in our minds, but remember what immediately preceded all of this. These gruesome beasts were devouring the world in great slaughter. Who could stand before the lion or the bear or the leopard, let alone the fourth beast, too terrible to describe? Yet, in heaven, there’s no rush. No wringing of hands. No recklessness. God isn’t surprised or caught off guard by anything that happens in this world, and that includes everything that’s going on in your life.

We’re told that “the books were opened.” Heaven has a library. A pretty extensive one. Of course, we know that there is the Lamb’s Book of Life. We first learn about that all the way back in the book of Exodus. There’s the Book of the Living in Psalm 69. The Book of Remembrance in Malachi 3:16. Is Psalm 56 it says God records our tears in His book. In Revelation 20 we’re told that there are multiple books which record the deeds of human beings. And in Psalm 139 we read, “Every day of my life was recorded in your book.”

In our text, the books most likely refer to those books we see in Revelation 20. Those whose names are not found in the Book of Life are then judged accordingly. It says, “And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

Daniel 7:11 – 11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.

Daniel looks down to earth again. All the while the horn has been boasting and blaspheming against the God of heaven.

It’s funny…when you read the first 8 verses, the beast and the horn are alarming and frightful. Now think about this horn in light of the magnificent view we’ve just seen of the Ancient of Days, in His throne, wielding His power. It shows the extreme littleness of the horn compared to the exceeding greatness of God. This Antichrist, who will do so many things and cause so much trouble, is just an ugly little nothing compared to the Lord.

Daniel saw the whole beast, including the little horn, slain suddenly. In a moment, the whole thing is destroyed by the fire that proceeds from the throne. Now, remember: These beasts symbolize world empires. This 4th beast is a revived Roman empire, ruled by the Man of Sin. When the Lord puts him down, it will be sudden and immediate. You can read how it will happen in Revelation 19.

Daniel 7:12 – 12 As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

Commentators split over whether this verse is referring to the way that each of the previous beasts were overcome historically, or if it’s speaking of a yet-future event. There’s no reason why it can’t be both. It’s true, when Babylon was dominated by Medo-Persia, the dominion was taken, but much of the people and the culture survived for a while. The same was true for Persia when Greece came, and Greece when Rome came. But, when the last beast is destroyed, that’s it. There’s no leftover influence of the Revived Roman empire. However, the Bible does indicate that the “lives” of these other nations will continue, in some sense, during the Millennium. We’re told that Satan will go out at the end of the 1,000 year reign to “deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.” Even in eternity there remains a distinction between, at least, Jews and non-Jews, and, it would seem from Revelation 21:24 that there will be some sort of national identity.
Daniel 7:13 – 13“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.

Back to heaven now. Daniel sees a new figure: The Son of Man. This is a title Jesus loved to use of Himself. He definitely claimed to be this Person. In fact, at His trial before the High Priest on the night before His crucifixion, He refers to this passage, saying, “You’re going to see Me, the Son of Man, coming on the clouds.” ‘Coming with the clouds’ identifies this individual as the Messiah. John further identifies Him as Jesus in Revelation 1. He says that the One who was pierced and washed us with His own blood is coming with the clouds. He is the Alpha and the Omega, He is the Almighty. So, He is absolutely God. And yet, He is named the Son of Man. The Bible clearly reveals Jesus to be the GodMan. Fully God, fully human. He alone is able to bridge the gap between mankind and the Father. The Savior has to be God and He has to be Man. There’s no other way to deal with the problem of sin in light of the perfection of heaven.

Daniel 7:14 – 14Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff here. First of all, it’s clear that Daniel believed that the Messiah was God. We know that because of what we hear Nebuchadnezzar and Darius say about this character. We talked about this a number of weeks ago. Darius uses some of this same language in the tract he sent throughout his kingdom. So did Nebuchadnezzar. They had, obviously, spoken with Daniel about God and some of the visions he had. And when those kings wrote about this figure, the One whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, they said that He was the Most High, Living God, the King of Heaven who reigns forevermore. The Messiah cannot be a created being, He is God Himself.

Second, it’s worth noting how the Messiah receives His dominion. We’re told He comes before the Ancient of Days and then dominion and a kingdom was given to Him. Meaning that the people on the earth did not give Him dominion. It’s given from Heaven’s throne. This is significant because in the way of thinking called Postmillennialism, the Kingdom “will be brought on the earth by a long process of the preaching of the Gospel with subsequent transformation of society.” The problem is, this view (and by extension the amillennialist position as well), not only doesn’t line up with history, it doesn’t line up with what we’re reading here. Just as 4 world empires flowed in an order, so will the coming of the Messiah come as described in Bible prophecy: At the culmination of human history, to defeat the Antichrist, immediately destroying his kingdom and then establishing a global Kingdom that is just as real and literal as the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome have been.

The great difference is that the Lord’s Kingdom is everlasting, it shall not pass away, it can not be destroyed, and we have been invited to not only become citizens of that Kingdom, but to rule and reign with the Messiah, who wants to include us in that wonderful inheritance.

Those who hold the postmillennial view or the amillennial view, we love them, they’re brothers and sisters, but their positions simply just don’t coalesce with what Bible prophecy says. You read these visions of Daniel or the Book of the Revelation, even a passage like First Corinthians 15:24-28 and you have to do all kinds of wild modification to come to these other conclusions. If we’re in the Kingdom now, then why are God’s people still subject to death? Why doesn’t every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? Why hasn’t God put “an end to all rule and all authority and power”? If the Church is meant to establish the Kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel, which will eventually cover the whole earth in righteousness, then why does the Bible talk about a great apostasy, a “falling away” before the coming of the Lord?

We’re given the broad strokes of God’s plan. Many of the details are still a question mark, but the Bible is very plain about what is coming. What we can be sure of is that God will win, His people are secure and heaven is waiting for those who are in Christ.

The question might arise in our minds, “Ok, then what does this passage matter for me?” Of course, the general answer is that God wants you to know these things and prophecy is profitable for the Gospel and for Christian living. But in a specific sense we do have some points of application from our verses tonight.

First of all, this vision shows us the kingdom of the beast and the Kingdom of the Lord. Which one has issued you your passport? Can you say that you would be numbered among the 10,000 times 10,000 there before the throne, gathered to worship and adore the God who saved you? If not, then the fire of God’s judgment is going to consume you and your fate will be the same as the little horn. If you are convinced you’d be safe in heaven, what is that based on? The Bible explains that the only way to be justified and saved from the wrath of God is through faith in Jesus Christ. We’re not given access to heaven because we do charitable things or because we’re not as bad as the guy next to us. Access into God’s grace is by faith alone. Anyone who is willing can be numbered among that multitude in verse 10, but only those who confess with their mouths and believe in their hearts that Jesus Christ is Lord and God has raised Him from the dead.

The second point of application is this: What does your book say? It’s somewhat scary to come to terms with the fact that the Bible says everything we do is written down in the library of heaven. I remember back in 2010 there was big news that the Library of Congress was going to archive every single tweet that was sent on Twitter. Which means I have a bunch of stupid things stored in our capital. They stopped doing that in 2017, by the way. But, you know, people talk about how “anything on the internet lasts forever.” It’s true. But, now think about these heavenly books. Your life, your thoughts, your tears, your actions, your choices, your days, all watched and recorded so that the Lord might reward you who are believers for what you’ve done. One day those books will be opened. The record will be brought out. We’ll stand before God Himself and give account.

Every biography has its own style and feel. Some are shorter, others are thousands of pages. The difference is, in this life, people don’t get the luxury of living in order to tell the story of their biography, if that makes sense. They live their lives, and the biographers go back and study the story and write it up. We know that our story is being written and can choose accordingly. Daniel would advise us to fill our books with worship and service and faithfulness to our King. We can’t wait to minister to the Ancient of Days when we’re there before the throne. We’re called to that life now and are told exactly how to do it as we open up God’s word, read what it says and obey by the power of God the Holy Spirit.

Beasts Of Those Nations (Daniel 7:1-8)

If you have a Bible, please join me at Daniel chapter 7. We always encourage you to follow along with us here at Calvary. But if you’re not in the habit, I would especially urge you to have the text open on your lap so that you can see these passages for yourself. I believe it will be immensely helpful for you to be able to see these words for yourself as you’re listening.

This is an immensely significant portion of Scripture. In this second half of the book, God reveals to us what His plan for human history is. And we want to remind ourselves that the prophecies in Daniel are absolutely essential when it comes to interpreting the other prophetic portions of Scripture.

Let me quote Dr. John Walvoord:

“…Daniel is essential to the structure of prophecy and is the key to the entire Old Testament prophetic revelation…Daniel alone reveals the details of God’s plan for both the nations and Israel.”

Daniel’s prophecies are not only significant, they’re so accurate that skeptics and critics wear themselves out trying to convince the world that they must have been written by an impostor, hundreds of years after the fact. They have no evidence for such a claim, only an unwillingness to believe that an all-knowing God could actually reveal the future and have it recorded for all to read.

Now, when it comes to Bible prophecy, we need to consider our approach to interpretation. Over a quarter of the Bible is prophetic in nature. So the question becomes: How are we to decode it and understand it? Among Christians there is serious division on these issues. Take the Millennial Kingdom, for example. One group says there will be a literal, physical, 1,000 year Kingdom, ruled by Jesus Christ at some point in the future. Another group says Christ will only return after we “build” the Kingdom ourselves by causing Christianity to dominate the world. A third group says we are in the Millennial Kingdom right now! Those are pretty big divides, not between Christians and non-Christians, but within the Church itself.

Here at Calvary, we would define ourselves as PreMillennial, PreTribulational, Futurists who believe in the literal interpretation of Bible prophecy. If you want to talk to us about any of those terms, you can speak with me or Pastor Gene or Pastor Jake after our service. But, for our purpose tonight, we remind ourselves that prophecy should be taken literally in the sense that it corresponds to real events that have or will actually happen in our world. Having a literal interpretation does not mean we don’t recognize symbols or allegories or figures of speech. For example: Tonight we’ll see a vision of 4 beasts rising out of the sea. Having a literal interpretation of this vision does not mean we think that Godzilla and Rodan are going to rise out of the ocean and smash New York City. But we do believe that this vision gives clear symbols of real figures and events that transpire in human history.

There are 2 major reasons why we take the literal approach to interpreting Bible prophecy. First of all, it is the only consistent approach. If prophecy is not meant to be understood or decoded literally, then who gets to decide what these words mean? Whose rubric do we use to understand what’s going on and what’s being symbolized? To assume prophecy is figurative is to place the reader above Scripture as the authority, rather than the other way around.

But the second reason for reading prophecy literally is not just philosophical, it’s historical! The Bible is filled with thousands of prophecies. And thousands of them have been really, truly, clearly fulfilled to the letter. We were told the Christ was coming to Bethlehem. He came. We are told an AntiChrist is coming…he’ll come! We’re told the kingdom of Babylon would be followed by Persia, then Greece, then Rome. That all happened. We’re told that a physical Kingdom, ruled by Jesus from Jerusalem will wrap up human history. Why should that be any less literal?

With that said, we recognize that there are variations in the interpretation of prophecy, even among futurists who take these things literally. For example: Some people, who read the Bible in the way we do, say the AntiChrist must be Roman. Others say he must be Assyrian. Others say he must be a Jew! Still others say there is no must in this regard. And that’s ok. There is room for variety in these details. But the flow of God’s program is pretty clearly laid out if you read literally, as a futurist. I’m sure at some point in these 6 chapters I will say something that, perhaps, is different than someone who’s a great scholar and better preacher than I am. That’s ok. We don’t need to go to war. But we do want to try to understand what God has given us to learn in these texts.

In Daniel 7 we are given the vision of 4 Beasts, which correspond to 4 earthly kingdoms. Already, we should be thinking of Daniel chapter 2 and Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue and all that we learned there. Passages like the one we’re about to read don’t exist in isolation.

What we’ll find is that the overall character of this vision is violence, destruction, brutality, culminating in hideous blasphemy. Spoiler alert: That’s the way this world is headed. Commentators point out that, in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, when he saw these kingdoms, oh they were splendid and glorious! Made of precious metals, great to behold. When Daniel sees these kingdoms, as a heavenly-minded servant of God, he sees them for what they really are: Grotesque monstrosities, bringing ruin and slaughter to the world.

Let’s begin at verse 1.

Daniel 7:1 – In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.

Chronologically speaking, Daniel had this dream sometime between chapter 4 and chapter 5. It’s at least 14 years before the lion’s den. And here we’re told that he has recorded for us “the main facts.” Meaning, there was (undoubtedly) more detail in the vision, but this is what recorded for us.

Before moving on I’d simply have us note that this great vision came to Daniel in his first retirement, and in the middle of the night. The Lord works on His schedule, our part is to be ready and waiting.

Daniel 7:2 – 2 Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.

In the second half of the book, Daniel refers to himself in the first person. To deny that he really wrote these things is to challenge the truthfulness of the Bible. If Daniel didn’t write this book, then the Bible is not the inspired, inerrant message it claims to be. If Daniel can’t be trusted, how can we trust Genesis or Matthew or any other text?

We see 4 winds of heaven stirring up a great sea. Commentators argue over whether this is the Mediterranean sea or not. The specific geography isn’t that important. Some scholars feel it is significant because the kingdoms described all had some geographic relation to the Mediterranean sea, but, as we saw before with Nebuchadnezzar’s vision, the flow of God’s program has more to do with Israel than anything else. There have been many other kingdoms in human history than the 4 most often discussed in the Bible. Britain. The Huns. The Qing Dynasty. God’s prophetic revelation concerns those that have a specific relationship to Israel. Or, the case can be made in this vision, those kingdoms which specifically relate to the rule over the city of Babylon.

Generally speaking, in the Bible the ‘sea’ is often used a symbol of the Gentile nations of the world. We see that comparison made in the Psalms, in Isaiah, in Revelation. And, it’s clear that is the idea in Daniel’s vision. We’re told as much in verse 17 of this chapter. Notice the character of the sea: Choppy. Distressed. Agitated. Restless. On the one hand, mankind wishes for lasting peace, but on the other, history is the story of a raging storm, producing empire after empire, none of which have brought true peace to this world.

Daniel 7:3 – 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.

These symbols are decoded for us in verses 17 and 23. The beasts are 4 kings, not just individually, but also their kingdoms by extension. It’s the same pattern we saw in Daniel 2. Daniel said, “You, Nebuchadnezzar, are the head of gold.” But the head of gold also covered the empire of Babylon past Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. The flow of kingdoms in this text follows the same order as in the earlier dream. Starting with Babylon, then Medo-Persia, then Greece then Rome. Though each of the beasts is different, not one is good. Each is terrible and violent – dangerous villains.

Daniel 7:4a – 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings.

A lion symbolizes strength and royalty. The eagle’s wings communicate that this lion was not only ferocious, it could move quickly. This describes Nebuchadnezzar’s reign quite well. He was, undoubtedly, king of the jungle. And, while he ruled, he was able to conquer with great speed. But then we see the rest of the verse.

Daniel 7:4b – I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

Some commentators, like Dr. J. Vernon McGee, believe this to be depicting the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar and his conversion. Others feel that it is referring to the fact that, after Nebuchadnezzar died, the kingdom of Babylon became weaker. They lost the lion’s heart. No longer did they conquer quickly. The wings were gone. The lion, in that state, wasn’t long for this world.

Daniel 7:5a – 5 “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear.

The Medo-Persian took Babylon overnight. It was a sudden appearing in that sense. Now, bears are not known for speed, but for a sort of lumbering, mauling strength. This well characterizes the reign of Xerxes, who took 2.5 million troops with him to march against Greece. Ancient sources record that when Darius III fought against Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus, the Persians had half a million soldiers in the fight. This Medo-Persian bear may have been slower, but it certainly was bigger than the lion before it. In fact, it was larger than any previous empire in history.

Daniel 7:5b – It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

The three ribs in its mouth may refer to the 3 chief cities of the Babylonian empire (Ironside), or to the 3 kingdoms that came under Persian control: Babylon, Egypt and Lydia (Phillips/Vines). A voice calls out, commanding the bear to devour much flesh. Medo-Persia was enormously hungry and fantastically fierce. Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian wrote:

“The armored Persian horsemen and their death dealing chariots were invincible. No man dared face them.”

Daniel 7:6 – 6 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

The 3rd kingdom is Greece, led by Alexander the Great. We’re back in the cat family, but this time, it’s a leopard, not a lion. Leopards are significantly smaller, about half the size of a lion. And yet, “what they lack in size they make up for in strength.” They’ve been known to take down animals 3 times their size! This was certainly true of the lean and mean army of Alexander. What started small quickly brought down the giant, lumbering bear. If Babylon had been described as speedy in verse 4, this beast is double fast, having 4 wings. The beast, we’re told, had 4 heads. This was perfectly fulfilled after Alexander’s death. The Grecian empire was divided up under his 4 generals. Daniel will spend more time discussing the Greek empire specifically in chapters 8 and 11.

But here we see it says, “dominion was given to [this beast].” The bear had been commanded by a heavenly voice. The lion had been handled by some unseen force, which could pick it up and pluck off its wings at will. Above all of these beasts there was a much higher, much greater power. We’re reminded that God, not man, is in charge of the flow of human history. If you find yourself trusting in some human government or political party or elected official, remember what you’re seeing here. All human governments, for all their majesty and power and many promises to do great things, underneath are defined by sin and are destroyers, not saviors. But, we can continue to hope in heaven, because the Lord stands above all these eras and all these kingdoms, and He will have His way. That is a comforting thought as we turn to see the 4th and final beast.

Daniel 7:7 – 7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

Daniel pauses at the beginning of the verse to gather our attention. “I saw.” “Behold!” The three previous beasts were only the opening acts for this, the final monster.

It is so terrible, Daniel doesn’t bother to liken it to an animal. However, this passage doesn’t exist in isolation. We have other texts to compare this to. We also know that Revelation speaks of this beast in chapter 13. There, interestingly, John gives us additional description of what this thing looks like: “the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion.” A blending of all the great monsters before it. Merciless and strong.

For his part, Daniel highlights the unstoppable brutality of this kingdom, which is Rome. Rome in its first stage was a dominant force. One writer said:

“The Romans displayed the awesome ability to conquer and hold large swaths of territory for hundreds or even thousands of years, if the Eastern Roman Empire is accounted for.”

The Greek historian Polybius recorded that, at the sack of New Carthage, Roman soldiers were ordered to:

“Exterminate every form of life they encountered, sparing none(…) so when cities are taken by the Romans you may often see not only corpses of human beings but dogs cut in half and the dismem- bered limbs of other animals.”

John Walvoord writes:

“The Roman empire was ruthless in its destruction of civilizations and peoples, killing captives by the thousands and selling them into slavery by the hundreds of thousands.”

Daniel 7:8 – 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

We remember that, in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Rome is the kingdom of iron and is presented in 2 pieces or stages. The legs were iron, then the feet were a second stage: iron mixed with clay.

Here we see that, at some point, a little horn will appear and come to power by overthrowing 3 of the 10 rulers of the kingdom. He will be defined by pride and blasphemy. We can fill in the gaps of verse 8 by taking a look at verses 21 through 27 of this chapter, which we will in later studies. But, as we wrap up tonight, here’s what we learn:

This little horn is a man who leads a kingdom unlike any other the world has ever seen, which will dominate and rule the whole earth, persecuting the saints of the Most High God for 3 and a half years, but then be defeated, having his dominion taken away and given to those saints, who will then rule in an everlasting kingdom with the Son of Man. That simply hasn’t happened.

Nebuchadnezzar happened. Xerxes happened. Alexander the Great happened. Rome, in its first stage, happened. But then Rome was never truly conquered. It fell apart and now waits to be put back together. And, when it is, it will be ultimately ruled by this little horn, the AntiChrist. He is real and he is coming. But the good news is this: Christ is coming for His Church first. Paul promised in 2nd Thessalonians that the Man of Sin would not be revealed until after the restrainer is taken out of the way. It is after we are raptured to heaven that the little horn will rise up and have his short dominion. In the mean time, we can take comfort in the fact that God is most definitely in charge. Government may not be a friend to us, but we need not be afraid of it, in any form, because we serve a God of victory. In the mean time, we should spread the message that we’ve received.

From 1918 to 1926, in a remote part of the Himalayas in India, there was a leopard who had developed the taste for human flesh. During those years, he killed at least 125 people, until he was finally tracked and killed by a hunter named Jim Corbett.

Imagine you lived in that time and knew the leopard was in the area. What would you do? If you saw some children playing outside their homes? Even better, what if some traveller had crossed your path and given you the recipe for a simple repellant that would keep you safe from attack?

3 beasts have come and gone. A fourth is coming. Those who are not in Christ are as unsafe as a person can be. We know the end of the story. We know how to get people to safety. Let’s spread this message of hope as quickly as we can and get excited about the everlasting Kingdom that’s on its way.

John Walvood Daniel: The Key To Prophetic Revelation
John Phillips, Jerry Vines Exploring The Book Of Daniel