September 13 Daniel 7-9
Yesterday we read a few uplifting stories. We saw Daniel interpret signs and survive hungry lions. Today, we see Daniel’s visions the four beasts.
This was more than a vision – it was an interactive dream. Daniel was able to ask the angel for an interpretation. What an amazing night THIS was! Daniel didn’t have to guess at what God was saying. The angel told him that the four beasts represented four kingdoms.
Lion with wings of eagle (7:4) was Babylon (the head of gold in chapter 2:37-38). Babylon is identified as both a lion and an eagle in Scripture. When we see the lion lifted to stand like a man and then be “issued” the heart of a man, we look back to Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling and subsequent uplifting. Daniel was told of the impending fall of Babylon.
Bear with three ribs (7:5) was Media-Persia (arms and chest of silver 2:39). The bear was higher on one side to illustrate the greater strength of the Persian Empire. In Daniel’s vision of chapter 8:3, 20, the higher horn was also a representation of the Persians. They “devoured much flesh” as they marched across the nations.
Leopard with four wings (7:6) was Alexander the Great and his conquering armies (thigh of bronze (2:32,39); (angry goat (8:5-8, 21-22). The four hears and four horns (see also 8:8, 21-22) represent Alexander’s kingdom divided into four parts after his death in 323: Palestine and Egypt to Ptolemy I; Suria by Seleucus I; Thrace and Asia Minor to Lysimachus; and Macedonia and Greece by Antipater and Cassander.
Dreadful and terrible beast (7:7) is the Roman Empire (legs of iron 2:40-43). The ten toes, or ten kings (2:43-44) are represented by the ten horns (7:7, 24).
These kingdoms have come and gone, but have not been completely eliminated.
As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. Dan 7:12 (ESV)
Daniel was given additional information that God didn’t reveal in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. …11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. …21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom. 23 “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. 24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. 25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. 26 But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. 27 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.’ Dan 7:8, 11-12, 21-27 (ESV)
This passage describes the Antichrist, also detailed in Revelation 13-19. The Antichrist’s reign was not revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, but his final judgment was depicted (Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45)
Back to the ten horns. These are the ten kingdoms, regions, or kings that will exist in the last days. We don’t know exactly how this will play out and there has been much speculation. We do know that when God says ten, He means it, so it will be interesting to see exactly what this comes to be. At one point people thought it would be the European Union, but that has more than 20 member states at this point. Only God knows! We should not speculate. We should take these last days – whether 24 hours or 2400 years – to share the Gospel with the unsaved. We should look for the signs but not try to read too much into every newscast. God is in control!
Daniel sees a little horn coming out of a horn and overcoming three rulers. This is the man of sin John saw in Revelation 13:1-10. We hear much of the “antichrist”, but that’s a title given to one man. We see mention of many antichrists in the first century:
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us — eternal life. 1 John 2:18-25 (ESV)
These first century antichrists – and the antichrists among us today – are those who pose as authentic Christians but try to change the doctrines set forth by God in His Holy Word. That’s why it’s important that you test everything you hear from a pulpit, the radio, television, your friends, and bloggers against the Word of God. If the words spoken challenge the truths in God’s Word (by saying it’s a cultural thing, or it doesn’t SPECIFICALLY say that… or anything that in ANY WAY perverts God’s Word), then that person is an antichrist.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6 (ESV)
The final Antichrist is Satan’s man. Personally, I think that Satan always has a man waiting in the wings since he doesn’t know when Jesus will come. This man will probably be a political figure since he knows how to use words and promote himself so that people will follow him (7:11, 25; Revelation 13:5-6). He will blaspheme God and convince the unbelievers in the world that he is god (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). He will become the dictator of the world for 3 ½ years (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5). It’s half of the time that the Antichrist has set aside in a covenant with Israel. When that covenant is signed, it’s the start of the last seventy weeks (9:24-27). This is what’s usually referred to as the Tribulation (Matthew 24:1-14, Mark 13:1-13; Revelation 6-19).
Three and a half years into the treaty, the Antichrist will break the covenant and set up his image in the Temple. He will force the entire world to worship him, and through him, Satan. Jesus called this the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:4). Daniel refers to it in 11:131, and Paul mentions it in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). Once the treaty is broken and the image is set up, the world is in the great tribulation, referred to in Scripture as the wrath of God (Revelation 14:10; Matthew 24:15-28 and Mark 13:14-23).
It’s exciting to read about prophecy, but it’s critical to avoid becoming obsessed. We need to follow Daniel’s example of studying scripture and then praying for God’s mercy.
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and 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 have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” Dan 9:3-19 (ESV)
When Daniel prayed, he didn’t just ask God for stuff. First, he prayed (at least) three times a day (6:10-11) and did so even when prayer was outlawed. He was bold before God and when he didn’t understand something God was telling him, Daniel asked (7:15-; 8:15-). He took time to worship God (Daniel 9:4). Next, he confessed sins – his and the nations (9:5-15). He pleaded with God for mercy (Daniel 9:16-19) When you pray, do you remember to worship, confess your sins and ask for mercy, or do you just “say a quick prayer” when things are going wrong? Daniel’s example shows that a vibrant prayer life leads to a righteous and holy life. I plan to pray more – and use Daniel’s example to worship, confess, and plead. Will you join me?
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4 (ESV)
The angel Gabriel came in response to Daniel’s prayer and interpreted Daniel’s vision! God does answer our prayers! Gabriel explained God’s plan for Jerusalem, God’s people, and the temple.
The 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24) is 490 years that relate specifically to the Jewish people. These years are divided into three different periods:
· 49 years (Daniel 9:25). There are varying interpretations as to the date of the decree which allows the Jews to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple, but this decree may well be the one Artaxerxes gave to Nehemiah in 445 which allowed him to rebuild the walls and restore the gates (Nehemiah 2:5-8).
· 483 years (Daniel 9:26). If you count 483 solar years from 445, you end up at AD 30, the time of Christ’s earthly ministry. We know that Christ is the Anointed One and was cut off, rejected, and crucified as a criminal. In AD 70, the Romans destroyed the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and scattered the people as prophesied in this verse.
· 7 years (Daniel 9:27). “He” refers to the Antichrist who signs a 7-year covenant with the Jews and then breaks his word halfway through.
Some of Daniel’s prophecies have been fulfilled and some will be fulfilled at the end times. We must pray for the Jews who are partially blinded to the Messiahship of Jesus. We are indebted to them – first, of course, for the Messiah Himself. We are also grafted into the root of Jesse, so that makes us adopted sons and daughters of God, and the root of Jesse is Jesus, who is a Jew.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13 (ESV)
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:13-22 (ESV)
And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” Romans 15:11-12 (ESV)
We’ve come a long way in one day. We’ve learned more about what God planned for the Jewish people. We know more about what God plans for the end times (but we don’t know when that will occur). We’ve learned more about prayer. And we know that we must pray for all unsaved people: Jews, agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Muslims … everyone.
What have you seen in Daniel that I haven’t highlighted? I’d love to hear your thoughts and concerns. Email me or write a comment. See you tomorrow.