As I read Daniel I have no idea about a timeline of the end (anyone who sets a date is a nut), but this I know: Jesus is coming again and the everlasting Kingdom of God will be established. These visions are preparation for living a life in Christ while we wait.
Daniel 7 is a vision of evil world empires overcome by the righteousness of God. Evil is described in the vision of one crazy otherworldly animal after another. The first animal is that of a…. Listen to Dan. 7:4….A Lion. When the vision is first received Daniel is disturbed ~ READ Dan. 7:15, 28. 25 years later when he is thrown into the den of hungry lions, he is a man of peace. The purpose of the visions to gain confidence to face evil with faith. I was privileged in school to served as a chaplain intern in a hospital. It was a time of preparation. The supervisor took us to many situations with strangers so that when we serve people we know, we will be able to look past the wounds and see the people. I saw a premature baby of 28 grams you could hold in your hand… a cancer patient…. An autopsy so that if I ever talk with a family about an autopsy I know something about it…. I walked into one room, a 20 something old patient got all excited, “want to see where I was shot?” and he proudly showed me the gunshot wound in his leg. An early introduction helped prepare me today so I can look past the wound, past the hurt, past the addiction, past the abuse, past the scars, and see the people. Preparation. May we be prepared to face dark days with confidence and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Daniel is first given the vision of Daniel 7, it is true he is “troubled in spirit and disturbed” (Dan. 7:15). Buy God does not want Daniel (or us) to continue living a life of fear. Listen to Dan. 12:13, the last verse: READ. In a confusing world, a world of evil and suffering, a world in which believers are strangers and foreigners, this insightful verse speaks to the way we are to get through this old world: REST. Relaxed. The unshakable kingdom is coming, so there is nothing to fear…
I do not know details of the end of time. Perhaps the world will get worse before it gets better. Currently we watch as Russia attacks our allies in Syria, appearing to have deceived the United States and insisting we remove ourselves from the conflict. While we wanted to diminish the power of Assad in Syria, the Russians appear to want to prop him up. I don’t get it… I have no idea how we should respond, but this I know, we can rest, because while the world may be confusing, we know the one who is in control.
I read a story about a protective mother that left her child with a baby sitter. She came home and her heart skipped a beat when her child did not run to greet her. She saw the baby sitter but no child. Surprised, she asked where her child was. “I don’t know…” the babysitter began to say to the mother who was visibly starting to panic, “…but I know who he’s with. Your parents came by to take him on an outing.” Instant relief! We may not know what is going on in our world, but we know God is almighty! God will overcome. A Kingdom without end is coming. Jesus Christ is coming in fullness.
Daniel 7 is a vision of Evil overcome by good. The vision is followed by interpretation. We can figure out from Dan. 7:1 Daniel is in his middle age years when there is a major change in the world with a new King.
Dan. 7:2-8 is the description of the evil world empires, one after another. Dan. 7:17 tells us the four beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. Each animal is violent and terrifying impressing upon us the nature of the Kingdoms. The Lion is the Assyrian empire, the ruler in Daniel’s current day, the bear is the Persians, the leopard is next, the swiftest of all animals, fitting a time past Daniels life when Alexander the Great rises up and conquers the world in less than ten years. Last is the fourth beast which is given special attention in the interpretation READ Dan. 7:7, 19, 23. I believe this is the Roman empire, the super power at the time of Jesus is born, the setting of the New Testament.
Perhaps most significant for us in our time today is the little horn. READ 7:8 and then in the interpretation there is this explanation READ 7:24. I believe we are today living in the age of the little horn ~ a day of confusion, competing world powers… In later visions in Daniel we get talk of the anti-Christ. I think this is what Dan. 7:25 is about: READ. Doing my best to understand the Bible, I am reluctant to think the anti-Christ is a single person in today’s world, but more of a movement, an attitude of Kings and Kingdoms that are now seeking world domination. I believe the anti-Christ is already present in the world as we are living in a day of the oppression of the Holy people of God. I make no predictions of which nation will rise up as the most powerful against the things of God, but many are now trying, ISIS, Russia, Iran, Syria, many more have aspirations with the proliferation of nuclear and mass chemical weapons, or perhaps the greatest threat against Christianity in America is internal with the rise of a secular godless movement. Ten horns, a little one rises, three are crushed…. We cannot identify the ten with precision, the one or the three, but the impression is that it is confusing, and uncertain, and this is exactly what we are seeing unfold before our eyes. It is no wonder Daniel says in Dan. 7:28 READ.
There are times when we are overwhelmed by the garbage of our world. This world is so confusing the temptation of most is to walk away. Quit caring. Shrink.
Our calling. Our great calling. Is to NEVER give up. There is hope. There is always hope. Faith. Listen again to Dan. 7:25, for embedded in this verse is a ray of hope, like the first sign of dawn breaking through the darkness of night. READ and EXPLAIN….this is talking about the little horn, the anti-Christ, this is the time we are living right now… “He will speak against the Most High…” is that happening now in our world, without a doubt, even in this shooting in Oregon, let it not be lost on us that this was, at least in part, an assault on Christian faith in God… “Oppress his Holy people” the beheadings, the kidnappings, the crushing… “try to change the set times [festivals, like Christmas, the celebrations] and laws”… the rumblings of Sharia law being compatable with the U.S. constitution… “the Holy People will be delivered into his hands”
and now comes the ray of hope, the Good News…. “for a time, times and half a time…” i.e. I could be wrong on this, but I understand this to be a way of saying a year, two years and half a year. In other words, 3 ½ years. I am not a literalist when it comes to apocalyptic visions, I believe the numbers are usually figurative in nature. What this vision is saying is that this anti-Christ spirit which is now present in the world is seeking to destroy people of faith, but the time is short. Three and a half years is all this time of oppression will last. An imaginable time…In other words, you can make it, you can outlast it.
There is hope because the world will change and all this oppression and wars of the horns will not last. The day is coming soon when the end will be here. Two days ago, along with several others, I sat with Harlan Harvey who appears to be dying within a short time because he is no longer eating or drinking and there is nothing doctors can do. He told us he was afraid because he woke up in the night after a series of scary dreams and visions of wars and destruction. He said he was not afraid to die, but he did not want to leave an ugly world for his children and friends to face without him. I didn’t use the same words as Dan. 7, but I tried to explain faith is to believe God knows what he is doing and the wars of this earth are promised to be just a short time. Faith is to believe God will overcome and we can have hope in the middle of the 3 ½ years of oppression.
Back to the vision of Daniel. The day of the little horn, the day of the anti-Christ is NOT the final word. READ Dan. 7:9. This is the Amighty God. The throne means judgment. The throne means KING. Ancient of Days means forever ago in the past, before the beginning. There are flaming wheels on this throne ~ fast movement, everywhere at all times… everthing about this vision of the Ancient of Days is overwhelming, the ten thousands upon ten thousands attendants is describing a vast sea of heavenly beings. No earthly Kingdom can withstand the overwhelming truth of God’s presence. Dan. 7:11 is the swift justice of the animals, the earthly kingdoms, evil…gone, vanquished, utterly destroyed. READ. This is why we have no reason to fear. The vision is meant to overwhelm our senses, to put into perspective God’s overwhelming Kingdom. Evil and Good are not equivalent foes in this world. No earthly army stands a chance against the power and judgment of God.
But there is more. We are living in the tiny window of 3 ½ years in which the world is seemingly out of control, confusing, every reason to be afraid and uncertain. BUT it is only a short time. The end is coming soon. The vision of Daniel 7:13-14 is a description of the Soon Coming of Jesus Christ, the greatest reason compelling us to live with hope, the reason you can “go your way to till the end, and then at the end of the days you will rise…” (Dan. 12:13). This is Jesus Christ who is coming soon! READ 7:13-14.
May we embrace the absolute truth and promise that Jesus is soon coming again. Every power on earth will bow to him. No authority can withstand his Kingdom. It is an unshakable Kingdom. We have every reason to face the present wars in peace. We have every reason to live in hope and expectation. May your world and mind be shaped by the Hope we have in the Coming of Jesus Christ. And everyone says, [AMEN].