Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday, March 13 -- Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 25-26; Psalm 52; Luke 8
Today's scripture focus is Daniel 8.

Vision of the Ram and Goat

8 In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously. 2 I looked in the vision, and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. 4 I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself.

5 While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath. 7 I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.

The Little Horn

9 Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. 11 It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. 12 And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, “How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?” 14 He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”

Interpretation of the Vision

15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man. 16 And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.” 17 So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.”

18 Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright. 19 He said, “Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end.

The Ram’s Identity

20 The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia.

The Goat

21 The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 The broken horn and the four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power.

23 “In the latter period of their rule,
When the transgressors have run their course,
A king will arise,
Insolent and skilled in intrigue.
24 “His power will be mighty, but not by his own power,
And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree
And prosper and perform his will;
He will destroy mighty men and the holy people.
25 “And through his shrewdness
He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence;
And he will magnify himself in his heart,
And he will destroy many while they are at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
But he will be broken without human agency.
26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings
Which has been told is true;
But keep the vision secret,
For it pertains to many days in the future.”
27 Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it.

I'm so sorry that this is so long.  I won't expound because I feel that Ray Pritchard explains it very well.  From Ray Pritchard's sermon:

So what’s in this chapter? Here is a “Reader’s Digest” version of Daniel 8. An angel told Daniel that the ram represented the Medo-Persian empire and the goat represented the Greek empire. The “big horn” was the first ruler of the Greek empire, which we know from history to be Alexander the Great. He died at the age of 33 and his vast kingdom was divided among four generals. From secular history we know who those generals were:

Cassander: Macedonia and Greece

Lysimachus: Thrace and western Asia Minor

Ptolemy: Egypt, northern Africa, Palestine

Seleucus: Middle East to India

It’s obvious that the main focus of the prophecy has to do with the evil activity of the “small horn” who comes out of one of the four horns that replace the “big horn” of the shaggy goat. Mysterious as that may sound, we know from history exactly who this “small horn” is. The small horn of Daniel 8 is a man called Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  The detailed story of his atrocities is found in the book of 1 Maccabees. There we learn that he had a fierce and implacable hatred of all things Jewish.  Verses 23-25 emphasize his evil character. (Check out the actual sermon for some of his evil deeds, if you'd like.  They are shudder-inducing.)  

Verse 23 calls him a “master of intrigue,” which refers to an ability (possibly supernatural) to understand secret things. It literally means he can interpret riddles. Perhaps this describes an acquaintance with things like sorcery and the occult. We are also told that he becomes strong “but not by his own power,” which seems to clearly indicate a supernatural force behind his rise to the throne. He evidently was popular in the beginning and used deceit and propaganda to gain favor with his followers. Later he began to destroy them and even set out to attack the “Prince of princes,” a clear reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. At the height of his power he was suddenly destroyed but not by human hands.  (Reading this description made me think of Hitler, as well.)

The details of his death are chilling. After committing his atrocities in Israel, he traveled east hoping to conquer more territory. While in Babylon he received word that the Jews, led by the heroic Judas Maccabaeus (called “Judas the Hammer” by his admirers), had retaken Jerusalem, driven out the invaders, and started the process of cleansing the Temple. When Antiochus heard this he began to journey back to Israel, intending to defeat the troublesome Jews once and for all. A chariot crash left him sorely wounded. While recovering, he contracted a loathsome bowel disease that caused a terrible odor to surround him. One source says that worms came out of his body as it rotted away. His life ended in a wretched fashion. He died not at the hand of man but by the hand of God. 

It’s worth noting that many Christian expositors have seen the Antichrist foreshadowed in the careers of Antiochus Epiphanes. Jerome made the identification as did Martin Luther. It’s fair to say that many Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Bible interpreters believe that the words of verses 23-25 go beyond the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This seems to be a clear case of “double fulfillment” where Antiochus is a type or a symbol of the Antichrist who is to arise just before the return of Christ. I picture Daniel 8 like a light that shines from the foot of a statue of Antiochus Epiphanes. Because the light shines from below, it leaves a huge shadow on the wall behind the statue. That shadowy outline marks the career of the Antichrist.

Here is the good news. If we know the Lord, we are joined with the One who is the ultimate victor in the battle between good and evil.

Let me end by repeating those solemn words of Dave Hunt: “The battle between Christ and Antichrist is fought to the finish in every human heart. We must know whose side we are on now. It will be too late to change sides at the second coming.”

In the end the question becomes very personal. Where do you stand? Are you on the side of Jesus Christ? If you don’t know how to answer that question, you are already on the wrong side. No one slides into heaven by accident. Each one of us must decide which side we are on. In the end there is no room for neutrality. It is light or darkness, God or Satan, Christ or the Antichrist. Where do you stand?

Take your stand with Jesus today. Pledge your allegiance to the Lamb who died for you. Run to the cross. Lay hold of the bleeding form of the Son of God. Cast your sins upon him and you will find complete forgiveness. Only those who stand with Christ will be safe in the days ahead. May each of us be found true to Christ no matter what the cost. Amen.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Daniel 9:1-19
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Numbers 27-28; Psalm 53; Luke 9

1 comment:

TammyIsBlessed said...

I'm so glad we know how history ends!