Daniel 7:1-28; 1 John 1:1-10;
Psalm 119:153-176; Proverbs 28:23-24
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
For many years Daniel surely contemplated the dream that had been given to King Nebuchadnezzar when Daniel was just a teenager in Babylon. Daniel had been given the privilege by God of interpreting the dream about the future empires that would rule the world during the times of the Gentiles on earth. The Israelites were in captivity because they had sinned against their God and worshiped idols. God brought the Israelites their good King David and formed his line of heirs, and yet, even during Solomon's reign, the people had worshiped idols instead of the One True God of Israel. As the story goes, God punished the Israelites by sending them into captivity, eventually scattering them across the earth and ending their earthly kingdom for a time. The world would be handed over to the Gentile nations to be ruled until Jesus' Second Coming. Nebuchadnezzar's dream revealed the external nature of those world empires appointed by God. Today, Daniel, who is an old man by now, is given a dream by God. Nebuchadnezzar is dead and King Belshazzar, his grandson, is co-regent in Babylon. It is in the first year of his reign that Daniel has a dream that describes the internal nature of the Gentile empires that will rule the earth until the earthly reign of Jesus Christ comes.
The dream begins with Daniel seeing a storm churning on the sea like a great hurricane. Out of the water come four huge beasts. You may remember that the Bible indicates that the earth comes out of the water in Genesis. The Apostle Peter refers to this in his second epistle. It is fitting that the empires of the earth/land come up from the sea, just as the land came up from the sea and man came up from the land. This is good symbolism on God's part. Here are the descriptions of the beasts:
- The first beast is a lion with eagle's wings that are pulled off and the lion stands up like a human. The lion is given a human heart. Vs. 4
- The second beast looks like a bear. It has three ribs in its teeth. It is told to devour many people. Vs. 5
- The third beast looks like a leopard or panther and has four wings on it's back. This beast is given great authority. Vs. 6
- The fourth beast is terrifying, dreadful, and very strong. It devours and crushes its victims. It has ten horns and then a small horn appears among them. Three horns are wrenched from the head to make room for the little horn. The little horn has human eyes all over it and a mouth that boasts constantly. Vs. 7-8
This is just one part of the dream. Next, Daniel sees thrones being put in place and the Ancient One sitting down to judge. This is awesome to me. He is clothed in white and his hair is white. He is on a fiery throne with wheels that blaze. A river of fire flows from the throne and a million angels minister to Him. One hundred million angels attend to Him. Can you imagine this? Court begins and the books are opened. Gasp...
While this is happening, the little horn that is covered in eyes keeps talking and boasting. Shut up, already... The fourth beast is killed and destroyed by fire. Then someone who looks like a man is coming in the clouds into the presence of the Ancient One. This man is given authority, power, and honor over all of the nations of the earth so that people of every race, nation, and language will obey him. His rule is eternal and will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. This ends the dream.
Daniel gets an interpretation of the dream while still in the vision. Nice. He approaches an individual who is standing near the thrones. I assume this is one of the millions of angels. Anyway, he asks what all of this means. Here is what the man tells him:
- The four beasts are four kingdoms that will rise up on earth.
- In the end, the holy people of God will get the kingdom that lasts forever.
- The fourth beast is the final world power that is going to rule the earth.
- It will devour the whole world and trample people down.
- Ten kings/leaders will be in an alliance in the fourth kingdom.
- A leader will arise among them by usurping three of the leaders and he will be an evil ruler, who tramples down the holy people of God (Jewish and converts to Christ during the Tribulation).
- He will do this for 3 1/2 years.
- At the end of this time God's court will pass judgment upon him and his power will be taken away and he and his kingdom will be completely destroyed.
- Then all power and authority will be given to the holy people of God, who will rule forever.
This ends the dream. Daniel is shaken and terrified. Who can blame him?
Okay. Let's talk about the symbolism in this dream. We discussed that these earthly world systems come up out of the sea and this is a symbolism that ties back to the creation of the world. The beasts correspond to the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw. Here is a chart that clarifies this:
The Statue The Four Beasts Nations Designated
Head of Gold Lion Babylon
Arms/Chest of Silver Bear Media-Persia
Belly/Thighs of Brass Panther/Leopard Graeco-Macedonia
Legs of Iron Composite Beast Rome
Feet of Iron and Clay Composite Beast Rome/Alliances
Now, let's talk about the symbolism of the beasts. First, Daniel is shown the internal natures of these various kingdoms through the images of these beasts. They are beasts that devour people. All of these animals were actually common to the area around the Mediterranean Sea. This is the sea from which the beasts arise. These nation/empires also surrounded the Mediterranean Sea in actual history. The lion with wings speaks of the speed and ferocity of Nebuchadnezzar's reign in Babylon. He was able to take over vast territories because he could move his armies quickly and they were incredibly powerful. This is what the wings represent. The lion stands on the ground with two feet like a human. This is a prediction of Nebuchadnezzar's restoration to his right mind after becoming like a beast of the field. The lion is given the heart of a man. This is a reference to Nebuchadnezzar's conversion to faith in the One True God of Heaven.
The bear, which raised up on one side, shows the duel nature of this next kingdom. The Medes rose up and defeated Babylon, while the Persians conquered Egypt and the rest of the world, which had been ruled by Babylon. The three ribs in the mouth are the three areas conquered including Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. This empire moved like a big, lumbering bear that devoured many people groups.
A panther/leopard is a creature that pounces upon its prey in surprise. This very aptly describes how Alexander the Great built the Greek/Macedonian Empire. The four wings on this creature indicate the speed with which Alexander's armies could move and strike. Nebuchadnezzar's armies would look like they were swimming in quicksand compared to Alexander's men.
The next beast cannot be found in the zoo or in nature. This tells us that the nature of the next kingdom and its ability to conquer people is altogether of a different nature. This beast is terrifying precisely because it is different from anything else. You and I are living during the times of this fourth beast/kingdom. We know that the ancient Roman empire was something to behold. It spread its tentacles far and wide, making it all the way to the British Isles. No one actually overcame the Roman Empire. It just fell apart under the weight of corruption and excess. The empire loosely exists to this day. We see that this beast grows ten horns that come out of the structure of the beast. To us that would mean 10 kings of countries that form an alliance from the territories that were part of the old Roman Empire are part of this fourth kingdom. This image corresponds to the ten toes on the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. The feet made of clay and iron eventually have enough power to smash everyone on earth. This fourth beast is described as devouring its victims with iron teeth and bronze claws. It also tramples people underfoot. We learn that from the 10 heads of these countries that a little horn, or seemingly insignificant leader, is able to overpower 3 of the 10 leaders and become the dominant ruler of this fourth worldwide kingdom on earth. This little horn has many eyes that represent knowledge and human genius. He has a boastful mouth that runs constantly. Gee, should it surprise us that the Antichrist is a boastful, pushy, arrogant guy? No. We see that this last ruler is particularly vicious against God's holy people. This would include Jews and Christians, who are converts during the Great Tribulation. They are actually under his control for three and a half years.
Daniel's dream indicates that God's court of judgment rules that this impostor/Antichrist is to have his power taken away and is to be completely destroyed. It is at this time that all of the earthly kingdoms are put under the submission of the holy people of God. The rock that was hewn supernaturally in Nebuchadnezzar's dream and the man who comes on the clouds into the presence of the Ancient One's court is the same Jesus Christ who will set up his earthly kingdom and rule the kingdoms of the earth for one thousand years. Please note that the Ancient One is on a throne with fiery wheels, which indicate swift movement and a river of fire flowing forth from Him. In most symbolism in Scripture, water flows from the city of Jerusalem or from a throne with water representing life. In this picture, fire is flowing from the Ancient of Days to represent judgment and destruction. Satan and evil will be judged after this time of earthly reign. After that, having destroyed evil, Christ will reign forever in a new heaven and a new earth.
You see that Daniel was given a sneak peek into the future of the world and the next world. He is given the end of the story. What do you think? Daniel was terrified and pale with fear. Are you?
1 John 1:1-10
This is the first of three letters from the Apostle John, who is known as the apostle that Jesus loved. John is the oldest and longest surviving disciple of all of the men who were called to follow him as his Twelve. You may remember that John was given the responsibility of caring for Jesus' mother, Mary, before Jesus died on the cross. Jesus surely knew that John would outlive his mother.
John opens this sermon by establishing that Jesus existed from the beginning, and John has both seen him and heard him personally. Jesus is the Word of life. Remember that God formed the universe by His Word, which means logos, logic, personality, essence. Jesus is the embodiment of God's essence. John clarifies that Jesus is also eternal life. God breathes life into people and God also can cause a life to last forever. This is what Jesus does. He enables living beings to live forever. He actually is that eternal life.
Because God is also light, it is through God that we dispel spiritual darkness. John reminds the Church that if you are in spiritual darkness, you do not truly have God in your life. If you live in the light of God's presence, then you experience fellowship with other people and you will have love for other people in your life.
Another key to the Christian life is to admit that we have sin in our lives. The key is not to act like you do not sin, but to confess your sins. If you confess your sins, Jesus is faithful and just and will forgive your sins and cleanse you from your unrighteousness. Since God has declared that we are sinners (note Genesis), we call Him a liar if we say we have not sinned. The Word of God establishes truth for us and it says we are sinners.
Do you admit that you are a sinner? Have you lived your life perfectly and never done wrong to any other person? If not, you are a sinner.
Here the psalmist is asking God to argue his case for him. He is longing for God's salvation and is relying on God's Word and laws to preserve him. We saw God's court in Daniel's dream today. Surely, we need Jesus to be our advocate in God's court and we need God's Word to direct our path.
This is so true. People appreciate frankness rather than flattery in the end. Ooh, robbing from your parents is the equivalent of murdering. Tell your teen this proverb!
What did you learn today?