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DANIEL, GOD'S MAN IN THE FIELD (PART XIII)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
24 SEPTEMBER 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (Matthew 11:28)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Last week in our discussion of God's deliverance and why He delivers some people from harm and why He does not deliver others, we concluded that God’s ways are not always our ways, and that He views things in ways that are different from the way we view them.
We also stated that our understanding may come only from our faith and trust in God, and that we may never know all of these answers in this – our earthly existence. We may just have to wait until we get to heaven.
We also suggested that our deliverance may not be only from physical harm. We can also be delivered from doubt.
And when it comes to our relationship with God, doubt can take away the blessing – even to the point of doubting our faith.
Do you remember the situation of the saints praying for Peter's deliverance? And when God actually set him free, they doubted that he was really at the door?
Yet, as we read the account of the incident of Peter's release, by looking back upon it, it is easier to believe; but even then, some will continue to doubt that it really took place.
What is even harder for some people to believe is the deliverance of Daniel from the lion's den.
And as we continue to doubt in this manner, we come to the point of doubting about Jesus Christ and His miracles, that He died for our sins, and that He arose from the dead; and when we doubt like this, we also have destroyed our salvation, for we don't really believe.
Why am I pondering over this faith and doubt relationship?
It is to open our hearts and minds in order to understand the degree of faith that we have and that others have, and the degree of faith that God wants us to have.
If we have trouble believing that which has already taken place, and has been recorded for us in the Bible, then we will also have even more trouble believing what we are told will be taking place in the future.
The Book of Daniel is probably one of the most controversial books in the
The Hebrew Bible, which classifies the books in three categories: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, considers Daniel to be one of the Writings – a story.
The Christian version of the Old Testament, however, considers Daniel to be one of the prophets.
And there are some "Christian" scholars who consider Daniel, and particularly chapters 7-12, to have been written long after the Babylonian and Persian captivity, in the year 164 B.C., after many of the events had taken place; thus they follow the Jewish thinking. However, even the Jewish scholars of old considered all of the books to have been written before 400 B.C.
On the other hand, there are many Christian Scholars who consider Daniel to be, as John Walvoord puts it, "The Key to Prophetic Revelation."
Therefore, as we begin to look at chapter 7 we are going to have to make room for God to minister directly to us.
If we doubt, we close out God.
If we question, search for the truth, and reach out to God for our answers, we may just find more blessings than we could ever imagine.
Daniel 7 begins with a flash-back to, or a recapping of, a vision of Daniel
that is similar to the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2, and takes place 14
years before the events of chapter 5; but in this chapter there is a second
message attached to the first. Let's begin to look at it and see what it holds
1. In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it.
Daniel wrote down the vision. That means that there was a record of these events. And just because we can't find it today, does not mean it didn't exist; and when it was copied during the Greek Empire, it most likely was translated into the character of that period's language.
Isn’t this similar to the difference in language between the King James Version and more modern translations of the Bible?
2. Daniel said, "I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea.
The winds of heaven are the winds from the four cardinal points of the compass, if we view this statement in the physical.
But if viewed spiritually, the winds could be heavenly spirits passing over and stirring up the sea of humanity upon the earth.
3. "And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.
Are these real beasts that followed one another out of the sea, or are they humans that rise up out of the sea of humanity?
4. "The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.
These two symbols of the lion and the eagle refer to Babylon, and are the same as the symbolism used by Jeremiah in his prophecy against Judah and Jerusalem (4:7).
7 "A lion has gone up from his thicket,
And a destroyer of nations has set out;
He has gone out from his place
To make your land a waste.
Your cities will be ruins
This is also a message that is parallel to the head of the beast's statue of Nebuchadnezzar's vision...his nation will be overthrown.
Going back to Daniel, he continues...
5. "And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, 'Arise, devour much meat!'
Here we see once again the fierceness of the Medo-Persian Empire that conquered Babylon.
6. "After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, 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.
Here we see the vision of the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, which was later divided up between his four generals and which conquered the Medo-Persian Empire.
7. "After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
This fourth beast, which represents the Roman Empire that conquered the Greek Empire, also seems to present a prophetic leap-frogging to a second future time which has yet to come.
Do you remember last week we said that there was a parallel symbolism between the lions' den and that of hell? For in that lion's den the people were devoured and crushed.
Let's look a little further:
8. "While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth uttering great boasts.
Daniel was puzzled over this vision, as we would be or perhaps still are; but as usual with Daniel, he turns it over to the Lord for an answer; and in two weeks we will look at the remainder of this vision and the answers he receives.
In the meantime, let's take a look at this fourth beast and the relationship that this beast has with hell. Turn with me in your Bibles to Revelation 12:1-6.
1. And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
2. and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
Who do you think that this woman is? And who is the child? And what do the stars mean?
To answer these questions, we must look spiritually at them. Just as the beasts of Daniel 7 represented four nations, so are these symbolic representations.
The woman represents Israel, and the twelve stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel, and the baby is Jesus Christ, who was born of Israel.
Now as we look at the following verses, understand that we are talking about Israel, and reflect upon what we talked about in Daniel.
3. And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his head were seven diadems.
Isn’t the description of John's vision similar to that of Daniel's vision of the beast?
This beast is Satan, as you will see in Daniel 7, verse 9 (when we resume this series), and his kingdom is being compared with that of the Roman Empire.
4. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
The sweeping away of a third of the stars of heaven most likely refers to the past rebellion of Satan, in which he and a third of the angels that followed him in heaven fell and were cast down to the earth. I happen to believe that this occurred when Satan deceived Adam and Eve.
Then Satan tried to take full control with the destruction of Jesus following His birth, and again when he tempted Him in the wilderness.
But at the same time we are also seeing a future message which is the tribulation period prior to Jesus' second coming.
5. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
Jesus arose from the dead three days after His death and burial. Satan thought he had won, but Jesus Christ could not be kept in the grave. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
And Jesus Christ will return again after the tribulation period, and He will rule the earth for a thousand years with a rod of iron.
6. And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
The tribulation period will last seven years, as we will see later is our study of Daniel.
And during the middle of the tribulation, Satan, whose Antichrist has been befriending Israel, will turn against Israel and show his true colors; and Israel will be forced to flee into the wilderness until Jesus Christ returns three and a half years, or 1,260 days, later.
And what about us who believe and follow Jesus?
We probably won't even be here, for all living believers will be drawn up to heaven before the tribulation begins.
Or perhaps, if we are misinterpreting this prophecy, we may pass through the tribulation in some protected way to rule with Jesus Christ when He returns.
We just don't know for sure, but this is where faith and trust come into play, just as it did with Daniel in the lion's den.
But what if you are one of the people who are still struggling and fighting
against committing your life to Jesus Christ and then truly following Him?
You will be like Israel. You may wait until it's too late, or you may hold back until the tribulation begins and then realize your mistake.
Doubt and pride are what keeps us from our commitment to Jesus Christ, and doubt and pride are tools of Satan.
We can be delivered from doubt and pride if we truly want to be.
All we have to do is come to the realization that we are all sinners, call upon Jesus, repent of our sins, and ask Jesus to forgive us and to come into our lives and help us to be like He wants us to be.
We must submit our will to His, and live as the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God who work to end the corruption upon this world with all it's pain, suffering, and death.
If you haven't done that before, or if you haven't truly submitted your will to His, won't you do it now?
You will never regret it.