Saturday, March 2, 2013

Better Days Ahead

Decisions were made by some school boards to close schools due to the prediction of the Mayan people that the world would end on December 21, 2012. Until a couple of years ago there were not that many people who were acquainted with the end of the world 2012 prophecy that was put forward by many scholars who studied the end of the Mayan long calendar. This Long Count calendar has lasted for five thousand one hundred and twenty five years, and although the end of the calendar leads to many different interpretations, one of the most popular is the belief that at the end of this cycle the world (or humanity’s existence) will come to an abrupt end on December 21 2012.1 NASA states “it was a misconception from the very beginning.” Not only did the world survive, but credible scientists expect it to continue to survive.2 The prediction/prophesy of the Mayan people was not of God. This week’s lesson is the first of a three-part study in Unit I, The Kingdom of God, for the Spring Quarter. Each lesson focuses on the connection between the hope found in Daniel’s prophecy as given by God and the Christian resurrection hope. Daniel’s visions are related to the passing of earthly kingdoms to make way for the kingdom of God. There are better days ahead; the world does not come to an end as such. The lesson text for our first lesson of the Unit is recorded at Daniel 7:9-14. The devotional reading is recorded at Daniel 6:25-28.

Daniel gained the respect of Kings Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. He was influential and intelligent, but he refused to dishonor the God of the Jews. Dan 2:47; 6:26-27 He had been used of God as a vessel to interpret visions, moving in prayer and by faith, and giving God the glory. To say he could interpret a vision without God is a lie. The understanding of a vision is given by God, and can only be understood and interpreted if a person has the Holy Spirit of God. As Daniel lay in bed, his thoughts were consumed with the negative political rule in Belshazzar and the status of the Jews. It is no wonder that he would be on the receiving end of a vision from and about God. In Chapter 7 Daniel ‘…had a dream and visions…he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.’ (vs 1) He did not know what to think of his dream and visions. He was ‘…grieved in my spirit…’ (vs 15) He received an interpretation that he could not keep to himself. (vs 16-28)

Daniel’s vision is of the four monarchies that were oppressive to the Jews. It foretells the revolutions of monarchies the Jews would be under. By writing his dreams down, the Jews would be able to establish hope even though they did not fully understand the communication. He both wrote and spoke these things. He had observed four winds blowing on the great sea (earth). The world was like a tempestuous sea because of the great blowing of the winds. Out of the great sea (earth) rises four great beasts, each representative of a strong, different, and diverse monarchy. The first was a like a lion with eagle’s wings. This was the Chaldean monarchy who Daniel had observed King Nebuchadnezzar conquer. The second beast was like unto a bear. This monarchy was less strong than the lion but just as desirous to devour other nations, to include the Jewish nation. The third beast was like a leopard with four wings of a fowl, four heads, and dominion. This symbolized world dominance. Dominion had been given to this beast by God. The fourth beast was not clearly identified as an animal from the wild, but was fiercer than the others as it ‘…had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces,…’ (Dan 7:7b), and trampled all enemies under its feet. It was described as if it was a monster, but it had horns. Horns are a symbol of power. So ten (10) horns (kings) shall rise within this monarchy, out of which three (3) shall be plucked (conquered), and a little horn (king) shall rise to power. ‘…and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. Dan 7:8b Would the fourth beast be considered the Antichrist? The evil world powers and enemies against the harmony and peace of the reign of God had greatly disturbed Daniel. As hostages when would the Jews expect deliverance from these beasts? Dan 7:1-8

‘I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.’ Dan 7:9 Daniel continued to see the strange beasts until he beheld the throne room. It was the throne room of God and the thrones or seats of the inhabitants of heaven. There was to be a judgment. Daniel saw God as the ‘Ancient of days’. The phrase means ancient as to days, but as to God’s case He is eternal. The Ancient of days sat upon the throne to pronounce judgment. The fact that Daniel visualized His garment as white as snow and his hair like pure wool symbolizes purity and wisdom, in that order. The seat upon which He sat was of such a brilliant and splendid color it seemed to be a fiery flame, while the throne appeared to be on wheels of precious-colored stones.

‘A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.’ Dan 7:10 The Ancient of days is now sitting as a Judge in the heavenly court. The Apostle John’s vision confirmed the judgment: ‘And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.’ Rev 20:11-12 The ‘…thousand thousands…’ included a large number of angels who ministered to God. There were too many people gathered in the courtroom to count. With the attendants ready and those witnessing the proceeding, it was time for judgment and the books were opened. As to the faithful believers there is a pure river of life that proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Rev 22:1 As to all the enemies of God and His Son, there issues a fiery stream from His throne, a stream of eternal spiritual separation from Him. This is called the ‘lake of fire’ where they shall be tormented day and night in what this second death. Rev 20:10, 14-15

‘I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.’ Dan 7:11-12 The fourth beast, especially the little horn, was not humble. It believed it could overtake God. This proud, boastful, and cruel beast and its empire was destroyed by God and sent to the fiery stream (lake of fire). The other beasts (world empires) were destroyed when their dominion/power over their kingdoms was taken away by God, but the nations and people continued. They continued for a season to be mean, but in a weak and disabled condition.

‘I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.’ Dan 7:13 When Jesus rose from the grave, He had a glorified body. So He had the appearance of a man. He is one like the Son of man, but He is indeed the Son of God. The beasts of the world were from the sea, but Christ is the Lord of heaven. He rides in on the clouds of heavens. ‘And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.’ Acts 1:9 Jesus, the Son of man, came to His Father and the attendants welcomed Him before God the Father.

‘And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.’ Dan 7:14 The Ancient of days shall give the Son of man dominion (authority), glory (honor appropriate as Head of His empire), and a kingdom. His thousand-year reign would mark the “fifth” and final kingdom that will rule the earth. It will merge into His everlasting heavenly kingdom. All people, nations, and languages shall serve Him. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.’ Isa 9:6-7

The victory belongs to those who believe in Christ Jesus. Rom 10:12-13 Shall you be found in the Lamb’s Book of Life because you have been faithful to His Name? Do you wish to meet the Ancient of days and the Son of man at the pure river of life? When you come across a bump in the road, look up to the heavens from which cometh your help. Ps 121:1 The Lord is your keeper and preserver of your soul. He will preserve your going out and coming in forever. Ps 121 The Lord brings better days ahead.


Written by Deborah C Davis

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