Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dreams for a Better Tomorrow

Li Ka Shing once said, “Vision is perhaps our greatest strength... it has kept us alive to the power and continuity of thought through the centuries, it makes us peer into the future and lends shape to the unknown.1 This is the final of a three-part lesson series in Unit I, The Kingdom of God, and begins in the third year of King Belshazzar of Babylon. Daniel received the prophecy in a vision (Dan 8:1-2) versus the dream he had that is recorded in Dan 7. A vision is defined as “…an experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of a divine or other agency: a heavenly messenger appearing in a vision.2 A vision is not a hallucination (a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind, caused by various physical and mental disorders, or by reaction to certain toxic substances, and usually manifested as visual or auditory images.)3 A vision is not necessarily a dream (a succession of thoughts, images, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep; an involuntary vision occurring to a person when awake; daydream).4 The vision Daniel experienced is recorded from Daniel 8:2-14. Daniel was so overwhelmed that he sought an understanding of the vision. Dan 8:15-18 The angel Gabriel was summoned by God to give Daniel the understanding. Daniel was exhausted and fainted in fear when he saw Gabriel. He fell in a deep sleep with his face toward the ground but was awakened when Gabriel sat him up. The text is recorded at Daniel 8:19-26. The devotional reading is recorded at Psalm 91:1-12.

‘And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.’ Dan 8:19 Gabriel assured Daniel there was nothing to fear. He was present to give Daniel an understanding of his vision. What Daniel had seen was the last end of the indignities the Israelites would have to suffer. Imperial designs of power will not outlast the sovereignty of God. In the appointed time it is fixed by God that an end shall come to suffering. Good times shall be experienced again.

‘The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.’ Dan 8:20 Gabriel continued to explain Daniel’s vision. Old Testament Kings were heavily influenced by astrology. The Media and Persians merged into the Medo-Persian Empire. Persia chose the ram for their kingdom. God used their symbol to represent their two kings, thus a two-horned ram. One horn was higher than the other, the Persian king being more powerful. They were in power from 539-330 BC. This empire was strong and desired to devour other nations, including the Jewish nation. In Daniel’s dream during the first year of King Belshazzar’s reign, it is noted in part: ‘And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.’ Dan 7:5 In chapter 8 the bear of Daniel’s dream in ch 7 was now a ram. The ram was on a rampage of conquest, westward, northward, and southward. He seemed irresistible.

‘And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.’ Dan 8:21-22 The male goat is Greece. It came from the west and defeated the ram that had seemed it could not be conquered. The male goat had a great horn between its eyes as its king. The king was Alexander the Great. His was one of world dominion unlike any other. Dominion had been given to him by God. ‘Now that being broken’ means Alexander died. He was young and at the height of his power. After his death, his empire was divided among his four generals: Cassander, Lysemachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. Not one of his generals was able to stand up in the same power as Alexander the Great. See Daniel’s dream recorded at Dan 7:6.

‘And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.’ Dan 8:23 Previous to this vision Daniel dreamed there would be a fourth beast (monarchy) which would have ten horns (kings). Dan 7:7-8 Horns are a symbol of power. This is the Roman Empire. One of its horns (kings) is in Greece. Out of the ten horns (kings), three (Asia, Greece, and Egypt) were plucked (conquered) and became the Turkish Empire. From the three horns 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 It was during this latter time of the Grecian kingdom that the extreme wickedness in the nation reigned supreme and deserved punishment. God allowed Antiochus IV Epiphanes (the little horn) to rise to power. He was crafty, cunning, deceitful, a major villain, and a great persecutor of the Israelites.5 He decreed a total ban on all Jewish religious practices.

‘And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.’ Dan 8:24-25 Although the power possessed by Antiochus was mighty, it was not as mighty as Alexander the Great. He did deserve to be numbered among the mighty kings of the earth. It was not by his own strength, but by the power and might of the Almighty God. God used him to bring calamities against the Israelites in punishment for their sins. Antiochus created internal division among the Jews by aligning himself with certain factions of the people. He would pretend friendship with many with whom he intended to invade and make war. Antiochus was very successful in causing the holy city to be desolate and in the destruction of the holy people (Israelites). He was prosperous in his deceitful policies (wisdom) and was full of pride. However, he went too far in his belief of superiority and dared to challenge the Almighty God. He stood against God, the Prince of princes and ruler over all the kings of the earth. Antiochus was overcome and died in 164 BC without the assistance of the hand of a man. It was a Divine intervention that moved Antiochus off the scene and gave the Israelites peace.

Verses 23-25 seem to give a view beyond Antiochus IV Ephiphanes to his future counterpart. There will be a king with fierce features known as the Antichrist. He will be far more evil than Antiochus as he served Satan directly. Rev 13:4-8 While Antiochus ruled the Middle East in his evil power, the Antichrist will rule the whole world. He will ruthlessly, persecute the holy people (those saved) during the Tribulation Period (seven years), controlling the house of God. 2 Thes 2:4; Rev 13:11-16 The Antichrist will prosper through his deceit and consider himself superior to anyone. His sense of pride will cause him to dare to rise against the King of kings, Prince of princes, Our Lord Savior, Jesus Christ himself. However, be not dismayed. Victory belongs to the Lord! The Antichrist will be destroyed by divine intervention. After that time, the millennial Temple will be built and consecrated. (Ez 40:1-44:31; Rev 20:4-6)

‘And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.’ Dan 8:26 Gabriel ended the interpretation of Daniel’s vision by telling him that everything he had seen was true and would come to pass. Part of it concerned the near distant future regarding the reign of Antiochus. The further fulfillment would take place in a further future during the time of Antichrist. Gabriel told Daniel to seal up the vision. Keep it private. Divine truths shall occur, but they should be sealed (recorded) among our treasures so we can see the purpose in the later day. Daniel was so overcome by what God had allowed him to see in his vision that he became sick. (vs. 27) The calamities were fearful, daily sacrifice was to cease, and the people of God would not be able to worship Him. Daniel was greatly troubled and was not able to share his vision with anyone. After a certain period, he finally arose from his sick bed and returned to his duties in working for the king. No one knew of his vision at that time.

‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.’ Ps 91:1-2 What are your expectations as to war and lasting peace? To Whom will you turn and trust?


Written by Deborah C Davis

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