Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: Daniel's Awareness of the Times

"In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." (Daniel 9:1-2)

This passage should eliminate any confusion concerning the simultaneous reigns of Darius and Cyrus. Cyrus the Persian was over the entire kingdom of the Medes and Persians while Darius reigned below him over the realm of Babylon which was the realm of the Chaldeans.

By this time in history Daniel was an old man and he had set his heart on understanding the prophecies of Jeremiah concerning the duration of Judah's punishment. Jeremiah (650-582 BC) was contemporary with Daniel (620-537 BC); therefore, Daniel was a student of his prophecies. Intensely interested in seeing the restoration of a Godfearing people, Daniel set out to understand the commencement and duration of this seventy year desolation. Concerning these things Jeremiah wrote:

And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations ... For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10).

The passage states that Daniel understood these things by utilizing books. These books probably comprised the prophecies of Jeremiah and the historical records of Babylon and Persia. Daniel was taken captive in 605 BC; therefore, he was likely calculating the seventy years from this date. If this was the case, the seventy years would have been accomplished in 535 BC. 539 BC was the first year of Darius, so one may easily understand how Daniel's soul was burdened for the restoration of his people.

There is considerable disagreement as to when the seventy year period began and when it ended. Some hold the view that it began in 605 BC when Daniel was taken and that it ended in 535 BC when the first wave of Israelites returned under the leadership of Jeshua and Zerubbabel; however, this author holds to the view that it began in 586 BC when Jerusalem was smitten by Nebuchadnezzar and that it ended in 516 BC when the second temple was completed under the leadership of Jeshua and Zerubbabel. Since the temple was such a significant symbol of Israel's relationship with God, its destruction and reconstruction seem to be more probable landmarks for calculating such a significant time frame. Regardless of which view is correct, Daniel was perfectly justified in being concerned for the return of his people. He correctly understood that their time was at hand and he wanted them to be spiritually prepared.

Daniel was a man of great awareness. He did not live in a self-righteous bubble of seclusion. He was not self-centered or strictly preoccupied with his needs. Much like the apostle Paul he was continuously focused on the broader will of God. Believers would do well to follow Daniel's example. It is good to be concerned with God's Church as a whole and not to live in a state of self-absorption. In the eyes of men Daniel had many reasons to look out for no one but himself but not one of those reasons kept him from having a heart that was bent on the ultimate glorification and vindication of God's righteous name.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: Gabriel's Explanation (Part III)

"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. And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it." (Daniel 8:26-27)

The phrase the evening and the morning is a Hebrew idiom which is representative of a day. It would be almost four hundred years before these events would come to pass; therefore, Daniel was to write them down and preserve them for later use. God's people would need to draw upon them in the future.

The knowledge of such things utterly overwhelmed Daniel. Likely he was overcome by the knowledge of what his people were yet to face. Although Antiochus has come and gone his spiritual twin is yet to appear. The beastly antichrist of the last days will carry the persecutions of God's people even further. He will hate the Jews with unquenchable hatred, and he will kill many. The knowledge of such things should motivate each and every believer to seek the souls of the Jews now while time remains. It should inspire the God-fearing man to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: Gabriel's Explanation (Part II)

"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..." (Daniel 8:24-25a)

Antiochus' power was not permitted to extend beyond that which God allowed. He did destroy many of God's people through savage persecution; he did desecrate God's holy place, but all this was performed while God looked on in absolute control of the entire situation.

The word for craft means deceit or treachery. Evil thrived under the reign of this villain just as it will thrive under the reign of the antichrist. The text says that Antiochus would destroy many through peace. Winning many of the Jews over to Greek and Roman philosophy he brought spiritual destruction upon them as they cast aside the living God of Israel for lifeless idols and man-made ideologies.

The believer is in constant danger of being destroyed through the peace of the world. Satan has often attempted to destroy God's people through subtlety just as he beguiled Eve. Often times it is not the obvious things of evil that pose the greatest threat to the believer's sanctification; it is the things that are not quite so obvious, those things that appear so attractive and harmless on the outside. If the devil can get God's child to make more and more concessions in the small areas it will not be long until his life is a spiritual disaster.

Antiochus was not content to simply persecute the Jews and anyone who chose the path of godly fear; he went the last mile and claimed the title of God. In fact the name Epiphanes means God manifest. This was his ultimate mistake just as it will be the fatal and final mistake of the antichrist.

"...But he shall be broken without hand." (Daniel 8:25b)

Antiochus departed from the stage of world history just as quickly as he appeared. His service for Satan was short lived while his damnation is eternal. Hebrews 11:25 declares that the pleasures of sin are but for a season. Anyone who has ever served sin and rejected God has ultimately found this to be true.

Although the believer cannot occupy the same position as Antiochus he is not above toying with sin just as Antiochus did. Such an attitude is incredibly dangerous regardless of the degree to which it is practiced.   

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: Gabriel's Explanation

"The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 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." (Daniel 8:20-22)

After Alexander's death in 323 BC his four generals (Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Ptolemy) divided the conquered territory. Eager to remove all rivalry from his portion of the kingdom Cassander had Alexander's son poisoned along with his mother Roxanne. This event left Alexander void of any offspring to inherit his kingdom, thus the text says that four kingdoms arose but not in his power.

"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." (Daniel 8:23)

Gabriel's exposition does not include the many events which led up to the appearance of Antiochus Epiphanes which is this king of a fierce countenance. Those matters will be described in great detail in chapter eleven. Instead he is more concerned with providing a brief summary of that which would befall God's people in the dark years of the intertestamental period.

The text says that a wicked king would arise when the transgressors are fully ripe. Just as the antichrist will appear at a time when spiritual degradation is at an all-time high Antiochus IV came into power when apostasy was running rampant among the Jews. Overcome by the fatal attractions of Hellenism many Jews had cast off their faith and turned to the world of Greek paganism.

Antiochus was indeed a warped individual. The description of him in this passage perfectly harmonizes with the comments of history. He was utterly mad. Void of any normal human emotion and vested with the powers of hell he treated human life as though it were of no value at all, yet he was not a man without worldly wisdom. On the contrary, the text presents him as one who understood dark sentences. The word translated dark sentences means a riddle, parable or difficult question. Just like the antichrist of the last days Antiochus had understanding of the times and he knew how to manipulate and overcome people. He was also likely involved in all the superstitions and worship practices which commonly accompany the messengers of Satan.   

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: Gabriel's Appearance

"And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision." (Daniel 8:15-17)

This is the first place in Scripture where Gabriel is mentioned. He is seen again in chapter nine and then he is not mentioned again until the gospel of Luke where he is seen announcing the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. His name means warrior of God and his main ministry seems to be that of God's messenger.

The Lord made it possible for Daniel to understand much of what was given. God is gracious in that He desires for men to understand what He is going to do so that they might repent and turn to Him. God's word does contain things which are difficult to understand; however, it also contains much which may be understood and applied if one is willing to exercise faith and seek God for the application.

As Gabriel approached Daniel for the purposes of interpretation Daniel became utterly terrified. If Daniel was absolutely horrified at the holy presence of God's messenger how much more should God's people fear Him from whom that holiness is derived?

"Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. 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." 
(Daniel 8:18-19)

God's grace enabled Daniel to receive the strength needed for the reception of the dream's interpretation. God's goodness may be seen in the fact that He overcomes the weaknesses of the flesh. Overwhelmed by human inability and inadequacy the believer often finds himself in a place where he is completely unable to function, yet God always gives the needed graces to those who simply want to serve Him.

Gabriel made it clear that Daniel's people were headed for rough seas under the reigns of Antiochus Epiphanes and the antichrist, yet all these things have an end, and God's appointed time for the salvation of Israel may not be nullified by any.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: The Goat's Descendants (Part II)

"Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." (Daniel 8:13-14)

Not only did Antiochus Epiphanes outlaw and remove the daily sacrifices from God's temple, but he also desecrated it by erecting an image of the Greek god Zeus in the temple courts. He furthered this profanation by burning a pig on the altar of burnt offering. These horrible acts of blasphemy pictured those which will be performed by the antichrist in the Jewish temple of the last days, a temple which is yet to be erected.

The text says that the sanctuary would be cleansed after two thousand and three hundred days. It is very difficult to pinpoint exactly when this countdown began; however, history does bear witness to some very certain facts which may be utilized in shedding light on the matter. Antiochus' despicable acts of blasphemy instigated a revolt among the pious Jews. This revolt known as the Maccabean revolt began in 166 BC. To the surprise of many it was very successful in casting off the oppressive forces of the Seleucid Empire, and in 165 BC God allowed the Jews to reclaim, cleanse, and reconsecrate the temple in Jerusalem. The Jewish Feast of Lights or Hanukkah celebrates this event.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: The Goat's Descendents

"And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered." (Daniel 8:9-12)

History clearly bears witness to the fact that this little horn is Antiochus IV who was a descendant of Seleucus. Antiochus was a type of the antichrist; therefore, much of what is presented in his actions and character mirrors that which will be seen in the antichrist. For this reason it is often difficult to limit what is presented in the text to just one of the two. With that said, the facts presented in this chapter and in the first part of chapter eleven do seem to speak mostly of Antiochus.

Antiochus came to the Seleucid throne in 175 BC. He ruled over the area which had been taken by Seleucus. The pleasant land is in reference to Israel. This Hebrew word is often translated roebuck or beauty. It represents something graceful and honorable. The Lord looks upon His land and people with great favor. The land of Israel ultimately belongs to God and He will not permit it to pass permanently into the hands of strangers. Its Mount Zion has been reserved for the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Antiochus exercised great persecution against the Jews. The particulars of these persecutions will be elaborated upon in chapter eleven. The Holy Spirit gradually introduced Daniel to these coming events, preparing him for particulars in the future. Antiochus outlawed the Jewish religion and forced heathen worship upon the people. This involved the cessation of the daily sacrifices offered in the temple thus the text declares that the daily sacrifice was taken away. Many who were God-fearing chose death or fleeing. Just as the antichrist will exalt himself against God in every way Antiochus Epiphanes magnified himself against the Prince of the host and did many things to purposefully profane the sanctuary of the God of Israel.

The text makes it clear that God allowed these things by reason of transgression. Even though there were many God-fearing Jews in the land much of the Jewish way of life was very corrupt. Greek philosophy and pagan influences had infected the very city of Jerusalem. The office of high priest had become little more than a position of power sought out by men of the most despicable character. The deep roots of apostasy found a solid resting place in the unregenerate hearts of those who bore the physical lineage of Abraham but who had no part in his spiritual heritage.

This passage makes it clear that God will allow great persecution to arise for the purposes of purification. He allowed it during the reign of Antiochus and He will allow it in the last days under the rule of the antichrist.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: The Goat's Division

"Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven." (Daniel 8:8)

Alexander set out to conquer the Persians in 334 BC. His conquests led him south into Egypt and east into the regions of India; however, in the height of his youth he died of a fever in Babylon. He died a drunkard and morally corrupted. The victories had gone to his head. As so many before him he failed to see that his successes were permitted by his Creator whom he had completely shunned. At the age of 32 the notable horn was broken. Political intrigue and rivalry soon followed. His sole heir to the throne was murdered and his kingdom was eventually divided between his four generals. As previously mentioned Cassander took over Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus received Asia Minor and Thrace; Seleucus took Syria, Upper Asia, Babylon and the Eastern parts, and Ptolemy took hold of Egypt, Palestine and all of Arabia.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: The Ram's Defeat

"And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand." (Daniel 8:5-7)

Later in the text the he goat is declared to be the kingdom of Greece. The notable horn represents Alexander the Great who was the first king to lead the Greeks eastward in conquest of the Persian empire. This conquest was accomplished with amazing speed. In 333 BC at the Battle of Issus Alexander wrought a major defeat on the Persian army. He then moved quickly down the Mediterranean coast, meeting resistance only from the cities of Tyre and Gaza. After being welcomed into Egypt and crowned as Pharaoh he moved on to finish off what remained of Persian resistance. This he did in 331 BC at the Battle of Gaugamela. In just a few short years the control of the entire Middle East passed into the hands of the Greek Empire. The goat moved so fast that in appearance he touched not the ground as he moved along in his conquests.

The goat's anger against the ram is representative of Alexander's extreme hatred of the Persians. In 480 BC Xerxes I marched westward toward Macedonia, forcing a war on the Greeks. Being terribly outnumbered the Spartan forces were eventually defeated at Thermopylae. Various Greek cities, including Athens, were pillaged and occupied; however, God saw fit to turn the tide of war and give the Greeks the final victory in a naval battle at Plataea (479 BC). In revenge of Persia's invasion, Alexander carried out his father's desires through a hot pursuit of the ram. The verb break in verse seven is intensive in form. It may well be translated shatter. Filled with unquenchable anger and being used of God for the purposes of working out His sovereign will the notable horn of the Grecian goat shattered all that remained of the Persian ram's power.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: The Ram's Dominance (Part II)

"Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great." (Daniel 8:3-4)

The ram was a primary symbol of Persia. Its presence has been witnessed in Persian artifacts and it can be found on ancient Persian architecture. The kingdom of Media was initially the stronger of the two. Nabopolassar solicited the assistance of Cyaxares the Mede in casting off the yoke of the Assyrians. This illustrates the power of the Median forces; however, as time progressed, God saw fit to bring Cyrus the Persian to the throne. After his defeat of Astyages the Median forces were annexed into the Persian kingdom. The horn which came up last turned out to be the taller of the two.

Daniel saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward. When Persia set out on its conquests it initially moved west toward Lydia (Asia Minor). Having subdued Lydia it then turned south and made its way down the Mediterranean coast into Egypt. Its focus was then turned towards Babylon which it conquered in 539 BC. These three initial conquests are represented by the three ribs shown in chapter seven.

In Isaiah 44:28 God said of Cyrus the Persian, "He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure... ." As long as God saw fit to allow it, no nation was able to stand before the crushing force of the Persian onslaught. He truly "did according to his will, and became great."

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: The Ram's Dominance

"In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai." (Daniel 8:1-2)

From this point and onward the text is written in Hebrew. The remaining prophecies are specific to Israel's future. They deal with Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the intertestamental period and with the antichrist of the last days. Chapter seven is very broad in its scope. It begins with the kingdom of Babylon, briefly touches on the kingdom of the antichrist and ends with the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. The remaining chapters elaborate on the specifics of things presented in the earlier chapters. They serve as a guiding light through the dark years of the intertestamental period, and they give a glimpse into the ferocious struggles of the last days. Although the events contained in these remaining passages affect the whole world they are primarily focused on the Jewish people.

Just like chapter seven the events of this chapter belong between chapters four and five. Daniel was in the province of Elam when he saw these things. This area was directly east of Babylon. The palace of Shushan was in Persian territory. This same palace is mentioned in the books of Esther and Nehemiah. The river of Ulai is believed to have been a man-made canal which connected two rivers south of the palace. The Persian setting of Shushan in the province of Elam made this spot a fitting place for the reception of prophecies which deal with the rise and fall of this Eastern empire, an empire which was yet future to Daniel.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Destiny of the Gentile Kingdoms: The Future Events Explained (Part V)

As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart." (Daniel 7:28b)

As glorious as the end will be, it does not nullify the reality of the present struggles. Daniel's heart was grieved for the souls of people as he considered the great beast's abuse of the entire earth. Undoubtedly his heart was sorely vexed for the dark days which lay ahead for Israel. Prior to this, Daniel had not been exposed to all the destruction which would be inflicted on his people by the antichrist.

The believer cannot help but share Daniel's grief. As one considers the death and destruction of the last days, it should encourage him to seek the Jew's soul now. It should encourage him to seek the souls of Gentiles now, because "the night cometh, when no man can work (John 9:4)."  

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Destiny of the Gentile Kingdoms: The Future Events Explained (Part IV)

"But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter." (Daniel 7:26-28a)

Concerning the Lord's glorious return and the demise of the antichrist, John wrote:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh (Revelation 19:11-21).

Christ's vesture is red with the blood of God's enemies. The little horn's blasphemies will be many; the power of the revived Roman Empire will be great; the armies of the dragon will seem to have no end, and the saints of the Great Tribulation period will not be permitted to overcome them, but victory is not lost; it is simply delayed for a short time. When the rightful owner of the Kingdom returns, not one rival will be able to stand.

Focused on the final victory of the saints, the heavenly interpreter closes by simply saying, "Hitherto is the end of the matter."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Destiny of the Gentile Kingdoms: The Future Events Explained (Part III)

"Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." (Daniel 7:23-25)

The crushing power of the Roman Empire paralleled and pictured that which is to come through the antichrist's kingdom. The last part of this passage says that God's saints will be given into the beast's hand for a time and times and the dividing of time. If one understands a time to be a year this period would be three and one half years which is exactly the time period described in Revelation 13. In the middle of the seven year tribulation period, God will ban Satan from his place in heaven. "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (Revelation 12:9)."

This event will anger Satan greatly as he realizes that his time is drawing nigh. As a result, he will begin to vehemently persecute (by means of the antichrist) saved Jews and Gentiles

Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time ... And the dragon was wroth with the woman (Israel), and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:12, 17).

This terrible oppression of God's people will be allowed to continue for three and one half years. This time period is described in Revelation as forty-two months which would follow a Jewish prophetic year of 360 days versus the more commonly known year of 365 days.

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:5-8).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Destiny of the Gentile Kingdoms: The Future Events Explained (Part II)

"Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows." (Daniel 7:19-20)

Daniel was primarily interested in the fourth beast. The destruction which this beast inflicted greatly disturbed Daniel's tender heart; therefore, he had to know more. The iron teeth may be linked to the iron legs and iron-clay feet of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Both images speak of Rome and the kingdom of the antichrist. The brass nails remind the reader of the brass kingdom which Nebuchadnezzar saw. As previously mentioned, that kingdom was Greece. Greek language and culture heavily influenced the Roman Empire. Perhaps this is why the beast had brass nails.

The severe destruction brought about by this kingdom clearly speaks of that which will be inflicted by the antichrist in the last days. Much of this destruction will be spiritual. The antichrist (the little horn) will exalt himself as God and force every unregenerate soul to worship him. This truth is taught in Revelation 13:5 and 7. "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies ... and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."

"I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." (Daniel 7:21-22)

In the last days the antichrist will vehemently persecute God's people, particularly the Jews. This fact is described in Revelation 13:7 where it says, "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them... ." A Christian is not guaranteed that he will always be delivered in a physical sense, but he is guaranteed that his soul will be safe with Christ. A believer must be careful not to become bitter against God should he not be delivered physically. God has a reason for allowing all that He allows, and in the last days it will seem as though evil is conquering; however, the Ancient of days will most surely come. Commenting on the magnificent events of God's judgment, Jude wrote:

Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 14-15).

The defeat and the death of the saints is simply the means of ushering them into the victorious kingdom of God. Regardless of how bad the earthly situation becomes, God loves His own with an everlasting love, and He will make them victorious at last.

For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD (Psalm 149:4-9).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Destiny of the Gentile Kingdoms: The Future Events Explained

"I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things." (Daniel 7:15-16)

Having witnessed the terrible destruction which would be inflicted by the fourth beast, Daniel's spiritual disturbance was so great that it affected his body. Undoubtedly he sensed that the destruction of the fourth beast would affect his people as well as the people of all nations.

The one who stood by is not identified. He was most likely an angelic being who was stationed to provide assistance with the interpretation of the vision. As the text will declare, he was relatively unconcerned with anything but the dream's conclusions.

"These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever." (Daniel 7:17-18)

This verse makes it clear that the four beasts are four kings which arose from the sea of humanity. The interpreter bypasses all of the havoc wrought by the four beasts and immediately jumps ahead to the final victory of Christ's kingdom. The Lord consistently sees the end from the beginning. He is not intimidated by the wickedness of man. His saints should never forget that they serve the King who has already won the victory.