Vs. 1, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.” A couple of questions come up. Question: Who is Michael? When is this time? Michael & Gabriel are the only two angels mentioned by name. Michael is an archangel (Jude 9) and is quite seasoned in battle. He is the one that will cast satan out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-9) during the tribulation. To answer when is this time, we are talking about the time that is yet to come. When live in the last days (after Jesus was resurrected, but before He returns a second time). This vision to Daniel is chronicling the end of the last days. The man clothed in linen could very well be Jesus (vs. 7) and the other two are angels (vs. 5). God gave Daniel an outline of the future that is full of details and even hope (vs. 9-13).
Regarding application…What Should We Do? Vs. 10, “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” It’s a fair question. Daniel asked questions too, but God would give him this response for all of us to read. Because God’s ways are not our ways, His ways are not always going to make sense to us. Daniel didn’t understand these prophecies, but by the time John on the island of Patmos received further revelation, we see that Daniel’s prophecy starts to make more sense. My point is that we must be patient and wise in our process of growth and understanding. Notice how the wicked will never understand. But, we who are being refined, wise and holy must not grow discouraged in such times. The last thing we need to do is worry about the future distress. God is on our side and He is greater. Let’s do our best to have faith in this future that is growing nearer. It won’t happen like the Mayan calendar predicted, but make not mistake…God’s prophecies will come in a time when we least expect it! Let’s be faithful & wise in the meantime!
Vs. 31, “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.” It’s almost dizzying to review the numerous rise of leaders and wars that transpire in this passage. God is giving Daniel and us a history lesson before the history happens! In the first half of the chapter, Nations like Syria in the north and Egypt in the south as well as Greece are mentioned throughout. The Persians would rule for a few generations until Alexander the Great would rise up from Greece. Then we see the southern kingdom Egypt rise up again in Ptolemy I Soter. The daughter of the King of the south (vs. 6) was Bernice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus and the king of the North at the time was Antiochus II Theos of Syria. Investigating further, the history books are full of deception, intrigue and adventure that rivals any movie of today. Cleopatra is mentioned in vs. 17, and sent as a spy, however she ended up falling in love! Then Antiochus Ephiphanes, ruler of Syria, comes into the scene (vs. 21), he is considered the precursor for the antichrist in the End Times. He came with deception and peace only to kill many including over a hundred thousand Jews (vs. 28) and took over the temple sacrifices in Jerusalem. Look at our aforementioned vs. 31 to see that he came with the first abomination that causes desolation. It was a very difficult time for God’s people (vs. 32-35). And lastly, Daniel now goes into prophecy that has not yet happened even for us (vs. 36-45). Question: Who is this king that exalts himself? None other than the antichrist! This is the man who will come saying he is the Christ, but he is a wolf disguised as a lamb. He will bring much violence and war upon many.
Regarding application…Resist the Enemy. Vs. 32, “With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.” It is no secret that we live in a battlefield. Question: What is this battle? A battle for souls. History has a tendency to repeat itself and all this conflict is only going to get worse. We have this notion that we live in a peaceful world because the US has not been invaded since Pearl Harbor. But, there are literal battlefields that are the cause of deception, corruption and pride. As Christians today, we must not live in denial of such things and things to come. We must be ready to resist the enemy. Regardless if we are raptured up in heaven or not, we must be prepared! Look once again at vs. 32, how do we resist the enemy? By knowing God! Brothers & Sisters, be encouraged by what Peter tells us, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
Vs. 1, “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.” Question: What was this vision? Why would Daniel mourn and fast for three weeks (vs. 2)? By the third year reign of Cyrus, the decree to allow God’s people to travel back from Babylon to home is already in effect. However, a vast majority of people were wanting to return. Daniel was now old in age, probably his mid-eighties and God had raised up people like Ezra & Nehemiah to help the rebuilding process. Perhaps Daniel was too old to make such an arduous trip back home. Nevertheless, Daniel is praying and we are given insight to an encounter with who many biblical scholars as well as myself believe was Jesus himself. The response of Daniel seems to help us realize it had to be Jesus in His preincarnate form. In this appearance, we are reminded that our fight is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6). We then have a most unusual event, an angel appears to Daniel (vs. 10) after his deep sleep and informs him that the moment Daniel started praying three weeks earlier, God had sent the angel. However, someone tried to stop him. Question: Who was this? The prince of the Persian king, this was not a person, but a demon! This delay was the effect of a spiritual battle that is still going on.
Regarding application…Do Not Fear. Vs. 19, “Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong…” Question: What was Daniel afraid of? There is war going on that is full of casualties. There is an enemy that is certainly formidable. There are powers in this world both seen and not seen that can bring much fear in our lives. Notice, that Daniel’s companions had fled the scene out of fear (vs. 7). God is looking for those of us who will not falter under the fears of the enemy and this world. God is looking for people who will be obedient in prayer. God is looking for people who are willing to stand up! I talked about “Making a stand” in Sunday’s message and look how the angel gave Daniel strength to stand up (vs. 18). Question: What sort of fears are you facing as this week unfolds? Do what Daniel did, pray. Yes, pray. Prayer is a major weapon in the spiritual battle. Have a blessed week of trusting in the Lord. Call upon His name and be saved from whatever traps of fears that keep us from standing up for God!
Vs. 21, “while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.” Question: What was Daniel praying about? This was a prayer of repentance. A prayer of repentance because God’s people had sinned. I love how Daniel looks to another prophet Jeremiah’s prophecy (vs. 2) and seeing the fulfillment of the Babylonian invasion and the specific seventy years of captivity. Since the return to the Promised Land in Egypt nearly 500 years earlier, God’s people turned away from Him. Question: What would happen to God’s people? What was this “seventy sevens” reference (vs. 24)? The seventy sevens refers to 7 times 70 which equals 490. It was 490 years since the exodus out of Egypt. The sixty-two sevens refers to the difference of time between the seventy sevens which would be the time it took them to rebuild the second temple upon returning from Babylon. And some stretch it to the prophecy of years before Jesus would be born. Daniel seems to pointing to the antichrist rising us during the seven years of tribulations (vs. 27). I know it gets a bit confusing in this, but the overarching theme God is in control of our future!
Regarding application…Answered Prayer. Vs. 23, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision.” Wow! Isn’t that a beautiful picture of God hearing the prayers of his beloved! Sometimes it’s easy to begin to think that God has more important things to attend to our prayers. I think it’s important to understand the humility of Daniel’s prayer and confession before God. It is when we humble ourselves that God is able to open the eyes of our heart to see Him. Certainly, God’s answered prayer is not always going to be instantaneous to us, but I do believe God has an answer nevertheless. Perhaps you too have heard that God sometimes says, “yes, wait, or even no.” Whatever the answer to our prayers, the most important part is the picture of relationship that we have to our Father in Heaven when we pray. We can’t do this thing called life without communicating to our Father! Thank goodness that our connection is not dependent upon a cell tower. Stay connected to the Lord today!
Vs. 16, “And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.” Gabriel makes his grand entrance and comes to shed some light to this very perplexing vision. Daniel gets magically transported 200 plus miles east of Babylon to the capital city of Persia (present day Iran). Some of the prophecies mentioned in this chapter have already been fulfilled. The ram with the two horns (vs. 3) represented the Medes and Persians who would a few years later come and defeat Babylon. But then we see a goat of all animals (vs. 5) come from the west. This goat represented the Greece and the horn was specifically referring to Alexander the Great. But Alexander the Great would die from pneumonia at the age of 33, the horn was broken off (vs. 8). Out of the four horns that were replacing the large horn, one of them grew in power (vs. 9). Biblical scholars point to this horn as representing Antiochus Ephiphanes. Question: So, what is going on here? An evil ruler would rise up in 175 B.C. He was an incredibly evil man who killed tens of thousands of Jews and ransacked the Temple in Jerusalem. But like many prophecies, there was a dual meaning. This horn would also represent the antichrist. The antichrist and Antiochus would present themselves as being God. But Jesus would come to be victorious (vs. 25).
Regarding application…Suffering. Vs. 27, “I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.” Question: Why do we suffer? It is one of those ageless questions that has perplexed us. Many have rejected this notion of suffering because they just can’t reconcile a God who would allow such things to transpire. However, one of the things I encourage you to recall is that Jesus is known as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53). The enemy prowls like a lion to bring suffering and doubt to God’s people (I Peter 5:8-9). None of us deserve salvation and the Lord knows we are sinners at the very core. That is why we should never ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Good” people is an oxymoron when it comes to our standing before God. Only by the blood of Jesus can we become the righteous of God (II Corinthians 5:21). Take heart dearest brothers and sisters in Christ. Our lives are but a vapor in the wind, so let’s do our best to endure the hour of suffering because a time of joy and eternity awaits us!
Vs. 1, “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.” As you might have noticed, this chapter is not chronological. This dream of Daniel’s transpired before the death of Belshazzar in chapter five. The theme of this dream is similar to that of the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had in chapter two. In this dream, we get a preview of the End Times. Again we have this image of four beasts (four kingdoms vs. 17) that Daniel would see. There are differing views regarding who these nations are and the ten horns and the little horn (vs. 20). Most scholars point to the same nations that were mentioned in my comments in chapter two. Question: What do the ten horns and the little horn represent? They represent the resurrected Rome in the form of a new leadership in the world and the little horn is the antichrist! No wonder Daniel was troubled, but praise God that the ending is in our favor!
Regarding application…Jesus is Here Vs. 13, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” It must have been a frightening vision to say the least for Daniel, but we get a cameo appearance from Jesus Himself! Notice that during this time, which is in the tribulation years, there will be suffering from the saints. But, God will not forsake His people. Think about your own life for a moment. If we search our hearts, there is probably some fear going on about a unknown future. Fear that it may get tougher before it gets better. But Jesus is here. I remember the poignant scene in Lord of the Rings where Gandalf had to fight the fiery monster. The fellowship of the Ring members witnessed Gandalf fall to his seeming death. As they grieved for him, there was a fear about what to do next. Many of us know that Gandalf came back and helped them in defeating evil. But Jesus is bigger than Gandalf. He not only will come back, but He is already here through the promised Holy Spirit! Not only can you have comfort today, but comfort in a future that promises we will triumph in the end!
Vs. 3, “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” Remember from yesterday’s chapter, we read how the Babylonians were defeated by the Medes and Persians. Like many suspenseful movies of our time, we now see intrigue, corruption and a story so unbelievable! King Darius found favor in Daniel who was now in his eighties. There was jealousy among the ranks (vs. 4). Question: What would they do? They conspired to trick the King who was none the wiser to issue an edict purposefully to have Daniel killed (vs. 7). They knew Daniel was a man of faith and integrity to His God. The enemy is always looking for ways to win some battles. It’s surprising to see King Darius’s genuine concern for Daniel as he realizes he had been duped (vs. 14). The event that would transpire is the very well known story of Daniel and the lion’s den. God’s hand of providence was upon Daniel and He intervened to close the mouth of lions (vs. 22). And later we would see that nothing was wrong with these lions, for they feasted upon the conspirators (vs. 24).
Regarding application…No Compromise. Vs. 10, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Question: How would you respond? Jealousy from the enemies of Daniel brought upon this conspiracy. Here in the United States, we enjoy the freedom of religion. We can pray at our schools, workplaces, churches and homes without the fear of being put to death. Some of you may be aware of our National day of Prayer (May 3rd) that is held annually each year to promote prayer. Question: How faithful are you? What if the law of the land issued an edict for thirty days forbidding us to pray with the consequence of death? This is what Daniel faced. He would not compromise, even if it was only thirty days. God came first. Question: Is there anything in your life that you are compromising with God on? Find encouragement from Daniel today to make the right choices to put your complete faith in God!
Vs. 5, “Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote.” Perhaps you didn’t realize things like this were in the Bible! It has been about twenty years since we last saw Nebuchadnezzar repent in chapter four. The King of Babylon, Belshazzar, is the son of Nabonidus, the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar (A bit confusing, but it does make sense). In Belshazzar’s pride, he wanted to worship his God’s with the stolen goblets from Jerusalem. But God had something to say about such a display of arrogance. While Belshazzar was having a party, the Medes & Persians were camped outside of Babylon with the intention of invading. But the Babylonians in their pride could not conceive that their city would fall. Upon witnessing the fingers of human magically writing on the wall, he called for anyone who might be able to interpret the writing. It looks like Daniel must have fallen out of the scene as the years passed. But the Queen knew about Daniel and had him come to explain the writing. Daniel gave Belshazzar a little history lesson about Nebuchadnezzar and now a interpretation of the writing on the wall. It was a message of doom (vs. 26-28).
Regarding application…Consequences. Vs. 30, “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain.” Question: Why was Belshazzar’s number up with God? Like all of creation, Belshazzar was given an opportunity and wasted it away. You see, God is a God of love and also consequences. Last night, Nick Saban and the Alabama college football team won the BCS championship. Why do I mention this? Because Nick Saban is something of a throwback. He is known as a control freak and rules over his team with a iron fist. As a player, if you don’t respect him, you’re not going to be on his team for long. Though many do not like Saban’s style, he has won two of the last three college football championships and has won three overall. Question: Why? Because he is a no-nonsense coach that gives consequences to his players. Likewise, we live in a time where we don’t like to think that God is a God of judgment and consequences. But Belshazzar reminds us that God numbers our days and we are held accountable for our actions. But at the end of the day, it really goes back to your heart relationship with the Father. Let that be the driving force each day as you choose wisely how you will live for the Lord!
Vs. 5, “I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.” We are given quite a twist in the story! Some things are familiar: Nebuchadnezzar, a dream and Daniel’s interpretation. Question: What makes this so interesting? Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged and repented of his ways (vs. 37). Biblical scholars are on both sides of the fence when it comes to Nebuchadnezzar repenting to the point of salvation. I believe Nebuchadnezzar was saved. It doesn’t matter who you are or the position you have, God extends His grace to all. Of course, this is contingent upon if we accept it.
Regarding application…Pride. Vs. 37, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” It’s dangerous to disconnect ourselves from this story. Notice how Nebuchadnezzar was up and down in his emotions in this chapter. Going from scared, to prideful, and then to being humbled. In many ways, I would not wish the type of power and temptations upon any of my friends, much less my enemies that Nebuchadnezzar had to endure. While we may not ever be a King or ruler of a land, we struggle with pride just like Nebuchadnezzar. Recently, I heard Kobe Bryant going through a divorce with his wife. When Kobe proposed and married her, I’m sure he was thinking that divorce was not something that was going to happen to him. Having millions of dollars, many are now poking fun at him for not signing a prenuptial. She is now entitled to half of what he has and that is not even including the adultery charges and millions she will get on top of the half. Money and power have a power over us that is quite dangerous. By God’s grace Nebuchadnezzar was restored from his pride. Question: Is there pride in your heart that needs to be dealt with?
Vs. 3, “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” Who ever said the Bible is boring? Since chapter two, it’s estimated that twenty years have passed. Most scholars agree that Daniel must have been out on business during this time. Here we have Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah choose to not bow down before Nebuchadnezzar’s ridiculous order to worship his ninety foot idol. It’s interesting to note that Nebuchadnezzar didn’t banish others from their freedom to worship their God’s, but he also wanted them to worship his. That’s the schemes of the enemy. What a test of faith the three would display for us in the fiery furnace.
Regarding application…Obeying God. Vs. 17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” That’s what I’m talking about! Question: What is faith? Believing even when the outcome could be bleak. And when the Nebuchadnezzar demands the furnace to be seven times hotter that his own soldier’s burn up escorting the three, it seems like it’s game over. However, chills should run up your spine as we read Nebuchadnezzar looking into the fiery furnace and seeing not three people, but four! Question: Who is the fourth? While there has been debate on who this fourth person could be, I believe Nebuchadnezzar saw Jesus in his preincarnate form. While we may not have such fantastic stories of obedience to God, I believe Jesus is with us far more in our trials than we ever realize!