Daniel 9

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!

Daniel 8

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!

Luke 2

Vs. 10,But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”  What an amazing message and visit the lowly shepherds would receive from the angel that fateful night.  I’ll expound a more on the shepherds in the application section.  Notice how God used the decree of Caesar to help fulfill the prophecies that Jesus was to be from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).  It’s important to remember that God is in control of all things.  We then fast-forward a bit to Joseph & Mary presenting Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem.  Here they would meet Simeon a devout man of God who was promised by God that he would get to see Jesus before he died.  They also would meet the prophetess Anna who would faithfully serve God even though she was a older and a widow.  She too would recognize Jesus as the Messiah.  And lastly, we are given a small snippet of Jesus as a young boy with his parents going to Jerusalem for Passover.

Regarding application…Sharing Jesus.  Vs. 17, When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.”  Question: After seeing the baby Jesus, what did the Shepherds do?  They naturally shared the good news of hope they had seen and heard!  Question: Why did God choose the Shepherds?  He could have chosen the priests that night, he could have chosen the city leaders of Bethlehem, but he chose the lowly and dirty shepherds.  I shared this with the youth on Sunday, but it was as if God did a scan of all the hearts in Bethlehem that night.  He found hearts that would respond to this incredible hope and he chose them.  God does the same today, He is looking for hearts ready to share a hope in a dark world.  Will you respond and share?

Luke 1

Vs. 1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us.”  Bear in mind, Luke did not ever meet Jesus physically.  Luke gathered eyewitness testimonies to bring into account the life of our Lord Jesus.  The original receiver of this letter was Theophilus, not much is known of him.  Let’s jump into the narrative.  It was difficult times for God’s people.  Some four hundred years have gone by without directly hearing from any prophet of God.  It is here that the archangel Gabriel comes to pay a visit to the priest Zechariah.  He brings a message of not just a baby boy, but a very special boy that would come in the spirit of Elijah.  John the Baptist would come to help prepare the way.  We also have the account of Gabriel coming to young Mary with the message of the baby Jesus!  Here we see Mary’s beautiful song “The Magnificat” and her very rich knowledge of Scripture.  Additionally, we see the birth of John the Baptist and Zechariah’s own song of praise.

Regarding application…Nothing is Impossible.  Vs. 37, “For nothing is impossible with God.”  I preached from this passage this past Sunday concerning Gabriel’s visit to Mary.  Question: What was this impossibility that Mary faced?  The virgin birth.  A truth so often taken for granted.  This impossible scenario would be a part of the proof that Jesus was both God and man.  God fulfilled His promises to all of us through the miracle birth of Jesus.  It’s worth noting how young Mary, just a teenager responded to this seemingly impossible promise with complete faith.  While we contrast that to the priest Zechariah who doubted and God would strike him with being mute until after John’s birth.  This profound truth that God can do the impossible stands true to us today.  What obstacles in your life do you face with doubt and fear?  Praise the Lord that we have a God that is in the business of doing the impossible!