[“Notice that the four beasts of this seventh chapter of Daniel symbolize the same world kingdoms that were pictured by the images in Dan. 2, and the ten horns of the last beast correspond to the ten toes of the legs of iron (Dan. 2:41-42). Much of both prophecies has been fulfilled, and at this writing “the blessed hope” (Tit. 2:13) of the ages is also showing every evidence of nearing realization. Both visions portray the end of Gentile world power. View the events of the present in the light of these disclosures, and they fall into focus and make sense. The individual child of God is challenged as never before in the world’s history to let go of the trivial and the transient, and to yield himself unreservedly to Him Who is coming back to fulfill the longings of every true believer—forever and ever!” http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=dan%207&version=AMP]
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14)
[“In 1952, a young woman named Florence Chadwick stepped off Catalina Island, into the Pacific Ocean. Her goal was to swim to the shore of mainland California, 21 miles away. It was foggy and chilly. She could barely see the boats alongside her. Florence swam for fifteen hours. She begged to be taken out of the water. Her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she gave up and stopped swimming. They pulled her out. Then, when Florence Chadwick was on the boat she discovered the truth: the shore was less than half a mile away. She was 98% of the way home. At a news conference the next day she said this: “All I could see was the fog. . . . I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.” Can you relate to those words? We live our lives in a fog of trouble, worry, doubt, depression, health problems, unemployment, financial uncertainty, strained relationships…and loss of loved ones. We have times of joy and celebration, but let’s face it—we live in a world of struggle, suffering, and death. All these things create a fog. It’s difficult to see in front of us. We end up focusing on the fog because we can’t see the shore. Sometimes we feel like giving up because we don’t have the strength to stay afloat any longer. This is where the people of God throughout the ages had a source of strength and perspective that for some reason we don’t talk much about today: Heaven. It was their north star by which they could navigate their lives. It was their great reference point. But Heaven has fallen off our radar screens today. We don’t know where we are and we do not know where we are going. That’s why I have written several books about Heaven: that we might see the shore, that Heaven might become as real in our thinking as it truly is.” Randy Alcorn] I think Daniel could see the shore line and can help us do the same.
As we marvel at the absolute devotion of Daniel to his God – from his teen-age years to his old age, we can see the powerful influence of having an eternal perspective on life which Daniel received by revelation from God through the visions He gave to Nebuchadnezzar (chapters 2, 4) and to Daniel directly (chapters 6-12). Likewise, God shows us the future (prophecy), throughout the Bible, of Jesus’ first and second coming and His eternal rule over the entire world in order to motivate us to live each day of this brief life in view of that “Day” – the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here we see a picture of His coronation:
“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.” (Vv. 13-14)
Past history has shown the rise and fall of the four “beastly” Gentile worldwide kingdoms that oppressed and ruled over Israel (our study of Daniel 7 last week) and this week we will see God’s ultimate destruction of the future kingdom (the revived Roman empire) and the Antichrist (the beast – Revelation 13), seen here as the little horn (V. 8), and his worldwide rule over a ten-division empire (Vv. 7-8, 19-25). “This horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts.” (V.8)
It is interesting and encouraging that God showed Daniel the judgment and destruction of the little horn (Antichrist) before He showed him his great persecution of Israel. (Vv. 21, 25) Though these verses can be applied to all the “saints” – believers in Christ, it specifically applies to Israel. Through the visions God gave directly to Daniel (chapters 6-12) Daniel realized that the seventy years of captivity in Babylon was not the end of God’s judgment of Israel but, in fact, was just the beginning, and His purifying judgment would continue to the end of this age. That explains the last verse of this chapter: “At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself.” (V.28)
Judgment Day is Coming – Vv. 9-11 – “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened. Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.”
This vision is also given to John in Revelation 4-5 as God the Father gives the scroll to His Son in order to execute His righteous judgment on the unrepentant of all ages (Rev. 6-22) and to establish the eternal reign of Jesus Christ, beginning with the Millennial Kingdom and into the everlasting Kingdom, the new heaven and new earth.
The revelation of the “Ancient of Days” (God the Father) is not one of an old man with a long white beard and robe, but a picture of the purity, holiness and eternality of God. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” (Eccl. 3:11) Unlike God, man has a beginning, but like God, man has no end; we are eternal in that respect and that knowledge and desire to transcend our mortality is in all mankind even though it is suppressed by the unsaved because of fear of God’s judgment. (Rom. 1:18-20) So it is a question of where we will spend our eternal life; in the glory of heaven with God and all His saints or in the horror of hell, with the Devil and all those who reject Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his (fallen) angels. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matt. 25:41, 46) (The Greek word for ‘eternal’, aiōnios – means “without end, never to cease, everlasting” and as seen here is used for both heaven and hell as opposed to Rob Bell’s and others’ teaching that hell is only a temporary judgment and that all people will be eventually be in heaven (universalism).)
“The court sat, and the books were opened.” (V.10) – This court scene is revealed to John in Revelation: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:11-15)
God as judge is hated and mocked by the unrepentant and the idea of His judgment has turned many people away from Him, the One true God, to a god of their own making or to no god at all (atheism). “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” (Psalm 2:1-3)
The cross is one of the most revealing pictures of God’s holy and righteous justice as we see it poured out on Jesus through the Jews and Gentiles of His time and ultimately because of our sin – my sin and your sin. God has revealed to us who know the Lord that His justice is justified against our sin and rebellion and we are so grateful that the Father, Son, and Spirit collaborated to satisfy God’s justice through the perfect life and atoning death of Jesus as the God-Man. “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (See Ephesians 2:1-8)
Back to the beast, the little horn, and his ultimate judgment – “Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell (Rev. 17:12-13), namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth (Rev. 13:3) and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. (See Rev. 13:5) But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’” (Vv. 19-27)
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” (Dan. 2:44-45)
What God showed Daniel here in part, He shows him more in chapters 8-12 and we see this in even more detail in Revelation 6-19. “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.” (Rev. 19:20)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life?
2. What is the message in Daniel 7 saying to the Jews and to all believers in Christ? See Psalm 73:1-20.
3. What effect did the vision have on Daniel, and why? (V.28) (See Hab. 1:13)
4. Please read Alcorn’s message about “seeing the shoreline” and discuss how the message in Daniel can help clear the fog away for us to see the shoreline – Heaven – more clearly.