Monday, October 28, 2013

Daniel 8: Visions of Near & Distant Future

Dan 8:15-26 While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling, "Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision." As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. "Son of man," he said to me, "understand that the vision concerns the time of the end." While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet. He said: "I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.  The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future."

Daniel was shown things that would happen in the near and distant future. In the near future, he saw that the Median-Persian empire (two-horned ram) which was in power during his lifetime would be overtaken by Greece (goat with a large horn), which was then a small and relatively insignificant military power. But Alexander the Great retaliated with rage against the Persians for attacking the Greek cities and defeated the Median-Persian empire in a few short years, beginning in 334 BC. However, at the height of his power, Alexander was stricken with malaria and died from complications related to his alcoholism in 323 BC, at the age of 32  in Babylon. After his death, the goat's single horn was replaced by four smaller horns. The four horns refer to the four generals who divided the Greek empire into four regions: to the first general Ptolemy was given Egypt and parts of Asia Minor; to second general Cassander was given the territory of Macedonia and Greece; to the third general Lysimachus was given Thrace and parts of Asia Minor (western Bithynia, Phrygia, Mycia, and Lydia); and to the fourth general Seleucus was given the Syria, Israel, and Mesopotamia.

The descendants of Seleucus (the Seleucids) ruled the land of Israel and the "stern-faced king, a master of intrigue" refers to one of the Seleucids, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He usurped power by murdering his brother who was then on the throne. He then attacked and burned Jerusalem, killing multitudes of Jews. He forbade the Jews from observing the Sabbath, the festivals and sacrifices, including circumcising Jewish children. He even desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem by offering swine on its altar. He died by divine judgement of insanity in 163 BC.

But some parts of Daniel's vision concerning the 2,300 evenings and mornings "is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future." If Daniel's vision concerning the near future has been fulfilled to the letter (regarding the breakup of the Greek Empire and subsequent desecration of the temple in Jerusalem), we can be sure that his vision concerning the distant future would also be fulfilled to the letter.

And the "distant future" is here.

Father, thank You that You have already shown us what will take place soon so that we who believe in the Scriptures are not caught by surprise at the coming world events. Thank You for preparing us for the challenges of the end-time scenarios. Amen.

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