God is my Judge

September 16, 2020 

Daniel 7:9-18

“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10 A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a  thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. 11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14  And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,      that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him;    his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things.

17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

In the middle of Daniels dream Daniel is given a vision of God’s throne in heaven. The scene involves the judgement of God, the books are opened, and the beast Daniel saw in his vision was killed. God’s power is demonstrated, and true justice is given.

As we have noted before, Daniel’s name means “God is my judge.” His dream reveals much more than Daniel’s name, it reveals that God is the judge over everything. He alone raises up kings and tears them down. He alone determines the boundaries of nations and the scope and nature of their power. As we look for the mysterious unraveling of these visions, we can be confident in this one thing… God is in control.

Many of the things God revealed to Daniel in his vision have already come to pass. We have the benefit of the historical record to review these predictions and prophesies that were to come after Daniel’s lifetime. They are amazingly accurate. These prophesies cause many critics of the Bible to call for a much later time dating of Daniel’s book, insisting that he must have been watching these things take place. Now today, few critics argue for that position as archeological discoveries have confirmed the date of Daniels writings. These prophesies confirm the accuracy of God’s word, including the predictions that remain in the future.

There is a coming world empire on the horizon. The leader of this empire will seek to destroy the people of God, but as God has revealed to his friend Daniel, we will be the ones who receive the eternal kingdom. The kingdom of the beast will be temporary as it completes God’s timetable for the end of time. Will we be the generation that sees these things? It would be difficult to say, but every day that goes by we are closer to the end.

Daniel the Beloved

September 15, 2020 

Daniel 7:1-8

1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.

And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’

After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

 Daniel is described three times in the book as “the man greatly beloved” (Daniel 9:23; 10:11,19). It is an interesting fact that the other man whom Jesus loved, John the beloved, also wrote a book about prophesy. I guess you tell your best friend things you might not tell other people. God told these men similar things relating to the end times, things he was going to bring to pass.

It is difficult to understand the book of Revelation without having some knowledge of Daniel’s prophesy. And reading and understanding Revelation gives insight on how to interpret Daniel. These books complement one another, it is almost like Daniel’s visions are not completely understood until John.

Daniel had been given to gift of interpretation by God and was successful in revealing the message behind Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. But when he was given his own dreams, visions by God they alarmed him. He became anxious and worried about the interpretation.

Like the visions of Ezekiel before him and John after him he was only able to describe what he saw in the terms of the language accustomed to him. It seems he didn’t have the vocabulary to describe what he saw. “It was like…” became a common expression as they all searched for ways to describe the “other worldly” creatures and phenomenon they saw. Besides the actual events portrayed there were obviously things Daniel could not understand with regards to the things they revealed about the future.

So, when Daniel spoke to one of the people in the vision and asked what it all meant. The angel answered him and seemed happy to unravel the secrets and mysteries of the dream.

God desires understanding for his people. He has given us his word, he has revealed things by his spirit that the world will not understand. He calls us to know him and to be the recipients of information about what he is preparing to do. This knowledge is available to us because as believers we are in Christ, and we are therefore the beloved of God.

The Living God

September 14, 2020 

Daniel 6:8-9, 16-17

24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27   He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth,  he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The end of the story of Daniel in the lion’s den has a disturbing twist. There is an irony to the events that happen afterward, much like the story of Mordechai in the Book of Ester. The satraps who wanted Daniel dead, who tricked the king into making an irrevocable decree were themselves executed by the same device (the lion’s den) that they used against Daniel.

But Darius is not content to put to death these men, he also executes their entire family along with them… they, their children, and their wives. Yes, the king has a change of heart towards Daniel’s God, but he is in no means acting for God or being used by God to execute judgement. But it does point us to the fact that earthly kings will never be able to satisfy the justice of God, they are temporary rulers who are given temporary power until the final king takes the throne.

A cursory examination of the law of Moses reveals the children are not to suffer for the sins of the fathers. Women are not to be judged for their husband’s guilt. We are all responsible for our own actions before God.

We are not told, but it must have grieved Daniel to see this injustice performed in the name of God. Darius has seen the power of God and now, and his decree is for everyone in his kingdom to have a reverential fear of the only living God.

The theme of the book of Daniel is God is sovereign. He lifts nations up and brings them down. He alone decides who lives and who dies, who becomes king and which kings will be defeated. He rules over the nation.

In our day we often forget these facts. We worry and fret over elections and politics and often lose sight that whatever happens God is in control and he is still sovereign over nations.

We cannot overlook the facts surrounding the formation of our country. A government for the people and by the people under God… this was the dream of our founders. We want justice and mercy to be the guiding truth and we have the great responsibility to vote our conscience, to put people into elected positions who will carry out the will of almighty God.

It has been a great experiment, but it will not last forever. There will come a day when our great nation will submit itself to the will of another great world ruler. Daniel saw it in a dream, it will come to pass. Darius was used by God, but he did not subject himself to the will of God. America has been used by God, but we are not submitting to the will of god. God is still sovereign, he is the living God, may his will be done.

Daily Devotions 2020