Daily Discipline #103
By Colleen Donahue
Do the events of your life seem jumbled and haphazard? Without our glasses on they may seem so. But put on your "spiritual glasses" and what was out of focus sharpens. All of life is part of the unfolding of a plan. The events for the end of time are determined. Our Creator knows the end from the beginning and during our part of that timeline He gives us time to choose to love and follow Him. It is for you and I to live our lives aligned with God TODAY. Thus we will find that the God who has mapped out the future can guide and guard us through this present moment.
Our study of the Book of Daniel takes a turn this month as we look at the last six chapters in the book. They are very different from the first six chapters. The first six were personal stories in the history of Daniel and his associates at the time the Israelites were taken into captivity. But the tone now shifts as Daniel receives startling visions of the things that are to come. For a few short chapters we are allowed to peak behind the curtain at what is ahead. In fact from our spot on the timeline we'll be able to look back and verify history as well as look ahead to see what's coming. A scary thought you say? Only if you're alone on the path. Our Creator has new things to communicate to us through His Word. He doesn't want us to be in the dark about the days ahead and that's why He gives us this glimpse of what is coming. But while we look ahead we must keep our feet firming planted in THIS PRESENT MOMENT.
Our study of the remaining chapters of Daniel will look at major events and themes in an overall sense and therefore not be a verse by verse analysis. But may I say that the ocean is deep. I hope that our studies together will entice you to dive deeper on your own. Now let's begin to .....
Daniel -Part 4--"Consider the Word and Understand" (Daniel 9:23c)
I. A Snapshot on World History
Since the fall of Adam and Eve from grace, man has sought to "be like God". Up to this point in history there had been two world powers that had succeeded for a time to have god-like authority over man. The first were the Assyrians under Nimrod (see Genesis 10-11) and the second were the Egyptians. Now in the book of Daniel, God describes four more world powers that will come and go.
Day 1-At the time of the Israelite's captivity who was the major world power?
Daniel 2:31-32a , 37-38 / Daniel 7:104 / Daniel 1:1
Day 2-The next world power after Babylon, Medo-Persia, is described three times.
Daniel 2:32b (breast and arms of silver) Daniel 2:39a / Daniel 7:5 / Daniel 8:3-4
Note: The three descriptions, while different, show that this power was really two powers - the Medes and the Persians- and in fact Persia became the most powerful of the two. Thus the picture of the lopsided bear. Daniel lived through this world power and was able to see the fulfillment of this prediction.
Day 3- The Greeks under young Alexander the Great took the world swiftly by surprise. By 331 B.C. he had extended his rule as far as India, therefore controlling the Persian Empire. This was virtually the whole known world at this time.
Daniel 2: 32c/ 39b / Daniel 7:6 / Daniel 8:5-8
Note: In two of these descriptions (Chapters 7-8) you see the beast with four heads, then with four horns growing up out of a broken one. At age 33 years Alexander the Great died. At the height of his power the great horn was broken and four of his generals scrambled to get power. Each general succeeded in holding only a piece of it.
Day 4-The fourth world power described had its place in history as the Roman Empire.
Daniel 2:33 / Daniel 7:7
Note: Babylon was the only beast having any vestige of human emotion, conscience or moral will. Each succeeding beast became more cruel and terrible than the predecessor. The Roman Empire had two parts : The East and the West (thus two legs) and it was the most cruel of all world powers -- made of iron. The Roman Empire as we know it from the time of Christ came and went but its influence is still what we live under today. The Western world is the last form of gentile world power. Up to this point everything has occurred exactly as described to Daniel.
In the end there would be a Federation of Nations consisting of two groups (East and West) of five nations. (10 toes or 10 horns). It will be loosely held together by ties of danger and fear of one another. We see all this forming even now. This is well represented by iron and clay toes (Daniel 2:33b). The iron of totalitarianism and the clay of social democracy may mix but it will never really unite.
Like iron and clay, that is an unstable mixture. This Federation will fail because it is not really a unit. It is for expediency only and not a sincere desire to help all humanity.
II. If we are Living In the Last of the World Powers What Will Be Next?
Day 5- A "little horn" will come to power from out of the Roman Empire (or today's Western nations).
Daniel 7:8- Daniel 8:9
Day 6- In history, the description of the "little horn" matches Antiochus IV Epiphanes that ruled from 175-163 B.C. He was like an "ancient Hitler" determined to Hellenize (make Greek) his world. He rolled over Jerusalem like a tank committing unspeakable atrocities and was determined to wipe out the Hebrew religion.
Daniel 8:10-12 , 24-25
Note: There is a prophetic meaning to this "little horn" that goes beyond Antiochus IV Epiphanes --- to someone even more evil and powerful-- someone yet to come. He will be The Antichrist. Yet before this man assumes world power another event will occur.
III. The Rapture
Day 7- To understand this event we must first realize that we are living in what has been called "the church age" vs. the previous "age of the law". With Christ's life and death He began a new program for man. The Jews were no longer the only recipients of God's word or the temple the only place of worship. Believers were set free from the burden of having to obey the strict and legal requirements of the law. Instead the door of Salvation was open to all men to live in freedom empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 3:23-28 / Ephesians 2:11-22
Day 8-While we don't know how long "the church age" will last , we do know that it will end at the Rapture when Christ comes again to gather up all His followers to Himself. This is the promise of Christ's "Second Coming".
Day 9-With Christ's Second Coming , what will happen to all the believers still alive at that time? What will happen to all those that had formerly died trusting Christ?
I Thessalonians 4:16-18
Day 10- Matthew has given us a look at how the Rapture will appear from earth's view.
Matthew 24: 40,41
Day 11- Certain people are to be taken when Christ comes. How does scripture describe this?
I Corinthians 15:23
Who will go with Christ as His bride?
Day 12- The Lord in the event of the rapture is coming as a Bridegroom for His Church. How is this church described?
Day 13-Unknown to the world at large, the Holy Spirit working through believers (ie. the church) is constantly holding back Satan's attempts to "let all Hell break loose" on the earth.
2 Thessalonians 2:7
That is why the Lord described His own as "the salt of the earth". Salt preserves and flavors and that is what we as believers do.
Day 14- But when Christ comes to take His own out of the world, the restraint of the Holy Spirit will be removed. What will happen when this restraint is removed?
2 Thessalonians 2:8
IV. The Antichrist
Day 15- If you look back to Day 4 in this study you'll recall that in the end times there will be a formation of 10 powers. It is out of one of these nations that the Antichrist will come quietly to an unsuspecting world. He will rise to power suddenly after the church has been taken out of the world. With the restraint of the Holy Spirit gone, his time will begin.
Daniel 7:24/ Revelations 17:12-13
Day 16- He will be a gentile and not a Jew. The four beasts described by Daniel all came out of the sea (meaning the Mediterranean Sea) which is a symbol for Gentile nations.
The League of Nations will have a political figurehead but behind this figure will be the power of the Antichrist---the real power that will use this figurehead as his own tool.
Note: By the names scripture uses for this man such as "the beast", "the lawless one", and the "Antichrist" we may assume that he'll be offensive or disgusting, but really the opposite is true. The name Antichrist means "instead of Christ" not "opposite of Christ". Antichrist will be a substitute for Christ, as much like Christ as is possible for a tool of Satan. He will talk about justice and love, peace and prosperity. He will be brilliant and eloquent. In short, he will appear as an angel of light, as Satan himself often does, and will be hailed by millions as a superman who will save mankind." (James Montgomery Boice, The Last and Future World --Grand Rapids MI; Zondervan Publishing House, 1974 , page 70)
Day 17- What will be the main mark of his character?
Day 18- His first move will be to gain the confidence of the people, especially the nation of Israel (he needs their wealth). He will aid them in returning to the land of Palestine and will show them many favors.
Daniel 11:23-25 / Daniel 9:27a
Day 19- He will promise the Jews to give them back their land by offering to conquer and control those occupying the land contrary to scripture. But when this is done he will make an abrupt turn upon the Jews and unleash his hatred for them. He will then do the unthinkable and set himself up as god.
Daniel 9:27 / Daniel 11: 28,31/ Matthew 24:15
Day 20- The Antichrist will be the consummation of all ungodliness, lawlessness and atheism. He will imitate the true Lamb of God by making the same claims. Holding the world politically won't be enough. He'll want to establish a world religion with himself as the center.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Day 21-All this will be possible because the world will be in a general state of apostasy. It will have turned away from God and even believers will depart from the Lord.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 / Matthew 24: 12
Day 22- How long will the Antichrist be able to control things?
Daniel 7:25 / Daniel 12: 6-7
(Scholars generally agree that a time = 1 year and therefore it will be a period of about 3.5 years. )
V. THE TRIBULATION
Day 23- Following the rapture of true believers, the nations will be plunged into a terrible period of trouble and upheaval and judgement. Prophetic references to this time include what is called the 70th week in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 9:24-27 / Daniel 12:1
NOTE: "Weeks" in Hebrew means "sevens" or "units of seven".
Day 24- How did the prophets Joel and Jeremiah and finally Jesus describe this Tribulation period that is coming?
Joel 2:1,2 / Jeremiah 30:7 / Matthew 24:21
"Daniel was told that God had allotted a period of seventy 'weeks' (sevens) for the consummation of judgement upon Israel (Daniel 9:24-27). Sixty nine of those weeks of years (483 years) takes us from the time Cyrus issued his decree permitting the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem to the crucifixion of Christ. The 70th week is suspended because of God's present dealings in grace through the church. After the rapture of the church, the 70th week will run its course. The major portion of the book of Revelation is taken up with a detailed description of the judgments yet to come." (Keith L Brooks - Great Prophetic Times, 1962, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, P. 44)
Day 25-What race of people will the Tribulation events particularly effect? And what city will be prominent?
NOTE: "During this time of coming Tribulation, the world will be controlled by ' a man of sin' (2 Thessalonians 2:3) , also known as the Antichrist and termed in Revelations 13:1 as the "beast". The Antichrist will make a seven-year covenant with Israel (the last 'week' of Daniel), which he will suddenly violate when it is only half expired. This last half of Daniel's 70th week is referred to as "time, times and a half of times" (Revelation 12:14); "forty and two months" (Revelation 11:2/ 13:5) and "a thousand, two hundred and three score days" (Revelation 11:3/ 12:6)
Day 26- The Tribulation period will end with a great final battle on the Plains of Megiddo. It is here that the Antichrist will be defeated by the Lord of hosts that will show His greatness and power as He delivers those who have committed their lives to him during the Tribulation. The Book of Revelation refers to this battle as the place of Armageddon.
Daniel 11: 44-45 / Ezekiel 38: 17-23 / Revelations 16: 12-16
Day 27- With the climax of this battle what will happen to.....
A. The Antichrist? - 2 Thessalonians 2:8
B. The False Prophet? - Revelations 19:20
C. Satan? - Revelations 20: 3
VI. A BETTER DAY
Day 28- When all the earthly kingdoms have fallen what does God intend to do?
Daniel 2:44/ Daniel 4: 3, 34 / Daniel 6:26 / Daniel 7: 14, 27
We'll learn more about Christ's "Millennial Kingdom" in our future studies on the book of Revelations. For now we must ask ourselves: what is the purpose of all this doom and gloom? Is there any hope for us?
Day 29- Peter expresses very well God's delay in sending the time of Tribulation.
2 Peter 3:9
Christ extends His hand of Salvation to all men. He has given us this time of grace to warn those without Christ that man's efforts are and will be hopeless. The Lord is the only one to trust.
Day 30- The Book of Daniel finally ends with a promise. Although it is personal to Daniel it includes all of us like Daniel who have put their faith in Christ. Each of us has a life to live today for a certain time and for a certain purpose. But after death we will rise again to be with Christ in eternity forever.
Daniel 12: 13
God has given us a glimpse into the future so that we will live our lives TODAY committed to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46: 9b-10) and is giving each of us time to choose to love and follow Him.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. " John 3:16
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