Comparisons, Calculations, and Christophany

July 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Daniel | 6 Comments
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Daniel Chapter 8 contains a vision which comes about 12 years before the handwriting on the wall incident. This is the vision of the goat and the ram, and here it extends into a comparison of Antiochus Epiphanes (whose name meant “revelation of the gods”), the ruler of Syria after the death of Alexander the Great. There are comparisons between Epiphanes and the Antichrist. They both begin modestly but increase in power. They both blaspheme God by speaking great things. They both persecute the Jews. They both claim to be gods and put images in the temple. They both impose their religion on the people. Both are opposed by a believing remnant that knows God. Both are energized by the devil and are great deceivers. Both appear successful and invincible. Both are defeated by a redeemer (Judas Maccabeus in the case of Epiphanes and Jesus Christ in the case of the Antichrist).

The events in Daniel Chapter 9 take place right after the handwriting on the wall incident – in 539 B.C. Daniel read the Word of God to prepare for prayer and worship.

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Daniel 9:2-3

Daniel’s prayer was interrupted by the angel Gabriel.

And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

Daniel 9:20-21

Gabriel gave Daniel the prophecy of the 70 weeks.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Daniel 9:24

These “weeks” are seven-year periods, so the 70 “weeks” or 70 “sevens” are really 490 years. The first period is 49 years (7 X 7). This is the period of time found in Nehemiah 2:5-8 when Nehemiah was authorized to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and the gates, not just the temple.

The second period is 483 years (445 B.C. to 29/30 A.D.): the time of Christ’s ministry on earth. Daniel 9:27 deals with the final 7 years, known as the Tribulation – the pronoun “he” refers to the Antichrist, not the Messiah: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Daniel Chapter 10 shows us that the “70 week prophetic calendar” given in Daniel also had prophetic applications which have already become history. In the big picture, the 70 “times” are 70 periods of 70 years, but in Daniel’s time, there were two separate 70 year periods of fulfilled prophecy. The first Jews were deported to Babylon in 605 B.C., and the first captives returned to their land in 536 B.C. (70 years). The temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. and was rebuilt and dedicated in 515 B.C. (70 years).

Daniel was going through a period of three weeks of fasting and praying and using no ointment, probably in order to get more understanding about the visions and prophecies he had already been given. Daniel received a vision of what may have been Jesus Christ. Then he received knowledge of the battle between Gabriel and Michael and the demons who were the princes of Persia and Greece. Persia is modern Iran. (Modern Iraq is Biblical Babylon.)

Blesschatology

July 14, 2010 at 10:31 am | Posted in Daniel | 3 Comments
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The events in Chapters 7 and 8 of Daniel actually take place before the events in Chapters 5 and 6 (the handwriting on the wall and the fiery furnace incidents). Nabonidus was Nebuchadnezzar’s son and Belshazzar’s father. Chapters 7 and 8 are arranged so that we see Daniel’s ability to interpret the dreams of others before we see him get the interpretation of his own dreams.

Chapter 7 has the vision of the first four of the same kingdoms represented in the image in Chapter 2: four beasts. The lion with the wings of an eagle represents Babylon. The bear represents the Persians and the Medes, and the three ribs in its mouth probably represent Lydia, Egypt, and Babylon. The leopard with four wings represents Alexander the Great. (When he died in 323 B.C. his kingdom was divided into four parts.) The “terrible beast” from Daniel 7:7 represents the Roman Empire. The ten horns = the ten toes in Chapter 2, which many students of prophecy see as a picture of the European Union.

The last human kingdom was revealed to Daniel, but not to Nebuchadnezzar. The little horn represents the last world ruler, Antichrist. (See Daniel 7:25.) His dictatorship will last three and one-half years. The Antichrist will lead the ten nations, he will overcome three other nations, and, with the help of Satan, he will become a world dictator. He will make a covenant with the Jews to protect them. This will start the Tribulation. After three and one-half years he will break the covenant and set up his own image in the temple in Jerusalem, trying to force the world to worship him and Satan. This is called “the abomination of desolation” by the Lord in Mark 13:14.

The seven years will end when Christ returns to Earth to defeat the Antichrist and his army, and when He establishes His Kingdom on Earth.

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14

I am not an expert by any means on end-times prophecy. After studying the matter, I believe that the Bible teaches what is usually called the “premillenialist” viewpoint. I know there are others who disagree, and some of them are classified as “postmillenialists.” To the best of my understanding, they believe that the Kingdom of Christ will be established on Earth before Christ returns. Others are “amillenialists,” which, as I understand it, do not take the prophecies in Daniel Chapter 7 literally. I am not a big fan of disputing these different viewpoints or making them a test of fellowship, and I have friends who believe differently. Those who are truly in Christ Jesus will find out the truth soon enough, one way or the other.

How did Daniel respond to the interpretation he was given of the vision? He was troubled and his expression changed (Daniel 7:28). He became pale. He kept the matter to himself, but he also kept it in his heart. He behaved like a true prophet. He did not start ranting and raving. The prophecies of the end times should comfort and convict us – not make us want to dispute or show off our knowledge. We should be getting ready and looking forward to Christ’s return, and end-time prophecies should cause us to stay busy and to strive to be holy. Knowing what people who reject God are going to have to go through should remind us to repent of anything that’s hindering our relationship with God.

Getting Your Goat

May 14, 2010 at 10:40 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 4 Comments
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You have probably heard the common expression, “So-and-so really gets my goat!” We use it when we talk about someone who has a way of provoking us.

I don’t think anyone knows for sure where the phrase originated. It might have come from the idea of someone getting your “goad.” A goad is a sort of prod or instrument used to irritate recalcitrant farm animals into moving forward. It might have come from an old expression whereby people said that an annoying person would “get your gut,” as in bringing out a “gut reaction.”

There was a time when farmers would use goats to calm down dairy cows. They have also been used at times to calm down race horses.

There are a few interesting references to goats in the Bible.

And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

Daniel 8:5

This goat represents Alexander the Great, who led the armies of Greece.

And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.

Daniel 8:6

The ram is Cyrus, king of Persia. The goat is powerful and angry, and he not only defeats the ram, he also stamps on him.

And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

Daniel 8:7

Then he felt strong.

Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.

Daniel 8:8

When someone “gets my goat,” they call out the “goat” in me, and then I become angry and full of pride. And that’s a problem. Because God does what to the proud? Resists. And He gives what to the humble? Grace (James 4:6).

Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.

Zechariah 10:3

Zechariah gave a prophecy of the Messiah, and referred to the time referenced in Ezekiel 34.

Zechariah said that when the people begin to follow the evil shepherds, and are led astray by them, then God will turn the flock – the goats and the sheep – into war-horses, and He will defeat the evil shepherds. This reminds us to be careful not to be the ones trying to get someone else’s goat. If we begin to harass, and rebel against, and lead astray with false teaching, God’s flock, then we’re in a sense trying to get God’s goat. And we might find we’re getting hold of a goat we can’t handle.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Matthew 25:31-46

We have a mental image of goats as funny-looking animals with little beards who eat cans or shirttails, or who’ll butt you if you’re not looking. But God uses goats and sheep to illustrate something very serious. One day He will say, “Sheep on My right hand, goats on My left!” The significance of God’s right hand is that those on the right are favored and those on the left are disfavored.

Ask a farmer with a great deal of experience, and he will tell you that goats are never happy with what they have. They are always sticking their head through the fence. They
can’t stand to be confined. They are rebellious and stubborn. They are not good followers. Sheep will usually stay together, but goats wander off on their own. A “Judas Goat” is a goat that is used to lead – but it leads to the slaughter. Goats like to get higher up than the other animals.

We all have some goat-like characteristics in us. We want to stand out. We’re tired of following. We’re not happy with what we have. We like to eat things that sheep wouldn’t eat, even if these things have no value and will make us sick.

Don’t hold on to the “goat” in you. If someone wants to “get your goat,” let him have it. You don’t want it anyway.

What turns away wrath?

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Those on the right hand of the Lord, the sheep, have the characteristics of those who will be favored by the Lord. Those on the left hand, the goats, have the characteristics of those who will be told to depart. So, if someone is harassing you, say, “Look, I know you’re just trying to get my goat, so I’m going to let you have it, but you are not going to be happy with it. I’m one of God’s sheep. He calls and I know His voice. Let’s leave that old goat to wander out in the wilderness like the scapegoat, and I can introduce you to my Shepherd. We can be in the flock today, and we’ll be like victorious war-horses one day.”


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