January 28, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy IX: God's Plan For The Future

Persian Warriors
Berlin Museum
 Daniel Literary Structure-Chapters 7-12

When we get to the 6th chapter of Daniel we see a wise and godly exile (Daniel) now becomes the focus of concerted opposition. Since no means can be found of rescuing him from impending death, he is thrown to the lions. By his own decree the king’s hand is forced. The powerlessness of King Darius contrasts with the supremacy of the living God, who delivers Daniel from the mouth of the lions. The man who should be dead is found very much alive in the morning ready to resume his place in government, so triumphing over his enemies as if nothing even happened.

A swift and harsh vengeance befalls on Daniel’s opponents, demonstrating that the powers that oppose God’s rule cannot succeed and will be crushed by God’s justice in the end.

In Daniel 7 we encounter a vision and it is like Chapter 2. It bridges the interim between Daniel’s time and the intervention of the Most High to establish his kingdom. Although there are four beasts in the vision that are clearly against God, the most destructive in the fourth beast, whose authority comes to a sudden end with his death and judgment. We see Heaven opened, and the “Ancient of Days” gives worldwide dominion to “one like the son of man” (v. 14). Hostility having been trounced, the sovereignty and power are handed to the people of the Most High God (v. 27). Despite the interpretation, much remains mysterious, and, like Daniel, we are perplexed. But we can affirm that Jesus identified himself with the role of the one who was to come (the Son of Man), human and yet exercising divine authority as ruler and judge.

In Daniel 8 we see two dominant world powers, identified as Medo-Persia and Greece, will each come to an appointed end. A Greek ruler will attack God’s people and so defy God himself (v. 25). “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 fall of such deviant sinful people is certain. This is the last of the symbolic representations of the future.

In Daniel 9, momentously Daniel enters the presence of Israel’s covenant God, confessing the sin that brought about Jerusalem’s disaster and appealing to the promises of a covenant God. Deliverance of his people will vindicate God’s character. Gabriel’s response uses symbolic numbers based on “seventy” (Jeremiah 25:11; 29:10) to confirm that Jerusalem will be rebuilt but surprisingly will not escape further devastation down the road.

Daniel 9:2~ in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.

Jeremiah 25:11~ This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

Jeremiah 29:10~ This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.

We see the culmination God is working towards stated in Dan 9:24-27.

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

It is clear that the ministry of Jesus began to bring in God’s kingdom

Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus’ death put away sin (Hebrews 9:24-28).

Though defeat of the persecutor was certain…

If we move to Daniel 10:1-12:13 the final revelation was brought by a radiant figure of a man, who had power to strengthen Daniel and enable him to receive the long and detailed narration from the Book of Truth. History is presented as a succession of reigns. Kings jostle for power and exert their authority, and then their kingdoms are broken and fall. The course of events is veiled in couched language, but one ruler who exalts himself above all and says unmentionable things against the God of gods and receives detailed attention.

“The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.” Daniel 11:36

The book of Daniel says that religious persecution is his weapon. He succeeds in dividing the people of God, desecrating the temple, and causing the death of believers. The references seem to be very appropriate to Antiochus IV (175-164 BC) but this could and probably does look beyond him to later persecutors of God’s people. All of their ends will be the same as all of the enemies of God’s people. Despite initial political and military might, all meet the same end.

Suffering for believers is always followed by an unprecedented promise of restoration and resurrection (12:2-3). Death is not the end. The meaning of the entire unfolding of history has a meaning that lies beyond time…beyond history…within the immutable purpose of God. Like Daniel, the faithful on earth are to remain faithful despite suffering and persecution.

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