Daniel 7-8

Thursday Evening Bible Study

January 12, 2006

Daniel 7

:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.

Daniel is going to have a vision that will greatly parallel the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had back in Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue made out of four different materials, and the four parts of the statue represented four world empires. Daniel will have a vision of four beasts and they will be the same four world empires that were in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

This would be 553 B.C., Daniel is about 68 years old.

:2 Daniel spoke, saying, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.

four winds – could refer generically to the winds of the earth, it could be a reference to four “angels”.

The Great Sea – the Mediterranean Sea

:3 "And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.

These four empires will have borders on the Mediterranean Sea.

:4 "The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man's heart was given to it.

This is Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. Being given a “man’s heart” probably speaks of Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling by God and his recognizing that there is a God in heaven.

:5 "And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: 'Arise, devour much flesh!'

The bear represents the Medo-Persian Empire which would conquer the Babylonians. Note that it’s “raised up on one side”. The Persians were the more dominant of the relationship.

:6 "After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

The leopard represents the Greek empire. The entire world was conquered by Alexander from 334- 330 BC – just four years. He died at an early age and since he had no heir, his empire was split into four parts, each part was headed by one of Alexander’s generals.

:7 "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

The fourth beast is the Roman Empire. They crushed the world with their armies. This beast is not described as an animal like the other beasts. The horns will represent ten kings of ten nations.

:8 "I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

More later …

:9 "I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire;

Ancient of Days – God the Father

:10 A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.

Millions are before God’s throne. It is a throne of judgment.


God will judge the world

It’s a basic spiritual principal. And it’s an ancient principal, found all the way back in the Psalms:
(Psa 9:8 NKJV) He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.
(Psa 96:13 NKJV) For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.
It even goes back to the book of Genesis:
(Gen 18:25 NKJV) "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
He made the world. He will judge it.


God’s judgment is flawless

If you know anyone who has had experience within the justice system, you may have the sense the judgment isn’t always perfect.
This week I’ve watched some of the hearing for the confirmation of Judge Alito for the Supreme Court and I have to tell you that some of the questioning was quite amazing.  I certainly wonder if there’s good judgment in the Senate.  You wonder if anyone cares about decency or truth anymore.
I’ve known several folks over the years that have felt quite cheated in the court system, as if they didn’t get a fair hearing.
A defendant in a lawsuit involving large sums of money was saying to his lawyer, “If I lose this case, I’ll be ruined.” “It’s in the judge’s hands now,” said the lawyer. “Would it help if I sent the judge a box of cigars?” asked the defendant. “Oh no!” said the lawyer. “This judge is a stickler for ethical behavior. A stunt like that would prejudice him against you. He might even find you in contempt of the court. In fact, you shouldn’t even smile at the judge.” Within the course of time, the judge rendered a decision in favor of the defendant. As the defendant left the courthouse, he said to his lawyer, “Thanks for the tip about the cigars. It worked.” “Well, I’m sure we would have lost the case if you’d sent them,” said the lawyer. “But I did send them,” said the defendant. “What?!? You did?” “Yes. That’s how we won the case.” “I don’t understand,” said the lawyer. “It’s easy. I sent the cheapest cigars that I could find to the judge, but enclosed the plaintiff’s business card.”
When it comes to the judgment of God, there will be no question about it being correct.
It’s out of the things that have been recorded that judgment takes place.
In today’s words, we might say, “They began to play back the recorded evidence”
There isn’t going to be a single person who will get a bad rap from the judge.
If you stand accused of blasphemy, and you respond with, “But I never did that sin...”, then God’s only going to have to say, “Gabriel, play back the evidence”, and there you’ll be in front of the whole world, doing your sin.
When God judges the world, no one will be able to say that they didn’t get a fair deal.

:11 "I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.

:12 "As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

:13 "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.

One like the Son of Man – guess who? It’s Jesus coming with the clouds, coming with His armies. Can you believe this is the Old Testament? Read Rev. 19 for more info.

:14 Then 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 the one Which shall not be destroyed.

:15 "I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

:16 "I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:

Daniel speaks to an angel in the vision.

:17 'Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.

:18 'But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.'

:19 "Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet;

:20 "and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.

:21 "I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,

:22 "until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

:23 "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces.

The fourth kingdom is the Roman Empire.

:24 The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings.

In the third kingdom, the Greek Empire was eventually divided into four parts, the “four heads” on the leopard, but the division didn’t happen at the beginning, it happened later.

I believe these ten horns / ten kings is speaking of a later time. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, we saw two parts of this Roman empire, an ancient part, and a future part. Just as the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream had toes of clay mixed with iron, I would imagine there were ten toes. Here there are ten horns. There will be a ten-fold division in this latter Roman Empire.

From this division of ten, “one” will arise, the antichrist. He will apparently conquer three rulers, or perhaps three countries within this empire.

:25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.

pompous words – the antichrist will be a proud fellow. Satan knows all about pride.

persecute the saints – specifically, he will persecute the Jews

change times and law

It could refer to setting up a whole new system of laws to govern by.

It could refer to changing the times of the feast days for Israel, as Jeroboam did (1Ki. 12:32) when he split the kingdom with Rehoboam.

time and times and half a time – three and a half years. At the midway point in the seven year long Tribulation period, the antichrist will set up the “abomination of desolation”, declare himself to be God, and show himself to be the devil incarnate. He will be hell on earth for the last 3 ½ years.

:26 'But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever.

God will prevail against the antichrist.

:27 Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.'


In the end, we win

Sometimes life gets pretty discouraging. It seems that one thing after another hits us. We wonder how long it will last.
Sometimes we look forward to things that seem like a sure thing and then it all falls through. With the big USC vs. Texas championship Rose Bowl football game, most of us were pretty psyched about USC winning. There were times at the beginning of the game when USC was losing, but we knew they’d pull it off. And then they went ahead. And then they went behind. Then they went ahead again. With five minutes to go they were ahead by a bit and it looked like it was all over. With 19 seconds to go, they were still ahead, but Texas was threatening. And then Vince Young ran into the end zone and it was all over, and our team lost.
Life can be pretty disappointing when things and people you count on let you down.
But there is one ending we can count on. We’ve seen the end of the story. Jesus wins. And we’re on the right side.
We will rule and reign with Jesus.

:28 "This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart."

The subject of prophecy can be quite disturbing at times. It can also be a great motivation to keep going in the right direction.

(2 Pet 3:11 NKJV) Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,

Daniel 8

Chapters 2-7 have been written in the Aramaic language since they primarily are aimed at the Gentile peoples. From chapter 8 we switch back to Hebrew.

:1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me; to me, Daniel; after the one that appeared to me the first time.

Two years later, 551 BC. Belshazzar won’t be conquered by the Persians for twelve more years.

:2 I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai.

Another vision. Daniel will get an interpretation later in the chapter, but it will be a vision about two of the upcoming empires, the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire.

:3 Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.

Historians from the fourth century tell us that the ancient symbol of the Persian empire was a ram. When going out to battle, the emperor would wear a jeweled ram's head. The signs of the zodiac have also apparently linked to various nations. The sign for Persia is Aries, the ram.

:4 I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.

:5 And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

The Aegean Sea (where Greece is) means the “Goat Sea”. The zodiac sign associated with Greece is Capricorn, the goat (Caper - goat; cornu - horn).

without touching the ground – remember that Alexander conquered the world in only four years.

:6 Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power.

:7 And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand.

:8 Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.

:9 And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.

One of the four divisions of the Greek Empire was Syria. It was ruled by a man named Antiochus Epiphanes from 175-164 BC. His conquests were in Egypt (south), Armenia (east), and Palestine (the Beautiful Land).

:10 And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.

host of heaven – though this might refer to angels, it also could be a reference to the Jews.

When Antiochus Epiphanes returned from his Egyptian campaign, he invaded Judea, captured Jerusalem, robbed the Temple, and spread his reign of terror across the land.

:11 He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.

Prince of the host – God Himself

Antiochus made laws to change the religious habits of the people in his kingdom.

Antiochus did not destroy the temple, but he did tear down the altar, built his own, and defiled the temple by sacrificing pigs in it to Jupiter. This act would be known as an “abomination of desolation”.

:12 Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.

:13 Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, "How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?"

:14 And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed."

days – lit., “morning-evenings”

For this period of time, the sanctuary would be desecrated.

There has been much controversy over what is meant here.

William Miller thought this meant 2300 years, and starting from 457 b.c. figured that Christ would return in 1843. When it didn't happen, he recalculated and said it would happen in 1844. When that didn't happen, a lady named Ellen G. White came along and said that Jesus really did come in 1844 but only those on the inside knew about it. this was the start of the Seventh Day Adventists.

Other interpretations:

2300 evenings and mornings comes out to 6.3889 prophetic years (360 days/year)

Antiochus Epiphanes began oppressing the Jews around September 6, 171 b.c. with the replacing of the high priest with his own puppet priest until December 25, 165 b.c. when Judas Maccabaeus cleansed the temple (Hanukkah), a little over six years.

But if you take this as 2300 morning-evening sacrifices, it comes to only 1150 days, not 2300 days.

This is roughly the time it took from when Antiochus desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig to Jupiter, on December 16, 167 b.c., until Judas Maccabaeus cleansed the temple on December 25, 165 b.c.

:15 Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.

:16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision."

Apparently the “man” in verse 15 is the angel Gabriel.

:17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end."

Gabriel calls Daniel a “son of man” because he is a human being. Ezekiel was also called a “son of man”. Jesus is The “Son of man” – completely human, yet also completely God.

:18 Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.

:19 And he said, "Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.


Don’t be surprised, be ready

There will be a time of “indignation” ahead. This vision is to prepare the Jewish people that they aren’t finished with difficult times.
They had been through a “furnace” when they were slaves in Egypt.
They were refined when they spent 70 years in Babylon.
Even though their time in Babylon was almost over, there would be more difficult times ahead. They would still be facing Antiochus Epiphanes
This isn’t exactly the most comforting lesson you’ll ever hear. But unless the Lord takes us to heaven tonight, from time to time you and I will continue to experience difficult times.

Big Red Lobster Tales

A guy was down on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco when he saw a seafood restaurant and a sign on the Specials Board which read, “Big Lobster Tales, $5 each.” Amazed at the great value, he said to the waitress, “$5 each for lobster tails ... is that correct?” “Yes”, she said, “It’s our special just for today.” “Well”, he said, “they must be little lobster tails.” “No,” she replied, “It’s the really big lobster.” Are you sure they aren’t green lobster tails - and a little bit tough?” “No”, she said, “it’s the really big red lobster.” “Big red lobster tails, $5 each?”, he said, amazed. “They must be old lobster tails!” “No, they’re definitely today’s.” “Today’s big red lobster tails - $5 each?”, he repeated, astounded. “Yes”, she insisted. “Well, here’s my five dollars,” he said, “I’ll take one. She took the money and led him to a table where she invited him to sit down. She then sat down next to him, put her hand on his shoulder, leaned over close to him and said, “Once upon a time there was a really big red lobster ...”

We’re thinking a nice dinner and instead we get a nice story instead.  Things don’t always turn out the way we want them to …
(1 Pet 4:12 NKJV) Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
Don’t be surprised.  Be ready.
(1 Th 5:8 NKJV) But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
(1 Cor 16:13 NKJV) Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

(1 Cor 16:13 KJV) Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

latter time of the indignation – this is a technical phrase used in the Scripture to speak of the period of the end, when Jesus comes back.

What we’re going to find is that this prophecy has a double fulfillment. There are other examples of double fulfillment in the Scriptures (such as Elijah/John the Baptist coming before Jesus)

:20 "The ram which you saw, having the two horns; they are the kings of Media and Persia.

Just as the bear in Daniel 7 was lifted up on one side, here one of the horns was greater (8:3), both meaning that the Persians would be greater than the Medes in their partnership.

:21 "And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king.

The large horn is Alexander the Great. Daniel is writing about this over a hundred years in advance.

:22 "As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.

The Greek Empire was divided into four parts.

:23 "And in the latter time of their kingdom, When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes.

The primary fulfillment of this king was Antiochus Epiphanes.

But I think this also speaks of a future king, a second fulfillment in the antichrist. Both would instigate an “abomination of desolation”. It speaks of the antichrist.

Similarities between Antiochus and the Antichrist:

He will have some kind of authority over Israel. (vs.9)
He will persecute the saints (vs.10; Rev.12)
He will magnify himself as God (vs.11, 2Thess.2)
He will end the sacrifice in the temple (vs.11, Dan.9:27)
His abomination of desolation will last for 3 1/2 years though (vs.14, Dan.9:27), not 2300 morning/evenings (very close though!)

Who understands sinister schemes – cue the spooky music …

:24 His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; He shall destroy fearfully, And shall prosper and thrive; He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.

but not by his own power – the antichrist will be powered by Satan

(Rev 13:2 NKJV) …The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.

He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people – antichrist will persecute the Jews

Don’t be surprised at the amount of anti-semitism in the world today. We’re just getting ready for the antichrist.

:25 "Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity.

:25 He shall even rise against the Prince of princes;

When Jesus returns, the antichrist will have gathered the armies of the world to Megiddo (Rev. 16:16) in order to fight with Jesus.

(Rev 19:19 NKJV) And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

:25 But he shall be broken without human means.

All Jesus will have to do is speak a word when He returns.

:26 "And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future."

many days in the future – Our future

:27 And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king's business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.

Even though Daniel himself had this great reputation for interpreting dreams and visions, he was astonished and unable to understand this one.