Monday, May 30, 2011

Daniel, Chapter 7: Biblical Prophecy Unveiled – not so hard after all

In a world that is spinning out of control, we have a God Who gave us His Word – the Bible – in which Biblical prophecy, written thousands of years ago, explains what is going on in today’s chaotic world. We are watching Biblical prophecies being fulfilled before our eyes every day – with many people unaware. Daniel 7 is the first of six chapters of prophecy that reveal a lot more than you think.

We often hear complaints that Biblical prophecy is too hard to interpret. Not so in the Daniel, Chapter 7. Quite often, after many symbolic dreams and visions, the Bible gives the interpretation right after them. So why the dreams and visions? – We are visual beings, and a good picture “sticks.”

Daniel 7 opens with a dream that God gave him, which He soon explained to Daniel as four world kingdoms – from Babylon (where Daniel was) to the final kingdom on earth. Remember King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2 (see my October 19, 2009 blog post) that also described the same four kingdoms as a huge statue? That dream gave us the world’s point of view about majestic kingdoms made of various metals. However, Daniel’s dream was that of terrifying beasts representing kingdoms that take over and destroy mankind – probably God’s point of view. In both dreams, a final kingdom from God eliminates the fourth (and most vicious) kingdom. This benign kingdom reigns over the entire earth and is known as the Millennium – 1000 years of peace ruled by the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, and His people – all who have believed in Him.

This Messiah came to us the first time as a suffering servant Who gave His life as a ransom – the perfect sacrifice – to pay for our redemption from sin, as required in the Law of Moses. This Mosaic Covenant is a part of what is known as the Old Testament, implying that the New Testament replaced it. However, Jesus said emphatically that He did not come to replace it, but to fulfill it – by offering Himself as the final sacrifice to end the need for daily sacrifices.

When Jesus comes back, as He prophesied He would, He will rule the nations with strength and authority as described in both Nebuchadnezzar’s and Daniel’s dreams.

The fourth kingdom is described as a dreadful and terrible beast that has iron teeth that devours and breaks the whole earth into pieces, then stamps out the residue with his feet. It has 10 horns, representing the final 10 kings that will be in charge during this terrible reign when one king will rise to the top and begin his reign of terror, called the Tribulation. He is described in the Bible as the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, the Beast, etc. He will kill everyone who does not worship him, especially those who worship Christ, his nemesis, Who will return to earth and swiftly defeat him, then establish His Millennial Kingdom. There is already a global movement today in Brussels to set up a one-world government with the world divided into 10 sections. We could be getting close…

Sandwiched between Daniel’s dream and its interpretation is a peek into heaven, where God, the Ancient of Days, gives “one like the Son of Man” everlasting dominion over the earth. This glimpse could be God assuring us of Who’s in charge of the universe now, and Who’s going to be ultimately in charge of the earth. Jesus’ favorite name for Himself was “the Son of Man.” He probably knew the Book of Daniel intimately, since He was the “Word that became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). He also quoted from the Book of Daniel.

We can take comfort in knowing that no matter how bad things get in our world – and it’s prophesied that they will – we have been given the end of the story – and it’s a good one! And the world isn’t going to blow up and be annihilated. The Millennium will go into God’s eternal kingdom, which will never end, for those who receive Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for their sins. He took them all, so none of us can boast that we’ve been good enough to earn His favor. We just can’t make it without Him.