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Sermon36 Daniel7 Guide

Daniel 7:1-14, theme verse Daniel 7:13-14

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

Last few weeks, we saw that because of the idolatry and immorality of the divided kingdoms, Northern Israel was destroyed by Assyria and brought and dispersed to all the Assyrian region and even the remaining people in Samarian region were mixed with Assyrian conquerors ethically so that until now it became their shame and Southern Judah was destroyed by Babylon and they were taken captive to Babylon as God already warned, but, after 70 years later, they were brought back to Jerusalem by the love and covenantal faithfulness of God. But, even though God made them to rebuild the temple and reform their faith and to restore the wall of Jerusalem and Judah, they contined again to sin so that God sent them the prophet Malachi, yet they did not hear Him. So God kept around 400 years until Jesus came to the world. This dark era, even God continued to work and prepare His redemptive plan and His Sovereign work of the world was recorded in Daniel 7, so as we look at what God did and prepared in this dark era, we can learn His lessons together.

1) God said to His people who continued their sin through the prophet Malachi that,

“When I say ‘I loved you’, you say ‘how have you loved us?’ to despise me. And the priests scoffed at sacrifices, calling them weariness, and even offered the lame and sick and placed the unclean bread on the altar. And the people of Judah committed sexual immorality and profaned my Holy name and also stole my holy things!” And then the LORD said, “Behold, the day is coming, like a fiery furnace, when all the proud and all who do evil will be burned like stubble, but for those who fear the name of the LORD, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, so that you shall go out leaping like calves from the stall to tread on the wicked.”

2) So, God kept silent from the time that Malachi warned until the coming of the Lord, Jesus, we call that period the Dark Era. And at that time, the Persian Empire which dominated the Middle and Near East eventually lost its power and the Hegemony over the Middle and Near East was handed over to King Alexander the great of the Greek Empire. And after the death of Alexander the Great, the region of Palestine was ruled by the Ptolemy dynasty. At this time, due to the Jewish migration policy, a million Jewish diaspora was moved and lived in Alexandria of North Africa, founded by Ptolemy I, where the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek and the Septuagint of Old Testament was created. And then when the Seleucid dynasty became the owner of Palestine after the Ptolemy dynasty and started to suppress Judaism severely, the Jews violently resisted and the Maccabean revolution occurred and the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty ruled over for 100 years. But, in 63 BC, General Pompey who led the Roman triarchy with Caesar and Crassus, invaded and conquered the Middle and Near East and ruled over the Palestine. At that time, Antipater, the father of Herod, was installed and ruled over the Palestine as consul. but, in a power struggles between the three powers of Roman triarchy, when Octavian, who succeeded Julius Caesar, eventually took over the presidency of Rome and became the first emperor of the Roman Empire, Antipater of Judea was murdered and his son Herod took over the throne of Judea as consul to become the king. And we can meet him in the Bible under the name Herod the Great. In this historical context, Jesus came to his world as the Messiah around 4 to 6 BC, completed the work of redemption for His people, was resurrected, ascended to heaven, and sat at the right hand of God. And from there He then sent the promised Holy Spirit to this world to give birth his church and inaugurated the kingdom of God.

3) And these stories of the world powers during the Dark Era were already prophesied and recorded in the Book of Daniel, chapter 7. I mean, In chapter 7 of today's text we read, Daniel recorded the vision he had in his dream, in the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, in which four great animals - a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a beast, arose one after another, and then the Son of Man came after in the end. Of course, in this kind of apocalyptic literature, there are various interpretations depending on the scholars, so we need to be flexible, not to stick to just one interpretation too much. However, if we look at the meaning of each animal based on the most common interpretation: The lion with eagle wings can be understood as symbolizing Babylon in the fact that King Nebuchadnezzar was depicted as a lion and an eagle in Jeremiah 4:7 and Ezekiel 17:3. And the bear symbolizes the alliance of the Medo-Persia. And the phrase that one side of its body is lifted means that the Persians were stronger than the Medes and will eventually merge into Persia, and the phrase that it has three ribs in its mouth means that the Persia eventually conquered Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt. Then the leopard with four wings and four heads represents the Greek Empire led by Alexander the Great. Having four wings means that the Greek Empire quickly carried out conquests with their unique mobility, and having four heads means that it will be divided into four regions after the death of Alexander the Great, I mean, (1) Greece and Macedonia of Cassander, (2) Asia Minor by Lysimachus, (3) Syria by Seleucus and (4) Egypt and Palestine by Ptolemy. And the fourth beast symbolizes the Roman Empire. As Daniel himself interpreted, the iron teeth and bronze claws symbolize their strong destructive power and desire for conquest, meaning they will devour and trample the whole world by crushing it. And the phrase the beast had ten horns symbolizes that the Roman Empire would rule over lots of territories, I mean, not only the Italian peninsula, but also Europe, Spain, North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece. And the small horn with the mouth refers that the Roman Empire would arose from Roman Republic by Octavian, who became Augustus, the first Roman emperor, or the Byzantine Empire in Eastern Rome, which continued until AD 1453 even after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476. And finally the eternal kingdom of God that the Son of Man came and established means the kingdom of the Son that was inaugurated when Jesus accomplished His work of redemption, was resurrected, ascended to heaven, and sat at the right hand of God's throne and started to rule over His world. This prophesy during the dark era, actually we can find also in chapter 2 as the dream of Nebuchadnezzar as a great image in which pure gold head represents Babylon, the silver chest and arms represents the Medo-Persia and bronze middle and thighs represent the Greek empire and the stone legs and feet partly of iron and partly of clay represent the Roman empire and a stone who struck the image was Jesus Christ.

4) Through today's passage, we would like to learn few things. First, through these facts, we can clearly see that our God the LORD is the One who controls the rise and fall of great powers even in this dark era, and who reigns human history in His providence not only through His elect, but also even through unbelievers and all powers and authorities in the world. That’s why Acts 17:24-26 says that “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Secondly, through this study on what happened in the Dark era, we also can see that (1) God actually prepared the way for His son Jesus Christ to come to His world as the Messiah. I mean, first, by making Greek language was used as the official language throughout the Middle and Near East, Europe, North Africa, and Egypt, God provided a foundation for the evangelization of the gospel in one unified language easily. (2) In addition, by making the administration unified by the Roman Empire, so that no borders or boundaries between the nations made the movement easier, and also prepared the Roman road network, or social overhead capital, or infrastructure through which the gospel could be easily spread out. (3) And also even the extreme economic poverty of ordinary citizens and religious and political persecution and oppression by Roman Empire, raised the longing for the Messiah to the highest level so that in that longing for the Messiah, Jesus could come to His world as the King. And thirdly, I think we need to understand more clearly the concept of the kingdom of God that was inaugurated in this world with the coming of the Son of Man as mentioned in verse 14 of today's text. In orders words, first of all, we have to know that the kingdom of God, which also can be understood as the reign of God, has two meanings. I mean, First, in a narrow sense, the kingdom of God, as mentioned in today's text, can mean the kingdom of the Son which was inaugurated by the heavenly reign of Jesus, who accomplished His Redemptive ministry in the cross, was resurrected and ascended to heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God and also by the earthly reign by the Holy Spirit whom He sent and His church in the earth. But, this should not be understood as there was no kingdom of God in the Old testament. I mean, as we saw in Today’s text that God already reigned His world through the rise and fall of the world powers even in the dark era, in the broader sense, the kingdom of God means all the reign of God from the beginning of the human history to the end, by His Decree and Providence. And also one more thing we should not misunderstand is that God does not fight with Satan in the same level, like as good God versus evil one. Rather God is the greatest more than that, He is the Absolute infinite God who exists over the evil one, reigns all things in this world, including the evil spirits and Satan, through His predestination and reprobation for human beings whom He created and also through His Decree and Providence for all things and the universe. So, in the Old Testament era, He called and installed the Israelites as His holy people and priests for the world, and in the New Testament era, He sent and reigns by the Holy Spirit and the church, after the redemption of Jesus, His Son, especially providing common grace to the world and installing the authorities and governments in the world and special grace to His people to proclaim and teach His justice and love to the world. That’s why Belgic confession confesses in the article thirteen that, “God, after He had created all things, did not forsake them or give them up to the fortune or chance, but that He rules and governs them according to His Holy Decree, so that nothing happens in this world without His appointment. Therefore, this doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation.” And also that’s why Daniel said that they could have a hope not only in their exile in Babylon, but, also in the dark era when God kept silent. Since God the LORD is the One who reigns forever in His providence, as He is the omniscient and the omni-potent to raise His people from the death and save His people in His Decree and predestination. Therefore, I pray that we all who are here and now, may have unshakable comfort and hope in His Decree, Predestination, Providence and Reign, as Jeremiah said that God plans for welfare and not for evil to give us a future and a hope.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 When we look at the history of Israelites and also the history of human beings after the first sin at Eden, we human beings are the beings of total depravity and total inability too. So, after thinking what we have to do through these facts, I hope you may share your idea and thoughts to learn from each other.

Q2 Then we recognize again that we are the beings who have to rely on God’s grace who reigns the world and all the humanity in His Decree, Predestination, and Providence and even we can receive our comfort and hope. Since there’s hope and comfort, after we recognize our total depravity and total inability as well as the Decree and Providence of God, after thinking this doctrine of Providence, I hope you can share your thoughts and grace each other.

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon )

Please help me to live in that ( learned way of life )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.


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