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The Christian Counter

Lesson 10
Part l
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We have studied the failures of the Jewish nation and the Christian Church.  Just as Christianity came from the cradle of Judaism, Protestantism developed within Catholicism.  The force behind each movement was a pursuit of truth about God.  Truth needs restoration from time to time.  Man becomes careless and forgets.  Man-made teachings gradually displace the Word of God.  Without divine light, we stumble in darkness.  The farther we stray from God’s Word, the darker the darkness.  In spite of the vast technological knowledge we have today, are we entering the new dark ages?

Jesus reserved the continent of North Americaas a haven for Protestantism.  This new world discovery became a refuge for all seeking religious freedom.  During the past two centuries, millions of immigrants arrived on these shores seeking religious freedom and opportunity.  No one argues that God has immensely blessed this nation.  But it is not the natural wealth of this country that made us great.  The United States became great because she was God-fearing and lived by the principles of righteousness.

The troubles we face now are due to the fact that we have lost sight of our Creator.  Like the Jews of old, we have forgotten God.  As a nation, we seek pleasure more than righteousness.  We love things more than we love God.  We have become a nation of idolaters.  TV feeds our degenerate souls by glamorizing sin a thousand times each day.  Our minds are filled with meaningless and empty diversions.  We never have enough money or enough time.  (If you don’t believe it, ask a friend for some of either!)  We have become poor managers of our natural resources.  Evidence all around indicates that America is headed downhill fast!

At the end of the American Revolution one of our forefathers wrote, “The spirit of the times may alter, will alter.  Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless.  A single zealot may commence persecution, and better men are his victims.  It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis, is whole our rulers are honest and we united.  From the conclusion of this war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for their support.  They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded.  They will forget themselves, and in the sole faculty of making money, they will never think of uniting to affect a due respect for their rights.  The shackles, therefore, which shall be knocked off at the conclusion of the war, will remain on us long, will be heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.”  Thomas Jefferson Notes on Virginia, Vol 8, page 402

Was Jefferson prophetic?  Are his 200 hundred-year-old remarks on target?  If you think Jeffersonwas prophetic, Bible prophecy is even more accurate for God alone declares the end from the beginning.

Another look at Daniel 7

We need to study Daniel 7 more thoroughly because we’re seeking an understanding of the importance of 1844.  How can we know for sure that 1844 marks the “appointed time of the end?”

Daniel’s four beasts, discussed in the last lesson, parallel the same kingdoms that Nebuchadnezzar saw.  These kingdoms were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.  Even though history removes any doubt about the identity and chronological progression of these kingdoms.  Daniel 7 has information greater than the rise and fall of 4 kingdoms!

Daniel 7 contains an important key that unlocks the significance of 1844.  Notice what Daniel says,  “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat.  His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool.  His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.  A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him.  Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.  The court was seated, and the books were opened.”  Daniel 7:9,10

What did Daniel see taking place in heaven?  What is the meaning of this courtroom scene?  Daniel saw the judgment of mankind!  Reread the verses above and reflect on the following points for a moment:

1.      Thrones (plural) were put in place or arranged.  Heaven was made ready for a great event.

2.      The Ancient of Days, the Father presides.  His appearance is greater than the brightness of the sun.  His throne (compared to the other thrones) is so bright that it appears to be on fire.  The glowing angels that encircle him appear to Daniel as wheels of fire.

3.      This is no ordinary convention in heaven.  Billions of angels throughout the universe have been summoned to this special occasion.

4.      The Father takes his seat.  The court was seated.  And the books of record were opened.  But the scene doesn’t end with these verses.  There’s more. Daniel says, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all people’s nations and men of every language worshipped him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”  Daniel 7:13,14

5.      In this vast assembly of angels, Daniel sees a being that looked very different than the heavenly host. This being looked like a “son of man.”  Consider the significance of this.  Billions of angels are gathered in the courtroom and center stage stands a being that looks like one of the human race!  This “son of man” can only be Jesus.

6.      Jesus is taken before the Ancient of Days by a retinue of holy angels.

7.      As Daniel watches, Jesus receives authority, glory and sovereign power.

8.      Daniel concludes the vision saying that Jesus is ultimately worshipped by everyone in heaven an on the earth and His kingdom will never pass away or be destroyed.  (Contrast this with the 4 beasts representing kingdoms that rise and fall.)

Daniel sees the judgment of human beings

What does this scene describe?  In a sentence, Daniel was permitted to see the great judgment day of the human race!  The Bible speaks in many places about the judgment day as being in the future.  Notice a few texts:

  1. “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”  Ecclesiastes 12:14
  2. “For he (the Father) has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed…” Acts 17:31
  3. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him…” II Corinthians 5:10
  4. Peter understood that the Day of Judgment would be future, “…The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from the trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of Judgment…” II Peter 2:9
  5. Paul anticipated the judgment day saying,  “This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ…” Romans 2:16
  6. Jesus told the Pharisees that the great judgment day was in the future saying, “The men of Ninevehwill stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.  The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”  Matthew 12:41,42
  7. Jesus told the Jews that He would someday judge them saying, “…the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father…” John 5:22,23

That a judgment day is prophesied in the Bible is beyond dispute.  But the big question is,  “When does Jesus actually determine the eternal destiny of each person? 

The Day of Atonement

Part of the answer to this question is found in the sanctuary service of the Old Testament!  Remember, Israel faced a judgment day countdown each year.  According to the Mishna, a collection of Jewish writings, the judgment of Israel began on the 1st day of the 7th month with the Feast of Trumpets and ended on the 10th day with the Day of Atonement.  Today, the 10th day of the 7th month is called “Yom Kippur” which literally means, “judgment day.”

If you read lesson 4, you will find an explanation of the Day of Atonement and what it meant to the Jews.  In short, the Feast of Trumpets began on the 1st day of the 7th month with trumpets sounding to warn Israel that probation or mercy was closing.  Each person was to search his heart and make all wrongs right before the 10th day.  All sins must be transferred from the individual to the sanctuary before the 10th day.  Failure to have sins transferred to the sanctuary meant the sinner must bear the consequences of his own deeds.

The Jews understood the Day of Atonement to be the end of the yearly judgment process.

By the evening of the 9th day, all sins must be confessed and transferred into the sanctuary via the shed blood of an animal so that all sins for that year could be disposed of.  On the morning of the 10th day, the High Priest cleansed the sanctuary of all accumulated sins.  Thus the Day of Atonement was the most significant day in Jewish ceremonies.  Jesus told Moses, “…on the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work; whether native-born or an alien living among you, because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you.  Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from your sins.  It is a Sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance.”  Leviticus 16:29-31

Back to Daniel 7

Daniel obviously saw a courtroom setting with the Ancient of Days presiding.  Daniel saw the books of record opened.  The record books contain every motive, deed and thought of all that have ever lived.  Each person that lived on earth will be examined and a determination for eternal life or eternal death will be made.  All heaven attends the solemn meeting.  Daniel mentions that ten thousand times ten thousand angels are present.  Every angel anxiously watches as Jesus reviews each record and arrives at a decision that will last for eternity!  It is an awesome occasion.

Note:  Many people are surprised to discover in John 5:22 that Jesus is the One who makes the eternal decision upon each person.  The Father has granted both the position of advocate and judge to Jesus.  This is only fair, for Jesus has walked where we walk, He has suffered more than we suffer and He was tempted more than we are tempted.  Hebrews 4:15 The beauty of this point might be understood by comparing our judicial system with heaven’s judicial system.  In our judicial system, our peers judge us.  In other words, a jury of people having the same background as the accused judges a person.  In a similar way, the people of earth are judged in heaven by one of us, “a son of man”!  Daniel saw Jesus approach the Father and receive authority and sovereign power for this express purpose.  Sovereign power means unlimited power.

When does the court convene?

We must find the answer to this vital question.  Notice the progression of Daniel’s vision.  We will find several clues in Daniel 7 that associate the timing of heaven’s courtroom scene with the events on earth.  Follow the chronology along in your Bible:

1.      Daniel was observing the violent behavior and blasphemous nature of the fourth beast when the heavenly courtroom scene began. (v7-9)

2.      After court convenes in verses 9 and 10, Daniel points out that the terrible 4th beast exists until the end of the world when it is thrown into a blazing fire. (V11) The importance of this and the sustained life of the other three beasts (lion, bear and leopard) will be seen later when we study Revelation 13.

3.      Daniel’s gaze returned to the courtroom scene by describing the appearing of Jesus before the Ancient of Days.  Daniel points out that the Son of Man is “promoted” and given special recognition.  He receives authority, glory and sovereign power and ultimately every knee bows to worship him. (V13, 14)

An angel helps

Daniel was greatly troubled by this vision because of the relentless persecution of the 4th beast upon the saints.  An angel is sent to Daniel with more information. Daniel is anxious to know more about the terrible fourth beast.  (V19)  The angel begins by reassuring Daniel, “The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.  But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever – yes, ever and ever.”  Daniel 7:17,18

4.      Daniel saw the persecution of the saints by the little horn power occur in two segments. The first persecution continued until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints and the second persecution ends when the saints possess the kingdom.  (See v21, 22)  We will see later that the Bible clearly predicts there are two time periods when the saints are persecuted.  One is 1,260 years long the other is 1,260 days long!  This point will be greatly amplified in our study on Revelation 12 and 13.

5.      The angel identifies the little horn power by reminding Daniel that the little horn rises out of the 4th beast and then “uprooted” three of the ten kings that took over the fourth kingdom.  (Compare verses 8, 23 and 24.  In our previous lesson we learned that the papacy was able to destroy three of the ten kings that conquered Rome.  These were: the Ostrogoths, the Vandals and the Heruli.)

6.      The angel said the little horn power would speak against the Most High, oppress his saints and try or “think” to change set times and laws.  Even worse, the saints are to be handed over to this antichrist power for a time, times and half a time. (V25)

7.      In verses 26 and 27, the angel says, “But the court will sit, and the power of the little horn will be taken away and the end, the persecuting power will be completely destroyed forever.  Then all the kingdoms of earth will be given over to the saints.”

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