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The Christian Counter

     
WHAT TIME IS IT?
Lesson 7
page 1 of 2




Review

Our last study surveyed the sweeping prophecy of Daniel 2.  King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream concerning the kingdoms of man has almost been fulfilled and historical confirmation brings the fulfillment of the vision down to our day.  But what time is it?

Will there be 100 more years before Jesus returns?  Are we really living in the last days?  If we are, how is it proven?

There is only one prophecy in the Bible that tells us where we are in time.  Other prophecies like Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 tell us where we are sequentially but only one leads us to a specific date so that we may know our chronological position.  It’s found in Daniel 8-12.

Introduction to the prophecy

  1. This prophecy is directly connected with the work of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary.
  2. This prophecy has five very important dates connected with it.  /all five dates have been historically confirmed.
  3. Unlike the seven chapters of Daniel, this prophecy is written in Hebrew.
  4. This prophecy came to Daniel in segments over a period of about three or four years.  The last five chapters of Daniel (8-12) contain this prophecy.
  5. Even though a portion of this prophecy applies to Daniel’s day, the focus is the “appointed time of the end.”

The vision

Sometime during the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign (last king of Babylon), Daniel received the first segment of this serious vision.  A summery of Daniel’s vision follows:

  1. I was standing beside the Ulai Canal… Before me was a ram with two long horns standing beside the canal.  One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later.  I watched the ram as he charged toward the west, north and the south.  No animal could stand against him… He did as he pleased and became great. {V14}
  2. As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground.  He came toward the two-horned ram…and charged at him with great rage.  I saw him attack the ram furiously…and shatter his two horns.  The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him. {5-7}
  3. The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven…” {V8}
  4. Later, out of the four winds, another horn arises.  It starts small, but grows in power to the south and east and toward the Beautiful Land.  It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. {V9-10)
  5. This horn sets itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it takes away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. {V11}
  6. Because of rebellion, the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it.  It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. {V12}
  7. At the end of this vision, Daniel heard two angels talking as he watched this vision.  One angel asked five questions {V13}, they are:

a. How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled?
b . How will the daily be taken away?

c. How long will the rebellion that causes desolation last?

d. How long will the sanctuary be surrendered?

e. How long will the people of earth be trampled upon?

The vision has two parts

During the vision, the angel Gabriel was sent to Daniel with the instruction, “tell this man the meaning of the vision.”  As will be seen, the content of the vision is so comprehensive, that Gabriel actually requires three visits to give Daniel a full explanation!  The first visit of Gabriel begins in Daniel 8:15. 

Before explaining the vision to Daniel, Gabriel twice emphasizes that this vision concerns “the appointed time of the end” (verses 17 and 19).  The visit of Gabriel with Daniel took place 25 centuries ago.  Several times in the vision the phrase “the appointed time of the end” is used.  The phrase leads us to believe that God must have an appointed time to end the troubles on earth.  Are we living in the last century?  Have we reached “the appointed time of the end?’  How can we tell if we have or haven’t?  Just as a navigator looks at the stars to know his latitude and longitude, there has to be some sign or event that shows our chronological position in time so that we can know when the appointed time of the end arrives.  Without a marker, we can only guess at the time.

Many people challenge the idea that we are living at the end of the world’s history.  They ask, “what evidence do you have to show that the end is now and not 500 years from now?”  The world has seen WW1, WW2 and there will be a WW3 (according to Revelation).  So how can we know that we are living at the end of the world?  Bible prophecy holds the answer.  Jesus has declared the end from the beginning.  Gabriel told Daniel, “…none of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” Daniel 12:10

Even though the vision of Daniel 8-12 serves a variety of purposes and answers a number of questions, it basically has two parts.  The first establishes a historical footing or marker so students of prophecy can determine their chronological position from historical sources.  The second and more complex portion of the vision explains certain events that occur during the appointed time of the end.  It is also important to know that other prophecies in the Bible add information to compliment the vision of Daniel.

The explanation begins

In his first visit with Daniel, the angel Gabriel said:

1.      The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. {V20

2.      The goat is the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn is the first king. {V21}

3.      The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represents four kingdoms that will emerge from this nation but will not have the same power. {V22}

4.      Later, (during the appointed time of the end) when lawlessness has gained control of the world, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise.  He will become very strong, but not by his own power.  He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed at whatever he does.  He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. {V23, 24}

5.      He will cause deceit to prosper, He will consider himself superior and when the world feels secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes.  Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. {V25}

Commentary

Some commentators separate the last five chapters of Daniel into a number of unrelated visions because it is obvious that the visions and explanations come to Daniel over a period of time.  However, we will see that each time Gabriel talks with Daniel, he refers to one of their earlier visits and/or a portion of the vision seen earlier.  This clearly demonstrates a unity between the segments.  Further, if we tie the five chapters together, the pieces will harmoniously relate to each other.  If the vision is broken into disconnected parts, conclusions will have no historical footing to work from.  In such a case, the appointed time of the end cannot be determined.  We will see that Jesus carefully tied the historical events of Daniel’s day and the appointed time of the end together with a specified number of years!

While the first portion of the vision held immediate meaning for Daniel, it more importantly provides very valuable historical data for us.  This historical data provides a historical marker from which we can mark the passing of time.  The second portion of the vision applies to events that take place during the appointed time of the end.

Immediate meaning

Jesus not only knows and predicts the future; He is also concerned with the present.  In Daniel’s day, Jesus was deeply grieved with Israel’s rebellion and consequently sent them into captivity.  Through Jeremiah, Jesus foretold the Babylonian captivity would last 70 years.  “For twenty-three years…the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened…  Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: ‘Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon… And I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations.  This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.’”  Jeremiah 25:3,8,9,11

Remember, Daniel was one of the Hebrew captives taken into Babylon.  He had interpreted the dream concerning the kingdoms of man for Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel knew that another world empire was to follow Babylon.  In the vision of Daniel 8, Jesus not only reveals the rise of subsequent empires to Daniel, He even calls them by name!

(Jesus even named the Persian general that would overtake the Babylonian empire a hundred years before he was born!  See Isaiah 45.)  These nations are symbolized as a ram with two horns and a goat with a great horn.  These two beasts and their horns represent the kings of the Medo-Persian and Grecian empires respectively.

Daniel also knew that the 70 years of captivity predicted by Jeremiah were about to expire too!  He was anxious for his people to be set free to return to Jerusalem.  He wondered if the fall of Babylon would bring freedom to his people.  The hope of returning to the homeland and the destiny of his people burned deeply within his heart.  Daniel wanted to know the outcome of these things so badly that he fasted and prayed for understanding for three weeks!  At the end of the fast, Gabriel was sent to Daniel.  He had good news and he had bad news.

Babylon’s last night

Gabriel told Daniel that the fall of Babylon was imminent.  He explained that the ram with two horns represented the kings of Media and Persia that would overthrow Babylon.  Daniel was also shown that the Medo-Persian Empire would eventually fall. Thus Jesus opened Daniel’s mind to a much larger view of His purposes than he understood before.

Gabriel explained to Daniel that God’s purpose for Israel was much more inclusive that just returning to Jerusalem.  So in the first visit, Gabriel told Daniel about the imminent of Babylon.  Daniel needed to be prepared – for as it turned out, he would be put on center stage before the Babylonian ruler of the world.

On Babylon’s last night, Daniel was awakened by a summons.  He was told to immediately appear before Belshazzar, king of Babylon!  The king and a thousand of his nobles were having a drunken party when a hand suddenly and mysteriously appeared and wrote something on the wall of the palace.  The ominous message was not decipherable to the king, or his wise men.  Eventually, Daniel was called to read the strange message.  The old prophet told the king.  “O king, the Most High God gave your father greatness and glory and splendor…But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was disposed from his throne…until he acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men… But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.  Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven… You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand.  But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways… The meaning is:  God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.  You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.  Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Selections from Daniel 5.  The Bible also says that very night Belshazzar was slain and Darius the Mede took over the city of Babylon.

Historical notes

According to history, Babylon fell in the autumn of 538 B.C, as the Medes and Persians came to power.  However, both Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel’s visions say the Medes and Persians were not to rule the world forever.  They too would pass away.  About two centuries later, the defeat of the Persians by Alexander the Great at Arbela in 331 B.C. established Greece as a world empire.  Thus history confirms the sequence and chronological portion of the vision concerning the ram and the goat.

The vision given to Daniel also predicted that the goat (Greece) would become very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off and in its place four prominent horns grew up.  At the zenith of world power, Greece’s first king, Alexander the Great, died an untimely death at age 32.  His kingdom was passed down to his heirs, but was eventually divided among his four leading generals: Cassander, Lysimachus, Selueucius and Ptolemy.  History again confirms the sequence and chronology of the vision.

An accurate understanding of Bible prophecy always harmonizes with historical evidence to unveil the foreknowledge of Jesus!  Political powers do not come and go by the whim of men.  The apostle Paul said, “…For there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”  Romans 13:1

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