November 2, 2014
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quotes. “It is the characteristic excellence of the strong man that he can bring momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them. The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen for themselves.”
What does the Bible mean? Read. Daniel 9:1-11a; 11b-19
Darius, a Mede, was ruler over Babylon. Daniel read the scriptures – the prophet Jeremiah – and learned that Jerusalem would be desolate for seventy years. So Daniel prayed and fasted and humbled himself in sackcloth and ashes.
Daniel went prepared before God. Do we sometimes approach him in rote – carelessly and effortlessly or unprepared? Daniel's preparation and effort helped to open his heart and spirit to the Lord. He prayed so that he could better help his people.
Daniel acknowledged God's judgment through his covenant but also his love and kindness to all who love him.
Daniel confessed “we” had not listened to the prophets who spoke to kings and the ordinary people alike. We have not kept the laws. Their sins cover them with shame. Even so, God is merciful and forgiving.
God has poured out on the people all the judgments written in the Law of Moses. If God didn't punish sin as he promised he would be as guilty as if he failed to protect the righteous. But we are more willing to be rewarded for virtue than punished for sin. Lord, give ear and hear our prayer. See the desolation. We cry to you not because of our righteousness but because of your mercy. Daniel didn't beg, but he called out to God. O Lord, listen … forgive … hear … act!
Read. Daniel 9:20-27
While Daniel prayed, Gabriel came to give insight and understanding. When Daniel began praying, the answer came to Gabriel and he came to Daniel. Daniel was “highly esteemed.” The ones who are only sophisticated or learned can miss the truth. Love alone leads us to the inner meanings of life.
Much of the meaning of the years mentioned is based on Lev 26:18-35 and the seventy years in Jeremiah. The Seventy “sevens” are seventy weeks of years or 490 years. This is the number of years from Cyrus to the abomination of the temple by Antiochus.
Read. Daniel 10:1-11:1
Daniel was fasting and his effort prepared him for a message which came in a vision.
A man dressed in linen with gold around his waist came. His face was like lightning and his eyes like flaming torches. His voice was like a multitude. Only Daniel saw the vision, but the ones with him were overwhelmed with terror and fled – not unlike with Paul when his friends only heard thunder while Paul received a message. The world lacks spiritual vision. We do not see when we don't seek. Vision requires preparation. Since Daniel first “set his mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard.”
The man came to explain a “time yet to come.” If we do not seek God we face the future blindly.
Daniel wondered how he could talk with his lord. His strength was gone. If we have ever felt God in his glory we were filled with awe and our fears and worries ceased. God gives us strength.
God is not idle. He is engaged in the conflicts of men and soon “I will return to fight against the prince of Persia and then the prince of Greece (Alexander – the fourth horn) will come.” The earthly battle reflects the celestial battle. Each nation has an angel. Michael is the angel of Israel (Rev 12:7).
Read. Daniel 11:2-13
The wars include the Persian kings Cyrus, Darius I, Xerxes I and Artaxerxes and Egypt.
Read. Daniel 11:14-24; 25-34
The verses deal with the conflicts between Ptolemy V (a dynasty of Hellenistic kings ruling Egypt) and the Seleucid with Antiochus of Syria specifically.
In those days even “violent men among your own people” will be traitors. Also, even evil people can occupy but they can never possess the holy land (the Beautiful Land).
A “contemptible” person will invade. He is likely Antiochus IV. He may not have been crowned king. The people did not accept him since he murdered his one brother and pushed aside the other. He was like the value of a coin. The value is not intrinsic, only assigned. These men forget who they are and why they exist.
In the end the temple will be desecrated. An abomination will be set up. Sacrifices will end. Some will be corrupted but “the people who know their God will firmly resist them.”
Read. Daniel 11:36-40
While Antiochus persecuted the people, he “will do as he pleases.” He is arrogant. He even abandoned the gods of his fathers and worshiped Zeus.
Read. Daniel 11:41-45
This section is in error. Antiochus died in a battle in Persia but there are other legendary accounts of his death. The lesson is that when tyrants (the wicked) die there is no one to help and no one to care.
Read. Daniel 12:1-4
These verses end the original book. Antiochus is dead. The great tribulation begins – the “birth pangs of the Messiah. The final end is the great resurrection and the separation of the blessed from the damned – the coming of the kingdom of the saints.
Read. Daniel 12:5-13
Some say that these verses were added by the writer of 7:25 and 8:14 who calculated when the end would come. These are final words of assurance. At the end “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined.” But, “the wicked will continue to be wicked.” None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. Daniel will “rest” (likely in Sheol) and then rise to “receive your allotted inheritance.”
What does the Bible mean to me?
Daniel prayed a prayer filled with scripture. How can we use scripture in prayers?
What do our prayers tell us of what we are concerned the most these days?
Do we humble ourselves before we meet God in prayer?
Are Daniel and Jesus more concerned with what the future holds or who holds the future?
How does God touch our lives?
What assumptions do the arrogant have about God?
Prophets speak the word of God as they hear it. forth-tell what they see. What advantages or disadvantages does each method have in conveying the truth?
Daniel proclaims that the power of God triumphs over the kingdoms of men. Is that comforting?