Daniel 8: “Personal Prophecy”


Daniel saw a very fascinating vision in chapter 8.  The one thing that strikes me about this chapter is the profound effect that this vision had on Daniel personally.  God had a message for his people.  Daniel was the messenger.  But, Daniel was more than just an objective reporter of what he saw.  The message came through the man, and the message changed the man.  Consider these three ways that the prophecy became personal.

1)  The prophecy transported Daniel to a different place and a different time.  At the beginning of the chapter, God took Daniel to Shushan.  I don't know if God took him there physically, or just spiritually in his dream.  But, Daniel went to sleep in Babylon (the capital city of the Babylonian empire) and woke up in Shushan (the future capital city of the Medo-Persian empire).  The prophetic message moved Daniel . . . literally!

2) Then, the strange vision confused Daniel.  As Daniel was pondering over the meaning of the one-horned goat defeating the two-horned ram, God sent a special angel, Gabriel, to explain the vision to him.  I'm so thankful for Daniel's example.  When I am confused by God's Word, I need a good healthy dose of divine wisdom.  Daniel had the angel Gabriel, and I have the Holy Spirit!  Daniel just reminds us that we are completely dependent upon God's wisdom.

3) Finally, at the end of the vision, Daniel was spent.  He expressed it this way, "And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king's business.  I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it."  (Daniel 8:27)  The vision was so disturbing, that it left Daniel totally incapacitated for days, and when he finally resumed his work, he was still distracted (even "astonished") by what he had seen.

Again, I am thankful that Daniel is a flesh-and-blood man like the rest of us.  He was moved, bewildered, and exhausted by the message from God.  That was part of the plan.  That is what makes the message so real.  God's Word must first transform the messenger.  Only then, can the message be proclaimed with authoritative power.

Daniel 8: “God Knows the Future . . . With Certainty”


Daniel saw a vision of an epic battle between a two-horned ram and a goat with one big horn between his eyes.  (See, the Bible teaches us about unicorns!)  Daniel saw this vision  during the Babylonian empire, twelve years before the Medes & Persians rose to power.  God showed him with remarkable accuracy exactly what would happen to the next two world empires.  About two hundred years before Alexander the Great was even born, God  revealed to Daniel amazing details about his kingdom.  God sent the angel Gabriel to explain the vision to Daniel.  Gabriel called the kingdoms by name.  He said that the ram with two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia.  Then, he said that the goat is Greece, and the big horn is the "first king".  The goat swiftly defeated the ram (his feet didn't even touch the ground!).  But, the big horn was broken and replaced by four smaller horns.  Out of one of those horns, there came another little horn that possessed the "Glorious Land" (Israel) and defiled the sanctuary of the temple, causing the sacrifices to be taken away for 2,300 days.  History records the precise fulfillment of God's prophecy.  Alexander the Great swiftly conquered the world, but died at the young age of 33.  When Alexander died, his empire was divided between four rulers.  Generations later, Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem, set up an altar to Zeus and sacrificed a pig upon the altar.  This sacrilege is known as the "abomination of desolation."  It is amazing to consider that at the time Daniel saw this vision, there was not a temple or sacrifices.  The temple was in ruins, there was no acting priesthood, and the people were scattered in captivity.  Yet, Daniel saw a future temple that became defiled, and future sacrifices that were stopped.  He even knew how many days they would be desolate:  2,300 days.  Once again, history confirms the accuracy of God's Holy Word.  Antiochus Epiphanes intervened in the temple and deposed the high priest in 171 BC.  Then, 2,300 days later, the Maccabees had successfully rebelled against Antiochus, cleansed the temple, and restored the sacrifices.  God doesn't frequently tell us what the future holds.  But, when He does, we should listen.  His Word is always true.  When Jesus promised to return at any moment, we should believe it!  It will happen exactly as He promised.  And, when God promises judgment, we better beware.  God knows the future with certainty.  And, we can't change it.

Daniel 7: “The Little Horn with a Big Mouth”

daniel 7

God gave Daniel a rather vivid dream filled with colorful, memorable creatures.  But there is one particular character that steals the show.  There is a little horn that comes out of the fourth creature.  The little horn has eyes and a mouth.  The little horn plucks out three other horns and then proceeds to speak pompous words.  I believe that this little horn is the future world ruler that the Bible speaks of in many different ways.  He is the beast (Revelation 13), the antichrist (1 John 2:18), the man of sin, and the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  This will be an impressive leader.  He will be able to quickly subdue three kingdoms, then convince the world that he is the savior of mankind.  He will promise peace and security.  For a short time, he will be able to deliver on his promise.  But, in Daniel 7, this little horn disappeared from the scene even faster than he appeared.  " . . . Because of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame." (Daniel 7:11)  You see, the little horn stole the show.  But, it was not his show.  The entire scene centered around the throne that was a fiery flame with burning wheels of fire.  Upon that throne sat the Ancient of Days with garment white as snow and hair like pure wool.  His throne was surrounded by innumerable thousands of ministering spirits.  The Ancient of Days was not too impressed by that little horn with the big mouth!  The antichrist will be able to make quite a spectacle on the earth.  But, our eternal God is still on the throne of heaven.  And, in the end, the Ancient of Days gives the Kingdom to the Son of Man who comes in the clouds of heaven.  The Son of Man receives all the dominion, glory, and His eternal kingdom.  Jesus Christ came as a sacrificial lamb to die on the cross for our sins.  He spoke no pompous words.  He led no army.  He did not start a political movement.  He just saved us.  When He returns again, the lamb will roar, and He will take His rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Daniel 7: “Unnatural Beasts”

daniel 7

God gave Daniel a vision of the rise and fall of world empires.  It was actually the same vision that God had given Nebuchadnezzar years earlier.  But, it was a totally different picture.  Nebuchadnezzar saw the empires of the world in the form of a dazzling image of a man made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay.  Daniel saw the world empires like a bunch of weird creatures.  Nebuchadnezzar saw Babylon as the magnificent head of gold.  Daniel saw Babylon like a winged lion that stood on two legs when its wings were plucked.  Nebuchadnezzar saw the Medes and Persians as the chest and arms of silver.  Daniel saw the Medes and Persians as a lopsided bear eating ribs.  Nebuchadnezzar saw Greece as the belly and thighs of bronze.  Daniel saw Greece as a winged leopard with four heads.  Nebuchadnezzar saw Rome as the legs of iron and clay.  Daniels saw Rome as an indescribable beast with iron teeth and ten horns.  It was the same four empires, but they were viewed from completely different perspectives.  Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar viewed the world empires from the perspective of man, and Daniel viewed the world empires from God's perspective.  Looking up at the shiny image, Nebuchadnezzar was impressed by the awesome glory that man built.  In contrast, God's view of the world empires was quite different.  To God, it was kind of like turning over a large rock and looking underneath.  All kinds of slimy creatures begin to slither around looking for shelter.  God looks at the mighty kingdoms of the world as though they were a bunch of wild beasts.  I wonder what God sees when he looks down on the world today.  Perhaps the bear (Russia) is on the prowl again, beginning to devour its neighbors.  Perhaps the great dragon (China) is rising as it grows stronger and wealthier.  And, perhaps the aging eagle (America) is descending from her once lofty heights.  Regardless, the beasts of the world continue to squirm around while the "Ancient of Days" observes from His fiery throne.  This will go on until the "Son of Man" returns in the clouds to establish His eternal kingdom.

Daniel 6: “Prayer Changes Everything”

daniel and lions

The story of Daniel and the lions' den illustrates the awesome power of prayer.  Daniel was an old man.  He had lived in Babylon for over 70 years.  He faithfully prayed to the God of Israel every day (three times a day!).  Even his enemies knew the details of his prayer routines.  Every day he would look out his window facing Jerusalem.  Hundreds of miles from home, his city walls were broken down, God's holy temple still lay in ruins, and God's chosen people were scattered like sheep without a shepherd.  Yet, every day he would pray to the God who made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He believed the promise that God gave to king David, that a descendant of David would reign upon the throne of Israel forever and ever.  For seventy years of captivity he believed and he prayed.  His prayers strengthened his faith and drew him closer to his God.  His prayers were a public testimony to the power and wisdom of God.  His prayers forged his godly character and influenced his friends.  And, most importantly, his prayers were answered.  God was pleased to hear every word that Daniel spoke to Him.  God desired those times of personal fellowship with Daniel.  God was honored by every request that Daniel made.  (The bigger the request, the more honor!)  In fact, Daniel wasn't asking God for anything selfish.  He just wanted God to remember His covenant and fulfill His promise.  His prayers aligned him with God's sovereign purpose and with God's omniscient wisdom.  He lived and worked in the most wealthy and powerful city in the world.  Yet, his prayers kept him connected with the real power of the universe.  Daniel was certainly not going to stop praying just because some government officials hatched some nefarious scheme to ban any prayers to any other god but the King.  Daniel's God was way bigger than these scheming officials.  So, Daniel kept praying, God kept answering, and the officials (and their families!) were devoured by lions.  Shortly after that, the decree was issued for the Israelites to return to their land.  The walls would be re-built.  The temple would once again offer daily sacrifices to God.  And, generations later, a Son would be born who would reign forever and ever on David's throne.  Prayer really does change everything!

Daniel 6: “Christ-Like Character”

daniel and lions

The story of Daniel and the lions' den illustrates the consistent, godly character of the prophet Daniel.  In many ways, he is a type of Christ.  Consider some of the ways that Daniel's life pre-figures the life of Jesus.  They both had enemies that looked for accusations against them, but could find none.  They both had trumped-up accusations hurled against them.  The false accusations led to their arrest.  The false accusations led to severe physical punishment.  King Darius recognized the innocence of Daniel and tried to set him free, but failed.  Likewise, Pilate recognized the innocence of Jesus and tried to set him free, but failed.  Daniel was thrown into the lion's den, and a stone was rolled over the opening and sealed by the king.  Jesus was crucified and buried, and a stone was rolled over the tomb and sealed.  Daniel came out of the lion's den completely unharmed.  And, Jesus arose from the dead, emerging from the sealed tomb as our eternal Lord and Savior!  Both events glorified God and demonstrated His omnipotent saving power.  Daniel was an innocent man who was unfairly targeted by his lesser enemies.  His only sin was being too awesome!   Likewise, Jesus never hurt anybody.  All he did was go around healing the sick, feeding the poor, and casting out demons from the oppressed.  Yet, he was hated and betrayed by the religious leaders who were unworthy to tie his sandal straps.  At the time of the lion's den, Daniel was probably approaching 90 years of age, and he was out-performing all of the best and brightest leaders.  King Darius recognized his amazing ability and was ready to promote him above all other leaders.  Daniel was unflinching in his obedience to God and his unshakeable faith in God's plan.  Without compromising his obedience to God, he was a loyal and faithful servant to the pagan king.  He was an invaluable asset to the kingdom.   He remains an excellent roll model for believers.  We need to be more like Daniel, because he was a lot like Jesus!

Daniel 5: “The God Who holds your breath”


Daniel and belshazzar

The old, wise, godly prophet, Daniel, gave the foolish young king, Belshazzar quite a lecture.  The king tried to flatter Daniel and offer him rewards of riches and recognition.  Daniel shrugged it all off.  He basically told the king that he could keep his own rewards or give them to another.  He just didn't care about such things.  Then, Daniel launched into a history lesson, reminding Belshazzar of the way that God dealt with his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar.  Belshazzar should have learned from the mistakes of his grandfather, and he should have remembered that God rules over the affairs of men.  Instead, he repeated the same sins.  Daniel got right to the point.  Belshazzar had not humbled himself before God.  Instead, the king had arrogantly challenged the sovereign God.  He defiled the sacred vessels from God's temple, and used them to honor lifeless gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.  These were all symptoms of the real problem.  Belshazzar did not glorify God.  Listen to Daniel's words as he summarizes Belshazzar's sin, ". . . the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified." (Daniel 5:23b)  The king failed to recognize that God holds his breath in His hand, and can take it away at any moment.  In fact, God would take the life-breath from Belshazzar that very night.  The king failed to recognize that all of his ways were held in God's hand.  He should have read the proverb written by an earlier king (Solomon), "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes."  (Proverbs 21:1)  Belshazzar thought that he was in sovereign control of his entire kingdom.  In reality, he wasn't even in control of his own breath!  And so, he failed to glorify the God who gave him breath and held his ways.  Sadly, that represents so much of our world today, perhaps on a smaller scale.  So many people echo the "Invictus" poem, "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."  Instead, we should humble ourselves before the God who holds our breath, and give Him all the glory.  Like Belshazzar, we need a stern warning from God's prophet before we find ourselves on the receiving end of God's judgment.

Daniel 5: “Forgetting God”


Perhaps the saddest part of Belshazzar's downfall is the fact that he had completely forgotten about Daniel and Daniel's God.  Sure, Daniel was an old man.  He had been in Nebuchadnezzar's administration for over 40 years, then he witnessed at least four other kings who rose to power and quickly lost power.  But, Daniel was still there in Babylon.  When the supernatural fingers left a mysterious message on his wall, the king immediately called for his wise men.  They were completely worthless.  It was the Queen who had to remind him of Daniel.  It is unclear who the Queen was.  But possibly, it was Belshazzar's mother, the daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar.  She reminded her son, Belshazzar that Daniel was still around, and that back in the day, Daniel had solved a few mysteries for her father.  Perhaps she remembered that her father had spent seven years as an animal grazing grass before he finally came to believe in the sovereign power of God.  You might think that Nebuchadnezzar's grandson, Belshazzar would be quite familiar with that story and remember the strong words of his grandfather, praising the sovereign God that Daniel worships.  But, sadly, that was not the case.  Belshazzar had long forgotten about his grandfather's profession of faith, Daniel's divine wisdom, and Daniel's omnipotent God.  In the midst of a crisis, he was once again turning to the best and the brightest in his kingdom, but he was neglecting the source of truth and wisdom that was right there in Babylon all along.  Sadly, this reminds me of our nation.  The church of Jesus Christ is still here, but it is mocked and marginalized.  The truth of the gospel is considered helplessly outdated and old fashioned.  When crisis strikes, our nation turns to the best and the brightest:  scientists, economists, and Harvard-educated politicians.  Surely they will be able to deliver us from any emergency!  But the eternal truth and transforming wisdom of God's Word is completely neglected, even ridiculed.  We need someone like the Queen Mother to point us back to the truth.  God is still on the throne.  God's people are still here, and they are not irrelevant.  And, God's Word is infallible, eternal, and unchangeable.  Hopefully, it won't take the destruction of an empire in order to get the point across!

Daniel 5: “God’s Finger”


The finger of God makes a rather dramatic appearance in Daniel 5, writing a cryptic message in the plaster on the wall for all to see.  It would be interesting to do a Bible study on God’s finger.  Let me give you a few examples to digest.  When God unleashed the plague of lice upon Egypt, Pharaoh’s magicians recognized that “This is the finger of God.” (Exodus 19:19)  They could not duplicate it.  Later, when God gave His law to Moses, “He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”  (Exodus 31:18)   In the New Testament, Jesus was able to authoritatively cast out demons.  He was accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub.  Jesus responded to that ridiculous claim by asserting that He cast out demons “with the finger of God.” (Luke 11:20)  So, it seems that every once in a while, God intervenes in world affairs and does something spectacular . . . with his finger!  I think He is communicating two things.  First, God’s finger affirms that He is still here.  Belshazzar was confident that the God of Israel was long gone.  God’s temple had been laying in ruins for 70 years.  The golden artifacts were tucked away in a Babylonian warehouse.  The God of Israel had been humiliated and discredited long ago.  Yet, God’s finger appeared and shook Belshazzar to the core.  God was not dead.  Nor was He slumbering.  The God of Israel was on the throne, not the poser king Belshazzar.  Secondly, the finger of God demonstrates the omnipotence of God.  His finger carved His eternal Word in stone.  His finger wrote a message that shocked a king and crumbled his kingdom.  God’s finger instantly overcame demonic forces that perplexed every expert.  That’s the kind of power that only God has.  And that’s just His finger!  Imagine what power will be unleashed when Jesus shows up with His entire body (Revelation 19:11-16).  Until then, God’s finger reminds us of God’s eternal presence and His unlimited power.

Daniel 5: “Downfall of a Kingdom”


The scene in Daniel chapter five begins with a huge party.  That is the polite way to say it.  Perhaps, more accurately, it was a hedonistic orgy.  Belshazzar, the king, called for a celebration complete with wine, women, and song.  That picture of sin and debauchery is bad enough.  Anyone who loves God would flee from such a dark place.  But, do you know what makes it even worse?  Actually, there are two elements to the story that make the depraved party even more disgusting.  First, Belshazzar intentionally used the gold utensils that had been pillaged from the Temple of God in Jerusalem.  Imagine that!  Items that had been carefully constructed by spirit-filled craftsmen to serve the Holy God in His sacred temple were now being filled with wine for profligate depravity.  King Belshazzar was guilty of profanity.  Profanity is taking that which is holy and sacred, then using it for common (in this case, downright sinful!) purposes.  He had profaned the sacred vessels of God.  The second thing that makes this bad story even worse is the context of the party.  The city of Babylon was completely besieged by the Medes and Persians.  The enemy was right outside their walls!  In fact, that night, the kingdom would fall to the enemy.  You might think that Belshazzar would have more pressing concerns to attend to rather than throwing an impressive party.  He should have been more careful rationing his supplies, and more vigilant guarding his walls and towers!  Instead, he fled reality and drowned his worries in alcohol.  His sinful celebration was bad enough, but he sealed his doom with his irreverence for the holy things of God, and his complacency toward the real threat of the enemy at his gates.  There is an obvious application for Christians today.  We need to honor the sacred things of God and guard against the constant threat of the enemy.


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