November 30

Four beasts illustrated from Daniel 7

Daniel 7:1-28

In Daniel 7 we go back in time, to the first year of Belshazzar’s reign which would be right around 553 B.C., when Belshazzar was made coregent with Nabonidus. At this time Daniel was 68 years-old, and has a dream about four beasts:

1. A lion with eagle’s wings

2. A bear

3. A leopard

4. A devouring beast with 10 horns and iron teeth

The nations represented here in Daniel 7 are the same nations represented in Daniel 2, the image of gold, silver, bronze, and iron. When we view these four kingdoms through man’s eyes, they look so glorious, but they’re actually monstrous. We might see these conquering kings as valuable, powerful victors, but God sees them as terrible beasts.

After the four kingdoms, Daniel sees the final kingdom, when the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, receives the throne from His Father, and rules and reigns forever and ever.  This is one of few chapters in the Bible, that has the interpretation given to us (for the most part).

It’s fascinating when you consider just a few of the details of these prophecies.

In ancient Babylonian artwork you’ll find the winged lion everywhere in their art, architecture and currency. When Daniel describes the lion having his wings plucked off, he’s referring to the time Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity, due to his pride, and roamed about like a beast. Eventually his mind was restored and a man’s heart was given to him (Daniel 4).

The kingdom of Medo-Persia is represented by the bear which was raised on one side. This  illustrates the dominance of Persia over Media, although they were joined, the Persians were stronger than the Medes. It had 3 ribs in its mouth, which most scholars believe represents the 3 major empires conquered by the Medo-Persians (Babylon, Egypt, and Libya). The command is given for the bear to devour much, and this is exactly what they did. Notice how much larger their kingdom was in comparison to Babylon.

Source – Ralph F. Wilson

The leopard with 4 wings represents Greece and illustrates the speed of Alexander the Great’s conquest. Beginning at the young age of 20 years old, he set out to conquer the world, and he did indeed conquer the then known world 11 years later. Before the age of planes, trains, and automobiles – this is extremely impressive. This beast also had 4 heads, which undoubtedly represents the division of Alexander’s kingdom into 4 provinces after Alexander’s sudden and unexpected death at the age of 33. After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., his generals fought over the conquered land. After more than 40 years of struggles and warfare, the 4 major divisions emerged. Egypt under the Ptolemies, Syria under Seleucids, Macedonia under the Angitgonids, and Pergumum under the Attalids.

The 4th beast, which represents Rome and the revived Roman Empire, is not pictured with any animal type descriptions, but it is seen as dreadful, and terrible, exceedingly strong, with huge iron teeth, devouring, breaking in pieces and trampling the residue. This kingdom is different, in that it will one day be revived, and united, after being divided, hence the 10 horns. In the last of the last days, the Roman Empire (European Union) will eventually be led by a man speaking pompous words who will persecute the saints (in this context representing the Jews) for a time, a times, and half a time (3 1/2 years) this is the second-half of the Tribulation Period. It’s then that Jesus Christ will return, and set up His throne from Jerusalem for 1,000 years on planet earth, followed by the eternal rule forever and ever (Revelation 20-21).

Daniel 7:27 (NKJV) “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”

Obey who? Obey Jesus!

1 John 1:1-10

In the first verse John the Beloved takes us back to that “time before time” in speaking of Jesus, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, who was there in the beginning (He’s always existed) (sounds also like Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 doesn’t it?). John lets us know that this is who He’s writing about. They heard Him (and they still do), they’d seen Him, observed Him, touched Him, the Word (Logos), Jesus…this is who John and the other Apostles “declare” to us that we also might have fellowship with them – and this fellowship is not only with other believers, this fellowship is with God Himself!

John wrote this letter so that we might have fellowship with God; and he writes so that in this relationship, this Christian companionship, our joy may be “full.”

I must check my heart. Do I have that fellowship? Do I have that joy?

One of the things you’ll notice about John in this little letter, is that he doesn’t pull any punches, he doesn’t hold back, he doesn’t give us any grayish guidelines, it’s just black and white. It doesn’t matter what think about yourself, if you say you’re a Christian, but you’re living a life of consistent, insistent, persistent sin, then you’re not really a Christian. Imagine the absolute shock of many who will stand before Jesus on that day and say, “But Lord, I did this and that, I served in the church, I taught Bible studies, I cast out demons, I was given that title, position, membership in the church…” but Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:22-23)

We MUST examine our lives! Is there any sin that dominates me? John will go on to talk a LOT about love – this is the earmark of a Christian – do I have it? Would love be the description of my life?

In order to truly have that fellowship with God I need to be walking in the light. That doesn’t mean we won’t sin, we all do, but when we do, we repent, confess it, and God promises to cleanse us from it; 1 John 1:9 has often been referred to as the Christian’s “bar of soap.”

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

John teaches us that if we practice sin, or don’t acknowledge our sin, we don’t know the Lord. These are objective truths by which we can all examine our lives…am I really are on that road that leads to heaven?

Psalm 119:153-176

We come now to the close of this amazing chapter. The Psalmist has not lost or lessened his love for God and His Word in the slightest.

He wrote in Psalm 119:159, “I love Your precepts.” In Psalm 119:163, “I love Your law.” And in a fascinating passage along the same lines of loving God’s Word, he wrote in:

Psalm 119:165 (NKJV) “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”

Do I love God’s Word? It brings great peace and keeps me from stumbling if I read it to heed it, if I study the Scriptures in sincerity.

May I never turn from His testimonies, and never forget His law, for God is willing to revive me repeatedly (Psalm 119:154, 156, 159). I need that!

A popular passage on the Verbal Plenary inspiration of Scripture is:

Psalm 119:160 (NKJV) “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”

The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is truth. Jesus said every little letter and mark of the Bible is inspired (Matthew 5:18) and Paul said the same thing about the scope of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).

This section is too rich and deep to touch on everything, but here are few more passages that stood out to me:

Psalm 119:162 (NKJV) “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.”

Do I rejoice like this – over God’s Word?

Psalm 119:164 (NKJV) “Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments.”

This Psalm speaks frequently of praising God; it seems that worship and the Word go together. Imagine if we actually did praise Him…seven times a day! All day long!

Psalm 119:176 (NKJV) “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”

There’s that tendency we have within us, to stray (Isaiah 53:6). It happens to us all, let’s be honest. We veer a little off the path from time to time. But God is gracious to seek us, often THROUGH His Word, and bring us back, right where we belong!

Thank You Lord!

Proverbs 28:23-24

Proverbs 28:23 (NKJV) He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.

In the beginning the flatterer might find favor, until the flattered finds out that they’ve been manipulated. Let’s just do our best to speak the truth in love.

“Giving a needed rebuke rather than overlooking it or flattering a person (Proverbs 29:5) is difficult. But in the end (later) a wise person is grateful for it.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Proverbs 28:23 (NLT) “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.”

There might be some who read this and walk away thinking it is my job and responsibility to rebuke all others, or at least my friends – – constantly. But I would say, you probably don’t want to do it all the time, rebuke when necessary, pray (ask God) and rebuke obediently. It must be the right word, at the right time, spoken in the right way.

A loving friend who genuinely cares, who doesn’t just have an ax to grind, who isn’t merely a critical Christian, the ones who really care, will encourage us, and at times rebuke us, in love.

Proverbs 28:24 (NKJV) “Whoever robs his father or his mother, and says, ‘It is no transgression,’ the same is companion to a destroyer.”

“There are some who have little conscience about stealing from their parents. Out of some sense of entitlement, they rob them and then say, ‘It is no transgression.’” – David Guzik

(See 1 Timothy 5:8; Mark 7:9-13 on this, and see the sad example of the Prodigal Son, before he returned)

John Knox, “Shall he who robs father or mother make light of it? He is next door to a murderer.”

Derek Kidner, “Jesus showed that there are refined ways of incurring this guilt (Mark 7:11); cf. Paul’s strong words in 1 Timothy 5:4, 8.”

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