Friday 8 August
Vaughan Roberts concluded the morning Bible teaching by looking at the final chapters of the book of Daniel. Here’s a summary of his message.
Daniel 10 – 12
There is a higher throne… a glorious future in which every tear will be wiped away! We don’t see it yet, but it will come.
The Bible challenges both optimism and excessive pessimism: It warns us, “Get real, don’t be naïve, there is very real evil in the world…” However, although there are great terrors and evil, there is a higher throne and, ultimately, all will be well.
Chapter 10:5 Describes a vision of God Himself. As Daniel begins to engage with these visions of the future, he first engages with the glory of the Living God. It is as if God says, “Before I show you the horrors that are to come, you need to get this into your mind. Before you see the future, you must see me.” Only once you are crystal clear that there is a God, can you face the reality of what is to come.
The only way we will cope will all that will happen to us is to have a clear vision of the Living God. There are three great themes in these passages: suffering, safety and service.
God’s people will suffer
Chapter 11 focuses on the great kings of the north and south and we have a summary of the next 400 years. This is history with a difference – history told in advance.
- Alexander the Great is mentioned in just one verse.
- The Greek kingdom is divided into four and two emerge as the most prominent:
- Seleucus in Syria (kings of the north)
- Ptolemy in Egypt (kings of the south)
- Antiochus Epiphanes – (175 – 163BC) This relatively minor figure in world history is of great significance to the people of God. Antiochus placed a figure of Zeus in the temple of God (the abomination that causes desolation).
While the prophecy is fulfilled in Antiochus, Jesus also refers to the “abomination that causes desolation” and Jesus says it is going to happen in the future. Jesus knew about Antiochus but a prophecy is only fulfilled when it is fulfilled fully. It is possible to have multiple fulfilment of prophecy. There is another fulfilment in AD 70 when the Romans come and overrun the temple. But there is an even further fulfilment at the end of time with the coming of the anti-Christ.
John explains, “Many anti-Christs have come and the anti-Christ is coming.” The anti-Christ is marked by violent opposition to the people of God and also achieves great success. God’s people will not be immune from his destructive power.
These things can happen to the faithful people of God. Don’t assume that whenever the people of God enter the fiery furnace or the lion’s den that they will be plucked out alive. In Romans 8, Paul mentions famine, danger, nakedness and sword but reminds us that terrible suffering cannot separate us from the love of God.
Although there is a wonderful future in heaven, the reality on earth is that terrible things can happen and it doesn’t always get better. God graciously warns us in advance.
God’s people are safe
The recurring message is that despite appearances, God is in control. We might not see Him but God is with us. We are surrounded by His angels. He is protecting us. We are safe. God has set limits and boundaries on the suffering His people endure at the hands of the anti-Christ.
You might feel that no one understands, no one cares but God does. Maybe you are crying out, “How long, oh Lord?” But there is a glorious future.
In Apocalyptic literature we get into terrible trouble when we try to read numbers literally. What we learn from these numbers is that suffering is for a set period and God has limited the time span.
God’s people will serve
People who are not Christians often cannot understand what we are doing with our lives when we make choices to serve God, even at personal cost. The world lives for possessions, popularity, power and pleasure. But the wise person will serve the unseen Living God whose kingdom shall outlast the years.
Relationship and Resistance: Often we can resist out and out attack but flattery can get under our defences. The key to resistance is relationship – those who know their God will stand firm. The more I love the Lord Jesus, the less I am interested in the flattery of the world.
Trusting and Telling: Fundamentally, what matters is whether your name is written in the book of life? We trust in Jesus’ work on the cross! Those who are wise will instruct many. Those who lead many to righteous will shine like stars. Daniel got involved in Babylon serving the kings but he also pointed to a higher city, a greater throne and the king of kings.