Friday, August 18, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Daniel 7-12
Reading through the Bible in one year is a wonderful challenge; however, I find myself doing little more than a “fly-over” when it comes to writing a devotional commentary on passages of scripture that captivate my heart and move my spirit. Having read the Book of Daniel scores of times over the years and preached a verse-by-verse study as recently as 2014, the prophetic scenes found herein continue to astound me as I reflect upon those things that have come to past and those which are yet before the world. What a stunning testimony for the doctrine of the inspiration of scripture!
In our scripture reading today, Daniel 7-12, we are given a panorama of prophetic history beginning with the rule of “Belshazzar king of Babylon” (7:1) and continuing with the reign of “Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes” (9:1). The longevity of Daniel’s service to the kings, from being taken captive as a teenager and continuing through the latter days of his life, is a testimony of Daniel‘s character, talents and integrity. While other rulers of the Chaldean kingdom were purged from office during transitions of kings and kingdoms, Daniel’s character earned him trust of numerous kings, both Chaldean and Persian.
Daniel 7-12 records a series of prophetic visions and reveals that Daniel had knowledge of the prophecies of Jeremiah. Daniel writes, “I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2).
Bearing sorrow for the sufferings of Israel, Daniel identified himself with the sins of the nation and confessed, “We have sinned…we have done wickedly” (Daniel 9:5-15). With a penitent heart, Daniel prayed, “O Lord…let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem…O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive” (9:16-19). The LORD then sent His angel Gabriel to comfort and give the interpretation of Daniel’s vision, including the seventy weeks of desolation (9:20-27).
Daniel 10 marks another transition of leadership in Babylon with the rise of “Cyrus king of Persia” (10:1) under whom Daniel would serve. Daniel’s prophetic visions continue as God sends “Michael, one of the chief princes” (10:13) to interpret the things God revealed to him in visions, including the fall of Persia to the “prince of Grecia” (10:20-21).
Darius the Mede was reigning over Babylon and the Persian Empire in Daniel 11 when the LORD revealed to Daniel the fall of Persia and the rise of a great king we recognize as Alexander the Great, king of Greece (11:2-3). God revealed to Daniel the fourfold division of Greece following the reign of Alexander (11:3-4) and the international conflicts that would follow between nations with the collapse of Greece (11:5-20).
The balance of Daniel 11 is a panorama of prophetic scenes too numerous to study in this devotional commentary (Daniel 11:21-45) and take us from the offenses and desecrations committed by one we know historically to be Antiochus Epiphanes (11:25-35) to the rise of the Antichrist in the time of the Tribulation (Daniel 11:36-12:13) described as “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (12:1), “even to the time of the end” (12:4).
Permit me an opportunity to close this reading of Daniel’s prophecies with some personal observations.
The news of “wars and rumours of wars” (Matthew 24:6) is an inescapable, undeniable reality of our times. Headline stories of newspapers, radio broadcasts and cable news scream WAR and I believe the stage is set for the rise of the Antichrist (Daniel 11:36-45; 12:1-4).
Impassioned by a religious fervor that identifies itself as ISLAM, the ancient enemies of Israel are threatening to spark the Third World War. The volatile rise of Islam in the Middle East, the military aggression of North Korea, China and Russia coupled with the anemic response of politicians to anarchist activities within the United States is setting the stage for the 70th week of Daniel and the Tribulation Period.
Friend, we live in volatile times, but God is no less sovereign today than He was in Daniel’s tumultuous times. Let us join Daniel and rest in God’s assurance in the closing verses of Daniel 12: “Blessed is he that waiteth,…” (Daniel 12:12a).
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith