Daniel 7:15-28; Persecution of the Saints ~ 20220501~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
05/01_Daniel 07:15-28; Persecution of the Saints;Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220501_dan07_15-28.mp3
Daniel 2 and Daniel 7
In chapter 2 we saw Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a multi-metallic statue representing four Gentile kingdoms reigning over the earth up to the time when a stone cut out without hands strikes the feet of the statue, crushes the kingdoms of this world to powder, and grows to be a great mountain filling the whole earth. Daniel interprets that:
Daniel 2:28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. ...
Now in Daniel 7, Daniel has a dream of four great beasts rising up out of the sea, a vision of four beast-kingdoms stretching from Daniel’s own day all the way to the end of time when the Ancient of Days establishes the eternal kingdom of the Son of Man.
God is giving Daniel, one of his chosen people, in captivity in Babylon, one of seemingly very few Israelites who remained faithful to the Lord God, a vision of the future. Daniel had been in Babylon 51 years. The temple had been in ruins for the past 32 years. Things are not looking good for God’s people. They may get worse before they get better, but there is a glorious future for God’s people, and the kingdoms of the world, although powerful and fierce, will all bow to the ultimate King of kings and Lord of lords.
This vision of chapter 7 was given in the first year of Belshazzar. Belshazzar was the wicked king who 15 years later would end his reign in an immoral party blasphemously drinking from God’s own holy vessels. Daniel rebuked him for his failure to learn from the humbling experience of his father Nebuchadnezzar (5:22-23). Instead he lifted up himself against the Lord of heaven. The handwriting on the wall pronounced that he was weighed in the scales and came up short. If this is the kind of ruler who had come to power, what would that mean for God’s people?
Daniel 7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. 2 Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4 The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. 5 And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ 6 After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.
In chapter 2, Daniel interpreted to Nebuchadnezzar his dream statue.
Daniel 2:38 ...you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.
Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, Medo-Persia under Cyrus, then Greece under Alexander the Great.
Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s vision:
Daniel 2:40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these.
Daniel’s vision continued:
Daniel 7:8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Whatever this last kingdom, it was different from the other kingdoms, and it extends to the judgment at the very end of time.
Daniel 7:9 “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10 A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.
Daniel 7:11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
There couldn’t be a greater contrast between the Ancient of Days silently seated in judgment and the big mouth of the little horn who was ceaselessly speaking great things. He was able to uproot three other horns, but that whole final beast, horns and all, was decisively killed, destroyed, and burned with the fire of God’s judgment.
Daniel 7:13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Nebuchadnezzar’s image had feet and toes made of iron mixed with clay.
Daniel 2:34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Daniel 2:44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,
The crushing stone is the divine Son of man coming on the clouds with great glory.
The Saints Win!
Daniel 7:15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’
Daniel was troubled by what he saw, so in his vision he asked for the truth and he was given the interpretation. The four terrible beasts are four coming kings. But we win in the end. The beasts and their reign of terror will be decisively destroyed. The saints of the Most High will be given the kingdom without end.
The Fourth Beast and its Horns
But this didn’t satisfy Daniel.
Daniel 7:19 “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20 and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions.
Daniel is troubled by the uniquely destructive fourth beast, and its horns, especially the arrogant little horn. It seems the scene continued to unfold before Daniel.
The Little Horn Prevails ...Until
Daniel 7:21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them,
This is deeply disturbing. This proud little horn with eyes like a man and a boastful mouth not only uprooted three other horns, but it made war with the saints and overcame them. I thought the saints were given the kingdom forever, forever and ever. How could they be defeated? The little horn prevailed over the saints, but only for a time.
Daniel 7:22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
There is persecution in store for the people of God. We are not always victorious in the short term. The three Hebrews who refused to bow to the image were thrown in the superheated furnace, but came out without even the smell of smoke. Daniel, who would not cease praying to his God, was thrown in the den of hungry lions, but the Lord shut the mouths of those lions, and he came out without a scratch. In both cases, pagan kings gave glory to God. But this will not always be the case. Not every king will willingly bow the knee. Many followers of Jesus have been burned to death, and devoured by lions. But God promises to be with us in the fire, and he will honor those who resolve ‘but even if he does not deliver us, we will not serve your gods or worship the image you have set up’ (3:18).
In Daniel’s vision, the arrogant little horn makes war with the saints and overcomes them. Evil wins. Wickedness prevails. The saints are defeated. Until. Until the Ancient of Days came. Until every wrong is righted and justice is brought about.
The Saints Given up to Persecution
Further interpretation is given.
Daniel 7:23 “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. 24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. 25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
This fourth kingdom is different; devouring, trampling, crushing. The ten horns are ten contemporaneous kings, and another blasphemous king will put down three of the ten. This coming king will speak against the Most high, and shall wear out the saints. ‘Wear out’ means to afflict, specifically in a mental sense. This one will intend to usurp the authority of God, who alone:
Daniel 2:21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
The saints will be given by God into his hand. In chapter 1 God gave the king of Judah into Nebuchanezzar’s hand. Because of disobedience, because of sin, to discipline, to refine, to purify, to work all thing together for good to those who love God. To display his own glory. Because he is God.
But they are given into his hand only for a set amount of time; for a time, times and half a time. In chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar was given the heart of a beast until seven times passed over him, likely seven years. The designated period here is ‘a time, times, and half a time’; three and a half periods of time.
This whole scene overlaps with what we read in Revelation 13:
Revelation 13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” 5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear: 10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
In Daniel’s vision, the prior beasts were allowed to live on for a season in the succeeding beasts until the final beast is destroyed. This beast in Revelation is a composite beast, having characteristics of the lion, the bear and the leopard. This beast too what given a mouth uttering proud blasphemous words. It was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months, which equals three and a half years. It was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. Some will be taken captive, some will be slain; the saints are called to persevere, whatever comes. This seems to be the same period of time spoken of in Revelation 12, where the woman Israel is nourished for a time, times and half a time (Rev.12:14) or 1,260 days (Rev.12:6), which is 42 thirty day (lunar) months; while the dragon made war “on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev.12:17).
All the fury of hell will be unleashed on the saints of God, and God will give the saints into the hand of the evil one, they will be defeated, but only for a time, times and half a time. God revealed these things so we would be prepared. Jesus said:
John 16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 ...Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. … 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. ... 33 ...In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Here’s the end of Daniel’s vision:
Daniel 7:26 But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. 27 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’ 28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”
Four times it is reaffirmed in this chapter that although the beast will be terrible and his persecution of the saints real, the kingdom of the coming Son of man, which is the kingdom given to the saints, will never end.
What’s the point?
Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
How much do you treasure your relationship with the Son of man? Is it enough to outweigh the sufferings of this present time?
2022.05.01 Sermon Notes
Daniel 7:15-28; Persecution of the Saints
Daniel 2-----------Daniel 7
Head of Gold----------Lion with eagles’ wings
Chest & Arms Silver--------Bear raised on one side
Middle & Thighs Bronze----------Leopard, 4 wings, 4 heads
Legs of Iron--------Beast with iron teeth and bronze claws
Feet & Toes Iron & Clay----------Ten horns and boastful horn
-crushed by kingdom Stone---------judged by Ancient of Days
The last kingdom is judged at the end of time
Daniel 2:28, 34-35, 44; 7:9-14
The interpretation: four kings; but the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom
The little horn made war with the saints and prevailed ...Until the judgment
Interpretation: blasphemous king will wear out the saints who are given into his hand
Daniel 7:23-25; 2:21; 1:2; Ezra 5:12
How long? A time, times, and half a time
Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32; Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5
Saints will be persecuted ...but it will be worth it!
John 16:1-4, 33; Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27; Romans 8:16-18
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org