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Rejoice in the Lord's sovereignty

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Rejoice in the Lord's sovereignty Daniel 7

I. Anticipatory set

A. A lifetime fighting "the bear"

B. Iran possibly acquiring nuclear weapons

C. N. Korea possessing nuclear weapons

June: North Korea says it has a stockpile of nuclear weapons and is building more, even as it discusses a return to six-party talks on its nuclear program.

D. China

A number of lawmakers, former ambassadors and foreign policy experts who testified in a Washington hearing late last month asserted that the United States needs to wise up to the fact that China plans to become a superpower militarily, economically and politically — by any means necessary.

E. Jihad

LAHORE, Pakistan — Each year, thousands of Pakistani children learn from history books that Jews are tightfisted moneylenders and Christians are vengeful conquerors. One textbook tells kids they should be willing to die as martyrs for Islam.

II. Setting the stage for learning

A. Questions

1. When was Daniel written?

2. Who was the author originally writing to?

3. What was the author's original purpose?

4. What does this passage mean to us?

B. Finding truth

1. Historical context

2. Internal consistency

3. External consistency

4. Literary context

5. Textual analysis

C. How to apply apocalyptic in our day

1. Be reserved and cautious

2. Remember we are dealing with truth, not precision

3. Be careful of numerical interpretation

4. Imagine yourself among those who heard this message for the first time

D. Background

1. Apocalyptic literature

"Apocalyptic" comes from the Greek word apokalypsis, meaning "revelation."

a) The truth hidden in plain sight

·          We think of apocalyptic literature as being strange and mysterious. And yet there is a tension here…

·          It is meant to "reveal" something to its readers

·          IMPORTANCE to us: We should look for the meaning to be revealed.

·          See section on finding truth

b) "...truly and accurately, but not precisely"

Longman, p. 178

"It is a travesty, then, to interpret apocalyptic images too finely, to press them for details" (p. 178).

c) Power and drama

"...Because the original readers had a more immediate understanding of these images, the feelings would be more potent and natural in them" (p. 178).

d) Different from "prophesy"

"Whereas the classic prophetic mode of communication is direct from God to the seer, apocalyptic literature reports a more indirect mode of communication" (p. 180).

Written rather than spoken.

e) An "uncovering"

"The term 'apocalypse" literally means 'uncovering' or 'revelation'" (Traina, p. 71).

2. How is the book organized?

<see chart>

3. Themes

Longman, p. 178-9

a) Horror of human evil

b) Time table for deliverance announced

c) Repentance that leads to deliverance

d) Cosmic war as behind human conflict

e) Certainty of new life for God's people

III. Text

A. Daniel 7: 1-8 Horror by the sea

1. The sea as chaos and a source of dread

In broader mythology of the Near East the sea was something to be feared. It's ability to destroy made it a "potent symbol of chaos, indeed of destructive evil" (Longman, p. 181).

"It was a threatening force that was ranged against the beneficial forces of creation" (Longman, p. 182).

a) Psalm 18:15

15 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. 

b) Job 7:12

2 Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep,  that you put me under guard?

c) Jeremiah 5:22

Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD.

“Should you not tremble in my presence?

I made the sand a boundary for the sea,

an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.

The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;

they may roar, but they cannot cross it.

d) Nahum 1:4

He rebukes the sea and dries it up;

e) Isaiah 27:1

In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan he gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.

2. The beasts

"The beasts are like none to be found in God's creation" (Longman, p. 183).

By their nature they are designed to evoke horror and revulsion.

"...an organized plurality of sinners" (Longman, p. 196).

a) Background

(1) Interpretations

Four kingdoms:

·          Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome

·          Babylon, Media, Persia, Greece

Longman argues the weakness of this view lies in the fact that v13 and v18 have not yet been fulfilled.

(2) Alternative

"...Though the vision begins with the Babylonian empire, its multi-valent imagery intends to prohibit definite historical identifications with the remaining three beasts. Rather the fourfold pattern simply imforms us that evil kingdoms will succeed one another (at least seemingly) until the end of time" (p. 184).

b) 1st beast: Lion with eagles wings that becomes a man

it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.

This is clearly a reference to Nebuchadnezzar therefore this beast refers to Babylonia (see Daniel 4).

c) 2nd beast: Bear eating ribs and flesh

Numerous arguments about what the three ribs represent. We cannot definitively interpret this.

d) 3rd beast: Winged leopard with four heads

Perhaps Persian army and the four kings of Persia.

Impossible to be certain.

e) 4th beast: Powerful with iron teeth, different from all others with ten horns

"The significance of the fourth beast is it climactic place in the future. It intensifies the evil of its predecessors and produces pernicious offsprings in the form of eleven horns. The eleventy horn is the most rebellious: 'He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time times and half a time'" (Longman, p. 189).

Interpretations:

·          Horns are Greece or Rome

·          The main issue is the coming of the Son of Man. Clearly this is in the future.

(1) Little horn

25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. a

Chilling:

·          Open rebellion

·          Natural order of things turned upside down

·          Authority over the saints for a long time

My interpretation:

·          A succession of evil empires or evil world powers

·          God's people persecuted for a time to the point of seeming defeat

·          Divine intervention and all will be made right

B. Daniel 7: 9-14 Heavenly power

Transition.

·          Sudden change from the chaos of the sea whipped by the four winds and the beasts to the orderly purposeful setting of the heavenly court.

1. Imagery of the "theophany"

a) White hair: wisdom

b) White clothing: righteousness

c) Fire: power in judgement

2. Ancient of days

God in his role as judge

3. One like the son of man: The cloud rider

·          See Psalm 68:4: 4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds a— his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him.

·         See Psalm 104:2-4: He wraps himself in light as with a garment;

he stretches out the heavens like a tent

3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.

He makes the clouds his chariot

and rides on the wings of the wind.

4 He makes winds his messengers, a flames of fire his servants. 

4. Interpretation

The boastful horn is destroyed, but the one like the son of man is exhalted, is in control, and will have the final victory. Therefore, remain faithful in spite of the appearance of evil.

C. Daniel 7:15-28 Divine victory

There is a certain "drama" as the scene shifts. I think of Rev: 8:1; “When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

1. Saints of the Most High

"However, in the Aramaic (qaddise 'elyonim) and in the context of its use in the Dead Sea scrolls and elsewhere in Daniel (4:13; 8:13), the phrase refers to angelic beings" (Longman, p. 188).

Possible interpretations:

·          Angels

·          Israel

I disagree with both Longman because his interepretation is inconsistent with the idea of the "Holy Ones" being "oppressed" in v. 25.

Important: The meaning has evolved for us as God revealed his purpose in Christ's coming.

Eschatological meaning is different for us than it was for the author and his intended readers. They saw it as Israel.

We see it as the New Testament meaning of "saints" as in Revelation.

2. Daniel is afraid and confused

15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me.

IV. Overarching theme

A. Longman

"In spite of present appearances, God is in control" p. 42.

B. Baldwin

"The predominant message is that God's people will experience suffering and be threatened with extinction, but that will not be the end of the story because their God is the living and all- powerful God who will get glory by vindicating His name and who will save them" (Baldwin, p. 66).

C. Miller

Every page reflects the author’s conviction that his God was the Lord of individuals, nations, and all of history.

V. References

A. Longman

Longman, T. I. (1999). Daniel (The NIV Application Commentary No. 20). Grand Rapids, MI Zondervan.

B. Poythress

Poythress, V.S. (1976). The Holy Ones of the Most High in Daniel VII. Vetus Testamentum, 26, 208-213.

C. Traina

Traina, R. A. (1985). Methodical Bible Study. Grand Rapids, MI Zoncervan Publishing House.

D. Baldwin

Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel An introduction and commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries No. 21). Downers Grove, ILL Inter-Varsity Press.

E. Miller

Miller, Stephen R. (1994). Daniel. The New American Commentary Vol. 18. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

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