Daniel: Being a stand up person in a bow down world (week 10)

Daniel: who’s who in the zoo?
Daniel 7:1-28

Daniel 7 commences now the vision portions of the book of Daniel.  From a chronological perspective this vision ought to be placed before Daniel 5 as it occurs 10 years prior to Belshazzar’s fateful feast. But Daniel chooses to organise his book with these particular visions together because even though they will have immediate implications they also span into the distant future of human history. In this vision features four beasts, and is probably a restating of the vision of the statue made up of four materials that Nebuchadnezzar had in Daniel 2.  It is likely therefore that the first three beasts are imagery for the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire.   The fourth beast however is different to the rest, it is like nothing you have ever seen before. The fourth beast is no particular animal and is the most aggressively greedy.  It would appear to be the last human kingdom, the one in which human evil and rebellion reaches it’s climax. Whilest each of these beasts represent four empires the overriding emphasis is that empires tend to behave like animals lacking in moral boundaries and constraints and they  progressively worsen over time.In the midst of this vision then comes a glimpse into the courtroom of heaven where the Ancient of Days resides over his court. It is an awe-inspiring scene conveying God’s holiness; the pure and wise Judge sits on his throne  in front of an almost endless crowd. The court takes session but the details of the trial are not given to us except that the outcome is clear – the beast is judged and destroyed. And the keys to the eternal kingdom are handed over to one who is like a “son of man.”  We of course know who that it is – it is Jesus. ( It is the title that Jesus uses to describe himself throughout the gospels marking his identity by referencing Daniel’s vision.) It is almost as though Daniel is transported in time to the moment that Jesus won the victory at the cross, resurrected and ascended into heaven.

It is worth noting that Daniel himself finds this vision disturbing.  Perhaps he is disturbed by the reality that the saints have to suffer for a time before ultimate judgment takes place. And it is true that although God miraculously delivered Daniel and his friends on numerous occasions that God does not always bring immediate deliverance.  But how this vision provides us with reassurance is that there will one day be a reckoning for all the evil that has been performed.  Although for now we live in the inbetween time where we experience some of the cross victories accomplished on the cross we are yet to experience the fulfillment of all the cross has accomplished.  The day when all wrongs will be put right, and where every tear and sorrow will be done away with.

Listen to the sermon here

For discussion in communities:

Question to open discussion:

What role do you think prophecy from scripture plays for us as Christians?

Read together Daniel 7:1-28

Q1. Given that this prophecy sits chronologically before Belshazzar’s tragic feast, what do you think it would have meant to Daniel?
Q2. Look more closely at each of the beasts described, what are the characteristics of them?  How do these characteristics correlate with systems of human power we see in the world at present?
Q3. What do you notice about the description of the “Ancient of Days”?  What does it tell us about who God is?
Q4.  Read John 5:22-27, Matthew 26:63-64….Jesus throughout the gospels referred to himself as the “Son of Man” alluding to his fulfilment of this prophecy.  How can we find these passages of scripture reassuring?
Q5.  Why do you think Daniel found this vision disturbing?
Q6. Notice verse 21-22 that the holy people experience war and defeat at the hands of the fourth beast, God does not always immediately deliver, what comfort do we find in this passage in the midst of experiencing suffering, hardship and persecution in this world?
Q7.  Why do you think God has had prophecy of this recorded for us to read and engage with?

For accountability + prayer:

You can use these discussion questions either in smaller prayer and accountability groups or as a part of your own individual devotional life.

Q1. How does knowing that God is a just judge help you live in the present?
Q2. In what ways could you live with more of a perspective of what God is doing in eternity rather than in just the present?
Q3. In what ways does your vision of God need to be challenged?

Pray for each other that you might develop devotional habits that help you to incline your heart towards God.

For personal devotion + study:

Monday: Jesus the fulfillment of HISstory….

Over the course of this week we are going to simply meditate upon the prophetic psalms that speak about Jesus.  Use them as a profound reminder that God is the God of history and that his plan for redemption was not an afterthought.

Psalm 2:6-7
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” 7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son;  today I have become your father. 8 Ask me,  and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Luke 1:31-33
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Tuesday:  Jesus cries out to the Father on the cross..

Psalm 22:1-2
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[b

Matthew 27:46
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Wednesday: Jesus would give up His spirit..

Psalm 31:5
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
    deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

Luke 23:46
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[a] When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Thursday: Jesus would be eternal…

Psalm 102:25-27
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
    and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end.

Revelations 1:8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come,the Almighty.”

Friday: Jesus would calm the storm..

Psalm 107:28-29
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea[a] were hushed.

Matthew 8:24-2624 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

Saturday: Jesus would be hated without cause…

Psalm 35:19
Do not let those gloat over me
    who are my enemies without cause;
do not let those who hate me without reason
    maliciously wink the eye.

John 18:19-2319 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”