When we turn the page from chapter 6 to chapter 7 in the book of Daniel, we leave the relatively easy narrative and biographical sections of the book to enter the more difficult and mysterious sections of prophecy. Daniel 7 offers an overview of God’s grand design for humanity. In this collage of prophecy, we’ll see the sovereignty of God once again—sovereignty we can trust in.
Two years elapsed between Daniel’s first vision in chapter 7 and his second vision in chapter 8. Like the first, this vision involved animals. Unlike the first, this vision provides great detail about one of the most famous men in history, about one of the least known men in history, and about one who will appear in the future and will be the most nefarious man in history. To Daniel, it was all future. To us, most of it is history—a history worth studying to prepare us for the future.
The gradual eroding of the Judeo-Christian ethic to reveal a more secular society does not bode well for any nation, not just Canada. Daniel understood that national sins—forgetting God—lead to discipline, so at the dawn of a new administration he prayed for his nation, Israel. And he left us an example to follow.
People often make the mistake of not only judging books by their covers but also by their length—believing that longer is more difficult and shorter is easier. Many times it is the reverse. This is especially true of the last four verses in Daniel 9.
The last four verses in Daniel 9 are not difficult to read but pose a challenge to understand. Daniel had Gabriel to help him. We’ll rely on the Holy Spirit and the rest of God’s Word, not only to help us understand this prophecy of the 70 weeks but also to help us apply some principles to our lives.
The ancients were comfortable with the truth that reality exists in two worlds—the physical and the spiritual. Yet we moderns sneer at such ancient mythology, while our hobgoblins whisper, “The ancients were right.” Daniel understood that two realities exist. And with another angelic visitation he would come to know how real the unseen world really is.
Brought to the very edge of prophecy, the angel showed Daniel the cruelty of war between the successors of Alexander the Great on into the demonic warfare of the Antichrist. For us, what we see in history shows us the grim picture of what is to come for those who will enter the tribulation—inescapable worldwide war—without Christ.
Standing on the dividing line between history and prophecy, one truth is constant—humanity relishes war. In the long, sad history of humanity, we have failed to learn the truth that war is a long-term, cruel business.
Of all of God’s creation, human beings are the most unique and frustrated. Made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), we have the capacity to think, create, and question. Curious, we stretch to grasp things we can never understand with our finite minds and we grow frustrated. However, Daniel, who was just as curious as we, believed and trusted God to reveal the truth about the end of time at the appropriate time—whether he could understand it or not.
“The living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 9:5). Anyone with such a philosophy would come to the same conclusion Solomon did: life under the sun is empty. But is this really true of God’s servants? Daniel, as he comes to the close of his book, received a vision of four groups of people who will have significant lives in the future and on into eternity—not forgotten by God.