By way of introduction, we want to get our foot in the door of this series by looking at the great biographical chapter in the New Testament—Hebrews 11—which has been called “God's Hall of Faith.” These men and women lived lives worthy of being remembered, so let's remember them—for they, being dead, still speak.
Our world desperately needs models worth following. Authentic heroes. People of integrity whose lives inspire us to take God seriously, to follow His Word obediently, to pursue Christ passionately.
Thankfully, the Bible places before us a spiritual "hall of fame"—raw, uncensored, gritty stories of men and women sometimes soaring, often stumbling, through the incredible life of faith. They wrestled with sin, experienced God's grace, struggled with weakness, and overcame by faith. Their inspiring biographies have been memorialized in Scripture, not simply because of their faith in God but because of God's faithfulness to them.
These great lives from God's Word not only provide realistic portraits for appreciation but also relevant principles for application.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Dictators through the ages have always known this truth: many people will give up their freedom for security. At no time in human history will this be more evident than during the terrible time that will come when the Antichrist rules the world. The Bible speaks of this world dictator in great detail and challenges people to make a choice—accept freedom in Christ and the security of everlasting life, or seek temporary security in the Antichrist and suffer enslavement to damnation.
Hopefully we leave the event with a renewed sense of wonder, overwhelmed by the magnificence of what unfolded in Bethlehem long ago. Imagine…