November - Reading 23

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    In this reading of Daniel, we see the four kingdoms of earth portrayed in a dream. As we read, it becomes quite obvious that the fourth kingdom is certainly Rome. In chapter 7 we even see that the Roman empire is represented not as a known creature nor even a conglamoration of creatures, but is rather a "terrifying and frightening beast." The visions of Daniel reached incredibly far into the future.

    In the Gospel of John we see the reason that Christ washed His disciple's feet. Most Christian denominations view this passage as a call to be servants of one another but there are some who take the passage quite literally and view this passage as an ordinance. Our Primitive bretheren fall into this category and Brother Robert Vaughn is somewhat of an expert on the modern tradition of feet washing. Here are a couple of links that tell of this practice (Password:2002):
    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi/topic/58/3340.html?

    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi/topic/58/246.html?

    The Book of Jude

    Jude is another name for Judah or the Greek, Judas. Of the New Testament men who bore this name, the most likely author is Judas, the brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). The author refers to himself not as an Apostle, but rather the brother of James. It is likely that he did not desire preferential treatment because of his relationship to Joseph and Mary.
    Jude was not always recognized as canonical but has become an accepted part of our modern Bible. Part of the discrepency comes from references to the Apocrypha. Scholars and theologians, however, state that a writing does not have to be Divinely inspired to contain truth. The Book is also very similar to 2Peter and may draw from the same source.
    The theology is simple: the Book is a warning against false teachers who circulated among the new churches.

    May God bless you

    - Clint

    [ November 23, 2004, 08:29 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson 8/21/05

    Daniel 7

    For those who espouse dogmatic interpretations concerning eschatological events, Daniel 7-8 are key. The similarity in Daniel’s visions and the visions reported by the author of Revelation are noteworthy and certainly bear examination. Likewise, secular history provides us with many accounts after the life of Daniel that can be used to fill in the gaps. Even the Apocrypha relates stories of Gentile domination of the Jewish people that fit the bill quite nicely. All in all, to give an account of all plausible interpretations of these passages would take many, many hours and, indeed, theological libraries are filled with books that tackle the subject of Daniel’s visions of beasts and horns.

    We do not have that type of time to devote to the subject. This commentator is therefore left with a difficult task in preparing this lesson. The logical approach is to take the text as it stands, with little cross-referencing and even less conjecture. Almost every student will approach these verses with a preconceived notion of what the author is referencing. While such predisposition is not a wrongful approach, it is my opinion that it should not cloud one’s judgment of other interpretations that are cohesive with Scripture.

    As we enter the 7th chapter of Daniel, let us remember that these words were written to a specific audience in a specific time facing a specific situation. The first six chapters of the Book were stories of the down trodden Jews being protected and exalted by a God who was still with them even in this time of national punishment. While the remainder of the Book is considered a separate section (visions versus stories), the purpose is still the same: to give hope and comfort to the original audience.

    A note should also be inserted here about apocalyptic literature as a whole. This type of scripture always arose from time of persecution of the people of God. It is during these dark spots in history that the believer is left wondering if God is really in control, and, if He is, how can he allow such things to happen? For Daniel’s audience, it was the Babylonian Empire at the time of this writing that was persecuting the exiles and desecrating their homeland. Soon the Medes and Persians would rise to take their place. The shifts in power never seemed to favor the Jews and a generation born in captivity must have felt abandoned by their God.

    The symbolic and therefore ambiguous nature of the visions related to us here are a result of such persecution. While historians have satisfactorily answered much of the coded language of Daniel (or 2Peter or Revelation for that matter), still more remains lost in antiquity. Though this is an unfortunate circumstance for the modern student, it was a necessary element in preserving the writings through the ages. Had the enemies of God’s people who at the moment held the upper hand had successfully understood the recorded messages, they very likely would have destroyed them. Hence we are left with coded messages with only partial keys that must be interpreted and presented with, at best, a good guess at surety on exact details.

    Be that as it may, however, the overall message of all apocalyptic Scripture is clear. God in His time will vanquish all the foes that stand against Him and those who are faithful to Him. This is the nature of sovereignty. The Holy Spirit in preserving these accounts has left us with all we need to know on the matter. The awesome God whom we serve will accomplish His purpose in history through believers and unbelievers alike. Through His servants, the prophets of old, He has shown us that He sees all, knows all and we are moving towards an eventual defeat of all evil through His son, Jesus Christ.

    Daniel 7:1-8 The Vision of the Four Beasts

    Verse 1 shows us that chapter 7 occurs before chapter 5 chronologically. The “first year of Belshazzar” is probably referring to the year 555 BC when this king began his co-regency with his father. It should also be noted that Daniel is not the author of this account though the style of the text, written in Aramaic with smatterings of Hebrew, was not originally an oral rendition but a literary composition to be shared among the exiles.

    Interpreters almost unanimously agree that there is a striking similarity in the account of Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2 and the vision reported here. There is also an obvious significance placed on the number “four” throughout this Passage. This was a common device in literature from this time as this was viewed as a cardinal number representing totality or universality.

    The “great sea” of verse 2 is likely not the Mediterranean but a metaphor for chaos and the unknown, related to the “great deep” of Isaiah 51:10 or even Genesis 1:2. This was for the ancient audience the place of the great unknown that hemmed them to the shores and from which monsters arose. From this vast, turbulent, watery world Daniel saw four creatures arise.

    The first is described as being like a lion with eagle’s wings. Jeremiah had described Nebuchadnezzar as being like a lion and his armies as being like eagles. It is very plausible that the imagery is carried over into Daniel’s writings. The lion was the king of the beasts even to the Jews and the eagle the most powerful of predatory birds. Further, Nebuchadnezzar is described as “the head of gold” in chapter 2 that so closely follows this account. Going upon these premises, many if not most interpreters see the first beast as representing Babylon.

    This creature’s wings were plucked off so it could not fly. It was then stood up on its two hind legs and given the mind of a man instead of the fierce nature of a beast. With its mobility and ferocity removed it becomes an easily conquered entity.

    The second beast is described as being like a bear. To the natives of Palestine this was the second largest carnivore to the lion and almost equal in ferocity. The bear is described as being “raised up on one side” and having “three ribs in its mouth.” There is no unanimity on interpretation here. Some believe that this means that the creature was on its hind legs with the from half raised, others that the creature was awkwardly lopsided. One’s interpretation of this verse is contingent upon one’s interpretation of this phrase. The bear when raised on its hind legs is able to strike lethal blows to man. This viious stance may represent the Medeo-Persian Empire as whole. If one takes the line of the bear being lopsided, the general belief is that this represents the greater influence and power of the Persians and the resulting imbalance of power present in their alliance. Such an interpretation is supported by chapter 8’s description of the ram with one horn larger than the other is. Following this latter view, the three ribs represent Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt whom the Medes and Persians vanquished when they rose to power.

    The third beast was “like a leopard,” albeit with four wings and four heads. While it is widely agreed that the wings represent the swift mobility of this nation and the heads are symbolic of kings, who the leopard actually is contingent upon one’s interpretation of the bear. If the bear is simply Media, then the leopard is Persia. If, however, the bear is the Medeo-Persian alliance, then the leopard represents the Greeks under Alexander who would emerge some two centuries later. If we accept the latter interpretation then the four heads may represent the four generals who wrested for control after the death of Alexander.

    For all the attention that is given the first three beast by modern interpreters, the text only dedicates one verse to each of them. Daniel’s focus is on the fourth and most terrible beast. This beast is not described as being like any of God’s creatures and so it remains shadowy and vague to our minds. It is terrible and dreadful, exceedingly strong and possesses iron teeth. Its activities are described as devouring and breaking into pieces. This creature was by far the worst of the four.

    Once again, we are left with dispute as to the creature’s symbolic identity. It may represent the Greeks. It could also represent the Seleucid Empire, one of the four kingdoms left after Alexander’s death that controlled Palestine committing terrible atrocities against the Jews. It is also a widely held belief that the nameless beast is the Roman Empire. Each of these interpretations bears merit and can not be completely discounted.

    Of course, the identification of the horns of the beast is reliant upon the identification of the beast itself. The student will notice that already the interpretive field has widened to a point that a pursuit of each line of interpretation would take a great deal of time. Hence, an examination of the “little horn” and the consequences of its actions would better serve our time.

    There are a few characteristics about the little horn that should be noted. First of all, it is not described as being a supernatural being. It has eyes like a man and a mouth speaking things. When compared to a lion, a bear, or a leopard, a little horn is an insignificant thing. Yet it is a megalomaniac, elevating itself to a position of great importance. It had a propensity for self-elevation to the point of speaking even against the Divine. This sets the stage for the next Passage concerning the coming judgment and punishment of the four beasts.

    Daniel 7:9-28 The Coming Judgment and the Victory

    Daniel’s vision has moved from the chaos from the great sea to the orderly and judicious setting of a courtroom. There is no argument from any school of thought that the “One that was Ancient of Days” in verse 9 is God (Yahweh) Himself. He is the only one who is described as sitting and indeed the other participants are so vaguely described that we do not know if they are men or angels. That His raiment was white as snow and his hair like pure wool indicate His majesty, purity, and wisdom. The fiery flames are an element of Hs Deity and the wheels indicate His mobility. He was not a stationary God left behind in fallen Israel. The river of fire separates Him from the rest of the court and represent the undammable nature of His sovereignty. In front of Him are thousands upon thousands of beings who wait in attendance upon Him. With the description of God on His throne complete, the “books” were opened. This is not the “book of life” as found in Exodus 32:32 but the “book of remembrance” found in Malachi 3:16 and Isaiah 65:6.

    Daniel is distracted by the sounds of the great words coming from the little horn. As he looks, the beast on which the little horn resided was slain and consumed by fire. Despite the “great words” of the egomaniacal little horn, he is completely destroyed by the power of God’s judgment. The other three beasts are allowed to remain for a time but they are completely stripped of their power. Eventually the remnants of the nations they symbolized would be absorbed into the kingdom of the saints. Through the smoke of the various interpretations the message is clear. Though kings and kingdoms may be allowed to exist for a time and though they may persecute God’s people for a season, God would in time destroy them completely and catastrophically.

    The Messianic overtones of verses 13-14 are evident. It should be noted that the “Kingdom of the saints” and the “Kingdom of the one like the Son of man” are both described as enduring forever. The Messiah is here described as being presented to God with the clouds of Heaven being His vehicle. Under the dominion of this One like the Son of man, the saints of the Most High would receive the Kingdom.

    In verses 15-27 the interpretation of the vision is given to Daniel by one of those in attendance upon God. While specific names of kings and kingdoms are not given the point is made quite clearly that the persecution endured by God’s people is the beginning of their final victory. It is because of the persecution that the Ancient of days comes to sit in Judgment and because of the judgement that the saints receive the kingdom. The little horn in his arrogance makes war on the servants of God bringing about his own destruction.

    Daniel makes it clear as the chapter ends that he was still greatly disturbed by what he had seen up to this point. This sets the stage for the next chapter of the Book that describes the second vision two years later.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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