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Daniel 11:21-35; Antiochus the Prototype

11/13_Daniel 11:21-35; Antiochus the Prototype; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20221113_dan11_21-35.mp3

The Big Picture of Daniel 11

Daniel 11 scans history from Daniel’s own day, through the fall of the Persian empire, and on to the Greek dynasties following Alexander, hovering for half the chapter on one obscure Seleucid king who reigned for 9 years.

Here’s what we have going on in Daniel 11; we have a sweeping account of the empires to come from Daniel’s day, beginning with the king of Cyrus, 56 years up through Xerxes or Ahasuerus, who mounted an attack on Greece, which raised the hatred of the Greeks, and the prophecy skips over the rest of the kings of Persia and jumps ahead 150 years to Alexander the Great, who swept down and wrought revenge on Persia, but he died in his prime, and his new kingdom was divided up over the coming years between four of his generals. Verses 2-4 cover over 200 years from Daniel’s day up to the division of Alexander’s empire.

The prophecy then focuses on just two of the four, the Ptolemies who ruled Egypt and the Seleucids who ruled Syria and Babylon, two dynasties to the north and the south, with Israel caught in the middle. The next 16 verses (5-20) chronicle seven episodes in the conflict of these two dynasties that trample the holy land. The Ptolemies were largely in control of Israel from around 320 to 200, when under Antiochus III (the great) the domination of Israel shifted to the Seleucids. Verses 5-20 cover over 140 years of Greek domination.

Verse 21-35 picks up the story with one historically insignificant ruler who only ruled for about 11 years, but his importance to the Biblical narrative is pivotal. 16 verses chronicle 141 years of Greek conflict, and then 15 verses are given to this one personality who reigns for only 11 years. He was already a significant figure in earlier prophecies; he is the little horn of Daniel 8 growing out of one of the four horns of the Greek goat. He ‘grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land’ (8:9). This little horn is notorious for his persecution of the Jewish people. He is important because of his relationship with God’s people, and because he is a foreshadowing of a coming persecutor who will emerge at the end of time.

Verses 21-35 detail events from Antiochus’ brief reign, and then the final 10 verses of chapter 11 skip ahead to the future persecutor, the little horn of Daniel 7 who arises from the final world empire, whose persecution of Israel is unequaled in all of history. This final Antichrist is foreshadowed by and viewed through the lens of his Greek prototype Antiochus.

That’s the big picture of chapter 11, and we are going to jump back in where we left off at verse 21, looking at Antiochus Epiphanes, but keeping in mind that he is given to us as the prototype of the final future Antichrist who will come at the end of the age.

Background of Antiochus IV [223-175BC; verses 10-20]

When we left off last time, the Ptolemies had control of Israel for their first 120 years, until after several conflicts Antiochus III (the great) took control of the beautiful land. He then sought to solidify his control through a marriage alliance between his daughter Cleopatra and the young Ptolemy V, but his daughter stood by her husband and against her father. So Antiochus turned his attention to the coastlands of Asia Minor, invading Macedon, Thrace and Greece. But he was defeated by the Romans, forced to pay tribute to Rome and give his son Mithridates (who later took the name Antiochus IV) as hostage to Rome. After returning to Syria, Antiochus the great was assassinated and his older son Seleucus IV became king. Seleucus had to pay his father’s debt to Rome, and was required to send his own son Demetrius, heir to his throne, as hostage to Rome in place of his brother Antiochus IV. Seleucus was assassinated in a plot by his treasurer Heliodorus in 176 BC.

175 BC Antiochus IV Takes the Throne [verse 21]

Upon word of his brother’s death, Antiochus IV returned under the guise of becoming guardian of his infant nephew Antiochus, next in line to the throne after Demetrius, who was still hostage in Rome. Seleucus’ son Antiochus was murdered by Andronicus, whom Antiochus IV then put to death, although it is likely that Antiochus was behind the whole plot.

So Antiochus IV came to the throne not by right but through plots and assassinations and intrigue. He had the support of king Eumenes II of Pergamum. Verse 21 says

Daniel 11:21 In his place shall arise a contemptible person to whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.

Antiochus IV had a reputation for deceit and cunning, a slippery manipulator, a flatterer. Psalm 5 says:

Psalm 5:5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 6 You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. … 9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. 10 ​Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.

Antiochus IV is introduced as a contemptible person, a person to be despised or disdained.

Overview of Antiochus IV [verse 22-24]

Daniel 11:22 Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant. 23 And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people. 24 Without warning he shall come into the richest parts of the province, and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers’ fathers have done, scattering among them plunder, spoil, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time.

This is a general overview of Antiochus’ sweeping domination. Even the prince of the covenant, possibly a reference to the legitimate Jewish high priest Onias III, whom Antiochus removed and replaced with his brother Jason who was more willing to compromise and assimilate Greek culture. In 170 BC Onias III was killed. Antiochus was characterized by deceit in every alliance he entered. Antiochus plundered Egypt and Judea; he distributed wealth liberally as bribes to gain favor. This was his character, a contemptible person.

But only for a time – Antiochus’ time was determined by a sovereign God who writes history before it takes place; in this case over 360 years before the events.

First Egyptian Campaign [170-169 BC; verse 25-27]

In 170 BC the custodians of young Ptolemy VI encouraged war against Antiochus seeking to regain the region of Israel. But Antiochus caught wind of their plans, prepared his army and marched preemptively to the fortress of Peleusis.

Daniel 11:25 And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south with a great army. And the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army, but he shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him. 26 Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain.

Antiochus defeated the Ptolemaic army in the Sinai desert, who retreated to Peleusis and then surrendered. Antiochus occupied the majority of Egypt except the capital city of Alexandria. He captured Ptolemy VI, but in Alexandria they appointed his younger brother Ptolemy VII as sole king over Egypt. Ptolemy VI and Antiochus then plotted together to regain Egypt, each for his own agenda. With Antiochus’ aid, Ptolemy VI was installed as king in Memphis; Ptolemy VII still ruled Alexandria.

Daniel 11:27 And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed.

They spoke lies at the same table. But it profited nothing. God is sovereign over history. The end will be exactly at the appointed time, not a moment before, not a second late. Antiochus withdrew from Egypt to deal with issues back in Israel.

First Israelite Persecution [169 BC; verse 28]

Daniel 11:28 And he shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. And he shall work his will and return to his own land.

In 169 BC Antiochus returned from Egypt; rumors of his death had sparked a revolt. He squelched the rebellion and massacred 80,000 Jewish men, women and children, then looted the temple with the help of the evil high priest Menelaus. 2 Maccabees 5 tells the story:

2 Maccabees 5:11 When news of what had happened reached the king, he took it to mean that Judea was in revolt. So, raging inwardly, he left Egypt and took the city by storm. 12 And he commanded his soldiers to cut down relentlessly every one they met and to slay those who went into the houses. 13 Then there was killing of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children, and slaughter of virgins and infants. 14 Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting; and as many were sold into slavery as were slain. 15 Not content with this, Antiochus dared to enter the most holy temple in all the world, guided by Menelaus, who had become a traitor both to the laws and to his country. 16 He took the holy vessels with his polluted hands, and swept away with profane hands the votive offerings which other kings had made to enhance the glory and honor of the place. …21 So Antiochus carried off eighteen hundred talents from the temple, and hurried away to Antioch, thinking in his arrogance that he could sail on the land and walk on the sea, because his mind was elated.

…24 Antiochus sent Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians, with an army of twenty-two thousand, and commanded him to slay all the grown men and to sell the women and boys as slaves. 25 When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably disposed and waited until the holy sabbath day; then, finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his men to parade under arms. 26 He put to the sword all those who came out to see them, then rushed into the city with his armed men and killed great numbers of people.

Second Egyptian Campaign [168 BC; verses 29-30]

Ptolemy VI and VII had reconciled in Egypt, so Antiochus marched to Egypt and retook Memphis. He marched on the capital Alexandria intending to lay siege to it.

Daniel 11:29 “At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before.

This was appointed. The time was appointed. Antiochus does as he pleases, and in so doing, he fulfills the word of the Lord written over 300 years earlier. God is in control. God is orchestrating every detail to fall precisely into place.

Proverbs 16:9 ​The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Antiochus is set to attack Alexandria. But it shall not be this time as it was before.

Daniel 11:30 For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, …

Egypt had appealed to Rome for help. About the same time, a Seleucid fleet had taken the island of Cyprus. Rome had sent a fleet to Egypt to protect their interests. Gaius Popilius Laenas met Antiochus on the outskirts of Alexandria at Eleusis and delivered a letter from the Roman senate ordering him to leave Egypt or face war with Rome. Antiochus requested time to deliberate; Gaius drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus and demanded he answer before stepping outside the circle. Antiochus, humiliated in front of his army, fearing war with Rome, was forced to comply and give up Egypt.

Second Israelite Persecution [167 BC; verses 30-32]

Daniel 11:30 …and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.

Antiochus, having been humiliated by Rome, returned to Jerusalem and vented his anger against the Jews; he enforced Greek customs under penalty of death. He prohibited circumcision, possession of the Scriptures, offering sacrifices, and celebration of feast days. On the 15 Chislev (December) 167 BC he had a statue devoted to Zeus erected in the temple; 25 Chislev he offered sacrifices including swine offered to Zeus on the altar (1Macc.1:29-64). This is the abomination that makes desolate.

Daniel 11:32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.

Persecution divided true believers in YHWH from false; many were seduced with flattery, bribed with rewards and honor to forsake the Lord. It will be knowing God that makes the difference. Do you know him? Have you gotten to know him? Have you spent time with him, listening to his voice, walking with him? Do you know him? The people who know their God will stand firm and take action.

Maccabean Revolt [167-160 BC; verses 32-35]

When the king’s officers came to Modein, south of Jerusalem, to Mattathias, to bribe him to offer sacrifices to their gods, Mattathias refused. When another Jew came forward to offer the pagan sacrifices, Mattathias burned with anger and killed him, and the officer who was enforcing the sacrifices. He rallied all who were faithful to God to flee to the wilderness (1Macc.2:15-28). Three of his five sons (Judas, Jonathan and Simon) became known as the Maccabees (Hammer); they led a revolt to overthrow Syrian control (predicted in Zech.9:13-17?) between 166 and 165 BC but at great risk, and many laid down their lives.

In 164 BC, on 26 Chislev (December 14) they cleansed and rededicated (Hanukkah) the temple (1Macc.4:36-59).

Daniel 11:33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. 34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.

Difficult days for God’s people. Persecution is real. Many will stumble. Some join them insincerely. Even the wise will stumble. But even persecution is for a good purpose, to refine, to purify, to make white. God is still in control. The time of the end is coming, but it awaits the appointed time.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The question is, do you know him?

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 21, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 11:1-20; Israel in the Midst of Nations

11/06_Daniel 11:1-20; Israel in the Midst of Nations; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20221106_dan11_1-20.mp3

Heavenly Warfare

Turn with me to Daniel 11. Daniel 10, 11 and 12 are Daniel’s record of the introduction, contents, and conclusion of his final vision. Daniel 10 gives us a glimpse into the unseen realm of angel forces battling behind the scenes of earthly conflict. The heavenly messenger tells Daniel that he was sent at the beginning of the time Daniel set his face to understand and humble himself before his God, but he was opposed for 21 days by the prince of Persia. This messenger received help from the archangel Michael, the prince of the people of Israel. He was sent to ‘make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days’ (10:14). After his delivery of the revelation, this messenger will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and then the prince of Greece will come.

Chapter 11 verse 1 continues the thought of the end of chapter 10; ‘as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him’. This revelation, according to 10:1 is taking place in the third year of Cyrus the Persian (another name for Darius the Mede). The messenger looks back to the first year of Darius, when he stood up to confirm and strengthen him.

Chapter 5 tells of the wicked Belshazzar’s feast on the night Babylon fell. That night, after the Medo-Persian army re-routed the flow of the Euphrates river, they marched in through the riverbed under the walls to take the city without a fight.

In his first year, Cyrus issued the monumental decree allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their temple, ending their Babylonian captivity of 70 years and reversing the captivity effected by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

But more was going on than anyone realized, even more than the handwriting on the wall. The heavenly warrior with golden belt and eyes of fire came to the aid of Michael as he battled in the unseen realm. There will be more conflict with the prince of Persia, then the prince of Greece will come. This thread is picked up in chapter 12, when, at that time, Michael your prince shall arise.

Four Coming Kings of Persia

Daniel 11:2 “And now I will show you the truth. Behold, three more kings shall arise in Persia, and a fourth shall be far richer than all of them. And when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece.

Daniel was receiving this revelation in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, around 536 BC. Three more Persian kings will arise; Cambyses 530-522 BC; Pseudo-Smerdis, a usurper who reigned only a short time; and Darius I (Hystaspes) 522-486 BC. And a strong and wealthy fourth king will come, Xerxes I (486-465 BC), who we know from the Biblical record by the name of Ahasuerus, who married Esther. Xerxes or Ahasuerus led a major expedition (probably between Esther chapters 1 and 2) against Greece in 480 BC.

Alexander the Great [336-323 BC]

Althought the invasion was not successful, it stirred up the rage of Greece, and the prophecy skips forward over 130 years and 8 remaining Persian kings, down to a Greek leader who took revenge on the Persians.

Daniel 11:3 Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. 4 And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these.

This was the leopard with four wings and four heads from chapter 7, the male goat from chapter 8 who struck the ram with powerful wrath and trampled him. This is Alexander the Great, who swept down from Macedon and conquered the known world, including the Persian empire, with lightning speed. But he died at age 33 in Babylon, and his newly conquered empire was divided up over the coming years primarily between four of his generals, because his half brother and both of his sons were assasinated.

Israel-Centered Prophecy

The focus of Daniel 11 is on only two of these, those to the north and the south of Israel, because the message of Daniel 11 is about ‘what is to happen to your people in the latter days’ (10:14). Many other battles and events took place, but these were highlighted because they revolved around God’s people.

Kings of the South and the North; Ptolemy and Seleucus

Ptolemy was given Egypt in the south, and Seleucus became satrap of Babylonia in 321 BC. Antigonus ruled much of Turkey and Syria; he expanded into Asia and attacked Babylonia in 316; Seleucus fled to Egypt and became one of Ptolemy’s generals. Ptolemy and Seleucus together defeated Antigonus at Gaza in 312, and Seleucus regained control of Babylon and gradually won control of all of Antigonus’ territory.

Daniel 11:5 “Then the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his princes shall be stronger than he and shall rule, and his authority shall be a great authority.

The south is specified in verse 8 as Egypt, which lay south of Israel, and the king of the South in this passage would be the current king of the Ptolemaic dynasty. The king of the North would be the king north of Israel, the Seleucid dynasty and whoever was currently ruling in Syria.

Ptolemy II, Antiochus II, Laodice and Bernice [250-246]

Tensions grew between the Ptolemy and Seleucus, as Seleucus’ empire quickly outgrew Ptolemy’s. Ptolemy was succeeded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, and Seleucus by Antiochus I and then Antiochus II Theos. Around 250 BC, Ptolemy II attempted to unite their kingdoms through a marriage alliance, sending his daughter Bernice to marry Antiochus II. Antiochus divorced his current wife Laodice and disinherited his two sons Seleucus and Antiochus. About 2 years later, Bernice’s father Ptolemy II died, and Antiochus went back to Laodice, who then had him and the rival wife and her son killed, establishing her own son Seleucus II as king.

Daniel 11:6 After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement. But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure, but she shall be given up, and her attendants, he who fathered her, and he who supported her in those times.

Ptolemy III and Seleucus II [246-241]

Bernice’s brother Ptolemy III Euergetes ruled in place of his father in Egypt. In response to the murder of his sister and nephew, he invaded the Seleucid empire, gained control of much of Syria, and had Laodice killed. He returned to Egypt to deal with an uprising, but carried off much plunder, gold, silver, and images of the gods of the land, and left Seleucus II to rule in Syria.

Daniel 11:7 “And from a branch from her roots one shall arise in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall deal with them and shall prevail. 8 He shall also carry off to Egypt their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold, and for some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north.

In 242 BC, Seleucus II attempted to retaliate by mounting an attack on Egypt, but was forced to retreat in defeat.

Daniel 11:9 Then the latter shall come into the realm of the king of the south but shall return to his own land.

Seleucus III, Antiochus III and Ptolemy IV [226-203]

Seleucus II was succeeded by Seleucus III, who was killed during miltary operations in Turkey. His brother Antiochus III Magnus regained Seleucia, and took much of the holy land in 219 BC.

Daniel 11:10 “His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall keep coming and overflow and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress.

Two years later, Ptolemy IV Philopater sent a large army, defeated Antiochus in the battle of Raphia and reclaimed Israel. Antiochus lost over 14,000 men in that conflict. But rather than press his advantage, Ptolemy returned to Egypt, content with his victory, which turned many of his own people against him.

Daniel 11:11 Then the king of the south, moved with rage, shall come out and fight against the king of the north. And he shall raise a great multitude, but it shall be given into his hand. 12 And when the multitude is taken away, his heart shall be exalted, and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.

Antiochus III and Ptoelmy V [202-195]

Antiochus III Magnus pushed to regain much of the old Seleucid empire; he raised an even larger army, made an alliance with Philip V of Macedon, and invaded Egypt.

Daniel 11:13 For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, greater than the first. And after some years he shall come on with a great army and abundant supplies.

Even within the Jewish community, some sought to advance what they believed was God’s agenda through political maneuvering and military might.

Daniel 11:14 “In those times many shall rise against the king of the south, and the violent among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail.

In 199 Antiochus defeated Egyptian general Scopus at Paneas (Caesarea Philippi) pursued him to Sidon, laid siege and forced him to surrender.

Daniel 11:15 Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siegeworks and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, or even his best troops, for there shall be no strength to stand.

Israel and much of the Mediterranean coast even into Asia Minor were now firmly under control of Antiochus and the Seleucid dynasty. But he feared Roman intervention in a direct attack on Egypt, so he pursued a more subtle avenue of control; he made an alliance with Egypt in 197, giving his daughter Cleopatra in marriage to the young Ptolemy V. He hoped she would be a tool he could use against them, but Cleopatra’s allegiance was to her husband, not to her father, and she encouraged an Egyptian alliance with Rome that frustrated the plans of Antiochus.

Daniel 11:16 But he who comes against him shall do as he wills, and none shall stand before him. And he shall stand in the glorious land, with destruction in his hand. 17 He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of an agreement and perform them. He shall give him the daughter of women to destroy the kingdom, but it shall not stand or be to his advantage.

Antiochus III and Lucius Cornelius Scipio [196-187]

Antiochus instead turned his attention to the coastlands of Asia Minor, invading Macedon, Thrace and Greece. But he was defeated by the Romans at Thermopylae and again near Smyrna. His son Mithridates (known as Antiochus IV, who is the main character of verses 21-35) was taken to Rome as hostage. Antiochus III retured to Syria, force to pay tribute to Rome, and was assasinated in 187 BC.

Daniel 11:18 Afterward he shall turn his face to the coastlands and shall capture many of them, but a commander shall put an end to his insolence. Indeed, he shall turn his insolence back upon him. 19 Then he shall turn his face back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.

Seleucus IV [187-175] and Rome

Seleucus IV Philopator inherited from his father the unwelcome task of paying tribute to Rome, and he had to send his young son Demetrius, heir to his throne, as hostage to Rome in place of his brother Antiochus. Seleucus sent his minister Heliodorus to plunder the temple in Jerusalem to gather funds to pay Rome, but according to 2 Maccabees 3 Heliodorus saw a vision that barred him from entering the temple.

Seleucus was assasinated in a plot by his treasurer Heliodorus in 176 BC.

Daniel 11:20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle.

God Tells the Future Before it Happens

We are only halfway thru this prophecy, but the precision of its details is so accurate that modern day Sadducees who deny the supernatural, deny the miraculous, disbelieve the possibility of God revealing the future before it happens, assume that this must have been written after the events it describes. They assume it must be prophecy written after the fact, written somewhere between 168 and 164 BC, looking back on events and written under a false name to gain credibility,

The problem with dating Daniel to the middle of the second century, aside from the ethical problem of someone lying about what they wrote (which is a huge problem for something to be considered Scritpture), is that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain no less than eight scrolls representing Daniel, which were recognized as Scripture by that community and quoted as Scripture.

Of those scrolls, one dates to around AD 60, one to 60 BC, one to the late 2nd century BC. If Daniel was written in the middle of the second century, that would leave only about 50 years between its writing, and its distribution and recognition as authoritative Scripture by people who likely would have known where it really came from and who really wrote it. This theory of Daniel being written after the fact as if it were prophecy has been decisively overturned by the evidence.

It is easier to believe in a God who knows the future, a God who can tell the future before it happens; a God who says:

Isaiah 46:8 “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 ​declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

Jesus said:

John 13:19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

Jesus himself referred to these chapters of Daniel and said it was ‘spoken of by the prophet Daniel’ (Mt.24:15).

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 10, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 10:1-7; Mourning and a Vision of Glory

10/16_Daniel 10:1-7; Mourning and a Vision of Glory; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20221016_dan10_1-7.mp3

Context of the Book

We are in Daniel chapter 10 today.

Chapters 10-12 are a record of one final and extensive revelation given to Daniel. Chapter 10 is an introduction to the prophecy, chapter 11 includes the word itself, and chapter 12 is a conclusion to the prophecy. This is the fourth prophecy given to Daniel.

In Daniel 7, in the first year of Belshazzar, Daniel was given a dream of four fearful beasts arising from the sea. In chapter 8, in the third year of Belshazzar, Daniel was given a vision of a powerful ram, a goat and a little horn. Chapter 9, in the first year of Darius, records Daniel’s prayer and the message of the seventy sevens given to Daniel. Chapters 10-12 record the final revelation given in the third year of Cyrus (likely another name of Darius).

Daniel says:

Daniel 10:1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.

The word of revelation given to Daniel in these chapters is trustworthy. And it was a great conflict. This word can speak of great warfare or great suffering. This word has to do with great conflict, great affliction, great warfare, both on earth and in heaven.

Daniel claims to understand this vision in contrast to previous visions. In chapter 8 he sought to understand the vision, and even though he was given some understanding, by the end of the chapter he says ‘I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.’ But this doesn’t mean he understood every detail; in chapter 12 he heard but did not understand, and he is told ‘go your way, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end’ (12:8-9).

Historical Context

Daniel 10:2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. 4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river ( that is, the Tigris)

Daniel says he was mourning literally ‘for three sevens of days’ in contrast to the sevens or weeks of years in the prophecy of chapter 9. He dates this period as ending on the 24th day of the first month, which counting back 21 days would have begun on the 3rd day of the first month. The first month of the religious year was counted at the time of the exodus from Egypt, the Jewish month of Nisan or Abib (Ex.12:2-3, 6). Families were instructed to select a lamb on the 10th of the month, and sacrifice it on the 14th of the month at passover. The 14th through the 21st of the month they were to celebrate the feast of unleavened bread. So Daniel’s time of mourning went right through the passover celebration.

To put this into its historical context, Daniel and his friends were deported to Babylon in 605 BC. Nebuchadnezzar returned to destroy Jerusalem and the temple in 586 BC. It was 539 BC, during the blasphemous feast in chapter 5 of the wicked Belshazzar, that Babylon fell to Cyrus the Persian (also named Darius the Mede; Dan.6:28). In the first year of Cyrus (538 BC), he issued an edict allowing return of the people of Israel to their land to rebuild their temple (Ezra 1:2). It was also around this time that Daniel was thrown to the lions for praying. The following year (537), only 42,360 Jews returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:64). They eagerly dedicated the altar and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles in October of that year. But by the next year, 536 BC, the third year of Cyrus, the foundation of temple had still not been built. It seemed the work on the temple had come to a standstill. Now it was time to celebrate the first passover back in the land in 50 years, a celebration of God’s deliverance of his people from captivity. But although they were now officially free, many preferred to remain in the comforts of Babylon.

Fasting and Mourning

So Daniel was mourning.

Daniel 10:2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.

Daniel was mourning, and a common expression of grief was fasting. This was apparently not a complete fast; he abstained from delicacies, meat and wine. If he abstained from these for three weeks, it implies that his normal practice was to enjoy these good gifts from God. We saw back in chapter 1, that upon being brought to Babylon to be assimilated into Babylonian culture and religion, he had resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine. Now close to 70 years later, he was free to enjoy these good things, but for a set time he went without.

Fasting is a way to remind ourselves that God is more essential and more satisfying than food. Not much is said in the New Testament about fasting, and fasting is never commanded. Jesus fasted forty days before his temptation. When asked why his disciples did not fast, he said:

Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

He was saying that the time for mourning would come, but not while he was present with them. In Matthew 6, he assumes that his followers would fast, and gives instructions on what that should and should not look like;

Matthew 6:16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you fast, do not do it to impress people. In Luke 18, Jesus makes a negative example of a Pharisee who boasts to God that he fasts twice a week as if that made him better than others. Jesus said ‘everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself witll be exalted.’

In Acts 13 we see the early church fasting and worshiping the Lord when they were directed to appoint Barnabas and Saul for ministry, and in Acts 14 they appointed elders in every church with prayer and fasting.

In Daniel 9, Daniel ‘turned his face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes’ as he confesses his sins and the sins of his people. And here in Daniel 10, he goes without delicacies, meat or wine, and he does not anoint himself with the usual daily hygeine as a way of mourning, humbling himself before God in prayer (v.12).

The Man Clothed in Linen?

Daniel 10:4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river ( that is, the Tigris) 5 I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. 7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves.

Daniel is on the bank of the Tigris river, outside of Babylon. The Euphrates flowed right through Babylon, but the Tigris came within about 20 miles of the city. Daniel is not alone, but he alone sees the vision, and those who were with him flee in fear.

What he sees is a supernatural being above the river. This one is not named, although we know it is not Michael, as he is named later in the chapter. It is likely not Gabriel, as he is introduced in chapter 8, and then when he appears again in chapter 9, he is identified as the same one Daniel had seen in the earlier vision.

He is simply described as a man clothed in linen. Gabriel is described as a man, implying human form in chapter 9, but the divine cloud rider from chapter 7 is also described as ‘one like a Son of Man.’

Linen was the clothing of priests, and it pictured holiness. White linen was the typical clothing of angels. At the transfiguration, Jesus’ clothing became white as light (Mt.17:2).

This one had a belt of fine gold around his waist. Gold is a symbol of royalty and sovereignty. Angels in Revelation 15 were clothed in pure bright linen with golden sashes.

His body was like beryl, a semi-transparent precious gem shining with glory. His face was like lightning, flashing with power. His eyes were like flaming torches, demonstrating piercing knowledge. His arms and legs gleamed like burnished bronze, symbolic of fiery judgment, like the bronze altar of burnt offering. The sound of his words was like the sound of a multitude.

This could be a description of a great unnamed angel. We have a similar description of an angel in Revelation 10;

Revelation 10:1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2 He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, 3 and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded.

A Vision of God?

But there are also many similarities with Ezekiel’s vison of God who rides on the cherubim in Ezekiel 1.

Ezekiel 1:25 And there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads. When they stood still, they let down their wings. 26 And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27 And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

But there are even more similarities with the vision given to John in Revelation 1.

Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

A man / one like a son of man; clothed in linen / clothed with a long robe; with a belt of fine gold / with a golden sash; his eyes like flaming torches / his eyes like a flame of fire; his face like lightning / his face like the sun shining in full strength; his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze / his feet like burnished bronze; the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude / his voice like the roar of many waters. When Daniel saw this one, ‘no strength was left in me; I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.’ When John saw Jesus, he says ‘I fell at his feet as though dead.’

We can’t say for sure, but the imagery seems like an almost one to one match. This could be a mighty angel, but he is presented with a more graphic and symbolic description than any of the other angels in Daniel. Quite possibly this is an appearance of God the Son hundreds of years before his incarnation.

Omnipotence Receiving Help

The main objection to this is that he was detained for 21 days by the prince of Persia, and required the assistant of Michael the Archangel. If this were God himself, it seems to deny his omnipotence to say he was detained and in need of help.

Some have suggested that the one who touched Daniel and then spoke beginning in verse 10 is different from the one who was seen above the waters; that Daniel saw a vision of God, and then an angel was the one who spoke. This is possible, but there is no clear indication in the text that the one who is seen is not also the one who speaks in the rest of the chapter.

Based on this some conclude that this cannot be God appearing, but must be a great angel. But does it deny the omnipotence of God to say that Jacob wrestled with God and was allowed to prevail against him (Gen.32:24-30)? Satan is already defeated at the cross, he will be one day finally thrown down, but he is still allowed before the throne of God to accuse us day and night (Rev.12:10). But ‘we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’ (1Jn.2:10), ‘who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us’ (Rom.8:34; Heb.7:25). Jesus is omnipotent God, he has already conquered, but he has not yet fully exercised his right. He is also patient.

Jesus in his incarnation remained fully God, retaining all the attributes of God. He was fully omnipotent, yet he refrained from turning stones to bread to satisfy himself. He became hungry, thirsty, tired and weary. He slept. He asked for a drink. He allowed others to provide for his needs.

Is it a surprise if we see Jesus, YHWH of hosts, the Captian of the Lord’s armies, personally leading his heavenly army on the offensive into enemy territory in answer to a prayer? As God, he does not need help, but would it be wrong for him to restrain his own power and accept help? God is sovereign, he does not need us, but often he chooses to work in response to our prayers. God does not need our help in evangelism, but he says:

Romans 10:14 …And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

God does not need our help, but he chooses to allow us to participate in bringing about his purposes.

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Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

October 20, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 9:25-26; Sixty-Nine Sevens

09/18_Daniel 09:25-26; Understanding the Sixty-Nine Sevens; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220918_dan09_25-26.mp3

We have been listening in on Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9. He had been reading the prophecies of Jeremiah that predicted 70 years of captivity because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord. Daniel was looking at how long he had been in Babylon, and the fact that Babylonian kingdom had fallen to the Medo-Persians as signals that this time was coming to a close. So he sought the Lord in prayer, confessing his sins and the sins of his people that sent them into captivity in the first place, asking for God to be merciful and to defend the honor of his great name which was being slandered among the nations. He asked that God would once more make his face shine on his holy city and his temple. Daniel’s prayer was interrupted by Gabriel, with this word from the Lord to him.

Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, …

We need to keep in mind that this prophecy is primarily about the Jewish people, their city and their temple. That is what Daniel was asking about, and that is what the answer he was given says that it is about. It is God’s decree ‘about your people and your holy city.’

Daniel was asking God to turn away his anger and wrath from his holy city Jerusalem, and once again make his face shine on his sanctuary, which is desolate.

Daniel understood that Jeremiah’s prophesied 70 year captivity was coming to a close. But he is given an expansive prophecy of 70 times 7, of a coming 490 years. A much longer period of time, but a period of time that will bring about monumental accomplishments, dealing once for all with the root problems that brought about the captivity they were in, fulfilling the promises of the greater context of Jeremiah’s prophecy, changing the hearts of the people to seek the Lord (29:13), a coming Prince and Ruler who would draw near to God (30:9, 21), a new covenant that would be written on the hearts of his people (31:31-34).

Six things will be accomplished; three negative and three positive.

Daniel 9:24 …to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.

This is massive. To finally and forever deal with our transgression, iniquity and sin. To bring us a righteousness that is permanent, to fulfill all the prophecies, to re-establish the Jerusalem temple.

Daniel is admonished to know and understand what the messenger is telling him. This is not unknowable. It is straightforward. Daniel is expected to get this.

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

Essentials vs. Non-essentials

Before we dive in to the details, there’s something we need to keep in mind. There is difference of opinion within the Christian church on how to understand this passage, and that’s OK. All Christians rightly called by that name agree on the essential truths of Christianity, that there is only one sovereign God eternally existing in the three distinct persons of Father, Son and Spirit, that God the Son became human in the person of Jesus, died on a cross as a substitute for the sins of all who would put their trust in him, and he is coming back again for all who love him. Who God is, who Jesus is, and what is the good news of how we can be right with God and enjoy relationship with him forever, these are the essentials on which all who follow Jesus agree. There are plenty of secondary issues we can disagree on, we can argue about, and at the end of the day it is important for us to affirm that we are brothers and sisters, united by a common faith in the greatest news that God loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son to die for our sins so that all who depend on him him will not suffer the punishment we deserve but instead enjoy unending life with him.

Unfulfilled Prophecy and Future Fulfillment

Scholars and students of the Bible do not agree on how to understand this prophecy, as well as many other portions of Scripture that foretell future events, which is a good indicator that they have not been completely fulfilled yet. As they say ‘hindsight is 20/20’. Many prophecies have parallels in historical events, but not all the details fit precisely, so we await a future fulfillment that will demonstrate that ‘every word of God proves true’ (Prov.30:5). It is important to approach with appropriate patience and humility when we study a passage over which there is much disagreement.

Starting Point of the Seventy Sevens

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, …

Daniel is instructed to know and understand. The starting point of the seventy sevens is given, from which he should be able to know and understand when to expect Messiah the Prince.

But this is where it is gets difficult. Just like Daniel seeking to understand Jeremiah’s prophecy, there was a question of the starting point of that prophecy. Was it the first deportation of the nobility in 605 BC, of which Daniel and his friends were a part; or was it the mass deportation that happened when Jehoiachin surrendered in March of 597 BC; or was it August of 586 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar finally laid waste rebellious Jerusalem and destroyed its temple? If it was the first, they are almost there; if the last, they have almost two more decades to wait.

For Daniel’s prophecy, we also have at least three options. In the same year that Daniel prayed, (538 BC) Cyrus, as prophesied by Isaiah, decreed the return of the captives to Jerusalem, and authorized the return of the treasures of the temple taken by Nebuchadnezzar. This decree is recorded in Ezra 1. Over 42,000 people returned under Zerubbabel. The temple was finally completed in 516 BC

But 80 years after the decree of Cyrus, in 458 BC Artaxerxes I made the decree recorded in Ezra 7 which pledged support of the temple and authorized Ezra the scribe and any priests, Levites, or other people of Israel to return to Jerusalem. Ezra was to teach the people God’s law and appoint leaders who knew God’s law.

Then 13 years later, Artaxerxes I issued another decree, this time to Nehemiah in 445 BC, recorded in Nehemiah 2:5-8. The temple had been rebuilt and was functioning to some extent, but the walls of the city were in ruins, the gates were burned, and the people were oppressed by their neighbors. The king granted to Nehemiah authority to rebuild the gates and the walls of the city.

The prophecy given to Daniel stated the beginning point as ‘from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem.’ Cyrus’ decree was specifically to ‘rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem’, and he authorized ‘everyone whose spirit God has stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the LORD.’ Implicit in this would be permission for them to settle there and carry on the work of building and then serving in the temple.

Ezra was commissioned primarily to teach the people God’s law and to appoint godly leadership.

The decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah explicitly authorized the rebuilding of the city with its walls and gates.

Punctuating the Sentence

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.

The beginning point is the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and the end point is Messiah the Prince. There is an issue of punctuation in this verse; the ESV following the RSV insert a full stop and a ‘then’ after the seven weeks; this would imply that the anointed one or Messiah will come after the first seven weeks. Most other translations indicate that the seven weeks and the sixty two weeks are a combined period after which Messiah comes. The NASB reads this way:

NASB(95): So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

If it is right to understand the weeks as weeks of years, the ESV punctuation would indicate that the anointed prince comes after the first 49 years, and that the city either takes another 434 years to be build, or that it lasts for 434 years. This would also imply that the anointed one of verse 26 who is cut off after the 434 years is different than the coming anointed prince of verse 25.

If we follow the NASB punctuation, Messiah the Prince comes after 49 + 434 years or 483 years, and then that same anointed one is cut off shortly after his coming. The reason for separating the 483 years into 49 and 434 is not stated, although likely the first 49 years relate to the rebuilding of the city, with squares and moat, but in troubled times. The books of Ezra-Nehemiah detail the hostility toward rebuilding from the surrounding peoples.

Details of Dates

Sir Robert Anderson, an investigator at London’s Scotland Yard published his computations in 1895. Starting from the decree to Nehemiah in 445 BC and using the Jewish lunar calendar of 30 day months, the 483 years concluded on April 6, AD 32, the very day Anderson argues Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey and was hailed as King of Israel. When confronted by the religious leaders, Jesus said that ‘if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’ Then he wept over Jerusalem, lamenting “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Lk.19:38-44). Most scholars today question AD 32 as the date of the crucifixion, arguing that AD 30 or 33 are more likely dates. Anderson’s calculations are still quite impressive, and some have attempted to adjust them based on more current information.

Others take the decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra in 458 BC as the starting point and adding 483 land on AD 26, the likely year of Jesus’ anointing with the Holy Spirit at his baptism.

The fact that scholars today still disagree on the exact date of Christ’s crucifixion demonstrates that we simply don’t have enough precise knowledge of ancient chronologies to be dogmatic about which date is correct, but we can be confident that ‘every word of God proves true’.

Messiah Cut Off

It is impressive that Daniel was given information that over a coming 49 years the temple and the city Jerusalem would be rebuilt. It is astounding that 500 years before the event, Daniel was given a word from the Lord about the time until the coming of Messiah the Prince, but after his coming he would be cut off and have nothing.

Isaiah, even earlier (c740BC), prophesied about this coming one:

Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. 14 As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— …

Isaiah 53:2 …he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 ​He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 ​But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 ​All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Messiah the Prince shall be high and lifted up, exalted. But he shall be cut off out of the land of the living, and have nothing. No form or majesty, no beauty; no voice, no justice – three times he was declared innocent and still they demanded his crucifixion; no followers – they all fled; no clothing – the soldiers gambled over his last earthly possession. No grave – he was laid in a borrowed tomb. He had nothing. He was cut off out of the land of the living. He was even cut off from his relationship with the Father, cut off because of my sins, cut off for me. Jesus was cut off so that I could be reconciled to God.

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 19, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 9:1-2; The Prophecy of Jeremiah

06/12_Daniel 09:1-2; The Prophecy of Jeremiah; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220612_dan09_1-2.mp3

Daniel 9 comes in the first year of Darius the Mede, likely another name for Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylon in 539 BC, on the night of Belshazzar’s feast recorded in Daniel chapter 5. This is the Darius who intended to put Daniel in charge of his entire kingdom, but who was manipulated by his other top officials to pass a law that ended up getting Daniel thrown to the lions in Daniel 6. Daniel 7 and 8 jump back in time and give visions revealed to Daniel respectively in the first and third years of Belshazzar. These were bizarre apocalyptic visions featuring composite animals and beasts with multiple horns symbolizing coming kings and empires.

Daniel 9 is different. Daniel 9 records the prayer of Daniel in response to his reading of the Scriptures, a model prayer of repentance and faith. Daniel’s prayer is interrupted by an angelic messenger sent to reveal future events. After a brief introduction, the bulk of the chapter, verses 3-19 record Daniel’s prayer, verses 20-23 introduce Gabriel interrupting his prayer, and the final verses, 24-27, contain the content of the message.

The introduction in verses 1-2 is key to understanding both Daniel’s prayer and the revelation given to Daniel.

Daniel 9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, …

Sovereign LORD

Daniel was taken from his homeland in 605 BC by Nebuchadnezzar, and had spent the last 67 years serving a succession of kings with faithfulness and integrity. Babylon had fallen to the Medo-Persian army, and Daniel continued to serve faithfully the next God-ordained leadership. Darius the Mede was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, in fulfillment of the divine handwriting on the wall in chapter 5. ”your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians” (5:28). God is in control of human history.

Studying Prophecy

We don’t know whether this vision came before or after the lion’s den incident of chapter 6, where we learn of Daniels persevering habit of regular prayer, but in this chapter we get a glimpse into the content of his prayers.

Daniel 9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

In Daniel 2 and 4 the king has a dream and Daniel is given the interpretation. In Daniel 7 and 8 Daniel himself has a dream or a vision and is given the interpretation by an angelic being. But here in Daniel 9, Daniel is reading his Bible, studying the Scriptures, and what he reads drives him to his knees. Daniel perceived in the books, literally the writings.

Daniel is reading the sacred writings that he had access to. This would include the five books of Moses, probably some of the writings like Psalms and Proverbs, and specifically Jeremiah.

History of Jeremiah (c.627-587 BC)

Jeremiah lived during the turbulent days of the decline and fall of Judah. He was called to prophesy during the reign of Josiah, the last faithful king of Judah. Jerusalem was caught in the middle of tension between Assyria, Egypt and Babylon. The Assyrian capital of Nineveh fell to Babylon in 612 BC. Josiah died in battle with Egypt in 609 BC, and Egypt appointed Jehoiakim to rule, but in 605 BC when Babylon invaded, Jehoiakim held on to power by allying himself with Babylon. It was 605 BC when Nebuchadnezzar carried off some of the nobility, including Daniel and his friends, and the temple vessels to Babylon. Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon, and in 597 Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Jehoiachin surrendered, and Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah to the throne in his place and took 10,000 captives to Babylon, including Ezekiel (2Ki.24). Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon, and in 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and the temple (2 Ki.25), and appointed Gedaliah to govern Jerusalem (Jer.39). But there was a revolt and Gedaliah was murdered (Jer.41), and many of those involved in the uprising for fear of Babylonian retaliation sought counsel from Jeremiah. God promised to protect them if they remained in the land, but warned that if they fled to Egypt they would not survive (Jer.42). But they accused Jeremiah of lying and they took him by force and brought him to Egypt.

Prophecy of Jeremiah

In 605 BC, before Nebuchadnezzar first came to Jerusalem and took captive Daniel and his friends, Jeremiah had addressed the people.

Jeremiah 25:1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), 2 which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 3 “For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. 4 You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the LORD persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, 5 saying, ‘Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever. 6 Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.’ 7 Yet you have not listened to me, declares the LORD, that you might provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm. 8 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, 9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the LORD, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste. 13 I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14 For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”

It is possible that Daniel as a youth heard this address to the people of Judah before Nebuchadnezzar had come to Jerusalem, but now, 67 years later, a copy of this prophecy had come to Daniel, and Daniel was studying it. This prophecy was now history; it spoke of God’s persistent warnings through the prophets Jeremiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, to turn from their evil ways and their idolatries and listen to the LORD. But they refused to listen, so the LORD brought Nebuchadnezzar to ruin the land and to make them serve Babylon seventy years. Daniel was part of the first group carried captive to Babylon some 67 years ago, so he picked up on this promise of seventy years as being just about to end. The prophecy spoke of punishing the king of Babylon; Daniel had seen Nebuchadnezzar humbled years earlier (ch.4) and he had seen Belshazzar the proud final king of Babylon lose control of himself as he saw the handwriting on the wall. Daniel was there to witness the fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persians without a fight. The Babylonian empire had fallen, but still the people of God were in exile. When would the desolations of Jerusalem come to an end?

Sometime after Nebuchadnezzar took the second group of captives in 597 BC, Jeremiah wrote a letter to the captives in Babylon, which we now have as chapter 29 of Jeremiah

Jeremiah 29:4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. 10 “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Scriptures; The Word of the LORD

Daniel calls Jeremiah a prophet, and he says what he is studying in the writings is ‘the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet.’ Daniel recognizes what we would call the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, that what he is reading is breathed out by God. This is the very word of YHWH.

Whether Daniel took this prophecy of seventy years to mean exactly seventy years, or as a round number meaning about seventy years, a typical lifespan, he took the prophecy at face value. 70 is a concrete number, not an indeterminate period of time. He took it seriously, and expectantly, but not presumptuously. He understood that the appointed time of captivity was close to being over, but he may have wondered if anyone had yet learned the lessons it was meant to teach. He knew he had been in Babylon close to 70 years, but was it to be counted from that first wave of captives taken by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC, or was it the major deportation of 597 or was it 586 when the temple was destroyed? He was reading the prophecy, recognizing it was speaking to his circumstances, he believed that it was the very word of God and that God would be true to his word, but some of the details of exactly when and how this would unfold were unclear. So he prayed.

Sabbath Rest for the Land

Daniel would have been familiar with the required Sabbath years from Leviticus 25

Leviticus 25:1 The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. 3 For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.

The people were given rest from their labors every seventh day. The land also was to be given rest every seventh year. But there was a warning attached to disobedience;

Leviticus 26:18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, …21 “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. … 24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. … 34 “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it.

2 Chronicles 36:21 connects the 70 year exile prophesied by Jeremiah with the failure of the people to give the land its Sabbath rest.

Response to Prophecy: Why Pray?

Think about this; Daniel believed that God is sovereign over history, and that he always keeps his word and does what he says he will do without fail. When Daniel discovered this prophecy that promised an end to the captivity in 70 years, what did he do? What would you do? I think we would rejoice, tell all our friends what we discovered and invite them to celebrate with us, maybe write a book and hold seminars on the amazing discovery, maybe even rub it in the face of those we had been serving for so long.

But when Daniel perceived the promised end of the desolations of Jerusalem was near, he got on his face and confessed his sins and cried out to God for mercy. Why? Daniel understood that the whole captivity was a result of the heart attitudes of the people. So Daniel wanted to be sure his own heart was in the right place, a place of humility, coming clean before God, confessing sins, acknowledging God for who he is, his right and justice to judge, and his character as merciful and compassionate, giving us the good we don’t deserve.

Daniel knew Leviticus, and Leviticus 26, after warning of the consequence of captivity for refusing to give the land its rest, goes on to say:

Leviticus 26:40 “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

Daniel understood that God is merciful and gracious to those who acknowledge their sin, who humble themselves and confess their treachery and rebellion. There is an ‘if’. If they confess their iniquity …then I will remember my covenant. Daniel got on his face to fulfill that ‘if’.

Think about this; how can God unilaterally make a promise that is contingent on the response of his people? If they humble themselves then I will remember my covenant;

Jeremiah 29:10 “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

How can God’s promises be both contingent on our response and sovereignly decreed by him? God’s word is living and powerful and it accomplishes what it sets out to do. Daniel read the Scriptures, and perceived God’s promise, and God’s word did a work in his heart and he got on his face and confessed his sins.

Are you hearing God’s word? Is God working in you through his word? Is he working in you humility and confession and a cry for mercy from a God who loves to give mercy to sinners who don’t deserve it? Confess your sins and cry out for mercy today!

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

June 14, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 8:9-14, 23-27; The Little Horn and the End

05/22_Daniel 08:9-14, 23-27; The Little Horn and the End; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220522_dan08.mp3

In the third year of Belshazzar, the final king of the Babylonian empire, about 11 years before Babylon fell, Daniel, transported in vision to Susa, the future capital of the Persian empire, was given a vision of the coming Medo-Persian ram who under Cyrus the great would rise as the next world power and defeat Babylon and rule for over 200 years. But the Greek goat under Alexander the great would fly at Persia in great fury and in three short years crush Persia and rule the world. Alexander died at the height of his triumph, in Babylon, at the age of 33, and over the next 20 years his generals would push and pull until his empire was divided to the four winds of heaven, Cassander ruling Macedonia and Greece, Lysimachus ruling Thrace and much of Asia Minor; Seleucus ruling Syria and the east; and Ptolemy ruling Egypt. [Map]

We are going back and forth between the vision given to Daniel at the beginning of chapter 8, and the interpretation given to him by the angel Gabriel at the end of chapter 8. We are going to pick up today with the focus of the vision, the little horn of the Greek empire

Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great. 5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. 9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land.

The angel interprets in verse 19

Daniel 8:19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power. 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great— but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

One of the four kingdoms that emerged out of Alexander’s empire was the Seleucid dynasty ruling Syria and the east. The eighth Seleucid king was Antiochus IV, who was not expected to take the throne. He had served in place of his father as hostage in Rome for 14 years after his father’s defeat. His older brother Seleucus IV Philopater had acceded the throne. Seleucus arranged for the exchange of his own son Demetrius as hostage to release Antiochus, but when Seleucus was murdered, Antiochus seized the throne through flattery and bribes.

Antiochus promoted Greek culture, attempting to Hellenize conquered peoples, founding Greek cities, instituting Greek education, and building temples to the Greek gods. He took the name ‘Epiphanes’ which means ‘manifest’ (he was nicknamed ‘Epimanes’ ‘the mad’ by his Jewish enemies). He had coins minted that read ‘king Antiochus, God manifest’. [coin]

Antiochus encouraged the reform party in Israel that supported Hellenization. Antiochus had installed the wicked Menelaus as high priest, at whose request and for a bribe Antiochus had the legitimate high priest Onias III murdered in 170 BC.

After being forced to leave Egypt in 169 BC, he returned to Jerusalem and plundered the temple.

There had been repeated conflict between the Seleucids and Ptolemies over Israel, and finally in 167 BC Antiochus took Jerusalem by force and required its Hellenization under penalty of death.

1 Maccabees

The book of 1 Maccabees records what happened:

1 Maccabees 1:10 From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king… 11 In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.” 12 This proposal pleased them, 13 and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. 14 So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, 15 and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.

…20 After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred and forty-third year. He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. 21 He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils. 22 He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. 23 He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures which he found. 24 Taking them all, he departed to his own land. He committed deeds of murder, and spoke with great arrogance.

…29 Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Jerusalem with a large force. 30 Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel. 31 He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. 32 And they took captive the women and children, and seized the cattle.

…41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42 and that each should give up his customs. 43 All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50 “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.” 51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city. 52 Many of the people, every one who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53 they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.

54 Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah, 55 and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56 The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57 Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of any one, or if any one adhered to the law, the decree of the king condemned him to death. 58 They kept using violence against Israel, against those found month after month in the cities. 59 And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering. 60 According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61 and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks. 62 But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. 63 They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 64 And very great wrath came upon Israel. [RSVA]

The Little Horn

Daniel saw in his vision:

Daniel 8:9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14 And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”

And the interpretation given by the angel:

Daniel 8:23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great— but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”

The Stars of Heaven Trampled

From Daniel’s vision we see that the little horn would throw down even some of the host of heaven, some of the stars.

In Genesis (15:5), the Lord promised Abraham that his descendants would be multiplied as the stars of heaven. Daniel 12 says:

Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Philippians 2 says

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing,15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Often in Scripture stars are connected with angels, but in this passage, it is clear that the stars are the faithful saints who will be trampled. Gabriel gives the interpretation; he will destroy mighty men and the people who are saints.

Against the Prince of the Hosts

This arrogant little horn would attempt to become as great as the Prince of the hosts; he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes. He made himself out to be God manifest on the earth, he usurped the authority of God, changing the laws of God, defiling the temple of God, abusing the people of God.

The Discipline of God

And yet we read that his power grew great, but not by his own power. A host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression; when the transgressors have reached their limit. God raised up Antiochus to discipline his wayward people, because of their transgressions. God sets a limit for transgressors. God gave his people over into his hand;

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

How Long? 2300 Evenings and Mornings

In verses 13 and 14 the question is posed ‘How long?’ How long will this atrocity be allowed? And this is not just a rhetorical question expressing the longing of our hearts. It is a legitimate question with a concrete answer, because the Lord is merciful.

Psalm 85:5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?

Jeremiah 3:12 …“‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever.

(14) And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.” 2300 evenings and mornings, the same kind of language that describes the days of creation. 2300 days, just short of six and a half years. God is angry with his people when we are disobedient, but he will not be angry forever. There is a limit. History doesn’t provide all the exact dates, but it seems this fits with the general time frame from the murder of the legitimate priest Onias III in 170 BC to the death of Antiochus in 164 BC, as reported by the Maccabees:

2 Maccabees 9:5 But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he ceased speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels for which there was no relief and with sharp internal tortures —

Perspective of Daniel

Keep in mind the perspective of Daniel. This vision was given in about 550 or 551BC, about 55 years after Daniel and his friends were ripped from their homes in Israel. The temple had been destroyed and lay in ruins for 36 years. This vision assumes an end to captivity, a return to the land, a rebuilt and functioning temple, and that the people of God will still stray from the Lord their God and bring further punishment on themselves.

The Appointed Time of the End

It is amazing how precisely the details of this vision fit the unfolding history of what we know of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, so much so that unbelieving scholars insist that it must have been written as history after the events had taken place. This is predictive prophecy, fulfilled in Antiochus. But it is bigger than that. I think Gabriel alerts us to this when he says in his interpretation:

Daniel 8:17 …But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” …19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end.

Three times the angel says that this is ‘for the time of the end’. Some take this to mean the end of the Jewish persecution under Antiochus, but the language seems bigger than that, more absolute; the very end.

The language of ‘the transgression that makes desolate’ connects with the same language in 11:31 that is also talking about Antiochus, but it also connects with the language of 9:27 and 12:11 ‘ the abomination that makes desolate’ which Jesus points to as still future from his perspective;

Matthew 24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place ( let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

There is also a connection between the little horn of chapter 8 and the little horn of chapter 7. The little horn of chapter 7 comes out of the fourth empire, not the third, and replaces three of the ten horns of the beast, whereas the little horn of chapter 8 emerges out of one of four horns of Greece; so these horns are clearly different. But they are both called little horns, inviting us to compare them. The little horn of chapter 7, the final Antichrist, is judged by the Ancient of Days and burned with fire, and the kingdom is given to the saints of the Most High. The little horn of chapter 8, Antiochus, is broken, but by no human hand. But this is not the end of the persecution of God’s people.

Antiochus is given as a shadow of something even darker that is to come, that according to Jesus and Paul was still future (2Thess.2:3-12).

Antiochus, Anger, and the Glory of God

What are we to do with all this? Daniel had an extreme emotional and physical reaction. He was sick for days. This ought to make us angry. A glory stealer like Antiochus makes us angry; his main offense is against God and his sanctuary. He makes us angry with righteous indignation; not angry or offended because we were wronged, but because God was wronged. Something in us rises up and wants to defend the glory of God.

We are outraged that after the Babylonian captivity, after God uses Cyrus to return his people to the land and restore the temple, still they will persist in disobedience. Still they will allow themselves to be deceived. Still their hearts will turn away, to such an extent that it is necessary to give them into the hand of Antiochus.

God must punish sin, and yet God is eager to show mercy to the humble and contrite in heart. God is still the rescuer and defender of his wayward people.

We are rightly outraged, and God uses this to show us our own hearts; how often do our hearts go astray from the one and only God, and we bow to idols? How often are we deluded by our own sense of importance, setting ourselves up in his sanctuary to be worshiped, stealing his glory? God is passionate for his own glory; he is jealous. He wants what is best for his people, and allowing our hearts to wander is not what is best for us.

Antiochus displays the glory of God, he reveals to our hearts that the glory of God is worth defending, worth fighting for, but we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And this points us to Jesus and our need.

Isaiah 53:6 ​All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

June 12, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 8:1-8, 15-22; The Wisdom of God

05/15_Daniel 08:1-8, 15-22; The Wisdom of God; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220515_dan08.mp3

Daniel chapter 8 switches back to the Hebrew language, the language of God’s chosen people. Daniel 2-7 was written in Aramaic, the language of Babylon, the language of the nations. Chapters 2 – 7 focus on God’s people sent into captivity, serving as ambassadors to bring the good news of who God is to the nations. Chapters 8 – 12 are written in Hebrew, the language of God’s people, preparing his people for suffering, reminding them of the sovereignty of God, encouraging them that although it may be hard, remaining faithful to the Lord will be worth it in the end.

Peter tells us:

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. …17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

We should not be surprised at fiery trials, because Jesus said ‘if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you’ (Jn.15:20). Israel should not be surprised at the fiery trials, because God told them long before exactly what was coming.

The Date and Setting

Let’s look at what it says.

Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal.

Daniel tells us when and where this vision took place. This is essential for us to get the importance of the vision. It is in the third year of Belshazzar, two years after the vision he was given in chapter 7. Remember, Belshazzar was unknown to history until 1853 when the Nabonidus cylinder was discovered in a ziggurat in Ur that named Belshazzar as the son of Nabonidus. The verse account of Nabonidus says that in his third year, he entrusted the kingdom to his son, and left on a long journey. If Nabonidus began his reign 556 BC then Belshazzar became co-regent of Babylon in 553BC (which is when chapter 7 was written); Belshazzar’s third year would then be 550 or 551 BC, 11 or 12 yrs before the events of chapter 5, when Babylon fell to the Persians in October of 539 BC.

The setting for the book of Daniel is Babylon, but in this vision, Daniel finds himself in the citadel of Susa, some 230 miles east of Babylon. These are real places. Susa had been completely destroyed by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal about 90 years earlier. It had been rebuilt, but it was again conquered by Cyrus the Great in 540 BC, on his way to conquer Babylon. It did not become the capital of the Persian empire until the reign of Cambyses II (529-522 BC), over 20 years after this vision. Later in history both Esther and Nehemiah would find themselves in the citadel at Susa.

At the time of this vision, Susa was the capital of the Elamites. It may have surprised Daniel to find himself in a city which at the time seemed to have no major significance, so much so that he felt it necessary to describe its location.

This Vision and Chapters 2 and 7

This chapter divides into two halves, Daniel’s vision is given in verses 1-14 and the interpretation is given to him in verses 15-26. We are going to go back and forth between the vision and its interpretation as we work our way through understanding what was revealed to Daniel.

Daniel 8:3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.

In chapter 7, Daniel had seen a vision of four great beasts coming up out of the sea; a lion with eagle’s wings, a bear raised on one side, a four headed leopard with four wings, and a terrifying beast with iron teeth and claws of bronze and ten horns. He was told that the four beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.

Back in chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a colossal image with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, middle and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. Daniel was given the interpretation; Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold, and another inferior kingdom would arise after him, and a third kingdom shall rule over all the earth, and there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron.

If Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was the first kingdom, then the second kingdom was the Medo-Persian empire who conquered Babylon under Cyrus the Great in 539 BC.

Gabriel and Revelation

What was this ram with two horns? We are not left guessing. Jump down to verse 15.

Daniel 8:15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” 18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end.

Daniel seeks to understand the vision, and a voice commands Gabriel to make him understand. This is the first time in Scripture that an angel is named, and one of only two angels named in all the Bible. Gabriel shows up again in chapter 9, and again in Luke (1:19, 26) announcing the birth of John to Zechariah and the birth of Jesus to Mary.

Notice the response of Daniel to this angel. He was afraid and fell on his face. The experience overwhelmed him so much that he passed out. He had to be strengthened to be able to receive the revelation. If you look down at the last verse, in response to this vision, Daniel was overcome and sick for several days, appalled by the vision. This was a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally draining.

Cyrus the Great; Medo-Persia (Achaemenid Dynasty)

After strengthening him, Gabriel gives him the interpretation of his vision.

Daniel 2:20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia.

Cyrus the Great, according to Herodotus, was son of Cambyses I, King of Anshan (in Persia), and Mandane, daughter of Astyages, king of Media. Cyrus succeeded the throne in 559 BC following his father’s death. But Anshan was under Median control until Cyrus defeated the Medes and captured Ecbatana around 550 BC. He spared Astyages and married his daughter Amytis, successfully merging the Median and Persian empires. Cyrus pushed north and west to defeat Lydia and captured the capital city of Sardis. In 540 he defeated the Elamites and captured Susa, and then took Babylon in 539. The Medo-Persian empire controlled the area of Babylon for the next 200 years.

This fits the description of the chest and arms of silver, the bear raised up on one side, the ram with two horns, the later horn higher than the first, pushing west and north and south. The Persians rose to power after the Medes, but became much greater.

Alexander the Great and Greece (Macedon)

Daniel 8:5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.

Again, we are not left wondering what this might mean. Gabriel gives the interpretation in verse 21.

Daniel 8:21 And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power.

Alexander the Great conquered Susa in 331 BC. Alexander was son of Philip II of Macedon and Olympias, although he believed himself divine, his mother claiming that he was virgin born, miraculously impregnated by the god Zeus. Already and accomplished military leader, he took the throne at the age of 20, after his father was assassinated. After crushing a revolt in Thrace and Illyria, he asserted his authority in Greece, and then mobilized his army to realize his father’s dream of conquering Persia. Alexander held much resentment toward Persia due to constant tension between Persia and Greece. In 490 BC Darius I had invaded at the famous battle of Marathon, where the Persians were soundly defeated. Ten years later his son Xerxes I launched a full scale attack on Greece, defeating the Spartans at Thermopylae, burning Athens, and finally being defeated in a naval battle in the strait of Salamis, and by the Spartans near Plataea.

Alexander first defeated the Persians at Granicus in 334, and advancing across Asia Minor, he defeated them again at Issus in 333. After taking Egypt he returned to Mesopotamia, decisively defeating the Persians at Gaugamela in 331 BC. He continued on to take Babylon and then Susa. After pushing all the way to the borders of Indai, he returned to Babylon, intending to make it his capitol. He died there in 323 BC at the age of 33, having conquered the known world.

Alexander had become ill after a prolonged banquet and drinking bout and he never recovered. When asked who his successor should be, he reportedly said ‘the strongest’. After his death, and after much intrigue, the newly conquered Macedonian empire was divided up into satrapies governed by Alexander’s generals and officers, referred to as the Diadochi or successors. After 22 years of disagreement and fighting among them, when the dust settled, there were four prominent dynasties that ruled the major territories conquered by Alexander; Cassander ruling Macedonia and Greece, Lysimachus ruling Thrace and much of Asia Minor; Seleucus ruling Syria and the east; and Ptolemy ruling Egypt.

With lightning speed and fury, Alexander threw down Persian ram. But he died at the zenith of his glory. So when the great horn was broken, four conspicuous horns divided his empire to the four winds.

God who Knows the Future

We’re going to pick up this story and the rest of the chapter next time, but here’s what I want us to take away from this today. Daniel was given this vision at at the time Cyrus the Persian was defeating the Medes at Ecbatana, some 10 years before he came and took Susa and then Babylon. The setting of the vision was Susa, a city in the province of Elam, unimportant at the time, but destined to become the capital of the Medo-Persian empire for the next 200 years. But that empire would fall to the Macedonian/Greek forces under Alexander. But Alexander’s time would be brief, his empire divided up among his successors. Daniel was given more than he could understand, events from his perspective in the far distant future, but he wrote it down to preserve it for us, so that we can look back and see that we serve a God who knows the future.

Daniel 8 is amazing prophecy. God says in Isaiah 46

Isaiah 46:9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 ​declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

Psalm 115:2 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” 3 ​Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

Jesus said:

John 13:19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

May 19, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 7:1-8; Four Beasts from the Sea

03/20_Daniel 07:1-8; Four Beasts from the Sea; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220320_dan07_1-8.mp3

Narratives/Apocalypses

Daniel chapter 7 is the hinge of the book, that links the two sections of the book together. The first six chapters are mostly narrative, giving us the accounts of saints under persecution, God’s people displaced from their land, suffering oppression and opposition from foreign powers, who burn them and throw them to wild beasts.

But it is also the story of God’s provision for them in the midst of captivity, his presence with them in suffering, his preservation and protection of them through persecution and even death. And it is the story of the powerful witness of God’s people to their persecutors, bringing light to the nations, revealing who this God of Israel is, a God who is able to humble the proud (4:37) and lift up the humble. As Nebuchadnezzar learned, ‘the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men’ (4:17,25,32).

Chapter 7 begins the section of apocalyptic visions of future events, showing that although God’s people will be severely persecuted and even killed, God is still sovereign, and the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.

Temple Ransacked/Restored

Chapter 1 begins with God’s holy people and the holy vessels of God’s temple given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon (1:1-2) and chapter 6 concludes with:

Daniel 6:28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Darius the Mede, known outside of Daniel as Cyrus the Persian, is the one according to Ezra 1 who in his first year made a decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, to release the exiles and return to them the vessels of the house of YHWH that had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar.

First Year of Belshazzar

Chapter 7 jumps back more than 15 years, to the first year of Belshazzar. Belshazzar was the wicked final king of Babylon, who

Daniel 5:23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

Chapter 7 falls chronologically between the events of chapters 4 and 5. The 9 tumultuous years since Nebuchadnezzar’s death saw the succession of 4 different kings, characterized by assassination and revolution. Belshazzar was an evil ruler, hostile to God and his people. In the year his father Nabonidus entrusted him with the kingdom and left to pursue his interest in history and archaeology, God gave Daniel this vision of four beasts rising up out of the sea.

Mirror of Chapter 2

Although chapter 7 connects by genre with the rest of the apocalyptic visions of the second half, it connects linguistically and structurally with the first half of the book, tying the two parts together.

Chapters 2-7 were written in Aramaic, the language of the nations, while the introduction (1:1-2:4) and chapters 8-12 were written in Hebrew, the language of God’s people. So linguistically, chapter 7 is the final section of the Aramaic.

If we look at an outline of this Aramaic section of Daniel, it is laid out in a mirror structure. Starting in the middle, we have chapters 4 and 5, the tale of two proud kings, one who was humbled by God and bowed to the Most High, and one who arrogantly defied the God of Israel and was weighed and found wanting, whose days were numbered and whose kingdom was divided. Moving out, we have chapters 3 and 6, the three Hebrews accused of refusing to bow to an idol, who were thrown into the furnace, who were preserved through the fire and lifted up; and Daniel, accused of refusing to cease bowing to the Most High, who was thrown to the lions, but preserved by the presence of God, lifted up above his enemies. The outer pair, chapters 2 and 7, are both visions of four kingdoms of this world ultimately crushed by the Most High and replaced by his everlasting kingdom.

In fact, it seems these two chapters are in content the same vision, one given to Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted by Daniel, one given to Daniel and interpreted by an angel. Like the dreams interpreted by Joseph many years prior,

Genesis 4:25 …“The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. …32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.

Remember, the vision given to Nebuchadnezzar was also given to Daniel, because Nebuchadnezzar was testing his interpreters and refused to tell them his dream.

Nebuchadnezzar sees the empires of the earth in the image of a man, made of precious metals. Daniel sees the kingdoms of man as deviant and distorted wild beasts intent on destruction. Nebuchadnezzar sees the coming kingdom as a meteoric stone hurtling through space. Daniel sees one in true humanity coming on the clouds to receive the kingdom from his Father.

The Sea and Winds from Heaven

It will be helpful as we work our way through this vision to compare it with the parallel vision of chapter 2.

In chapter 2, God ‘has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. …as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be’ (2:28-29). ‘A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure’ (2:45). These are future events, extending to the very end of time.

Daniel 7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter.

In chapter 2,

Daniel 2:31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening.

Here in chapter 7,

Daniel 7:2 Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.

Nebuchadnezzar saw the unified nature of the kingdoms of man; one colossal glorious but frightening image standing in defiance of God.

The angel gave Daniel this interpretation in verse 17;

Daniel 7:17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.

Daniel sees four gigantic beasts, each different from one another, emerging from the sea. The great sea is dangerous, turbulent and unstable, home of the great dragon Leviathan (Is.27:1; Ps.74:13-14). But it is the four winds of heaven, the very breath of God that stirs the sea, and calls up the beasts, each raised up by God to carry out his own sovereign will.

Babylon [605 – 539 BC] (66yrs)

Nebuchadnezzar’s vision started at the top.

Daniel 2:32 The head of this image was of fine gold,

In Daniel’s vison,

Daniel 7:4 The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.

Daniel’s interpretation in chapter 2 began:

Daniel 2:37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold.

Nebuchadnezzar, head of the Babylonian empire, is the head of gold.

In Daniel’s dream, the first beast is a hybrid, like a lion, but with eagle’s wings. Jeremiah (4:7) compares Babylon to a lion, a destroyer of nations; while Ezekiel (17:3) compares Babylon to a great eagle. The famous Ishtar gate of Babylon was decorated with lions.

If we recall the events of chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar was lifted up with pride, but he was humbled by God, driven from among men, made to eat grass like an ox, his hair grew like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws (4:33). But ‘at the end of the days I …lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me’ (4:34). This fits well with what is said of the first beast, whose wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up and given the mind of a man.

Medo-Persia [539 – 330 BC] (207 yrs)

The image from chapter 2 had:

Daniel 2:32 …its chest and arms of silver,

Daniel’s interpretations was that:

Daniel 2:39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you,

Historically, Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon in 539 BC.

Daniel 7:5 And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’

The Median empire came first, but was quickly absorbed by Persia, which grew to dominance. This could explain one side being raised up. The three main conquests of Medo-Persia were Babylon (539 BC), Lydia (546 BC) and Egypt (525 BC), possibly explaining the three ribs in its mouth.

Greece [330 – 146 BC] (186 yrs)

The multi-metallic image had:

Daniel 2:32 …its middle and thighs of bronze,

And the interpretation:

Daniel 2:39 …and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.

Alexander the Great overtook Persia and conquered Babylon in 330 BC. Daniel:

Daniel 7:6 After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

Alexander, son of Philip II of Macedon, student of Aristotle, took the throne at only 20 years old, after his fathers assassination in 336 BC. The speed and success of his military career gained him one of the largest empires in history and a reputation as one of history’s greatest military commanders. In 10 short years, with the speed of a winged leopard, he had extended his empire from Macedonia to Egypt, from Greece to India. Legend has it that he ‘wept seeing as he had no more worlds to conquer’.

Alexander died at age 32 in Babylon, and his empire was eventually divided between four of his generals. The four heads were Antipater, and later Cassander ruled Greece and Macedonia; Lysimachus ruled Thrace and much of Asia Minor; Seleucus ruled Syria, Babylon, and much of the Middle East; and Ptolemy ruled Egypt and Palestine. Chapter 8 brings much more clarity and confirmation of this understanding of the Greek empire, but we will get there when we get there.

Rome [146 BC – 1453 AD??] (1599 yrs?)

The image of Nebuchadnezzar had

Daniel 2:33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.

The interpretation:

Daniel 2:40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these.

In Daniel’s vision,

Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

In verse 19, Daniel

Daniel 7:19 “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet,

The angelic interpreter said:

Daniel 7:23 “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.

The Roman Republic had grown over time, and by the 2nd century BC, Rome had overtaken the divided Greek empire as the new world power. Their unprecedented power extended beyond all previous boundaries into Africa, Spain and Europe, controlling the entire Mediterranean. The iron boot of the Roman Legions crushed nations. And their longevity far surpassed any other empire. Where Babylon lasted about 66 years, Medo-Persian domination some 200 years, Greek control around 180; Rome’s power extended over 1500 years, and their culture and politics have continued to shape civilization up through our present day.

God Sovereign over the Nations

We haven’t even gotten to the good part yet, but it is already clear that even in the face of these nightmarish beasts bent on destruction, God is sovereign over the nations.

It was explicit in chapter 2; ‘The God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory’ to Nebuchadnezzar; it is God who gives it into his hand and makes him rule (2:37-38). Here in chapter 7, we see the same thing in the wind from heaven and the divine passives; of the first beast, ‘it was lifted up …and made to stand …the mind of a man was given to it’ (7:4). The second beast was given a divine commission; ‘it was told ‘arise, devour much flesh’ (7:5). ‘Dominion was given to’ the third beast (7:6). The final beast, ‘the saints of the Most High …shall be given into his hand’ for a limited period of time (7:25).

Do not be afraid of fire or wild beasts; the God whom you serve continually is able to deliver you. Do not be derailed by those who arrogantly lift themselves up and oppose he living God; he is able to humble the proud. Jesus said:

Matthew 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

The nations rage, kings and kingdoms rise and fall, but God is seated on his eternal throne; ‘the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.’

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

March 22, 2022 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nativity & Shepherds; (Luke 2:1-20)

12/19_4th Sunday of Advent; Nativity & Shepherds; (Luke 2:1-20); Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20211219_advent-nativity-shepherds.mp3

Historical Narrative

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

This happened. Luke gives geographic and historical details to anchor his account in a real place at a real time. Luke set out to compile a narrative, an orderly account of historical events based on eyewitness accounts, to give certainty that what we believe about Jesus is real, true, historically verifiable (Lk.1:1-4).

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to the temple to announce to Zechariah that he and his barren wife Elizabeth would have a child in their old age, and John would be used by the Spirit to prepare people to meet their God; he was to prepare the way for the coming of YHWH.

About 6 months later, Gabriel appeared to Mary in Nazareth, and communicated to her that by God’s grace, she, a virgin, would bear a son, who would be Son of the Most High God; the Holy one – completely unique, in a class by himself; the promised Messiah who would rule from the throne of David forever. She was to call his name Jesus – YHWH is salvation.

Journey to Bethlehem

Now, approaching the time of birth, the expecting mother with her husband-to-be made the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem; either by the most direct route, about 70 miles, due south, right through the heart of Samaria, a route often avoided by devout Jews; or the longer route, about 90 miles, avoiding Samaria by traveling east, following the Jordan valley to Jericho, and then traveling up to Jerusalem. The ascent from Jericho to Jerusalem was steep and dangerous, the setting of Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan, where the Jewish man fell among thieves.

We know that Joseph went up from Nazareth to Bethlehem with Mary his betrothed, who was with child. We could ask ‘Why?’ Luke gives an answer that the Roman Caesar had made a decree, likely for the purpose of taxation. We are not told if the decree demanded that a very pregnant Mary appear with him, or if she came because she didn’t want to be apart from Joseph at the birth, or possibly Joseph sought to protect her from the malicious rumors and gossip circulating around Nazareth about the questionable origin of this pregnancy.

Whatever the apparent cause, God providentially moved a Roman emperor to issue a decree that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to fulfill the words of the prophet Micah

Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

The one whose coming forth is from ancient days; the one who is to be ruler in Israel, was to be born in Bethlehem.

Luke emphasizes that:

Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up …to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

Jesus’ legal father was of the house and lineage of David. So he went up to Judea, to the city of David. All 45 times this phrase occurs in the Old Testament, it refers to Zion, the stronghold of Jerusalem. But twice in this passage Luke uses ‘the city of David’ to refer not to Zion in Jerusalem, where David established his throne, but to Bethlehem, where David was from.

Jesus the Firstborn

Luke 2:6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Such a simple description of this monumental event. The time came, and she gave birth. She gave birth to her firstborn son.

Colossians uses ‘firstborn to refer to Jesus in two senses:

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Hebrews declares Jesus to be greater than angels;

Hebrews 1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Jesus is firstborn over all creation; firstborn from the dead, God’s firstborn son.

As the creed says:

“I believe …in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man;…” [Nicene Creed]

The Manger and the Inn

Luke 2:6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

There was no place for them in the inn. We should probably not picture a commercial hotel or motel with rooms for rent; the inn where the good Samaritan brought the injured Jewish victim and paid the innkeeper to care for him in Luke 10 is a completely different word. The word used here is also found in Luke 22:11 referring to the furnished guest chamber Jesus used to eat Passover with his disciples. It would be more accurate to think of an airBnB in a family’s home, a room where family or other guests could stay.

The historic site for the birth of Christ is a cave, similar to caves still in use in Israel today, where shepherds can shelter their sheep. Mangers used in Israel were carved stone troughs used to feed or water animals. Because the guest chamber was already occupied, the couple sought shelter and privacy in a shepherd’s cave, and when Jesus was born, he was wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in an animal’s feed trough.

The Glory and Fear of the Lord

Luke 2:8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.

This is the third angelic announcement in Luke; this time the angel is unnamed, he appears to a group rather than an individual, and the glory of the Lord is also present. This glory is described in Exodus as a cloud;

Exodus 24:17 Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

No wonder the shepherds were filled with great fear. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Job28:28; Ps.111:10).

Evangelizing Shepherds

Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

I bring good news; this is the word for evangelize; to proclaim the gospel. The angel proclaims the gospel of great joy to the shepherds; joy which will be for all the people. Good news produces joy.

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

This had to be a shocking and confusing statement. An angel shows up to a bunch of shepherds in the middle of the night with a birth announcement; everybody will be filled with joy because a baby is born to you! Do you think the shepherds were looking around at one another wondering who of them the angel is talking to? Born to who? To you! The ‘you’ is plural; to you all! How is Jesus born to a bunch of shepherds? Jesus is not born to them as if they were the parents. He is born to them in the sense that he is born for their advantage. This says something about them to whom the good news is proclaimed; it says they need help. The one born is a Savior; because they need saving. He is a rescuer, because they are in deep trouble and need to be rescued.

the glory of the Lord; more acutely than flashing blue lights in the rear view mirror revealed to them in their gut the trouble they were in. They were filled with great fear because the presence of God revealed to their hearts their own guilt, their own sinfulness, and the Lord is a consuming fire. None of them had to ask ‘Savior? To save from what?’ They all felt it in their bones that they all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death (Rom.3:23; 6:23).

But the angel told them to fear not. Look, I’m preaching the gospel to you, good news that creates great joy. And it will extend beyond you; it is good news for all the people. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. None is righteous, no not one. All need a Rescuer. And listen to the identity of this rescuer. He is Christ, the promised anointed Messiah king; born in the city of David to sit on David’s throne. He is the Lord; YHWH himself come to save us from the wrath of YHWH toward our sins.

What an announcement! The promised Messiah, the Lord YHWH come down, is born to you, for your benefit, to rescue you. Messiah has come, the LORD has come down, and brings salvation and great joy to sinners. This angel shows up to a representative group of ordinary sinners like you and me and proclaims that it is for you that this long awaited one is born. He is born to you!

The Sign of the Manger

Luke 2:12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

This must have been unexpected. Zechariah asked for a sign in unbelief; Mary in honest curiosity asked how this will happen, and she was given Elizabeth as evidence that nothing is impossible with God. These poor shepherds were too stunned to ask for a sign, but a shocking sign was given unasked. The King of the universe, the Lord, Messiah, a Savior is born to you. To us shepherds? Here’s how you will know. You will find the baby wrapped up and stuck in a food trough for your sheep. That’s not where royal kings are put! But he is the good shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep (Jn.10:11). Food goes in a food trough, not a baby. But this is the one who will say:

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Here’s a sign for you, that he came for you; you will find him in a food trough.

Glory and Peace

Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

As if one angel wasn’t paralyzing enough, the whole angel army shows up in battle formation proclaiming the glory of God, and declaring terms of peace on earth. God graciously grants peace to those on whom his favor rests. God extends grace and peace that brings great joy to ordinary undeserving sinners like these shepherds.

Examining the Gospel

Luke 2:15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

The shepherds had been told good news of great joy. What did they do with it? They didn’t just sit on the information. When they picked themselves up off the pasture, they went to see ‘this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ They heard the gospel preached by the angel, but they recognized the angel was a messenger bringing them the word of the Lord. They had been graciously given a sign, so they went with haste to examine the evidence. This wasn’t something that could wait. It won’t wait ‘till morning. It can’t wait ‘till a more convenient time. This was the most important thing ever. It interrupted and took precedence over everything else. The gospel does that. It interrupts us and demands our immediate attention. Behold, now is the day of salvation! (2Cor.6:2)

This is the third mention of the animal’s food box. Mary gave birth and laid the baby in a manger; the angel gave a sign of a baby lying in a manger, and the shepherds came and saw the baby lying in a food trough, just as they had been told.

Responding to the Gospel

Luke 2:17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Here’s what we can learn from the shepherds. We are sinners just like everyone else. If you don’t believe it, ask God by his Holy Spirit to convict you of your sinfulness and his righteousness and the coming judgment. Jesus came to you, for you, because you need to be rescued. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. Don’t take my word for it. Go examine the evidence for yourself. The shepherds heard the good news; they had the gospel preached to them. News too good to be true. So they checked it out. And they found it to be precisely as they had been told. They heard the good news, they tested the good news, they believed the good news, and then they proclaimed the good news. Good news of great joy that will be for all the people. The good news is to you, but it isn’t intended to dead end with you. News this juicy, this joyous, must be passed on and on and on.

And ultimately it results in glory to God. The God of glory brings peace to the earth through the condescension of Jesus, and the earth responds by glorifying and praising God for the great thing he has done. Father, may your name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven. Thank you for giving us this day the Bread of life, who is Jesus.

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

January 13, 2022 Posted by | advent, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daniel 5:29-31; Sovereign God of History

11/07_Daniel 05:29-31; Sovereign God of History; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20211107_dan05_29-31.mp3

In the face of imminent danger (the Persian army was camped outside the walls of Babylon), Belshazzar had arrogantly attempted to display his dominance over the conquered people of Israel and their God by drinking wine from God’s holy vessels with his lords, his wives and his concubines. But instead of a show of power, he was humiliated in front of his thousand. God disrupted his party by writing in the plaster of his party room ‘Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, Divided.’ The king lost control of himself. He shouted for his wise men to interpret the writing, but all they could do was admit their incompetence.

Then the queen mother entered and reminded the king:

Daniel 5:11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king— made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”

So Daniel was summoned, and after declining the king’s offer of gifts, he rebuked the king with a history lesson. Daniel reminded the king of Nebuchadnezzar, who because of his pride was driven insane for 7 years:

Daniel 5:21 …until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. 22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

This king who had arrogantly put Daniel in his place now had to listen to a lecture from this exile from Judah. The king was displayed as lacking in both power and wisdom, dependent on this exile to read to him and give him the interpretation of the writing. He was put in his place by this prophet of the living God. Daniel then read the writing.

Daniel 5:24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Your days are numbered. You have been weighed, evaluated by God and you have fallen short. Your reign is over; God is giving your kingdom to someone else.

Exile Honored

Daniel 5:29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

Many have asked why Daniel received these honors after earlier refusing them. But Daniel may not have had a choice. The king had made a promise in front of his thousand, and he would have been obliged to keep his word. This verse describes what was done to Daniel, not how Daniel responded to this treatment. His earlier up front rejection of the offer of gifts demonstrated that he would not be bought; he was not interested in the king’s gifts, they would not compromise his telling of the truth to the king, as became obvious by his straightforward interpretation of the writing.

But there may be something bigger going on here. The book of Daniel opens with this statement:

Daniel 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.

The first thing we see is the king of Babylon conquering Jerusalem, taking the holy vessels, and also taking

Daniel 1:3 …some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

These youths were to be thoroughly reprogrammed, indoctrinated, Babyon-ized. But a few of these youth refused to compromise and stood firm in their faith in YHWH, regardless of the cost. Now, 66 years later (605-539BC), Daniel was still found faithful. The Lord’s holy vessels had been defiled, and Daniel had been disrespected by Belshazzar, but the final official act on the final night of the kingdom of Babylon, Daniel the exile was honored by the final king of the Babylonian dynasty.

When all seems hopeless and out of control, is God still in control? Nebuchadnezzar learned that ‘the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will’ (4:32); that he ‘lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation’ (4:34). God can raise up whom he will, and humble whom he will (5:19); and at the close of the Babylonian empire, he humbled proud Belshazzar and lifted up dishonored Daniel.

Stubborn and Unrepentant

Daniel 5:29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

Belshazzar honored Daniel. What is missing here is any acknowledgment of God. In chapter 2, when Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream,

Daniel 2:47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”

In chapter 3, when the three came through the fire unharmed,

Daniel 3:28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 …there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

In chapter 4, after he had lived like a beast for 7 years,

Daniel 4:34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

Nebuchadnezzar was humbled. He honored Daniel and his friends, and he blessed and praised and honored the one true God. Belshazzar kept his word and honored Daniel, but even to the end he refused to bow the knee to God.

Darius the Mede

Daniel 5:30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

We don’t know with certainty who this Darius was. But many were skeptical of the existence of Belshazzar until 1854 when the first of several cylinders inscribed with his name was unearthed in the ruins of Ur and then Sippar and other cities. We do know that this is not the same Darius mentioned in Ezra-Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. That is Darius 1 Hystaspes, who ruled 17 years later (522-486).

We do know that Babylon was taken by Gubaru or Gobryas, who governed Babylon from 539 to at least 525/524BC. Many important people in history were known by different names, and it is possible that this Gubaru was also known as Darius, although we have no evidence of this. Verse 31 says that he ‘received the kingdom’. This could mean that he was entrusted with the kingdom by Cyrus his superior, or it could be a theological statement that he received the kingdom from God, as the beginning of the book Daniel tells us that ‘the Lord gave the king of Judah into his hand’.

Another more likely possibility is that Cyrus the Persian and Darius the Mede are two titles for the same person. Cyrus’ father was Persian, but his mother was the daughter of Astyages, king of Media. Cyrus led the combined armies of Media and Persia. Daniel may have intended to communicate that at the end of chapter 6:

Daniel 6:28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

This could be read as two distinct and successive reigns of different individuals, or the conjunction ‘and’ could be translated ‘even’ (as in 1 Chr.5:26), where two titles referring to the same individual are paralleled.

Cyrus Cylinder [6th cent. BC; discovered 1879 Babylon]

We know from history that Babylon fell to the armies of Cyrus. Cyrus’ own account as inscribed on the Cyrus Cylinder says this:

Marduk, the great lord, a protector of his people/worshippers, beheld with pleasure his (i.e. Cyrus’) good deeds and his upright mind (and) ordered him to march against his city Babylon. He made him set out on the road to Babylon going at his side like a real friend. His widespread troops – their number, like that of the water of a river, could not be established – strolled along, their weapons packed away. Without any battle, he made him enter his town Babylon, sparing Babylon any calamity. … All the inhabitants of Babylon as well as of the entire country of Sumer and Akkad, princes and governors, bowed to him (Cyrus) and kissed his feet, jubilant that he (had received) the kingship, and with shining faces. Happily they greeted him as a master through whose help they had come (again) to life from death (and) had all been spared damage and disaster, and they worshipped his (very) name. [https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1880-0617-1941]

Herodotus Histories [430 BC] 1:190-191

Herodotus records that the Babylonians:

…had brought in provisions beforehand for very many years. So while these made no account of the siege, Cyrus was in straits what to do, for much time went by and his affairs made no progress onwards.

191. Therefore, whether it was some other man who suggested it to him when he was in a strait what to do, or whether he of himself perceived what he ought to do, he did as follows:–The main body of his army he posted at the place where the river runs into the city, and then again behind the city he set others, where the river issues forth from the city; and he proclaimed to his army that so soon as they should see that the stream had become passable, they should enter by this way into the city. Having thus set them in their places and in this manner exhorted them he marched away himself with that part of his army which was not fit for fighting: and when he came to the lake, Cyrus also did the same things which the queen of the Babylonians had done as regards the river and the lake; that is to say, he conducted the river by a channel into the lake, which was at that time a swamp, and so made the former course of the river passable by the sinking of the stream. When this had been done in such a manner, the Persians who had been posted for this very purpose entered by the bed of the river Euphrates into Babylon, the stream having sunk so far that it reached about to the middle of a man’s thigh. …as it was, the Persians came upon them unexpectedly; and owing to the size of the city (so it is said by those who dwell there) after those about the extremities of the city had suffered capture, those Babylonians who dwelt in the middle did not know that they had been captured; but as they chanced to be holding a festival, they went on dancing and rejoicing during this time until they learnt the truth only too well. [https://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hh/hh1190.htm]

Xenophon Cyropaedia [c.370 BC]

Xenophon records in his Cyropaedia:

[Book VII; c.5] (7) When they were encamped, Cyrus called a council of his officers and said, “My friends and allies, we have surveyed the city on every side, and for my part I fail to see any possibility of taking by assault walls so lofty and so strong: on the other hand, the greater the population the more quickly must they yield to hunger, unless they come out to fight. If none of you have any other scheme to suggest, I propose that we reduce them by blockade.”

(8) Then Chrysantas spoke: “Does not the river flow through the middle of the city, and it is not at least a quarter of a mile in width?”

“To be sure it is,” answered Gobryas, “and so deep that the water would cover two men, one standing on the other’s shoulders; in fact the city is even better protected by its river than by its walls.”

(9) At which Cyrus said, “Well, Chrysantas, we must forego what is beyond our power: but let us measure off at once the work for each of us, set to, and dig a trench as wide and as deep as we can, that we may need as few guards as possible.”

(10) Thereupon Cyrus took his measurements all round the city, and, leaving a space on either bank of the river large enough for a lofty tower, he had a gigantic trench dug from end to end of the wall, his men heaping up the earth on their own side. …(13) Thus his army was employed, but the men within the walls laughed at his preparations, knowing they had supplies to last them more than twenty years. …

(15) However by this time the trenches were dug. And Cyrus heard that it was a time of high festival in Babylon when the citizens drink and make merry the whole night long. As soon as the darkness fell, he set his men to work. (16) The mouths of the trenches were opened, and during the night the water poured in, so that the river-bed formed a highway into the heart of the town.

…(21) To-night we go against them when some are asleep and some are drunk, and all are unprepared: and when they learn that we are within the walls, sheer astonishment will make them still more helpless than before.

…(24) …he said, turning to Gadatas and Gobryas, “show us the streets, you know them; and once we are inside, lead us straight to the palace.”

(25) “So we will,” said Gobryas and his men, “and it would not surprise us to find the palace-gates unbarred, for this night the whole city is given over to revelry. Still, we are sure to find a guard, for one is always stationed there.”

“Then,” said Cyrus, “there is no time for lingering; we must be off at once and take them unprepared.”

Xenophon [Book IV, (C.6), 2-7] records Gobryas as defecting from Babylon and joining Cyrus to seek vengeance on ‘this vile king …the prince, who is now king’ because out of jealousy the prince had murdered his only son.

[Book VII; c.5] (26) Thereupon they entered: and of those they met some were struck down and slain, and others fled into their houses, and some raised the hue and cry, but Gobryas and his friends covered the cry with their shouts, as though they were revellers themselves. And thus, making their way by the quickest route, they soon found themselves before the king’s palace. …(28) As the din grew louder and louder, those within became aware of the tumult, till, the king bidding them see what it meant, some of them opened the gates and ran out. (29) Gadatas and his men, seeing the gates swing wide, darted in, hard on the heels of the others who fled back again, and they chased them at the sword’s point into the presence of the king.

(30) They found him on his feet, with his drawn scimitar in his hand. By sheer weight of numbers they overwhelmed him: and not one of his retinue escaped, they were all cut down, some flying, others snatching up anything to serve as a shield and defending themselves as best they could. [https://gutenberg.org/files/2085/2085-h/2085-h.htm#2H_4_0007]

Daniel records:

Daniel 5:30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

Jeremiah [c. 628-586 BC]

Some 50 years earlier the Lord had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah

Jeremiah 51:5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the LORD of hosts, but the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel. …

…11 “Sharpen the arrows! Take up the shields! The LORD has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance for his temple. 12 “Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon; make the watch strong; set up watchmen; prepare the ambushes; for the LORD has both planned and done what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon. 13 O you who dwell by many waters, rich in treasures, your end has come; the thread of your life is cut. 14 The LORD of hosts has sworn by himself: Surely I will fill you with men, as many as locusts, and they shall raise the shout of victory over you.

…24 “I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your very eyes for all the evil that they have done in Zion, declares the LORD.

…28 Prepare the nations for war against her, the kings of the Medes, with their governors and deputies, and every land under their dominion.

…39 While they are inflamed I will prepare them a feast and make them drunk, that they may become merry, then sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, declares the LORD. 40 I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and male goats. 41 “How Babylon is taken, the praise of the whole earth seized! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations!

…57 I will make drunk her officials and her wise men, her governors, her commanders, and her warriors; they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, declares the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts. 58 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: The broad wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground, and her high gates shall be burned with fire. The peoples labor for nothing, and the nations weary themselves only for fire.”

The Lord had not forsaken his people.

Isaiah [c.740-681 BC]

At least 140 years earlier, God spoke to his chosen people through Isaiah the prophet, reminding them that he alone is God, warning of the folly of idolatry

Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, 25 who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish, 26 who confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’ and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins’; 27 who says to the deep, ‘Be dry; I will dry up your rivers’; 28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”

Isaiah 45:1 Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: 2 “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, 3 …that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. 4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Isn’t this exactly what we see here in Daniel? God makes fools of diviners, dries up their river, and names Cyrus, who will loose the belts of kings? God is still on his throne, sovereign over history. ‘The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.’ ‘He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”’ (4:32, 35). ‘Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases’ (Ps.115:3).

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 14, 2021 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment