Monday, January 30, 2017

Living Lives Of Purpose: Lessons From The Book Of Daniel. Day 23, Daniel Has A Dream

Living Lives Of Purpose:
Lessons From The Book Of Daniel
Day 23
Daniel Has A Dream

Up til now we have been told that Daniel is an interpreter of dreams for kings, but we hadn't been told he has prophetic dreams of his own. In Chapter 7 Daniel takes us back in time to reveal to us a dream he had during the reign of King Belshazzar. We have, for the most part, concluded the autobiographical portion of the book of Daniel and are now moving on into the prophetic portion. 

"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream." (Daniel 7:1) Daniel recognized the importance of the dream and wrote it down.

"Daniel said: 'In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea." (Daniel 7:2-3) Scholars believe he is referring to the Mediterranean Sea because the nations he will mention today bordered it. Daniel's vision goes along with the dream King Nebuchadnezzar had about the statue. The nations involved are the same. 

"The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it." (Daniel 7:4) The winged lion was an ancient symbol used by the Babylonians. The prophet Jeremiah compared the kingdom of Babylon to both a lion and an eagle in his prophecy against Edom in Jeremiah 49. The first beast in Daniel's dream corresponds with the head of gold in Nebuchadnezzar's dream: it is the combination of the Babylonian Empire at the the height of its power and its greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar.

"And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, 'Get up and eat your fill of flesh!'" (Daniel 7:5) The vast majority of reputable scholars believe the bear represents the Medo-Persian Empire. This beast would correspond with the chest and arms of silver in Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the statue. It was the kingdom to come after his, the kingdom that was inferior to his. The bear being on its side may represent the unequal balance of power between the Medes and the Persians, with the Persians having the preeminence. The bear still has three ribs in his mouth from a previous meal but he is still hungry. The Medo-Persian Empire conquered the great world powers of Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon, but it was hungry for more. 

"After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule." (Daniel 7:6) The leopard is the Greek Empire, which followed the Medo-Persian Empire. This is the same empire represented in Nebuchadnezzar's dream by the belly and thighs of brass on the statue. The leopard is swift; this empire conquers with great speed because it has four wings on its back instead of two. As well-respected scholar of prophecy John F. Walvoord points out, "With the swiftness of a leopard, Alexander the Great conquered most of the civilized world all the way from Macedonia to Africa and eastward to India. The lightning character of his conquests is without precedent in the ancient world, and this is fully in keeping with the image of speed embodied in the leopard itself and the four wings on its back." (from Daniel: The Key To Prophetic Revelation, pg 157) Alexander the Great died at a young age and his empire was divided into four parts with four heads over these four territories (symbolized by the four heads on the leopard) and these men were Casander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. Casander controlled Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus was over Thrace and Bithynia; Seleucus was head of Syria, Babylon, and territories stretching to India; Ptolemy was in charge of Egypt, Palestine, and Arabia. 

"After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast---terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns." (Daniel 7:7) This is the Roman Empire. Nebuchadnezzar foresaw it on his statue, depicted by the lower legs made of iron and the ten toes made of iron and baked clay. This is a twofold prophecy, representing a literal world kingdom of history (Rome) and a future world kingdom of the end times. We will be taking a more in-depth look at this final kingdom in tomorrow's study because there is too much material involved to include it with today's passage. We will also be referencing the book of Revelation quite a bit during the remainder of our study of the book of Daniel, for both books are intended to be studied and understood together.

The main thing we will be able to take away from Daniel's dream, and the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, is that a kingdom is coming which shall never end. The kingdom of Christ will put an end to all worldly kingdoms and He will reign forever in righteousness. The One who created all things, to whom all things belong, will take His rightful place on the throne of the world, being crowned with many crowns, and we will forever look upon the face of our Redeemer. In the meantime kingdoms will rise and fall and there will be wars and rumors of wars, but we have a hope ahead of us that no one can ever take away. We have a future and it is beautiful. 

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