October 26, 2015

Scripture and Comments, October 25-31

October 25

Joel 1, John 7:1-32
Joel 2:1-14, Eph. 5


Joel 1

Very little is known about Joel the man, but his book is one of the most influential works in all of Scripture.  Amos, Isaiah, Peter, and John all knew and quoted Joel, and the ideas found in his book are found in most of the prophets after him.  He is probably from Jerusalem, where he spends much of his time teaching and preaching, possibly in or near the Temple during the time of king Uzziah (767-740 B.C.).

His book begins with a vivid description of a locust plague which nearly destroys Judah.  Bible scholars, from ancient to modern times have wondered whether the locusts are meant literally, or are symbolic of invading armies, which God will allow to harass, and eventually destroy Judah and Jerusalem.  But there is no reason why the locusts cannot be both literal and symbolic, and Joel himself seems to speak of them in both senses throughout his book.  It is as though the locusts are the harbinger of the invading armies God will bring to Israel if the the people do not repent of sin and return to sincere devotion to God through the spirit and the letter of the Covenant.  The invading armies will come from the north, like the locusts, indicating the succession of empires that will conquer and control the Israelite people. Greece is specifically mentioned for buying Jews as slaves (3:6), and the captivity and scattering of Judah and Jerusalem (3:1, 3) presage the conquest and deportation of the people by the Babylonians.  In Joel’s time Greece is a disorganised collection of city states, mostly fighting other Greeks, and Babylon is under the yoke of Assyria.  Isaiah is greatly influenced by Joel, and his prophecies foretell northern empires from Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, as do other prophets, like Jeremiah and Daniel.  This makes Joel’s work foundational for understanding the events and plan of God from the time of Uzziah (ca.750 B.C) to the first advent of Christ.   It is the first warning of the disasters that will come if Judah continues in her sins.

Joel 2:1-14

Because the people are deep in sin, God calls Judah to repent.  Blow the trumpet as an alarm (1), but also as a call to prayer (15).  

As an alarm, it warns of an invading army.  Indeed, Jerusalem has already been invaded.  The locusts have invaded the land, but idolatry and hypocrisy have invaded the people’s hearts.  The trumpet blows as a call to arms; a call to fight this inward enemy, which is devouring their souls.

As a call to prayer it calls the people back to God through serious and sincere fasting and penance.  It calls them to true faith and love of God rather than lukewarm faith and a half-hearted, casual attitude toward God.

 October 26

Joel 2:15-32, Jn.7:33-53
Joel 3, Eph. 6


Joel 2:15-32

The symbolic nature of the locusts is seen in 2:17.  The people are made to understand that they represent foreign invaders, thus they are told to beseech God not to allow heathen peoples to rule over them.

God will answer their prayers by pouring out on them all the Covenant blessing He has promised in Scripture.  He will forgive their sins, and bless them as though they have kept the Covenant with all their heart.  He will pour out His Spirit upon them (28-32), by whom they will walk more closely with God and more fully in His fellowship.  But God knows they will not repent.  Therefore, just as clouds of locusts blot out the sun and moon, the dust of invaders’ feet will join the smoke of burning villages and cities to make the sun go dark.  The bloodshed will be so terrible it will be as though the moon itself runs red with Jewish blood.  All of this will happen before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes, but, whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

The day of the Lord is not a single day.  It is an era of God’s grace extending to humanity.  It also includes His wrath.  His grace encompasses all who call upon Him in Biblical faith.  His wrath encompasses all who do not.  Like the days we are familiar with, it begins in darkness moves into the pre-dawn, to morning, and to full sun.  It begins in the darkness of Genesis 3:15.  It moves into the pre-dawn light of the Covenants and the Law.  It grows brighter in the prophets, and moves to sunrise in the advent of the Saviour and His Spirit.  The full and everlasting noontime  glory will only be seen when our Lord returns to fully conquer every enemy and bring His everlasting Kingdom of righteousness to complete fulfillment.  Thus, we, who know the Lord, live in the Day of the Lord, but its full glory is not yet present.

Joel 3

As repeated by other prophets, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, God will not allow the enemies of His people to go unpunished.  He may allow them to oppress His people, but their sins are still sins (3), and they will not go unpunished.  He will gather the nations and visit them in His wrath (2).  He will recover His people from among them and return them to Jerusalem, where they will have yet another opportunity to return to His Covenant and be His people (1).

The ultimate gathering of His people is His gathering His Church from among all the nations of the earth into that Kingdom where there is no more Jew or Gentile, and all are one in Christ.  We are in the early dawn of that era now, but, one day, the Lord will bring His work to full completion, and His people will inherit the earth and worship Him as one.

October 27

Amos 1, Jn. 8:1-20
Amos 2, Philippians 1


Amos 1

Amos is from Judah, but he is called to minister in and around Bethel in Israel.  He is of humble means, earning a meagre living herding sheep and working in sycamore fig orchards for other people. He is not a priest, nor is he a student of a prophet.  His theological education is that received by all Hebrew boys, taught by the local priests to read and write by reading the Scriptures in Hebrew, and being instructed in their meaning as he reads and as he hears the Scriptures read and expounded every Sabbath.  He probably has many Psalms, and long passages of Scripture, memorised, as do many Jewish youths of his era.

He is called to the ministry of the prophet during the reign of  Uzziah (783-742) in Judah, and Jeroboam II (786-746) of Israel (the people divided into two separate nations after the death of Solomon.  The northern kingdom called itself Israel while the southern kingdom was called Judah).

He begins with sermons about the nations around Israel and Judah.  They have been in almost constant war with the Hebrews, and Amos foretells their doom.  Damascus, an area north and east of the Sea of Galilee, has gone through Gilead like threshers through a wheat field (3).  Gaza, still known today as the Gaza strip, has captured Jews and sold them as slaves to Edom (6).  Tyrus, Edom, Ammon, and Moab are guilty of other crimes against the Hebrews, and also face punishment from God.

The world continues to abuse God’s people today.  At the same time, it ridicules the Bible,flaunts its unbelief, and glorifies its sin.  But the Day of the Lord is coming when God will give the earth to His people, and His enemies will go into everlasting sorrow.  Thus we pray for our enemies; not just that we may be freed of their oppression, but that they may be converted and escape the eternal prison of hell. 

Amos 2

Even Judah will face God's wrath because of her many and egregious sins.  Since Amos is preaching in Israel, his sermons against the Gentiles, and against the Jews of Judah are welcomed by the Israelites.  But in verse 6 the prophet begins to address the sins of Israel.

Their sins are hardly less wicked towards one another than the Gentiles’ have been against them.  They use the courts and governing powers to take the lands and incomes of people, then pay them poorly when they are forced to work for them, keeping them in poverty and dependance.  Additionally, they have adopted pagan idolatry, with its accompanying practices of sexual immorality. They do all of this while outwardly worshiping God and offering the sacrifices commanded in the Law.  Verse 8 refers to their participation in the drunken orgies that passed as worship among the pagans.

Verses 13-16 foretell military defeat.  The warriors of Israel will be unable to fight, as though the  people have lost their will to do anything but indulge themselves in their luxuries.  But they are also unable to flee from their enemies.  It often happens that, as people increase in wealth, they want to devote their lives to the pleasures of luxury and ease.  They lose the desire to do the work necessary to run and defend their nation, or do anything but indulge their passions as much as they are financially able.  Thus, they become easy targets of other aggressive nations around them.

The same can happen in the Church.  A comfortable Church becomes more concerned about enjoying her comforts than serving Christ.  The people want sermons about how Christ makes them happy rather than about taking up their crosses and following Christ.  Such a Church almost always takes more of its doctrines and practices from the world than from the Bible.  The evidence of this is easily seen in the vast majority of the Christian radio and TV preachers, and in the majority of local congregations today.

October 28, Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude

Jn. 8:21-59
Phil. 2

Simon and Jude were Apostles who helped establish and extend the Lord’s Church.  Little is known of them, but an ancient tradition says they took the Gospel to the Tigris Euphrates valley, where they established churches and shared the words of life in Christ until martyred for their service.

October 29

Amos 3, Jn. 9
Amos 4, Phil. 3


Amos 3

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” God asks in verse 3.  The obvious answer is, “no.”  One will go one way; the other will go another way.  God is saying Israel is not walking with God because she is not in agreement with Him about the things that really matter in life and faith.  Israel’s values are worldly.  The goal of her people is to get wealth by any means, and to enjoy it as much as possible.  They hate the Gentiles, but, in their hearts and minds, they are just like the Gentiles, even down to the gods they worship.

Samaria (vss. 9-13), about 50 miles north and east of Jerusalem, is the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.  It is a walled city with a large army, and its people consider themselves secure.  But God, through Amos, calls her enemies to witness her fall.  In a very short time the Assyrian army will conquer the city.

Amos 4

Bashan is known for its abundant pastures and well fed sheep and cattle.  God calls the people of Israel “kine” (sheep and cattle) of Bashan, meaning well fed, lazy, and ready for slaughter.  God’s past actions and warnings have not roused the people from their spiritual stupor, so they continue on their way to destruction like Sodom and Gomorra.

October 30

Amos 5, Jn. 10:1-21
Amos 6, Phil. 4


Amos 5

“The virgin of Israel is fallen,” (5:2).  The “virgin” is not a person, she is the entire nation of Israel.  Rather than keeping herself pure for God, she has become a fallen woman, who gives herself to every god and idol for pleasure.  She has gone to Bethel and Gilgal to find her lovers.  Once revered and holy places, they have become centres of pagan worship and debauchery (Hos. 4:15).  God says the idols in these places will not be able to save her from His wrath.  Rather than resorting to them, Israel should seek God, who promises, “Seek me, and ye shall live” (4-6).

Verse 7 begins a long and devastating list of the sins of Israel.  She hates the words of Godly people (him that speaketh uprightly, 10).  The rich and powerful increase their wealth and power by “treading upon the poor” and “afflicting the just.”  With ill-gotten gains, they build mansions of hewed stones and pleasant vineyards by which they expect to indulge themselves with beauty and luxury.  They use the legal system to enforce their theft and abuse through corrupt judges and courts bought with bribes.  The “gate” is the place where the religious and civil authorities gather to hear the cases and charges against the people, like our court houses today.  Rather than securing the rights of the people, they turn aside (rule against) the poor, who cannot afford to bribe them.  People live in obvious and open opposition to the righteousness of God, yet they offer Him sacrifices and attend the assemblies called for by the Law, as though there is no contradiction between their lives and the will of God.

God’s word to them is, “I hate, I despise your feast days (such as Passover).”  He does not accept their sacrifices, or regard their peace offerings (22).  This means God does not forgive their sins.  Why not?  Their peace offerings are not sincere.  They are not accompanied by repentance and faith.   They are offered in the belief that God is satisfied with dead sheep and does not care when they return to their corruption and sin.  Instead of offerings and phony religious acts, God instructs them to keep the moral law as eagerly as they keep the laws regarding sacrifices and religious observances.  He does not negate the ceremonial law, or the observances and functions He commanded in it.  He does say that without the moral law, kept out of love for God and God’s people, the ceremonial law will not make them right with God.  Therefore, let the people repent of their sins: “let judgement [justice] run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (24).  But Israel will not repent.  Therefore God will allow her enemies to conquer her, and her people will be taken into other countries as captives (27).

Amos 6

The folly of trusting military and political power is well expressed in verse 1.  Samaria is the capital of Israel, the home of the king and the army.  But they cannot save Israel, for her problems are not political or military, they are spiritual.  If kings and armies could solve problems, the conquered cities of Calneh, Hamath, and Gath would be free and prosperous (2).  Yet Israel trusts her politicians, and, while her people grow fat and weak by indulging their dreams of luxury (3-6), an enemy grows stronger and will come upon them in fierce and deadly invasion. God will deliver up Samaria and all that is in it (8-11).  He will “raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the Lord the God hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness” or, as we might say today, from one end of your country to the other.

October 31

Amos 7, Jn. 10:22-
Amos 8, Colossians 1


Amos 7

The Lord postpones the punishment of Israel, called Jacob in verse 3, in answer to the mournful prayer of Amos.  The prophet, understanding that the Lord intends to make a complete end of Israel as part of His people, is both shocked and moved to beg for mercy.

The plumbline (7) measures the straightness of a house or wall.  Here it shows that Israel is like a house whose walls lean dangerously.  The vision is meant to show Amos how far Israel has gone away from God and into sin.  She is beyond repair.  She will collapse under the weight of her wickedness.  She will be unprepared for the day of battle, and she will perish by the sword of her invaders.

Amaziah (10-17) is a priest at Bethel.  Since there are pagan shrines there, he could be a pagan priest, or a priest of God who has embraced diversity by allowing and worshiping idols.  Either way, he resents and resists the preaching of Amos, and goes to the king to report the words of Amos.  He clearly wants the king to use his power to silence Amos. The inclusive, diverse elite always want to silence everyone who does not fit their idea of inclusiveness and diversity.  They demand absolute uniformity in their inclusive and diverse world.

He tells Amos to go back to Judah, the southern kingdom, and preach against Israel there.  They will welcome such preaching (12, 13).  Amos’ answer is that he did not learn his message by following another prophet.  He speaks only out of faithfulness to God, and a desire to see Israel strong, safe, and blessed by God.  For this reason he will not be quiet; he continues to tell Israel of her coming disaster, hoping she will repent and be saved.  Why does the true Church today expose the failed policies and practices of the world?  Because we love people and desire to see them embrace God and all His blessings. 

Amos 8

The basket of summer fruit image is similar to that of the kine of Bashan in chapter 4.  There, God was saying Israel is like a fattened cow ready for slaughter.  Here He is saying she is like ripe fruit ready to be picked and devoured by her enemies.  God never stops reminding the people of their guilt, and verses 4-6 reiterate the abuse of Israelite upon Israelite in opposition to the the known moral demands of God’s Law, which the people pretend to believe and swear allegiance in the Sabbath liturgies.  Instead of securing freedom and peace for all,  some have joined forces to take control of the positions of power in order to gain wealth and security for themselves and their cronies, very similar to what is happening in most of the nations of the world today.  The poor and the weak always suffer under such conditions, no matter how many promises the politicians make in their attempts to persuade the poor to vote for them.  They buy and sell the poor for silver, and give them the scraps and refuse of the wheat.

They will pay for this.  Their false gods (sin of Samaria and god of Dan, vs. 14) cannot save them, and their false worship of God does not deceive Him.  Verses 8-14 warn of God’s coming wrath upon them; “they shall fall, and never rise up again.”

True to His word, the northern Israelites were conquered, dispersed, and absorbed into the pagan culture of their conquerors.  They have never risen up again in a way that identifies them as the people of God.

October 13, 2015

Scripture and Commentary, October 11-17

October 11

Daniel 1, Lk. 21
Dan. 2:1-23, 2 Cor. 10


Daniel 1

The book of Daniel was written over the course of several decades during the Babylonian Captivity, and into the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians.  It records and interprets many of the events of this period,  and predicts and interprets the rise and fall of four great empires, between the time of Daniel and the birth of the Messiah.

Daniel was born in Jerusalem and deported around 600 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar forced Jerusalem to surrender and forcibly moved about ten thousand of her people to various places in his empire, where he thought they could not cause trouble.  Daniel was taken to the capital city, Babylon (1-3).

Nebuchadnezzar intended to make Babylonians of his conquered people, thus Daniel and other young men were selected to be educated in the religion and culture of Babylon (4-7).  Daniel’s decision in verse 8 is about more than meat and wine.  It is a decision to remain true to God and Israel rather than become a Babylonian.  The other Jews sided with Daniel.  Yet they excelled in learning and skill, and became favourites in the court.  Their understanding of times and events far exceeded that of the Babylonian astrologers and religious leaders.  Even the king began to favour them (19).

Daniel 2:1-23

The king’s dream is about the empires between the time of Daniel and the Messiah.  By giving Daniel the understanding of the dream God shows His glory to His people, and gives them an incentive to return to Him rather than become assimilated into the pagan culture.  Notice that Daniel remained separated from the culture, rather than joining it.  This is an important message to Christians who desire to adapt themselves to the pop culture that is rapidly engulfing the world.

October 12

Dan. 2:24-49, Lk. 22:1-31
Dan. 3, 2 Cor. 11

Daniel 2:24-49

The king’s dream is of a fantastic creature, described in verses 31-35.  The various parts of the creature represent empires.  The first is Babylon.  We know this because Daniel identifies it in verse 38.  The others include the Persians, Medes, Greeks, and Romans.  Some Bible scholars believe the Persians and Medes are represented as one empire.  Others believe the Greeks and Romans are represented as one empire, since the Romans considered themselves the heirs of the Greek culture and Empire.  Thus the creature could represent  the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, and the Roman Empire.  Or it could represent the Babylonian, Medo, Persian, and Greco-Roman empires.  I have often thought that the Grecian and Roman Empires are symbolised together in the feet of clay, but I also see how the dream could combine the Medes and Persians.  Either way, the Empire of God is established in the Roman era (44).

We all know how this happened.  The Messiah was born to a virgin in Bethlehem, and He began to call people into the Kingdom of God.  He said that, in Him, the Kingdom of God is at hand, meaning present and able to be entered. Those who know Him by faith have entered His Kingdom, and it will never pass away.  The creature does not symbolise current nations, such as China, Russia, or the United States.

Daniel 3

Here we have the famous account of the fiery furnace.  Most people are familiar with the story, but reading it they miss an important point made in verse 18.  The reason these young men were sentenced to be burned to death is their refusal to bow to an idol, according to a law enacted by Nebuchadnezzar.  The image and the law are part of Nebuchadnezzar’s attempt to unify his empire.  He has already gathered boys from the conquered nations, to raise in the palace, where they were to be instructed and raised in the history, religion, and political system of Babylon.  This would have the effect of Babylonianising them.  They would then become missionaries of Babylonianism to their people, gradually uniting the entire body of conquered peoples into one.  Since the peoples had their own national gods, Nebuchadnezzar wanted one god to be worshiped by all as a unifying factor.  He did not require people to stop worshiping their other gods.  He only wanted them to worship his idol too.  Most had no problem with this because they were already polytheistic, and adding another god to their pantheon was easy.  But the Jewish boys, led by Daniel, made a compact not to become Babylonianised, which included not worshiping Babylonian idols.  Knowing it will probably cost their lives, they openly refuse to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s image, and are brought to the furnace to die.

Before having them burned to death, Nebuchadnezzar gives them a chance to save themselves by worshiping the idol.  Their answer is simple and courageous.  They will not worship the idol.  God may save them from the fire, or He may allow them to suffer a horrible tortuous death.  Either way, they will not worship the image.

This is the real heart and message of this chapter.  They were faithful, even in the face of death.  The message is not that God always delivers people, if they have enough faith.  Surely the Apostles had enough faith, yet they died as martyrs for Christ.  The message is that the truly faithful remain faithful at all costs, even the cost of their own lives. 

October 13

Dan. 4, Lk. 22:32-71
Dan. 5, 2 Cor 12

Daniel 4

Nebuchadnezzar has another dream, which Daniel interprets for him.  He will be cast out of the palace and live like an animal.  Even his mind will be deranged during this time, which will last for seven times, meaning seven years (23).  All of this happens as Daniel says (28-34).

Because of this experience, Nebuchadnezzar worships the King of Heaven (37).  This does not mean he becomes a Jew, which would be the natural result of a true conversion to God.  It means he adds the God of Daniel to his collection of religions and gods.  He may acknowledge God as the High God and king of all the gods.  But he is not, and never seems to become a believer in God alone.  This account of the event is given by Nebuchadnezzar after it ends, and it is noteworthy that he says the spirit of the holy gods is in Daniel (8).  But Daniel’s inclusion of the account, is not meant to convert Nebuchadnezzar.  It is meant to strengthen the faith of the Jews.  Most of them probably worshiped the idol Nebuchadnezzar created.  They, like the other conquered peoples, simply added the image to the many gods they already worshiped, for idolatry was one of their primary sins.  This debasing of the one they believed was the most powerful man in the world, as foretold by Daniel, at least reminds them that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is able to raise up people and nations, and to cast them down at will (35).

Daniel 5

We come now to the hand writing on the wall, a passage so familiar it has become proverbial.  Nebuchadnezzar has died, and the Empire has passed to his grandson, Belshazzar (verse 11 uses the word “father” to denote an ancestor, in the same way the Jews would call Abraham their father).  Belshazzar gives a party, which is nothing more than a pagan, drunken orgy, during which he orders the holy vessels of the Temple of Jerusalem to be brought before him so he can drink from them.  This is meant as an extremely arrogant boast, as though he is saying the God of the Jews, if He exists, is too weak or uncaring to do anything to Belshazzar.  We see this same attitude in many people in the Bible, even among the Jewish people.

But God proves Belshazzar wrong.  A hand supernaturally appears and writes words on the wall that neither Belshazzar, nor any of his wise men understand.  The queen reminds him that  Daniel was able to help his grandfather, and the king sends for Daniel, who interprets the writing.

The news is not good. Belshazzar’s kingdom will be taken from him.  He is murdered that very night and Darius the Mede takes over the empire.

October 14

Dan. 6, Lk. 23
Dan. 7. 2 Cor. 13


Daniel 6

Daniel again finds himself in the forefront of empire leadership.  Darius is a skilled organiser  who divides the empire into provinces and appoints governors (princes) to rule them.  He also appoints something like a board of supervisors (presidents) over the princes, and Daniel  is the first president, or chairman of the board.  The others are jealous.  No doubt, people being what they are, the presidents and princes would have abused their people and used their power for personal enrichment rather than the benefit of the king and the empire.  But Daniel seems to be a diligent and able overseer, ensuring that the rulers do justice.  The rulers also want Daniel’s position, so they plot to get him removed (5).

An emperor cult is the heart of their plot.  It will unify the empire because it will have all the people worshiping Darius.  It will flatter the emperor, and it will trap Daniel, because he will not worship Darius.  Forced worship of emperors, kings and queens, and the state or nation, have often been used to unify political entities and persecute minorities.  The Romans used it against the Church, and many nations and churches today function as personality cults.

The plot has its desired result, and Daniel is thrown to the lions for praying to God (16, 17).  We all know that Daniel was saved by God, and his accusers were fed to the lions.  Darius adds Daniel’s God to the pantheon of deities worshiped in the empire, calling God the living God whose kingdom will not end (26).

This passage is not a promise that God will deliver His people from all afflictions in this life, if they have enough faith. Many, with great and steadfast faith have died in lion’s dens, or were otherwise martyred in the cause of Christ.  Not even the Apostles live forever on earth.  The promise of God is not for peace, health, and prosperity in this life.  It is that He is with us in our troubles, and He is preparing a place for us where there are no more troubles, and we will walk with Him in complete fellowship forever.

Daniel 7

Daniel 7 takes us back again to the time of Belshazzar when he saw a vision of four beasts, representing four empires which arise and fight over the land of Israel. Each beast rises to great power, only to fall into decay and be conquered by the next. The beasts represent the Babylonian, Medo, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires.  Here again, either the Medes and Persians, or the Greeks and Romans are symbolised by a single beast. 

During the fourth empire, the kingdom of the Ancient of Days will be established (9), and the Son of Man will come forth to establish a Kingdom which will never pass away (13, 14).  We know the Son of Man as Jesus our Saviour, born of Mary, crucified under Pilate, risen from the dead, and ascended into Heaven where He reigns until all things are put under His feet.

 We should not become distracted by attempts to sort out the empires represented by the beasts.  Especially, we should not be mislead by attempts to apply the symbolism to contemporary nations, such as the United States of America and Russia.  Instead we should focus on the primary emphasis of the passage, which is the glorious promise of the birth of the Messiah and the establishment of His Church during the reign of the fourth empire.  Other empires will come and go.  They will be powerful, and often, viciously antagonistic toward God’s people, like the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans.  Their glory will fade and they will pass away. But the Kingdom of the Son of Man will never end, and it will be a Kingdom of grace for people of all nations and tribes to dwell in by faith.

October 15

Dan. 8, Lk. 24
Dan. 9, Galatians 1


Daniel 8
 Still in the days of Belshazzar, Daniel has another vision.   A ram is butting at things toward the west, north, and south.  One of its horns in larger than the other.  The smaller horn represents the Medes; the larger horn is Persia.  Thus, the ram is a symbol of the growing Medo-Persian empire.  The goat with one horn is Alexander the Great and his army, which conquers the Medo-Persian army and takes possession of their empire.

The goats horn is broken off, signifying the death of Alexander.  Four smaller horns grow in its place, representing the division of the Grecian Empire, and one of them waxed exceeding  great toward the south east, and toward Israel, which is described as the pleasant land.  Thus, Israel  came under Grecian rule, which turned to terrible and bloody tyranny after Alexander’s death.  Stamping the host of heaven refers to the harsh rule of Israel under the Greeks, and to the destruction of the Temple and murder of the priests in 167 B.C.   All of this is explained in verses 15-26.

Daniel 9

Daniel is moved to pray while reading Jeremiah’s words (2).  During his prayer Gabriel is sent to tell him about the Kingdom of the Messiah (22).  In their first application, the angel’s words refer to the destruction of the second Temple.  The first was destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Israel.  But the Jews who return to Jerusalem when Cyrus releases them from Babylon rebuild the Temple.  It is much smaller and plainer than the original, but it is still the Temple, and many faithful Jews rejoice to worship there.  Antiochus, one of the rulers of the Grecian Empire, is especially harsh toward the Jews.  He forbids traditional Jewish dress, and many Jewish customs.  He especially curtails Biblical worship.  When the Jews resist, more out of political than religious concerns, Antiochus crushes Jerusalem and destroys the Temple (26), just as Nebuchadnezzar had done before him.

In their second, and more important application, Gabriel’s words look forward to the work of Christ, who makes reconciliation for iniquity and brings in everlasting righteousness by His death and resurrection (24).  Our Lord refers to this chapter when He tells the disciples of the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 (Mt. 24:15, 16).  Much of the book of Revelation deals with this same event.

October 16

Dan. 10, John 1:1-28
Dan. 11 Gal. 2


Daniel 10

Daniel now lives under the rule of the Persian Empire and its king, Cyrus.  The vision in this chapter reminds Daniel of the earlier visions, in which the pagan empires wax and wane.  Babylon is gone.  Persia rules in her place, but Grecia (Greece) will soon conquer the Persians and rule the area (20).

Daniel 11

The setting now is in the reign of Darius the Mede.  The Medo empire is great and powerful, but a “mighty king,”  Alexander the Great of Greece, conquers it and rules it according to his will (3).  The Grecian Empire divides after Alexander’s death, and soon falls into internal conflict as the rulers of various areas fight to gain control of the complete empire.  How wicked of them to cause such death and devastation, when they could easily have worked together to allow people to live in peace in an empire that stretched from the central Mediterranean to India.

The king of the south (5) is the ruler of Egypt, and the king of the north (6) is the ruler of the Tigris, Euphrates region.  Specifically they are former generals in Alexander’s army, Ptolomy and Selucus.  The remainder of the chapter foretells the continuing wars of them and their successors, until their bankrupt and demoralised provinces are conquered by, and absorbed into the Roman Empire.

Verses 20-24 are about the Greek control of Israel during this era of war.  Specifically, they tell of Antiochus, who gained control of Jerusalem and attempted to turn the Jews into Greeks.  When some Jews rebelled, Antiochus sacked the city and demolished the Temple in retaliation.

October 17

Dan. 12, Jn. 1:29
Hosea 1, Gal. 3


Daniel 12

The vision of this chapter is given to secure the faith of the Jews who will suffer and die in the persecution and destruction rained upon them by Antiochus.  It shows that, even in that dark time, God will give His angels charge over them, and even the archangel will stand over them  to strengthen and protect Israel from total annihilation. The prophet is shown the distant future, when the Lord will raise the dead and His Kingdom of righteousness will be fully realised upon the earth.  All of His enemies will be judged, and His people will inherit the earth.

Christ’s Church has much more light on this subject.  Though the nations persecute it, and internal strife divides it, yet it will not be destroyed, even as Israel was not destroyed by Babylon or Greece.  Not even mighty Rome can stamp out the faith.  Therefore, this vision strengthens the New Testament Israel as surely as it strengthens the Old Testament Israel, by foreshadowing the final victory of God’s Kingdom on earth, and the resurrection of His people into everlasting peace.  There is much to be endured.  Babylons and Romes will always persecute.  People will suffer, and the earth will run with blood.  But the enemies of God will be raised to everlasting sorrow.  Those who are faithful, even unto death will be raised to new life in His Kingdom.