Daniel: In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream. In the dream, he saw four beasts come out of the sea. The first was like an lion with eagle wings that turned into a man. The second was like a bear that was told to each much flesh. The third was like a leopard with wings and four heads. It had dominion. The fourth was terrifying and strong. It had iron teeth, ten horns until another little horn came up. Three horns were uprooted before it. The little horn had eyes like a man and spoke great things.
Then Daniel saw thrones arrayed for judgment with the Ancient of day seated. His clothing was white, his hair like wool. His throne was fire with wheels of fire, and fire flowed out from there. Innumerable being served and stood before him. Books were opened.
The horn kept on boasting until the beast was destroyed in the fire. The other beasts lost their dominion but were not killed at this time.
The Son of Man came before the Ancient of Days. He was given dominion, glory and an everlasting kingdom so that all people everywhere would serve him.
Daniel was freaked out by this vision and he asked one who was standing there for an explanation. He was told that the four beasts were kingdoms that came from the earth but the saints of the Most High would receive the kingdom forever without end.
Daniel pressed for more information about the last beast and the horn that spoke and was greater than the others. This horn won battles against the saints until the Ancient of Days rendered judgment against him and gave the kingdom to the saints.
This beast will destroy the whole earth and rule. It will be ruled by ten kings, but another will rise up and conquer three of the kings. He will be anti-God and try to change God’s plans. He will rule for 3 ½ years until the court convenes, takes away his kingdom, and destroys him.
The kingdom will be given to the saints of God and be an everlasting kingdom.
Daniel was alarmed grew faint but kept the matter to himself.
Psalm: The Psalmist asks for redemption and salvation as he looks to God’s promises and laws. He knows God’s mercy but also sees his foes with their faithlessness while he is looking to God’s rules. Because he loves God’s word he asks for life.
His persecutions come from princes without cause, but he explains how he rejoices in God’s word, abhors falsehood, praises God seven times a day, has peace, and hope because of God’s word. He keeps and loves it from his soul.
He asks for his cry to be heard by the Lord as he praises God. He asks to understand God’s word and to be taught by it. He looks for God’s help and salvation as he seeks to live and praise God. He confesses his waywardness and looks for God’s help to find him as he doesn’t forget God’s commandments.
Proverbs: You will have more respect from a person you rebuke than one you flatter. A person who steals from his parents and thinks it is OK is just as bad as a murderer.
1 John: Jesus was from the beginning and John (and the apostles) heard, saw, and touched him. He is the word of life. John proclaims he is the way of eternal life whom the Father made know to them. He is telling us this so we can have fellowship with them and the Father and Jesus. He is writing so we can have completed joy.
The message is that God is light and there isn’t anything dark in him. If we are in darkness and say we are in fellowship with God, we are liars. If we live in the light like God is, then we have fellowship with each other as Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin. We deceive ourselves and call God a liar if we think we don’t sin and his word isn’t in us. But when we confess our sins God is faithful to forgives us and remove our unrighteousness.
What Stood Out
Daniel: “And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Dan 7:14).
Psalm: “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (Ps 119:165).
Proverbs: “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue” (Prov 28:23).
1 John: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Daniel: Daniel gets a very symbolic view of the future in his vision. Some of it is plain and simple and others are very symbolic. Some of the symbolic features are explained to Daniel and others are not even mentioned. Some people spend a lot of time with the first three beasts trying to explain how they fit into our history and how the fourth beast fits into our future.
However, if we take a clue from Daniel, the first three are not important. The fourth is important only because the different horn comes out from it. The salient features are this: 1) the nation will rule the world with great oppression; 2) it will be a confederacy of ten rulers; 3) a coup will take place eliminating three of the rulers; 4) the coup leader will take control of all for 3 ½ years; 5) this leader will persecute the saints; 6) he will attempt to usurp God’s plans.
While this antichrist seems to be the focus of this passage, we must evaluate it by considering the vision of the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. Otherwise, we can be distracted by evil and miss what God is doing. The outstanding features of this part of the vision is just as clear: 1) the Ancient of Days is God; 2) he will judge the little horn; 3) the Messiah will take over the kingdom; 3) the saints will inherit the kingdom; 4) the kingdom is everlasting.
God’s sovereignty is affirmed even when this antichrist tries to change the outcome of history. Even though the saints will be persecuted and lose battles, the final victory is that of the Most High and the Messiah takes over forever. We can trust the Lord to do what is right and do it in his timing.
Psalm: Through 176 verses, the Psalmist has proclaimed how great God’s word is. It is reflected in rules, promises, statutes, commandments, precepts, testimonies, and law. He has asked for salvation from enemies yet expressed how afflictions were good for him. At some points, it seems that he almost brags about how much he loves God’s word and holds fast to it. However, in this last verse he confesses that he has gone astray (Ps 119:176). The only remedy for going astray is for God to seek him.
It is by grace we are saved and we must remember that. When God finds us and we know him, we are responding to his grace. His salvation will be evident in that we will have peace, love his law, and we will be secure in him (Ps 119:165).
Proverbs: I knew a man who seemed to be wise. He was older and experienced. I would occasionally ask him about decisions and his answers always seemed to be good. Then one day, I discovered that he was only affirming what I had decided to do rather than giving any wise advice. He was essentially flattering my ego instead of helping me determine if something was ill advised or even good. We don’t want to be people that do that. It is only flattery and will lead a person to follow his heart. And we know that our hearts are deceitfully wicked (Jer 17:9). We need people who will rebuke us when we are wrong, not give us directions for the wrong way.
1 John: John emphasizes the fact that he and the other apostles had heard, seen, and touched Jesus because of the cults that had risen which denied Jesus came in the flesh. They said he only appeared to the apostles in some sort of spirit body. They had a problem with God being in Jesus as a human being and then dying. Today we see some cults have the same problem, but they degrade Jesus to the status of an angel or a created being separate from God. They deny the trinity. John even addresses that in saying Jesus was from the beginning.
In view of this, we have to look at our lives knowing that Jesus’ real, physical, blood cleanses us from all sin. When we practice sin, we are ignoring this and can’t have fellowship with God. However, we run into this paradox that we still have a sinful nature that we allow to rear up and we sin though we’re cleansed by his blood. We can’t deny our sinfulness or we call God a liar. The problem is how to have fellowship with the Lord knowing we sin and that sin breaks our fellowship with him. That’s where confessing our sins is needed. Because of God’s faithfulness, he will always forgive us and make us righteous.
This needs to be a daily practice, if not hourly, and even immediately after recognizing a sin. It is good to go back over our day and identify sins and confess them. We even need to confess that we aren’t particularly good at doing that. Still, we have the assurance that we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
I want to give good counsel to people when they need it. I don’t want to flatter them but give good advice, including rebuke when they are wrong. I want to also be ready to receive it as well and confess my sins.