Hiking in Calwood
I had the great privilege last week of chaperoning Dylan’s class field trip up to Calwood.
(Just past Jamestown).
Beautiful country, great time.
There were a couple ways, out on the trails, that kids could be SUPER annoying.
Kids who want to lead the way.
Blazing the trails up way ahead of the counselor.
What’s the problem?
They have no idea where they are going!!!
Kids who want to answer every question, show off how smart they are.
One kid was awesome, he had no idea what he was talking about but he would ramble on slowly, hoping he was getting nearly close to an answer… until the instructor finally would interrupt with “Good, yeah, no, anyhow...”
And, the hardest, were the kids who just HATED hiking.
Back of the pack every time, asking when we will be done and how much further.
First to take a break.
I played caboose most of the time, come on, one step further, just a little bit farther.
Look, I think that might be it up there!
Dangers of Prophecy
We are getting into the 2nd half of Daniel.
The first half places Daniel in history, he was a real dude, a man of faith, of conviction.
In the first 6 chapters he kind of earns a voice… and in the next 6 chapters he shares some crazy dreams.
Dreams of the future.
Prophecy in the sense we usually think of prophecy.
We are talking end times, anti-christ, days and remnants.
If “Revelation” is the most famous book of end times prophecy, Revelation couldn’t exist without the book of Daniel.
It is speaking the language, the symbology of Daniel all over the place.
Danger 1: Running Ahead
MUCH harm has been done throughout Christian history by attempting to use prophecy to predict what’s about to happen.
Famously, William Miller studied Daniel, interpreted the days, counted everything out to be October 22nd (that’s today)... 1844.
Jesus didn’t show up.
It’s called the “Great Disappointment” and Miller’s followers were called the “Adventists.”
You want to know the biggest difference between us and SDA?
We don’t believe Jesus returned, spiritually or otherwise, on October 22, 1844.
Miller was running ahead… but he didn’t know the way.
And by and large, the result of predictions of the date of Jesus’ return has been embarrassment and division in the body of Christ.
Is that the purpose of prophecy?
We must be careful here.
Danger 2: Pride of Knowledge
There is a 2nd danger here.
This was a trap for arrogant teenage Dusty… but one I have seen in the church SO many times.
Here we have an obscure collection of knowledge that lends itself to confident interpretation with little to no verification.
This is what the mystics and astrologers of Nebuchadnezzar’s day LOVED.
Because you can sound wise and knowledgeable and intelligent… more wiser and more smarter than your friends.
And this was me.
Learn something about prophecy… and then use it as a bully pulpit, a proof of spiritual superiority over my “Christian friends.”
If you are using the Word of God to feel puffed up, prideful, better than other Christians… you are wrong and cruisin’ for a divine bruisin’
Is that the purpose of prophecy?
We know it isn’t.
What is the purpose of prophecy?
To encourage, to edify and to admonish the people of God.
If it isn’t encouraging the people of God… you’re wrong.
So, in light of those Dangers, we proceed with fear and trembling into Daniel 7. Watching carefully for where Daniel’s dream is going to encourage or admonish God’s people.
So after Nebuchadnezzar’s death… but before the writing on the wall.
Close your eyes and picture these creatures as best you can.
There are pictures, we will see some, but I think Daniel is seeing something so beyond the natural, he is reaching for words to describe:
The one horn kept growing and, it’s freaky.
Did your beasts look like this?
Then the whole scene changes.
It’s like we lift dimensions for a moment.
We were in the kingdoms, on the earth, now we see everything above, the heavens.
And there is the Ancient of Days.
(What a cool name for God)
Now back to the beasts:
And then this strange (to Daniel) new figure enters in.
The Son of Man.
Who is that??? That’s Jesus.
How do we know?
Because Jesus said “that’s me.”
It is this, and others, that Jesus references when the high priest said to him
What did the high priest say?
He knew exactly what Jesus was claiming.
Now I love Daniel.
To everyone else, he always had the answers.
But in his own dreams, he is as confused as we might be.
So in his own dream… he asks people.
What does this mean???
Now Daniel is going to go on to ask for more details, especially about the “fourth beast.”
We are going to talk more about that beast next week.
All about the anti-Christ.
Aren’t you excited?
But there is widespread agreement about the first 3 beasts, and general agreement about the 4th.
The Four Beasts
The first beasts are pretty clear and reach back to Nebuchadnezzar’ dream of the statue with four parts.
The lion is Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar was often represented as a lion.
Even the part about him being a beast, and then raised up to a man.
You get it.
The second beast is the Medean Persian Empire.
Now we’ve entered the future.Being “raised up on one side” reflects that the Persian side is stronger in the alliance than the Medean side.
There’s another dream in chapter 8 where the ram has two horns, one bigger than the other.
AMAZING prediction of geo-political details of what’s coming.
Maybe, maybe, Daniel being such a highly placed government official he could predict the next empire to rise and some broad characteristics.
But this blows my mind.
The third beast is the Greek Empire.