Here’s my notes for a sermon on Daniel 8. Audio can be found here.
Daniel 8: Hope in the Pain and Perplexities of Life
Intro: Being a Christian will NOT exempt you from suffering and pain. Christians experience all kinds of pain: pain of persecution for believing in Jesus, pain of being excluded or mocked because of our faith in Jesus, pain of being left out because of following Jesus, pain of loneliness, pain of being misunderstood—Christians in 1st century were called cannibals and incestuous, pain of physical illness—Christians get cancer too, pain of financial struggles—Christians are poor, pain of unmet desires, and many other kinds of pain. Sometimes we can understand why suffering takes place, but other times our suffering or the suffering of other believers is perplexing. We know God is good and in control, but we can’t fathom why He is allowing something to happen the way it is, or what purpose He may have in it.
Surely believers in Daniel’s time felt this: they had been taken away from their land; their temple was destroyed; they lived in a place that thought little of the God of Israel.
In today’s chapter we see God give Daniel a vision of things pertaining to the future, including future suffering God’s people would endure. The vision has some details that are absolutely remarkable in how they predicted with precision particular events 10 years, 200 hundred and 400 hundred years before they took place—the accuracy is so stunning that some critical scholars refuse to believe Daniel could have written these words before they took place.
As Christians we know that it is not hard for God to foretell future events—He knows all things past, present and future. And this vision was given to Daniel so that God’s people would be prepared for the future suffering they were to endure. Things were going to get VERY DIFFICULT for God’s people. But God’s people could take hope, because God was still in control and He has placed a limit on the extent of the evil that He allow to take place and He has promised to bring about a restoration. See this with me today:
Life will have its share of pain and perplexity, but there is always hope for those who know God.
TEXT WALK THROUGH…
BIG PICTURE: Daniel receives a vision of a ram and a goat that fight each other; the goat succeeds and out of this goat eventually a horn rises up and becomes great; this horn makes life very difficult for God’s people but there is a limit to how much it can harm them and eventually it is defeated a restoration of some kind is promised; Daniel seeks for “understanding” of the vision (15) and God sends his angel Gabriel to give an interpretation of the vision; in the interpretation we find out that the Ram stands for Medo-Persia, the Goat stands for Greece, and the final horn stands for a wicked king who does great harm to God’s people before finally being defeated. At the end of the vision, Daniel is “overcome, sick, and appalled” and tells us the reader that he did not “understand it.”
STARTING AT END: “Did not understand it” (27)
–Cannot mean did not understand any of the contents of the vision, because in 15-18 we see that after Daniel saw the vision he sought to “understand it” (15) and God sent his angel Gabriel to “make this man understand the vision” (16), which then Gabriel does in 20-26.
-Could mean: did not understand how it could take place (Persia and Greece were not great powers at the time).
or—did not understand all the details of the vision, even if he understood some of its parts.
or—did not understand how God would could allow such things to happen (incredible suffering lay ahead for God’s people)
APP: –It is ok for this chapter and chapters like it to be hard to understand!
–It is normal to face suffering and pain and be perplexed as to why such things could happen.
(Cancer, job loss, unanswered prayer, ect)
-Habakkuk heard about how God would use Assyria to judge the Northern Kingdom, and he was perplexed
-In Psalm 73 the Psalmist cannot grasp why life seems to easy for the unbeliever, even better.
PROCESS—God leads us past our perplexity to trust Him. We bring out questions to God, but in the end say ‘You know O Lord…’
…………………………HEAR WITH ME THE VISION OF DANIEL 8
SETTING (1-2): 3rd year of King Belshazzar (about a decade before Babylon falls and Persia takes over).
VISION (3-14): RAM AND A GOAT BATTLE
-RAM (3-4). RAM=Medo Persia. Little horn=Medes; Big horn=Persia (20) [550 BC-336 BC]
-Note: 2 Horns. Great power “no one could rescue from his power;” “He did as he pleased and became great” World’s superpower.
–GOAT (5-8): GOAT=Greece (21); Largest and most powerful nation on Earth (Europe to India). [336 BC-146 BC]
-Big horn between eyes=1st king (21a) Alexander the Great (336-323 conquered much, VERY rapidly—verse 5 “without touching ground”)
-Big horn defeats ram=Greece defeating Persia
-“Great horn broken and four conscious horns came up” =4 kingdoms (22) Alexander’s 4 generals: Diadochi (Ptolemy, Cassander, Lysimachus, and Seleucus). –LITTLE HORN FROM GOAT… READ 9-12 AND 24-25
Little Horn’s identity: “a king of bold face…shall arise” (24)=Antiochus Epiphanes IV (175-164).
POWERFUL: “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” (9); “His power shall be great– but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does,” (24b)
“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.” (10)
DESTRUCTIVE TOWARD GOD’S PEOPLE: -“and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.” (24)
-“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” (11-12)
EVIL: “and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper.” (12b) “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” (25a)
OUTSIDE OF BIBLE: Antiochus had coins made with his picture on it that read “God manifest,” He had a policy of trying to unite everyone through Hellenization (making everyone more Greek) and he had high priest of Israel killed, and after an initial rebellion, he came in had worship of Yahweh made illegal, 40k Israelites killed, 40k enslaved, illegal to have copies of Bible, an idol was brought into the Jerusalem temple and pig sacrificed to it.
THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN A VERY DIFFICULT TIME TO BE A FOLLOWER OF GOD. GOD WAS KIND TO PREPARE HIS PEOPLE FOR THIS SUFFERING THROUGH THIS VISION.
OBSERVE 3 THINGS FROM THE TEXT WITH ME: 1. Life will have its share of pain and perplexity; 2. We can have hope because God limits evil. 3. We can have hope because God promises a restoration.
1. TEXT: Life, EVEN FOR THE CHRISTIAN, will have its share of pain and perplexity
-In the text we learn that God’s people were going to endure INCREDIBLE SUFFERING… Same is true in the NT. Phil 1:29
-LIE of prosperity gospel: believe in Jesus and life will be easy. Knowing Jesus is better than anything but we will still suffer. -Sometimes we suffer for our faith (Christians killed by ISIS; Us here: being excluded, or losing job, or viewed as WEIRD)
-Sometimes our suffering is the result of our sin sometimes not; others sin; being in sinful world; God’s mysterious purposes
APP: Remember, in this life, we have suffering, pain, and seasons of perplexity.
2. TEXT: While life will have its share of pain and perplexity, there is hope because GOD has put a LIMIT on evil He permits
SUFFERING LIMITED: 13-14a: “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?” And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings”
2,300 evenings and mornings=about 6 years. From when high priest was killed to when Jews get temple back was about 6 years.
-Antiochus would be defeated, and as a result of God: “and he shall be broken– but by no human hand.”
-Judas Maccabees led revolt and delivered Israel and Antiochus died not long after in 164.
-Ultimately God permitted this evil for His sovereign purposes, but it was limited by Him. He was still in control.
APP: We can HAVE HOPE because Evil is limited by God: Any evil God permits in our life is under his rule and not beyond it.
-Job was only tormented to the degree that God permitted. -In our suffering, we are not tempted beyond what we can endure. 1 Cor 10:13
-REMEMBER: God uses our suffering and trials for our good: 1 Peter 4:12-13
–ASK: God how might you being using this painful situation to make you more like Jesus, or draw you closer to Him.
–In SUFFERING, CLING to God in the midst of pain: God is our strength and our refuge Psalm 46.
–Another HOPE: Evil and suffering end at death for believer, but only continue on for those not reconciled to God.
–Looking to heaven: One day there will be no evil or sin or death: only life everlasting in God’s presence.
3. TEXT: While life will have its share of pain and perplexity, there is hope because God has promised a RESTORATION
At end of the vision, note the hope of restoration: “Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state” (14).
-In this context, it refers to temple being restored. This happened in part in 164 B.C. But points to Jesus.
BIG PICTURE OF BIBLE: God is a God who brings about restoration. Rev 21:5: “I am making ALL things new”
-THINGS WENT WRONG IN THE BEGINNING WITH SIN.
-Relationship with God broken and all of the world experiencing the effects of sin
-God has worked in history to reveal Himself to His people and bring about restoration in stages
-God has worked definitively in Jesus to bring about restoration in the GOSPEL
-Jesus is the “light that comes into the world” (John 8:12)
-Jesus said “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)
-Jesus brought about delivering from demons in exorcism and healing. (Withered hand: Mark 3:1-6)
-At cross Jesus defeated sin and evil (1 Peter 3:18a)
-At the resurrection he brought in the new creation and a RESTORED new humanity. (2 Cor 5:17)
-All who come to faith in Christ are made spiritually alive and restored: Experience in part now (new love for God, hatred of sin)
-We still physically die, but are promised life in a RESTORED EARTH
APP: UNBELIEVER—To know Christ really is better than any pleasure or comfort or pain-free life you can experience in this world, but it will involve not prevent you from suffering in this life. Jesus “if anyone would follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt 16:24). You will suffer, but a life living know God with suffering is incomparably better than any life of ease and comfort lived apart from Him. Only Jesus can defeat the evil we face and only Jesus can bring about the restoration of our souls.
BELIEVER: Life will have its share of pain and perplexity, but there is always hope for those who know God. God has told us in His Word that we will experience suffering and pain in this life, but He also assured that He is with us, that He has put a limit on the extent of evil in this world, and that He has acted in Christ to defeat evil and bring a restoration.