Summary: Exposition of Daniel 8 about the suffering that God would ordain for Israel
Text: Daniel 8:1-27, Title: A Vision of Suffering, Date/Place: NRBC, 4/11/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: talk about Obama’s presidential election as a chastisement from God upon a sleepy lethargic church in America deep in self-centeredness and failure in the kingdom agenda
B. Background to passage: It is two years after the last vision, still in the reign of Belshazzer. Daniel has another dream/vision. This time he is in the Citadel of the capital of Persia 250 miles from Babylon. In the vision he is standing by the river and he sees a ram with two horns, one bigger than the other, which represents the Medo-Persians (like the bear in the previous vision). Then he sees a goat that overtakes the ram, this is representing the Greek Empire under the one horn, Alexander the Great; represented by a leopard in the last chapter. Then he sees the death of Alexander, and the four-way split of his empire. Then we see the little horn (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) that is given power to oppress the people of God for 3+ years and commit great atrocities and blasphemies against them and against God. This is a really accurate nearly 400 years in advance prophecy! This causes great fear and alarm for Daniel, mainly because he doesn’t understand why God is allowing these atrocities to occur upon the heads of His people.
C. Main thought: So from the text we will draw some conclusions about the suffering of God’s people.
A. Sometimes Suffering b/c Sin (v. 12)
1. This verse gives us an understanding of the reasoning behind this particular season of suffering. Daniel knows that after 70 years God will release the captives from Babylon to go back to Israel, rebuild the temple and the walls and gates. Remember that they were in Babylon those years because they had forsaken the Lord, His commands, and His covenants for far too long. Anyway, after their return and repentance, Phariseeism was born in order to avoid this tragedy again. But about 300 years after their return, they were right back where they were before Babylon. So in this instance, according to v. 12, the Israelites are oppressed, killed, blasphemed because of their own transgression (rebellion and guilt associated with it) or sin.
3. Illustration: When these happenings were reported to the king, he thought that Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery, tell about Scott’s old pastor Gary, whose first reaction to family troubles was to look into his life and repent from anything that might be bringing chastisement,
4. I am not saying that all suffering is a result of sin, but some is. If you are a believer, it is chastisement, and the Lord chastens those that He loves. If you are an unbeliever, it is punishment, a manifestation of God’s wrath upon you. Sometimes it is severe, sometimes it is light, but sometimes it is because of sin. Many of us never ask the question when things go wrong, whether or not, we are in need of correction. Some do only when they have pity parties, and want people to feel sorry for them, because the are not getting a fair shake. God refuses to leave us in our sin. He refuses to let us stray as His sheep without the rod of correction. Regardless of sufferings origins or purpose, the believer can handle them with endurance and grace, no matter how severe. Christians still possess the greatest “life” even in suffering. Read some of Brother Yun’s torture and his meditations. In Christ, you can suffer well. And this will be the greatest testimony to Christ’s sufficiency and grace in the hour of need. And you can even repent while you suffer well. That brings me to my last point of application, repentance leads to deliverance. Maybe not just in the time that you like, although your soul will be free from guilt immediately. If your suffering is due to a sin that you have been hiding, or one that you didn’t know about, repentance is the key. This is the proper action to take with any sin. So, when you suffer, ask God to reveal to you things that you need to repent from.
B. Sometimes Wicked Prosper (v. 12)
1. This verse also says something very strange, in all of these things “he prospered.” Many times evil people get what’s coming to them, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it looks like that they are really doing well even with their unrighteous, unethical behavior. And in this text, you have one who will not only commit terrible injustices, but they are against Israel, God’s chosen people. This is the problem of evil. How can a good, sovereign God allow atrocities like that in the world, give some examples. So some say, either He isn’t able to help or He isn’t good. Two problems with that: just because He doesn’t help, doesn’t mean that He can’t; and just because we can’t think of a good reason for something, doesn’t mean there is not one. That is pretty arrogant for us to think that way, as if God was under obligation to always rescue us. This issue has been raised in the bible continuously and in our own culture too.