Summary: We are living in the middle of troubled and uncertain times, but instead of being fearful, let's grab on tightly to four certainties found in Daniel's vision of the four beasts from Daniel chapter 7.
CERTAINTY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
Daniel 7:1-28 (Bible quotes are from NKJV)
Pastor _______ has been preaching a series on the book of Daniel, and he asked if I would cover the topic of the four beasts in Daniel chapter 7 this week while he’s away. So this morning, we’re going to examine some Biblical prophecy.
“Certainty in Uncertain Times”... To be certain means to be sure, definite, fixed, proven to be true, inevitable, settled, incapable of failing. Certainty and faith go hand-in-hand. The more certain you are, the more faith you have... The more faith you have, the more certain you become. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum lies uncertainty. Uncertainty breeds fear, and fear feeds uncertainty. Uncertainty and fear also go hand-in-hand.
“Uncertainty” has become more commonplace in today’s times. Everywhere we turn, we see uncertainty. Growing political divisiveness, government shutdowns, fiscal cliffs, school shootings, attacks on our Constitutional freedoms, unrestrained, degrading morality, terrorist threats, nations in turmoil, attacks on Christians increasing, earthquakes, floods, fires, cyclones. Death and disaster and war are all around us. All of this breeds uncertainty... insecurity... fear. We are living in the middle of troubled and uncertain times.
This morning, we’re going to shake off uncertainty and grab on tightly to four certainties. That’s the message I believe God has for us this morning as we examine the prophecy of the four beasts in Daniel chapter 7. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Daniel chapter 7. Please stand with me as we read Daniel chapter 7 verses 1 thru 8… [READ Daniel 7:1-8] Thank you. You may be seated.
We need to be very careful as we examine prophetic Scripture. It’s tempting to ascribe all kinds of meanings and symbolism to various elements that we find in these passages. There are plenty of theological “opinions” out there that I’m not going to get into regarding those things if for no other reason than we simply don’t have time this morning. Instead, I’m going to focus on what the Bible specifically states (I’m going to use the Bible to interpret the Bible), and how historical events align with it.
First, let’s set some context. Daniel’s vision in chapter 7 happens during the first year of Belshazzar, roughly 553 B.C., which is during the time of the Babylonian Empire. The fact that Daniel's vision occurred before the events that it describes helps steer us to our first "certainty".
I. GOD’S PLAN IS UNFOLDING EXACTLY AS HE HAS ORDAINED IT
Even though we are living in the midst of troubled times, we hold fast to the certainty that God’s plan is still playing out exactly as He has ordained it. This is our first “certainty” to hang onto this morning.
The four beasts in Daniel’s dream correspond to the four kingdoms represented by the statue from Nebuchadnezzer’s dream back in chapter 2. Keep your place in chapter 7 and turn to chapter 2 verses 31-35 with me. [READ Daniel 2:31-35] I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the first 3 beasts and corresponding kingdoms, but just enough to draw some connections.
First, we have the head of gold. God already gives Daniel the interpretation of the head of gold in chapter 2. In verses 37 and 38, Daniel explains that King Nebuchadnezzer (and therefore the Babylonian Kingdom) IS the head of gold. Let’s go back to chapter 7 and read verse 4, “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.” This signifies how God humbled King Nebuchadnezzer as described in Daniel chapter 4, and then lifted him back up again. The first kingdom of the prophecy, represented by the first beast, is the Babylonian Empire. This part of the prophecy has been fulfilled.
The second beast is the bear, raised up on 1 side, with 3 ribs in its mouth. This is the “silver” kingdom, the silver chest and arms of the statue from chapter 2. The kingdom that followed the Babylonian Empire is the Medo-Persian Empire. Raised up on 1 side signifies that the Persians were more powerful than the Medes, though their alliance formed a single empire. The 3 ribs represent the 3 kingdoms that the Medo-Persians devoured – Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. Daniel has another vision in chapter 8 about a ram and a goat. Let’s read 8:20 real quick... “The ram which you saw, having the two horns—they are the kings of Media and Persia.” The ram (from ch 8), the bear (from ch 7), and the statue’s silver chest and arms (from ch 2) are all prophecies about the same kingdom. This second beast, and the second kingdom of the statue, is the Medo-Persian Empire. This part of the prophecy has been fulfilled.