“How Do I Struggle With This?”
Well today we’re wrapping up Welcome to the Jungle. We’ve spent 7 weeks going chapter
by chapter through the Book of Daniel—looking at how to thrive wherever God has you, especially when
you don’t want to be there. So today takes a radical departure. As we cross into chapter 7 of Daniel, we
cross the threshold from history to prophecy, from the literal to the symbolic. So our teaching team laid
out the weeks, and said “And you love all that prophecy stuff, so Week 8 you do Chapters 7 through 12
–which are filled with visions Daniel was given, forecasting what would happen into the future. And
somehow, I’m supposed to cover 5 very confusing chapters full of prophetic symbolism, and make it
understandable, interesting and compelling in 30 minutes. It’s not gonna happen. But I am going to teach
you about prophetic history, and show some of it through Daniel 7 mainly, because it really does matter.
“How do we all struggle with this?”
Here’s why it matters for all of us, whether you’re unsure about God, or believe. Have you
ever wondered, why should we believe the Bible is inspired by God—like why in the world should we
take it as “from God” and take the time to read it and study it and live our lives by it. Well, this is
why—this is how we know. You know, so many people wonder about End Times Prophecy–is this it, are
we in the end times, and it worries them to think the End will come in their lifetime. Well I have good
news and bad news–the bad news is the End will come in your lifetime…at least for you. But you don’t
need to worry or be frightened, no one knows when the End of Human History will be, but we can feel
confident and safe knowing the God of History who is with you. You can trust God with your now, and
“What does God say about this issue?”
Right about the time human history started being widely recorded, 1500 BCE God tells
Moses and the Israelites how to know if a prophet is speaking for God: ‘Any prophet who falsely claims
to speak in my name . . . must die.’ But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a
prophecy is from the LORD?’ If the prophet speaks in the LORD’s name but his prediction does not
happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message” Deuteronomy 18:20-
22 God says, I alone know the future, and I validate my Word spoken through a prophet by telling him
in advance what is to happen—so then when it happens you will know it’s from me. God reiterates this to
Isaiah in 700 BCE: “‘Present your case,’ says the LORD . . . ‘declare to us the things to come, tell us
what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods’” (Isaiah 41:21-23). Only the true God can
tell us what the future holds. And God does that in unbelievable ways in Daniel 7-11. I want to encourage
you to read and study it on your own, but I want to show you some things that will help.
Putting the pieces together is not always easy, mainly because all the pieces aren’t there. Daniel
himself has trouble making sense at times of the collage of images. Some of the prophecies point toward
kings and kingdoms leading up to the coming Messiah, others skip ahead to the time referred to in the
book of Revelation — the end times and the time of the antichrist and the final judgment.
What’s important to understand is that God is not giving us a full-blown picture of the future, only
fragments and portions — just enough to reassure us that he’s in control and enough to inspire us to stay
true no matter what the future holds. What you realize if you study prophecy is that it’s very clear looking
back (so that we can see in hindsight that God is the One authoring this)—but looking forward it’s
sketchy for a purpose—God does not let us fully know the future because that would be detrimental to us. A couple of interpretive keys to note: What we see in the prophecies of Daniel are the times
concerning the Jewish nation – many scholars think there is a prophetic “time gap” from the first coming
of Messiah to the last days, when the Jewish nation (which was foretold would be scattered, but in the last days, be regathered from across the globe and become a nation again overnight—that happened in 1948 miraculously after nearly 1900 years of no homeland, no nation state—just as Isaiah, and Jesus foretold).
Makes you wonder, are these the last days—we don’t know! But I can guarantee this, we’re one day
closer than we were yesterday!
Two things will happen as you study these prophecies in Daniel–one is that it will give an
assurance that God really is sovereign, in control, and inspiring his prophets who wrote the Scriptures because they deal with very real historical events. The other is to remind us that there is another kingdom coming that we should hold firmly to, and not to get too caught up in the kingdoms of this world that are passing away. Love God and Serve Him—seek to know him through His Word.
Let’s me give you three resources to help you get started in this or grow in this: 1. If you don’t spend time
in the Scriptures on your own during the week, I want to invite you start doing that with our Online
Campus Pastor, Eric Bryant. Just follow him on social media. He’s posting a video to guide you each
day, start reading the Gospel of Luke with Eric in March. 2. Another resource is Digging Deeper
(gatewaychurch.com/diggingdeeper) which helps you understand how to read and interpret the Bible by
looking more deeply at the passages of Scripture we look at on Sundays. 3. Many of our community
groups dive into those discussions each week! New groups are starting this week!
(Gatewaychurch.com/groups). There are so many parts of the Bible that are easy to understand and those parts can help us understand the more difficult parts – like prophecies.]
Before we dive into Daniel, it’s important to note that some may be coming from 2 extremes. 1)
You may be saying “I don’t buy this whole prophecy stuff- prove it! the Bible is just an old book that is
just a moral guide.” OR 2) Some of you trust the Bible but this topic induces fear and anxiety. You’re
watching all the illuminati conspiracy videos, or those who line up world events and geopolitics to
Scripture. And you’ve forgotten that the God of the future is the God of your present and he wants to
bring you PEACE, not fear. So… no matter where you fall today here’s the point of this message- You
can trust God with your now and with your unknown. The God of your present is the God of your
future, he says he is with you and his perfect love casts out all fear. Okay, so…Daniel
(7:1) In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed
through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. 2 Daniel
said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning
up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
Chronologically chapter 7 actually takes us back in time. If you recall, Belshazzar who is
Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, was dethroned in chapter 5. Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian Empire that
ruled by King Cyrus in 539 BC. But in Daniel 7 we are taken back to 553 BC when Belshazzar just
begins his rule — that’s when this dream comes to Daniel in the night. Daniel was 68 years old at this time, having faithfully served Babylon for most of his life. The political winds were calm, yet Daniel saw
stormy vision about the days to come.
A couple of things to notice is chapter 7 is in two parts: the vision, and then an angel interprets the
vision. Daniel sees a great churning sea — which usually represents turbulent humanity — and four winds
of heaven. In Revelation 7:1 it says the 4 Winds are under the control of four mighty angels, and in
Revelation 9:14 the four angels are told to release the winds on the earth. So this starts to tie us already to the book of Revelation where the four winds represent God’s judgments to come. Daniel 7:2-8 gives a
vision of four beasts which the Angel explains in 7:16-17 as 4 Great Kingdoms that will rise up. [CUT]
(7:4-8) “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings
were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart
of a man was given to it. The first kingdom, represented by a lion with wings, stands for Babylon. The
lion was the seal of Babylon (archaeology discovered the Lion of Babylon), and the symbol of its wings
being plucked off and then standing on 2 feet like a man who is given a heart — this refers to
Nebuchadnezzar. Remember in chapter 4 Nebuchadnezzar was humbled in for seven years went crazy,
then God restored to sanity and he worshiped and served the true God — was given the heart of a man.
(7:5) “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on
one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your
fill of flesh!’ The second is a bear, raised up on one of its sides — which symbolizes the lopsided alliance
of the Median Empire with the Persian Empire (which joined forces to defeat Babylon, but was clearly
ruled by Cyrus—the Persian—it was lopsided or raised on one side). It lasted from 539-333 B.C. and
Cyrus and his son led 3 major military conquests (represented by the 3 ribs he devours)—The Lydian
Empire, the Chaldean Empire, and he conquered Egypt.
(7:6) “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a
leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was
given authority to rule. This third kingdom, represented as a leopard with four wings and four heads,
maps historically to the reign of Alexander the great and the Greek empire which swiftly overthrew the
Persian Empire in 333 BC and lasted until 164 B.C. when the Jewish Macabean Revolt occurred against
the Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes—Hannakah is the Jewish celebration of this victory.
Here’s what’s amazing—Daniel is given another prophecy in Daniel 8 then in Daniel 11 years
later, with even more detailed specifics of each Kingdom to come. In Daniel 11 the Angel explains to
Daniel: “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth,
who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up
everyone against the kingdom of Greece. 3 Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great
power and do as he pleases. 4 After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out
toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he
exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. (Dan 11:2-4) Daniel writes in
about 537 here foretelling history to come: The angel foretells three Kings who will come after Cyrus (the
King when this was written).
537 B.C. Prophecy given to Daniel foretelling this succession of 3 Kings…529 B.C. –
Cambyses 523 B.C. – Gaumata (assassinated next year) 522 B.C. – Darius and then 485-464 B.C.
– Xerxes who the angel said would amass enough wealth and ambition to try to conquer Greece (that’s
what happened). A website on ancient Greek history explains that Xerxes attacked Greece with a massive
army and burned Athens to the ground in 480 BC. Greece pulled a naval surprise attack and defeated
Then the Angels said after the rich King (Xerxes), A Mighty King will rule with great power and
do as he pleases, but his kingdom will not go to his son, but be broken up and parceled out to the 4
winds—in 4 kingdoms. It’s well known that 333 BC Alexander the Great was a military genius who
conquered the then known world in a decade during his 20’s (that’s an ambitious 20-something, think
“Mark Zuckerberg” on steroids), but he died at age 32, they assassinate his 1 year old son, and his Empire
was divided and ruled by 4 of his Generals. Wikipedia explains: Alexander’s kingdom settled into 4 stable
power blocks: the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the kingdom of
Pergamon in Asia minor, and Macedonian Kingdom. Divided in 4 as God foretold through the Angel to
Daniel. Note this is all history of the world, with real Kings and real dates of the most powerful nations
known from 540 to 164 BCE. He goes on to describe exactly what History now says Antiochus Epiphanes
did, a Greek who invaded Israel around 169 BCE, who was an archtype of the Antichrist to come.
Think about how phenomenal this is – Daniel accurately “foresees” the kingdoms to come,
including this division of Alexander’s empire into 4 Greek Kingdoms. And in Chapter 9 and 11, the
Visions get so specific skeptics insist Daniel was not the writer, the book must have been written in 164
B.C. because otherwise, he couldn’t know history with such detailed accuracy (unless you believe that
God truly is sovereign and has demonstrated His Hand in History—Just like he said he would.
OKAY Still with me? I know this is a lot and for some of you this is BIBLE NERD overload. But
our hope is that you never just take our word for it but that you take GOD’S WORD. Everything we say
you should search the Scriptures to verify, because you can trust the Bible as the inspired revelation of
GOD, that’s what Daniel shows us. The God of all history is with you, loves you and – You can trust
God with your now and with your unknown.
But how do we know that Daniel wasn’t a forgery written by someone in 164 B.C. or later looking
back on history and attributing it to Daniel? Multiple reasons Why Daniel was written in 500 BCE:
1). Internal Claims – The writer spells out specific dates and kings during which he writes—facts check
out with archeological sources to the history around 500 B.C.
2). Aramaic and Hebrew vocabulary – remember Languages change over 100s of years. Skeptics claim
Daniel was written not in 540’s but 164B.C. – 400 years apart. Big language changes happen in 3-400
years—listen to Shakespeare’s English, written 400 years ago: “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness To catch the
nearest way: thou wouldst be great; Art not without ambition; but without The illness should attend it.”
Say what? That’s why well-respected archaeologist Kenneth Kitchen, studied Daniel and found that
ninety percent of Daniel’s Aramaic vocabulary was also used in documents dating in the 5 th -6th century
B.C. Daniel’s language doesn’t match the 164 BC language but the 500s.
3). Josephus puts Daniel before 332 B.C.: Josephus, wrote a history for Rome in early 100 A.D. tells us
that the Jewish High Priest, in 332 BC saw Alexander the Great as fulfilling Daniel’s prophesy that
Greece would overthrow Persia, and he showed Alexander the book of Daniel. He writes: “And when
the book of Daniel was shown to him [Alexander], in which he had declared that one of the Greeks
would destroy the empire of the Persians, he [Alexander] believed himself to be the one indicated;
and in his joy he dismissed the multitude for the time being.” Antiquities of the Jews book 11:8.3
Did you catch this? This Roman/Jewish Historian from 100 AD says Alexander read the Book of Daniel
prophecy about himself. So skeptics are dismissing 1 st century history that says Daniel was written at least
by 332 BCE not 164.
4). Dead Sea Copies of Daniel date 150 B.C. – From the Dead Sea Scrolls we have 8 copies of Daniel,
some in Aramaic, some in Hebrew carbon dated at 150 BC. How could the original be written 14 years
earlier? Remember—you didn’t copy Daniel at Kinkos—it was an expensive, long, handwritten task
which is why Archeologist Millar Burrows said “The [Daniel] originals came from a period several
centuries in advance of the earliest date to which these manuscripts and fragments can be assigned
on any basis of reckoning.” [M. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls] So archaeologists say Daniel (the
original), must have been written 200 years before all these copies, so no way in 164 BCE.
6). Prophecy of Temple’s Destruction in 70 A.D. – There’s so much in Daniel–In Daniel 9 God gave
us the very date Jesus the Messiah would come—I’ve done the church math for you before. Daniel 9 also
foretold the Messiah being killed, then the Jerusalem Temple destroyed. If Daniel was all over the Dead
Sea community in 150 B.C., and the Temple was still standing—how do you explain Daniel’s foretelling
that the temple would fall? That happened in 70 A.D. and still no Temple.
Do you see this? God, the Sovereign Lord of the Universe—the creator of every Galaxy, of every
plant and animal, the Creator of Your soul—has mysteriously used His prophets, guided by His holy
Spirit to reveal His Word—His truth to us. It’s right there for all to see if we have eyes to see and hearts
that are open to God’s Spirit. Doesn’t that inspire you to want to study the Bible, know the Bible,
meditate on the Bible—and follow it so you will live blessed by God? Jesus said, Everyone who hears
these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the
rock… 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a
foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds
blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7
All the Kings and Kingdoms, famous, rich and powerful will all come to nothing. But if you live
to serve the King of Kings, the Kingdom you will inherit will never end. In Daniel 7 vision, Daniel saw
this Kingdom too: As I looked…there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of
heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days [God] and was led into his presence. 14 He was given
authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped
him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that
will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:9-14) Daniel sees Jesus (the Son of Man), approaching God the
Father on his throne, and his Kingdom will be a kingdom for all people, all nations, every language loving
and serving the King of the Kingdom that will not pass away.
So I want to leave you with this. Will you trust your life fully into the Hands of the King of all
Kings? He knows you, He loves you, He died for you—Daniel foretold it so You’d know it’s true. Don’t
just build your own Kingdom, it will not last—live for God’s Kingdom and you will never be sorry. And
know this too from our study—God knows your past, present, and future. He is the God who oversees
history, including Your history and future—you can trust Him. Even when things seem out of control, go
to him, seek Him, study his word, follow His Spirit—He is in Control, and if your life is in His hands,
Your life is in Good Hands. You can trust God with your now and with your unknown.