thriving-in-babylon-edited

Scripture Text: Daniel 7:15-28

The Fourth Beast and The Little Horn (MP3)

The Fourth Beast and The Little Horn (Sermon Text)

 

Introduction

What is going to happen in the future? If you had a resource that could tell you what to expect in the future, would you use it? The Bible is not only a book of things that have happened, but it is a record of things that will happen. The prophet Daniel told us in the first six chapters of the book about some of the important events that happened during his life of exile in Babylon. Throughout those chapters we were constantly reminded that God is sovereign! No matter what schemes of Satan or what his little minions try to do to thwart God’s plan or to hurt His people, God is still in control. The last half of the book of Daniel, chapters seven through twelve, describes Daniel’s visions of what was going to happen in the future, the future to Daniel as well as the future to us. God revealed things that He wanted Daniel to know and things He wants us to know about the future. These visions are meant to reassure us that no matter what happens, God is still in control. He will see His will and His plan for the world come to fruition. The message God has for us is that certain things are going to happen, but even in spite of tough times and persecution, nothing will thwart God’s plan. Nothing will deter His will.

The Vision of a Great Beast

In chapter seven, Daniel saw a vision that contained some strange things. In fact, what Daniel saw alarmed him and made him anxious (Daniel 7:15, 28). In his vision, Daniel saw four terrifying beasts come out of a turbulent sea. These four beasts represent four mighty kingdoms, which many believe are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. We learned last week from the first portion of this chapter that these empires and those in authority would reign for a little while, even the bad ones. However, God will ultimately tame those beasts at the final judgement. Lastly, we learned that Jesus, who is the Son of man, will come and establish an everlasting kingdom and inaugurate an eternity of peace. Today, we will look at the last portion of this chapter and focus mainly on the fourth and final beast, which interested Daniel more than the rest. This beast was a unique creature with mixed animal characteristics. It was terrifying and dreadful, very strong, with great iron teeth that devoured and crushed, and it trampled down whatever it did not eat. It also had ten horns and “another horn” that was different from the others.

There are times when we see things that are terrifying, that sometimes shock us into disbelief. I remember a scene from the TV series Band of Brothers where the group of soldiers, called Easy Company, stumbled upon a Nazi concentration camp. The faces of those prisoners seeing the soldiers who came to rescue them was very moving. But, the faces of those soldiers who were shocked by the inhumanity that was on display was equally moving. Governments have and continue to do all sorts of evil things. Some are terrifying in the power and influence they have on the rest of the world. Daniel probably did not fully understand all of the details of the vision he had received, but he realized that it portrayed the violent overthrow of many governments and the chaos in the world. This concerned Daniel. He probably wanted to know when these events would take place and which governments would fall. Would the terrifying things he saw occur in his lifetime, and how would they affect his people, Israel? Also important, what does Daniel’s vision about the fourth beast mean for us?

The Beast Will Oppose God

Daniel was very interested in the fourth beast that was “exceedingly terrifying”. He had probably not seen anything like it. If the other beasts represented kings and kingdoms, what did this biological monstrosity describe? Look at the following verse.

Daniel 7:19 Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet,

This ferocious animal was terrifying. It had iron teeth and bronze claws. It could tear a victim to shreds, which signified the tremendous destructive power of this empire. It was a force unlike any other. The fourth beast also had ten horns. Daniel desired for the horns on the fourth beast’s head to be explained. This fourth beast probably represents the Roman Empire, which greatly surpassed all of the earlier kingdoms in power, longevity, and influence. If so, the horns probably represent ten kings or kingdoms that would arise out of the Roman Empire. But most of all, Daniel wanted to understand the “other horn” that came after the first ten. This horn was unique, having eyes and a boastful mouth. Daniel was disturbed by this “little horn” that was different from all of the rest. Daniel had reason to be disturbed. This king was exceedingly evil and he spoke blasphemies against God. Look at the following verse.

Daniel 7:25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

This king will be different from the other kings in that he will be greater in power, intelligence, and arrogance. He will put down those who resist his power. This arrogant king will oppose God. He will speak against God, which signifies that he will blaspheme God. Daniel does not reveal the exact nature of the king’s blasphemous words, but it could be that he will demand people to worship him, similar to other kings of the past. To demand worship of oneself when worship only belongs to God is a blasphemous attack upon God. To speak against God, however, does not necessarily mean to demand worship of an earthly king or leader. Governments can speak against God in the unjust laws they enact. Calling something good or just that God declares as evil is opposing Him. How may laws does our own government have that opposes God? How should we respond to these things? We ought to realize that evil prevails for a time. Men, even those in power, do evil things for a while. Governments oppose God, but none of this will last. The beasts’ time is limited. God will show the world Who is truly sovereign.

The Beast Will Persecute God’s Saints

One point Daniel’s vision makes is that tough times will come for God’s people. This made me think: why are so many people, including myself, surprised when bad things happen? Why are we shocked when evil men do evil things? Why are we shocked when God’s people suffer? Is it because we believe, somewhere in our hearts, that this place is good? Is it because we long for a place where evil is destroyed and good reigns? That place is real, but it is not here. That place is heaven! The little madman in Daniel’s vision will not only blaspheme God, but he will also oppress the saints of God. Believers will be harassed until their lives become miserable. Earthly kingdoms will come and go and they will inflict pain and suffering on God’s people for a while. Verse twenty five reveals that this “other horn” will wear out the saints. The evil king will wage war with the saints of God and he will prevail over them. Look at the following verse.

Daniel 7:21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them,

The little horn waged war against the saints and he defeated them. That had to be troubling for Daniel. Who is this person who will speak against God and persecute His people? To some extent, the description of this person in Daniel’s vision fits several tyrants in history. Some believe this to be one of those tyrants in the past that indeed persecuted the saints of God. However, the description of this king is vague enough to leave his identity somewhat uncertain. Others believe this person is one of the most famous people in the Bible – the Antichrist. The details of this evil king certainly fit the description of the Antichrist. The prefix “anti” means against, but it can also mean “instead of”. The Antichrist is someone who is both against Christ and who puts himself in the place where only Jesus belongs. He is called in Scripture, among other names, the “man of lawlessness” and the “son of destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the “Antichrist” (1 John 2:18), and the “beast” (Revelation 13:1). The saints are no match for Satan and his evil representative, the Antichrist. He will persecute the saints until God judges him and Satan. The Apostle John revealed much of this. Look at the following.

Revelation 13:5–8 5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Why will Antichrist be so vicious in his opposition to the saints? First, believers will oppose his murderous and wicked activities. Second, he will be inspired by Satan, who hates the people of God. He will go beyond what anyone has done before in his attempt to create a thoroughly secular world. Even now there are those seeking to rid society of all traces of Christianity. Bad things have happened. Bad things are going to happen. But, that is not the rest of the story. Satan may have power for a while. Satan may appear to win for a time. However, his time is limited. God’s still reigns supreme. God’s judgement is coming. All evil kings and kingdoms, including the Antichrist, are doomed for destruction. God’s court will render a final judgment and pronounce a sentence of destruction upon the evil dictator. Look at the following verse.

Daniel 7:26 But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end.

Thanks be to God, there will be a time when war will be no more. Universal peace and prosperity will permeate the world. Jesus, the Son of Man, will return on clouds of glory and receive an everlasting kingdom from the Father in heaven. Jesus’ kingdom will be inaugurated when He returns. So, what hope does this give us today? What does this vision tell us about what to expect? For one, we know bad times are coming. We also know that this earth is not our home. We are sojourners traveling to a better home above. Yes, we will face persecution. The good news of the gospel is that God is still preparing a better place for us. Evil will one day be finally destroyed.

God’s Saints Will Inherit His Kingdom

Not only will Jesus return to establish an everlasting kingdom, one that will inaugurate an eternal peace, Jesus will also give this kingdom to His saints. Look at the following.

Daniel 7:27 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

We should notice a couple of things from this verse. All of the kingdoms on earth, those under the whole heaven, will be given to the saints of God. All earthly powers, those who are reigning now, their power and authority will be one day given to God’s people. Verse twenty-seven says the kingdom of God will be given to the saints. This is something that is actually mentioned three times in this vision (Daniel 7:17-18, 21-22, 27). The saints of God, those who follow Jesus, will inherit His kingdom. The second thing we should notice is that while God’s people will receive the kingdom, it is still His kingdom. So, what does it mean for the saints of God to “receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever”? Jesus Christ will receive the kingdom from God the Father as His reward for accomplishing His work as God’s Righteous Servant. The saints are members of His Body, the Church, and as a result of their faithful submission to Jesus will also receive the kingdom of God as a reward from Christ. Whereas for now, earthly rule is in the hands of people who do not serve God, one day, Jesus will return, and He will give dominion to His people. This should not be confused with Jesus’ absolute authority over all. Jesus is King, but we will inherit the kingdom as well. In fact, Jesus mentioned this in Matthew chapter twenty-five, when He spoke about His second coming. He will separate the “sheep” from the goats” and tell His sheep the following.

Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Evil reigns for a while. Trouble comes for a season. Suffering happens for a time. But the good news of the Gospel is that when Jesus returns, suffering will cease. Evil will be finally vanquished. God’s people will inherit the kingdom of God.

Conclusion

In closing, when Daniel received this vision and understood its meaning, his thoughts “deeply troubled” him, and his “face turned pale,” likely due to shock. Daniel had seen many frightening things—kingdoms rise and fall, a diabolical tyrant, and the persecution of the saints. Moreover, he did not know when these things would take place. What does this vision have to say to us who live in a chaotic world? Daniel’s vision reveals the truth of earthly powers that rule for a time. Regardless of one’s interpretation of the details of this prophecy, all would agree that the chapter continues the theme of the sovereignty of God. In spite of opposition from the kings of this earth, God is still in control. Someday His court will be in session, evil will be finally punished and eliminated, Jesus will reign as King, and the saints will rule with him.

Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of earthly powers? Are you on the side of God? If you are on the side of God, who or what do you really trust to bring you comfort? When times are tough, or if you should face the persecution described in this vision, what will get you through each day? What gives you peace? What do you really look to give you peace and security? Is it your job? Is it your finances? Is it your government? Is it a particular party that is in power? All of these things will pass. All of these things will change. Our faith and trust must be in Jesus Christ and in His kingdom, or our faith is not worth having. How great a God we serve! How great a Savior we have! This is good news. Thanks be to God. Amen!


This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.

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