Sermon: Where the Wild Things Are
Summary: God pulls back the curtain to allow his people a glimpse of the spiritual realities behind what is happening in an environment that is hostile to his people. God is always on the throne and in control, and will destroy the powers hostile to his people and give the kingdom to his people, and it will never be destroyed.
Text: Dan 7
Scripture Reading: Ps 18:6-12
1. What is the most scary animal to you? Snake? Mouse? Lion? Tiger? Bear?
2. In a part of Daniel where Daniel records the visions God gave him – includes some scare and bizarre animals
a. Won’t find these in the wild, zoo, or National Geographic
b. These are metaphors for something other than an animal
3. Animals are metaphors for nations and kingdoms
a. Interesting that many nations have fearsome beasts as a national symbol
i. Australia – Red Kangaroo
ii. Guyana – Jaguar
iii. India – Tiger
iv. Indonesia – Komodo Dragon
v. Italy – Italian Wolf
vi. Russia – Eurasian Brown Bear
vii. South Korea – Siberian Tiger
viii. Thailand – Asian Elephant
ix. United Kingdom – Lion
x. United States – Bald Eagle
xi. Scotland – Unicorn
c. This vision depicts the coming world powers as beasts
4. Chapter in two parts
a. Vision itself – 2 scenes
b. Interpretation of the Vision
A. (7:1) Time – First Year of Belshazzar (probably about 553, 14 yrs before fall of Babylon in 539)
B. Features of the Vision
1. (7:2) The unruly sea
a. Sea a familiar motif – restless and unruly place of chaos
b. Associated with forces opposed to order and goodness
c. Where the monsters are
2. (7:3) The four beasts out of the sea
a. (7:4) The first beast – like a lion
i. Had eagles wings that were plucked off – loss of power?
ii. Made to walk on two feet – improvement or not? 4 legged animal on two feet is not good
iii. Given the heart/mind of a man (not heart/mind of lion) – More docile?
b. (7:5) The second beast – like a bear
i. Insatiable appetite? Already had three ribs… eat more
ii. Standing up on one side? Lopsided?
c. (7:6) The third beast – like a leopard
i. Had four wings and heads
ii. What is with all these fours?
iii. Dominion was given to it – It ruled
d. (7:7) The fourth beast – like a ???? – Different than the other beasts
i. Terrifying – exceedingly strong, iron teen, bronze claws
ii. Used strength and metal teeth & claws to devour, break, stomp out what was left
iii. Had ten horns – Horns represent strength.
iv. (v.8) An 11th horn – little, plucked out 3 other horns, eyes, mouth bragging
3. The Ancient of Days
a. (7:9-10) Scene of judgment
i. Ancient of Days? – Older than days – Eternal – wisdom, etc.
ii. White clothes and hair – purity and ancient
iii. Fire – throne, wheels (mobile throne?), stream of fire from throne
iv. 1 million served him / 100 million stood before him
v. Court sat in judgment – books opened – divine judgment scene
b. (7:11) Beast was killed, burned. Short time for dominion of beasts
4. One like a Son of Man came to the Ancient of Days
a. (7:13-14) One like a son of man coming on the clouds
b. Not like a beast, but like a son of man – very different
c. Was given dominion and kingdom that never pass away, never destroyed
C. If God showed you this, what would be your reaction?
1. Ever woke up from a bizarre dream? Heart beat? Sweat?
2. Realize – Oh, it was just a dream
3. But what if God made it clear – not a dream… a vision!
4. I want to know what does it mean?????
D. What does this mean? (7:17)
1. Four Beasts for Four Kingdoms:
a. 1st Beast – Babylon
i. Wings plucked - power and glory plucked
ii. Walking on two legs – not very efficient for four legged creature
iii. Went from having hear/mind of lion to mind of a man – weak minded?
b. 2nd Beast – Medo/Persian Empire
i. Three ribs for three major military campaigns of Cyrus
ii. Persian went from Iraq to Turkey to Egypt - Devoured
c. 3rd Beast – Greece and Successor states
i. Like a leopard – swift and fast, like Alexander the Great
ii. Swept eastward until he could go no further, wept that there were no more lands to conquer
iii. After he died, his kingdom divided into four
d. 4th Beast – Rome
i. Says this one was different than the others – powerful
ii. Rome’s military tactics unparalleled – military still uses them today
iii. Rome also persecuted God’s people
2. They shall come from the earth
a. Not the sea? Sea is apocalyptic figure
b. Speaking not in analogy here – from the earth, not heaven
3. But – Saints of the Most High shall receive kingdom and possess it forever - Unlike the various beasts
4. Would you want more than one verse? Daniel did (7:19-22)
a. Major focus is on the 4th beast and on the little horn
b. The little horn is the one that makes war with the saints
c. Only lasts until Ancient of Days comes
II. Interpretation of the 4th Beast
A. (v.23-25) The 4th Kingdom will be different from all the rest - Rome
1. Strong as iron, will devour earth
a. Rome conquered areas previous kingdoms did not
b. From Israel to as far as Persian Gulf, to Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Greece, Asia, and Britain
c. Seems invincible – nothing like them
2. Ten horns represent ten kings
a. Literally ten kings?
b. Or symbolic number, communicating the idea of human complete power
c. Regardless, there will be powerful kings
B. The 11th horn, the little one, will be different – Domitian
1. From Augustus, the first emperor, to Titus is 10 kings, Domitian is 11
2. Speak words against the Most High
a. Doesn’t say exactly what
b. We do know that he viewed himself as a god
3. Change times and the law
a. Domitian officially gave himself the title of Dominus et Deus – “Lord and God”
b. Ramped up the Imperial Cult – Religion of Caesar
c. All were required to declare “Caesar is Lord.”
4. Wear out the Saints of the Most High
a. We know that he persecuted both Christians and Jews
b. Reason – They refused to confess Caesar as Lord – Jesus is Lord
C. Be allowed his reign of terror for a time, times, and half a time
1. Some say this is 3 ½ - time is 1, times is 2, plus half a time
2. Probably not – “Times” is plural not dual (Original language has plural and dual) – which means it is more than two
3. Probably simply communicates that his reign will seem to continue, but will be cut short
4. His time is temporary
D. Reflections on the “4th Beast”
1. He seems invincible – metal teeth and claws, all those horns
2. He is a religion – Speak against Most High, will change times and law,
3. But his time is temporary – many other beasts have come and gone
III. Interpretation of the Heavenly Scene
A. (26-27) High point of the vision
1. Dominion of the Beast and the little horn is taken away and destroyed
2. Kingdom/Reign is given to the Saint of the Most High
3. His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, never destroyed
a. Those other kingdoms come and gone
b. Even the 4th beast with all its power, destroyed
c. But kingdom of the Son of Man and the Saints is forever
B. Jesus is the fulfilment of this vision
1. (V.13-14) 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
a. The Ancient of Days – Older than days, on the throne – God
b. One like a son of man – not a beast, but humanlike
c. Who is the one that looks human that receives an everlasting kingdom?
2. (Mt 26:63-64) 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
C. Reflection on the Response of The Ancient of Days
1. Notice God’s Response to the actions of the beast who makes war with the saints
a. Would God to do battle with the beast to destroy it
i. The beast makes war against, the saints, what would God do?
ii. Expect God’s response in battle to destroy the beast
b. But the scene is not a battle scene, but a judicial one
i. No hint of a battle in God’s response
ii. Instead, the books are opened, and God passes judgment
2. What does this indicate? There is no contest between the Beast and God
a. Maybe that is why the loud horn that makes war is a “little” horn
b. For all the bravado, big talk, violence, the beast is not match for God
3. (Psalm 2:1-9) 2 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
a. This is similar message to Daniel 7
b. This Psalm shows us that the “beasts” are human beings opposed to God
i. They rage – make lot of noise in their arrogance, like the little horn
ii. They take counsel – they ally themselves against Yahweh
c. Yahweh’s reaction – “He who sits in the Heavens (enthroned) laughs”
i. Not worried, fearful, bent out of shape
ii. Laughs. Amused.
iii. Like a cockroach trying to attack him
d. I have set MY KING on Mount Zion
i. Today I have begotten you – Way to refer to kings coronation
ii. He will break them with a rod of iron
iii. Dan 7 adds – His reign will never come to an end!
D. The takeaway for us
1. The horn is little
a. Have already seen this throughout the narratives in Daniel
i. Threats to Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael burning furnace – Didn’t harm any Hebrews, only Babylonians who threw them in
ii. Conspiracy against Daniel led to lions Den – Not stop Daniel from praying
iii. Yes, God’s people were given into his hand…for a season
a) Three Hebrew Youths thrown into the furnace
b) Daniel thrown into the Lion’s Den
c) But God demonstrated that he was WITH THEM
iv. The little horn could only do what God allowed it to do until God destroyed it
b. The horn is STILL little even today
i. Doesn’t matter how loud the horn is ridiculing God’s people
ii. Doesn’t matter how much legislation, or laws the little horn passes to try and limit God’s people
iii. Doesn’t matter how much the little horn tries to intimidate God’s people
iv. God will take out the little horn, and preserve us into eternity
2. The Kingdom of the Son of Man is invincible and eternal
a. Right now, we live in a time where Kingdom of God exists side by side with the Kingdom of the Beast
b. But the Kingdom of the Beast will be destroyed, and the Kingdom of God will remain forever
c. (1 Cor 15:22-24) 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
i. When he returns, he will destroyed every rule, authority and power
ii. His Kingdom will be delivered to God forever!
iii. This is why our citizenship is in Heaven, not of this world
iv. We will posses the kingdom forever!
3. The one enthroned in the Heavens laughs
a. He is not worried, concerned, fearful --- neither are we.
b. Whether it is a fiery furnace or a den of lions, we do not fear them
c. Whether it is a restrictive law, prohibition of teaching biblical truths, threat of jail time, a fine, loss of employment, etc. we do not fear them
d. Even if you are ridiculed, marginalized, defined as less than human: Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit/nobodies – For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven!”
i. In other words, even though world treats you as a nobody, you are not nobody
ii. Unlike the world, you have the Kingdom of Heaven
iii. They will pass away, but you will shine eternally!
1. The unusual thing is how Jesus displayed his power in establishing his eternal Kingdom – Death, burial, resurrection (inv)
2. If you have obeyed, you may at times feel like Daniel
a. (v.28) 28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”
b. This was a shock, he was alarmed, pale.
c. BUT – Daniel NEVER compromised his loyalty to God, no matter how alarming the visions were of what was to come
d. Difficult times are coming, but remember who wins in the end!
3. Remember: You are citizens of the eternal Kingdom of our Lord
a. World opposes you, but God has passed judgment on the world
b. Beast is doomed to be destroyed, but you will shine with God eternally