Sermon:  What to Do if Bad Times Are Coming


Summary:  God reveals that He has a timetable and a plan which includes times of relative calm and times of extreme hardship for his people in the world.  Though we may not know or understand all of the particulars, we do understand that God’s plan is working toward his goal, which is eternal peace in his heavenly him after he has destroyed all enemies.  Because of this, we have strong encouragement to keep serving in faith, love, and hope.


Text:  Dan 8


Scripture Reading:  1 Thess 5:1-4



1.      Have you ever had to deal with missed expectations?  Life is full of them

a.      You can get angry, laugh, withdraw, mistrust

b.      God is careful to communicate with us in such a way to lessen missed expectations on certain things

c.      Part of this is to give his people a glimpse into the future

d.      God gave a glimpse to Israel in the book of Daniel

2.      Start - Part 2 of Book of Daniel

a.      Style of prophecy that is highly symbolic, vivid, bizarre creatures, symbolic numbers, etc.

b.      Daniel gets a clearer picture of what life will be like under the next two kingdoms

c.      Purpose?  Not stated directly, but apparently is to

                                                    i.     Prepare the future generations mentally and spiritually for what is to come

                                                   ii.     To offer perspective – God knows what is going to happen

                                                 iii.     To offer hope – Everything happens according to God’s plan on his timetable

3.      Be looking at Dan 8 –


I.     Dan 8 – The Vision

A.   The setting (v.1-2)

1.    3rd Year of Reign of Belshazzar – Abour 550 BC, 11 years before fall of Babylon

2.    Daniel was in Susa in the province of Elam, in the citadel (fortress)

a.    Probably not there literally, but there in the vision

b.    It was take from Assyria, and under Babylonian rule

c.    Medes conquered it, and it eventually became center of Achaemenid Persian power, a capital city (1 of 4)

d.    Royal road went from Susa to Sardis (rich in gold and minerals)

3.    This would be like Daniel saying he had a vision, and was at the National Mall in Washington D.C.

4.    Suggest that what he is about to see will involve nations

B.   First part of the vision – Two horned ram (v.3-4)

1.    One horn bigger than the other

2.    It charged wests, north, and south

3.    No beast could stand against him – He became great

C.   The second part of the vision – A male goat (v.5-8)

1.    Came from the west, feet not touch ground – FAST

2.    Big horn between his eyes

3.    Broke the ram’s horns, trampled it down, became very great

4.    The horn was broken, but four horns grew in its place

D.   The third part of the vision – A small horn from a horn (v.9-12)

1.    Grew great toward the southeast, toward the “glorious land”

2.    Grew up to host of heaven, threw down some stars & trampled them

3.    Became great as the “prince of hosts/armies”

a.    Stopped the regular burnt offerings

b.    Overthrew the sanctuary

c.    Threw truth to the ground

d.    Allowed to overpower the host of God successfully

E.   Timetable (v.13-14)

1.    He heard a holy one asking – “How long”

2.    Answer: Lit = “Until evening morning 2,300”

a.    Many possibilities offered as to exactly how to interpret – But I will not get into those

b.    Keep in mind, this is apocalyptic – numbers are usually symbolic

c.    What is clear, is that there is a beginning and an end

3.    After this period of time, the sanctuary will be restored to its rightful state


II.   (v.15) What did this mean?

A.   (v.16) A voice told Gabriel (warrior of God) to help Daniel understand the vision

B.   (v.17) It is for the time of the end

1.    Question – The end of what?

2.    v.14 – The vision went from present time of Daniel and ended with the destruction of the little horn – that is the end

3.    (v.18-19) – I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end

4.    Goes on to describe events leading up to the “end” of the indignation

C.   (v.20-25) The Ram, Goat, Big Horn, 4 Horns, and Little Horn (more details from Macabees & Josephus)

1.    Ram with 2 horns – Medes & Persians

2.    Swift Goat – Greeks

a.    Big Horn – The King (Alexander the Great)

b.    After his death, 4 kings take over parts of his Kingdom

i.      Selucus I – East

ii.     Ptolemy I – South (Egypt)

iii.    Cassander – Macedonia & Greece

iv.   Lysimachus – Asia & Thrace

3.    The little horn from a horn – Antiochus IV

a.    Also known as Antiochus Epiphanes (manifestation)

b.    This is the one that grew toward the south (Took Judea from Ptolemies and spread further south)

c.    Tried to Hellenize all of Judea, forcibly

d.    Notice the coins he minted – Greek inscription says “King Antiochus, Manifestation of God” (others add – “Bringer of victory”)

i.      The coins they were required to use – idolatry

ii.     Interesting that after they restored Jewish independence, coins no longer faces on them, but had plants

4.    Seal the vision – it is a long way off

a.    Cover events about 300 years in the future

b.    But seal it, preserve it for perspective and guidance when it comes

D.   Historical accounts of this in the future in works of Josephus and in Maccabbees

1.    Josephus – Jewish Wars, Book 1, chapter 1 verses 1b-2 – 1b “The king, being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favoured Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months. But Onias the high-priest fled to Ptolemy, and received a place from him in the Nomus of Heliopolis, where he built a city resembling Jerusalem, and a temple that was like its temple; concerning which we shall speak more in its proper place hereafter.  (2) Now Antiochus was not satisfied either with his unexpected taking the city, or with its pillage, or with the great slaughter he had made there; but being overcome with his violent passions, and remembering what he had suffered during the siege, he compelled the Jews to dissolve the laws of their country, and to keep their infants uncircumcised, and to sacrifice swines flesh upon the altar; against which they all opposed themselves, and the most approved among them were put to death. Bacchides also, who was sent to keep the fortresses, having these wicked commands joined to his own natural barbarity, indulged all sorts of the extremest wickedness, and tormented the worthiest of the inhabitants, man by man, and threatened their city every day with open destruction; till at length he provoked the poor sufferers by the extremity of his wicked doings to avenge themselves.

2.    (1 Maccabees 1:41-64) 41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42 and that all should give up their particular customs. 43 All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50 He added,[e] “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.”         51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. 52 Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53 they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.           54 Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year,[f] they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, 55 and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56 The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57 Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. 58 They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. 59 On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. 60 According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61 and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.              62 But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. 63 They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 64 Very great wrath came upon Israel.

a.    He repurposed the temple for pagan worship

b.    Erected an image to Zeus

c.    Offering pagan offerings and worship at the temple

d.    All part of trying to Hellenize them

3.    (2 Maccabees 9:5-9) But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him with an incurable and invisible blow. As soon as he stopped speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels, for which there was no relief, and with sharp internal tortures— and that very justly, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence, but was even more filled with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews, and giving orders to drive even faster. And so it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and the fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body. Thus he who only a little while before had thought in his superhuman arrogance that he could command the waves of the sea, and had imagined that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance, was brought down to earth and carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. And so the ungodly man’s body swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of the stench the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. 

a.    As God had said to Daniel, he would take him out

b.    It was in the most undignified and humiliating way


III.  What Timeless Message is there for Us as Christians Today?

A.   God has an “appointed time” for the stages of his plan

1.    V.19 – This vision concerned the “appointed time of the end”

a.    Specifically, the end of the indignation & persecution they would suffer

b.    It would begin in the future, and then would end

c.    God communicated this with the vision of the statues, kingdoms will rise and fall, and God’s kingdom will put end to them all

d.    Same thing happened when God told Abraham that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt, but God would redeem them

2.    Eccl 3:11 – God has made everything appropriate (fit beautifully) in its time

B.   There are still appointed times in God’s plan to this day

1.    27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

a.    There is an appointed time for all of us to leave this earth

b.    So Christ will appear – there is an appointed time for his return

2.    Mt 24 – 3 questions: When destruction of temple, his coming, end of age

a.    (Mt 24:36-39) 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of [f]heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

3.    Always be Ready

a.    (Mt 24:44) 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

b.    What does it mean to be ready?  Jesus goes on to tell 3 connected parables in Mt 25 about being ready

i.      10 maidens waiting for bridegroom, some had extra oil – were ready at all time

ii.     Talents/Bags of God – God has entrusted you with his resources, so be productive in God’s mission for him to have something to show

iii.    Sheep & Goats – separates – those who fed, gave drink, welcome stranger, clothed the naked, visit in prison from those who did not (this is how you serve him)

c.    Gal 6:9 – Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart

i.      We don’t know the times or the seasons

ii.     But God knows

iii.    And there will be a joyful abundant harvest

C.    We live in uncertain times – Hear that on the news continually

1.    We are worried about losing freedoms, dishonest public leaders, economy, debt, education, wars, the future of the country

a.    Could Daniel have worried about this?

b.    Did Daniel live in uncertain times?

2.    It is Nothing new, world has been full of uncertain times – things constantly changing, sometimes for better, but usually for worst

3.    But there is a certain time – God’s appointed time

a.    This is a reminder, that everything is on schedule with God

b.    God has a plan, and it culminates with us in the New Jerusalem

c.    We are not focused on uncertain times, but on his certain time

D.   How does that affect you?

1.    I am not overcome with fear, anger, bitterness, despair

2.    By joyful confidence gives me the emotional and spiritual energy to love, encourage, and share in the name of Christ



1.      We are not fearful, bitter, angry – Because Jesus is Lord!  (inv)

2.      If you have obeyed, then keep this perspective.  He is coming, and he will make it right.  We stay ready by loving, encouraging, and serving in his name