************ Sermon on Daniel 8:25-27 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 2, 2006
"The Final Outcome"
Daniel's dream of the ram and the goat shows us of things to come in the world, of things to come in the church, and of things to come for the Antichrist.
As far as the world is concerned, Daniel's dream of the ram and the goat shows us that all earthly kingdoms come and go. It shows us that the kingdom of the Antichrist arises from the ash-heap of the nations that weaken and destroy each other. It shows us that the kingdom of the Antichrist arises when all the earthly powers have become nothing or next to nothing.
As far as the church is concerned, Daniel's vision of the ram and the goat shows us a church that the Antichrist attacks from within and without. Daniel's vision shows us a church that becomes more and more secular, more and more like the world. It shows us a church that suffers persecution and tribulation. It shows us a church that has a falling-away through apostasy. It shows us a church that is weakened to the point where she is only a shadow of herself.
Today, we look at what Daniel's vision tells us about things to come for the Antichrist.
I The Antichrist's Rise and Fall
A The picture the Bible presents of the Antichrist is simply terrifying. In trying to describe it in chapter 7 Daniel is not sure whether it is man, beast, or machine. But whatever it was, it was "terrifying and frightening and very powerful; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left" (7:7). And, in chapter 8, Daniel tells us,
(Dan 8:24-25) He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. (25) He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes.
Terrifying as the Antichrist may be, Daniel admits that behind him is someone even more terrifying. That someone is the Devil, Satan, the great serpent. You see, the Antichrist is but a tool, an instrument, a club in the hand of Satan. Daniel says, "He will become very strong, but not by his own power" (vs 24). "Not by his own power" because it is Satan who raises him up. It is Satan who gives him power and authority. It is Satan who makes him prosper and gives him success. It is Satan who is the power behind the throne. The Antichrist is but a pawn, a puppet, in the hands of Satan.
Even as the Antichrist is raised by another power, so is he destroyed by another power. Daniel says, "he will be destroyed, but not by human power" (vs 25). The Antichrist is raised by Satan and destroyed by the Lord Jesus.
The Antichrist is caught up in something far bigger, far greater, than dominion on the earth. He is caught up in a struggle that involves heaven and earth, men and angels, spirits and demons. He is caught up in the universal struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, the seed of the woman and the spawn of Satan. Remember what God announced to Satan in the Garden of Eden already? He said,
(Gen 3:15) And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.In the Garden God announces that He and Satan are eternal enemies, caught in conflict that cannot end until Satan has been destroyed. This struggle between God and Satan finds its climax in the rising and falling of the Antichrist.
The Antichrist may be powerful and terrifying, but in actuality he is nothing but a bit-player in the struggle between God and Satan. The Antichrist may be powerful and terrifying, but in actuality he has as much control over what happens as we do. The Antichrist may be powerful and terrifying, but in actuality he is as helpless as we are.
B As we think and talk about the Antichrist and the struggle between God and Satan, we have to avoid the heresy of Marcion. Marcion was a wealthy ship-owner who joined the church of Rome around the year A.D. 140. Marcion was haunted by the problem of evil and suffering. He wondered how come there is so much pain and hurt if God is good and loving and kind? To answer this question Marcion proposed a religious dualism between the evil God of the Old Testament and the merciful God of the New Testament.
World history has witnessed many forms of religious dualism. Dualism affirms the existence of two equal and opposite forces. We know these forces as Good and Evil, God and Satan, Light and Darkness. The two forces are locked in eternal combat. Since the forces are equal and opposite, dualism teaches that their conflict goes on forever, with neither side ever gaining the upper hand. The world is forever doomed to be the battleground between these hostile forces. Mankind is but a victim in their struggle, pawns in an eternal chess game.
Daniel tells us that this is nonsense. Satan may be opposite to God, but he is by no means God's equal. Satan is a creature; God alone is the Creator. Satan is potent; God alone is omnipotent. Satan is knowledgeable and crafty; God is omniscient. Satan is finite; God is infinite. The list can continue. But it is clear from Scripture that Satan is not an ultimate force in any way.
We are not doomed to an eternal conflict with no hope for peace and tranquility. The message of Scripture, the message of Daniel, is victory: full, final, and ultimate victory. It is not our doom that is certain, but Satan's and his Antichrist.
C Daniel's message: there will be a final struggle and Christ will be the victor. Satan and his Antichrist will be destroyed, "but not by human power." The hand that will break the Antichrist is God's hand, the hand that controls all things, the hand that wrote "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN" on Belshazzar's wall.
In a certain sense this prophecy has already been fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes. I mentioned last time that in Jewish history the Antichrist is foreshadowed by Antiochus Epiphanes, the hater of God and His people. One day, when Antiochus was out on a military campaign, he was struck down unexpectedly by a mysterious disease that led to his death. God's hand can clearly be seen in this.
God will not tolerate people laughing at Him. It may be true that the godless enjoy success, but it is only for a time and in the end they will be broken! This is the continual refrain of Daniel 8: broken horns and broken kingdoms. Only the Kingdom and throne of God endures forever. Only Jesus gets to wear the crown forever.
The Antichrist will suffer the same fate as Antiochus Epiphanes. Just when his power reaches its climax, he will be broken – but not by any human hand. There will be no one on earth with sufficient power to overthrow this dictator. He will be overthrown only when the cry, "Maranatha! Jesus is coming!" is at last heard around the world.
Jesus' appearance will come as a horrifying surprise to the Antichrist, just as Antiochus was taken by surprise when he was struck down by his mysterious illness. At the point when all the world bows in reverential awe before the Antichrist, the curtains of heaven will open and Christ will come and proclaim Himself to be King of kings and Lord of lords.
II How Long?
A Daniel's vision has shown us that the Antichrist will virtually have a free hand on earth. All other empires have been destroyed. The church will be greatly weakened through persecution and compromise. Jesus said that many in the church will fall away and will betray and hate one another (Mt 24:10). Simply put, the reign of the Antichrist will be gruesome and terrifying.
In verse 13 Daniel hears an angel ask an important question: "How long?" "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled?" "How long must the church suffer apostasy, persecution, and betrayal?" "How long?" Can you hear the anguish, the pain, the torment in this cry? This cry reminds me of the song we sing, "The Church's One Foundation."
Though with a scornful wonderThis question was asked too by the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained. In his Revelation, John hears them cry,
the world sees her oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up: "How long?"
and soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.
(Psalter Hymnal 502:3)
(Rev 6:10) "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" "How long?"
This question is not hard to understand. Jesus Himself said that if the time were not shortened, not a single faithful believer would be left at the end (Mt 24:22). Imagine, the attack of the Antichrist is so fierce that every believer falls away, forsaking the Lord and salvation. "How long?"
B The mysterious answer to this question is given to us in the book of Daniel:
(Dan 8:14) "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." Those 2,300 nights will include many painful, lonely hours for the watchmen. The hours will drag by with agonizing slowness for those who long and pray for morning.
Here, as in other places, we must resist the impulse to figure out exactly the times and seasons. In prophetic books like Daniel and Revelation, numbers almost always have a symbolic meaning. The main point is that the numbers are given to us in thousands and hundreds – 2,300 evenings and mornings.
What this number suggests is that a considerable period of time must pass before the end will come. On the other hand, this number also suggests that though the days and nights of the Antichrist are many, they are not unlimited. Days and nights are counted in heaven. Each and every day God puts another check on the calendar of world history. Someday, we are told, the final check will be put on the calendar and the Antichrist's time will have come to an end. At that time it will be Satan, his Antichrist, and all who are evil who be filled with dread and terror.
We are being reminded, then, that God does not forget His suffering people. The times are terrifying. The beasts are frightening. The persecution is gruesome. But God does not forget, God does not abandon, His people. Someday – we don't know when – Jesus will come with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God (1 Thess 4:16). His people will be taken unto Himself and into glory.
III Believing Response
A How are we to respond to all this? The picture the Bible presents of the Antichrist is simply terrifying. What should be our reaction?
The believing attitude that the church must assume in the dark days ahead is found in the response Daniel gives. We are told three things about Daniel's believing response. First, Daniel was instructed to "seal up the vision" (vs 26). What this means is that Daniel was to preserve the vision or revelation very carefully. Just like a valuable document is safeguarded in a safety-deposit box, so Daniel is to safeguard the revelation given to him. After all, it is a Word from the Lord concerning the future.
Subtopic: Absolutely Trustworthy
Title: The Infallible Bible-Barometer
A man who lived on Long Island, New York, bought a high quality barometer. When it was delivered to his home, the arrow appeared to be stuck, pointing to the section marked "Hurricane." The man shook the barometer, but the indicator stayed the same. So the man sat down and wrote a scorching letter to the store where he had bought it. The following morning on the way to his office in New York City, he mailed the letter. Later that day a hurricane struck the East Coast. That evening the man returned to Long Island to find that his barometer was missing -- and so was his house.
When it comes to the future the Bible is more certain and dependable than any barometer. It is God's eternal Word and it's never wrong! That's why Daniel was told to "seal up the vision." Like Daniel, we need to safeguard and treasure it – not by locking it up somewhere but by reading and studying and meditating upon it.
B We also see a second response. We read, "I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days ... I was appalled by the vision." When some people read the Bible or hear a sermon, they simply shrug their shoulders and go their way as if nothing had happened. Obviously, Daniel does not react this way. God's message overwhelms Daniel. It even affects his body, for he was ill for several days.
This does not mean that we must become sick in response to God's Word. But it does mean that the Word of God should not leave us unmoved. That Word should cause a reaction. At the very least, Daniel's revelation should make us pray, "Lord, how long?" "Lord, have mercy on us."
C The third and last response is this: "Then I got up and went about the kings's business." The prophet was highly disturbed by the vision, but not shattered. He does not fall into despair. Likewise, anyone who lives by faith in God does not let anxieties dominate his life.
"I got up and went about the king's business." This should be our watchword today. However distressing the future may be the King's work must go ahead. Daniel knew that no matter what, he must continue with the work the Lord has called him to do. In the same way, we are not to be so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good. Regardless of what the future holds in store for us, we are to do the work the Lord has called us to do.
We are approaching the final outcome. Jesus is going to win; Satan and the Antichrist are going to lose. Will you be on the winning side?
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