Friday, March 1, 2013

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday March 3, 2013
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DANIEL’S VISION OF CHANGE
(GOD has dominion over us now and always)
(Daniel 7:1-14)

The vision of the prophet Daniel that is chronicled in chapter 7, verses 1-14, was revealed to him during the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon. According to Babylonian history, Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, actually became a co-regent with Nabonidus in 553 B.C. This was approximately 14 years before Daniel’s famous encounter with the lions in the lion’s den, near the end of Israel’s Babylonian exile.  Daniel had been taken into captivity in Babylon in 605.B.C. when he was 16 years old. He was now 68, and had been there prophesying in Babylon for a total of 52 years.
In verses 1-8 Daniel sees the vision of four beasts that, eventually, kill and supplant each other as world powers. This vision, no doubt, prophesies of four kingdoms; the current Kingdom of Babylon (the lion), and the coming kingdoms of Medo-Persia (the bear), Greece (the leopard), and Rome (the strong beast). The first thing Daniel sees, however, is a great storm that stirs up the surface of the sea, with strong winds that blew from every direction (v.2). Out of that great storm came these visions of the four great beasts that would rule the world:
·         In verse 4 the first beast rises from the water. It appears to Daniel as a lion, with eagle’s wings. Both the lion and the eagle were symbols of Babylon in those days (Jeremiah 4:7 & 14 and Ezekiel 17:3), and as he watched, the beast’s wings were pulled off (symbolizing the death of Nebuchadnezzar), and it was left standing on its hind legs, as a human would stand. Daniel says that it was even given a human mind (the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar by GOD, just prior to his death). This vision represents the current kingdom in power, which was Babylon.
·         In verse 5 Daniel sees a second beast that looks like a bear. The bear reared up on one side (Persia soon overshadowed Media in their joint empire), and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth (Egypt, Lydia, and Babylon – three nations that the Persians and Medes conquered together). The bear was told by a voice (GOD’s) to go out and devour many people (All earthly kingdoms operate by divine appointment from GOD). This formidable beast represents Medo-Persia who came into power after the fall of Babylon.
·         In verse 6 we see described by Daniel, a third beast that looks like a leopard, however, this beast had four wings on its back, and it also had four heads and wielded great authority. A leopard is an animal that is swift and cunning just like the nation that conquered the Persians and Medes, and that nation of course, was Greece lead by Alexander the Great, who completely took them over in less than four years (334-330 B.C.). And after Alexander’s death at the ripe old age of 33, his kingdom was divided into four parts that were ruled by his four greatest generals.
·         In verse 7-8 Daniel goes on to describe yet a fourth beast, one more terrible than the first three. This beast was very different from the others as it had ten horns, and it devoured all (conquered the lion, the bear, and the leopard, and re-organized and assimilated them under its own rule), and literally crushed what was left of its adversaries, beneath its feet. As he watched the beast, suddenly he saw another small horn (a king that seems insignificant at first) come up amongst the other ten (ten kings that resulted from the assimilation), and three of the ten (kings) were wrenched out by the root (killed) to make room for it (him). This horn had eyes like human eyes (intelligence) and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly (blaspheming GOD).  
In verses 9-10 Daniel envisioned a throne of judgment being set up by GOD, the ONE WHO assigns power to all kingdoms, and exercises authority over all men. HE is the judge of the entire world. Here Daniel paints a sovereign and powerfully regal scene of a just GOD sitting on HIS throne dressed in holy white garments, with literally millions of angels ministering to HIM, and a hundred million waiting to serve HIM. HE sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire, and a river of fire flowed from HIS presence. Then the holy and divine court begins it session.
Daniel continues to watch as the little horn continued its boasting, even in the sight of the LORD. He kept watching until the fourth beast was destroyed by fire. And, as for the three other beasts, their authority was taken away from them by GOD. However, GOD does allow them to exist, a little while longer (Vs.11-12).
Verses 13-14 depict the coming of JESUS, the “SON of man”, moving with the clouds of Heaven. This is the only Old Testament reference to JESUS as being “the son of man”. HE approaches GOD and is led into HIS presence. HE is given authority, honor, and royal power over all of the nations of the earth, so that people of every race and nation and language, would obey HIM. HIS rule is everlasting, and HIS Kingdom will never be destroyed.
What we see here is the vision of a total change for the better, and, as we can see, it is a change that only GOD is able to make, not man. That is why GOD has never instructed man to go out and make the world a better place to live in. The world is “a spiritual prison of sin”, long since contaminated by satan, and so GOD does not want us to remain in it, trying to adapt to living in a world of sin. Instead, GOD instructs us to make disciples of men (educate men about HIMSELF), so that they will be able to come out of the world (prison), and then, when HE returns, HE HIMSELF will make the world a better place in which to live (the Millennial Kingdom of JESUS).
All who reject GOD’s rule and seek to be “self-directing” will ultimately fail. Man cannot travel through, or overcome the gravitational pull of this fallen world system alone, and it is a foolish waste of time to try. Man has long since proven that, without GOD, he can’t do anything right for too long.  Only those who wish to live willingly under GOD can enjoy the peace, protection, and provisions that only GOD can provide, promise, and deliver, in this life, and, in the life to come.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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