The rise of evil today is unprecedented. All we need to do in turn on the news: mass shootings, terrorist attacks, violent protests, murder, sex trafficking, child pornography and more. Could there be any connection to this rise in evil and the rejection of God’s law in our individual lives and as a nation?
Daniel saw the rise of evil in his time as pagan kings and others tried to destroy the people of God and their faith in Him. And God gave him a vision of the calamities that were yet to come on future generations. These prophecies were so accurate and detailed that people have tried to use their accuracy to discredit them, saying they must have been written after the fact.
Finally, God gave Daniel a beautiful hope-filled promise, the same one we need to hold onto as we see the rise of evil all around us.
Daniel 11 & 12
1 John 2.1-29
The Rise of Evil, Prophecy, Comfort & Eternity
The Rise of Evil
We are seeing an unprecedented rise in evil today. All we need to do in turn on the news: mass shootings, terrorist attacks, violent protests, murder, sex trafficking, child pornography and more. Could there be any connection to that and the rejection of God’s law in our individual lives and as a nation?
“When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall.”
The more people who are willing to forsake God and live the way they please, the bolder the ungodly get. Like misery, this passage tells us, evil loves company.
The rise of evil is happening before our very eyes. Yet, while they decry the violence, many maintain their right to live any way they please.
How are believers to respond? Like Daniel, as we’ll see in our Old Testament reading, we should continue to live our lives in ways that are pleasing to God with an eye toward eternity. And while the wicked, are emboldened by sin, we must allow the Holy Spirit to embolden us to share the gospel and speak the truth in love to a lost world.
The Righteous Will See Their Fall
And remember the latter part of that verse says … “the righteous will see their fall.”
As we will see, God comforted Daniel by revealing to him, not only the trials which would come on his people, but also the end of the story—that God and His people would prevail. So, we too, need to take comfort in the fact that we know the end of the story and “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6.9).
Daniel 11 & 12:
Prophecy, Comfort & Eternity
In Daniel 11 the angel Gabriel begins to lay out an incredible prophetic view of future historical events. These prophecies are so detailed that people have tried to use their accuracy to discredit them, saying they had to be written after the fact.
It lays out the succession of kings to come in the Medo-Persian Empire and how each would be used by God in the process of the Jews return to their homeland. We can see the hand of God in using even heathen kings and other unbelievers to accomplish His will and care for His people. We also see in these chapters and others the ministry of angels on behalf of His people (Dan. 6.22, 10.10-21, Dan. 11 & 12). Knowing and understanding that God is sovereignly in control of all the events of history—not just world or national history—but, also, our personal histories should give us great encouragement to trust Him no matter what the circumstances of our lives.
The first three kings of Persia were Cyrus, Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus, who married Esther. The fourth was Xerxes who because of his great wealth and the army that his wealth supported pridefully took on Greece only to be shamefully defeated.
“Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these” (11. 3-4).
This is Alexander the Great whose kingdom was divided among four of his captains when He died at the age of 32. He had created one of the largest empires in ancient history but died once he had accomplished what God had used him to do. Two of his generals became more powerful than the other two, called “the king of the South” and “the king of the North” in Daniel’s prophecy. These became the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria who were constantly at war, with power, victory, and defeat going back and forth between the two (Dan. 11.5-19).
During all of this, Israel which lay between the two kingdoms was often caught in the crossfire as these armies marched back and forth, taking provisions from wherever and whomever they desired.
All of this led to the rise to power of Antiochus Epiphanes, the “little horn” in Daniel 8.9, a hater and persecutor of the Jews.
“And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue” (11.21).
He decreed the halting of all the Jewish religious practices such as circumcision, temple worship, and the reading or even possession of the Torah, under penalty of death. He executed some Jews for refusing to eat swine’s flesh and others for refusing to bow to a pagan image. Eventually, he had a statue of Zeus erected in the Temple and sacrificed swine on God’s altar. This led to the Maccabean revolt and the eventual cleansing and rededication of the Temple celebrated by the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
Though many of these prophecies were at least partly fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes, they will have their complete fulfillment with the antichrist and during the tribulation period.
In Daniel 12 Gabriel keeps his promise to Daniel by explaining to him the things which will befall his people in the last days. “The Great Prince” is the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (12.2).
Those who accept Christ and His gospel will have everlasting life and those who reject Him everlasting contempt.
The book of Daniel ends with this:
“But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days” (12.13).
Daniel was to “go his way”—do what God had called him to do—and take comfort in eternity. So should we.
There is so much in these two chapters. If the fulfillment of prophecy and all the events of the last days are interesting to you, you might want to check out studylight.org and go to Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. He explains these passages in great detail.
Today’s Other Readings:
His Magnificent Word
“…You have magnified Your word above all Your name” (v. 2).
Though God has revealed Himself in many ways, the greatest revelation of God is through His Word.
1 John 2.1-29:
He Who Does the Will of God
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Eternity seems to be the theme today. This world is “passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about false teachers, friendship, judgment, the Rapture, the Tribulation, spiritual adultery, spiritual maturity, and discuss the question, “How we can turn the world upside down like the disciples did in the first century?”
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Getting ready for 2018 with a Chance to Win a Bible & Journal
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading and prayer an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible and to sign up for my daily encouragement. This year I’ll be adding Scripture-based prayers to each day’s post. If you sign up before December 15 you’ll have a chance to win a MacArthur Daily Bible and a journal to record your thoughts and those Scripture-based prayers. Email subscribers will also be automatically entered into a drawing for monthly giveaways throughout 2018.
I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
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So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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