Daniel 7 - Learning to Live in the Kingdom of God

Steve Viars May 1, 1999 Daniel 7:

- This morning I’d like to begin, as I often do, by asking you several questions.....
1) Do you want a God who is predictable, bland, boring, and everything that you as a human being would have expected Him to be, or do you want a God who’s thoughts are not always your thoughts, and who’s ways are not always your ways....and therefore is at times very surprising, very different than what you would have expected, and at times even makes you have to think hard in order to understand His ways.....
- would you want the former, or the latter?.....[the latter]
[if you feel like you’re being set up...you are.]

2) Do you want a Bible that sounds the same on every page.....with the same style of writing....the same approach.....the same images....the same tone.....or do want a Bible that is filled with variety.....on one page you have short proverbs, on another you have beautiful Psalms, on another you have long stories, on another you have clear commands, on another you have prophecies and visions....
- would you want the former, or the latter?.....[the latter]
- you want a book that is creative as the Person who wrote it, even if at times that stretches our minds?

3) Do you want a Bible that puts you to sleep, or keeps you up at night?
- Do you want a Bible that is easy to forget, or easy to remember?
- Please keep in mind that throughout history, and even today, many people could not read....or they did not have a copy of the Bible in their own language....
- therefore, if God was going to communicate with them through words.....they were going to have to be words that were memorable.....
- that were unusual enough that they would be seared in the hearts of the person who wanted to know God....
- which kind of Bible do you want?

4) Do you want a Bible that confirms everything that you are already doing as right or do you want a Bible that encourages you to change?
- On the other hand, do you want a book that simply condemns what’s wrong or do you want one that holds out a positive and life-giving alternative?

5) Lastly, do you want a Bible that has nothing to do with everyday life....or one that is breathtakingly relevant?

- If you answered those questions the way I think that you did, then the upshot of that is....
- we have to be prepared to study literature that is a lot different than the newspaper or the latest novel.....
- and we have to be prepared to work at understanding what God is trying to communicate to us by that kind of literature......
- and we have to hang in there long enough to then make the appropriate applications to where we’re living today.

- I’m assuming that that’s exactly where you are....and if it is, do we have a book for you!
- let me invite you to open your Bible to Daniel chapter 7.
- we’ve been studying the book of Daniel verse by verse and chapter by chapter.
- we are about to enter a very different part of this book.
- the first six chapters are primarily historical in nature, the last 6 chapters are prophetic.
- there are exceptions to that which we will discuss in a minute.....but you’ll see as we read that this is different.

- for those who are new, here’s the bottom line of the book....
- Daniel was a Jewish teenager....who was deported to the country of Babylon along with some other choice young people by King Nebuchanezzar around 605 BC.
- This book is all about how Daniel and his friends were able to faithfully live for God, even though they were in a pagan culture, far away from home, and far away from parental authority and influence.
- and I hope that theme would be of great interest to us, because we too live in a very worldly culture, and the question we ought to be asking is, how can I live faithfully for God, in a very troubled world?
- let’s see how Daniel 7 can help us.....

- read Daniel 7:1 [through “dream”]
- we need to stop there for just a minute....if you’ve been studying with us, you might say....
- wait a minute, this is out of sequence....and that’s exactly right.....
- Belshazzar was the last king of Babylon ---- and we read about him back in chapter 5 --- he was the “handwriting on the wall” guy.
- so the events in chapter 7 took place in 553 BC -- because the verse says --- it was the first year of Belshazzar’s reign.
- now, if you ask, why did we have chapter 5 and the handwriting on the wall event, and chapter 6 with “Daniel and the lions den” event.....and now we’re coming backward.
- no one knows for sure....but Daniel is very straightforward about what he is doing....and some think that he chose to give the information in chapters 5 and 6 to demonstrate that his character was faithful....to help us be prepared for chapter 7, being confident that his word was faithful.

- read 7:1-2 [through “by night”]
- we probably need to stop again for a minute.....
- we are about to read about a vision God gave Daniel about the future.....
- before the Bible was completed, God spoke to human beings in a variety of ways.....
- he spoke to Moses in a burning bush, he revealed himself in visions and dreams, he gave a number of different people predictive prophecy.....
- that’s why the book of Hebrews begins with the words, God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
- Jesus then told his disciples that when He left the earth, that the Holy Spirit would come, and guide them in all truth.....
- they in turn, wrote the books that we know as the New Testament, which God says were inspired by Him....or breathed out by Him.....
- and once the Bible was completed....there was no need for dreams or additional revelation...which is why the Bible ends with the command not to add anything to it, or take anything from it.
- point is --- we don't expect to receive revelation today the way Daniel received it in this text.
- let’s read a little further -- read 7:2-3
- as soon as we hear the number four, a light ought to go on.....
- why?
- because back when God gave king Nebuchanezzar a vision of the future, it was a large statue...which was divided into how many parts? [four}
- we’re going to see that these visions are describing the exact same events, simply from two different perspectives.....

- read 7:3-9
- let’s stop there for a minute, because a critical transition was just made......
- picture like a spilt screen on the TV
- some of you have a TV where you watch two programs at once.....you can split the screen....
- that’s what’s happening in this vision.....
- you’ve got the kingdoms of men on earth.....and you have the throne of God in heaven....
- and Daniel wants us to compare the conditions, compare the leaders, compare the results......and then make a choice.
- read 7:9-18

- now, I realize that this may seem a bit overwhelming....but the truth is that this is pretty straightforward, when you compare it to Nebuchanezzar’s vision in chapter 2.
- what’s happening here is....both are visions of the history of man.....
- Nebuchanezzar’s vision was from the perspective of man, Daniel’s was from the perspective of God.....but they are talking about parallel events.

- now, if you were with us when we studied chapter 2, you remember that Nebuchanezzar saw this great statue.....and it had four parts......
- the head of gold....
- the breast and arms of silver....
- belly and thighs of bronze....
- and legs and feet or iron, and iron mixed with clay.

- we learned in that chapter that God identified the those four parts as representing four kingdoms.....
- the head of gold being.....Babylon
- the breast and arms of silver being....Medo-Persia
- the belly and thighs of bronze being.....Greece
- and the legs and feet of iron and clay being.....Rome.

- so the kingdoms of man were decreasing in value [they were going down], but the image was still pretty impressive.
- and you remember that Nebuchanezzar was so impressed that he kind-of forget the deteriorating part...because in chapter 3, when he had a statue like this actually made so people could worship him, he just had the statue overlaid with all gold.
- the point is ---- when he saw a vision of the history of man.....he was still pretty impressed.

- well, now in chapter 7, we have it from God’s point of view.....
- and now we’ve gone from an impressive looking statue.....to animals......to beasts.....violent, cruel, destructive, power-hungry beasts.
- but what happens when you look at the split screen?
- when you look at the scene in heaven?
- and you look at the king that God will someday establish in the Person of His own Son?
- the contrast could not be more pronounced.....
- the differences could not be more obvious.....
- and the option you are given is.....you can serve the good king, now.
- you can establish a personal relationship with the true God now.
- yes, these are scenes that will eventually take place in the future.....but you can establish advance placement in the kingdom of God by choosing to know Him, and live for Him, and glorify Him now.
- in a real sense, the question becomes....who would you like to have as your king?
- will you give your allegiance to the city of man, or to the city of God?

- now, here’s another very important piece of the puzzle before we attempt to apply this to our lives today....
- studying prophecy is very much like driving out west near the mountains.
- some of you have experienced this where you are driving across the plains, and way off in the distance.....you see a mountain peak.
- from that vantage point, it appears like a solitary mountain peak.
- but then when you get closer, you say.....no, its more than one peak, packed together.
- but then when you get over the first one, you realize....no, there’s actually a long distance between the first one and the next.....
- so at first they appeared to be one....and then they appeared to be close.....
- but the truth is, there were many, and they were separated by long distances.

- that’s true of Bible prophecy.....
- we know that there were significant periods of time between when Babylon fell, and then Medo-Persia fell, and then Greece fell, etc.
- now, you might say, well, PV, where are we today.....
- on the fourth peak.

- you might say --- news flash, PV, Rome fell, too.
- yes, and no.
- because the book of Revelation tells us that, in the last days, there will be a revived Roman empire ... that is both a religious and economic conglomerate....that will war against Jesus Christ.......
- so there is a real sense in which we are on the fourth peak.

- now, we’ll talk about this more in 2 weeks when we study the Anti-Christ.....
- incidentally, the preaching schedule is rather unique right now.....
- we have these beasts today, Mother’s Day next week, and the Anti-Christ in two weeks
- if that’s not a rose between two thorns, I don't know what is.....

- but our understanding of the last days in a nutshell is this....
- the next event in the prophetic timetable is the rapture of the church.....
- those who know Jesus Christ will not have to experience the last days of judgment on this earth....
- our presence, and our influence will be removed.....as will the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit.....
- then there will be a 7 year period of tribulation on this earth.....Daniel 9 discusses that in incredible detail.
- after that, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man in Daniel 7, will return and establish his Millennial Kingdom on this earth, seated on the throne of David, in direct fulfillment of His promises to the nation of Israel.
- the church of Jesus Christ, as we have been studying in our ABF’s, will have the privilege of ruling and reigning with Christ in those days, because of our personal relationship with Him.
- at the end of that millennial kingdom, Christ’s reign will be merged into the eternal state.

- now, a good question to ask at this point is --- what’s the purpose of all of this?
- what practical value is it?

- think about how this would have affected the people in Daniel’s day [that’s the way we learn how it should impact us...first think about the impact on the original hearers.....]
- whether it was still oral tradition or whether it had been written down.....
- to the Jews of Daniel’s day......
- they had every reason.....as they compared these ruthless kingdoms, characterized by beasts.....with this righteous kingdom ruled in holiness and truth.....
- they had every reason......
1) To forsake their false gods.....
2) To cultivate a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph....this one called the Ancient of Days
3) To look forward to the coming of this Messiah, the Son of man.....
4) And to live a holy life, like this faithful servant Daniel.

- and the good news is.....some of the Jewish people responded to the message of the book that way.....
- and you’ve studied the Bible before, you know.....that some of those people went back to Jerusalem now that the 70 year Babylonian captivity is over......and they began to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and the rebuild God’s temple
[you can read about that in what OT book?.....the book of Ezra]
- some faithful people later returned and rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem, in an incredibly short period of time, against significant opposition....and you can read about that in what OT book?......the book of Nehemiah......
- so Daniel 7 was not some archaic and bizarre prophecy that impacted no one’s life......
- God gave human beings this overview of history in the future so it would have an impact on the choices they made in the present......

- now, where does that leave you and me?
- maybe I should ask....do you still agree with the answers to the questions that we discussed at the beginning?
- do you want a God who’s ways of communicating are not exactly what we’d expect?
- do you want a God who gives us His truth in a variety of means?
- do you want a God who will challenge the way we’re living?
- do you want a God who will offer you a positive and life-giving alternative?
- and do you want a God who gives truth that impacts daily living in the here and now?

- if the answer is still yes, let’s spend the rest of our time thinking about how to live in the kingdom of God in the here and now.
- yes, its true that some day Christ will establish His kingdom on this earth.....
- that’s why the disciples were taught to pray.....thy kingdom come...[when?--in the future], thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- the bottom line --- believers in Jesus Christ can choose to live in such a way that could be called “advance standing in the kingdom of God”
- kingdom living here and now.......unlike the conditions represented by these four beasts, but instead like the one who’s dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and who’s kingdom will not be destroyed.

- three principles from Daniel chapter 7 to help us do this.


I. We Can Be Sure That God’s Word Will Come to Pass.


- there are details in Daniel 7 about these four beasts that were fulfilled in history in a way that is absolutely breathtaking.
1) For example, the first one--Babylon, depicted as a lion with eagle’s wings.
- when archeologists found the Ishtar gates leading into the city of Babylon.....guess what creature was depicted as guarding the city gates?....a winged lion....
- we’re told there are replicas of those gates in the Berlin Museum today.

- well, what about verse 3 and the wings being plucked off the lion, but then it was lifted up and allowed to stand like a man with a new heart?
- well, what did we learn that happened to Nebuchanezzar in chapter 3?
- because of his pride, he was humbled for seven years....his wings were plucked big time.....but then he repented and his kingdom was restored.

2) What about the second beast?....this bear that was raised up on one side with three ribs in its mouth?
- guess how many nations the Medo-Persians conquered?....three.....
- the nations of Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt....that’s a historical fact.
- its also well known that in their empire, the Persians were always stronger than the Medes....which is probably why the bear was tilted to one side in this particular prophecy.

3) What about the third beast....the leopard with four wings as a bird, which eventually grew four heads.....
- well, what do we know about Alexander the Great and Greece?
- they conquered the world with incredible speed.....as fast as a leopard.....
- after Alexander the Great died, his kingdom was divided up and given to his leading military generals....into how many kingdoms?.....four.

4) Then this final beast.....that was so ruthless and cruel that there is no one animal we can compare it to....
- according to verse 7, it was dreadful, and terrifying, and incredibly large, with great teeth made of what?.....iron.
- It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder.....
- just like......Rome.....
- the nation that beheaded Paul, and crucified Peter, and banished John to isle of Patmos.....
- this is the nation that brutalized Christians.....whether they were male, female, old or young.

- the point is --- God’s Word came to pass....exactly like God it would.
- and that means, that you can have every confidence that the promises that God has made to you can and will come to pass.
- the kingdom of the beasts are characterized by lies and deception....the kingdom of Jesus Christ is characterized by truth that can be trusted.

- now, that affects people today in two ways....
1) First, you have to decide what you’re trusting for your salvation....
- and I know that some of you are wrestling with that issue right now.....
- friend, would you allow Daniel 7 to help you?
- His Word has come to pass with incredible accuracy and we have every reason in the world to believe that the promises that He has made to us about the future will come to pass as well....
- like this one.....God so loved the world, that He gave His only.....
- and like this one....Romans 10:9,13 -  if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;
for "WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."
- if you’ve never believed in the Bible’s message of salvation by grace through faith, on the basis of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ....if you’ve never claimed the gift of eternal life in Christ that is promised in His Word, we would invite you to do that today.

- this also affects those who have already come to Christ.....
- every day we are faced with the question....Are we going to listen to and act on the deception of the beastly kingdom of man, or are we going to believe and act on the inspired Word of the Ancient of Days?
- we’re talking about two warring kingdoms.....
- that’s why Col. 1:13-14 describes coming to Christ as being .... delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
- and for those who have made that transfer, we should want to know, and more importantly we should want to act on the Words of the Ancient of Days....because we believe His Words are true, that they will come to pass.

- a second principle that flows from these verses is....


II. We Should Rejoice That We Can Have a Personal Relationship With This Kind of God.


- the contrast between these beasts, and the ancient of days is stark and clear.
- any person in their right mind would say, I want my God to be the Ancient of Days.....
- I want to have a personal relationship with this One who’s vesture is like white snow, and who’s hair is like pure wool, who’s throne is characterized by power and glory.

- what a mighty God we serve, and what a great sacrifice was necessary so that we could be reconciled to Him.
- friend, can I ask you to look over verses 9-14 and then answer the question.....are you rejoicing in the possibility of having a personal relationship with this kind of God?
- are you working at cultivating your relationship with Him?
- are you making the most of the opportunities you have to know Him, and to love Him, and to serve Him?
- you know, sometimes these split screens come together, don’t they.
- it was interesting, as the media began reporting on the tragedy at Columbine High School, that they said those targeted were athletes and minorities.
- while that was certainly true, we’re learning that another group was targeted.....

- we’ve learned that the gunmen went into the library and told anyone who believed in God to stand up......
- and one young lady stood......

- now I want to ask you, in who’s shoes would you have wanted to be standing.....
1) The one with the power, the control, the guns.....but also a hate-filled heart.....
- the one who was behaving in an absolutely beastly fashion....
- the one who had been reading beastly literature.....
- and playing beastly games....and listening to beastly songs.....

2) or this Godly young woman.....who was not ashamed of the gospel of God....
- and who was a child of the Ancient of days.....
- and she died, not like a beast....but like a martyr......who’s teenage testimony has already made a difference around the world.

- when we read these verses, our hearts our to rejoice in the possibility of having a personal relationship with this God....who can transform broken, purposeless lives into something of beauty, and wisdom.

III. We Must Find Ways to Submit to the Lordship of Christ Here and Now.


- Daniel’s readers wouldn’t have known near as much about this “Son of Man” as we do.
- they knew He was the Messiah.....
- they knew His kingdom would be an everlasting Kingdom.....

- but think about how much more we know.....
- He was the perfect Lamb of God....
- He was born of a virgin....
- He was tempted just like we are, yet without sin....
- He modeled for us what godly living was like.....
- he died on the cross for us....
- He was raised from the dead....and now He is building His church with men and women who’s lives have been changed and energized by the message of the empty tomb.

- and we have opportunities to choose which kingdom we’re going to function in every day.
1) You can either be threatening, and intimidating, and violent, and oppressive, and explosive....like one of these beasts.....
- or you can be a peacemaker, and a person who’s gentle, and kind.....like the Prince of Peace.
2) You can have a life that dominates others, and uses others, and discards others.....like one of these beasts.....
- or you can choose to love others.....like the loving Savior.
3) You can demand that people serve you, and bow down to you, and do your bidding.....like one of these beasts.....or you can be like the Son of Man....who didn’t come to be served....but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video