Daniel 8 - The Reliability of God's Word

Steve Viars May 22, 1999 Daniel 8:

- “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”
- Where have you heard those words before?
- If you have money in a retirement fund, or if you ever look at financial magazines....
- you’ll see those words in the company’s ads, or printed somewhere on the prospectus.....
- here’s our returns over the last year....
- here’s our returns for the past five years, and ten years....BUT.....
- “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

- now, why would a financial company have such statements in their literature?
- because they’d be the first ones to tell you, we don’t know the future.
- They’d say, “even if we did well last year, or for the past five or ten years, that wasn’t because we knew IN ADVANCE how well we’d do.
- we tried to look at the trends, we tried to look at the future....we made the best decisions we could.....and in most cases it turned out pretty well.
- but that certainly wasn’t because we knew in advance how well we’d do....
- so, please keep in mind......Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

- now the amazing thing is, for most of us, we would still consider that approach RELIABLE.
- Americans have invested billions of dollars in such companies and we consider the investments relatively safe.

- Imagine this......
- what if a company could say.....
- not only, here’s how we did last year.....but also, we predicted before the year began exactly how well we’d do, published the number, and that’s exactly how things came out.
- or, for each of the last five years, we’ve gone public with a prediction of exactly what percentage of increase our funds would see that year, and for each of the five years, we were exactly right.
- or that’s happened for the last ten years, or the last twenty years.....
- and they would even go on to make this claim.....in fact, we are so sure of our ability to do this, we can say with confidence.....
- Past performance IS A Guarantee of future results.

- would you agree with me, that would be an entirely new standard of reliability?
- any company that could truly offer that service would have everyone’s money......

- well, this morning, we’re not just talking about something as relatively insignificant as money, or whether you or I will have enough money to retire (though you know I believe tat is a very important issue.....)
- but compared to what we are talking about, retirement funds are relatively insignificant.....
- because we’re talking about what you’re going to trust in regarding what happens after retirement.....in other words, what happens one second after you die.....
- we’re also talking about what you’re going to trust regarding direction for living here and now.....
- ideas about who’s supposed to do what in your home.....
- ideas about what our priorities should be....
- truth about how you ought to conduct yourself in the workplace....
- direction for raising our children....
- what we’re going to believe in regarding change and growth.....

- if there’s ever a reason to be concerned about reliability......its on those issues.....
- having the right source of truth for matters of life and death.....that has a proven track record.....
- where we can look at those ideas with confidence and say, “Past performance does guarantee future results”.....
- I can follow this path with confidence and certainty.....

- with those thoughts in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Daniel chapter 8.
- we’re talking this morning about “The Reliability of God’s Word.”

- let me take a moment and talk with you about the schedule.
- we’ve began studying the book of Daniel in January.
- Our plan is to be done with our series by the 4th of July.

- there are a couple of special Sundays between now and then.
1) As Pastor Dutton mentioned, Dr. Les Ollila, the president of Northland Baptist Bible College will be with us next Sunday......
2) We also have Father’s Day coming on June 20th, and we’ll take a break from Daniel that day just like we did on Mother’s Day.
3) Then on July 4th, Pastor Brad Lipiska will be with us.
- Brad is a helicopter pilot and a ________ in the ________,
- He flew a number of missions during the gulf war......

- the bottom line, that leaves today and three other Sundays in the book of Daniel.
- I appreciate the hard work that our congregation has done in seeking to understand this pivotal book.

- if you’re new with us today, let me run through a brief summary that the folks who have been with us all along could give from memory by now.....
- Daniel was a Jewish teenager who was deported to Babylon by King Nebuchanezzar.
- the book is all about how he and some of his friends were able to maintain their faithfulness for God even though they were in a situation where there was great pressure to compromise their convictions and beliefs.
- the first six chapters were an exciting historical description of Daniel’s life.....
- the last six chapters are primarily prophetic......
- this man clearly had a lifestyle that could be trusted.....
- now we’re learning what God revealed to him about the future which is also worthy of our trust......

- READ Daniel 8:1
- do you remember the timing of chapter 7?
- it occurred in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar, king of Babylon.
- so the math here is pretty simple.....chapter 8 occurs two years after chapter 7---Bible students believe this was 551 BC.
- of course this is after the “handwriting on the wall events” of chapter 5, because those happened at the end of Belshazzar’s life [539 BC]

- READ 8:1-3

- we’ve already learned that these animals represents kingdoms in the future and their rulers.....
- there’s also a hint in verse 3 that might help us already understand who’s being spoken of.....
- because in the verses we’ve read in previous weeks.....there’s this kingdom that is comprised of two nations, but one is always more dominant.....which was “Medo-Persia”
- before the chapter is over, we’ll see that’s exactly who this ram refers to.

- READ 8:4-8

- now, if you’ve been with us as we’ve worked through the previous chapters, this is becoming easy.
- we know that Belshazzar is the king of Babylon.....
- we know the kingdom that will overthrow Babylon, represented by this ram, is Medo-Persia.
- and we know that the country that will over-throw Medo-Persia, represented in this chapter by the goat, is speaking of Greece.
- and we can guess who this single horn is on the goat.....that has to be Alexander the Great.....
- and the four horns that replace him are the four generals who received parts of the empire after Alexander died.

- let’s keep reading - READ 9-27.

- in the time we have remaining, I’d like us to see three ways the Word of God is reliable.

I. God’s Promises Regarding the Past Have Proven to be Reliable.


- the number of prophecies that were literally fulfilled in this text are astounding.
- If after studying chapters like Daniel 8 in the Bible, you and I wouldn’t walk away having tremendous confidence in the Scriptures, I don't know what it would take.
- for sake of time, I’d like to review seven prophecies made to Daniel in 551BC that were fulfilled in such a way that only the God of Heaven and earth, the eternal God who knows the future, could have known in advance.
- the first one is this.....

1) The location of the citadel of Susa.
- in verse 2, this vision begins with Daniel telling us about the location.
- what’s significant about that is, Susa was a small little burg at this point in history.
- it must have shocked Daniel to see this small town transferred into the nerve center of the coming kingdom.....
- it would be like you or me seeing a vision of Dayton or Mulberry, but now its the next Washington, D.C.
- however, history tells us that this detail was precisely fulfilled.
- guess where the capital of the next kingdom, the Medo-Persian empire was located?......Susa [or Shushan, depending on what translation of the Bible you have].
- in fact, when we read this, if you studied the Bible before, you might have said....Susa, Susa, where have I heard that name before?
- the answer is --- it comes up in the book of Nehemiah.....which is a book that occurs a little later in history, where Nehemiah is serving as the King’s cupbearer.....for the King of/
- Persia......so the book of Nehemiah opens with them being in the palace at Shushan, or Susa.  ---- [You can read about that in Nehemiah 1:1].

- so here’s an example of God speaking about a city that will one day be very prominent, that at the time is a little burg, ....yet sure enough, God’s Word comes to pass exactly as He predicted.
- Past performance guarantees future results”.....

- a second fulfilled prophecy is this...
2) Description of the Ram’s horns [in verse 3].
- the verse says, now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other.
- that seems to be a strange detail, but you may remember in chapter 7 when Medo-Persia was pictured as a bear....there was a similar description that was unusual....do you remember what it was.....
- the bear was turned up on one side with one half being more dominant [cf. 7:5]
- we know from history that the Persians were stringer than the Medes, and eventually they assimilated them into their country and you don't hear about the Medes anymore.
- its also interesting in verse 4 that the Medo-Persian empire is very dominant for a time.
- David Jeremiah, in his very helpful book “Handwriting on the Wall”, states, “Cyrus the Persian and his son Cambesis II, built the largest empire the world had ever seen to that day.  It moved in every direction, and no other kingdom could stand before them.”

- of course later in the chapter [in verse 20], the angel tells Daniel clearly that this ram represents Medo-Persia.
- that’s why, by the way....when the handwriting on the wall appeared to king Belshazzar.....and they ran and got Daniel and asked him to interpret it.....
- that’s why Daniel was able to say in chapter 5, verse 28, right then and there --- “Your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and the Persians”
- How did Daniel know that?
- because God had already told him.....even when that prophecy seemed entirely possible at that point in history.....
- Daniel was convinced about this regarding his God..... - Past performance guarantees future results”.....

- here’s a third prophecy in this chapter that was literally fulfilled.....
3)  The emergence of Greece.
- one of the most significant points about the way the Grecian empire was formed was its swiftness.
- historians tell us that Alexander conquered the known world in 12 years.
- that’s exactly what verse 5 is telling us.....
- this “male goat coming from the west over the whole surface of the whole earth without touching the ground.”
- it is absolutely astounding that these details were fulfilled exactly the way the were given, even though Daniel received them hundreds of years before the fact.
- secular history tells us, by the way, that the Jewish priests of Alexander’s day actually showed his the book of Daniel, now hundreds of years old, and told him.....”you’re in here.....what is happening in this kingdom was prophesied in God’s Word.....and history says he got down on his knees and worshipped God, but he didn’t do anything to change the direction of his life which led to his untimely death.”

- a fourth fulfilled prophecy is the....
4)  Defeat of the Medo-Persian empire.
- verse 7 tells us how ruthlessly the Grecian empire destroyed the Persians.
- he struck the ram, shattered his two horns, hurled him to the ground and trampled on him.
- Dave Jeremiah says of that event.....”When Alexander decided to take the Persians down, he came with 35,000 troops from the west and defeated the Persian army.  He swept on south and took Egypt, Tyre, and Gaza, and then he retraced his steps through Syria and met an enlarged Persian army for the third time.  Then he did just what the Scripture said.  He threw them to the ground, stomped on them and the Medo-Persian empire was wiped out, just as predicted.”
- friends, - Past performance guarantees future results”.....

- here’s a fifth one.....
5) The prominence of Alexander.
- verse 8 says that the male goat magnified himself exceedingly.
- it goes on to say that he was mighty, but then after he became mighty, he was broken.
- what a perfect picture of Alexander the Great.
- you couldn’t come up with a more concise yet perfectly accurate description of the man.
- yet remember, this wasn’t a group of historians trying to tell the story in a economy of words after the fact.....this was the God of heaven and earth predicting the events before the fact.

- [could develop -- and not only did God know these things in advance, He had a purpose for them --- if time, develop “in the fullness of time” ---- the advances on language and roads that prepared the way for the coming of Christ.]

- a sixth prophecy in this chapter regards:
6) The death of Alexander.
- verse 8 tells us that when Alexander died, he would be replaced with four horns.
- we saw that exact same thing in chapter 7 verse 6, which tells about the leopard with four heads.
- after Alexander’s death, four of his generals fought for years until the kingdom was divided in four parts.

- now there’s one last one that I’d like to mention, though there are actually a number of them in this chapter that we’re skipping for sake of time.
- the seventh has to do with a man named:
7) Antiochus Epiphanes.
- you might say -- who is that?
- well, let’s start with something familiar.....how many of you have heard of Hanukkah?
- probably all of have.
- that’s a Jewish feast that is celebrated around Christmas, symbolized by the menorah.
- the menorah is a candlestick with nine branches......
- Jewish history outside the Bible says that a man named Judas Maccabees delivered the Jews in 165 BC from a terribly wicked man who had desecrated their temple.
- it was going to take eight days to cleanse the temple, but they only found enough oil to last one day, but their legend says that God allowed the oil to last all 8 days, which is why during Hanukkah a new candle is lit during each day of the feast.

- the wicked man they had been delivered from is the man spoken of in verses 9-14.....he’s known in history as Antiochus Epiphanes.
- This is the Greek ruler who took a pig into the Jewish temple [which they of course would have considered an unclean animal] , slit it and sprayed its blood all over the Jewish temple.
- we don't have time this morning to look at the ways this prophecy was fulfilled detail by detail, but it is absolutely breathtaking.
- if you would like to study it more, I would recommend pages 164-168 of David Jeremiah’s book...[I might warn you, the material on those pages is gruesome, because the way this prophecy was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes was gruesome.]
- one detail I have to mention is this number of days Antiochius would terrorize the Jewish people, according to verse 14 -- was 2300 days.
- historians tell us that Antiochus began his persecution of the Jews on Sept. 6, 171 BC and was stopped on Dec. 25, 165 BC.
- if you do the math, do you know what you come out with....2300 days.

- the point of all of this is..... I. God’s Promises Regarding the Past Have Proven to be Reliable.
- Past Performance is a Guarantee of Future Results.

- now, let’s bring this down to where you and I live.
- These last two points will attempt to bring Daniel chapter 8 into 20th century America.

II. God’s Promises Regarding Today are Reliable.


- one of the ways God would want a chapter like this one to impact His people is by our saying.....I want to look at what God has said about my life today, and evaluate whether I am following it in a way that demonstrates that I truly believe its trustworthy.

- for example.....
A. God’s Words’ radical approach to the family.
- cf. cartoon
- now, the Word of God comes alongside that and says, a man’s most important responsibility, humanly speaking, is to his wife, and his children.
- and a woman’s most important responsibility, humanly speaking, is to her husband and children.

- I was talking about this with some of my friends who pastor other churches in our town and we were reminding ourselves how we would be absolute fools in we were more concerned with the success of the church, then we were with the success of our marriages, and families.
- God created the family as the central institution of society.....
- and communities are only as strong as their families....
- and churches are only as strong as their families.....
- and husbands and wives ought to be placing great amounts of effort there.....
- and we ought to be finding great joy there......

- and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying work, or enjoying material things, or accomplishments outside the home.....
- but friends, if those things have captivated our hearts.....then God’s Word would say.....there’s something wrong with our hearts......
- and before we would think about arguing with the Word of God on that subject...let’s let Daniel chapter 8 have a say.
- Past performance guarantees future results.
- God was right about Babylon...He was right about Medo-Persia....He was right about Greece....He was right about Rome.....
- and He is right about our families and the priority they ought to be....
- and if we violate His Word on this matter, we do so at our own peril.

- if chapters like Daniel 8 don’t convince us of the reliability of the Word of God, I honestly don't know what it would take.
- see, II. God’s Promises Regarding Today are Reliable.
- let’s push this one step further.....what about.....
B. God’s Word regarding money
- God’s Word says, life consists not in the abundance of things a man possesses....
- He says --- where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is going to be....
- so don't just lay up for yourselves treasures where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal.....
- instead, lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven....

- in other words, you can live a consumptive lifestyle, or you cam be a biblical steward
- you can organize your life around things, or you can organize your life around God, and others, and serving, and ministry.....

- and you and I can evaluate ourselves in that area, and make a pretty good determination of whether we believe God’s Word is reliable.

[if time, could develop God’s Word regarding relationships]

- point is --- I. God’s Promises Regarding the Past Have Proven to be Reliable....and....


III. God’s Promises Regarding Today are Reliable.....


- therefore each of us should be asking......Does the way I know and follow the Word of God demonstrate that I am convinced about its reliability?

- now, you can probably guess where this outline is heading..... --- I. God’s Promises Regarding the Past Have Proven to be Reliable....and....
II. God’s Promises Regarding Today are Reliable.....What’s next?
III. God’s Promises Regarding the Future are Reliable.
- Daniel 8 ought to put biblical confidence regarding what God has revealed concerning the future.
- when we see what God told Daniel, and how it literally came to pass....that ought to fill our hearts with hope and enthusiasm because of His promises for the future.

A. Heaven
John 14:1-6 -  "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  "And you know the way where I am going."  Thomas *said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?"  Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

- develop --- Friend, are you sure you have a personal relationship with Christ?
- God’s promises regarding salvation are reliable

B.  We will be with Him immediately after we die.

- you may be, even as a believer, struggling with the idea of death.

- II Cor. 5:7 - to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

- Christ said to the thief on the cross --- This day you will be with me in paradise.


C. The future judgment

- for Christians -- Judgment Seat of Christ --- are you ready?

- for unbelievers -- the great white throne judgment

D. He will never leave us or forsake us

- Hebrews 13:5

- cf. Y2K


[be sure to hit the idea of --- even if it doesn’t seem possible today --- none of this would have seemed possible to Daniel]

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 have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. 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 the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, 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