Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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When You Are Discouraged (Daniel 7)

Dannah Gresh: If you feel tempted to despair that the world’s governments are getting worse and worse, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth provides some helpful perspective.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Earthly rulers have no power that is not granted to them from above. So regardless of what is taking place on earth, you have to keep recalibrating and remembering that the ultimate reality is not that kings rule, but that heaven rules.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for October 7, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

What do you do when the world feels out of control? Recently, I’ve been turning the news off! It’s not that I don’t care about the conflict and despair in our world. I do! I really do. And I’m praying for the needs in our world. It’s just that I personally need to soak myself in grace. That means feasting on the Word of God—not headline news! It’s easy to believe the world is falling apart when we read the headlines, scroll through troubling stories. But no matter how bad times get, we can still have peace when our hope is in God’s kingdom.

Today, Nancy is going to show us how God has been and will always be in control of history. She’s continuing her teaching in the book of Daniel. If you missed any episodes, don’t forget you can always find them on the Revive Our Hearts app or at ReviveOurHearts.com. Let’s listen to the next part of the series “Heaven Rules.”

Nancy: Several days ago while I was working on this series, Robert and I were watching the news. I turned to him and said, “Honey, the book of Daniel is way better than this! It’s more timely, it’s more helpful, it’s more encouraging, it’s more accurate.” That’s why I think when we’re watching the news, we need to make sure to anchor our understanding, our insight, our perspective in this Book. This is the best news, the good news, and the news you need to hear while you’re listening to all the news that’s going on in the world.

We also realize as we’re reading the book of Daniel that the rise and fall of all nations throughout all of history, it’s all known to God before it even happens. It’s all under His control, and that gives us assurance and peace in the midst of craziness going on in our world.

Now, we’re turning today to Daniel 7, but I want to give us a little context and give us our bearings as we come to the midway point of this book. Over the last several days we’ve overviewed the first six chapters of Daniel. Those chapters are primarily historical narratives with a little bit of prophecy mixed in.

You remember that in chapter 1 Daniel and his friends resolved that they wouldn’t eat the king’s food. In chapter 3 the three Hebrews were thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to worship the king’s image. In chapter 6, which we looked at in the last session, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. So these are primarily historical narratives, and then there’s some prophecy mingled in there.

Now as we come to the second half of the book, chapters 7–12, these chapters are primarily prophetic, apocalyptic visions, with a little bit of historical narrative mixed in. So it’s going to get interesting. This is the part of the book that people kind of avoid, because it’s like, “What in the world is that talking about?” So we’re going to dive in. We’re not going to go deep into all the details, because remember, we’re looking for Heaven rules sightings. We’re getting a 30,000-foot view here just to see that God is the Most High God who is supreme over all that happens here on earth.

Now, in the first half of the book, the first six chapters, the king has dreams that Daniel interprets. In the second half, Daniel has visions (four of them) that an angel interprets, just to give you a little bit of context for the difference between the halves of this book. In these visions, Daniel learns that God’s people, who are already in exile in Babylon, that they’re going to go through even greater trials and tribulations in the future and that the world is going to experience massive upheaval. But these dreams, these visions are going to assure Daniel—and us as we read them—that God is still on His throne, that “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” that God cares for His people, and He can be trusted to defend and sustain them even in times of trial.

We’re going to see that in God’s time He will judge the wicked, and that His purposes in the world will be fulfilled, no matter what it looks like to the contrary. To sum it all up, we’re going to see—as we have been seeing—that Heaven rules. If you haven’t gotten in the habit of that yet, just be marking in your Bible in the margin—I have little “HR” notes in my Bible: Heaven rules—as you see those sightings.

We come to Daniel 7 today. This is a really important chapter. It gives an overall survey and framework for biblical prophecy. There are many connections between Daniel 7 and the rest of Daniel, correlations and connections to the book of Revelation. We’re not going to look at most of those; that would be a way deeper study or dive than what we’re doing right now. So not the details, but this high view of what’s going on.

I read in one commentary this week a paragraph, that I thought was just really helpful, about Daniel 7. This writer said,

When you get a good hold on Daniel 7, the truth of Daniel 7 will hold you when everything in the world seems to be falling apart. You can remain confident that because of God’s sovereignty over kings and kingdoms in the past, the present is not falling apart, as it often seems, but in fact is coming together for the consummation of the ages [yet down the road], the capstone event being the second coming of the King, Christ Jesus. 1

Does that make you want to dive into Daniel 7? You’re going to love it.

Daniel 7:1: “In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon . . .” Let me just stop right there. Again, I need to do a little bit of setting for us here, because this is confusing if you don’t understand this.

Chapter 5 was the end of Belshazzar’s reign and the overthrow of the Babylonians by Darius the Mede. Chapter 6, which we looked at in the last session (Daniel in the lions’ den) took place later during the reign of Darius the Mede. Now chapters 7–8 are out of order, chronological order. It’s God’s order, but it’s not chronological order. Chapters 7–8 are a flashback to events that took place before Darius, in the reign of Belshazzar. Chronologically, these two chapters, 7–8, fit between chapters 4–5 of Daniel. Does that make sense? You’re nodding like it does. Okay, Daniel 7:1.

Daniel had a dream with visions in his mind as he was lying in his bed. He wrote down the dream, and here is the summary of his account. Daniel said, "In my vision at night I was watching, and suddenly the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea." (vv. 1–2)

It’s this massive, great wind stirring up the sea. It’s a picture of the earth churning in great turmoil. That could describe our world today, couldn’t it? It’s getting worse. But take comfort; Heaven rules.

In this vision, Daniel is given a panoramic view of human history: past, present, and future. It’s a bit like the outline of the book of Revelation, the vision John is given on the isle of Patmos. Past, present, and future; he gets this panoramic view.

“Four beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.” (v. 3)

Later in this chapter we’re going to see an interpretation of this vision that is given to Daniel, and in verse 17, as part of that interpretation, it says, “These huge beasts, four in number, are four kings who will rise from the earth.” These four beasts, 7:3 and 7:17, are four empires. They’re four world powers. Hang in here; this gets a little complicated. These four beasts correspond to the four parts of the great statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2. Those parts of the statue were kingdoms that would yet come. These four beasts are kingdoms that will yet come.

So here we go, verse 4: 

“The first [of these beasts] was like a lion but had eagle’s wings. I continued watching until its wings were torn off. It was lifted up from the ground, set on its feet like a man, and given a human mind.”

By the way, notice how many times in the book of Daniel, especially in this last half, that Daniel says, “I watched. I kept watching. I kept looking.” Don’t stop watching for what God is doing! Don’t stop looking for what He is doing in our world.

This first beast, as we put all the passage and its interpretation together, is the Babylonian empire, like the great gold head of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. That was the empire of Babylon. We see that King Nebuchadnezzar was humbled, he lost his mind, and then he was restored when he humbled himself. We read that in Daniel 4. So that’s the first beast.

“Suddenly, another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, 'Get up! Gorge yourself on flesh.’” (v. 5)

We’re going to see that this beast, this bear, represents the Medo-Persian empire. Persia is the stronger, the raised up one, of these two kingdoms that were separate and then came together. Persia is the stronger one, the latter one to come. This is the Medo-Persian empire.

“After this, while I was watching, suddenly another beast appeared. [By the way, none of this had happened yet when Daniel was given this vision.] It was like a leopard with four wings of a bird on its back. It had four heads, and it was given dominion.” (v. 6)

Here’s a beast that was fierce, and it was fast. It represents, as we will see, Greece, the Greek empire, and the conquest of Alexander the Great. The four heads on this beast are four generals who divided the Greek empire after Alexander’s death and began to rule their own parts of the kingdom.

“After this, while I was watching in the night visions, suddenly a fourth beast appeared, frightening and dreadful, and incredibly strong, with large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet whatever was left. It was different from all the beasts before it, and it had ten horns. While I was considering the horns, suddenly another horn, a little one, came up among them [The little one doesn’t necessarily mean small in size; it may have meant small in that it started out as something insignificant, but it became something very significant.] three of the first horns were uprooted before it. And suddenly in this horn there were eyes like the eyes of a human and a mouth that was speaking arrogantly.” (vv. 7–8

This mysterious fourth beast is . . . what empire followed after the Greek empire? The Roman empire. We’ll see further explanation of that later in this chapter.

Here’s a summary. These kings are powerful, but that power is given to them by God. You see that in verse 6; “it was given dominion.” Power that is given by God can just as quickly be taken by God. We’ll see in verse 12 that their dominion was removed. God raises up, God brings down kings. These earthly kingdoms are all doomed to fall and to pass away, even though at their peak they seemed like they would rule forever. They won’t. We’re going to see that these kingdoms, powerful as they are, fierce as they are, vast as they are, are no match for God’s Kingdom. Heaven rules.

In fact, that’s where we’re taken next in Daniel’s vision. Thus far, everything Daniel has seen has been here on earth. Now the scene changes and we’re given a glimpse of something that takes place in heaven.

Verse 9, “‘As I kept watching . . .’” Don’t stop watching, don’t stop looking for what God is doing. Keep your eyes in His Word, see what He’s doing.

As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was white like snow, and the hair of his head like whitest wool. His throne was flaming fire; its wheels were blazing fire. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from his presence. Thousands upon thousands served him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. (vv. 9–10)

Remember the myriads of angels in Revelation? Remember the fire and the wheels in Ezekiel’s vision? This is a vision that Daniel is given, but we see it in other places in Scripture.

The court was convened, and the books were opened.

You have these earthly kings and kingdoms. They’re powerful; they’re great; they’re trampling people down; they’re doing all kinds of outrageous and terrible things. But juxtaposed against those earthly kingdoms is this stunning vision of another kingdom, the throne of God in heaven, and on that throne sits the Ancient of Days, the Most High God, a name that is used frequently for God in the book of Daniel. He’s surrounded by flaming fire, blazing fire. There’s a river of fire that flows from His presence. He’s a dangerous God. He’s a God you don’t want to mess with. He’s a powerful God. 

The fire signifies intense purity. Nothing that is corrupted or tainted or impure can get anywhere near this holy God. His presence purifies everything that is unholy, and He is eternal; He is forever existing. He is attended, He is served by myriads of angelic hosts; and He sits on His throne as the supreme Judge in the supreme court of heaven.

Now we come to verse 11, and the scene switches back to earth. It’s true, we live on earth, so we see what’s going on here on earth, so we need to keep lifting our eyes upward to see what’s going on in heaven. But then, we also need to be mindful of what’s happening down here on earth so we can bring the rule of God’s kingdom to bear in our thinking and in our worldview as we look at this earth.

“I watched, then [he’s watching!], because of the sound of the arrogant words the horn was speaking. As I continued watching, the beast was killed and its body destroyed and given over to the burning fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was removed, but an extension of life was granted to them for a certain period of time.” (vv. 11–12)

Here’s the beast with the horn. The creature speaking arrogant words; he’s killed. He’s consumed in this burning fire. The fire of God symbolizes His holiness, but it also symbolizes His wrath and His judgment. Those who resist and reject His rule will be turned over to eternal condemnation.

Earthly rulers have no power that is not granted to them from above. Whether they acknowledge it or not (and most don’t), they are subject to the one who raised them up, gave them power, and who can just as easily bring them down if they refuse to glorify Him.

Notice that God determines how long they are allowed to stay in power before He removes them. An extension of life was granted to them for a certain period of time. Who determines the certain period of time? God does.

Now Daniel’s visions take him back to the scene in heaven, where the Ancient of Days is seated on His throne. Regardless of what is taking place on earth, you have to keep recalibrating and remembering that the ultimate reality is not that kings rule, but that Heaven rules. 

Verse 13: “I continued watching . . .” Here’s why so many Christians are depressed and discouraged: because they stop watching. They just keep their eyes on what’s going on down on earth, but they forget to lift up their eyes and look to what is going on in heaven. 

“I continued watching in the night visions,
and suddenly one like a son of man
[This is a name that Jesus used for Himself more than eighty times in the four Gospels; the Son of Man.]
was coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before him.
He was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away,
and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.” (vv. 13–14)

So unlike what’s taking place here on earth! The kingdoms of earth are temporary, power is given, power is taken away. But here, Jesus is given ultimate dominion over heaven and earth, and He will reign and rule forever. The Son of God became a Son of Man. He came to this earth; He took on our humanity. He ascended back to the throne of God, and will one day return to this earth as the reigning King of kings. That’s the news you need when you’re watching all the news of what’s taking place on this earth. 

At His coming in power, He will be given dominion. Power and authority that had been taken from earthly rulers, dominion that belonged to Jesus alone all along. The kingdom and all the glory will be given to Him by His Father, and all peoples of the earth will serve Him.

Then, in verse 14, the theme of this book is repeated once again. “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.” If you want to memorize one verse from this book, that would be a good one. Keep reminding yourself, as you see kingdoms coming and going, presidents and rulers and kings and prime ministers. It is true as we’re recording this series, but it will also be true whenever this series airs. 

There are kings being brought down, there are rulers being lifted up. They come and they go, but only His kingdom remains forever. That’s our steadfast hope, that’s our confidence in a world that is bent on the kingdom and rule of man. Their agenda will not succeed, but those who seek His kingdom and who serve Him will reign with Him forever. Remember that. 

When it seems that earth is winning, that earth’s rules are so anti-God, anti-Christ, that’s not a time for us to get bent out of shape, to be fearful or worried or anxious or depressed. This is a time for us to keep watching, lift our eyes up to heaven, and keep reminding ourselves and each other, His dominion is forever. He will reign, He will rule. His Kingdom will never pass away.

In the face of these visions, Daniel, as you might imagine, was overwhelmed. Look at verse 15. 

“As for me, Daniel, my spirit was deeply distressed within me, and the visions in my mind terrified me. I approached one of those [seems to be an angel] who were standing by and asked him to clarify all this.” (vv. 15–16)

He asks this majestic creature, this angel, likely, to help him better understand these great mysteries—all these beasts and animals and this throne. In the New Testament Scriptures we’ve been given far greater understanding than Daniel ever had. If you just read even the rest of the book of Daniel, you’re going to know more than what Daniel knew at this moment. Then the New Testament unfolds more of that for us.

My question is, do we care as deeply about understanding God’s plan and God’s will and God’s rule as Daniel did? He wanted to know. He wasn’t content just to see the vision, he wanted to know, “What does this mean?” The implication is, what are we supposed to do about this?

“So he let me know the interpretation of these things: 'These huge beasts, four in number, are four kings who will rise from the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever, yes, forever and ever.’” (vv. 17–18)

You could put an “amen” there.

The servants, the holy ones of the Most High, will receive the kingdom that is like a beach ball, a volleyball being tossed back and forth among kings and rulers of this earth. Who’s going to end up with that kingdom? Well, the Most High God, the Son of Man, and His servants, His holy ones will possess it forever.

We know the end of the story. But this victory is yet future, and between now and then a battle will rage between the kingdoms of man and the kingdom of God.

“Then I wanted to be clear about the fourth beast, the one different from all the others, extremely terrifying, with iron teeth and bronze claws, devouring, crushing, and trampling with its feet whatever was left. I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three fell—the horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly, and that looked bigger than the others. As I was watching, this horn waged war against the holy ones [against the people of God] and was prevailing over them until the Ancient of Days arrived and a judgment was given in favor of the holy ones of the Most High, for the time had come, and the holy ones took possession of the kingdom.” (vv. 19–22)

I get goosebumps just thinking about this, reading about this! It’s the end of the story that we forget to look at, to keep our eyes on. So for awhile evil forces will be allowed to prevail over God’s people. That’s happening in many places in our world today, some through unjust or unbiblical, ungodly laws; some places through outright persecution of the believers. But it’s only for a time. How long? Until the Ancient of Days arrives and rules in favor of His holy ones. At that time—when? in God’s perfect time—God’s holy ones will receive the kingdom and possess it forever. Here’s the bottom line: God wins, and we win with Him.

Verse 23, he’s going to restate this in this next paragraph, similar to what we just read.

“This is what he said: 'The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, different from all the other kingdoms. It will devour the whole earth, trample it down, and crush it. The ten horns are ten kings who will rise from this kingdom. Another king, different from the previous ones, will rise after them and subdue three kings. He will speak words against the Most High and oppress the holy ones of the Most High. He will intend to change religious festivals and laws, and the holy ones will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time.’” [Three and a half years.] (vv. 23–25)

There’s a series of powerful kings who are cruel and violent. Many commentators believe that these ten kings are still future. Out of them arises another king; it was the little horn of verse 8. One commentator says, “The Antichrist, arising out of some group of ten nations that is in some way part of a restored Roman empire.”2

This had fulfillment that would take place in the hundreds of years following Daniel, but it has an ultimate fulfillment that is yet to be seen, as Antichrist rises and comes and tries to defy God. This ruler speaks arrogantly against the Most High and persecutes His people, the holy ones.

That word to "oppress," he oppresses them, is a word that means “to wear out” through continual, protracted pressure. He just wears them out. You can see in our world how that could happen, can’t you? Just wear out the people of God. For a period of time, they are delivered over to Him. But this is not the end of the story. 

“[God’s] court will convene, and [this king’s] dominion will be taken away, to be completely destroyed forever. The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey him.” (vv. 26–27)

At times, God’s people will be oppressed. His enemies will prevail against us, but one day the Ancient of Days will hold court, and the righteous Judge of all the earth will hand down the verdict: Guilty! Guilty! The verdict against every cruel, arrogant, anti-Christ ruler . . . and their rule will come to an end. All of them will be delivered over to eternal judgment. God’s holy people who have suffered and have been threatened will reign with Christ forever.

“This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts terrified me greatly, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.” (v. 28) 

All of this left Daniel feeling weak and undone, and he was terrified as he considered what kind of suffering lay ahead, still in the future, for the people of God. But he kept what he had seen and heard to himself. Aren’t you glad that in God’s wisdom and by the inspiration of His Spirit, these visions were preserved in Scripture for us, so that we too might see, watch, know God’s perspective, God’s purposes, and God’s eternal plan? God wins, Heaven rules, and we will reign and rule with Him. That’s the end of the story, and it’s worth waiting for. Amen.

Dannah: What a powerful end to the story we have to look forward to. And the best part? This is no fictional story—it’s all true. God wins! Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been giving us that hope in this teaching titled, “Heaven Rules.” How do you set your mind on Christ when it seems like earthly rulers are in control? I hope the promise that heaven rules has brought you comfort today.

And I also want to tell you about a new resource from Revive Our Hearts. It’s a 31-day Advent card set that will remind you of God’s presence and His promises as you prepare for the Christmas season. This is a tool to help you tether your heart to Christ, especially if you find yourself feeling wobbly from the circumstances of our world. We want to help you walk into the Advent season with peace. When you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we want to say "thank you" by sending you this special Advent card set.

Each day includes Scripture and an inspirational quote from Nancy, taken from her devotional, The First Songs of Christmas. With your donation, we’ll also send you a discount code to purchase this 31-day Advent devotional. In it, Nancy shares reflections on the first 2 chapters of the book of Luke. These readings are a great way to fix your gaze on Christ as you prepare for the Christmas season. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959 and request the Advent card set.

Tomorrow is the first day of our Revive '21 conference! Sign up to watch online, if you haven’t already, and get grounded in God’s Word and in Christ, so you can stand firm in a shaking world. For more information, go to Revive21.com.

Now. The trials, the heartache, the messiness of this broken world are all temporary. But don’t lose heart—these things will come to an end. And in the midst of them, God is still on His throne. Tomorrow, Nancy is going to show you where you can find real hope in the midst of trying circumstances. I’m Dannah Gresh, inviting you back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth gives you hope by calling you to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the CSB.

1 https://www.preceptaustin.org/daniel_7_commentary1

2 https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/daniel-7/



 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.