Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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When You’re Overwhelmed by Trouble (Daniel 8)

Dannah Gresh: Watched the news lately? Did it make you feel happy and glad to be alive? No? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth understands.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and sick about it all. But we have been placed here by God in this time and in this place. We are to serve wherever He has put us . . . while at the same time keeping our hearts firmly planted in His eternal Kingdom—living with hope.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, coauthor of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for October 8, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Have you ever been so paralyzed by the world’s events that you don’t know how you’ll muster up the strength to carry on with your day? Sometimes simple things like washing the dishes, going to work, crawling out of bed, teaching your children can feel like impossible tasks when you’re consumed with the burdens of the world. Today, Nancy is going to give you hope to hold on to in the face of overwhelming circumstances. She’s walking through the book of Daniel, continuing in the series, “Heaven Rules.”

Nancy: Okay, imagine that we’re living in the mid-1600s, and imagine that someone writes a book telling about a lot of world events—for example: telling about how Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II; telling about the Holocaust; the Arab-Israeli war of 1948; the assissination of President John Kennedy; the fall of the Berlin Wall; the Rwandan genocide; the Iran-Iraq war; the worldwide pandemic of 2020!

You say, “Living in the 1600s, there’s no way someone could do that!” Well, it’s no less amazing to read biblical prophecy written hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years before these events took place. That’s what we see in the book of Daniel. It should amaze us.

In the book of Daniel, the point of all this prophecy, which can be very confusing—we’re not sure what all this means . . . The point of it all is very clear, and that is that through the rise and the fall of kings and kingdoms on earth . . . what? Heaven rules!

Two years after the vision of chapter 7, which we looked at in the last session, Daniel had a second vision. This vision was more than 350 years before the events told about in this prophecy. Babylon was still in power, and once again God showed Daniel events that were yet to come. 

Now, most of the events in the vision in this chapter, chapter 8, were focused on the rise of the Greek empire. To give you a little outline for the chapter, the first half of the chapter (verses 1–14) is the vision, and then the last half of the chapter (verses 15–27) the angel Gabriel interprets the vision for Daniel. So let’s begin reading in Daniel 8, just keeping in mind that what was in this vision was not to take place for some 350 years.

In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after the one that had appeared to me earlier. I saw the vision, and as I watched . . . (vv. 1–2) 

We talked about this in the last session: keep watching! This is what Jesus said. Keep watching. Keep watching the right things; keep watching what God is doing; keep watching His Word; keep watching what He is unfolding here on earth. 

I saw the vision, and as I watched, I was in the fortress city of Susa, in the province of Elam. (v. 2)

Now, Susa was a city 250 miles east of Babylon, where Daniel lived. Susa became one of the capitals of the Persian empire more than a century after Daniel’s dream. So probably Daniel was not there physically, but was transported to that city in this vision, as happened with one of Ezekiel’s visions. He says, 

I saw in the vision that I was beside the Ulai Canal. I looked up, and there was a ram standing beside the canal. He had two horns. The two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up last. I saw the ram charging to the west, the north, and the south. No animal [a reference to other nations] could stand against him, and there was no rescue from his power. He did whatever he wanted and became great. (vv. 3–4)

Later in the chapter, verse 20, which is part of the interpretation of this vision, the ram with two horns is identified as the Medo-Persian empire. We talked about that earlier in Daniel. It’s the empire that followed the Babylonian empire.

One of the two horns was longer and came later than the other. This is a reference to Persia, which was the more dominant of the two powers, the Medes and the Persians. This ram with these two horns was strong, it was powerful, it was aggressive, and no other power could withstand it . . . until. 

As I was observing, a male goat appeared, coming from the west across the surface of the entire earth without touching the ground. The goat had a conspicuous horn [horns refer to power or kingdoms or dominion or kings] between his eyes. He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and rushed at him with savage fury. (vv. 5–6)

Now up until this point, no one could oppose the ram, but here comes this goat with this conspicuous horn.

I saw him approaching the ram, and infuriated with him, he struck the ram, breaking his two horns, and the ram was not strong enough to stand against him. The goat threw him to the ground and trampled him, and there was no one to rescue the ram from his power. 

Then the male goat acted even more arrogantly, but when he became powerful, the large horn was broken. Four conspicuous horns came up in its place, pointing toward the four winds of heaven. (vv. 7–8)

That’s a lot of stuff going on, and a lot of this is a mystery to us, but the Scripture gives us all we need to know about what’s going on. In verses 21–22, this male goat is identified as representing Greece, the empire that came up after the Medo-Persian empire. Greece overthrew the Persian empire. And the horns on this male goat are rulers of the Greek empire. 

Gabriel later explained to Daniel that the large, conspicuous horn was the first king of Greece. This is a reference to Alexander the Great, who moved swiftly against the Persian empire. But then, in time—God’s time—that large horn was broken. Remember that Alexander died at the age of thirty-two, and he was replaced by four of his generals, represented by four horns, who divided up the empire and ruled their own smaller kingdoms. We’re repeating some of what we saw in the vision that we talked about in chapter 7.

From one of [these four horns, these four generals who came after Alexander the Great] a little horn emerged and grew extensively toward the south and the east and toward the beautiful land [this is a reference to Israel, the land of the people of God]. [This little horn grew extensively.] It grew as high as the heavenly army, made some of the army and some of the stars fall to the earth, and trampled them. It acted arrogantly even against the Prince of the heavenly army [we know who that is; it’s God Himself]; it revoked his regular sacrifice and overthrew the place of his sanctuary. (vv. 9–11)

This once-little horn that comes up out of these four generals who followed Alexander the Great, he wreaks havoc on the earth and havoc against the people of God.

Now, we’re going to learn additional details about this passage when we get to chapter 11. If you think this chapter is complicated, wait till we get to chapter 11! Between now and then, I’m hoping to be able to make better sense of it for all of us.

Most commentators believe that this little horn refers to the Hellenistic or Greek king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes. What a name! Antiochus Epiphanes ruled from 175 B.C. until his death in 164 B.C. When Daniel has this vision, it’s the 500s B.C., so hundreds of years later would come this king, this Greek Hellenistic king named Antiochus Epiphanes. 

He called himself Theos Epiphanes, which means “god manifest.” He was arrogant. Kings of the earth tend to be. Humility isn’t a virtue known to many of them. He called himself “god manifest.” In a play on words, some mockingly called Antiochus Epimanes, which means “mad man.” The Jews called him “the wicked one” because of his erratic, cruel behavior and his mental instability.

This little horn (once little) became great, became proud. This king humiliated and trampled on rulers and on God’s people. The stars that he trampled refer to rulers and the people of God. Antiochus Epiphanes hated the Jews. By some estimates, he was behind the murder of more than 100,000 Jews. In 168 B.C. he invaded Jerusalem and desecrated the temple of God by setting up an idol of the Greek god Zeus. Then he offered a pig as a sacrifice in the temple and stopped temple sacrifices in Jerusalem. His goal, as is clear in verse 25 later in the chapter, was to dethrone God Himself.

In the rebellion, the army was given up [given up to this horn], together with the regular sacrifice. (v. 12)

This horn did horrible things to the people of God.

Now that term “in the rebellion,” some of your translations will say, “because of transgression.” The reign of terror by Antiochus Epiphanes was God’s way of disciplining His people for their sin and their rebellion against Him. 

God uses kings and rulers and laws and edicts, God uses whatever means are necessary to get our attention and to bring us as His people to a place of repentance and obedience.

Verse 12 goes on to say that horn, Antiochus, “threw truth to the ground and was successful in what it did.” It doesn’t seem that wicked kings should be able to be successful, but sometimes they are for a time.

I think of that passage in Psalm 2 that says:

The kings of the earth take their stand,
and the rulers conspire together
against the LORD and his Anointed One:
"Let’s tear off their chains
and throw their ropes off of us." (vv. 2–3)

The rulers of earth do not want to be accountable to God; they want to be their own rulers; they want to be supreme. These rulers traffic in lies; they throw truth to the ground. And Antiochus Epiphanes, as is true of many rulers throughout history, seemed to be prevailing against the truth and against God in heaven and against the people of God here on earth.

Doesn’t that all feel so “today,” as you look at what’s going on in kings and kingdoms in our world? Presidents, prime ministers, rulers? Truth is trampled, and it seems like these wicked leaders and rulers are successful in what they do. They get the most votes; they get the agreement of the people. But Heaven rules.

Then I heard a holy one [an angel] speaking, and another holy one said to the speaker, "How long will the events of this vision last—the regular sacrifice, the rebellion that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and of the army to be trampled?" (v. 13) 

The angels were concerned, so they asked each other, “How long will this go on?” Some things only God knows, not even His angels.

How long will the holy things of God be profaned? Do you find yourself wondering that today? “How long, Lord? How long will Your people suffer? How long will the wicked prevail? How long will truth be trampled?”

Verse 14 reminds us that the antagonism of earthly powers against God will not last forever. 

He said to me, "For 2,300 evenings and mornings, [a little bit more than six years] then the sanctuary will be restored." (v. 14)

God knows exactly how long each king, each ruler, each reign, each empire, how long they will reign. Every event in heaven and every event on earth operates on God’s timetable, not man’s. God places a governor or a limit on how far and how long His enemies can exert their power.

Where do they get the power in the first place? Remember, it’s given to them by God. God promises that at the end of this appointed time “the sanctuary will be restored.” Your translation may say “the sanctuary will be cleansed.” There is an end to the foolishness and the tyranny of all that is anti-God, and that which has been trampled and violated will be restored. Heaven rules.

While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it . . . (v. 15)

There he is watching, trying to understand. It’s comforting to know that he didn’t understand all of it, because there’s so much we don’t understand, even as we read these Scriptures. But keep watching, keep looking, keep asking, “Lord, give me understanding; show us what You’re doing in our world.” God will show us as much as He wants us to know, as much as we need to know.

While I . . . was watching . . . and trying to understand [this vision], there stood before me someone who appeared to be a man. I heard a human voice calling from the middle of the Ulai: "Gabriel [first mention of that angel in this book], explain the vision to this man." So he approached where I was standing; when he came near, I was terrified and fell facedown. (vv. 15–17)

When you’re visited by an angel, you don’t laugh, you don’t have a party; you fall face down. These are mighty creatures.

Daniel was intensely concerned about the meaning and the implications of these visions, and though he lived in Babylon, he was one of God’s holy ones. He belonged to a different kingdom, and his heart was fixed on heaven. His heart was tethered to the Most High God. He could not be apathetic about these battles being waged on earth and in heaven above. Daniel was no casual observer of the unfolding events of history.

Sometimes we feel like, “Let’s just hide our heads in the sand until the storm passes over. Let’s just hunker down in our little Christian conclaves and just wait until the storm passes.” Now, there’s a place of security under the wings of God, there’s a shelter that He provides for us, but as God’s holy ones, we care deeply about what is going on, about the enemies of God who are exerting their power and trying to bring God down. Daniel cared deeply. This caring heart is going to be seen in a beautiful way in his earnest prayer when we get to chapter nine, in the next session.

"Son of man," he said to me, "understand that the vision refers to the time of the end." While he was speaking to me, I fell into a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me, made me stand up, and said, "I am here to tell you what will happen at the conclusion of the time of wrath, because it refers to the appointed time of the end." (vv. 17–19)

We see in this passage and throughout Scripture, God’s control, God’s sovereignty over time. We see that there will be an end to time. The time of tribulation, the time of wrath will come to an end. God has appointed when that will be. Kings don’t determine that, elections don’t determine that; God determines when the time will come for things to change.

The angel explained to Daniel the things he had seen, things that would happen at the appointed time, still hundreds of years out as Daniel was talking with this angel.

"The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat represents the king [or the kingdom, in some of your translations] of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king [Alexander the Great]. The four horns that took the place of the broken horn represent four kingdoms [four generals who took over after Alexander]. They will rise from that nation, but without its power." (vv. 19–22)

Now, the description that follows, beginning in verse 23, has two kinds of fulfillment, as is true in many cases with prophecy. It has a near-historical fulfillment in view that is going to be about the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, one of these Greek kings. But, as I said is often the case in prophecy, it also has a far view, an eschatological fulfillment, which will be fulfilled in the Antichrist. 

Antiochus was a type, a figure of the Antichrist, who will be like Antiochus in many ways, but even more powerful and more evil at the end of time, leading to the return of Christ. So what we’re going to read here, beginning in verse 23, has a near fulfillment (near being a few hundred years) in Antiochus and a far fulfillment, yet to come, in the Antichrist.

“Near the end of their kingdoms [that’s encouraging; their kingdoms will end],
when the rebels have reached
the full measure of their sin,
a ruthless king, skilled in intrigue,
will come to the throne.
His power will be great,
but it will not be his own.
He will cause outrageous destruction
and succeed in whatever he does.
He will destroy the powerful
along with the holy people [both Antiochus in past history and the coming Antichrist will persecute the people of God, the holy people].
He will cause deceit to prosper,”

He will be a liar, and who is the father of all lies? These kings, these rulers, this Antiochus, this Antichrist, will be dispatched by Satan himself. They will be under his power and his authority.

“He will cause deceit to prosper,
through his cunning and by his influence,
and in his own mind he will exalt himself.
He will destroy many in a time of peace;
he will even stand against the Prince of princes.” (vv. 23–25)

You see, Antiochus back then and Antichrist in days to come, these kings, these rulers hate God’s people because they hate God, and their way of getting at God is to get at God’s people. “He will even stand against the Prince of princes.”

Then look at the end of verse 25: “‘Yet he will be broken—not by human hands.’” 

Okay, what’s the summary here? Various kings will rise and fall, and in God’s time all of their kingdoms will come to an end. Then another final ruthless king will come to the throne. He will wield great power, but it will not be his own power, because ultimately all power is delegated from God. This ruler will be deceitful, he will be dangerous, he will be destructive, and he will be arrogant, self-exalting—exactly the opposite of the God in heaven, who gives him breath and whose power he is resisting. He doesn’t realize this is a losing battle. He will be broken, not by human hands. He will be struck down by God Himself.

We know that Antiochus died of disease, and the Antichrist will be struck down (according to Revelation 19:20) by Christ Himself, by His sword.

Human rulers who usurp God’s authority and persecute His people are all related to the Antichrist. They have the same DNA; they’re in the same family. This is the spirit antichrist, the spirit that rules in our world today. These human rulers, these antichrist-natured kings and rulers, will continue to rule until Christ returns to overthrow every rival and to reign forever over all the nations of the earth. They will be broken, but heaven rules.

“The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true.” (v. 26)

These ungodly kings and rulers hate the truth, they trample the truth, “but what you have seen is true.” 

“Now you are to seal up the vision [the angel says to Daniel] because it refers to many days in the future.” (v. 26)

As we said, this detailed prophecy was written 350 years before it was fulfilled by wicked Antiochus. It reminds us that God not only knows what’s going to happen in the future, God determines what is going to happen in the future.

 I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was greatly disturbed by the vision and could not understand it. (v. 27)

God’s providences in our world can be hard to face and hard to understand. In the wake of all these revelations, Daniels’ strength was sapped. But he didn’t allow himself to become paralyzed by the overwhelming vision, nor did he become obsessed with trying to figure out more than what God had revealed to him.

What did he do? “Then I got up and went about the king’s business.” He went back to work—in Babylon, serving a pagan king! He carried a heavy burden as he went to work, based on all that he had seen and heard, but he knew that all this here and now was only temporary, and that Babylon and the Medo-Persian empire to come and the Greek empire to come after that the Roman empire to come after that and wicked King Antiochus Epiphanes, who would desecrate the temple and the temple sacrifices—all of this, yet to come, would eventually crumble and come to nothing. In the meantime, he faithfully went about the work that God had given him to do in the king’s service, knowing that ultimately he was serving the King of heaven.

We live in a broken, fallen, very messed-up world, and we work in human systems that seem so powerful, seem so antichrist. But all those systems are destined to fail and fall one day. We see deeply disturbing things going on around us, and I’m not even taking the time to mention some of these news items, because you know what they are. And whatever I say today, it’s going to be something different by the time this recording airs. 

But you listen to the news, and you get a pit in your stomach. It’s so deeply disturbing. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and sick about it all, but we have been placed here by God in this time and in this place, and we are to serve wherever He has put us, while at the same time keeping our hearts firmly planted in his eternal kingdom, living with hope.

How do we have hope? Because we know that the purposes and promises of God will be fulfilled.

Some of you know that I’ve been journaling through the Bible over the last several years, and sometimes when I get to a chapter like this I’ll just write a brief overview, in just a few words, of what that chapter says, as I’ve been meditating on it. Let me read to you the overview that I wrote in my journal when I got to the end of Daniel chapter 8.

Powerful rulers
Aggressive, arrogant
Truth trampled
Lies prevail
Saints persecuted
Sanctuary profaned
How long?!
God knows
Evildoers overthrown
Sanctuary restored
God wins
The end
Heaven rules . . .
Forever

Amen.

Dannah: You can be faithful with the work God has given you to do today, because you know the end of the story! You can rest knowing He is in control. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is giving us hope from the Lord’s perspective. Daniel could keep moving ahead, being faithful in his daily activities, because his heart was tethered to the Most High.

As we begin to look ahead to the holiday season, we want to help you tether your heart to Jesus with our new Advent cards. This 31-day set will remind you to fix your eyes on the presence of Christ this Christmas. This card set even comes with a stand so you can display these encouraging promises on your desk, in your kitchen, or at the dinner table.

You’ll receive a set of the Advent cards when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your gift and request the Advent card set today, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

When you fix your eyes on the Savior and plant your heart in His sturdy kingdom, you can face any challenge. We’re going to talk more about standing firm in this shaking world at our Revive '21 conference that begins today! If you’ve been listening for the last few months, you know we’ve been looking forward to this conference with great anticipation. Everything encompassing Revive '21—from the biblical messages, to times of worship, to seeking the Lord in prayer—will equip you to get grounded in who God is and the truth of His Word.

Revive '21 is officially starting today at 2 p.m. Eastern. Depending on when you’re listening right now, it might not be too late to join us online! Just head over to ReviveOurHearts.com to find out all the details and sign up. Let’s get grounded in Christ, together. Now, I want to ask you . . . what does your prayer life look like?

Do you pray like Daniel did? Next week, Nancy is going to give us an inside look at Daniel’s prayer life and challenge us to pray wholeheartedly. Hear more as she continues in the series, “Heaven Rules.” Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you stand firm in the freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the CSB.

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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.