Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. See, if you listen really closely in the details of these prophecies, you're going to hear the footsteps, so to speak, of Jesus as he begins to run through the corridors of history, coming first to a manger in Bethlehem and then ultimately to his place on the throne of the Ancient of Days. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor, Author, and Theologian J.D.
Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today, Pastor J.D. is going to walk us through Daniel's visions of receiving warnings and capturing hope. We'll see that hardship, persecution, and suffering have all been decreed, but they're not the only message from God. Thankfully, Jesus will reign forever and judge the living and the dead according to his righteousness. He will renew and restore all things, and his people will dwell with him forever. And as we live in the in-between, Daniel encourages us that though things are dark and they are likely to only get darker, we don't need to despair. It's all part of the plan. So let's dive into the final chapters of the book of Daniel together.
Here's Pastor J.D. In the sixth Harry Potter book, there is a scene that might want to be one of the most confusing, bewildering moments I've ever encountered in literature. Now that all the movies and the books are out, it's hard to capture the shock of reading it live when it first came out, and I know some of you are like, wait, is this going to be a spoiler? But I feel like this is now part of our shared cultural knowledge, like the fact that Darth Vader was Luke's father. And if you were like, what?
Then I got nothing left to say on that, okay? But Albus Dumbledore, this has kind of become that, Albus Dumbledore, who's the wise sage of the Harry Potter series, Gandalf, the Godfather, Santa Claus, and Nicolas Cage, all wrapped up into one, has been severely weakened through a battle with evil Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters. And as the battle is ending, he is dangling from the top of a tower, holding on for his life. Severus Snape, who is a teacher at Hogwarts Castle, and Harry, who is the protagonist, his nemesis throughout the series, is holding on to Dumbledore, keeping him from falling. You've always been a little unsure about Snape, not sure where his loyalties lie.
You don't like him because Harry doesn't like him, but you're just not sure where he stands. Dumbledore makes eye contact with Severus and says, Severus, please. And Severus, instead of pulling him up, opens his hand and drops him. It seems like the ultimate act of betrayal drops him to his death, by the way, a moment when evil triumphs over good and everything is lost. In the next book, however, you learn that Professor Dumbledore had secretly confided to Snape that he was dying of a slow and irreversible curse and that through his death, he could grant to Harry a power that Harry would not have as long as Dumbledore was alive, a power that could defeat Lord Voldemort. So Dumbledore makes Snape promise that when the moment comes, when the moment comes, Snape will let him die. And suddenly that meaning of Dumbledore's plea there on that tower, the plea Severus, please, gets reversed. Dumbledore's death was not an act of chaos or betrayal. It was all according to plan. Many great stories, many great stories involve chapters where the characters go through something that at the time feels chaotic, tedious, or tragic, only to learn later that it was all part of the plan.
I'm thinking in case you're like, I totally did not track with the Harry Potter thing. I'm thinking of Daniel LaRusso's training at the hands of Mr. Miyagi, Luke's exile in the Dagobah system, Lightning McQueen getting stranded in Radiator Springs. We've even seen it this week in some of the weird strategies of some of our Olympic athletes.
The commentator comes on. You've seen things like this where the commentator comes on and says, now, just because we're in the seventh of eight laps and our runner is still in 14th place, that doesn't mean that she'll lose. No, this is all part of her weird plan to sprint past everyone at the last second. Sure enough, that's exactly what happens. Just so you know, if I were an Olympian, I would never have the discipline to pursue that strategy. I would go out hot, and if I got ahead, I would try to stay as far ahead of everyone as I could for as long as I could, which is probably reason number 424 why I never made it as an Olympic athlete. Coming in last is the USA's J.D.
Greer, who actually led for the first three seconds of the race. The point is a lot of things that turn out quite well have sad, confusing chapters, but they're all part of the plan. That is Daniel's message to us in the last three chapters of his book. Things are dark, he says, and they're about to get a lot darker, but don't despair.
It's all according to plan. If you have a Bible, Daniel 10 is where we're going to be. We'll be in the last three chapters, 10, 11, and 12. We have called this series Shining in Babylon because the book is about shining with the light of an uncommon hope in an increasingly dark world.
Make no mistake. The backdrop of Daniel's book is somber and heavy, and the world for the foreseeable future is not going to get much better, Daniel says. In fact, it's going to get a lot worse. Several prophetic visions in Daniel teach us that very thing. I know everybody today wants to think that the world is the opposite. It's gradually progressing toward a utopia where we got no more political or economic problems, where everybody lives in abundance and prosperity, and we're all united, holding hands across the globe in one multi-ethnic village, but that's not where Daniel says the world is going, nor is it where Jesus said it was going to go in Matthew 23 and 24, where the apostle John says in Revelation that the world is headed. Bible writers consistently tell us that the world is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. So be encouraged, okay? Let's close in prayer.
No, I'm kidding. All right, if you have your Bible, Daniel chapter 10, I want you to look at the bad news and the good news that Daniel uses to conclude his book. These last three chapters are Daniel's record of his final visions.
Now, there's a lot of details in here. We'll go ahead and warn you, and I know some of you totally want to geek out on those details, and we are going to touch on a few of them, but we're going to focus mostly on the bigger picture, the bigger point that Daniel's trying to make, and that is why he is telling us these things. I love what Martin Luther, the reformer, said about this passage. He said, and I quote, Daniel concludes the record of his terrifying visions and dreams on a note of joy, pointing to the coming of Christ's eternal reign of glory. Whoever wants to study Daniel's visions profitably, dare not focus his attention on the details of the visions and the dreams, okay?
We'll touch them a little bit. We're not going to focus on them, but instead, he says, you should seek comfort in the Savior Jesus Christ, whom they portray, and in the deliverance that he brings from sin and its misery. You see, if you listen really closely this weekend and the details of these prophecies, you're going to hear the footsteps, so to speak, of Jesus as he begins to run through the corridors of history, coming first to a manger in Bethlehem, and then ultimately to his place on the throne of the Ancient of Days.
Bad news first. Daniel 10, verse 1. In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel. And then I, Daniel, mourned for three full weeks. The message was so heavy that Daniel mourned for three entire weeks. During that time, he says, verse 3, I did not eat any rich food, nor no meat or wine entered my mouth, and I didn't even put any oil on my body.
You know it's bad when you're too overwhelmed even to rub in your essential oils. Daniel can't even make it across the room to flip on his lavender diffuser. So, verse 4, an angel comes to comfort him, and he puts a little dab of chamomile behind his ear, and he flips on the lavender diffuser, and he begins to explain the meaning of his vision to him. A lot of things in this second vision of Daniel overlap with the previous visions that we've studied in Daniel. In fact, learn this, all the visions and dreams of Daniel, whether they are given to pagan kings or to Daniel himself, all of them are about a series of world kingdoms that are going to arise, each one oppressive and hostile to the gospel. After Babylon came Persia, and after Persia was Greece, and after Greece was Rome, and then after Rome there's a final kingdom that's headed by someone we now call the Antichrist. Daniel explains to us that certain elements of the first few kingdoms of Greece and of Persia and Rome, certain elements are going to give us a foretaste of what that final kingdom of the Antichrist is going to be like. For example, in chapters 7 and 8, when we studied that a few weeks ago, we saw that Daniel prophesied that a ruthless king was going to arise out of Greece, who was going to be particularly hostile toward God's people.
That prophecy I explained to you was fulfilled 300 years later by a leader of Greece named Antiochus Epiphanes, who came to power around 160 BC. And I showed you when we studied Daniel in 7 and 8, that just like Daniel prophesied, Antiochus Epiphanes was particularly blasphemous toward God, and he was particularly vicious toward God's people. He has been called the Hitler of the Old Testament. He slaughtered in cold blood tens of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children. He desecrated the temple by sacrificing pigs on the altar and then forcing the Jewish leaders to eat pig flesh. He then committed what Bible writers call the abomination of desolation by setting up a statue of himself in the Holy of Holies and making the Jews bow down to it. I told you you can read about all that in 1 and 2 Maccabees, which are historical books that are written by Jews who lived right before Christ's first coming.
Those books contain a lot of helpful historical information, although they are not scripture, and I explained to you why. Daniel explains, though, that Antiochus Epiphanes was a type, a prefiguring of a future world king who was going to be everything that Antiochus was, but much, much worse, and that was going to be the Antichrist. I share all that because the first part of Daniel 10 is again about Antiochus Epiphanes, and Daniel is describing the devastation that Antiochus is going to bring to the Jews, devastation we've already gone over. Then suddenly, in verse 36 in chapter 11, he switches from talking about Antiochus to prophesying about a future king, another king, way off into the future, a king he calls the King of the North, the Antichrist. That switch happens in verse 36.
Let me get you to take a look at it. Verse 36. Then this king, he says, is going to do whatever he wants. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god. He will say outrageous things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath has been completed, because what has been decreed will be accomplished. He will not show regard for any other god, because he will magnify himself above all. Instead, he will honor a god of fortresses, strength, and he will deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god. Remember how I showed you in Daniel 7 that Daniel says the Antichrist has the eyes of a man, but when you look at them, you see something at work behind them that's not human.
That's what Daniel is saying again here. The Antichrist looks like a man. He is a man, but he's empowered by a foreign god, namely Satan himself. He will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. The Antichrist will make rulers of many and distributing land as a reward for serving and following him. In chapters 7 and 8, Daniel had said three things that were going to characterize the rule of the Antichrist. I'm going to review those really quickly because we see echoes of these here again in these verses.
Remember, if you've got your notes out, flip back and you can see these. First thing we said was he devours much flesh. That was in chapter 7, verse 25. His aim is to destroy.
All the slick talking and all the flattery and the rewards, hatred, prejudice, genocide, slavery, human trafficking, the commoditization of the vulnerable, abortion, militarism… Those are all tools in his arsenal. Secondly, we said after devouring much flesh, he doubts God's Word. That was chapter 8, verse 25. He publicly undermines what Scripture teaches about things like humanity, sexuality, and salvation. He even uses supernatural power from Satan to do miracles to deceive people into believing what he says. Third, he exalts man. That was also verse 25. The first one he's going to exalt, as Daniel says again here in chapter 11, is himself, but he's also going to get people to do the same thing with themselves, to focus on themselves and glory in their capabilities and accomplishments.
He's kind of the ultimate humanist. What we saw in chapter 7, and this is really, really important, is that even though the antichrist himself is not here yet, the spirit of antichrist is. In 1 John 2.18, the verse we looked at, 1 John 2.18, Children, it is already the last hour. As you have heard that antichrist is coming, and he is, even now, already many antichrists have come. We can see the spirit of antichrist at work in our world all around us. Again, I know we went over this in detail, but just because it sets you up for what happens next, look at where he is devouring flesh. All of our progress and all of our civilization in the last 100 years have been the bloodiest century in all of human history.
More people have been killed by genocide and war and abortion than any other century in history. He is at work, I told you, in your life to destroy your flesh. Some of you are experiencing that.
You come in here, and I don't have to persuade you of that. Through alcoholism and addictions and pornography and materialism and narcissism, he is working to erode and destroy the foundation of everything good in your life. Your marriage is in shatters, and your relationship with your kid is in shatters, and everything in your life is being destroyed because he has come to devour much flesh, and he deceived you into that. He is working to make you doubt God's Word. He's always everywhere in very smooth-sounding presentations saying, is that really what God says?
I'm not sure that's really what… I'm sure that's pretty outdated. That's why I told you some of you were like, well, I'm just questioning what the Bible says about sexuality, and I'm just trying to find myself. I'm like, no, you're not. You are dabbling with hell.
That's what you're doing. Our Enemy begins every attack by making you question God's Word. I explained that he's at work trying to get you to exalt yourself, to think that your agenda is the most important, that you know best for your life through things as benign as Facebook and Twitter and Instagram reels and consumer-driven commercials and leadership seminars. He is trying to get you to fixate on yourself. He whispers in your ear that you know what's best for your life, that no one has ever unlocked your potential, that nobody appreciates you, that you better look out for you because nobody else is going to, and that you can only be happy when your kingdom comes and your will is done.
Make no mistake about it, my friend. The spirit of antichrist is already here. Daniel tells us that he employs the powers of the state and the machinery of culture and media to promote those three things. He's basically in control of politics and media and culture.
That doesn't mean everybody working in those things. There are a lot of people like Daniel that are going to be in there that are witnesses for Jesus, but the general control of that, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is at work in the unbelieving world, he is already here, and he's already using those things to shape the world. The bad news is that things are only going to get worse as the antichrist coming nears. Daniel says at the beginning of chapter 12, about the end, there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since nations came into being until that time.
The worst is yet to come. Critics often say that evangelical Christians have a persecution complex. We always imagine everybody's out to get us. Honestly, can I go ahead and say it?
That's a valid critique. Just watch cable news. We can be a little paranoid and way oversensitive, but we might be like that sometimes because we understand who is at work in the world and what his game actually is. Daniel tells us, listen, let's be under no illusions. Persecution against Christians in the world is as high as it has ever been, and it is likely only going to get worse. Open Doors, a group that our church and I have partnered with for many years, it's a ministry that helps persecuted Christians around the world, tells us today, get this, that over 340 million Christians today, right now, this weekend, 340 million Christians live in places where they are experiencing high levels of persecution.
Not sideways looks and not job affliction, but like going to jail or losing your life. That is the highest in history. Last year, almost 5,000 believers, they say, were martyred because of their faith. Not just 5,000 believers, but they're dying because of their faith in Christ. 4,000 Christian churches were burned.
Another 4,000 Christians were imprisoned, most of them without trial because of their faith. And even right here in our own country, where we supposedly have a guaranteed freedom of religion, we are seeing the steady erosion of those things. Already, in some places, if you hold to what Scripture teaches about sexuality or gender or the way of salvation or the preciousness of life from the womb to the tomb, you can be labeled as a bigot and canceled or fired. Dr. George Yancy, who is an African American professor who's taught here at our church about overcoming racial strife, has a new book out on anti-Christian discrimination in America. He points out in this book that 32 percent of all Americans identify theologically conservative Christians as their least favorite group in society, liking them significantly less and rating them as more dangerous than other groups. By comparison, only 31 percent identified Muslims that way. So it is fair, Dr. Yancy says, it is fair to say that if we are concerned about anti-Muslim prejudice, and we should be, we should also at least be aware of anti-Christian prejudice. Dr. Yancy documents with a pretty impressive compilation of statistics that being a professing Christian who holds to what Christians have believed for the last 2,000 years about sexuality and gender and the way of salvation will hurt you significantly in the academic world, the journalistic world, the political world, the artistic world, the medical world, and increasingly even the business world. So yes, I'll say it, we can be a little paranoid, but you will forgive me if we see a trajectory in those things that Daniel warns us about. Listen, I do not want to contribute to conspiracy theories, so if you're going to clip this on YouTube, then clip this part too. In fact, I would say the spirit of the enemy is every bit as much at work in QAnon as he is in the ACLU.
He's at work in every culture-shaping institution seeking to foster hate, doubt God's Word, and exalt man. Make no mistake. We are sending our kids out into a hostile world, and we have to prepare them for that. Cute little songs and little habits and learning to say the right words, that's not going to cut it in the world that's to come. We have to teach them that there is something worth living for and dying for that is stronger than all the opposition of the world and is better than any of the world's affirmation, and that they're never going to be applauded by the world if they're going to hold fast to their confession of faith. It's okay, because Jesus is worth it.
That's why we have to move beyond this sort of lazy kind of discipleship where we're content with Christian children who don't have sex and know what way to vote, and we've got to teach them to be overcomers who love Jesus enough to give their lives for him. Now, I say all that because I read this. I read this, and you should too. I say, well, no wonder Daniel's grieving. What a dark view of the future.
Right? We should grieve also. Y'all, the world, generally speaking, is a tragic place where God's people suffer and are sometimes tortured and slain again and again, and justice never comes on earth, and it's only going to get worse, he says. Jesus is like they hated me.
They're going to hate you. Be assured, John 16, in this world you're going to have tribulation. Sometimes in church we're in such a hurry to rejoice that we overlook the grief that some people coming in are feeling.
Some of you coming in this weekend, you're facing pressure at your job to conform. You're suffering from the scorn of friends for the sake of godliness, or maybe you're just suffering. The world can be a dark place, and we want to grieve with you and not get so close to the happy songs that we don't take time just to acknowledge. I know that it's dark, and I know that it's painful, and that's exactly what scripture tells us we should expect.
You say, this is the worst sermon I've ever heard. What is the good news? I thought you'd never ask. I've been waiting to tell you, and you just haven't asked. Here we go. I'm going to give you three elements of hope that Daniel gives you.
They're bright, and they're shiny, and they're awesome. Number one, he says the suffering is limited. The suffering is limited. What stands out to me as I read this is how in control God seems to be of all of this. Daniel drops little hints about that along the way.
Look at 1136, which you read a second ago, and look at it again. He will be successful. The antichrist will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, because what has been decreed, not by him, but by God, what has been decreed will be accomplished. The time of wrath is completed. What has been decreed is accomplished. In other words, this is all part of the plan.
The persecution is real, and it's painful. It's all been decreed by God. The time has been set, and not an ounce more of it comes than God has intended and determined. It's like that terrible scene where it was Snape and Dumbledore. It looks bad, but it's all according to the plan. One day the meaning of these tragic events is going to be reversed.
One of my favorite aspects of the book of Daniel is how specific God is about where it's going to come from and how long it's going to last. By the way, if you've never seen what I'm about to show you, it will blow your mind, okay? I want you to go back, hold your finger in chapter 12, go back to chapter 9 real quick. I want you to tighten your belt and put on your nerd glasses.
You're going to need them here for a minute. Verse 24, Daniel 9, watch this, 70 weeks are decreed. God says to Daniel or through the angel about your people and your holy city to bring the rebellion to an end, to put a stop to sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring an everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. If God decrees something, even something bad, it will happen because He's in charge.
But what looks like bad news will be reversed to good news in His time. Daniel helps us see that it's all a part of the plan. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian J.D.
Greer. We are so glad that you joined us. Like Daniel, we live as exiles in a hostile culture. As we live our lives in our own Babylon, we should pray for its security and welfare, for as it thrives, we thrive. We have a Bible study designed specifically to help us process this book of the Bible to help us examine the scriptures and then apply them to our lives. This Bible study comes with our thanks when you give a suggested donation of $35 or more.
When you support Summit Life today, you're supporting your fellow listeners by providing them access to resources that will help them to dive deep into the gospel message. So call us today at 866-335-5220 or request the workbook when you give online at jdgreer.com. You can also sign up for our e-newsletter to get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor J.D.
's latest blog post delivered straight to your email inbox. Sign up when you go to jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vitovich. Join us next week when Pastor J.D. concludes this teaching series through the book of Daniel, Monday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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