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dreamy, wispy clouds September 5 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Daniel 7, 8

Dreams and Visions

We all have dreams. Some claim to have visions. What are the purposes of dreams and visions? Why do we have them? What do they mean? Are they just a result of consuming a late night pizza, too much caffeine, medication, or is there something more? Solomon, the wisest man to ever live (outside of Jesus Christ) said, “...a dream comes when there are many cares,” (Ecclesiastes 5:3, NIV). That is often the case. In fact, a peaceful mind usually gives a person a peaceful sleep. Reading Psalms in the Bible often helps a person go to sleep peacefully. If we watch a scary movie, however, or do our taxes, have an argument, or are worried about life situations, we often have dreams. Do the dreams warn us of some future event? While God may use dreams to warn us, we should not think of them as prophecies (more…). Hebrews 1:1-2 says,

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe, (NIV).

Prophetical dreams, therefore, are no longer necessary because God has spoken to us through his Son and through His Word, the Bible. Do you know Him? He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life that will last forever (more...)

Daniel was one of those prophets of long ago. In the fifth century B.C. God spoke to Daniel and showed him the things that were to come about in the future. He did this as an encouragement to the Jewish people in exile. Daniel was shown three dreams, and though different in content, they basically predicted the same events.

The first dream in Daniel 2 was of a great statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and feet of a mixture of iron and clay. They represented the four kingdoms: Babylon (which was in power at the time), Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, respectively. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was so impressed by the dream’s interpretation that he had a gold statue made in his honor. In fact, he required all the people to worship the image whenever they would hear the prescribed musical instruments playing (August 3 Bible study). Nebuchadnezzar was proud.

The second dream is recorded in Daniel 7. King Belshazzar, a successor and Nebuchadnezzar’s descendant by marriage, was now king (see September 6 more page or wait until tomorrow's Bible study). He, too, had a dream. In his dream there were four beasts. First, he saw a lion with eagle’s wings that were torn off, and then it was lifted up off the ground and made to stand like a man. Finally, it was given a man’s heart. This beast represented his patriarchal father, Nebuchadnezzar, who was the great majestic king of Babylon. He was first humbled and then later restored when he recognized God was sovereign and he was not (we learned about this in our September 4 Bible study).

The second beast, a bear, represented Medo-Persia. Daniel saw her lying on her side, meaning that one side would be higher (greater) than the other. Persia would become more powerful than Media, and she would devour three nations. Theologians are not sure exactly which nations these were. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p. 1350 suggests these nations might have been Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt or Lydia. Egypt, however, seems unlikely to have been destroyed by Medo-Persia because, as we learned in yesterday's lesson, she was destroyed by Babylon.

The next beast was a leopard with the wings of a bird. This beast pictured the nation of Greece and the speed with which Alexander the Great would conquer the entire known world. He even conquered the proud mercantile nation of Tyre. Four horns coming out of its head pictured four rulers that would come out of her.

The last beast was fierce, with iron teeth and bronze claws. It crushed all in its path. This beast represented Rome. Later, in the end times of the earth, another beast-like nation will rise up, like Rome, and will crush nations. There will be ten rulers, and then one prominent ruler will rise up from among them. At that time the Lord Jesus will come back, the ruler will be thrown into hell (a place of burning torment), and the Lord will reign on the earth for 1,000 years. The interpretation of the dream and the identifying of the nations in Daniel 7 are found in succeeding revelations in Daniel 8 and 11.

The third dream is recorded in Daniel 8. Though another version of the dreams is recorded in Daniel 2 and 7, in this dream Babylon is left out because Babylon was on the precipice of being conquered by Medo-Persia. The ram with two horns represented the kingdoms of Media and Persia, respectively, with the bigger horn being Persia. The fleet-footed, shaggy goat with the single prominent horn represented the nation of Greece and Alexander as its king. After its horn was broken off (i.e., he died) four other horns (rulers) took his place. Out of one of these ruling horns came a master of intrigue, (probably Antiochus Epiphanies). He would be empowered (probably by Satan) to crush and destroy. He would defile the Jewish temple and seek to destroy the people. God would later destroy him.

What significance do all these dreams have? First, God is sovereign and in control of all nations and their destinies. Second, tougher times would be ahead for the exiled Jews. Again, their land would be torn up by wars. Though these nations would be oppressive, their reigns would be temporal. God will preserve a remnant of his people. His Son [Jesus] will one- day rule over them with all authority, glory, and sovereign power, forever (Daniel 7:14). His kingdom will never be destroyed. His saints (believing Jews who survive the Great Tribulation) will receive the kingdom promised them since the days of Abraham, and they will possess it forever.

Lessons to live by:

  • God has an eternal program and he will fulfill it.
  • Today our focus should not be on dreams and visions but upon God’s Son Jesus, who fulfills Biblical prophecies. Jesus gave his life for us that we might have forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...)
  • God’s will for the future is found in His Word, the Bible.
  • God has already fulfilled many prophecies of the Bible, literally. We can expect the same thing with prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled.
  • Prophecies encouraged the Jews that God was not done with them as a nation. We should be encouraged that if God can fulfill prophecies to the Jews, God will also keep his word to us.
  • Though in Daniel’s time Israel would soon be restored to her land, tough times would be ahead. Though God saves us and we are guaranteed our place in our heavenly land, some of us may also face tough times on this earth. Do not be discouraged; God will be with you through them.

Today’s Bible memory verse: John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

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