Monday, January 10, 2011

Only Until

In Daniel 7, Daniel dreamed of a succession of beasts representing all the world-controlling powers of history.

A lion with eagle wings. (Have you watched the YouTube video of an eagle attacking young goats, flinging them off a cliff to kill them? Lions stalking and attacking their prey?)

A bear. (Accounts from the Lewis and Clark expedition of the grizzlies they saw could install the proper view of this stately animal.) A bear to whom they say, "Arise, devour much flesh!"

And a leopard... with bird wings... and four heads. The better to eat you with, my dear. And dominion was given to it.

And the fourth beast, Daniel doesn't even seem able to describe, just to say it was dreadful. Terrible. Exceedingly strong. With huge iron teeth. Devouring. Breaking in pieces. Trampling everything with its feet. Different from the rest, and having ten horns. One of the horns was a loud-mouthed jerk.

While the little horn mouthed off, Daniel watched thrones being set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat. He watched a courtroom scene, and the Judge sat on a fiery flame of a throne. The books were opened. The little horn still wouldn't shut up. The beast is slain, its body destroyed, and given to the burning flame which came from before Him. All the other beasts were allowed to live, but had their power stripped from them.

"I was watching, and behold, One like the Son of Man,
coming with the clouds of heaven...
To Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away,
and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed."

Humans who control the world are beastly. There's a good reason so many people are anti-government. Governments are always run by people. And people have issues. Power issues. Corruption issues. Murdering-our-enemies issues. If you had to see in advance how world history would play out, you would be grieved in spirit, too. Troubled. Daniel was severely bothered. He asked what it meant.

"Those great beasts, which are four,
are four kings which arise out of the earth.
But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom
and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever."

Reading this today, I noticed that this was what the answer was. Even though Daniel probes for more information about that fourth beast, which so distressed him, the point of this vision is above. All those beastly kingdoms -- they do not remain.

Those governments arise out of the earth. It is amazing to me that of all the things that arise from the earth, a man to be King wasn't one of them. One of the beasts is given a man's heart, but all the kings that arise from the earth are animals. Only the Son of Man will rule as a man.

And the kingdom goes to the saints. Which would not be apparent by studying the details of the fourth beast. Because Daniel says, "the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them." Except that there is no period in the text. It continues: "until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom."

"He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
shall persecute the saints of the Most High...
then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time...
But the court shall be seated, 
and they shall take away his dominion,
consume and destroy it forever.
Then the kingdom and dominion,
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
shall be given to the people,
the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey Him."

I hear the Hallelujah chorus in my head every time I read about His dominion. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

It is so tempting to only see the dominion of the beast. But that animal is lumped in with all the other world powers by the angel explaining the vision. 'Four kings which arise.' But the saints receive the kingdom. The Son of Man gets it all. The beast is slain in the midst of his boasting. And all that trouble is only until.

And they lived happily ever after.

The end.

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