I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.
Daniel describes yet another vision that he had. In this vision he saw a ram with two horns, one longer than the other. The ram butted everything out of its way in all directions. Then a goat with a single horn appeared in the west. The goat charged the ram and broke off both its horns then trampled it on the ground. The goat became very powerful, but at the height of its power its horn was broken off and four horns emerged to replace it. Each of the four horns pointed to a different compass point. At this point the metaphor of the vision becomes confused (as often happens in dreams). A small horn came out of one of the four horns and extended towards the land of Israel. The power of the small horn extended up to heaven where it challenged the authority of the Commander of heaven’s armies by cancelling the daily sacrifices and defiling the Temple.
In the dream someone who looked like a man approached Daniel and a voice called out that Gabriel should explain the vision to him. When Gabriel approached Daniel, Daniel was so frightened that he fainted. Gabriel roused Daniel with a touch and explained the vision to him. The ram represented the kingdom of the Medes and Persians (what we know today as the Persian Empire). The goat represented the kingdom of Greece. The single horn represented Alexander the Great (something we can tell looking back that is not explicitly stated in the explanation) who died at the height of his power. He was replaced by four generals who each took over part of his empire (one in each direction from the land of Israel). Shortly before the four Hellenistic kingdoms were conquered by Rome one of those kingdoms was ruled by a king (Antiochus Epiphanes) who attempted to put an end to traditional Jewish worship and who rededicated the Temple to the worship of Zeus. Daniel is told that this king will be brought down, but not by human power. Antiochus Epiphanes was successful in battle against the Parthian Empire (revitalized Persian Empire) who had invaded his territory. However, after his initial successes and before he could consolidate them he died suddenly of disease. There are many who see more to this vision than that obvious interpretation since at the end of the explanation Gabriel tells Daniel to keep the vision a secret. I am satisfied with the interpretation of this prophecy being about the fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander the Great and the eventual fall of the Seleucid (Antiochus Epiphanes was a member of the Seleucid dynasty) dynasty. I am willing to consider additional meanings for this prophecy considering that in the explanation Gabriel says that it refers to the very end of time.
John wrote this letter so that we might not sin, but he told us that even if we do sin we have an advocate who will plead our case before the Father. IF we know and love God we will follow His commands. Someone who does not follow God’s commands does not know or love God. If I wish to be viewed as living in God I must live as Jesus did.
John tells us that the command to love one another is not a new command. Yet it is new because Jesus showed us what it means to truly live this command. If I claims to be living in the light in fellowship with God, yet harbor animosity towards a fellow believer, I am in fact living in darkness and am not experiencing the light of God. If I love my fellow believers then I am living in the light and I will not cause anyone to stumble. John tells us not to love the things of this world. I strive to love serving God more than I crave physical pleasure, more than I take pride in my accomplishments or my possessions. All of those things will fade away and be of no real consequence. I know that only what I do that pleases God and serves His will has real meaning, but I still find myself chasing after those other things.
If we cry out to the Lord when we face trouble, He will hear our prayer and answer us. He will rescue us from among liars and deceitful people, but we must be careful not to be one of those. I will seek peace, even when I live among those who are seeking war and violence.
Greed is the source of conflict, we fight because we want what others have. Trusting in your own insight is a sure route to trouble. Ask others for their advice and you will soon learn wisdom.