December 6 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” ~Daniel 7:13

OLD TESTAMENT

If you find yourself perplexed after reading Daniel 7 and 8, you are not alone. Even Daniel struggled to understand what he was seeing. However, the prophet had an interpreter who helped him understand the future events. In short, Daniel 7 is a vision of the present and future kingdoms that will rise and fall. (You can consult commentaries to get more detail than I can offer in this brief explanation.)

The first kingdom is the Babylonian kingdom in which Daniel is living. The second is the Medo-Persian kingdom that conquered the Babylonian Empire in about 539 BC (during Daniel’s lifetime) and ruled the known world for 200 years. The third kingdom comes from the west, specifically Greece, and is led by young Alexander the Great. His kingdom conquers the known world in about 330 BC. Daniel 8 provides more explanation on this third kingdom, which was divided into four nations after Alexander’s death.

The fourth kingdom is the Roman Empire. It emerged in about 63 BC and exceeded all the other powers, gobbling up nations from northern Europe (as far as Scotland) to Asia in the east and Africa in the south. The Roman Empire gradually declined in the 400s, and as Daniel prophesies, global power was measured out to kings (represented by the 10 horns). The 10 horns are not to be taken literally; it is a symbol for many kings and refers to the rise of a new (and still current) era of nations and nationalism.

From among these kings rises a curious horn. This appears to be the anti-Christ, who will someday become more powerful than all the other kings. He will persecute God’s people for a short period of time (time, times, and time and a half could mean 3 ½ years—or a short period of time).

So what is God saying in all of this? There is going to be a lot of political change in the future. Nations will rise and fall. There will be wars and rumors of wars. There will be times of great difficulty and change. But there is nothing to worry about. God is in control of all things. Or to use the precise words of the text:  “He changes times and season; he sets up kings and deposes them” (Dan. 2:21; see also 4:34-35, 6:26-27).

These are words of encouragement. God is sovereign over all things. The people of God need not wring their hands over the rise and fall of nations, nor do they need to worry about how the story will end. The Ancient of Days is coming to reign with the people of God forever.

NEW TESTAMENT

If we see a brother who has sinned, we should try to restore him. If we are successful, we will prevent a lot of pain and perhaps even save a person’s life (as God sometimes swiftly brings the rebellious to judgment). Isn’t it amazing that God can use us this way!

John gives a warning to those who keep on sinning: sin can lead to destruction (even death). This should provide ample motivation for them to change—and for us to intervene.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.