Thou Art Wiser Than Daniel – Daniel 8:15-19

 
This is a chapter of prophesy, and so, in a special way, it is important. But it is more important than most prophecies in the sense that it is also now history. If this chapter, which is so hated by God’s enemies, can be placed before the mind of the agnostic, the unbeliever, or liberal-minded thinker, it could open his heart to receive all the rest of God’s revelation.

In this regard I need to repeat myself from last week just a little bit. In a vision Daniel saw a ram, apparently coming from the river Ulai in what is now Iran. This ram pushed towards the north, the west and the south. It had two horns, which is not unusual in rams, but one was unusually larger than its counterpart. After the initial vision, Daniel was given its meaning – The ram with the two horns was the unified kingdom of Medo-Persia. We can surmise that the larger horn represented the Persian aspect of the empire, which was far stronger than the Medean side. And we have to remember that this revelation was made by God years before the rise of Medo-Persia. Then the prophet saw a goat with a single notable horn, which destroyed and crushed the ram. The single horn on this unicorn goat was eventually replaced by four more ordinary-looking horns. At the conclusion of the vision, Daniel was told that this animal represented the Grecian Empire. The notable horn was undoubtedly Alexander the Great, who was succeeded by four of his generals. What is so extremely important is that this prophecy and its explanation was given to Daniel about two hundred years before the rise of the Greek empire.

This chapter gloriously magnifies Jehovah. As I said last week this chapter has been vigorously attacked by the enemies of the Lord. But it has never been disproved or discredited. It is one of the most significant proofs of God’s sovereignty and omniscience in all the Word of the Lord. If the unbeliever can be convinced that this chapter is true, there is no reason or excuse for that man not to explicitly believe in all the rest of the Word of God. The Christian needs to memorize these dates – Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 606 B.C. Daniel was taken as a young man to Babylon at that time. Daniel foretold the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians, and a few years later (538 B.C.) it was so. Then in 331 B.C. Alexander defeated the Persians – approximately 200 years later. Daniel was given this startling revelation more than 200 years before its fulfillment. He also spoke about a little horn which came up in the Greek Empire after the end of the four. History gives us the name and many of the deeds of this little horn. It was Antiochus Ephiphanes, and he ruled over the east, including Jerusalem, around 175 B.C. The general things declared about him here in this chapter are now a matter of historical record.

As I was reviewing this prophesy about Antiochus, I realized that I failed to explain verse 14 last week. “Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto 2,000 and 300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Two thousand and three hundred days is six years and one hundred and ten days. I will not go into the details for you, but you can read about this in John Gill and other experts. Antiochus entered the holy temple on the 15th day of the 3rd month of 145 B.C. Six years later Judas Maccabeus defeated the Greek Nicanor on the 13th day of Adar 151 B.C. It then took a bit of time for the cleansing of the temple before the worship of the Lord could be reestablished. As Daniel was told, “unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”

And now I come to my theme for this morning. You and I have the privilege of hindsight, looking back on these wonderful prophesies. I hope that you have a basic understanding of these things and that you believe the Word of God to be true. But be aware that thousands of people have read and heard these same things and did not believe. And then there is the added point that Daniel, although believing God – he didn’t understand either. And the point is this – knowledge of the things of God is entirely dependent upon the blessing of the Lord. Understanding the Bible is not merely the exercise of the “little grey cells” in our heads.

Remember that Daniel was an extremely intelligent man.
Nebuchadnezzar had ordered his men to bring from Jerusalem the brightest children of that city. They were to be trained and educated in the things of the Chaldeans, in order to become tools of the king. Daniel learned his lessons better than most; in fact, he was sharper than any other tool in Babylon. “And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” From there Daniel went on to be one of the most influential men in the world, speaking privately to the king. He was a counselor to several monarchs, including those of Babylon’s successors, the Medes and Persians.

If there were such things as intelligent quotients – IQ tests, Daniel would have aced them all. He was brilliant; he was a genius. But more importantly, he was also a believer in Jehovah. Many of the world’s greatest scientists and thinkers down though history have been servants of the Lord. And most of them have acknowledged that whatever brains they possessed, they were gifts of God.

While saying that, it shouldn’t make any of us lesser mortals embarrassed or jealous. Because knowledge of God is not based on intellect, it is based on a God-created relationship. Some Washington politician may surmise by deduction, the existence of Judy Oldfield of Post Falls, Idaho. But I know of Mrs. Oldfield, of 2730 E. Obsidian Ave, Post Falls, because I personally know her. That doesn’t make me a genius – it merely means that I am blessed of God.

There is an important revelation made to us in Ezekiel 28, about the city of Tyre – and the person of Satan. In the process there is an remark made about Daniel, which reveals what people thought about him. “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God.” And then with the Lord’s holy facetiousness he goes on…. “Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee.” Daniel was proverbial for his wisdom; he was the standard – the benchmark – for genius. And as far as I am concerned he was well worth it.

But despite being the prophet that God used for this revelation, he didn’t understand it.
Not only didn’t he understand, but he was upset because of it, and because he didn’t understand it. Chapter 7 – “Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.” Chapter 8 – “And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” As we move on through the book we will see more statements similar to these. We may try to console and encourage Daniel, pointing out that this is prophecy which is always difficult. But he was upset nevertheless.

So here is the wisest man upon the planet since the death of Solomon. In some ways he may have been Solomon’s intellectual and spiritual superior. And he pled with the Lord to make him to understand what it was that he was prophesying. But it was not God’s will that he should know as yet.

And the point is – there are many things in the Bible beyond our “ken” – our knowledge and understanding. Even the Apostle Peter tells us that some of the doctrines taught by Paul are very difficult to grasp. What did God do, how did He occupy His time, in eternity past before He chose to create? Why did He, with all his omnipotence and omniscience decree to permit sin? He could have saved Himself and us a lot of trouble, if he had blocked the introduction of sin. And if He knew that Satan would rebel against Him, why did He create him? Why didn’t the Lord destroy mankind and start anew, after Adam sinned? Why does God love one person enough to save him, but another, an apparently better person, He doesn’t save? Why have thousands of years of sin and rebellion been permitted – and still God patiently waits to make things right? These and a hundred other questions have been making smart people rub their very perplexed chins. And the closest that they have come is to propose probable answers.

But should we give up and become disbelievers simply because we can’t satisfy our minds? When the home and the business of the Philippians jailer was shaken with divine power, he became suicidal with confusion, doubts and worry. After Paul called to him, he jumped through the rubble of the earthquake, “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The apostle Paul didn’t give him a bunch of facts, points of theology, and historical evidences to ponder. The man’s mind as honeycombed with questions, but his need wasn’t in a bunch of answers at that point. Faith was the great need of the moment. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” – in the Lord’s good time. Our seeking must be done by faith not by eye-sight or mind-stretching.

Daniel illustrates the point that only God can answer the really great questions.
Daniel wanted to know who the ram and the goat would be. “And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning. Then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.”

Now let’s take a step back to Daniel chapter 7. In the first year of the last king of Babylon, the Lord gave to Daniel a vision. It began with a lion, followed by a bear, a leopard, and then a completely new kind of beast. “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this.” Unfortunately for Daniel, the explanation wasn’t as complete as he was hoping. The primary lesson of the vision was that Jehovah is in control and always will be, so don’t worry. But as we saw, “As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me.” For two full years, Daniel prayed and struggled, meditated and studied his Bible for more answers. And then in the third year of Belshazzar a second vision was given which answered some of his questions.

When we began this study of Daniel, one of my fears was the unsanctified curiosity of some people. There are professed Christians who are ten times more interested in knowing about the Antichrist than they are in knowing Jesus Christ. I know people who would give their left arms to be able to know all the answers to all the questions about the tribulation, the translation, the millennium and eternity to come. They care little about studying what the Bible says about sovereign grace or the nature of salvation, but when it comes to the nuances of eschatology they go crazy with desire.

The thing to keep in mind, is that if Daniel, one of God’s wisest and choicest of servants and scholars wasn’t permitted to know all the answers. Why should you and I think that we must have all those answers? Over time, more and more things were revealed to that great man – but not all. And then the Lord sent more prophets, and more prophets, culminating in the Apostle John who was permitted to see more marvelous revelations. But even in the added revelations, more questions were raised. We know much more than Daniel, and at the same time, we understand some things even less.

And my conclusion is this –
Knowledge about the things of the Spirit come from the blessings and the timing of the Spirit. The focus of our attention, no matter who we are or how smart someone has said that we are…. The focus of our attention must be upon the Lord Himself.

I am not surprised, but it does bother me that some of the most wicked people are so very interested in what is going to happen in the future. I suppose that it is a part of our nature to wonder and to worry about such things. But some of those who reject what the Bible says, are nevertheless interested in prophecy – Armageddon, the Antichrist, and the end of the world. Unfortunately, in some ways this kind of knowledge is useless. Especially if the more important questions are not answered first.

The only piece of prophetical knowledge that such people need to contemplate relates to the Great White Throne judgment of God. Part of the prophecy of God is that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” If at that judgment, you are going to hear, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” then it doesn’t matter whether you can identify the Anti-Christ within 15 minutes after his ascendence to the throne. If you are going to be cast into the Lake of Fire, because you have refused to repent of your sins, and because your faith is in something other than Christ of the Bible for your salvation, it won’t matter whether or not you die before, after or during in the Tribulation.

There is nothing wrong with pleading with the Lord for knowledge and understanding of His revelations. In fact, the only way that you ever will understand the meaning of the Word of God is through the Lord’s blessings. Even the Christian – even Daniel – is dependent upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit to teach him the truth. The Lord Jesus told His disciples – “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” God’s Holy Spirit is your only capable teacher – no matter how good or poor your earthly teacher might be. And, by the way I didn’t finish the Lord’s thought in that last quote. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth… for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

If you want to know about the things which are yet to come – pray, pray, and pray, as you read your King James Bible. But begin with those scriptures which deal with your sinfulness and God’s salvation. Begin with the Book of Romans, or the Book of John, not the Book of Revelation or the Book of Daniel.

One of the intellectual leaders of Israel came to the Lord Jesus – filled with questions. He said, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God.” He said in essence, “Here I am, so teach me.” And the Son of God began at the beginning. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

The place to begin to understand the future is at the cross of Calvary. Do you still need to be born again? You are commanded to repent before God and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. When you are firmly settled in these things you can move on to other, more complex, subjects.