Monday, March 11, 2013

Adult Sunday School Lesson for March 17, 2013

                   "Gabriel's Interpretation"
International/Uniform Adult Sunday School Lesson for March 17, 2013

Scripture Text: Daniel 8:19-26

Purpose: To trust that God is at work in the changing fortunes of human history

Daniel 8: 19-26 (CEB)
19He said, "Now, I am going to tell you what will happen during the time of doom that is coming, because at the appointed time there will be an end. 20The two-horned ram you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21The long-haired he-goat is the king of Greece, and the big horn between its eyes is the first king. 22The horn that snapped so that four came up in its place means that four kingdoms will come from one nation, but these four won’t have the strength of the first one.
23When their kingship nears its end
and their sins are almost complete,
a king will step forward.
He will be stern and a master of deception.
24At the height of his power,
he will wreak unbelievable destructions.
He will succeed in all he does.
He will destroy both the mighty
and the people of the holy ones.
25Along with his cunning,
he will succeed by using deceit.
In his own mind, he will be great.
In a time of peace,
he will bring destruction on many,
opposing even the supreme leader.
But he will be broken—
and not by a human hand.
26Now this vision of evening and morning, which has been announced, is true. But you must seal it up, because it is for days far in the future."
27Then I, Daniel, was overwhelmed and felt sick for days. When I finally got up and went about the king’s business, I remained troubled by the vision and couldn’t understand it.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This lesson in the Book of Daniel actually takes place prior to our last lesson from chapter 9.
Just a word about our “purpose” statement for this week, God is not controlling or manipulating everything we do as humans. God is sovereign, but mankind also has freedoms. We must always look for God's hand at work in our world, He can limit evil in our world at any time, he also can always offer salvation for mankind. Think about some of the things that have taken place in your lifetime. Evil Hitler was removed from power, The Soviet Union was destroyed from within. Apartheid no longer exist in South Africa, Integration in America or the events of Tienanmen Square in China. We are all willing to give God the credit for the marvelous creations of nature, but what about His creations in our political world and the the way He establishes nations and kings.

Gabriel visits Daniel to explain another of Daniel's visions. The interpretation is somewhat easy for us to comprehend in hind sight. The two great powers of Media and Persia seem simple enough and was occurring even in Daniel's time. The king of Greece obviously refers to sometime later when Alexander the Great would conquer most of the known world, he is also the horn that snapped. He is replaced by for the four generals that divided the lands that Alexander had conquered, also called the four Diadochi. It is possible that the one that stepped forward was Antiochus IV also called Epiphanes that came out of the Seleucids (one of the four rulers) that ruled Syria as well as the area of Palestine and Judea, as well as Jerusalem. Antiochus IV ruled from 175-164 BC.

What I am going to do next may shock many of you, but I think as time goes on we evangelicals will embrace more and more the Books of the Apocrypha. In this case it supports some of the history that occurred long after the vision of Daniel. I am giving you a portion of the Book of 2nd Maccabee's 5:12-14 which took place in 167 BC, from the RSV ( [12] And he commanded his soldiers to cut down relentlessly every one they met and to slay those who went into the houses. 
[13] Then there was killing of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children, and slaughter of virgins and infants. 
[14] Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting; and as many were sold into slavery as were slain. )

Epiphanes became very upset because of an uprising in Jerusalem and again from 2nd Maccabees 6 we find this account of what he did. ( [1]Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God,
[2] and also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus the Friend of Strangers, as did the people who dwelt in that place. 3]Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil.
[4] For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and besides brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit. 
[5] The altar was covered with abominable offerings which were forbidden by the laws. 
[6] A man could neither keep the sabbath, nor observe the feasts of his fathers, nor so much as confess himself to be a Jew. )

Even though Evangelical's do not consider this as scripture, the facts of history are well documented. It is easy to see the desolation of the Jews and Jerusalem that took place. But, the Lord God intervened and in 164 BC He sent in the Romans to conquer the wicked king and bring a season of restoration to Judea and Jerusalem. The temple was rebuilt by Herod the Great in about 20BC to gain favor from the Jews. It is the Temple of Jesus day, and the one referred to by the disciples in Mathew 24: 1-31”Now Jesus left the temple and was going away. His disciples came to point out to him the temple buildings. 2He responded, "Do you see all these things? I assure that no stone will be left on another. Everything will be demolished."

The message of Gabriel is one of hope, because God's word has always been true in the past, we can depend on His word being true for us today. “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”

Our hope is warranted by the way God has worked in the past. We can be assured God is in control of today's world.

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