See our "How to Make Friends for God" lesson index plus extra resources on our 2020 Third Quarter Index
Lesson 8 February 15-21
Read for This Week’s Study: Daniel 7, 2 Thess. 2:1-12, Rom. 8:1, Mark 13:26, Luke 9:26, Luke 12:8, 1 Tim. 2:5.
Memory Text: “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” (Daniel 7:27, NKJV).
The vision of Daniel 7, our topic for this week, parallels the dream in Daniel 2. But Daniel 7 expands on what was revealed in Daniel 2. First, the vision occurs at night and portrays the sea agitated by the four winds. Darkness and water evoke creation, but here creation appears to be somehow distorted or under attack. Second, the animals in the vision are unclean and hybrid, which represents a violation of the created order. Third, the animals are portrayed as exerting dominion; thus, it appears that the dominion God gave to Adam in the garden has been usurped by these powers. Fourth, with the coming of the Son of Man, God’s dominion is restored to those to whom it properly belongs. What Adam lost in the garden, the Son of Man recovers in the heavenly judgment.
The above description gives a panoramic view of the biblical imagery that runs in the background of this highly symbolic vision. Fortunately, some of the crucial details of the vision are explained by the angel, so we can understand the main contours of this amazing prophecy.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, February 22.
Sunday ↥ February 16
Read Daniel 7. What is the essence of what Daniel is shown, and what is the vision about?
Each animal shown to Daniel corresponds to a section of the statue shown to Nebuchadnezzar, but now more details about each kingdom are given. How interesting that the creatures, symbolizing pagan nations, are all unclean beasts. Also, except for the fourth beast, Daniel describes the animals as resembling some known creatures. So, the animals are not arbitrary symbols, inasmuch as each one bears some characteristics or points to some aspect of the kingdom it represents.
All these thousands of years of human history have come and gone, just as predicted. How much comfort can you get from knowing that above all the clamor, unrest, and at times utter chaos, God rules? What does this teach us about the trustworthiness of Scripture?
Monday ↥ February 17
Read Daniel 7:7, 8, 19-25. Who is the little horn power that arises directly from, and remains part of, the fourth beast?
Yesterday we learned that the ferocious animal with ten horns ruling the world with utmost cruelty represents pagan Rome. Now we must consider the little horn and the power it represents. As portrayed in the vision, the fourth animal has ten horns, of which three horns were plucked out to make way for a little horn. This horn has human eyes and speaks “pompous words” (Dan. 7:8, NKJV). It is clear that the little horn emerges from the entity represented by the terrible animal, which is pagan Rome. In a way, the horn extends or continues some features of pagan Rome. It is just a later stage of the same power.
Daniel sees this other horn making war against the saints. The angel explains to him that this horn is a king who will perform three unlawful actions: (1) speak pompous words against the Most High, (2) persecute the saints of the Most High, (3) intend to change times and law. And as a consequence, the saints would be given into his hand. Next, the angel gives the time frame for the activities of the little horn: a time and times and half a time. In this instance of prophetic language, the word time means “year”, and so the expression times signifies years, a dual form: “two years”. Hence, this is a period of three and a half prophetic years, which, according to the year-day principle, indicates a period of 1,260 years. During this time the little horn will mount an attack against God, persecute the saints, and attempt to change God’s law.
Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. What similarities are there between the man of lawlessness and the little horn? What power do we believe that this is talking about, and why? What is the only power that arose out of pagan Rome, but remains part of Rome, a power that extends from the time of pagan Rome until the end of the world, meaning that it still exists today?
Tuesday ↥ February 18
After the vision of the four animals and the activities of the little horn, the prophet sees a scene of judgment in heaven (Dan. 7:9, 10, 13, 14). As the court convenes, thrones are put in place and the Ancient of Days takes His seat. As the heavenly scene shows, thousands and thousands of heavenly beings minister before the Ancient of Days, the court is seated, and the books are opened.
What’s important to note about this judgment is that it occurs after the 1,260-year period of the little horn’s activity (A.D. 538-1798; see Friday’s lesson) but prior to the establishing of God’s final kingdom. In fact, three times in the vision the following sequence appears:
Read Daniel 7:13, 14, 21, 22, 26, 27. In what ways does the judgment benefit God‘s people?
The Old Testament describes several acts of judgment from the tabernacle and temple, but the judgment referred to here is different. This is a cosmic judgment that affects not only the little horn but also the saints of the Most High, who will eventually receive the kingdom.
Daniel 7 does not describe the judgment or give details about its beginning and closing. But it implies that the judgment is undertaken in the wake of the little horn’s attack against God and His people. The point here, then, is to emphasize the beginning of a judgment of cosmic proportions. From Daniel 8 and 9 (see following weeks), we will learn about the time of judgment’s beginning and the fact that this judgment is related to the purification of the heavenly sanctuary on the heavenly Day of Atonement. The lesson here is that we clearly will have a pre-Advent judgment in heaven that will be in favor of God’s people (Dan. 7:22).
Why is an understanding of what Jesus accomplished for us at the cross so central to why we can have assurance in the day of judgment? What hope would we have, or even could have, without the Cross? (See Rom. 8:1).
Wednesday ↥ February 19
Read Daniel 7:13. Who is the Son of man here, and how do you identify Him? (See also Mark 13:26, Matt. 8:20, Matt. 9:6, Luke 9:26, Luke 12:8).
As the judgment unfolds, a most important figure enters the scene: the Son of Man. Who is He? First, the Son of Man appears as an individual heavenly figure. But as the title implies, He also displays human traits. In other words, He is a divine-human individual who comes to play an active role in judgment. Second, the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven is a common image of the Second Coming in the New Testament. However, in Daniel 7:13 specifically, the Son of man is not depicted as coming from heaven to earth, but as moving horizontally from one place in heaven to another in order to appear before the Ancient of days. Third, the depiction of the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven suggests a visible manifestation of the Lord. But this imagery is also reminiscent of the high priest who, surrounded by a cloud of incense, enters the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement to perform the purification of the sanctuary.
The Son of man is also a royal figure. He receives “dominion and glory and a kingdom” and “all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him” (Dan. 7:14, NKJV). The verb “serve” can also be translated as “worship”. It appears nine times in chapters 1-7 (Dan. 3:12, 14, 17, 18, 28; Dan. 6:16, 20; Dan. 7:14, 27) and conveys the idea of paying homage to a deity. So, as a consequence of the attempt to change the law of God, the religious system represented by the little horn corrupts the worship due to God. The judgment portrayed here shows that true worship is eventually restored. The worship system set by the papal system, among other elements, places a fallen human being as a mediator between God and humanity. Daniel shows that the only mediator capable of representing humanity before God is the Son of Man. As the Bible says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5, NKJV).
From all that we have read in the Bible about the life and character of Jesus, why is it so comforting to know that He is so central to the judgment depicted here?
Thursday ↥ February 20
What happens to God’s people according to the following texts? Dan. 7:18, 21, 22, 25, 27.
The “holy ones of the Most High” (NKJV) is a designation of God’s people. They are attacked by the power represented by the little horn. Because they insist on remaining faithful to God’s Word, they are persecuted during the times of papal rule. Christians were persecuted during the time of the pagan Roman Empire, too (the fourth beast itself), but the persecution mentioned in Daniel 7:25 is a persecution of the saints by the little horn, which arises only after the pagan phase of Rome ends.
However, God’s people won’t be subjected to oppression by worldly power forever. The kingdom of God will replace the kingdoms of the world. Interestingly, in the actual vision, to the Son of man “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom” (Dan. 7:14, NKJV). But in the interpretation offered by the angel, it is the “holy ones” who receive the kingdom (Dan. 7:18, NRSV). There is no contradiction here. Because the Son of Man is related to God and humanity, His victory is the victory of those He represents.When the high priest asks if Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus points back to Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13, 14 and says: “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62, NKJV). Therefore, Jesus is the One who represents us in the heavenly tribunal. He has already defeated the powers of darkness and shares His triumph with those who come close to Him. Therefore, there is no reason to fear. As the apostle Paul so aptly states: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37-39, NKJV).
Look at how accurately Daniel’s vision depicts history, thousands of years in advance. How should this help us learn to trust all of God’s promises for the future?
Friday ↥ February 21
Further Thought: A cursory look at history reveals that after the collapse of the Roman Empire, which came about by attacks from barbarians from the north, the bishop of Rome took advantage of the overthrow of three barbarian tribes and established himself as the sole power in Rome as of A.D. 538. In this process, he adopted several institutional and political functions of the Roman emperor. From this emerged the papacy, invested with temporal and religious power until it was deposed by Napoleon in 1798. This did not bring an end to Rome, but only to that specified phase of persecution. The pope not only claimed to be the vicar of Christ but also introduced several doctrines and practices contrary to the Bible. Purgatory, penance, auricular confession, and the change of the Sabbath commandment to Sunday are among many other changes of the “times and law” introduced by the papacy.
“In his own strength, man cannot meet the charges of the enemy. In sin-stained garments, confessing his guilt, he stands before God. But Jesus, our Advocate, presents an effectual plea in behalf of all who by repentance and faith have committed the keeping of their souls to Him. He pleads their cause, and by the mighty arguments of Calvary, vanquishes their accuser. His perfect obedience to God’s law has given Him all power in heaven and in earth, and He claims from His Father mercy and reconciliation for guilty man. To the accuser of His people He declares: ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. These are the purchase of My blood, brands plucked from the burning’. And to those who rely on Him in faith, He gives the assurance, ‘Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment’. Zechariah 3:4”. — Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 586, 587.
The plan seemed perfect: Transform an aging Seventh-day Adventist church in the heart of Egypt’s capital into a vibrant community center.
But construction companies dismissed the idea of completely rebuilding Cairo’s Center Church. “There is no way that you can get a permit”, said a top engineer at one construction company.
Church leaders prayed and decided to move forward in faith. They contacted one more construction company and inquired about the process of securing a permit to renovate the building.
“It’s true that it is difficult”, a senior engineer replied. “But we think that we can obtain the permit in one to three months”.
A month later, the engineer called back to announce that the building permit was ready.
The quick progress astounded Akram Khan, treasurer of the Adventist Church’s Egypt-Sudan Field. “One month!” he said in an interview. “That was the first sign that God really wanted us to do something with the building”.
More miracles followed in rapid succession, church leaders said. Center Church’s premises underwent a complete renovation in a year and reopened its doors as the Ramses Cultural Center in 2018. Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson rededicated the four-story complex and reminded church members that a key part of the church’s mission is helping people in big cities. “Cairo is a city with almost 20 million people — people who are broken-hearted, people who are captured by evil things, people who are blind to their own needs, people who are spiritually hungry”, Wilson said in a speech in the refurnished hall of the Center Church. “That is why the Ramses Cultural Center exists”.
The Center Church, whose 750 seats once filled the building, now occupies a corner and has seating for up to 280 people. The renovated building also has a preschool, a dental clinic, a fitness center, a massage room, a kitchen for cooking lessons, and seven classrooms for wellness lectures and English classes.
The Adventist Church has 200 members in Cairo and 800 in all of Egypt, an African country with a population of about 100 million.
Wilson and other church leaders praised God for the speed with which the Ramses Cultural Center was completed, starting with the crucial step of obtaining the building permit. Khan, pictured, said the miracles didn’t end there. “Everything that we are doing with this building is a miracle”, said Khan, a Pakistani native who has served in Egypt for eight years.
Pray for more mission miracles in Egypt and beyond. Thank you for your mission offering that make miracles possible.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. email: email@example.com website: www.adventistmission.org
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