Daniel awakens from these night visions shaking and pale, but he is never able to shake these thoughts. They are always on his mind.
8 Daniel: In the third year of Belshazzar’s reign over Babylon, I, Daniel, saw another vision.
These events most likely happen around 552 or 551 b.c.
This vision followed the first I had just a couple of years earlier. 2 In my vision, I looked and suddenly found myself in the fortress-city of Susa in the province of Elam. I was standing next to the Ulai Canal. 3 When I looked up, I saw a ram near me standing on the bank of the canal. The ram had two horns, both of which were long, but one was even longer than the other. I watched as the horns grew, and the longer came up after the other, the shorter horn. 4 As I looked, the ram charged to the west, the north, and the south. It defeated all the other beasts in its path, and there was no one great enough to rescue its victims from the ram’s power. It did whatever it liked, and with each conquest, it grew stronger.
5 As I was trying to figure out what I was seeing, suddenly a male goat came from the west to challenge the ram. It moved so quickly across the face of the entire earth that it seemed his feet never touched the ground. On its head the goat had a prominent horn sticking out between its eyes. 6 He approached the ram with the two horns—the same one I had seen standing by the Ulai Canal—and charged at it with a violent rage. 7 I saw the goat in reckless fury butt the ram and shatter his two horns. The ram had no power to stand against its foe, so it was thrown to the ground and trampled to death; there was no one great enough to rescue the ram from the goat’s power. 8 With this conquest, the male goat with the prominent horn took the place of his rival and grew more powerful. But at the height of his power, the great horn was broken off, and four prominent horns grew in its place, each one pointing toward one of the four winds of heaven.
9 A fifth, smaller horn grew out of one of these new horns. Its power grew, and its influence reached toward the south and toward the east and toward the beautiful lands of promise. 10 Then it grew straight up to challenge the army of heaven; it knocked some of the heavenly beings and stars to the ground and trampled them beneath it. 11 The horn grew even greater, and in its arrogance came up against the Prince of the heavenly army. It halted the daily sacrifices to Him and took control of His established sanctuary. 12 As a result of this great rebellion, the heavenly army and the daily sacrifices were handed over to the horn. For a time it cast truth to the ground and succeeded in everything it tried.
13 Then I heard two heavenly beings in conversation with each other.
Heavenly Being (to its companion): When will it all end? How long will these events—the desecrating rebellion, the perverted daily sacrifices, and the trampling of the sanctuary and heavenly army—how long will they continue?
Second Heavenly Being (to me): 14 The world will see 2,300 mornings and evenings before all this will pass. After this the trampling will cease, and the holy sanctuary will be set right.
15 As I, Daniel, was trying to understand the meaning of this vision I had seen, suddenly, someone who looked like a human stood in front of me. 16 I heard a human voice call out, coming from somewhere between the waters of the Ulai Canal.
Voice: Gabriel, explain to this man what he has seen.
17 So the one called Gabriel moved closer to me; as he did, I became very scared. I fell to the ground, my face down.
Gabriel (to Daniel): Son of man, allow me to help you understand this vision. All you have seen has to do with the time of the end.
Some Jews and Christians have read this cryptic language, “time of the end,” to refer to the end of the world; but others believe the context points to the “time of the end” of the exile of God and His people from the full and final restoration of temple worship in Jerusalem.
18 As he was speaking, I slipped into a deep sleep—my face pressed to the ground. But Gabriel touched me and helped me stand to my feet where I was before.
Gabriel: 19 I have been sent here to help you understand the things that will take place later in the final time of wrath; for everything you have seen refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 The ram you saw by the Ulai Canal, the one with the two long horns, represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy male goat represents the king of Greece. The great horn that stuck out between his eyes symbolizes the first king of Greece. 22 The breaking off of the first horn and its replacement by four prominent horns depicts four kingdoms that will arise from this one nation, none of which will have as much power as that first king.
23 When their reign has come to an end,
when their rebellion has run its course,
A new king will rise to power,
defiance written across his face,
expert in riddles and ruses.
24 This king will grow strong—
but not on his own power.
He will stun the world with his dreadful destruction
and succeed in everything he tries.
He will wipe out a vast circle of mighty leaders
and turn his deadly hand against the holy people of God.
25 He will use his skill and power to stir up deceit;
in the darkness of his heart he shall believe himself great.
When all seems well, he will destroy many people,
and will even stand up against the Prince of princes.
But when the time is right, he will be broken,
though not by a human hand.
26 What you have seen and heard about the 2,300 evenings and the mornings is true. It will happen, but not for a long time. So seal up this vision and keep it a secret, for now.
Daniel: 27 With this I, Daniel, was completely exhausted. I was ill for several days, unable to get out of bed. But after a time I grew stronger, got up, and resumed my service to the king. But I was very upset by the vision, for though I tried, I could never really understand it.
1 John 2:1-17
The word “sin” has virtually disappeared from modern conversation. Afraid of sounding judgmental, we call sin something else—a mistake, an addiction, a tendency, a bad decision—and ignore it as normal and natural behavior. But John is calling the church to a radical holiness where those in the church will regularly remember their sins and seek God’s forgiveness. Each sin, small and large, injures us or someone else; it imprints on our soul, makes us imperfect, and separates us from the perfect God. If we confess our sins to God each day, then He will purify our hearts and draw us closer to Him.
2 You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer—Jesus the Anointed, the righteous—arguing on our behalf before the Father. 2 It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there—He died for the sins of the whole world.
John is affectionately addressing this letter to his “little children,” and he is writing to help them avoid sin and the pain and guilt that come with it. The glamour of decadent lifestyles devoid of God is often advertised as the epitome of joy and freedom. But what are often conveniently left out of these portrayals are the agonizing consequences of such destructive lifestyles. Meaningful pleasure comes not when we are enslaved by the empty promises of the world, but when we are living in loving obedience to God.
3 We know we have joined Him in an intimate relationship because we live out His commands. 4 If someone claims, “I am in an intimate relationship with Him,” but this big talker doesn’t live out His commands, then this individual is a liar and a stranger to the truth. 5 But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God’s love has truly taken root and filled him. This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him: 6 anyone who says, “I live in intimacy with Him,” should walk the path Jesus walked.
7 My loved ones, in one sense, I am not writing a new command for you. I am only reminding you of the old command. It’s a word you already know, a word that has existed from the beginning. 8 However, in another sense, I am writing a new command for you. The new command is the truth that He lived; and now you are living it, too, because the darkness is fading and the true light is already shining among you.
9 Anyone who says, “I live in the light,” but hates his brother or sister is still living in the shadows. 10 Anyone who loves his brother or sister lives in the light and will not trip because his conscience is clear. 11 But anyone who hates his brother is in the darkness, stumbling around with no idea where he is going, blinded by the darkness.
We are deeply loved by God. When we turn and love those members of our faith family whom God loves, we are set apart and different from the world.
12 I am writing to you, my children, because your sins have been forgiven by the authority of His name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers and mothers, because you have known Him as the Creator, as the One who started everything.
I am writing to you, young people, because He has given you the power to conquer the evil one.
14 I have written to you, my children, because you have known the Father.
I have written to you, fathers and mothers, because you have known Him, the Creator.
I have written to you, young people, because the voice of God remains and is heard among you. Remember that you have conquered the evil one.
15 Don’t fall in love with this corrupt world or worship the things it can offer. Those who love its corrupt ways don’t have the Father’s love living within them. 16 All the things the world can offer to you—the allure of pleasure, the passion to have things, and the pompous sense of superiority—do not come from the Father. These are the rotten fruits of this world. 17 This corrupt world is already wasting away, as are its selfish desires. But the person really doing God’s will—that person will never cease to be.
A song for those journeying to worship.
The Songs for the Journey to Worship (Psalms 120–134) celebrate the journey to Jerusalem to worship in God’s temple. Centuries before these psalms were composed, the Lord chose to make His earthly home on Mount Zion in Jerusalem and directed David’s son to build His house. King Solomon built the first temple and dedicated it to God in an elaborate ceremony that brought Israel together on the holy mountain (1 Kings 8). Now, clearly, the wise king believed that the one True God was present everywhere in the world, but he knew that Jerusalem was a special place, a sacred space picked by God. Solomon understood what we seem to have forgotten: those created in God’s image long to encounter God in His holiness. And if we try to make every place holy, then no place is holy because holy means “set apart,” “distinct,” “special.” So we need sacredness in our lives: sacred times, places, and people in our search for wholeness, for shalom. For centuries God’s faithful people of the first and second covenants have gone on pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Often these songs have gone with them, for they desire to draw close to God and to walk in the steps of those who have passed the faith along.
1 When I was in deep trouble, I called out to the Eternal,
and He answered my call.
2 I prayed: “Protect me, Eternal,
from lips that lie
and tongues poisoned with deceit.”
3 Liars, what will be your prize?
And what will come your way,
O you tongues poisoned with deceit?
4 Here’s what you can expect: the archers’ arrows honed sharp
as well as the red-hot coals of the broom wood.
5 Sorrow is mine, for I am a foreigner wandering in Meshech;
I am a stranger drifting among the tents of Kedar!
6 My soul has roamed much too long
among people who despise peace.
7 I am for peace; I ask for peace,
but even as I open my mouth,
they are ready to fight.
25 When the greedy want more, they stir up trouble;
but when a person trusts in the Eternal, he’s sure to prosper.
26 Anyone who puts confidence only in himself is a fool,
but the person who follows wisdom will be kept safe.