CDPCKL · A Futile (Future) History of the World (Daniel 11:2-35)

A Futile (Future) History of the World (Daniel 11:2-35)

The Book of Daniel has been all about the clash of empires in history, and how God’s people are supposed to survive in the midst of the chaos. 

Chapter 1 set the theme of the book, really: Babylon defeated and completely devoured the rest of the kingdoms of the world — including the kingdom of Judea, where Daniel had been born. And then, at the end of the chapter, we were told that Babylon would itself one day be devoured by Persia, another world-conquering empire, and that all this would take place within Daniel’s lifetime. 

But then, in Chapter 2, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that told him the clash of empires on earth is only half of the story. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed that there is a God who oversees human history, who has actually pre-written the rise and fall of human empires. His dream also revealed that this rise and fall of empires will not go on forever: one day God himself will come and plant a kingdom of his own, a kingdom that — though small and powerless at first — will smash the empires that came before it and then grow up to fill the earth like a mountain. 

So by the end of Chapter 2 we had already learned that there is an earthly side to history and a heavenly side. And as we kept reading, we found this truth confirmed by the structure of the book: some episodes were earthly episodes about kings and statues and furnaces and invasions and lions and politics, while other episodes were heavenly episodes about seas and mutated beasts and angels and falling stars. 

But as we kept reading we discovered that the patterns of history are a lot more complicated than they seemed at first. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Chapter 2 was really a very simple one about a giant statue forged out of four different metals. This made it look like the rest of human history would be very simple: only four more empires would rise and fall before God’s kingdom would come and fill the earth and rule it forever. 

But then Daniel received a vision in Chapter 7 that was not orderly at all: the vision of the four mutated beasts, the Ancient King and the young commander of the king’s armies. The same basic structure was there, the idea that four more empires must come before the end — but this vision of history looked like a complicated mess in comparison with the vision from Chapter 2! 

The worst part, however, was this: apparently, before the end, there will be a godless king who will actually attack and defeat God’s people. And the next vision — in Chapter 8 — simply confirmed this, and even revealed that this godless king would be a Greek king, and that he would not only attack and defeat God’s people on earth, he would also attack and defeat God’s angels in heaven! only to be destroyed in the end, or course. 

Still, we all found this hard to accept, because — let’s be honest, here — the fact that God’s people are defeated before they are rescued makes it seem like God actually loses control of history a little bit near the end. It was hard for us to believe that defeat is actually a pre-written element of God’s plan for his people! 

But then Daniel’s vision in Chapter 9 confirmed that God has not just pre-written these terrible events, he has even pre-written the times and dates these events will take place. In other words: God really does have total control over both Space and Time. He makes his plans, he exercises his will, and he accomplishes his purposes. 

However, from the beginning, the Book of Daniel has been teaching us that the opposite is also true: the kings of the earth also make plans, they exercise their will, and they often accomplish purposes that are the opposite of God’s! More than this, we have been learning that empires themselves are a bit like living beasts with wills of their own, and that they often end up growing beyond the control even of the kings that supposedly rule them. 

It was only last week that Daniel’s book finally confirmed why empires themselves sometimes seem to operate like living creatures with a will of their own: because the earthly side of history does not just run parallel to the heavenly side of history; no: the earthly and the heavenly actually affect one another; the physical and the spiritual are intertwined in ways that are beyond our understanding. Just as civilizations of men rise and fall here on earth, so also civilizations of angels rise and fall in the heavenly places: angelic princes over angelic nations grow in strength as human princes and nations grow — and then they are erased together from the pages of history…only to be replaced by others. 

So as we have travelled together through the Book of Daniel, we have discovered that this book really is all about the clash of empires in history: but it is all about all of the empires in history! empires in heaven as well as on earth. And just as the visions in Daniel’s book have gone from simple and orderly in the beginning to more and more complicated and detailed and chaotic, so we have also discovered that history is both orderly and chaotic, both under control and out of control. There is a pattern, a structure to history simple enough for us to follow; at the same time, the details of history are a chaotic mess, the result of a constant war between will-powers on earth and in heaven, impossible for us to follow! 

Well, today we come to the final vision in the Book of Daniel. And we are going to find out that this vision is easily the most detailed and complicated of all the visions in the book! — and yet, at the same time, we are going to see that it is also the simplest. 

So let’s get started: 

If you remember from last week, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem has run into political roadblocks. Enemies of the Jewish people have bribed Persian officials to revoke their building permits. Daniel, instead of using his political position to solve the problem, has turned to prayer. He wants to understand how the defeat of God’s building project can be part of God’s pre-written plan. 

Then an angel showed up. And after apologizing for his lateness, he told Daniel that he has come to read for Daniel a few pages from the Book of Truth, God’s book of pre-written history. And he has promised that these pages contain the answer to Daniel’s question about how opposition and even defeat can be part of God’s plan. 

And the angel starts reading here in verse 2: “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. [3] Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. But — verse 4 — after he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.” 

Okay. There’s really not much new information here for Daniel. His previous visions have already told him that a mighty Greek king will arise who will conquer the world, only to have his empire divided into four pieces. And we know, of course, that this mighty Greek king was Alexander the Great, and that his four most powerful generals divided up his empire between them when he was gone. 

The fact that there will be three more kings in Persia, and then a fourth greatest one who will actually attack and provoke the Greeks — that detail is new. And now we know that this fourth, greatest king is Xerxes. The bible introduces him as Esther’s husband. But in history he is probably most famous for how he went and stirred up everyone against the Greeks, which kicked off a series of events that eventually resulted in the Greeks conquering the Persians 100 years later. 

If you want to see a very vivid reimagining of that history you can watch Zack Snyder’s movie “300” which contains the memorable line, “Thush ush Sparrtaaaaa!” 

But anyway: what I am saying is that these verses have been fulfilled in history in every detail. 

The angel is just getting started, however: [5] “The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. [6] After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be betrayed, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her. 

[7] “One from her family line, however, will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. [8] He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. [9] Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country. [10] His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress — “ 

Need I go on? 

See, the problem with history in all its detail, is that those details are exciting at first, then repetitive, then monotonous, then boring. After a while we lose track of who is killing whom and why. As Joseph Stalin — the Soviet Russian dictator — once pointed out: “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” 

What the angel is reading here is the endless Game of Thrones between the Greek kings of Syria in the north and the Greek kings of Egypt in the south. And the most exciting thing about this passage is that the angel is reading this history before it happens. The fufilled history itself is just as complicated and boring as it sounds here. 

And because of that I am not going to talk through every detail of how every detail of this prophecy has been fulfilled. Really, it is just as tedious as eight seasons of Game of Thrones. By the end of season 3 we are going, “Okay. I think I see what’s going on here and don’t I care who wins anymore!” 

So the real question we need to ask is this: why is the angel bothering Daniel with this extremely detailed preview of the wars between Syria and Egypt? Why should Daniel care? 

Because, when we look at a map and find Syria in the north and Egypt in the south, guess what country we find in between them? 

The nation of Judea. The capital city of Jerusalem. 

Judea is like a rest stop on the highway of war between these two nations. Which means Daniel’s people are going to be caught up in this mess. Sometimes they will simply be in the way of these great armies, and so they will get hurt. But sometimes they will be tempted to choose sides! and so they will get hurt. 

That is what the angel says in verse 14 here, for instance: “Those who are violent among your own people will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success.” And so the Jewish people will become politically divided over these things: some will prefer a Syrian government, others will vote for an Egyptian government, and of course this political divide will also turn into a religious divide: progressive against conservative, reformists against revolutionaries… 

This is why God wants Daniel to hear these pages read from the Book of Truth, and to write them down. God does not want his people to get lost in the details here — 

Actually, scratch that: God does want his people to get lost in the details here. That is the rhetorical point of this whole section: as we read them, these details are supposed to be exciting at first, then repetitive, then monotonous, then boring. This section is supposed to bore us! 

And of course we want to know why? What lesson can God teach by making us deliberately lost and bored? 

Well, after we become bored, we quite naturally stop paying close attention. And it is only after we have stopped paying close attention that we begin to see the larger pattern, the larger lesson of this prophecy. 

Getting lost in these details is a bit like getting lost in the hutan. The hutan is just endless, repetitive, boring trees. 

But if we climb a hill, then we can begin to see the general shape of the hutan, where we are in it, and how to find our way out. 

That is what this passage is meant to do for God’s people: it is supposed to help us see, once again, the general shape of history. Yes, this vision is easily the most detailed and complicated of all the visions in the book, and some people get really excited about that, because: prophecy ma! — but after we realize that, for all its complexity, this prophecy is actually one of the simplest in the whole book, then we realize it is actually designed to highlight just one thing for us: the ultimate futility of human history, the ultimate futility of human politics, the ultimate futility of human power games. 

And as we have already noticed, the reason God wanted his people to learn this lesson is because, during the centuries to come, during this long war between North and South, the Jewish people are going to get very passionate about which side should win. They are going to divide over which political party “good” Jews should vote for, or which government will be better for the economy. They will even kill each other over these questions! But through this prophecy, God is telling them, in advance, “It does not matter! It does not matter!” Sometimes Syria will beat Egypt; sometimes Egypt will beat Syria; but you know what will always be true? Neither one is actually on God’s side. If, sometimes, Syria or Egypt seems to be on God’s side, then that is nothing more than a temporary alignment, a temporary alliance, which will probably do the Jewish people more harm than good in the long run, because it will seduce them into falling in love with God’s enemies — which is exactly the sin that got them taken away into exile in the first place. 

This whole section, up until verse 20, can really be summarized using just two of these verses. In verse 16, it says that, at one point, one of these kings will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. But then, just a little while later, in verse 19, we are told that he will stumble and fall, to be seen no more. 

And that’s it. That is history: empires rise. They look invincible. And then…they disappear. They collapse from within, or they are defeated from without. And they are gone. 

And — here’s an important question — did all of the squabbling and politicking and violent revolution amongst God’s people during these years of war between Syria and Egypt make any difference at all? 

Well: yes! God’s people were terrifically effective at making things worse for themselves. They created division and hatred where there did not need to be, and they made their pagan rulers really angry; they tore their own nation apart from the inside, and they brought down extra hostility upon themselves from the outside. 

But did they make any difference in the rise and fall of these different kings? 

No! History proceeded exactly as God had written it — including the ineffective rebellions and in-fighting of his people. Does this mean that their quarreling and their rebellions were good, since God actually pre-wrote them? No. It just means that God is great enough to accomplish his will despite the foolish behaviour of his children. 

So this is the lesson of the first half of today’s passage: power-games are futile. Empires rise and fall seemingly at random. And nobody wins. There is no “key” to history that will guarantee victory. God gives power to whomever he chooses for as long as he chooses for purposes of his own. 

There is, however, one thing a king can do to guarantee that God cuts his power short: he can attack God’s people directly. 

And that is the lesson of the second half of today’s passage, which begins in verse 21: 

[21] “He — the previous king — will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. [22] Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed.” 

Yes, this is — once again — a prophecy about that godless Greek king who is destined not only to attack and defeat God’s people on earth, but even to attack and defeat the commander of the army of the LORD’s angels in heaven. 

And here again, just as in the previous section, I am not going to pick through the details of this prophecy, because they have all been fulfilled exactly as written: Antiochus IV, a younger son of the Syrian kingdom who was not in line for the throne, will manage to weasel his way into power. He will make strategic alliances with various people, but he will only keep his promises for as long as it suits him. And, yes, when he takes political control of Jerusalem, he will replace one high priest — one prince of the covenant — with another that is more willing to support his politics. 

However, history shows us that by using his power to seize control of the Jewish religious establishment, he will actually kick off a cascading series of events that will eventually lead to open rebellion by the Jewish nation. 

And as the Book of Truth says here, starting in verse 30, at that point in history Antiochus IV will return from a failed campaign against Egypt, and “vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant. 

[31] “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. [32] With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.” 

Oh. Okay. Good! So there will be at least a few people left among God’s nation who will remain faithful and firmly resist this corruption of God’s true worship! 

So now we want to know: what are they going to do? What form is their resistance going to take? 

[33] “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. [34] When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them.” 


Is that really it? 

Is that really how those who are wise are supposed to firmly resist false worship? Are they really supposed to simply instruct many, and then be killed or burned or captured or plundered? Are those who are wise destined to receive help only after they fall, and even then only from insincere allies? 

Are you kidding me? How is this God’s plan? How does the defeat of God’s faithful few demonstrate his glory or his power to the world?! 

…but that is, perhaps, the point, isn’t it? If God’s power and glory are most clearly demonstrated through the destruction of those who attack and destroy God’s people, then — in order for the demonstration to work — there first needs to be a defeat of God’s people… 


Okay. Let’s try to summarize what we have learned so far: 

Daniel wanted to understand how the defeat of God’s rebuilding project can be part of God’s pre-written plan for his people. And we have had the same question. 

The angel, reading from the Book of Truth, has given us two answers: 

The first half of this pre-written history tells us that empires clash according to God’s will, not ours. Our job is simply to remain faithful in the midst of the chaos. 

But the second half tells us that, if we — as God’s people — really want to get rid of an oppressive government, the best thing we can do is instruct many…and then let that oppressive government defeat us. Because then our Father will get very very angry, and he will take terrible revenge upon that government and he will set his people free. 

So the reason God has pre-written the defeat of his own people into his plan is so that he will be known by his acts of justice, so that the wicked will be ensnared by the work of their hands. 

This is the plan he wants us, his children, to participate in. 

But, again: oh my God. 

Because this plan goes against every fibre of our being, doesn’t it? It goes against everything we have ever been taught about how to survive in this world! We hear this, and our protest is — as always — “Really? God, Father, you want us to do nothing at all about the tyranny of the world’s empires?” 

But our protest actually betrays just how weak our faith really is. Our heart cry betrays just how far away we are from understanding the power and the glory and the plan of our God and our Saviour. 

Because we are not told to do nothing. We are told to pray and to instruct. To God praying and instructing are the only weapons that will truly transform the world. But for us, in our minds, praying and instructing is the same as doing nothing. 

So the question we have to ask ourselves at this point is this: what is wrong with us that we are unwilling to trust our Father’s promises, that we are unwilling to trust that prayer and instruction really are the most powerful weapons we have against the powers of earth and heaven? 

Is it because we are afraid of what the world will think of us? The world would tell us that we are absolute fools to rely on prayer and instruction, and to rely on God’s vengeance to redeem the world. Could it be that we care more about what the world thinks than about what our Father thinks? 

Or is it because we are afraid of suffering? Could it be that we understand our Father’s will very well, but we are determined to resist our Father’s will, we are determined to find some other way, any other way, to save ourselves, to keep ourselves from the humiliation, the poverty, the grief of losing everything for the sake of our Saviour? 

Friends: I think so. Speaking for myself, anyway: I am certainly afraid of defeat. I am certainly afraid of looking like a fool in the eyes of the world. And I strongly suspect that most of you are exactly like me in this. 

So what are we supposed to do? How can we persuade ourselves that our Father’s plan of defeat is the right plan, and that the weapons he has given us are the right weapons we need to destroy tyranny? 

Well, we could look into history to see if our Father has kept his promise to punish every nation that attacks his people. If he has kept his promise, then we have a lot more reason to believe, right? 

Okay then. Let’s look at history: 

Once upon a time, the human princes of Babyon worked together with the angelic princes of Babylon to defeat God’s people and God’s angels. But where is the Babylonian empire now? Dead. Long since dead. The nation of Iraq today is the only remaining shadow of that world-conquering empire. But are we worried that Iraq will one day rise up to conquer the world again? No, we are not. Why not? Because they are defeated! They were defeated 2500 years ago by the princes of Persia. The human kings of Babylon were stripped of their authority. The angelic princes of Babylon were bound with everlasting chains for judgement on the great Day: the princes of Babylon will never again exercise the power they once had. 

What about the Persian empire? At first King Cyrus favoured God’s people by allowing them to go home and rebuild their temple. But then his son revoked their building permits, and so did the several kings that followed him. So the Persians also resisted God’s will and oppressed God’s people — and where are the Persians now? The nation of Iran today is is the only remaining shadow of that world-conquering empire, but do we live in constant fear that Iran will once again conquer the world? No. We don’t. Why not? Because the Persian princes of earth and heaven were defeated and bound by the Greek princes more than 2300 years ago. 

Okay, then: what about the Greeks? They once conquered the world! — but Greece today is a tiny nation that cannot even keep its own economy from bankrupcy. Why? Because they oppressed God’s people. And God paid them back by making sure they were defeated forever by the Romans more than 2000 years ago. 

But where are the Romans today? Nowhere. Italians today are famous only for their pasta and their sports cars: nobody seriously believes the Italians will ever conquer the world again. Why not? Because the princes of Rome, in heaven and on earth, tried to destroy God’s people, and they paid the ultimate price: all of their power was taken away by the Hungarian people in the north, and the Arabian people in the south. 

But who are the Hungarians today? They once ruled all of Europe! — but have you ever met a Hungarian? And where is the great Arabian empire today? Divided, defeated, shattered by the Mongols. The Mongolian empire once conquered the world from China to Europe! — but is Mongolia a threat to anyone anymore? The Moghul empire of India was terrifyingly powerful in its day! but they fell to the British empire. At one time, the British used to boast that the sun never set on their empire, and they believed their success proved that God was on their side. At the same time, wherever British princes ruled around the globe, they passed laws that deliberately oppressed God’s people, and limited the preaching of God’s Word. Did they get away with that? No. God used the rising German empire to destroy the British during World War I — but where is the German empire now? Where is the Japanese empire that rose shortly afterward? 

I think we are getting the idea: empires rise. Eventually they run into God’s people, and oppress them along with all of the other peoples they are busy oppressing. And then God targets them for destruction. Some are completely wiped out, like stars swept from the sky. Some carry on, but as semi-retired shadows living in chains among the ruins of their former greatness, never permitted to rise again. So: 

Does our Father keep his promise to punish every nation that oppresses his people? So far, the answer is: yes. 

And this should encourage us as we look around the globe today. Take the United States of America, for instance. The dark angelic princes of America are clearly influencing the human governors of America to oppress God’s people there, and actively resist the building of Jesus’ Church. So we actually already know the fate of America: in 100 years — maybe less — that nation will be a backwater on the world stage, like U.K. is now; possessed by nations they once conquered, just as India now owns most of England’s great manufacturing companies. 

And many of us are worried about China, right? Well, the Chinese government is also a very famous oppressor of God’s people. So what — according to the Book of Daniel — is going to be the fate of those princes, that growing empire? It may take a few generations, but that government will be destroyed from within or conquered from without — most likely both — just like the Roman empire was in its time. 

And here’s another question we could ask as we look through this history: has all of the squabbling and politicking and revolution among God’s people ever made any difference in the fall — or the transformation — of these oppressive empires? 

No. All Christians have ever accomplished by using such godless unauthorized weapons is to make things worse for ourselves and for the world around us. We have consistently created division and hatred where there does not need to be, and we have made our pagan rulers really angry; we have torn Christ’s own nation apart from the inside, and we have brought down extra hostility upon ourselves from the outside. 

So, based on all this, we really ought to be persuaded that our Father’s plan is the right plan, and that the weapons he has given us are the right weapons: if we really want to stand up against tyranny, the best thing we can do is pray and instruct many, and then let those tyrants crush us. And this will guarantee their destruction! 

So that is our application for today. Quite simply: we are called to pray and instruct many, and then trust God with our future. That is how we are called to live in exile. That is how God’s people are supposed to survive in the midst of the chaos of these monstrous, clashing empires. 


We ought to be persuaded now. But are we persuaded? 

Well, sure. In my mind I know what I ought to do. But do I do it? Not yet. Instead, I ask for more information, I come up with new questions, like: “What if I actually did set aside every weapon except prayer and instruction? What would that look like in our world? What would actually happen? How can I be sure this strategy would actually work?” 

But then, even as I ask for more information, I realize — to my shame — that my questions are really just a delaying tactic. Because the truth is I already know what would happen, because the bible has already told me: if I really truly set aside everything that I think is effective, and if I really truly lived in this world by faith in prayer and instruction…I will be crucified. I will be defeated, humiliated, shamed. Obviously! Right? Because if our Father’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, trusted his life entirely to prayer and instruction — and did this perfectly sommore! — and if even he was crucified in the end, then why would I expect anything less for myself, who is so much less than he was? 

So I have to face this fact, within myself, that I already have all the information I need, but I ask these questions again and again because I do not like the answer, I do not like God’s plan. I do not want to accept it. You can reason with me, you can show me, through scripture and history, that God always keeps his promises, that the death of God’s people is always followed by a great resurrection and vindication and by the destruction of God’s enemies — but in the end, I am always going to be inclined to say, “Yeah, but that was them. This is me! This is my life, and this is the only life I get! This is my society, and I want to march, I want to fight, I want to speak up, I do not want to appear to be passive…! You are asking me to accept that this is the way God wants my world to end: not with a bang, but a whimper.” 

And I just can’t accept it. I just can’t do it. I just cannot let go of my self-will, I cannot let go of my fears and my ambitions. 

Oh, God, is there any hope for someone like me? 

Yes, there is. 

And I find it right here in the last sentence of our passage today: Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. 

I like to think of myself as wise, or — at least — growing in wisdom. Don’t we all? But in my definition of wisdom, those who are wise never stumble. Right? I mean (speaking selfishly here) isn’t that really why I want to be wise? — so that I will never screw up again, so that I will never be humiliated again, so that I will never again have to say, “Oh, yeah, you’re right, what I just said and did just made things worse.” But even speaking unselfishly: I want to be wise because I really do want to give life to the people around me, not hurt and division and death! 

So it is a comfort to see that God defines wisdom differently. He tells us here that some of the wise will stumble. So being wise does not mean never screwing up. At best, being wise means learning how to recognize when we have screwed up. 

But why? Why does he let us screw up? Why does he let us defeat ourselves? So that we may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end. 

This is the story of my hope: 

I often stumble into fantasies of revolution, and political and social activism, I often find myself living in a fantasy world where my vote counts, where I have a voice that matters, where the things I say and do actually tear down structures of systemic evil, a world where I — we! — can affect the rise and fall of empires. 

Every now and then, however, God’s Word gives me a glimpse of another world where I die — where we die — a world where, for a time, times and half a time, tyranny does as it pleases and no one is able to stand against it…but then, in the end, because of our deaths, because of our defeat, tyranny will stumble and fall, to be seen no more. 

And I long for that world. I do! I really do. But I am afraid. I am afraid of the valley of the shadow of death. I am afraid to risk everything based on God’s promise that he will raise me up, that he will destroy the tyrannous structures that destroyed me. So, in my fear and in my pride, I turn back to that fantasy world where I have all the power — 

But my Father’s will is stronger than mine, stronger than all the forces of darkness. I stumble back into fantasy, I stumble back into shadow, I make things harder on myself by trying to seize power once again! but again and again my Father turns me back around to catch a glimpse of that greater world, the one with the mountain and the river and the tree of life. So I keep turning back, but he keeps turning me around, and now I know that this is how I am to be refined, purified, and made spotless. And who knows? Maybe one day I will be 100 years old, lying in a bed with a breathing tube and a machine blinking at me and I will finally accept my powerlessness, I will finally say, “Okay. Okay! Okay, you win. You alone, O God, are worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” 


In conclusion: God has pre-written our defeat into his plan because, through our defeats we are purified, and through our defeats our world is being purified. One by one the tyrannous princes of the earth are being inflated and then stripped of their authority, to be seen no more; one by one the Satanic rulers of air and darkness are being captured and bound in darkness. In the end, we are told, they will be released to gather all their old nations back together for one last rebellion against God’s people in heaven and on earth, and they will win! — but in winning, they will actually guarantee their own destruction, while for us: our defeat is actually our guarantee that we will live forever. 

But that is actually our topic for next week, so — see you then. 

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