CDPCKL · A Strangely Specific (Future) History of the World (Daniel 8:1-27)

A Strangely Specific (Future) History of the World (Daniel 8:1-27)

In March of the year 1918 — almost exactly 103 years ago — the first wave of a global pandemic began. 

World War I was still raging. The British Empire had taken soldiers from all over the world — including from here, in British Malaya — to fight in the trenches of Europe. Now, nobody knew it yet, but some of the returning soldiers were carriers of a deadly flu that would trigger a global pandemic. The first local infections appeared in Penang and Singapore, and spread throughout the peninsula. In October, 1918, the second wave struck. 40,000 people in British Malaya died in just 3 months, the equivalent of 3 million at today’s population numbers. 5000 people died in Selangor alone, the equivalent of 110,000 dead today. 

But something else also happened in March, 1918, 103 years ago: St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was completed, just a few streets away from us here. The congregation had been raising money for the building since 1914 — since the beginning of the war — and everyone else said, “What are you doing? Haven’t you heard? There’s a war on! Over the next few years half of your young men are going to be shipped off, never to return! The whole world is falling apart, and you want to build a church?” 

Well, yes: they did want to build a church. And they did build a church, a building that enjoyed its first worship service in April 1918 — just a few weeks before a global pandemic shut everything down. 

But the world has really changed since then, hasn’t it! 

For instance, one hundred years ago the British empire ruled the world. If we had told a British citizen in 1914 that, in 2014, America would rule the world — they would have said, “What?! The colonials? They can’t even manage their own continent properly!” Which was true, 100 years ago…perhaps it’s still true. 

We can only imagine what that citizen would have said if we told him that it looks like China and India are now next in line to rule the world! We would have heard all sorts of offended British noises, “Oh, I say, hrmph hrmph hrmph hrmph!” 

What that British citizen could not know — what we now know — is that World War I really marked the beginning of the end of the British empire. And really it happened very, very fast! In 1914, England was the greatest industrialized nation on earth! By 1918, only four years later, they had drained their empire of resources, and — in fact — were deeply in debt to American banks, America industrialists. One major reason America is so powerful today is because the wealth of the British empire was basically transferred to them 100 years ago. 

Daniel is finding himself in the same kind of historical transition point right here, in Chapter 8 of his book. 

When he was young, in his prime, he had been a royal cabinet member in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar, during the Golden Age of the Babylonian empire. When Nebuchadnezzar died, Babylon was the capital of the greatest industrialized nation on earth! 

But here, more than 60 years after Daniel first became a cabinet member, the empire is not what it once was. Wars, mismanagement, and political corruption have drained the empire of resources. It is still huge! It does still control massive territories, it still has the potential to rebuild…but it would take a political genius like Nebuchadnezzar to accomplish it. 

Well, this is now the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign…and King Belshazzar is not the genius Nebuchadnezzar was, for reasons we will find out next week. 

So here is Daniel, now in semi-retirement, looking back over his life and realizing that Nebuchadnezzar’s death really marked the beginning of the end of the Babylonian empire. And this is of great concern for Daniel, because his people — the Jewish people — are now scattered throughout that empire. Daniel has been concerned that the fate of Babyon and the fate of God’s people are now bound together: if the Babylonian empire falls, what will happen to the Jewish people? 

Well, back in Chapter 7, during the first year of Belshazzar’s reign, God gave Daniel a vision that was meant to reassure him, and let him know that God’s people are going to out-live the Babylonian empire. In fact, they are going to out-live every empire! — that was the promise of Chapter 7. 

But still, Daniel woke up from that vision deeply troubled by his thoughts. Because his vision had also revealed that, before the final victory of Judgement Day, there will be a time of severe persecution for God’s people. And that is deeply troubling! 

Well, it turns out that Daniel’s troubles are not yet over. Here, two years later, [1] in the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, Daniel says, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. 

[2] In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. 

So, in his vision, Daniel has been transported to the far northern border of the Babylonian empire. He finds himself standing there beside a canal, a man-made river. On the other side of the canal, just a few kilometers away, is a land called Persia, which we now call Iran — Daniel is standing on the border between Iraq and Iran. 

[3] I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. [4] I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south — where Daniel is standing, by the way. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great. 

Now, what could this mean? Back in Chapter 7, animals symbolized empires. Could this ram with its two horns symbolize an empire with two kings or two provinces, an empire that will conquer the world to the west and the north and then — finally — conquer the Babylonian empire to the south? 

Hmmmm. Well, that gives us something to think about. And Daniel is also thinking about it. But: 

[5] As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. 

So: a flying goat. A fast-moving goat. A fast-moving empire, perhaps, just like some of the empires we saw back in Chapter 7? That could make sense…! 

[6] It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. [7] I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. 

[8] The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven. 

Mmmmm. Again, we are familiar with this imagery from Chapter 7: these horns must represent kings, right? One king at first, followed by four kings, which each take control of one of the four corners of the earth? 

We’re starting to get good at this apocalyptic interpretation thing, aren’t we! 

[9] Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 

Oh, wait a minute: now this is very familiar. Back in Chapter 7 there was also a horn that started small but then grew up and became very impressive — and ended up persecuting God’s people for a time, times, and half a time! 

Could this horn in this vision be the same as that one? Well, let’s see: 

[10] It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. [11] It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. [12] Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. 

Soooo…yes. It does appear that this horn in this vision is the same as the one from the previous vision. 

It seems Daniel is finally getting his wish: he wanted a more detailed look at what will take place during the time leading up to Judgement Day…and here it is! 

First, an empire comes out of nowhere and conquers the whole world, just like the beast with 10 horns back in Chapter 7. 

Then, out of this empire a small horn — a small king — grows up and conquers the Beautiful Land, God’s land. 

And this king grows so great that he is actually able to reach the host of the heavens — that means angels, right? But no, wait: in the vision he throws down some of the stars…? And then he even defeats the commander of God’s angelic army!   

And then, as the new commander, this king starts changing how God’s people worship: he shuts down the system of sacrifices, he throws down God’s temple, and then he goes on to prosper in everything he does while truth is thrown to the ground! 

Now, all of this fits perfectly with the vision Daniel saw back in Chapter 7, where we were told this upstart king “will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and laws.” So clearly this vision in Chapter 8 is a more detailed look at the events in Chapter 7, just as the vision of Chapter 7 was a more detailed look at Nebuchadnezzar’s vision back in Chapter 2. 

But there’s a problem, right? Because we expect that more detail will give us more clarity and understanding. But instead, the more detail we get the more confusing it becomes! 

For instance: how can a human king reach up to take control of angels? And what is this weird connection between angels and stars? And isn’t the true commander of God’s army actually that young warrior Daniel saw in Chapter 7, the one that defeated the 4 monstrous beasts and then ruled forever and ever? How can that powerful commander be defeated now by a mere goat? 

…those are some big questions. And the Book of Daniel will answer those questions! But not yet. Some of these questions will not begin to be answered until Chapter 10 and beyond — especially those questions about angels and stars and all that. So we’ll have to be patient. So sorry! 

For now we are just going to focus on the big picture of what is going on here: Daniel is seeing that, at some point in the future, there will be a world-conquering empire ruled by a godless king who will somehow gain absolute control over God’s people and God’s worship, so that even the truth of God’s Word gets twisted. 

And we have seen that all this really matches up very closely with what we learned from Daniel’s vision in Chapter 7. And since Chapter 7 was all about the events leading up to Judgement Day — the end of the world —  we are thinking that this vision in Chapter 8 is also, probably, all about the events leading up to Judgement Day. 

So let’s go on: 

[13] Then, Daniel says, I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?” 

So Daniel overhears two angels chatting with each other. And the one asks the other, “How long is this oppression of God’s people going to last?” 

Which is, apparently, exactly the question Daniel wants to ask. And, apparently, the angels know this, because one of them speaks directly to Daniel and says, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” 

Now, at this point we could get excited. Because 2,300 days is a strangely specific measurement of time, right? Given the right conditions, this number could really help us figure out the exact moment Judgement Day will begin! 

…but then we also remember that, back in Chapter 7, numbers we thought were meant to be specific measurements of time turned out to have other possible meanings. For instance, we discovered that the phrase ”a time, times and half a timecan mean ”three and a half years”…but it can also mean “two and a half days”, which is how long Jesus was in the tomb. 

So, what could this number mean, 2300 days?  

We do not know. Not yet, anyway. So let’s go on and see if there will be an explanation: 

[15] While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. [16] And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.” 

Oh! Good! So there is going to be an explanation! That’s great! 

But now we discover that Daniel is not so thrilled, because: 

[17] As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.” 

Whoa. Okay. So this is a vision about the End Times! This is about the events leading up to Judgement Day, just like the vision in Chapter 7. That is useful information. 

But let’s go on: 

[18] While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet. 

Oh. Well, this is very interesting: apparently, earlier, when Daniel was terrified and fell prostrate, he actually passed out. And so we could speculate that, when Daniel fell into this deep sleep of terror, perhaps it felt like a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 

Actually, we do not need to speculate. Because this is exactly what happened to Abraham way back in Genesis, Chapter 15. Abraham also had a visionary encounter. Abraham also collapsed into a deep sleep. A think and dreadful darkness came over him. And then Abraham also received a revelation about how God’s people would experience terrible persecution under the rule of a foreign empire for a set time — and then how, at the end of that set time, God would redeem his people. 

So apparently we are supposed to realize that Daniel is receiving the same kind of vision Abraham received. Abraham got a preview of how God would save his people from the Egyptian empire. Daniel is getting a preview of how God will save his people from a future empire. 

Gabriel goes on: “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. [20] The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.” 

So, two horns equals two nations combined into one empire…okay! That makes sense. 

And, in fact, in his vision Daniel is standing right there on the border between the Babylonian empire and the Medo-Persian empire. And the Medo-Persian empire is actually already very busy conquering the world to the west and the north. It has not yet tried to come south against Babylon, but…who knows, right? 

So at this point, Daniel is realizing that some parts of his vision are already being fulfilled! 

Gabriel goes on: [21] “The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king.” 

And at this point, if Daniel had been British, he would have started making all sorts of offended British noises: “What? The colonials? They can’t even manage their own territories!” 

Which was all true! At this time, most of the Greek kingdoms were literally colonies of Persia — the two-horned ram here. They had just been conquered about ten years before Daniel received this vision! 

So for the angel to tell Daniel that this little collection of Greek barbarian orang asli tribal kingdoms will one day rule the world was just crazy! 

What nobody saw coming — except God, of course — was the sudden rise of a Greek military genius called Alexander, who was born about 200 years after Daniel. We all know him now as Iskandar yang Hebat: Alexander the Great. And just like the shaggy goat in Daniel’s vision, his empire absolutely demolished the great Persian empire and then went on to conquer the world as far as India — where he discovered war elephants, and made the elephant the symbol of his rule, just like the fourth beast Daniel saw back in Chapter 7. 

Gabriel goes on: [22] “The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.” 

And it is true that after Alexander’s death his empire immediately broke up into four parts, divided up by his four most powerful generals. 

[23] “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise.” 

Okay: this must be the small horn we all want to know about.  

[24] “He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. [25] He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. 

So, apparently, one of the four provinces of the Greek empire will eventually produce a king who will sneak his way into power, take over Jerusalem, lull some of the Jewish people into a sense of peace and well-being — and then attack the Prince of princes, which sure sounds like he is somehow attacking the “Son of Man”, the young commander of God’s armies from Daniel’s previous vision. 

Yet — in the end — he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” 

And now the angel concludes his explanation: [26] “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” 

Basically, the angel is telling Daniel that this prophecy is not about tomorrow, or next week, or next year. People are going to be reading Daniel’s account of this vision again and again for hundreds of years. And as the centuries go by and it looks like nothing is happening, many people are going to doubt whether this was a true prophecy. So Daniel is supposed to “seal up” the vision, which in those days meant putting an official ”chop” on the vision, an official stamp certifying that this vision is complete and authentic. No one can add to it, no one can take away from it. This is the Word of God. 

This is the Word of God. But somehow it is not very comforting. It is not very comforting to be told that the final redemption of God’s people is hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of years away in the future, and that between now and then there will be times of terror and darkness. 

So we really should not be surprised when Daniel admits that, after all this, he was worn out. “I lay exhausted for several days,” he says. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.

Which is a funny thing for God’s prophet to say, isn’t it? How can he say the vision was beyond understanding when the angel Gabriel just explained it to him? 

But I think we know what he is saying: Daniel did understand Gabriel’s explanation of these events — but he does not understand why it has to happen like this. There are still some profound mysteries here. 

But even though his world is falling apart around him, still Daniel got up and went about the king’s business. He continues to serve, even though he knows for certain now that the Babylonian empire he serves is doomed, that even the Medo-Persian empire is doomed, and the Greek empire after that. 

Why does Daniel keep going in the face of such a thick and dreadful darkness? 

Because Daniel already knows that God’s holy people are going to out-live the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Greeks. He already knows that, in the end, all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. 

So he gets up and goes back to work. 


Okay. Daniel is troubled. Even more troubled here at the end of Chapter 8 than he was at the end of Chapter 7. 

And we are even more confused. 

Because Gabriel told us that this vision concerns the time of the end! — but then he went on to talk about the Greek empire and Alexander the Great? And all that is really ancient history for us! And what about this fierce-looking king who is supposed to rise up and knock stars out of the sky and trample on them? Clearly we are still waiting for this guy, because — correct me if I’m wrong here — all the stars are still in place. So are we supposed to believe that the Greek nation is going to conquer the world once again? And they are going to knock down stars? And that, when this happens, we should start our countdown clocks for Judgement Day: 2300 evenings and mornings? 

Well…once again, we need to be careful to read what is actually written here. Gabriel did not say this vision “concerns the time of the end of the world”. At first he did not explain what end he was talking about. But a couple of verses later he did: “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.” Gabriel is describing the end of one particular ”time of wrath”, one particular time of judgement that will take place in history long before the times leading up to the final Judgement Day. 

But this does not resolve our confusion. Because this vision in Chapter 8 is clearly a more detailed development of the vision in Chapter 7. Chapter 7 was clearly a vision of the events leading up to Judgement Day. So how can we say now that Chapter 8 is not a vision of the events leading up to Judgement Day? 

Allow me to explain: 

If you recall, Daniel’s vision in Chapter 7 is meant to be a general roadmap of history, not turn-by-turn directions. We learned in Chapter 7 that there is a general flow to history: golden empires, brutal empires, fast-moving empires, and one final empire that will crush everything for a time — until God arrives and conquers all. 

But we also learned from Chapter 7 that, all throughout history, this pattern will be repeated in large and small ways. 

Chapter 8 is simply zooming in on one of those repetitions, one of those historical moments. Chapter 8 is supposed to be more like turn-by-turn directions for one small part of the journey that, for us, is already long past. But by zooming in on this small part of the historical map, and studying the confirmed details of what has already taken place thousands of years ago — by doing this we will be able to understand more about events that are still in our future, events that will lead up to the final Judgement Day. 

So, here is the question we should ask next: has Daniel’s vision in Chapter 8 been fulfilled? 

Oh, yes. In every detail. 

First, Alexander the Great conquered the world. Then his four generals divided the empire between them. One of those generals inherited the management of Jerusalem, and for a long time the Jewish people enjoyed freedom of religion under Greek rule. They enjoyed many years of peace and growing prosperity. They did not realize it, but they were also being gradually influenced away from their Jewish culture, they were beginning to compromise the pure worship of God. 

Then, in the seventh generation, a younger son of that Greek royal household weasled his way up into power and took control of that whole corner of the Greek empire. He named himself Epiphanes, which means “God made manifest”. Basically, he claimed to be a living god. 

And at first he continued his ancestors’ policy of religious freedom and the gradual undermining of Jewish culture. But then some of the more conservative Jews figured out what was going on. When they got a chance, they rebelled against him. And things got nasty. 

This king took violent control of Jerusalem. He completely banned traditional Jewish worship. He installed what appears to be a meteorite in the temple: a sacred rock that represented Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. And he sacrificed pigs — an unclean animal — on the altar. And then, when the rest of the Jews absolutely refused to participate in this abomination, he completely subdued Jerusalem and began a systematic reign of terror that lasted for a time, times, and 

— then, strangely enough, some foreign army attacked the far side of the Greek empire, and this king had to go and deal with that. And while he was gone the citizens of Jerusalem rebelled again, and threw out his occupying army. And one ancient historical account tells us that when he heard the news of the Jewish rebellion, this wicked king mounted his chariot and commanded his charioteer to drive night and day back to Jerusalem, swearing that he was going to turn the whole place into a Jewish graveyard. 

But as soon as he said this, a terrible stomach-cramp doubled him over. He ignored it, ordering his driver to go faster, always faster, breathing out threats and curses as they went. The pain got worse. The king actually collapsed and fell out of the chariot while it was travelling at high speed, shattering his body. Still, he continued to curse and boast about what he was going do when he arrived in Jerusalem. So his men put him into a litter and carried him while he continued to speak boastful words. And the account tells us that, as they carried him day after day, worms began to come up out of his body, eating his flesh. His still living body began to decay, until his whole army was disgusted by the smell. Eventually the stink became so bad that his men could no longer bear to carry him. And so, the ancient historian says, this man who once called himself “God made manifest” experienced “the manifest power of God”. He died alone, in terrible pain and fear, ”a miserable death in a strange country in the mountains”destroyed, just like Gabriel said, but not by human power. 

And just like that, it was over. That was the appointed time of the end, the end of the appointed time of wrath. That is how quickly things change. That is the end of this story. 


Now, I’m sure you have many questions about this time in history. Please be patient: we are going to revisit this history again, because Daniel is not done having visions about it. 

But, in the meantime, how should we apply what we have learned about this history so far? What does our Father want us to believe and do in response to these ancient events? 

Well…as always, there is so much we could talk about! We could talk about how this ancient Greek king is really a preview of a figure that the New Testament writers call the antichrist, a false messiah who will lead the world astray into a distorted form of Christian worship. So we could talk about how this vision and this history gives us some ideas about what to watch out for in our future. 

We could also talk about how this vision and this history gives us some ideas about what to watch out for right now! As the Apostle John once said in the New Testament, “Hey, have you heard that the antichrist is coming? Well, guess what: even now many antichrists have come!” This ancient pattern of peace and prosperity growing into deception and then suddenly turning into violent suppression has been repeated many times in history, and it is happening even today. And not just at a national, empire level! It also happens at a denominational level, at a local church level: wicked persons who should never be in power over God’s people are constantly weasling their way into positions of influence so that they can seize control of God’s people and God’s worship and bend everything toward their own benefit. 

So if we are asking what we should do because of this vision, we could simply say that we are supposed to keep watch for these patterns in our world. 

And that is an appropriate application. 

But keeping watch is difficult when, like Daniel, we are appalled by this vision: it’s hard to spend our time looking forward for signs of our own persecution! It’s even more difficult when we are so confused by some parts of this vision! It is beyond understanding. 

For instance: what about this whole “2,300 evenings and mornings” thing? God told Gabriel to explain this vision to Daniel. And Gabriel did give Daniel all kinds of interesting information — but he never explained this number! 

And that just leaves us…floundering, doesn’t it? It leaves us feeling insecure, because we do not like unexplained mysteries — especially when it comes to questions of Judgement Day! 

But perhaps, friends, that is exactly why our Father did not explain every detail: to highlight this truth that we do not like mysteries, that the unknown makes us sick with anxiety. And why does it make us sick? Because the truth is: we like to be in control and we do not like to trust God to be in control! 

So this is yet another application of this vision, especially the unexplained parts: we are supposed to remember that we are not in control, that our Father is not always going to reveal all mysteries to us all the time — and that this is okay, because our Father does understand all mysteries. 

This is, in part, what these strangely specific measurements of time in apocalyptic prophecy are designed to teach us. We always begin by going, “Ooo, that is a very specific number! Can I use it to predict Judgement Day?” Then we try. And the more we try, the more frustrated and anxious we get, because there are a thousand different ways to plug these numbers into history! which results in a thousand different interpretations. So we give up, realizing that this number is not actually as specific as it seemed at first. And then, as we give up and decide to trust our Father to reveal the mystery to us in his own time…the Spirit gives us rest, our anxious thoughts clear, and we gradually come to realize that beyond all these details there is a profoundly simple meaning that changes everything. 

So, for instance, let’s return to this strangely specific number: “2,300 evenings and mornings”. Many people have noticed that 2300 days adds up to almost seven years: it’s six years and a couple of months. Which gets us very excited, because: specific number, right? But then we try to plug it into history and it just doesn’t quite fit. This wicked Greek king actually ruled for about 11 years. He persecuted the Jews for about 4 of those years. But nowhere in this history can we find a distinct period of persecution that lasts 2300 days! And if the angel was wrong about this, what else might he be wrong about? What use is this vision anyway? 

But then we pause, and remember — from back in Chapter 4 — that this concept of seven years — “seven times” — is also a symbolic reference to the complete judgement of God, the complete time of God’s wrath against a person or a nation. And we remember that “2,300 evenings and mornings” is not quite seven years. It is more like six and a half years. Which reminds us of another set of numbers from back in Chapter 7, where we were told that this wicked king would oppress God’s people for a time, times, and half a time. Back in Chapter 7 that was God’s promise to Daniel that his people would not have to suffer through the full symbolic ”seven years” of wrath, that this time would be suddenly cut short. 

And so we slowly come to realize that when Gabriel tells Daniel, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings before the sanctuary will be reconsecrated,” he is really saying the same thing he said in Chapter 7 when he told Daniel, “The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.” He is saying, “Look, Daniel, it is going to feel like forever. It is going to feel like you are all going through the full seven years of God’s wrath — and then, suddenly, it will be over. Suddenly, you will be delivered.” 

So these unexplained details, these unexplained numbers are actually meant to be a comfort for us, and a warning to us. Through these mysteries our Father is speaking gently to us, saying, “Trust me!” Yes, to us, the great empires of our world look like monstrous all-consuming beasts — like the monsters in Chapter 7. But in reality they are nothing more than sheep and shaggy goats under the rod of the great Shepherd who rules over all. Yes, to us, the exact meaning of “2,300 evenings and mornings” is a mystery…but it is not a mystery to God. He has set an appointed time of the end for every sheep, every goat, every nation, every empire, every antichrist, right down to the day, the hour, and the millisecond. 

But God’s people are going to out-live them all. 

So, brothers and sisters: what does our Father want us to believe because of this vision, what does he want us to do? 

Our Father wants us to believe that things change really fast. World events, world powers always feel like they are going to last forever when we are living through them — and then, suddenly, they are done and gone and we don’t even remember what it was like to live under the shadow of those antichrists. One year the world is falling apart: there is a war, and a pandemic, and a crashing economy. But the very next year — who knows? 

Well…God does. 

He also knows that his people are going to outlive them all. And we know this also! because he has told us so, and sealed up his promise for us so that it cannot be broken. 

That is what we are to believe. 

And so now, what does our Father want us to do because of this belief? 

We are going to do what Daniel did in Babylon, 2600 years ago: we are going to get up and go about the king’s business. We are going to do what our brothers and sisters did here in Kuala Lumpur, 100 years ago: we are going to get up and keep on building Christ’s church. They built because they believed that God’s people would outlive the British empire — and they were right. That empire is long gone, but we still here. And so now we continue the work for the same reasons they did. 

Yes, we know there is a pandemic on! Yes, we know there is economic and political unrest, we know the world is falling apart! 

But we also know it will not always be like this. We are building toward a future that no one else can see. We are gathering pilgrims for a journey that only we can make. We are destined for a city on a mountain in a land of eternal mornings and eternal evenings — 

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