GETTING THE MESSAGE/More than conquerors in Christ
Sometimes when you look at a product on the internet, you will see an image of a magnifying glass. If you click on it, you will see an enlargement of the specifications of the product. The vision in Daniel chapter eight does that for us with respect to the evil of the anti-Christ.
In Daniel chapter seven, we were told of a little horn that would devour the whole earth and persecute the saints of the Most High at the end of history. But the final anti-Christ will not be without predecessors, and in chapter eight we see a type of the anti-Christ.
We are told that a little horn (verse 8) comes out of the empire of Greece, which conquered the empire of Medo-Persia (around 330 BC) (verses 5-8, 20-21). Daniel is in Babylon at the time of this vision (550 BC), and the temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed. The vision looks ahead to a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. The little horn does terrible things there (verses 11-13, 23-25).
The little horn in this prophecy is easily identified. It is Antiochus Epiphanes. He came into power out of the Seleucid Empires around 175 b.c. When he came to Jerusalem, he replaced the high priest. To stamp out resistance, he killed 40,000 in three days. He defiled the temple by sacrificing a pig in the holy of holies.
He put an end to the daily sacrifices, prohibited the Hebrew Scriptures at penalty of death, placed an altar to Zeus in the temple, and offered human sacrifices. These atrocities and more provoked the indignation of the Lord (verse 19).
The first thing we can learn is that the Lord prepares His people for tribulation in this world. The Lord Jesus suffered in this world and tells His people they also will have tribulation (John 15, 16). As Ralph Davis writes, “Jesus hides nothing in fine print. He forewarns his people to be prepared for tribulation.” Antiochus tried to eradicate the worship practices God had put in place.
Antiochus put an end to daily sacrifices. These sacrifices taught God’s people the necessity of a sacrifice for sin in order for them to enjoy fellowship with God. They no longer exist for Christians because Christ offered a sacrifice once for sin. Christians live daily in remembrance of that sacrifice. The devil would seek to take away or blunt the truth of it.
When Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you,” He was referring to His sacrifice on the cross. Without His atoning blood, we can have no place with God. The value of such salvation is worth more than life in this world. The anti-Christ in Daniel nine is broken by God (Daniel 8:25), like all the enemies of God will be. But all who trust in Christ will inherit the kingdom of God.
Antiochus cast “truth to the ground” (Daniel 8:12). Antiochus defiled the temple. He corrupted the worship of the Lord. The temple of the Lord now is made up of the saints, “the living stones” (1st Peter 2). Christians are to worship in spirit and truth. We must maintain the truth of Christ to maintain the true worship of God.
Another thing we learn is that the Lord gives His people a sure word. This is a remarkable prophecy in its specifics. Daniel writes about things that will happen long after he is dead. All these events occurred just as written. All the things the prophets wrote of Christ were also fulfilled.
The prophets searched intently into the details of Christ’s sufferings and subsequent glories (1st Peter 1). They wanted a magnifying glass on these truths. We have it. Christ came, died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, according to the Scriptures. Let these truths support your faith.
Zechariah in Luke one, by the Spirit, spoke of the “horn of salvation” God raised up for us in the house of David. He will destroy the little horn and all the enemies of God. This horn is Christ our Lord. In Isaiah 40, the Lord says, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.” The comfort is the coming of a Savior who will take away sin and carry his people like lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:2, 11).
At the end of Isaiah 40, we see help in tribulation. It is Christ who gives power to the faint, and to them who have no might, he increases strength. The worn out saints are made to mount up on eagle’s wings, to overcome by faith such things that would be impossibilities without Christ (Isaiah 40:29-31). It is for that purpose Christ’s Spirit dwells in us. And in him we are more than conquerors.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.