Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Tomorrow's news today

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Daniel 11:2-20

TO CHEW ON: "And now I will tell you the truth: Behold three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece..." Daniel 11:2

Our reading today seems to predict history in detail. Who are the kings of the South? The kings of the North? Did Daniel's prediction actually come true?

The writers of Eerdman's Handbook to the Bible believe it did. The author of the section on Daniel matches his prediction with history:

"This chapter claims to set out the course of future history in detail. And from our vantage-point in time we can look back on its amazingly accurate fulfillment in the history of the Greek Empire.

There are to be three more Persian kings (2 Cambyses, Gaumata and Darius I) followed by a fourth (Xerxes). Xerxes invaded Greece but was defeated at Salamis in 480 BC.

The power then passed to Greece (Daniel 11:3,4). Daniel 11:5 refers to Egypt (the 'king of the South') and to Ptolemy's one-time general Seleucus, who became 'king of the North'—the powerful kingdom of Syria and the east.

Fifty years later (Daniel 11:6) the daughter of Ptolemy II married Antiochus II of Syria. But she was divorced and murdered, and her brother avenged her by attacking Syria (Daniel 11:7). Daniel 11:9-13 reflects the struggles between the two powers at the end of the 3rd century BC.

The Jews then joined forces with Antiochus III of Syria to defeat Egypt (Daniel 11:14-15). They gained their freedom from Egypt (Daniel 11:16), and Antiochus made a marriage alliance with Ptolemy V (Daniel 11:17).

Antiochus invaded Asia Minor and Greece but was defeated by the Romans at Magnesia in 190 BC (Daniel 11:18-19).

The 'exactor of tribute' ['one who imposes taxes' - NKJV] (Daniel 11:20) was his son Seleucus IV who was shortly succeeded by his brother Antiochus IV, the persecutor of the Jews" - Eerdman's Handbook to the Bible, pp. 436,7.

Note the dates when these things happened, compared to the date Daniel was written (beginning late 400s BC compared to sometime in the 500s [540-530]). That would be like someone writing a detailed prediction of what happened in our time almost 100 years ago and more.

But the God we worship is a God who knows the end from the beginning: Isaiah 46:9-10.

Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’

And He knows not only the future of nations, but all the details about you and me - Psalm 139:15-16.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,

When as yet there were none of them.

Dear God, thank You that You know not only about nations but about me. Please lead me by Your knowledgeable Spirit to live wisely. Amen.

MORE: The prophet's call

In the introduction the "The Prophets" section of Eerdman's  Handbook is an interesting explanation of what a biblical prophet was and did. Here are a few excerpts:
"The true prophet claimed the privilege of being in the Lord's 'council,' a word which conveys the idea of both consultation (see 1 Kings 22:19-22) and of close companionship with God ....

The word translated 'prophet' signifies 'called (by God)', with the consequent task of proclaiming the message of God to men. God's call is not an invitation but an appointment (Amos 7:15) ....

The two other Hebrew words are both translated 'seer,' meaning 'one who sees.' These words point to the fact that by God's inspiration the prophets have an altogether unique ability to 'see': both into the affairs of men and into the mind of God" - Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible, p. 371.

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