Tuesday, March 28, 2006

This Is The End?

"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.

"Daniel said: 'In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.

"'The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.

"'And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, "Get up and eat your fill of flesh!"

"'After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.

"'After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast -- terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

"'While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully'" (Daniel 7:1-8).

Okay, we've been working our way through Daniel, and it's been great so far. We've touched on a lot of very familiar stories, but now we've come to the last part of the Book of Daniel -- the part no one ever reads (except for those prophecy guys on TV). What are we supposed to do with all this? I mean, read those eight verses again.

A lion whose wings get torn off? A bear with ribs between its teeth? A leopard with four wings like a bird? Do birds have four wings? Four heads? What the...?

As confusing as this all is, I believe people usually take the wrong approach when it comes to deciphering it. I do not think it is wise to play a matching game with current nations or organizations. Ten horns...hmmm...there are ten seats on my local school board. You don't think...?

There have been people trying for centuries to play that matching game, and they've always been wrong. Every time we find out that Kissinger isn't the anti-Christ or the USSR isn't the bear with ribs in its teeth the Church gets a black eye and it gets a little bit harder to proclaim the gospel.

I know lots of good Christian people have different views on how things are going to end, but I think it would be very helpful if we'd all just stop the matching game.

So, if the point of this portion of Daniel is not to figure out who is which beast, what is the point?