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Provided Interpretations in Revelation

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Revelation communicates symbolically, and it provides the reader with many of the most important interpretations of its images .  Revelation  provides several interpretations for its key images. For example, the first vision explains that the “ seven golden lampstands ” represent seven  churches . Moreover, the book is consistent in the application of its symbols. Thus, “ lampstands ” symbolize churches, “ stars ” represent angels, “ incense ” portrays the “ prayers of the saints ,” and so on - [ Photo by  Glenn Carstens-Peters  on  Unsplash ].

Revelation is an Unsealed Book

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SYNOPSIS :   Christians do not need to wait until History’s final years to understand the message of Revelation. The understanding of its visions was made plain to the first-century churches of Asia . By  Jonas Jacobsson  on  Unsplash Today, some voices claim that the correct understanding of many end-time prophecies will not be revealed until the “ last generation ” before the return of Jesus. Information still veiled will be decoded only in the last few years prior to the end of the age. Frequently, a key passage from the  book of Daniel  is cited to validate this claim.

Brief Introduction to Revelation

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The  book of Revelation  is an account of the vision John received while exiled on the Isle of Patmos - “ on account of the testimony of Jesus .” The document was addressed to first-century Christian congregations located in seven cities of the Roman province of Asia. Most likely, it was penned in the late first century when Domitian was emperor - (A.D. 81-96). - [ Outline - Photo by João Silas on Unsplash ].

Little Horn - Identity

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The description of the “little horn” fits perfectly with the known history of the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, “Epiphanes.”  The image of the “ little horn ” represents a malevolent king from one of the Hellenic kingdoms that evolved from Alexander the Great’s empire. The historical allusions in  Daniel  chapter 8 make its identity clear, and by association, the identity of the fourth kingdom from the vision of four “ beasts ascending from the sea ” from which this figure first appeared - [ Temple of Apollo - Photo by  Constantinos Kollias  on Unsplash ].

Introduction to Daniel

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An introduction to the Book of Daniel with a brief overview of how the Book of Revelation applies it .  The  book of Daniel  is a well-structured literary work, not a collection of folk stories or random and unrelated visions. At the very beginning, the key themes of the book are presented in brief, then worked out in detail in the subsequent chapters, and each new vision builds on the preceding ones - [ Book Context - Photo by Mikołaj on Unsplash ].

Daniel's Vision in the New Testament

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Phrases from Daniel’s vision of four “beasts ascending from the sea” are applied to Jesus and his saints in the New Testament .  Phrases and imagery from Daniel’s vision of “ four beasts rising ” from the chaotic sea occur in key passages in the New Testament, often in contexts concerning the future return of Jesus at the end of the age, the kingdom of God, and the royal authority he received from his Father. For example, Jesus foretold how “ all the tribes of the earth ” will see the “ Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven .” - [ Photo by  Joshua Earle  on Unsplash ].

Seventy Weeks - Commencement Date

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SYNOPSIS  – The commencement of the “seventy weeks” is linked to the prophecy of Jeremiah about the Babylonian Captivity – Daniel 9:1-2 .  The prophecy of the “ seventy weeks ” in Daniel is one of the most perplexing and disputed passages in the Hebrew Bible. One of the few aspects on which there is a general agreement is the length of the prophetic period – That the “ seventy sevens ” equates to a period of 490 years. Beyond this, interpretations diverge on every aspect of the prophecy - ( Daniel 9:24-27 ). - [ Photo by Eliza Diamond on Unsplash ].

Babel, Empire, and Hubris

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Human presumption to empire is the legacy of the Tower of Babel, humanity’s first attempt at World-Power .  The ancient story of the Tower of Babel is reflected in  Daniel  when the ruler of the “ land of Shinar ,” Nebuchadnezzar, gathered all nations to pay homage to the great image that he had “ set up ” in the “ Plain of Dura .” His empire was not a new political entity, but the latest incarnation of the imperial effort that has been underway since the start of human civilization - [ Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash ].

Food Offered to Idols

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Daniel and his three companions refused to participate in the religious rituals of the Babylonian World-Power  –  Daniel 1:14 .  Upon arrival in Babylon, Daniel was confronted with a predicament. If he consumed the food and drink of the king, it might impinge on his ritual impurity. While he might have wished to avoid eating “ unclean ” meat, more likely, his concern was that consuming the “ king’s delicacies ” would mean participation in the idolatrous rituals of the Babylonian court - [ Photo by Mary Winchester on Unsplash ].

Final Vision - Introduction

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Daniel chapter 10 introduces the final vision that is detailed in chapter 11, including verbal links to the vision of the ram and goat  -  Daniel 10:1-21 .  The tenth chapter introduces the final vision that Daniel received from one with the “ appearance of a man .” Several verbal links connect it to the preceding visions. It begins by expanding on the vision of the “ goat ” that foresaw Greece divided into four “ lesser kingdoms ,” then focuses on the intermittent warfare between two of those realms until the rise of the “ contemptible ” king and the “ abomination that desolates ” - [ Telescope Photo by  Kyle Popineau  on Unsplash ].

Seventieth Week of Daniel

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SYNOPSIS :   An analysis of the final week of the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy  – Daniel 9:26-27. By  Eric Rothermel  on  Unsplash We now reach the end of the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy, its final or so-called seventieth “ week ” ( Daniel 9:26-27 ). This passage describes a set of events for which the preceding sixty-nine “weeks” have prepared. The text says  nothing about the destruction  of the city or the Temple. Instead, in this final “ week ,” the people of the city are “ corrupted ,” and the Sanctuary is defiled by the “ abomination that desolates .

Seventy Weeks - First Sixty-Nine

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SYNOPSIS  -  The first sixty-nine “weeks” lay the groundwork for the tumultuous events of the final or “sixty-ninth week”  –  Daniel 9:25 .  Next, the interpreting angel described the first sixty-nine “ weeks ” of the “ seventy weeks ” prophecy, although only briefly. As he declared at the start, “ seventy weeks are  divided  upon your people and upon your holy city .” After presenting the  redemption  that would be realized at the end of the prophecy, the angel described its three subdivisions of “ seven weeks ,” “ sixty-two weeks ,” and “ one week ,” presumably, consecutive periods of 49, 434, and 7 years. - [ Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash ].

Seventy Weeks – Prayer & Visitation

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Synopsis :  Daniel prays a collective prayer of repentance after contemplating a prophecy of Jeremiah  - Daniel 9:1-23.  Photo by  Patrick Fore  on  Unsplash The “ first year ” of Darius the Mede locates the vision of the “Seventy Weeks” in approximately 538 to 537 B.C. This is the same period when Babylon fell to the “ kingdom of the Medes and Persians ,” as well as the release of the Jewish exiles from Babylon by the decree of Cyrus the Great (536 B.C. -  2 Chronicles 36:22-23 ,  Ezra 1:1-11 ).

King of Fierce Countenance

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Daniel received the interpretation of the “ram” that was overthrown by the “goat” and of the “little horn,” the coming malevolent ruler  -  Daniel 8:15-27 .  In the vision of the “ four beasts ,” only the first “ beast ” could be identified with certainty, the “ winged lion ” that symbolized Babylon. But not one of the four “ kingdoms ” was identified by name. In contrast, in the interpretation of the “ ram and the goat ” two of them are identified by name – the “ Medes and Persians ” and “ Greece ” - [ Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash ].

Transgression that Desolates

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Daniel received a vision of a “ram” that was overthrown by a “goat” with a prominent horn, representing Greece  -  Daniel 8:1-14 .  In the third year of Belshazzar, Daniel received a vision of a “ ram"  and “ goat ,” with the ram representing the “ Medes and Persians ,” and the goat representing Greece and its first great king. The vision is followed by its interpretation by an angelic figure. The focus of the vision is the “ little horn ,” which symbolizes a malevolent king who would descend from Greece and persecute the saints - [ Goat Photo by Peter Neumann on Unsplash ].

Four Beastly Regimes – Interpretation

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The vision of the fourth beast with the arrogant “little horn” is interpreted for Daniel by an angelic being  -  Daniel 7:15-28 .  Daniel received his vision of four beasts “ ascending from the sea ” which concluded with a judgment scene. In it, the figure “ like a Son of Man ” approached the “ Ancient of Days ” to receive “ dominion .” The vision left Daniel confused and troubled; however, one of the beings that was present, presumably an angel, provided him with the interpretation of the vision - [ Photo by  Nick Fewings  on Unsplash ].

Four Beastly Regimes – Vision

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In the first year of Belshazzar, Daniel saw a vision of four beastly creatures ascending from the chaotic sea  -  Daniel 7:1-8 .  Daniel received a vision in which he saw “ four beasts   ascending ” from the sea. The first half of the chapter describes the vision, the second half presents its  interpretation. The vision had  a fourfold structure, corresponding to the four parts of the “ great image ” seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his earlier dream, with its golden head, silver arms and breast, brass belly and thighs, and legs of iron and clay - [ Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash ].

Next Imperial Power

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The rescue of Daniel from the ravenous lions demonstrated that Yahweh remained in firm control of history  –  Daniel 6:1-28 .  After the overthrow of the Babylonian Empire, the new ruler of the province appointed Daniel as his chief officer over the other civil servants of that region. This caused resentment among other officials, so a conspiracy was hatched to destroy the prophet by trapping him with his own words, even ensnaring the unwitting king in the plot - [ Photo by  Stefano Vigorelli  on Unsplash ].

Head of Gold Shattered

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The last Babylonian ruler summoned Daniel to read the “handwriting on the wall” just before the empire’s downfall  -  Daniel 5:1-31 .  The events recorded in the fifth chapter occurred on the eve of the city’s conquest by the “ Medes and Persians .” That night, the king hosted  a feast “ for a thousand of his lords ” who “ tasted wine ” from the gold and silver vessels looted from the Jerusalem Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. And all while praising the false gods of the empire - [ Photo by Espen Bierud on Unsplash ].

Downfall and Restoration

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The King has another troubling dream that leads to his downfall but only after his display of imperial hubris  -  Daniel 4:1-34 .  In chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, and as before, one that only Daniel could interpret. Yahweh would remove the king from power until he learned, once again, that the “ Most-High God ” alone is sovereign over the affairs of men. The chapter begins and ends with the Babylonian ruler acknowledging the sovereignty of Yahweh - [ Photo by  Uwe Conrad  on  Unsplash ].

Great Image of the King

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Nebuchadnezzar implemented his dream by “setting up” the great golden image to glorify his majesty and sovereignty  -  Daniel 3:1-7 .  King Nebuchadnezzar invested great effort to make his dream image a reality. First, he “ set up ” an enormous image to represent his majesty and the irresistible power of his empire. Then, he commanded all the “ peoples and nations and tongues ” of his realm to render homage to his image or  face certain death in the “ burning fiery furnace ”  - [ Photo by  peter bucks  on Unsplash ].

In the Imperial Court

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God gave the kingdom of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, but He also equipped Daniel and his companions for service in the court of Babylon .  In its opening paragraph,  Daniel  labels Babylon the “ land of Shinar ,” which links it to the “ tower of Babel ” in  Genesis . The Neo-Babylonian Empire had an ancient pedigree, and like his ancient forbears, Nebuchadnezzar had determined to unite all men under one language and one government, where all would render homage to his high image - [ Augustus - Photo by iam_os on Unsplash ].

Sign of the End

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Jesus declared, definitively, that the “end” will not come until “this gospel of the kingdom of God is proclaimed to all nations.”   When we discuss the future coming of Jesus, quite naturally we ask what “signs” will precede it. Wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, and the like? Spectacular cosmic events in the heavens? The rise of unprecedented evil and chaos? Fortunately, Jesus provided us with a most definitive answer -  The completion of the church’s mission . - [ Map with pins - Photo by  Z  on Unsplash ].