A Little Bit of Hanukkah and Whole Lot of Crazy
If you are just joining us on this series, just to let you know where we are, the book of Daniel is divided in two. The first six chapters are a narrative story to the life of Daniel. The last six chapters are an apocalyptic, prophetic declaration to Daniel. If you remember the story of Daniel, Daniel was captured as a young boy, probably in his middle school to early high school years. He probably saw his family killed before him. Not just Daniel, but all of Israel was besieged against by the Babylonians and the bright young rising stars were carried into captivity in Babylon, and Babylon went back and continued a siege upon Israel and destroyed it.
Daniel was a part of that first siege and was carried off as a slave into Babylon, raised as a young man, tried to be culturally influenced. The culture there tried to get him to forget his past and to embrace what they taught. Daniel refused and still wanted to be faithful to God in all of it. The question anyone would be asking in that scenario, if you see that sort of devastation, you’d ask the common questions of life. God do you love me, God are you there? God do I have a future with you? Does any of your people have a future with you? God are you going to be faithful to the promises you’ve given to your people?
Daniel’s first six chapters kind of outlays that for us. You see Daniel wanting to be faithful to God and having this conflict with culture and God continuing to intervene and to show Daniel his love and plan in life. When you get to chapter 7, on, it’s sort of like God pulls back the curtain. Daniel by this point is older in years. He’s in his 80s now, still serving God. God gives these prophetic visions to let him see how everything’s going to unfold, to the coming of the messiah, and what that’s going to look like for God’s people.
That’s where we are today, in chapter 8. Now the nature of this literature is called apocalyptic. It’s eschatological apocalyptic. Apocalyptic really means, it’s the word where we get revelation, but it really means that symbolism is used to mean something literal. They’ll use the symbolic language in apocalyptic literature. If you’ve ever read Revelation, you’ve probably seen just these images. You’re like, what is going on here? This seems nuts. Am I going to see this beast with this harlot riding on the back of it through the sky? I hope I don’t, I’m not alive. What is it talking about?
Apocalyptic literature uses symbolism to help explain something. I’ve noticed in culture today, we’re very good at taking those symbols and just destroying them. We try to make things mean something they were never intended to make. The reason we often do that is because we try to make 21st century application to these symbols. When these symbols were written and described, it wasn’t written for a 21st century audience. To understand apocalyptic literature, you have to first ask the question, what that passage meant to those there and then, before we understand what it means to us here and now.
A passage of the bible always first applies to the original audience it was written to, though truth is timeless. I gave you a few examples last week, a couple that I’ve always heard of as the mark of the beast, and people talk about don’t get a computer chip because that means you’re going to hell or something like that. That has nothing to do with mark of the beast. Mark of the beast goes back to Jewish symbolism. The Jews would walk around with what they called phylacteries on their wrists, bound on their foreheads. They had scripture in these phylacteries and it was a symbol that they belonged to God.
When you start talking about the mark of the beast, you’ll see a mark on their foreheads, on their wrists showing that their thinking and their hands and serving, belong to what this beast represents. It’s not a computer chip. That’s not what the symbol means. They didn’t go to 21st century understanding in order to help you grab that meaning today. That would undermine every century previous to that. What they did is they went to the centuries relevant to them at that time. They drew from imagery in the past to help us understand what it means today.
They refer to the mark of the beast, not because they thought we were going to start coming up with computer chips, but to show these individuals that take that mark belong to the beast. That’s where their loyalty lies.
The same thing with the other thing I brought up last week, the grasshoppers with human heads. I’ve heard people interpret that as belonging to helicopters. Has nothing to do with helicopters. Again, that’s taking a symbol and trying to make 21st century interpretations. I mean I guess it would be cool if they were thinking about helicopters but that’s not what they were doing. They were going into the past of symbols to make it mean something for us today.
If you study the past in Jewish history, you see grasshoppers and locusts were often used for judgment. These locusts would come and devastate things. In fact, armies were sometimes described like the book of Joel as locusts. When you look at these grasshoppers or these locusts, it’s showing judgment and destruction. It’s not the daggum helicopters destroying the world.
That is way over interpretation to that passage of scripture. Apocalyptic literature is like that. It uses symbolisms to refer to something real. Eschatology just deals with the study of the end times. Here in this story, we’re looking at these passages of the bible, Daniel 7, Daniel 12, eschatological, apocalyptic by nature and making application to our lives.
A lot of this can be heavy slating, especially if you’re new to the bible because there’s a lot of symbolism here. But good news, we’re going to walk through it all, so that way, when you read these passages, you get a better understanding of what’s being communicated. I told you last week, we looked at Daniel 7, and that was a great beginning to apocalyptic literature. I think chapter 7 is probably one of the most important apocalyptic chapters you can understand in all of the bible.
Chapter 9 coming up, we’re going to look at chapter 9, which is probably what eschatology gurus love more than any other chapter, but chapter 7 is a significant passage because it is quoted five dozen times in the New Testament. Jesus quoted from that section of scripture. Jesus, when he takes a title for himself and his identity, he uses Daniel 7.
Daniel 8, is not quoted that much in the New Testament. It’s got eight quotations. Six of them are in the book of Revelation, but you’ll see as you read in the New Testament, the culmination of Daniel 7, Daniel 8, the picture being brought together and described in the apocalyptic literature in the New Testament, and most specifically the book of Revelation.
One of the things that I’ve learned in looking at eschatology is there’s some health and unhealth to this. In eschatology, there are what I would say are trigger words. You just mention one word and people just go nuts with imagery. One of those last week we talked about was the battle of Armageddon, like pandemonium and destruction. I told you the word Armageddon literally means a hill in front of a valley. When you historically study it, that word isn’t that big of a deal, but we’ve started to come up with this imagery of what it represents, and no doubt, there is this battle that’s described in the ghetto.
There would have been tons of battles that have been fought in the ghetto where Armageddon is described, but there’s a broader picture of what Armageddon represents. There’s a battle taking place and I think it relates to you and I. We made the application last week, so trigger words have this ability to create this preconceived idea in our minds, and it’s not always healthy.
We’re going to talk about another one of those words today when we dive into Daniel 8. We’re going to talk about the antichrist. Before we talk about this, we’re going to talk a lot about the antichrist, the antithesis of Christ, but I want you to know I love you. Right? This is a heavy passage of scripture and everything that we’re dealing with today, I want to result in worship. I really want to end with sharing with us how to kick the garbage out of the spirit of the antichrist in our lives and honor Christ with our lives.
We’re going to look at some deep passages, as it relates to the antichrist. He’s taken on several titles throughout scripture. In the story that we’re going to read today, he’s the little horn. You get to the New Testament, I think he’s referred to as the man of lawlessness. The man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2, and the antichrist in 1 John 2, but I think all of that is a picture describing what the antichrist represents for us.
As we discuss these two passages, I just want to remind us, when it comes to eschatology, people got the first coming of Jesus wrong. I don’t want to approach this so arrogantly as to usurp and just declare every precise thing about Jesus’ return. I know you can probably get on YouTube and Google people predicting the return of Jesus and if you want to know when that is, it’s whenever he wants to, okay? That is how that’s going to happen.
The coming of Christ, I don’t want to demonstrate this arrogantly, but rather what I would prefer to do is help us to understand the century in which this text was written and the mentality of the individuals as these, they read these passages. What it’s going to end up getting us to is we’re actually going to talk a little bit about Hanukkah, a whole lot of crazy and in the middle of that, what it means to fight against the antichrist and how you do that and honor Jesus with your life, okay? So here we go.
You approach this text, Daniel 8, verse 1, “In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar, the king, a vision appeared to me.” So Daniel’s saying I got this vision. “While I was looking, I was in the citadel of Susa which is in the province of Elim, and I looked and in the vision I saw myself beside the Ulah canal. Then I lifted my eyes and looked and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other with the longer one coming up last.”
Let me stop right there and tell you where we are. Daniel 2, Daniel 7, similar visions. If you remember, if you were part of this discussion in chapter 2, we talked about a statue. Each statue was made up of precious metals. It started gold, silver, bronze, iron. Then a giant rock comes and crushes the statue. Then we get an interpretation of that, that God tells us that those precious metals represent a kingdom which demonstrates all of these earthly kingdoms, of which a greater rock’s going to come and crush them and that rock is Jesus. He’s going to bring his kingdom.
So after the Roman kingdom comes Christ. We see in Roman times Jesus comes. God prophetically revealed that that would happen. The messiah would come during the Roman kingdom. So you see these four kingdoms. Those four kingdoms represent gold, Babylon, of which Daniel is carried in captivity in. Then the silver was the Persians. Then the bronze were the Greeks, and the iron were the Romans, and there’s clay toes on the bottom of this statue that breaks.
Then in chapter 7, we looked at four more pictures of the same kingdoms. The passage gives us an interpretation and tells us that. Starts off with a lion. That lion is Babylon. Then it goes to a bear. That bear were the Medo-Persians. Then it goes to a leopard with wings, which is the Greeks, and then it finishes up … I just lost my own train of thought. With the beast. The beast which is the Romans.
It gives these pictures and then it tells us ultimately there is a king who is coming that is the son of man, and that is Jesus. You see the same imagery. Chapter 2, chapter 7. Now when you get to chapter 8, it’s going to focus particularly on two of those kingdoms, the two middle kingdoms. Just like chapter 7, it tells us a little horn arises and it represents the antichrist. He comes against God. He boasts of himself. Chapter 8’s going to talk about two kingdoms. It’s going to talk about the Persian kingdom. In the Greek kingdom there’s going to be a little horn arise, and it’s going to boast about himself and it’s the representation of the antichrist.
It’s going to take, in the New Testament it will take the picture of both of these guys. You’ll see it combine and share more about the antichrist, who is to come. When we look at prophesy in scripture, a lot of times it’s dualistic, meaning there’s an immediate fulfillment of it that is to come, and there is a great future fulfillment that is to transpire. You’re going to see that in this text as well.
But when you read in verse 2, you see this ram. In the story of this ram, he has two horns. That’s pretty good for a ram so far right, but then it says something about this ram. This ram, with the two horns that it has, one is a little bit longer than the other. This represents the Persian empire. The reason I know represents the Persian empire is because verse 20 of this chapter says it represents the Persian empire.
One of the things that we know in historical literature or biblical literature, when it talks about horns, what it’s talking about is authority figures, rulers. It’s showing the dominance, the strength that leader that represents that group. This ram, which represents a nation or people group has two horns growing out of it, showing its power, its dominance and authority. One is longer than the other.
If you remember last week, when we looked at chapter 7, it talked about a bear. When that bear stood up, the bear was not properly balanced, that one side was bigger than the other. When you study the Persian empire, what you find out is that they were a combination of two empires. It was actually the Medo-Persians, but the Persians were more dominant. When it shows this illustration, it shows them as being slightly bigger and so when you look at this horn, it’s saying the same thing.
One horn was a little bit more powerful than the other. Between the Medo-Persians, the Persians had the dominance. Then it goes on and says, “Now the two horns were long but one was longer than the other with the longer one coming up last. I saw the ram butting westward, northward and southward. No other beast could stand before it and nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified,” look at this. “He magnified himself.” Okay.
If you remember the story of the bear last week, it had three ribs in its mouth, and I told you, when the Persians conquered Babylon, it really took three major campaigns, three major battle victories to do that. When you look at where they went to conquer those battles, it’s described in this passage.t hey went westward, northward and southward, in order to complete the conquest of becoming the world dominating force.t he Persians did that, and it was all about boasting in themselves.
Then it goes on from there and says verse 5, “While I was observing, behold a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground.” What it’s saying is this goat was fast. This goat is representing the Greeks. It’s so fast, he doesn’t have to touch the ground. In chapter 7, this was described as a leopard with wings. When we study this historically, we’ve seen within Greece, the one that led that conquest, the on that brought Greece into the forefront of this world was Alexander the Great. By the age of 32, he conquered the known world. This is not documented historically, but many people have said or heard that when Alexander conquered the known world, his response wasn’t to celebrate, but rather to cry because there was nowhere else left to conquer.
He goes through this very quickly, not touching the ground, and the goat has a conspicuous horn between his eyes. Now I don’t know about you, but we should call this a unicorn, right? “He came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal and rushed at him in his mighty wrath. I saw him come beside the ram and he was enraged at him and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns and the ram had no strength to withstand him, so he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him. There was none to rescue the ram from his power. Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly.”
Again, it’s all about him. “But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken, and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns towards the four winds of heaven.” So we said this last week, but we’ll reiterate it again, that in the Greek empire, after Alexander conquered the known world, he died just a few years later. Four generals take over what is the Greek empire and they divide it into four sections.
That’s what we see here with the four heads. These four authority figures going to the four winds or the four ends of the earth for dominating so Greek, the Greece empire they’re saying is the dominant face. The Greek empire is the dominant force within this passage and so then verse 9, “Out of one of them,” talking about the four heads then, “Out of one of those heads came forth a rather small horn, which grew exceedingly great towards the south and toward the east and toward the beautiful land. It grew up to the host of heaven and called some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth and it trampled them down. It even magnified itself to be equal with the commander of the hosts.”
Some of your translations will say the prince of the hosts. I think that’s more accurate. “It removed the regular sacrifice from him. And the place of the sanctuary was thrown down, and on account of transgression, the host will be given over to the horn, along with the regular sacrifice. It will fling truth the ground and perform at its will and prosper.” Now what is going on there?
When you read this section of scripture there is, it historically matches what took place with the Greeks according to the four heads. When the four empires are broken into four sections within the empire, one of the dominating groups within that was the Seleucid empire. He’s actually looking, in verse 9, he fast-forwards 150 years, into the Seleucid empire and there’s one who rises up and he wasn’t really supposed to have his position of authority. He was the nephew of a ruler and he bribed his way into that position. It should have been given to this ruler’s son, and it ended up being given to his nephew.
This man by the name Antiochus Epiphanes take authority and he starts off as a little horn. He bribes his way in but he rises to this great power and he attacks. He attacks eastward, he attacks southward into Egypt. It’s historically documented, and then he goes towards the beautiful land. He comes against God’s people.
Within the context of the story, it begins to share a little bit about what takes place in his conquest. Antiochus Epiphanes does some horrific things as this little horn which becomes a later image of or a type of antichrist. But Antiochus Epiphanes, within this description, he comes against the Jewish people, which it refers to as the host of heaven in verse 10. It grew up to the host of heaven, and it causes the stars to fall to the earth.
Now I think a portion of this passage is quoted in Revelation 12, but the question is then what is this host of heaven and what are the stars that fall. I think it could be angelic hosts as far as it relates to the stars, but the hosts themselves, I think the hosts of heaven in this passage are people. In the context of scripture, I think both words can be used to refer to people or to angelic beings. I think you really have both happening here.
In fact, I think verse 10 to verse 12, sort of talks about a human form, but it also is a representation of God. One of the reasons I say that is when you look in, when you look in verse 11, it says this little horn magnified itself to be equal with the commander of the hosts and it goes on to talk about the destruction of the temple or the desecration of the temple. I think that this commander of the hosts or this prince of the hosts could be referring, humanly speaking, to make the text relate to this specific time period, it could be referring to the high priest who was Ananias at this time.
It could be him, but when you look into, further into this passage, verse 25, it refers to this commander of hosts or this prince of hosts as the prince of princes. So I think it’s ultimately saying, yeah, this is a picture of now, of what Antiochus Epiphanes is going to do, but ultimately because Antiochus Epiphanes represents the antichrist, it’s also a great picture of what’s coming against Jesus himself.
So in verse 10, we talk about the hosts of heaven, verse 12 if you want a definition of what that is, it tells us in verse 12 that the reason that he’s coming against the hosts of heaven, it says this, “On account of transgression, the host of heaven will be given over to the horn.” It’s saying that they have turned, I think, from God. Out of discipline, the Lord is allowing this little horn to usurp his position. I think these hosts are referring to literal people in this passage, and the antichrist is bringing this destruction against him.
I think it’s a great picture of a cosmic battle that could take place. The stars could represent these angelic beings. I think it does take place as it relates to Revelation. So you see how this passage, this little horn arises in the text, and no doubt, Antiochus Epiphanes did this to Jerusalem in some of the most horrific ways.
In fact, historically if you study what he did, he came against Jerusalem specifically for over three years. In one particular time period within those three years, in a three day span, he killed over 80,000 of the Jews. What happens in this passage is horrific. I’m going to read a little bit more of the history behind it so you get a better understanding because the Jews documented this in the story called 1 and 2 Maccabees.
But in eight, chapter 8 and verse 13, the question that Daniel would have looking down the future of the prophesy that’s given to him. The question that we would have in any situation like this is how long is this going to last? God do you still care about your people? Now, no doubt you can see the divine hand of God in this because God is in authority enough within the context of this story, right, to share with his people how this is going to transpire.
This isn’t out of the realm of God. He’s sovereign enough to see how all of the history is going to move forward and I believe according to Romans 8, that he works all things together for good. That God is going to intervene in all the bad that happens in this world. God ultimately will turn it to good. How do I know that? Well, we just say the cross of Christ. Historically the cross of Christ is the most horrific form of torture in all of history. It was the worst day in history, when Jesus was crucified and Jesus turned the cross into the symbol of victory for his people.
So it’s not out of the realm of God’s possibility to do this. So the question I ask then is how long is this going to last? In verse 13, “Then I heard a holy one speaking. Another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, how long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror? So as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled? And he said to me, for 2300 evenings and mornings. Then the holy place will be properly restored.”
Now 2300 probably is a pretty good question to ask. What does that mean? What does it mean, 2300 evenings and mornings? I want to know exactly how long this disaster is going to take place, God. Please tell me. Okay, 2300 mornings and evenings. People actually debate this. There’s three major interpretations over how long this lasts. I don’t have a stand either way, and I’ll tell you why I don’t think it matters that much in just a minute. People have said, okay, it’s 2300 evenings and mornings. There’s 2300 days, or is it talking about evenings and mornings divided in two, that it’s actually 1150 evenings, 1150 mornings? Or is it figurative because 2300 days is pretty close to seven years. It’s actually six years and four months and so seven is a number of completion and God doesn’t want to give an antichrist a number of completion. He wants to stop it to show himself as the authority so God gets the seven, right? Not the antichrist.
Different speculation. In fact, people have gone back and looked at Antiochus, like okay maybe the history of Antiochus will tell us. Well, he was against the Jews really for seven years, historically, but for three and a half years, he really attacked them, so that kind of fits with the 2300 evenings. It’s not quite seven years though and it’s not really three and a half years if you divide it by two. It’s a few days short.
Antiochus attacked the Jews for 1105 or 1106 days, depending on what historian you read. So it’s not quite the 1150. It could go either way, but ultimately I don’t think it matters because this is what the point is. The holy place will be properly restored. What God’s saying is his hand is still there. There will be a time when the antichrist will come against my people, but I’m still there. My presence is still there.
I want you to know … I’m not going to read all of this. I’ve alluded to this, but verse 15 to 26, is the interpretation of everything I just told you. Daniel goes back and from this point, someone explains to him what it means. I just walked you through that interpretation, but here’s the interesting thing. When you get to the very end of the chapter verse, what was it, verse 27 I believe? Yeah, verse 27, this is what Daniel says. After he gets the interpretation, he says, “Then I Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it.”
So Daniel’s saying like I saw this. It felt horrible. It made me sick and even after someone explained it, I’m still like, man, what does this mean? What’s going on with this passage? Let me tell you, if you read the end of the story about the antichrist, and you’re like this is not an encouraging Sunday. We did the passage justice because that’s what Daniel says, but just to drive the point home, I want you to just listen to this for a moment.
Antiochus was actually Antiochus’ real name. He added Epiphanes later, which is illustrious one or god manifest, right. He’s saying I boast in me. It’s all about me. You saw that in the first two kingdoms, with the ram, about him. With the goat, about him. Antiochus Epiphanes, it’s about him. Then used the means, whatever they can to set themselves up. Antiochus goes as far as desecrating the temple, killing God’s people, setting up an altar to Zeus, sacrificing a pig on the Jewish altar, which you know how Jews feel about the pork, right?
Antiochus was not good. 1 Maccabees says this. If you want to go back and read the story of what happened here, 1 Maccabees, 1 Maccabees records it, but I’m just going to read you just a few sections of it. Chapter 1, verse 30, “Antiochus suddenly launched a fierce attack on the city, dealing it a major blow and killing many of the people. He plundered the city, set it on fire, tore down its buildings and the walls. He and his army took the women and children as prisoners and seized the cattle. Innocent people were murdered around the altar. The holy place was defiled by murderers.”
Verse 46, “The Jews were even ordered to defile the temple and the holy things. They were commanded to build pagan altars, temples and shrines and to sacrifice pigs and other unclean animals. They were forbidden to circumcise their sons and were required to make themselves ritually unclean in every way they could, so they would forget the law which the Lord had given through Moses. The penalty for disobeying the king’s decree was death.”
1 Maccabees 1:60 says this, “Mothers who had allowed their babies to be circumcised were put to death in accordance with the king’s decrees. Their babies were hung around their necks and their families and those who had circumcised them were put to death, but many people in Israel firmly resisted the king’s decrees and refused to eat food that was ritually unclean. They preferred to die rather than break the holy covenant and eat unclean food, and many did die.”
In 2 Maccabees 5:12, it says this, “Antiochus ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy everyone they encountered and to butcher all who took refuge in their houses. It was a massacre of young and old, a slaughter of women and children, a butchery of virgins and infants. There were 80,000 victims in the course of those three days, 40,000 dying by violence, and as many again being sold into slavery.”
As that story unfolds, in 167, there was a man by the name of Judas Maccabeus, who went, who rallied the Jews and they fought against the Greeks. In that battle, by 166, they take over the temple again. When they get into the temple, they find God’s menorah, the candle that burns within the temple, it’s got seven candlesticks on it, that they have one day left to keep that candle burning.
In fact, when they went back, they found a content of one day’s worth of candle oil to pour into the candle, to keep it burning, that hadn’t been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes. The high priest would anoint and set apart these special oils to put into this candle. That candle we know today symbolically represents the Holy Spirit, and it would burn in the temple.
They have one day’s worth. After they take over the temple, they find one day’s worth of one piece of olive oil that had not been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes to put within this candle. So they pour it in, and they continue to stand for their people, but as the story goes, God miraculously, rather than just allowing that oil to burn for one day, he allows that oil to burn for eight days. That just so happens to be the amount of time it takes to take olive oil and consecrate it sacred to the Lord. By the end of the eight days, they now had more oil to put in the candle.
To this day, the Jews celebrate that day as what we call Hanukkah. Hanukkah has nothing to do with Christmas. It just so happens historically it falls on the same time of year, near the same time of year of which we celebrate Christmas. Has nothing to do with Christmas. We celebrate Christmas every year, according to the Gregorian calendar, December 25th, even though Jesus probably wasn’t born on December 25th. The Jews celebrate according to the lunar calendar. They follow this lunar calendar and for the Jews, this year, Hanukkah, it falls on December 12th to December 20th.
One of the interesting things that they do during this time period is they have a menorah and the menorah is a little different than the one that’s in the temple. The one in the temple has seven branches on it. The menorah they have for Hanukkah actually eight branches. In fact it has one extra candle stand, which is a ninth branch, in order to have one candle lit to light all the other candles.
Each day they celebrate Hanukkah, they light another candle, celebrating the eight days that God miraculously provided for his people as a symbol of his light not going out. One of the things that they do within the celebration is that they have what they call a dreidel. Did you guys ever look at that and wonder what in the world is this? Well this dreidel, each side of a dreidel has a Hebrew letter written on it. Each letter represents a word which makes a sentence for the Jews as they celebrate Hanukkah.
The phrase around it stands for [Hebrew 00:30:44]. Which means a great miracle happened there. Unless you spin the dreidel in Jerusalem, then the Hebrew letters around it say [Hebrew 00:30:57], which means a great miracle happened here. The point is that they used the celebration of Hanukkah to remind their people of how God showed up and intervened to protect them and preserve them for the future coming of the Messiah of which he promised all the way back in Daniel 8. [Hebrew 00:31:14], which for you and I, this isn’t the main point of this passage but I think it’s worth stopping just because of this season that we’re in and saying it is important to create certain traditions within your family that help you identify your family as related to God.[Hebrew 00:31:36] A great miracle happened there. The only thing that relates to maybe Hanukkah as it relates to Christmas is that God promised and God provided. When you think about Christmas, we think about the coming of Jesus and it says to us, God promised and God provided, a rescuer. A redeemer. A savior.
For us, one of the sad parts of our Christianity today is if someone dropped in from another culture and just visited us, and they tried to explain what Christmas is all about, you’re almost hard-pressed in our culture today to see anything really of Jesus at all. In fact I was talking to someone this week that said that they were trying to go around and buy a manger scene and all they could find was, they could find a manger scene but only if they wanted to represent Star Wars as the characters of Christmas.
We’ve got to the place within our culture that it’s only kosher to talk about Christmas as what it represents, if you’re doing it according to Star Wars figures, but a lot of the symbolism we use for Christmas has its roots in some form of a Christian teaching. In fact as a church in order to encourage you in that, we write a booklet we put out every year that takes some of the symbolism of Christianity and just says this is what it represents. Here’s how you share it with your family to help them see.
That booklet is on the information table. We don’t claim it’s written in any profound way, but it helps you identify some of the significant things in Christmas like Santa Clause, Christmas trees, Christmas toppers, lights. What does that all represent? Candy canes, all of it, all of it’s tied back to Christ. All of it’s tied to the gospel. It becomes important for us.
With all that said though, what does this mean? How do you make spiritual application of this, right? You see all this stuff in the past, and yes it’s bad stuff, but what does it have to do with you? How do you make application about Antiochus Epiphanes for you? When I say today it’s about worshiping and engaging God, what does that have to do with you?
When you look at Daniel 7, Daniel 8, they combine these stories, in the book of Revelation and they talk about it throughout the book of Revelation, but one of the interesting places they do, Revelation 13, and I’m just going to read portions of this passage to you, but I just want you to see this picture. If you were here last week, you’ll start to see this really start to unpack. You probably read Revelation 13 before and never saw this, and you read Daniel 7 and 8, and you’re like this is Daniel 7 and 8 through and through.
Look it says, “Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having 10 horns and seven heads. And on its horns were 10 diadems and on its heads were blasphemous names, and the beast that I saw,” look at this. “Was like a leopard and his feet were like those of a bear, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion and the dragon gave him his power and his throne and his great authority. They worshiped the dragon because he gave him his authority, to the beast and they worshiped the beast. There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant word and blasphemy,” so it’s all about him.
“And for 42 months this took place. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them over every tribe, tongue and nation.” The hosts. So you see Daniel 7, this beast that’s described and these different beasts, the lion, the tiger, the bear, oh my, what? In this passage, it’s saying take all of that, combine all of that stuff and when we turn to Revelation we’re talking about a superbeast.
It takes the imagery of Daniel 7. Now you look at this and you think, okay he had 10 horns. I see where the 10 horns come from. What about the seven heads? Well if you take the beast described in Daniel 7, and you add the number of heads, one of those beasts had four heads. So you take the four beasts and rather than one of those beasts having one head, it has four heads. It equals seven heads.
It’s taking the totality of this beast and it’s still representing that there is this arrogance, this antichrist spirit about him, and he’s speaking this blasphemies and boasting of himself and he’s treading down God’s people. This antichrist speaking from Daniel is now futuristic. It still relates to us today. Now what do you do with that?
When you leave here, build a bunker and hide. No just kidding. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. That’s not, that’s the exact opposite of what I want us to do because I want us to remember 2 Timothy 1:7. God doesn’t give you a spirit of fear. Power and love and a sound mind. Now how do you take all of the things I’ve shared this morning and get to that? Right? The destruction, how horrific and now I’m telling you, God’s people in verse 7, being treaded like that. How do you get to that place where you’re like, Go Jesus.
You guys do it. I’ll be underground, right? Antiochus Epiphanes in this story, and the antichrist of chapter 7 in Daniel, still remind us that there is a little horn, but in case you read Revelation … Some people look at Revelation and they’re like, that’s all futuristic, okay. So there’s Daniel in the past. Revelation in the future, and I’m not going to worry about that now because I don’t have to deal with that now, but John who writes the book of Revelation also in 1 John says something interesting. Let me tell you what that is in a minute. In 1 John 2 he says something interesting.
He says, “Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard, the antichrist is coming.” Can I ask you, already killed the joke, but if the antichrist comes, do you recognize what he looks like? Would you recognize what the antichrist looks like, for one million … No, just kidding. Would recognize what he looks like? John says to us within his passage, the antichrist is coming, but then he says this, “Even now many antichrists have appeared. For this we know that it is the last hour.”
What John is saying is this isn’t something in the future to deal with. This is right now. The spirit of the antichrist is alive right now. This gets even more freaky, right. Chapter 4 of the same book, he then starts to describe the spirit of the antichrist, but he says this, in chapter 4, verse 1, “Brethren believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are going out into the world.”
I want to say this so I don’t forget it later, but John uses chapter 4 to describe how to approach the spirit of the antichrist and two things he really emphasizes in that chapter is truth and love. Truth and love. I think it’s very important to define where you get your truth and what love really is to understand that. Because we walk around this world and we say I love you. Man I love that. I’ve used the illustration before where you go to Buffalo Wild Wings and you get some wings and you’re like, “Man I love these wings.” The truth is you don’t love the wings because if you loved the wings you wouldn’t have killed the chicken that made the wings.
If you love the wings, you would leave the wings alone. What you do is you love yourself, and because you love yourself, you eat the wings, right? So the things that we call love aren’t always love. When we tell that to people, I love you. Well truth is, you might love them but you need to really question, do you love them because of what they do? Because what love is, is about giving yourself to serve the benefit of someone else. Love is sacrificial. It’s not about what you get. It’s about what you give.
When John talks about defeating the spirit of the antichrist, he talks about truth and love. What do you stand for and how do you know what’s true and do you really love them? When you look at the boasting of the antichrist … Remember Daniel 7, Daniel chapter 8, you looked at the goat and the ram. The goat and the ram was all about themselves. Now I bet they’d even use the language, oh man I really love, I really love, but what I really love is myself and I used everything to serve myself.
The result of that is destruction. The reality is that the spirit, according to what 1 John is saying, the spirit of the antichrist is attractive to us because we make ourselves Lord of life. The spirit of antichrist isn’t just future and past. It’s now. Even when you look at the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The thing that caused Adam and Eve to fall, the thing that Satan is described in falling usurping the position of Lord and declaring themselves to be God.
Adam and Eve, they ate of the fruit, in disobedience to God and that disobedience is about making themselves God. God I want to declare to you what’s right and wrong. The spirit of the antichrist became a part of them. They start to use and leverage the things that God has created for their glory and that becomes destructive. The thing that makes the antichrist so powerful and destruction isn’t that this guy comes up in this red tail and just runs around the world and we’re like, hey there he goes guys. He’s very apparent. That is the antichrist. Look at him destroy. He’s so powerful.
The thing that makes the antichrist so powerful is that he’s already got this humanistic attitude about him, just like the spirit of the world that it possesses already. What happens in the life of an individual? When you live life for yourself, you use everything around you as a tool to serve you, even people. That’s why as a dad, my wife is pregnant with our third kid and one of the things that like, I don’t want to … I’ll say this. One of the things that just scared me was having a female rather than a male, and so I really, I had no clue how I would handle that, if my wife had a girl.
Like I literally think at some point somebody’s going to die. I don’t, I try to think through that spiritually as best I can but I can’t figure out how. 57 different paths in life, and all of them end with me killing some young man somewhere. But you think about, when you’ve got a daughter and you think about turning her over to a young man one day, and they’re married, and the question in your heart is, what are you going to do to her? How are you going to treat her?
A lot of that answer is dictated by what leads that young man’s heart? Is it him? Does he use her for himself? Because when life is about you, you use everything as a tool to serve you. You take advantage of other things to do that, including people. That’s what drives the negativity of all of life and the more powerful we get in life, with that attitude, the more destructive it becomes. You look at our culture today and you think what in God’s name is happening with the world around us?
Well for decades now, we’ve been teaching the philosophy of humanism. You wake up and ask the question, what makes you most happy? Life is about you. In that pattern it becomes destructive because what human beings do is leverage everything in life for their benefit. You’ll manipulate and destroy. That’s what the spirit of the antichrist is. That’s what John is saying in this passage.
In 1 John 4, try the spirits, whether they have God. If they confess Christ, meaning if Jesus is Lord and they stay on that truth, they’re declaring their life, that it’s not about them. It’s not about leveraging everything for them, but about living for God’s glory. They’ll walk in love, and here’s how you know they’ll walk in love, by the way they treat other people. Because if they truly love, they’ll use their position to get beneath other people, to serve them, to help them become all that God has called them to be.
The spirit of the antichrist is opposed to that. The way to defeat the antichrist, let me just say this. The way to defeat the antichrist isn’t, get this, to obsess about defeating the antichrist. I’m not proposing that. My proposal today is not hey there’s an antichrist. Everyone beat the snot out of the antichrist and that’s how you defeat the antichrist. The way you defeat the spirit of the antichrist isn’t about attacking him, at all. The way you defeat the spirit of the antichrist is by surrendering to Jesus.
Defeating the antichrist is Jesus’ battle. We represent the spirit of the antichrist when we use life to declare ourselves Lord. The way to defeat the antichrist is by surrendering to God. How do I know if I’m really surrendering, because I want to tell you guys, when it talks about the spirit of the antichrist, this is something that we can actively defeat everyday. You can get up, and you can kick the snot out of the spirit of the antichrist, not because you’re just pursuing kicking the snot out of the antichrist, but you can get up and defeat that everyday. How do you know that you’re really defeating the spirit of the antichrist? You’re surrendered to Christ. Well how do you know you’re really surrendered to Christ? By your fruit. By your fruit.
Selfishness. Greed. Lust. Envy. Anger. Vengeance. Sensuality. That’s all about us. That’s all about me. That’s all about my pursuits, what I want and how I can leverage everything to make me who I am because life is about me. It doesn’t just happen to say, I’m not saying are you generally an angry person? What I’m saying is, when is the last time you reacted in anger? Was it because you thought you were the most important person in the room?
When’s the last time you acted in jealousy? Was it because that you felt you deserved and it was owed to you and it all belonged to you because you’re Lord? We can reflect the spirit of that antichrist everyday. The only way to defeat it in life is to come to this place where we say, God I wasn’t created for me. I’m created for you. Look guys, God created you to experience joy. Like, God’s not opposed to money, power, sex, fame. God created those things, thank God, right?
But there’s a context by which we enjoy those things and the way that you enjoy those things is begin to ask your life this question. Who dictates how I enjoy those things? Who tells me right from wrong? What is Lord of my life? Because whatever is Lord of your life will demonstrate the path that you carry. The antithesis of Christ or the demonstration of his Lordship in your life?
I don’t share this message to preach, to make the goal primarily about destroying the antichrist and attack people that don’t agree. Really it’s still about walking with Jesus. Now here’s a test for you. Ready? I’m going to give you a test. I don’t agree with this mission statement but I want you to see this, and I want you to see the humanistic thinking behind it.
Mission statement of a group. I pulled this offline. You can go check it out if you want to later. I wouldn’t recommend perusing this website, but I’ll tell you why in a second. Here’s a mission statement of this group. To encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, to undertake noble pursuits, guided by the individual will. Now you probably see the problem with the word individual will now, because I’ve emphasized how much we make life about ourselves, but I think generally speaking, most people will look at that and say that’s pretty good, man. People want to be in this world. They want to be good. They want to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, and undertake noble pursuits.
Now this organization, in their mission statement, they start to describe what those things are, according to an individual will, as to what they dictate’s right and wrong. But here’s the crazy part. I think most people read that and agree, until … Can you recognize the antichrist? I think he’s so deceptive in this world, I think people are giving into him so easily because they can’t see the destructive nature of the humanistic way of thinking and making yourself Lord.
Now anyone would look at the statement of the Satanic temple and say, oh it’s written by the Satanic temple. Whatever it says, I’m sure it’s anti-God so I don’t want anything to do with it, but then when you actually read the motivational mission statement behind the organization, you’re like wait a minute. How is that bad? They want to do good things. Yeah, but they want to do good things according to themselves being Lord. They want to make it about them. They want to leverage whatever they can to accomplish what they find most important, that pursues their happiness according to their desire as God of their life.
In the end, you see what that brings. Antiochus Epiphanes is that picture. It’s destruction. But on the back end of all that, God created you for joy, to walk in him, to live in him and to understand this. Defeating the antichrist isn’t by your strength. It’s by his. You have the opportunity to rest in the king who will be victorious, if what? You surrender yourself. So let me end with this thought.
The most powerful thing you can do to defeat the antichrist is surrender to Jesus. Because every day you wake up, as soon as you walk out of this building, you can kill it. Why? Not because the antichrist is your focus, but because you belong to Christ and he’s your Lord.