TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- DANIEL 11:2-35
Prophetic history is given from the Persian to the Greek Empire up to the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. The accuracy of these prophecies will give courage to the Jewish people during the Inter-testamental period. Daniel is telling history ahead of time.
In verses 1-9 we have a description of the world of Alexander the Great. No one in Daniel’s day could have imagined that the disunited city-states on the Greek Peninsula would produce a threat to the Persian Empire. But Daniel had prophetic knowledge. The Lord gave him a vision of Persia being conquered by Greece with the image of the goat from the West attacking the ram.
Daniel 11:1-2 1 “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him. 2 “And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece.
The first three kings to which the prophecy refers are Cambyses (529-522 B.C; the son of Cyrus, perhaps the Ahasuerus of Ezra 4:6), Pseudo-Smerdi (522-521, the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7-23), and Darius Hystaspes (521-486, the Darius of Ezra 4:24). The fourth king who rouses the Persian Empire to attack the Greeks is Xerxes (496-465 B.C., the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther). He tried to invade Greece in 480 B.C. and was defeated at Thermopylae and Salamis. The power of the Persian Empire would not be the same, even though it lasted for another century and a half. Xerxes was murdered by his Vizier, Artabanus, in 465 B.C. who intended to be his successor. Artabanus, however, was subsequently murdered by Xerxes’ son, Artaxerxes.
Alexander the Great is the mighty king of Daniel 11:3.
Daniel 11:3 3 “And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases.
In 332 B.C. Alexander defeated the Persians. In 323 B.C., when he was 32 years and eight months old, he died. Scholars believe that he died of typhoid fever. Some believe he was poisoned. He reigned for only 12 years and 8 months. His half-brother, Philip Aridaeus, succeeded him, but he was murdered along with his wife at the instigation of Alexander’s mother, Olympias, six years later. A series of murders of family members follow, and within 15 years of Alexander’s death, not one member of Alexander’s family remained alive.
The prophecy in Daniel 11 is accurately fulfilled. The kingdom of Greece is broken up and parceled to the four points of the compass, “though not to his own descendants”. Ptolemy took Egypt and became “king of the south”. Seleucus took Syria and became “king of the north”. Lysimachus took Asia Minor, and Antipater took Macedon and Greece. The battles between Syria and Egypt kept Israel in turmoil, as it was caught in the middle.
The history of this rivalry continues from Daniel 11:5- 20.
Prophecies about the evil Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Syria are found in Daniel 11:21-35. Epiphanes means ‘manifestation of God’, but Gabriel calls him, ‘a despicable person’ (9:21). Antiochus will seize the kingship by intrigue. He “will practice deception” to make strategic alliances and gain power.
The evil actions of Antiochus Epiphanes foreshadow the activities of the Antichrist in the last days. These prophecies are fulfilled in part by Antiochus, but Jesus made it clear that they were also to be fulfilled in the future. Long after the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Jesus refers to ‘the abomination of desolation’ as an event that has yet to occur.
Matthew 24:15-16 15 “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.”
This abomination (in which the regular sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple are disrupted and the altar desecrated) accurately describes the activities of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but they also point to the future Antichrist spoken of in the New Testament. He will demand people’s worship in the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation period:
Daniel 11:31-32 31 “Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation. 32 “By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.
The phrase ‘The people who know their God will display strength and take action’, is an encouraging one for all of God’s children to hear, especially at a time when evil is abounding. There is a place for ‘Spirit-wrought activism’ as we engage with our culture today.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 1 JOHN 3:7-24
The Apostle John is countering the confusion caused by false teachers. Throughout his epistle he is clarifying what it means to be right with God through faith in Christ. He is distinguishing authentic Christianity from pseudo-spirituality.
The Gnostic teachers taught that you could live lawlessly, with self at the center of your life, and still be a Christ follower. John makes it clear that to be a Christian is not merely adopting a different point of view. Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a shared life in Christ. A Christian is one who has been born of God. A person who is born of God has a different relationship to sin than someone who has not been born of God. A person who is not saved (made right with God through faith in Christ) cannot ‘not sin’ because they are ‘still in their sins’ (John 8:21, 1 Cor 15:17). They do not have the life, the faith, and the love that is born of God.
John is saying the same thing that Paul says in Ephesians 2. We are all born D.O.A., ‘dead on arrival’. We are born dead in our trespasses and sins, and we walk according to the course of this world which is under the influence of the devil and under the wrath of God.
A person who has been born of the Holy Spirit, however, has a new life and a new direction – to practice righteousness, to love our brothers and sisters, and to love all people.
Because true Christians are born of God, they are at odds with the world that is under the dominion of Satan. Therefore, we should not be surprised if the world hates us (1 John 3:13). The antipathy between unbelievers and believers is illustrated by the relationship of Cain who rose up to kill his brother Abel. Cain could only go in the way of sin because he was still in his sin through an evil heart of unbelief. Abel could walk with the witness of the Spirit that he was declared righteous through his faith in God’s promise. The world loves those who own its lies. The world wars against the light of God’s truth.
John is teaching what Jesus taught him many years earlier:
John 15:18-19 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
Having just read Daniel 11, and having read previously Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we can appreciate the command to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. God’s covenant promises to Jerusalem are to be fulfilled. Pray that the city of Peace (Jerusalem) will receive the Prince of Peace.
The Psalmist recognizes that it is a privilege to stand in the place where so many of God’s promises have been and will be fulfilled. But what a far greater privilege it is to stand in the Person in Whom all the promises of God are fulfilled and are ‘Yea’ and ‘Amen!’
For the sake of God’s purposes, we will seek Jerusalem’s good (Psalm 122:9)
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 29:1
Proverbs 29:1 1 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
Stay voluntarily humble and receive correction willingly or it will one day be forced upon you.
United Arab Emirates
Prayer Points (from Operation World Prayer Guide and Prayercast.com)
- Pray for the nullification of laws banning people from sharing their faith.
- Pray for discernment among Christians seeking to discreetly share the Gospel.
- Pray for more discipleship training for Christian expatriates working in the Emirates.
In the span of only one generation, the United Arab Emirates, once dependent on fishing, has grown and stabilized an oil-based economy consistent with those of leading West European nations. The Middle Eastern nation borders the Gulf of Oman and lies between Oman and Saudi Arabia. The flat, barren land lacks natural freshwater resources as reddish desert wasteland merges with coastal plain. The nation is made up of seven Emirates, one of which, Dubai, is known as a global business center and serves as a popular tourist destination because of its unique architecture.
Each of the Emirates maintains a degree of independence with an individual ruler to oversee the local government. The government is authoritarian, and no elected bodies existed until 2006. Today, the federal assembly serves for consultation, and only half the members earned their position by election. No political parties are allowed. Foreign publications are censored, and most journalists within the Emirates practice self-censorship, as they must follow official reporting guidelines. Only 20% of the population are citizens, while the majority are immigrants – often illegal – coming to find work in the oil industry.
Islam is the state religion, with a Sunni majority and a Shi’a minority. Of the 43 people groups in the United Arab Emirates, 25 remain unreached by the Gospel, and many of them are indigenous and illiterate. The number of people coming to Christ from other ethnic backgrounds, such as South and East Asians, is rising. However, sharing the Gospel with Emiratis is illegal, and those who do can be arrested, imprisoned, and deported. Medical ministries have been serving in this nation for decades and have consistently provided healing for both physical and spiritual needs. An estimated 8% of the population are followers of Jesus.
In 2020, President Trump’s team helped to negotiate peace and open up trade, travel and to normalize relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Area: 77,700 sq km
77,700 sq km of desert and mountains on the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah.
Population: 4,707,307 Annual Growth: 2.86%
Capital: Abu Dhabi
Official language: Arabic Languages: 36 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
Answer to Prayer
Increased numbers of people coming to Christ from other backgrounds. This is shifting from a trickle to a flow as more and more Arabs, South Asians, East Asians and others meet Jesus in a personal way. Some ministers are overwhelmed by responses to the gospel – praise God for such a challenge!
Challenge for Prayer
Expatriate Christians have opportunities for discreet sharing as the nation becomes more open and international. However, arrests, imprisonment and deportation still occur for those who evangelize or distribute Christian literature unwisely. Pray that believers would demonstrate Christ in their words and deeds with discernment and confidence. Pray for the English, Arabic, Urdu, Filipino and Indian language worship groups and congregations in their worship and witness.
PRAYER: Father, You declare the end from the beginning and know all things. All your ways are perfect and just. You are the architect of the ages and the King of all nations. You hold each of our lives in Your hand. We recognize that we were once dead in our sins and captives in the kingdom of darkness. In Your great love You commanded that the light of the knowledge of Your glory would shine into our hearts. Thank You for the revelation of Your grace in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can say, as those who have been made alive in Him, ‘Behold what strange manner of exotic love is this that we should be Your children. Help us to walk worthy of this high and holy calling. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.