The God Of Troubled Times – Daniel 8

In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. -Daniel 8:1

1. Why do you think God decides to speak to us in these chapters through vivid visions and apocalyptic pictures rather than straightforward information?

God holds the reins of history

Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.” -Daniel 8:13-14

1. What does it mean to say that “God is in control”?

2. How would you explain to someone the practical implications of God being in complete control of the world and history? How would you explain the times that God appears to be out of control, neglectful, or indifferent?

Don’t trust appearances

And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. -Daniel 8:23-25

1. What is God teaching us about trust through these visions?

2. Where in your life is it easy to get caught up in discouragement, doubt, and despair about what you can see in front of you?

3. What does it mean to be “sober and durable” disciples of Jesus who are not enamoured with the way things appear?

4. How does it strengthen your faith to know that God is and always has been taking much action behind the scenes of history?

Feel the dark reality of the powers of evil

And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. -Daniel 8:18

And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it. -Daniel 8:27

1. Why is it tempting to disengage and check-out- mentally, spiritually, and emotionally- from what is happening in the world? What are the reasons and/or distractions that you turn to?

2. How does Daniel show a soft heart toward the suffering and brokenness of the world? Why do we need to care? What should it look like for us to enter in and feel the weight of the brokenness of the world around us?

“Characteristics of the spirit of anti-Christ:

· Self-exaltation

· Destruction of others

· Cunning and deceitfulness

· Regards truth as secondary to success

· Opposed to and seeks to destroy the ordinances of God

· Seeks to put themselves in the place of God and regards others as those who should pay homage to them”

-Sinclair Furguson

3. Where do you see the spirit of anti-Christ at work in the world around you?

4. How does an awareness of the suffering and evil to come prepare us to stand firm in the day of trouble?

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. -John 16:1-4

5. What troubles are discouraging your heart and threatening your faith right now? How does God’s word to you in this chapter encourage and strengthen you to persist in faith through these times?

Spend some time praying for these things together and thanking God that He holds the reins of history and never stops holding on to those who belong to Him.

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