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2 Kings 14; 2 Timothy 4; Hosea 7; Psalms 120-122

Oct 31, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 14; 2 Timothy 4; Hosea 7; Psalms 120-122

AMONG THE SONGS OF ASCENT (see vol. 1, meditation for June 29) is the delightful Psalm 122. Here the psalmist joyfully accompanies those heading to Jerusalem for one of the high feasts: “Let us go to the house of the LORD” (Ps. 122:1). Already in verse 2 the pilgrims have arrived: “Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.”

Two themes dominate the remaining verses of the psalm.

First, verses 3-5 emphasize the unity of God’s people, brought about by their common worship in Jerusalem of the true God and by their common submission to the rule and justice of the house of David. There was of course diversity—not only the diversity common to all collections of human beings, but the diversity implicit in the twelve “tribes” (Ps. 122:4), each with its own marked character. The unity was more profound than blood ties. It was based on a common covenant with the one God. These were “the tribes of the LORD” (Ps. 122:4). Small wonder, then, that when the northern ten tribes revolted, the leader, Jeroboam, greatly feared that Jerusalem and its temple would become the rallying point for renewed unification (1 Kings 12:26ff.).

Yet unity was merely the byproduct of the festive ascents to Jerusalem. The purpose of the ascents was “to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel” (Ps. 122:4). When God becomes the means to the end, unity is never achieved; when God himself is the end, the glorious byproducts of unity and peace are never far behind. The sheer God-centeredness of biblical religion is one of the things that regularly distinguishes it from paganism, which commonly sees religion as a means to certain ends (cf. Hosea 2:5).

Second, in another distinction between means and ends, David exhorts people to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, not for the sake of an abstract ideal or for the sake of the city per se, but for the sake of people (Ps. 122:8) and above all for the sake of “the house of the LORD our God” (Ps. 122:9). To pursue political peace and forget people is a sham. Indeed, the exhortation to pray for the “peace” of “Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6) includes a pun: we are to pray for the shalom of Jerusalem; the Hebrew consonants are the same, and remind us that Jerusalem rightly conceived holds out the fullness of “well-being” to people. To pursue merely physical benefits for people and forget the presence and purposes of the Lord God is at best short-term thinking and at worst a route to disaster and to hell itself. “For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,” David writes, “I will seek your prosperity” (Ps. 122:9).
Reflect on how to transpose these two points to the Christian antitype (Heb. 12:22-24), not least in detailed application (Heb. 12:28-13:13).

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2 Kings 13; 2 Timothy 3; Hosea 5-6; Psalm 119:145-176

Oct 30, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 13; 2 Timothy 3; Hosea 5-6; Psalm 119:145-176

SOMEONE HAS SAID THAT THE entire book of Hosea can be understood as a study of what it means to turn back to God. Here there are no glib nostrums; merely verbal apologies are not acceptable. And yet hope is held out for people who display the kind of return that the Lord does accept. Nowhere is that tension clearer than in Hosea 5-6.

Hosea 5 opens with an indictment of Israel, especially the leaders. Nothing about them is unknown to God (Hos. 5:3; cf. 7:2; Heb. 4:13). Their problem is not merely an intellectual one, but is profoundly moral: “Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the LORD” (Hos. 5:4; cf. John 3:19). Worse, when they do formally “seek” the Lord, their pursuit is so false that he withdraws from them, for God is not the prisoner of his own sacrificial system (Hos. 5:5-6). In bringing judgment upon them, God’s purpose is not only retribution but inducement to repentance: “Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me” (Hos. 5:15).

The opening verses of chapter 6 (vv. 1-3) can be understood in two ways. (1) They may be a moving plea from Hosea to his own people to repent and turn to the Lord. He wants them to move away from religion as sacrificial observance to religion as genuine acknowledgment of the Lord. The same God who has chastened the people will then gladly bind up their wounds. “As surely as the sun rises, he will appear” (Hos. 6:3). (2) They may be the words of the people themselves—and in that case the context in which they are embedded suggests that, although they sound very good, in reality they mean little (cf. Ps. 78:34, 36-37). Such repentance is mere presumption, and God sees through it and dismisses it, for their “love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears” (Hos. 6:4)—like Gomer’s love. Either of these two ways of taking 6:1-3 makes sense; in both instances the fickleness in God’s covenant people is deeply repugnant. If I have to choose between the two, I tilt toward the first. Hosea 6:1-3 sounds rather more like genuine repentance that is urged but not followed, than like the empty words of insincere hypocrites.

Whatever the interpretation, clearly God is not impressed with mere words and religious observance: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hos. 6:6; cf. Matt. 9:13; 12:7). A generation that lustily sings God’s praises while lustily sleeping around had better expect the blistering judgment of God.

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2 Kings 12; 2 Timothy 2; Hosea 3-4; Psalm 119:121-144

Oct 29, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 12; 2 Timothy 2; Hosea 3-4; Psalm 119:121-144

HOSEA 1 IS TO HOSEA 2 WHAT Hosea 3 is to Hosea 4. The first member of each pair of chapters is written in prose and focuses on Hosea and Gomer; the second is written in poetry and focuses on the parallel relationship between Yahweh and Israel.

In the pair of chapters before us (Hosea 3-4), Hosea begins with a restrained, first-person account of what happened next in his marriage. This chapter brings the account of his marriage to an end. Hosea is charged with loving his wife, who has apparently returned to her harlotry and now “belongs” to some other man (presumably a pimp). Hosea discloses none of his feelings as he buys Gomer back; actions are more important anyway (something our generation has all but forgotten). Yet at the same time he charges Gomer, now returned to him, to be faithful to him.

This exactly mirrors God’s situation. In theory he could righteously dismiss his “bride” and forget about her. Instead, he is committed to getting her back, to paying whatever is necessary to do so—but he also expects his bride, newly returned, to be faithful to him. God still loves his elect. He will pursue them, even after the most horrible rebellion and chastening, and he will buy them back. Indeed, the last verses of chapter 3 envisage an exile which on the long haul will do good: it will establish a time when the remnant will truly “seek the LORD their God and David their king” (Hos. 3:5).

In Hosea 4 God addresses apostate Israel. “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land” (Hos. 4:1). The long list of sins is profoundly depressing. The people “are destroyed from lack of knowledge” of God’s Word (Hos. 4:6). Otherwise put, “A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God” (Hos. 4:12). The corruption is now endemic. Sarcasm boils to the surface: why should God punish daughters and daughters-in-law for prostitution, when the men love to consort with harlots (Hos. 4:14)?

God is deepening his people’s sense of shame and guilt. The scorn is palpable: “Do not go to Gilgal; do not go up to Beth Aven” (Hos. 4:15). Gilgal and Bethel were two of the most important shrines for the covenant people of God. The second, Bethel, means “house of God,” but the prophet recasts it as “Beth Aven,” i.e., “house of wickedness,” for that is all that goes on there. “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!” (Hos. 4:17). Go to church with this lot, and all you are doing is participating in disgusting idolatry and self-seeking, with no attention devoted to learning God’s Word. Better to stay home; this sort of “church” will merely corrupt you.

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2 Kings 10-11; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

Oct 28, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 10-11; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

IN HOSEA 1, APOSTATE ISRAEL IS likened to a brood of children characterized by violence and mayhem (Jezreel, Hos. 1:4) or born out of wedlock (Hos. 1:6-9). Although the “children” briefly reappear at the beginning and end of Hosea 2, here the focus is on apostate Israel as a fickle wife.

The verb translated “rebuke” in the NIV (Hos. 2:2) is better rendered “plead,” as in a legal setting: “Plead my cause” (NEB), God begs of the children. The next two lines are better taken as a question: “Is she not my wife and I her husband?” (NEB). The entire book insists that God will not finally go back on his marriage vows, but that he will pursue her. If the words are taken as a statement (NIV), then they must mean that the heart of the marriage has gone out of it, not that God himself is finally ending it.

The next verses (Hos. 2:3-4) demand radical repentance, not a merely formulaic “I’m sorry.” The alternative is that God will force Israel to face the consequences of her sin (Hos. 2:5-13). The picture is perhaps worse than we think: the false gods after whom Israel lusted were often fertility gods, and she was constantly tempted to think that they provided her wealth (Hos. 2:5), the way sex provides a prostitute’s resources. A culture with fertility religions glamorizes sex—as does our culture, if for different reasons. God sometimes seemed so remote or confined that Israel did not recognize that he alone provides all good things (Hos. 2:8), just as Hosea provided for all of Gomer’s needs. Sooner or later, at all costs, the sheer horror of the apostasy must be exposed, the apparent glamour stripped of its false aura, the deceit and perfidy recognized, and the consequences experienced (Hos. 2:10-13). There is both heartbreak and anger in God’s words: Israel “decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot” (Hos. 2:13).

But if God threatens judgment, he will also woo the Israel he loves and allure her with his charms. He calls to mind the “courting” days in the desert: he will court her all over again, this whore who has betrayed him (Hos. 2:14). The marriage will be preserved and strengthened (2:16), and God will guarantee that all the blessings of material prosperity will be provided (Hos. 2:17-22). Violence will be swallowed up by prosperity; the valley of Jezreel will no longer be associated with Jehu, but with planting (the allusion depends on Hebrew etymology). The new covenant bride (Hos. 2:18), dressed in wedding clothes, promises righteousness, justice, love, compassion, and faithfulness (2:19-20). And alienated, illegitimate children will belong to God (Hos. 2:23)—which Paul sees as a foretaste of the grandest proportions (Rom. 9:25-26).

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2 Kings 9; 1 Timothy 6; Hosea 1; Psalm 119:73-96

Oct 27, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 9; 1 Timothy 6; Hosea 1; Psalm 119:73-96

THE FIRST VERSE OF HOSEA 1 establishes that this prophecy came during the eighth century, which also witnessed the prophets Jonah and Amos (mainly, like Hosea, in the northern kingdom of Israel), and Micah and Isaiah (in Judah in the south). Early in the century both kingdoms, materially speaking, were doing pretty well, but both sank into decadence and moral and religious indifference. While Hosea appears in the canon immediately after Daniel, it thus deals with a period centuries earlier. Nevertheless the canonical association is helpful. If Daniel’s prophecy constantly discloses a God who is in sovereign control, Hosea discloses a God who is passionately moved by his fickle people. We need to nurture both portraits of God—God the transcendent sovereign, God the passionate person—if we are to be faithful to what the Bible says about him.

When the Lord first speaks to Hosea, his language is blistering. The NIV is too tame; the Jerusalem Bible is closer to the Hebrew: “Go, marry a whore, and get children with a whore, for the country itself has become nothing but a whore by abandoning Yahweh” (1:2, JB). So Hosea marries Gomer. On the face of it, she was a prostitute when he married her, and soon returned to her wanton ways. Alternatively, it is possible that the Lord’s command leaps forward to what she becomes, and Gomer was not a prostitute when Hosea married her.

Regardless of her background, the next chapters make clear what she became. Her children capture the attention in this chapter. Jezreel is a name that can be associated with a particular meaning (cf. 2:23), but above all it was the name of a town where the house of Jehu formerly massacred so many people. It would be like naming a child Chernobyl or Hiroshima or Soweto: everyone knows the connections. The Jehu massacre occurred about a century earlier, but the nation was still responsible, for it never repudiated the violence. At least Gomer bore this son to Hosea (she “bore him a son,” 1:3, italics added). That is not said of the next two: likely Hosea was not the father. The first is called “Not Loved” or “Not Pitied”; the second is called “Not My People.” The lessons are explicit: God will no longer love or pity Israel, and he will declare, “[Y]ou are not my people, and I am not your God” (1:9). God will break Israel’s bow (i.e., break her armed might) in the Valley of Jezreel (1:5). Historically, that took place in 733, just over a decade before Israel was finally destroyed; Assyria marched in and removed the defenses (2 Kings 15:29).

Astonishingly, despite these three shattering oracles, the chapter ends with stunning hope (1:10-11). That tells where this book is going—both this book of Hosea and this Bible.

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2 Kings 8; 1 Timothy 5; Daniel 12; Psalm 119:49-72

Oct 26, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 8; 1 Timothy 5; Daniel 12; Psalm 119:49-72

REGARDING THE LAST CHAPTER OF Daniel (Dan. 12):

(1) The chapter division (which was not part of the original text) obscures the flow of the passage. Daniel 11:40-45 should be read with Daniel 12:1-4. As is pretty common in Hebrew prophecy, a vision of future history (Dan. 11:2-39) suddenly slips over into a longer perspective. The expression “At the time of the end” (Dan. 11:40) is ambiguous: it could refer to the end of the oppression of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but several elements in the paragraph stretch way beyond his brief years—and Daniel 12:1-4 announces resurrection at the end of history, before which a period of terrible distress must take place. This confirms the canonical importance of the preceding chapter (see yesterday’s meditation): in Daniel, the people of God learn to suffer for no other reason than their allegiance to the Word of God. In the closing verses of the chapter (Dan. 12:5-13), there again seems to be anticipation of another like Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The reference to “time, times, and half a time” (Dan. 12:7) probably means “a year, [two] years, a half a year”—i.e., three-and-a-half years, just as in Daniel 8:14 with respect to the cruel rage of Antiochus. It has thus become a conventional way of speaking of a shortened period of extreme suffering through which the people of God must go before God relieves them—and this is in anticipation of the final suffering at the end (Dan. 12:1).

(2) The closing up and sealing of the scroll until the time of the end (Dan. 12:4, 9) does not signal esoteric knowledge. Partly it has to do with preserving the scroll intact. It also suggests that the full sweep of its anticipatory and prophetic truth will not be grasped until the events to which it refers arrive on the scene. Even when the events break out, some will not see—just as some did not “see” what Jesus was saying in his parables (Matt. 13:14-15), and some do not “see” what the Gospel is all about (1 Cor. 2:14).

(3) In verse 7 the man swears “by him who lives forever.” There are two elements in what this “man clothed in linen” says. First, the tone (attested by the oath) combined with the assertion that “all these things will be completed” shows that in the last analysis there are no contingencies with God: he knows the end from the beginning, and can guarantee outcomes. Second, the final relief will come when “the power of the holy people has been finally broken” (Dan. 12:7). It was not broken under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This must be referring to something at the end, making the reign of Antiochus a ghastly advance shadow of what was to come.

(4) Meditate on Daniel 12:1-3.

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2 Kings 7; 1 Timothy 4; Daniel 11; Psalm 119:25-48

Oct 25, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 7; 1 Timothy 4; Daniel 11; Psalm 119:25-48

THE ACTUAL CONTENT OF THE VISION disclosed by the heavenly messenger to Daniel occupies Daniel 11 and the first part of Daniel 12. Although the meaning of many of the details is not easy to sort out, the main lines of thought are reasonably clear.

The Persian Empire is in view in 11:2. The standpoint of the vision, according to 10:1, is the reign of Cyrus. Who are the other four kings? The Persian Empire lasted two more centuries and produced nine kings (not counting usurpers between Cambyses and Darius I). Are the four the most prominent? The ones mentioned in Scripture (Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes [=Ahasuerus], Artaxerxes)? We do not know.

The Greek conqueror (11:3-4) is Alexander the Great, and the four kingdoms into which his empire was broken up have already been mentioned (Daniel 8; see meditation for October 23). The running struggles between the king of the south (the Ptolemies) and the king of the north (the Seleucids) found Jews squeezed between the two. Eventually the north prevailed (11:5-20). The one who sent out the tax collector (11:20) is almost universally recognized to be Seleucus IV, who died in 175 B.C. The “contemptible person” (11:21-39 [or possibly 21-45]) is undoubtedly Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Seleucid monarch we have met before (October 23).

Readers of this book who love history should read Josephus, I Maccabees and II Maccabees, and contemporary reconstructions of the dramatic events of that period. There is no space here to survey that turbulent history. Yet we must ask why Scripture devotes so much space to it. From certain perspectives, Antiochus IV Epiphanes was not very significant. So why all this attention?

There are at least two reasons. First, at one level Antiochus attempted something new and profoundly evil. The oppression the Jews had suffered up to this point was diverse, but it was not like this. The ancient Egyptians had enslaved them, but did not try to impose their own religion on them. During the period of the judges, the Israelites were constantly running after pagan deities; when the pagans prevailed they imposed taxes and cruel subjugation, but not ideology. With the exception of one brief experiment by Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 3), Assyria and Babylon did not forcibly impose polytheism. But here is Antiochus IV Epiphanes outlawing Israelite faith, killing those found with any part of Torah in their possession, militarily imposing and coercing a pagan worldview. The people suffer, and God eventually saves them. Second, canonically this brutal period of history becomes a model, a type, of ideological oppression, suffering, and martyrdom against the church. What New Testament passages reflect this?

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2 Kings 6; 1 Timothy 3; Daniel 10; Psalms 119:1-24

Oct 24, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 6; 1 Timothy 3; Daniel 10; Psalms 119:1-24

THE LAST THREE CHAPTERS OF Daniel are largely given over to the final vision, a vision of a heavenly messenger and his revelation (Dan. 10:1-12:13). This chapter (Dan. 10) establishes the setting. The date is 537 B.C. The first group of exiles have returned to Jerusalem. The reminder that Daniel’s assigned name is Belteshazzar, and the mention of Cyrus, tie this chapter to 1:7, 21. The setting includes several remarkable features:

(1) The heavenly messenger is more radiant than Gabriel and mightier than Michael (the only named angels in all of Scripture), and has power to strengthen Daniel.

(2) Far from being exhilarated by the experience, Daniel is so drained of energy and even speech and consciousness that three times he must be revived by the visitor from God. Cf. Deuteronomy 5:26; Acts 9:8; 22:11. All this, Joyce Baldwin writes, “is a salutary reminder of the majesty of our God and of the amazing condescension of the incarnation.”

(3) Daniel is a man highly esteemed by God (Dan. 10:11, 19). The thought is stunning. What serious Christian would not give everything for a similar encomium? Does not Jesus teach, in effect, that we ought to pursue the “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21)?

(4) The three-week delay (Dan. 10:12-14) unveils conflict in the heavenlies. The prince of the Persian kingdom is apparently some angelic being connected with Persia; similarly for the prince of Greece (Dan. 10:20). Michael, “one of the chief princes” (Dan. 10:13), is “your [Israel's] prince” (Dan. 10:21). The hierarchy of angelic beings is not governed by the relationships of their earthly counterparts. As there is war between good and evil on earth, so is there war in heaven. In the same way that observing earthly people and powers might lead the unwary to conclude that God is not really in control, so also this delay in the movements of angels has caused the unwary to conclude that God is not really in control in heaven either—since clearly there are many contingencies of which we are not normally aware. But that is to draw a conclusion that Scripture rules out of order. Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson well: God “does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and with the peoples of the earth” (Dan. 4:35, italics added). There is a terrible war going on, but this takes place under God’s sovereignty; in its affirmation of God’s utter dominion the text insists, “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing…. No one can hold back his hand” (Dan. 4:35). So there is space for conflict, resolve, perseverance—and for faith and utter confidence.

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2 Kings 5; 1 Timothy 2; Daniel 9; Psalms 117-118

Oct 23, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 5; 1 Timothy 2; Daniel 9; Psalms 117-118

DANIEL’S GREAT INTERCESSORY PRAYER (Dan. 9:1-19) cries out for prolonged meditation. The date is 539 B.C. Daniel “understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet” (Dan. 9:2; cf. Jer. 25:11; 29:10), that the seventy years were up—which on the face of it shows that Jeremiah’s writing quickly circulated as Scripture. Some reflections:

(1) The “seventy years” have occasioned some dispute. There were different ways of calculating the period of exile (see, for example, the figures in Ezek. 4). Some argue that seventy years is merely an idealized fixed term for God’s wrath (cf. Zech. 1:12; 2 Chron. 36:21). If (as is more likely) this refers to seventy literal years, the best judgment is that the beginning of the seventy is 609, when the Babylonians beat the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish, with the result that Judah for the first time became a vassal state in service to Babylon.

(2) When Daniel becomes aware from Scripture just when the close of the exile would take place, far from resting and waiting for the promises to come true, he prays for such fulfillment. The peculiar dynamic between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in the Bible never retreats to fatalism. The promises of God are incentives to intercession.

(3) Daniel’s confession is general, not personal: “we have sinned and done wrong…. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away …”—and so forth. Here Daniel reminds us of Isaiah, who joins together personal and general confession (Isa. 6:6). It is doubtful that we can fruitfully pray for our church and our culture without confessing our own sin.

(4) The heart of the confession is that Daniel and his people have turned away from God’s commands and laws (Dan. 9:5), have not listened to God’s servants the prophets (Dan. 9:6), have not obeyed the laws God gave through his servants the prophets (Dan. 9:10), have transgressed the Law (Dan. 9:11), and have not sought the favor of the Lord their God by turning from their sins and giving attention to his truth (Dan. 9:13). Note carefully: the heart of the matter, as Daniel sees it, is neglect of what God said or disobedience to what he said. That is always the heart of the issue. Conversely, genuine sanctification comes through adherence to God’s words (Ps. 1:2; John 17:17). That is why the rising biblical illiteracy within confessional churches, let alone the culture at large, is the most distressing and threatening symptom among us.

(5) Daniel recognizes that the judgments that have befallen God’s people are both just and perfectly in line with Scripture (Dan. 9:7, 11b-14). What bearing does this have on us today?

(6) What are the grounds of Daniel’s appeal for relief?

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2 Kings 4; 1 Timothy 1; Daniel 8; Psalm 116

Oct 22, 2014 | Don Carson

2 Kings 4; 1 Timothy 1; Daniel 8; Psalm 116

TWO YEARS AFTER THE VISION OF CHAPTER 7, Daniel had his vision of the ram and the goat (Dan. 8). The text from Daniel 2:4 to the end of 7 was written in Aramaic (a cognate of Hebrew, widely used in the late Babylonian and Persian Empires). Both chapter 2 and chapter 7 provide visions that sweep through from the Babylonian period to the dawning of the kingdom of God; both of these chapters also provide some identification of the referents of the figures in their respective visions. None of the remaining chapters in the book of Daniel includes the same sweep, including the chapter before us. Here the focus is on just two beasts/kingdoms, which turn out to be the middle two of the four specified in chapters 2 and 7. Some observations:

(1) The ram has two horns, one more prominent than the other. The ram represents the Medo-Persian Empire (Dan. 8:20); the more prominent horn, of course, is Persia. This has a bearing, you may recall, on how chapter 2 is interpreted (see meditation for October 17). The shaggy goat is Greece. Philip of Macedon united the Greek city-states, and his son Alexander the Great (referred to as “the first king” of Greece, Dan. 8:21) established the Greek Empire, expanding its limits to the borders of India. Along the way he prevailed against Persia. Upon his premature death, the empire was divided up under his four most powerful generals (Dan. 8:8, 22). Only two of them affect biblical history, the two that established the dynasties between which little Israel, “the Beautiful Land” (Dan. 8:9), was squeezed: the Ptolemies in Egypt to the south and the Seleucids based in Syria to the north. In the second century B.C., the Seleucids prevailed, and one particular Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, became extraordinarily brutal and oppressive. He made the observance of Jewish religion a capital offense, defiled the rebuilt temple, and for three-and-a-half years (roughly 1,150 days, embracing 2,300 morning and evening sacrifices, Dan. 8:14), 167-164 B.C., wreaked havoc in the land until the guerrilla warfare led by the Maccabees forced him out of Israel and back to Syria.

(2) The vision presents itself as dealing with the “distant future” (Dan. 8:26), i.e., almost four centuries after Daniel’s time. It deals with “the time of the end” (Dan. 8:17). That expression means different things in different contexts. The “end” can refer to the end of the Lord’s forbearance at a particular time in history (e.g., Ezek. 7:2-3); here, the “end” is probably with respect to the question asked in verse 13.

(3) The last verse of chapter 8 testifies that deep dealings with God, and the reception of genuine revelation, may exact a physical toll.

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