Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Sovereign God of Prophetic History

Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously.

God is detailed when it comes to prophecy and history
Daniel was a Jewish prophet who wrote and lived in Babylonia (modern day Iraq) during the days of Israel's exile in that land.  In the eighth chapter of his book, God the Holy Spirit predicted through Daniel the sequence of events that would occur between the period of the Old and New Testament.  When Daniel mentions "the third year of Belshazzar", he is writing that for a reason.  Belshazzar was the King in Babylonian, where Daniel and the people of God were exiled.  In the third year of Belshazzar's reign, another event was taking place 200 miles to the North of Babylonia at the capital of the Persian empire that centered around the person of a man by the name of Cyrus.

Daniel 8:2 tells us that Daniel was taking by vision to that capital: "looked in the vision, and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal." Cyrus the Persian was first predicted by name some 150 years before Daniel's writing in Isaiah 44:28-45:7.  Before the Persians even rose to power, the Holy Spirit was predicting through Isaiah that God was going to raise up a "shepherd", a "chosen one" named Cyrus, to deliver God's people from the clutches of what would be Babylon.  To not only predict the rise of an empire, but to actually name the leader of that empire truly a mark of God's attention to detail. 

God is Divinely in control of prophecy and history
The contents of Daniel 8:1-5 were written days or months before Cyrus the Persian conquered his own grandfather to take over the Persian Empire.  We have records of antiquity written outside the Bible that confirm the details of fulfilled prophecy.  When Cyrus was born, his grandfather, Astyages the Mede, had a dream that Cyrus would conquer him in his lifetime.  He attempted to send a hit on Cyrus by one of his army officers.  Instead, the officer took the young boy Cyrus to be raised by Shepherds.  That little boy grew up and became King of Persia.  He then in 550 b.c would journey to the North and conquer his grandfather, thus becoming the King of both the Medes and Persians. 

What would had happened if Cyrus' grandfather would had been successful in killing Cyrus?  Prophecy would had been left unfulfilled, undermining God's Sovereignty. Yet when one reads historical records like Josephus' Antiquities, we discover that Cyrus was indeed preserved.  As God revealed in the scriptures, Cyrus did not know Him.  Yet God chose to raise up this pagan King to carry out His desires. 

God Determines the flow and course of prophecy and History
As you read down through Daniel prophecy in Daniel 8:3-5, a vision is recorded of a Ram conquering territory in a "Westward, Northward and Southward direction".  That Ram of course was to be Cyrus the Persian, who would also control the Median empire.  History tells us that the Persian part of the empire was stronger than the Median part, thus the reason for the horns of the Ram being of different lengths.

We also know from reading the history of the rise of Medo-Persian Empire that Cyrus first conquered intrests to the North before moving to the South to secure the breadth of His empire.  Daniel takes the reader some 200 years into the future from where he was writing.  Again we see evidence of God even controling the directions of the where empires were going to spread and where certain peoples would live. 

Applying God's Soveriegnty to your own life
As we close out this blog, we aim to see how all of this big picture detail corresponds to your life.  If God is Detailed, Divinely in control and Determines the course of all things in general, will He not do the same thing in your life?  Romans 8:28 reminds us: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

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