Read Daniel 7
Focus on verse 28
While I remember little regarding the content, I do remember having scary dreams when I was a child. When they were particularly frightening my parents would sometimes let me fall back to sleep on the foot of their bed. I would always wake up in my own bed the next morning, so I presume I was carried back to my room after I fell back to sleep. Having scary dreams must be hereditary, as I also recall numerous times when one or the other of our sons would come whimpering into our bedroom in middle of the night looking for consolation and reassurance that they were safe from whatever it was they had dreamt about.
Apparently scary dreams don’t magically stop coming around when one becomes an adult either. Though it has diminished greatly in frequency, I can recall the occasional night when I have awakened in a state of panic – greatly relieved that what I had just experienced was only a dream.
In today’s reading Daniel relates in rather vivid detail a dream he had while he slept. (v. 1) In this case it was perhaps more of a vision of future events since he obviously recalled it in greater detail than anything I have ever dreamt. He is also given a fairly detailed summary of its meaning as part of the dream as well. While he was careful to write it down, it apparently was not something he felt free to share with just anyone according to his note at the end of the chapter.
Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.” (v. 28)
Whatever it was that was floating around in his head, these must have been some frightening thoughts. This is, after all, the same man who a few years later would survive a night alone in a den of lions making me think he probably didn’t scare easily.
Perhaps what made these dreams frightening to him was the burden of knowing what was to come. Perhaps these dreams should be equally sobering to those of us who read them now? It would seem that the fourth king that is mentioned in the dream is one that is yet to come. It is quite possible that this is the one, which later in the John’s Revelation is called the antichrist who will deceive the nations of the world into uniting against the Most High God and any who remain loyal to Him. This is the one into whose hand the fate of the saints shall be given for a time…during which there will be much persecution when many will be martyred. For Christians living (or perhaps more accurately, dying) in the Middle East right now, I suspect they may believe this has season has already begun.
The good news is that this fourth king will only be given dominion for a set period of time after which the everlasting kingdom of Christ will apparently begin. I will admit there are a lot of details still missing. Where exactly we might be in this timeline is something that only God knows. What I know with certainty is that today we are one day closer to the end than we were yesterday, and tomorrow – Lord willing – we will be yet another day closer than we are today.
Surprisingly, I do not find this reality disturbing, because I am confident that my future is secure in Christ. I do hope and plan to live out the remainder of my days in relative peace and prosperity, but either way, at the end of the day, I know that when my time here on earth is done, I will pass through a veil that we call death into the eternal presence of the One who paid the debt of sin that I owed on my behalf so that I could be free to live with Him forever. It might sound weird to some – but in my books, it beats the only other alternative by a long shot.