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Daniel - Lesson 15

Yahweh as Warrior

John the Baptist described Jesus coming as a warrior but the ministry of Jesus was different than what he expected. Since we live in phase 4, God gives us the power to fight spiritual battles. The God who led the people of Israel into battle in the Old Testament is the same God described in the New Testament who came as God in human form as Jesus.

Lesson 15
Watching Now
Yahweh as Warrior

I. Phase 4 (cont)

II. Phase 5

III. Connections Between the Phases

A. We live in Phase 4

B. War in the Old Testament


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  • Daniel is written in two parts. The first six chapters is history written in the form of a story. Chapters seven through twelve are apocalyptic literature. In the English Bible, it’s with the major prophets. In the Hebrew Bible it’s in the Writings. The Apocalyptic section has similarities to the book of Revelation. One of the main messages in the book of Daniel is that even if you are living in a culture that is toxic to your faith, living by faith can help you not only survive, but thrive.

  • By the time Daniel was written, the nation of the Jewish people was divided into the tribes of Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Assyria conquered Israel in 722 BC. Babylon overthrew Assyria in 612 BC then Judah in 605 BC. Daniel. Daniel and others were taken to Babylon and chosen to be trained as royal advisors.   

  • Daniel and his friends were willing to learn the language, literature and divination practices of the Babylonians even though it was potentially toxic to their faith. They temporarily chose to eat vegetables and water rather than the food and wine that the other officials in training were eating. The performed at the top of their class.

  • Nebuchadnezzar summoned the royal magicians and sorcerers and required them to tell him what his dream was and give him an interpretation of the dream. Daniel is able to do this because of the wisdom God gives him.

  • Daniel reveals the dream and the interpretation because God revealed it to him. The parts of the statue represent different worldly kingdoms. The stone that crushes the statue represents God’s rule over the kingdoms. Nebuchadnezzar recognizes Yahweh as being powerful.

  • Daniel and his friends were thrown into a fiery furnace as punishment for not worshipping an image of Nebuchadnezzar. God miraculously saved them and Nebuchadnezzar promoted them to positions in the royal court.

  • This is a story of a contest between Daniel and his friends and the Babylonian wise men. A major theme is the pride of Nebuchadnezzar and how that affects the outcome. Some of the story is narrated in by Nebuchadnezzar in the first person. Nebuchadnezzar has a dream. The Babylonian wise men don’t give him an interpretation, but Daniel does. Nebuchadnezzar experienced judgment but God restores him.

  • As we read and study the Old Testament, we can gain insights into redemptive history and see examples of how we should live. It can sometimes be a challenge to determine the continuity or discontinuity of a passage. A major theme in Daniel 4 and throughout the Bible is how pride can hinder your relationship with God. 

  • Belshazzar was a ruler in Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar died. During a banquet he hosted, he used the goblets from the temple in Jerusalem for his guests to drink out of. In the middle of a banquet, a hand appeared and wrote a message on the wall. Belshazzar called Daniel to interpret the message.

  • When Darius gave Daniel a position of authority in his government, the administrators underneath him were jealous. They devised a plan to trap Daniel and force Darius to execute him. God rescued Daniel and the administrators suffered the fate that they had planned for Daniel. The story shows that in spite of present difficulties, God is in control and it’s important to live a life that is faithful to him.

  • Daniel had a vision of four beasts that were frightening in appearance. An angel explained the significance of the beasts in terms of historical kingdoms but didn’t say specifically which ones.

  • Daniel and Jeremiah both had messages from God but the way God communicated to each of them was different. The word “apocalypse” comes from the first word in Greek in the book of Revelation which means to reveal or uncover something. Some characteristics of apocalyptic literature are visions, dreams, a binary point of view, highly figurative language and the theme of hope based in confidence in God’s control over people and events that seem chaotic and overwhelming.

  • In this lesson, you gain a deeper understanding of the book of Daniel, focusing on its themes, historical context, and preparation for spiritual battles in a challenging cultural environment.
  • You gain a deeper understanding of the Book of Daniel, its historical context, literary features, key themes, and significance within the Old Testament, while focusing on God's warfare against evil.
  • John the Baptist described Jesus coming as a warrior but the ministry of Jesus was different than what he expected. Since we live in phase 4, God gives us the power to fight spiritual battles. The God who led the people of Israel into battle in the Old Testament is the same God described in the New Testament who came as God in human form as Jesus.

  • The vision in Daniel 8 describes animals that represent kingdoms and individuals. While Daniel was seeing the vision, Gabriel came and explained its meaning. Antiochus Epiphanes fits the description of one of the horns in the vision. His persecution of the people of Israel and his desecration of the temple is similar to the way the anti-Christ is described in Revelation.

  • As Daniel is reading Scripture, he comes to the realization that what he is reading in the book of Jeremiah may actually be taking place at the time. His response is to begin by praying. He includes himself in confessing the sins of the people of Israel and appeals for God to rescue them from exile.

  • As Daniel is reading Jeremiah and praying, the angel Gabriel appears to Daniel to explain the vision to him. The numbers in the vision are symbolic but demonstrate that God has a plan and a time frame to accomplish it.

  • The final of Daniel’s four visions described in chapters 10-12. There is an introduction to the vision, description of the vision and instructions to Daniel. The answer to Daniel’s prayer was delayed because of spiritual warfare.

  • This vision covers the events surrounding the Persian and Greek rulers in the 3rd and 4th century BC. They are described in such detail that some people think it was written after they took place, not as a prophecy.

  • The righteous and the wicked have different fates in the after-life. Throughout Scripture there is progress of revelation. God is in control and he will be victorious. The prophecy that God gave Daniel describes events that will happen in the future. Celestial sources give final words to Daniel that are also addressed to readers of the book of Daniel. A theme that is emphasized throughout the book of Daniel is, in spite of present difficulties, God is in control and he will have the final victory.  This is illustrated both in the stories of Daniel and his friends and in the visions of future events that Daniel has.

  • Daniel informs the imagery and message of the book of Revelation. They are the two books of the Bible with primarily apocalyptic themes. Daniel’s encounter with God and angels is similar to what John records in Revelation. Daniel is commanded to seal his prophecy and in Revelation, the seals are opened. The references Revelation to the beasts and three and a half years is also similar to Daniel.

Living in a toxic culture can be dangerous and risky, but when you live by faith, God can give you opportunities to thrive, succeed and be a testimony to God's power and love for people. A primary message of the prophecies of Daniel is that in spite of present difficulties, God is in control and he will have the final victory. God has not provided us with a precise date on the calendar for when that will happen, but he will accomplish his plan on his timetable.

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Dr. Tremper Longman III
Daniel ot666-15
Yahweh as Warrior
Lesson Transcript

Tremper Longman III [00:00:00] So John the Baptist spoke about the one who was to come in terms that sounded very much like the Old Testament prophets like Daniel and Daniel. Chapter seven, that God will come as a warrior and he's language like that. And but when Jesus came, he acted differently. He didn't go out and wage war against the Romans or rally the troops. Call on God to destroy them. But rather He went out and preached the good news and he healed the sick. He exorcises demons, which, in the light of the New Testament language on Jesus's ministry as a type of warfare, we should understand to be a heightening and intensification of the battle. Now taking the battle to the spiritual powers and authority and fighting against them not by killing, but by dying. But it does raise the question whether John the Baptist was wrong, and the obvious answer is, no, he wasn't. He's a prophet who just spoke better than he knew. He did not realize that Jesus was coming not just once, but twice that in his first coming. He assures the ultimate victory against evil, but he'll come again to seal that victory. Oscar Coleman, famously in the 1950s, described the relationship between the first and second coming of Christ as the difference between D-Day and World War Two and D-Day Victory Day. And that actually completed the battle. But after D-Day, after the invasion of Normandy, the faith of the Nazi regime in Germany was sealed. There was no stopping the allied forces from marching on Berlin, but there was still plenty of fighting in the in the meantime. And so as we think about phase five, I'm first of all, going to describe phase five, and then I'm going to come back and talk about where we are in this story, where we are and how should we understand these other phases. To turn to a text that talks about phase five. I'd like to go to a Revelation 1911 and following Revelation 1911 and following. And there are many other places in the Book of Revelation where we could go. Revelation tells the story of the end of history, as we know at the intrusion of God at the end and over and over, actually. But Revelation 1911 following is particularly powerful and also kind of undermines people who want to disown the Old Testament and because of its violence and ultimately such thinking as it was in the case of Marcion, the alley preacher from Alexandria, I believe it was who preached that Christians should be done with the Old Testament. Ultimately, Marcion also disowned revelation and actually most of the New Testament because there is such strong continuity between the Old and New Testaments. But Revelation 1911. John says, I saw heaven standing open and therefore before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. And obviously this is talking about the glorified Jesus with justice. He judges and wages war. So we began with a series of micro allusions and quotations from the Psalms, from Deuteronomy, from Ezekiel, from Isaiah. So if this language sounds familiar, it's familiar because this is language that was supplied to Yahweh in the Old Testament now being applied to Jesus. His eyes are like blazing fire and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows, but he himself. He's dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the word of God. The armies of Heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean, coming out of his mouth. It's a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads on the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty on his robe and on his thigh. He has this name written. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And I saw an angel standing in the sun and cried out in a loud voice to all the birds flying in mid-air. Come gather to gather for the great supper of God so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals and the mighty of horses in their riders. In the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small. Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs, he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning Sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth, of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. And in the following chapter, we learned about the ultimate fate of Satan, that great dragon, as well as those who follow Satan. The final judgment is the culmination of the time of God's five phase battle against evil. And I would put it this way for phase five, Jesus wins Final Battle. Again, these are not five completely discrete different strategies of God fighting evil, but rather one coherent strategy that culminates in the final judgment. And now what I'd like to do is offer a few reflections on. The connection between some of these phases. And I'll start by saying we need to be extremely mindful that we live in the period between the first and second comings. We live in a period of spiritual warfare, not physical warfare. Now, I want to be quick to point out that I'm not talking about issues surrounding the question of can there be just war? I'm not denying I'm not a pacifist. I don't think Scripture leads me in that direction. I'm talking about warfare for the purpose for the express purpose of fighting for God, fighting for the gospel, fighting for the church, using physical weapons to further the interests of the church or gospel are absolutely forbidden in what I'm calling Phase four, you know, acts like shooting an abortion doctor, which has happened in the past, is a sin. It's not furthering the gospel and fighting in the name of God. The Crusades, for instance, were examples of misunderstanding of where we are, where they were in the in the in God's plan for fighting evil. I mean, it's they're thinking they're back in days, one or two. So I want to make that clear that I'm not I'm talking about a specific type of warfare here, that we are forbidden explicitly in those places in the New Testament where we actually get our marching orders, places like Ephesians six, ten and following. And Ben and Ephesians 610 and following begins with Paul saying finally, be strong in the Lord and in this mighty power put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil. Schemes for our struggle is not. Again you can could be more explicit is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. And after you've done everything to stand, stand firm, then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. You know, the point is that this battle isn't won by conventional physical weapons. It's won by things like salvation and faith and prayer and the spirit. Another passage that speaks similarly is second Corinthians ten, where Paul says, By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you. I poor Paul, who am timid when face to face with you, but bold toward you when away. I beg that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think we live by the standards of the world. But though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. And we take captive every thought to make it obedient in Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of a disobedience once your obedience is complete. So I'm in. Be sensitive to the use of military language throughout the New Testament when it comes to our Christian life. There's a lot more there than you might expect unless you are sensitive to it. I remember years ago having a student from Zimbabwe who wrote a master's thesis under me talking about passages that use military language for our sanctification and turned out to be a 250 page master's thesis. There was a lot that he had to work with. So we live in this period of spiritual warfare. But that doesn't mean that we disowned the warfare that went before. And unfortunately, there's a lot of writers out there these days. It's virtually a cottage industry to explain away or dismiss Old Testament warfare. So, for instance, my friend Pete, and in his book the Bible tells me Sol talks about how the Old Testament God, when described as a warrior, is not the actual God, but that that God gave the Israelites permission to write, that write about him and their own cultural perspective. And then Greg Boyd, in his book, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God, takes it to another level when he says anything in the Bible that does not conform to the standard of Jesus on the cross is either the result of the culturally conditioned mind of the human author or a result of their depraved perspective. He argues on theological grounds that Jesus is the perfect representation of who God is. So anything that doesn't conform to that can't be really God. There are all kinds of problems with that viewpoint that I suggest in my book Confronting Old Testament Controversies, one of those controversies being the issue of violence in the Old Testament and the New Testament. But one of them is that you're restricting yourself to Jesus on the cross, not just Jesus. You know, the standard in Jesus. If the standards Jesus, then you need to take into account Revelation 19, verse 11 and following as well. That's Jesus. But you see, as I read that book, that very lengthy book, I came to realize that Boyd is not treating the Bible as a book to be expositor and understood, but as a problem to be solved. And he devises all kinds of reading strategies that are suspect. I'm not doubting his motives. I'm not saying that it isn't good to have, as you point out there, for discussion. I'm just saying, in my opinion, he's dead wrong and what he is what he's saying there. So, as a matter of fact, I would say that as you think about the relationship between these different phases, I find something that one of my teachers who wasn't one of my main teachers in the classroom, though I had him for a couple of courses, but he's influential figure on me. Meredith Klein from the past generation said this about the conquest, which I think is very insightful, though you have to unpack it a little bit. He says the conquest is an intrusion of end time ethics into the period of common grace. And what he's saying is, up until, you know, the time that God comes back, we're in a period of calm and grace where the rain falls on the head of the righteous and the wicked, you know, and that there's not this clear delineation between the righteous and the wicked, you know, that, you know, in this world. I was just teaching in another class on Ecclesiastes and this bothers Collette, the teacher there, that you know, as the righteous sometimes die young and the wicked they kind of. Live long. There's not this clear delineation as there will be here. And what Klein says, though, is at the end time, you do get the separation of the chaff and the wheat and that the conquest is kind of a preview or advance warning about the about that final judgment and that the conquest is an act of God's judgment and not simply some kind of arbitrary military move against the Canaanites in order to create room for the Israelites to live in their is anticipate is expressed all the way back at the time of Abraham in Genesis chapter 15. And Genesis. Chapter 15. Abraham receives the promises, including becoming a great nation, which includes having descendants. And if you've read through the Abraham story, you know that it's kind of shaped around the question of Abraham's life faith journey. How does he respond to threats and obstacles to the fulfillment of the promise, particularly the promise of a descendant? And on two occasions God appears to him and reaffirms the covenant that he made with them, like here in Genesis 15. And so in Genesis 15, verse 12 and following. Culminating in the passage I'm most interested in, which is 416, the narrator says. As the sun was setting, Abraham fell into a deep sleep in a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, I know for certain that for 400 years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation. They serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. So here's first 16 and the fourth generation your descendants will come back here for the sin of the Emirates has not yet reached its full measure. So it's connecting the conquest with an act of judgment against the sin of the Emirates, which is another term for the Canaanites. So. So. But the other thing and maybe the final thing I'll just point out and I'll develop it in a later lecture a little bit more. So I'll just anticipate that later lecture this this, this, this basic diagram here. May give a wrong impression. Like the spiritual battle only begins with the coming of Christ. What we're going to see in Daniel Chapter ten is extremely interesting. It's a rare moment in the Old Testament where you'll get a glimpse at the fact that there is a spiritual battle going on behind the human battles. When Daniel has a disturbing dream and it takes three weeks for Gabriel to come to him in order to interpret his vision and Gabriel's excuse for tardiness, as we had to fight our way through the spirit, Prince of Persia and your angel Michael fought through. And then at the end he goes. Now we have to return and go by the spirit Prince of Greece. So we'll spend some time unpacking what's going on there. But at this point, I just want to point out that that there is a spiritual battle going on, but it's not until the New Testament time period that human beings are invited into that spiritual battle in a passage like Ephesians sex and following. So again, we also we started with Daniel seven. Daniel seven In retrospect, from the New Testament perspective, anticipates not just the first coming of Christ, but the first and second coming of Christ. So with that, I'll pause here, see if anybody has any questions or comments, and then we'll go back to the Book of Daniel Chapter eight. 

Audience Member [00:21:53] So as when a layperson sees a chart, yeah, they might quickly jump to a, um, a misunderstanding that this has to do with dispensation resume. 

Tremper Longman III [00:22:05] Right. Right. 

Audience Member [00:22:05] For some of these preachers who come up with their wonderful charts of the end times and key to sort of, yeah, contrast what you're doing here with possible misunderstandings because I love what you've got. It makes so much sense. 

Tremper Longman III [00:22:19] Yeah. And you're actually highly pinpointing why I do may always make the point that this is just a way of organizing the material. It's not it's. It's not the same. I don't take as a dispensation less chart, which is, I guess, also organizing material in their mind. But according to their. Hermeneutical method, which I disagree with. So. So yeah I. I also. See, of course, these two, maybe even these three as overlapping with each other. So they're not sort of sequential like. The other reason why I'm kind of fumbling around. It's kind of I, I always sort of hesitate to say too much about dispensation, all of them, partly because I'm not a dispensation listener, the son of a dispensation. This to quote Amos, meaning that I was converted out of liberal church, as I talked about yesterday. So dispensation ism was something that I learned from afar and have never really kind of gotten it. I'm sorry. I don't know whether there are any dispensation lists in the room, but okay, good. I don't mean to offend anyone, though. I have. You know, I did. And of course, let's also, while we're on the subject of dismiss racialism, I also know enough to know that I consider myself a covenant theologian. But there's variation among covenant theologians, just like there are among dispensation lists in terms of continuity and discontinuity. There's a really good book published by some press recently. I think his last name is Merkel. I just read it Continuity and Discontinuity, where he basically talks about ten different schools of thought on this issue. So you have everything in covenant theology from what used to be called maybe still is the theonomy, where it's very, very strict continuity, so much so that they take most of the law of the Old Testament ought to be the law of the United States, you know, including the penalties. And somebody like Rousas Rushdoony even suggests that we ought to keep kosher or whatever, you know, as kind of and messianic Jewish views of continuity are strong with the Old Testament all the way to Meredith Klein, who has been accused by some of being a crypto dispensation, all is so much more discontinuity. And on the other hand, on the dispensation side, you have sort of the classic dispensation, this view, which puts a big emphasis on discontinuity between the old New Testament, discontinuity between Israel and the church. And then you have what used to be at least called progressive dispensation holism, which sees more continuity between the Old and New Testament. So it's also hard to sort of stereotype the view. So that's kind of a. Long winded way of maybe not even answering your question, But, but I do worry about that in a sense, because I it's just a way of helping people envision what we see in Scripture, which I guess is what those charts do. Maybe my problem, maybe my problem with those charts isn't so much that they're charts as much as I think they're wrong.