From North and South to the Beautiful Land – Sabbath School Lesson 12, Q1, 2020Jean Kelley March 22, 2020 1 COMMENT
“From North and South to the Beautiful Land” When we were studying chapter 10 in the book of Daniel, we clearly said, back then, that chapter 11 and chapter 12 who follows after that, are just a continuation for the same vision that starts in chapter 10. Gabriel tells us a long, long story of 45 verses in chapter 11, which, when I read for the first time, I felt confused, even bored, because it’s not what I expected will sound an important message for a heavenly being. I wonder how Daniel felt back then. Then, I decided that I need to go deeper and wider to understand what’s in it. How did Daniel manage to remember all this? The level of details is incredible. And the first point here from the lesson is again about God and Him holding the future. He knows it, and to such details, and He is in control. What a prophecy we have here. The angel starts the whole message with a style of expression that is full of facts and sequences of events. Like, “three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he does this, another mighty king will do that, the king of the south will, then the king of the north will.” And this is how it goes from the first verse to the last, very last verse in the chapter. Is there history in there? Definitely, there is. Daniel receives a prophecy that is the immediate future that will happen with the Persian kings after King Cyrus. King Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius and Xerxes will come after him. On the other hand, they will be replaced by a mighty king who arises. The Bible says, “and after he has arisen, his empire will be broken up.” Which is Alexander the Great and the Greek empire. After all, it’s not just a noise of facts and a noise of sequence of events, it is a detailed knowledge of the future that is so impressive and unheard of. It is impossible and it’s coming from a God who is in ultimate control of history. For me personally, simply there is no other explanation. Human history is all battle for power and rulership. In the middle of these prophecies though, are God’s people. Those who are trying to preserve the knowledge about God alive, those who are trying to testify that He cares, that He’s involved and He wants us back. So, the idea behind these visions and details, is not only to provide historical events in future tense, but to build an understanding and trust in God. And to help His people in the journey. Because now, in the vision, we see them struggling and suffering between two kings: from the north, and the south. Then the angel continues his narrative with respect to the Syrian kingdom and its battles and rivalries with Ptolemy in Egypt. All for the reason to underline that they will affect God’s people, each and every time they pass through the land of Israel, sadly geographically sitting just in the middle of their journeys. Then comes Rome, “Invader that will do as he pleases,” says Gabriel. “and will destroy the prince of the covenant.” And don’t get me wrong, there is much more details of history that Gabriel is giving to Daniel. And although I’m skipping lots of it, I just want to underline that this whole vision parallels the same line of events that we see in the previous visions or interpretations given by Daniel in chapter 2, 7, 8, and 9. This time it’s with much more details and from a different angle. So, we got to Rome, and we have a reference to Christ’s crucifixion. This is a big point, because from here on, God’s people are not the physical Israel anymore, and so everything else as well, moved to another more spiritual level. And after we encounter some obvious similarities between a power system that we read about in verse 29-39, which parallels with the same little horn system, power system in chapter 7 and 8, we see that things are getting a little bit more symbolic from verse 40, to 45. We have established in previous chapters that the little horn represents a politico-religious system that takes over the throne of Rome. But what happens after that? Who is the north king and who is the south king, from then on? Probably we have to be very careful when pinpoint on the correct or only interpretation of that matter. Elias de Souza, the author of the lesson, is only, only suggestive that the north king represents the religious forces led by the papacy, and the south, the kingdom from the south is leading the forces of Atheism. Well, there are different interpretations and some are identifying Christianity vs. Islam for example, in the kings of the north and the south. Some are looking for specific countries and kingdoms, but as we mentioned, the prophecy is about God’s people and powers that are affecting them. The king from the North, for example, is very similar to the little horn, symbolizing a counterfeit of God, that we already identified as papal Rome. And the king from the south, is seen as a secular power and from there the reference with atheism. I want to remind again though that, prophecies are not given to us so we can predict the future, but for when these things, we see these things unfolding, these power battles, these systems that are deforming Christianity and alienating Christ, to recognize them and to remain faithful to the relationship with God. His kingdom will be the last one to be established and will be the only one to endure. What is for certain in the whole vision, is the time of the end. All the visions and all the interpretations that were given to Daniel, had a happy ending for those who know God. Join us again next week when we’re gonna wrap up our study in the book of Daniel with the lesson, “From Dust to Stars”.