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Wars and Wars and More of the Same

Key References: Daniel 11:1-12:3; The Great Controversy, chap. 18, pp. 341, 342; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 6, pp. 60-65; 66-70; 71-74; Our Beliefs nos. 18, 22, 8

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“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

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We trust in God, not in the powers of this world.

Have you ever been involved in a fight? Perhaps you’ve yelled at your brother or sister. Or you’ve felt anger toward someone at school. Or maybe you’ve seen two people physically fighting each other. Imagine what it would be like if all the people in your life, at home and at school, fought each other all the time! That’s the picture Daniel saw.

Imagine standing on the rooftop balcony of the king’s palace in Babylon. The current king is away, commanding the army on a small invasion of a neighboring country to the south. But with you on the balcony is a longtime resident of the city, a foreigner, like you, but one with an extraordinary reputation among the Babylonians, the aging prophet Daniel.

If Daniel could point out to you the high points of this great city, he’d point first of all to the magnificent gate through which he first marched as a teenage captive. Close by he’d show you the apartments where he and his young friends came to the attention of Nebuchadnezzar. Over there, beyond the city, is the plain where the huge gold statue had been built, and the fiery furnace that threatened Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And look over there. That’s the incredible hanging gardens. (Daniel didn’t know it then, but people later would refer to the gardens in the same breath as The Great Pyramid—as one of the mysterious wonders of the ancient world.)

If you listened carefully from the balcony, you could still hear the lions pacing back and forth in the den into which Daniel had been thrown. Listen in the evening when the lions are hungry, and you can feel the terror that the lions’ den caused to the citizens of Babylon.

But if Daniel was telling you about Babylon, he wouldn’t just concentrate on the past. For Babylon is the place from which Daniel saw the future.

Daniel would tell you about lions and bears and leopards that represented the powerful kingdoms of the ancient world. He’d tell you about terrible, indescribable beasts unlike anything anyone had ever seen or even imagined. He’d tell you of goats and rams, horns and crowns, and thousands and thousands of angels. He’d describe what it will be like when the King of kings returns in the clouds.

Then Daniel would make sure you were paying attention and tell you that he wanted to share his vision of the wars and the god of the fortresses. “It was a nightmare,” he would explain, “with more armies and battles and invasions than I thought possible. The slaughter and plunder and looting never stopped. And the people in the vision! They were full of rage, pride, violence, anger, and insolence. They were contemptible people. Doing as they pleased. Cheating and telling lies.”

And that is exactly what life in this world, without Jesus, has been like, all the way up to today. But fortunately Daniel saw beyond that kind of life, and went on to describe in Daniel 12 when Michael, the great prince, would return to rescue His people and return them to “the Beautiful Land” (Daniel 11:41) and give them their inheritance.

Worshipping a “god of fortresses” (verse 38) instead of a God of peace results in wars, wars, and more of the same. Earthly might and power will never save us. But when we worship God, the God of peace, we acknowledge that we trust His word that He will come and save us from the pain caused by war and suffering.

So what can we do to prepare for His glorious return? Daniel concluded the prophetic account of wars in history by painting a beautiful picture of those who will help others get to know God. He wrote that “those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

Wouldn’t you like to be counted among those who are wise and lead others to righteousness? God offers true and lasting peace in the midst of the turmoil and suffering of this world. Isn’t that a message worth sharing with a war-torn world?