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Daniel 8-10The Message (MSG)

A Vision of a Ram and a Billy Goat

“In King Belshazzar’s third year as king, another vision came to me, Daniel. This was now the second vision.

2-4 “In the vision, I saw myself in Susa, the capital city of the province Elam, standing at the Ulai Canal. Looking around, I was surprised to see a ram also standing at the gate. The ram had two huge horns, one bigger than the other, but the bigger horn was the last to appear. I watched as the ram charged: first west, then north, then south. No beast could stand up to him. He did just as he pleased, strutting as if he were king of the beasts.

5-7 “While I was watching this, wondering what it all meant, I saw a billy goat with an immense horn in the middle of its forehead come up out of the west and fly across the whole country, not once touching the ground. The billy goat approached the double-horned ram that I had earlier seen standing at the gate and, enraged, charged it viciously. I watched as, mad with rage, it charged the ram and hit it so hard that it broke off its two horns. The ram didn’t stand a chance against it. The billy goat knocked the ram to the ground and stomped all over it. Nothing could have saved the ram from the goat.

8-12 “Then the billy goat swelled to an enormous size. At the height of its power its immense horn broke off and four other big horns sprouted in its place, pointing to the four points of the compass. And then from one of these big horns another horn sprouted. It started small, but then grew to an enormous size, facing south and east—toward lovely Palestine. The horn grew tall, reaching to the stars, the heavenly army, and threw some of the stars to the earth and stomped on them. It even dared to challenge the power of God, Prince of the Celestial Army! And then it threw out daily worship and desecrated the Sanctuary. As judgment against their sin, the holy people of God got the same treatment as the daily worship. The horn cast God’s Truth aside. High-handed, it took over everything and everyone.

13 “Then I overheard two holy angels talking. One asked, ‘How long is what we see here going to last—the abolishing of daily worship, this devastating judgment against sin, the kicking around of God’s holy people and the Sanctuary?’

14 “The other answered, ‘Over the course of 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning. Then the Sanctuary will be set right again.’

15 “While I, Daniel, was trying to make sense of what I was seeing, suddenly there was a humanlike figure standing before me.

16-17 “Then I heard a man’s voice from over by the Ulai Canal calling out, ‘Gabriel, tell this man what is going on. Explain the vision to him.’ He came up to me, but when he got close I became terrified and fell facedown on the ground.

17-18 “He said, ‘Understand that this vision has to do with the time of the end.’ As soon as he spoke, I fainted, my face in the dirt. But he picked me up and put me on my feet.

19 “And then he continued, ‘I want to tell you what is going to happen as the judgment days of wrath wind down, for there is going to be an end to all this.

20-22 “‘The double-horned ram you saw stands for the two kings of the Medes and Persians. The billy goat stands for the kingdom of the Greeks. The huge horn on its forehead is the first Greek king. The four horns that sprouted after it was broken off are the four kings that come after him, but without his power.

23-26 “‘As their kingdoms cool down
    and rebellions heat up,
A king will show up,
    hard-faced, a master trickster.
His power will swell enormously.
    He’ll talk big, high-handedly,
Doing whatever he pleases,
    knocking off heroes and holy ones left and right.
He’ll plot and scheme to make crime flourish—
    and oh, how it will flourish!
He’ll think he’s invincible
    and get rid of anyone who gets in his way.
But when he takes on the Prince of all princes,
    he’ll be smashed to bits—
    but not by human hands.
This vision of the 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning,
    is accurate but confidential.
Keep it to yourself.
    It refers to the far future.’

27 “I, Daniel, walked around in a daze, unwell for days. Then I got a grip on myself and went back to work taking care of the king’s affairs. But I continued to be upset by the vision. I couldn’t make sense of it.”

God’s Covenant Commitment

1-4 “Darius, son of Ahasuerus, born a Mede, became king over the land of Babylon. In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, was meditating on the Scriptures that gave, according to the Word of God to the prophet Jeremiah, the number of years that Jerusalem had to lie in ruins, namely, seventy. I turned to the Master God, asking for an answer—praying earnestly, fasting from meals, wearing rough penitential burlap, and kneeling in the ashes. I poured out my heart, baring my soul to God, my God:

4-8 “‘O Master, great and august God. You never waver in your covenant commitment, never give up on those who love you and do what you say. Yet we have sinned in every way imaginable. We’ve done evil things, rebelled, dodged and taken detours around your clearly marked paths. We’ve turned a deaf ear to your servants the prophets, who preached your Word to our kings and leaders, our parents, and all the people in the land. You have done everything right, Master, but all we have to show for our lives is guilt and shame, the whole lot of us—people of Judah, citizens of Jerusalem, Israel at home and Israel in exile in all the places we’ve been banished to because of our betrayal of you. Oh yes, God, we’ve been exposed in our shame, all of us—our kings, leaders, parents—before the whole world. And deservedly so, because of our sin.

9-12 “‘Compassion is our only hope, the compassion of you, the Master, our God, since in our rebellion we’ve forfeited our rights. We paid no attention to you when you told us how to live, the clear teaching that came through your servants the prophets. All of us in Israel ignored what you said. We defied your instructions and did what we pleased. And now we’re paying for it: The solemn curse written out plainly in the revelation to God’s servant Moses is now doing its work among us, the wages of our sin against you. You did to us and our rulers what you said you would do: You brought this catastrophic disaster on us, the worst disaster on record—and in Jerusalem!

13-14 “‘Just as written in God’s revelation to Moses, the catastrophe was total. Nothing was held back. We kept at our sinning, never giving you a second thought, oblivious to your clear warning, and so you had no choice but to let the disaster loose on us in full force. You, our God, had a perfect right to do this since we persistently and defiantly ignored you.

15-17 “‘Master, you are our God, for you delivered your people from the land of Egypt in a show of power—people are still talking about it! We confess that we have sinned, that we have lived bad lives. Following the lines of what you have always done in setting things right, setting people right, please stop being so angry with Jerusalem, your very own city, your holy mountain. We know it’s our fault that this has happened, all because of our sins and our parents’ sins, and now we’re an embarrassment to everyone around us. We’re a blot on the neighborhood. So listen, God, to this determined prayer of your servant. Have mercy on your ruined Sanctuary. Act out of who you are, not out of what we are.

18 “‘Turn your ears our way, God, and listen. Open your eyes and take a long look at our ruined city, this city named after you. We know that we don’t deserve a hearing from you. Our appeal is to your compassion. This prayer is our last and only hope:

19 “‘Master, listen to us!
    Master, forgive us!
    Master, look at us and do something!
    Master, don’t put us off!
    Your city and your people are named after you:
    You have a stake in us!’

Seventy Sevens

20-21 “While I was pouring out my heart, baring my sins and the sins of my people Israel, praying my life out before my God, interceding for the holy mountain of my God—while I was absorbed in this praying, the humanlike Gabriel, the one I had seen in an earlier vision, approached me, flying in like a bird about the time of evening worship.

22-23 “He stood before me and said, ‘Daniel, I have come to make things plain to you. You had no sooner started your prayer when the answer was given. And now I’m here to deliver the answer to you. You are much loved! So listen carefully to the answer, the plain meaning of what is revealed:

24 “‘Seventy sevens are set for your people and for your holy city to throttle rebellion, stop sin, wipe out crime, set things right forever, confirm what the prophet saw, and anoint The Holy of Holies.

25-26 “‘Here is what you must understand: From the time the word goes out to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Anointed Leader, there will be seven sevens. The rebuilding will take sixty-two sevens, including building streets and digging a moat. Those will be rough times. After the sixty-two sevens, the Anointed Leader will be killed—the end of him. The city and Sanctuary will be laid in ruins by the army of the newly arriving leader. The end will come in a rush, like a flood. War will rage right up to the end, desolation the order of the day.

27 “‘Then for one seven, he will forge many and strong alliances, but halfway through the seven he will banish worship and prayers. At the place of worship, a desecrating obscenity will be set up and remain until finally the desecrator himself is decisively destroyed.’”

A Vision of a Big War

10 In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, a message was made plain to Daniel, whose Babylonian name was Belteshazzar. The message was true. It dealt with a big war. He understood the message, the understanding coming by revelation:

2-3 “During those days, I, Daniel, went into mourning over Jerusalem for three weeks. I ate only plain and simple food, no seasoning or meat or wine. I neither bathed nor shaved until the three weeks were up.

4-6 “On the twenty-fourth day of the first month I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris. I looked up and to my surprise saw a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body was hard and glistening, as if sculpted from a precious stone, his face radiant, his eyes bright and penetrating like torches, his arms and feet glistening like polished bronze, and his voice, deep and resonant, sounded like a huge choir of voices.

7-8 “I, Daniel, was the only one to see this. The men who were with me, although they didn’t see it, were overcome with fear and ran off and hid, fearing the worst. Left alone after the appearance, abandoned by my friends, I went weak in the knees, the blood drained from my face.

9-10 “I heard his voice. At the sound of it I fainted, fell flat on the ground, face in the dirt. A hand touched me and pulled me to my hands and knees.

11 “‘Daniel,’ he said, ‘man of quality, listen carefully to my message. And get up on your feet. Stand at attention. I’ve been sent to bring you news.’

“When he had said this, I stood up, but I was still shaking.

12-14 “‘Relax, Daniel,’ he continued, ‘don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I’m here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what’s ahead.’

15-17 “While he was saying all this, I looked at the ground and said nothing. Then I was surprised by something like a human hand that touched my lips. I opened my mouth and started talking to the messenger: ‘When I saw you, master, I was terror-stricken. My knees turned to water. I couldn’t move. How can I, a lowly servant, speak to you, my master? I’m paralyzed. I can hardly breathe!’

18-19 “Then this humanlike figure touched me again and gave me strength. He said, ‘Don’t be afraid, friend. Peace. Everything is going to be all right. Take courage. Be strong.’

“Even as he spoke, courage surged up within me. I said, ‘Go ahead, let my master speak. You’ve given me courage.’

20-21 “He said, ‘Do you know why I’ve come here to you? I now have to go back to fight against the angel-prince of Persia, and when I get him out of the way, the angel-prince of Greece will arrive. But first let me tell you what’s written in The True Book. No one helps me in my fight against these beings except Michael, your angel-prince.’”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

3 JohnThe Message (MSG)

1-4 The Pastor, to my good friend Gaius: How truly I love you! We’re the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health—that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul! I was most happy when some friends arrived and brought the news that you persist in following the way of Truth. Nothing could make me happier than getting reports that my children continue diligently in the way of Truth!

Model the Good

5-8 Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.

9-10 Earlier I wrote something along this line to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves being in charge, denigrates my counsel. If I come, you can be sure I’ll hold him to account for spreading vicious rumors about us.

As if that weren’t bad enough, he not only refuses hospitality to traveling Christians but tries to stop others from welcoming them. Worse yet, instead of inviting them in he throws them out.

11 Friend, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work. The person who does evil falsifies God, doesn’t know the first thing about God.

12 Everyone has a good word for Demetrius—the Truth itself stands up for Demetrius! We concur, and you know we don’t hand out endorsements lightly.

13-14 I have a lot more things to tell you, but I’d rather not use pen and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk.

Peace to you. The friends here say hello. Greet our friends there by name.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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