This morning, the devil works relentlessly to confuse God’s children of the right way to go in this world. We understand from Scripture that God is not the source of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33), but confusion seems to be a daily hindrance due to our adversary and the frailty of the flesh. The world of today creates a cauldron of confusion by having a multitude of options. When talking to people at work or in the community about the Bible and the church, it becomes clear that many good people do not understand why a certain Bible “version” or church type is better/worse than another. After all, we all worship the same God right? Having a plethora of Bible and church choices today serves to confuse God’s people at the basic root point: the source material of God’s Book and God’s House. However, a greater confusion that some of God’s children face is the idea that the Bible is truly Divine and without error.
Over the last few weeks, I have talked with a man at work about various theological subjects that are quandaries in his mind. One of the first conversations we had to have was to get his mind centered on the point that the Bible is Divine and without error. He needed “proof” that such was the case. As I travelled over the ground with him, it dawned on me that to actually prove the Bible Divine using the Bible itself was perhaps the most powerful point for its defense. Surely, we could point to history, textual criticism, and even manuscript authenticity. However, the internal proofs that the Bible provides are astounding when seen for what they really are. Therefore, today we would like to investigate one of my favorite – and I believe strongest – internal proofs of the Bible’s authenticity.
The portion of our Bible divided as Daniel Chapter 8 gives Daniel’s account of a vision that God gave him. This vision was not all that different than other things that Daniel was blessed to expound – such as Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2. However, the level of specific detail sets this vision in a place to itself. The Lord unfolds hundreds of years of human history for Daniel through this section. Not only does it unfold for Daniel, but it is also described to him. The vision is given in Verses 3-12, and the description of the vision is declared in Verses 15-25.
Through the vision Daniel sees a form of the Medo-Persian empire through the image of a ram with two horns. This empire pushed where others had never gone, and the strongest part of the empire rose towards the end just as the greater horn came up in his head last. Afterwards, this ram was killed by a rough he goat with one notable horn, and this goat is declared to be Grecia. History records the name of the great horn in its head: Alexander. Afterwards, this horn falls off in its prime with 4 other horns coming up in its stead but none as strong as the one horn. From this rises another great empire that would stand and make craft to prosper until it stood against heaven and the Prince of princes. By this last empire would the holy people have their daily sacrifice taken away with the desolation of the holy place and the sanctuary trodden under foot.
What is also needful in this vision is how it begins and ends. Daniel specifically puts his authorship on this writing and dates it specifically. This was given to him while Babylon still reigned supreme under the rule of Belshazzar. The end of this chapter shows Daniel fainting at the sight of it with no man (Daniel included) understanding the fullness of the vision. The reason it is important that Daniel and the time of his writing be identified will be discussed later while answering the critic’s assertion of this chapter.
Consider what was just given. Hundreds of years of world human history laid out in detail with places, names, sequences, and events before any of it happened. Not only had it not happened yet, but many of the places that were mentioned were at that time just mere images of what they would become as this vision came to fruition. The declaration at the end of the chapter that no one understood the vision is not surprising seeing that Media, Persia, Greece, and ultimately Rome were only shadows of what they become. How can one look at hundreds of years of history declared through a vision before the fact without reaching the conclusion of Divine Inspiration?
The critic of the Bible hates Daniel 8 as it provides a death knell to his thinking. The best the critic can muster – or has mustered to this point – is that Daniel 8 was inserted by an imposter years after the fact. The fact that Daniel identifies himself twice and the time period shows the wisdom of the Holy Ghost to inspire it this way. This chapter has the same writing and linguistic style of the rest of the book, and the reception of the book in its entirety by the Jewish nation (who were meticulous in their record keeping) testifies that the critic’s last ditch attempt to deny the Divine authorship of this portion is a poor and vain effort.
Now, some might say, “Thanks for the history lesson preacher, but what’s the point for today?” The point friends is that the devil is cunning and crafty to get us to doubt the things of God. He will foster any shadow in our minds to try to convince us that the Bible is a fake, church is a farce, and Godly living is for the fool. When I was on a college campus not that many years ago, I was stunned to observe that the professing Christians on campus were less knowledgeable of the Bible than avowed atheists and agnostics. When the enemy of the Bible knows it better than the soldier that should be armed with it as his sword, the battle will go awry for the child of God very quickly.
We need ready armaments at our disposal to answer the naysayers and the critics. If we are not armed and prepared, then doubts creep in. Doubts lead to denials, and denials lead to spiritual coldness, apathy, and eventually rebellion. Who outside of God could declare centuries of history in such a way? Who outside of God’s infinite knowledge could describe the next 3 world empires by name and detail, coupled with the advent and rise of His Son, and the vision ending ultimately in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem? The Bible answers its own defense as the evidence within it screams to us, “God wrote this!” When I read Daniel 8, I am not only interested in all the wonderful history contained in it, but I also derive a lot of comfort knowing that God in heaven breathed, and this Book is the result. When I hold it in my hands, I am comforted knowing that it is God’s declaration to me of what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do for His children of which I feel to have a blessed part. Friends, let us hold our convictions on the ground that God has provided us ample evidence that this our faith is not blind or senseless, but rather, our faith is the only thing that is truly sensical and worth holding on to.