So we have just been told about the third campaign of Antiochus IV, who is the man known as the "little horn" in the prophecy from Daniel chapter 8. He is in the process of completely removing the name of God and his teachings from the culture. But we learn there are a few who won't cave to his flattery, legislation, threats, and violence. But he's both persuasive and unrelenting, so he goes after weak-minded followers first and lures them away. He makes it illegal to gather, worship, and engage in religious practices. And to top it off, he seizes their temple, sets up a statue of Zeus, and performs recurring swine sacrifices on the temple grounds. But we discover a few who stand firm, take action, read scripture, and suffer well. But the following few verses declare this does not last for long. Verses 34-35 read:
When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time. — Daniel 11:34-35
Reading this part is heartbreaking. I assume when Daniel heard it, he was devasted. But we learn something important that I believe followers need to hear.
True believers will sometimes suffer persecution and death for their faith at the hands of wicked people. The purpose of this whole event with Antiochus IV was to cleanse God's people and make them stronger. In fact, when all this ended at the death of Antiochus IV in 164 B.C., it did something significant during his ten-year reign he did not intend. While it divided the weak it made a small remnant very strong inside the community of God.
These events have similarities to our experiences over the last two to three years. We have seen those weak in their faith vacate the church with no intention of returning. At the same time, we have seen the strong dig in and fight a little harder for their faith. And I am not talking about fighting for our political views or national rights. I am talking about fighting to know, understand, trust, and believe that God is stronger than any challenge we will ever face, that it will end, and that he will come again.
I believe that's my call. To strengthen you with scripture by driving you to the teaching of the Bible so that you will know Jesus in changing and challenging times. So fellas, let's stay in the game by standing firm, taking action, reading scripture, and suffering well. Because it does eventually all come to an end, and I want you to be ready for that day.
ASK THIS: Are you stronger in your faith today than you were two to three years ago?
DO THIS: Share how you are stronger in the comments below.
PRAY THIS: God, help me to seize the opportunities you give me to be stronger in my faith daily.
PLAY THIS: Stronger.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.