Daniel 8 Testimony
In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, Daniel had a vision that can be passed off as an NFL Superbowl game, the Ram taking on the Goat. Actually last year Superbowl featured the Los Angeles Rams versus the New England Patriots. Just like the Los Angeles Rams lost to the greatest football franchise of all time, the ram in this passage also lost to the goat, Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great being depicted as a goat is apt because goat stands for Greatest Of All Time. The ram was also an apt depiction of King Darius. Pitted against the goat in a military battle, the ram looks like a ridiculous amateur monarch.
The title “the Great,” appended at the end of Alexander, was not something humans came up with. In fact it is what the Bible says about him: verse 8 says the goat became very great. One aspect of Alexander’s greatness was revealed at the decisive Battle of Issus. With odds of about 15 to 1 in favor of King Darius, and a casualty rate of more than 200 to 1 in favor of Alexander, King Darius still lost the battle. The losing king made a deal to give Alexander a vast territory of land, and his beautiful daughter in marriage. The deal was too good to turn down for Parmenion, one of Alexander’s general. He advised Alexander to take the offer saying, “If I were Alexander, I would accept the terms.” Alexander was offended when he heard that, and retorted, “So would I, if I were Parmenion.” Alexander’s clever answer revealed there is a huge difference between a few great men like the four-star General Parmenion and a rare phenomenon like himself.
Not so long ago, my mother nearly caused me to stumble when she suggested that I should invest my wealth and buy a house. Because of my desire for money, and to please my mom, I was greatly swayed, and seriously thought about buying a house in Lakewood. However, I was not confident since buying a house is a big risk to take, not to mention to do so is to step out of God’s will. So I could never be confident with my decision. In light of this passage, when my mom whispered that good sounding idea in my ear I should have said, “So would I, if I were Parmenion.” If I were Parmenion, then I would compromised at the thought and the chance of multiplying my wealth. If I were Parmenion, I would accept the enemy’s offer of money. I was glad to outwit my mom when I told her I would marry and then move out. So she dropped that matter.
Now my mom is getting me to marry. She said a family from the old Catholic Church that I used to attend have a good and cute daughter who is of age. I know the girl my mom is referring to. No doubt she is a beautiful and a good country girl who can keep the house in order. However, regarding my mom’s suggestion, I should say, “So would I, if I were Parmenion.” If I were Parmenion I would take their daughter in marriage, but I am not Parmenion, I am Bao the Great. If I were Parmenion I would already give into the desire for romance some ten years ago, or even earlier when I was still a student. If I were Parmenion I would have mistaken a girl blinking at me for winking at me, and I would have made my move at the first chance of money making. If I were Parmenion I would already give into the desire for money and success long time ago. But I am not Parmenion; I am Bao the Great, a man of God. I am great because Jesus is great. Anyway, I am glad I was able to outwit my mom again by telling her I will only marry people from my church. So she dropped the matter as well.
From this passage I see, when it is the world or my mom speaking to me, trying to make me an offer, my identity would not be that of Parmenion, being so quick to accept, but that of Alexander, rejecting all offers and continue to fight for Jesus and advancing God’s kingdom. With that being said, when it is God who reveals His plan and ways to me, I would not be like Alexander, so quick to reject, but I would be like Parmenion, quick to accept.
Alexander’s greatest enemy was not his opponents on the battlefield. Strictly speaking, no one was able to defeat him. No one came even close. Rather his greatest enemy was himself. After ten years of campaigning he lost his fighting spirit, settled down, and gave himself to pleasure. In no time he perished. Behind the scene, God was in control. When Alexander had served his purpose and was no longer useful, God removed him.
Here I see that I am only useful to God as long as I have His mission and I am serving Him. Perhaps, that is the only reason God is keeping me alive so He can use me for His purpose. As long as I have God’s mission, it does not matter too much whether I am performing well or not, the bottom line is that God will still find me useful and He will still want to keep me around. In the spiritual struggle, my greatest enemy is not Satan or the antichrist, or predestination. Rather my greatest enemy is myself. I can defeat myself when I choose to never quit serving God and His mission.
The common theme in the Book of Daniel is how God sees earthly kings and kingdoms as horns and beasts. Even to perhaps the greatest warrior and emperor of all time, Alexander the Great, God still sees him as just a cute little horn running here and there. On the other hand, He sees the saints as starry hosts. Here I am reminded of how God exalted Abraham to the status of a prophet before King Abimelech. God made Abraham to look like a Hollywood VIP to Abimelech. When I typed Abimelech on my phone, the phone thought I had made a typo and autocorrected the word Abimelech to the word animal. True story. Even my phone sees a human king as animal.
Last Sunday right after worship service, I had to go to a Bible study at a Starbucks in Westminster. As I was in line to order my coffee, a little Asian man entered the store. He looked very familiar and he kept looking at me. Then as he walked out of the store with his coffee, two customers asked him if he was a particular famous Vietnamese singer and he said it was him. He is very famous at least in the Vietnamese community for his songs, duets and unique high pitch voice. Perhaps, I wasn’t very starstruck when I saw him because I don’t look up to celebrity.
Here I see that what I am awestruck with is a reflection of my value system, hope and desire. If I have a worldly value system, and success and fame are on my mind then I would be starstruck in Starbucks seeing celebrities and famous people. On the other hand, if I have a godly value system, and I value courageous act of faith and personal sacrifices, then I would be starstruck seeing great men and women of God.
When I have a godly value system, then the rich and famous are shepherds and Bible teachers, and celebrities are missionaries. I have Christian celebrities whom I really admire, such as Missionaries Stephen Kim and Peter Kim from Moscow, and Missionaries Juan Seo and Elijah Park from South America. They served great work of God in their youth despites so many challenges. For their labor of love God has made them so fruitful and successful in all aspects of their life. If I can do just ten percent of what they are able to do then I will be so content and happy with how my life had turn out. When I admire the saints and look up to the starry host, and not Hollywood celebs, then I am slowly standing on two legs like a man, and the heart of a man is given to me.
Daniel’s vision was interpreted by the Christmas Angel, Gabriel. Gabriel may not be given the explicit title of Archangel like Michael, and does not hold a sword, but that doesn’t mean Gabriel is any less impressive. Instead when Gabriel approached Daniel, Daniel experienced a voltage spike and almost became dead. Then Gabriel approached Daniel and revived him.
This part of the passage is just so amazing and encouraging. Often, life challenges hit me hard, knocking me down, leaving me lying on the floor in tears and a heart completely broken. At least Lazarus had a dog to lick his wound and comfort for him. I don’t have anything to comfort me and I don’t share my struggle with anyone. So this passage is all the more remarkable, because it shows that no matter how badly hurt I may be, God can instantly revive me. No matter how plentiful the tears, God can instantly dry my eyes. No matter the hurt, God can turn it into joy the next moment. For this reason, I can be courageous, always advancing forward. When God can just revive me in an instant, I never have to worry that I will be hurt too much as to be taken out of the fight. Instead in any circumstance I can always bounce back when God touches me and raises me up.
The king who was a master of intrigue was Antiochus the Fourth Epiphanes. He was raised to power but not by human power, and too would be destroyed but not by human power. I had a former sheep who later became my math student. To make a long story short, he later filed a complaint against me for religious discrimination. I had tried to help him a couple times but he had no desire to work hard, and later even tried to harm me. Recently I learned that he was dropped from all his classes for the upcoming fall semester. Maybe that is the case because he has not paid the tuition or the university could also expel him for low GPA or other academic related issue such as withdrawing from too many classes. Perhaps, this is the beginning of the end regarding his future. It was not a small matter when he fabricated a lie to destroy me, his math instructor and also his Bible teacher and shepherd. I have noticed that my enemies eventually are destroyed but not by my hand. So every night I can sleep well knowing God is after my enemies.
It is not by human power that I can be like Alexander the Great, rejecting all temptation this world tries to offer to me. It is not by human power that God’s work can advance through me rapidly without my feet ever touching the ground, and that through me many sheep can come to experience Jesus’ salvation. It is not by human power that when my system is overloaded with pain and hurt, immediately I am brought back to life to keep going and be made to prosper.
One Word: Advancing God’s kingdom but not by human power.