Friday, May 25, 2007


The Issue: The book of Daniel for centuries has been under fire by the liberal critics and even often by conservative scholars. Daniel, along with Genesis and Deuteronomy, are regularly attacked for various reasons. But specifically, Daniel is attacked because of the incredible and accurate 70 Weeks of Daniel prophecy in chapter 9, and the detailed predictions of chapter 11 that were prophesied to come upon Israel in the period between the Old and the New Testaments.

Chapter 9 gives a calendar, time-specific prophecy of the rejection of Christ in the Passion Week just before His arrest and crucifixion. The Bible critic cannot tolerate this specificity because it points clearly to the fact that Daniel is inspired by God (as is all of the books of the Bible). Chapter 11 is also under attack because of the minute details given about what will happen with the nations surrounding Israel hundreds of years before they take place. Again, the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of Daniel are denied because to admit to these doctrines, the critic has to confess that God is indeed the Author of world history!
The internal evidence of Daniel puts the writing of the book by or before 536 BC. The critic, with intellectual dishonesty, wants to put the writing of the book around 167 BC. By doing this, he can argue that the book was written during the time of the events of chapter 11. Thus, the Holy Spirit who inspired the Word of God is removed from the equation of how the book came about. Daniel then becomes simply a "naturalistic" book penned by mere men, pieced together like a scrap book, without any divine guidance and supernatural authorship!

External Evidence. It is enough to say here that anyone who studies Daniel with fairness can see how what is written came to pass in history. Criticisms about the book and history have long ago vanished. And yet the critic holds out because he cannot admit to the truth that God is at work in the giving of spiritual revelation. The historicity of the book, and its imprint in secular history, can stand the scrutiny of the doubter.

Internal Evidence. This study will focus on all the internal evidence of the book that over and over makes the claim to inspiration. Daniel recorded what he saw in visions, dreams, etc. One must call him a liar and a fraud if there is doubt as to what he is writing down for his readers. In some ways, the internal evidence for inspiration and revelation is the strongest of any book of the Bible.

Here are some important points that must be considered:

God "encircles" Daniel in order to make him a "special prophet":
 Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon in the first deportation of Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC. The history of Daniel and the captivity of Judah was all orchestrated by God in His mysterious providence. It was the Lord who gave king Jehoiakim into the hands of the Babylonian tyrant, and this included the carrying away of the vessels of the temple that would, to Israel's shame, be placed in the house of his god in the land of Shinar (1:2).
In God's sovereignty He had a plan for Daniel. He is not in Babylon by accident. The text reads: "Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight o the commander of the officials" in the king's court (v. 9). Along with his three friends, "God gave them knowledge and intelligence in very branch of literature and wisdom" (v. 17a). But it was Daniel who would be given a special gift so that he would be the chosen author of the book that bears his name. The Lord gave Daniel special understanding in all kinds of visions and dreams" (v. 17b).

Daniel's prayer for a miracle happens:
When Nebuchadnezzar was troubled in his sleep with his night dreams, Daniel was brought forward to give the interpretation. It would only be by the Lord's special providence that he would be given the message. Daniel knew his God was working through him. He and his friends prayed and requested that "the God of heaven" would reveal the mystery dream that was so bothering the king. Daniel had in mind the fact that the lost pagan wise men of the realm would die if the dream was not explained (2:18). Daniel knew that only his God could "reveal the profound and hidden things because light dwells with Him" (v. 22), therefore he pleaded that the Lord would make known to him and his companions "the king's matter" (v. 23).

Even the pagan leadership recognized Daniel's prophetic gift:
Arioch, the king's lieutenant, was moved by the Lord to recognize the prophetic gift of Daniel. Speaking to the king, Arioch tells him he has found a man "among the exiles" who can interpret the king's visions (2:25). The king questions Daniel and the young man replied that only God can reveal His own mysteries and revelations, but that too, He will show the interpretation to him (vv. 25-29). In his testimony to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel makes it know that the revelation was given to him not because of any innate "wisdom residing in" him but simply to make known God's work in history to this most powerful sovereign! (v. 30).

God's thoughts will become Daniel's thoughts which he will share with Nebuchadnezzar. And these revelations will be written down in the book of Daniel. This of course shows that the book is inspired. The messages God gives will be recorded and thus will become what we know as the Word of God!

The Revealer of mysteries uses Daniel:
God will make "known to king Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days" (2:28). And of course the instrument of this revelation will be Daniel! The dreams and visions were placed in the king's mind (v. 28b) but then given to Daniel. Daniel, and then Nebuchadnezzar, would be given the final plans of history that will include what God will be doing with His people the Jews, and what He will be carrying out in judgments upon the pagan nations of the world. Daniel would be given both the dream and the interpretation of that dream to give knowledge to the king (v. 36).

The period of written revelation began with Job, then Moses, all the way down to the final book of Scripture, the book of Revelation. The Bible alone gives us the mind of the God of creation! Daniel is not speaking for himself; he is telling us in his book what the Lord has revealed. Nebuchadnezzar understood this and said, "Surely your God is a God of gods and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery" (v. 47).

Prophecy immediately fulfilled:
Because of his pride Nebuchadnezzar would be judged and turned out into the wilderness like an animal (4:25). This is a phenomenon technically in medical terms called zoanthropy. It was given to Daniel to make this prediction of how the king would be so humiliated. This judgment could have been avoided if the king had broken "away from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor …" (v. 27). Instead of taking Daniel's warning, Nebuchadnezzar bragged about "the might of [his] power and … the glory of [his] majesty" (v. 30).

With the boastful words of the king, Daniel's prophecy came to pass instantly! There was no delay. "Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled" and he was driven out of his palace like an animal (v. 33).

The book of Daniel is an inspired book. And the words of this prophecy and the historic consequences are recorded for us to read centuries later.

Daniel can interpret the written inscription:
Nebuchadnezzar's grandson was Belshazzar. He was a vicious and licentious king who wallowed in his sins in his court. He paid no attention to what happened previously to his grandfather. The Lord got his attention with the handwriting on the wall displayed during one of his orgies. The king was terrified! But his wife the queen remembered there was a man in Nebuchadnezzar's court who had a spirit of the holy gods, who was given "illumination, insight, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods" (5:11). She added that this Jew had "an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems" (v. 12).

Daniel was given the interpretation of the inscription on the wall and then told the king the bad news: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN, which meant that God had numbered the days of his kingdom, the king was found deficient, and that this very night the kingdom would be taken over and divided by the Medes and the Persians (vv. 24-28).
Again, this extraordinary event happened before the eyes of hundreds, interpreted by Daniel, and came to pass that very night. It was recorded by Daniel in his book for us to study today!

Daniel writes down his dreams and visions from God:
Daniel recorded his dreams and visions, sometimes in detail and sometimes simply in summary form. This clearly then is written revelation, whether given in full detail or simply summarized. During the reign of Belshazzar the prophet wrote what God showed to him. He stated in the third person: "Daniel saw a dream and vision in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it" (7:1). Daniel did not write all the details but abbreviated the message for later generations to read and study.

What Daniel saw he wrote down. This was specifically stated in chapter 7 when he was given the vision of the coming reign and glorification of the "Son of Man" who entered the throne room of God at His ascension from earth. Daniel keeps saying, "I kept looking …" (vv. 6, 7, 9, 11 (2), 13, 21). He called this vision a revelation (v. 28). As he kept looking his mind was alarmed (v. 15), and he sought to know the exact meaning and "interpretation of these things" (vv. 16, 19).

Daniel generally could "see" the visions God gave him. He "gazed, saw, and observed" what the Lord set before him (8:1-8).

The angels spoke to Daniel with revelations:
Sometimes angelic beings spoke to him in dreams and sometimes they stood to him while he was awake. One angelic being was standing before him and spoke while Daniel was having his vision (7:15-16). He heard the voice of the angel (8:16), was approached by the angel (v. 17), given the messages about "the time of the end" (v. 17). More specifically the angel said: "Behold I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end" (v. 19). The visions he received often had to do with "many days in the future" (v. 26).

The angel Gabriel gave Daniel instructions and talked with him in order to give to him "insight with understanding" (9:22). Daniel was to "gain understanding of the vision" of the angel, and in this case, he was given the incredible revelation of what is called the Seventy Weeks prophecy (vv. 22-27). Daniel was to heed the message of this "prophecy" which would set the direction of world history for the end times (vv. 23-24). It would also reveal God's final timetable judgments and restoration for the Jewish people.

The Lord "inspired" the prophecy of Jeremiah:
Daniel refers to the prophecy of the seer Jeremiah who predicted the seventy year captivity, i.e. the "completion of the desolation" (9:2). He "observed" this in the books, which refer to the sections of Jeremiah's works that covered a long period of writing time (v. 2). Daniel calls the prophecy of Jeremiah "the word of the Lord to Jeremiah." The concepts of inspiration, authenticity, and revelation were clearly understood by Daniel and by the pious Jews of his day.

Having read Jeremiah's seventy year captivity prophecy, Daniel became more curious and asks the Lord to reveal more. But before he does, he confesses the sins of Israel before God and claims His "compassion and forgiveness" (vv. 3-19).

The prophets of the past were inspired; they recorded God's voice:
Daniel points out that God has had other servant prophets who spoke in the Lord's name to "our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land" (9:6), but the nation did not listen. These prophets were inspired and went about speaking the revelation and warnings directly from God to the rebellious population. Daniel is putting his firm stamp on the doctrine of inspiration and revelation of the prophets of the Old Testament.

When the people did not listen to the prophets they were rebelling and being unfaithful toward the Lord. What the prophets gave them was direct revelation from Him. The people did not "walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets" (v. 10).

The Law of Moses inspired:
The people also did not listen to Moses. This was tantamount to "disobeying" God's voice, thus, a curse was poured out upon the people. The Lord had made a judgment oath "which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him" (9:11). To sin against Him is to fail to keep the laws and words of Moses. God "confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers …" (v. 12). Notice, "words" plural! The Bible does not just contain "the big ideas" alone, it contains also the very words of the Lord.

The directives in the law of Moses are specific. For "it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us" because we did not give "attention to Thy truth" (v. 13). By not keeping the law of Moses "we have not obeyed His voice" (v. 14).

Conclusion: The writings of Moses are inspired. They are to be obeyed because they constitute His word. They are His truth. And to disobey the written word is "to bring calamity upon us" (v. 13).

Daniel recorded the instructions from God:
An angel from the Lord brought "instruction" from God and "talked with me" in order to give to Daniel "insight with understanding" (9:22). From this Daniel was "to know and discern" the Seventy Week prophecy (v. 25). This he recorded in his book which would become one of the most important prophecies of all of the Word of God!

True "messages" revealed:
In the third year of king Cyrus Daniel was given "a message" that was revealed to him (10:1). It came in the form of a vision that was to give him understanding. The angel (or possibly Christ Himself) was "seen" by Daniel (v. 5), in a vision (v. 7), but as well, he heard the words spoken to him "like the sound of a tumult" (v. 6). Daniel "heard the sound of his words" and then fell on his face (v. 9).

Daniel emphases the fact that the angel spoke "words" (plural) and this constituted a total "word" (singular) of divine information (vv. 11-15). The angel seems to continue his revelations in chapter 11. He says "And now I will tell you the truth …" (11:2). Specific historical revelations are then given about the In-Between-Period of the Testaments, from around 400 BC until the first century. Almost all commentaries believe verses 36-45 are about the Antichrist. The apostle Paul confirms this by quoting this section in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.

Daniel to seal up the revelation: 12:4, 9
Daniel is told: "Conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time" (12:4). This tells us that the book of Daniel was seen by the prophet as a whole, an entire revelation, and not as a patch work of prophecies just thrown together. It is an entire revelation and its full meaning was to be concealed until the end times. Daniel would then die and "go his way" (v. 9). It would seem if now, slowly in our day, the revelation of his book is starting to make more and more sense. Daniel should be taken seriously because after all, the book is the very Word of God!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Eschatology of Daniel

The book of Daniel is one of the most criticized of the books of the Old Testament, mainly because it contains some of the most important prophecies in all of the Word of God. Specifically, chapters 9 and 11 come under heavy scrutiny because of the depth, detail and accuracy noted in these sections. Chapter 9 gives the remarkable outline of future events in what is called Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy. Chapter 11 sets forth in meticulous detail the coming events of the Persian king Cambyses, Cyrus’s son (529-522 BC), down to Alexander the Great (334-323 BC), on into the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (circa. 172 BC). The historical period of the Maccabees is played out in the prophecies of Daniel that were given hundreds of years before those events transpired. Such minute prophetic accuracy and fulfillment make the liberal critic work feverously to relegate the prophet’s words to the trash heap of fiction. But Daniel goes further. He also gives the details of the coming evil drama of the Antichrist whom he calls, "the king who shall do according to his will" (11:36a). 

Importance of Daniel. In the Jewish reckoning of the Old Testament books, Daniel is not found in the second division (the Prophets) but in the third division (the Kethubhim, the Writings). The reason seems to be that Daniel was penned much later than many of the other prophetic books, after the close of that section. In the narrow sense, Daniel was not a prophet but a statesman in the court of the pagan monarchs of Babylon and Medo-Persia. He had the gift of prophecy but did not hold the office of a prophet. It is in this sense that Christ confirms Daniel’s historicity and refers to him as a prophet (Matt. 24:15). While Daniel is included among the Minor Prophets he is scarcely "minor" in his prophetic utterances. He stands alongside the major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. (Unger commentary, 1603)
Daniel, one of the most important prophetic books of the Old Testament, constitutes an indispensable introduction to the New Testament prophecy, of which the chief themes are the apostasy of the church, the revelation of the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, the second advent of Christ, the resurrections, and the establishment of the millennial Kingdom. (Ibid.) The Orthodox Jewish Views of Daniel as Prophet. Rabbinical scholar Judah J. Slotki sees Daniel divided into two sections: The Didactic (chapters 1-6), and the Consolatory including Prophetic (chapters 7-12). In his view, chapters 7-12 of Daniel is "showing that the course of history is determined by a Divine plan, and it is part of that plan to end, in God’s own time, the trials of the righteous." (Slotki, xv) He adds that the idea of the establishment of the kingdom of God and the final triumph of righteousness is not confined to Daniel. The same themes appear repeatedly in the earlier prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and Amos. Jewish tradition interprets all these predictions as eschatological, and does not recognized differences in kind between their prophecies of a universal Kingdom of Heaven and those of Daniel. The immortality of the soul is implied in many Biblical Books, but it is in Daniel that the doctrine of the resurrection is explicitly enunciated. (Slotki, Ibid.)

The Genre of Apocalyptic Prophecy. In order to correctly interpret Daniel three assumptions are important. (1) Daniel is a genuine book penned by the prophet Daniel in the sixth century BC. Many critics argue that Daniel is part of what is called apocalyptic literature that did not rise until well down in the Hellenistic period. Critics set forth the argument that false authorships and dates are part of such literary genre. "The rationalistic definition of apocalyptic literature and its underlying assumptions are unacceptable to scholars who accept the book of Daniel and Zachariah 1:7-6:8 (as well as the book of Revelation) as both authentic and truthful." (Unger commentary, 1605)

To interpret any book labeled as apocalyptic does not in any way require a special hermeneutic or interpretative system. To change one’s hermeneutic is a tool to place Bible prophecy outside of historic fulfillment. It is a liberal attempt to assign future prophecy to myth or fictional fancy. This way, the prophetic message is destroyed.

(2) Right interpretation depends upon the fact that predictive prophecy is not only possible but is actually the warp and woof of true and genuine biblical apocalyptic writings. It is because of the predictive prophecy that has given food for the so-called scholarly rejection of the genuineness of Daniel’s visions. They reject outright what is clearly "predictive prophecy."
The only way for such scholars to explain the meticulously accurate prophecies of the time of Daniel in the sixth century B.C. is to explain them away by relegating them to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes and to deny Danielic authorship by positing a pseudo-Daniel of that period. (Unger commentary, 1605-06) 

(3) By correctly interpreting Daniel the scriptural revelation that God has a future for God’s people Israel is made absolute! Critical thinking about the prophetic message of Daniel creates a makeshift argument for the importance of the book. Such mishandling of the book removes the meaning of the prophecies and makes the writing of Daniel a travesty and a sham. 

By correct interpretation the truth about the book is opened. But more, Daniel is the key to all biblical prophecy. Without Daniel the far-distant eschatological revelations and the prophetic scope is unexplainable. Without this prophecy, many if not most of the great prophetic portions of the Word would remain almost totally sealed. The Lord’s great prophecies in the Olivet discourse (24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21), as well as 2 Thessalonians 2, where the Antichrist of Daniel 11 is mentioned (and also prominently in the book of Revelation), can only be opened through the understandings of Daniel’s prophecies. (Unger commentary, 1606)
The vast predictions remain concerning the first advent of the Messiah, His death, and the scattering of the Jewish people by the Romans (Dan. 9:26), which are prophecies already fulfilled, and the Great Tribulation (12:1), the second advent of the Messiah (7:9-10), and the establishment of the Kingdom over Israel (2:35, 44), which are prophecies yet to be realized. (Unger commentary, Ibid) Apocalyptic genre is to be rejected as an interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies. There are two apocalyptic compositions in the Dead Sea Scrolls: the pseudo-Daniel text that mentions Daniel explicitly, and the Son of God text (4Q246) that draws some of its language from Daniel. Daniel also influenced other Jewish writings such as is notable in 1 Enoch 37-71. (Neusner, 149) This is part of the rationale for putting Daniel into the mystical camp of spurious writings. But Leupold strongly objects and writes:
This view they [the critics] advance in connection with the term "apocalyptic," which covers a multitude of irregularities. In the sense in which the term is used, namely, as referring to certain types of religious literature that specializes in mystery and attempts to disclose the unknown future, in this sense we absolutely reject the claim that Daniel belongs to this kind of literature. It does not deal with these subjects in the manner of the traditional literature of this class of writings. It does not offer cryptic messages. But it is, indeed, the original after which may spurious and inferior copies have been patterned. [Daniel] is in a class by itself. The apocalyptic literature is a feeble and an unreliable imitation. (Leupold, 28-29) Daniel as Prophet. Because Daniel had compassion on the Chaldean wise men (Dan. 2:24) who could not interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, Daniel and his friends made "request" from the God of heaven concerning the nature of the mystery of the king’s visions (v. 18). God revealed the interpretation to Daniel in a night vision, and then the young prophet and servant of the Lord "blessed the God of heaven" (v. 19).
This new found ability to interpret a dream caused Daniel to thank and praise His God for giving him "wisdom and power" (v. 23), for, as he said, "Thou hast made known to us the king’s matter." This humility remains with Daniel throughout his life. Daniel makes sure all those hearing his prophecies realize that "the great God has made known" the future, and "its interpretation is trustworthy" (v. 45).

Besides receiving visions from the Lord, Daniel was continually a man of prayer. When he knew of the plot to have him cast into the den of lions, he made "petition and supplication for his God" (6:11). Daniel never forgot his people or the great city of Jerusalem. He also included himself when he spoke of the sins of the nation of Israel (9:7-10). He pleaded for the Lord to again make His face to shine on Jerusalem and the desolate temple sanctuary (vv. 17-19). While speaking to God and praying, the angel Gabriel came to reveal to him what could be called one of the greatest prophetic messages of the Bible—the Seventy weeks vision (vv. 20-27).

The Prophecies of Daniel. Daniel’s first prophecy was to relate to king Nebuchadnezzar the first dream he had, but also its interpretation. Daniel said to the king: "I will declare the interpretation to the king" (2:24b), and then proceeded to interpret for this powerful monarch his vision of an "extraordinary" (v. 31) statue with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, stomach and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron (vv. 32-33). This was a dream of the coming most powerful nations of the world. The head of gold is Babylon, the breast and arms represents the Medes and the Persians, the thighs of brass picture Greece, and the legs and feet stand for Rome in is primacy, and also in its decline. A stone would arise representing Israel’s Messiah who would strike "the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and [crush] them" (v. 34). Then God will establish a kingdom "which will never be destroyed," referring to the far future messianic reign of Christ (v. 44).

This prophecy spanned the full range of history and showed that aspects of all these nations would lead into the millennial. "The temporal aspect will merge into the eternal phase with the creation of the new heaven and earth ([Rev.] 21:1-22:5; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; cf. 2 Sam. 7:13, 16). (Unger commentary, 1619) With Nebuchadnezzar’s dream God revealed through Daniel the full scope of all of history. No other prophet was given such a full and concise revelation! But to Daniel was also revealed certain short-term prophecies.
During the reign of Belshazzar (553-539) Daniel was summoned to interpret the writing on the wall of the king’s banquet hall (5:1-30). With divine boldness Daniel declared to Belshazzar he was losing his kingdom because "the God in whose hand are your life-breath and your ways, you have not glorified" (v. 23b). The writing on the wall read: MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. Daniel understood the full meaning behind these words and said: "God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. You have been weighed and found deficient, and your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians" (vv. 26-28). In the evening, by stealth Median soldiers slipped into Babylon and took over the capitol city and the kingdom. "That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two" (vv. 30-31).

During that first year of the reign of Belshazzar, Daniel was given by direct revelation another summary of the coming great world empires. Through a dream and night visions Daniel saw the stirring of the sea (representing the peoples of the earth) and four great beasts coming forth, each "different from one another" (7:2-3). The animals were: the lion, bear, leopard, and a non-descript beast that was "dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong" (v. 7). Overlaying this prophecy with Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, the animals represented Babylon (the lion, v. 4), Medo-Persia (the bear, v. 5), Greek (the leopard, v. 6) with its four wings and four heads that would represent the generals who divided the kingdom of Alexander the Great following his death. But something significant was added to this revelation.

Daniel was given the heavenly vision of the Son of Man coming up before God Almighty, the Ancient of Days, and before His fiery and awesome throne of judgment (vv. 9-14). Many times in the Upper Room Discourse the Lord Jesus told His disciples He (the Son of Man) would return back to His heavenly Father who sent Him to the earth to die for humanity (John 14:1-6, 28; 16:28). His departure back to glory was actually witnessed by these loyal followers. The angels told them that Jesus "has been take up from you into heaven, [and] will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11b). Daniel apparently is witnessing the Lord’s ascension and entrance into the throne room of God after He had died for the sins of humanity. Daniel sees the Son of Man "coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented to Him" (Dan. 7:13). Both the deity and the humanity of Christ is seen in these important designations of Jesus. He was the prophesied Son of God (Psa. 2:7), and Son of Man (Dan. 7:13). The Son of Man designation shows that Christ was "a human being." (Montgomery, 318)
To the Son of Man is given "dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed" (v. 14). This is actually the "fifth" kingdom of the world that will last for 1,000 years during earth’s history as we know it (Rev. 20:4-9). But this kingdom will transist into eternity with the new Jerusalem and the new heaven and earth, where peace and righteousness will prevail (21-22).

Over this kingdom, the Messiah, the Highest One (Dan. 7:17, 22, 25, 27) will reign: "The sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him" (v. 27).
Because of Daniel’s piety and faithfulness he is given one of the few timeline and calendar prophecies in all of the Scriptures. In 9:20-27 it is revealed to him the Seventy weeks prediction of the rebuilding of the temple walls and the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. This prophecy also shows with remarkable accuracy the period and the very year of the rejection of the Messiah. But too the seven years of worldwide tribulation are also clearly predicted. With some scholars, this miraculous prediction is rejected. But its precision and certainty cannot be denied.

As already mentioned Daniel also predicts the rise of the "little horn" who is Antiochus Epiphanes historically described in 1 Maccabees 1-6. In Daniel 8 the prophet sees a two-horned ram representing the Medo-Persian Empire. The ram pushes "westward, northward, and southward" (v. 4) with furious intensity and expands the kingdom of the Persians. With keen prophetic insight Daniel foretold the harsh conquests of the Medo-Persians (539-331 BC). But then he sees a male goat that would be Alexander the Great (vv. 6-7). Alexander carries out lightning victories over the Greeks at Granicus (334) and at Issus (333) and Gaugamela near Nineveh in 331. Danial then predicts the breaking up of Alexander’s Empire into four parts (v. 8) and describes the coming of Antiochus (vv. 9-10; 23-25). No wonder the critics despise the prophetic messages of Daniel! His predictions are so accurate that the liberal mind just has to refuse their precision and certainty. The prophet expands further his treatment of Antiochus in 11:21-35.

In vv. 36-45 Daniel predicts the coming of the Antichrist. In chapter 7 the prophet also described him as: "another horn" (v. 8), "a little one" (v. 8), the "horn possessed [with] eyes of a man" (v. 8b), the one with "a mouth uttering great boasts" (v. 8c), "the other horn" (v. 20), "that horn" (v. 20), and the one who "will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever" (v. 26). The apostle Paul picks up the description and calls this one "the man of lawlessness" and "the son of destruction" (2 Thess. 2:3b), and the "lawless one" (v. 8), who will someday in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem be "displaying himself as being God" (v. 4b). The apostle John refers to him in 1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3, and 2 John 1:7. He especially mentions him throughout the book of Revelation, beginning in chapter 13. He is called the beast who comes out of the sea, or the nations (v. 1). He is described like some of the animals in Daniel 7. Satan, called in Revelation 13 the dragon, gives him "his power and his throne and great authority (v. 2). When the Lord Jesus comes back as "the Word of God" (19:13), He is seen as "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (v. 16). These descriptions come close to the thoughts of Daniel 7.

With the coming of Christ to reign on earth, the beast, and the false prophet (the religious prophet of 13:11-12), are cast into the lake of fire and brimstone for eternity (19:20; 20:10).

Daniel’s final great prophecy has to do with the future resurrection of the Old Testament saints. Those who "sleep in the dust" will awake "to everlasting life, but the others [the lost] to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2). The righteous will shine forever like the stars (v. 3). It is interesting to note that here Daniel understands that both the righteous and the unrighteous exist on into eternity. There is no "soul sleep" for those who have rejected God.

Daniel’s Interpretation of Prophecy. While Daniel uses a lot of imagery in many of his prophecies, what he envisioned and prophesied ultimately is to be taken in a full historical, normal, and literal sense. Behind Daniel’s imagery there is literal fulfillment in view. As well, the imagery is about actual people, or nations that existed in the days of Daniel, or would come on the world stage in the future. For example:
Illustration and imagery with historic fulfillment:
  • Nebuchadnezzar’s Statue of a Man (2:31-43)
  • Head of Gold – Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon (v. 38)
  • Breast and Arms – Medo-Persia (v. 39)
  • Belly and Thighs – Greece (v. 39)
  • Feet of Iron – Rome Empire (vv. 40-43)
  • Feet partly of iron and pottery – Final form of the Roman Empire (vv. 41-43)
  • Stone cut out without hands – Christ and His kingdom (vv. 34, 44-45)
  • The great tree cut down – The humbling of Nebuchadnezzar (chapter 4)
  • The handwriting on the wall – The fall of Belshazzar and Babylon
The takeover of the Medo-Persian Empire (5:5-31)

  • Belshazzar’s Dream "of the animals" (7:1-28)
  • The lion with eagle’s wings (also looked like a man with a mind ) – Babylon (v. 4)
  • The bear with ribs in its mouth – Medo-Persia (v. 5)
  • The Leopard with wings and four heads – Greece and the four generals who followed Alexander the Great (v. 6)
  • The "terrible" beast – Roman Empire (v. 7)
  • The "little horn" (the Antichrist) – (vv. 8, 11, 15-26)
  • The ram (Persia) defeated by the goat (Greece) – (8:1-8)
  • Vision of God’s glory and the angelic conflict – (chapter 10)
      Semi-illustration fulfilled but with more fulfillment to come:
      • God on His throne in heaven with the Son of Man presented – 7:9-10, 13-14)
      Literal fulfillment in the near and far future:
      • The Seventy Weeks prophecy – (9:24-27)
      • Literal History prophesied (11:1-45)
      • From Cyrus II (550 BC) to Seleucus IV Philopator (175 BC) – (11:2-20)
      • Antiochus IV Epiphanes (164 BC) – (vv. 21-35)
      • The future Antichrist ("who does as he pleases") – (vv. 36-45)
      • The resurrections – (12:2-3) 
      Conclusion. The only satisfactory interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel is to understand there is actual and literal fulfillment of his visions and dreams. Most scholars, even liberal, believe that the ones in which Daniel saw animals were meant to visually enhance prophecies about the nations that were yet to come on the world’s stage.
      Daniel must also be studied from a premillennial point of view in that most of the prophecies point to the nations and God’s providential dealings with Israel. Daniel deals with the times of Nebuchadnezzar until the second advent of Christ. Daniel portrays the course of Gentile world power, called in the Bible "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). As the prophet writes down his revelations there unfolds the remarkable prophecies that run their course through history. And in the process, the great nations he sees will be destroyed by a fifth kingdom (the Messiah’s), depicted as a stone cut out without hands (Dan. 2:38).

      Because of his great faithfulness, it is promised to Daniel that he will enter into his rest and will "rise again for your allotted portion (and reward) at the end of the age" (12:13).

      Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody, 1994); Hobart E. Freedman, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets (Chicago: Moody, 1969); H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969); James A. Mongomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989); Jacob Neusner, Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999); Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts (Detroit, MS: Wayne State University Press, 1979); E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet (Minneapolis, MN: Klock & Klock, 1985); Judah J. Slotki, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah (New York: Soncino Books, 1968); Merril F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002); Merrill F. Unger, Introductory Guide to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

An Overview of the Book of Daniel

The Historical Background
 The larger setting for the book of Daniel takes place under the dark cloud of the three deportations (BC 605, 597, 586) of the Jewish people by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. As Jehoiakim, the king of Judah began to reign (BC 605), the Lord prophesied by Jeremiah that, for the nation’s sin, they would go into a seventy year period of Babylonian captivity. "And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years" (Jer. 25:11). This period will end when God brings punishment and desolation upon Babylon. "’Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation’" (v. 12). 

The final deportation (BC 586) will be preceded by the destruction of both the temple and the city of Jerusalem. While there will be a small remnant of Jews left in the land, and even some who had fled to Egypt, God will abandoned them, and the last king, Zedekiah, for all their sinfulness and lack of trust in Him. "So I will abandon Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and the ones who dwell in the land of Egypt. … And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their forefathers" (24:8, 10). 

The Northern Kingdom of Israel had long been taken into captivity by the Assyrians (BC 722). There was no regathering or restoration of the Jews who were taken off. Most probably died in the journey to Assyria, and the remaining were placed under cruel and harsh servitude. 

Nebuchadnezzar invaded to the west into Syria and into the land of the Jews, just before his father Nabopolassar died. By doing this he blocked off the expansion and influence of Egypt on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, and closed off any Egyptian deployment further into the Middle East. The Babylonian Chronicle says, "At that time Nebuchadrezzar conquered the whole area of Hatti," meaning Syria and the land of the Jews.1
Thus the Babylonian foray into the Judean hill country, resulting in the captivity of Daniel and other members of the nobility, most likely occurred while the Babylonian army was en route to Egypt or very soon after the Egyptian operation in early August of 605 B.C. Josephus, citing the Babylonian historian Berosus, verifies that chronology, stating that Jewish captives were taken by Nebuchadnezzar shortly before his father Nabopolassar died.2 From these initial operations, Nebuchadnezzar will build one of the greatest and most powerful empires known to history. For His own purposes, God will take this ruler and his kingdom to the heights, and then use him to give one of the most formidable testimonies ever given by a sovereign.

Nebuchadnezzar was portrayed in his own puzzling dream where he saw a great tree whose "height reached to the sky, and … was visible to the end of the whole earth" (Dan. 4:11). In interpreting the dream Daniel said to him, "You have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth" (v. 22). Through the dream the Lord made it clear that the king would be cut down "until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes" (v. 25).

The king would then be afflicted by the Lord and would crawl about as an animal for a period of time (vv. 31-34). When he looks to the heavens he is restored and testifies that God "does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’" (v.35).
"This is the book of the universal sovereignty of God. Prophecy is here interwoven with history to show that God is overruling the idolatry, blasphemy, self-will, and intolerance of the Gentiles."3

The Authorship
Along with Noah and Job, Daniel is cited as an outstanding servant of the Lord by the prophet Ezekiel. God told Ezekiel that these men were able to deliver themselves from harm "by their own righteousness," yet they could save no one else (14:14-20). Daniel is also mentioned in 20:3.

The Lord Jesus Himself refers to Daniel’s name in regard to the prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14). The author of the book of Hebrews alludes to the book of Daniel when he writes that, by faith there were those who "shut the mouths of lions" (Heb. 11:33). Though not mentioning his name, Paul also alludes to Daniel’ prophecy of the "prince," the man of lawlessness who will someday enter the temple, "displaying himself as being God" (2 Thess. 2:4), "whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders" (v. 9).
Certain other Apocryphal books mention Daniel, the book of Daniel, and allude to various portions and chapters as well. They are: Ecclesiasticus, 1 Maccabes, Sibylline Oracles, The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Psalms of Solomon, 2 Esdras, Prayer of Nabonidus, Apocryphal Baruch, Jubilees, and possibly others. And in the Antiquities of Josephus, Daniel is called a prophet.
One of the greatest prophets … for the books that he wrote and left are read by us even now. … He not only predicted the future, like the other prophets, but specified when the events would happen. (x, 10-11) Because the Hebrew canon was finalized about the time of the first century B.C., critics try to say that Daniel was a late book with little evidence as a sixth century work. But this does not explain why "it agrees exactly with the apocalyptic literature with which the 2d cent. B.C. was rife."4

Daniel’s Status as a Prophet (Price’s stuff)
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in caves at Qumran by Bedouin boys around 1947, have given great confirmation about the validity of our Old Testament. As these ancient scroll documents (circa. B.C. 100) were translated, they produced a treasure trove of knowledge confirming the Messianic hopes for the Jewish people. Discovered were large portions of Old Testament texts, as well as fragments of extra-biblical religious writings.
Because the prophet Daniel and his prophecy are mentioned so often, his book gains renewed stature by the archaeological community. Below are portions of quotes regarding Daniel with the scroll tablets indentification number:

  • "The words of the book that Michael spoke to the Angels of God." (4Q529)
  • "Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me" (Dan. 10:13).
  • "Michael, the great prince" (12:1).
  • "Daniel [stood] before … Belshazzar." (4Q243-245)
  • Belshazzar the king held a great feast (Dan. 5-on)
  • "Daniel … a book that he gave …" (4Q243-245)
  • "Daniel, for these words are concealed [in a book]" (Dan. 12:9).
  • "[Then Daniel arose and said."
  • "He will be called the son of God; they will call him son of the Most High."
  • "His Kingdom will be an Eternal Kingdom." (4Q246)
  • "His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:15).

  • The little horn "will speak out against the Most High" (v. 25). 
  • Daniel was well known with the scroll authors, and was either directly or indirectly quoted in the prophetic literature. It is clear that, "The earliest record of Daniel’s prophetic status is preserved at Qumran, where the book and its predictions played a central role in the apocalyptic views of the community, and probably received canonical status."5 For example, in the scroll 4QFlor 2:3 there is a prediction of a period known as the "tribulation" as "written in the book of Daniel the prophet."

    "The book of Daniel was no doubt used as a primary text in the early formation of the Qumran movement."6 Altogether there were found in the Dead Sea caves eight copies of Daniel, representing twenty fragments, and maybe up to one dozen allusions, fragmentary allusions, paraphrases, and indirect quotations.

    The Dating of Daniel
    Summary. With the Dead Sea Scrolls, the dating of Daniel is pushed back at the least into the late second century B.C. But the modern attack does not wish to push the age of Daniel back to the period of the events in the book, during the sixth century BC. The nineteenth century saw liberal attacks against the dating based on the Neoplatonist views of Porphyry (A.D. 233-305). While praising the internal evidence of the book of Daniel, the liberal scholar and Hebrew lexicographer S. R. Driver took up the charge against the traditional and historical dating of the book. This critical view said Daniel was a pseudononymous work of the late post-exilic Maccabean period of around 168-165 A.D. But the problem with this feeble attempt at besmirching the book is that Daniel speaks clearly in 7:7-8 of the future Roman Empire that would come to fore in about 100 BC and conquered Israel in 63 AD. This diverse beast is that Empire, as clearly explained in verses 24-25.
    The anti-inspirational mindset refuses to believe that the prophecies of Daniel 11 were uttered hundreds of years before that happened. While they see the historical tyrant and Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164) in verses 21-35, they want to argue that Daniel was written sometime after the events described, and not be divine visions, that gave Daniel the prophet a vast field of prophetic understanding.
    The goal of the critics is to destroy all vestiges of foretelling into the future.
    Daniel probably died, or doubtless was an old man, at the very end of the seventy-year period of captivity that ended in 536 B.C. Traditions say that he died and was buried in Babylon, or that he was taken back to Jerusalem the final years of his life. Whatever, the book was probably completed around 536, just before, or right at the close of the captivity.
    There is no reason to deny the Daniel authorship of the book, and the captivity close, around 536. Walvoord writes:
    The book of Daniel, according to its own testimony, is the record of the life and prophetic revelations given to Daniel, a captive Jew carried off to Babylon after the first conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. The record of events extends to the third year of Cyrus, 536 B.C., and accordingly, covers a span of about seventy years. Daniel himself may well have lived on to about 530 B.C., and the book of Daniel was probably completed in the last decade of his life.7 The Canonicity of Daniel It seems certain that the book of Daniel was held in a high, if not a canonical status, at the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Daniel is mentioned often in the Scrolls by allusion or direct quote. This fact alone leads almost all Evangelical scholars to believe the issue of canonicity is settled by the exalted position of the book. Also, because Christ mentions it in Matthew 24:15, this would seal its rank among the pious Jews who heard Him speak.
    In the Hebrew canon that was solidified in the sixth century AD, Daniel is listed among the Writings instead of the Prophets. Some try to argue that the book then has less significance in the minds of the rabbis, but this position is fallacious! The Writings (the Kethubim), or Hagiographa (Holy Writing) is the third division of Old Testament books. Daniel is placed between Esther and Ezra.
    Why was the book so placed?
    Some believe that by the sixth century AD, the Christians were relying on Daniel to make their case about Jesus being the prophesied Messiah. The rabbis then wanted to place the book outside of the works of the prophets, though at the same time, recognizing Daniel as a prophet. Daniel was not a professional prophet, though David is called a prophet by Peter in Acts 2:30, yet his psalms are placed among the Writings!
    David was more than a prophet, and his works were not in a prophetic style. Moses was also a prophet, yet his Torah are not found in the prophetic books. Lamentations was early ascribed to Jeremiah, yet this poem was placed among the Writings. It must have been the style or composition that made the difference.
    The puzzle goes on.
    Though the books of Samuel and Kings resemble each other on one side, and Ezra, Nehemiah and the Chronicles on the other, why are the first classified among the Prophets, and the others placed among the Writings? The rabbis must have had their reasons. It must be remembered that these classifications are not inspired by the Holy Spirit, but the works themselves and their composition certainly are. The rabbis then must have been considering style, office of the writer, or whether he was writing within the Holy Land or not. Because of the tract Baba Bathra 15a in the Babylonian Talmud, some believe that Hebrew scribes in the fourth century AD simply capriciously moved Daniel to another category. Whatever, none of this affected the acceptance of Daniel as a part of inspired Scripture.The book was highly esteemed by visionaries of the
    End and the Redemption in the Second Temple ear, and the Apocalyptic writers used it extensively.8
    We proceed from the unshakable presupposition that the prophecy which bears his name was written by Daniel the prophet during the time of the exile. The denial of this fact is not new, but was already voiced during the first centuries of our era. … The denial of the authenticity of this beautiful prophecy originated mainly from enmity against the miracle of literally fulfilled prophecy. We find here numerous predictions that have been fulfilled to a word. If the opponents would only acknowledge them to be true predictions, they would then also have to accept the miracle. And with the miracle they would have to acknowledge a wonder-working God. And it was exactly this they refused to do at all costs.9 Barnes adds
    that it was held in high estimation among the Jews as one of their sacred books; that the canon of Scripture was closed some four hundred years before the time of the Saviour; and that, from the nature of the case, it would have been impossible to foist a book of doubtful origin, or an acknowledged fiction, into that canon in a later age. In looking now at the positive evidence of the genuineness and canonical authority of the book, the only points that are really necessary to be made out are two: that it is the work of one author, and that that author was the Daniel of the captivity. If these two points can be established, its right to a place in the canon will be easily demonstrated.10 Barnes further states:
    The Jews were the most cautious of all people in regard to their sacred books, and at an early period of their history the contending sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees arose, and from the very nature of their opinions, and the vigilance of the one against the other, it was impossible that a book could be introduced into the sacred canon which was not universally regarded as genuine and authenthic.11
    Whitcomb summarizes:
    First, Daniel was listed among the prophets in the Septuagint translation (hence the position in our English Bible through the medium of the Vulgate). Second, Josephus (first century A.D.) listed Daniel among the prophets. Third, Melito, bishop of Sardis (A.D. 170), did the same. Fourth, Origen (d. A.D. 254) listed Daniel before Ezekiel and the twelve prophets. R. Laird Harris thus argues not only for the full canonicity of the book of Daniel but also its inclusion among the prophetic books in the most ancient Hebrew collections. In conclusion, Daniel was a canonical book of the Old Testament Scriptures as soon as it was written in the sixth century B.C., because divine inspiration guaranteed canonicity, and that is why our Lord quotes from it. The critical view that Daniel was excluded from the prophets because it was a pseudograph is a denial of all that we know of biblical theology, history, and archaeology.12
    The Style of the Book of Daniel
    The language of Daniel is not complicated are difficult to understand. In so many ways, the book is easy to read. It is interesting to note the flow of the book from beginning to end. The book seems to cover the period of the life of Daniel, from his exile to Babylon as a youth, to his final years as an aged servant of the Lord.
    In the first six chapters, the book is written in the third person, describing the events in Daniel’s life and the prophetic revelations given to him. But then an interesting shift takes place from chapters 7-12—Daniel begins writing in the first person, "I, Daniel." It was common in ancient times to narrate events in the third person, such as happens in the Torah, the writings of Moses. But why would Daniel shift from the third to the first person in his book? The answer may never be known.
    It could be that in the first six chapters, as Daniel began writing about himself, he saw himself simply writing a diary, filled with objective observations. But as he continued, he opened up his heart and became bolder, recording more directly his own thoughts and feelings.
    The book alternates between historical narratives to prophetic visions. And those visions are broad in scope, dealing with great rulers of Daniel’s own day, to far off forecasting of future world events.
    Throughout the book there is the continual weaving of the importance of the nation of Israel in world affairs. Bultema writes
    It is not accidental that the first or historical part of this book, on every possible occasion, points out that Daniel and his friends are Jews, carried off as prisoners from Judah (see 2:25; 3:8, 12; 5:13; 6:13). And the various royal proclamations at the occasions of God’s miracles done on behalf of the remnant, and promulgated to all the nations of the world empire, are, from this point of view, very important. They always point out that the God of the Jews is the Most High, and everlasting and sovereign God.13 But what about the rhythm or the meter of the book of Daniel?
    Under the head of style the question of metrical structure comes in for discussion. Are portions of the book poetic, or is it all prose? Some claim that sections of verses … at least bear evidence of metrical structure: … As long as nothing more is meant than that a kind of rhythmical prose is used when the strain of diction rises to a higher level, we can agree that something analogous to poetry and a kind of metrical structure are involved. But such claims may be stressed beyond what is reasonable and should be advanced with great care.14 The Overall Theme of Daniel
    It is always difficult to find one all pervasive theme for any book of Scripture, but 4:32b may be one to consider for Daniel: "The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes." This testimony of king Nebuchadnezzar may be the most obvious theme, along with other thoughts recorded by this great ruler. He also testified from his own experience with the Lord, "He is able to humble those who walk in pride" (v. 37b).
    Though not the only theme or subject in the book, one cannot escape the great prophetic chronology of the seventy weeks of Daniel found in 9:20-27. The angel Gabriel said, "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city" (v. 24). This prophecy, along with several others, is certainly one of the highlights of the book.
    Concerning the theme Whitcomb writes
    The absolute sovereignty and transcendance of God above all angels and men literally permeates the book. For a brief moment, Nebuchadnezzar looms very large on the international horizon. He is then humbled by the God of heaven and removed. Belshazzar is weighted in God’s balances and then destroyed. And so on down through the ages until "one like a Son of Man" comes "with the clouds of heaven" and receives a kingdom "which will not pass away." What a comfort and encouragement to God’s people, who struggle in the midst of the dust and clamor of a sinful world full of seemingly endless human and angelic conflicts!15 Within the sovereign workings of God, the final rescue of Israel is also a significant theme in the book. Wood observes that the Jews
    needed to see the sure, miraculous hand of their God working, that they might be encouraged and press on in their faith, under difficult circumstances. It should be noted further that God’s presence was made evident, not only in miracles of deed, but also in miracles of word. It was necessary that the people hear from God as well as witness His power.16 Concerning the theme, De Haan adds:
    The book of Daniel emphatically illustrates the truth of God’s justice, for in Daniel we find God’s own covenant people, Israel, in bondage to a heathen king in Babylon. God’s people, to whom pertained the promises and the covenants and the law and the inheritance, reduced to slaves and vassals in a Gentile land. Because of Israel’s idolatry and disobedience, the Lord had sent upon them the captivity of Judah.17 The Major Themes of Daniel
    While it is difficult to isolate one overall theme. Here are subjects that stand out in the book:

    • The integrity and godly life of Daniel. 1:8-21; 6:4-28.
    • The witness of the three friends of Daniel. 3:1-30.
    • The ability of Daniel to interpret dreams for the kings. 2:1-45; 4:1-27; 5:1-29.
    • Daniel’s dreams of future events of the nations. 7:1-12:13.
    • The vision of the Media-Persian and Greek empires. 8:1-25.
    • The Seventy weeks prophecy. 9:20-27.
    • The prophecy of things to come in the relatively near future. 11:2-35.
    • The prophecy of the antichrist. 11:36-45.
    • The prophecy of the resurrection. 12:1-3.
    Archer lists specific theological themes:18
    1. The Sovereignty of God. Especially in chapters 1-6, Yahweh’s miraculous sovereignty is demonstrated on behalf of His own people the Jews. On a very personal level, from the account of the fiery furnace, to Daniel in the lion’s den, "the Lord God of Israel was in charge of the tide of human affairs and was perfectly able to deliver his people from pagan oppression during their captivity."19
    2. The Power of Prayer. Daniel and his three friends did not hold back from pleading
    3. with the Lord when faced with life-threatening dangers. Even the horrors of the fires did not cause Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to cave in to the demands of the rulers. They were totally committed to give their lives for the sake of their God.
    4. A Program of Redemption. Daniel has a long-range view of final victory and
    5. redemption that will come about in the end-times. Salvation will be sure, and the Lord’s Holy One will reign and rule over all of creation.
    6. The Indomitable Grace of God. The Lord made promises that a remnant would be spared and that He would restore the fortunes of Israel.
    Despite periods of rebellion and moral declension during the times of the
    judges, the united monarchy, and the divided monarchy, a core of followers would remain true and keep alive the testimony of a holy people. Even after the sternest warnings of the prophets had been disregarded and severe judgment of near total destruction had overtaken the nation in 587 B.C., the Lord was merciful and gracious to his people during their exile.20 The Purpose of the book of Daniel
    When all seemed lost with the Jewish people, with the terrible destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the voice of God was needed to give a new testimony. The Lord still reigns and His mighty providence rules over all! This message became the central theme of Daniel. Those who were led into captivity needed to know that their trust in the true God of history would be vindicated.

    It was not the purpose of this book to record all the details of the life of Daniel. His lineage, age, life and death, are not recorded. Besides the stories of his faithfulness to the Lord, there are only scattered incidents that are mentioned in the book. Clearly, there was an overriding purpose in the inspiration of the book that goes beyond the prophet. While some of the things Daniel wrote about were probably shared with those closest to him, his prophecy would become more understandable as Jewish history moved closer to the period of the birth of Christ, and even far beyond.
    It was clearly the purpose of God to give to Daniel a comprehensive revelation of His program culminating in the second advent. As such, its prophetic revelation is the key to understanding the Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24-25) as well as the book of Revelation, which is to the New Testament what Daniel was to the Old.21 The Audience
    While there is no targeted audience mentioned in the book, in all probability the book was shared with those who returned from the Babylonian Exile. In actuality, that return took over 100 years, with terrible persecution and intrigue, that is recorded for us in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
    It is reasonable to ask, how much did those returning Jews fully understand about the far prophecies recorded in Daniel? More than likely they read the prophecies with much puzzlement as to what it all meant. They certainly were probably encouraged in reading of the stories of the spiritual and physical deliverance of Daniel and his friends from the hatreds of the Babylonians.

    There is good evidence that the Jewish rabbis living at the time of the birth of Jesus had calculated some of the predictions concerning His first advent from Daniel 9:20-27. Some of the things recorded in the Gospels seem to indicate this fact.

    But besides the Daniel 9:20-27 passage, the Jews knew the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14), and that He would come from Bethlehem (Matt. 2:6; Micah 5:2). Probably from reading the Torah scrolls left in the libraries by Daniel, or some of the priests while in captivity in Babylon, the magi knew of the appearance of the star at the birth of the king, as written in Numbers 24:17.

    Mary was told by the angel the child in her womb was the Son of God, a reference to Psalm 2:7. The shepherds were informed that in the city of David, Bethlehem, the Savior, who is Christ the Lord, a reference to the Son of Man and His Lordship found in Daniel 7:13-14.

    But more than this, the Jews during the time of Christ’s birth must have made Daniel 9 calculations. There clearly was an expectation of the Messiah’s arrival! For example, righteous Simeon was "looking for the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25). It was told him that he would not see death "before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (the Messiah)" (v. 26). In a blessing to God, he said, "my eyes have [now] seen Thy salvation" (v. 30).

    To Mary, Simeon prophesied, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed" (v. 34). This could be an allusion to Daniel 9:26 where the prophet said, "the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing."

    Besides Simeon, an eighty-four year old woman named Anna who served in the temple, after seeing the infant Jesus, "continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (v. 38). This indicates there were many who were expecting the coming of the Messiah at that time.

    The book of Daniel has future implications that a far generation would better understand. The angel Michael said, "as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time" (Dan. 12:4). Michael further said, "Go, your way, Daniel, for these words [of this book] are concealed and sealed up until the end time" (v. 9). Then, there will be "those who have insight [and] will understand" (v. 10).
    1. D. J. Wiseman, ed., Chronicles of Chaldean Kings (626-556B.C.) in the British Museum, 24-25.
    2. C. Hassell Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 282.
    3. J. Vernon McGee, Daniel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), xi.
    4. James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Book of Daniel (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989), 5.
    5. Randall Price, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1996), 152.
    6. Ibid., 153.
    7. John F. Walvoord, Daniel (Chicago: Moody, 1971), 11.
    8. Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi Baras, eds., Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977), 35.
    9. Harry Bultema, Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1988), 16.
    10. Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament, 14 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 7:45.
    11. Ibid., 7:49.
    12. John C. Whitcomb, Daniel (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1985), 16-17.
    13. Harry Bultema, Commentary on Daniel, 22.
    14. H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 36-37.
    15. John C. Whitcomb, Daniel, 17.
    16. Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 14.
    17. M. R. De Haan, Daniel the Prophet (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1995), 26.
    18. Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 Vols., Daniel, Gleason L. Archer (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 7:8-9.
    19. Ibid., 8.
    20. Ibid., 9.
    21. John F. Walvoord, Daniel, 13.
  • Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    Daniel and the Book of Revelation

    Because the major part of the book of Revelation is prophetic, and will be fulfilled after the Church Age, it is only logical that Daniel of often alluded to, or quoted in part as the book progresses. Scholars of all prophetic and theological persuasions have taken note of this fact. But it is also true that many other Old Testament books are also made mention of. Swete says
    The writer of the Apocalypse refers to each of the three great divisions of the Hebrew canon, and to most of the books. He lays under contribution each of the books of the Law, the Book of Judges, the four Books of Kingdoms, the Psalms, the Proverbs, the Song [of Solomon], the Book of Job, all the major and seven of the minor Prophets. But there are certain books which he uses with especial frequency; more than, half his references to the Old Testament belong to the Psalms, the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, and in proportion to its length the Book of Daniel yields by far the greatest number.1 Swete adds that Revelation often uses words, phrases, and simple indirect quotes, sometimes "with no special allusion to particular contexts."2
    But there are other references in which it is clear that [John] has in view certain books and passages, and is practically quoting from them, although no formula of quotation is used. These occur chiefly in the visions of the Apocalypse, which are based in almost every case on the histories or the prophecies of the Old Testament.3 Bullinger concurs:
    Who can doubt that Daniel and Revelation are identical as to their scope; and that they relate, not to this present church period at all, but to the time when "he that liveth," or the Living One, shall come to exercise dominion in the earth, and this in connection, not with grace of God, but with "the wrath of God" (Rev. xv.7)? The double testimony of two witnesses, in Daniel and Revelation, bespeak the fact that this title relates entirely to the earth, and to man.4 One connection that stands out is the quote by John the apostle to the Messiah coming from glory to reign. He writes, "Behold, He is coming with the clouds" (Rev. 1:7), and one is standing "like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, …" (v. 13). This picture is found in Daniel 7:13, "And behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming." Jesus repeats this vision in Matthew 24:30b: "The Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." The Lord also gives the same prophecy to Caiaphas at His trial. "Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" (26:64).
    This historical event is further described in Revelation when John writes,
    Behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; ...And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; ...He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev. 19:11-16) With 404 verses in the book of Revelation, there are 278 which "contain references to the Jewish Scriptures."4 The parallels can best be seen in the Greek quotes found in the Septuagint (LXX). Below are most of these allusions and phrases, as found in both Daniel and Revelation:6
    • Daniel Revelation
    • 1:(12), 14 2:10
    • 2:28 1:1
    • 2:29 2:19
    • 2:35 12:8
    • 2:44 11:13
    • 2:47 17:14
    • 3:4; 7:14 10:11
    • 3:6 13:15
    • 4:31, (34) 4:10
    • 5:23 9:20
    • 7:3 11:7
    • 7:6 13:2
    • 7:7 12:3
    • 7:9 1:14; 20:4
    • 7:13 1:7
    • 7:13; 10:16 1:13
    • 7:10 5:11; 20:12
    • 7:20 13:5
    • 7:21 13:7
    • 7:24 12:14
    • 8:26 10:4
    • 9:6 10:7
    • 10:5 1:13
    • 10:6 19:6
    • 10:9, 12 1:17
    • 10:13 12:7
    • 12:1 7:14; 16:18; 20:15
    1. Henry Barclay Swete, Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1977), cliii.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Ibid., cliii-cliv.
    4. E. W. Bullinger, Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1984), 24.
    5. Henry Barclay Swete, Commentary on Revelation, cxl.
    6. Ibid., cxl-cliii.

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    The Theology of the Book of Daniel

    Theology Proper 

    The book of Daniel is a book about God and His sovereign activities in the realm of mankind! The book gives a marvelous portrait of who He is, how He operates, and what He will be doing in the future. One can argue that this prophecy book is about the man Daniel; about a judgment of the Lord upon His people, about how He deals with the pagan nations; and it is about what He will do in the future. But the book is also about the Lord God Himself. His attributes, nature, personality, and character are set forth in great description throughout these pages. As one cannot escape noticing the prophet Daniel, and the great kings mentioned in the book, neither is it possible to escape seeing the One who works in the hearts of men, and who mightily moves the nations for His purposes!
    It may be equally said that Daniel was written
    That the heathen would know that Jehovah as the God of heaven stands above all other gods and all the great rulers of the world, and that this great God is Himself the cause of the various world empires. Furthermore, that this God of heaven in a special sense is the God of the Jews, who preserves His people under all oppression and persecution and will one day lead them to the eternal glory of the indestructible kingdom.1 The Attributes of God
    God is Sovereign. Throughout the book, Daniel a predominant theme is that God is in charge of His universe, and of the affairs of men. It was the Lord who "gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand" (Dan. 1:2), and He gave the Hebrew youth "knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom" (v. 17). Jehovah is in charge of the hearts and minds of people. He also rules in history. "And it is He who changes the times and the epochs, He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men" (2:21).

    One of the greatest testimonies to the sovereignty of God in Daniel comes from Nebuchadnezzar, after the Lord had humbled him like a lowly animal. He said,
    The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes. (4:32b) And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off his hand or say to Him, "What hast Thou done?" (4:35). The king acknowledged God has a right to rule, and be this humble recognition, he was restored to his throne. "The king confessed that man is answerable to God, not God to man, forno one can stop God and no one has the right to question Him (cf. Job 33:12b-13; Isa. 29:16; 45:9; Rom. 9:19-20)."2

    God is the Living God. King Belshazzar and his court "drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone" (Dan. 5:4). But the God of Daniel lives! He decides, acts, judges, and brings about things not before seen. God is not passive, nor is He simply a Force of natural causes.

    Twice in Daniel it is said that God is "a living God" (6:20, 26), and that He "lives forever" (4:34). God is self-existent and needs no outside power to Be! He just is! This is punctuated by the expression "a living God," and He lives and exists "forever," simply because life is His innate attribute that defines His very being.

    God is Eternal. Because the Lord’s kingdom and dominion lasts forever (7:14, 27), it stands to reason that He is an eternal Being! But Daniel goes on and looks further at this attribute of God that shows He is an eternal being—He has always been, and He will always be! Because God is the author of the resurrection of the dead, the righteous who come forth will shine "like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, … like the stars forever and ever" (12:3b). They have come out of the grave by the power of "Him who lives forever" (v. 7b).

    But the most clear expression of His eternality may be found in the expression Ancient of Days (7:9, 13, 22). This might better be translated, One advanced in days. Leupold well states that this pictures
    one who has evidently lived for a long time. For it is of moment to emphasize that the judge is the Eternal One who has witnessed all the deeds and acts of men and of kingdoms and is, therefore, well able to pronounce an equitable judgment. … An almost adequate translation of this unusual name of God would be the "Eternal One."3 The name of God is to be blessed forever (2:4), honored as the one who lives forever (4:34), and sworn by, as the one who lives forever (12:7).

    God is Omniscient. This is the attribute of full and complete knowledge of all that is, of all that was, and of all that will be yet in the future. God knows potentially would could be, and actually what is! Down to the smallest workings of the atom, to the tracking of the most distant star, the Lord knows His universe, and all that is in it—because He is the Creator of it, in both its substance and in its function.

    God revealed to Daniel the mystery and the meaning of the Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great and splendid giant statue (2:19). Daniel proclaimed to the king that God reveals "the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him" (v. 22). Only the God in heaven can make known "what will take place in the latter days" (v. 28); He is "the great God [who] has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy" (v. 45b). (Italics mine.)

    Because of His omniscience, prophecy is absolutely certain! What the Lord knows in a future sense, will come to pass! This is why the book of Daniel closes with the sobering words and encouraging words of Michael, who shared these predictions from the Lord, that "there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book will be rescued" (v. 1).

    Since God is the author of all time, and He knows all that time will bring about, the book of Daniel closes with this fact: "All these events will be completed" (v. 7). "How blessed is he who keeps waiting" for what is predicted to come to pass (v. 12).

    God is Holy. When Daniel testifies that "the light dwells with Him" (2:22), he is saying that the Lord is transparent, there is no sin in Him; He is pure and perfect! James must have had this in mind when he writes that God is the "Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow" (James 1:17).

    Surprisingly, the word kod’esh is not used in the book of Daniel to describe the nature of God as the Holy One. But quite a few references describing holiness refer to that which belongs to the Lord.

    A dream came to Nebuchadnezzar, delivered by "an angelic watcher, a holy one," who descended from heaven (4:13, 23). The vision of the ram and the goat was given to Daniel by two "holy" ones speaking with him (8:13). Prophecies were given to Daniel about the temple, the "holy place" that would be "trampled" and then "restored" (v. 13-14). Daniel mentions the holy mountain of God in Jerusalem (9:16, 20; 11:45), the holy city (9:24), the holy covenant (11:28, 30), and the holy people (8:24; 12:7).

    The related word sanctuary is used to describe the temple and possibly the temple walls (8:11; 9:17, 26; 11:31).

    God is Transcendent. God is portrayed as being far above the commonplace of material existence. He is both near but far! He is the Sovereign who exists above all rulers, kings, and other gods. This transcendence does not imply passivity but universal dominion, whereby He controls and rules over all He has made.

    Nebuchadnezzar described God as "the Most High God" who had done great things from him (4:2). A voice from heaven earlier had told him, "you [will] recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes" (v. 32). When he was restored to health, the king testified, "I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever" (v. 34). Belshazzar learned that he could not rule over an earthly kingdom without the providential granting from the God of heaven. Daniel told him, "O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory, and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father" (5:18), who was given grass to eat "until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind" (v. 21).

    The "other horn," the prophesied antichrist, will fight against the Lord, "the Most High," and will attempt to thwart His plans and purposes (7:25).

    God is Righteous. God is just and right in all that He does. There is no sin or evil in His nature. He will judge with perfect clarity and justice. He cannot be anything less that perfect and upright in His character, and in His dealings with humanity.

    Daniel comes right out and says, "Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord" (9:7). In his great prayer of contrition, Daniel prayed that "the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice" (v. 14), and because righteousness is one of His attributes, Daniel appealed to the Lord who can be trusted to be gracious, "with all Thy righteous acts" (v. 16). Daniel, with great boldness, urged Nebuchadnezzar to "break away now from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities" (4:27).

    At the end of world history, and after the completion of the Seventy weeks prophecy, God will "finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, …" (v. 24). This righteousness will be part of the spiritual reality of the millennial reign of Christ.

    Those who are blessed with the resurrection of "everlasting life," will have been led to salvation by others who have shared the grace of God with them. As Daniel closes his book, he writes of "those who lead the many to righteousness," and with this blessing, they will shine with glory, "like the stars forever and ever" (12:3).
    On 9:7 Gill writes that God’s righteousness is
    essential to him, it is his nature, and appears in all his works; he is perfectly pure, holy, and righteous; he is just and without iniquity; and there is no unrighteousness in him, nor any to be charged upon him, on account of any thing done by him; punitive justice belongs to him; nor is he to be complained of because of his judgments.4 The Descriptions of God.
    The God of Heaven. This expression implies the sovereignty of God. To say that the Lord rules from heaven, and that heaven is His, means that what comes down from heaven determines all that happens here below on earth. This is clear when Daniel, interpreting one of Nebuchandezzar’s dreams, reminds the sovereign "that it is Heaven that rules" (4:26b), i.e., the God who is in heaven reigns!

    At the end of his seven years living as an animal crawling about in the grass, the king raised his eyes toward heaven in a gesture appealing to the Lord for mercy and deliverance (v. 34). He is miraculously healed and praises God for restoring his sanity.
    Earlier in the book, Daniel has described the Lord as "the God of heaven" (2:18, 19, 28, 37, 44). The idea may be, "The Lord lives in haven and His power is in all the earth," or "The power is from the heavens." Human wisdom and intelligence is not sufficient in living in this world. There is a God who sees all, and is above all. His mysterious providence from heaven also controls what happens in the realm of mankind. Wood suggests
    This designation for God appears to have been employed especially about the time of the Exile (cf. Dan. 2:19, 44; Ezra 1:2; 6:10; 7:12, 21; Neh. 1:5; 2:4). It was particularly significant when used in a country foreign to Israel, for it carried the thought that God was over the sun, moon, and stars, which were worshiped by the pagans.5 The God who is Lord. Especially in chapter 9, Daniel makes God his personal Lord and Master ("adoh-nahy"). He writes: "the Lord God" (9:3), "the Lord my God" (v. 4), "the Lord our God" (vv. 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 17). After the word is first used in 1:2, it is not used again until this chapter, and then it is no longer found in the book of Daniel! Other references in this chapter are in verses 7, 8, 16, and 19.

    Why is adoh-nahy almost exclusively found in 9:3-19, the verses that lead up to the Seventy weeks prophecy?

    The answer may be that Daniel pours out his heart as a servant to the Master, the Lord, about his own sins, about the sins of the nation of Judah. In doing this he cries out in prayers and supplications as a humble slave to ask God to "listen … for Thy sake." "Let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary," he pleads (v. 17). He confesses in several verses before, that the nation had "not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our God by turning from our iniquity" (v. 13).

    The imagery is that the people are indebted to the Master for His mercy. Though the nation of Judah in captivity is undeserving, yet Daniel pleads that the Lord "not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name" (v. 19).

    The Aramaic section of Daniel, 2:47 uses the word ma’ray for the word Lord. 

    Ruler of a Timeless Kingdom. Daniel uses the same terminology to describe the sovereign rule of the Lord, but in two different contexts that are overlaid with each other. When the three Hebrew children were spared in the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar declared the wonders of the Most High God: "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation" (4:3). For a moment at least, the king realized that the God of Israel held universal sway over the powers of the earth. The Lord’s kingdom supercedes all the earthly powers put together. His dominion over the nations continues from generation to generation and has no ending.

    But Nebuchadnezzar’s humility would not last; he would return to his prideful ways. The Lord would humble him for seven years as he groveled in the grasses like an animal (vv. 28-34). But when his reason was restored, he would again testify that "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation" (v. 34). Archer comments:
    Nebuchadnezzar honored God as the Ruler whose kingdom, unlike All human empires, would never end. … even the mightiest and Strongest realms would have their day and then perish. The only Enduring kingdom was that of God, the ultimate source of authority And power for all human rulers, who by his own sovereign will Controls history.6 Similar wording would be used to describe the future kingdom of the Messiah, the Son of Man, who would establish the "fifth" kingdom, after the fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire, would "be taken away annihilated and destroyed forever" (7:26). With the millennial reign of the Son of Man in view, Daniel prophesied
    Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him. (v. 27) Archer adds:

    Destruction on the Beast’s empire and on the whole wicked world will usher in the seating of the Son of Man on the throne of absolute sovereignty and the commencement of the fifth kingdom (of ch. 2) administered by his faithful believers. No unsubdued, rebellious elements will be left among the surviving inhabitants of earth: "the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole earth" will be granted Messiah’s people. … The Son of Man is to be equated with the Most High himself.7 God of the Host of Heaven. The Lord "does according to His will in the host of heaven" (4:35). The Aramaic word chay’yel refers to "a strong arm, force of arms, an army."8 The heavenly army or angelic troops is here in view. His will is enforced among both the fallen angels and the elect angels. While the fallen angels rebelled with Satan against the Lord (Isa. 14; Ezek. 28), still they cannot operate beyond the absolute and all encompassing will of God.

    Activities of God.
    Revealer of Mysteries. The magicians and conjurers of Babylon were doomed because they could not reveal the meaning in the troubling dream of Nebuchadnezzar’s giant statue (2:13). Daniel and his three friends called for a prayer meeting in which they appealed to God for an interpretation. They "request[ed] compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon" (v. 18).

    When the mystery was revealed in a night vision to Daniel, he blessed God and said, "It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things" (v. 22a). Daniel told the king that "there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries," (v. 28) who will make known what is to take place in the latter days (v. 29).

    After the dream was told to Nebuchadnezzar, he testified, "Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery" (v. 47).

    On the mysteries in Daniel, Leupold writes:
    Daniel coins a new name for his God; he describes Him as the Revealer of secrets and asserts that He it is who has revealed to Nebuchadnezzar what he had sought to know. Observe how much more effective such instruction about God’s hand in the matter must be while the mind is still tense as to the meaning of it all and not yet absorbed in the details of the revelation. Daniel once again humble disclaims having any wisdom above other living mortals that had made him worthy to receive such special revelation. For well might the young Daniel wonder that he should have been singled out to receive so unusual a forecast of the future. Daniel discerns clearly that God, for reasons of his own, has chosen to impart certain knowledge of future events to this great monarch, and that he, Daniel, is merely the vehicle that carries the truth.7 Reveals Himself as a Personal God. When the three Jewish men were spared from a sure death in the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar realized that the Lord of Israel was not simply a passive, far-off deity. He was involved personally in their welfare, and in turn, they had personal communication with Him. The king said, "Blessed by the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego" (3:28), and, He is "the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego" (v. 29).

    Darius witnessed the relationship Daniel had with his God. When Daniel was tossed into the den of lions, the king said, "Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you" (6:16). When Daniel was spared, this sovereign ruler added that the men of his kingdom were to "tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God" (v. 26).
    Just before Daniel received the great Seventy weeks prophecy of 9:20-27, Daniel was praying over the sins of those who were in captivity with him. He over and over again refers to the Lord as "our God," and appeals to Jehovah as saving "Thy people." And several times, he cried out, "O my God" (vv. 18, 19). Because of his intimacy with the Lord, Gabriel said of him that he was "highly esteemed" (v. 23), probably meaning, of the Lord Himself!

    The Providence of God. It may well be said that the entire book of Daniel reflects the doctrine of the sovereignty and providence of God. From beginning to end, the Lord is the one who is in charge of what is happening with Daniel, and the kings referred to in this prophetic work. Berkhof says that
    The word "providence" has come to signify the provision which God makes for the ends of His government, and the preservation and government of all His creatures. This is the sense in which it is now generally used in theology, but it is not the only sense in which theologians have employed it.10 He adds
    Providence may be defined as the continual exercise of the divine energy whereby the Creator preserves all His creatures, is operative in all that comes to pass in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end.11 The book of Daniel begins with God directing the events of the captivity of Judah. We read, "The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God" (1:2). The last chapter of Daniel records, "all these events will be completed" (12:7). A personal providential promise is given to the man Daniel. He is told that he will "enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age" (v. 13).

    In dozens of places throughout the book, the Lord is moving events and personalities to accomplish His purposes. He is the one who even keeps alive the great monarchs who have sinned against God and exalted themselves "against the Lord of heaven" (5:23). Belshazzar was told, "But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and your ways, you have not glorified" (v. 23b).

    God’s providence keeps human beings alive, and causes people to walk certain paths through life! The providence of God is a central doctrinal theme in the book of Daniel!
    The God who gives Laws. When the commissioners of the government under Darius began to plot the downfall of Daniel, they pondered their strategy and came up with an observation and then a plan. They argued, "We shall not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God" (6:5). They realized that his piety and devotion to his Lord had to be seen as a bone of contention with the king.

    This argument by these governmental agents tells us that they knew of the Law of Moses and realized how faithful Daniel was in obeying his God. They conspired to bring down Daniel by the pagan "law of the Medes and Persians" (v. 8b). But by keeping the Mosaic Law, Daniel was seen to be innocent because of the miracle of his survival in the lions’ den. Daniel could say to the king in so many words, "’I have committed no crime’ (v. 22b) because of my keeping the Law of my God!"

    In Daniel’s great prayer of contrition, he refers to the laws and commandments of the Lord that his people had ignored. He pours out his heart by prayer and supplications, "with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes" (9:3), and says that God is a great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness with "those who love Him and keep His commandments" (v. 4b). To disobey the Law is to practice "unfaithful deeds" against Him (v. 7b), to sin against His person (v. 8b), and to rebel against Him (v. 9b).

    Daniel explains that the nation went into captivity because the people had not "obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets" (v. 10). He adds, "So the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him" (v. 11). And, "it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth" (v. 13).

    Surprisingly, the pagan enemies of Daniel knew of the Law of God, but as well, it was the holy legal code from God that was violated and amplified the sins of the people, thus causing them to go into the punishment of the captivity.

    Israelology comes out of classical dispensationalism. Its basic premise is that God has a distinct future plan for the nation of Israel. He is not through with the Jewish people. There will be an opening of their eyes and a return to the land. Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel who will return in a historic and literal way, as described in "normal" language in both the Old and New Testaments.

    Because of the pervasive position of the Jewish people throughout Scripture, a distinct study of their place in systematic theology has been lacking. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum coined the term Israelology and gave the word its rightful place in theology.12 Israelology would include the following biblical doctrines and facts:
    • Israel’s election and permanent place in the Bible.
    • The purpose of Israel as a witness to Jehovah, Isaiah 43:10-12.
    • The unconditional covenants of Israel: Abrahamic, Davidic, Land, New.
    • The conditional Mosaic covenant.
    • The continuity of the Abrahamic through history.
    • Israel as a "blessing" to the Gentile world.
    • The "cutting off" of the Messiah and the Seventy weeks prophecy.
    • The disbursement of the Jewish people throughout the world.
    • The doctrine of the physical remnant of Israel.
    • The literal seven year tribulation.
    • The return of the Jews to their promised land.
    • The second coming of the Son of Man to reign over Israel and the world.
    Almost all of the above subjects can be found in the book of Daniel, especially if the book is interpreted in a normal, literal hermeneutic. If taken allegorically, many of these subjects would be relegated over to the church that would then become "spiritual" Israel! But Fruchtenbaum correctly points out:
    A careful study of [Daniel 9:24-27] will show that the first 483 of the 490 years are now history, having been fulfilled at the time of the first coming of the Messiah. However, there are seven years left to run in God’s prophetic time clock for Israel. These are the same seen years as those of the Great Tribulation. The issue now is: What is the one event that begins these last seven years ticking away? Daniel 9:27 answers that question. This verse speaks of an individual making a seven-year covenant with the Jewish nation. … When the Antichrist signs a seven-year covenant with Israel, the last seven years of God’s prophetic time clock for Israel begin ticking away. This and only this is the starting point of the seven years of the Tribulation. … The point is: it is the signing of the seven-year covenant between Israel and the Antichrist that begins the Tribulation, and not anything else.13 The book of Daniel is certainly a book that focuses on the doctrine of Israelology!

    The person of the Messiah also certainly dominates the pages of the book of Daniel. It is His kingdom coming down from the "God of heaven" that is first described in 2:44-45. It is a rule that will crush and put an end "to all these kingdoms [of the world]" and that "will itself endure forever" (v. 45b).

    In the fiery furnace in which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego is tossed, the fourth person "walking about" could have been the preincarnate Christ, though some believe this was simply an angel. Nebuchadnezzar, looking into the fire, cried out the fourth "is like a son of the gods!" (3:25). This is the way the NAS translates his words. However, the Aramaic word for gods is ela’hin, a plural of ‘elah. As with the plural Hebrew word for God, elohim, this may be referring to the God of the Bible, or to gods. It is not expected that Nebuchadnezzar would be correct in his theology, though he was impressed that this person was a supernatural being.

    Everyone agrees that the Son of Man in Daniel’s heavenly vision is the Christ (7:13). He is also probably the Highest One in the verses that follow, who will rule over the saints in His coming kingdom (vv. 18, 23, 25, 27). His kingdom "will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him" (v. 27b).

    Christ is certainly in view as the Messiah in the Seventy week prophecy (9:20-27). He is the one who comes on the scene near the end of the prophecy. He is described as the one who "will be cut off and have nothing" at His first coming (v. 26). (This important prophecy will be explained later.)

    While there is a difference of opinion, many commentators believe that Daniel sees the Messiah who speaks with him in 10:1-21. The old prophet has a similar response as John the apostle when he was confronted with the glorified Jesus in the book of Revelation 1:12-20. Daniel "saw the great vision," his strength left him, and his color changed to "a deathly pallor" (Dan. 10:7-8). He lost his strength and fell on his face in a deep sleep (v. 9). Trembling in his knees, he was lifted up by the being standing before him (v. 10). Also,the face of this personality had the appearance of lightning, eyes like flaming torches, arms and feet like bronze, and spoke like "the sound of a tumult" (v. 6).
    On this vision McGee writes that Daniel
    sees a certain man. Who is that certain man? Some very excellent expositors hesitate to identify him, and they dodge the dilemma by saying he was a heavenly visitor. Well, that is really generalizing, and you can’t be very wrong if you call him a heavenly visitor. But that is not an exegesis of the passage. I believe this Person is Christ.14 The Messiah, who is "dressed in linen," continues prophesying to Daniel from chapter ten all the way through chapter twelve, except for 12:5-8. In verse 8, Daniel exclaims, "My lord" to the one speaking to him. McGee adds, "’The man clothed in linen’ has been previously identified as the postincarnate Christ."15

    Walvoord concludes:
    The description of the face illumined as it were by lightning, with eyes as flaming torches, is quite similar to the reference to Christ in Revelation 1:14-16. The polished brass of the arms and feet is similar to the "feet like unto fine brass" of Christ (Rev. 1:15). And the lightning compares to the countenance of Christ likened to the sun in brilliance in Revelation 1:16, also to similar references in Ezekiel 1:13-14. … The total impression upon Daniel, described in the verses which follow, must have been tremendous and similar to that of John the apostle when he saw the glorified Christ (Rev. 1:17).16 Christology also dominates the landscape of the book of Daniel!

    The human spirit is mentioned four times in the book of Daniel (2:1, 3; 5:20; 7:15). Five references can be taken as statements from paganism and refer to the "spirit of the
    gods" or "holy gods" was residing in Daniel (4:8, 9, 18; 5:11, 14). The first three references were made by Nebuchadnezzar, and the last two by the queen mother of Belshazzar. The word for gods is the Aramaic plural equivalent of Elohim in Hebrew, and could refer to the deity Daniel worships, i.e., the God of Daniel.

    At the beginning of the book of Daniel we are told that Daniel, and his friends, had been given by the Lord "knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom" and even "understood all kinds of visions and dreams" (1:17).

    The queen mother, who remembered some of the spiritual accomplishments of Daniel in the days of Belshazzar’s father Nebuchandezzar, said this man had wisdom, and "an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams," and explanations of enigmas (5:11-12). She was virtually repeating what God had done with young Daniel as recorded in the beginning of the book.

    Therefore, it is not impossible, that while the theology of these pagan people was skewed by their thinking, they were really referring in a very distinct work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Daniel! The pagan people did not fully understand what they were saying!
    6:3 may lend credence to this argument. The biblical narration about Daniel says that he "began distinguishing himself" during the reign of Darius, and "he possessed an extraordinary spirit." This is not a statement from a pagan but is a part of the biblical analysis of the man. The Aramaic word extraordinary is yah’te’rah and refers to a spirit with an extraordinary, extreme ability.17 We can now examine the entire narration of Daniel and say that spirit in these passages might have in mind the Holy Spirit. Unger to a degree concurs with this view, and on 4:8-9 writes:
    The king was speaking in his pre-humbled condition, it is somewhat doubtful that the passage should be rendered "in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God," though the translation is grammatically possible (cf. Josh. 24:19), being supported by the Greek of Theodotian and the Revised Standard Version margin, and being in accord with the epithet "holy" (v. 18; 5:11).  The difficulty of the passage lies in the fact that Nebuchadnezzar spoke like a pagan who had acquired some notions of the one true God, but whose spiritual history was still in the formative stages. So he employed the epithet "holy," which belongs solely to God, to heathen deities (cf. Deut. 32:31; Isa. 63:11).18 Whatever the conclusions may be, the above references are the only ones that could refer to the Holy Spirit, the God of Israel, in the book of Daniel.

    As in all of the Old Testament, salvation consists in basically believing in the God of Israel. He Himself was the object of salvation. The prime example of salvation faith is found in Abraham who simply believed all that God said He was going to do, in regard to his future generations. The Lord said: You will have many children! "So shall your descendants be" (Gen. 15:5b). "Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness" (v. 6).

    Being called a "righteous one" was not a reference to living a perfect life. It became a category that classified those who belonged to God. Though the word is not used in Daniel, it is implied by other descriptions. Those who will be resurrected to salvation, and who now sleep in the dust, "will awake, … to everlasting life" (Dan. 12:2). They possess insight and "will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse" (v. 3a). They are those "who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever" (v. 3b).
    The righteous will be "purged, purified and refined" while the wicked will not understand (v. 10) and will be resurrected to "disgrace and everlasting contempt" (v. 2b). Daniel was reassured that he would go his way "to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age" (v. 13).

    After coming out of the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar praised Daniel’s three friends and said of them that they were God’s "servants who put their trust in Him" (3:28). It was said of Daniel that he was faithful to his God (6:4), and that he received no injury with the lions because "he had trusted in his God" (v. 23).

    Almost all commentators attest that Nebuchadnezzar became a believer in God because of his astounding testimony following his seven years of crawling in the grass (4:28-37). After his reasoning powers returned, he "blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever" (v. 34a). Furthermore, he praised, exalted, honored "the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride" (v. 37).

    The statements in Daniel about salvation form an important tapestry for the book, especially the thoughts found in the last chapter about the resurrection and of "everlasting life" (12:2).

    The doctrine of the church cannot be found in the book of Daniel. The amillennial view takes the "fifth" kingdom of Daniel 7 as the church age. But this final kingdom is not described in a spiritualized sense, but in an actual, earthly and historical sense. It is not the church but the millennial kingdom of the "Son of Man" (v. 13). The expression Son of Man is always used in referring to Christ serving as the Messiah of the restored people of Israel, and not of the church.

    In 7:13, the "Son who relates to Mankind" is entering the throne room of the Ancient of Days, following His sojourn, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven. He returns a second time to historically reign on earth for 1000 years over the saved Jewish people in the Holy Land. This reign is certainly not the church.

    The church age was a mystery to those in the New Testament period. It was not predicted in the Old Testament. The church is the new "stewardship" ("dispensation") of God’s grace, granted to Paul by revelation and "was made known to me [as] the mystery" (Eph. 3:2-3), and "was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles and fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (vv. 5-6). The church is the "administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God" (v. 9).

    1. Harry Bultema, Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1988), 22.
    2. H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 301.
    1. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament (Wheaton: Scripture Press, 1987), 1343.
    2. John Gill, Gill’s Commentary, 6 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 4:544.
    3. Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 59.
    4. Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 Vols., Gleason L. Archer, Daniel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 7:67.
    5. Ibid., 94-94.
    6. William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 405.
    7. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel, 106-07.
    8. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 165.
    9. Ibid., 166.
    10. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin, CA: Ariel Minstries, 1993).
    11. Ibid., 769.
    12. J. Vernon McGee, Daniel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 163.
    13. Ibid., 196.
    14. John F. Walvoord, Daniel (Chicago: Moody, 1971), 243-44.
    15. A. Cohen, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah (London: Soncino, 1968), 42.
    16. Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, 2 Vols. (Chicago: Moody, 1981), 2:1626-27.