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!