Daniel


The book of Daniel is one of the most controversial books of the Bible.  When properly interpreted, it's history and prophecy is so amazingly accurate that it has befuddled its critics for years.  Time and time again, its liberal critics have made claims such as the book had to have been written after many its prophecies had already been fulfilled.  Yet, time and time again it has turned back its critics and proven to be the amazing prophetic book that it is. 

Daniel was carried into the 70 years of Babylonian captivity in about 600 B.C.  God said that Daniel was a man greatly loved. 

Daniel was a man of purpose who refused to be defiled by immorality or idolatry.  He led a holy life, in fear of His God. 

Daniel was also a man of prayer, not taking any action on any issue without first praying about it, even when he was putting himself at risk of government persecution simply by praying. 

Finally, Daniel was a man of prophecy.  He proclaimed God's prophesy even when doing would put his very life at risk. 

Daniel 1

Daniel is one of the most difficult prophetic book of the Bible to understand.  It begins with the Babylonian captivity and it gives detailed accounts of four of the young Jewish men taken captive from Judah, each assigned a heathen name in their new heathen land.  Daniel was called Belteshazzar; Hananiah was callee Shadrack; Mishael was called Meschach; and, Azariah was called Abednego.  When these four men were commanded to eat the rich royal food and drink wine, they refused.  They knew it was better for them to eat only vegetables and water.  When this indeed proved to be a healthier diet, Daniel became King Nebuchadnezzar's counselor and right-hand man. 

Daniel 2

Nebuchadnezzar greatly respected Daniel's proven wisdom, and he called upon Daniel to interpret a dream.  However, he not only wanted the interpretation, but also the very dream itself, because Nebuchadnezzar could not remember it.  As in any situation, Daniel prayed, asking God to reveal the dream and its interpretation.  God showed Daniel the dream, and Daniel explained it to Nebuchadnezzar, giving God the glory. 

The dream depicted a statue made of five different materials:  a head of gold; arms of silver; sides of brass; and, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay.  The statue was destroyed by a rock.  The interpretation was that there would be four Gentile world kingdoms to come (and the fourth one would split), and they would be followed by a heavenly kingdom.  This was a picture of world domination by the Gentiles (not the Jews), before God would set up His Heavenly Kingdom on earth. 

We now know that this prophecy was fulfilled by the Gentile world empires of Babylon (the head of gold), Media-Persia (the arms of silver), Greece (sides of brass), and Rome (legs of iron and feet of iron and clay)--which eventually split into eastern and western kingdoms.  Rome is the only one of these kingdoms that still exists today.  God's heavenly kingdom on earth is still to come, in the end times. 

Daniel 3

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refused to participate in Babylonian idolatry.  As a result, the king scolded them, but gave them a second change.  When they again refused, and emphatically proclaimed that they would worship only God, they were thrown into a fiery furnace--one so hot that it even killed the men who cast them into it.  God miraculously saved the three men while they were in the fire, and neither their hair nor clothes were even singed or smoky.  This is a picture of God's deliverance of the nation of Israel from the coming Great Tribulation Period of the end times. 

Daniel 4

Daniel, through the power of God's Holy Spirit, interpreted a second dream for King Nebuchadnezzar.  In this dream was a tree and a messenger.  The dream predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would lose his power and influence, and become lost in the wilderness.  Later, however, after acknowledging God, he would be restored to his throne.  As outlandish as this seemed, this prophecy was fulfilled in minute detail, beginning just twelve months later.  King Nebuchadnezzar basically went insane, even feeding on grass with the cows in the field.  Dr. J. Vernon McGee suggests that this reveals the character of gentile rule of this world. 

Daniel 5

Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar, succeeded Nebuchadnezzar as king.  Belshazzar had a party where he witnessed a mysterious handwriting on a wall.  When Daniel interpreted the mysterious writing as a prediction that Babylon would be destroyed by Media-Persia, Belshazzar was killed that very night. 

This symbolizes a glimpse into the future concerning how the times of the Gentile world rulers would eventually come to an end.  They will go out in a blaze of human glory and divine judgment. 

Daniel 6

After the Persians defeated Babylon, King Darius of Persia eventually ordered a decree against all prayer.  Violation of this decree was punishable by death in the lion's den.  As we might expect, Daniel took a faithful stand and simply continued his prayer life.  Consequently, he was thrown into the lion's den, but he was protected there by an angel.  Darius was so moved by this display of power and authority by Daniel's God that he then ordered fear and reverence to the God of Daniel. 

This is another symbol of the way that God would eventually preserved the remnant of Israel during the Great Tribulation of the end times.  In that day, Israel will be hated by all nations and persecuted by Satan, and they will seek to destroy Israel.  However, they will be miraculously preserved by God. 

Daniel 7

During the reign of Belshazzar, Daniel himself had a dream which concerned four beasts, God, God's King, and God's record book.  The interpretation of this dream that God gave Daniel was that four worldly Gentile kingdoms were coming, and this prophecy has been partially fulfilled. 

The first Gentile kingdom was Babylon, the lion, led by Nebuchadnezzar.  This corresponds to the head of gold of the statue in chapter 2.  The second Gentile kingdom was the Media-Persia kingdom, the bear (the arms of silver in the statue).  The third Gentile kingdom was Greece, the leopard, or panther (the sides of brass in the statue), which we now know would eventually be led by Alexander the Great.  The fourth Gentile kingdom was Rome, a composite beast (the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay in the statue).  We know that Rome later split into eastern and western kingdoms, but here we are also told that Rome will have ten kings.  Its eleventh king will be the Antichrist, who will destroy three of the other kings.  God's people will be persecuted for "time, times, and half a time," which we interpret as three-and-a-half years.  Then the Messiah will reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem during His earthly millennial kingdom, and Jerusalem will be the spiritual and political center of power. 

Daniel 8

Daniel then had a vision concerning a ram and a goat.  The interpretation of this dream explained that the ram was the Gentile Media Persia empire, and it would be overthrown by the goat which was the Gentile Greek empire.  We now know that this occurred when Alexander the Great ruled Greed.  The interpretation further explained that the kingdom of Greece would split into four pieces, then Rome would become the next Gentile world empire.  Under this empire, God's people would be persecuted, and we now know that this prophecy was fulfilled as well. 

In the end, the Antichrist will demonstrate his evil.  The daily sacrifice in the temple would be desolated.  This prophecy had a dual interpretation.  It was partially fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes offered a sow on the alter in 170 B.C.  However, it also prophecies of the Antichrist defiling the temple in a similar manner in the end times. 

Daniel then asked a question of great concern, both to himself, and to us in the twentieth-first century:  How long will it be for the vision to be fulfilled?  Daniel 8:14 says that it would take 2300 evenings and mornings from the abomination of the temple to its new consecration.  The temple destruction would not be avenged until a time in Daniel's distant future (Daniel 8:26), during the end times (8:12).  God's wrath would first come in the Great Tribulation Period, and the God's everlasting Kingdom would come. 

Daniel 9 - 11

Since Daniel had read the prophecies of the prophet Jeremiah, he knew that their Babylonian captivity would last for seventy years.  He prayed for Jerusalem's restoration, and the angel Gabriel brought Daniel the answer to his prayer. 

In order for God's kingdom to be established, seventy sevens (or weeks), or 490 days (or years), were required by God for the atonement of the Jews for their evil.  These seventy sevens were further divided into 62 sevens, 7 sevens, and 1 seven.  From the time the order to rebuild Jerusalem was given, until the time the Messiah came, there would be "7 sevens and 62 sevens."  After the 62 sevens, the Messiah would be cut off and have nothing.  The sanctuary would be destroyed in war, and we now know that this happened in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome.  The Antichrist would falsely promise peace with the Jews, only to break this promise during the middle of the 1 seven.  At that point, he would stopping the temple sacrifices, and he would defile the temple.  However, then God would destroy him. 

Daniel 12
 
Daniel 12 is a prophecy of God's wrath during the Great Tribulation.  Just as the Revelation declares, anyone whose name is in God's book of life will be saved.  At that time, the dead will rise.  Some will rise to heaven and some be cast into Hell. 

In the end times, travel and knowledge would be increased.  This must concern our time in the twenty-first century, due to our recent advances in travel by automobiles and planes, as well as our exponential expansion of knowledge made possible by the integrated chip and the Internet. 

Daniel asked how long it would be before these things happen.  God said that it would be, "a time, times, and a half a time," and, again, we interpret this as three-an-a-half years.  In the end time, those who are wise will recognize Daniel's prophecy and fulfillment.  The period of time from the sacrifices being abolished until the abomination of desolation would be 1290 days.   Daniel says, "Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1335 days."  However, this would be long after Daniel's lifetime.