The book of Daniel is one of the most controversial books of the
Bible. When properly interpreted, its 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
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 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 called 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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
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 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 altar 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 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.