(last edited 2/10/15)
Why is Daniel counted among the books of prophecy? Did he prophesy to his people? Not to the ones alive at that time, in the usual format “thus saith the Lord,” but much of his message is to those who would come later. Jesus referred to him as a prophet, Mt. 24:15. Actually, he served in the political realm rather than the spiritual one, and is a good example of how a believer can witness by living his faith in whatever his position in life. In Daniel’s case, he stayed true to God and was an effective witness in a pagan society. Surely Daniel was an example to all the captive Jews.
Some Christians believe all or almost all prophecy has been fulfilled. One of the reasons they give is that if this prophet were giving a message that was ONLY speaking of the distant future, without any immediate application for their listeners, it would be meaningless to them. Is this true? The Bible speaks of many things in the future, and we are encouraged and excited to know that God is letting us see the outcome of His great plan.
Some Christians don’t think you should spend much time studying or talking about prophecy. Many claim it is too deep for the average Christian, and that there is too much far-out speculation involved. But ¼ of the books of the Bible are prophetic, and 1/5 of the Bible was prophetic when it was written (much of that prophecy has already been fulfilled). So we find in the Bible, fulfilled and unfilled prophecy. When you read and study the Bible straight through, not skipping over or leaving anything out, you automatically give each verse and topic the proper amount of emphasis. And you cannot understand prophecy without looking at the entire Bible, so that motivates us to read the whole book. We have been looking at Bible symbolism as we come across it, so that we can see how the Bible actually interprets much of the symbolism for us. So I don’t think we are out of line by studying prophecy as we come to it. In II Thes. 2:5, we find that Paul had taught the new Christians in Thessalonica about the Antichrist, the day of the Lord, and the rapture even though he was only there less than a month.
Daniel was a young man, possibly a teenager, when he was taken to Babylon in the first wave of the captivity. He served under 3 kings, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and Cyrus. By then, he would be an old man.
This book has come under much attack from liberal Bible scholars. They claim it was written at a much later date, or that it was written by someone other than Daniel himself. There is no evidence for these claims. Liberals do not believe in the supernatural, so fulfilled detailed prophecy like Daniel has given is just plain rejected by them. They think it must have been written AFTER these events happened, by someone later. But the manuscript evidence is strong for Daniel, and Jesus referred to “Daniel the prophet” (Mt. 24:15, Mk. 13:14), so if Daniel is a fake, Jesus was confused or a liar. Even if you don’t know about the manuscript evidence, you can trust what Jesus said. Whenever you question one part of Scripture, you end up questioning more parts of Scripture. For example, if you believe God used evolution to create, then you have a big problem: death then came BEFORE sin, not as a result of it, which means that the whole Bible is wrong, Christ did not need to die for our sin to save us from eternal death, and God is a liar.
We find many important scriptural teachings in this book. Some are: believers living godly lives in a pagan society; God’s faithfulness to His people and His covenant, even though they were currently being disciplined for their disobedience; God’s authority over gentile nations; the outline of “the times of the gentiles,” when Israel is being chastened by means of the gentile nations. Read Luke 21:24; we see this period beginning in II Kings 25:1-12.
1-2 The historical setting, going back to when Nebuchadnezzar first besieged Jerusalem. This was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Nebuchadnezzar’s first invasion of Judah took place about a month after his father died and he received the crown. So Nebuchadnezzar’s reign virtually begins with this interaction with Israel. These verses don’t specifically mention the captives, but mention the articles from the temple being taken to a place of idolatry.
3 What kind of families were the captives? We will see that Daniel and his three friends were true followers of God; perhaps their families were not among the faithless of Israel, but had obeyed the prophecies of Jeremiah (Jer. 38:2,17-18) and gone out of the city to the Chaldeans.
4-7 What were Daniel and his friends like? They were to be given a college education and a special diet.
8 We have the setting and the background. Now the real story begins. Who comes up with this? All four of them are involved. Does it mention the dietary restrictions being the Law? But obviously this is why. We see Daniel’s wise, tactful approach to this situation. Does he refuse to cooperate, or make demands? Is he confrontational? Does he have respect for the authority that is over him?
9 The commander could have been unsympathetic. Why was he favorable to them? Lots of things in our lives seem to just happen, good or bad. We need to learn to see God’s hand in everything that happens. That is one of the truths the Old Testament brings out. Things don’t just happen. God is in control of everything. He hasn’t just turned this world loose to run any old way. We are told this about both big events and little events. Doesn't this seem like an insignificant event? Does it end up being a factor in a much bigger situation? Can we know, at the time, which insignificant events in our lives are truly insignificant, and which will end up being a factor in something bigger, later?
10-13 Daniel diplomatically proposes a test. If Daniel had belligerently refused to cooperate, or thrown a fit, might things have happened differently? Is God honored when Christians are belligerent to others or uncooperative with authority?
14-16 Is the overseer willing to let them continue? What is the lesson here for us as New Testament Christians? Is this evidence that we ought to still be following the Law, even the dietary part? Is it speaking against wine drinking? If so, wouldn't we find those restrictions in the Epistles, the directions for the church? We see here, and later also, that Daniel was not concerned about going with the flow. Does Daniel seem to care if following God made him stick out in the crowd? Does he seem overly concerned about consequences, about “what ifs”? Is his obedience to God's Word based on his concerns about possible negative outcomes? Does he ignore or re-interpret God's Word to suit his circumstances? All of these possibilities are temptations we constantly face, I Cor. 10:13.
17-21 Didn't 1:4 already say that they possessed these qualities? They already had certain qualities; God enhanced those qualities even more. We all have certain qualities and natural abilities. If we are yielded to God, as these four were, won't God be able to use and enhance those qualities in our lives even more than if we were wishy-washy Christians, not spending time in God's Word or obeying it? Col. 3:23-24,
These four young men were the best of the best. They were so good that they even stood out above Nebuchadnezzar’s own people. What a unique opportunity God had given them to be an influence of godliness as they serve in secular positions of power in this pagan kingdom. Will they, like many Christians we see in the news, eventually give in to the temptation to water down their beliefs in order to protect their positions? We will find out in the next few chapters. The Bible tells about how God works in the lives of poor, simple, uneducated nobodies, and how He works in the lives of very intelligent, wise and rich people. No matter who we are, God is working in us and through us, to increase our own faith in Him, and so others may see our faith and our lives and perhaps come to the truth.
1 When does this next incident take place? Daniel and his friends apparently are still in training, if they were to be educated for 3 years, and this is Nebuchadnezzar’s second year. Or, it could be that the dreams, or this recurring dream, began in his second year, and some time elapses before verse 2, or the confrontation with the wise men takes place over a period of time. At the conclusion of this incident (48), Daniel is promoted to something like prime minister, so it seems a few years may have passed in the meantime.
This dream, which we know from the rest of the chapter, was very disturbing to Nebuchadnezzar. He lost a lot of sleep over it. Shortly into his reign, God is intervening in his life very insistently. Why? The end of the chapter gives the answer.
2-3 Where do these men apparently get what wisdom they have? Occult power.
4 The first section of this book was written in Hebrew, the language of the Jews, but beginning here it is written in Aramaic, the language of the Gentile nations at that time. Aramaic continues through the end of Daniel 7. In this Aramaic section are several extended passages describing the Gentile empires of the world, spanning the time from Daniel’s day (the current Babylonian empire) through the final kingdom, which will be that of the Antichrist. Beginning in Daniel 8, the language is Hebrew again, and the rest of the book deals with how Israel fits into that picture. Can the wise men tell the dream?
5-6 What will happen to anyone who can’t tell him the dream and its interpretation?
7 Even with this incentive, can they do it?
8-9 What does Nebuchadnezzar suspect about his wise men? He must have already been having doubts about them. He is calling their bluff; if they are what they say they are, they could do this. This is a great test. If you ever talk to a psychic, ask him to tell you what you are thinking.
10 Do these men admit their powers are limited?
11 What do they recognize?
12 Was his reaction reasonable? On the one hand, it seems like he’s flying off the handle, but on the other, he is merely expecting his wise men to do what they are supposed to do. And if they can’t--??
13 Who comes into the picture?
14 How are Daniel’s actions described? Remember, he has already been recognized as the highest of quality.
15-16 Why is Daniel confident? What did we learn about him in 1:17?
17-18 What was his plan?
19-23 God answers. Daniel does what? What does that mean? The answer is in 20-23. At first it sounds like he is just talking about God, to someone, but then he is talking TO God. So apparently he is saying it all to God. So what does this tell us about what it means to bless God? When God blesses us, He does things for us, gives us things. When we bless God, we give him glory and praise and recognition, as He deserves.
Here he is particularly recognizing things about God that have to do with this situation. As we have been seeing, and as this dream points out, God calls the shots in nations and with kings. Changes in times and epochs have to do with the meaning of the dream. He recognizes that the wisdom he has received is from God, not of himself. Is Daniel proud?
How did such a young man get so wise and humble at such an early age? Usually this is the product of painful experience. Maybe it had to do with growing up in a godly family trying to cope with Israel’s gross falling away from God. His qualities speak of the quality of his family. 1:3 tells us that these young men were selected from families of nobles and royalty. 1:17 tells us that God enhanced his natural abilities.
24 He doesn’t say, "don’t kill me and my friends." He is concerned for all the wise men, even though they are pagans and involved in the occult; why?
26 The king speaks with Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar was just beginning his 43-year reign; he could have been quite young, not much older than Daniel.
27-30 How does Daniel strike you here? Proud? He draws no attention to himself, that God gave this knowledge to HIM, that HE was a follower of God. He totally points Nebuchadnezzar to God. God apparently gave Nebuchadnezzar this dream in response to his desire to understand the future. 28, what time period is referred to? Don’t you wonder why God decided to let someone know these things, and why not an Israelite, or a prophet? Why THIS man? He gives it to the Gentile leader of the current world empire. So here we see Daniel functioning as a prophet, revealing God’s message, foretelling future events. Why would Nebuchadnezzar believe Daniel’s interpretation? Because of the miracle of Daniel telling him what he dreamed. Daniel’s long-range message is validated by this miracle in the here-and-now. That is the purpose of miracles, of signs and wonders. It was the purpose of Jesus' miracles and those of the apostles in Acts.
We see an example of witnessing in a very natural way. We can do this--give credit to God for events that happen in our lives, for this world that God created, for abilities we have that someone compliments us on--something that person can relate to. He points out God’s interest in Nebuchadnezzar.
31-35 The dream. God is revealing Himself to a Gentile, a pagan, and He uses language that man can relate to. An image, kingdoms, valuable metals. God is not limited in His means of speaking to different kinds of people. Is God revealing spiritual truth to this Gentile, or merely political information? A statue made of different elements; which is the most valuable? The quality diminishes further down the body. What does that tell us about the Babylonian empire and Nebuchadnezzar as a ruler? 34, what else besides a statue? Did it strike the whole statue? What did the stone become? Is a mountain bigger or greater than a statue?
36 How do you think Nebuchadnezzar is feeling at this point? Do you think he will accept Daniel’s interpretation? Why?
37-38 Nebuchadnezzar finds out that HE is represented in this dream, and that HE is the head of gold! What else does he find out? HOW did he get this position?
39 Now he learns the future: two later kingdoms.
40 Even later, a fourth kingdom. This kingdom especially interests us because it appears to be future; it has not yet been. It could be in the distant future or immediate future.
40-43 The statue represents what? Four kingdoms, each one a metal, and the final kingdom (toes) is a continuation of the fourth (legs), still iron but mixed with what? What would the TWO legs indicate? What would the TEN toes indicate? The final kingdom, in every description in this book, is not like the other kingdoms. It is made of two elements. 43 tells us HOW the two elements will be combined; the seed of men, something having to do with reproduction, descendants. However, if this kingdom is the kingdom of the Antichrist, described elsewhere in Daniel and Revelation, it will only last 7 years, so it can’t be talking about their descendants. Rev. 13 describes the leader of this final kingdom.
The four kingdoms are not identified here by name, but we know the first is Babylon. Elsewhere in Daniel, the next two are identified by name, as Media-Persia, and Greece. We believe the fourth to be what? Why? Why two legs? What happened to the Roman Empire? Was it conquered and destroyed? No. So in some way, it (the legs) will be part of the final kingdom (the 10 toes). This is why we call this future kingdom “the revived Roman empire.” History tell us of these four great kingdoms. There are no kingdoms mentioned between the Roman empire and the 10 toes/10 kings. So we are living in that in-between period. This fourth kingdom is focused on a lot in Daniel and in Revelation. It bothers me to often hear that we shouldn’t think/worry/study about this fourth kingdom that the Bible talks so much about.
44-45 The Bible often uses the symbol of the stone or rock for what? Psalm 18:1. We have seen that the Bible often uses the symbols of trees for kingdoms, Judges 9:7-15, Ez. 31; so mountains are also used as symbols for kingdoms. When does God’s kingdom come? In the days of the 10 kings (toes being nations or kings). 44, what is this kingdom like? The final one, eternal. Elsewhere in the Bible, we are told many times that who will bring in God’s kingdom? The Messiah, the stone, grows to a mountain, to God’s all-encompassing, everlasting kingdom. Rev. 19 tells how the stone struck the statue and crushed it. And again Daniel focuses Nebuchadnezzar’s attention on God who revealed this.
46 Can you imagine a king falling on his face before someone else? Especially a young man, a foreigner?
47 What is his reaction to Daniel’s God? Does he say this is now his God? Or this is the only God? No; God will continue to deal with Nebuchadnezzar, as we’ll see. But He definitely got his attention, in a big way. The next few chapters show how the seed of faith was planted and grew.
48-49 What happened because of this incident? Daniel is now the prime minister. And this sets up the background for the next chapter.
The theme of this chapter is worship. It defines worship for us. Worship is a very important subject and yet is often misunderstood. There is lots to discuss in this chapter.
1 Who is this incident also about? What did he make? (90 feet high) A lavish display of wealth; an indication of his great pride.
2 Who was invited to the dedication? But this “dedication” was merely a front for the introduction of a false religion.
4-5 An announcement. What was to happen the moment the music played? This is like establishing a world religion. He had conquered the world; now they all had to worship as he said.
6 Or else what? Note the two terms used together twice, fall down and worship. We often see this in the Bible (or, bow down). This helps us understand what worship really is. It’s not the motions we go through in a group service on Sunday morning. It's not the song service. It is our personal response to God, every day, all day, not what we do for a few minutes a week according to whatever the bulletin says to do. To bow, to worship, is to yield yourself to someone or something, to serve someone or something.
7 What did they do when the music played? Men of every nation and language; Babylon had conquered many nations besides Israel.
8-12 Some Jews are not bowing; they are turned in. Again, note the emphasis on the wording, the repetition--the basis of this incident. 12, three Jews are named. Were there other Jews not bowing too, and just these three are turned in, because certain people would like to see them killed? Or perhaps these are the only Jews in high positions, besides Daniel? Why do you suppose Daniel is not turned in? Obviously he would not be bowing. He must not have been in attendance; why? His responsibilities probably had him elsewhere, 2:49. 12, what defining term is used with worship?
13-14 How is Nebuchadnezzar’s mood described? He calls them before him.
14 They do not what?
15 What does he want them to do? Note the repetition of these terms in this story. He asks a leading question. Remember, in 2:47 he admitted that Daniel’s God is “a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries.” But that had not yet changed his thinking about gods in general; or maybe he knows their God is Daniel’s God, but is questioning their God’s power. He believes that no god can deliver them from him. He believes he is more powerful than any god. Either he sees himself as a god, or he doesn’t think gods in general are all that powerful. At any rate, this now becomes a conflict between God and Nebuchadnezzar. Who is more powerful?
16-18 Here is the crux of this story. This has to be one of the most amazing statements of faith in the Bible. (KJV, "we are not careful"; they are not full of “care” in giving their answer, they will let the chips fall where they may.) Now let’s look at what they are saying. Did they say God would deliver them? Big IF; He is ABLE. They don’t wonder or hope; they know He is able. They know He might not choose to. And what if God chooses not to? Are they in a panic? Do they plead for their lives? Their feelings, their lives are not as important to them as obeying God, as refusing to compromise their belief in the one true God.
Couldn’t they have rationalized by saying, "we’ll bow outwardly, but God knows our heart, and that we don’t really mean it"? Doing so would have meant that they valued their lives more than being true to God--publicly true. We don’t know if these three were actually this strong in their faith, or if this was one of those instances where God just took over for their weakness and they found these words coming out of their mouths, even though they were trembling with fear. How did these young men come to such strong faith? We see, with them and with Daniel, that long years of spiritual growth and life experiences are not necessarily the only way to a strong faith.
How many times do Christians pray as if they KNOW it is God’s desire to heal them or save them from danger or give them what they want? Like praying is a form of positive thinking--mind over matter? Can we ever know in advance? Human reasoning says, SURELY it is not God’s will for this young life, or this wonderful believer, to die, or to be sick, or to suffer on in pain for years. But the Bible often shows how God uses those things for His purposes.
How are we to react when we are faced with a choice--to obey God, to publicly acknowledge Him--or to experience some sort of pain (physical or emotional)? Some Christians will be called on to suffer or even die for their faith. Most of us at some time or other will face choices involving lesser pain, usually involving relationships or monetary considerations. How will we face that choice? How much do we trust God's goodness and sovereign plan? Do we truly believe that He is worth following, even at a price?
These three did not know that God was going to protect them. Can you imagine their thoughts and feelings as they were being bound and taken to the fire, as they were thrown? God allowed them to experience doubt and fear, even knowing He was going to deliver them. Why didn't He just keep them from the whole experience then? Why does He allow us to experience pain, doubt and fear? Why did He allow Lazarus to experience death and Mary and Martha to experience pain, doubt and grief, when He knew what He was going to do? Why did He allow Abraham and Isaac to experience doubts, fears, and emotional pain, when He knew He would stop the sacrifice at the last moment? What are God's purposes in our lives? To keep us from pain and stress, or to bring about growth, change, and glory to Himself?
19 What do we see about Nebuchadnezzar’s emotions here? His face is what? Because he was filled with what? The furnace was already hot enough to kill; his orders imply an insane vengeance on those who dare to defy him. Comparing his callous pronouncement of death to the wise men earlier, and things we will read about him later, we might conclude that this man’s personality is emotionally volatile, his temper is quick, he is ruled by his emotions, perhaps he is even mentally unstable. Yet he is obviously a man of high intelligence and great ability, or he would not be the king of the greatest empire on earth--great even in God's estimation. Sometimes genius and borderline insanity go hand in hand.
Psychology tells us that we should let our feelings dictate our decision. The Bible tells us we are to live by faith in the facts of the Bible, NOT by our feelings about ourselves, about God, about life. We will also see how God continues to deal with Nebuchadnezzar, and how it appears that he becomes a believer later. I find it so interesting that the Bible describes people of all personalities, of all stations in life, of all levels of education. No one is beyond the reach of God’s power. God can take a shepherd boy and make him a king; He can open the eyes and heart of the thief on the cross in his dying minutes; He can reach a man like Nebuchadnezzar. We should never look at anyone and say, that person will never be interested in spiritual things, will never change.
20-23 They are tied up and thrown in. What happens to those who carried them?
24-25 Nebuchadnezzar comes face to face with God’s power, and he can’t believe what he sees. He is quite excited. Who is the fourth person? We are not told. We are only told what Nebuchadnezzar sees and says. The fourth person is obviously different; he is LIKE a son of the gods because he appears to be god-like. We can safely conclude that this is the pre-incarnate Christ, or as the Old Testament often identifies Him, the angel of the Lord.
26-27 Should we assume from this that this is the way God will always answer our prayers? If so, there would be no such thing as martyrs, or prophets of the Bible who were killed for giving God’s unpopular message.
28-29 Is Nebuchadnezzar now a believer? Do we see personal belief or commitment? Just a recognition that they have a powerful god, more powerful than any of the other gods. Again, we are reminded that the lesson is about serving/worshipping/bowing. Another word is used here that sheds light on the term worship; yield. They even yielded their what? Read Rom. 12:1-2. This concept is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. It is not about going to church, giving money, reading your Bible and praying every day. Those are parts of it, but THIS is at the heart of it, and will lead to all the other things we do.
Think about the people who bowed to the image when the music played, and the people who will worship the Antichrist’s image. Can people be MADE to worship something, in their heart? When they bowed, was it true worship? Or what was it? Convenience? Self-preservation? Why would they do that? Isn’t that what will happen when the Antichrist rules? This seems to be a picture, in Babylon, under the one-world-ruler, of believers in the final Babylon, the one world empire, being asked to worship that ruler. Why are those who refuse, who will only worship the true God, a threat? Today the mood is tolerance for all beliefs. Only the Christians aren’t “tolerant.” The Bible commands us not to be. What if the government commands us to do something, or refrain from doing something, against our belief? If we are ever subjected to persecution, this story is an example for us. When all possible hope or help is gone, God can still act, although He may leave us in our situation for His own reasons. Either way, He will keep us.
Let's talk a little more about worship. Genesis 22 is the first use of “worship” in the Bible, although it mentions "bow" in 18:2, where Abraham bowed to the Lord when He and the two angels appeared to Abraham. Both words are translated from the same Hebrew word and are often used interchangeably, or together, as in Ex. 4:31, 12:27; see your margin notes for alternate translations. Strongs: to prostrate (especially in homage to royalty or God), bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop.
So what is worship, according to these passages and the definition of the Hebrew word? Holding nothing back from God? Complete trust and obedience in our lives? What do people do on Sunday at 11:00 AM that they call worship? Is that really worship, in the biblical sense? People talk about what they get out of a "worship" service--if it was good or not, if they got anything out of it, if the "worship leader" was any good. Is true worship for us to get something out of, or is it for God?
The church today, unfortunately, has redefined worship to mean something it is not. It focuses on a group experience, especially the feelings we get from group singing. True worship--when Self bows to God--is not about warm fuzzy feelings. What feelings do you suppose Abraham has as he is heading toward the place at which he will worship in Genesis 22? It is about dying to Self, about giving up, about saying "no" to Self and "yes" to God. It is often hard. In Daniel 3, notice that each time the word "worship" appears with another term, that helps us understand what worship is--fall down, serve, trust, yield up their bodies.
So instead of teaching this concept of worship, too often Christians, even churches, take the Bible term and use it to mean something nice that is easy and fun to do. In many "worship songs" we sing about what we will do for God, and how we will be His completely. Is that the same as actually doing those things? How many of us are doing, or will do, what we say to God in that song? What about the unbelievers who may be present and singing that song? If we sing those words but are not actually doing them, have we really worshipped? Which would God rather have? Words are easy; actions are much harder. It makes us feel good to sing those words about ourselves, but if they are not really true, we have only deceived ourselves and lied about ourselves to God. It is much better to sing about who God is and what He has done, is doing, and will do, than to sing about "I..I..I"
When we worship, what does God get? Rev. 4:10-11. Can you find any place we are told in the Bible to get together as a body to worship? It is not basically a group activity. When and how do we worship? Worship can take place in church, in a group, but only if it already takes place daily in that individual. Ex. 34:8, Dan. 3, Ps. 95:6, Matt. 4:9-10, I Cor. 14:25, Rev 22:8. What ARE we to do as a church? Acts 1:14, 2:1-47, 15:35, 18:11, 20:7, Rom. 12:4-8, I Cor. 16:2, Gal. 6:6, Col. 3:16 (group singing is to be done, but is not presented as worship). In the epistles (the directions to the church), "worship" is never used in connection with a gathering of believers. Notice how angels worship God, Rev. 7:11, 11:16, and the shepherds, Mt. 2:2, 8. Compare what the Bible says about false worship; does it have anything to do with singing to that person/thing or to an uplifting group experience? Ex. 34:14, Deut. 8:16, Is. 2:8, 20, Jer. 44:19, Zeph. 1:4-6, Dan. 3:5-7, Rev. 9:20, 13:4, 8, 12, 15.
One reason people associate worship with church may be the numerous Bible references to coming to the temple to worship. Many people confuse the temple with the church, the Sabbath with Sunday, Israel with the church, and the Old Testament with the New Testament. In the Old Testament, Israel did meet with God at the temple only, Ex. 20:24, 25:21-22, 29:42-43, 30:6, 36, Lev. 1:3. That was the only place that their sacrifices (their required mode of worship) could be offered. For the Jews, the temple and the altar were necessary for worship. In the New Testament (the church age, the age or dispensation of grace), the individual believer comes to God through Christ, and our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The church is not the temple or even the house of God, it is just the place of gathering of the fellowship of true believers, for teaching, prayer, breaking of bread, the public reading of the Word. The Sabbath was not given to Israel as a day of worship but as the day of rest, Ex. 20:8-11; Sunday is not the Sabbath or the day of rest, nor are we commanded to worship on Sunday. It is done to remember the resurrection, which was on the first day of the week. Later the Jews did begin to assemble on the Sabbath at the local synagogues, as well as visiting the temple to bring their sacrifices. For the believer, the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ, Heb. 4:9-11. We exercise faith in Christ and we rest from works. Every day is a Sabbath now.
1 Who is speaking? Nebuchadnezzar wrote this chapter. It is his testimony; at the end, he appears to be a believer.
2-3 Here he gives his testimony; does he sound like he has finally recognized who God is? Compare to 2:47 and 3:28-29, where he talks about "their" God. In 4:2 we see what God has done for HIM.
4 He begins with what happened before what happened happened, seven years earlier. Everything was going good, and then…
5 He has another wild dream. Twice now God has sent him an unusual, meaningful dream. This brings up a question: should we therefore look at our dreams as possible messages from God? The epistles--the directions for the church--do not tell us to look for dreams, visions, or further revelation from God. Heb. 1:1-2 says Jesus has spoken, and the Bible is the record of what He said and taught.
6-7 This time he tells the dream to his wise men, but they still can’t interpret it. Perhaps because of Daniel's reputation, they are now afraid to make things up.
8-9 He calls Daniel, remembering that he has a God-given wisdom and ability to interpret dreams. Daniel has something different; “gods” are not usually described as holy. Magician, wise men, conjurers, Chaldeans, diviners seem to be all used synonymously.
10-12 We have seen a number of parables about trees; what do trees symbolize? Nations, powers, rulers. We find the fig tree referring to Israel (Hos. 9:10), the olive tree used of Israel and the Gentiles (Rom. 11), and the mustard seed that becomes a tree used to represent the institutional church or Christianity throughout history (Mt. 13:31-32).
13-15 Notice that the tree becomes “he.” The messenger is an angel, watcher, holy one. Apparently one of the roles of angels is to be watchers here on earth; some of the angels are assigned to be involved in the affairs of earth. Satan’s angels (demons) are organized in a similar manner. Compare 10:20. Daniel sheds a little light on the unseen world for us.
16-17 "Periods of time" used numerous times in this chapter: years. What will happen to him for seven years? Watch for this term later in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7, where we will see "time, times and half a time." This chapter makes it clear that would be one plus two plus one half, or 3 1/2. We see angels in charge here, called angelic watchers, holy ones. What is the purpose of this decree? God sets what kind of men over kingdoms? They think they are important and powerful, but they are not, in God's scheme of things. And some are even quite base, yet this is God’s plan.
18-19 Daniel hesitates; why doesn't he want to tell the king what it means?
20-23 First Daniel tells him that he is the tree.
24-26 It sounds like Nebuchadnezzar will experience some sort of insanity. Did God force him to act like that, or could this be natural? For example a mental illness that God knew he was going to have, and would use this? Or could we even say a mental illness that God sent? We have already seen possible pre-disposing behaviors, in Nebuchadnezzar, possibly a raging temper and wild emotional reactions. Did he have to wait to be healed of this insanity before he could begin to think rationally about God? Or was his recognition of God what healed him?
This is an interesting comment on the relationship of psychology today (even Christian psychology) and the Christian life. A true understanding of God and the Bible, and the application in one’s life, is what brings healing to mental, emotional, and behavior issues (unless we are talking about structural or physical issues such as chemical imbalance or brain defects). Why does psychology appeal to Christians looking for help with their problems? Psychology is a humanistic means of trying to deal with sin and the consequences of sin by focusing on and exalting Self. Only God’s method works, by focusing on the real problem rather than the symptoms; but Satan will encourage our efforts to try other things. The Bible deals with guilt, anxiety, depression, bitterness, egotism or worthlessness (self-esteem issues), living by and being controlled by feelings. Do we REALLY believe Rom. 8:28?
We need to be careful about complaining about things that happen to us. Maybe that thing seems awful, but maybe at the same time, might it be a blessing from God, because He is using it to bring us to a deeper point in our walk with Him? It may even be an answer to our prayer for more faith, more patience, more closeness with Him. It may be a means of God being able to use you to then minister to others with problems. We sometimes pray that God will take away the very thing that He sent in answer to our prayer. We pray for friends and loved ones to come to God, or come closer to Him; then when God sends a crisis to bring that about, do we ask Him to stop it because it looks so bad? Can we always see how He is planning to use that in that person’s life? Even the negative consequences of sin can be used of God to bring a person to a deeper walk with God. Studying the Bible will help us to get God's perspective.
27 Daniel gives some advice; what does he need to turn away from? So this story is about the need for repentance.
28-30 Nebuchadnezzar continues with his story. 29, obviously roofs in those days were flat, not like ours! What is wrong with what he said in 30? 12 months later: God gave him time to repent, after Daniel’s warning.
31-32 Why do you think God spoke to him just as he said those words?
33 It happens literally as God told him in the dream. Are all God's promises fulfilled? Every Bible prophecy that has already been fulfilled has been literally fulfilled, not just "kinda sorta." So we can know that prophecies yet to be fulfilled will happen exactly as stated. For seven years he doesn’t even know who he is. The opposite of how he was before; his ego was huge. Why do you think God let him know ahead of time, and didn’t just do this with no warning? Was the point to punish, or to bring about change?
34-35 He looks to God, THEN his reason returns. Note the order. What does he recognize about God? Did Nebuchadnezzar now “know that God is the Lord” (a phrase we find over and over in Ezekiel)? Blessed, praised, honored: these words indicate an ongoing action, not a one time action. This account of God’s dealing with a Gentile world ruler is also a picture of how God will humble the Gentile nations of the world over a future period of seven years, so that they will recognize who Christ is.
36 What impact do you suppose these events had on his counselors and nobles, and many others in his kingdom? Do you suppose they may have come to recognize the true God just as Nebuchadnezzar did?
37 So do you think he has become a believer, or is just giving the nod to Daniel's God? 34 and 37, he blesses, praises, honors, and exalts the God who is true and just. He knows that God is sovereign over all. Does it sound like he repented of his sin of pride? Nebuchadnezzar is a changed man. Now we look back on these four chapters and see how God was working, confronting him with truth. We see that all the events recorded were apparently for the purpose of drawing him to God. Isn't it amazing that God was interested in reaching the leader of the world's greatest empire? Did he read the Bible, or even the books of Moses? How did he learn about God? Isn't it amazing how God took four young men in a "bad" situation (being taken captive) but used them to influence the most powerful man in the world? Can we always know if God has used us to influence someone else?
1 Who is king now? That’s all of Nebuchadnezzar’s story. He died, and several sons ruled for short periods, until Nabonidus came to the throne. Belshazzar is the son of Nabonidus and grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. He is giving this banquet as the city is being besieged by the Medes and Persians (compare v. 31); he is showing his contempt for them. The city was secure, had massive walls and supplies for 20 years. The walls were 300 feet high and wide enough for four chariots side by side. The city was so secure that the walls were not even guarded.
2 Nebuchadnezzar his "father"; remember that we have seen how family terms have a much broader meaning in that culture. Father is often used to mean forefather.
1-4 What activity are they involved in that is mentioned in each of these verses? While doing this, Belshazzar decides to not only show his contempt for the armies of the Medes, but also the Jewish objects of temple worship. "Praising the gods" of gold, silver, etc. sounds like a religious “game” they were playing to mock these temple items. We get an idea of what Belshazzar is like.
5 Whose hand appears? God is always represented as a man, never a woman or an “it.” (So are angels.) The feminists want to see God as a woman, so they have written their own version of the Bible to reflect that. There is a movement, mostly New Age, but somewhat within the church, to “reimagine” God, making Him to be whatever you imagine Him to be, “your truth.” DOES God change? Does truth change? Compare I Sam. 15:29, Ps. 55:19, Mal. 3:6, Heb. 13:8, James 1:17.
6 When confronted with a supernatural manifestation of God, how does he react? Compare Rev. 6:15-17. Are these the reactions of those who love God or those who have rejected God?
7 What did he promise anyone who could read and interpret this? He was only second in command; he ruled with his father Nabonidus. Nabonidus was absent quite a bit; Belshazzer is called king, and rules with kingly authority.
8-9 No one can do it. This makes it even more scary.
10-12 The queen knows about Daniel; she was the queen mother, the wife of Nebuchadnezzar. Here is another person we are told nothing about, but who certainly has a story of her own that we would like to know. She may have also become a believer, as Nebuchadnezzar did. How many others were influenced by Daniel and his friends and by Nebuchadnezzar’s experience?
13-16 Daniel is called and is offered gifts and position. Apparently he hadn’t retained his high position after Nebuchadnezzar’s death.
17 Is Daniel influenced or swayed by gifts and position?
18-21 Does Daniel just give the interpretation? What does he remind Belshazzar of first?
22-23 Is this news to the king? So had Belshazzer been exposed to knowledge of God? How did he respond to it? He rejected and defied the true God and chose instead to worship the creation (created things such as gold, silver, wood, stone) instead of the Creator. Again we see Daniel using his position as an opportunity to be a bold witness to the true God in high places. All through this book we see Daniel being a good steward of the abilities and opportunities God has given him. God gives each of us different abilities and opportunities. We are to be faithful in using those to the best of our ability, even if in our eyes they are small or insignificant. We never know how God may use us to influence someone else.
24 He tells him the hand is from God, and what it says. Does it say this is God's hand? Does God the Father have a hand? If God is Spirit, He has no physical, visible body. When He appears to people, He appears as the second person of the Trinity, the pre-incarnate Christ or the angel of the Lord. God the Father never appears to anyone. Compare John 1:18, John 4:24, I John 4:12, Gen. 18:22, Gen. 22:11-18, Ex. 33:11, Judges 6:14-15,22, I Tim. 6:16.
25-28 Does it say these things “will” happen or have already happened? So even though the Medes and Persians take over his kingdom, who is really behind it? The Medes and Persians aren't acting obediently on some message from God, but their actions are divinely orchestrated, as is everything that happens in this world, to fit into God's plan for the ages.
29 Does Belshazzer punish him for the negative message? Amazingly, he still rewards him. The Babylonian empire falls--what empire is ruling now?
30-31 It happened that very night. Daniel did not rule with Belshazzar/Nabonidus. Why do you suppose God didn’t give Belshazzar a year, like He did Nebuchadnezzar, before judgment fell? Belshazzar had already had chances; he should have learned from Nebuchadnezzar’s experience. Prov. 29:1. God knew Belshazzar wasn’t going to respond, but He knew Nebuchadnezzar was.
A channel of the Euphrates River ran through the city. The Persian army had diverted it by building a canal to a nearby lake. When the water receded, the army entered the city under the sluice gate, entering the city of unguarded walls without a fight. Read Jer. 27:6-7, Babylon would be ruled by Nebuchadnezzar, a son, and a grandson, then defeated by another other king. Jeremiah's prophecy was literally fulfilled. Read Is. 21:1-10. Isaiah's prophecy was literally fulfilled. The banquet of that night is described. Elam = Persia, just east of Babylon, where the city of Susa was located, and Media, north and east. "Wilderness of the sea" (21:1)--Babylon was on a desert plain by the Persian Gulf, watered by a series of canals from the Euphrates River. This story and these prophecies are an interesting parallel to Babylon the great harlot of Rev. 17:1. "Who sits on many waters" is interpreted for us in 17:15. The literal waters of the original Babylon now picture the nations of the world.
How does this new rule by the Medes and Persians fit into Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue? This is the second kingdom, the arms of silver. Babylon was the head of gold. Just as Babylon was corrupt and was overthrown, so the final corrupt Babylon, the final world empire, will be overthrown when Christ returns, Rev. 18:2,10, 19:1-21.
Most people think of this as the story of how God protected Daniel from the lions. I think the story is even more interesting if you see it as the story of Darius.
1-3 Who is king now? What kingdom is in control now? What is the king’s opinion of Daniel? How old might Daniel be now? Nebuchadnezzar was king for 43 years, and Daniel was captured in his first year. Satraps are princes; commissioners are like administrators, presidents.
4 Why would they do this? Political maneuvering, jealousy, power struggle. Daniel must be one of the few political figure in history that was not guilty of some type of negligence or corruption! We have no record of overt sin in Daniel’s life. Was he sinless? Compare 9:20, II Chron. 6:36, Rom. 5:12. If the Bible doesn't record someone's sins, does that mean they are sinless? If someone is "good" by human standards, are they "good" according to God's standard? Is. 61:6, Rom. 3:10-13,23.
5 A conspiracy hatches. They think they have found a way to trap him. They know he is innocent, and certainly the most worthy candidate for the position. They are willing to plot the murder of a just man. Have you ever been the innocent target of people who want to hurt you? Does the Bible promise that believers will never be mistreated by others?
6-7 Why don't they make the law permanent? It only needs to be just long enough to trap Daniel. They wanted Daniel dead; they could have made a less vicious law to trap Daniel and remove him from consideration for this high position. Also, their statement is a lie; have all consented? Was Daniel consulted? One small word makes a big difference; are we careful with our words? Is an exaggeration a lie? Especially if it is for the purpose of manipulating someone's opinion? Do Christians ever engage in this type of thing?
8 The laws of the Medes and Perians can’t be changed. We see this same thing in the book of Esther, where the king has trapped himself by signing a law that someone has designed against the Jews. Are man's schemes ever able to thwart God's purposes? Are Satan's? I John 4:4.
9 Why did he do it? Did he stop to think of any reason why it might not be a good idea? Does he wonder about the motivation of these men, what they might be trying to accomplish? Flattery massaged his ego, so he didn’t look too hard. When people play to your ego, be on guard. Satan also uses this trick.
10 What is Daniel’s response? What are some other possible responses he might have made? Why do you think he chose this path? What do we learn about Daniel from this verse? What characterized his prayers? Frequent prayer was part of his life, and perhaps the secret of his great ability as a statesman; he wasn’t a “closet” believer. His faith was visible to others but he didn’t do it to be seen; he knew what they were trying to do, but didn’t let that change anything in the way he lived his life before God. He didn’t do it now in a MORE visible way, to antagonize, to create an issue. He didn't start doing something he hadn't been doing before, just to provoke a confrontation. The consequences of his decision appeared to be a death sentence, but he seemed willing to accept that possibility. Shouldn’t he have just continued to pray but in a more hidden way? Would that choice have been “wrong”? How might this example teach us? (Why would he pray toward Jerusalem? We read this in Solomon’s prayer of dedication. II Chron. 6:36-39. God’s presence was there, in the temple, in the Holy of Holies. Is God's found today in a church building? Where is God's presence found? I Cor. 6:19)
11 They plot to come together and catch him in the act. Do they warn Daniel that his life is in danger if he doesn’t change his ways? Apparently not.
12 Instead, they go straight to the king and turn him in. Have you ever know someone with the "turn-in" mentality? They are more interested in seeing you get caught than in stopping you from doing whatever it is they don't like. Have you ever been guilty of this attitude toward someone you dislike? The Bible tells us that in the last days this attitude will be prevalent toward believers, apparently when there is persecution under the final world ruler, the Antichrist. Mt. 10:21-22, 24:9-10. Perhaps people at that time might be motivated by some sort of reward or penalty.
13 Daniel is turned in.
14 Is the king enraged? Why did he react like this? What does this tell us about the king and Daniel?
15 They again confront the king, perhaps fearful that he might find a way around the law, or that he may ignore the law. Don’t you suppose by then that the king knows why they got him to make that law? Knowing how he feels about Daniel, how do you suppose he is feeling about himself now? When we see Self for what we really are, we may even feel disgust and loathing about our own Self. Compare Paul's feelings about himself in Rom. 7:15-24.
16 Apparently that same day, the law is carried out. Who brings up the idea of God delivering Daniel--Daniel or the king? What does the king’s remark tell us about him? He knows about Daniel’s God, and has at least some idea that He is powerful enough to save Daniel. He doesn’t say he “hopes” it will happen. Does Daniel appear to be very concerned about the outcome?
17 The awful deed is done.
18 What does this tell us about Darius? I suspect he is feeling extremely guilty about his vanity, how it caused him to use bad judgment, and about Daniel’s God that he believes will deliver him. Perhaps he is experiencing conviction of his sinful actions, his sinful self, and the consequences of that sin? Sin can cause in us deep feelings of fear when we have set in motion circumstances that appear bleak. Just as we had the story of how God dealt with Nebuchadnezzar, now we see God dealing with Darius. We will see how Darius responds. He appears to have repented of his sinfulness and now chooses to trust God, not knowing what God will do, but knowing He can do the impossible.
19-20 All he can think about is Daniel. By giving in to his weakness, has he killed his good friend?
21-22 Good news!! God’s angel was probably the same one in the furnace, probably the angel of the Lord--the pre-incarnate Christ.
23 Daniel is removed to safety. Why was he safe?
24 Now the king has things straight. He now knows the others are corrupt, immoral, self-serving and back-stabbing, not the kind of men to run his kingdom. He needs men like Daniel. Unless there were a few who came as representatives of the rest, it sounds like he did away with all those men, the leaders of his kingdom, and their families.
25-27 Now here is the part we want to really focus on, the outcome of this story, and the purpose of this chapter. What can we conclude about Darius now? This is why I think that the night before, he was struggling with conviction of his own sinfulness, that as evil as those men were, he was no better himself! But Daniel’s sterling character and consistent life had pointed him to the true God. Idol worshippers did not have gods like this. Again we see God dealing with pagan nations and kings; His desire is that all men will know that He is God. We have no reason to think He only did this with a few mentioned in the Bible; I believe this is teaching us that God has been doing this throughout history, and still is. What an exciting thought! Actually, He is doing this with all men, not just kings; everyone has access to some knowledge of God, and will be held responsible for as much light as they had.
27 "Deliver" and "rescue." 16, 20 and 27 speak of delivering. 14 and 27 speak of rescuing. Neither the king nor God rescued Daniel; he was not kept from, or taken out of, the lions’ den. But he was delivered from the lions, IN the situation. Compare Dan. 3:8. There are several references in the Bible to people being rescued. The people rescued Jonathan, David rescued his two wives, someone was delivered by an army. 27 says God does both. When we are in a situation, sometimes God snatches us out of that situation--rescues us from it. But it seems that more often, He delivers us, leaving us in it and working in that situation to keep us from being overwhelmed. Why do you suppose He does that? We are faced with fear, and the decision of whether or not to trust God in the face of such great fear. God desires to build our faith more than He desires what? (to make everything feel nice for us)
28 There is some disagreement over the identity of Darius, and one view is that this verse can be translated “even” instead of “and.” Perhaps Darius was another name for Cyrus, as sometimes they went by different names. It is also thought that Darius ruled a portion of the kingdom under Cyrus. Others think that Darius ruled for two years, followed by Cyrus. There are other views also. But Dan. 1:21 says Daniel served until the first year of Cyrus.
Does Daniel ever plead for his life, to the king or to God? Does he express fear or concern? Of course we don't know his thoughts or feelings. But perhaps the explanation is found in the next two chapters. According to 7:1, the vision he records was given to him 14 years before the incident in the lions' den. The vision in Dan. 8 was given two years after the first one. I would imagine that after receiving those visions, Daniel was a changed man. After being given such insight into God's plan for the future, he may have been so humbled that he now saw himself, his life, and his problems as rather insignificant in the big picture. Surely he recognized that God was all-powerful and sovereign over all, and would do whatever He wished. Perhaps his attitude reflected Job's attitude in Job 13:15.
Daniel's first vision
This begins the second section of the book of Daniel. The first six chapters are historical, dealing with incidents, and with how God was dealing with Gentile kings. The second section is prophetic. The prophetic elements in the first section were prophecies given to Gentile kings, who came to Daniel for their explanation. These next prophecies are given to Daniel himself, at different times in his life. But he has grouped them together in this section of his writings. Read the whole chapter first for context.
1 Daniel wrote this down.
2-14 is the dream, 17-27 is the interpretation. We don't have to wonder what it means. If the "great sea" represents the nations of the world, what might be happening in 2-3? Many commentators think the following beasts are previous world empires, but it sounds like there is great turmoil on the earth at the endtimes, out of which four great powers arise to dominate the scene. Even though we can make educated assumptions, I doubt that anyone knows for sure what all these symbols mean and we always need to be careful when discussing prophecy, endtimes, and symbolic language, to keep in mind the various possibilities and not be dogmatic. I will present different views that I have come across.
4-6 mention three beasts--a lion, a bear and a leopard. Does he actually see creatures? "Like" (resembling) is a key word in symbolic passages. The creatures represent four great kings or kingdoms. Many commentaries equate the lion, bear and leopard with the gold, silver and bronze of the statue in Dan. 2: Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece. The winged lion has been the symbol of Babylon, and many think that the wings being plucked refer to Nebuchadnezzar's years existing as a beast, and being made to stand and two legs and given the mind of a man refer to when he came to his senses and received his kingdom back. The bear raised on one side might refer to one half of Media-Persia being more powerful. The four heads of the leopard are thought to represent the four divisions of the Greek kingdom following the death of Alexander the Great. This may all be true. However, in 7 and 12 these creatures seem to represent powers that are active at the same time as the fourth beast, so it appears they would be power at the time of the great tribulation. Here are some other possibilities as to who they might represent.
4 The British Empire has always been represented by the lion; it is on the coat of arms. What modern nation is represented by the eagle? What nation did the USA originate from? The British and Americans have always been allies; here they are pictured together. Perhaps the lion's wings being plucked refers to the birth of the USA, when the power of the British Empire was plucked and given to the USA, or perhaps it refers to the plucking of power from the USA in the near future. The lion is given man-like qualities; perhaps this means it is more humanitarian than the other beasts, standing for human rights. The British Empire gave way to the USA as super-power, but a power shift is coming, in the next few verses.
5 Russia has always been represented by the bear; Russia is coming back into power soon, and seems to be the key power in the war of Ezekiel 38-39. I have read several possibilities about the three ribs but it's not clear so I won't speculate. But it devours.
6 I have read that the leopard could represent the European Union, a coalition of eastern nations (China, Japan, India, Indonesia), or a coalition of Arab/Muslim nations. Those with these views did not give reasons for their view, so I decided to look on the internet for more information.
A search of animal symbols of today's nations shows that the lion is one of the symbol of Iran. A winged lion is the symbol of the Roman church and can be found on the basilica of a church there. Two nations have BOTH the lion and the eagle: Armenia and Albania. Iran, Pakistan, and Somalia are all represented by the leopard. In the light of today's news, it appears that Iran and other Muslim nations are going to be key players in the endtimes coalition of nation. Comparing the map of Muslim nations to Bible maps of the Babylonian, Media-Persian and Greek kingdoms, we see Iran and Iraq right in the center. This makes it seem possible and even likely that the Babylon referred to in Revelation could be the actual rebuilt city and not just a symbol of the world system, but it can certainly be BOTH. I don't know which interpretation of the lion, bear and leopard is correct. It's never good to be dogmatic about things like that, but to consider the different possibilities, watch the news, and see what develops. We have often seen how Scripture can support several different interpretations that can each be true.
7 The fourth beast is not like any known animal; nothing like it has ever been seen. How is it described? We see iron teeth; the statue in Dan. 2 had iron legs with toes of iron and clay. We saw that iron represented the Roman Empire, or the coming revived Roman Empire. It devours, crushes and tramples who? The remainder could be the other three beasts, or could be the remaining nations of the world. It is "different" in some unexplained way from all the other kingdoms before it. It has ten horns which parallel the idea the statue's ten toes. Again we see that the fourth kingdom is given the most attention.
8 Now we are given information about the one who will rule that fourth kingdom. This person is also talked about in Ezekiel 28, Revelation and II Thessalonians 2. He is a "horn" which would be a king or some type of powerful person. In comparison to the other horns, he is described as smaller. We might wonder, is he smaller in physical stature than other men? Or does he come from a nation that is smaller in size or power than others? Or does he appear at first to be a nobody, or someone coming out of nowhere, someone non-threatening? Perhaps all of these?
Something is different about his eyes; they are "like" the eyes of a man. Apparently his eyes will distinguish him. His mouth is also mentioned, and that he will be known for the great claims he will make. This could be referring to his personal appearance and his personal words. "Like the eyes of a man" could be saying that he or his kingdom have a particular ability to "see"; thinking about today's technology, what could this be referring to? Satellites, spying cameras everywhere. Then what could this "mouth" be? A controlled media that speaks for him?
Now let's go back and reread some passages in Revelation where the beast is described. 12:3, here the dragon (Satan) is described as having the 7 heads and 10 horns at this time. What does that tell us about this kingdom? 13:1-2, 7 heads, 10 horns. Daniel mentions 10 heads and 3 fall; how many does that leave? So what must happen? The Beast of Revelation has characteristics of all the three beast of Daniel 7; what does that tell us? And what role does the dragon play? We are starting to get a pretty good picture of this final kingdom and its ruler. Now reread all of Rev. 17.
9-10 Who is pictured here? Note the word "like" again. We also read about the wheels around or under God's throne in Ezekiel 1, representing the cherabim around the throne. Who are the thousands and myriads? Again, angels. Court, books--what time period? The day of judgment.
11, the beast is now referred to as a person, with a body; what burning fire is referred to here? Read Rev. 19:20. So the term "beast" is used both here and in Revelation to refer to that kingdom AND to refer to its leader.
12 The others lived for a short time after; perhaps they were conquered but continued to be separate powers. Or perhaps it is saying that they were subjugated by the Beast, but would continue to exist as nations in the millenial kingdom, or for only a while during the millenium?
13-14 More about God's role at this time. Who is this? Christ, His kingdom on earth. Will this kingdom just last for 1000 years? It goes on for how long? Remember there will be a new earth, Rev. 21:1. Compare all Rev. 21, talking about the new Jerusalem, the heavenly city, especially 21:24.
15-16 What is Daniel's reaction to this vision? Whatever he saw was terrifying to him. He knew of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and he knew that God had promised Israel a kingdom that would rule over the world and a Messiah to rule that kingdom. He has probably been wondering how this will all work out. He must have figured out that Israel is not going to receive that kingdom following the captivity; other world kingdoms must come first. So now, who does he ask? Was Daniel, the interpreter of dreams, able to interpret this vision? So if we have trouble understanding it too, is that OK? The rest of this chapter is the angel's explanation, interpreting the vision to Daniel.
17-18 Do we have to guess what the beasts picture? The saints/holy ones/Israel finally receive their promised kingdom, promised throughout the Old Testament through God's prophets. I would guess that as Daniel saw the end of the 70-year captivity approaching, he had been wondering about the kingdom, if NOW they would receive what God had promised. So this vision is about HOW and WHEN that promised kingdom will come to Israel. Certain things have to happen first, he finds out. The prophecy is about Israel and the kingdom, but is obviously about us too, as we in the church age are apparently seeing these events unfold around us. These two verses are a brief summary of the vision and its interpretation; here is this chapter in a nutshell. If we can't understand anything else from this chapter, we can understand this. Here is God's plan for the future. How could we restate these two verses in our own words? Understanding this, how should we feel about God, about the Bible, about our problems, about what we see happening in the world?
Saints/holy ones: here is where the literal interpretation makes a difference. Those who believe Israel and the church are just one group--the same in God's plan--see the church here too. They see the church as being given the kingdom and all the promises of the Mosaic Law (but for some reason, not the curses, and not being required to keep the sacrifices, rituals, or carry out the required stonings). Since they don't take the Bible literally, they don't necessarily believe that each individual word has a specific meaning. They do not distinguish between the various terms the Bible uses to describe believers. The following terms refer specifically to Christians and are used only in New Testament: church, those in Christ, Christ's body, those indwelt by the Spirit, the bride. Before the cross, those terms were not used, nor are they used following the rapture. Saints are referred to in the Old Testament, New Testament, and tribulation; saints refer to believers. Here they cannot be the church because Daniel does not speak of the church at all, nor do we find the church anywhere in the Old Testament. He speaks about Israel. These saints are believing Jews. Another group that has misunderstood the term "saints" is the Catholic church, that teaches that saints are special Christians who are on a higher plane than other Christians, who could perform miracles, and who are to be prayed to in heaven.
19-22 Like us, Daniel wants to know more about this fourth kingdom. Again we are told it is "different" in some unexplained way; it is more vicious and destructive than all the earlier ones. Like us, he wants to know more about the ten horns and that one horn in particular. In 7:8 he describes it as a little horn, but here he says it is larger in appearance than the other horns; KJV says "whose look was more stout than his fellows." Strong's also gives these terms: captain, chief, great, lord, master. Sounds like his role rather than his physical appearance. Some think eyes are thought to refer to his knowledge or intelligence; this could be describing the man himself, or the capabilities of his kingdom (think about how the computer, satellites, and implantable chips could be used to track us and everything we do).
Or there could be something unique about his eyes--similar to human eyes but different. He is described here and elsewhere as boastful, arrogant, blasphemous. Interestingly, there are already known "creatures" that fit this description--demonic spirits or fallen angels that currently masquerade as "aliens." Many Christians think they could play a big part in the end times scenario; I think it's very possible. In Mt. 24:5, Jesus tells His disciples, inquiring about the end of the age, that the first thing that will happen is that "MANY will come in My name, saying, 'I am Christ.'" Could it even be that the beast will be an "alien," or a "hybrid alien" (alien/human), or that "aliens" will accompany him?
Unbelievers generally think "aliens" are from elsewhere in the universe and are highly evolved beings desiring to unselfishly help earth's inhabitants evolve to a higher form of humanity, and that they bring knowledge of higher technology. But their message contradicts that of the Bible, and parallels New Age beliefs such as: we are all one, "god" is in all of us and in everything, and we are also becoming god-like. They specifically deny the Jesus of the Bible; what was Satan's first lie, Gen. 3:1-5? This is parallel to the New Age belief that we all have access to "the christ" or the "christ-consciousness" within us, also specifically denying that the Jesus of the Bible was THE Christ. They say Jesus was just a good man, an enlightened man.
They speak of a soon-coming time when there is going to be a change or a "shift" of massive proportion, preparing their followers for the deception that will take place when the church is caught up from this earth, creating mass chaos, and opening the door for the revealing of the Beast. They say that there are millions of people on earth who are holding back the arrival of the "aliens" and the age of Aquarius in which we supposedly will evolve to a higher state of consciousness--the "fifth dimension." These people are "dark forces" and have "bad vibrations" and must be cleansed from the earth. The "aliens" claim that they will levitate these people up to waiting UFO's and transport them to another place. Will this be the Beast's explanation for the disappearance of many people when the church (all true believers) are caught up to meet the Lord in the air?
The Bible says that the Great Tribulation will be characterized by the Beast's lying signs and wonders. II Thes. 2:11 speaks of the unbelievers during that time believing "what is false" (NASB), or "the lie" (KJV). Could "the lie" be what they believe about the identity of the Beast and the source of his power? Could it be the explanation of what happened to the mass of believers who disappeared? What does John 8:44 say about Satan?
21-22 What does this man, or this kingdom, do? Until when? Christ = God, 13. Bad stuff has to happen before they take possession of their kingdom. Some believe the church will bring in the kingdom, and Christ's return, by bringing in more and more of the world until the world is converted; instead, we see that the church has been removed, and that new believers are being persecuted and killed just before Christ returns.
23-25 More details on the fourth kingdom. Again it is emphasized that this kingdom will be "different." KJV: diverse. Strong's: (this word is only used here) altered, changed. The word "different" is emphasized in this chapter; it is said four times. His eyes are mentioned twice. We wonder, in what way will this kingdom be different, altered, or changed from all that came before it? In what way will this man be different/altered/changed from all who came before him? Why are his eyes different? We know from Rev. 13:2 that his power is from Satan himself and that he will be able to exert control over the entire world. His right-hand-man, the false prophet (Rev. 13:11-18, 19:20), will be able to perform wondrous signs. There are only two sources of supernatural power--God and Satan. Satan is the father of lies and deception, John 8:44.
24-26 gives a sort of time line. What appears first? That final kingdom. Then the 10 kings; then the little horn. Then what political move does he make? What does he say about God? How does he treat Christians? What else does he try to do? What might that mean? Who will be given into his hand? For how long? A time = 1 year, times = 2 years, half a time = half a year. How long is that? Where else have we read about that time period? This would be the last 3 1/2 years of the 7 year tribulation period. Apparently during the first 3 1/2 years, he is a powerful person, but not having TOTAL power like he does when he requires people to take the mark (Rev. 13-14). What happens to him at the end of that time? Where did we just read about this court? (7:10) His dominion taken away: Rev. 19:15,19. Destroyed forever: Rev. 19:20. When we see how every detail of the Bible dovetails, how should this make us feel about the Bible? About God?
27 How does it all turn out? Israel finally receives the kingdom promised by God through the Old Testament prophets; they will be the primary nation, Deut. 28:13. During Christ's earthly reign, all the nations of the world will do what? That doesn't mean all will believe and be saved, but they will give outward obedience. Does His kingdom end after the thousand years? It goes on forever. This may be a little different than our ideas about sitting around in heaven for eternity, just singing and praising God. God has work for us all to do, just like His original plan for Adam and Eve was to do the work He gave them to do, in a sinless, ideal environment.
28 As Daniel realized what God's plan was for the future, he was deeply moved. He was even alarmed, as we may be when we first realize that God's plan is not all about fulfilling our selfish desires, but instead revolves around the spiritual battle between good and evil. Having a grasp of these events changes our whole outlook on life. How seriously do we take God's Word? What do we do with it? Is it something we keep in a compartment--on Sunday morning, or maybe for 15 minutes a day during our "devotions"? Or does our understanding of what God is like and what He is doing in the world have any impact on our thinking--our worldview, our values, our lifestyle, our daily decisions, our family life, our finances, our goals and expectations, how we respond to our trials?
Now the language used is Hebrew; the preceding section, about the Gentile nations, was written in Aramaic, the language of the Gentile nations.
1 Daniel records another vision, how long after the first one? Compare 7:1. He will have one more vision, when? Compare 10:1,7.
2 Susa was the capital of the Median-Persian empire, just east of Babylon. This was where Esther was queen under King Xerxes, and where Nehemiah was cupbearer to King Xerxes.
3 What animal? With two what? Like the bear with one side higher--same kingdom. Persia arose later than Media.
4 Very powerful.
5 Then what kind of animal? With a large what? We don't have to wonder what these things mean. 15-22 gives the interpretation, and again we see that horns represent kings, in these visions about the end times. Now at this time, which empire ruled the world? See 5:30-31. Greece had not yet come to power. But we are given some very specific information about what Greece will do in the future.
5-8 Who was this famous king of Greece? This prophecy is about Alexander the Great. His army was characterized by great speed. When he died leaving no heirs, four generals divided the kingdom. The goat is like the leopard in 7:6, speedy/wings, four horns/four heads.
9 Out of one of these four horns will come a small horn. The NASB says "small," the KJV says "little"; both use "little" in Dan. 7:8. The beautiful land is Israel. Dan. 11 will give greater detail about this period and this small horn, which was a historical figure, Antiochus II Epiphanes. He is not the little horn of Dan.7; two different Hebrew words are used. That little horn will arise out of the ten horns of the final kingdom--the ten toes. But this small horn has similarities to that little horn, which we will see more of in Dan. 11.
10 What is the host of heaven? Host: a great number, organized as for an army, therefore the angels, who are often referred to in this way. The small horn has something to do with the conflict involving angels and demons. This moves us to the end times, the seven-year rule of the beast or the little horn. So this small horn, while different from that little horn, is what we call a "type" of the beast. Again, we will see more details about them both in Dan. 11. Compare this verse to Rev. 12:7-9. These two sections confirm the idea that Satan and his demons DO have access to heaven (some teach that they don't), and they will until half way through the tribulation. So Satan and his demons will actually be on earth, and the activity of this person at that time will coincide with this demonic presence.
11 Who is the Commander of the host? God. Antiochus set himself up as Israel's king. The beast/small horn makes himself equal with God; we saw earlier in Daniel that he has a mouth speaking great things--the idea of blasphemy. (Remember that is why the Pharisees tried to kill Jesus, for blasphemy, because He was making Himself to be equal with God--under the Law, a crime punishable by death.) What else did this horn do? When Antiochus ruled, he placed an image of Jupiter in the holy place of the temple, a type of the coming "abomination of desolation" in the holy place referred to in Matt. 24:15. So sacrifice is being regularly made at that future time in Israel, and there is a sanctuary/temple; this tells us that there will be a temple at the time of the seven years of tribulation. (There is a move among the "faithful" of Israel now to rebuild the temple on the Mount, in preparation for the fulfillment of Scripture, and the return of their Messiah.)
12-14 Why will Israel be given over to the likes of this man Antiochus? Because of their sin; it is God's punishment. This man had no respect for God's Word, or for truth. The 2300 evenings and mornings may be understood as 2300 days, or as 2300 divided by 2, since each day had a morning and an evening sacrifice. We know that the little horn/beast will also fling truth to the ground; deception will be rampant at that time.
14 This verse was the basis for the 1843 date set for Christ's return by many, most famously the Seventh Day Adventists under William Miller and his well-known follower, Ellen G. White. (They were called the Millerites at that time.) They used the day-year concept to get that date, 2300 years, dating from 457 BC. They believed that the earth was the sanctuary to be cleansed. When Christ did not come at that time, they came up with the concept that the cleansing of the sanctuary was not the cleansing of the earth, but of the sanctuary in heaven, which happened in that year, according to a special revelation they had been given. Christ had moved from a place in heaven, the holy place, to another place in heaven, the most holy place, and there and then, He began His work which they call the "investigative judgment," in which He examines each believer to see if they are worthy of eternal life.
15-16 Could Daniel understand this vision? We see two angels here. Again we see angels represented as men--not as women, not having wings. This is the first time we meet Gabriel. Where else do we meet him? Dan. 9, Luke 1:19. He appears to be particularly involved with the fulfillment of God's plan with Israel.
17-18 What was Daniel's response to Gabriel's presence? When we see this response to an angel, how much more can we understand a falling down in God's presence, in terror and awe? Apparently our knees lose all strength. (We also note that people always fell on their faces in God's presence--never backwards, as those do who claim to be "slain in the Spirit"--a totally unbiblical practice.) When we hear stories of those who had "near-death experiences," this is not generally the response those people had to meeting Jesus. We look forward to going to heaven, to being caught up, to seeing Jesus. What might it be like when it happens?
What does Gabriel tell him about this vision? So it is not JUST about Antiochus II Epiphanes. "The time of the end." This section of prophecy clearly teaches us that prophecy can have more than one level of meaning, more than one time period in mind, and both are equally true.
19-22 The interpretation of what we read in the beginning of the chapter. What two phrases in 19 take us from the historical context to the future?
23 Again we are taken to the "latter period." We are told what this king, the small horn, the beast, will be like. We already know he is like Antiochus II Epiphanes. Insolent: strong, vehement, harsh, fierce, greedy. Intrigue: ambiguous speech, puzzles, tricks, riddles. Don't we see ambiguous speech in politics all the time? It will be even worse at that time, and will characterize this leader.
24 His rise to power, and his great power, will come from elsewhere, not from himself. Something different will be going on here. He will destroy to an extraordinary degree; like 7:7,23, 2:40. Destroy here can also mean: corrupt, decay, mar. Extraordinary can include: perform wondrous miracles. He will do whatever he wants. Some think Antiochus Epiphanes was demon possessed. Who would be the saints or holy people? Israel is his special target, and also Christians.
25 Again we see the deception of that time, of this man in particular--his great pride, arrogance, destructiveness (this kingdom more than any other before it). Who is the Prince of princes? Christ; he is against Christ, or anti-Christ. This again makes it very clear that the end times are in view here. But what will happen to him? Where do we read about this happening? Rev. 19:19-21.
26 This vision, this prophecy, was not for public dissemination at that time. Again we are told it is distant future. It is for the days when the Messiah returns, when the stone cut without hands becomes a mountain. We have seen biblical evidence that we are standing on the brink of that time.
27 Are you confused and upset when you think about what the Bible reveals about the end times? So was Daniel. This knowledge made him so numb, so sick, he was unable to work for days. The angel, 16, came to give Daniel understanding, but he still didn't understand. We are able to understand better than Daniel, because we have the rest of the Bible to shed further light. He did not know about the church or God's plan for the church or how this fit with God's plan for Israel; we do. God has a plan for Israel, for the Gentiles (the "nations"), for the church; they are all intertwined.
This information is not necessary to your daily Christian walk, if you don't want to think too much about it. Some people think it is unnecessary or inappropriate to study about the end times, or that we can't understand it or figure out what the Bible really means, and shouldn't waste our time on it. According to Acts 17, Paul was only in Thessalonica for less than a month, but according to his two letters to the Thessalonians, he had taught them about the second coming of Christ. Paul did not consider this subject inappropriate for new believers. If you do want to know, the information is here in the Bible. We look forward to being caught up because the New Testament tells us to, but what comes after that and before the kingdom is truly frightening. It is the time when God uses frightening events and frightening people to pour out His wrath on the earth. Jesus tells us to pray "Thy kingdom come." The rapture and the tribulation must first come before that can happen, so when we pray "Thy kingdom come," we are actually praying "come, Lord Jesus." II Pet. 3:12 says we are to be "looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God."
1-3 When does this take place? This would be 536-539 BC, 66 years after Daniel's captivity. Again, some disagreement over the identity of Darius. Daniel had served in one world empire, now he has seen another come into being and he has served in it. He sees the partial fulfillment of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. Why was Daniel praying? He was familiar with the prophecies of Jeremiah, and he sees things happening that are paving the way for the fulfillment of this prophecy.
4 We want to look at Daniel's prayer, and see what we can learn about prayer. When the Bible records prayers of great men such as Daniel, David and Paul, we want to pay attention, and learn how to pray, and what kinds of things to pray for.
There is currently a book out about the prayer of Jabez, from I Chron. 4:10. It has caused some controversy in Christian circles. The prayer is by an obscure person, is one verse long, and is quite different from the prayers of Daniel, David and Paul. Jabez asks for blessings, and that he would not experience harm or pain. Now let's see how Daniel begins his prayer. We see serious prayer, no quickie here.
4-5 This is typical of what we have seen in the Old Testament. What do we usually see first in these prayers? Humble recognition of who God is, praise, recognition of sinfulness and repentance. The entire prayer, through 19, is confession and repentance. The prayer of Jabez seems quite trite and self-centered in comparison, yet I believe many Christians pray like that. "Bless me (give me…) and make everything feel OK!" So how come there is no popular book on the prayer of Daniel? Did God grant Jabez's requests? Does that necessarily mean He approved of it? Can you think of other requests that God granted that He did not approve of? Meat in the wilderness; Num. 11:4,18,31-33; Ps. 106:15. So what should they have requested instead?
Perhaps it is better not to look at prayer as requesting, but as an opportunity to look to God in humble acceptance of whatever His will brings. But doesn't the New Testament say we are to ask, and that we have not because we ask not? Again, if we look at Paul's prayers, what sort of things does he ask for? "Stuff"? Mostly for God's working in his life and in other people's lives. We don't know what "things" or events God desires to bring into our lives; doesn't it seem audacious to suggest to Him what would be best for us? Do we really know? Is there any chance that our plan would be better than what God has planned? Jesus taught us to pray FIRST for God's will to be done (not ours), for our daily needs, forgiveness (implying repentance for our sins) and for God's leading in our lives. Jabez's prayer is not like this. Does God's "blessing"--His best for us, which means our spiritual growth--always come in a pleasant form? Might it come through pain or difficulty He plans to lead us through? It often does. We would like to experience Christian maturity without the painful growth process.
According to 4, who are God's blessings reserved for? Today we hear the word "awesome" a lot, meaning what? What does it mean here?
5 I doubt he is just being repetitive here. There are different kinds of sin. He hit them all, from evil deeds and rebelliousness to missing the mark and just failing to do what should have been done. We see that he is speaking of all Israel, not just himself. Should we just say, "forgive me my sins," or should we name them? Why?
6 What was Israel guilty of? He names a specific sin.
7 What belongs to God? And what to them? This is quite different from the response Adam and Eve had to their sin. He doesn't pass the buck or blame others as they did; he doesn't whine, explain, justify, or ask God WHY He made us like He did (a way of putting the blame on God).
9 He alludes to forgiveness, but doesn't actually ask God to forgive-yet.
10 He confesses things they have done as well as things they haven't done. Can not doing something be sin?
11 Daniel recognizes the captivity as the fulfillment of the curse written in the Law, and that they deserve this curse. Today some people want to claim the blessings of the Law for the church, but do you hear them talk about the curses? Some were publicly asking God to bless our country following the terrorist attack, but did we see them approaching a righteous God with humility and prayers of repentance for themselves and their nation? Can our nation repent? As a nation? I believe the Bible indicates that only Israel can respond to God as a nation, because Israel is the only nation God chose as a nation and put them under His rule. God deals with Israel as a nation. Now in the church age, He deals with everyone else as individuals.
14 Even when God brings calamity, He is righteous. ALL His deeds, even judgment. Contrasting God's deeds and their deeds.
15 "And now O Lord": now that he has confessed, he begins his petition.
16 Jerusalem is referred to as the holy mountain. We saw this terminology in Psalms, and this confirms that as referring to Jerusalem. Finally he asks God to do something--what?
17 What else does he ask God to do? Why should God do anything for us? Because of how deserving we are? This is a rather general request; does he tell God what he thinks God should do?
18 Compare Eph. 2:8-9. Total humility is required; we have nothing to offer, no ground to stand on. Does he tell God what he thinks God should do?
19 Finally he asks God to forgive, after making it very clear that he understands the basis of that forgiveness. He does not ask presumptuously. Take action, don't delay: does he suggest what action God should take? Should we suggest to God what we think He should do in a particular situation? Does He need our suggestions? Study the prayers of the Bible to find out what kinds of things we should pray for and about. He is concerned for God's name; are we as concerned, or are we mostly concerned for our own selves?
20 He keeps talking about "us" and "our" but now he says he is confessing his OWN sin--not just talking about Israel in general. Do we have any record of Daniel's sins? Does it matter? Everyone has sinned, even believers that appear to be really godly. Sin can be many things, not just stuff that looks bad to others. The closer you get to God, the more you become aware of your own sinfulness, pride and self-centeredness; Daniel appears to be as godly as any man in the Bible.
21 The plot thickens. What happens during this prayer? We see again that angels appear as men. Has Daniel even finished his prayer? Compare Is. 65:24. Why was he weary? Evening offering: offerings can't be made now, without the temple, but he refers to a particular time of day.
22-23 Actually, the information he now gives Daniel does not seem to be anything Daniel was praying for, at least not in this prayer, or perhaps he had just not got to that part yet. But from verses 1-3 we see that this was his concern. It's interesting how he went about presenting this concern to God. Is Daniel more loved than others? Are WE greatly beloved? Why? Because we are IN CHRIST, the Beloved.
24-27 These four verses are important in understanding God's prophetic timetable. We want to look carefully and in detail at this section. First notice the main things talked about. 24, the 70 weeks or sevens, who it's about. (Who? And what place? NOT the church. These terms are not interchangeable.) 25, a decree, a time period from the decree until the Messiah. 26, the Messiah cut off, the people of the prince who is to come. 27, a one week covenant (one seven), abomination in the middle of that seven.
First, are these 70 literal weeks? Context: Daniel has been thinking about the 70 years captivity, in which Israel was punished a year for each period of seven years that the land was not given its Sabbath rest. 25-26 tell us what is to happen during the first 69 weeks. We are to begin from what event? When was this decree? Read Neh. 2:1-8. Now look at the things listed at the end of Dan. 9:24. In fact, we can see that they have not yet happened, and will not happen until some time in the future. ("Everlasting" can also be translated as ages. The kingdom will be an age of righteousness. OR, just the idea of these events bringing in the Messiah, in whom is everlasting righteousness. The Most Holy could be the Messiah, or the Holy Place in the temple.)
Since these events did not take place during the 69 days, weeks, or months following that decree, it must mean sevens of something else. It appears to refer to the beginning of the Messiah's kingdom. Weeks are sevens, so we have 70 sevens, or 70 7-year-periods. And it so happens that years fit the historical time frame exactly. The decree was in 445 BC. The Messiah presented Himself to Israel as King at the triumphal entry to Jerusalem, 32 AD. 7 weeks of years plus 62 weeks of years. Or, 49 plus 434. The first 49 years takes us from the decree to the end of the book of Malachi. The next 434 years takes us to the day Christ presented Himself to Israel as King. Compare Luke 19:14. AFTER that point, "Messiah is cut off," crucified. So Daniel is actually prophesying that Israel will reject her Messiah when He comes. Since the first 69 weeks of years have been exactly literally fulfilled, we can know that the last week of years will also. (There are books that give the details of figuring this time period, taking into consideration the Jewish calendar and leap years.)
That still leaves one more week; it is discussed in 27. But 26 tells what happens between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. So we have a time period followed by certain events, followed by the last 7, or the last 7 years. So have those events happened yet? Those who don't take the literal interpretation say this is 70 actual weeks, and is fulfilled in the literal destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. However, the things listed in 24 didn't happen at the end of that period. They had not been fulfilled at the time John wrote Revelation (about 95 AD), so at that time they were still future. (Those who believe it was fulfilled in 70 AD also believe John wrote Revelation before 70 AD, even though there is no manuscript evidence, only their own desire to make a time-table that corresponds to their beliefs.)
But we do see a partial, "near" fulfillment of this prophecy in that event, while its literal fulfillment awaits a future time. We do get another clue here identifying this prince; he is the prince of what people? What people destroyed the city and temple in 70 AD? The Romans; just as we saw earlier in Daniel that the last world empire, the legs of iron, was the Roman empire, and as the iron is mixed with clay in the final kingdom, we see that the Roman empire is still in view.
Further evidence for future fulfillment is the fact that the 7 years mentioned in 27, the break in the middle (three and a half years), and the comments about this "prince," all fit with other passages telling of the final world ruler. Revelation talks about the three and a half year periods, as does Dan. 7 and Dan. 12. This prince is the little horn of Dan. 7, the small horn of Dan. 8, the beast of Revelation and the man of sin of II Thes. 2.
The length of the time gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks was not revealed to the prophets. Someone people refuse to believe there is such a time gap because the Bible does not use the word "gap." (Neither does it use the terms "trinity," "original sin," or "the fall," but that doesn't mean it doesn't contain and teach those concepts.) The Bible does refer to this "gap" in various places. Read Hosea 3:4-5. When was their last king? When will they next have a king? God gave definite time periods when dealing with Israel, but to the church He doesn't give set times. Israel was first put out of the land for 490 years, the second time for 70 years, but this time for an indefinite period, "for many days," because it is that indefinite period of the church age.
Compare Mt. 25:5-6. Notice the time clues. The bridegroom is who? Where did He go? So does the Bible say He would come right back? The word "delay" indicates that some time passes, and no one knows for sure just when He is coming back. How did people on earth react to His leaving and delay? All, even the ones with the oil, get drowsy, lethargic. (Compare I Thes. 5:1-11.) When does the bridegroom return? Midnight, the very end of the day. Read John 14:3; does Jesus say how much time will pass between His leaving and His return?
We refer to this gap or time period as the age of what? Grace, or the church age. It is an unspecified period of time, in which we are living--the time following Christ's crucifixion, up until the ruler of the final kingdom, in the time of the 10 toes. The church was not revealed in the Old Testament, nor was the church age. The New Testament calls this a "mystery," Eph. 3:8-11. In the Bible, a mystery is not used as something we can't figure out, but rather, as something which was not previously revealed and now is. Christ made it clearer when He came; compare Luke 4:16-21, where He read from Is. 61:1-2, but stopped in the middle of the verse and said that these things have been fulfilled. The last part had not yet been fulfilled; it was future, at His second coming.
We have also seen that God uses specific time periods when dealing with Israel. Has God given the church any specific dates or time periods? The church age will end when what happens? (when the church is caught up to meet Christ in the air) Review II Thes. 2. And the seventieth week will begin when what happens, according to Dan. 9:27? The making (NASB) or confirming (KJV) of a 7-year covenant/treaty with "the many." Everyone says this means Israel, although it doesn't say that specifically. However, the phrase "the many" is used several more times in Daniel and each time seems to refer to Israel, 11:33, 11:39, 12:3. (KJV just says "many" so this may not even be significant.) In the middle of the week he breaks the treaty, whoever it is with, and things begin to go very badly for Israel.
This is further evidence that the 70 weeks cannot be literal weeks, because it seems extremely unlikely that any ruler would make a treaty for one week, or break it after 3 1/2 days. Rev. 12:13-17 tells of his great persecution of Israel for 3 1/2 years, which would be the second 3 1/2 years. Also, read Is. 28:15-18, a description of this time. References to the covenant being with death and Sheol are further evidence of the satanic power behind this man. Falsehood and deception will mark this period and this man. Compare Mt. 24:4-5,11,23-24.
27 He will end sacrifice and offering; these will have been restored. He begins as a political world ruler, but after the first 3 1/2 years, he assumes the role of world religious leader also. Compare Rev. 13. "On the wing of abominations": there are other references to the abomination of desolation in the middle of the 7 years. "Makes desolate", or causes horrors: again Rev. 12 tells of the great persecution. Also read Mt. 24:15-21. A time of unprecedented horror following this event. By the way, as Matthew was written to the Jews, and the church age was still unknown, we do not see the church age or the rapture pictured in Mt. 24, as many say. This is an important factor in understanding Mt. 24 (see notes on Mt. 24). We see the tribulation, the second coming, and the introduction of the kingdom.
So, in short, to answer Daniel's questions about when Israel will come into her kingdom, it won't be right away! These periods of times and these events must take place first. It is off in the future. We also see in studying the prophetic teachings of Matthew 24 how important it is to read and study the WHOLE Bible before attempting to interpret and understand prophetic passages. The Bible interprets itself if you compare and contrast passages.
1 Daniel has another vision, when? Later, Daniel is even older now (about four years after the vision of the 70 weeks). What had happened in the first year of Cyrus's reign? Read Ezra 1:1-4. So Israel's 70 years of captivity were ended; had they all returned to their land? This probably puzzled and saddened Daniel. This vision he was able to understand. The vision itself is recorded in Dan. 11 and 12; in this chapter, we have information on what went on before the vision was given, behind the scenes, in the unseen world of spiritual warfare, of angels and demons. We also have Daniel's response to the vision and to the angel. The message is about great what?
2-3 What had he been doing? Why? The great conflict, warfare, involving his people's future. Just as the previous angel visit had been in response to a prayer about his people and their future.
4 Where and when.
5-6 Someone appears to him in a vision; an angel? Christ Himself? Read Rev. 1:12-16. ("A certain man" is often used in a parable to refer to God.) Other descriptions of angels don't use this term.
7-9 If this was Christ, this is similar to Paul seeing Christ on the road to Damascus, and those who were with him heard a voice but could not see Him. Daniel's response to being in the presence of this angel or the angel of the Lord. What will it be like when we find ourselves in God's presence? Deep awe, fear, humility, awareness of our sinfulness, no strength left. A sobering thought.
10-11 Someone touches Daniel. If the certain man was Christ, this would probably be an angel, because the rest of the chapter speaks of a prolonged conflict between him and demons. He speaks to Daniel. Many today say, don't concern yourself with a "morbid" desire to know the future, just worry about living the Christian life today. But God DOES want us to have some understanding of future events, of His ultimate purpose and the fulfillment of all His promises. This helps us to know God better, what He is like, what He is doing, how we fit in. It's not all about us, today. It's not all about the church. It's about God and His plans for the ages.
12 In desiring this understanding of the future, what was Daniel's underlying attitude? Not just curiosity or the desire to see spectacular signs.
13 What do we learn about the unseen spiritual realm? There are good guys and bad guys. Do the bad guys have much power? We see demons and angels referred to as princes and kings. Compare Rom. 8:38-39, Eph. 6:10-13. We don't find this warning to the Jews in the Old Testament; they are constantly warned about ungodly peoples around them, whom they are commanded to overcome militarily, and not intermarry with. We (the church) are not commanded to struggle against physical enemies, but rather to pray for them, forgive them, and do good to them. But we ARE told who our real enemies are, and how to fight against them. It's not just the devil.
Satan's tactics vary. Read I Pet. 5:8-9 and II Cor. 11:14 (13 and 15, we are also warned of his followers-do they always look evil?). So some demons function in the political realm, and some in the religious realm. Satan promotes "religion." Satan tempted Jesus to worship him, in exchange for which he would give all the kingdoms of the world. This must have been a valid and difficult temptation, for we don't find Jesus scoffing at the offer. And, those kingdoms WERE his to give, at that time. (All three of the temptations were designed to appeal to pride, if Jesus had any.) John 12:31, Jesus calls him "the ruler of this world." Ruler/prince/king. Eph. 2:2, Paul calls him "the prince of the power of the air." Satan and his demons temporarily run this world, this cosmos, the present world system, which we are warned not to be involved in even though we must live in it; one day that will change, and the world will be run on a different basis.
13 We see a great deal of power on both sides. Why would the demon in charge of Persia not want this angel to come to Daniel? He was about to reveal some hidden information about the future of Persia and Satan's agenda. We see that Satan does not want us to have this information, but God does! Michael is one of two angels who are named in the Bible; the other is Gabriel. He is an archangel, but apparently not the only one.
14 Who is the vision about? And what time period is it about?
15 Daniel's reaction. He does not just carry on a conversation here. When God finally appeared to Job, after Job ranted and raved about what he would say to God if he got the chance, Job was amazingly silent too. What little he did say had to do with his repentance. When we are in God's presence, we will have an overwhelming sense of our sinfulness.
16-17 Interesting choice of words: no strength in me. This is just what the New Testament teaches about the flesh, Self, the old nature.
18-19 Daniel is now strong enough to do what? Just to listen! We see some things that God does for the believer; He does not want us to lack peace or courage. He does not want us to be full of fear. He supplies those things for us; how? Does He just instantly pump us full of those qualities? Not usually; He sends experiences into our lives which allow us to develop those qualities. But sometimes He supernaturally supplies those qualities in time of need.
20 So perhaps there are demons (satanic angels) in charge of every kingdom. Was the angelic struggle JUST over the bringing of this message? No, it would be ongoing. As the Persians, or Medes/Persians, fell to the Greeks, a different demon would be in charge. So we have seen God dealing with kings, that they might know that He is God, and we see Satan at work in every kingdom.
21 Michael is the angel assigned to the nation of Israel. So is this angel, standing against the princes of Persia and Greece, assigned to this area? We are not told of any of the other good angels being assigned to nations. We could ASSUME they are since there are wicked angels in these roles, and there may be a parallel. OR, we might conclude that only Israel, as the only nation that is God's chosen people, has an angel standing for them. Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, so they must all belong to him at this time. Where else do we read about Michael? Dan. 12:1 (again, assigned to Israel), Jude 9, Rev. 12:7.
This verse is another evidence that if Christ is pictured in 5-6, He is NOT the one speaking after that, but an angel is speaking. This verse would not seem to apply to Christ--the angel of the Lord.
1 Who is speaking? The angel from Dan. 10. Who is the "him" at the end? Could be referring to Darius, or could be referring to Michael from 10:21; remember, the chapter and verse divisions have been added, were not in the original.
This chapter is a detailed prophecy of events that will impact Israel under the second and third kingdoms, Persia and Greece. Verses 2-35 have been literally fulfilled in history, according to every detail in this chapter. Briefly, 3 refers to Alexander the Great. 4, he died, leaving no heirs, so the kingdom was divided among 4 generals. Two of those lines are discussed in this chapter, the Seleucids that ruled Syria (the kings of the North) and the Ptolemies that ruled Egypt (the kings of the South). Directions in the Bible are from Israel. Israel, in the middle, was invaded by both. 14, your people, Israel. 16, the beautiful land, Israel. 20, glory or jewel of the kingdom could be Jerusalem.
This detailed prophecy, fulfilled literally in history, is the reason critics reject the authenticity of the book of Daniel. They don't believe in miracles or the supernatural, so they just flat reject it, saying it must have actually been written AFTER those events, which would make Daniel, and therefore the Bible, false. But they have no evidence to date Daniel after these events. This is the same reasoning of the evolutionists, who reject the possibility of a God, so therefore, creation CANNOT be true, and regardless of the scientific evidence, evolution is the only other alternative, so it must be true.
This detailed prophecy that has been literally fulfilled is strong evidence that the Bible is supernatural, divine, authored by God. Use this fact in talking to unbelievers and skeptics. It should strengthen our own belief that the Bible is infallible and inerrant (what do those theological words mean?) It also strengthens our belief that future prophecy will also be literally fulfilled, to the smallest detail.
21 Now one king in particular is discussed, Antiochus Epiphanes, a "despicable person." He is the small horn of 8:9, but not the little horn of Dan. 7, which will not arise until the 10 kings/kingdoms of the final empire. But he is like that little horn, as we will see in this chapter. Everything mentioned about him through 35 has already taken place. I won't go into the historical details; you can read about this in various commentaries.
36-45 From here through the end of the chapter, we have events that have not yet been fulfilled, so they must be future. It appears to still be talking about this king, but he sounds amazingly like the little horn, the beast of Revelation, the Antichrist. We see Antiochus Epiphanes pictured as a "type" of that final ruler, a small fulfillment in history picturing the future greater fulfillment of this prophecy, as Bible prophecy so often does. So by looking at him, we can learn more about this future king.
21 Does he become the world ruler because he wins a world war?
22 He deposed the high priest, the "prince of the covenant." The people of the covenant would refer to Israel.
23 What alliance? What else have we read about that fits with this concept? What else have we read that describes deception following this alliance or covenant? Besides breaking that covenant, he will be characterized by deception.
24 Again, this does not take place through war. Only for a time, his power does not last long. How long? Devise schemes, more deception, intrigue.
25 More schemes. We don't see military might being the main factor at that time.
26 He and his enemies ate together, feigned friendship.
27 More deception. Will man's plans prevail on this earth? God has an appointed time for everything.
28 He is against the Jews, the people of the holy covenant. He appears at first to be their friend, their deliverer, but he is not.
29 Again, everything he does is at God's appointed time; this is all in God's plan and under His control, even though it looks like man, and Satan, are at the controls now.
30 Anger at the Jews; he will favor those who turn against their own people.
31 He stopped the daily sacrifice, set up an image of Jupiter the sun god in the holy place, and offered swine's blood and broth on the altar. We read in a couple of other places about the abomination of desolation; when will it happen? 3 1/2 years after he signs the treaty with Israel.
32 He rewarded those who turned against Israel. This was when the famous Maccabees revolted against him; this story is not recorded in the Bible but is found in other writings. We read elsewhere of brother against brother, and parent against child, not knowing who you can trust at that time. There WILL be a faithful remnant at that time, as always in the past.
33 As at that time, some will be faithful, but many of those will die because of it. I wonder of these who have insight, who give understanding to others, might be a reference to the 144,000 witnesses of Revelation 7.
34 Hypocrisy; pretending to be on which side?
35 Here we have a reason for these things which will happen to the Jews, and a specific reference to the future implications of these words. Some people talk about how Christians will have to go through this time for this reason. DOES the church need to be refined, purged, made pure? Why? Read Eph. 5:27. But we do need to do what? Read Eph. 4:13-16. We could find many passages that talk about growing and maturing. Again, it is so important to compare all Scripture.
36-39 A couple of clues. End of 35, then (a time word, could be referring back to end of 35), the king. His boastful arrogant mouth, making himself equal to God, demanding worship--we have read similar things in other passages. Also sounds very much like what we know about Satan. Read Mt. 24:15-21, Rev. 12:14, Rev. 13:5-8. Again, we notice that his anti-god, satanic nature seems to manifest itself not at the first, but in the middle of the seven years of tribulation. As he was from the Greeks, some think the final ruler of the Roman Empire will come from that area.
37 Could be God or gods. Desire of women, some think he will be homosexual, some think it refers to the desire of Jewish women to be the mother of the Messiah. Perhaps he will just have no interest in women or sex.
38-39 Here we have him honoring some sort of god, a god his fathers did not know. (KJV, "strange" god) Yet 37, no regard for any other god. Some say "god of fortresses" (KJV, "forces") is military might, but that is not something his fathers did not know. Something funny is going on here--perhaps some new kind of power that was previously unknown. We don't know what this means, but I'm sure these remarks will make perfect sense to true believers at that time, as they observe this man.
As we discussed in Dan. 7, some think he could be an "alien," a half-alien hybrid, or have some sort of "alien" connection. Several terms in this chapter seem to mesh with this idea. 21, a despicable person, not exactly a king, seizing control by "intrigue." 23, deception, will accomplish what his fathers and ancestors never did. 36, speaking monstrous things against God, the "indignation." 37, no regard for any god, or for the desire of women. 38, honoring a "god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know"--something different.
40-45 Political and military events prophesied. Again we have kings of the north and the south referred to, and things going on in the east. We never read of "kings of the west"; the only major country to the west is in North America, the major world power today. This is one reason why many think that somehow, the US will not be a major power at that time.
We see his kingdom pictured in Daniel as a world empire. Read Rev. 13:2. In Daniel we saw this ruler, the little horn, arising out of the 10 kingdoms, but here we see that the beast has 10 horns. It is made up of 10 kingdoms, but three of the rulers are missing. Daniel told us that this little horn would uproot three of the 10 horns. Read 13:7, he has authority over every nation. Yet he does not rule unopposed. Daniel 11 tells of conflict with the king of the north and of the south, and of problems in the east (this could be the 200 million man army referred to in Rev. 9:14-16 coming from across the Euphrates).
So there will be military conflict during those 7 years, but he does not come to power due to a war. Just as Antiochus Epiphanes in 24 gained access to the richest parts, so in 43 will this ruler have access to hidden wealth, whatever that is. Oil? 45, between the sea, Dead Sea & Mediterranean, at Jerusalem, as Christ would. 45, but he will come to an end, as we have read in many other places. This won't go on for long.
This is a continuation of the vision mentioned in Dan. 10, that began in Dan. 11. Who is speaking? Still the angel.
1 No more about the king who is like Antiochus Epiphanes. But we are told some other things. Again we are told that, just as there are wicked angels assigned to various nations, Michael is the angel that is over what nation? What is the second thing we are told in this verse? Compare Jesus' description of that time that is coming, Mt. 24:21. Many claim this has already happened, at the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 AD. But WAS that the worst thing that ever happened to the Jews? Was it worse than Hitler's holocaust? Both those events were a type of the great tribulation to come, but do not match the Bible's description of that time. What does Mt. 24:29 say will happen right after that? Did this happen in 70 AD? To take that view means you must throw out or change the meaning of parts of the Bible.
What is the third thing we are told in verse 1? Some of the Jews will be rescued; which ones? So we find that at the end of the seven years of tribulation, there will be in Israel believing Jews and unbelieving Jews. As we saw in Dan. 3, "rescued" implies being removed from the dangerous situation. The Messiah returns at that time, the little horn/beast is removed, and the believers are rescued from him.
2 There will be a resurrection of the dead then; who must be resurrected at that time? Believing Israel; they must be resurrected in order to inherit the kingdom, to receive what God promised them. "These" must refer back to 12:1--everyone who is found written in the book. Also, read Dan. 12:13. Daniel will rise to receive his allotted portion at that time; so must all true believers of Israel. Read Mt. 8:11, Ez. 37:12. What about that last phrase? When are all unbelievers resurrected? At the last judgment, Rev. 20:11-15. When does that take place? At the end of the millenium, Rev. 20. Just because both statements are found in the same verse does not imply they must take place at the same time; when Jesus read from Is. 61:1-2, He stopped in the middle of 2, because the first part of 2 refers to His first coming and the second part refers to His second coming.
So how many resurrections are there, and when? First, at the rapture, that of the church, I Thes. 4:16-17. Who does it say will rise at that time? The dead in Christ; we never find that term used of people in the Old Testament. Second, at the end of the tribulation, believing Jews who have died. Third, we saw that all unbelievers are resurrected at the end of the millenium. What about non-Jews who believe during the tribulation and die or are killed? Read Rev. 20:1-4. So they are resurrected at the end of the tribulation, before the millenial kingdom begins, along with the believers of Israel in the Old Testament.
What about all those Old Testament believers who were not of Israel? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not Jews (Jews are the sons of Israel/Jacob), but what does it say about them in Mt. 8:11? So they must be resurrected at this time too. There must be a final resurrection of believers at the end of the kingdom, who become believers during the kingdom age, because we are told there will be birth and death during the millenium, Is. 65:20. These would be the ones referred to in Rev. 20:15, those whose names ARE found written in the book of life.
I wonder of the word "many" at the beginning of 12:2 is referring particularly to Israel. Compare also the word "many" in 9:27, 12:2,3,4,10.
3 Some will have great insight (margin: the instructors), and some will lead many to righteousness. This could be a reference to the 144,000 witnesses of Rev. 7.
4 These prophecies are for the distant future, the end of time (which is followed by the beginning of eternity, at the end of Christ's earthly kingdom). Seal: preserve, close up, validate. Some think this means we can't know what this book is about. As far as Daniel is concerned, he should seal it up, because it is not for him but for the distant future. We are getting close to that time, and, unlike Daniel, we now have God's complete written Word. Compare Rev. 22:10 and 1:3. Last phrase: Some think it refers to increased travel and knowledge in our modern world, even to missionary activity. It may refer to the Bible, to these prophecies, that people will make more effort to increase their knowledge of these things as the time approaches. It could refer to Amos 8:12. Again, "many" could mean Israel, running around fruitlessly looking for a message from God, but God is temporarily not dealing with them because of their disobedience.
5 Two more angels.
6-8 One asks Christ how long it will be. At the end of the 3 1/2 years everything mentioned will be completed. The Bible doesn't tell a lot about the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation but much about the last 3 1/2 years. Again we see what phrase that means 3 1/2 years? Shatter--elsewhere in the Bible we learn that the kings of all the earth are coming against Israel at the end of the tribulation.
9 Daniel is not to concern himself over these things; they are not for his time. Some say that prophecies were fulfilled in the immediate context of those to whom it was given; otherwise, if it was not for them, it wouldn't make sense. But here we see that Daniel has been given much information regarding the distant future, and is told as much.
10 This is not speaking of the church; the context is Israel. The church or the church age is not mentioned in the Old Testament. This is what God is doing with Israel during the seven years of tribulation, and especially the last 3 1/2 years. The Old Testament has been very clear that their disobedience has brought this on them.
11-12 Another reference to the abomination of desolation. We saw that 1260 days equaled 3 1/2 years, so what are these two numbers indicating? Apparently some things have to happen in between the end of the seven years and the beginning of the kingdom reign of Christ. I would guess that it could be the judging of the Gentiles to show who will enter the kingdom and who won't. Not all will "attain" to this day, Mt. 25:31-46. Also, Mt. 13:40-43, 47-50. Read Dan. 7:21-22. Sounds like a bit of time passes while this all takes place.
13 Again, Daniel is told that he should just go on with his life since these things won't really concern him. This speaks of his death, entering his rest (Abraham's bosom, Luke 16:22-23), then his resurrection at what time? At the end of the church age or the age of grace; at the beginning of the next age or dispensation, the kingdom age. The angel reaffirms that he will have a part in these events at that distant time. Also Is. 26:19-21. So we find the Bible teaches that Old Testament saints will be resurrected for the beginning of the kingdom age, to inherit all the promises about the kingdom on earth, when Israel is the head and not the tail, and Christ rules from Jerusalem.
Daniel is a key book of prophecy, even though Daniel himself was not called to be a prophet in the sense that the other prophets were. We do not find him saying, "And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying…" as do most of the other prophets. His messages were not for the purpose of chastising Israel for their idolatry and disobedience, as were most of the other prophets. God gave him prophetic information in dreams and visions, which he recorded. God gave him some very specific information in advance, concerning all the people of the world and far distant events, as well as some timetables for these events. Amazingly, these timetables mesh exactly with everything else the Bible records about future events. Besides Daniel, we find this information particularly in Mt. 24-25 and Revelation. Studied together, they give an outline of future events.
Daniel is one of the outstanding believers in the Bible account. His life span covered a crucial time in Israel's history. He held high positions in several very powerful empires, because of his own unique abilities, his obedience to God, and because of God's providence. He had no visible failings but was true to God under difficult circumstances. He is truly an example for all believers.
Daniel is also an important book for our understanding of the whole Bible. Because of the literal fulfillment of the detailed prophecies of Dan. 11, we have historical evidence of the truth and accuracy of the Bible. Fulfilled prophecy is one of the best evidences for the inspiration of the Bible. The Bible is infallible and inerrant. People say you can't prove the Bible is true, but fulfilled prophecy, and the book of Daniel in particular, does indeed prove that the Bible is true. There is no human explanation for fulfilled prophecy.
Copyright 2004 Jan Young
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