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Old Testament Survey

Daniel




Key Verses

2:20-22
2:44
7:14
9:24-27


Key Chapters

Chapter 9


Key Concepts

King, Kingdom


Thoughts for Reading

How does the captivity influence Daniel?


Daniel 2:44
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

Title

The English title follows that of the Greek, naming the book after its principle character, Daniel. The Hebrew title is a word meaning “God is my Judge,” which is the meaning of the prophet’s name.

As we move into Daniel, we move into the great prophecy of time. Daniel’s prophecies of history are really a telescopic view of the history of the Jewish nation. With the captivity, the Jews truly came under the power of the Gentile nations. Even though the nation would be returned to the promised land, they would come home as a servant kingdom to a variety of kings. Except for very quick moments in time, the Jews would not rule their homeland until the establishment of the new state of Israel following the end of World War II.

Scripture views this entire era from Babylon to the Second Coming of Christ as the “times of the Gentiles.”

Luke 21:24
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

This is the “age” in which we live. When the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled, the church will be raptured to heaven and the Tribulation, also foreseen by Daniel, will begin. The Tribulation ends with the Second Coming of Jesus. This is the end of the times of the Gentiles. The Jewish nation will truly be restored to its home land, fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant.

“Eschatology” comes from a Greek word meaning “end” or “last.” Thus, eschatological events are events of the end times.

Daniel was one of those carried into Babylon with the first group of captives in 605/4 B.C. (1:4). He becomes a key figure in the foreign kingly courts, being the true, great wise man of the land. His visions see the future of the controlling powers, both in terms of current events as well as eschatological events. God uses the prophet to interpret dreams. His story includes several of the children’s Bible stories learned when one is young.

Daniel’s prophecies almost all are received in the form of visions. The word appears 32 times in this book. What could be more supernatural?

Modern critical studies want to date Daniel’s writing to the time of the Maccabees. By placing such a late date on the writing, many of the events would be history, thus, avoiding the details of supernatural prophecy. This type of attack is not really, modern, having been first suggested by an anti-Christian, Porphyry around A.D. 250. The existence of Daniel as a real person is testified to by Jesus when He identifies Daniel as the prophet who spoke of the "abomination of desolation" (9:27; 11:31; 12:11) in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:15-16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20). This, and the use of Persian and Aramaic loan words which Daniel would have learned during his many days in the king’s court, make the arguments of the liberal scholars very unlikely.

PURPOSE

Daniel is the Old Testament Apocalypse, comparable to the New Testament book of Revelation.

Daniel was written as a book of exhortation looking forward to the future restoration of the nation. The book sees God’s chastisement on the nation in the form of new Gentile conquerors, the times of the Gentiles. This chastisement is of the same form seen and predicted in Joshua and Judges. The Hebrews failed to cleanse the Holy Land and God used the foreign invaders as His chastisement rod. What Daniel sees is an extended version of this type of chastisement. But, the prophet sees the end as well. God is faithful to keep His promises. God will restore the nation and honor the Abrahamic covenant. Indeed, as we saw in our study on Jeremiah, Daniel’s visions are based on part of the prophet’s faith in the writings of Jeremiah.

As a result, Daniel’s lessons are designed to instruct, admonish and lead the Jewish nation during this particular crisis of faith. It is a challenge to those separated from the roots to be true to God, just as He is true to the nation.

Jesus in Daniel

Christ is portrayed in several ways in Daniel’s prophecies. Jesus is the stone which will crush the kingdoms of the world (2:34, 35). He is the Son of man (7:13) and the Ancient of Days (7:22). The angel of chapter 10 is most likely a Christophany, an appearance of the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ (compare Rev 1:12-26 with Daniel 10:5-9). But, perhaps, most importantly, Daniel sees the crucifixion. The Messiah will be “cut off,” a clear reference to the Cross (9:25, 26).

Jesus Himself uses Daniel’s descriptions. We have seen above the reference to Daniel’s prophecy as to the actions of the anti-Christ. Jesus applies another of Daniel’s visions to Himself as a description of His Ascension.

Daniel 7:13-14
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. [14] And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

A simple outline of Daniel is that chapters 1-6 are history and chapters 7-12 are the prophecy. This pattern is not entirely true, but it gives the general sense of the book. To understand Daniel, one must have some knowledge of the New Testament book of Revelation. To understand Revelation, one must have knowledge of Daniel. The two go hand-in-hand. When God tells Daniel to seal up the prophecies (12:8, 9), God, then, tells John to reveal in Revelation (5:1-5).

The themes of Daniel are the themes of the New Testament. These include:

The Prophecies

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are Babylonian names. One way a ruler exercised his authority was to change a person’s name. Remember how God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Jacob to Israel? Foreign kings did the same thing. Notice, that this does not change the spirit and soul of a person, just his outward presentation.

Although we said that the first six chapters of Daniel are history, this is true only in a relative sense. The interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is essentially the same vision Daniel has in Chapter 7. About sixty years separate the two chapters. Notice that most, but not all, of the visions are interpreted to some extent. All of the other prophecies are built around or upon these two visions.

A better outline of the book is:

In looking at these prophecies, keep in mind Daniel’s comments to the Babylonian king before the prophet provides the interpretation of the king’s dream.

Daniel 2:20-22
Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: [21] And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: [22] He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

Nebuchadnezzar&s Dream and Daniel&s Prophecies
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Image Fulfillment Daniel’s vision
2:31-34< World Powers 7:1-27
Head of Gold (2:38) Babylon Lion (7:4)
Breasts & Arms of silver (2:32, 39) Medo-Persia Bear (7:5)
Belly & Thighs of Brass (2:39) Greece Leopard (7:6)
Legs & feet of Iron (2:40) Rome Diverse Beast (7:7, 19)
10 Toes of Iron and clay (2:41, 42) Old Roman Empire 10 Horns (7:7, 20)
  Anti-Christ Little Horn (7:8, 21)
The Stone (2:34, 35, 45) Christ Ancient of Days (7:22)
The Mountain (2:35) Millennial Kingdom Everlasting Kingdom (7:27)

Useless fact
Cleopatra was Ptolemy, but she is not mentioned in the Bible.

The visions of chapter 8 are an expansion of the details about the second and third kingdoms, the Bear and the Leopard, Medo-Persia and Greece. Chapter 11 is best read with a good study Bible in hand. Most of the history of the nation during the Old Testament times of the Gentiles found Israel bouncing back and forth between Egypt and Syria, the remnants of the Grecian empire. Ptolemy and his heirs ruled Egypt. Seleucus and his heirs ruled Syria. The two would fight over the years, one than the other, controlling the Holy Lands. Chapter 11 is a vision of these two families as they affect Israel.

During the period of 170-160 B.C., the Syrians, the form of Antiochus Epiphanes, rule the promised land. When the Egyptians reject Epiphanes on his march to Egypt, he returns home through Jerusalem in a fowl mood. His desecration of the Temple and destruction of the city becomes the picture of the Anti-Christ. His pagan idol and sacrificing of pigs in the Temple becomes the initial “Abomination of Desolations” (9:26).

The prophecy of chapter 9 is the other great prophecy of this book. It is the true time table for the times of the Gentiles.

Daniel 9:22-27
And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. [23] At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. [24] Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. [25] Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. [26] And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. [27] And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

The background of this prophecy sets the perspective. It is 538 BC, 67 years into Daniel’s captivity. Chronologically this chapter follows chapter 5. There has been a change in government, the Medo-Persian empire has conquered Babylon. Daniel is reflecting upon the Scriptures of his God. He is reading the words of Jeremiah the prophet (9:2). It appears he is most likely reading the following two passages:

Jer 25:11
And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

Jer 29:10
For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

For about the first twenty years of Daniel’s exile, his and Jeremiah’s ministries overlap each other. Here, some 40 years later Daniel reflects upon the writings of his contemporary prophet. The force of the writings leads Daniel to one of the great prayers recorded in Scripture. God answers Daniel’s prayer by sending an angle with a new message to Daniel. God wants us all to have an accurate perspective of His plan, so that His truth can set us free. While we are not to become obsessed with revelation and forget about our Father&s business, He desires that we understand His plans.

The Hebrew word translated as “seventy weeks” in 9:24 means a collection of “seven” things. It is used of days, weeks, or years. The context dictates how the collection should be viewed. The context of 9:24-27 makes it clear these are “weeks” of years.

Here, Daniel receives two understandings. The first is that his reading of Jeremiah is correct. The second is a new revelation concerning the times of the Gentiles.

The reason behind seventy years of captivity prophesied by Jeremiah is found in the history books.

2 Chron 36:20-21
20 And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: 21 To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

You need to exercise a mild degree of caution with the dates of all of this. In Scripture lunar years of 360 days are used. A variety of scholars have translated all of this into our solar dates to arrive at the date of the crucifixion. There is, however, some degree of guess work. God did not provide enough milestones to truly calculate the date. For example, one scholar calculates the date to April 6, A.D. 32, “Palm Sunday” (Luke 19:28-44 and Matt 21:1-10). Others have concluded that the crucifixion has to be in either A.D. 30 or 33. And there is about a 40 years gap between the Cross and the initial destruction of the Temple. This shows the dilemma of using any set of real dates. The point is that God’s prophecy fits the real events as we understand them! God warned us we will not know when the final week commences. Likewise, while we know the general dates of the earlier “weeks,” I would not put a lot of faith in those who want to prove the precise dates of the balance of the timing. We do not have enough facts to do so.

The nation ignored God’s law and so God sent them into captivity one year for every Sabbath year they did not observe. God then explains to Daniel how the captivity fits into the “times of the Gentiles.”

The 70 years of captivity did not end, in God’s eyes, the needed chastisement of the nation. We have seen from the events of history, that the Jewish nation remained under the thumbs of Gentile rulers from the captivity onward. There are to be seventy more “weeks” of Gentile rule -- that is, there are to be 70x7 decreed years remaining, or 490 years.

The prophecy is to the Jews, as noted by the description of “thy people, thy holy city, the sanctuary” (9:24). J. Vernon McGee writes:

The Seventy Weeks, or the seventy sevens, answer two questions. Israel&s kingdom will not come immediately. The seventy sevens must run their course. These seventy sevens fit into the Times of the Gentiles and run concurrently with them. They are broken up to fit into gentile times. The word for determined literally means "cutting off." These seventy sevens are to be cut off, as the following verses will indicate. The seventy sevens for Israel and the Times of the Gentiles will both come to an end at the same time, that is, at the second coming of Christ. This is important to know for the correct understanding of the prophecy. 8.

The first seven weeks of forty-nine years bring us to 397 B.C. and to Malachi and the end of the Old Testament. These were "troublous times," as witnessed by both Nehemiah and Malachi.

"The prince" is a Gentile; he is the "little horn" of Daniel 7, "the beast" of Revelation 13. After the church is removed from the earth (the Rapture), he will make a covenant with Israel. Israel will accept him as her Messiah, but in the midst of the "week" he will break his covenant by placing an image in the temple (Rev. 13). This is the “abomination of desolation” (Matt 24:15). What Israel thought to be the Millennium will turn out to be the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15-26). Only the coming of Christ can end this frightful period (Matt. 24:27-31).

The purpose of this period is to “to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins” (9:24), that is, to refine the Jewish nation and bring in everlasting righteousness. This includes putting an end to seal up vision and prophecy until the most holy [one] is anointed. In other words, the purpose of all of this is to chastise Israel and cleanse the peoples with the anointing of Messiah.

The prophecy runs from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (9:25). There are three decrees recorded in Scripture:

  • Cyrus (538 BC - Ezra 1:1-4; 5:13-17), to restore Temple
  • Darius (517 BC - Ezra 6:1-12), reaffirming Cyrus’
  • Artazerxes (March 14, 445 BC - Neh 2:5-8), to restore the City

This last decree in 445 B.C. is the only one related to the rebuilding of Jerusalem and is the decree from which all else is measure. From this date, the prophecy tells us there will be “69 weeks” until Messiah is cut off (9:26). Notice that 9:25 & 26 divide this time into two periods:

  • Seven “weeks” (sevens) to complete the city (79 years)
  • plus sixty-two “weeks” (sevens) to the cutting off of the anointed one (434 years)
  • Notice the cutting off is “after” the 69th not during the 70th week.
  • The total then is 49+434= 483 years.
  • Then comes the gap of the present church age

Eph 3:4-6
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

1 Pet 1:10-12
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

The thing to note is that God did not reveal to Daniel the existence of the gap between the 69thand 70thweeks. This is the period from Pentecost (Acts 2) to the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18). Yet, it is seen in Scripture. At the Jerusalem council, James, the brother of the Lord, the head of the church at Jerusalem, cites Amos 9:11 in talking about the setting aside of the Jewish nation for the times of the Gentiles.

Acts 15:14-16
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

Many view the war found in Ezek 38, 39 as the event which breaks the peace at the mid-point of the Tribulation.

Daniel’s prophecy continues after the “cutting off” of Messiah to talk of the “prince that shall come.” This is a picture of both “near” and “far” events. The “prince that shall come” is the anti-Christ (Rev 13:1), but he is also all of the agents of God who have served the Will of God to do His chastising. For example, the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD by Titus fulfills part of this verse wherein he shall destroy the city and the "sanctuary” (9:26). In the end, it will be the anti-Christ who attempts to destroy the city and the sanctuary. These are the reflections of Daniel 9:27 and the book of Revelation. Daniel 9:27 sets forth the time table for the Revelation.

Revelation is about “the covenant with many for one week.” This is the tribulation, the seventieth seven (Matt 24:21,29 Rev 7:14), the Time of Jacobs Trouble (Jer 30:7; Dan 7:25, Rev 11:2, 12:6,14, 13:5), the Covenant with death and hades (Isa 28:18). This covenant of peace with the anti-Christ is made at the beginning of the seventieth week. In the middle of the week, the covenant is broken with the cessation of sacrifices. The anti-Christ deifies himself, corrupts the sanctuary, and completes the desolation. This is the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Jesus. This entire verse (9:27) sets the timing of Revelation 6-20.

Then comes the anointing of the most holy one, the millennial reign of Christ (9:24).

Daniel was told to seal up his prophecies. This should be viewed as a statement that the fuller knowledge of the prophecies were not to be revealed to the people of his time. Between the events of history and the Revelation of Jesus Christ as given to John the Apostle, we have before us the events of the history of the times of the Gentiles. We may not know when the tribulation is coming, but we can rest assured it is coming. For this reason, the words of Daniel are as applicable to us today as they were to the Jews of Daniel’s day.

Daniel 12:3
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

See Daniel&s Visions and the Time of the Gentiles

Are you in captivity?

To sin, your lusts, or your circumstances?

How do you get released from this captivity?

Could God change your name?

Footnote:

8. J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible, Volume III, Proverbs through Malachi, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, 587.

 

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