A Short Study of the Book of Daniel
by Jim Gerrish
Photo credit, Wikimedia Commons, Daniel’s answer to the King by Briton Rivière, (1840-1920), painted in 1890, now in the Manchester City Art Gallery.
All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, except where noted (published by Zondervan Corporation, copyright 1985).
Copyright © 2005 Jim Gerrish
Daniel is one of the most amazing people in the Bible. He was carried away from his native Israel by King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C., probably while he was still a teen. He spent the rest of his life in Babylon and he seems to have lived to a ripe old age. Daniel actually outlived the Babylonian Empire, and he was present throughout the duration of the captivity of the Jewish people. It was no doubt largely due to his prayers that the captivity came to an end. After that, he lived on, advising and rebuking kings, and serving as a high government official. What a man!
This prophet actually became a legend in his own time. Ezekiel, who was brought to Babylon just a few years after Daniel, mentions him with an almost holy reverence, and places him in the company of men like Noah and Job (Ezek. 14:14 & 20). It is also interesting that when Christ later came to earth he relied heavily upon Daniel’s prophecies for some of his key teachings regarding the end-days (cf. Mt. 24:15). The early church father and Bible scholar, Jerome, states: “none of the prophets has so clearly spoken concerning Christ as has this prophet Daniel.” 1
Daniel was not only a patriot, statesman, and prophet, but he was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions. God talked to him and on several occasions mighty angels appeared to him. Because of his uncanny vision and understanding of the times he was able to interpret God’s word to the pagan kingdoms of Babylonia and Persia. He was also able to receive God’s revelation for those who are interested in searching it out even in our own day.
The serious study of this book should impart to each of us an unusual view of history, and should greatly help us to interpret the times in which we are living. So let us delve into this exciting work. We will not attempt to study this book verse by verse. It seems better for us in this short commentary to try and get a glimpse of the blueprint. Once we can see God’s plan, the rest should quickly fall into place and fit together perfectly.
PREPARATION FOR THE WORK OF GOD (1:1 – 1:21)
Daniel was taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar after the latter’s first venture into the land of Israel (2 Ki. 24:1-4). At that time, Nebuchadnezzar not only took Daniel, but he also took Daniel’s friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, plus other captives from the land of Israel. Later, in 597 B.C., he would make an additional raid into the land and carry away the prophet Ezekiel and others (2 Ki. 24:10-17; cf. Isa. 3:1-3). Finally in 586 B.C., he would return to destroy Jerusalem and either kill or take captive most of the remaining people.
Upon their arrival in Babylon, Daniel and his friends were assigned to the royal court and given new names. Instead of their names containing “El” and “Yah” signifying the true God, they were assigned names containing derivatives of “Bel,” “Sheshach,” “Rak” and “Nego,” all relating to pagan gods and goddesses. Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar and his three friends were given the following names: Hananiah was named Shadrach; Mishael was named Meshach; and Azariah was named Abednego (1:6-7). We will soon see that their new names did not diminish the power of the Almighty God of Israel as displayed in their lives.
The four were also assigned royal food to eat. Daniel immediately resolved “not to defile himself with the royal food and wine” (1:8). Instead he asked for only vegetables to eat and water to drink (1:12). The king’s official who was placed over Daniel and his friends was fearful to comply with Daniel’s request. He did so only after doing a ten day test and after seeing that their physical appearance was better than the others under his care (1:15). As Carson states, “Human resources provide meals, but only God provides physical nourishment.” 2
We may think, “What’s so bad about royal food?” Unfortunately, the king’s royal dainties probably included a few items like catfish from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and perhaps some good ole Babylonian barbecued pork chops. The commands of the Torah or Law (Deut. 14:1-21) would have forbidden such foods, so Daniel and his friends didn’t want to take any chances. In addition, some of the meats and wines offered them would likely have been tainted through idolatrous sacrifice.
Thus one of the first lessons we learn from Daniel is that we cannot feast on the fare of this age and accomplish great feats for God. For instance, we cannot become “couch potatoes,” watching six hours of TV a day and expect to accomplish great things for God in our time. Daniel had commitment to God and it paid off for him and for all Israel many times over.
Perhaps one very important reason for Daniel’s early deportation and his subsequent usefulness to God was his great preparation. We read that Daniel and the others taken were from the nobility. They were all not only handsome, but well informed, quick to understand and qualified (1:4). It is interesting how God always seems to use prepared people. I remember the story of an old country preacher who proudly prayed this prayer: “God I thank you that I am ig-nur-runt. Make me ig-nur-runt-er!” God is not impressed with such a prayer, and such an attitude certainly does not qualify as biblical humility. God mightily used the Apostle Paul, but Paul was mightily prepared. Paul had sat at the feet of one of Israel’s brightest scholars, Gamaliel. Paul apparently went to the top of his class and excelled over all his contemporaries in his knowledge and zeal for Judaism (Gal. 1:14).
Many people in the scriptures did not have the benefits of formal education like Daniel or Paul, but they nevertheless demonstrate a thorough preparation of spirit. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was probably not a formally educated person, but one look at her prayer in Luke 1:46-55 will assure us that she had a deep and profound knowledge, with much preparation in the things of God. The same was true with the disciples of Jesus. They were unlearned fishermen, but their hearts were prepared to immediately accept the Messiah and to commit everything they had to him as soon as they saw him.
The problem of lack of knowledge is no problem for God. When we are prepared, God will give us what special knowledge we must have do his work. We read of Daniel and his friends: “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning“ (1:17). James 1:5 tells us that he will do the same for us. We must remember that God always seems to use prepared people. We also see here that God does not necessarily spurn the learning of this world. Some of it may at times be useful in the kingdom of God (cf. Acts 17:28).
We see that Daniel was not only prepared, but he continued to prepare himself for God’s use. He was truly “set apart” or sanctified. Later the king would find the wisdom and understanding of Daniel and his friends “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” (1:20).
AN UNUSUAL VIEW OF HISTORY (2:1 – 2:49)
Daniel was close to God and the Lord had gifted him with special knowledge and understanding. He could see into the unseen realm (1:17) and he was often called upon to interpret these unseen things to the kings of Babylonia and Persia. One night King Nebuchadnezzar had a vivid dream that he apparently could not remember, yet he was greatly troubled by it. He called for his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers but they could not tell him his dream or its interpretation (2:2-11). The king was so furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men in Babylon (2:12).
Before all the wise men could be executed, Daniel was able to go before the king. He then prudently requested time while he returned to his friends, pleading with them to ask mercy from God for the revelation (2:18). During the night the vision was made known to Daniel and he praised the God of heaven (2:19-23).
Once more Daniel was brought to the king. He made known to the king that there was a God in heaven who could reveal mysteries (2:28). Daniel proceeded not only to tell the king his forgotten dream, but the interpretation of it as well. King Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed of an enormous, dazzling statue with a head of gold, with a chest and arms of silver, with a belly and thighs of bronze, with legs of iron, and with feet and toes of iron mixed with baked clay (2:31-33). In the king’s dream he saw that a rock was hewn from the mountain without human hands. The rock then crashed into the image turning it to dust, but the rock itself grew into a great mountain, filling the whole earth (2:34-35).
Daniel quickly interpreted the meaning of the vision to an astounded king (2:36). The vision was a picture of the Gentile Age, or the “Times of the Gentiles” that Jesus would later mention in Luke 21:24. This age would come into being as Israel, the theocracy of the true God, would be destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. There would be four world empires in the long and painful Gentile Era, and they would continue intact until our own day. In fact, they are all destined to fall at the same time (2:35), and be demolished by a rock hewn out of the mountain. When we look at Daniel, the rest of the Bible and especially the book of Revelation, we can better understand this picture (cf. Psa. 118:22; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; Rev.11:15). There is little doubt left that the mountain is Mt. Zion, and the rock is the Messiah and his supernatural government from Jerusalem. The fall of Israel began the Gentile Age or the “Times of the Gentiles,” and the final restoration of Israel will bring that age to an abrupt end.
What an unusual view of history! What an unusual world-view! Such a view would never be taught in our schools today. But someday, everyone will likely understand history in just the way Daniel interpreted it. Someday, the history of the whole world may be taught and interpreted, from the standpoint of Israel.
Daniel saw that the image represented the four world empires of the Gentile Age (2:38-43). Successively, they are Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel correctly saw that the kingdoms of Media and Persia would work together like two arms, and that the Roman Empire would have two legs, which seems to accurately picture the eastern and western divisions of that empire. He saw that in the end-days it would divide into ten sections or kingdoms, like a man’s toes. Later in the book (7:8; 8:23-24), he saw that from these divisions a king of fierce countenance would arise and bring a brief age of terror and persecution the likes of which had never been seen before. After that, the kingdom would be given to the triumphant saints of the Most High God (7:18).
Daniel saw that the image would fall at one time (2:35). The Babylonian head didn’t just topple off in 539 B.C. when that nation was overcome by the Medes and Persians. It is still in place today and is still directing the affairs of this world. We can be assured that all the godless principles of these world governments still affect our society today, although the nations themselves have long passed from the scene.
As we look at these world empires we can only speculate about the evil principles within them that will ultimately bring the judgment of God on the whole system. Babylon probably represented religion without God. It surely represented a defiled and adulterated religious system mixed with sorcery. It seems that Media-Persia represented a system of law and government without God. The laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed even if they were wrong or stupid (6:8). Greece undoubtedly represented knowledge without God. It represented humanism, and rationalism, which are very much in vogue today. Rome probably represented power without God – naked military might, and we still have plenty of that around.
In chapter 7, Daniel will be shown the very same view of history again, but with the symbols of beasts. This probably emphasizes that the religious-political-economic world system is not only a “man” system, as seen from the number “666” in Revelation 13:18, but it is essentially a “beast” system, implying great savagery (Rev. 13:1-2).
Nebuchadnezzar’s vision also gives us an interesting assessment of our present world. Modern humanistic thinkers have informed us that our world is ever evolving toward newer and better things. However, Nebuchadnezzar’s vision assures us that world history is rapidly degenerating and heading in an ever downward spiral. As the commentator, Guzik, states: “The image describes devolution, not evolution. Instead of man beginning in the dust and evolving into gold, this vision declares that man’s dominion begins with gold and devalues into dust.” 3 The very quality of governments and nations is becoming cheaper and baser by the moment. This fact is being made more apparent to us as we watch our once-stable western governmental systems decline and crumble. In the end, all the world’s governments will be totally controlled by the grossly evil Beast or Antichrist. Of course, the end-day Beast is just the fulfillment of what the Babylonian/Roman system has really stood for all the time.
Some questions may arise as to why Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold and so superior in God’s eyes to other kingdoms that would follow. Even with all his flaws, several good things stand out about this king. God was able to reveal his secrets to Nebuchadnezzar and he has done this for few other rulers. Nebuchadnezzar had divine authority not just to rule over humankind but over the beasts of the field and the birds of the air (2:38). In some way he was fulfilling God’s original decree for mankind, that of ruling over the earth. 4 Nebuchadnezzar was quick to recognize divine authority (2:47; 3:28-29). He was also quick to recognize and reward the servants of the true God (2:48-49; 3:30). It is seldom that even one of these golden characteristics is found in rulers since the king’s day.
We cannot pass over this Gentile governmental system without stopping for a moment to examine some of the principles involved in Babylon itself. It is clear that Babylon remains the head of the present evil age or Times of the Gentiles. We know from the Bible that ancient Babylon was founded by Nimrod, the Hebrew root of whose name means “rebel” (Gen. 10:8-10). We know from Genesis 11 that the famous Tower of Babel was located there. These rebellious people were trying to make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:4). They were trying to build a tower that would reach to heaven, and they were building it by their own efforts, using man-made bricks. No doubt there were some religious elements and even some sorcery involved. How different is this attitude from that of Abraham who would later come upon that very scene. We are told in Hebrews 11:10 that “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
The city and empire of Babylon clearly represents spiritual bondage. It was to Babylon that the children of Israel were carried captives. They hung their harps upon the willows of Babylon and refused to sing the songs of Zion in their bondage (Psa. 137:2-4). Babylon not only represents spiritual captivity for Israel, but for the church as well. It is one thing to make bricks in Egypt because a person is a slave, but it is quite another thing to make bricks in Babylon for some lofty but questionable religious purpose. In both cases a person is still making bricks and is still a slave.
It is true that Babylon is very mysterious (Rev. 17:5). Yet, we are able to penetrate this mystery somewhat by looking at scripture. There are several extended passages in the Bible that deal with this subject. We see these in Isaiah 47; Jeremiah 50-51; and Revelation 14:8 through 19:3. It is amazing that in a time when materials were expensive the writer of Revelation used so many pages and chapters to deal with the fall of Babylon at the end of this age. Truly this must be important!
We see in scripture that God wants to talk to us about this subject (Psa. 87:4), so let us go further. The sins of Babylon are principally pride, sorcery, covetousness, adultery, idolatry and murder. Jeremiah says: “For she has been proud against the Lord“ (50:29 NKJV; cf. vs.30-31). Isaiah 47:8 and Revelation 18:7 speak also of her pride and how she has glorified herself.
Babylon was an ancient center of sorcery. It has been said that the art of divining was invented by the residents of that area. Babylonians were experts at magic, incantations and spells. The skill of the “Chaldeans” was proverbial throughout the ancient world. We also can strongly suspect that the famous tower built there was in some way aligned with the planets. The king of Babylon may have at times acknowledged the true God, but he was a worshipper of the pagan god, Bel-Marduk. He was also a sorcerer at heart. In Ezekiel 21:21 we read, “For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver.“ His divination led him up to destroy God’s city, Jerusalem. In Revelation 18:23 we read that the sorceries of Babylon have now corrupted and deceived all the nations on earth. One evidence of this is that many of today’s nations are still pursuing an identical and maniacal plan of destroying Israel.
Another sin of Babylon was her covetousness (Jer. 51:13). We see in Revelation 18, that her covetousness extended to and primarily focused upon religious things. She has made merchandise of the most holy things, even the things of God’s holy offerings, and even the souls of men (Rev. 18:13).
John, in the Book of Revelation, perceived that lady Babylon was also an adulteress. On many occasions she has pretended to be the bride of the Lamb, but her testimony has never borne this out. Long before, Jeremiah saw that the nations were mad from drinking at her cup (51:7), and the writer John in the Book of Revelation simply calls her by what she is, the great whore and the mother of all harlots (Rev. 17:1). Her cup always represented mixture, defilement, and weakening of true religion. We remember that it was also in Babylon that the people partied and drank from God’s precious, holy, Temple vessels. What an ungodly mixture!
Babylon was also famous for her idolatry. We are told that there were 53 temples and 180 altars to Ishtar in Babylon. It was a land of graven images (Jer. 50:38). Babylon had some 300 gods of heaven and another 600 of earth. This did not count the many spirits who were also worshipped. 5 We can gather from all this that Babylon always leads God’s people into false religion, and thus into religious captivity.
At last, lady Babylon was a murderess. John sees her as drunken with the blood of the saints (Rev. 17:6). Through her religious and political machinery she has somehow managed to pursue and destroy godly people in every age. Often they have been killed in the very name of religion. It should not surprise us that in the physical area of Babylon today hundreds and thousands of people are being senselessly slaughtered by suicide bombers and other terrorists.
Well, God wants his people out of this wretched religious-political-economic system. He wants both Israel and the church freed from these confusing, bewildering, and dividing influences. We are commanded to come out of her midst (Jer. 51:45), and even to flee out of her (Jer. 51:6). We must do this lest we partake of Babylon’s sins and receive her plagues (Rev. 18:4). As we can see, our coming out of her is largely a spiritual thing. In Jeremiah 51:50, we are challenged to set our faces toward Zion: “You who have escaped the sword, leave and do not linger! Remember the LORD in a distant land, and think
At the end of the age, God will deal with Babylon and with her vain idolatry. Jesus, the stone hewn out of the mountain, will smash this image and turn it into dust (2:34-35). Then the government of the whole earth will return to Zion and to her Messiah. The Psalmist says that he will then rule hateful nations with a rod of iron, and will dash them to pieces like pottery (Psa. 2:8-9). His kingdom will then become a great mountain filling the whole earth (Dan. 2:35).
TROUBLE FOR THE RIGHTEOUS (3:1 – 3:30)
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were greatly honored because Daniel had interpreted the king’s dream, but their honor was to be short-lived. It seems that king Nebuchadnezzar was not able to entirely get the image out of his mind. Finally he yielded and erected an image of gold, 90 feet (27 m.) high and 9 feet (2.7 m.) wide (3:1). We don’t have to wonder who the image favored. Undoubtedly it looked a little like the king himself. Of course, whoever would not fall down and worship the image would be in big trouble. They would immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace (3:6).
Here we get our first picture of an earthly ruler who is demanding of his subjects’ total allegiance, both political and religious. We see this tendency appearing later in Roman emperors and finally we see it full-blown in the Beast or Antichrist himself. It is interesting that Nebuchadnezzar apparently made the whole image out of gold and not just the head as he saw in the vision. It has been suggested that he was attempting to contradict the prophetic word of God thus claiming that his dominion would never end. 6
It was not long until it was discovered that Daniel’s three friends were not worshipping the image (3:12). The king was in a rage, as most people are when their false worship or self worship is challenged. It is interesting that there was no presumption in these lads. They knew that God was able to save them from the king’s fiery furnace, but if he didn’t, they still would not worship the image (3:17-18). The king in his rage had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and had the lads thrown into it. But God walked with them in the furnace and preserved their lives (3:25), just as Isaiah 43:2 said he would. In Daniel 3:24, the Septuagint (ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament) mentions that the king heard them singing praises from the furnace. Also according to the Septuagint this event occurred in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, in the same general period when the city of Jerusalem was under siege and was burned by the Babylonians.
The event of the fiery furnace ends with Nebuchadnezzar promoting the trio and ascribing praise to the God of Israel (3:28). But because Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, and because Babylon represents religious mixture and confusion, it was not long until he forgot all about the lesson of the furnace.
GOD HUMBLES KINGS (4:1 – 5:31)
In chapter four, King Nebuchadnezzar relates another of his dreams, and we see that once more Daniel is brought in to give the interpretation. This time the king had dreamed of a tree whose height was enormous, and the tree was visible to the ends of the earth (4:11). He saw in his dream how the tree was cut down and its beautiful branches and fruit stripped off (4:14).
When Daniel heard about this dream he was perplexed for a time and even alarmed (4:19). Daniel wished the interpretation applied to the king’s enemies and not to the king, but he went on with the interpretation. He saw that the king was the tree and that he would be cut down and driven away from his kingdom. He would live like a wild animal until he could bring himself to acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men (4:25).
Apparently, God in his mercy gave the king twelve months to repent and accept the preaching of Daniel but he did not do so.7 Sure enough, about a year later the king was strolling on the roof of his royal palace and praising himself for all of his glory and majesty. He might have even been admiring his famous hanging gardens which were one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was then that he heard a voice informing him that his royal authority had been stripped away (4:31).
The great king Nebuchadnezzar then apparently lost his mind and was driven away from the kingdom to live like a wild animal. He remained in this condition for some time until he finally raised his eyes toward heaven and praised the Most High (4:34). Immediately his sanity and his kingdom were restored. He learned that those who walk in pride are humbled (4:37). He also learned what the author of Proverbs had perceived: “by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth” (Prov. 8:16). The older commentator, Adam Clark, remarks here: “It is very probable that Nebuchadnezzar was a true convert; that he relapsed no more into idolatry, and died in the faith of the God of Israel.” 8
Unfortunately, sons do not usually retain the wisdom that their fathers and grandfathers learned the hard way. In time, Nebuchadnezzar died. Then after some palace intrigues and kings who reigned for short periods, Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, came to the throne. He was co-regent with his father Nabonidas who was officially the king from 555-538 B.C. It appears that Nabonidas did not wish to remain in the kingly office.
Belshazzar soon gave a great banquet but he made the dreadful mistake of ordering that the holy vessels taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem be brought in for the celebration (5:2). That fateful night he and his nobles, wives and concubines dared drink wine from these vessels, as they praised their gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood
and stone (5:4).
As they drank and adored their gods, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall near the lamp stand (5:5). Upon seeing this, the king turned pale with fear, his knees knocked together and his legs gave way (5:6). Like Nebuchadnezzar, he called for the sorcerers and astrologers. By now these people must have been some of the most nervous folks in Babylon. So far, they had batted a big zero in interpreting king’s visions and dreams. Their score was to remain unchanged.
It was at this point that Daniel was remembered and called in. The king promised many gifts if Daniel could interpret the handwriting. He even promised him the third position in the kingdom (after himself and his father Nabonidas). Daniel wisely declined the king’s gifts, since he probably realized that the kingdom could last only for a few hours. How true it is of this world in which we live. Satan promises us wealth and fame, but alas, it can only last for an hour and then it is gone forever.
Daniel boldly rebuked Belshazzar, charging him that he had ignored the lessons learned from his father (grandfather) Nebuchadnezzar (5:22). Then to a trembling king, Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall. It was “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN” (5:25). It meant that God had numbered the days of Belshazzar’s reign and brought them to an end. It meant that he was weighed in God’s balances and found wanting, and that his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and Persians (5:26-28). That very night Darius the Mede and his army crept into Babylon. He did so as a result of a wise plan of diverting the Euphrates river, thus allowing his secret entrance (cf. Isa. 13:17; Jer. 51:11-13). God’s judgment was speedily executed as Belshazzar lost his life and his kingdom. The date
was 539 B.C.
Historians and theologians have long speculated about the origins and even the authenticity of Darius the Mede (5:31). We do know from history that Cyrus II (the Great) was king of Persia at this time. He reigned from 559 to 530 B.C., and he was the very same Cyrus who gave the decree of return mentioned in 2 Chronicles 36:22 and
In this period of history the Medes and Persians apparently worked closely together (cf. Esth. 1:19). Some historians now feel that a Median figure Ugbaru, (Gubaru or Gobryas) was one and the same with Darius the Mede who is mentioned here as conquering Babylon. The Nabonidus Chronicle confirms that Gubaru took the city without a battle. A few months later Cyrus actually entered Babylon to claim his victory as recorded on the famous Cyrus Cylinder. 9 Thus it seems that the Medes and Persians worked together like two arms of one body to defeat Babylon, according to the sure prophetic word given to Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2.32, 39). The scholar, Yamauchi, notes that Cyrus II (the Great) was actually the son of Cambyses I (a Persian) and Mandane, the daughter of the Median king Astyages. 10
Beginning with Cyrus II, Persian kings would now take preeminence in the area of Babylon, and for that matter throughout the whole Middle East. The most famous Persian kings of the biblical era are as follows:
Cyrus II (the Great) 559-530 B.C. He conquered areas as far west as the kingdom of Lydia. In 538 he issued the decree that the Jews could return to the land of Israel (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:3-5).
Cambyses II 530-522 B.C. He conquered Egypt, but in his reign, work was stopped on the Temple in Jerusalem.
Darius I (the Great) 522-486 B.C. Under his rule Haggai and Zechariah prophesied (Ezra 4-6; Hag.1:1, 14-15; Zech. 1:1-7:1), and the Temple was finished (516 B.C.). The Persians under Darius were defeated by the Greeks at the crucial battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.
Xerxes I 486-465 B.C. He again attacked Greece and was defeated at the famous naval battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., thus halting the Persian westward expansion. He is thought to be the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther.
Artaxerxes I 465-424 B.C. Under his rule, Ezra (458), and Nehemiah (444) began their work in Israel. Nehemiah, prior to his work in Israel, was actually the king’s cup bearer (Neh. 1:11).
It is not unusual to find that the chronology of Persian kings varies slightly from one source to another. Also, “Dairus” and “Artaxerxes” may have been common titles applied to kings, much like the title “Pharaoh” was applied to many kings in Egypt.
DANIEL IN THE LIONS’ DEN (6:1 – 6:28)
As this new era of history began, Daniel was still not ready to retire, even though he was now around 85 years of age. In his life, the words of Psalm 92:14 concerning righteous men had been fulfilled, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” Because of his great wisdom, and probably because he had accurately predicted the fall of Babylon and the rise of the Medes and Persians, Darius appointed him as one of the leaders of the new government, and even planned to set him over the whole
Evil men in the kingdom immediately sought occasion to hinder Daniel’s planned promotion. However, they could find no fault in him. He was the “Mr. Clean” of Media-Persia. In 1 Peter 2:12 we are told: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.” Daniel lived in such a way. These evil men realized they could find no flaw in Daniel, so they had to resort to accusing him on the ground of his religion (6:5).
They carefully laid their snare not realizing that the trap they set for Daniel would become their own undoing (cf. Psa. 37:14-15). They succeeded in having the king pass a decree, which according to the famous laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed (6:8). According to this law all those who prayed to anyone except the king for thirty days would be thrown into the lions’ den. Then they watched Daniel to see what he would do. He did what he had always done. He threw his window open to Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed to the true God (6:10). Daniel would not feast on Babylon’s fare, and neither would he worship Babylon’s gods. God can always do great things through such devoted ones. Daniel’s enemies, however, were quick to report his actions to the king.
According to the laws of the Medes and Persians which could not be changed, Daniel had to be killed. He was thus brought to the lions’ den. The type of execution was apparently changed from Babylonian days, since the Persians, influenced by Zoroastrianism, may have been fire worshippers and apparently would not destroy people in fiery furnaces. It is interesting that even the reluctant king had this testimony about Daniel, “The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!“ (6:16). It is especially nice when unbelievers can have faith for us, based upon our holy lives before them.
The lions’ den story is a very familiar one. Every Sunday school child knows how God delivered Daniel from the den of hungry lions, and how the evil men who plotted Daniel’s fall had breakfast with the lions that morning (6:24). Someone jokingly remarked that the lions could not eat Daniel because he was all backbone! The commentator, Carson, remarks here that “By faith (23) he had experienced the powers of the age to come (Heb. 6:5) in which lions are tamed (Isa. 11:7).” 11
Even mighty king Darius could not praise the living God enough for this great miracle. He said: “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. ‘For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions ‘” (6:26-27).
AN EVIL TIME TO COME (7:1 – 7:28)
Earlier, in the first year of Belshazzar’s reign, Daniel himself had a dream which he now relates to us. We must realize that this dream almost exactly corresponds with the vision of chapter two, as many commentators attest. Here, instead of the image of a man, Daniel gives us images of beasts which spring up from a churning sea. The sea may be a picture of wicked Gentile nations as is seen in Isaiah 57:20: “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.”
We can learn by Daniel’s picture that the present Babylonian world system is not just the system of man (Rev. 13:18), but it is in essence a beastly system (Rev. 13:1). At the end of the vision Daniel tells us about a beastly king who will arise out of the remnants of the Roman Empire, and how he will bring in a short reign of terror to the whole world. But let us first look at this vision.
Daniel is simply giving us another view of the same thing we saw before but from a different perspective. Many times, the prophecies of the Bible are just different views of the same things. This seems to be the case in Daniel, and even more so in Revelation. We could also say that prophecy is like a great symphony – the theme keeps recurring and is sounded out by different instruments. Again, prophecy is like many people viewing a large precious diamond. Someone may say that it is flashing red, while another may be certain it is flashing blue. Both are right. They are simply looking at the same thing from
The prophet is really giving us another glimpse of the Gentile Age (Lk. 21:24). Beginning with verse fifteen, he also gives us the detailed interpretation of the vision. The first kingdom is like a lion with wings of an eagle (7:4). We see it also standing upon two feet like a man (7:4b), and by this we realize that it matches very well the image of chapter two. The lion is surely Babylon (cf. Jer. 4:7). The second beast is like a bear and we are informed that the bear has three ribs in its mouth (7:5). This is certainly a reference to Media-Persia. Some scholars feel that the ribs in its mouth represent the great military victories of Media-Persia, over Lydia in 546 B.C., over Babylon in 539 B.C., and over Egypt in 525 B.C. This beast is told to arise and devour much flesh (7:5). The Persian Empire from Cyrus to Xerxes conquered most of the Middle East plus other areas. On two occasions the empire even attacked Greece and was repelled at the famous battles of Marathon and Salamis. Nevertheless, the vast kingdom of the Persians still spanned 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1).
The third beast is pictured as a leopard with four wings and four heads (7:6). This corresponds very well to the kingdom of Alexander the Great, who with incredible swiftness and brilliance conquered Persia and most all the lands held by that empire. His kingdom immediately split asunder at his early death. His heirs were a mentally retarded half-brother, an illegitimate child, and a baby born after his death. Thus his four generals, Cassander in Macedonia and Greece, Lysimachus in Thrace and Asia Minor, Seleucus in Syria, and Ptolemy in Egypt, ultimately ruled in his stead.
The fourth and last kingdom is clearly a reference to Rome. Once more we have it pictured as a kingdom of iron (7:7). Also, this beast has ten horns on its head, corresponding well to the ten toes of the first image (7:7).
Now we see something extremely interesting that we could not see in the image of chapter two. From this perspective we see that a little horn arises from among the horns (7:8). This horn speaks boastfully until the judgment of God is set and his kingdom comes to an end (7:9-11). Obviously, horns whether great or small always represent might and power in the Bible. This little horn is a picture of the Beast or Antichrist and is certainly a major theme of Daniel’s book.
The prophet then saw one like the son of man coming with the clouds of heaven (7:13). This one approached the Ancient of Days and was given authority and sovereign power. All people and languages worshipped him and his dominion was to be everlasting (7:14).
Daniel was greatly troubled at this vision (7:15) since he no doubt realized that God’s precious saints would be involved in an awesome contest with this little horn. Daniel watched as this beast waged a final war with the saints of God, even defeating them (7:21). He saw that this evil king would devour the whole earth (7:23); that he would speak against the Most High and oppress the saints (7:25). He would even change set times
and laws (v.25).
We actually see this beastly king arising in Revelation 13:1. With his false prophet he begins to work havoc on the earth, apparently bringing about the defeat or martyrdom of many of God’s elect (Rev. 6:9). We see that this beast will be quickly destroyed, but before his destruction the saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and a half a
time (3 1/2 years).
But this dark cloud has its silver lining. Daniel saw that the judgment of God was set. He saw the Son of Man receiving great glory, authority and power over all people and languages (7:14). As we mentioned, he saw him receiving an everlasting kingdom that would never be destroyed. 12
Daniel observed that the saints of the Most High will ultimately receive the kingdom and that they will possess it forever (7:18). Daniel apparently realized that all lost in Adam would be regained in the Last Adam (Jesus). Daniel saw that man would again reign in the earth on God’s behalf and through Christ (7:27). A great glory was coming to man through the Son of Man; however, before glory could come, Daniel realized there had to be suffering. Daniel’s face turned pale, but he kept the matter to himself (7:28).
The Book of Revelation gives us the details of this great end-day battle between the Lamb and his saints with the Beast or Antichrist. In chapters two and three of Revelation, the author, John, admonishes the churches to get ready to overcome. He warns them of the hour of temptation that is about to come upon the world to try everyone who lives on earth (Rev. 3:10). Revelation points out that the disasters and trials of the end-day cannot come until God has sealed his overcomers in their foreheads (Rev. 7:3-17). John in Revelation sees that these have come from all nations (Rev. 7:9) and that they have come out of great tribulation after gaining a spiritual victory (Rev. 7:14). In Revelation 14:1-5, we are given another picture of these overcomers as they stand on Mt. Zion with the Lamb. These are redeemed, undefiled and pure. They are also ready to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, presumably even into battle with the Beast.
Such a scenario of difficulty, suffering, warfare and even martyrdom is not too well received by the modern church. We have been lulled to sleep by prophecies of ease and plenty. Yet the Bible speaks of just the opposite for God’s people. In Matthew 24:4, Jesus warns us about the end-days, saying to us, “Watch out that no one deceives you.” In verses 21-22 of that same chapter Jesus says to us, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”
Surely this very situation was what the Apostle Paul had in mind in Ephesians 6:13 when he said, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” Notice that Ephesians speaks of “the day of evil,” not just “some day of evil.” Indeed, Daniel saw the glory coming for God’s church, but he saw it would come only after great tribulation. Immediately following that, the Lord will come for a church without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:27), and we are reminded that it takes a very hot iron to get the wrinkles out.
The whole Bible, and especially the New Testament, is very clear on the sufferings of God’s elect. Here are just a few of the many passages on the subject: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom. 8:17); “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him“ (Phil. 1:29); “if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us” (2 Tim. 2:12); “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done
with sin” (1 Pet. 4:1).
A TYPE OF THE COMING BEAST (8:1 – 8:27)
In this chapter Daniel relates a vision similar to the previous ones. He sees a ram with two horns; with one horn longer than the other and growing up after the first (8:3). The ram clearly fits all the descriptions of the Media-Persian Empire and is so identified in 8:20. Faussett adds that the king of Persia actually wore a jeweled ram’s head instead of a diadem. 13 Truly this ancient united kingdom became great in the earth, expanding outward in all directions, especially toward Greece in the west, and toward Egypt in the south (8:4). The one horn higher than the other speaks of the later dominance of the Persians over the Medes in this dual kingdom.
Suddenly, Daniel saw in his vision a goat with a prominent horn. As he watched, the goat crossed the whole earth without touching the ground and crashed with great speed and fury into the ram (8:5-7). The goat is clearly meant to represent Alexander the Great and the Greek/Macedonian empire (8:21). Apparently, the goat was often used as a symbol of the Greek empire and is even found on its coins. 14 Much of the goat’s fury no doubt was brought about by the two abortive invasions of Greece made by the Persians in 490 and 480 B.C.
At twenty-two years of age Alexander, the charismatic leader of Greece, crossed the Hellespont and began a conquest that changed the course of world history. He broke the power of mighty Persia in the famous Battle of Arbela in 331 B.C., and went on to conquer much of the known world. Reportedly he wept because there was no more world to conquer. Alexander died in 323 B.C. at the young age of 32. Again as in 7:6, his four generals replaced him (8:8) because he had no suitable heir to the throne.
Now we see someone who looks very much like the Beast of chapter 7, but it is apparent that he is not, since we see this madman coming out of the third kingdom or the divided Greek Empire, and not out of the fourth kingdom which was to be the Roman Empire. Historians and Bible scholars are generally agreed that this “little horn” is the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV “Epiphanes.” His nickname “Epiphanes” meant “illustrious” in the Greek language. He is sometimes referred to as “the Antichrist of the Old Testament.” Antiochus ruled from 175-164 B.C., and just as Daniel predicted, he reached out to touch the “Beautiful Land,” the land of Israel (8:9). We can certainly see in this “little horn” a type of the beast ruler who is to come in the last days. Obviously, this man also had a supernatural power behind him and we are told that his evil work even affected some of the hosts of heaven (8:10).
Antiochus, in his ambitious campaigns, had invaded Egypt, but when he was repelled by the Roman fleet, he returned to vent his rage upon tiny Israel (11:30). He was determined to “Hellenize” Israel once for all and to do away with the stubborn adherents to Judaism. In order to accomplish this, Antiochus stripped the Temple of its treasures and then desecrated it by offering a pig upon the altar (8:11). He then erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus and banned circumcision, observance of the Sabbath and study of the Torah (Law). Antiochus had his soldiers rip to pieces any copy of the Bible that was found, and any person possessing the word of God was cruelly murdered. There were some in Israel who compromised and joined with the Greeks, but Antiochus’ harsh measures moved others to take a stand for God, even to face martyrdom.
The Greek-Syrian soldiers were sent throughout Israel’s countryside, setting up altars and holding official ceremonies that included the sacrifice of pigs. In the village of Modiin, not far from present day Ben Gurion Airport, the representative of the king appeared and demanded that the Jews there make sacrifice. An aged priest, by the name of Mattathias, refused and killed the king’s messenger. He then fled to the mountains with his five sons, and began a guerrilla war against the Seleucid Empire. His war-cry was this: “Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!”
(1 Maccabees 2:27).
Mattathias died during the first year of the revolt and was succeeded by his son, Judah – known as the Maccabee, usually translated “hammer.” Down through history the family became known as the Maccabees or Hasmoneans. Judah proved to be an exceptionally brilliant commander, and with his small band he began to repel the vast armies sent against him. Judah was a leader who depended wholly upon God. He once said: “For in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven” (1 Macc. 3:18-19). He was not afraid to attack vast armies many times the size of his own. As God rewarded him with victory after victory, the terror of God fell on the surrounding Gentiles.
At last, the Temple was retaken, cleansed and rededicated. The Menorah was lit again after years of being extinguished, and the faith and nation of Israel were both preserved. According to legend, when the Maccabees reentered the Temple, they found only enough undefiled oil to fuel the great candlestick for one day. Miraculously, however, it lasted for eight days, until fresh oil could be procured. In memory of this miracle, the festival of Hanukkah was begun and continues to last for eight days.
It is interesting that the main period of oppression under Antiochus Epiphanes continued for approximately 3 1/2 years, from 168-165 B.C. Some scholars feel that this period is reflected in the 2,300 evenings and mornings mentioned (8:14). Others feel that the 2,300 evenings and mornings reflect the whole period of about seven years in which the Beast or Antichrist will be in power. The three and one-half year period is mentioned in many other places in the scripture, including Daniel 12:11 and Revelation 11:3. It is generally accepted as the final phase of Antichrist’s reign, and is known as The Great Tribulation. We are assured later that all this information really concerns the time of the end (8:17).
What can we learn from these events of history? It becomes apparent that the situation in the end times will closely parallel that of the Maccabeean period. When humanity has become totally wicked another “stern-faced” king and “master of intrigue” will arise (8:23). There will be a similar short period of great oppression. The true worship of God will be prohibited, with the newly-constructed Temple being defiled once more. The people of God will be persecuted mightily with many falling from the faith (8:24; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5), but some will stand against this Beast and serve their God (7:18). Daniel says of these, “the people who know their God will firmly resist him“ (11:32).
Some readers may wish to consult the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, to learn all they can about the Maccabeean wars and the festival of Hanukkah or Dedication as it was later called. Jesus seemed to give special significance to this non-biblical holiday by attending the festival as recorded in John 10:22. The story of these brave men can be an inspiration for us to keep our lamps burning (Luke 12:35) and to keep the temple of our own heart cleansed as the forces of darkness and lawlessness close in for their final attack upon Israel and the church.
We see that this evil Antichrist will be destroyed but not by human power (8:25). Paul makes plain that this evil one will be destroyed by the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 we read: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”
Daniel was exhausted and lay ill for days after seeing the vision. Probably a part of his discomfort was in seeing the great suffering that was destined for his people (8:27; cf. 8:24). He no doubt began to compare his awesome visions with the scripture. One passage of scripture he certainly knew was Jeremiah 25:9-12 (9:2). In verse 12 of that passage it is mentioned that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. It is also possible that Daniel was familiar with Isaiah 44:28 (written centuries before), where it is mentioned that King Cyrus would command the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. At this time Cyrus was already king of the Persian Empire, and had been so for a number of years.
ISRAEL’S MYSTERIOUS FUTURE (9:1 – 9:27)
Again, Daniel paid the price of commitment and pleaded with God in fasting, sackcloth and ashes (9:3). Daniel took God’s word and used it as a basis for his prayer. He literally began to pray an end to the desolation of his nation and the captivity of his people. His beautiful prayer is a model for all those who would intercede for Israel.
In his prayer, Daniel first began to glorify God (9:4) as the awesome God who keeps his covenants. Next he began a corporate confession of sins (9:5-8). We can learn much from Daniel’s prayer. Here we learn that real intercessors for Israel cannot use the term “they.” If we as Christians are really grafted into Israel as Paul mentions in Romans 11:17-18, then we should always be careful to pray like Daniel prayed, using “we” instead of “they.” Our prayers to God for Israel should sound like this, “O Lord…WE
In 9:6, Daniel pinpoints a whole area of disobedience that continues to affect Israel today. Israel has not listened to God’s prophets. In 9:10, he brings up the subject again in saying that Israel has not kept the laws that God gave through the prophets. When we think of laws we naturally think of the Torah (five books of Moses), but here we are told of laws given by God’s messengers the prophets. What kinds of laws are these? Let us look at just one example: In Leviticus 12:3, there is the clear commandment that every male Jewish child must be circumcised in his flesh. This is the Law of God as commanded in the Torah of Moses. However, in Jeremiah 4:4, that prophet commands Israel to be circumcised in heart. Obviously, there is a vast difference in these two concepts of circumcision.
Israel was not obedient, to the Law of God as reflected in the Torah, or to the spirit of that Law as reflected in the prophets. Therefore, God’s sworn judgments came upon the nation (9:11). Daniel knew that nothing had ever been done like what had been done to Jerusalem and what would be done to her in the future (9:12). Josephus, who was a witness to the destruction of Jerusalem at a much later time under the Romans (A.D. 70), claims that over one million souls perished in that siege alone. It is likely that with all her woes, Jerusalem has experienced more suffering than any other city on earth.
Daniel brought his prayer to an end by reminding the Lord of all God’s righteous acts, and reminding him that Jerusalem is his own city (9:16). He asked God to look upon the city that bears his name (9:18) and save it for his own sake (9:17). We know from Ezekiel 36:22 that God did restore both his people and his land strictly for the sake of his holy name, just as Daniel prayed. Daniel begged God to listen, to forgive, to act and not delay, for God’s own sake (9:19).
This prayer of Daniel got results. It appears that within the short time of three years from this prayer almost 50,000 Israelites were headed home to Jerusalem. The date was 538 B.C. Many of these people no doubt had been carried away captive in 586 B.C. when Jerusalem was destroyed. Now they were headed back home in less than fifty years after their captivity began. Even for the small number carried away in 605 B.C. it was still a period of only 67 years. How could such a thing be? 15 The prophet Jeremiah had predicted a seventy-year captivity. To this seeming mystery we can only say, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective“ (Jas. 5:16).
The book of Daniel now introduces us to one of the most astounding mysteries in the whole Bible. This is the mystery of the “seventy sevens,” or seventy periods of time that would run from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the very end of the age (9:20-27). The mystery is unfolded for us in four verses (24-27). Bible scholars have pondered these mysterious verses for ages, and still many of their secrets remain hidden. These verses remind us of Proverbs 25:2, where it is said, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” If we are truly kings and priests before God (Rev. 5:10), then it is to our glory to search these things out. In Deuteronomy 29:29 it is said, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.“
Daniel is told by the angel that there will be a total period of “seventy sevens” (seventy seven-year segments) decreed for the Jewish people (9:24). The unusually wide scope of this period of time is reflected by the purposes that will be accomplished in it. During this time, transgressions will be finished, with an end being brought to sin. Atonement for wickedness will be made; everlasting righteousness will be ushered in; vision and prophecy will be sealed up; and the most holy will be anointed (9:24). This period seems to usher us into the very end of human history. In fact, the commentator, Pentecost, sees all this ending in the Millennial Kingdom. 16 Of course, as Christians we can hardly look at this strange passage without seeing in it the work of Jesus the Messiah of Israel. The mystery seems to be focused upon his coming, his atoning death, and his approaching kingdom.
At this point it is almost impossible for us to proceed further without our calculators in hand. In order for us to understand the next three verses we would almost need to be some combination of astronomer, historian, mathematician, and Bible scholar. In lieu of these things, we can just be Spirit-led saints of God with open hearts, minds, and Bibles.
Now the angel Gabriel informs Daniel that from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the anointed ruler comes will be a combined period of “seven sevens” and “sixty two sevens.” The initial period of “seven sevens” seems to be related to the resettlement of the land and the rebuilding of the Temple after the Babylonian captivity. The total period for our consideration will thus be “sixty nine sevens” (9:25).
This kind of language is strange for us today, but it was not at all strange for Daniel or for the Jews living in his time. They were well acquainted with time periods of “sevens.” In Leviticus 25:2-7, the Israelites were commanded to let the land rest every seven years. In the same chapter they were also commanded to have a Jubilee year after seven periods of seven years. It appears in the Bible that Israel was given seventy years of captivity precisely because she had violated that many sabbatical years (cf. 2 Chron. 36:21; Lev. 26:34) – that Israel was given one year of captivity for every year violated.
After the “sixty-two sevens” (which obviously includes the first period and is now a total of sixty-nine sevens), Daniel is told that the Anointed One (“Mashiach” or “Messiah” in Hebrew) will be cut off (9:26). This sounds very much like the language of Isaiah 53:8, “For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.” Soon after that, the people of the ruler will come and destroy the city and sanctuary. This military figure is surely a reference to Titus, son of Vespasian, who was left in charge of the Roman war in Judea by his father. By this time Vespasian himself had just become the new Emperor of Rome. In the year after his father’s becoming Emperor, Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. The end came like a flood with wars and desolations decreed (9:26).
Daniel is then introduced to the final period of “seven.” It will obviously come at the end of the age do to the presence of the Beast or Antichrist pictured in this period. At that time the covenant will be renewed with Israel for a short and turbulent period of seven years. This period may well be marked by the building of a new Temple in Jerusalem and even by the renewal of animal sacrifices. In the middle of this period the Beast or Antichrist spoken of in Daniel and in Revelation will put an end to sacrifice and proclaim that he himself is God (cf. Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4). He will set up the abomination of desolation in a wing of the Temple, but then his awful reign will be brought to an end (9:27).
Now what can we make of this whole mysterious passage of scripture? We first need to decide exactly which decree the angel was speaking about. We learn from the Bible that there were four such decrees. There was the decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-4). Then there was the decree of Darius in 517 B.C. affirming that original decree (Ezra 6:6-12). Later, there was the first decree of Artaxerxes in 458 B.C. (Ezra 7:11-26). Then, finally there was the second decree of Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. (Neh. 2:1-9).
For the sake of simplicity let us assume that Daniel was speaking about normal 365 day-years just like we have today. If we exclude the last mysterious period of “seven” and multiply 69 x 7, we get a total of 483 years as the period encompassed by the first sixty-nine sevens.
Now with our calculators in hand let us go to work. If we take the decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C. and subtract 483 years from it, we arrive at a date of about 55 B.C. This does not seem to be a particularly significant date in the history of Israel. The same would apply to the decree of Darius. But if we take the first decree of Artaxerxes in 458 B.C. and subtract 483 years from it we arrive somewhere in the vicinity of A.D. 25. This date seems quite close to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. If we take the second decree of Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. and subtract 483 years from it we end up at about A.D. 38. This appears to be slightly after the ministry of Jesus. Many scholars feel that Jesus was born somewhere around 4 B.C. We are told in Luke 3:23 that he was about 30 years old when he began his work. His ministry dates are generally estimated to fall somewhere around A.D. 28 – 32.
We can now see that either of the last two decrees could possibly be predictions of Jesus’ ministry, and even of his atoning death. Now we must consider some complications to our simple way of calculating. In the first place, it is likely that the angel was speaking to Daniel about lunar years, the kind that Israel still observes today. The lunar year was made up of 360 days, not 365 as in our solar years. This type of calculation was common in the Bible as we can see from Genesis 7:11 and 8:4. We learn there that the flood began on the 17th day of the second month and ended on the 17th day of the 7th month. That is clearly a period of five months. However, we are told in Genesis 7:24 and 8:3 that the flood lasted exactly 150 days. Obviously each month was based on the 30 day lunar calendar.
If we recalculate based upon the lunar year we will shorten the period by about 6 or 7 years. With this new calculation, the first decree of Artaxerxes would bring us to about A.D.18, again not a significant date. The second decree would bring us to about A.D. 31. This would be an extremely significant date, about the time of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his crucifixion.
There are other factors, however, that complicate our calculations. From the year 1 B.C. until the year A.D. 1 is not two years, but one year. Even the solar year does not have 365 days, but 365.25 days. Also, the exact dates of Jesus ministry are still somewhat contested. So, we have probably done about all we can do with these dates and figures. It seems from what we see that the second decree of Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. is the likely beginning of this time period. It should be noted that this decree was the only one of the four that specifically spoke of rebuilding Jerusalem (Neh. 2:5).
It is plain from our calculations and from the implications of these verses that the Messiah of Israel would have had to be cut off after the total of “sixty nine sevens” had elapsed and that his ministry and death would have preceded the destruction of the Second Temple by Titus in A.D. 70. This is astounding information for us and for all Israel, and it is a confirmation of all that is spoken of by the prophets. It certainly sheds light on the mysterious words of Jesus uttered shortly before his crucifixion, words recorded in Luke 19:42 (NKJV). He said to Israel: “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (emphasis mine). In Luke 19:44 Jesus says: “They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Other statements of Jesus in the Passion Week also connect his approaching death to the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Lk. 21:20-24; 23:28-31). 17
This whole interesting passage of Daniel also sheds some light upon the biblical time frame used in the New Testament. The New Testament writers felt they were living in the very last days. John even says, “Dear children, this is the last hour“ (1 Jn. 2:18). Either these writers were living in the last time or they were sadly and tragically mistaken. This passage in Daniel helps us understand this apparent discrepancy. We learn here that the end-day time clock began running with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 B.C. By the time Jesus was crucified, sixty- nine of the seventy time periods had elapsed. Shortly after that, Jerusalem and the Holy Temple were destroyed by Titus (A.D. 70). Writers in the New Testament era knew they were living in the last period or last hour of history and they were right.
What happened? Almost two thousand years have now elapsed and the end has not come. How do we explain this problem? The secret is that the biblical clock must have stopped, probably at the destruction of Jerusalem or of the Temple. God’s end-day program was thus suspended.
We remember that the end-day time clock began running with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Obviously, Jerusalem’s destruction would have had great bearing upon this divine timing mechanism. Today the clock still indicates seven minutes until midnight, so to speak. We are still very near a new day, and we are still living in the last hour of history. The clock still remains stopped. When will it start again? It could start at any moment especially now that Israel and Jerusalem are being restored once more. But the event that will start the clock will likely concern the building of a new Temple. When the clock starts, we could have only a period of about seven years until the end of the age. This period will surely include the time of the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.
A PICTURE OF THE END DAYS (10:1 – 11:35)
Once more Daniel is given a vision of a great war (10:1). Apparently as a result of seeing the vision the prophet mourned and fasted for three weeks (10:2-3). We can conclude again that it was probably the sight of God’s people involved in this great final conflict and even their partial defeat that caused much of Daniel’s sorrow.
Sometime later, as Daniel stood on the Tigris River, he looked up and saw a man dressed in linen, with a belt of finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite and his face flashed like lightning. His eyes were like flames of fire and his feet were like burnished bronze. When he spoke, his voice was like the sound of a multitude (10:5-6). Daniel’s vision reminds us very much of John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-15. Some Bible scholars feel that Daniel experienced the appearance of Christ prior to his incarnation. The angelic greeting of 10:11, which refers to Daniel as a man “highly esteemed,” seems to indicate that he had just received special favor. On the other hand, the fact that this mighty being was detained by demonic powers (v.13) and needed help from another angel seems proof enough that he is not the Christ. We certainly can say that this angel was one of a very high rank in the heavenly realm.
Perhaps a note is in order here about the many angelic visions that people are supposedly experiencing today. Most of these reports are of a very casual nature like: “By the way, an angel appeared to me this morning and we spent some time having tea together. It was really nice…” We must remember that in both the Old and New Testaments when people saw angels it was very infrequent and the visions of heavenly beings greatly alarmed them and almost incapacitated many of them. Also we see in the Bible that the angels were generally very urgent and business-like in their relationships with humans. There was never any light or silly stuff involved in biblical angelic appearances. We learn here that upon seeing the vision the mighty man Daniel became helpless and was overcome by a deep sleep. We see that the angel came and raised Daniel out of the stupor resulting from his vision.
The angel then related to the prophet how he himself had been sent by God from the moment Daniel began to pray (10:12). Unfortunately, the angel had been delayed twenty-one days while contending with the prince of Persia (10:13).
This passage sheds great light on the spiritual struggles surrounding our world. Here, we are not dealing with natural princes and kings. We are dealing with mighty spiritual powers who rule over nations. The demonic prince of Persia had the people of God in his grip. He was reluctant to release them or to allow angelic intervention into their affairs.
All this activity reminds us of Ephesians 6:12, which says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.“
The angel would have to return and fight not only the prince of Persia but also the prince of Greece (10:20). Greece would be the next nation in line who would try to impose its rule on Israel, and the demon ruling that nation was already interested in the angelic missions sent to Daniel.
This passage of scripture confirms a satanic hierarchy in the heavenlies. It is a hierarchy greatly opposed to Israel. Israel’s mighty defender Michael is called upon to break through this demonic power (10:21). It is of note that Daniel is the first book in the Bible to name angels. Coffman points out that only two angels are named in the whole Bible and both names [Michael & Gabriel] appear here. 18
All this heavenly struggle is certainly understandable when we consider that Satan is called the “ruler of the kingdom of the air“ (Eph. 2:2). He still exercises his authority in heavenly places and will do so until he is cast down to earth shortly before the Great Tribulation (Rev. 12:7-8).
With these things in mind we need to remember that we “should always pray and not give up“ (Luke 18:1). When we ask according to God’s will the answer is on the way. Sadly, we might wonder how many times our own angelic messengers have been recalled in the midst of their flights because we have given up hope of receiving our answer. Neither should we lose heart if “spiritual static” from the prince of the power of the air hinders our prayers. The day is coming soon when the heavens will rejoice because Satan will be cast out and hurled down to earth (Rev. 12:12).
In Daniel’s vision the stage is now set for the final conflict of the ages. Once again the historical developments that would lead up to the model of the Antichrist are sketched. As we remember from chapter eight, this model was to be the Seleucid ruler, Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), who would severely persecute Israel. As the ancient commentator Jerome states: “It is not the purpose of Holy Scripture to cover external history apart from the Jews, but only that which is linked up with the nation of Israel.” 19
Daniel once again sees the nations represented in his first vision of chapter two, and his vision of beasts in chapter eight. He sees that there would be three more kings in Persia. After Cyrus there would be Cambyses, Darius and Xerxes (Ahasuerus). The fourth king, Xerxes, would be richer than them all (cf. Esther 1:4-8). This king would also go to war with the Grecian Empire (11:2). Xerxes did just that and attacked the Greeks with a mighty army and navy. Clark citing the ancient historian Herodotus states that the army was over 800,000 men along with over 1,200 ships. 20 Xerxes was still soundly defeated by the Greeks in one of the most important naval battles of history, the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C.
The next figure to arise would be Alexander the Great. We remember his astounding victories, his early death and how the kingdom was divided up by his four generals. These generals are referred to in history as the “Diadochi” (11:3-4).
Throughout much of chapter eleven, the warfare between two of these generals, the Seleucid kingdom in Syria and the Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt, is detailed for us. It is surely the most incredible example of prophesied history that the world has ever seen. Walvoord relates how it has been estimated that one hundred thirty-five prophecies are contained in these thirty-five verses and that all these prophecies are now fulfilled. 21 Therefore we will deal with this section very carefully. In order to keep these rulers straight in our minds, here is a brief listing of their reigns down to the time of the biblically significant Antiochus IV Epiphanes:
Seleucid rulers: Ptolemaic rulers:
Seleucus I Nicator 311-281 B.C. Ptolemy I Soter 305-282 B.C.
Antiochus I Soter 281-261 Ptolemy II Philadelphus 284-246
Antiochus II Theos 261-246 Ptolemy III Euergetes 246-222
Seleucus II Callinicus 246-225 Ptolemy IV Philopater 222-204
Seleucus III Soter 225-223 Ptolemy V Epiphanes 204-180
Antiochus III the Great 223-187 Ptolemy VI Philometer 180-164
Seleucus IV Philopater 187-175
Antiochus IV Epiphanes 175-164
In Daniel 11:5, we have mention of Ptolemy I, the strong king of the south and one of his commanders who would later become Seleucus I and would rule Syria. Soon the two empires would try to consolidate their rule. To accomplish this Ptolemy II would give his daughter, Berenice (11:6) as a wife to Antiochus II. Berenice would later be divorced and then murdered along with her child. Daniel 11:7 mentions the brother of Berenice, whom we know as Ptolemy III. He took vengeance for the death of his sister by invading the Seleucid Empire. We know from history that his campaign was successful and that he brought much booty back to Egypt, including many Egyptian gods previously captured by the Persians (11:8).
The warfare was to continue with Seleucis II invading Egypt in 242 B.C. but having to retreat (11:9). His sons, Seleucus III and Antiochus III (the Great), would then began a massive invasion of Egypt (11:10) but after initially winning the Holy Land they would suffer a disastrous defeat by Ptolemy IV, at what we now know as the Battle of Raphia (11:11). We then see the king of the south (Ptolemy IV) filled with pride (11:12), but later being humbled.
Some years later, the king of the north (Antiochus III) would gather another great army (11:13) and with the help of the Macedonians would once again attack the south. This time the army sent by the king of the south (Ptolemy V) would be defeated at Paneas and later surrounded and forced to surrender (198 B.C.). We now know from history that the place of this surrender was the heavily fortified city of Sidon as is alluded to in 11:15. After his great victory Antiochus would do as he pleased and would ravage the “Beautiful Land” or the Land of Israel (11:16).
Then we see the king of the north making a treaty with the king of the south by giving his daughter, Cleopatra I (not the famous Cleopatra of later Roman times) to Ptolemy V in 195 B.C. (11:17). By this he had intended to overthrow the kingdom but Cleopatra remained loyal to her husband. Later Antiochus III would war against the Aegean coastlands but his plans would be brought to an end by the Romans at Magnesia in 190 B.C. (11:18). Finally he was slain while attempting to plunder a pagan temple and his successor, Seleucus IV, ruled in his stead (11:20). Seleucus also did some plundering as he attempted to loot the Temple at Jerusalem. His attempt was unsuccessful due to divine intervention, and he was later murdered by the very servant he sent to plunder the Temple. Thus he was “destroyed not in anger or in battle” (v. 20).
This whole amazing historical section has been called by some a “prewritten inter-testamental history.” It is so accurate that it has led many unbelieving scholars to claim that it could have only been written after the events took place. This understanding even today is fostered by many liberal scholars.
However, Daniel’s book was obviously not written at a late date as many of these scholars suppose, since portions of the book were found with the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Book of Daniel was well enough accepted to be included in the Septuagint (the Bible of the earliest Christians), which was written in Greek around 250 B.C. The historian Josephus also mentions how the Jewish High Priest, Jaddua (342-322) met Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. He showed Alexander how the latter was mentioned in Daniel’s prophesy. This act apparently appeased Alexander’s wrath against the Jews regarding their fidelity to his enemy Dairus.22 Obviously the Book of Daniel had to be in existence at this early time.
It is apparent that the object of Daniel’s involved history lesson is to bring us to Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) who is finally introduced to us in 11:21. This evil ruler is of utmost importance to us in understanding the events of the end-days. He is a picture of what the Beast or Antichrist will be like. We see that he was a contemptible person who was not given the honor of royalty. He was not of the royal line but obtained the throne by guile and intrigues (11:21). He would waste no time in oppressing the people of Israel and we understand that the last-day Antichrist will do the same thing (11:22). Later in his zeal to impose Hellenism upon Judah he would sweep away the government of Israel and install his own appointee as the High Priest.
He would attack the king of the south (Ptolemy VI) and through intrigues and actual warfare would overcome him at Pelusium in 170 B.C. The two would set down at the same peace table and lie to each other with their hearts bent on evil (11:27). That sounds like many of the so-called Middle East “peace conferences” of our own day.
On his return home Antiochus would not resist plundering and sacking Jerusalem (11:28). Later as the king of the south would double-cross Antiochus, he would decide to attack Egypt once again (168 B.C.), but this time the ships of Rome would intervene (11:30). He would be forced to retreat by the Roman legates, but in a great rage he would vent his fury against Israel once more, looting, oppressing and murdering the populace.
At this point in history we have the setting for the period of the Maccabeean Revolt (168-165 B.C.) which we have discussed earlier. The Temple would be desecrated, the daily sacrifice would be suspended, and the abomination of desolation would be set up (11:31). This abomination would be the statue of Zeus, the pagan deity, placed in the
Temple of God.
We must understand that all these events will happen again at the end of the age in a very similar fashion. They will happen at that time with greater severity and on a world-wide scale. We are told that in the days of Antiochus many people fell away from the faith, lured by his enticements. We are also told that in the future tribulation many will be overcome. It is said: “With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him“ (11:32).
In the dark and troublesome time of the first Hanukkah, Mattathias and his sons, as well as many other brave sons of Israel, were strong and they did exploits. They also happily offered their lives as martyrs for God (11:33). They received a “little help” (11:34), but the massive armies of the Greco/Roman world would continue to harass tiny Israel until at last the Temple would be destroyed and the people dispersed in AD 70 and 135. We see that in this struggle God’s elect were refined, purified and made spotless by the awful ordeal they suffered (11:35).
THE GREAT TRIBULATION (11:36 – 12:13)
When we come to Daniel 11:36, we suddenly leap over the centuries and arrive in the last days. Bible scholars tell us that while the previous verses have been fulfilled exactly, these verses are yet for the future and have experienced no fulfillment in history. Daniel has finally made the transition from the type of the Beast or Antichrist to the Antichrist himself. Obviously, the theme of the Beast is a central theme of the whole book of Daniel. It is of utmost importance that we look carefully at the characteristics of this individual, that we will not fail to recognize both his spirit (1 Jn. 4:3; 1 Jn. 2:18) and his person.
This king will do as he pleases (11:36). He is known in the Greek language as “the lawless one” (2 Thess. 2:8). He will make his own laws and rules. He will greatly exalt himself and will blaspheme the true God (11:36; Rev. 13:6). In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Paul says: “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
He will not honor the true God but will instead honor a “god of fortresses” (11:38). It seems that he will worship military might. In Revelation 13:4, we see people saying of him, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?“ In Daniel 11:39, we see that he will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. The same thing happened in the days of Antiochus IV. In 11:32, we see him corrupting with flattery those who would violate the covenant. Surely the benefits will be great for all those who receive his mark of approval in their hands and upon their foreheads (Rev. 13:16; 20:4). The Beast will even distribute the land for a price (11:39). Perhaps this involves yet one more fanciful “peace plan” or distribution plan for the land of Israel. We are assured in 11:41 that he will come against the Beautiful Land. We can know already that whatever price he establishes will be far too high for Israel to pay.
From a practical point of view it would be wise for us to pause here and consider first of all just how the Beast-type attacked the people of God in the second century B.C. Based upon Daniel and the Books of 1 & 2 Maccabees we can outline the main points of his attack. From this we can draw some conclusions for the end-days.
He totally looted and defiled the Temple of God, even carrying away the sacred furnishings. The end-day Antichrist will likely do the same thing, attacking both the natural Temple and the spiritual one. He will no doubt try to bring his abominations into the lives and hearts of the saints for they make up the true temple. He made it a capital offense to practice the Jewish religion in any way. As circumcision and worship were banned in the second century B.C., all outward show of devotion to the true God will likely become a criminal offense in the last day.
He made it a capital offense to read or even possess the word of God. We are already seeing a great attack on the word of God in many places. Likely, just carrying a Bible will bring the death sentence in the days of the Antichrist. We had best busy ourselves hiding the word in our hearts.
The Beast also mightily oppressed the people, killing them, selling them into slavery, taking their goods and livestock, and burning their houses and cities. We must not get too attached to the things of this world in which we take comfort. In the last days they will all be gone.
He made it necessary for the faithful to flee to the caves and deserts in order to survive. To be sheltered in the secret place of the Most High will be the only safe-house in
Last of all, he greatly encouraged and rewarded renegade believers, using them in his devious plans against the faithful. Paul warns us that in the last days many will depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1). Jesus himself speaks of families betraying their own members (Matt. 10:21). It is clear that those who have fallen away will become the pawns of Antichrist in his devious and destructive work against true believers.
Now, we should consider how the faithful stood against this Old Testament antichrist. They did several things. They dared take a stand against him regardless of the personal danger or cost to themselves or their families. The true believers tore their clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned, seeking God’s intervention. It is of note that they stood together and fought even though they were few and woefully outnumbered. The true believers wholly supported God’s anointed leadership sent for their deliverance. Like their leaders, they believed that God could save by many or by few, thus they expected miracles. They remembered to praise God and sing hymns with every victory. Finally they were able to remove the pollutions from the Temple and rededicate it. Still, they did not rest until all God’s people were delivered from the enemy.
We see that everything will not be smooth sailing even for the Antichrist. He will have his problems holding the world together. Nations and armies from the south and north will rise against him (11:40). However, like Antiochus IV, he will not neglect to attack the land of Israel, even in the midst of all his problems (11:41). We are told: “He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him“ (11:45).
Now we see that Michael, Israel’s great angelic helper, will arise to assist the nation in this dreadful hour (12:1). The thing that Daniel had glimpsed on many other occasions is finally given to us in detail. There will be a time of distress unlike any distress that has ever happened in the history of the world (12:1). Jesus mentions this awful time in Matthew 24:21-22, and promises us that the days will be shortened for the sake of God’s elect. Jesus mentions that during this time the love of most will grow cold, but that those who endure unto the end will be saved (Matt. 24:12-13). In Revelation, John warns Gentile churches to overcome so that they might be kept from the hour of temptation that is about to come upon the whole world to try those who live on the earth (Rev. 3:10).
The angel assures Daniel that everyone written in the book will be delivered (12:1). Jesus makes a similar promise when he says to the churches: “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels” (Rev. 3:5). Daniel is told that there will be a resurrection in these last days (12:2). We know from scripture that there will be first a resurrection of the righteous and later a resurrection of the wicked. It seems that somehow, all saints of God who have ever lived will be involved in this great and final hour of history. The angel tells Daniel that those who are wise will shine like stars in this darkest hour (12:3).
Now the prophet is told to seal up the words of the scroll until the time of the end (12:4). We can know by this that the book of Daniel will make a lot more sense to us as the end-days draw nearer. We are then given a special clue about what it will be like in the end-days. We are told that, “Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.“ (Dan. 12:4). In several other translations it is confirmed that people will run to and fro and that knowledge will increase.
Today, more than at any other time in history, people are running to and fro all over the world, and knowledge is increasing. For instance, when I was a child I rode in a team-drawn wagon just as people had done for thousands of years. Yet in my short lifetime there has been a proliferation of cars, airplanes, and even space travel. I remember well the first time I ever saw an electric light. In the rural area where I grew up, we used oil lamps just like people had done for thousands of years. Now we not only have electric lights, but x-rays, laser lights, and many other electrical wonders. We type on word processors and send information out all over the world in a flash. Our television programs are sent through space and broadcast back to us. Even a small computer disc can now hold entire encyclopedias.
According to Knight Ridder Newspapers in 2004, the number of scientific papers published has been doubling every three years. In just one field, global climate data, the volume of recorded information is expected to explode from 2 billion gigabytes in 2000 to 15 billion gigabytes by 2010. Yes, knowledge is certainly increasing in our day!
We can know by this clue that the dreadful but glorious times of the end days are literally at our door. One of the angels in conversation asked how long before all these astonishing things would be fulfilled. The answer came back with the familiar refrain heard so often in Daniel and in Revelation, “it shall be for a time, times, and an half” (12:7). Once more we are told that the Great Tribulation will last approximately three and one half years. It will last until the power of God’s holy people has been broken (12:7). This likely includes both Israel and the church.
We see clearly that it is not just Israel that is broken. Many saints of God will be purified, made spotless and refined (12:10). We must understand that it is not the careless, self-indulgent church that will meet the Messiah in the end-days, but the church that has gone through the fire and has been purified and made white by tribulation. As the scripture says, “these are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev.7:14).
At last the wheat and tares will be separated. At last we will all be able to see the difference between the righteous and the wicked (Mal. 3:18). The wise will understand all these things, but the wicked will not understand (12:10). The wicked will continue to be wicked, and the filthy will continue to be filthy (Rev. 22:11). We are already seeing a great and increasing obsession with this filthiness, especially in the area of internet pornography. For such as these who do not repent the prophet Malachi warns, “‘Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,‘ says the LORD Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them.‘” (Mal. 4:1). Malachi also says to the overcomers: “Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty” (Mal. 4:3).
It seems that God has an end-day plan to burn the wicked out of the earth while at the same time leaving and purifying the righteous. The scripture says that the Lord knows how “to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment” (2 Pet. 2:9). The fire of the end-day may be a bit like the pressure cookers we use in home canning. When the fire gets hot the pressure mounts; the bacteria are destroyed; the jars are sealed and the fruit is then preserved. What destroys the one preserves the other.
In the Didache, an early Christian teaching manual that likely comes from apostolic or at least from sub-apostolic times, the writer exhorts: “for the whole time of your faith shall not profit you, if ye be not perfected at the last season” (Didache 16:2).
Daniel is told that from the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up in the Temple, there will be a period of 1,290 days (slightly more than 3 1/2 years). Daniel is told that there is a great blessing in store for those who can hold on until 1,335 days (12:12). The additional 45 days are critical and will apparently be needed to fully usher in the Kingdom of God. Here we need to remember that old baseball maxim of Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over till it’s over!” We need to especially remember Jesus’ warning in Matthew 24:13: “but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
May we endure like the saints of old and like Daniel. May we be able to stand firm through the days of the end and receive our allotted inheritance.
Dear reader, if this little book has been a blessing to you would you please drop us a line and let us know? We would appreciate any comment, whether positive or negative. You may reach us at the following address: Gerrishes@aol.com
Several sources I have cited here are from the electronic media, either from websites or from electronic research libraries. Thus in some of these sources it is not possible to cite page numbers. Instead I have cited the verse or verses in each chapter (e.g. verse v. 1 or vs. 1-2) about which the commentators speak.
1. Gleason L. Archer, Jr.(trans.), Jerome, Commentary on Daniel, (Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Book House, 1958), p15
2. D.A. Carson, New Bible Commenetary: 21st Century edition Rev. Ed., (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL, 1994), electronic edition, comment on Dan. 1:15.
3: David Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, (Commentary on Daniel), Internet electronic media, 1997-2003, comment on Daniel 2:31-35.
4. J. Dwight Pentecost, “Daniel,” The Bible Knowledge Commenetary; An Exposition of the Scriptures, (Wheaton, IL, Victor Books, 1983-c1985), comments on Daniel 2:39.
5. E.A. Wallace Budge, Babylonian Life and History (New York; Dorsett Press, 1992) p 110.
6. Guzik, comment on Daniel 3:1.
7. Guzik, comment on Daniel 4:28-34.
8. Adam Clark. The Adam Clark Commentary; The Book of the Prophet Daniel, Study Light.org., comment on Daniel 4:37.
9. Edwin M. Yamauchi, Persia and the Bible, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Books, 1990, 1996) pp 86-89
10. Yamauchi, p 79.
11. Carson, comment on Daniel 6:22
12. Guzik, comment on Daniel 7:13-14.
Guzik remarks how this distinction made between the Ancient of Days and the son of man firmly supports the deity of Jesus and how the title “son of man” was the favorite self-designation of Jesus, used on some 80 occasions in his earthly ministry
13. Jamieson R. Fausset, et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, (Oak Harbor, WA, Logos Research Systems, 1997) Comment on 8:3.
Fausset quotes Newton stating: “The king of Persia wore a jeweled ram’s head of gold instead of a diadem, such as are seen on the pillars at Persepolis. Also the Hebrew for ‘ram’ springs from the same root as ‘Elam,’ or Persia.”
14. Charles Dailey, “Daniel –Concise Presentation Notes,” Internet electronic media, comments on Daniel 8:7. Dailey titles this section: “Galloping goat encounters rambunctious ram.” He states, “The national emblem of Greece was a goat and is found on ancient Greek coins. The ancient capital of Macedonia was called Aegae – the goat city.” He also states that the waters next to Greece were called the Aegean, or ‘Goat Sea.’ Fausett also mentions this linguistic connection in his comments on Daniel 8:5.
15. Pfeiffer, CF, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, (Chicago, IL, Moody Press 1962.
In his commentary on Zechariah 1:12 the author conjectures that the seventy years ran from 586 BC until 516 BC when the Temple was completed.
16. Pentecost, comment on Daniel 9:24.
17. Fausset, comment on v. 9:26.
18. James Burton Coffman, James Burton Coffman Commentaries, (reproduced by Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, TX, distributed by StudyLight.org.), comment on Daniel 10:21.
19. Archer, comment on Daniel 11:2 & 5.
20. Clark, comment on Daniel 11:2.
21. Walvoord,The Nations, Israel and the Church in Prophecy, (Grand Rapids, MI, Academie Books, 1962, 1964, 1967), p 81.
22. Flavius, Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IX, Ch. VIII.