The Book Of Daniel
At the close of the history of Hezekiah, the noble king of Judah, as reported by the prophet Isaiah, is found a significant prophecy. Hezekiah, like so many other good men before and after him, had fallen into the crime of the devil, pride (1 Timothy 3:6), and the Lord through the prophet Isaiah announced therefore the future judgment upon the royal house of David: "Behold the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day shall be carried to Babylon, nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. He said, moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days" (Isaiah 39:6-8). About one hundred years after this startling prophecy was literally fulfilled. The opening verses of the book of Daniel introduce us to this. The Babylonian king came and besieged the city of Jerusalem and conquered it. Among those carried away was Daniel and his companions. Daniel, as we learn from the third verse of the first chapter, was of princely descent. This young man, the captive in Babylon, became, through the marvellous providence of God, one of the leading figures and prominent actors in the great Babylonian empire, under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. He was made, in spite of his youth, a great man--the prime minister of Babylon. Of his personal history, his character and remarkable experiences we know more than of any of the other prophets of God. As a mere lad he was brought to the strange land as a captive. We behold him and his companions, true to Jehovah, maintaining their God-given place of separation. He honored Jehovah and Jehovah honored him. Soon the Lord used the young captive by revealing unto him the forgotten dream of Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation of the dream. Then followed the exaltation of the obscure captive; and afterwards he seemed to have been the close companion of the great Gentile monarch, who acknowledged finally the Lord-God of Israel as his God. Then God honored him by giving him the great visions of the future, so remarkable in their scope. The Lord appeared unto him; he talked with angels, and the messenger Gabriel addressed him as "the man greatly beloved." As an old man he had been quite forgotten during the reign of the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar; only the queen mother, the aged wife of Nebuchadnezzar, remembered him. In that memorable night when Babylon fell the old prophet interpreted the handwriting on the wall, though old in years, still young in his faith. Under the reign of Darius he was cast among the lions, on account of his devotion to Jehovah, and wonderfully delivered. What a man of prayer he was we learn from the ninth chapter. He reached a very old age, continuing even into the reign of Cyrus, and when his great work was done, ere the Lord called him home, he received the promise: "But go thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of days" (12:13). In the great faith chapter of the Hebrew Epistle his name is not mentioned, but his deeds are there. "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions" (Hebrews 11:33).
The Authenticity of Daniel
Perhaps no other book of the Bible has been so much attacked as the book of Daniel. It is a veritable battlefield between faith and unbelief. For about 2,000 years, wicked men, heathen philosophers and infidels have hammered away against it; but the book has proved to be the anvil upon which the critics' hammers have been broken into pieces. The book has survived all attacks, and we need not fear that the weak and puerile critics, the most subtle infidels of Christendom in our day, can harm the book. It has been denied that Daniel wrote the book during the Babylonian captivity. Kuenen and Wellhausen and their imitating disciples like Canon Farrar, Driver and others of inferior calibre, claim that the work was not written in the Exile, but centuries later. Daniel had nothing to do with the book at all; a holy and gifted Jew wrote it instead, and it is avowed fiction. Such are a few of the infidel statements made against this sublime book. These critics follow the wicked assailant of Christianity of the third century, Porphyr, who contended that the book of Daniel is a forgery, that it was written during the time of the Maccabees, after Antiochus Epiphanes, so clearly foretold in this book, had appeared. The whole reasoning method of the destructive Bible-criticism may be reduced to the following. Prophecy is an impossibility, there is no such thing as foretelling events to come. Therefore a book which contains predictions must have been written after the events which are predicted. But how could the man who committed such a forgery be a pious Jew? No, the book of Daniel is either divine or it is the most colossal forgery and fraud. No middle ground is possible. We give a few of the evidences which answer the infidel attacks upon this great fundamental prophetic book. It should be enough for every Christian that our Lord, the infallible Son of God, mentions Daniel by name in His great prophetic discourse delivered on Olivet (Matthew 24:15). There can be no question that our Lord at least twice more referred to the book of Daniel. When He speaks of Himself and His coming again in the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man, He confirms Daniel's vision in chapter 7:13, and when He speaks of the stone to fall in Matthew 21:44, He confirms Daniel 2:44-45. How does the critic meet this argument? He tells us that our Lord accommodated Himself to the Jewish views current in His day. They say, perhaps He knew better, and some say that He did not know. In other words, they deny the infallibility of our Lord, and with this invention that He accommodated Himself against His better knowledge, they accuse our Lord of something worse. When the Lord uttered the words, "Daniel the prophet" He put at once His unimpeachable seal on both the person and the book of Daniel. But there are other evidences. The heathen Porphyr declared that the book was written during the days of the Maccabees; as stated above the modern critics have echoed the opinion of that lost heathen soul. But the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was made before the time of the Maccabees, contains the book of Daniel. It was in the hands of the learned Hebrews, who translated in the third century before Christ the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek. The book therefore antedates the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Furthermore during the days of the Maccabees a book was written, the first book of the Maccabees, a historical account of those eventful days. This Maccabean work not only presupposes the existence of the book of Daniel, but shows actual acquaintance with it, and therefore gives proof that the book must have been written long before that period (1 Macc. 1:54, compare with Daniel 9:27; 2:49 and Daniel 3). The reliable Jewish historian Josephus also furnisheth historically an evidence for Daniel. He tells us that when Alexander the Great, who is mentioned in Daniel's prophecy (chapter 8), came to Jerusalem in the year 332 B.C., Jaddua the high priest, showed him the prophecies of Daniel, and Alexander was greatly impressed with them. Then we have the testimony of another prophet of the exile, the prophet Ezekiel. He speaks twice in the highest terms of Daniel, whose contemporary he was. (See Ezekiel 14:14- 20 and 28:3.) Daniel also betrays such an intimate acquaintance with Chaldean customs and history, as well as their religion, such as none but one who lived there and was an eye-witness could have possessed. For instance, the description of the Chaldean magicians perfectly agrees with the accounts found in other sources. The account of the insanity of Nebuchadnezzar is confirmed by the ancient historian Berosus. Then there has been a most striking vindication of this book through the Babylonian excavations, tablets, cylinders and monuments. Into this we cannot fully enter, but we cite but one of the most striking. The name of Belshazzar furnished for a long time material to the infidels to reject the historical accuracy of the book. The father of Belshazzar was Nabonnaid, who was not a son of Nebuchadnezzar at all. How then could Belshazzar be a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar? This objection is seemingly strengthened by the fact that no ancient historians include in the list of Babylonian kings the name of Belshazzar. Berosus, who lived about 250 years after the Persian invasion, gives the following list of Babylonian monarchs: Nabuchodonosar (Nebuchadnezzar). Evil Marudak, who is the Evil Merodach of the Bible. Neriglissor. Laborosoarchod. Nabonnaid. Cyrus, the Persian conqueror. Different attempts were made to clear up this difficulty, but they failed. Now, if Daniel wrote his book he must be correct. But the critics are ever ready to put the doubt not on the side of history, but on the side of the Bible. So they said Berosus was not mistaken and that if Daniel really had written the book which bears his name he would have been historically correct. This is how matters stood up to 1854. In that year Sir Rawlinson translated a number of tablets brought to light by the spade from the ruins of the Babylonian civilization. These contained the memorials of Nabonnaid, and in these the name of Bil-shar-uzzar appeared frequently, and is mentioned as the son of Nabonnaid and sharing the government with him. The existence of Belshazzar and the accuracy of Daniel were at once established beyond the shadow of a doubt. Daniel was promised by Belshazzar to become the third ruler in the kingdom (Dan. 5:16). Why the third and not the second? Because Nabonnaid was the first, Belshazzar his son was the second and vice-regent. Nabonnaid had a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar for wife and therefore Belshazzar from his mother's side was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. But have the critics learned by this complete defeat? Have they profited by this experience and will they leave the Bible alone? Not by any means. They will continue to look for flaws in the infallible Book. Some day they will discover the seriousness of their work.
The Important Prophetic Message of Daniel
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the book of Daniel. It is the key to all prophecy; without a knowledge of the great prophecies contained in this book the entire prophetic portion of the word of God must remain a sealed book. One of the reasons why so few Christians have a correct knowledge of the prophetic forecast in the Bible is the neglect of the book of Daniel. The great prophetic portions of the New Testament, the Olivet discourse of our Lord (Matthew 24 and 25), and above all the great New Testament book of prophecy, the book of Revelation, can only be understood through the prophecies of Daniel. To both, the Babylonian king and God's prophet, were revealed the political history of the "times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). The rise and fall of the great monarchies, Babylonia, Medo-Persian, Graeco-Macedonia and the Roman, are successively revealed in this book. The appointed end of these times and what will follow the times of the Gentiles is made known. Our generation lives in the very shadow of that end. Then there are prophecies relating more specifically to Jerusalem and the Jewish people, showing what will yet come for that city and the nation. It will be impossible in our brief annotations to do justice to all the details of this prophetic book. The larger work on the prophet Daniel by the author of The Annotated Bible should be carefully studied with the accompanying pages.
The Division of Daniel
The book of Daniel is written in two languages, in the Hebrew and in the Aramaic, the language of Chaldea. The first chapter is written in Hebrew, in style closely allied to the Hebrew used in the book of Ezekiel. Chapters 8-12 are likewise written in the Hebrew language. But chapters 2:4-7:28 are written in the Aramaic language. This gives an additional argument for the authenticity of the book. The author was conversant with both languages, an attainment exactly suited to a Hebrew living in exile, but not in the least so to an author in the Maccabean age, when the Hebrew had long since ceased to be a living language, and had been supplanted by the Aramaic vernacular dialect. Daniel was led to employ both languages for a specific reason. What concerned these great monarchies, Babylonia and Medo-Persia, was written in the language with which they were familiar. What concerned the Jewish people was written for them in Hebrew. We shall not follow the linguistic division of the book. We find in the book two main sections:
I. DANIEL IN BABYLON, NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM, AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
Chapter 1. Daniel and His Companions in Babylon
Chapter 2. The Great Prophetic Dream of Nebuchadnezzar
Chapter 3-6. Historical Events
II. THE GREAT PROPHECIES OF DANIEL
Chapter 7. The Night Visions of Daniel
Chapter 8. The Vision of the Ram and the He-Goat
Chapter 9. The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
Chapter 10. Preparation for the Final Prophecy
Chapter 11. The Wars of the Ptolemies and Seleucidae Predicted and the Coming Events of the End
Chapter 12. The Great Tribulation and Israel 's Deliverance
I. DANIEL IN BABYLON, NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM, AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
Daniel and His Companions in Babylon
1. The introduction (1: 1-2)
2. The king's command (1:3-5)
3. Daniel and his companions (1:6-21)
Divine judgment, which had threatened so long, had finally fallen upon Jerusalem. It was executed by the divinely chosen instrument, Nebuchadnezzar. Three times he came against Jerusalem. In 606 B.C. he appeared the first time. This is the visitation mentioned here. In 598 he came again and carried away more captives, including Ezekiel. In 587 he burned the city and the temple.
Verses 3 - 5
As already stated in the introduction the young captives of the king's seed and of the princes (both of Judah) was in fulfillment of prophecy. They were to be added to the king's court and to receive special royal favors, instructions in the wisdom and language of the Chaldeans and have the privileges of the king's table.
Daniel means, "God is my judge"; Hananiah, "Beloved of the Lord"; Mishael, "Who is as God"; Azariah, "The Lord is my help." These beautiful names were soon changed into names of heathen meaning, to blot out the very memory of Jehovah. Daniel becomes Belteshazzar (Bel's prince); Hananiah is named Shadrach (illumined by the sun-god); Mishael is called Meshach (who is like Shach-- Venus); and Azariah is changed to Abednego (the servant of Nego). The purpose of the four expressed their loyalty to the God of their fathers and their obedience to His law. The Lord rewarded them for their loyalty and faithfulness, as He is still the rewarder of all who trust in Him and walk in separation.
Nebuchadnezzar's Dream and Its Interpretation
1. The forgotten dream (2:1-13)
2. The prayer meeting in Babylon and the answer (2:14-23)
3. Daniel before the king (2:24-28)
4. The revelation and interpretation of the dream (2:29-45)
5. The promotion of Daniel and his companions (2:46-49)
The king had a dream which was occasioned by thinking concerning the future (verse 29). God answered his desire by this dream, which made a great impression on him. But he had forgotten the dream. The soothsayers, wise men and magicians, who were kept by him to interpret dreams, were unable to reveal the forgotten dream: they confessed their utter helplessness. The king condemned them to death. Inasmuch as Daniel and his companions were counted among the wise men, "they sought Daniel and his companions to be slain."
And now Daniel steps to the front. But there is no haste and no hurry connected with it, for "He that believeth shall not make haste." He is brought before the king and promises to the king the meaning of that dream. It was the language of faith; he had confidence in God. He knew that the same Jehovah who had given another captive wisdom, Joseph in Egypt, was his God also. Then there was a prayer meeting in Babylon. While the condemned wise men, the astrologers and magicians trembled for fear of death, Daniel and his companions asked "mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret." The prayer was speedily answered.
After Daniel had praised the God of heaven he requested an audience with the king. How beautiful he is in the presence of the mighty monarch! What an opportunity to glorify himself. But he hides himself completely and gives God all the glory. Then he tells the king that in the dream he is about to relate God has made known unto him "what shall be in the latter days."
Daniel then told to the king the forgotten dream:
Thou, O King, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (verses 31-35).
The great man image is the prophetic symbol of the "times of the Gentiles." This expression "The times of the Gentiles" is not found in the book of Daniel, but it is a New Testament phrase. Our Lord used it exclusively. In that part of His prophetic discourse which is reported in the Gospel of Luke and which relates to the fall of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the nation, our Lord said: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). Now, the times of the Gentiles did not begin when Jerusalem rejected the Lord from heaven. Our Lord does not say that the times of the Gentiles were then ushered in. The times of the Gentiles started with the Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. The glory of the Lord departed from Jerusalem. The other great prophet of the captivity, Ezekiel, beheld the departure of the Shekinah. "Then did the Cherubim lift up their Wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city" (Ezek. 11:22-23). But before that Jeremiah recorded a remarkable word. These are the words of Jehovah concerning Nebuchadnezzar:
I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me. And now have I given all these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand (Jeremiah 27:5-8).
Jerusalem had been supreme because the throne and the glory of Jehovah was there. Though Assyria, Egypt and Babylon had tried repeatedly to overthrow Jerusalem, they were held in check by the power of God and divine intervention, but when the measure of the wickedness of Jerusalem was full, Nebuchadnezzar was chosen to become the first great monarch of the times of the Gentiles. The dominion was then taken away from Jerusalem and transferred to the Gentiles. Therefore the golden head in this prophetic man-image represents Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire. The chest of silver, according to divine interpretation, stands for an inferior monarchy which was to follow the Babylonian empire. This second world empire is the Medo- Persian. The belly and thighs of brass represent the third great monarchy, the Graeco-Macedonian. The fourth great monarchy which was to rise during the times of the Gentiles, represented by the two legs of iron, is the iron empire, Rome. Here, then, is history pre-written. God, who knows the end from the beginning, revealed in this dream the course of the times of the Gentiles, beginning with the Babylonian monarchy and followed by three more: The Medo-Persian, the Graeco-Macedonian and the Roman. Notice the process of deterioration as indicated in the composition of this image: Gold, silver, brass, iron, and finally the iron getting less and clay taking a prominent place. It shows that politically the times of the Gentiles are not improving. Everything which this image represents has been fulfilled, except the last portion, when a stone falls out of heaven and strikes the ten toes and the clay, so that the whole colossal figure goes to pieces, the different constituent metals become like the chaff on the summer threshingfloor and the striking stone becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth. The fourth Empire, the Roman, has not yet fulfilled its history. The final form, and with it the final form of the times of the Gentiles is yet to pass into history. This final form is symbolically seen in the ten toes and the clay, in the feet of the image. The territory which constituted the now extinct Roman empire will in the near future undergo a political revival. It will reappear in a confederated Europe, except certain countries which never belonged to the Roman empire. In that confederacy will be kingdoms to the number of ten; the clay represents democracies, the rule by the people and for the people. The late great war has brought such a political combination into our times. Such is the future and end of the times of the Gentiles, as foretold in the feet of the image. But what does the smiting stone represent, the stone which abolisheth the image and becomes itself a great mountain filling the whole earth? The Stone is Christ. That the stone represents Christ is seen from the Scriptures. "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation" (Isa. 28:16). Zechariah speaks of this stone with seven eyes upon it and engraven. We read of Him in the New Testament as the foundation stone of the church, the cornerstone, the stone rejected by the builders. Most interesting is His own word in the Gospel of Matthew: "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (Matt. 21:44). Here we have Israel 's sin and judgment and the fate of the Gentiles. Israel stumbled against this stone; for them He was a stumblingstone and rock of offense. In consequence they were broken as a nation. But the Gentile world, rejecting Him, will be broken when the stone falls. They will be ground to powder by the falling stone. Our Lord must have had the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in mind when he spake these words. The falling stone of which He speaks and the striking stone in the dream mean the same Person, Himself The stone doing its work in smiting the image is a prophecy of the second coming of our Lord. The mountain filling after that the earth foreshadows that kingdom which will be established with the return of Christ and His enthronement as King of kings. Verses 46-49. The heathen monarch then acknowledged Daniel's God in a threefold way: The God of Gods (the Father); the Lord of Kings (God the Son); the Revealer of Secrets (God the Holy Spirit). Daniel is lifted from the place of humiliation to a place of exaltation. He did not forget his companions; they share honor and glory with him. It is a beautiful picture of that day when our Lord will receive the throne and when His own will not be left behind in sharing with Him His glory.
Historical Events (3-6)
The four chapters which follow the great dream of Nebuchadnezzar are of a historical character. They do not contain direct prophecies, but record certain events which transpired during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, his successor and grandson Belshazzar, and Darius, the Mede. On the personal history of these three persons and where they are found in profane history we have little to say, as a deeper examination of this subject would lead us too far and would be tedious. But this much must be said that the criticism which charged Daniel with being incorrect has been completely silenced by the Babylonian cylinders of Cyrus and Nabonnaid and the so-called annalistic tablets, the very records of those days. It is true the personality of Darius the Mede has not yet been definitely located historically. However, we do not believe the Bible because its historical statements can be verified from profane history. We believe the Bible because its records are divinely inspired and therefore correct. What would we know of the genuineness of these ancient tablets and cylinders covered with cuneiform inscriptions if it were not for the Bible? These witnesses from the stones, which indeed cry out, do not verify the Bible, they are rather declared genuine and correct by the Word of God. These four chapters then give us historical events. Each has a prophetic meaning, though direct prophecy is not found in them. These chapters describe the moral conditions which held sway during the two first world empires; they indicate prophetically the moral conditions which continue to the end of the times of the Gentiles. Five things may be traced in these four chapters: The moral characteristics of the times of the Gentiles; what will happen at the close of these times; the faithful remnant in suffering; their deliverance and the Gentiles acknowledging God, as King and the God of heaven.
CHAPTER 3 The Image of Gold
1. The image of gold (3:1-7)
2. The faithful three (3:8-18)
3. The miraculous deliverance (3:19-25)
4. The worshipping king (3:26-30)
He had an immense statue of gold made, the image of a man, no doubt, and he set it up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. It was idolatry and the deification of man. Idolatry and the deification of man are then the first moral characteristics mentioned which are to prevail during the times of the Gentiles. The times of the Gentiles produce a religion which is opposed to the God of heaven. The image was sixty cubits high and six broad. Seven is the divine number and six is the number of man. Sixty cubits and six reminds us of that familiar passage in the book of Revelation, where we have the number of a man given, that mysterious number "six hundred three-score and six," that is 666. The image then represents man, but the climax of man was not yet reached. However, the beginning foreshadows the end of the times of the Gentiles. That end is described in chapter 13 of Revelation. The civil power tried to force this universal religion upon the people. The great governors, judges, captains and rulers had to appear for the dedication of the image. But then the whole thing had a religious aspect. Listen, after looking at this great awe-inspiring image of gold-- the sweetest music--the cornet, the flute, the harp, the sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music sounds forth. No doubt the Chaldean priests approached chanting some sweet Babylonian song. Why all this? To stir up the religious emotions and aid in this way the worship of an idol. It is intensely interesting that the ancient Babylonian worship, with its ceremonials and chanting is reproduced in Rome, which is called in Revelation, Babylon. (The book by Alexander Hyslop, The Two Babylons, gives reliable and important information on this fact.) Verses 8-18. The companions of Daniel refused to worship the image and were cast into the fiery furnace. Notice their wonderful trust in God. Verses 19-25. The very men who cast them down were consumed by the flames. But when the king looked towards the furnace he beheld to his great astonishment not three men bound and burning up, but four men loose and actually walking in the fire. "They have no hurt and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." And when they brought up from the fiery furnace, no smell of fire was about them, not even a hair was singed, only the bands which had bound them were burned off. The fire had set them free but it could not touch them. But did the king speak true when he beheld the fourth like the Son of God? Little did he know what he said or what it meant, but assuredly he saw in that fire the Son of God, Jehovah, for He had promised His people, "When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle on thee." The faithful Lord kept His promise to His trusting servants. And has not all this been repeated throughout the times of the Gentiles especially during the Roman Empire ? Pagan Rome persecuted the true worshippers of God and in great persecutions multitudes suffered martyrdom. But think of what is worse, Papal Rome, that Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots. There we find the images and the sweet music, the prostrations and political power enforcing unity of worship. The fiery furnaces were there, the stake, the most awful tortures for those who were faithful to God and to their Lord. Think of the story of the Waldensians and Huguenots. And while for these noble martyrs, for whom there is a martyr's crown in the coming day of Christ, there came no deliverance and their bodies were consumed by the fire, yet the Son of God was with them and with praising hearts and a song upon their lips, He carried them through the fire. And during the great tribulation will a faithful remnant of Jews suffer under the man of sin, as these three Hebrews suffered; but they will likewise be delivered. Verses 26-30. Once more Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God and made a decree that severe punishment should be the lot of all who say anything amiss against the God of Daniel's companions.
The Tree Vision of Nebuchadnezzar
1. The king's proclamation (4:1-3)
2. The king relates the tree vision (4:4-18)
3. Daniel interprets the vision (4:19-27)
4. The tree vision fulfilled, the king's abasement and his restoration (4:28-37)
This chapter is in form, at least in part, of a proclamation. This proclamation must have been written after the king had passed through the experience recorded in this chapter.
Read carefully the vision the king had and compare with Ezekiel 31:3 and Matthew 13, the parable of the mustard seed. In each case the great big tree is the symbol of pride and self-exaltation.
The prophet's interpretation of this dream needs no further comment. A careful reading will make it clear in its meaning.
Twelve months later he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. Then with a haughty mien he utters the fatal words: "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power and for the honor of my majesty." Notice the personal pronoun. But while he yet uttered these words a heavenly voice was heard which announced that the kingdom is departed from him. What Daniel had said in his interpretation is repeated from heaven. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar and he was driven from men and did eat grass as the oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles feathers, and his nails like birds' claws. And after the seven times had passed over him his understanding returned unto him and he blessed the Most High. The great characteristic here is pride and self exaltation. As judgment came upon the great monarch in the beginning of the times of the Gentiles, so judgment will yet fall upon this proud and self exalting age of the Gentiles. That great big, political and religious tree will some day be hewn down and be destroyed. And Nebuchadnezzar's great humiliation in becoming a beast for seven times (seven years), points us to the end of this Gentile age once more. (The attempt to ascertain from this "seven times" the length of the times of the Gentiles as some do lacks the support of Scripture. The seven times mean seven years.) Apostasy from God will be the great characteristic of that end. There will be no more looking up to God, but the attitude of the beast will be the attitude of the nations. We see much of this already. They mind earthly things and become the "earth dwellers" so frequently mentioned in the book of Revelation.
Madness and bestiality will seize upon the Gentiles, after the One who hinders, the Holy Spirit is removed. Then proud and apostate Christendom will believe the lie and follow the beast with its lying wonders. This will last seven times, that is, seven years. The stump of the great tree which remains in the field suggests the fact that the judgments which fall upon the nations in the time of the end will not completely destroy all nations. Many of them will be swept away. For those who wilfully rejected the gospel and turned away from the truth, there is no hope. But there are others which will be left and when these judgments are in the earth, the nations learn righteousness. The millennium is also seen in this chapter in the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar and in the praise He gives to the Most High. In the previous chapter the three friends of Daniel speak of "our God," but in this chapter we hear of "the Most High." It is the millennial name of God. We see then in the fourth chapter the pride and self exaltation of the Gentiles, and how the Gentiles will be humiliated and judged. First there is self exaltation, that is followed by judgment, and then follows restoration and the acknowledgement of the Most High. That nothing more is now reported of Nebuchadnezzar, that the last which we hear of him in Scripture is his acknowledgment of the Most High, is also not without meaning. It foreshadows the universal acknowledgment of God in the kingdom which the God of heaven will set up, when the stone fills as the mountain the whole earth.
1. Belshazzar's licentious feast (5:1-4)
2. The writing on the wall (5:5-9)
3. Forgotten Daniel (5:10-16)
4. The message of Daniel (5:17-31)
This feast of wickedness and blasphemy needs no further annotations. But it shows the great decline morally in the great Babylonian empire. Nebuchadnezzar, no doubt, had handled the golden vessels of the house of the Lord most carefully. He had stored them away, fearing to misuse them. The grandson sent for these vessels to drink out of them wine with his harlots and to praise his idols. Verses 5-9. A mysterious finger then wrote over against the candlestick on the wall. The king saw plainly the part of the hand that wrote. The feast of licentiousness became suddenly a feast of gloom and consternation. Nor could the astrologers and wise men read the writing which had appeared on the wall. Verses 10-16. At this point the queen, the aged widow of Nebuchadnezzar, appeared on the scene and called attention to an old man, who played such an important part during the reign of her husband. Daniel is sent for. Verses 17-31. Daniel refused the honors of the king. He knew that ere long the blaspheming king would be no more. And Daniel was more than an interpreter of the handwriting on the wall. He is God's prophet and messenger, as a reading of this portion of the chapter shows. This chapter reveals the blasphemous character of the end of the Babylonian monarchy. Blasphemy, rejection of God's truth are about us on all sides. There is a "Mene, Mene, Tekel" for apostate Christendom and for that final phase of Babylon as revealed in Rev. 17 and 18.
Under Darius the Mede and Daniel in the Lion's Den
1. The decree of Darius (6:1-9)
2. Daniel's faith and steadfastness (6:10-15)
3. Daniel cast into the lion's den and the deliverance (6:16-24)
4. The Decree of Darius (6:25-28)
From the opening of this chapter we learn that Daniel also held a very high position in the beginning of the second monarchy, which had conquered Babylonia. He was preferred above all the other presidents and princes. This created jealousy. They devised a very cunning plan and made the king sign a decree, which they were sure Daniel would break. Inasmuch as the law of the Persians and Medes was irrevocable they were sure that the hated old man would be cast into the lion's den.
It is a beautiful scene. When Daniel knew the decree had been signed, he went calmly back into his house and with his windows open towards Jerusalem he prayed and gave thanks to the Lord. He looked away from earthly circumstances and looked to the Omnipotent One. The accusation followed. The king now discovers that he is in a desperate condition. His law demands that Daniel be cast to the lions, but his heart filled with love for Daniel would have liked to save him, but he found no way of delivering him. Well may we think here of another law and another love. God, a holy and righteous God and a God of love, found a way to save man. God's holy law condemns man, who is a sinner and the curse of the law rests upon him. God's love is set upon the world, and He "so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The curse of the law came upon Him who knew no sin and who was made sin for us, and therein is love manifested. Daniel is cast into the lions' den as our blessed Lord was given to the lion (Psalm 22:21), and a stone is laid upon the mouth of the den and it is sealed with the king's signet. He is so to speak in a grave, as good as dead in the eyes of the world, for who has ever heard of hungry lions not devouring a man. And all this brings before us that other place, the tomb in the garden, where He was laid and the stone before it, which bore the seal of the Roman world power. But as Daniel could not be hurt by the lions, so He who went into the jaws of death could not be holden by death. The tomb is empty and He is victor over death and the grave. All this is blessedly foreshadowed in this experience of God's prophet. The Lord in whom Daniel trusted and whom he served delivered him from the lions. His accusers and their families were given to the ferocious beasts, which devoured them at once.
King Darius also acknowledged the God of Daniel. The final characteristic of the times of the Gentiles is man worship. The heads of these empires including the Roman Caesars claimed divine honors. Papal Rome also puts up man as the viceregent of the Lord. And all about us we find the deification of man. Finally there comes the head of all this apostasy, the son of perdition, the man of sin, who demands worship for himself (2 Thessalonians 2).
II. THE GREAT PROPHECIES OF DANIEL
1. The night vision of the three beasts (7:1-6)
2. The night vision of the fourth beast (7:7-8)
3. The judgment vision (7:9-12)
4. The son of man and His kingdom (7:13-14)
5. The interpretation of the visions given (7:15-28)
The sea in the vision is the type of nations (Rev. 17:15). The three first beasts he saw represented the same great monarchies which were shown to Nebuchadnezzar in his dream by the gold, silver and brass. The lion Daniel saw first rising out of the sea stands for the Babylonian empire symbolized by the lion (Jer. 4:7). The plucking of the wings and the man's heart must refer to Nebuchadnezzar's insanity and restoration (chapter 4). The bear is the emblem of the Medo-Persian monarchy (corresponding to the chest of silver in the image). One side of the bear was raised up, higher than the other, because the Persian element was the strongest. The three ribs denote the conquest of three provinces by this power. The leopard with four heads and wings is the picture of the great Alexandrine empire, the Graeco-Macedonian (corresponding to the belly and thighs of brass in the image). The four wings denote its swiftness, the four heads the partition of this empire into the kingdoms of Syria, Egypt, Macedonia and Asia Minor. It is seen in the next chapter as the rough he-goat with a notable horn (Alexander the Great) and the little horn (Antiochus Epiphanes). The fourth beast was not seen in the first vision. Before we turn to the second night vision of the prophet we call attention to the fact that in the selection of beasts to represent these world powers who domineer the times of the Gentiles, God tells us that their moral character is beastly. The lion devours, the bear crushes, the leopard springs upon its prey.
This represents Rome, corresponding to the two legs of iron and the ten horns with the little horn between has the same meaning as the ten toes on the feet of the image. The little horn we find more fully mentioned in another portion of this chapter. Thus the prophet beheld the same monarchies revealed in the second chapter under the emblem of ferocious beasts. Such the nations are and in their standards and national emblems they have borne witness to their beastly characters. Notice also here the same process of deterioration as in the image. The monarchies degenerate from lion to bear, from bear to leopard and then into a great nondescript.
This vision brings us to the close of the times of the Gentiles. When the fourth beast with the ten horns and the little horn, the last thing spoken of this world empire, is in full swing, then the end comes. It is a great judgment scene which is here before us. How different the end of this age as revealed in the Word and as it is believed in Christendom. The great mass knows nothing whatever about this age coming to an end. It will go on indefinitely, so they believe, and its future is world progress, better times and the triumph of the Christian civilization. But others concede that a judgment must come and they think of the judgment here as the universal judgment, the great white throne judgment. This judgment is not the last judgment at all. It is a judgment which precedes the final judgment by 1,000 years. This judgment here must be read in connection with passages like Matthew 25:31-46 and Rev. 19:19-21. In reading the last passage no one can doubt that we have the same judgment here revealed to Daniel. But who is the one who occupies the central place in this vision of judgment? There can be but one answer. It is our ever blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. John 5:22 gives the conclusive answer: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." The Ancient of Days is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is still more demonstrated if we turn to John's great Patmos vision.
These words are so plain that every Christian knows what they mean. They describe the second coming of Christ and the kingdom He then receives from the Father's hands. If this passage were more considered, Christians would stop speaking about the kingdom now. No kingdom till Christ comes again. Both the judgment vision and the vision of His coming to receive the kingdom correspond to the stone which smites the image and as a mountain fills the whole earth.
First, Daniel hears about the four beasts. But there is a significant statement in verse 18, the saints of the Most High receiving the kingdom. Who are the Saints of the Most High? The fact that the term "Most High" is in the plural and may also be translated with "the most high or heavenly places" has led some expositors to say that the saints are the same who are seen in the Epistle to the Ephesians in which "the heavenly places" are repeatedly mentioned: in other words, the saints which compose the Church. It is true the Church will be with the Lord in Glory and "we shall reign over the earth," but this does not necessarily mean that the saints here represent the Church. There are other saints besides "Church saints." The saints of whom Daniel was thinking were his own beloved people. To that people is promised a kingdom in the days of the Messiah. With Him, the Lord in glory, there is a heavenly people, so as Messiah and the Son of Man in connection with the earth He has an earthly people, saints which will receive and possess with Him that kingdom which will fill the whole earth. These saints are the Godfearing Jews, who pass through the great tribulation and inherit the blessings and promises which God gave through their own prophets. Another important matter is the little horn of whom now Daniel hears more fully. The ten horns are kings and the little horn in their midst will be the final imperial head of the revived Roman empire, that world domineering person of whom we read repeatedly in the Word of God. He must be distinguished from another one, the personal anti-Christ, the man of sin and son of perdition. In Revelation the revived Roman Empire is seen in chapter 13:1-10, and the second beast which John saw rising from the sea is the false Christ having two horns like a lamb but speaking like a dragon (Rev. 13:11, etc.) A closer study of these coming leaders of the end time is needed to understand the details; here we but point the way. Our larger work on Daniel will give help on all these chapters.
The Ram and the He-Goat
1. The vision (8:1-14)
2. The interpretation of the vision (8:15-27)
Beginning with this chapter to the end of the book prophecy will lead us mostly upon Jewish ground. While some of these prophecies were fulfilled in the past, most of them are related to the future when the great end fulfillment takes place before the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven to receive the kingdom. The phrases "the latter times," "the time of the end," "in the last end of the indignation," appear several times in these chapters. These phrases describe the same period of time mentioned in the seventh chapter, "a time, times and dividing of times; " the 1,260 days or 42 months in the book of Revelation. It is the great tribulation which is recorded in the last chapter of this book. The time and place of the vision in this chapter are given in the beginning.
The ram, according to divine interpretation (verses 15, etc.), is the Medo-Persian monarchy--the silver kingdom, the kingdom also typified by the bear. The he-goat with a notable horn is the Graeco- Macedonian monarchy and the notable horn is Alexander the Great. In 334 B. C., Alexander leaped like a swift he-goat across the Hellespont and fought his successful battles, then pushed on to the banks of the Indus and the Nile and then onward to Shushan.
The great battles of the Granicus, Issus and Arbella were fought, and he stamped the power of Persia and its King, Darius Codomannus, to the ground. He conquered rapidly Syria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Tyre, Gaza, Egypt, Babylonia, Persia. In 329 he conquered Bactria, crossed the Oxus and Jaxaitis and defeated the Scythians. And thus he stamped upon the ram after having broken its horns. But when the he goat had waxed very great, the great horn was broken. This predicted the early and sudden death of Alexander the Great. He died after a reign of 12 years and eight months, after a career of drunkenness and debauchery in 323 B.C. He died when he was but 32 years old. Then four notable ones sprang up in the place of the broken horn. This too has been fulfilled, for the empire of Alexander was divided into four parts. Four of the great generals of Alexander made the division namely, Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Ptolemy. The four great divisions were, Syria, Egypt, Macedonia and Asia Minor. Then a little horn appeared out of one of these divisions; it sprung up out of Syria. This little horn is of course not the little horn mentioned in the previous chapter, for the little horn in Daniel 7 has its place in connection with the fourth beast (Rome), while this one comes from a division of the third beast, the Graeco-Macedonian monarchy. History does not leave us in doubt of how and when this great prophetic vision was fulfilled. This little horn is the eighth king of the Seleucid dynasty. He is known by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes; after his wild and wicked deeds he was called Epiphanes, the madman. Long before he invaded the pleasant land (Israel 's land), Daniel saw what he would do. He conquered Jerusalem. He took away the daily sacrifice in the temple and offered a swine and swine's blood upon the altar. He introduced idol worship, devastated the whole land and killed some 100,000 Jews.
In verses 13-14 is an angelic conversation. The 2,300 days (literal days) cover just about the period of time during which Antiochus did his wicked deeds. When they were ended Judas Maccabaeus cleansed the sanctuary about December 25, 165 B.C. We believe these 2,300 days are therefore literal days and have found their literal fulfillment in the dreadful days of this wicked king from the north. There is no other meaning attached to these days and the foolish speculations that these days are years, etc., lacks scriptural foundation altogether. Such views and fanciful interpretations bring the study of prophecy into disrepute. We have special reference to the Seventh Day Adventist delusion. They teach the abominable falsehood that the Lord Jesus Christ did not enter into the Holiest till the year 1844 had been reached, because this is according to their reckoning 2,300 years after Cyrus had issued the command to build the temple. That this is a denial of the gospel itself and satanic is self-evident. Verses 15-27. Gabriel is the interpreter of the whole vision. It should be carefully studied. It points to a future fulfillment. Gabriel told Daniel that the vision has a special meaning for the time of the end. Four different expressions are used to denote the time of the final fulfillment of the vision:
(1) "The time of the end" (8:17);
(2) "The last end of the indignation" (8:19);
(3) "The latter time of their kingdom" (8:23);
(4) "When the transgressors are come to the full" (8:23).
Once more, at the close of the age, before the Lord comes in visible glory, in the days of the great tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble, an invasion from the north takes place. Israel's land will once more undergo the horrors of a devastation, foreshadowed by Antiochus Epiphanes. The king of the north, as he is also called in Isaiah's prophecy, "the Assyrian," will do this work. For details and other prophecies relating to this coming event see our exposition of Daniel, pages 102-118.
The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
1. The time and occasion of Daniel's prayer (9:1-2)
2. The prayer (9:3-19)
3. The answer and the prophecy of the seventy weeks (9:20-27)
It was in the first year of Darius, of the seed of the Medes, that Daniel understood by the sacred writings of his people, especially by the prophecy of Jeremiah, that the end of the years of the captivity was at hand. The promises in the Word of God led him at once to seek the face of the Lord and he poured out a wonderful prayer in His presence.
It has three parts: Verses 4-10: Confession of the failure of his people and acknowledgment of God's covenant mercies. Verses 11-14: The deserved curse as written in the law of Moses. Verses 15-19: Pleadings for mercy to turn away His anger and to remember His city, Jerusalem and His people. Throughout this prayer we read how completely he identified himself with the sins, the failure, the shame and the judgment of the people of God. This is remarkable. As we have seen from the first chapter, he was brought to Babylon when quite young and belonged even then to the believing, God fearing element of the nation. Yet he speaks of the nation's sins, their rebellion, their transgressions of the law and their wicked deeds as if they belonged to him. Of all the Bible characters Daniel appears as the purest. The failures of Abraham, Moses, Aaron, David and others are recorded, but Daniel appears with no flaw whatever in his character. As far as the record goes he was a perfect man. Of course he too was "a man of like passions" as we are, and as such a sinner. Yet this devoted and aged servant with such a record of loyalty to God and to His laws confesses all the people's sins and the curse and shame, which came upon them, as His own.
The prayer was not ended. How near heaven is may be learned from verses 20-32. Heaven is not far away, for there is no space and no distance with God. When Daniel began his confession and humiliation the Lord called Gabriel and instructed him what he should tell the praying prophet, and then Gabriel was caused to fly swiftly through the immeasurable space, and before Daniel ever reached the "Amen" the messenger stood before him and stopped his prayer. What blessed assurance! The moment we pray in the Spirit and in His Name our voices are heard in the highest heaven. We give a corrected text of the great prophecy, perhaps the greatest in the entire prophetic Word.
Seventy weeks are apportioned out upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins, and to cover iniquity, and to bring in the righteousness of the ages, and to seal the vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies. Know therefore and understand: From the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem unto Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. The street and the wall shall be built again, even in troublous times. And after the sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with overflow, and unto the end war, the desolations determined. And he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease and because of the protection of abominations there shall be a desolator, even until the consummation and what is determined shall be poured out upon the desolator (verses 24-27).
The literal translation of the term "seventy weeks" is "seventy-sevens." Now, this word "sevens" translated "weeks" may mean "days" and it may mean "years." What then is meant here, seventy times seven days or seventy times seven years? It is evident that the "sevens" mean year weeks, seven years to each prophetic week. Daniel was occupied in reading the books and in prayer with the seventy years of Babylonian captivity. And now Gabriel is going to reveal to him something which will take place in "seventy-sevens," which means seventy times seven years. The proof that such is the case is furnished by the fulfillment of the prophecy itself Now seventy-seven years makes 490 years. What is to be accomplished. Verse 24 gives the great things which are to be accomplished during these seventy-year weeks or 490 years. They are the following:
(1) To finish the transgression;
(2) To make an end of sins;
(3) To cover iniquity;
(4) To bring in the righteousness of ages;
(5) To seal the vision and prophet;
(6) To anoint the Holy of Holies.
It must be borne in mind that these things concern exclusively Daniel's people and not Gentiles but the holy city Jerusalem. It is clear that the finishing of transgression, the end of sins and the covering of iniquity has a special meaning for Israel as a nation. Now, these seventy year-weeks are divided into three parts. The first part consists in seven weeks, that is seven times seven, 49 years. During these 49 years the street and the wall of Jerusalem was to be rebuilt and the complete restoration accomplished. The reckoning of this time begins in the month Nisan, 445 B.C., when the command was given (Nehemiah 2). Then follows the second division consisting of 62 weeks of years, that is sixty-two times seven, 434 years. At the close of these 434 years, or 483 years reckoned from the month Nisan in 445 B. C., Messiah the Prince should be cut off and have nothing. Messiah the Prince is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Here then is a startling prediction of the death of Christ, the Messiah rejected by His people and not receiving the kingdom which belongs to Him as the Son of David. The sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, expired on the day our Lord rode into Jerusalem for the last time; during that week He was crucified. (For full proof see The Coming Prince, by Anderson, and our book on the Prophet Daniel.) Then we have a remarkable prediction concerning the fate of Jerusalem after the nation rejected the Lord Jesus Christ: "And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with an overflow, and unto the end war, the desolations determined." Who is "the prince that shall come?" Expositors have erred seriously in making of this prince the Lord Jesus Christ. This prince is not our Lord. It is the little horn predicted in Daniel 7 to rise out of the Roman Empire in the time of the end, when the Roman Empire is revived politically and has its ten horns. Therefore "the people of the prince that shall come" are the Roman people. Here then is a prediction that the Romans were to take the city and burn the sanctuary. How literally this has been fulfilled! And all this was revealed when the Roman Empire was not yet in existence. Such are the marvels of divine prophecy. After that there are to be wars and desolations for Jerusalem and the Jewish people. It is the same that our Lord predicted when He said: "They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations" (Luke 21:24). But all this leaves seven years, that is one week, unaccounted for. We have up to now 483 years, and there are to be 490 years. The last week of seven years is still future. The course of the Jewish age was interrupted. It is an unfinished age. Between the 483 years which ended when the nation rejected the Lord of Glory and the beginning of the last seven years of the Jewish age, this last year-week is this present age, the unreckoned period of time during which God does His great work in sending forth the gospel of His grace to the Gentile nations, to gather out of them a people for His Name. This age of grace is still on but it will end some day when God's purpose is accomplished. Then the true Church will be gathered home to glory and the Lord will turn again to His people Israel and the last week of Daniel will pass into history. During these seven years the Prince that shall come, the little horn of Daniel 7, will enter into a covenant with the Jewish people. Not with all of them, for there is a remnant of godly Jews who will not accept this one (indicated by the expression the many"--see correct translation). In the middle of the week he breaks that covenant and the result will be the great tribulation, the time, times and half of a time, 1,260 days, 42 months of Daniel 7 and Rev. 13. When this great tribulation ends the Lord Jesus Christ comes back and the great things mentioned in verse 24 will be accomplished.
THE SEVENTY PROPHETIC YEAR WEEKS OF DANIEL'S PROPHECY
The Preparation for the Final Prophecy
This chapter contains the preface to the final great prophecies as found in the last two chapters of this book. The certain man who appeared unto Daniel at the banks of the river Hiddekel (Tigris) was the Lord. Compare with Revelation 1, where John, the beloved disciple, beheld Him in a vision of glory. Daniel's vision is a pre-incarnation vision of the same One whom John beheld after His resurrection and in His glorified humanity. The delayed answer by the angelic messenger is explained by the power of darkness. A powerful demon-prince, a satanic agency, having control over Persia, so that he claimed the title the prince of Persia, kept back the answer. Then the prophet was strengthened.
The Wars of the Ptolemies and Seleucidae Predicted
The Coming Events of the End
1. The wars of the Ptolemies and Seleucidae (11:1-35)
2. The time of the end and the man of sin (11:36-45)
Here we have history pre-written and the greater part of this chapter (verses 2-35) is fulfilled historically. So accurate are these predictions and their subsequent fulfillment that the enemies of "the Scripture of truth" have declared that it could never have been written by Daniel several hundred years before these persons came into existence and fought their battles.
The pagan Porphyry in the third century in his "Treatise against Christians" bitterly attacked the belief that Daniel wrote these predictions. He argued that all was written after the events had taken place. The same arguments are used by the critics. Such is this most subtle infidelity that it can make use of the statements of a poor heathen in opposition to the divine revelation. The prophecies given here were minutely fulfilled during the years 301 B.C., to 168 B.C. History verifies everything. The history covers a good part of the Persian and Graeco-Macedonian Empires, but mostly the wars of the Ptolemies and Seleucidae. Artaxerxes, Darius, Alexander the Great, Ptolemy Lagris, the King of the South, Ptolemy Euergetes, Seleucus Calinicus, Ptolemy Philopater, Antiochus Epiphanes, even the Roman fleet (the ships of Chittim), all enter into this prophecy. A detailed exposition of the prophecy and its fulfillment would fill many pages. Before we pass on we desire to say again that all in these verses we have briefly followed has been historically fulfilled.
We point out a mistake in which some have fallen. In verse 31 we read of "the abomination that maketh desolate." Our Lord in His Olivet discourse (Matthew 24:15) said: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand)." Some believe that when our Lord spoke these words he referred to Daniel 11:31, and that this is the abomination of desolation. This is not quite correct. The abomination that maketh desolate of verse 31 is past and happened in the days of the atrocities committed by Antiochus Epiphanes. The abomination of desolation to which our Lord refers is mentioned in chapter 12:11, and it points, as we shall find later, to the abomination set up by the Antichrist, the second beast, in the middle of the week. The typical meaning of Antiochus Epiphanes and his crimes in the land of Judea and against Jerusalem we have already learned in connection with chapter 8.
The time of the end is mentioned in verse 35. What is to befall Daniel's people in the latter days as Daniel was told in chapter 10:14 is now revealed. Between verses 35 and 36 we must put a long and unreckoned period of time. Antiochus Epiphanes and the victorious Maccabees end the historical fulfillment of the predictions of the great prophecies in the first part of this chapter, and since then over 2,000 years have come and gone and the fulfillment of verses 36-45 have not yet been. First we read of a wilful king. Who is this king so fully pictured in verses 36-45? Many expositors of Daniel apply this passage to Antiochus Epiphanes because they see not the important interval which exists between verses 35 and 36. However, a closer examination of the description of this king shows that he cannot be Antiochus. He is another person altogether, and as we shall see later, will be a Jew and assume kingly honors in the midst of the Jewish people. Antiochus was a Gentile. Others again identify this King with the first beast in Revelation 13, and say that the head of the revived Roman Empire, one like Napoleon the First is meant, while others see here a reference to the pope in Rome. And whether the head of the Roman power, or the pope, or perhaps Mohammed, the term "Antichrist" is freely applied to each. Those who see the papacy here and the Romish corruption make some startling applications which are extremely fanciful.
The wilful king is the Antichrist. The Jewish people rejected their King, the Messiah, who came to His own, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord told the Jews: "I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (John 5:43). This other one has not yet come. We have his photograph here. He appears in Israel's land in the time of the end as a counterfeit Messiah and takes also the place of king in their midst. This wilful king, the personal Antichrist who deceives the apostate mass of the Jewish people, is repeatedly mentioned in the Old Testament prophetic Word. Isaiah speaks of him and his end (Isa. 30:33, 57:9). Zechariah calls him "the idol shepherd" (Zech. 11:15-17). He is repeatedly mentioned in the Psalms as "the wicked man"--"the man of the earth"-- "the bloody and deceitful man." In the book of Revelation he appears as the second beast out of the land (Palestine) (Rev. 13:11-17). The two horns like a lamb as he is described there show clearly that he imitates Christ. He has the spirit of the dragon and appears as a religious leader, for this reason he is also called "the false prophet" in the book of Revelation (chapters 16:13, 19:20, 20:10). In the New Testament he is called in the writings of John "the Antichrist". (See 1 John 2:18-22, 4:3; 2 John 7).
Another great prophecy of the same person is found in 2 Thess. 2, where he is called "the man of sin, the son of perdition." The early Church believed that this evil person will be a real man, a Jew, and be energized by Satan. That he is the papal system or something else was invented later. In verses 40-45 we have a prophecy of the wars and conflicts during the time of the end. The false king, Israel's false Messiah, the Antichrist, plays an important part in these conflicts. Then there are the kings of the south and of the north. The king of the south comes out of Egypt. His antagonist is the king of the north. The king of the south will be overthrown by the powerful king of the North, the same who is typified by the Antiochus Epiphanes. (Read about this invasion in Joel 2 and Zechariah 14.) While the king of the north and his proud hosts are thus overthrown by the army of the Lord, what becomes of the wilful king, the Antichrist in the city? The king of the north cannot touch him.
But the Lord Himself will deal with that wicked one. "Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (2 Thess. 2:8). Thus ends the great conflict of the time of the end. The eternal abode of the satanic instruments of the time of the end, the beast, that coming prince, the Antichrist and the king of the north will be the lake of fire.
The Great Tribulation and Israel's Deliverance
"And at that time." What time? The time of the end, the time of trouble such as never was before; the same time to which our Lord refers in Matthew 24:21. Michael, the great prince which standeth for the Jewish people, is now also mentioned again. He will stand up and take a leading part in the events of that time. From the book of Revela- tion we learn (chapter 12) that there will be war in heaven, that is where Satan has his dominion now as the prince of the power of the air. Michael, assisted by his angels, will cast out the great dragon, the devil and his angels. They will be forced down to the earth. Then when Satan and his angels are cast out the great tribulation will be instituted (Rev. 12:12). Michael will stand up in another sense and take a definite part in the deliverance of Daniel's people. It is not fully revealed what that will be. The deliverance of which we read in these verses and the awakening of those "who sleep in the dust of the earth" has likewise been grossly misinterpreted. Because expositors have not seen the application of all this to the Jews in their future history in the land, they have read the church in here, and even what they term a general resurrection on a general judgment day. But we shall see now what is meant by the deliverance of Daniel's people. Physical resurrection (as so often stated: a general resurrection) is not taught in the second verse. Physical resurrection is used as a figure of the national revival of Israel in that day. They have been sleeping nationally in the dust of the earth, buried among the Gentiles. But at that time there will take place a national restoration, a bringing together of the house of Judah and of Israel. It is the same figure as used in the vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. This vision is employed by the men, who have invented the theory of a second chance and larger hope for the wicked dead to back up their evil teaching, but anyone can see that it concerns not the Gentiles but the Jewish people and that it is not a bodily resurrection, but a national revival and restoration of that people. Their national graves, not literal burying places, will be opened and the Lord will bring them forth out of all the countries into which they have been scattered. There will be two classes, the godly and the ungodly. The ungodly accept the false Messiah, and in their national revival, shame and everlasting contempt awaits them, while the others, the godly, will enjoy life in the kingdom. The wise in verse 3 are the Jewish teachers and witnesses in the end time, those which compose the godly remnant. A special reward will be theirs during the kingdom, they shall shine as the stars forever. The same holds good, only in a higher sense for all those who are witnesses for Him during this age, who are faithful to Christ. Then Daniel is addressed and beholds angels once more, as well Him who appeared clothed in linen, none other than the Lord. Then Daniel asked his final question. Verses 11-12 have puzzled many readers of the book. Different theories are given. But what is the meaning of these 1,290 and 1,335 days? Can there be anything plainer than the fact that these 1,290 and 1,335 days are literal days? Who authorizes us to make of these days years? By what process of exposition are we to arrive at the conclusion that "days" mean "years?" It is worse than folly to do that. Now, the great tribulation lasts for 1,260 days. But here we have 30 days or a whole month added. The Lord will be manifested at the close of the great tribulation of 1,260 days, 3-1/2 years. Matthew 24:29-31 teaches us this. The extra month will in all probability be needed to make possible certain judgment events especially with the overthrow of the nations which came against Jerusalem and the judgment of nations as given in Matthew 25:31. We cannot speak dogmatically on all this. But certain it is that 1,335 days after the Antichristian abomination had been set up in Jerusalem, that is, 75 days, or 2-1/2 months beyond the time of the great tribulation, the full blessing for Israel and the establishment of the glorious rule of Israel's King, the once rejected Lord Jesus Christ, will have come, for it is written, "Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand, three hundred and five and thirty days." This is as far as any teacher can safely go, and here we would rest.