Introduction to Daniel

By James M. Rochford

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Authorship and Date

The book claims to have been written by the prophet Daniel (Dan. 7:28; 8:1, 15, 27; 9:2; 10:2, 7; 12:5; see “Authorship of Daniel”), probably around the year 530 BC.

Major themes in Daniel

The sovereignty of God. Archer writes, “The basic theme of this work is the overruling sovereignty of the one true God, who condemns and destroys the rebellious world power and faithfully delivers His covenant people according to their steadfast faith in Him.”[1] Miller concurs, “Without doubt the principal theological focus of the book is the sovereignty of God. Every page reflects the author’s conviction that his God was the Lord of individuals, nations, and all of history.”[2]

God’s concern for the faithful remnant. Even though Israel is exiled, God still shows concern for the people. He answers Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 by promising to bring the Jewish people back from conquest after Jeremiah’s predicted 70 years (Dan. 9:2).

God’s promise of the Messiah. We see this in Daniel 7:13-14 and 9:24-27.

Spiritual warfare. In Daniel, we see a window into the spiritual battles that surround us between angels and demons.

Prayer. Daniel’s prayers show a deep closeness with God. This might account for how Daniel has such a strong faith over the years.

Teaching Rotation

We are going to teach the narrative portions of Daniel as a unit. Then, we are finished, we will return to teach the prophetic portions.

Week 1: Read “Introduction to Daniel,” “Authorship of Daniel,” and Daniel 1.

Week 2: Daniel 2, 7, and 8. Consider using relevant chapters from Endless Hope or Hopeless End (ch.5 and ch.15).

Week 3: Daniel 3 and 4.

Week 4: Daniel 5 and 6.

Week 5: Daniel 9. Read chapters 7 & 8 from Evidence Unseen, or prepare your own study.

Week 6: Daniel 10-12.

Daniel 1 (How to Thrive in Babylon)

(1:1) The year is 605 BC (“third year of the reign of Jehoiakim”).[3] Immediately the reader senses that the theological train has come off the tracks: How could a Pagan king overpower God’s people?

Jehoiakim took power in Judah in 609 BC (2 Kin. 23:34-24:6). Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Egypt and began attacking Israel in 605 BC. After a long siege, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in July of 586 BC (2 Kin. 25:2-3; Jer. 39:2; 52:5-7).

(1:2) Is Paganism greater than biblical theism? Is falsehood greater than truth? Right from the beginning, Daniel writes that God was sovereign over all of this. He opens the book noting that it was “the Lord [who] gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand” (Dan. 1:2).

Nebuchadnezzar would take trophies of the goods and booty from his conquered enemies. This was like his trophy palace of all the people he’d wiped out.

McCallum humorously says, “You’ve heard of The Raiders of the Lost Ark? Yeah, this is the guy who lost it.”

(1:3) Nebuchadnezzar didn’t wipe out everyone. He handpicked many of the young Jewish boys from the aristocracy of Israel.

(1:4) Nebuchadnezzar picked only the best and the brightest. He wanted these young men to serve him—perhaps being viceroys in Israel (“who had ability for serving in the king’s court”). Nebuchadnezzar was a savvy king. He took some of the young Israelite men into his company to brainwash them into being Babylonian viceroys (vv.3-4). These type of viceroys would be ideal, because they would know all of the culture, customs, and language of Israel, while working for Babylon. Instead of having to train a Babylonian to do this, they could just brainwash some of Israel’s young boys (i.e. like the “Hitler Youth”).

Nebuchadnezzar would brainwash the boys with a Babylonian worldview and with the Babylonian culture (“teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans”). Archer writes, “Babylonian religion had always required a thorough knowledge of Sumerian literature—religious, magical, astrological, and scientific.”[4]

 (1:5) Next, Nebuchadnezzar would “sweeten the pot” by giving these young men the best food and wine from the king’s courts. This indoctrination process would last for three years.

(1:6) Imagine what it would’ve been like to be marched into Babylon! John Lennox explains some of the remarkable features of Babylon:

Babylon was a spectacular city, in a completely different category from anything a young man from Judah could ever have seen or even imagined. It was in fact the largest city in the world at the time, covering over 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres).[5]

The vast tower in which the gate was set was covered with brilliantly sparkling ceramic tiles of deep blue, adorned with the alternating motif of white and yellow lions, dragons and yellow bulls. It was very striking: built with a view to impressing all who entered with the power, wealth, architectural brilliance and permanence of the Babylonian empire and, above all, the glorious majesty of Emperor Nebuchadnezzar himself.[6]

That ancient tower had long since crumbled to dust and been replaced with something that had taken a hundred years to build. Its seven lofty [stories] towered nearly 100 metres above street level, and it was probably the nearest the ancient world got to building a skyscraper.[7]

Many other magnificent buildings lined the Processional Way. Notable among them was Nebuchadnezzar’s palace just west of the Ishtar gate, whose Sumerian name meant “The House the Marvel of Mankind”. Its throne room was spectacular and designed to inspire any visitor with awe, indeed fear, of the emperor.[8]

Its roof gardens were one of the seven so-called wonders of the ancient world. They had been designed, so the story goes, to make Nebuchadnezzar’s country-born wife feel more at home, by dint of landscaping part of the city to look like her birthplace. Their actual appearance remains a matter of imaginative speculation that forms the subject of many paintings.[9]

Babylon was far more than a religious centre. It was a commercial and intellectual hub as well. Many of its temples had substantial libraries; and there were centres devoted to the study of law, astronomy and astrology, architecture, engineering, medicine, and art. In modern terms, it was a thriving university city.[10]

In its day, Babylon dominated the ancient world. The ancient historian Herodotus stated that the walls of Babylon were fourteen miles long, 300 feet tall, and 75 feet thick.[11] More than 50 temples filled the inside of the city. Builders constructed the central 280 foot tall ziggurat with seventeen metric tons of gold.[12]

Lennox asks what these young Hebrew boys must’ve been thinking as they walked into this grandiose city. How could followers of a false philosophy and false religious system achieve such great heights? Is this evidence that their god was real, and the Hebrew God was false?[13]

(1:6-7) The king chose Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Part of the indoctrination process was to rename them:[14]

Daniel (“God is my judge”) became Belteshazzar (“protect his life” or “protect the king”).

Hananiah (“the Lord is gracious”) became Shadrach (“command of Aku”).

Mishael (“who is what God is?”) became Meshach (“Who is like Aku—the moon-god… though the meaning is uncertain—see NET notes).

Azariah (“the Lord has helped”) became Abednego (“servant of Nego”).

Lennox comments, “This name-changing was no innocent action. It was an early attempt at social engineering, with the objective of obliterating inconvenient distinctions and homogenizing people, so that they would be easier to control. Throughout history such attempts have often been marked by the undermining of human dignity. A contemporary example of this phenomenon is political correctness which, though originally intended to avoid offence, has become an intolerant suppressor of open and honest public discussion.”[15]

(1:8) Daniel “made up his mind” to resist this indoctrination. He made a thoughtful, principled decision not to give in.

Rather than being a rigid fundamentalist, Daniel sought out compromise as far as he could—without compromising his spiritual convictions. He opened up a dialogue with the commander of the officials to discuss this.

Why wouldn’t Daniel and his friends eat the food and drink the wine? Some have suggested that this broke from Levitical laws about clean and unclean foods (Lev. 3:17; 11:1-47). However, the OT law never prohibits the drinking of wine (except in the case of the Nazarite vow).

Joyce Baldwin suggests that Daniel was avoiding table fellowship, and he was trying to avoid the “subtle flattery of gifts and favours which entailed hidden implications of loyal support.”[16] This seems odd, because the OT never prohibits Jews having table fellowship with Gentiles. Moreover, the text never says Daniel removed himself from the Babylonians’ company. He merely ate different forms of food.

The refusal of the wine was probably due to idolatrous practices. Belshazzar toasted the wine to pagan gods (Dan. 5:4). Idolatry must be in view here then. Daniel was fine with learning about Paganism, but he refused to participate in Pagan practices. Lennox writes, “It would surely be almost incredible if the University of Babylon, permeated as it was with idolatry, did not have pagan rituals at meal times. There would have been constant offerings and toasts to the gods.”[17] Archer writes, “Only these four, however, had the courage to observe the dietary laws of the Torah (cf. Lev 11; Deut 14), which forbade Jews to eat unclean foods. Probably most of the meat items on the menu were taken from animals sacrificed to the patron gods of Babylon (Marduk, Nebo, and Ishtar, for example), and no doubt the wine from the king’s table (v.5) had first been part of the libation to these deities. Therefore even those portions of food and drink not inherently unclean had been tainted by contact with pagan cultic usage.”[18]

(1:9) The narrator “breaks the four wall” and tells us that God was pleased with what Daniel did (cf. Ps. 106:46). This wasn’t just pragmatic thinking on Daniel’s behalf. Instead, God supported Daniel’s tactful and tactical approach.

(1:10) Babylonians placed a high premium on the way politicians looked. Daniel’s boss (the commander) wouldn’t just lose his job if the boys looked haggard. He would lose his life!

(1:11-13) Daniel suggests a controlled trial.

(1:14) Daniel’s overseer must’ve liked Daniel and his friends, because he was willing to negotiate this situation. Since Daniel was a hard worker and a good man, the overseer was willing to negotiate with him.

(1:17) God honored this approach. They weren’t just better looking, but they had greater understanding than their peers. Lennox writes, “We should take careful note, however, that Daniel did not protest against the education in the University of Babylon as such. He clearly devoted himself to it, and we can well imagine that he enjoyed his university course. He and his friends put such energy into the learning of the languages, literature, philosophy, science, economics, history, and so on, that they were star pupils and ended up with the top distinctions, far ahead of the rest. Daniel did not protest as an observer outside the system: he protested as a participant.”[19]

(1:18-19) Nebuchadnezzar could see for himself how wise and sharp these young boys were. Nebuchadnezzar hires all four of them to serve in his personal service.

(1:20) The boys were ten times stronger in wisdom and knowledge than any of their contemporaries in the royal academy.

(1:21) Already, we have another allusion to God’s sovereign power. When we began this chapter, Daniel and his friends probably stood slack-jawed at the opulence and power of Babylon. Nothing could seem to be more powerful than this great Empire. Yet the author tells us that Daniel would reign until the Persian King Cyrus (539 BC). In other words, Daniel would outlive the kingdom of Babylon!

Application

As believers in a foreign territory, we should look to stay undercover and work with the secular government as much as we can. Daniel doesn’t try to overthrow the government. Instead, he tries to be as diplomatic and flexible as possible, without denying his spiritual and moral convictions.

Daniel shows us a powerful example of what it means to fear God more than people—even the king of Babylon.

Daniel learned the worldview and education of Babylon ten times better than his peers, but he refused to participate in their values. Many Christians today do just the opposite: They don’t do the study and research, but they participate in the values instead.

Daniel was willing to make the “ask” of his boss, regarding the vegetables. Don’t ever say, “No,” for someone else.

Daniel was willing to be a non-conformist, to give up sensual experience, to win others over, to take a risk, to disobey, to be respectful… All despite the apparent lack of blessing from God.

God has everything under control.

Daniel 2 (Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Statue)

For a detailed explanation of this prophecy, see our earlier article “Daniel and the End of Human History (Dan. 2, 7, 8)”

(2:1) Nebuchadnezzar had dreams and they troubled him.

(2:2) He asked his magicians to tell him what he had dreamed, rather than the interpretation of his dream. It seems that he wasn’t willing to be fooled by them.

(Dan. 2:4-7:28) Why is this section in Aramaic?

(2:4) The book switches from Hebrew to Aramaic here until the end of chapter 7.

(2:5) If they were really supernaturally endowed, then they would know what he had dreamed. The stakes are high: The magicians will be dismembered if they cannot tell him. Nebuchadnezzar was probably suspicious that they had been deceiving him for years on end.

(2:10-11) They tell Nebuchadnezzar that no one could ever do this.

(2:12) Nebuchadnezzar follows through with his command to kill the men.

(2:15) Daniel spoke up at this point.

(2:18-19) Daniel and his three friends prayed for Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and received it.

(2:20-23) Before he moves forward, he gives thanks.

(2:25) Lennox writes, “Some historical records suggest that live lions were chained at each side of the throne to add to the impression of supreme power.”[20]

(2:29) Daniel even knew what the king was thinking before he went to sleep.

(2:30) Daniel gives credit to God for his wisdom and insight in this dream, rather than hogging the credit for himself. The vision is that of the statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and iron-clay.

Now we see why Nebuchadnezzar didn’t share the dream. It scared him, because it meant his doom.

(2:46) Just kidding, actually, Nebuchadnezzar realizes that Daniel was right!—and he falls down and worships before Daniel.

(2:47) Nebuchadnezzar even gives the credit to Yahweh, rather than Daniel.

(2:48) He promoted Daniel to the leader of the wise men.

Application

Daniel doesn’t hog the credit for his spiritual gift. He gives it to God.

God provides wisdom when we need it. In this case, it isn’t a second before.

When God provides, it is our role to give thanks.

Archer writes, “[Nebuchadnezzar] laid down no requirement for his subjects to renounce or to cease private worship of their own personal gods; he simply demanded complete loyalty to the state.”[21]

Daniel 3 (The Fiery Furnace)

Nebuchadnezzar just finished saying, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery” (Dan. 2:47). Now, in chapter 3, he builds a massive gold statue (of himself?). Lennox writes, “Perhaps one of the motives behind the project was an obsession with the fact that he had been told he was the head of gold in the dream image.”[22]

(Dan. 3) Where was Daniel during the episode of the fiery furnace?

(3:1) Archer doesn’t believe that Nebuchadnezzar was building a statue of himself, but of his god Nebo. Archer writes, “We have no evidence that statues of a Mesopotamian ruler were ever worshiped as divine during the ruler’s lifetime. Such practices may have been followed in the Egypt of Ramses II (though we have no decisive proof of this) but hardly in the Sumerian, Babylonian, or Assyrian empires.”[23] Miller doubts that this statue is one of Nebuchadnezzar. He writes, “In some ancient cultures the king was considered divine, but this was not the case in the Babylonian Empire. More plausible is Wiseman’s proposal that the image was in the likeness of one of Babylon’s gods, probably the principal god, Marduk.”[24]

By contrast, Baldwin writes, “It may even be that the image represented himself. Having been told that he was the head of gold, what more natural than to capitalize on the fact and to make the whole image of gold?”[25]

The statue was 90 feet tall, and 9 feet wide. Could Nebuchadnezzar have built a nine story statue like this? Stephen Miller writes, “Large statues constructed by kings of ancient times were not uncommon. For example, the Great Sphinx in Egypt (240 ft. long by 66 ft. high) with its lion body and human head was constructed about 2500 B.C. and still casts its sightless glare over the desert sands. Rameses II and other pharaohs built large statues of themselves and placed them throughout Egypt. Additional examples of huge statues are the Colossus of Rhodes (ca. 300 B.C.), which stood 105 feet tall, and the great Statue of Zeus (forty ft. high) at Olympia, Greece (fifth century B.C.). According to the Greek historian Herodotus, there was a statue of Bel (Marduk) in Babylon (at least as early as the time of Cyrus) made of solid gold that stood eighteen feet high. With all of the wealth and manpower available to him, Nebuchadnezzar was fully able to construct the image described here.”[26] This statue was most likely covered with gold—not solid gold (cf. Ex. 39:38; 30:3).

Nebuchadnezzar built this to inspire awe in the people around him. You could’ve probably seen this for miles away…

(3:2) This would’ve been similar to an inauguration ceremony for the President of the United States. Everyone in the government was gathered.

(3:3) The list of workers in the government show well-developed tiers of government.

(3:4) Note how many different types of peoples are here. These were all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar personally conquered.

Bruce Waltke sees a similarity between this and the worship of the Beast in Revelation 13-14. We could see this as a similarity, but not necessarily a type. At least, there is nothing in the text to verify that this is a type.

(3:5) Once you hear the brass band, you are supposed to fall to the ground in worship.

(3:6) Nebuchadnezzar was known for executing men in this way (Jer. 29:22).

Nebuchadnezzar was absolutizing the State. When the State is ultimate, nothing matters—not even human life. Human life can’t get in the way of the State if the State is the ultimate value of the culture.

(3:7) When the music struck up, all of the bodies hit the floor. All… except three faithful Jewish men. Imagine what they were thinking:

“They have the power to kill us.” To some people, life is the ultimate value. Lennox writes, “[Nebuchadnezzar’s] whole scheme of getting his nobles to bow depended on the assumption that, for each person, life was of absolute value. To his utter amazement he discovered that this was not always the case. Even in his own very administration there were men, men of proven ability and high office, who regarded their lives as of relative value compared with the absolute value of God. Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction was a fury of impotent frustration.”[27]

“No one is going to see us if we bow.” Who are you when no one is watching? The truth is that Someone is always watching.

“Everyone else is bowing.” Imagine the peer pressure you would feel when a mass of people bow down, but you are still standing.

“Can’t we follow God in our hearts—even though we’re bowing?” It would’ve been easy for these men to rationalize that they would’ve played a more influential role as living men, rather than dead ones. If we can avoid persecution, we should. But we should stand for the truth, if there is no other way.

Instead of bowing, these three men show breathtaking courage in taking a stand for God. Nebuchadnezzar thought he had ultimate power, but he couldn’t get these three men to bow.[28] These believers had access to a power that Nebuchadnezzar knew nothing about.

(3:8) What was the motive of the Chaldeans ratting out these Jewish men? They might’ve been anti-Semitic. They also might’ve wanted their jobs. Baldwin writes, “The accusers are well aware of the circumstances in which these Jews were appointed to office and they resent the king’s promotion of foreigners over their heads. Now is their opportunity to gain the favour of the king by revealing treachery.”[29]

(3:9) These men had absolutized the State. They wanted the King to “live forever.”

(3:10-11) If the King is immutable, then his decrees are immutable.

(3:12) They were saying, “Your own appointed people are not obeying you! There is disunity in your own household! What is a big powerful king like you going to do??”

(3:13) Nebuchadnezzar was furious. His authority was being disrespected.

(3:14) He was willing to interview them before just having them killed. But we don’t hear their response to his question. Maybe he didn’t wait to hear a response.

(3:15) He orders the band to play again to give them another opportunity. He gives them a direct ultimatum. Which god can save you? Nebuchadnezzar gets the answer to this question.

Will these Jewish men have “other gods before Yahweh”?

It sounds like Nebuchadnezzar had heard about Yahweh revealing the dream (i.e. omniscience). But he didn’t believe a “god” like this could actually intervene (i.e. omnipotence).

(3:16) Why do they feel that they don’t need to reply? Maybe it just means that “their minds were made up.”[30]

(3:17) They still called him the “king,” giving him respect. The antithesis is not between God existing or not. The antithesis is between God rescuing them, or them still being faithful and being martyred. They fully trusted God for the outcome either way.

(3:18) They weren’t convinced that God would rescue them. They didn’t know for sure. They were willing to die.

(3:19) Nebuchadnezzar sounds like a very temperamental man. One minute he’s filled with wrath, the next he’s calm and asking questions. Now he’s angry again.

The fire being “seven times” hotter isn’t necessarily literal. Baldwin writes, “The writer is using a proverbial expression (cf. Prov. 24:16; 26:16).”[31] These kilns could reach up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.[32] Nebuchadnezzar was really trying to intimidate these men.

(3:20) He orders his goons to tie them up. The three men don’t argue with this or fight it.

(3:21)

(3:22) How hot was this fire? It was seven times hotter than normal (v.19). Even if this is hyperbole, it still shows that it was scorching hot. Miller speculates that a change in the wind could’ve caught these goons on fire.[33]

(3:23) These ancient kilns had openings on the top and the side. They probably threw them into the top.

In a naturalistic universe, this would be the end of the chapter…

(3:24)

(Dan. 3:25) Who is the fourth man in the fire? Was it Jesus? Or an angel?

(3:26)

(3:27) They were unharmed. They didn’t even smell like fire.

(3:28) Nebuchadnezzar winds up answering his own question from verse 15.

(3:29) Nebuchadnezzar seems completely temperamental! Now he is saying that people have a mandate to worship God.

(3:30) They wind up getting a promotion. This is the last we hear about these three young men…

What do we learn from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

What “statues” might we be asked to bow down to today?

They took a stand together. These men were outnumbered, but they had each other. It feels good to have comrades when you’re trying to stand for Christ. God didn’t call these men to stand alone.

They took a stand without putting conditions on God. These men were willing to stand—whether or not they were protected. God was still sovereign either way. It didn’t change their decision. Lennox writes, “The cost of resisting idolatry is high. But it does not compare with the cost of rejecting God.”[34]

They took a stand based on God’s word. Nebuchadnezzar was saying one thing, but God was saying another. Nebuchadnezzar was saying, “I have conquered you. I own you. I control you… Now bow!!” Meanwhile, Isaiah told them, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Isa. 43:2-5 NIV). Moreover, Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10:28).

They took a stand based on God’s power. The three men went into the furnace without fighting or resisting. They were helpless unless God showed up. John Lennox tells the story of a man who was tortured in a Russian Gulag. Lennox said that he didn’t think he could’ve suffered for Christ to such a massive degree. The Russian man replied, “Nor could I! I was a man who fainted at the sight of his own blood, let alone that of others. But what I discovered in the camp was this: God does not help us to face theoretical situations but real ones. Like you, I couldn’t imagine how one could cope in the Gulag. But once there I found that God met me, exactly as Jesus had promised his disciples when he was preparing them for victimization and persecution.”[35]

I resonate with this from experience. If I could go back in time and tell my 20 year old self what I would suffer, I don’t think I could’ve imagined it. But after trusting God through suffering, it’s amazing how God carried me through it. We can’t do it in theory, but God will carry us in reality. Like the three men, God didn’t save them from the fire, but in the fire. These three men believed beforehand, but they experienced God at a whole level when they lived through it.

What do we learn from Nebuchadnezzar?

The supernatural acts of God didn’t change Nebuchadnezzar’s heart. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a supernatural revelation of his omniscience through Daniel in chapter 2, and here he gives another supernatural revelation of his omnipotence in the fiery furnace. But Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t get it!

Nebuchadnezzar only turns to God later after going through personal breaking of his pride in chapter 4.

Daniel 4 (Nebuchadnezzar’s Insanity)

There could be a gap of up to 30 years since the last event in chapter 3. Up until this point, Nebuchadnezzar had not been willing to truly trust God. He was impressed, but not humbled. In this chapter, it seems that Nebuchadnezzar has a true conversion of the heart from this experience.

Here was an absolute monarch. He was one of a dozen people in human history who had reached this position. But there was one thing he couldn’t conquer: his pride.

(4:1) Nebuchadnezzar addresses this to all nations and peoples. He wanted other Pagans to be able to come to know the God of Israel.

(4:2) He took God’s work as personal (“has performed for me”).

(4:3) Formerly, Nebuchadnezzar accepted the praise that he himself would “live forever” (Dan. 3:9). Here, he sees that God is the one with the eternal kingdom.

(4:4) He lived in opulence and avarice. He had vanquished all of his enemies. He was sitting on the top of the world.

(4:5) God kept trying to reach this proud man. He speaks to him in a dream again, but he doesn’t reveal the meaning. He uses the dream to get his attention, but he sends him to his man (Daniel) to hear the meaning. God sent him a dream and he sent him a Daniel.

(4:6-7) Nebuchadnezzar keeps looking to his Pagan counselors and wise men. He could’ve been a creature of habit, calling in his astrologers and magicians. He could’ve been scared to bring Daniel in.

The Pagan counselors deliberate, but again, they could not reveal anything. They might’ve been afraid to speculate or manipulate the king, because they knew Daniel could come in and correct them.

(4:8) Did Daniel come to Nebuchadnezzar? Did Daniel seek him out? Nebuchadnezzar recognized that Daniel had the “spirit of the holy gods” (cf. v.9, 18). This is still polytheistic worship, but he saw something different in Daniel. Lennox writes, “Nebuchadnezzar’s polytheism is still not far from the surface. He is a man on a journey: still confused, but wishing nevertheless to testify to what Daniel’s God has done for him.”[36]

(4:9) This is similar to chapter 2: He tells Daniel the dream (v.18), and he asks Daniel for the meaning.

(4:10-15) Nebuchadnezzar sees a massive tree that reached up to the sky (v.11). It could be seen throughout the entire planet (v.11). The tree provided beauty, food, and housing for the birds and beasts of the Earth (v.12). An angel orders the tree to be chopped down and stripped (vv.13-15). The angel refers to the stump as a person (“him”). Imagine seeing an angel in bed.

(4:16) This man will have the mind of a beast for “seven periods of time.” Archer states that in this instance this “undoubtedly refers to years.”[37] To support this claim, we know that the Septuagint translates this Aramaic phrase as “years.”

Others, like Boyce, write, “The word ʿiddānîn is not specifically ‘years’ but can signify ‘seasons’. It is the word ‘time’ in 2:8 and 3:5. Its duration is uncertain, and this is intentional.”[38] Goldingay argues that this term could refer to years, but could also be referring to months or simply “periods of time” in general.[39] There is a difficulty in thinking that this refers to “months,” because this specific word is used in 4:29 (“Twelve months later…”). If Nebuchadnezzar had months in mind, why not use the same term here?

(4:17) The purpose of this judgment was to communicate God’s sovereignty over the Earth.

(4:18) Nebuchadnezzar asks for the interpretation of the dream.

(4:19) Daniel was terrified to tell Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation. We might compare this to a doctor who reluctantly needs to tell a patient his diagnosis of terminal cancer. It’s hard for Daniel to break the news.

Nebuchadnezzar urges him to speak up, and Daniel wishes that it doesn’t refer to Nebuchadnezzar but to his enemies.

(4:20-22) Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that he is the tree. Daniel might’ve gotten this interpretation from some sort of prophetic revelation or perhaps from biblical revelation. The prophets often referred to the pride of kings as mighty trees (Isa. 10:34; Ezek. 31:3ff).

(4:23-25) Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar was hoping that the part about the “mind of a beast” was metaphorical like the tree was metaphorical. But Daniel tells him that God is going to literally judge him by giving him the mind of a beast. No wonder Daniel was hesitant to share this with him!

(4:26) The stump refers to his kingdom. God will keep the kingdom together while he waits for him to repent. There is a sign of hope, however. God will judge Nebuchadnezzar “until” he recognizes the sovereignty of God.

(4:27) Daniel urges Nebuchadnezzar to repent. Nebuchadnezzar’s principal offense was that he oppressed the poor.

Nebuchadnezzar has seen enough evidence, but that wasn’t his issue. Daniel makes the call: “Break away now from your sins!”

(4:28)

(4:29) A year passes… Nebuchadnezzar probably thought that none of this was going to happen. He could’ve been thinking, “Daniel must really be losing it. God isn’t going to judge me. I’ll be fine.”

He stands on the roof of his palace, getting a panoramic view of his empire.

(4:30) Nebuchadnezzar is filled with pride over “his” kingdom. He felt like the “self-made man” of today (“I myself… my power… my majesty”). Nebuchadnezzar stamped his name on the majority of the mud bricks which were used in the construction of the buildings in the hundreds of towns and cities surrounding Babylon.[40]

(4:31-32) God decrees that Nebuchadnezzar will be taken out of power (i.e. sovereignty). Baldwin writes, “His own boasting was interrupted by a voice from heaven.”[41]

(4:33) This is total and utter humiliation for such a prideful man. Even his subjects drove him away. Keller states, “Because you wanted to be more than a man, you will now become less than a man.”

(Dan. 4:33) Is it reasonable to believe that Nebuchadnezzar went mentally insane like an animal?

(4:34) This humbling period of time led Nebuchadnezzar to praise and honor God.

(4:35) Humans are “nothing” before the raw power and sovereignty of God. Nebuchadnezzar must’ve been thinking, “Who was I to think that I had authority over God??”

(4:36) Once Nebuchadnezzar experienced humility, his “reason returned” to him. Humility is only rational: There is a God and you are not Him.

God didn’t punish him. He blessed his life after he repented.

(4:37) The result is that Nebuchadnezzar praises, exults, and honors God for showing him humility.

Application

God has authority over anyone and everyone. At the beginning of the book, it may have felt like God was out of control. This shows that God had not abandoned his people to a tyrant. God was still in control, and he could stoop into history at any time to humble Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar was “at ease” and “flourishing” but he was still losing sleep. Many people lose sleep over their pride (v.5). He was at the “top,” but once he got there, he discovered that it wasn’t enough.

Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t brought to faith by miracles, but by discipline and brokenness. The “signs and wonders” in this chapter weren’t incredible prophecies (ch.2) or protection from fiery furnaces (ch.3); instead, these were disciplinary measures taken on Nebuchadnezzar’s life (v.3). God brought Nebuchadnezzar to the place where this man could thank God for his discipline.

No one is too far gone. God can break through any (Babylonian) “walls” to reach any person. God pursued this man over his whole life. God pursued him by sending “dreams” and “Daniels” to reach him. How has God been trying to reach you? Has he sent a “dream” into your life? Has God sent you a “Daniel” to lead you to the truth?

Pride is spiritual insanity. Most of the good things in my life are out of my control (e.g. race, gender, time of birth, intellect, good looks, etc.). We are so small compared to the raw power and authority of God. He becomes humbled, rather than hardened.

We can have our minds darkened too (Rom. 1:21). Pride can’t enjoy gifts, because they say, “It’s about time.” Once Nebuchadnezzar gives the rightful glory to God, his kingdom is restored and his mind is restored. When we humble ourselves, we get our “spiritual sanity” back.

Nebuchadnezzar becomes even greater than before (v.36).

See Tim Keller’s sermon, “Pride: The Case of Nebuchadnezzar.”

Daniel 5 (The Fall of Belshazzar)

Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC. After he died, the Babylonian Empire saw a rapid succession of emperors (Evil-Merodach, 562-560 BC; Nergal-Sharezer, 560-556 BC; Labasi-Marduk, six months). King Nabonidus performed a coup d’état on Labasi-Marduk, taking over in ~556 BC.[42]

According to the Nabonidus-Cyrus Chronicle, the Persian King Cyrus was on the warpath, gunning for Nabonidus. Nabonidus had been fleeing from Cyrus, and he took refuge in his “impregnable” city-fortress of Babylon.[43] The Greek historian Herodotus reported (1.190-91):

A battle was fought at a short distance from the city in which the Babylonians were defeated by the Persian king, whereupon they withdrew within their defences. Here they shut themselves up and made light of his siege, having laid in a store of provisions for many years in preparation against this attack.[44]

The city of Babylon had not been “stormed by invaders in over a thousand years.”[45] Nabonidus felt secure in his colossal fortress.

Nabonidus forgot one thing: While the walls of Babylon were high and thick, there was a tributary that run underneath the city of Babylon. One of Cyrus’ commanders redirected the waters of the Euphrates River (Herodotus, 1.184), and this made the waters waist-high for the Persians to wade in (Herodotus, 1.191). Archer writes, “Before long the Persian besiegers would come wading in at night and clamber up the riverbank walls before the guards knew what was happening.”[46] The Persians massacred the Babylonian people with their defenses down. According to Herodotus, the Babylonians “engaged in a festival, continued dancing and revelling until they learnt the capture but too certainly” (Herodotus, 1.191).[47]

The Persian invasion of Babylon occurred in September of 539 BC.[48] These means that roughly 20 years have passed since the death of Nebuchadnezzar (562 BC).

(Dan. 5:1) Did Daniel err in making Belshazzar the king at the fall of Babylon?

(5:1) King Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s heir. The “thousand nobles” is probably a round number, but this would’ve been a huge party. Belshazzar was surrounded by a lot of acquaintances, but he had no friends.

(5:2) Nabonidus was a son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar. Nabonidus’ son was Belshazzar. Nebuchadnezzar was Belshazzar’s ab, which can be translated “father” or “grandfather.”

Belshazzar thought he was completely safe, so he threw a drunk fest. Belshazzar decided to use the sacred vessels for his drunken orgy. Belshazzar knew exactly where the goblets were located. Lennox writes, “For Belshazzar, nothing was sacred, except possibly himself—his position, wealth, and power.”[49]

(5:4) He uses the sacred vessels to toast the gods of Babylon. Unlike his forefather Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar praised the Babylonian deities.

(5:5) God didn’t send an earthquake or a trumpet blast. He didn’t write him a tome of theology or apologetics—just a quiet hand writing four words on the wall.

HUMOR: Was Belshazzar mad that God wrote graffiti on his wall?

What is the significance of the hand writing on the wall? Lennox writes, “It would be hard to imagine a more spectacular breach of the first commandment: You shall have no other gods before me. Centuries earlier the hand of God had written the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone and given them to Moses, the great lawgiver. That hand had now written once more: this time on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace.”[50]

(5:5-6) Suddenly, a hand appeared and began writing on the wall. He was terrified. The music stops, and the dancing girls stood still. All eyes are on the king. Even a belly full of wine couldn’t make him courageous. Belshazzar sobered up pretty quickly.

(5:7-9) Belshazzar called for his magicians and wise men to interpret the writing. How interesting that he didn’t consult Daniel! Was he afraid of what Daniel might tell him?

The Pagan counselors discussed and debated, but they came up with nothing.

(5:10) This is probably Belshazzar’s mother—Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter.[51] Belshazzar would be dead before the night was over.

(5:11) This echoes Nebuchadnezzar’s words (4:8).

(5:13-16) Belshazzar promises to make him the third highest ruler in the kingdom if he can interpret it. Lennox writes, “He offered Daniel wealth and the third most powerful position in the empire. Belshazzar obviously still thought he could buy his way to anything.”[52]

(5:17) Why does Daniel refuse the king’s gifts? Is it because he already knew that Belshazzar was doomed?

(5:18-21) Daniel preaches to Belshazzar about his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar. He recounts the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s fall and humbling.

(5:22) Belshazzar’s problem was not one of intellect. He “knew” all this.

(5:23) Belshazzar worshipped gods of gold that couldn’t see or hear. The true God could see and hear; in fact, he was watching this whole blasphemous event.

Belshazzar thought he was in charge, but Daniel says, “The God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.”

Belshazzar had a revulsion to God (cf. Rom. 1:21).

(5:25-28) These words mean: “numbered—weighed—divided.” These are all passive participles. These are things happening to them. Baldwin writes, “For the king the difficulty was not to give the ‘dictionary definition’ of the terms, but to see what significance they had for him.”[53] Belshazzar had evaluated God as a “zero.” Now God returns the favor.

But Belshazzar isn’t humble like his forefather Nebuchadnezzar (v.22), so God gives his kingdom to Persia (v.28). Belshazzar gives the reward to Daniel anyhow (v.29), and that very night, Belshazzar was killed (v.31).

(5:29) Archer argues that maybe Belshazzar wanted to bribe God of this fate: “Possibly he thought that Yahweh might relent and not destroy Babylonia if his prophet became prime minister.”[54] God had decided his judgment, but he drunkenly tried to pay off Daniel—God’s prophet—from judging him.

(5:30-31) The Persians rerouted the Euphrates River, and then they entered Babylon under the walls and gates of the city. The Babylonians probably thought that they were digging to build a mound, but their strategy was exactly the opposite.

(Dan. 5:31) Who is Darius the Mede?

Warren Wiersbe comments, “The fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. is a picture of the future fall of Babylon (the devil’s world system) as given in Rev. 17–18. And Bible-believing Christians can already see ‘the handwriting on the wall.’ But blind world rulers continue in their pride and pleasure, little realizing that the Lord is coming.”[55]

Application

Belshazzar rejected God’s prophecy and power in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. Rather than viewing the prophecy about the Persians taking over (Dan. 2), Belshazzar openly disrespected God by using the sacred goblets.

Belshazzar couldn’t see his own mortality. He distracted himself with drunkenness and sex. While Belshazzar is partying, the Persians were under his gates. Wiersbe writes, “What a picture of our world today: judgment is about to fall, yet people are making merry and worshiping their false gods.”[56] There is a “final party” for all of us. There is a “last meal” for all of us.

This is where we get the phrase “the writing is on the wall.” Is there any “handwriting on the wall” in your life?

The significance of Daniel’s name. Lennox writes, “By using Daniel’s Hebrew name, Belshazzar was uttering the words God is my judge—for that is what Daniel means.”[57]

Belshazzar thought he could “buy off” Daniel, and hence, God himself (v.16).

Why did Daniel refuse the third highest ruler in the kingdom? He knew that the Babylonian Empire was over.

Daniel 6 (Daniel in the Lion’s Den)

This narrative shows Daniel’s courageous trust in God during a time of state-wide abolition of prayer.

(Dan. 5:31) Who is Darius the Mede?

(6:1) A “satrap” was a governor in ancient Persia.

(6:2) Daniel was one of three men who ruled over the satraps. Daniel is very old at this point (~80 years old?). We might wonder if Darius heard all of the stories of Daniel’s faith during the Babylonian reign (e.g. the prophecy of chapter 2, the three friends in the fiery furnace, the banquet of Belshazzar, etc.).

We might think of Daniel as an ancient Alan Greenspan, who served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank under four US presidents.[58]

(6:3) Daniel keeps rising to the top among his peers. The king recognized him as an extraordinary man. He was being groomed to govern the kingdom under the sovereignty of the king.

Does his “extraordinary spirit” refer to the Holy Spirit? This seems similar to the description of Daniel having the “spirit of the holy gods” (Dan. 4:8-9, 4:18; 5:11).

(6:4) The other satraps probably hated the fact that this foreigner would soon be their leader. They must have been asking, “Why is the new guy getting the promotion?!” They were trying to scheme their way up the “corporate ladder.” They looked for anything to discredit him, running a full audit on his management of the kingdom. Whenever Presidential candidates run for office, they hire private investigators to dig up the dirt.

But they couldn’t find anything wrong with him… (Could the same be said of you?)

(6:5) They leveraged Daniel’s faith against him. That was Daniel’s only “weakness.”

(6:6-7) They are clearly lying, because not “all” of them agreed to this policy (namely, Daniel).

The Persians didn’t use fire to kill criminals of the State, because they viewed fire as sacred.[59] Instead, the Persians used ravenous lions to execute criminals. Baldwin writes, “In the ancient Near East the sport of kings was lion-hunting, as works of art from Egypt to Mesopotamia prove.”[60] The British Museum contains artwork of Ashurnasirpal II hunting and killing lions—supposedly by the hundreds.

(6:8)

(6:9) Darius might have felt his ego being inflated to be treated as a god. It’s also possible that he felt social pressure that all of his satraps agreed on this. We’re not sure.

(6:10) What alternatives could Daniel have turned to? He could’ve lashed out and pursued a plot to have his competitors killed. He could’ve chosen to simply not pray that month. He could’ve prayed in secret or at night with the windows closed. Instead, Daniel turned to the one thing he had been building for his entire life: prayer. Daniel immediately turned to rely on God. We’ve seen Daniel make non-moral compromises in the past, but not here.

Daniel wasn’t frantically praying because of the crisis before him. Apparently, regular prayer was part of his way of life. He had been doing this for decades. David wrote of praying three times a day as well (Ps. 55:17-18). Of course, this isn’t a rule. The psalmist also says that he prays “seven times” a day (Ps. 119:164).

Why does Daniel pray toward Jerusalem? Jerusalem hasn’t been mentioned since the beginning of the book. Solomon wrote that people would pray toward the Temple in solidarity to God’s purposes (1 Kin. 8:47-50).

Daniel’s act of prayer was an act of rebellion. Lennox writes, “What a powerful and courageous act that kneeling was.”[61] See David Wells famous essay, “Prayer: Rebelling Against the Status Quo.”[62]

What was Daniel giving thanks for? He was probably giving thanks for the way God had come through in the past—for the fact that God was still sovereign.

Why didn’t Daniel just close his windows? He wasn’t going to start closing his windows now. His life was the same behind closed doors.

(6:11) They caught Daniel praying. Really, Daniel wanted to get caught. He left his windows wide open (v.10).

(6:12-13) The trap was set. Now, all they had to do was bring it to the attention of the king. They lure the king into affirming his own law before bringing up Daniel. Then, they played the “ethnicity card” against Daniel.[63]

(6:14) Why didn’t Darius just repeal the decree? According to Persian thinking, the laws of the king were immutable. Even the king himself couldn’t take these back; otherwise, it would undercut his authority (cf. Esther 1:19; 8:8). Later in history, Darius III put a man to death whom he knew to be innocent because of this custom. Diodorus of Sicily—a first century BC Greek historian—wrote this of Darius: “Immediately [Darius] repented and blamed himself, as having greatly erred; but it was not possible to undo what was done by royal authority.”[64]

What should we think of Darius? He was “deeply distressed,” but he still didn’t have the backbone to intervene. Perhaps the problem with Darius is that he viewed himself as a “god” in the first place, making his decrees immutable.

(6:15) The satraps reminded Darius that he was bound by his own law (see notes on verse 8).

(6:16) These lion pits would’ve been pretty deep, so the lion wouldn’t jump out. Daniel would’ve been in his 80’s at this point.[65]

(6:17) Darius set his seal on the cave. Archer notes, “Many examples of such cylinder seals are on display in museums specializing in ancient Near East artifacts. They were in constant use from the Sumerian period in the third millennium to the Persian era in the sixth to fourth centuries BC.”[66]

(6:18-20) All of these words speak of frantic anxiety. He spoke with a “troubled voice.”

Darius called Yahweh “the living God.” God’s ability to save was on the line in this situation.

(6:21) Daniel is still respectful to the king.

(6:22) Daniel doesn’t say “my parent’s God” or “my friends’ God.” He says it was “my God.”

This event is probably referred to in Hebrews 11:33 (“who by faith… shut the mouths of lions”).

(6:23) Here, Darius is willing to revoke his law. Why didn’t he do this at first? He needed to see Daniel’s extraordinary faith before making a step of faith himself.

Paul had a similar experience: “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth” (2 Tim. 4:16-17).

(6:24) The lions were probably frustrated from not being able to eat all night (with their mouths shut!). The lions were starving at this point.

Remember, this isn’t prescriptive—only descriptive. Daniel didn’t make this order; Darius did. This is in contradiction to what OT Scripture teaches (Deut. 24:16; Jer. 31:29-30; Ezek. 18). Archer doesn’t agree with Darius’ decision, but he hypothesizes, “Perhaps Darius acted as he did to minimize the danger of revenge against the executioner by the family of those who were put to death.”[67] Baldwin writes, “The solidarity of the family when punishment was inflicted is attested in Persian times by Herodotus (3:119).”[68]

Clearly, Daniel’s rescue was supernatural. He spent all night in the lion’s den without so much as a scratch. Here, the satraps are devoured before they even hit the ground.

(6:25-27) Darius makes a new decree. This time, he glorifies the true God. Warren Wiersbe writes, “The Jews had been humiliated by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple because their defeat made it look as though the false gods of the Babylonians were stronger than the true God of Israel… Jehovah hadn’t been honored by his own people, but now He was receiving praise from pagan rulers whose decrees would be published throughout the Gentile world. These decrees were a witness to the Gentiles that there was but one true God, the God of the Jews; but the decrees were also a reminder to the Jews that Jehovah was the true and living God.”[69]

(6:28)

Application from the PERSIAN GOVERNORS

They thought Daniel’s faith was his biggest weakness, but it turned out to be his greatest strength (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

Application from DARIUS

He found himself in a compromised situation because he allowed his ego to be inflated (v.9).

He was “deeply distressed,” but didn’t do anything about it (v.14). Darius seems to have some faith here, but not enough to take his own stand. Darius could recognize Daniel’s faith… from a distance. He didn’t believe enough to put his own neck on the line.

Darius was worried, while Daniel was good and calm (vv.18-20).

Darius needed to see Daniel’s extraordinary step of faith before he was willing to take a step himself.

Application from DANIEL

He forfeited his career out of faithfulness to God.

Darius could see something different in Daniel (v.3). This could’ve been the fact that Daniel was a man of integrity (v.4). But really, this is only the result of Daniel possessing an “extraordinary spirit” (v.3). The reason for this was most likely Daniel’s regular prayer life (v.10) and his extraordinary faith (v.23). Daniel had a deeply personal relationship with God (calling him “my God,” v.22).

Daniel didn’t hide (v.10). Daniel had seen too much to compromise now.

Daniel wasn’t thrown in the lion’s den for doing something wrong, but for doing something right.

God didn’t spare Daniel from the lion’s den. He rescued him in the lion’s den.

Daniel was saved because of his faith (“because he had trusted in his God”).

How was Daniel able to have such extraordinary faith? Daniel had seen God come through in the past, and he had God’s promises for the future. This was how he was able to trust God in the present.

“I’ll be ready for the trial when I get there.” Hopefully. But the Bible shows that God tests us in the daily life, so that we’re ready for these big times of trial.

What is the point of these narratives?

Why does Daniel record all of these narratives in between the great prophecies of Daniel 2 and 7? Why does he write about world rulers who are trying to stamp out faithful people of God? Why does he write about God’s miraculous intervention, protection, and sovereignty in the lives of these Jewish men?

If you’re familiar with the prophecies of Daniel, you quickly see the answers to these questions. Daniel goes on to predict another world ruler who will raise himself up at the end of human history. Like these ancient kings, this world ruler will persecute people for following God for a short period of time. Like these ancient kings, this world ruler will accept worship and even deify himself. Like these ancient kings, he will change the laws of the State in order to contradict God and persecute his people.

Daniel wrote these narratives 2,500 years ago, but they still speak to us today. Daniel and his friends are saying, “We stood before tyrants and refused to compromise. But the worst tyranny is still to come… Will you compromise?”

These narratives aren’t cute little Sunday school lessons. They speak to the faithfulness of God’s people in the past for those of us who will be in the great Tribulation of the future.

Daniel 7 (Four terrifying beasts)

It’s clear to interpreters that this vision correlates with the vision of Daniel 2. But why does the text picture these empires as animals, while Daniel 2 pictures them as a colossal human statue? John Lennox explains, “The perspective is clear: from one point of view, empires resemble wild animals. But, unlike humans, animals are not inhibited by moral considerations, since animals are not moral beings. Empires tend to behave like that—as amoral power blocs. The overall impression of the vision is of the dark underbelly of politics: the jockeying for power, with less and less moral qualm, until a sense of humanity and compassion disappears under the ruthless lust for domination.”[70]

(7:1) The first year of Belshazzar can be dated anywhere from ~552 BC[71] to ~556 BC.[72] This would place the dating of the prophecy between the events of Daniel 4 and 5.[73]

Note that Daniel has difficulty explaining the full essence of the dream, and can only explain a “summary of it.”

(7:2) The “sea” refers to humanity in rebellion from God (cf. Isa. 17:12-13; 57:20; Rev. 13:1; 21:1). Revelation 7:1 explains that the four winds are under the control of the four angels in heaven. Later, Daniel reports that these kingdoms “will rise from the earth” (v.17). This is no contradiction. Both images point toward fallen humanity, raging against God.

(7:3) Just like the figure in Daniel 2 has four portions (e.g. gold, silver, bronze, iron), so too the four beasts correspond to these four empires.

Lion = Babylonian Empire

(7:4) This first beast corresponds to the first part of the statue in chapter 2. Archer writes, “The Ishtar Gate entrance was adorned on either side with a long procession of yellow lions on blue-glazed brick.”[74]

Nebuchadnezzar was depicted as both a lion and an eagle by Jeremiah (Jer. 49:19-22).

The fact that a “human mind was given to it” corresponds with the seven year insanity of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:16).

Bear = Media-Persia Empire

(7:5) The fact that it was “raised up on one side” predicts the fact that the Persians were more powerful than the Medes.

The “three ribs… in its mouth” correspond to the three kingdoms Media Persia conquered: (1) Lydia in 546 BC, (2) Chaldea in 539 BC, and (3) Egypt in 525 BC.

Leopard = Grecian Empire

(7:6) Leopards were known for their speed—not their strength (Hab. 1:8). Alexander the Great conquered the known world in little over a decade—an alarming rate.

The “four wings of a bird” and the “four heads” correspond to the four generals who took over after Alexander the Great died in 323 BC.

Dreadful, terrifying, and extremely strong beast = Roman Empire

(7:7) The “ten horns” correspond to the “ten toes” of Daniel 2.

(7:8) This is the first clear and explicit reference to the Antichrist in Scripture.

This “little horn” conquers three of the ten horns (i.e. kings, nations). This must mean that the other six come under his sovereignty.

He will arise from the ten nation confederacy. He comes up from “among them.”

He’s going to put down three of the nations (see also verse 24). This is the only place that mentions this.

(Dan. 7) Who is the “Little Horn”?

(Dan. 8) The Little Horn and the Small Horn

God’s judgment of human empires

Human have seen progress with regard to technology, but have we seen progress with regard to peace, justice, and love for one another?[75]

Notice that Jesus’ kingdom comes after the empires on Earth. The visible kingdom of the Messiah will come after these world empires—not alongside them.

(7:9-10) The “Ancient of Days” is God Almighty, coming to judge the empires of the earth. This expression for God is only found here in Daniel 7, but the context makes clear that God is the referent. The picture is similar to Jesus in Revelation 1:14-15.

The “white” clothing and hair probably represents his moral purity (Ps. 51:7).

(7:11) The little horn is called “the beast,” and he persists in his slandering “till the very moment he is dragged before the heavenly tribunal.”[76] His judgment is swift and clear.

Jesus will destroy him (see also Rev. 19-20).

(7:12) The other beasts (i.e. empires) are given a period of time to rule before they are judged.

(7:13) “Coming with the clouds of heaven” alludes to God’s glory being in the “clouds” (Ex. 16:10; 19:9). Boyce writes, “A concordance will reveal how frequent is the reference to clouds in connection with the presence of the Lord, not only in the Pentateuch but throughout the Old Testament poetry and prophetic literature.”[77]

The fact that the Son of Man is in the “clouds” fits with the NT descriptions of Jesus (1 Thess. 4:17; Rev. 1:7; Acts 1:9-11).

Note that he is “like a Son of Man.” Boyce writes, “Yet he is only like a human being, just as the beasts were ‘like’ a lion or a bear.”[78]

The title “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite self-designation. He used it 84 times to refer to himself. In this passage, the Son of Man comes up to the Ancient of Days (i.e. God Almighty) and presents himself before him.

(7:14) Throughout the book of Daniel, no one deserves the right to rule besides God alone. Here, God gives over the glory and dominion to the Son of Man. Moreover, while the kingdoms of Earth were limited, this kingdom lasts forever (“everlasting dominion” “will not pass away” “never be destroyed”).

The interpretation

(7:15) Imagine seeing these cataclysmic visions of the future from God! It would be easy to imagine feeling overwhelmed.

While Daniel was the interpreter for Nebuchadnezzar, an angel is the interpreter for Daniel.

(7:16) Unlike other so-called prophets, biblical prophecy interprets its fantastic symbols with clarity (“the exact meaning”).

(7:17) The four beasts are said to be “four kings.” In ancient times, kings were associated with their kingdoms.

(7:18) In contrast to these human empires, the “saints” will eventually rule the world “forever, for all ages to come.”

The fourth beast

Walvoord notes that only three collective verses are given to the first three kingdoms, while twenty one verses are designated to this final kingdom. He writes, “If this is genuine prophecy, it is also true that Daniel is being guided providentially to that which is important from God’s standpoint.”[79]

(7:19-20) Even though Daniel just saw the glorious kingdom of God being revealed, he couldn’t help to inquire about the fourth kingdom. It was so terrifying and brutal that he had to know more about it.

Does the “mouth uttering great boasts” imply that he is persuasive? (cf. Rev. 13:4) Many Dispensational interpreters argue this. This might be true, but it seems to us that this refers to blasphemy—not necessarily persuasion.

(7:21-22) Even though God’s kingdom would rule forever, temporary persecution would occur under the “little horn.” This would happen until God intervened (v.22).

In the narrative portions of Daniel (chs. 3-6), God intervened just in the nick of time. Here, God reveals that this horrible “beast” will overpower the saints.[80]

It is more likely that judgment was executed on behalf of the saints, rather than the saints being the ones who judge (cf. 1 Cor. 6:2).[81]

(7:23) What is it that is markedly different about this fourth beast? The Roman Empire was unified and reigned for centuries. The “whole earth” is hyperbole for the known world.

On the other hand, this could be referring to the reunited Roman Empire, which would literally refer to the entire earth.

(7:24) Daniel explains that these “ten horns” are definitely “ten kings.” Earlier, Daniel recorded that the “little horn” will conquer three of these kings (v.8), and he repeats the same here.

(7:25) The “little horn” will not annihilate the saints in one fatal swoop. Since this persecution takes place over 3.5 years, it is clear that the constant harassment and pressure from the “little horn” will “wear down” believers.

He will change “times and law,” and this will “wear down” believers. We’ve already examples of evil tyrants trying to change the law in Daniel chapters 3-6.

The “time, times, and half a time” refer to 3.5 years based on Daniel 4:16.[82] This also fits with the final seven years of Daniel 9:26-27, as well as the 3.5 years depicted in Revelation (11:2; 13:5).

He is going to be a blasphemer—a “man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:4).

(7:26) While this message seems horrific, the angel comforts Daniel that this man’s rule will be ultimately and completely destroyed.

(7:27) The sovereignty, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms will be given over to believers in the “Highest One” (i.e. the Messiah, Jesus).

(7:28) Seeing visions about this great persecution made Daniel sick to his stomach.

Application

Satan offered the kingdoms of the world to Jesus, and he refused. This man will accept.

There will be judgment for “the state-war machines, the terrorist bombs, the consummate evil of totalitarian oppression, the gas chambers, death camps, killing fields, and countless other infamous instruments of death.”[83]

Jesus will be this judge (Dan. 7:13-14). Jesus applied this term “the Son of Man” to himself 84 times (see especially Jn. 5:22-27; Mt. 26:63-64). The religious leaders judged the ultimate Judge of humanity. Stephen’s confession of seeing “the Son of Man” drew outrage and stoning, but this vision of the Son of Man also helped him to forgive his persecutors (Acts 7:56).

Daniel 8 (The OT Antichrist: Antiochus Epiphanes IV)

Chapter 8 builds on the previous visions of chapters 2 and 7. Here, Daniel skips the kingdom of Babylon (presumably because Babylon was on its way out), and he also does not mention Rome. Instead, he focuses on the Media-Persian Empire and the Grecian Empire. Baldwin writes, “For some reason the writer puts the spotlight on the Greek period, and in particular on one despotic ruler who rises from one section of the divided empire.”[84]

When reading this chapter, we see a highly descriptive picture of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who was a brutal ruler over Israel in the 170-160’s BC. Antiochus serves as a “type” or “prototype” of the future world ruler known to Bible readers as the Antichrist.

Daniel returns to Antiochus Epiphanes IV again in chapter 11, but launches forward in history in Daniel 11:36 to refer to the Antichrist.

(Dan. 2:4-7:28) Why is this section in Aramaic?

(8:1) The “third year” of Belshazzar would be about 550 BC.[85]

Daniel explicitly tells us that this vision connects with the vision of chapter 7 (“a vision appeared to me… subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously”).

(8:2) Susa is east of Babylon in modern day Iran. Susa was about 225 miles east of Babylon. At the time Daniel wrote this, the city of Susa was an insignificant city, but 200 years later, it would become massively important.

(8:3) Remember, this corresponds to the bear “raised up on one side” (Dan. 7:5). Later, Daniel explains that this is explicitly Media-Persia (Dan. 8:20).

(8:4) Again, this is still Media-Persia. Yet notice how little coverage is given to this massive empire. Baldwin writes, “Nearly two hundred years of history and political aggrandisement, such as the world had not before seen, are summed up in this verse.”[86]

(8:5) Later in this chapter, Daniel tells us, “The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king” (Dan. 8:21). Thus this figure must be Alexander the Great, who furiously destroyed Cyrus’ Persian armies.

The goat “not touching the ground” presumably refers to the speed with which Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Archer writes, “The goat is described as coming from the west, that is, from the region of Macedonia and Greece (as Alexander the Great did in 334 BC, when he won the Battle of Granicus in Asia Minor).”[87]

(8:6) Again, he “rushed at him,” which speaks to the tremendous speed of the takeover.

(8:7) Alexander destroyed the Persian Empire. Archer writes, “Alexander’s conquest of the entire Near and Middle East within three years stands unique in military history and is appropriately portrayed by the lightning speed of this one-horned goat.”[88]

(8:8) No sooner had this “male goat” destroyed the “ram” that he himself was “broken.” This refers to the sudden and unexpected death of Alexander. In the prime of life (age 32), Alexander died in 323 BC (maybe by being poisoned by Cassander—the son of Antipater).[89]

Afterward, it took 20 years for Alexander’s Empire to be divided into four parts (“in its place there came up four conspicuous horns”). This fits with verse 22 which states, “The four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power.”

After the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek empire broke apart into four factions, because Alexander had four generals who seized power.

(1) Cassander controlled Greece and Macedonia (north of Greece).

(2) Lysimachus ruled Asia Minor and Thrace (Bulgaria/Serbia today).

(3) Ptolemy I conquered Egypt and North Africa.

(4) Seleucus was in control of Syria and Mesopotamia.

Two of these empires fought over Israel:

The Ptolemaic Empire (pronounced toll-oh-MAY-ick) received its name from Ptolemy (TOLL-emy). It was centered in Egypt, where Alexandria was the capital. The Ptolemies ruled in Israel from (320-198 BC), and they treated the Jews well. The Ptolemies ruled Palestine until 198 BC, when Antiochus III threw them out.

The Seleucid Empire (pronounced sell-OOH-sid) took its name from Seleucus (pronounced sell-OOH-cuss). It was centered in Syria, and Antioch was its capital. In 198 BC, Antiochus III took over Israel. DeSilva writes, “Antiochus III, the great-great-grandson of Seleucus I, wrested Palestine from Ptolemaic control in 198 B.C.E. He continued the tolerant policy that Judea had enjoyed under Persian, Greek, and Ptolemaic rule. Josephus preserves a document written by Antiochus III in which the king gives Jews the legal right to continue self-regulation under the Torah (Jewish Antiquities 12.138-146).”[90]

Israel was sandwiched between these two rival empires: the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. Both empires struggled for their tax dollars, and both wanted this land as a buffer zone in between their warring nations.

Antiochus Epiphanes’ persecution

(8:9) This “small horn” refers to Antiochus Epiphanes IV—the 8th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. Again, look forward to verse 23 which calls this man a “king” who is “insolent and skilled in intrigue.”

To show the reasons for seeing a distinction between the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and the “small horn” of Daniel 8, see our earlier article, “The Little Horn and the Small Horn”

The “beautiful land” refers to Israel.

Antiochus Epiphanes seized the throne in Israel after Seleucus died. Antiochus Epiphanes (“God manifest”) was called Epimanes (“madman”) by his enemies. He started to reign in Israel in 175 BC (1 Macc. 1:10).

(8:10) The “host” (ṣāḇāʾ) is more frequently used of angels or stars (Jer. 33:22). However, it is also used of the Jewish people (Gen. 12:3; 15:5; Ex. 12:41). In fact, Daniel uses this language to describe believers (Dan. 12:3). Since Antiochus obviously cannot hurt angels or physical stars, this must refer to Antiochus persecuting Jewish believers. This interpretation also fits with verse 24 which states, “He will destroy mighty men and the holy people.”

(8:11) Note the progression of the “small horn.” First he “magnified himself” (v.4), then he “magnified himself exceedingly” (v.8), and finally, he “even magnified [himself] to be equal with the Commander of the host.” Later in verse 25 we read, “He will magnify himself in his heart, and he will destroy many while they are at ease.”

This progression of (1) deifying himself, (2) ending the Temple sacrifices, and (3) desecrating the Temple were all done by Antiochus Epiphanes (see our earlier article “The Maccabean Revolt”).

(8:12) Antiochus will “fling truth to the ground.” Regarding this passage, Lennox writes, “One of the frightening things about totalitarianism is the level of deceit and manipulation that is employed to keep people from perceiving the truth. In this connection, we should note something that is said about the little horn in Daniel 8. When it gets power, it will throw truth to the ground (Daniel 8:12). In the subsequent explanation of the vision, we are told that the king of bold countenance prospers by cunning and deceit.”[91]

Compare this with dictators today. For instance, Kim Jong-Il died in 2011, but before his death, he convinced the people of North Korea of a number of “facts” about himself:

  • He had a supernatural birth. Official North Korean records explain, “When he was born at the foot of Mount Paektu on February 16, 1942, a double rainbow appeared and a comet traversed the sky… At the time of his birth there were flashes of lightning and thunder… Bright double rainbows rose up.”[92]
  • He invented the hamburger. The state-run newspaper called the invention “gogigyeopbbang,” which is Korean for “double bread with meat.”[93]
  • He was a natural golfer. The North Korean Ministry of Information claimed that he had eleven holes-in-one in his first game of golf.[94]
  • He was a gifted bowler. He bowled a perfect 300 game the first time he tried the game of bowling.[95]
  • He does not defecate or urinate. One North Korean defector wrote, “I was convinced, as we all were, that neither of them urinated or defecated. Who could imagine such things of gods?”[96]

More seriously, Kim Jong-Il made his father’s Juche ideology (pronounced JOO-chay) a state religion—deifying Kim Il-Sung. Those who reject Juche are dubbed traitors and punished by the State.

In the 2013 book The Oxford Handbook of Atheism, atheist Phil Zuckerman writes,

The first ever officially declared atheist nation in the world was Albania under the rule of communist dictator Enver Hoxha (1908-1985). Article 37 of the Albanian Constitution of 1976 stipulated: ‘The state recognizes no religion, and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in people.’ For several decades, atheism was brutally enforced… Religious leaders were forced to flee and those that remained were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.[97]

The former [USSR] was also explicitly atheistic. In the late 1920s, the communist regime of the USSR created the League of Militant Atheists, which had the explicit, decades-long, and governmentally supported mandate of destroying religion, disseminating atheistic propaganda and education, and replacing religious rituals and holidays with secular versions. Simultaneously, the Soviets attempted to eradicate religion by arresting, torturing, and killing religious leaders.[98]

While the idea of having state-mandated persecution might seem strange, it has been replete throughout human history—even within the last century—even in our own day.

How long will the persecution last?

(8:13) When we face persecution of any kind, we naturally have the same reaction: “How long will this last?”

This same word (“transgression causes horror”) is shamem which is used in Daniel 9:27. Also compare with Matthew 24:15-16. Clearly, Jesus didn’t think that this had all been fulfilled in his day: it was still future.

(8:14) There are two ways of interpreting the 2,300 evenings and mornings:

Option #1: This refers to 1,150 days. Archer[99] and Baldwin[100] understand this time period to be 1,150 days (or 3.15 years).[101] Since the daily sacrifice included an “evening” and “twilight” sacrifice (Ex. 29:39), proponents of this view argue that the 2,300 figure should be cut in half, resulting in 1,150 days. Those who take this view begin this period from Antiochus’ sacrilege to Zeus in the Temple in December 167 (1 Macc. 1:54) and end it in December 14, 164 BC when Judas Maccabeus rededicated the temple (1 Macc. 4:52). The difficulty with this view is that the 1,150 days would actually end in September/October of 164 BC, rather than December.[102]

Option #2: This refers to 2,300 actual days. Keil,[103] Miller,[104] and Walvoord[105] hold that this time period refers to 2,300 full days (or 6.3 years). The expression is literally “until evening morning, 2,300.” This is used of a full day in Genesis 1—not two halves of a day. When the Jews tried to distinguish two parts of a day, then they used the phrase “days and night,” rather than “evenings and mornings” (c.f. Gen 7:4, 12). If this option is used (which this present author prefers), we would begin the period in 170 BC at the murder of Onias III and end it with the rededication of the temple under Judas Maccabeus.

The interpretation of the vision

(8:15) If you are confused, you’re in good company. So was Daniel! This is why he asks for an interpretation.

(8:16) The angel Gabriel interprets this vision for him.

(8:17-19) Some scholars see this expression (“the time of the end”) to be in reference to the end of this particular persecution.[106] However, we understand this language to be signifying a type of the Antichrist. That is, Antiochus is a prototype of what will happen at the end of history.

(8:20-27) See comments above to see the fulfillment of these verses in the life of Antiochus.

Antiochus is a type of the Antichrist

Remember, Daniel recorded, “The vision pertains to the time of the end… I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end” (Dan. 8:17, 19). Note the conquest of Antiochus Epiphanes IV. Daniel predicted:

  • Israel would be regathered from the neighboring nations.
  • Israel would have a rebuilt Temple.
  • An evil ruler will appear to desecrate the Temple, persecute God’s people, and this will last for roughly 3 years.
  • This evil tyrant will be killed by a direct intervention of God—not by any human means.

This is similar to the reign of the Antichrist who will reign over a regathered Israel with a rebuilt Temple, bring about a horrendous persecution, defile the Temple, and will be destroyed by the direct hand of God.

Application

Antiochus believed that he had thrown God out of his Temple. In reality, God had predicted this entire event. Similarly, we might feel like we’ve thrown God out of our lives, but he is still sovereign and in control.

Daniel 9 (The Seventy Weeks Prophecy)

Daniel realizes that the 70 exile is nearing its end by reading Jeremiah’s prophecy about this (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10). Darius’ first year was in 538/537 BC, so the Jewish exile was nearing its completion. This causes Daniel to pray (v.4). What are some of the keys to Daniel’s prayer?

“Primarily for this reason the covenant name, Yahweh, appears in this chapter (seven times), although it is not found elsewhere in the book.”

(9:1) This dates to 538 BC.

(9:2) Miller writes, “Jeremiah’s first prophecy of this seventy-year exile was delivered in 605 B.C. (cf. Jer 25:11–12 with 25:1), when Daniel was a young teenage boy.”

Daniel interpreted this prophecy literally—not symbolically.

(9:3)

(9:4) He begins by praising God for his power and faithfulness. God is not just powerful, but loving.

(9:5-6) He admits that the people have sinned.

(9:7) He knows that God is righteous, and can’t stand sin.

(9:9) God is merciful and forgiving.

(9:11) The people are getting what they deserve.

(9:13) The problem isn’t with God, but the people haven’t listened.

(9:15) Daniel calls on the love of God to rescue them based on the past Exodus and his covenant with Israel.

(9:18-19) Daniel prays that God would remember the people, their Temple, and city. The basis of his prayer is not his personal righteousness, but God’s character.

(9:20-23) Gabriel comes to answer his prayer, and explains the coming of the Messiah.

(9:24-27) For a thorough apologetic of the Daniel 9 prophecy, see Evidence Unseen: Exposing the Myth of Blind Faith (2013). For a thorough exegesis of Daniel 9:27 with regards to eschatology, see Endless Hope or Hopeless End: The Bible and the End of Human History (2016).

(Dan. 9:24) Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

This is given “for your holy people and your holy city” (v.24).

(1) to finish the transgression. This uses the definite article (“the transgression”). This refers to some definite transgression of the Jewish people—perhaps the rejection of Jesus.

(2) to make an end of sin.

(3) to make atonement for iniquity. Jesus performed this, but the Jewish people haven’t received this yet.

(4) to bring in everlasting righteousness. This will happen when Messiah comes (Jer. 23:5; Isa. 11:4-5).

(5) to seal up vision and prophecy.

(6) to anoint the most holy place. This is almost always in reference to the Temple in the OT.

If these are all in reference to Israel (“your people and your holy city”), then how could these be fulfilled?

Dispensational view (literal years): The angel comes to give a meaning to Daniel—not more symbolism. The context refers literal years. They disobeyed for 70 Sabbatical years, which would constitute 490 years (Lev. 26:27-34; 2 Chron. 36:20). 490 years of disobedience in the past.

Amillennial view (symbolic years): Storms writes, “The seventy weeks are not designed to establish precise chronological parameters for redemptive history. Rather, they serve to evoke a theological image, namely, that in ‘Messiah Jesus’ God will work to bring about the final jubilee of redemptive history.”[107]

(Dan. 9:25) “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

The decree: The only decree in the OT that specifically refers to the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem is found in Nehemiah 2:1-8. Since it is dated in the 20th year of Artaxerxes in the spring, this would date to 444 BC.

Seven weeks and sixty two weeks. This refers to weeks of years. Thus this is 483 years. Since Daniel was using a 360 day calendar, this would bring us to AD 33 (after adjusting for the zero year).

(Dan. 9:26) Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

Dispensational view: Dispensationalist see a “gap” here for a number of reasons:

(1) Daniel distinguishes the first 69 weeks from the 70th. Why separate these periods if they are all meant to flow together?

(2) Daniel records that this will happen “even to the end” (v.26), which supports a jump forward in history.

(3) The Temple is destroyed in verse 26 (“[he will] destroy the city and the sanctuary”). But the Temple is standing again in verse 27 (“he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering”). Daniel makes mention of the Abomination of Desolation which also presupposes a Temple.

(4) The six-fold description of the work of the Messiah in Daniel 9:24 doesn’t seem to have been completely fulfilled by Jesus in AD 33. Therefore, we should look forward to its fulfillment by the end of the 70 weeks.

Amillenial view: There is no gap in this verse. Instead, this final “week” refers to the Cross and then the entire Church Age (~2,000 years).

Will the Church be here? Under the Amillennial view, this whole period describes the Church Age. Under the Dispensational view, the Church will likely be rescued before this great tribulation. After all, if we weren’t here for the first 69 weeks, then why would we be here for the final 70th week? Remember, this whole prophecy of the 70 weeks was given to “your city and your holy people” (v.24). This implies that the Church will be rescued before this period (i.e. Pre-tribulational Rapture).

(Dan. 9:27) And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.

Who is the “he” mentioned here? Some interpreters take this figure to be Christ, while others take this figure to be the Antichrist… Clearly one of the two are wrong!

Dispensational view (Antichrist): Since Dispensationalists see a gap in verse 26, they argue that this is a different figure. They note that the Antichrist is the “prince who is to come” in verse 26. The “people” who destroyed the Temple in AD 70 were the Romans. Hence, Dispensationalists see this figure as being from the revived Roman Empire (see exposition of Daniel 7). They also note that the nearest antecedent for this pronoun (“he”) refers to the “prince who is to come,” rather than to “the Messiah” (i.e. Jesus).

Amillennial view (Christ): Since they see no gap in verse 26, Amillennialists see this figure to be referring to Jesus.

What is the “firm covenant”?

Dispensational view (a fake covenant between the Antichrist and the regathered nation of Israel): This refers to the Antichrist making a covenant with the Jewish people at the end of human history. The fact that it is a “firm” covenant may imply that it is forced on the Jewish people.

Amillennial view (the “new covenant” of Jesus): This refers to Christ making a “new covenant” with the Jewish people through his death on the Cross (Mt. 26:28).[108] The problem with this view is that Daniel already recorded that the “city and the sanctuary [Temple]” were destroyed. Thus on the Amillennial view, this sequence of events is out of order.

“In the middle of the week” must refer to 3.5 years into the final “week.”

Dispensational view (literal 7 years): If the first 69 weeks were literal periods of seven years (i.e. 483 years), then why won’t the final 70th week be a literal period of seven years (i.e. 7 years). Moreover, Daniel earlier referred to the second half of this week as a “time, times, and half a time,” which would refer to 3.5 years. Miller writes, “Most scholars interpret ‘for a time, times and half a time’ to mean three and one half-years.”[109] Moreover, the book of Revelation refers to this period as “forty-two months” (Rev. 11:2; 13:5), “time and times and half a time” (Rev. 12:14), and “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Rev. 12:6).

Amillennial view (symbolic 7 years): These interpreters believe that this period is symbolic. It doesn’t refer to the length of time, but the kind of time, which will be persecution like the time of the Maccabean Revolt.[110] However, we would argue that this interpretation doesn’t do justice to the biblical correlation of this period. Instead, it prefers the extrabiblical sources of 1 Maccabees over the biblical sources of Daniel itself and the book of Revelation.

Instead of seeing a gap in verse 26, Amillennialists take the final “week” to be symbolic. The second half of the week “are symbolic of the church on earth during the entire time of its existence. It also is a reference to the tribulation depicted in Daniel.”[111] Storms adds, “The destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70 is the middle of the week, and the present church age is the latter half.”[112]

“He will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering.” This refers to the Antichrist. This also implies that the Temple will be rebuilt.

Dispensational view (Anti-Christ): Dispensationalist see a gap in verse 26. Jesus identified that a singular man would sit in the Temple during this time and perform the Abomination of Desolation (Mk. 13:14 ESV).

Amillenial view (Christ): Amillennialists argue that Jesus was the one to put a stop to Temple sacrifices (Heb. 9:12; 10:10).

“On the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate.” This is the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Jesus.

Dispensational view: The Antichrist will destroy the Temple at the end of human history.

Amillennial view: Christ destroyed the Temple through his work on the Cross (Heb. 9:26) and his prediction its destruction by the Romans in AD 70 (Lk. 19:42-44). This would be a partial-Preterist view of Jesus’ teaching.

“Even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Dispensational view: The Antichrist will be destroyed.

Amillennial view: The Roman emperor or the Roman Empire (?) will be destroyed.

Daniel 10

Why is Michael called a “prince” if he’s an angel? The term could refer to an “authority.”

(10:1) Daniel gets another vision about war.

(10:2)

(10:3)

(10:4)

(10:5)

(10:6)

(10:7)

(10:8)

(10:9)

(10:10)

(10:11)

(10:12)

(10:13)

(10:14)

(10:15)

(10:16)

(10:17)

(10:18)

(10:19)

(10:20)

(10:21)

Daniel 11

John Walvoord states that there are 135 fulfilled predictions in this chapter.[113]

All of these are in the future tense, and Daniel claims to tell us “the truth” (v.2). This is why we cannot agree with critical scholars who believe this was actually written by a pseudepigraphal author in the Maccabean Era in 164 BC.

(11:1) In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him.

Prophecy of the PERSIAN King: Xerxes

(11:2) And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece.

Cyrus (559-530 B.C.) was the current king.

Cambyses (530-522 B.C.)

Psuedo-Smerdis (522 B.C.)

Darius I (522—486 B.C.)

The Persian king who invaded Greece was, of course, Xerxes, who reigned 485–464 b.c. The three kings who preceded him after the death of Cyrus, the incumbent ruler, were (1) Cambyses, Cyrus’s elder son, who in the six or seven years of his reign (529–523) succeeded in conquering Egypt; (2) then for a year or two an imposter named Gaumata or Bardiya (523–522), who passed himself off as Cyrus’s younger son, Smerdis (even though the true Smerdis had been secretly murdered by his brother’s agents); and (3) Darius the Persian (522–485), the son of Hystaspes, who in 522 assassinated the imposter and was elevated to the kingship in his place. Darius himself was of royal blood, since he was a cousin of Cyrus through his father, Hystaspes.[114]

“Then a fourth will gain far more riches that all of them”

Xerxes I (486—446 B.C.) In the movie “300,” Xerxes was the king leading the Persian army.

Prophecy of the GREEK King: Alexander the Great

(11:3-4) And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases. 4 But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them.

“a mighty king will arise” =Alexander the Great (336-323 BC).

The king’s rule will suddenly come to an end and be turned over to someone else.

  1. Cassander controlled Greece and Macedonia (north of Greece).
  2. Lysimachus ruled Asia Minor and Thrace (Bulgaria/Serbia today).
  3. Ptolemy I conquered Egypt and North Africa.
  4. Seleucus was in control of Syria and Mesopotamia.

“though not to his own descendants”

Alexander’s wife, Roxana, was pregnant when her husband died. Alexander’s son (IV) was murdered by Cassander, one of Alexander’s generals.

Philip III Arrhideaus (another blood relative) was murdered by Olympias –the mother of Alexander the Great, in 317 BC.

Remember, as the angel is focused on Jewish people, who Daniel was praying about (Dan. 9). He focuses most on Seleucus and Ptolemy.

Seleucus and his descendants = Seleucid Empire = Syria = Kings of the North.

Ptolemy and his descendants = Ptolemaic Empire = Egypt/N. Africa = Kings of the South

These two warring powers fought each other for generations, like the Hatfields and McCoys. The people of Israel lived between them and were often caught up in their many battles.

Prophecy of the GREEK King: Alexander the Great

(11:5) Then the king of the South will grow strong, along with one of his princes who will gain ascendancy over him and obtain dominion; his domain will be a great dominion indeed.

The king of the south is Ptolemy I Soter (323-285 BC). He was one of Alexander’s generals.

Ptolemy I controlled Egypt and North Africa, which are both south of Israel.

“one of his princes… will gain ascendancy over him.”

This is a reference to Seleucus I Nicator (312/311-280 B.C.).

Seleucus expanded his power as governor of Babylonia, until he had an empire in his own right.

Eventually, Seleucus ruled the largest of the four kingdoms that emerged from Alexander’s vast empire.

(11:6) After some years they will form an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the South will come to the king of the North to carry out a peaceful arrangement. But she will not retain her position of power, nor will he remain with his power, but she will be given up, along with those who brought her in and the one who sired her as well as he who supported her in those times.

Ptolemy’s son Ptolemy II (285-246 B.C.) and Seleucus’ grandson Antiochus II Theos settled on terms of peace.

Ptolemy II’s daughter Berenice (“the daughter of the king of the south”) married Antiochus II (the Seleucid “king of the North”).

They hoped to have a son who could rule both empires.

Laodice (married to Antiochus II) felt cut out. So, she had all three of them killed.

More details follow… Too many to cover in this class.

(11:7) But one of the descendants of her line will arise in his place, and he will come against their army and enter the fortress of the king of the North, and he will deal with them and display great strength.

(11:8) Also their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold he will take into captivity to Egypt, and he on his part will refrain from attacking the king of the North for some years.

(11:9) Then the latter will enter the realm of the king of the South, but will return to his own land.

(11:10) His sons will mobilize and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one of them will keep on coming and overflow and pass through, that he may again wage war up to his very fortress.

(11:11) The king of the South will be enraged and go forth and fight with the king of the North. Then the latter will raise a great multitude, but that multitude will be given into the hand of the former.

(11:12) When the multitude is carried away, his heart will be lifted up, and he will cause tens of thousands to fall; yet he will not prevail.

(11:13) For the king of the North will again raise a greater multitude than the former, and after an interval of some years he will press on with a great army and much equipment.

(11:14) Now in those times many will rise up against the king of the South; the violent ones among your people will also lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they will fall down.

(11:15) Then the king of the North will come, cast up a siege ramp and capture a well-fortified city; and the forces of the South will not stand their ground, not even their choicest troops, for there will be no strength to make a stand.

(11:16) But he who comes against him will do as he pleases, and no one will be able to withstand him; he will also stay for a time in the Beautiful Land, with destruction in his hand.

(11:17) He will set his face to come with the power of his whole kingdom, bringing with him a proposal of peace which he will put into effect; he will also give him the daughter of women to ruin it. But she will not take a stand for him or be on his side.

(11:18) Then he will turn his face to the coastlands and capture many. But a commander will put a stop to his scorn against him; moreover, he will repay him for his scorn.

(11:19) So he will turn his face toward the fortresses of his own land, but he will stumble and fall and be found no more.

(11:20) Then in his place one will arise who will send an oppressor through the Jewel of his kingdom; yet within a few days he will be shattered, though not in anger nor in battle.

(11:21) In his place a despicable person will arise, on whom the honor of kingship has not been conferred, but he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue.

(11:22) The overflowing forces will be flooded away before him and shattered, and also the prince of the covenant.

(11:23) After an alliance is made with him he will practice deception, and he will go up and gain power with a small force of people.

(11:24) In a time of tranquility he will enter the richest parts of the realm, and he will accomplish what his fathers never did, nor his ancestors; he will distribute plunder, booty and possessions among them, and he will devise his schemes against strongholds, but only for a time.

(11:25) He will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South with a large army; so the king of the South will mobilize an extremely large and mighty army for war; but he will not stand, for schemes will be devised against him.

(11:26) Those who eat his choice food will destroy him, and his army will overflow, but many will fall down slain.

(11:27) As for both kings, their hearts will be intent on evil, and they will speak lies to each other at the same table; but it will not succeed, for the end is still to come at the appointed time.

(11:28) Then he will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant, and he will take action and then return to his own land.

(11:29) At the appointed time he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before.

(11:30) For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.

(11:30-31) For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.

Antiochus sent his mercenaries to Jerusalem, and they attacked on the Sabbath Day. They killed a large number of people and looted the city (see 1 Macc. 1:30–32; 2 Macc. 5:25–26).

He prohibited all Jewish religious practices, promising that violators would be killed (see 1 Macc. 1:50, 63).

He set up a statue of Zeus in the temple (“the abomination that causes desolation”). Then, on December 25, he offered a sacrifice to Zeus by slaughtering a pig on the altar. Daniel calls this the abomination of desolation because it rendered the temple unclean, useless, and desolate.

(11:32) By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.

It must have been tempting to listen to Antiochus’ “smooth words.”

(11:33) Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days.

(11:34) Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy.

This revolt was not helped. Many sold out.

Is there a gap here?

Virtually all interpreters agree that verses 1-34 refer to the predictions of events which are now past. However, Dispensationalists argue that there is a gap here in verse 35. They do so for a number of reasons:

(1) Verses 36-45 do not historically fit with Antiochus Epiphanes IV. Rashi and John Calvin held that this referred to the entire Roman Empire, while other interpreters like Theodoret, Jerome, and Luther held that this referred to the Antichrist.[115] Even critical scholars who try to squeeze these predictions into the life of Antiochus admit that it isn’t as accurate as verses 1-34.[116] We can see several historical inaccuracies in the life of Antiochus:

  • Antiochus did not deify himself; instead, he deified Zeus in the Temple (11:36-37).
  • Antiochus did not reject the gods of his fathers (11:37) or worship a “foreign god” (11:38). He worshipped Zeus.
  • Antiochus did not die in Palestine (11:45), but rather in Tabae in Persia.

Verses 36-45 do fit with the sequence found in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. That is, the end of the prophecy relates to the Second Coming of Christ. It shouldn’t surprise us that the description of the Antichrist should come on the heels of a description of Antichous Epiphanes IV. After all, we saw the same method used in Daniel 7 and 8.

Verses 36-45 relate to “the end” according to Daniel. Daniel relates this period to “the end of time” (Dan. 11:40). Daniel describes this period in this way: “There will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time” (Dan. 12:1). Clearly, this hasn’t happened yet, and certainly didn’t happen in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes IV. Daniel even opens this chapter by writing “at that time.” So the events at the end of chapter 11 must be at the same time of chapter 12. However, Daniel places this event during the time of the resurrection, which is clearly future (Dan. 12:2).

(Dan. 11:35) Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.

The “end time” would refer to the last phase of human history (cf. Dan. 11:40; 12:4, 9). Thus Daniel seems to be shifting his focus away from Antiochus and toward the more distant future.

(11:36) Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.

“The king.” Prior to verse 36, “the king” is always modified by “…of the south” or “…of the north.” Here is just called “the king.”

“The king will do as he pleases.” This implies an attitude of authority and sovereignty. A similar expression is used of God’s sovereignty (Dan. 4:35) and other kings (8:4; 11:3, 16).

“He will speak monstrous things against the God of gods.” This description fits with the blasphemies of the Antichrist (Dan. 7:8; Rev. 13:5).

(11:37) He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all.

“No regard for the gods of his fathers.” Some interpreters understand “the gods of his fathers” to refer to Yahweh (cf. Dan. 2:23). After all, the Hebrew word here is Elohim is used for “gods” of his fathers. However, others argue that the absence of the term LORD (Yahweh) implies that this is referring to “gods” in general (i.e. pagan deities).[117]

“The desire of women.” This could refer to his cruel treatment of women. Others take this to refer to the desire of women found in the Messianic promise of Genesis 3:15.[118]

“Nor will he show regard for any other god.” This cannot refer to Antiochus, who erected a statue of Jupiter (Zeus) in the Jewish Temple.

“He will magnify himself above them all.” This rejection of any god is paralleled by him deifying himself. This fits with Paul’s description of the Antichrist (“man of lawlessness”) who “exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (2 Thess. 2:4). It also fits with John’s description of world-wide worship of the deified Beast (Rev. 13:12).

(Dan. 11:38) But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures.

“He will honor a god of fortresses.” This could refer to worshipping the god of war or a personification of war.[119] Remember, both the “little horn” and the “beast” are interested in warfare. The people will cry, “Who can make war with the beast?” (Rev. 13:4)

“A god whom his fathers did not know.” Again, this cannot refer to Antiochus, who worshipped Zeus.

“He will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures.” He will be a rampant and rich materialist.

(Dan. 11:39) He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price.

This “foreign god” probably refers to Satan himself. Paul calls Satan the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and says that the Antichrist’s “coming is in accordance with the activity of Satan” (2 Thess. 2:9).

“He will give great honor to those who honor him.” As the Antichrist accumulates wealth and power, he will use these resources to honor those who support his cause.

The wars of the Antichrist

(Dan. 11:40) At the end time the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he will enter countries, overflow them and pass through.

This final battle is mentioned a lot in OT (Ezek. 39:2-9; Joel 3:2-16; Zech. 12:2-9; 14:1-21) and the NT (Rev. 16:16). In Hebrew, John calls it “Har-Megedon” or literally, “mount Megiddo.” Most commentators think he is referring to a broad plain near Mount Megiddo that has been the scene of many battles throughout history.

Why does Daniel use language of ancient warfare to describe a future battle? There are a number of possible explanations: (1) World war might revert humanity to a handicapped technological state (e.g. EMP’s of nuclear warfare). After all, Albert Einstein said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”[120] (2) The language is similar to a modern general saying, “Send in the cavalry” or “They’re going to die by the sword.” Just as Daniel is using ancient language to describe the countries involved, he could be using ancient language to describe the weaponry.[121] (3) Daniel is only mentioning some, but not all, of the weapons used. Perhaps these armies are using multiple different types of weapons, but Daniel only mentions some of these.

(11:41) He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall; but these will be rescued out of his hand: Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon.

The Beautiful Land refers to Israel.

(11:42) Then he will stretch out his hand against other countries, and the land of Egypt will not escape.

(11:43) But he will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians will follow at his heels.

 (11:44) But rumors from the East and from the North will disturb him, and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many.

In Revelation 16:12, an angel prepares the way for their invasion by drying up the Euphrates River. Revelation 9:13-19 mentions an army 200 million that may correlate with this description of Egypt being involved.

(11:45) He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

Jesus will destroy the Antichrist, which fits with this passage (Dan. 7:11, 26-27; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:20).

Daniel 12

(Dan. 12:1) Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.

“Now at that time.” This flows directly from the content at the end of chapter 11.

“Michael, the great prince.” Daniel has already identified Michael in his book (Dan. 10:13-21). Daniel has also identified these “princes” with angels (Dan. 10:13, 20). The reference to “the great prince” suggests that Michael is an extremely powerful angel, or as Jude writes an “archangel” (Jude 9). Revelation explains that Michael is the “dragon slayer” (Rev. 12:7ff). Michael is, in part, God’s answer to the angel Satan, who will be powerfully persecuting believers during this time (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:2).

“There will be a time of distress such as never occurred.” The world has seen horrendous atrocities and wars, but this event will be worse than them all. This is referring to the final world war. Of this period, Jesus said, “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Mt. 24:22).

“Distress” (Hebrew ṣā) is translated with the Greek term thlipsis, which the NT uses to describe the great “tribulation” (Mt. 24:21).

This could refer to the “nation” of Israel. After all, Daniel refers to “your people” which is Israel.[122] Under this view, Daniel is writing that this persecution will be worse than any other that Israel has suffered or will suffered.[123]

This could also be taken to refer to the existence of any nation. That is, this human suffering will be “unlike anything experienced in the history of the world.”[124] Either way, this warfare will be absolutely horrific.

Resurrection

(Dan. 12:2) Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.

Daniel describes two separate resurrections here. On the Dispensational view, one of these occurs at the beginning of the Millennium, and the other at the end. One is for believers at the beginning, and the other for unbelievers at the end. Note that Daniel says “many” (Hebrew rabbîm) will be raised, but not “all.”

Reward

(Dan. 12:3) Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Many people will come to faith during the time of Tribulation when they witness the example of faithful believers.

Revelation

(Dan. 12:4) But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”

“Conceal these words and seal up the book.” In the ancient Near East, sealing a document meant that it could not be tampered with (see Jer. 32:9-12).[125]

“Many will go back and forth.” Though some Dispensationalists see this as a prediction of world travel, we agree with Stephen Miller who writes that “an ‘intense’ searching seems indicated by the verb form. The purpose of this search will be ‘to increase knowledge.’”[126]

We will understand what Daniel means as we reach the end of history. Walvoord writes, “It is not too much to say that a twentieth-century interpreter of Daniel may understand these prophecies with greater clarity and be able to relate them to history in a way that was impossible in the sixth century BC.”[127]

(Dan. 12:5) Then I, Daniel, looked and behold, two others were standing, one on this bank of the river and the other on that bank of the river.

 

(Dan. 12:6) And one said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be until the end of these wonders?”

This man in linen probably refers to the man mentioned in Daniel 10:5-6.

The “wonders” no doubt refer to the remarkable reign of the Antichrist, world war, and the resurrection of the dead.

(Dan. 12:7) I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.

“Time, times, and a half a time.” This refers to 3.5 years (Dan. 7:25; cf. Rev. 12:6, 14).

“As soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.” Once the Jewish people are totally at their wits end, then God will come to rescue them.

(Dan. 12:8) As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?”

If you feel confused by these prophecies, you are in good company. Even Daniel himself was confused (!).

(Dan. 12:9) He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.”

Again, the nature of these prophecies will not be fully revealed until the end of history. While “knowledge will increase” (v.4), we won’t have certainty until all is revealed.

(Dan. 12:10) Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.

While God conceals these prophecies from the wicked, he will reveal them to the wise.

(Dan. 12:11) From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.

(Dan. 12:12) How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!

Why does Daniel record that the 3.5 years equals 1,290 days or 1,335 days, when John equates this period of time with 1,260 days? (Rev. 12:6). Dispensational commentators understand these extra 30 days or 75 days to refer to the inauguration of Jesus’ kingdom. This could take time to go from complete and utter anarchy to inaugurate the reign of Christ. Mark Hitchcock writes, “This interval could be likened to the time between the election of a US president in November and the official inauguration in January. During this time, the president-elect appoints cabinet members, prepares his agenda, and doles out the spoils of victory to his faithful supporters.”[128] Though hesitantly, Stephen Miller agrees, “It has been reasonably suggested that this date is the official inauguration of the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth.”[129]

We are blessed if we make it through the “sheep and goats” judgment of Matthew 25.

(Dan. 12:13) But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”

Daniel will be raised from the dead at this period of history as well. Miller writes, “The promise of the resurrection set forth in 12:2 is now specifically applied to Daniel.”[130] He will have a “portion” along with the rest of us. As an old veteran of faith, these words must have comforted Daniel.

[1] Archer, Gleason. A survey of Old Testament introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 421.

[2] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 50.

[3] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 31). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[4] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, pp. 34–35). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[5] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 25.

[6] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 27.

[7] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 30.

[8] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 31.

[9] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 31.

[10] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 31.

[11] Herodotus, Histories, 1, 178.

[12] Herodotus records that they used 800 talents, which translates to 16.8 metric tons. Herodotus, Histories, 1, 178.

[13] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 32.

[14] Definitions take from Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 34). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[15] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 46.

[16] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 92). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[17] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 62.

[18] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, pp. 33–34). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[19] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 69.

[20] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 105.

[21] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 50). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[22] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 136.

[23] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 50). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[24] Stephen Miller, Daniel: The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 112.

[25] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 110). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[26] Stephen Miller, Daniel: The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 109.

[27] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 144-145.

[28] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 145.

[29] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 115). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[30] Stephen Miller, Daniel: The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 119.

[31] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 117). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. See also Stephen Miller, Daniel: The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 121.

[32] Stephen Miller, Daniel: The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 114.

[33] Stephen Miller, Daniel: The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 122.

[34] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 151.

[35] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 151.

[36] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 154.

[37] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 61). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[38] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 125). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[39] See footnote. Goldingay, J. E. (1998). Daniel (Vol. 30, p. 78). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[40] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 159.

[41] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, pp. 127–128). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[42] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 174.

[43] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[44] Cited in Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[45] Cited in Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[46] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[47] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 75). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[48] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[49] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 178.

[50] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 182.

[51] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 135). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[52] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 180.

[53] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 137). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[54] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 75). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[55] Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Da 5:30–31). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[56] Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Da 5:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[57] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 184.

[58] I am indebted to my friend Mike Sullivan’s class notes on Daniel for this illustration, as well as many others throughout this chapter.

[59] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 26.

[60] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 141). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[61] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 203.

[62] David Wells, “Prayer: Rebelling Against the Status Quo,” Christianity Today, Vol. 17, No. 6, November 2, 1979.

[63] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 204.

[64] Diodorus Siculus 17.30. Cited in Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 142). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[65] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 81). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[66] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 81). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[67] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 82). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[68] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 145). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[69] Wiersbe, Be Resolute, p. 83.

[70] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 227-228.

[71] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 153). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 7:1.

[72] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 84). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[73] Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 7:1.

[74] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 86). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[75] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 156). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[76] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 89). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[77] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 158). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[78] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 158). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[79] Walvoord, John F. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation. Chicago: Moody, 1971. Dan. 7:19-22.

[80] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 230.

[81] Walvoord, John F. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation. Chicago: Moody, 1971. Dan. 7:19-22.

[82] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 94). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. Walvoord, John F. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation. Chicago: Moody, 1971. Dan. 7:23-25.

[83] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 232.

[84] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 173). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[85] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 96). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 173). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[86] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 174). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[87] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 97). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[88] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 97). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[89] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 98). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[90] David A. deSilva, Introducing the Apocrypha (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 47.

[91] John Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 274.

[92] Cited in Jasper Becker, Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea (Oxford University Press, 2005), 91.

[93] “Report: Kim Jong Il introduces hamburgers to North Korea,” The Augusta Chronicle, July 8, 2004.

[94] Jim Halley, “With Holes in One, No Matter How You Slice Them, Luck is Vital,” USA Today, July 17, 2006.

[95] Cindy Boren, “Kim Jong-Il: A sporting life (with golf, bowling, soccer and basketball interests),” The Washington Post, December 19, 2011.

[96] Chol-hwan Kang and Pierre Rigoulot (translated by Yair Reiner), The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag (Basic Books, 2005), 3.

[97] Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse (general editors), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Oxford University Press, 2013), 506.

[98] Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse (general editors), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Oxford University Press, 2013), 506.

[99] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 103). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[100] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 176). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[101] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 103). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 176). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[102] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 229.

[103] Carl Frederick Keil, Biblical Commentary on the Book of Daniel. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), 302.

[104] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 229.

[105] Walvoord, John F. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation. Chicago: Moody, 1971), Daniel 8:14.

[106] Baldwin, J. G. (1978). Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 23, p. 177). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[107] C. Samuel Storms, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2013), 90.

[108] C. Samuel Storms, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2013), 85.

[109] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel. New American Commentary. Vol. 18. (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 214.

[110] See C. Samuel Storms, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2013), 485.

[111] Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism, 183.

[112] C. Samuel Storms, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2013),  90.

[113] Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 11:35.

[114] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 128). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[115] Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 11:36.

[116] Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 11:36.

[117] Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 11:37-39.

[118] Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 11:37-39.

[119] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 308.

[120] Albert Einstein in an interview with Alfred Werner. Liberal Judaism 16 (April-May, 1949), 12. Cited in Albert Einstein and Alice Calaprice, The New Quotable Einstein (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005), 173.

[121] Archer, G. L., Jr. (1986). Daniel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 147). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[122] Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 12:1.

[123] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 314.

[124] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 314.

[125] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 320.

[126] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 320.

[127] Walvoord, John. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Introduction, 1989. Daniel 12:4.

[128] Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2012), 393.

[129] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 326.

[130] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel: New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 326.