Month: י״ב באדר ה׳תשע״ג (February 22, 2013)

The Book of Daniel Lesson 10 Chap 10, 11, 12 by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

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The last three chapters of Daniel (10-12) form one final vision and the most complete revelation Daniel received.  They focus in particular on the pressure two nations would place on Israel, but the twelfth chapter of Daniel assures that Israel  will be delivered in that final day.

Daniel’s final vision begins with a date formula, just as it also appeared in 1:1; 2:1; 7:1; 8:1; and 9:1. The date was “The third year of Cyrus, king of Persia, which would place this vision almost three years after the vision in 9:1, which took place in the “first year of Darius.” This would place it as late as 536 B.C. This means that if Daniel entered Babylonian civil service in 605/6 B.C., then the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia would have marked the end of the seventy years of captivity in Babylon, the same time period the prophet Jeremiah had predicted (Jer 25:11-12; 29:10).

Already, two years earlier, a small group had gone back to Jerusalem and had attempted to rebuild the temple, but a work stoppage had halted that effort because of opposition from their own people in Jerusalem. Whether Daniel was still in public office, we do not know for sure, yet Daniel 1:21 suggests that Daniel held office at least until the first year of Cyrus.

The four visions that make up the final part of Daniel’s book (chapters 7-12) fall into chronological order, just as the narratives of chapters 1-6 did. Thus, chapters 7 and 8 came in the first and third years of Belshazzar’s reign, which belong chronologically between chapters 4 and 5 in the narrative section. Likewise chapters 9 and 10-12 came in the first and third years of Cyrus’s reign and so they came later than the time of the narratives in chapters 1-6.

The last three chapters of Daniel, broadly speaking, fall into a three-part structure: (1) a prologue in 10:1- 19, (2) a report of the vision in 10:20-12:4, and (3) an epilogue in 12:5-13.

OUTLINE:

Title: “Preparing for a Time of Distress and Deliverance”

Text: Daniel 10:1 — 12:13

Focal Point: 12:1, “At that time…. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered.”

Homiletical Keyword: “Times”

Interrogative: What are the Times of Distress and Deliverance?

Teaching Aim: To understand how God will introduce times of distress before he sends his final deliverance to all who belong to him.

I. The Vision From the Heavenly Messenger (10:1—11:1)

A. The Vision on the Banks of the Tigris (10:1-4)

B. The Man in Linen at the Tigris River (10:5-9)

C. Explaining to Daniel Future Happenings to Israel (10:10-11:1)

II. The Prophecies About the Nations as They Prepare for the Final Conflict with Israel (11:2-45)

A. The Prophecy About Persia (11:2)

B. The Prophecy About Greece (11:3)

C. The Prophecies About the King of the South and the King of the North (11:5-20)

D. The Prophecy for the Last King of the South (11:21-35)

E. The Prophecy About the Willful King (11:36-45)

III. The Prophecies About Israel at the End of Time (12:1-13)

A. The Great Tribulation (12:1)

B. The Resurrection of the Dead (12:2)

C. The Final Reward of the Just (12:3)

D. The Disposition of These Prophetic Words (12:4-13)

(STUDY OF TEXT BEGINS…)

I. The Vision from the Heavenly Messenger (10:1 -11:1)

A. The Vision on the Banks of the Tigris (10:1-4)

The opening verse is given by the narrator in the third person, while the vision itself is in the first person. He introduced the content of this vision as a “revelation” (Hebrew, galah), i.e., an “uncovering” or a “disclosure” from God to his servant Daniel. But this revelation was as much a “word” from God as well, for the narrator also called it a “message” (Hebrew, dabar, “word,” which came to him in a “vision” (Hebrew, mar’eh, 10:1), what could be “seen” as well. The message itself “concerned a great war” (10:1), but no more data is given at this point.

Some commentators note that Daniel’s date formulas cluster in the first three years of a king, which suggests that Yahweh was Lord even in the key transitions of history. Thus, this fourth vision came three years after the revelation of the vision of the “seventy sevens” in chapter 9.

King Cyrus had entered the city of Babylon as conqueror in October of 539 and established the Medo-Persian Empire. One of his first edicts came in March of 538 B.C, when he permitted captive groups, whom the Babylonians had taken from their homelands, to go back home to the countries from which they had been taken. This also applied to the Hebrews as well, even though they are not mentioned on the famous “Cyrus Cylinder,” which described this edict of Cyrus. But Daniel remained behind in the land of captivity, as the listing of his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, would remind him and us (10:1). Thus, within the year, Sheshbazzar (Ezr 1:1-4, 11) led some of the Hebrew captives back home and he rebuilt the sacrificial altar (Ezr 3: 1-3). They proceeded to lay the foundation footers for building the second temple in April of 536 B.C., but that effort was soon abandoned and left undone for the next sixteen years due to the division between the younger generation and the older folks who had seen the size of the (First) Solomonic Temple compared to this small footprint of the proposed new temple (Ezr 4:1, 24). The oldsters though the times were not right for such a project, but the younger generation was so glad to see something was now underway that they rejoiced; but as a result of the discord, both lost!

The message that Daniel now received, however, was so heavy that Daniel fasted for “three weeks” (2), for he cut out all gourmet (“choice food,” 10:3) foods, all meat and wine, and he used “no lotions” until the three weeks were over (3). The rejection of all lotions may seem easy enough until we recall that the climate of Israel was similar to some desert climates, therefore it was necessary to lubricate the skin in such low humidity climates. This time would have included festal anointing with oil as an indication of one’s joy and gladness at festival time.

Daniel found himself standing on the banks of the Tigris River (4) at the time of the feasts of the Passover and Unleavened bread (4a; cf. Lev 23:5), which also fell “on the twenty-fourth day of the first month” (4a). This mighty Tigris River was some 1150 miles long, but 500 miles shorter than the Euphrates River on the west side of Babylon. Why he was on the banks of the Tigris River at that time, he does not say, whether on a business trip for the Medo-Persian government, or he was there just for seclusion and rest.

B. The Man in Linen at the Tigris River (10:5-9)

Daniel “looked up, and there before [him] was a man dressed in linen” (5a). Linen dress was the traditional dress for Israel’s priests (Exod 28:5, 39, 42), but it also signified purity (Exod 28:42). The prophet Ezekiel also had seen an angel dressed in linen (Ezk 9:2-3), and angels appear in the New Testament clothed in bright linen (Rev 15:6), but was this “man” an angel, or even the interpreting angel Gabriel, who had appeared earlier to Daniel (8:16; 9:21)?

However, since the description of this “man” exceeds all ordinary angels and since his description shares in common four features with the “Son of Man” in Revelation 1:13-16, we would favor this being a Christophony, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament. Daniel did call this vision a “great vision” (8a), perhaps for this reason. The four features Daniel’s vision shared with The “Son of Man” in Revelation 1:13-16 were: (1) “a belt of the finest gold around his waist” (5b) is similar to: “with a golden sash around his chest” (Rev 1:13c); (2) “his eyes [were] like flaming torches” (6c); is similar to: “his eyes were like blazing fire” (Rev 1:14c); (3) his “legs like the gleam of burnished bronze” (6d); is similar to: “His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace” (Rev 1:15a); and (4) “his voice like the sound of a multitude” (6e); is similar to: “his voice was like the sound of rushing waters” (Rev 1:15b).

This one, who appeared to Daniel, was a ”man” (5a, cf. Dan 7:13-14)), who was distinguished from the archangel Michael in Daniel 12:6-7. Therefore, we note the progress in revelation to Daniel from an interpreted dream to the highest form of revelation from the second person of the trinity himself. We have already commented on his linen garment and the fact that his waist had a belt of gold from Uphaz, which may be the same place as Ophir. Therefore, when Near Eastern people went for a walk, or on a trip, they pulled up their long outer garment to their chest and belted their waist in to hold the long garment up. Also, his body was like “chysolite” or topaz (6a), and his face was like “lightning” (6b). His eyes were more like “flaming torches,” while his arms and legs gleamed like burnished bronze” (6d). And when he spoke, it had the sound of a multitude (6e). This was the depiction of the pre-incarnate Christ. Christ had come to strengthen Daniel in his weakness after he saw the vision.

“Daniel was the only one who saw the vision (the men with [him] did not see it (10:7)), but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves” (7a-b). Thus, he was left alone to gaze on this vision, but it had a devastating effect of him so that he had no strength left in him (8). As the Son of Man spoke to him, Daniel fell into a deep sleep with his face to the ground (9). He had had a similar reaction to a vision when Gabriel had come to interpret a vision for him (8:17).

C. Explaining to Daniel Future Happenings to Israel (10:10-11:1)

The hand that touched him (10a) is not identified, but it would not seem that Christ would need the assistance of the angel Michael (13), who appears elsewhere in the Bible in verse 21 here and in Daniel 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7 and possibly in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. But whoever touched him, he got him up with his trembling hands and knees to a standing position, while the one touching him asserted that Daniel was indeed “highly esteemed” (10-11; cf. 9:23). Daniel stood there trembling as he was assured that this one had been sent to speak words to him that he was to consider very carefully (11b-c). His experience of being touched on the lips is reminiscent of Isaiah’s throne vision, wherein a live coal was taken from the altar by an angelic being to purify his lips (Isa 6:). But Daniel was not asking for purification, but for strength.

This one explained to Daniel why he had been tardy (12), for the words of Daniel’s prayers had been heard ever since the first day he prayed (12). But the answer was delayed because “the prince of the Persian kingdom” had resisted this messenger for “twenty-one days” (13). But Daniel was not to be afraid (12a), for God had wanted to show this “highly esteemed” man his divine favor.

This prince of the Persian kingdom is presented as a patron evil angel that exercised some sort of power over the Persian Empire as a delegate of Satan. The reality of evil angels is set forth in Scripture in passages like 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. In other places the Bible makes a link between dumb idols and demons (Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37-38; 1 Cor 10:20). There is a real contest going on in this world at the level of spiritual forces of good and evil, as this passage teaches. The evil angel resisted the message getting through to Daniel about what would happen to his people Israel in the future (14). Thus Daniel is given an insight into the conflict being fought in the world of spirits to hinder the cause and the word of God from reaching Daniel. Nowhere does that conflict reach higher stakes than when the kingdom of Satan is confronted by the kingdom of God and its involvement with the people of Israel.

Daniel was still in the throes of his spiritual and emotional struggle that continued to render him “speechless”(15) by all this talk about a celestial warfare that was going on somewhere over the skies of Persia.

Daniel needed a second touch for added strength. He was told, “Do not be afraid….Peace! Be strong now; be strong” (19). Once again his visitor asked him, “Do you know why I have come to you?” (20a). The visitor had to return to fight with the Prince of Persia, and when he would leave, the Prince of Greece would come (20b-c). But there was a matter of business that had to be dealt with first before he returned to the fray; he had to tell him what was written in the Book of Truth” (21). This book, which was altogether reliable, contained the decisions and counsel of what would take place in the future. It was already written down (cf. Ps 56:8; 130:16; Mal 3:16). Since it is already recorded in God’s book, history will proceed according to Scripture as God has purposed it. This fact only heightens the tragedy of critical scholars, who had put Daniel in the Critic’s Den and had proposed that these prophecies and predictions were mere fantasies, in which this history of Daniel was written in the second century B.C., after the events it so accurately described, were finally recorded to look as if they were predictions when it had already happened.

II. The Prophecies About the Nations as They Prepare for the Final Conflict with Israel (11:2-45)

A. The Prophecy About Persia (11:2).

“Three more kings … then a fourth” does not mean three kings after Cyrus and then a fourth will come, for there were more than five Persian rulers. However, in line with the idiom of the wisdom sayings, “for three, yea four” (Prov 30:15-31; Amos 1-2), this would indicate the totality of examples of the Persian Kings, The best candidate for this “fourth” king would be Xerxes, since he was extremely wealthy and he it was who invaded Greece.

B. The Prophecy About Greece (11:3-4)

The “mighty king” mentioned here is undoubtedly Alexander the Great. He came to the throne vacated by his father Phillip in 336 B.C. He did indeed “rule with great power” and he did “as he please[d}.” He was unstoppable in his conquests.

At the height of Alexander’s power and conquests, he died of a fever in Babylon in 323 B.C. At the time of his death, his empire was eventually divided between his four generals: Macedonia and Greece were given to Cassander; Thrace and Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) were given to Lysimachus; Northern Syria, Mesopotamia and regions to the east were given to Seleucus and Southern Palestine and Egypt were given to Ptolemy. Therefore, the Greek Empire did “not go to [Alexander’s] descendants” (11:4b).

C. The Prophecies about the King of the South and the King of the North (11:5-20)

“The king of the South (11:5),“ named Ptolemy I Soter, son of Lagus, one of Alexander’s generals, became governor of Egypt. He announced he was king of Egypt in 305 B.C. and he founded a long lasting dynasty, But “one of his commanders” (11:5), named Peridiccas became regent until one of his generals named Seleucus became part of a group that assassinated Perdiccas in 321 B.C., as Seleucus gained control of Babylon, but was forced to flee from Perdiccas’s successor, Antigonus. Seleucus served as one of Ptolemy’s generals from 316-312 as Ptolemy and Seleucus defeated Antigonus in the Battle of Gaza, leaving Seleucus free to regain Babylon once again. This started the battle between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies for the control of Syria and Palestine over the next two centuries.

Around 250 B.C., Ptolemy II made a treaty with Seleucus II by giving him his daughter Bernice in marriage (6, “the daughter of the king of the South”). Antiochus I (280 – 261 B.C.) divorced his wife Laodice, and disinherited his two sons by Laodice, naming instead his new son by Berenice as the new inheritor of the throne, Two years later he was reconciled to Laodice, only to be poisoned as Laodice poisoned Berenice, her son, and those associated with her.

Since Berenice’s father died before her murder, it was left to her brother, Ptolemy III (246-221 B.C., 11:7, “One from her family line will arise”) to avenge her death. He invaded Syria, captured the cities of Antioch and Seleucia, killing Laodice, but before he returned to Egypt to deal with trouble. Seleucus II (246-226 B.C.), one of Laodice’s brothers, regained control of Syria in the meantime.

In 242 B.C., Seleucus II tried to invade Egypt (11:9), but he was forced to retreat. “His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army” (11:10), thus Seleucus III (226-223 B.C.) succeeded his father, but was murdered during his campaign in Asia Minor in 223 B.C. His brother Antiochus III (223-187 B.C.), with a large army, moved against Ptolemy IV (221-203 B.C.), but Ptolemy met him with his own large army (11:11) at Raphia in 217 B.C. and defeated him there. This victory put Palestine and much of Syria in Egyptian Ptolemaic control.

The king of the North mustered another huge army (11:13) against the new Ptolemy V (203 – 181 B.C.) who came to the throne being only six years old when his father died. At first the king of the North lost to an Egyptian general Scopas at the Battle of Gaza, but he won at the Battle of Paneas/Banias in 200 B.C, where the source of the Jordan River is found. From this time on, the Seleucids held control of Palestine and Syria.

Daniel was also told that “violent men among your own people will rebel” (11:14b), which probably refers to the same incident mentioned by Josephus (Antiq. 12.3.3-4), in which the Jewish people did not take too kindly to the Ptolemaic side, but when the Seleucid factions visited Jerusalem, they were well received as they promised to give the Jews their freedom to live by their own ancestral rules.

Later, in 11:15, the king of the North, Antiochus, captured the city of Sidon to which Scopus and his Egyptian army had retreated after their defeat at Paneas. When the Seleucid siege led to a famine in 198 B.C., the king of the South surrendered. This Egyptian surrender settled finally Antiochus III’s control of Syria and Palestine as Daniel 11:16 affirmed, “He will establish himself in the Beautiful land.”

Because of the growing power of the Romans, Antiochus gave his daughter Cleopatra for a wife to Ptolemy V (203-181 B.C., 11:17c, “He will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him.” Whereas he had hoped that she would act as a spy, instead she became loyal to her husband and urged him to make an alliance with Rome.

“He will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them” (11:18), Thus Antiochus took over the Egyptian-held coast of Asia Minor (present –day Turkey) and moved to seize the Macedonian possessions of Thrace. However, “a commander will put an end to his insolence” (11:18b). Antiochus invaded these areas in 192 B.C., but despite warnings from Rome, he proceeded only to be crushed, first at the Battle of Thermopylae, and then at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 B.C. The result was that Antiochus became a vassal of Rome and with heavy indemnity; thus he was left short of honor and funds. Daniel had also predicted that Antiochus would “stumble and fall, to be seen no more” (11:19b), for Antiochus and his men were assassinated by the local people as they tried to rob the temple of Bel in Elymais, Persia, to secure badly needed funds to pay tribute to Rome.

Antiochus III, successor to Antiochus, had two sons; one Antiochus was a hostage in Rome and the other succeeded him as Seleucus IV (187 – 175 B.C.). The story of what happened to Seleucus IV is contained in the apocryphal book of 3 Maccabees . He sent his prime minister Heliodorus to strip the funds in the Jerusalem temple, but he claimed he was prevented from doing so by a divine apparition that almost cost him his life. Seleucus was assassinated in 175 B.C. in a plot hatched by Heliodorus, as Daniel 11:20 had predicted.

D. The Prophecy About the Last King of the South (11:21-35)

Commentators, whether of Jewish, Catholic, or of Protestant stripe, have a good agreement down through verse 20, but from verse 21 onwards there is not that same agreement. The “contemptible person” introduced in verse 21 through verse 35 is identified by a majority of interpreters as Antiochus Epiphanes (meaning “the manifest,” later scornfully nicknamed “Epimanes,” “madman”175-164 B.C.), who is otherwise called the “Little Horn” in chapter 8. Some, such as Keil, think that Antiochus Epiphanes IV is primarily represented in these verses, but typically they also point to the future Antichrist. A better view is that the predictions in verses 21-35 refer directly to Antiochus Epiphanes, but in verses 36 to 45 it directly refers to the Antichrist of the last days.

Antiochus IV’s route to the throne is unclear, but he assumed the throne under the pretense of ruling on behalf of his nephew who had been taken as a hostage to Rome. Following Antiochus III’s policy of allowing the Jews self-government, the High Priest Onias III served as local ruler. But since this priest opposed the influx of hellenization in Judea, Onias’ brother Jason offered the king a huge sum of money as a bribe along with a promise that he would Hellenize Judea. But a Menelaus in 172 B.C., one not from a priestly family, offered an even greater bribe, so he replaced Jason. This seems to be what “a prince of the covenant” (11:22-24) refers to, for Menelaus lured Jason from the temple and murdered him in 171 B.C.

Antiochus IV set out to invade Egypt (11:25), in which he successfully captured Pelusium and Memphis, though not of Alexandria. Antiochus IV made an alliance with Ptolemy VI (181-146 B.C.), but Ptolemy VI was encouraged to attack Palestine; however, this provoked Antiochus IV to attack Egypt. On his way home from Egypt, Antiochus IV raided the temple treasury in Jerusalem.

Egypt appealed to Rome for help (11:30, “Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him and he will lose heart”), and so Antiochus IV was confronted near Alexandria and so he was turned away from Egypt, so he took out his anger on Jerusalem. Antiochus IV made an edict proscribing all Jewish religious practices including the observance of the Sabbath, offering sacrifices, or observing food laws and festivals on pain of death (11:31). He also set up the “abomination that causes desolation” (11:31b), which according to 1 Maccabees 1:54 says that on the 15th of Chislev, 167 B.C., an altar was erected, which seemed to be an idol of the Olympian Zeus.

One Jewish family in particular objected to this sacrilege, a priest named Mattathius and his five children. In particular, Judas Maccabeus (meaning “[the] hammer”) inflicted defeats on the Syrian forces. Three years after the desecration of the temple (December 164 B.C.), Judas regained control of Jerusalem, purified the temple and resumed sacrifices.

E. The Prophecy of the Willful King (11:36-45)

Most interpreters, whether of Amillennial, Postmillennial, or Premillennial background, agree that these final ten verses of chapter 11 point to the general character, person and career of the Antichrist of the end days. The context for this event is in the last days as Daniel 10:14 sets this vision – “the vision concerns a time yet to come.” Moreover, the behavior of “little horn” of Daniel 7:24, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (“the man of lawlessness”), and the “beast” of Revelation 13: 1 is so strikingly similar that these texts must all be speaking of the same king who will appear in the last days,

“He will show no respect for the gods of his fathers… nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all” (Dan 11:37) just as the Beast in Revelation 13:6 opens his mouth “to blaspheme God and to slander his name and his dwelling place.” Indeed, he “will exalt himself above all,” exactly as 2 Thessalonians 2:4 says of the man of lawlessness, who “will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped.”

But this Antichrist will meet his end after a time of success, but then the “time of wrath” will come (11:36, 40, 45), when three great events occur: (1) The great tribulation of Israel, (2) the resurrection of the dead, and (3) the final reward of the righteous (12: 1-3).

This prophecy of the Antichrist shifts from this history of the contemptible personage of Antiochus the IV to the final appearance of Antichrist. Comprehended in the image of the king, who historically was typified in Antiochus Epiphanes, was the prediction of the Antichrist, who would completely fulfill all that was predicted in one prophetic oracle. Since nothing in past history can be identified as corresponding to verses 36-45, it is proper to look to the future for their fulfillment.

III.The Prophecies About Israel at the End of Time (12:1-13)

Some of the predictions about Antichrist are: (1) “He will also invade the beautiful land” (40), which is the land of Israel; (2) There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of the nations until then” (12:1b): and (3) there will be “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth [who] will awake, some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (12:2) – a resurrection of two kinds of the dead to two kinds of eternal life.

A. The Great Tribulation (12:1)

This means that Israel will by now have been restored to the land of Palestine that had been promised to them. But Antichrist will seek to destroy Israel as he invades the “glorious land” and as he plants “his royal tents of his palace between the seas (meaning the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea) at the beautiful holy mountain” (45). Despite all this effort, “he will come to his end, and no one will help him” (45b). Further information on this failure of his is explained by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 and by John in Revelation 19:11-21.

This verse describes the conditions of those final days under Antichrist. The references to Israel in 12:1 are real, for there is no reason to transfer these references over to the Church in a type of replacement theology.

B. The Resurrection of the Dead (12:2)

Physical resurrection is taught here in verse 2. Those who spiritualize or symbolize something else than a physical resurrection, miss the meaning of this passage badly. There are two separate resurrections occurring at two different times: one to everlasting life, and the other raised briefly to answer why they have never received Jesus as their Lord and Savior, only to be cast out into hell forever. Thus, two physical resurrections are noted here.

The order of the resurrections is taught in Scripture as follows: (1) Christ was the first one to be raised from the dead physically, (2) those who belong to Christ by faith will be raised in connection with his second coming, and finally (3) all those remaining who have not put their trust in Christ will be raised to face the judgment of the Great White throne at the end of the millennial reign of Christ (1 Cor 15: 22-28; Jh 5:28).

C. The Final Reward of the Just (12:3)

Daniel closes his book with a promise to those who are wise: they “will shine like the brightness of the heavens.” Moreover, “those who lead many to righteousness [will] be like the stars for ever and ever” (3).

D. The Disposition of These Prophetic Words (12:4-13)

As Daniel looked up, there stood two others, one on this bank on this side of the river and the other one on the opposite bank (5). The one clothed in linen said that all these things would be completed in 3 ½ years when the power of the holy people [of Israel] had been broken (7). Daniel was to go on his way, because the words would be fulfilled in their time (9, 13). God would see to that!

Conclusions

1. God has spoken so accurately and with such detail that few have missed what was said about the kings of the north and south. Instead critical scholars have turned this around and said someone claiming to be Daniel wrote this after these events happened.

2. Few passages in the Old Testament are clearer about the resurrection of the righteous being separate from the later resurrection of the unjust. However, all will be resurrected to face the Lord, some to everlasting life and some to eternal torment.

3. The Antichrist is a major figure who will appear in the last days, but his end is sure and sudden.

4. The Lord Jesus is the Lord of all history and knows exactly where it is going.

By Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., PhD

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  website:  www.walterckaiserjr.com

The Book of Daniel Lesson 9 Chap 9 by Walter C Kaiser, Jr.

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We are told that Daniel opened his windows towards Jerusalem three times daily (Dan 6:10). But we have no reason to doubt that just as often he opened the books to know what the will of God was, especially “the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet” (9:2), which scroll may have been carried from his homeland by the exiles. This high regard for the Scriptures is likewise very evident when we hear Daniel praying, for he prays from a series of subtly woven quotations from what we today call the Old Testament.

Whereas previously there had been back in Israel priests and prophets to assist the people in worship, now they were thrown almost exclusively on the word of God as their only assistance in worshiping God. In the view of some, this may have been one of the greatest results of the exile. And as usually happens in a situation such as that, when the people turned to the writings that came as a revelation from God, they also found that God drew nearer to them. This is because God himself had ordered that real and vital worship was most clearly linked with the study and obedience of the Scriptures.

Ronald Wallace (Daniel, InterVarsity Press, 1979) illustrated this point by citing the case of Dr Martin Niemoller, who during the second World War spoke of his sense of real loss when his Bible was removed from him as he was convicted on March 2, 1938, after languishing in a Berlin prison of 18 months prior to his trial. But with his conviction, everything was removed from him, including his German Bible. He begged to have it restored, which finally was granted. His confession was that it was this book that was the source of his strength and his comfort; in fact it was what he needed most.

In a similar situation, Daniel poured over the books as God breathed into him new life as he saw all over again what God had done for the worthies of the past, such as Abraham, Moses and Jeremiah. Daniel was moved by the same concerns, perplexities, and the desire for the glory of God as his people had evidenced in the past. It was the word of God that was their mainstay in life.

OUTLINE:

Title:   “Praying the Promises of God and Receiving Answers”

Text:  Daniel 9:1-27

Focal Point: v 23, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision.”

Homiletical Keyword: “Results”

Interrogative:  What are the results of prayers such as Daniel’s prays here?

Outline:

I.   Sincere Prayer is Needed in Critical Times (9:1-2)

A. Darius the Mede

B. The Seventy Years of Jerusalem’s Desolation

II.   Fervent Prayer Calls for Confession of Our Sin and the Sin of Our Nation (9:3-19)

A.  The Great and Awesome God (9:4)

B.  Communal Confession for the people’s Sins (9:5-6)

C.  The Lord is Righteous; We are Shamed (9:7-8)

D.  The Lord’s Mercy Will Prevail   (9:9-10)

E.   Theological Reflection on God’s Justice   (9:11-14)

F.   A Transition from Confession to Supplication (9:15-19)

III.   Answers to Prayer Shape the Events of History (9:20-27)

A.  Answers to a Highly Esteemed Man (9:2-23)

B. The Six Purposes of the Seventy Sevens (9:24)

C. The Three Sets of Seven (9:25-27)

Conclusions

(STUDY OF TEXT BEGINS…)

I. Sincere Prayer is Needed in Critical Times (9:1-2)

A. Darius the Mede

The mention of “The first year,” and that it was the first year of “Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent, 9:1), acts as that both facts set the scene, but they also introduce a key problem in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 6:28, we have argued that “Darius the Mede” was the same person as Cyrus II (“the Great”), the first king of the Medo-Persian Empire after the fall of the Babylonian Empire. Critical scholars widely regard this reference to “Darius the Mede” as “the son of Xerxes” as an historical blunder, since Xerxes was the son of Darius I and not his father.

But conservative scholars have answered back, as did Donald Wiseman, that Xerxes (also known as Ahasuerus) was an Achaemenid royal title, or a dynastic throne name, that was applied to Cyrus II the Great. Also, William Foxwell Albright had argued that the name “Darius” may well have been an old Iranian title, similar to the Egyptian “Pharaoh,” but so far that wonderful suggestion only remains a theory, which however has some precedent in that other rulers in the Near East had more than one name, as did “Pul” (2 Kgs 15:19, 29; 1 Chron 5:26) known also as “Tiglath-Pileser.” Whatever the solution to the identity of Darius, Daniel was referring to the first year of the Medo-Persian Empire, 539 B.C., which Ezra 1:1 also calls the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia. Accordingly, what Daniel is trying to say is that the identity of Darius and Cyrus are both one and the same person! This suggestion must stand until we gain further evidence from archaeological sources.

BThe Seventy Years of Jerusalem’s Desolation

The reference to the “Scriptures” in verse 2 is literally “the scrolls” or “the books” (Hebrew, basseparim). This word may well be a technical term, by this time in the history of Israel’s growing number of Biblical scrolls, as a revelation from God. But what is even more startling, is the reference to “the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah” (2). The Jeremiah’s writings, written less than 70 years earlier, were almost instantaneously classified as part of those scrolls that were so highly regarded that they called them the “word of the LORD.” There was no waiting for an alleged Council at Jamnia (that later convened in 90 A.D.) to determine what was canonical and what was not part of the authentic Bible. In fact, at Jamnia the Rabbis only discussed the interpretation of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, not a discussion about which books were truly canonical and authoritative or not!

More particularly, Daniel learned from Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10 that the “desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years” (Dan 9:2). That is why Daniel “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting and in sackcloth and ashes” (9:3). The reason why these seventy years were required by God would be explained in 2 Chronicles 36:21 as the amount of time needed for Jerusalem’s desolation in order to fulfill the Sabbaths that had been neglected by Judah. Therefore, Daniel took God at his word. Thus we see that the promises of God were not meant to detract us from prayer, but they were to teach us what it is that we are to pray for.

Daniel’s use of fasting during this time showed that his body outwardly grieved, as did his soul, over the sad state of his people and the times they were living in (cf. Zech 7:1-7). His mourning and use of sackcloth pointed to the fact that his penitence for himself and his people was just as sincere and real. Just because God had given a divine decree, however, did not mean that God’s purpose would be accomplished regardless of the prayers or actions of his people. The same God who had decreed the judgment was the same God who had raised up intercessors like a Daniel!

II. Fervent Prayer Calls for Confession of our Sin and the Sin of Our Nation (9:4-19)

A.  The Great and Awesome God (9:4)

Daniel’s prayer is practically a mosaic of phrases taken from the Biblical scrolls he had poured over and committed, no doubt, to memory. Such use of Scriptural languages and sentiments to give voice to our own public prayers has a long history supporting such usages. The best examples of the use of Scripture in prayer will be seen in our Lord Jesus (Jh 17), or even of the prayers of a Jonah stuck in the bowels of the great fish (Jon 2).

Whereas Daniel began with a concern for dates seen in Jeremiah’s prophecy, he soon forgot all about dates as his mind shifted to a more basic and more important issue: the hope of Israel’s return to God and their return to their land. God is addressed as “Lord,” meaning “master” or “overlord” (Hebrew, ‘adonay), as “the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant with all who love him” (4). It was Moses who had given the title of “the great and awesome God” (Hebrew, ha’el haggadol, Deut 7:21) to the Lord when he wanted to inspire confidence in Israel, rather than what was their awful dread of the Canaanites. Later on, Nehemiah would begin his prayer the same way (Neh 1:5). Even though Daniel is not from a priestly family, and he is not even described as a prophet, neither he, nor we, need any special permission to take on intercession on behalf of others or of those in our own nation. It is from the joy of making God’s name great and as awesome as it is that both Daniel and we are thereby given perspective on the problems we face, just as Moses had earlier taught Israel (Deut 7:21).

Moreover, God “keeps his covenant” and gives “grace” (Hebrew, hesed) to “all those who love him and obey his commands” (4, cf. Deut 7:9; Exod 20:5-6). Notice that loving God and obeying him go together, just as Jesus later emphasized in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

B.  Communal Confession of Our Sin (9:5-6)

Daniel’s prayer of confession begins with five synonymous words for sin: “sinned,” “done wrong,” “been wicked,” “have rebelled,” and “have turned away” from God’s commands and laws. But Daniel also identifies with his people by using “us,” “we,” or “our” some 39 times in this prayer. Both he and they needed God’s forgiveness, so why would he only pray for them as if he was exempt? Instead, he identified with them as he confessed the sin of the whole community.

Moreover, Israel had not listened to the warnings of God’s “servants, the prophets” (6). The prophets had clearly warned Israel’s kings, princes, fathers, and all the people by speaking in the name of the Lord (6), but all to no profit.

C.  The Lord is Righteous; We are Shamed (9:7-8)

All the time these warnings and prophetic messages were going out to all Israel, the LORD remained righteous. He had been in the right all the way in every one of his dealings with the nation of Israel. But the nation had been in the wrong. No wonder they were “covered with shame” (7b, 8a). Now the nation of Israel sat in shame in countries where God had scattered them.

D.  The Lord’s Mercy Will Prevail (9:9-10)

Daniel concludes his confession with the assurance that God is merciful and “forgiving” (both words in Hebrew are plural forms, stressing how great is God’s mercy and how large is his forgiveness. Those were the same words used when God revealed himself to be of the same nature when he forgave Israel at the Golden Calf incident (Exod 34:5-6).

Had not God taken the initiative in extending his manifold mercy and his abundant forgiveness, Israel, and all the world, would still be deadlocked in its sin and rebellion.

E.  Theological Reflection on God’s Justice (9:11-14)

As a result of Israel’s sin, the sworn judgments of God set forth by Moses in Leviticus 26:14-45 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68 came into full play in the experience of Israel and Judah. Daniel added that this was recorded “in the law of Moses, the servant of God” (11c). It all happened “just as it is written” (13a); the warnings had indeed come to pass.

The reason the Lord did not hesitate to bring this disaster upon Jerusalem was due to the fact that he is “righteous” (14b).   In this section there is one allusion or quotation after another to parts of Deuteronomy and Jeremiah. While other cities also were destroyed in other nations, yet Jerusalem was in a special category, for its citizens had had more warnings from God and God himself dwelt in the city of Jerusalem. Therefore, when the city of Jerusalem failed to repent, God did not “hesitate” (i.e., Hebrew, shaqad, 14a, meaning, God “kept watch over,” or “he kept disaster ready”) to bring calamity. The problem, then, was not God’s, but it was the result of Israel’s sin, rebellion and disobedience.

F.  Transition from Confession to Supplication (9:15-19)

With the introductory word “Now,” Daniel went from confession to supplication. Only now does Daniel begin to make his requests known to God. So earnestly did Daniel pray that he appealed to God’s name seven times (15, 16, 17, 19 [quad]).

The fact that God had kept his word about his judgments meant that he could also be trusted to keep his word about his promises as well. As James 4:2 noted, often “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Thus the invitation of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” We, like Daniel must call if we wish God to answer us (Jer 33:3), for then God would show us “great and unsearchable things [we did] not know.”

In previous times, Israel had been preserved by the ”mighty hand”(15) of God as they came out of Egypt. In so doing, God had made a name and reputation for himself, which still “endures to this day” (15d). But now in Daniel’s day, Israel had made God’s name an “object of scorn” (16d), for as God had to bring judgment on the people because of their sin, it appeared to the pagan nations that Yahweh could not preserve his own temple from the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, along with the Assyrian gods of Marduk and Nebo. Therefore, Israel had brought reproach on the name of Yahweh.

Because Israel had tarnished the name of Yahweh by their multitude of their sins, including idol-worship, Daniel begged God to vindicate his own reputation and listen to the prayer of his servant (17). Jerusalem, Daniel urged in his prayer, was “the city that bears [God’s] name” (18b). But the place of his worship was now a “desolate sanctuary” (17c). With God’s reputation at stake, Daniel urged God to honor his word and end the present state of affairs as he had promised through Jeremiah the prophet.

However, since God had kept his word about his judgments meant, as we have said, that he could also be trusted to keep his word about his promises. As James 4:2 noted, often “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Thus the invitation of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” We, like Daniel must call if we wish God to answer us (Jer 33:3), for then God would show us “great and unsearchable things [we did] not know.”

With a mosaic of familiar phrases from throughout the Old Testament, Daniel felt confident that his prayer would be heard. The three glorious objects of God’s past and future love would all feel his intervention: God’s people Israel, God’s city Jerusalem, and God’s sanctuary, his temple.

III.  Answers to Prayer Shape the Events of History (9:20-27)

A.  Answers to a Highly Esteemed Man (9:2-23)

It would appear that Daniel never formally ended his prayer, because his answer came while he was still in the act of praying (20), a messenger named Gabriel arrived (21). Gabriel was the interpreting angel Daniel had seen in an earlier vision of the ram and goat (8:16) and he may also have been the unidentified interpreter for Daniel when the four creatures arose out of the sea (7:16).

Gabriel came in “swift flight” (21b, but Hebrew `wp, “to fly,” may also be read as Hebrew y’p, “to be weary, to faint,” of Daniel’s extreme weariness) about “the time of the evening sacrifice,” which is mid-afternoon, usually at 3:00 p.m. This time signal does not prove that sacrifices had been reinstituted, but only that the regular time for such was still remembered. Gabriel, here seen as a man, had come to “instruct” Daniel and to give him “insight and understanding” (22).

Daniel was told that an answer to his prayer was on the way, ”as soon as [he] began to pray” (23a). He was also told that he was “highly esteemed” (23b, cf. 10:19), among other things, because of his humility and faith in the promises of God.

B. The Six Purposes of the “Seventy Sevens” (9:24)

Some think that the next four verses are some of the hardest and most difficult texts in the Bible. One thing for sure, Old Testament Higher Criticism has complicated this text more than it need be.

Daniel is told that a unit of seventy units of seven (or seventy heptads), i.e., seventy sevens of years are decreed (i.e., “ordained,” “determined”) for Israel and for their holy city of Jerusalem. Remember that Daniel had begun his prayer to God about the Seventy years of Captivity that Jeremiah had mentioned (Jer 25:11-14; 29:10-14).

Most conservative interpreters take this “seventy sevens” to mean a period of 490 years, thereby distinguishing it from the 70 years of captivity in Babylon. These 490 years are then divided into three sets: (1) a seven set of sevens amounting to 49 years, (2) a 62 set of sevens equaling 434 years, and after an interruption or a space of time, (3) a final one set of seven or 7years (25-26). Much more will be said on that later, but for now we need to look at the six reasons for these seventy heptads.

The first objective in verse 24 was to “finish transgression.” Transgression here is used as a term for sin in general, which will finally end with the second coming of Messiah and the rule and reign of Christ forever. Human rebellion will finally end when all the “seventy sevens” are finished.

The second objective, like the first, was to “put an end to sin.” God himself will restrain sin as the eternal state begins. This will come at the end of human history as God’s kingdom replaces the succession of human kingdoms.

The third purpose of the “seventy sevens” is “to atone for wickedness.” This was provided for at the crucifixion of Christ. So complete will be the payment and removal of wickedness that Jeremiah taught, “In those days, at that time, declares the LORD, search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judea, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare” (Jer 50:20).

Most commentators pause at this point to note that the first three purposes of these “seventy sevens” are negative in that they treat “transgression,” :sins,” and “wickedness.” The last three of the six purposes or objectives speak of the positive side of things.

nderful nature of the coming kingdom of God. Now that sin has been banished from God’s rule and reign, a nation involved in sin (9:7, 14, 16) is not possible.

The fifth purpose was “to seal up vision and prophecy” (24e). This sealing referred to closing a document for preservation by placing a seal on it after rolling up the scroll. However, sealing also meant to authenticate the contents of the scroll by placing one’s seal and signature on it. Its contents assured that what had been promised or threatened happened exactly as the unsealed copy had said. It pointed, then, to all the predictions about the future of Israel and the third temple that was to be built in Jerusalem.

Finally, the sixth purpose was “to anoint the most holy” (24f). Though the object is not specified (e.g., is it “the holy One?” or “the holy place?” or “the holy altar?”), the best suggestion is that it refers to the reconsecration of the temple of God as described in Ezekiel 40-44.  This expression is never used of a person, so it is no reference to the Messiah, or to his Church, nor to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; it is best restricted to the coming temple in Jerusalem.

These six purposes speak of the final accomplishment of God’s purpose for the whole historic process. Some of this began to be established with our Lord’s first coming, but there still remains much to be done in connection with his second coming. These six purposes just telescope both the work at his first and second comings.

C. The Three Sets of Seven  (9:25-27)

Where do we begin counting for all these “seventy sevens”? The starting point according to verse 25a begins with “the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” If a distinction is made between the restoration and rebuilding of the city versus rebuilding the temple, then the starting date is easy. It is the decree issued by Artaxerxes given to Nehemiah authorizing the restoration of the walls and the city of Jerusalem in 445 B.C. (Neh 2:1-8), for that is the only decree that mentions the rebuilding of Jerusalem. No other date seems to fit or to contain this mandate about the city of Jerusalem. Notice verse 25d focuses on the city and not the temple, for Jerusalem “will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.”   Nehemiah did just that in the short period of fifty-two days.

What then is the ending point for the first sixty nine sevens of these “seventy sevens”? Gabriel taught Daniel that it extend “until the Anointed One, the ruler who comes.” Some, such as Sir Robert Anderson The Coming Prince, pp 126-29), attempted to design an exacting calendar using what he called prophetic years of 360 days each, and beginning in 445 B.C., to say this all ended exactly on the date of the crucifixion of Christ, which he incorrectly put in A.D. 32. But this was a much too rigid approach with several assumptions that remained unproven.

Everything here hangs on the identity of the “Anointed One” (25b). This does, however, refer to the Messianic King, Jesus. The terminus ad quem then is fixed and it must fall sometime within the earthly career of Jesus, preferably when he was “cut off” (26b). This will happen as the first 69 sets of seven, or 483 years expire, with only one set of seven years left.

The first set of seven heptads added up to 49 years (25d). In this period of time, Jerusalem would “be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble” (25d). Nehemiah did this in fifty-two days (Neh 6:15). What this “trench” (Hebrew, haruts) consists of is not told us, but it seems to be some kind of moat around the city to increase the height of the walls.

The next heptad is one of sixty-two sevens, lasting 434 years. We are not told anything special about this set of 64 weeks of years except that it combines with the previous 7 heptads to make 69 sets of seven or 483 years. Therefore, from the issuing of the decree by Artaxerxes in 445 B.C., we come to approximately A.D. 27, the year when year when Christ began his ministry and was baptized by John the Baptist.

Verse 26 noted that it was “After the sixty two sevens, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.” Thus, upon the completion of 69 sets of heptads, or 483 years, Messiah would be crucified. This means that there is a gap of undetermined length between the first Good Friday crucifixion of our Lord and the commencement of the last set of seven years. But the break is certain, for it included the death of Christ around A.D. 30 and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple (26c). Thus the sequence of years came to a halt as indicated by the events of 30 and 70 A.D. Gabriel will not return to speak of the final seventieth week until verse 27.

Once Christ had been crucified and the second temple destroyed, “the end will come like a flood” (26e). Then, who are “the people of the ruler who will come?” (26b). This one will destroy the city and the sanctuary, as The Roman conqueror, Titus, did in A.D. 70. But there is both a “now” meaning and a “not yet” sense to this text, for that ruler who is to come is one of the Seleucids named Antiochus IV, Epiphanes in 168 B.C. Then it will be the Roman General Titus in A.D. 70, and finally in the “not yet” time it will be the future antichrist who demolishes the third temple.

The final seven-year set in verse 27 brings us to the completion of God’s program. The “ruler who shall come” (26 c) “will confirm a covenant with many” for that last seven year period (27a), but in the middle of those seven years, he will “put an end to sacrifice and offering” (27b). Thus, he will indicate his opposition to God’s people. Even though Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple by offering a sow and setting up an idol or something abominable, he did not destroy the temple or Jerusalem (1 Macc 1:31, 38). Instead, this refers to antichrist, who will set up in the temple something that is filthy and loathsome to the Jewish people.  Jesus had warned, when you see “the abomination of desolation” (Mt 24:15), “spoken by Daniel the prophet, let those in Judea flee to the mountains.” This will go on until a complete destruction is poured out on the one who makes desolate.

So, in summary, as my teacher Robert Duncan Culver (Daniel and the Latter Days, Moody Press 1954 & 1977) taught me, five facts are included in this prophecy: (1) the seventy weeks are 490 years, which relate to the then future of Israel, (2) these 70 weeks are divided into three periods of time of seven, sixty two, and one, which follow one another except for the gap between the 69th and 70th week, (3) the first 69 weeks ran out during the lifetime of Messiah and before his crucifixion, (4) the death of Christ (@ A.D. 30) and the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) indicate a break between the 69th and 70th week, and (5) the 70th week deals with a seven-year relationship between antichrist and Daniel’s people Israel wherein he breaks a covenant he has made with them and that final seven- year period, which ends in the 1000 year rule and reign of Christ.

Conclusions

1. Even though this text may seem difficult, Jesus said in Matthew 24:15, whoever reads what Daniel the prophet wrote, “let the reader understand.” It was meant to be understood!

2. The death of Christ and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 were not unknown as future events for our Lord, but was included within his eternal plan.

3. Look how effective prayer can be, when Daniel receives as a result of his prayer, such detailed explanation of what will come to pass all the way to the end of this age!

By Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., PhD

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  website:    www.walterckaiserjr.com

The Book of Daniel Lesson 8 Chap 8 by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

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The Aramaic section, which began in 2:4b with a prediction about four world empires that would precede the final kingdom of God, closes the Aramaic portion of Daniel’s book in Daniel 7:28 by presenting the same four earthly empires that will expire before a fifth kingdom from heaven would be set up to last for all eternity. Now writing in Hebrew, for the rest of his book, Daniel 8 begins by tracing and expanding on two of the animals, now pictured in domestic forms, but taken from the previous four animals, namely the second and third kingdoms and Daniel 7.

His vision shifts from Babylon, where the previous visions had been given. He now pictures himself in the citadel (Hebrew, birah) of Susa (8:2), where he received this new material in the third year of King Belshazzar (ca 551-550 B.C.). This means that this vision actually came to him before the events noted in Daniel 5 had happened. However, the fact that Susa was the ancient capital of Elam and was set to become one of prominent cities in the Persian Empire must not be missed. Neither should the fact that this “vision” (which word occurs six times in this passage, vv, 1, 2 [bis], 13, 15, 26), which was granted to him somewhere around 550 B.C., be missed, for that was the time when Cyrus broke away from Astyages the Mede and established the joint kingdom of Medo-Persia. Also note the repeated rhetorical feature of the “I Daniel” formula that occurs at the start of the vision (2), at the beginning of the interpretation of the vision (15) and at the end of the vision (27).

OUTLINE:

Title: “Understanding the Ironies of History”

Text: Daniel 8:1-27

Focal Point: v 25b, “When [Israel] feels secure, he [Antiochus/Antichrist] will destroy many, and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.”

Homiletical Keyword:“Contrasts”

Interrogative: What are the contrasts between the opposites portrayed in this chapter of ironies?

I.  Between Two World Empires: Medo-Persia and Greece (8:1-8)

A. The Place of the Vision

B. The Ram and the He-goat

II. BETWEEN TWO WORLD LEADERS (8:9-14)

A. The Fall of Alexander the Great

B. The Little Horn

III. BETWEEN THE “NOW” OF HISTORY AND THE “NOT YET” OF THE FUTURE (8:15-27)

A. Two Appearances

B. The time of the End

C. The Stern-faced King

Conclusions

(STUDY OF OUR TEXT BEGINS…)

I. BETWEEN TWO WORLD EMPIRES: MEDO-PERSIA AND GREECE (8:1-8)

A. The Place of the Vision

Daniel, now about 69 years of age, was transported in the spirit to the citadel of Susa (also called Shushan), or to be more precise, to just outside the city beside the “Ulai Canal” (2). This city was some 230 miles east of Babylon and about 120 miles north of the Persian Gulf. The Ulai Canal was an artificial canal, which widened at points to some 900 feet wide and is the same as the classical Eulaeus. However, it was large enough canal for Alexander the Great to sail his fleet down this river on the east side of the city, called the Abi-diz.

Later this city was made a royal city by Cyrus (Neh 1:1; Est 1:2), but here it is called a “citadel,” or a “fortress.” It was in this city where the Hammurabi Law Code was discovered and the later palace built by Darius was located, where also the later palace was located in which Queen Esther served.

The word used for “vision” is the same as the Hebrew word for a “revelation,” (Hebrew, hazon). Such a “revelation” came for God himself and not from a human or any secondary beings.

B. The Ram and the He-Goat

Daniel was shown a ram first of all (3). It was standing by the canal with its two horns, one larger than the other, but the lesser of the two grew up later (3b-c). As the prophet watched, the ram charged toward the west, then it went toward the north and finally southward (4a). No other animal could stand up against it, and no one could rescue any from its power (4b-c). It did just what it jolly well pleased and proceeded to become really great (4d).

Meanwhile, a male goat appeared in Daniel’s vision and it had a prominent horn between its eyes (5a). This unicorn-like animal came from the “west” and “crossed the whole earth without touching the ground,” so swift were its movements (5b-c). With such speedy movements, the ram’s two horns were shattered by this buck goat (7b). The ram hardly knew what hit it, for he was absolutely powerless to stand up against this one-horned-goat. Therefore, the ram got trampled to the ground and none came to the ram’s rescue to help him (7b-c). As a result, the goat became exceedingly great. However, at the peak of his successes, all of a sudden the power of his one prominent horn was broken and that horn was replaced subsequently by four horns that spread out to the four points of the earth known in that day (8).

II. BETWEEN TWO WORLD LEADERS (8:9-14)

A.  The Fall of Alexander the Great

Verse 20 will specifically say that the “two horned ram… represents the kings of Media and Persia.” It will go on to say that “the shaggy goat is the king of Greece and the large horn between his eyes is the first king” (21). That means that that goat was Alexander the Great.

Alexander the Great, with an army of 120,000, had crossed the Indus River, but at the Ganges River, his Greek warriors were fed up with his campaigning and therefore they refused to continue. Therefore, India would not experience Greek culture. However, in twelve years, Alexander had conquered most of the known world of his day. He died, apparently of excessive drinking and his kingdom was subsequently divided into four parts for his four generals: Seleuces, Ptolemaeus, Cassander, and Lysimachus. Cassandra received Macedonia and Greece, Lysimachus got Thrace and much of Asia Minor, Seleucus received Assyria and a huge amount of territory to the east and Ptolemy received mainly Egypt and part of Palestine.

B.  The Little Horn

It is from one of these four generals that “another horn” springs up (9a). While this little horn begins in a small way, he quickly grows “in power” and moves southward, eastward, and towards the “Beautiful land” (9-10). The label, “Beautiful land” is also used by the prophet Ezekiel for the land of Israel (Ezk 20:6, 15). This little horn continued to grow until he reached “the hosts of heaven” and [he] threw some of the starry host down to earth and trampled on them” (11). In so doing, he appears to be claiming equality with God, unless the “starry host” alludes to rival earthly rulers. However, no matter which view is correct, this must represent Antiochus IV Epiphanes (the latter word meaning “God manifest”) and his conflict with the Jewish people.

This little horn exalted itself as if he were the “Prince of the host” (11a), an allusion to the Lord as “LORD of hosts.” But this Antiochus IV Epiphanes went on to “take away the daily sacrifice” (11b), which should have been offered to the Lord, and overthrew the place of the sanctuary of the Lord (11c). Surely that was a mistake, for an attack on God’s sacrifice was an attack on God himself. Thus, Antiochus took the daily sacrifice away from the temple and he stole it for himself. A description of what happened is recorded in the “deuteron-canonical” book (not part of the official canon, but so labeled in the Roman Catholic tradition) of 1 Maccabees 1:21-49. Antiochus entered the temple of God and took away the seven-branched golden candlestick and the temple vessels, as he forbade anymore daily sacrifices offered in the temple. Instead, Antiochus IV ordered that the Jews profane the Sabbaths and festival days, leave their children uncircumcised, and worship at idol sites with swine’s flesh.

Verse 12 is very difficult to translate because the grammar and allusions are hard to establish, but this “little horn” gained military support against the offering of the daily sacrifice to God as the transgressions of the people mounted up. Consequently, “truth was cast down to the ground” and error seemed to be given free reign for the moment (12d).

Daniel overheard one holy one speaking to another holy one (13a) as he asked: “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled?” This same question occurs fairly frequently in the Psalms and prophets as well (Ps 6:3; Isa 6:11; Zech 1:12). The thought that lies behind the question is that God always will limit the rule and reign of evil. The evil seen here is repeated again (in verse 13 c-f) that this obnoxious horn proposed in verses 9-12.

Antiochus IV represented the “now” aspect of evil that a “not yet” Antichrist would repeat in the future end of days, only in more severe manner, in the last days before Messiah returned to earth. This is because the language moves beyond an Antiochus IV as Antichrist will come when the rebels have become completely wicked (23a; cf. 2 Thess 2:3). Antichrist’s self magnification will exceed all bounds (23; cf. 2 Thess 2:3-5). Both Antiochus IV and Antichrist will cause astounding devastation and they will for the moment succeed in whatever they do (23-24).

When (13) these two holy ones asked each other “how long?” this would take, the answer was 2300 morning and evening sacrifices (14), or 1150 days (by dividing in half this number as the two offerings were offered on the same day), which is 3 years and 2 months. The historian Josephus said that was the exact amount of time that the temple service was interrupted by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (cf. 1 Macc 4:36-61). This was the amount of time that elapsed between the desecration of the Lord’s altar and its reconsecration by Judas Maccabeus on Kislev (our December) 25, 165 B.C.

Likewise, the Antichrist will rage in the future, just as Antiochus IV did in his day, only in the future it will be for three and a half years, i.e. the second half of the seven final years of Daniel’s 70th week in Daniel 9:24-27.

Once again, one of these four new horns sprout “another horn” (9a), which must not be confused with “another horn” that arose out of the ten horns of the fourth kingdom. Instead, this is a ruler who gained control of one of the four horns that came out of the third world kingdom, which was from Alexander the Great’s empire. Yet even after this horn had its most humble beginnings, it grew in power towards the south and toward “the beautiful land,” which points more definitely to Israel.

III. BETWEEN THE “NOW” OF HISTORY AND THE “NOT YET” OF THE FUTURE (8:15-27)

A.  Two Appearances

Whether Daniel awoke and was briefly in a state of consciousness to reflect on what he had seen this far or not is not certain, but he was soon back into a visionary state. There he saw a man-like (in Hebrew, geber, a “strong man,” a macho male) figure, or at least he looked like a man (15b). This man spoke from the Ulai River; but who was he? It might have been an angel, such as Gabriel (also meaning “man of God”), or the angel Michael, the only other angel mentioned in the Bible. The one who looked like a man, however, spoke with the voice of a man (16) as he ordered Gabriel to “tell this man the meaning of this vision” (16b).

A commanding voice to Gabriel, one would think, would need to come from God himself. The angel Gabriel appears only here and in Daniel 9:21 and later in the message delivered to Mary (Lk 1:19, 26). Later “Michael” will appear in Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1).

B.  The “Time of the End”

As Gabriel came near to the place where Daniel stood, Daniel became terrified and fell into a “deep sleep” with his face to the ground (17a-b). However, the angel “touched him” and raised him to his feet (18). Nevertheless, Daniel’s reaction was very much like the Apostle John’s reaction on the isle of Patmos when he too was approached by an angel (Rev 22:8). But what affected him was not the medium, but the message, for the words also concerned “the time of the end” (17d).

Daniel was then told “what will happen in the time of wrath” (19a). Does this interpretation answer the question in verse 13, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled?” Or is there both a near and a distant joint meaning here? Surely, it means God’s wrath on Israel at the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and that is why verse 19 repeats the vision is about what will happen “in the time of wrath.” That is also why some interpreters justifiably see it as God’s future time of judgment and as a type of the Antichrist, who would come before Christ returns again the second time.

So the whole chapter is fulfilled historically in the decrees and actions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but Antiochus IV would foreshadow a future world leader, who like Antiochus, would likewise rule to the disadvantage of the Jewish people in the end times.

Gabriel makes it certain that the two-horned ram represented the kings of Media and Persia (20). Goldingay, in his commentary on Daniel (p 208) noted that the ram was a natural representation for Persia, for in the zodiac Persia was under Aries, the ram. Gabriel also identified the “shaggy goat” as the “king of Greece” with “the large horn between his eyes” as the “first king” (21). Although Alexander was not the “first king,” he was certainly the greatest who was “the large horn between the goat’s eyes” (21). Moreover, the four horns that replaced “large horn” that was broken off would be the four generals who would assume Alexander’s place after his death.

C.  The Stern-faced King

Towards the close of the reigns of these four generals, when the rebels had excelled in wickedness (23a), a “stern-faced king” would arise. This would be Antiochus IV Epiphanes (who would later rule from 175-164 B.C.). In 169 B.C. Antiochus IV invaded Egypt and was very successful at first (Dan 11:25-30; and the apocryphal 1 Macc 1:16-20; 2 Macc 5:1-14).

Antiochus’ absence from Jerusalem gave an opportunity for those in Jerusalem, who resented Antiochus’ interference with the High Priestly office, when this stern-faced king would place his appointee, who turned out to be Menelaus as High Priest. Antiochus’ surprise return to Jerusalem caught the insurgents off guard and led to a number of reprisals including: the plunder of the temple, the installation of an altar to the god Zeus (a real abomination) and the offering of a sow in temple of God (an equally great insult).

Both Antiochus and the king who is to come are predicted to be “stern-faced,” or better translated as “defiant, shameless” or “insolent.” The same word was used on the ‘impudent looks” of harlot in Prov 7:13. They also will be “master[s] of intrigue” (23b), cause “astonishing desolation” (24b), and “succeed in whatever” they try (24d). Accordingly, the two of them will have a propensity for double-dealing, and being cunningly adroit. As supermen, they will be admired by the whole world, but their power will not come from themselves, but from the energy Satan himself will give them (2 Thess 2:9). But above all, his most despicable feature will be that both of them acted as persecutors and destroyers of the Holy people (24).

It appears that Antiochus was destroyed, “but not by his own power” (24). If that is the correct rendering of verse 24, then I Maccabees 6:8-13 explained that Antiochus was not slain in battle, but he received word in Babylon that the Maccabees had defeated his army and won control over Israel once more. At that, Antiochus fell sick and called his friends to tell them he was going to die. For he explained to them, according to this record, that “I remember the evils that I did at Jerusalem…., therefore for this cause I perish.”

Daniel was told to “seal up the vision” (26), not because of the vision’s incomprehensibility or some hidden code it contained, but rather because it was sure to take place and because its word should be preserved against the day of its fulfillment.

This vision left Daniel “exhausted … and ill for many days” (27). These predictions he had seen and had explained to him were clear, but how could that all take place when the world had never seen a Medo-Persian or a Greek empire, never mind all the detail about a stern-faced king of the future and the like. But history is the final interpreter of prophecy, as Jesus reminded us in John 13:19 and it finally points to the fact that God, not these nations, is in control.

Conclusions:

1. While we are given more detail on the second and third empires mentioned in chapters 2 and 7 of Daniel, the identities of the second and third empires are set forth in great detail.

2. God is still sovereign over mortals and nations, for the plan of history is not theirs, but God’s.

3. If God gave this prophetic word so clearly in the 6th century B.C. that most all agree with its meaning, which was fulfilled from the sixth century B.C. to the second century B.C., why are critical and mainline scholars so slow to acknowledge the prophetic nature of Scripture and its truthfulness?

By Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., PhD

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  website:   www.walterckaiserjr.com

The Book of Daniel Lesson 7 Chap 7 by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

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Whereas the first six chapters of this book of Daniel are historical, Daniel chapters 7-12 are mainly predictive with a minimum amount of historical detail. Daniel 7-12 has four separate visions given at four separate times. The seventh chapter of Daniel is the most comprehensive vision of the four.

From a human perspective, it seemed as if the Babylonian captivity had shown that God was finished with the nations Israel and Judah. But our Lord said just the opposite to the prophet Jeremiah (33:24-26):

Have you noticed, [Jeremiah], that these people are saying, “The LORD has rejected the two kingdoms he chose?” So they despise my people and no longer regard them as a nation. This is what the LORD says, “If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not chose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.

The vision of this seventh chapter of Daniel will put the lie to the rumor that God was finished with his people Israel at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Therefore, this chapter may be the single most important chapter in Daniel. But this chapter also begins the “apocalyptic” (words about the kingdom of God, or the end of the world, delivered in dreams or visions) section of the book as well. Also, it bears noting that the narratives of Daniel’s experiences end just as they began in chapter 2. In the seventh chapter, however, four beasts arise out of the sea, whereas the second chapter had four parts of the body of the colossus, thereby completing the chiastic arrangement of these Aramaic chapters as was remarked on earlier. Also, we now move mostly to the “first-person voice” that is more like a diary, whereas the narratives up to the seventh chapter had more of the tone of a report in a “third person report.”

Generally, there are four main interpretive approaches to understanding the times indicated by this visionary literature. First, the Preterist approach claims that all the events described in these visions are past events. The second, called the Futurist interpretation, sees these visions as descriptions of things to come. Third, the historicist approach argues that these visions trace the ideological or theological development of an age or era, such as that of Israel or the Church. Fourth, the Idealist approach views these visions as symbolic representations of the age-long conflict between good and evil. Of these, we will take the Futurist point of view for these chapters because the writer places the events described as belonging to the “last days,” or “the day of the Lord.”

Chapter 7 takes us back to the first year of Belshazzar around 553 B.C., some nine years after Nebuchadnezzar’s death. It is the first recorded vision of the prophet Daniel which he personally received. The literary form, then, is one of a dream report of a symbolic account of real events. But the representational or symbolic forms, used in this vision, do not detract from the fact that this dream is a direct divine revelation to the prophet Daniel. The beasts in this animal vision are used to equate empires and kingdoms more in their internal character and inner workings, yet paralleling the vision that Nebuchadnezzar had in chapter 2. Very little interpretive advantage seems to be gained by attempting to detect the supposed original source from which these representations might have been taken, such as from some of the myths of the ancient Near East.

The combination of a lion with eagle’s wings, or a leopard with four heads and four wings, however, was not all that unusual for the art of that day, for often the palace entrances had such representational beasts that had wings and the head of a man as part of the architectural composition. The University of Chicago Oriental Museum, for example, has an approximately fifty-ton stone representation of an Assyrian king formed in just that style. It is a massive animal with the head of a man and the wings of a giant bird.

OUTLINE:

Title: “Receiving and Possessing God’s Eternal Kingdom”

Text: Daniel 7:1-28

Focal Point: vv 17-18 “The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will arise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever—yes, forever and forever.”

Homiletical Keyword: “Participants”

Interrogative: Who are the participants who receive and possess the eternal kingdom of God?

I.  The Animal Vision of the Tyrants of Past Empires (7:1-8)

A.   Babylon

B.    Medo-Persia

C.    Greco-Macedonia

D.    Roman/Western

II. The Judge of the Whole Earth (7:9-12)

A.   The Ancient of Days

B.   The Boastful Horn

III. The Son of Man, Our Conquering Hero (7:13-14)

A.   Coming from the Clouds of Heaven

B.   Given an Eternal Dominion and Authority

IV. The Saints of the Most High (7:15-27)

A.   The Interpretation of the Animal Vision

B.   The Meaning of the Holy Ones

C.   The Meaning of the Fourth Beast

V. The Aftermath (7:28)

Conclusions

(STUDY OF TEXT BEGINS…)

I. The Animal Vision of the Tyrants of the Past Empires (7:1-8)

Daniel has chosen to share as the first vision that he himself received in a night dream that came to him while he was lying on his bed in the first year of Belshazzar (1). Indeed, many evangelical scholars have viewed this vision as one of the key prophecies of the Bible in which God has outlined the future of the world extending from the rule of the Babylonians to the Second Advent of Messiah. This would explain why this chapter is so highly regarded by many interpreters.

Daniel saw “the four winds of heaven” “churning up the great sea” (2). It appears that these four winds were coming from heaven and that they were stirring up either the Mediterranean Sea or, better still, the sea of humanity (Lk 21:25; Mt 13:47; Rev 13:1). The collocation of these four winds, a churned-up sea, and the imagery of the animals, together suggested something more than the usual or ordinary type of storm. Nevertheless, from out of the agitated sea came one animal representing one empire after another.

A. Babylon

The first animal of the four appeared “like a lion” with “the wings of an eagle” (4). Such a motif was not unfamiliar to those who were accustomed to Babylonian art, nor were the allusions to the speed and strength of this lion, much less the soaring flight of an eagle, lost on that original audience. The winged lion was well known in that day as a symbol of the Babylonian Empire. For just as the lion was the king of the beasts and the eagle was the most noble among the birds, so Daniel 2 had earlier represented Babylon as the head of gold, the most valuable and cohesive of all the metals.

The prophet watched until its wings were “torn off” and “it was lifted from the ground and “stood on two feet like a man,” as a “heart of a man was given to it” (4). This may refer to both the early end of this empire and the rebuke of God that Nebuchadnezzar underwent until he finally was restored in his sanity after seven years of living as an animal.

B. Medo-Persia

Daniel’s second beast arising from the churning sea “looked like a bear,” which was raised on one side and it had three ribs in its mouth (5). It was given permission of rise up and “eat [its] fill.” The huge size of this animal may well reflect the fact that the kingdom of Medo-Persia had an army of some two and a half million men (as we are informed from other sources about the battle of Xerxes against Greece). The fact that it was raised on one sided fits very nicely, not only with its predatory stance, but with the fact that Persia was more dominate than Media in this joint partnership arrangement, just as the colossus in Daniel 2 signified this same duality with the silver chest and the two arms. Daniel would later learn that all four animals represented four kingdoms (17). Moreover, in Daniel 8, the ram, which repeats the vision of the bear, had two horns as well, again pointing to the two nations of Media and Persia.

The three ribs in the mouth of the bear are clearly three territories the bear has captured or conquered, but there is not always current agreement on which kingdoms they pointed to. But Gleason Archer (Daniel, p 86) pointed to the fact that Cyrus and his son Cambyses were involved in three major campaigns: in 546 B.C. they triumphed over the Lydian kingdom in Asia Minor (present day Turkey), in 539 B.C. they defeated Babylon, and in 525 B.C. Cambyses annexed the kingdom of Egypt. These probably are the three ribs the text representationally referred to here.

C. Greco-Macedonian

A third animal arose from the storm-tossed sea, i.e., a leopard (6). This animal also was a composite, for it had four wings like a bird on its back and it also had four heads. It too was given authority to reign (6e). “After that,” (6a), a note that clearly implies that these kingdoms were sequential and were not to be seen as ruling simultaneously, is specifically pointed out.

This leopard represented Alexander the Great who ruled and conquered huge territories from 334 B.C to 322), but who was followed by his four generals after he suddenly died down near what is today known as Afghanistan. The four heads were his four generals named: Lysimachus, Cassander, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. Cassandra ruled over Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus was given Thrace and Asia Minor as his kingdom; Seleucus was set over northern Syria and other eastern regions; and finally Ptolemy was installed as ruler over southern Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

D. Roman/Western

The fourth beast was the most terrifying and powerful one of the four animals. Its description focused more on the fact that it had “large iron teeth” and “ten horns,” for it certainly was “different from all the former beasts” (7). As Daniel was focusing on these ten horns of this beast an eleventh horn sprang up and it proceeded to uproot three of the former ten horns (8).

Futurists interpret this “little horn” to be the Antichrist. Our argument is that this fourth kingdom is that final kingdom that will appear at the end of history when a ten-nation federation will arise out of the ruins of the old former Roman Empire. Then it will happen that Antichrist, as the eleventh, but little, horn will uproot three of the ten nations of that day. He has the eyes of a man and a boastful mouth that promotes himself and his work.

Revelation 17:3 has the last world empire as a scarlet beast embracing a tenfold division. Likewise, Paul wrote to the Thessalonicans that this same Antichrist would be known as “the Man of Sin” or “the Son of Perdition” (2 Thess 2:3) or “that wicked One” whose mouth spoke boastfully (2 Thess 2:8).

II. THE JUDGE OF THE WHOLE EARTH 7:9-12

A. The Ancient of Days

As Daniel continued receiving the vision, the scene shifted from the agitated sea to a heavenly space, where the throne of God was then seen (9). This could be a description of none other than “the High and lofty One, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy” (Isa 57:15), the Lord God himself. The writing style also switched at this point in the text from prose to poetry consisting of short phrases. Daniel mentions that he saw thrones (plural) in the heavenly court which, because the word is plural, has raised much discussion among scholars. Since God is worshiped as One God, why are “thrones” needed? But this same text introduces “one like the Son of Man” (13), who is given an everlasting kingdom, which we assume that he too has a throne (14). Often the New Testament pictures Jesus as the “son of Man” “sitting at the right hand of God the Father” (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62). This, then, would meet the requirements of the plural thrones.

The Ancient of Days is one old in age from an anthropomorphic representation of God’s eternality, but he too is the Judge of everything, including empires as well (Ps 9:5; 29:10; Isa 28:6). His clothing is white, denoting his purity and truth, as does the whiteness of his hair (9). Moreover, his “throne was flaming with fire,” and the wheels of his chariot were also “ablaze” (9). While fire is often associated with God’s coming in judgment, it also depicts here his majesty and his authority. “A river of fire” (10) came out from before him as judgment poured out against all wickedness. At the ready to do his will were myriads of angels as the court readied itself to hear the case as the books were opened. These “books,” which keep the status of mortals on earth, are mentioned elsewhere in Exodus 32:32; Isaiah 65:6; Daniel 12:1; Malachi 3:16 and Luke 10:20.It is from these books that God’s judgment will proceed.

B. The Boastful Horn

As Daniel continued to watch this vision, the boastful horn that he had seen in the vision of the fourth beast reappeared in his vision. The text once again lapses back into prose form. However, the fourth kingdom symbolized by the fourth beast was destroyed and “thrown into the blazing fire” (11).

The parenthetical remark of verse 12 is difficult to understand, but it pointed to the fact that all dominion and all authority, except that of God’s, would be dealt with by God, even though they were allowed “to live for a period of time” (12b). But judgment would come on them as well.

III. THE SON OF MAN, OUR CONQUERING HERO (7:13-14)

A. Coming from the Clouds of Heaven

The introductory formula of verse 2 is repeated here in verse 13, thereby blocking out or marking the beginning and the end of the section in verses 2-14. The human-like figure is set forth as “one like the son of man” (13). Putting his name in this simile, it stressed the humanity of his person. It is this very same title used of himself, with some thirty-one other instances in Matthew’s gospel alone (e.g., Mt 8:20; 9:6; 10:23). Jesus’ humanity is deliberately set over against the “beastly” nature of the worldly dominions that had preceded his.

But this “son of man” also had the status of deity, for he came “with the clouds of heaven” (13b). In fact the earliest interpretation of this passage was Messianic (e.g. in the parable of Enoch 37-71).

The “son of man” approached the “Ancient of Days” (13c) and an investiture ensued as the “son of man” was given absolute power and supreme authority that will never be destroyed or pass away (14).

B. Given an Eternal Dominion and Authority

The contrast between the kingdom given to the son of man and that possessed by the four earthly dominions could not be greater. This verse 14 repeats the lesson Nebuchadnezzar had learned in 2:20-22 that God alone was sovereign and that his kingdom would be eternal.

The gift that was bestowed on the son of man was actually threefold. First there was the “dominion” represented his ruling authority. Then the gift of his “glory” pointed to the honor that would accompany his reception and use of that ruling authority. Finally, the gift of his kingdom likewise represented his sovereign power. These gifts would never pass away, for they were self-contained, non-contingent and strong enough to endure all time and all eternity.

After reading this, it makes the believer want to sing: “Immortal, invisible, God only wise. In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes; Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days; Almighty, victorious, they great name we praise.”

IV. THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH (7:15-27)

A. The Interpretation of the Animal Vision

Despite the strong note of hope described in the last six verses (9-14), this prophet was still disturbed by the vision given to him (15). Therefore, he plainly stated to the interpreting angel that he did not fully understand “the true meaning of all this” (16b). Daniel had seen myriads of angels attending to the worship of God around the throne of God (10), so he asked “one of those standing there” (16a) to help him understand what this vision meant. Later on, an interpreting angel will be named – Gabriel (8:16; 9:21) – but whichever angel it was then, is unnamed here.

The angel complies with the request and states very simply that “the great beasts are four kingdoms that will arise from the earth” (17). But that is not how things will end up, for God will subdue all those kingdom and he will give to “the saints of the Most High” (18a) a kingdom that will never fade away or be destroyed (18b).

B. The Meaning of the “Holy Ones

In Daniel 8:24, this same group called “the saints of the Most High” seem to be the “holy people,” that is the Jews. But by New Testament times, it is the group of believers who share that portion of the future kingdom of God that has already been manifested in Messiah’s first advent (Col 1:13). But nothing of the Christian Church had as yet been revealed to Daniel, so for him, these Holy Ones were the chosen people of Israel who believed. Scholars have rightly referred to this phenomenon as “Inaugurated Eschatology,” (i.e., a word about the future in which there was both a “now” fulfillment aspect as well as a “not yet” fulfillment. This dual aspect of the same one sense or meaning may be illustrated from 1 John 3:2, where the apostle John teaches, “Dear friends, now are we children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known” (emphasis mine). Thus, this group includes both those, who as Jewish people believe in Messiah in Daniel’s day, and all who subsequently trust Messiah as Savior on into Christian times.

C. The Meaning of the Fourth Beast.

Daniel is most concerned about this fourth beast, which was so different from the other three kingdoms (19). Once again, what was recounted in verses 7-8 is repeated in verses 19-20. This beast is linked with the legs and toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s colossus in Daniel 2. The only addition here from verses 7-8 is that this beast also has “iron claws” and we are told a bit more about the eleventh horn.

The vision continued to play out in Daniel’s mind with the Little Horn making himself more imposing than the other horns as he spoke boastfully. This eleventh horn made war with the saints and was defeating them unti the Ancient of Days stepped in and rendered a judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High (21-22).

Then the interpreting angel gave this explanation of the fourth beast. That fourth beast will appear on earth following the rise and demise of the preceding three kingdoms (23a). But two features of this fourth beast needed to be emphasized: (1) it was “different” from all the other beasts, and (2) it will “devour the whole earth” (23c,d). So different is it that it cannot be likened to any animal as the other three kingdoms were so linked. It just trampled and crushed everything, apparently in wanton destruction (23e).

The angel also explained that the ten horms were ten kings that would arise from this fourth kingdom (24a), but this boastful horn would subdue three of those ten kings (24b-c). But this eleventh horn would be marked by four characteristics: (1) he will blaspheme the Most High God, (2) he will oppress the saints of the Most High trying to wear them down, (3) he will attempt to change the set times, perhaps by implementing a new calendar of religious festivals, and (4) he will use his power to oppress the saints for “a time, times, [plural] and a half time” [literally, “a dividing”] ( 25). This last expression is taken to mean a period of three-and-a-half years, for a “time” meant a “year” in Daniel 8:14. Just where this period is located in history is not said in this passage, but further on in the book of Daniel it is the period of time between the desecration of the temple and the time of the end of history (Dan 12:7; Rev 12:14) . The reign of this Little Horn ends almost as quickly as it arose, for he will be stripped on his power and completely destroyed forever (26). This is mandated by the “court,” which reminds us again of the throne scene in verses 9-11. Instead of this fourth kingdom with a ten horned confederacy governed by the same one named in Revelation 13 and 17, the rule and reign of God will take its place and that forever and forever (27). From that time on out, all rulers will worship and serve Yahweh and his son (27d).

V. THE AFTERMATH (7:28)

This seventh chapter concludes much like the book of Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Now hear the conclusion to the whole matter.” But if the matter is resolved, or so this expression would seem to imply, then why is Daniel still “deeply troubled” by his thoughts and his “face turned pale?” (28). Surely he understood the basic plan of God annonced here, but was the issue that he wished to learn more of the details? He will indeed learn more in what follows, for his prophecy has not ended at this point despite some who argue otherwise. The answer appears to be that Daniel wants us as his listeners to expect more to come in order to clarify some of the matters that need further explanation

Conclusions:

1. Every government on earth can only act either under the permission or direction of God.

2. Not one of all the forms of human government will survive the final destruction of Antichrist and all those who carry out his will.

3. God has a plan and a timetable for the events that are happening now and for the end of the whole, but whose dates are known only to him.

4. Suffering is not to be judged an unexpected event in the life of a believer, for our Lord wants to use even that for his own honor and glory and for our growth in Christ.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., PhD

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  website:  www.walterckaiserjr.com

The Book of Daniel Lesson 6 Chap 6 by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

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This chapter completes the six court narratives. Here, as in chapter 3, rival colleagues in the government accuse Daniel of a new charge they have specially cooked up in order to catch him in a state crime because they have tricked the king into foolishly signing a new law. However, once the king has signed this very stupid, self-serving law, there is no way to stop the order for an execution of Daniel, just as the three Hebrew captives, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, were caught in a trap in Daniel 3.

Once again, because of God’s providential intervention, Daniel emerged at the head of a list of three administrators who were over the 120 satraps in the Medo-Persian Empire (6:1-2). But despite the best-laid plans of mortals to thwart the plans of God, once again they are foiled and their plan backfires.

This passage has three or four scenes: (1) Jealousy in the new government leadership (6:1-5), (2) A governmental conspiracy, (6:6-12), (3) The Judgment is carried out against Daniel (6:13-18), and (4) The deliverance of Daniel by God (6:19-28).   The setting of this narrative is the time when the Medo-Persian Empire ruled a good stretch of the Near East plus some adjacent areas. Our chapter ends with a doxology published as an edict by Darius (25-27), with an emphasis on “the Living God.” Even in the midst of “dislocation” caused by the Babylonian exile, God was still demonstrating his power to sustain and even prosper those whom the exile had affected.

OUTLINE:

Title: “Trusting the Living God”

Text: Daniel 6:1-28

Focal Point: vv. 26b – 27 “For [Yahweh] is the Living God and he endures forever; ….He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Homiletical Keyword: “acts”

Interrogative: What are the acts of the Living God that will show his power to rescue and to deliver?

I.    He teaches us how to live. (6:1-5)

A.  Within Pagan Cultures

B.  With Patient Endurance

II.   He hears us when we pray. (6:6-12)

A.  A Governmental Conspiracy

B.  An appeal to the Government of Heaven

III.   He is with us when all seems to be lost. (6:13-18)

A.  The Charge by the conspirators

B.  The Measures to Prevent Human Rescue

IV.   He Rescues Us When We Think It Is the Least Likely (6:19-28)

A.  A Dependence on God

B.  A Deliverance from God

Conclusions

I.  HE TEACHES US HOW TO LIVE (6:1-5)

A.  Within Pagan Cultures

Unfortunately, some have attempted to connect the narrative of Daniel in the lion’s den with the later mythical intertestamental story of Bel and the Serpent/Dragon, which sometimes appears in one of the apocryphal additions [non-canonical] to the expanded book of Daniel. However, not only is this story a later addition and not in the canonical books of the Bible, but it is a polemic against idolatry and not one of the court narratives found in the book of Daniel. Moreover, the critical judgment of many is that this later addition to the enlarged form of Daniel was borrowed from the canonical story and appears to be more contrived, especially the part that has Habakkuk transported to Babylon to feed Daniel in the lion’s den.

Daniel was made one of the “Presidents” (Aramaic, sarak) because of the way he had “distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps” (3). At this point, Daniel had more than 60 years of public service to the former empire as he was now entering into the Medo-Persian civil service. This may have put him around 80 years of age. The excellence with which he carried out his office in government was part of his testimony for his Lord, just as the same is true for all who are believers today and who carry on their work in a secular field. Excellence on the job is part of the witness to the Living God.

The Darius [the Mede], spoken of in verse 6, is probably, as Donald J. Wiseman suggested in our previous lesson, the same person also called Cyrus the Persian. This is in keeping with the occasional dual name phenomenon of the times demonstrated by the Assyrian King “Pul” who was also known as “Tiglath Pileser” (1 Chron 5:26).

Others are concerned because the number of Administrative districts varies according to the time period. Sometimes it is 120 (Dan 6:1), at other times is 127 (Est 1:1) or in Persian documents it is either 20 or 27. But the word “satrap” in Aramaic referred to the “protector of the kingdom,” which could also refer to smaller divisions within larger territorial units.

Added to the list of problems in this book is the fact that the Aramaic or Greek documents from this same time period have no knowledge of three “administrators,” or of Daniel being a part in this government. But since none have turned up so far does not mean it does not exist; this is an argument from silence. The historian Herodotus claimed that Darius I divided his empire into 20 provinces. But these apparently were also sub-divided into 120 smaller groups.

Daniel is depicted as a friend of Darius and he is not regarded as poorly as he was under King Belshazzar in the former government. Just how Daniel came to the attention of Darius, we are not told. Could it be that stories of his deciphering the handwriting on the wall and his interpreting the king’s dreams in the Babylonian government had come to the ears of the new regime? Or were his character traits well known?

The later seems to be the case, for the text specifically says that Darius was attracted to Daniel because of “his exceptional qualities” (3) and because he was “trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (4). That is quite a commendation for a politician, when in such a huge operation as Darius controlled, there must have always been the temptation for all sorts of lapses in morals and justice with the potential for cover-up strategies.

To work with so many people as Daniel had over the years, in two different governments and in so many areas, and yet come up as “Mr. Clean” is remarkable to say the least. Surely such a record is a problem for ambitious, envious aspirants for the same office as Daniel held.

Envy of his record tempted the administrators and satraps to seek fault with Daniel; however, the only fault they could find with him was his habit of keeping the law of God (5). If Daniel had acted as those seeking to catch him in some fault no doubt acted, then he would have blended into the culture much more readily. But the chances of finding some fault with Daniel, a man who kept God’s word and his law, was going to be hard indeed – unless they invented some such novel law. It was the decrees and laws of God that taught Daniel how to live. That principle is still in force even to this day, for the Torah, “law,” meant “to point” or “to direct” a person as to how they should live.

Moreover, the king provoked the jealousy of Daniel’s colleagues when he promoted him to a place of supremacy in the kingdom (3). Daniel’s promotion came as a result of his abilities in managing governmental affairs and his impeccable character. Therefore, the conspirators’ shift from examining his professional conduct to making a personal attack was their only possible move.

B.  With Patient Endurance

Daniel, keen as he was to what usually goes on in government based on his years of experience, must have surmised there was envy and jealousy aimed at him by his fellow workers in government. But that was no reason for compromise. That point had been demonstrated in the first court narrative in Daniel 1. There comes a point where the one faithful to the word of God has to draw the line. The Scriptures drew that line for him in the law of God.

As Solomon taught in Proverbs 27:4, “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy/envy?” When jealousy and envy are the driving forces, unless God intervenes, absolute mischief lies in front of the servant of the Lord.

II.   HE IS WITH US WHEN WE PRAY (6:6-12)

A.   A Governmental Conspiracy

Conspiracies or collusions in government (or any other line of work) are not a new thing, but Darius’ gullibility is rather amazing. Could he not see through the great and sudden concern for the king by his own officials? Thus it was that they came as a “group” (6) and greeted him royally! The word picture here is that they conspired to “agitate,” or that they literally “swarmed” him, perhaps to the point of stampeding him into acting favorably to heighten his honor and reputation as a sovereign for the next thirty days (7). Why would it last for only thirty days? Why just thirty? These and other questions should have alerted the naïve king.

The proposed edict was exaggerated in that it claimed to have expressed the will of “all” his subordinate officers. However, even mothers learn very early on to disregard the alleged polls taken by their children in school when their sons or daughters claim: “Everyone is now dressing this way!” or “All the other parents are providing vast amounts of spending money to their children!; our family is the only one out of step!” Can’t this monarch likewise see that he is being trapped into getting at someone they wish to displace? They want a decree that stated: “Anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown in the lion’s den” (7c).

Previously, the three Hebrew captives had been the victims of tattling by similarly envious colleagues (Dan 3), but now these royal conspirators want execution of any offender by exposure to the lions. Should not that demand have been enough for a wise king to say: “Why so harsh a judgment, especially for first- time offenders?” Perhaps he was so flattered by being a god and king for thirty days that he lost his sense of judgment and fairness. And why was it enacted only for thirty days, especially since it could “not be repealed” (8c)? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms – unrepealable for thirty days? This was straightforwardly a ploy to appeal to the king’s pride, and he took the bait hook, line, and sinker, not asking what motivated all of these officials to see that only the king was worshipped or prayed to– and that only for thirty days!

Some have objected that there is no external evidence for the irrevocability of Medo-Persian law. But that claim fails to note how Diodorus Siculus, a second century B.C. historian of Darius III, in a fit of rage condemned a certain Charidemus to death. Later, “When the king’s anger had abated, he at once repented … but it was not possible, for what was done by royal authority to be undone.”   So the law of the Medes and the Persians was irrevocable.

To make sure the king does not have time to reflect on what he was doing, these co-conspirators urged him to put this decree into effect immediately (8-9). The gullible Darius obliged them and enacted the edict into immediate effect. No doubt they all came with the written decree already in hand for the king to sign. Notice to what lengths vanity can drive a person.

B. Appeal to the Government of Heaven

When Daniel learned of this edict, he took the matter directly to his heavenly Father (10a). In his own “upstairs room,” he opened his windows “toward Jerusalem” (10c). In so doing, he carried out the teaching Solomon had given when he dedicated the temple (1 Kgs 8:35, 38, 44, 48).  Solomon had prayed: “If [in the land of their captivity] they turn back to you with all their heart and soul…. And pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I [Solomon] have built for your [God’s] name, then from heaven, your dwelling place, [I will] hear their prayer and their plea and uphold their cause.” (1 Kgs 8:48-49). In a similar manner, the prophet Jonah prayed in his hour of desperation inside that great fish as he “looked towards [God’s] holy temple (Jon 2:4). That is how David prayed as well (Ps 5:7; 28:2).

Also the custom of praying three times a day likewise stemmed from the psalmist who prayed to God, saying: “Evening, morning and noon, I cry in my distress, and he hears my voice” (Ps 55:17). Moreover, when Daniel prayed, despite the jam he was in, he still was “giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Dan 6:10d). Later, the Apostle Paul would formalize this truth into a principle, as it is here as well: “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known unto God” (Phil 4:6). Since he now acts as he “had done before,” the point is that good prayer habits give deep confidence in God’s providential care. Thus the Psalmist taught: “Surely [one] will never be shaken… He will never fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes” (Ps 112:6-8).

Daniel’s prayer (10) involved: 1.) faith, “because he had trusted in his God” (Dan 6:23); 2.) worship toward the city and temple God had chosen; 3.) humility, for he kneeled down on his knees before God, 4.) regularity, for he prayed three times a day, as he “had done before” (13); and 5.) thanksgiving (10d), as mentioned above.

III.  He is With Us When All Seems to Be Lost (6:13-18)

A.  The Charge by the Conspirators

There is a trace of anti-Semitism as the officials in collusion charged, “one of the exiles from Judah” (13a), not one of the Presidents, or any other title, “pays no attention to you, O King” (13a).   They can charge such only because of the decree they had crafted with the king’s authority was to catch exactly one of the administrators of the king. Nevertheless, despite the high risk, Daniel remains true to Yahweh, for there is no other place to rest one’s trust and hope.

Talk about privacy invasions! How did these busy officials happen to know   what Daniel’s practice was had they not deliberately spied on him (13d)?

B.  The Measures to Prevent Human Rescue

When Darius heard this, suddenly he put it altogether (14a). He was not only “deeply distressed,” but he “made every effort until sundown to save [Daniel]” (14). Darius had been trapped by his own logic and pride! In the name of law and order, he was now party to one of the worse injustices about to be performed.

Note how the Evil One can operate under the guise of law and order just as well as under the mantle of permissiveness! Therefore, the Devil has a conservative mask as well as a revolutionary mask. How could such a loyal civil servant be hit with the charge of sedition? It was unspeakably unfair!

The conspirators did not let up, especially when their hideous plan was so close to being enacted. They kept “swarming,” or as a “group,” to Darius, now for a third time (15), presumably to remind the king of the necessity of real “law enforcement.”

In defeat, Darius gave the order, “throw Daniel to the lions,” adding piously, “May your God whom you serve continually, rescue you” (16). There was such jealousy and animosity from these conspirators against Daniel that they wanted to make sure that the king would not play for time, which incidentally, this same Daniel had once saved their own necks when they too had played for more time (Dan 2) to interpret the dream that they could not give for the king. So distressed was Darius that he could not eat or sleep, and he went that night without any “entertainment” or “diversion” (18) of activity.

These men did not trust Darius, for they wanted the lion’s den sealed, not just with the King’s “signet ring” (17), but to make sure no story of a surprising deliverance was concocted by the king, they affixed their rings on the seal so that nothing happened without their knowing it. The “signet ring” was an engraved stone placed on a ring or an inscribed stone worn about the neck on a rope or chain which became in effect a person’s signature.

IV. He Delivers Us When We Think It Is the Least Likely (6:18-28)

A.  A Dependence on God

So distraught was Darius after a sleepless night, that “at the first light of dawn” (19a), he rushed out to the lion’s den and called in a voice of anguish to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the Living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” (20).   This epithet for the “Living God” is used fifteen times in the Old Testament and fourteen times in the New Testament. Therefore, the teaching about the “Living God” is not just a doctrine, a philosophy, an idea, or just about some kind of The Force; instead, he is a person who is alive, active, powerful and awesome in his ability to know what is going on in the earth and to bring judgment or blessing as the occasion deserves (20, 26).

B. A Deliverance from God

Daniel’s life had been spared, for even the brute creation served as a sign to this monarch that everything on earth was under his Sovereign control. Even the dumb animals sensed God’s purpose and will, while some of God’s more intelligent beings showed a much lesser awareness! Some would make the stone on the lion’s den, upon which the king and officials’ seals were placed, a type of the stone that closed the tomb of Jesus. It is said then that the story here foreshadows or predicts Jesus’ own resurrection. But there is nothing here that would lead a Bible reader to make that association! Jesus’ resurrection is true on other Biblical and historical grounds.

Who this “angel” was is never defined in the text. But a good guess is that this may well have been none other than “the Angel of the Lord,” i.e., the Lord himself, rather than one of his angelic host. In fact, that is how the LXX (Greek Septuagint) understood this agent to be a Christophony.

C.The King’s Decree and Doxology

There is no question but that the king was overjoyed at the outcome of this ordeal. Darius, therefore commanded that “the men who had falsely accused Daniel” be brought to the lion’s den along with their wives and children” (24). Some are horrified by this expression of corporate solidarity, if not offended by it. But it is important to notice that the Bible merely records this event without approving or disapproving of the king’s command.

This event, however, does appear as an example of one of the persons of faith in Hebrew 11:33-34. Thus, the text emphasizes the positive aspects of faith without commenting on the judgment meted out by the mortal king.

Just as Nebuchadnezzar wrote a letter to all his subjects after his seven years of literally being out to pasture on grass for his food (Dan 4:1-3), so King Darius/Cyrus similarly wrote a royal letter to all those in his vast realm. On the basis of what he had experienced, he decreed that in “every part of [his] kingdom, people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel, for he is the Living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions” (25-27). This doxological hymn surely glorifies the One and Only True God as being alive and most powerful.

That is some tribute from a pagan king! Darius exalts the eternality of God and the indestructibility of his kingdom, much as Nebuchadnezzar had in Daniel 4:3. Interestingly enough, this edict seemed to rescind the “irrevocability” of edict as the king publicizes his reversal of what he himself previously had struggled with as being irreversible. But Darius was certain that Daniel’s God was the “Living God,” which title he now repeats (20, 26).

Did this mean that either or both of these kings were converted?  There is just not enough data here to determine the answer to that question.

The chapter ends on a somewhat strange note as it connects the name and reign of Darius with that of Cyrus (28). The writer, it seems, wants us to know that the two names belong to the same person.

Conclusions:

1.  Envy may be one of the meanest of all human sin.

2.  Envy destroys homes, Churches, the state, and persons.

3.  The Bible teaches that “the Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him” (Ps 34:7)

4.  It is a losing battle to fight against the people of God.

5.  Be careful of the trap of personal vanity and the lengths it might drive you to.

6.  The decrees and laws of God can direct believers how to live and succeed even in very hostile environments.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., PhD

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  website:   www.walterckaiserjr.com

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