God’s Man in Babylon

Posted: August 6, 2015 in Daniel, Route 66
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Route 66: Daniel, “God’s Man in Babylon”

Depending whom you read, the Book of Daniel is either a fascinating eyewitness account of the Babylonian Captivity & the detailed prophetic record of Almighty God, or it’s the falsified fictionalized account of an unknown Jew writing after the fact, trying to give hope in God to his countrymen.  It’s not unusual to find differences between conservative and liberal scholars, but why is there so much in regards to this book?  One word: accuracy.

The prophecies contained in the Book of Daniel are so incredibly accurate about world events – the rise & fall of empires – that liberal critics simply have to discount it as false.  Because they don’t believe in the supernatural, they have to claim that the book was written after the fact.  It’s far too accurate to explain through natural means.  Of course the major problem with that is that we’re talking about God.  By definition, God is supernatural…He is beyond nature.  God is beyond time & space, being the Creator of it all.  If you or I decided to write a book of prophecy, we’d be in a ton of trouble, trying to hedge our bets & make predictions off of things that may or may not turn out to be true.  (Just ask Edgar Whisenant, the author of “88 Reasons the Rapture will be in 1988.”)  However, if GOD is the One to make futuristic predictions, we can rightly expect that those predictions will be true.  Why?  Because it’s God.  If the predictions turned out wrong, then that would be prima facie evidence that the predictions were faked.  Ironically, it’s the accuracy of the prophecy the liberals condemn – but in truth, that only supports the fact that this book is of God.

Despite some (strange) claims to the contrary, the book itself claims to have been written by Daniel (at the very least, in 8:1, 9:2, 10:3), and although Daniel is written of in the 3rd person in the bulk of the 1st half, that’s no reason to discount his authorship – it’s just indicative of a different style of writing, which better fit the narrative historical genre.  It’s actually written in two languages: Hebrew and Aramaic, which certainly fits Daniel’s position within the Babylonian Empire, sometimes incorporating the personal testimony of the kings.  In addition, the Book of Daniel is one of the books included among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which themselves date to the Maccabean times – the very date range that liberal scholars claim a different person wrote the book.  That itself is undeniable proof that the Book of Daniel was in circulation and received as Jewish Scripture long before the Maccabees/Hasmonean Kingdom.  All in all, this is no forgery…it’s the real deal.

Once we accept Daniel’s authorship (and we should, if no other reason, because Jesus did! Mt 24:15), that puts the date of writing during the Babylonian Captivity, basically ranging through the entire 70 years.  Daniel completed the book not long after Babylon fell to the Medes & Persians, which places it somewhere in the range of 530BC.  Considering what the prophet wrote about the times to follow, that makes Daniel one of the most amazing books in the prophetic record.

SIGNIFICANCE
Although many Christians are drawn to Daniel because of the tales of heroism (Shadrach, Meshach, & Abed-nego – Daniel & the lion’s den – the handwriting on the wall), by far the more significant aspect of the Book of Daniel is its focus upon prophecy, which in turn illustrates the sovereignty of God.  God is shown to be sovereign over all of the nations of the world, and He is the One who declares which nations rise & fall.  He is the One who determines which kings rule at which times.  He is the One who determines when His Son will come, how He will come, how He will be rejected, and how He will later rule the nations.  All of this is illustrated through prophecy.

How so?  Because the prophecy in Daniel is both near- & long-term.  Daniel is not only to know the mind of the Babylonian king & interpret his dreams, but Daniel is able to speak of successive kingdoms that will follow Babylon in the coming decades & centuries.  Daniel clearly lays out the empires & events that will consume the near-eastern lands that surround the promised land of Israel, and he does so in time events near enough to be checked by his readers.  Every single one of Daniel’s prophecies (or rather, God’s prophecies given through Daniel) are proven to be accurate in an astoundingly short period of time.

Because the near-term prophecies prove to be accurate, that gives the long-term prophecies amazing credibility!  There are events that Daniel foresaw concerning Jesus’ first coming that proved true (likely to the very day), and there are events he foresaw that have not yet come to pass.  Yet because all of the other prophecies are true, what does that say about the future ones?  They are true as well.  Thus there are many things we read in Daniel as a history book, but one that also tells us “history” that has yet to come true in the future.

All in all, it’s an incredible book that looks to the consummation of the Kingdom of God, brought in by the Son of God all in the power of God.  Whatever else were the plans of men, they would never overthrow the plans of God!

GENERAL OUTLINE
Unlike other Biblical books, there is much agreement on the general divisions of Daniel.  Technically, there are two ways the book can be divided: (1) by language (Hebrew – Aramaic – Hebrew), or (2) by theme.  We’re going to look at the thematic divisions.

  • Introduction (1)
  • God over the Gentiles (2-7)
  • God over the Jews (8-12)

 

TEXT
Introduction
Pretty much everything we need to know about the historical background of the book is told right up-front.  The initial conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar is described, and Daniel was one of the young men taken to Babylon in the first wave. It was customary for the Babylonians to search out the brightest & best among their captives & send them to reeducation camp, which is what happened to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Each of them were given new names (which pointed to the Babylonian gods rather than the God of the Hebrews), and although Daniel is rarely known as Belteshazzar, his three friends are more famously known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  In any case, the four of them were included among the young men chosen for reeducation, and they were brought into the king’s palace & given a daily provision of food & wine.

At first glance, this would seem like a dream-gig (or at least as much as one could get when forced into captivity), but Daniel had a problem.  He understood that the meat, drink, and other delicacies offered to him in his rations had been sacrificed to idols, so he “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (1:8).  Instead, he requested that he & his three friends be given vegetables & water, and they would nourish themselves from that.  Although it may sound like no big deal to us, it was a big deal to the servant in charge of feeding them, because he had the responsibility to ensure they were strong & healthy enough to be of service to the king.  So they set a test over 10 days to see how the boys did.  In the end, the Hebrews were healthier looking than all the rest, so they ate vegetables the rest of their time there.

  • It seems like such a minor thing, but it’s such a good example for the rest of us.  Daniel could have easily have rationalized the food, thinking, “Well, it’s what everyone else is eating.  When in Rome…”  Yet he understood the perfect holiness of God, and he wasn’t willing to compromise one iota.  He did so graciously & humbly, but still firmly dedicated to the Lord.
  • It’s so easy for us to compromise on the little things, but the problem is once a little compromise begins, it becomes harder & harder to draw the lines.  That’s not to say we’re to make mountains out of molehills & turn non-essentials into essentials – but our public witness to God’s holiness is important!  Be gracious & humble, but stand firm in your public commitment to Jesus.

Chapter 1 closes out with Daniel & his friends catching the attention of the king & rising to power & influence with him.  Even out of all of the other astrologers & wise-men (supposedly, per the culture), there was none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They stood apart.  (So should we!)

That’s all background.  The true contents & theme of the book really begins in Chapter 2…

God over the Gentiles
The dream of the king (2)
Two years into the captivity, the king begins having dreams he cannot understand, so he commands all the specialists he can to find the interpretation: magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, anyone (2:2).  It’s not that the people don’t want to try to provide an interpretation to the king, but there was a problem: the king didn’t first tell them what the dream was.  Nebuchadnezzar wisely understood that anyone could come up with an interpretation to something he told them – they could just make it up off the top of their head.  What was far more difficult was to interpret the dream without any information.  Of course, his solution for this was rather violent.  Nebuchadnezzar being Nebuchadnezzar, he told the magicians if they couldn’t do it, they’d be horrendously killed & their houses burned.  No one could do it, so the king is ready to exterminate every wise man in the Babylonian Empire.

That’s when things pick up for Daniel.  Daniel & his three friends were included in this decree of execution, so they hit their knees in prayer asking God for help.  Daniel 2:19, "(19) Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven."  God is omniscient – there is nothing He does not know, including the hidden thoughts & dreams of men.  God revealed this knowledge to Daniel, and Daniel praised God for it.  (Practically speaking, how do we tackle problems?  Prayer is a first tactic; not a last resort!)

Daniel goes on to make an appointment with the king, and tell him both the dream and its interpretation.  The king had dreamt of a large statue made of different materials: head of gold – chest of silver – belly & thighs of bronze – legs of iron – feet of iron mixed with clay. (2:32-33)  This statue was then smashed to pieces by a stone made without hands came hurling at it, and all the pieces were broken away.  The interpretation that all the various building materials represented different kingdoms, all of which would be done away with by the Kingdom of God which would never pass away.

  • Although Daniel didn’t specify the kingdoms by name, do we know what they are?  Yes.  Daniel did identify the gold as being Babylon, saying that God had given to Nebuchadnezzar a glorious kingdom (2:38).  All the other kingdoms that follow are those that would follow in succession to Babylon, which we know to be the Medes & Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the nations that arose out of the old Roman Empire.  Scholars debate over the exact nature of the last one, whether it represents the European nations that arose out of Rome, or the Roman Byzantine empire that was taken by Islam in the east – but there’s no doubt about the first several layers. 

What Daniel foresaw was nothing less than God’s sovereignty over history, and that was immediately recognized by Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel 2:47, "(47) The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”" THIS is the benefit of prophecy!  Prophecy (rightly given and interpreted) points to the glory of God, and causes people to seek Him in faith.

  • Where prophecy goes wrong is when people read the newspaper with one hand & try to make every line match a Scripture with their Bible in the other hand.  Will God make Himself known in our culture as prophecy is fulfilled?  Absolutely!  However, there’s no need to sensationalize it.  Too often, it’s sensationalized simply to sell books.  In those cases, it’s often about the glory of men – but it ought to be about the glory of God.  When it’s true, it will be obvious.  Even the pagans will understand it!

The idolatry of the king (3)
Daniel’s success with the dream of the king led to his further promotion in the kingdom, and along with him went Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego).  In Chapter 3, Daniel takes a back seat & the other three friends are brought to the front.

Perhaps inspired by the image in his dream, Nebuchadnezzar let it go to his head as he constructs a giant golden statue of himself in the plain of Dura.  It was 60 cubits high, and 6 cubits wide (90 ft x 9 ft).  He gathered all of the royal court, government officials, and everyone else together & commanded that they bow and worship the image whenever the royal music sounded.  Obviously, this presents a rather large problem for the young Jewish men.  Per the 2nd Commandment, they were not to make, nor worship any graven image (Exo 20:4-5).  They didn’t bow, and that was quickly noticed by all of the other officials who were jealous of the favor they had received from the king.  They reported the young men & requested that they be thrown into a fiery furnace, per Nebuchadnezzar’s command.

The king was furious, but gave the men one more chance – warning them that their refusal would cost them their lives.  Apparently they didn’t even hesitate.  They humbly, yet firmly refused the king & declared their worship of the One True God.  Daniel 3:16–18, "(16) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. (17) If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. (18) But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”"

  • What a declaration of faith!  They knew God could deliver them, but whether or not He did was up to God.  They were not going to abandon the God they worshipped, even if it meant their lives.  This is exactly the same stand millions of Christians make every single day around the world.  CAN God deliver them?  Yes.  DOES God deliver them?  Sometimes.  Ultimately, that’s up to God, and He is glorified no matter what.  But they determined to stand firm & worship Him, simply because God is God & He has proven Himself to be God when Jesus rose from the dead.
  • This is the same determination each of us need.  We need to have our minds made up NOW that we will serve Jesus & none other.  There’s a reason the young men didn’t need to discuss the matter; it had already been decided.  So it should be for us.  Don’t wait until you’re in the heat of the moment to decide what you’re going to do if/when persecuted.  Decide today!

Needless to say, Nebuchadnezzar was even more infuriated by this, threw the men into a super-heated furnace (so hot that even the guards died from the heat), but the three Hebrews were protected.  God personally intervened and even sent Someone to be with them in the midst of it all, whom Nebuchadnezzar described as looking like the “Son of God” (3:25).  Whether it was Jesus or an angel, we don’t know, but we know this much: God protected His people, and this was another event that caused the pagan king to give glory to God (3:29).

The conversion of the king (4)
One would think that after all of this, Nebuchadnezzar would have acknowledged the reality and rule of the God of Israel over all the earth – but like many of us, he was hardheaded & still had much to learn.  Chapter 4 is his own writing (included by Daniel) in which he describes another dream he had that was also eventually interpreted by Daniel.

In his dream, a magnificent tree was declared by a voice from heaven to be chopped down with its stump left in the earth, told to have a heart change to that of a beast for a period of “seven times.”  In addition, the reason was given: Daniel 4:17b, "…In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’"  God wanted His sovereignty to be known, and He was willing to do what it took to make sure it was.

Daniel gives the interpretation, declaring the tree to be Nebuchadnezzar himself who would be driven insane for a period of seven years until he came to the realization that God is God.  The thought of this was horrifying to Daniel, and he appealed to the king to repent & humble himself before God, in that God might show mercy.  Of course Daniel was ignored, and everything came to pass exactly as was said.

Again, everything came to pass…which thankfully included Nebuchadnezzar’s own conversion.  Daniel 4:34–35, "(34) And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. (35) All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”"

  • Praise God for His mercy & grace!  Was it a difficult thing for Nebuchadnezzar to endure?  No doubt.  But he deserved far worse!  What he received was another opportunity to come to faith in the One True God, and he finally took it.
  • What will it take for some of us?  So many of the consequences we endure in life could be avoided if we simply decided to follow the Lord in simple faith and obedience.  It’s not that He doesn’t warn us…don’t ignore Him!

The fall of the king (5)
The king in Chapter 5 isn’t Nebuchadnezzar, but his grandson Belshazzar.  Time has passed, and the new king threw himself a party.  Although it was probably a pretty wild feast, the worst part was not their behavior, but his choice of table-settings.  Instead of using their own cups, Belshazzar had the golden utensils stolen from the Jerusalem temple brought out & used them in the idolatrous feasting and drinking.

That’s when Belshazzar saw the writing on the wall…literally.  This is the event we get the idiom from.  A mysterious disembodied hand appeared and wrote some graffiti on the wall of the king, and no one knew what it said.  Neither the king nor all of his magicians could interpret it.  That’s when his queen remembered the now-elderly Daniel, “in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God.” (5:11)  Daniel is brought before the king, who promises him a grand reward if he gives the interpretation, even making him the 3rd ruler in all the kingdom (5:16).

Daniel wasn’t impressed by the bribery, and the king’s promises wouldn’t be good anyway considering the message.  Daniel reminded Belshazzar how his grandfather was humbled by God and came to the knowledge of the truth, and contrasted the humility of Nebuchadnezzar with the pride of Belshazzar – all of which was exemplified in the way he used the temple cups.

That’s when Daniel gave the meaning & interpretation.  The words were “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN,” which meant that Belshazzar had been “weighed in the balances & found wanting.” (5:25-28)  His kingdom would be given to another…and it was, that very night as the Medes & Persians conquered Babylon before day broke.

  • Sounds great, but is it true?  Yes.  The ancient Greek historians Herodotus & Xenophon both confirm Babylon fell to the Medes while a feast was in progress.  Apparently the Persian army snuck into the city through a ditch where a river went under the wall.  They were able to take the Babylonians completely by surprise.  Herodotus notes that the Babylonian officials “knew nothing of what had chanced, but as they were engaged in a festival, continued dancing and reveling until they learnt about the capture.” (Histories, 1.189-191) 
  • The Bible is true!  It is historically accurate.  There is no record within the Bible that cannot be trusted.  We might not always have the correct interpretation, but the Scripture ensures we always have the correct information.  We can trust the word of God!

A new king & respect for God (6)
The Babylonian Empire is gone, and the Medes & Persians now rule.  The Mede Darius (whom some take as another name for Cyrus – others believe is the name of a high-ranking ruler) organizes leadership over the area formerly occupied by Babylon, and he brings Daniel into his royal court.  Daniel is made a regional governor, with many satraps answering to him.  Daniel continued in his faithfulness to God & excellence of service, and he was blessed beyond everyone else in Darius’ court.

The others, being jealous of Daniel, trick Darius into signing a law that condemned anyone to death who worshipped any god except Darius for a period of 30 days.  (Foolish Darius!)  As with Shadrach, Meshach, & Abed-nego, this was an easy choice for Daniel.  He knew the decree & went home to pray to God per his usual practice…all the while ensuring his windows were open (6:10).  He wasn’t going to change who he was or Who he worshipped, no matter what…and he wanted people to know it.  (Our stand for Jesus needs to be public!)

Of course spies were watching Daniel & the satraps reported back to Darius what had happened, and he was forced to have Daniel thrown into a den of lions.  The reader can almost hear the pain in Darius’ voice as he gives the death sentence, but also the glimmer of hope as he declares that Daniel’s God will help him. (5:16) 

Darius actually spends the night fasting, being concerned for Daniel & rushes to the den the first thing in the morning.  Of course Daniel was alive due to a miracle of God & was pulled to safety.  Now it was the satraps who were thrown to the lions, who were promptly crushed & killed.

Darius’ response is much like Nebuchadnezzar’s years before: Daniel 6:26–27, "(26) I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. (27) He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."

  • God is sovereign over every nation!  Even this one!  There is no king & no ruler outside of the hand of God.  He is the living God & He will one day be glorified as such by every person in all humanity.

—-
That basically ends the historical narrative of Daniel, at least as it relates to the intervention of God among the Gentile kings.  The book now turns to Daniel’s own visions & revelations as God shows to him the future.  Earlier, God had shown the successive empires to the king, and it was Daniel who interpreted the dreams.  This time, God shows these things directly to Daniel.  As a representative of the Jews, Daniel was able to see how the Jews would endure all of these things.  The nations would rise & fall around them, but God had a greater plan at work for His people & He would see it through.

God over the Jews
Vision of the 4 Beasts (7)
The timeframe backtracks a little bit to when Belshazzar was still king over Babylon.  Now Daniel receives his own dream, seeing “four great beasts come up from the sea.” (7:3)  One was like a lion with wings, the next like a bear eating meat, the third like a multi-headed leopard with wings, and the fourth that was dreadful.  The interpretation actually comes later in Chapter 7, when Daniel told that each of the beasts represents 4 kingdoms – basically the same kingdoms that were seen earlier in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: Babylon, the Medes & Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans…with something terrible arising out of the last.

Yet before this interpretation was given, Daniel saw something else – something far greater: the Ancient of Days. (7:9)  This was a vision of none other than the glorious God who judged the terrible beast & was approached by another glorious being: the Son of Man.  Daniel 7:13–14, "(13) “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. (14) Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed."

This is none other than the glorified Jesus Christ!  He approaches the Ancient of Days and is given all the glory and dominion of God, being given a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.

The point?  God is sovereign over the nations!  No matter what kingdom arises, God is supreme over them all.  Even in the worst of times & worst of circumstances when even the Beast known as Antichrist rules the world (pictured here as that coming out of Rome & also in Revelation with similar language), God is supreme.  The Beast will persecute the saints of God and he will rule for 3½  years (7:25), but his kingdom will be thrown down & Jesus will reign forever!

Vision of the Ram & Goat (8)
The next vision for Daniel deals with some of these same events, but more closely examined.  Instead of looking at four (or more) kingdoms, he sees two.  These are represented by a ram with two horns who was extremely powerful, and a goat with one large horn who came against it.  The ram as fierce as he was, could not withstand the goat, and he was overthrown.  As for the goat, his single horn broke off & four other horns grew in its place.  One of these horns grew so large it went all the way to Israel, up to heaven casting out stars from the sky & exalting itself as the great Prince.

If it sounds like a preview of Antichrist, that’s because it is.  The dream is interpreted by the angel Gabriel (8:19) who tells Daniel that the ram with two horns specifically represents the combined kingdoms of the Medes & Persians (8:20), whereas the male goat is Greece (8:21).  The four horns that arise are four other kingdoms that come out of Greece, which is exactly what took place after Alexander the Great died & his kingdom was fought over by the Ptolemies and Seleucids.  That last horn seems to look directly forward to the act of desolation brought about by Antiochus Epiphanes (something which is discussed in further detail in Ch 11), but ultimately looks forward to the abomination of desolation brought about by Antichrist (something discussed in Ch 9).

Vision of the 70 Weeks (9)
The visions continue for Daniel as time progresses.  The time period of 70 years had almost come to an end, so God’s people would soon be going home.  Daniel takes this opportunity to pray, confessing the national sin of his people that led them into captivity in the first place, and asking that God would forgive them their sin & bring them back into the land, as per His promise.  (It’s always a good thing to pray the promises of God!  We can be sure that it is His will.)

That’s when Gabriel appears to Daniel once more & gives a fairly specific timeframe concerning events in the future for God’s people.  He is told of 70 weeks that are determined for the Jews & for Jerusalem until everything is made right.  What are the “weeks”?  Although debated by some, it seems that a prophetic week is a 7-year period of time, so Gabriel is telling Daniel of 490 years that had been appointed specifically for the Jews. 

Going on, Gabriel specifically states when the countdown clock would begin. (Which is helpful, because otherwise, how could you tell when the 70 weeks began?)  It would be from the “command to restore and build Jerusalem,” and from that point until the appearance of “Messiah the Prince” would be 69 weeks, or 483 years. (9:25)  Starting from when?  From when the command was given to rebuild Jerusalem.  This took place with Nehemiah, when he was given the command from King Artaxerxes to rebuild the wall.  By some calculations, this time period takes us directly to the day that Jesus walked through the gates of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, presenting Himself to the Jews as their Messiah.  (God’s word is accurate!)

Yet that’s only 69 weeks – what about the last week?  That’s the subject of the rest of Ch. 9.  Gabriel speaks of how the Messiah would be cut off from His people (crucifixion), and how another people of a different prince would come and destroy the city and sanctuary (the Romans in 70AD).  At some point after that, this new different prince would confirm a covenant for one week, where in the middle of that time, he would commit the abomination of desolations (9:27).

  • This is exactly where the Bible first teaches of a 7-year period of trouble, later described as the Great Tribulation.  This the time period Jesus reference in the Olivet Discourse when He told people to flee Jerusalem.  Matthew 24:15–16, "(15) “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), (16) “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."  This is what is described by Paul to the Thessalonians (2 Ths 2:3-4), and what is described by John throughout Revelation (esp. Ch 13).
  • There are some who would argue that what Daniel describes in Ch 9 was historically fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167BC when he slaughtered a pig to Zeus on the Jerusalem altar.  That’s false.  Daniel does write of that event, but not until Ch. 11.  What he writes in Ch 9 is what Jesus, Paul, and John still looked forward to as a future event.  That is Antichrist, and he is yet to come.
  • That said, he is not to be feared.  He is terrible & fearsome to the world, no doubt (which Daniel seemed to see in his vision of the goat).  But Christians have no reason to fear him nor even search him out.  Our salvation is secure in Jesus Christ, and we look to Him & His glorious coming!  Jesus Himself will deal with Antichrist in His own time, and He will utterly destroy the beast.

Vision of the Glorious Man (10)
Once more Daniel has a vision, this time of a glorious being, who some believe is the pre-incarnate Christ, and others believe is another angel (perhaps Gabriel once again).  Considering that the Being spoke of being withstood by the prince of Persia for 21 days (while Daniel was fasting and mourning), evidence seems to suggest this was an angel.  After all, this Being needed help from Michael the archangel (10:13), and Jesus would not need assistance from anyone.  In any case, this Being was sent to give Daniel a vision of the end times, and to strengthen Daniel for what lay ahead.

Vision of the Empires (11)
Chapter 11 can be fairly confusing for many people, but it helps to read it through a historical lens.  The angel had told Daniel that he was about to show Daniel what was to happen in many years yet to come, but he first shows the prophet what was about to happen in the near future.  We know this because the angel named names.  First he spoke of Persia, then of Greece (11:2), and then he spoke in detail of what would happen to the kingdom of Greece as it was inherited by those who followed the king (who historically was Alexander the Great).

This begins a long section where the Angel describes wars between the Seleucid & Ptolemy dynasties (north & south, respectively).  These families struggled for control over the former Grecian/Macedonian empire, and the Jews (once returned to their homeland) were often caught in the middle.  After all, when one empire is based in Syria & the other in Egypt, what lies in-between?  Israel.  So it is this struggle for power that is described by the Angel, with astonishing accuracy in regards to the historical politics at play.

Where things get really interesting for the Jews is in vs. 21, when a “vile person” is described arising out of “intrigue.”  This is a reference to Antiochus Epiphanes, who tried to seize control of the Seleucid Empire for himself.  After causing trouble with both south and north, he causes trouble in Jerusalem, committing the grand preview of the abomination of desolation. Daniel 11:31–32, "(31) And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. (32) Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits."

Historically, that took place on December 16, 167BC.  But again, this could not have been the event referred to by Jesus & the others, because they all spoke in future tense about an event yet to come.  But what it did was give a preview, showing the Jews what it was they were to look for when Antichrist brought the ultimate sign.  This was so specific & so blasphemous that there could be absolutely no mistake of what was taking place.

Antichrist himself seems to be described, starting in vs. 36 in that the whole character of this person changes.  This is the point when the Angel is really speaking of those latter days, days far into the future.

Vision of the End (12)
The visions finish with Daniel warned about the horrendous nature of this Great Tribulation.  There will never be such a time like it in all their history (something which Jesus echoed in the Olivet Discourse – Mt 24:21-22).  After that time will come the judgment, and some will be given everlasting life, while others will receive everlasting contempt (12:2).  But God is sovereign over it all.

Interestingly, Daniel is told up to seal up his visions until a later time, when knowledge about these things would increase. (We seem to be in that time right now!)  There was a specific timeframe in place for these events to happen, and Daniel could be assured that it would occur to the very day.

What should Daniel do in the meantime?  Rest. Daniel 12:13, "(13) “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days."  He had been a good & faithful servant, and he could be assured of receiving everlasting life through the grace of God!

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