An Overview of Daniel, Part 2

Daniel’s First Vision: Daniel 7:1-2

Because the narrative of Daniel is not consistently chronological, it must be remembered that Belshazzar was the grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar. It was during the reign of Belshazzar that Daniel too had a dream, which he wrote down when he awoke, and told others what he had seen (7:1). Perhaps those he told were his old friends, Shadrack, Meshack, and Abed-nego. 

Daniel’s First Vision

First Beast / Daniel 7:3-4 / Babylon: A lion with the plucked wings of an eagle, the feet of a man, and a man’s heart.

Second Beast / Daniel 7:5 / Medes-Persians: A bear, raised on one side, with three ribs between its teeth was commanded to arise and devour flesh.

Third Beast / Daniel 7:6 / Greece: A leopard, with four wings, and four heads. Dominion was given to it.

Fourth Beast / Daniel 7:7-8 / Romans: A strong dreadful beast with iron teeth with ten horns. Out of the horns came another, a Little Horn who destroyed three of the original ten horns. In the Little Horn their eyes like the eyes of man, and an eloquent mouth.

The Ancient of Days: Daniel 7:9-14

As Daniel witnessed his own vision of the rise and fall of four great empires, they all were cast down to exalt the Ancient of Days whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. This Ancient of Days is none other than the glorified Lord Jesus Christ.

Centuries later, the apostle John would write about this Ancient of Days in reference to Jesus.

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet…12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:10, 12-18).

Church of the Living Lord, do not miss the meaning of Daniel’s vision, or the Revelation of St. John. The resurrected Christ is the exalted ascended Ancient of Days, before whom all the kingdoms of this world are under His feet, as He sits by the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). While Jesus is Lord of all, He does not rule in an expected manner, for there is pain and suffering which He allows for His own good purposes. Even those who believe in a future Millennial reign of Christ on earth from Jerusalem concede there will be sorrow, death, and rebellion (Rev. 20:7-8). 

Nevertheless, evil shall not always be present, for history is moving towards a great conclusion. One day there will be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. Until then, God’s people are to be patient and never lose hope, or faith, that, our God reigns now, in this moment in time, and forevermore. Of His kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:33).  

“How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him
Who brings good news, good news
Announcing peace, proclaiming
News of happiness.

Our God reigns;
our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

He had no stately form;
He had no majesty,
That we should be
drawn to Him.
He was despised,
and we took no account of Him,
Yet now He reigns
With the Most High.

Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

Out of the tomb He came
With grace and majesty;
He is alive, He is alive.
God loves us so see here His hands,
His feet, His side.
Yes, we know
He is alive.”

—Leonard E. Smith

Of particular interest to those who read John’s Revelation, is that the Terrible Beast which Daniel saw in his vision was a conquered Beast. It would not be long before this fact was realized, for what John saw was to shortly, or certainly, come to pass.

A Divine Interpretation: Daniel 7:15-28

Ironically, though Daniel could recall and interpret the dreams of others, he needed someone to explain his own dream-vision to him.  While Daniel understood the angelic explanation, his heart was still troubled as he meditated in his heart on the future.

Daniel’s Second Vision: Daniel 8:1-2

Around the year 550 BC, while in a royal palace at Shushan, in the province of Elam, Daniel had a second vision concerning the future of two empires, the Medo-Persian Empire, and Greek Empire.

He-goat
Ram

Observe

“The predominant distinction between goats and rams lies in the thickness of the coat, and the shape of horns. While sheep are covered in woolly fur, goats have a relatively thinner coat. Rams have iconic long, curved horns, and split hooves, whereas goats have slender and straight horns” (Animal Hype, on the web)

Daniel’s Second Vision

A Ram with two unequal horns / Daniel 8:3-4 / Medo-Persia

A He-Goat with a notable horn between its eyes / Daniel 8:5-12 / Greece

Out of one of the horns of the “goat”, representing Greece, comes a Little Horn, which became great in power and full of pride. Daniels saw this Little Horn would attack the Holy City and take away the daily sacrifices for 2, 300 days (Daniel 8:8-14). However, he too would be destroyed by God who would exalt His elect people.

An Angel Named Gabriel: Daniel 8:15-18

Once the vision was over, Daniel sought for understanding. Suddenly, there stood before him a personage in the appearance of a man. Then a voice came from between the banks of the River Ulai saying, “Gabriel, make Daniel to understand the vision.”

An Angelic Explanation: Daniel 8:19-26

What Gabriel explained to Daniel, is that the ram with two horns is the king of Media and Persia.

The He goat, or rough goat” is the king of Grecia (Greece). The great horn between the eyes of the He goat, is the first king of that particular dynasty, who would do many terrible deeds against the holy people. The 2, 300 days (8:14) refers to “the evening and the morning” (8:26), or 6 years, 6 months, and 18 days (Daniel 8:19-25).

The 2,300 Days in Daniel 8:14

  • Are the 2, 300 days literal days?
  • Are the 2, 300 days reprehensive days of years of human history?
  • Are the 2, 300 days to be reduced to 1, 150 twenty-four-hour days based on Daniel 8:26?

Observe

There is no agreement among Bible scholars on the best way to understand the 2,300 days   mentioned by Daniel the prophet.

The Baptist lay minister William Miller (Feb. 15, 1782 – Dec. 20, 1849) insisted that the year for day motif was the correct understanding of the 2,300 days, and convinced many people of his day that the 2, 300 days would end sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. “My principles in brief, are, that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844.”

Dispensational guru C. I Scofield, in his Bible commentary on Daniel 8 states, “This prediction was fulfilled during the bitter persecution under Antiochus Epiphanies IV and in the cleansing of the sanctuary in Jerusalem.” Daniel is referring to a time-period that reaches from 168 B.C. to 162 B.C., historically known as the Maccabean revolt under Judas Maccabees.”

The problem with Scofield’s understanding is that, “according to 1 Maccabees 4:52-54, the rebuilt temple was purified, reconsecrated, and services resumed three years later on December 14, 164 B.C. II Maccabees 10:1-8 also confirms that temple services resumed at this time. In other words, the length of time between the purification of the rebuilt temple by Judas Maccabee, and the defilement by Antiochus is not even close to 2,300 days. This point alone should render Scofield’s view incorrect” (The 2300 Days of Daniel 8:14, Larry W. Wilson).

It is always best to be silent when the Scriptures are silent.

Astonishment without Understanding: Daniel 8:27

With the vision explained, but not fully understood, Daniel fainted, and was sick for several days. After recovering from his vision, the man of God went back to work, and did the king’s business, still wondering what the vision meant (Daniel 8:27).

We Are Going Home: Daniel 9:1-23

If Daniel did not understand his own vision, even when explained by the angel Gabriel, he did understand what another prophet had written. In the year 538 BC, while reading the scroll of Jeremiah, God the Holy Spirit illuminated the understanding of Daniel, so that we realized, “We are going home!” It was a, “Eureka!” moment for the man of God. He recorded the moment saying, “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” It is a wonderful moment when a person can read God’s Word, and say, “I understand!”

“O what a wonderful, wonderful
day, day I will never forget;
After I’d wandered in darkness
away, Jesus my Savior I met.
O what a tender, compassionate
friend, He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling, with
joy I am telling, He made
all the darkness depart.

Heaven came down and glory
filled my soul,
When at the cross the Savior
made me whole;
My sins were washed away and
my night was turned to day,
Heaven came down and glory
filled my soul!

Born of the Spirit with life from
above into God’s family divine,
Justified fully thru Calvary’s
love, O what a standing is mine!
And the transaction so quickly was
made, when as a sinner I came,
Took of the offer, of grace
He did proffer, He saved
me, O praise His dear name!

Now I’ve a hope that will surely
endure after the passing of time;
I have a future in heaven for sure
there in those mansions sublime.
And it’s because of that wonderful
day, when at the cross I believed;
Riches eternal and blessings supernal,
from His precious hand I received.

Heaven came down and glory
filled my soul,
When at the cross the Savior
made me whole;
My sins were washed away and
my night was turned to day,
Heaven came down and glory
filled my soul!”

While Daniel contemplated the idea that the desolation of Jerusalem would come to an end after seventy years, he determined in his heart to pray, confess personal and national sins, and seek the face of God for more understanding. Daniel wanted to be prepared to go home. He wanted the blessing of God. He wanted the face of the Lord to shine once more on the Holy City.

Observe

When the angel Gabriel came to Daniel the second time and informed him of more things to come, the year was 538 BC. Jerusalem had fallen to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. This meant there was still twenty-two more years of exile in Babylon before the evil ended, which, “under the whole heaven had not been done as had been done upon Jerusalem” (9:12).

Twenty-two more years would be a very long time for people in captivity. Twenty-two more years would be a long time for the Holy Temple to remain desolate (Heb. “shamem [shaw-mame’; ruined]). 

The Greatest Prophesy Ever Given: Daniel 9:24-27

In answer to his prayer, the angel Gabriel informed Daniel that the rebellion of Israel has continued, despite the Fall of Jerusalem forty-eight years earlier. Because of this, the exile of the people and the oppression or desolation of Israel will continue seven times longer than what Jeremiah had anticipated (9:24). In other words, God determined to punish His people for 490 additional years. Certain events would be accomplished within distinct periods.

Three Distinct Periods Totaling 490 Years

  • First Period / Seven weeks / 49 years
  • Second Period / Sixty-two weeks / 434 years
  • Third Period / One week / 7 years 

Daniel’s River Vision: Daniel 10:1-12:1-13

Daniel was disturbed by what he had been told. For two years the information conveyed by the angel Gabriel was on his heart. Then, by the grace of God, more spiritual insight came to him in the third year of the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia (10:1). The year was 536 BC. On the 24th day in the month of Nissan (March / April), as Daniel stood by the Hiddekel River, a vision was given to him of a man clothed in linen, and girded with gold. Those with Daniel did not see what he saw, but they knew something spectacular was happening, and they were afraid (10:7).

A Royal Battle: The King of the South vs. The King of the North

In this final vision, Daniel was told once more about the Persian Empire, and then the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great, followed by various kings, with special attention given to the King of the North who was destined to invade Jerusalem, set up an idol in the Holy Temple, and exalt himself against God, only to be destroyed.

Observe

Once more, trying to understand the final vision is challenging. There are Bible scholars who associate the King of the North with the behavior of the Syrian king, Antiochus in the 160s BC, for he killed many Jews in Jerusalem in his mad quest for power, and, like others, set up idols in the Temple in the Holy City. Other Bible scholars associate the King of the North with the Roman Empire and their destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Still other students of the Bible anticipate a time in the future when these events will be fulfilled. It may not really matter, for the message of Daniel gives hope to all of God’s people, in every generation, that OUR God reigns!

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