DANIEL AND THE PROMISES (IDB Volume I)
Daniel was the bravest of the Apocalyptic Prophets. He was loyal to the faith of his fathers; but he also spoke to the kings who held him captive as no other human ever dared. And what was beyond comprehension was that he was tolerated, accepted and even honored by these pagan kings against whom he prophesied. Even more incomprehensible were his visions and interpretations of these visions. Strangely absent from Daniel’s dreams were a place for Israel and a Davidic king. His basic petition was, “For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your name” (Daniel 9:17-18).
Daniel could take his place in the Gospels. God commissioned Gabriel to go to Daniel and then to Mary. Gabriel was sent to answer Daniel’s concern, “Seventy ‘seven’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgressions, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler comes, there will be seven ‘seven’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood. War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven,’ but in the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And one who causes desolation will place abominations on a wing of the temple until the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (Daniel 9:24-27).
Trouble would come from four beasts (lion, bear, leopard and one unidentified animal, from four winds (four directions) and a fifth beast with a little horn causing the most harm to the people, the temple and the sacrifices (Daniel 7:1-8). Meanwhile, in heaven, the Ancient of Days was preparing to judge the ugly and vicious horn and the beasts. Daniel was allowed a glimpse behind the scenes: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power. All peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:9-14).
Daniel was deeply troubled and the answer came in a second vision. A goat with one horn destroyed a ram with two horns. Then the goat became four separate horns. Out of one of these horns sprang forth a horn that seduced ‘the Beautiful Land’ and it set itself up to be as great as the prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifices were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled — the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and the host that will be trampled under foot?” He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconstructed” (Daniel 8:1-14).
Daniel’s fourth vision continued to deal with the vicious horn of the North warring against the king of the South with ‘the Beautiful Land’ reaping its fury. The horn’s (king of the North) final objective to take Egypt was thwarted by ships from the west (Rome); and after it desolated and abominated the holy place, it self-destructed (Daniel 11). During the king of the West, depicted as iron, bronze and clay, Nebuchadnezzar in his dream saw “a rock was cut out, but not by human hands, that became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:34-35). “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44).
At this point, we might ask, “How did these apocalyptic visions turn out in history?” Let us turn to the next period, perhaps the overlooked or forgotten period in the history of God’s Promises and Conditions. It certainly was the most misunderstood and misinterpreted time in Biblical history and still is for many of us in the twentieth century. This meager attempt has been made in the chapter on Ezra –Nehemiah, the Syrian Hellenists, the Hasmoneans, the Herodians and the Romans. Briefly, Ezra –Nehemiah under Cyrus restored a priestly theocracy in Judea. After the death of Alexander the Great, four nations evolved. Two in particular became trouble for Judea, Syria and Egypt. It was the Syrian Antiochus Epiphanes that tried to Hellenize Jewish worship by sacrificing a pig that led to a lengthy war under the leadership of the Maccabees who became the Hasmonean dynasty. Under their reign three offices of prophet, priest and king were in the hands of the High Priest. Internal strives and frequent changes in the highest office via violence enabled the Herods to earn the kingship from Rome. They built the Temple and they were after Jesus’ life as a baby but did not take any interest in his death. One of the Herods drove Jesus’ disciples out of Jerusalem and into the world. Herod could not keep Jewish attempts for independence in check and Rome decided to end Judaism with defiling their sacrifices with another pig. This was the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision regarding the end of the sacrifices and the beginning of the trampling on the Holy city and land by the Gentiles.
Regarding the Anointed or the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, do support the Christian belief of Jesus’ birth and His return in the sky or clouds (Matthew 1:23; 24:30). The Rock that cut loose without human hands and becomes a world power to rule all nations with an iron road is a puzzle that Daniel himself did not understand. He asked, “My lord, what will the out come of all this be?” He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand” (Daniel 12:8-10). No system thus far has had the power that the Kingdom of the Rock shall have when there will be an attempt to reform man, but evil will prevail and remain unchanged. John the Apostle had to pen similar words, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy” (Revelation 22:10-11). This mysterious kingdom does not fit into a peaceful millennial reign or a time when heaven and earth have become one new world in Christ and God the Father, but into a time when Satan has dominion (Revelation 20:1-10; I Corinthians 15:24-28; Luke 4:5-8).
The climax for Daniel was his vision on the resurrection long before Jesus and the first Christians were promised. It is also very similar to what John wrote in The Book of Revelation (20:11-15). There is no doubt that the same Spirit was present in both men. This was their timeless message: “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 in the Book –- will be saved. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge” (Daniel 12:1-8). “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance” (Daniel 12:13). The inheritance or reward in essence is the ultimate fulfillment of the Promises. Thanks to our Lord Jesus, He has inspired the New Testament witnesses to unlock Daniel’s seal and we might give serious thought to doing things right and helping others to do likewise (Luke 10:37).