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The Prophecies of Daniel

Introduction

Daniel's prophecies have been described as "in many respects ... the most comprehensive and consecutive of world history from his day to the second coming of Christ."[1] As such then, his prophecies serve as a key to unlock the mysteries of New Testament prophecy. The book of Daniel describes "the times of the Gentiles"[2] and the rule of the antichrist [3] or the "beast,"[4] which must precede the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the eternal kingdom of God.[5] As Daniel's prophecies are progressive in that the earlier ones are amplified by the later ones, chapters 7-12 add important information about the world empires portrayed in chapter 2. Therefore it seems best first to look at the timing of these events, and then to investigate each world empire in turn.

The seventy 'sevens' of Daniel 9

Seventy 'sevens' of years, i.e. 490 years, was decreed for Israel to bring national punishment to an end, to fulfill prophecy, and to bring everlasting righteousness to her when she accepts her Messiah at His second advent.[6] The period between the issueing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the cutting off of the Messiah would be seven 'sevens' and 62 'sevens,' a total of 69 'sevens.'[7] Then, after an unspecified period of war and desolation, the "ruler" to come "will confirm a covenant" for the final 'seven.' However, "in the middle of the 'seven' he will break the covenant and "set up an abomination that causes desolation."[8] Matthew quotes Jesus as referring to this "abomination"[9] in the "days" or the "time" of "the coming of the Son of Man."[10] Therefore, although 69 of the 'sevens' were fulfilled almost 2000 years ago, we still await the fulfillment of the 70th 'seven.'

The world empires of Daniel's prophecies

Both Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the metallic statue (ch 2) and Daniel's vision of the four beasts (ch 7) picture the same four world empires, but seen from different points of view. The statue presents the outward brilliance of world governments, while the four beasts give their inherently selfish and beastlike character. Although the angel mentions only four kingdoms,[11] the 4th is described as developing through two or three stages until the second coming of Christ. Therefore there are at least five kingdoms:

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Chapter 2 Chapter 7 Interpretation Dates
1 head of gold lion Babylon 625-536 BC
2 breast of silver bear Medo-Persia 536-330 BC
3 belly of brass leopard Greece 330-166 BC
4 legs of iron terrible beast Rome 63 BC-AD 476
5 feet and toes of iron and clay ten horns Rome in a different form future

The feet of iron and clay will be struck by a rock which becomes a huge mountain,[12] and the beast with ten horns will be condemned by the court of the Ancient of Days.[13] Then the God of heaven will set up His eternal kingdom [14] and the Son of Man will rule "all peoples, nations and men of every language." [15]

1. The Babylonian Empire

It was revealed to Daniel that the first kingdom, represented by the head of gold, was that of Nebuchadnezzar.[16] As Daniel saw the vision of ch 7 during the reign of Belshazzar, king of Babylon,[17] and as this vision also concerns four kingdoms [18] prior to the establishment of God's eternal kingdom,[19] the lion must again symbolize the kingdom of Babylon. This "queen of kingdoms"[20] lasted only until Judah's punishment had been completed, and then God's "anointed, Cyrus,"[21] king of Medo-Persia, carried out "His purpose against Babylon."[22]

2. The Medo-Persian Empire

This empire was "inferior"[23] to the previous one "in form of government," i.e. whereas the Babylonian king was supreme,[24] in Medo-Persia law was superior to the king.[25] God summoned Cyrus by name [26] to liberate Israel from Babylon by issueing a decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.[27] The Medo-Persian defeat by Alexander the Great is symbolized in the vision of the ram and the he-goat.[28]

3. The Grecian Empire

The kingdom of bronze ruled "over the whole earth"[29] in that Alexander conquered more territory than the previous two kingdoms. This beast that "looked like a leopard ... had four heads,"[30] representing the division of the Grecian empire after Alexander's death. Chapter 8 pictures his advance as a he-goat charging from the west.[31] The one large horn was broken off "and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven."[32] Four of Alexander's generals divided his empire among themselves in the following way:
3.1 Cassander: Greece and Macedon (modern Greece)
3.2 Lysimachus: Asia Minor and Thrace (modern Turkey)
3.3 Seleucis: The eastern part of the empire (modern Syria, Iraq and Iran)
3.4 Ptolemy: Egypt

Out of one of these four horns a small horn emerged, which eventually grew powerful and "took away the daily sacrifices."[33] Gabriel, in his interpretation of this vision, states that this small horn will become strong, "but not by its own power." He will destroy the holy people, "take his stand against the prince of princes," and be destroyed supernaturally.[34] Historically speaking, the small horn was Antiocchus Epiphanes (175-163 BC), one of the later Seleucid rulers, who conquered Judea, defiled the sanctuary and dedicated it to Zeus. In the vision of Ch 11, the wars between the Seleucids (kings of the north) and the Ptolemies (kings of the south), culminating in the career of Antiocchus IV, are portrayed in such detail that modern critics refuse to believe the book was written in Daniel's time.

Although Antiocchus "set up the abomination that causes desolation,"[35] it is clear that there is another "abomination" to come at "the time of the end."[36] This is the "abomination" that will be set up in the middle of the final 'seven.'[37] Just as Antiocchus did not fulfill all the predictions of ch 8 and there are references to "the distant future,"[38] so ch 11:36-12:13 is generally interpreted as applicable to antichrist and the end times just prior to the second advent of Christ. Thus Antiocchus was a symbolic forerunner of a far more terrible destroyer.

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4. The Roman Empire

In both visions this kingdom is depicted as extremely powerful, terrifying and destructive.[39] The old Roman empire "devour(ed) the whole earth"[40] before it separated into eastern and western parts (the two legs) at about 364 AD. As it never divided into ten kingdoms with ten kings (the ten toes [41];the ten horns [42], this event must still be fulfilled in the future.[43]

5. The revived or revised Roman Empire

The final kingdom to be destroyed by the rock is represented by the feet and toes of iron and clay. This will be "a divided kingdom" with people who will "not remain united," so that it "will be partly strong and partly brittle."[44] Many people interpret it as a ten-kingdom coalition of dictatorships (iron) and democracies (clay). These kings [45] are the same as the ten kings (ten horns) who will come from the Roman empire.[46] The "little horn"[47] represents another king who will arise after them and be different from them.[48] He will subdue three of the earlier kings and oppress the saints for three and a half years.[49]

Since the fall of Rome many have tried to revive the empire, but all have failed. Since the ten kingdoms will be formed inside the territory of the old Roman empire, maybe the term "revised Roman empire" is preferable. Others believe in a Germano/Roman empire in which Europe will be led by Germany. Still others believe in a revived Grecia, because of the little horn which comes from one of the four kingdoms that resulted from the division of the Greek empire.[50] At any rate, the antichrist will arise at the beginning of the 70th 'seven,'[51] spend three and a half years gaining control over the ten kingdoms, and will rule while persecuting Israel and the saints for the last three and a half years.[52]

God's eternal kingdom

"A rock was cut out, but not by human hands,"[53] i.e. it was the act of God alone. Therefore, at the time of the last kingdom of this world, when the "times of the Gentiles" have been fulfilled, God will Himself set up His kingdom as a rock that smashes all human efforts. God's kingdom will become a huge mountain that fills the whole earth [54] and will endure forever.[55] After the time of the ten kings and the antichrist's evil reign, the court of the Ancient of Days will sit and the antichrist will be judged and condemned.Then "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven," will be given "authority, glory and sovereign power."[56] "His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him."[57]

The period before the return of Christ and the setting up of God's eternal kingdom on earth, will be the 70th 'seven' of Daniel 9:27. This will be "a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations."[58] There will be wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions and false prophets.[59] "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars ... (and) men will faint from terror."[60] However, "when these things begin to take place," Jesus commands us to "stand up and lift up (our) heads because (our) redemption is drawing near."[61] And then, "as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west,"[62] the Son of Man will be seen "coming in clouds with great power and glory. And He will send his angels and gather His elect from the four winds."[63]

References:

1. Dake, p.777
2. Luke 21:24
3. 1 John 2:18
4. Revelation 18:1-8
5. Daniel 2:44; 7:27
6. Daniel9:24
7. Daniel 9:25-26
8. Daniel 9:26-27
9. Matthew 24:15
10. Matthew 24:22,23,27
11. Daniel 2:40; 7:17
12. Daniel 2:34-35
13. Daniel 7:9-11
14. Daniel 2:44
15. Daniel 7:13
16. Daniel 2:37
17. Daniel 7:1
18. Daniel 7:17
19. Daniel 7:27
20. Isaiah 47:5
21. Isaiah 45:1
22. Isaiah 48:14
23. Daniel 2:39
24. Daniel 5:19
25. Daniel 6:14-15
26. Isaiah 45:1,3
27. Isaiah 44:28
28. Daniel 8
29. Daniel 2:39
30. Daniel 7:6
31. Daniel 8:5
32. Daniel 8:8
33. Daniel 8:9-11
34. Daniel 8:24-25
35. Daniel 11:31
36. Daniel 12:9-11
37. Daniel 9:27
38. Daniel 8:26
39. Daniel 2:40; 7:7
40. Daniel 7:23
41. Daniel 2:42
42. Daniel 7:24
43. cf Revelation 17:12-17
44. Daniel 2:41-43
45. Daniel 2:44
46. Daniel 7:24
47. Daniel 7:8
48. Daniel 7:24
49. Daniel 7:25
50. Daniel 8:8-9
51. Daniel 9
52. Daniel 9:27
53. Daniel 2:34
54. Daniel 2:35
55. Daniel 2:44
56. Daniel 7:13-14
57. Daniel 7:27
58. Daniel 12:1
59. Matthew 24:4-13
60. Luke 21:25-26
61. Luke 21:28
62. Matthew 24:27
63. Mark 13:27

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Dake, F.J. God's Plan for Man, Georgia, U.S.A.: Dake Bible Sales, 1977.

2. Douglas, J.D. (ed.) New Bible Dictionary, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1962.

3. Halley, H.H. Halley's Bible Handbook, Michigan, U.S.A.: Regency Reference Library, 1965.

4. Lindsey, H. The 1980's: Countdown to Armageddon, New York, U.S.A.: Bantam Books, Inc., 1980.

5. Thompson, F.C. Chain-Reference Bible, Michigan, U.S.A.: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1983.

6. Unger, M.F. The Hodder Bible Handbook, London, England: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984.

7. Young, E.J. An Introduction to the OT, Michigan, U.S.A.: William Eerdman's Publishing Co., 1964.

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Posted in: Bible by on July 29, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

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