We will soon be starting a teaching series on Daniel on the Christ in Prophecy television program. To supplement this upcoming series, I wanted to highlight some critical nuggets so that you can get the most out of this amazing prophetic book.
Is Daniel a Forgery?
Critics of Scripture say this book is a forgery and was written during the Maccabean period — the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments. Why do they incorrectly assert this? Because the content of Daniel is so accurate, but also so far ahead of his time, that those who do not have a high view of inspiration and inerrancy believe God could not have given Daniel these words to write.
Twice, Daniel does claim to be the author. We see this in Daniel 7:12 and 12:4. He does write in the third person until chapter 7; however, from chapters 7 to 12, he writes in the first person. Also, in Ezekiel 14:14, this prophet speaks of Daniel’s obedience, and in Ezekiel 28:3, he speaks of Daniel’s character. The actual confirmation that Daniel did write this book is found in the words of Jesus, who, in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14, confirms Daniel as the author.
A key to understanding prophetic books, such as Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation, is understanding prophecy will have visions, symbols, and, most importantly, some divine interpretation. In Daniel’s case, we see several times where an angel explains the vision that Daniel is seeing. This is important because, in Chapters 2, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12, God reveals truth that we would not have known if it was not for what God revealed to Daniel. These truths would have gone unrecorded.
One must understand a prophet sees the vision, he records them EXACTLY as he sees them, and often he does not understand them himself, which is why an interpreter, often an angel, explains the meaning of the vision.
The Theme of Daniel
The structure of Daniel is not found in chronological order but is developed around a theme. The same can be said for the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s theme explains the REASON for the divine punishment of Judah. Daniel records from the PERSPECTIVE of those in captivity. The overall theme of Daniel is “The time of the Gentiles.”
Besides the prophetic aspect of Daniel, this work also details how Jews can live in a Gentile world and be faithful to the law of Moses. Also, this book teaches Gentile nations the nature of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Contradictions in Scripture
Critics like to accuse Scripture of having contradictions. A common one is found in the Gospels. In Luke 18:35, the NASB reads, “As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging.” Whereas Mark 10:46 says, “Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.” So, was Jesus coming or going from Jericho? Why is there such a contradiction? There must be an error in Scripture?
No, there are no errors in Scripture. In this case, one must understand geography. Herod built the Jericho of the New Testament, three miles away from the Jericho of the Old Testament. One would have to go through Old Testament Jericho to get to New Testament Jericho, which means. Jesus did both; He went OUT of Old Testament Jericho and approached Herod’s New Testament Jericho.
I bring this up because one of those proposed contradictions in Daniel 1:1 reads, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” However, Jeremiah 25:1 says, “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon).” So, did this event happen in the third or fourth year of the king’s reign?
Again, to understand this, one needs to have an understanding of the two cultures. In Babylon, time is counted as exact, meaning a day is precisely twenty-four hours; however, in Israel time, a part of a day is considered a day. This contradiction in Daniel goes away when one understands Daniel wrote his book in Babylon, using Babylon’s time, which only counts as a FULL year. Whereas Jeremiah wrote his book in Judah using Israel time, which counts partial time.
Gentile Domination over Jerusalem and the Jewish People
Another nugget I’ll share is explaining the theme of Daniel, which is the times of the Gentile. This time frame began in 586 B.C., when King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, and it continues even today. Luke 21:24 says, “And they will fall by the edge of the sword and will be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
The times of the Gentiles is the period of Gentile domination over Jerusalem and the Jewish people. From the dethronement of Israel’s last king, King Zedekiah,
until the enthronement of Israel’s Messianic king in the Millennium, Gentile empires will rise and fall and have some control over Israel, both the nation and the land. There was some temporary Jewish control over Jerusalem in the Maccabean period (164-63 B.C.) and during the first and second Jewish revolt against Rome AD 66-70 and AD 132-135. The time of the Gentiles will end when Gentiles can no longer tread down the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 2:31-45, Daniel 7:1-28, Revelation 13:1-10, Revelation 17:7-14.)
The Timing of Daniel
Lastly, let’s look at some of the timing of the book of Daniel. Three times, Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar seized Jerusalem and took Jewish exiles back to Babylon. This happened over nineteen years. The first seize occurred in 605 B.C., when a young Daniel was taken to Babylon. The second seize is when Ezekiel and his wife were among the 10,000 Jews taken captive to Babylon in 597 B.C. Ezekiel would have been 25 years old when he was exiled to Babylon. He started his ministry at age 30, eleven years after Daniel. The third and final seize occurred in 586 B.C. and is described in 2 Kings 25:8 “On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.”
2 Kings 25:13-17 reveals more details:
“The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the Lord and they carried the bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes, and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls—all that were made of pure gold or silver. The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the Lord, was more than could be weighed. Each pillar was eighteen cubits high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was three cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.”
With the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, it’s essential to recognize that the Babylonians took all the Temple articles and all the silver and gold from the Temple. It’s evident that in victory, Babylon took captive the Jewish people and carried them off to Babylon. However, taking the articles used for temple worship poses an important question. WAS the God of Israel defeated? See, in ancient times, when a nation was defeated, their gods were also defeated. Their God ALSO goes into captivity! The problem the Babylonians faced was unlike pagan nations, there was no idol of God in the Jewish temple to take and conquer. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could not be captured and defeated. The next best thing was to take all the vessels used for worship, but as time will show, that decision will eventually lead to Babylon’s downfall.
Maranatha, Lord Jesus!