This book holds a peculiar place among the prophecies: its subject is the "Times of the Gentiles." It is not an appeal to Israelites, but is mostly taken up with prophecies concerning the Gentile powers. The times of Gentile domination had begun by Nebuchadnezzar taking Jerusalem and being called king of kings, to whom God had given a kingdom, and made him ruler over all the children of men. God's personal dealings with this monarch are recorded and the kingdoms that would follow are revealed.
The book divides itself into two portions: the first six chapters give Daniel's intercourse with the great monarchs; and the latter six chapters the visions and revelations made to Daniel himself. For the personal history of the prophet see DANIEL. The prophetical aspect of the first division begins with Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
Daniel 2 : Under the figure of the Great Image are described the four Gentile empires that were to succeed each other, further particulars of which were afterwards revealed to Daniel. It is plainly manifested that these empires would depreciate. The first is compared to gold, the second to silver, the third to brass, and the fourth to iron and clay which would not mingle together. It is noteworthy that, notwithstanding this declaration, the great effort of many in modern days is to endeavour to unite the iron and clay, and others strive to make the clay (the mass of the people) the ruling power. The fourth empire will be resuscitated, for the Lord Jesus at His first coming did not set up His kingdom — He was rejected; but during the future renewal of the Roman empire God will set up a kingdom that shall subdue all others. The 'stone' is Christ who will break in pieces all that oppose, and will reign supreme. This prophecy presents the moral deterioration of Gentile power, until it is supplanted by the kingdom of God.
Daniel 3 : It is here uniformity of religion, established by the king, not by God — the principle of Church and State. Nebuchadnezzar commanded all to worship the image he had set up; but three faithful ones refused to obey, and were thrown into the fiery furnace. The king had to learn that the God of the Jews was the Most High God, who was able to set him and all his powers at defiance. The king acknowledged God's power and sent a proclamation to that effect throughout his kingdom; though his subsequent history proves that he was not humbled. In the last days the faithful Jews will be in the furnace of tribulation for not complying with the Imperial religion. They will be delivered, and God will be glorified by the nations: cf. Revelation 13 . Thus is seen that the first characteristic of Gentile supremacy is idolatry .
Daniel 4 : The dream and the interpretation shows that Nebuchadnezzar himself was thegreat tree to be cut down, and the prophet exhorted him to renounce his sins and reform his ways, and peradventure the judgement might be postponed. But his pride was not subdued, for at the end of the year he boasted of the great city which he had built by the might of his power and for the honour of his majesty; but not a word about God. He was driven among the cattle for seven years. It is a solemn thing to have to do with the living God; but God had mercy on the king, his reason returned, and the kingdom was restored to him. Now he could say, "I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgement: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase." He had learned God's lesson, and we hear of him no more. In the last days the Gentile rulers, after having used their power as 'beasts,' will acknowledge God as the source of all authority, and be brought into blessing in connection with Israel. The second characteristic which marked Gentile rule is that, refusing to own God, it descends to the level of a beast.
Daniel 5 : About twenty-five years later Belshazzar was reigning at Babylon. The monuments have revealed that he was son of Nabonadius, or Labynetus, and was reigning with his father. Nabonadius was defending the kingdom outside in the open country, and though defeated was not slain; his son was besieged inside, and was slain that night while holding a festival to the gods. This accounts for Belshazzar promising that Daniel should be the third ruler in the kingdom. Thus the monuments have now cleared away that which with respect to this kinghad seemed to make scripture and the historians discordant, for previously the name of Belshazzar had not been discovered. Daniel faithfully reminded Belshazzar of how God had dealt with his father (or rather his grandfather) Nebuchadnezzar for his pride; adding that though the king knew all this he had lifted up himself against the God of heaven, and had desecrated the vessels of God's house by drinking wine in them to his gods, and foretells his destruction. Type of the judgement on the Gentile world at the coming of Christ: cf. Revelation 18 : The third characteristic of imperial power is, that it is infidel and profane.
Daniel 6 : Darius the Mede had to learn the power of God, his own weakness, and the faithfulness of Daniel the servant of God. Daniel was saved from the lions, and the God of Daniel was proclaimed throughout the empire as the living God. Typically, Darius represents the last Gentile emperor, who will be worshipped; Daniel, the godly Jews who will be saved from the very jaws of destruction; his opposers, the future infidel accusers of God's people. The fourth characteristic is self-exaltation.
Daniel 7 : This begins the second part of the book. It gives the character of the Gentile kings, already noted in chapter 4, as before God, and their conduct towards those who acknowledge God. The four empires prophesied of in Daniel 2 are here further described under the figure of 'great beasts.' The lion is Chaldean; the bear, Medo-Persian; the leopard, Grecian (or Macedonian); and the fourth, which was like no living animal, Roman, distinguished as having ten horns (ten kings), Daniel 7:24
. Out of the last arises a little horn, a power which persecutes the saints for 3-1/2 years; but which is judged by the Ancient of Days, and the saints of the Most High, or rather of the high places, eventually take the kingdom. This power is doubtless the future Roman prince in the West, who will combine with Satan and the Antichrist, as in Revelation 13 .
Daniel 8 : The second and the third of the four empires are again prophesied of. Out of the third kingdom, the Grecian, after it was divided into four, arose a little horn, which magnified itself; and then follows the ceasing of the daily sacrifice at Jerusalem, 'the pleasant land;' but in Daniel 8:11
and part of verse 12 there is a change from 'it' to 'he;' and in Daniel 8:17
and Daniel 8:19
'the time of the end' is spoken of. Therefore, though the little horn refers to Antiochus Epiphanes (and though he caused the worship at Jerusalem to cease) a later and still future period is evidently referred to, and another king of Syria, who will stand against the Prince of princes, and shall be broken without hand. Daniel 8:25
. Daniel 8:23-25
are distinctly future: 'in the latter time.'*
* In reference to the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14
, see under 'Antiochus '
B.C. 175 ANTIOCHUS IV., Epiphanes (third paragraph)
Daniel 9 : Daniel was a student of prophecy, and learned from Jeremiah that the desolations of Jerusalem were to last 70 years. These were almost accomplished, and Daniel confessed his sins and the sins of his people; he prayed for forgiveness, and for the sanctuary which was lying desolate; he begged God to hearken and do, to defer not for His own sake, because the city and the people were called by His name. While he was yet speaking Gabriel was sent with a communication, which embraced not only the rebuilding of Jerusalem in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, but the coming of the Messiah, and the action of a prince (head of the Roman power) in the last of the seventy weeks. See SEVENTY WEEKS.
Daniel 10 : Daniel mourned three full weeks. This was in the third year of Cyrus: in the first year Cyrus had proclaimed that God had charged him to rebuild the temple. Ezra 1:1
. Some were elated at the small restoration in Ezra 1 - 3, but Daniel was still before God about His people, the previous chapter having revealed that 70 weeks (of years) would have to run on before blessing; Messiah would be rejected, etc. He did not go back to Jerusalem, but continued to mourn for God's people and sought to understand the prophecies. One was sent to comfort Daniel, and he revealed the fact that unseen evil powers had delayed his coming the entire three weeks. The messenger said, "I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days . . . . now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come." Daniel 10:14,20
. This introduces Daniel 11 and 12 ( Daniel 10,11 , and 12: being one). God's answer is a revelation extending from the days of Daniel to the final blessing of God's people. The city and sanctuary are in view in Daniel 9 , here the people.
Daniel 11 : Daniel 11:1-35
are a history of the contests between the king of the north (Syria) and the king of the south (Egypt) — branches of the Grecian empire — often in the land of Palestine which lay between them. The prophecies are so definite that some critics have said they must have been written after the events. The correspondence of history with the particulars given in this chapter will be found under ANTIOCHUS. Daniel 11:21
to 35 refer to Antiochus Epiphanes, type of the king of the north, or Assyrian of the last days: cf. also Daniel 8 .
. The Spirit here, as elsewhere, passes from the type to the fulfilment at the end of the days, leaping over the present interval. Daniel 11:36-39
are a parenthesis and refer to Antichrist as a king: he will be a Jew and not regard 'the God of his fathers,' nor the Messiah as 'the desire of women,' nor regard any known god; but will set himself up above all. Yet apparently he will honour the god of war (for which nations are getting ready).
. This is the final contest between a king of the North and a king of the South. The king of the North (elsewhere spoken of as 'the Assyrian,' antitype of Epiphanes) succeeds and passes into 'the glorious land,' and is generally victorious (but not against Edom and Moab, and the children of Ammon: these are judged later by the instrumentality of Israel. Isaiah 11:14
). Like Sennacherib's host of old, he will be smitten by the hand of God.
Daniel 12 : This is the deliverance and blessing of the Jewish remnant. Michael, their champion in the heavenlies, stands up for them. There is to be a time of great trouble such as never was: cf. Jeremiah 30:7
; Matthew 24 . Many of Israel that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: some to millennial blessing, and some to judgement. This is not the resurrection of the dead, but a national rising of all Israel from among the Gentiles, like the rising from the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 : a remnant only will enter the kingdom. Daniel was told to seal up the book to the time of the end: cf. Revelation 22:10
. He heard one ask, "How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" The reply is "a time, times, and a half " — 3-1/2 years, the last half-week of Daniel's 70 weeks. Two other periods are given: 1290 days from the time of the daily sacrifice being taken away: this is 30 days beyond the 3-1/2 years. Then blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the 1335 days — full blessing. Daniel was told to go: he should stand in his lot at the end of the days.
Much of this remarkable prophecy stands alone, though it has many links that fit exactly with other prophecies. A general knowledge of prophecy wonderfully helps the understanding of any part of it, in this or in any other book. It is important to remember that Daniel's prophecy embraces the 'times of the Gentiles' — running on from the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to the restoration of the Jews whenruled over by the Son of David. The present governments or states of Europemay be said to be the representatives of Gentile supremacy, but through the depreciation of the Roman empire by the mixture of the iron and clay. The Church and the Gospel have no place in Daniel.
The book is not all written in Hebrew: from Daniel 2:4
to end of Daniel 7 . — namely, what concerns the Gentiles — is written in what is there called Syriac, or Aramaic — usually called Chaldee, the Gentiles' tongue.