Book of Daniel – May 7, 2019

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So that we do not become confused, we will discuss Daniel’s dream in several portions. Today we will read verses two through eight of Daniel chapter seven. “Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.  And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’  After this, I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.  After this, I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.  I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.” (ESV)

There is a lot of information in these seven verses and we need to walk carefully through each verse. It is important to do this methodically as Daniel chapter seven is perhaps the most prophetic chapter of the whole book. Miss something or interpret it incorrectly and our whole structure concerning what will occur at the end of this world as we know it will be skewered. God’s message through Daniel gives us a clear understanding of who and what to expect. The book identifies the characters of the past and of the future. While God does not give us all the answers, the roadmap He does provide is enough for us to know the characters in play.

In verse two Daniel says he sees the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea. This should be seen as symbolic language. Let us look at each description separately.

 

The four winds of heaven

Some interpret the four winds to mean the four compass points of north, east, south, and west. This may be true in that winds coming from all directions would have a global effect. Scripture often mentions wind in relation to God’s providential acts (cf. Jeremiah 23:19; 49:36; 51:16; Zechariah 6:1-6; 7:14; Revelation 7:1-3). These acts are associated with the results upon human beings, particularly, the nations associated with these humans. Here is where we should note that nothing occurs without God’s purpose and will. Notice what the four winds are doing. They are stirring up the sea. So, the language of these four winds correctly interpreted means that it is God who directs the forces of these winds so that the nations that are spoken about, i.e. the four kingdoms or beasts, are set in motion.

The great sea

In the view of the Scripture passage and the subsequent powers who came to become world powers, many interpret the great sea to be the Mediterranean. A word of caution is required here. While the view may appear to be centered on the Mediterranean this is no ordinary storm that the four winds stir. Indeed, when we get to discuss the fourth beast and what will finally come out of it, which is futuristic, one could argue we are referencing global activity of this beast as we term global today. Nevertheless, the center of attention about what comes out of this fourth beast does involve the area of the Mediterranean in the future. While the first three kingdoms/beasts affected the “global” population, we must remember this was in the context of what was considered the known world at that time. Clearly, the fourth kingdom/beast, and what eventually is produced, will affect the entire globe as we know it today. The word “sea” very often refers to nations and its peoples. We can see a clear indication of this in Isaiah 17:12-23 and 57:20. So, when we read of the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, we can be confident this refers to God’s providential actions among the Gentile nations. This merely is giving us the background as to how these kingdoms/beasts arise and by what authority they are allowed to come into being in the first place.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – May 6, 2019

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Most conservative theologians uphold the view that offers the most plausible explanation of Daniel chapter seven. This author shares that same view for the most part. I say that because it is not a plausible explanation of man per se but rather a support of the truth of Scripture. Ultimately, the choice for the reader of Daniel is faith in the truth of Daniel or faith in those who claim it to be false. This is what some would call critical interpretation. This is defined as critical analysis which is to examine something that someone has said. It means to study the individual parts of the work. The format and content of this blog are based upon the belief that the books that make up the canon of Scripture are indeed the infallible, inerrant Word of God. As such, the true believer accepts the Bible as Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) as being God’s own Word written down for our instruction and teaching. So, while many will state that they hold to the most plausible explanation of Daniel, this plausibility must rest on the truth of what God has provided His followers to understand and accept as coming from Him. Any other position forces a person to not only reject Daniel, but also God, and certainly the prophecies relating to His Son, Christ Jesus.

Daniel 7:1 tells us, In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter.” (ESV) I purposely isolated verse one for discussion because you may be wondering that Belshazzar is already dead based on our reading of Daniel chapter five. And you would be correct. What we see mentioned here is a previous time period. In other words, Daniel is returning to a previous event. This event probably dates to around the year 553 BC or fourteen years before the fall of Babylon by the Medo-Persians. You may recall, Nabonidus, the actual king of Babylon [as Belshazzar was merely a Co-Regent] took the throne in 556 BC. Three years later he left Babylon under the control of Belshazzar. This hierarchy is mentioned indirectly in Daniel 5:16 where Belshazzar promised Daniel the position of the third ruler in the kingdom. This confirms that Belshazzar, as Co-Regent, was the second in command with Nabonidus being the first as king.

So, what is the purpose of Daniel returning to a dream that is not dissimilar to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter two? And why is Daniel now returning to the time of Belshazzar that we discussed in chapter five? These questions are intriguing and interesting, and the answers are relevant to our study.

First, Daniel is confirming, by the known dating we have, as to the reign of Nabonidus and Belshazzar as Co-Regent, that these events are inextricably connected to the sixth century BC. This removes any doubt as to the accuracy of the dating of the book of Daniel. Yes, the naysayers can scream all they want to, but they cannot ignore the fact that by linking Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two to Daniel’s dream in chapter seven that the time frame of world history, according to the Bible, is the correct one – the sixth century BC.

Secondly, by returning to the dream that Daniel had during the reign of Nabonidus and subsequently seeing Belshazzar sit on the throne as Co-Regent informs us that Daniel knew that events would unravel as to the stability of the kingdom of Babylon. He knew by God using him to interpret the dream of Nebuchadnezzar that Babylon would eventually be overthrown. He knew what type of tyrant Belshazzar would prove to be. If you will, he knew the measure of the man in Belshazzar and it did not bode well for Babylon. But his dream (that we will learn more of in the next several verses) while still supporting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, is far more detailed and, in some ways, more frightening and horrific. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream used an image as the vehicle of Divine revelation of the world powers in the form of a man with different metals to differentiate the kingdoms. Daniel’s dream speaks of beasts as opposed to kingdoms and is viewed from the eyes of God’s prophet. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream can be viewed as glorious in man’s eyes as to world history and the ensuing world powers. But Daniel’s dream views world history from God’s view and shows the depravity of man, his immorality and brutality.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – May 3, 2019

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BOOK OF DANIEL

May 3, 2019

Today our introduction into Daniel chapter seven consists of the second argument from critics. Again, we can thank the meddling pagan Porphyry for this also. You will see why I said in the previous blog, why both arguments are connected.

In his later years, Porphyry wrote a fifteen-volume work call Against the Christians. Approximately thirty Christian apologists of their day responded to his challenge. In 435AD, and then again in 448AD, Theodosius II, who was the Eastern Roman Emperor, ordered all copies to be burned. We, therefore, only have much of what we know of this man in the writings of several of these Christian apologists, one of which was Eusebius.

It is said that it was not Porphyry’s aim to disprove the substance of Christian teachings but rather he challenged the records that these teachings were recorded in, and subsequently, communicated. That intent alone should raise the hairs on the back of a Christian. But this is nothing new. The Canon of Scripture has always been challenged not only as to which books should have been included, but also the actual contents as being correct. But here lies the problem. If a person does not believe that the content of Scripture is correct, then they are forced to admit they don’t believe God. If they don’t believe God, then what is their belief? It certainly cannot be God, for they openly challenge His word.

Jerome stated that Porphyry attacked the prophecies contained in Daniel because both Jews and Christians alike pointed to the historical fulfillment of its prophecies as a decisive argument. However, Porphyry argued that the prophecies Daniel were written not by Daniel but by a Jew who lived during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164BC). (More on him in a moment.) Porphyry claimed this mystery Jew gathered up traditions of Daniel’s life and then decided to write a history of past events and apply them in a future tense. All along, this mystery writer was dating the story to appear as though all the events were written back in Daniel’s time period. Confused? Try writing the explanation!! Let me try and simplify it. The claim is that this mysterious Jew wrote Daniel not to predict future events but narrated past ones. Therefore, the claim is that what was written up to the time of Antiochus was, indeed, history and therefore, when we get to discuss Daniel chapter twelve, we are seeing the events that this pseudo writer wrote which really has no prophetic content. Antiochus (real name Mithradates) was a Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire whose ancestry was derived from Seleucus I Nicator, the founder of the Empire, who was given the portion of Babylonia after the death of Alexander the Great. His reign lasted ten years during which time he attacked Jerusalem and ransacked and desecrated God’s Holy Temple.

Daniel chapter two describes the four kingdoms as historic and that would be the case also during the life of Porphyry. So, if Porphyry was only interested in attacking the prophetic portions of Daniel, why did he question the historicity of Daniel chapter two? It was because he decided that the historical events that were contained in Daniel had been predicted long before Daniel. This really highlights the skullduggery of Porphyry in his attempts to accuse Scripture of being fake.

In order to make his argument sound more plausible he invented his own interpretation whereby Greece was indeed the third kingdom, but then assigned the fourth kingdom to be the rulers who were assigned after Alexander the Great’ death, namely, the Ptolemies and Seleucids. From among these leaders he chose ten kings making the eleventh to be none other than Antiochus Epiphanes. By doing this his scheme was complete. If he could gain acceptance of this false narrative, then it would undermine all of the prophecies of Daniel. By claiming Daniel did not write the book containing his name but rather it was written by a mysterious Jew then his accusation was that the book of Daniel was a lie. If it was a lie, then God’s prophecies were never spoken, and the miracles never occurred. Ultimately, the prophecies contained in Daniel pointing to Christ would also prove Him to be an imposter.

Sadly, Porphyry’s lies (and this was, indeed, lying on a grand scale) have been adopted by many philosophers, scholars and regrettably some theologians. My own opinion of Porphyry is that, despite being known in his day as someone who was remarkably intelligent and well versed, he was nothing more than an agent of Satan. One can only imagine if he had only used his intellect to support the truth of God’s Word what he could have become – perhaps even being one of the outspoken supporters of Scripture. Clearly, he wasn’t, and his spurious rhetoric has influenced many others to accept his interpretation of Daniel rather than believing God.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – May 2

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May 2, 2019

Yesterday, we discussed the critic’s choice of the four kingdoms mentioned at the beginning of Daniel chapter seven. It may help you to understand that this incorrect belief (of whom the four kingdoms represent) did not gain traction until around the end of the 19th century AD. This was due to the rise of Deism and Rationalism. A quick review of both damaging thoughts will lead one to note that both are connected to the beliefs of men rather than the Creator. This is what caused such damage to the genuineness of Daniel, not only as to the time frame of when it was written, but also to the correct interpretation of people, nations, and events. This inevitably has resulted in those accepting the book of Daniel as the complete and inerrant Word of God versus those who choose to reject such truth. This, in and of itself, is a dangerous position for those who do not accept the book of Daniel as the inspired work of God. I say this quite categorically as a firm believer in God’s written Word and make no room for any other argument regarding this statement. Nor is it debatable with this author. Any such comments to this, or any other blog we produce, that is contrary to the inspired Word of God, will not be commented on and will be removed by the administrator.

Those of us who hold to the correct interpretation of the fourth kingdom being Rome have long shared the support of Luther along with centuries of orthodoxy. Porphyry was nothing more than a third century AD pagan antagonist. The church has had to deal with such people long before Porphyry and will continue to do so today and into the future until the glorious return of Christ. But, despite all attempts by Satan’s workers to make the book of Daniel a book of history rather than of prophecy, they have and will continue to, fail. We would do well to read the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:15 who said, “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand).” (ESV) Jesus’s words were actually referring to events that are mentioned in Daniel 12:11, which foretells a future event. But even this Scripture is twisted by the workers of lawlessness who argue otherwise. We will deal with this falsehood in a moment.

A student of Scripture can easily recognize that Revelation chapter thirteen parallels with the final stages of the fourth kingdom in Daniel. Revelation, you will note, was written during the closing years of the first century AD. Therefore, what critics suggest as to the events in Daniel happening in the second century BC, is a factual impossibility.

Likewise, when we get to Daniel chapter nine, we will read of the prophecies of the Messiah, which occurred during the time of the Romans.

When we put all these events together, the only way the critics’ choices can be accepted, wrongly I might add, is by considering the details in Daniel as factually incorrect as they relate to the prophecies. Sadly, such critics and those who choose to believe them are ignorant of the fact that Daniel is an inspired work of God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16) and therefore, to oppose the words of Daniel is, in effect, opposing God Himself. That is a very dangerous and foolhardy place to put oneself. Either a person believes God, or they believe man. If they believe man, then they believe Satan, who is the father of the lie (cf. John 8:44).

Once we get into the study of Daniel chapter seven you will understand why I am laying out these points ahead of time. It will become clear that the kingdoms mentioned in chapter seven are the very same ones, we discussed in chapter two. Therefore, we have spent time in pointing out the critic’s argument versus Bible truth because you need to have a correct understanding of who the four kingdoms in Daniel are. Otherwise, you will have a false narrative if you try and view the prophecies in any other way.

To complete this introduction there is one more falsehood we must cover, and it is tied to the claim that Daniel is a second century BC forgery. We will deal with this in our next blog.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Some Introductory Notes on Daniel Chapter 7

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Some Introductory Notes on Daniel Chapter 7

Before we begin the second half of our blog series on the book of Daniel it is worth stating several things to set the tone, especially with regard to Daniel Chapter 7. You may or may not be aware, but this chapter is unique in the pages of the Old Testament. How so? It is unique in that the details contained and interpreted correctly by expositors of the text provide us with the most comprehensive details of prophecy of future events. It is for that very reason I decided when I first did a verse by verse blog on the book of Revelation (which we subsequently published as a book) that I wanted to follow up with a blog series on the book of Daniel. This too will be published as a book. Probably more than any two books of the Bible, Daniel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New gives us an outline to follow as to future events that will occur. So, as we approach chapter seven and the subsequent chapters you will need to stay focused and aware that much of what is written is symbolic, prophetic, and future in its timing and interpretation.

Some theologians and scholars argue that the four world powers mentioned in Daniel are Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. While they may offer what appears to be a strong argument for such belief sadly, they are wrong. As we shall see, this incorrect belief is based primarily on the fact that Darius the Mede is mentioned, as we saw earlier, in Daniel 5:31; 6:1, 6, 9, 25 and 28. Therefore, they argue that Media was the second world power. Their basis is that there was, in fact, a Median Empire. No historian argues this point. But one simply must look at the rise and fall of the Median Empire to see that this belief of Media being the second world power identified in the book of Daniel is historically incorrect.

The history of the Median empire is well documented. From the 10th to the late 7th Centuries BC the western portions of Media fell under the vast Neo-Assyrian Empire. Several Assyrian kings imposed vassal treaties upon the various Median rulers and offered them protection from other nations.  Between 622–612 BC the Assyrian empire, which had been in a state of constant civil war since 626 BC, began to unravel. Many of the nations that were under subjection to the Assyrian Empire [which included Medes, Babylonians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians] stopped paying tribute to Assyria. Neo-Assyrian dominance over the Medians came to an end during the reign of the Median King Cyaxares who, in alliance with King Nabopolassar of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, attacked and destroyed the strife-riven empire between 616 and 609 BC. This newly found alliance helped the Medes to capture Nineveh in 612 BC, which resulted in the eventual collapse of the Neo-Assyrian Empire by 609 BC. The Medes were subsequently able to establish their Median Kingdom with Ecbatana becoming their royal capital. After the fall of Assyria, a unified Median state was formed which, together with Babylonia, Lydia, and ancient Egypt, became one of the four major powers of the ancient Near East.

Cyaxares was succeeded by his son, King Astyages. In 553 BC Cyaxares’ maternal grandson Cyrus the Great, the King of Anshan/Persia, a Median vassal, revolted against Astyages. In 550 BC, Cyrus finally won a decisive victory resulting in Astyages’ capture by his own dissatisfied nobles, who promptly turned him over to the triumphant Cyrus. After Cyrus’s victory against Astyages [who was the last king of Media], the Medes were subjected to their close kin, the Persians. In the new empire, the Medes retained a prominent position in honor and war. They stood next to the Persians and their court ceremony was adopted by the new sovereigns. During this time, many noble Medes were employed as officials, satraps, and generals. This brief history is important for us to log because it removes any doubt that a Median Empire was in existence during the descriptions that Daniel mentions of the four world empires in the book bearing his name.

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