Daniel 12 wraps up the prophecy of this man. Israel is destined for some trouble. There is a battle brewing between good and evil. “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people”. Michael, who is often associated with spiritual battle and is called the archangel prepares. He is Satan’s true opposite. Satan is not the opposite of Jesus; he is the opposite of Michael, this high-ranking angel. In addition to his role as a spiritual warrior, Michael has a special job in protecting Israel. God appointed Michael as a spiritual guardian over Israel.
There is a troubled time coming. “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book”. The outcome is already known – God is in control of all things. But there will be a Great Tribulation that will be a time of persecution and world calamity. The worst is yet to come. The fury of the devil will be directed against the people of God in that time.
Yet victory is secure. Deliverance will come no matter how great the attack. God is still on the throne and promises to preserve His people Israel. The promise of deliverance is not for every last person of Jewish heritage, but for these who are found written in the book. God will bring all people face to face with their eternal life. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt”. We will all face this reality – a time when we stand before God and give account. There are two outcomes – heaven and hell – and it is there we will live forever. Are you ready for that face to face? Eternity is a very long time. Don’t be caught unprepared!
The end times will be difficult, but there’s a ray of good news here in Daniel’s words. “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever”. Those who live in God’s wisdom will shine. All God’s people are like stars in the sense that they radiate light and help others to see and find their way. But certainly, those who turn many to righteousness shine even more brightly, helping even more people to see the light and find their way. After those words, God instructs Daniel to seal the book and they would be kept safely until the time of the end. God has sealed them until His time comes.
Daniel 18 contains one of the most specifically fulfilled prophecies of the Bible, predicting history over some 375 years, and to the end, with amazing accuracy. The chapter is so specific, that many critics deny supernatural revelation and have insisted that it is history, written after the fact, fraudulently claiming to be prophecy. But the Bible is God’s Word and Daniel correctly prophecies the events of history through it. The angel told Daniel that there would be three more kings in Persia until a fourth arose. The fourth king would be strong, rich, and oppose Greece. This strong, rich fourth king was fulfilled in the Persian King Xerxes.
These visions and insights regarding the future of the Persian and Greek Empires were relevant because each empire attempted to wipe out the people of God at some time. Daniel foretells what happens in Greece when Alexander is gone. “As soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these”. After the death of all Alexander’s possible heirs, four generals controlled the Greek Empire, but none of them according to his (Alexander’s) dominion.
Daniel prophecies a marriage between enemy kings. “After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement. But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure”. Joined by a marriage, the kings of the North and South would be allies for a while, but the arrangement would not last. The chapter documents the back and forth battles between the kings of the north and south as the victories ebbed and flowed back and forth.
Daniel ends with the description of the Antichrist. “And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished”. There is a shift from what was going to happen in the years before Christ, to what will be fulfilled in the Antichrist, the final world dictator. Antichrist will do much damage, but he is on a short chain and will only work into God’s plan. God’s purpose will be accomplished. In the end there is no hope for the Antichrist or for any of his followers.
Credit to David Guzik’s commentary
Daniel 10 has the prophet receiving another word from God. This chapter sets the stage for the spectacular prophecy coming in Daniel 11, which described a time of great persecution and testing for the people of Israel. “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks”. He had understood the word from God and was overwhelmed by the message. Some think that Daniel was in mourning because so few Jews had returned with Ezra from exile. Others believe it was because Ezra faced severe opposition in rebuilding the temple.
“I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen…. his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude”. Commentators divide over the identity of this certain man. Some say this is Jesus, noting that the description is remarkably like what John saw in Revelation. Some others think that the certain man is an unnamed angel of high rank, noting that Jesus would not need the assistance of Michael. So it is a bit unclear who this man is.
Daniel sees the vision and it overwhelms him. “So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me”. As godly as Daniel was, he was undone by this vision of the glorious man. Daniel’s experience shows us that even the holiest of men fall short before God. But it also shows that God listens to those who seek Him. “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words….Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me”.
God responded to Daniel’s prayer the very moment he made his request known. Daniel had been in great and serious prayer for three full weeks. An angel was dispatched because of Daniel’s prayer. This is another of many reminders in the Book of Daniel that prayer matters. It isn’t merely a therapeutic exercise for the one who prays. “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage”. This was the second time Daniel was called greatly beloved. Each time it was in relation to Daniel’s being favored with a great and significant revelation of the future. Daniel is connected with God and His plan for the future. We’ll see that clearly in the next chapter.
Commentary from David Guzik included in this overview.
Daniel 9 is one of the most amazing and significant prophetic passages in the Bible, and it begins with Daniel’s understanding and application of prophecy. “I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years”. Daniel understood something from reading the words of God’s prophets. Prophecy is meant to be understood – perhaps not in every detail, but certainly in its main points. Daniel understood this by the books – the specific words recorded in God-inspired books.
How did he accomplish that? He dug into the Word of God and read what those prophets who came before him had written. “I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes”. He practiced the spiritual disciplines and sought understanding from God himself. This wasn’t about him being smarter than anyone else. This is all about his focus. Daniel shows determination in prayer. He had a goal to reach understanding through prayer, and he approached God as a man who would not be denied.
Daniel shows us how to seek God. “I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules”. It starts with confession and the acknowledgement that God is God and Daniel is not. Then comes the reason we usually miss the point. “We have not listened to your servants the prophets”. We don’t spend enough time in God’s Word seeking and listening to His voice.
Daniel then seeks God from the position we all are in – lowly people that are unworthy of His grace and mercy. “Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate”. We have no claim to the blessings God pours out on us. We have no right to His grace and mercy. But His love makes all those things ours if we’ll only walk with Him in obedience and love. Daniel shows us how to put God first and seek His face. That’s the secret to a vibrant spiritual life.
Daniel 8 has our prophet getting another vision revealed to him. “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first”. This vision happened while Babylon was securely in power. Though the vision will deal with the emergence and destiny of the Greek Empire, the Greek Empire was not much of anything at the time the prophecy came to Daniel. He sees a ram, which later in the chapter was clearly identified as representing the Medo-Persian Empire, which succeeded the Babylonian Empire.
“I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power”. The Medo-Persian Empire exerted its power to the north, south, and west. It took territory but made no major conquests towards the east. But then, it all changes. A male goat came from the west: In this same chapter this male goat was clearly identified with Greece and its horns are identified with the rulers of the Greek Empire. Alexander was one of the greatest of all.
The male goat grew very great. “It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host”. The greatness of Alexander’s Empire was not only in its vast dominion but also in its cultural power. Alexander the Great was determined to spread Greek civilization, culture, and language across every land he conquered. As God guided history, He used Alexander’s passion to spread Greek culture to prepare the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of Alexander’s influence, koine (common) Greek became the common language of the civilized world – and the language of the New Testament.
God goes on to give Daniel the interpretation, although it may not seem all that clear to us today. The prophecy in this passage reads equally true of both Antiochus and Antichrist. This is an example of a prophetic passage that has both a near and far fulfillment. Though this prophecy was fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes of the Medo-Persian Empire, it also has a later fulfillment in the Antichrist, referring to the time of the end. Antiochus Epiphanes is sometimes called the “Antichrist of the Old Testament.” He prefigures the Antichrist of the end times. Antiochus Epiphanes was empowered by Satan and allowed by God. The same will be true of the coming Antichrist.
Credit to David Guzik’s commentary for much of this post.
Daniel 7 has the first of four dreams Daniel will see. These are prophetic in nature, and I’ll share some thoughts from scholars on what they might mean. Daniel chapters 1 through 6 describe the life and times of Daniel. Chapters 7 through 12 describe visions Daniel had. This first vision was the most comprehensive. “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea”. Stirring up the Great Sea is almost certainly the Mediterranean Sea. Each one of the empires mentioned in this vision had a geographical connection to the Mediterranean Sea.
In the dream, four large, ferocious animals emerged from the Great Sea, each one distinct from the other. Daniel tells us that these four beasts are four kingdoms ruling over the earth. The descriptions are:
- The first was like a lion – This fits in well with the majesty and authority of Nebuchadnezzar in his reign over the empire of Babylon.
- The second like a bear – The Medes and Persians are compared to a bear on account of their cruelty and thirst after blood.
- The third was like a leopard – This represents the Greek Empire. Alexander the Great quickly conquered the civilized world by age 28.
- The fourth beast was indescribable, and uniquely horrific in its power and conquest – this represents the Roman Empire, which was the largest, strongest, most unified and enduring of them all.
Each animal is mighty, but dominates its prey in a different way. The lion devours, the bear crushes, and the leopard springs upon its prey.
Then Daniel sees God. “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire”. The Ancient of Days is obviously God, but there is debate as to if He is specifically God the Father or God the Son. Most believe it is God the Father, and the white garments and white hair stress the eternal character of God the Father. The key is that God is God and in control of all things. He’s there, watching all of it and orchestrating the desired outcome.
“As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me”. Daniel saw all this, and in more detail than he describes for us. He did not really understand all that he saw, and was troubled because of his lack of understanding. The divine interpretation of the dream shows that this vision covers the same material as Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in Daniel 2, which also described the rise of four empires, which are succeeded by the kingdom of God. Daniel was convinced that the prophecy was true, and that it was the word of God.
Most of these comments courtesy of David Guzik’s commentary.
Daniel 6 is one of the most famous of Bible stories – when Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den. It begins when “Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him”. As you might expect, the home grown leaders were not happy that a foreigner had gained so much favor with the king and “the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom”. They weren’t going to let that happen without some attempt to derail it. So they “sought to find a ground for complain….could find no ground….because he was faithful”. Daniel was without error or fault.
They realize there was no grounds to disqualify him in any way. “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God”. But they know where they might be able to trip him up, so they put a trap in place and get the king to sign off on it. “Whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions”. They knew Daniel wouldn’t turn on his walk with God. So they set up a trap around the one thing they know they can manipulate.
Daniel was faithful. “He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously”. He wasn’t going to change his routine for any reason. The king realized he had been duped, and after it became obvious that Daniel was violating his law, “he labored till the sun went down to rescue him”. The king doesn’t want to put his number one leader in the lions den. But he had no choice, and as he did he said “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” The king wants Daniel to be saved.
“The king went to his palace and spent the night fasting”. He wants Daniel to be safe. He rushes to the place Daniel had been thrown to the lions early int eh morning and shouts out. “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm”. God came through. The king throws the other leaders in with the lions and they don’t have nearly as good an outcome. Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den.
So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and the king says “I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God”. Daniel’s faithfulness led the king to see the One true God and as such, caused him to make God the God of all. Then he put Daniel back in charge and “Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius”. His faithfulness showed to all, and he made God known to all.