The Book of Daniel -intro

This Bible study is based on the Hope TV outlines on Daniel and has been amended and expanded so that it may be the more readily comprehended. Various study books and aids have been consulted and quoted - with especial emphasis being given to the Sabbath School materials.

1.Christ the Centre of the Book of Daniel

a) Luke 24:25-27

Luke 24:25-27 ESV

[25] And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" [27] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

b) John 5:39

John 5:39 ESV

[39] You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

c) Daniel 7:13-14

Daniel 7:13-14 ESV

[13] "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. [14] And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

d) Where else do you see Christ revealed in the Book of Daniel?

The burden of Christ’s preaching was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Thus the gospel message, as given by the Saviour Himself, was based on the prophecies. The “time” which He declared to be fulfilled was the period made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. “Seventy weeks,” said the angel, “are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” Daniel 9:24.—The Desire of Ages, p. 233.

Chapter 1 shows, although in a limited and imperfect way, that Daniel’s experience is analogous to that of Christ, who left heaven to live in this sinful world and confront the powers of darkness. Moreover, Daniel and his companions are endowed from above with Christ-like wisdom to face the challenges of the Babylonian culture.

Chapter 2 describes the figure of the end-time (eschatological) stone to indicate that the kingdom of Christ will eventually replace all the kingdoms of the world.

Chapter 3 reveals Christ walking with His faithful servants within a furnace of fire.

Chapter 4 shows God removing Nebuchadnezzar from his kingdom from for a period of time so that the king could understand that “Heaven rules” (Dan. 4:26, NKJV). The expression “Heaven rules” reminds us that Christ, as “the Son of Man” (Dan. 7:13, NKJV), receives the dominion and the kingdom, as depicted in Daniel 7.

Chapter 5 shows the demise of King Belshazzar and the fall of Babylon to the Persians during a night of revelry and debauchery. This foreshadows the defeat of Satan and the obliteration of end-time Babylon by Christ and His angels.

Chapter 6 shows the plot against Daniel in ways that resemble the false accusations voiced against Jesus by the chief priests. Moreover, as King Darius unsuccessfully tries to spare Daniel, Pilate unsuccessfully tries to spare Jesus (Matt. 27:17-24).

Chapter 7 depicts Christ as the Son of man receiving the kingdom and reigning over His people.

Chapter 8 shows Christ as a priest of the heavenly sanctuary.

Chapter 9 portrays Christ as the sacrificial victim whose death reconfirms the covenant between God and His people.

And chapters 10-12 present Christ as Michael, the commander-in-chief, who fights the forces of evil and victoriously rescues God’s people, even from the power of death.

e) Why is it important to remember Christ is the center of all Scripture, including the Book of Daniel?

2 Corinthians 1:19-20 ESV

[19] For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. [20] For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

2. The Structure of the Book of Daniel

a) How does the structure of the Book of Daniel emphasize the primary message conveyed by the prophet? (see also 2 Peter 1:19- 21)

2 Peter 1:19-21 ESV

[19] And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, [20] knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. [21] For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

A chiasmus serves to highlight the main point by placing it at the center of the structure, which in this case consists of C and C’ (Daniel 4 and 5): God removes the kingdom from Nebuchadnezzar (temporarily) and from Belshazzar (permanently). Therefore, the emphasis of chapters 2-7 is on God’s sovereignty over the kings of the earth as He establishes and removes them.

i) Vision of 4 kingdoms

ii) God delivers Daniel’s three friends

iii) Judgment on Nebuchadnezzar Daniel 4:16-17

iv) Judgment on Babylon – Daniel 5:26-27

v) God delivers Daniel

vi) Vision of 4 kingdoms

b) Why are the prophecies in the Book of Daniel repeated with a similar message (2, 7, 8-9, 10-12)?

There are four prophetic cycles, which are repetitions of an overall basic structure. In the end, this structure shows us the ultimate sovereignty of God. Although each major prophetic outline conveys a distinct perspective, together they cover the same historical period, extending from the time of the prophet to the end,

3. Apocalyptic prophecies in the Book of Daniel

a) What is the difference between classical prophecies and apocalyptic prophecies?

Classical prophecies are more direct and are conditioned on repentance. Whereas apocalyptic prophecies are highly symbolic, composite and unconditional- emphasising the sovereignty of God.

Classical: Jonah 3:3-4, Micah 5:2, Zechariah 9:9

Jonah 3:3-4 ESV

[3] So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth. [4] Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"

Micah 5:2 ESV

[2] But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Zechariah 9:9 ESV

[9] Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

ii) Apocalyptic: Daniel 7:1-6 (Revelation 13:1-9)

Daniel 7:1-6 ESV

[1] 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. [2] Daniel declared, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. [3] And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. [4] 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. [5] 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.' [6] 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.

Revelation 13:1-9 ESV

[1] And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. [2] And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. [3] One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. [4] And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?" [5] And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. [6] It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. [7] Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, [8] and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. [9] If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

b) Explain the following approaches to the interpretation of apocalyptic prophecy: Preterist, Futurist, Idealist, Historicist.

Preterism tends to view the prophetic events announced in Daniel as having occurred in the past.

Futurism contends that the same prophecies still await a future fulfillment.

Idealism, in turn, holds that apocalyptic prophecies are symbols of general spiritual realities without any specific historical referents.

Historicism, in contrast, holds that in apocalyptic prophecy God reveals an unbroken sequence of history from the time of the prophet to the end of time. As we study the book of Daniel, we will see that each major vision in the book (Daniel 2, 7, 8, 11) repeats this historical outline from different perspectives and with new details. The Adventist pioneers, including Ellen G. White, understood the biblical prophecies of Daniel and Revelation from a historicist perspective.

'To understand how these approaches differ, consider how preterism equates the antichrist with Antiochus IV. Futurism views the antichrist as a world ruler that will appear far into the future. For idealists, the antichrist represents any evil power that oppresses God’s people or opposes the gospel. And historicists identify the antichrist with the papacy, whose power and influence extend from the Middle Ages to the end of the world'.

c) The key to unlocking the symbols of apocalyptic prophecy

i) Daniel 7:23-24, Revelation 17:15

Daniel 7:23-24 ESV

[23] "Thus he said: 'As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. [24] As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings.

Revelation 17:15 ESV

[15] And the angel said to me, "The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.

ii) Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:5-6

Numbers 14:34 ESV

[34] According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.'

Ezekiel 4:5-6 ESV

[5] For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. [6] And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.

d) Explain Daniel’s reaction to the prophecy recorded in Daniel 8. Daniel 8:27

Daniel 8:27 ESV

[27] And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king's business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.

e) What is an appropriate response if we don’t fully understand everything we are studying in the Word of God? James 1:5, Jeremiah 33:3, 2 Timothy 2:15-16

James 1:5 ESV

[5] If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Jeremiah 33:3 ESV

[3] Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

2 Timothy 2:15-16 ESV

[15] Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. [16] But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

The Relevance of the Book of Daniel for today

a) Why is it important to study both the narratives and apocalyptic prophecies of the Book of Daniel?

'Another important aspect of the book that deserves attention concerns the interlocking nature of narrative passages with prophetic passages. The stories and prophecies recorded in the book should not be understood as independent strands that were later joined together. Rather, the narrative and prophetic sections intertwine around each other in a tight unity. For example, the narrative notes about the seizing of the temple vessels by Nebuchadnezzar and their subsequent profanation by Belshazzar point to the arrogant activities of the little horn in chapters 7 and 8.6 Likewise, Daniel and his friends’ loyalty to God in the narrative section points to the faithfulness of God’s end-time people in the prophetic section.'

i) 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 15:4

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

[16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Romans 15:4 ESV

[4] For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

ii) Daniel 12:1-4, Romans 13:11-14

Daniel 12:1-4 ESV

[1] "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. 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. [2] 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. [3] 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. [4] But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."

Romans 13:11-14 ESV

[11] Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. [12] The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. [13] Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. [14] But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

b) The two different books in Daniel -Which book is Daniel referring to in Daniel 12:4 and Daniel 12:1 .See also Exodus 32:32, Revelation 13:8.

Daniel 12:4 ESV

[4] But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."

'The "words" and "book" here spoken of doubtless refer to the things which had been revealed to Daniel in this prophecy. These things were to be shut up and sealed until the time of the end; that is, they were not to be specially studied, or to any great extent understood, till that time. The time of the end, as has already been shown, commenced in 1798. As the book was closed up and sealed to that time, the plain inference is that at that time, or from that point, the book would be unsealed; that is, people would be better able to understand it, and would have their attention specially called to this part of the inspired word.' (Uriah Smith)

'The apostle Paul warned the church not to look for the coming of Christ in his day. “That day shall not come,” he says, “except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed.” [2 Thessalonians 2:3.] Not till after the great apostasy, and the long period of the reign of the “man of sin,” can we look for the advent of our Lord. The “man of sin,” which is also styled the “mystery of iniquity,” the “son of perdition,” and “that wicked,” represents the papacy, which, as foretold in prophecy, was to maintain its supremacy for 1260 years. This period ended in 1798. The coming of Christ could not take place before that time. Paul covers with his caution the whole of the Christian dispensation down to the year 1798. It is this side of that time that the message of Christ's second coming is to be proclaimed.  

No such message has ever been given in past ages. Paul, as we have seen, did not preach it; he pointed his brethren into the then far-distant future for the coming of the Lord. The reformers did not proclaim it. Martin Luther placed the Judgment about three hundred years in the future from his day. But since 1798 the book of Daniel has been unsealed, knowledge of the prophecies has increased, and many have proclaimed the solemn message of the Judgment near.' GC88 356.1-GC88 356.2

Daniel 12:1 ESV

[1] "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. 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.

Daniel 12: 1 concludes with the phrase, “every one that shall be found written in the book.” All those whose names are written in the “book” will be delivered. This “book” is the same “book” that was opened in the beginning of the judgment in Daniel 7: 10—the book of life (see also Exodus 32: 33; Revelation 3: 5; 13: 8; 20: 15; 21: 27; 22: 19). Those who are delivered have passed the investigation of the judgment, and their names will be found written in the book of life. These are the people for whom Michael will stand up, and He will deliver them. This is the final turning point in which God’s people are forever free from the persecution of Satan and the powers through which he works.

Exodus 32:32 ESV

[32] But now, if you will forgive their sin-but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written."

Revelation 13:8 ESV

[8] and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

c) How can we be certain our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Romans 10:9, 1 John 5:11-13

Romans 10:9 ESV

[9] because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

1 John 5:11-13 ESV

[11] And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [12] Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. [13] I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

d) How does the promise of Revelation 1:3 relate to our study of the Book of Daniel?

Revelation 1:3 ESV

[3] Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

What is the contemporary significance of the book of Daniel?

Call up, point by point, the history of the kingdoms there represented. Behold statesmen, councils, powerful armies, and see how God wrought to abase the pride of men, and lay human glory in the dust… .The light that Daniel received from God was given especially for these last days. The visions he saw by the banks of the Ulai and the Hiddekel, the great rivers of Shinar, are now in process of fulfillment, and all the events foretold will soon come to pass.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 112.