Opinions on faith and life

Prophecies of Daniel

2002-01-01

Vision #1: The Statue

Daniel 2:41 In that you were seeing feet and toes partly of wet clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. Some of the strength of iron will be in it, for you saw iron mixed with wet clay. 2:42 In that the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, the latter stages of this kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile. 2:43 And in that you saw iron mixed with wet clay, so people will be mixed with one another without adhering to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 2:44 In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever.

Rome, the fourth world empire* of the vision of the statue (2:31-45), would be divided between East (Greece) and West (Rome). Near its end (toes) it would become partly weak (iron mixed with clay), a weakness inherent in the attempt to force people to cooperate against their will. Since Rome was not divided or weak when Jesus came, it must refer to a future time. It is when Rome is in this future weakened condition that God will raise up an everlasting kingdom.

It would be reasonable to apply the two legs to the church age, since Rome has been divided throughout the church’s existence. Although Rome has not been an overt political power, it has never ceased to exist nor been replaced by any other world empire. The only thing lacking has been an actual king. Those kings (2:44) refers to the time of the weakened, mixed condition of Rome. A group of kings will achieve a world peace which is very loosely held (by force instead of single-mindedness).

*The four empires were Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman.

Vision #2: The Beasts

Daniel 7:3 Then four large beasts came up from the sea; they were different from one another. 7:4 The first one was like a lion with eagles’ wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off and it was lifted up from the ground. It was made to stand on two feet like a human being and a human mind was given to it. 7:5 Then a second beast appeared, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and there were three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, “Get up and devour much flesh!” 7:6 After these things, as I was watching, another beast like a leopard appeared, with four bird-like wings on its back. This beast had four heads, and ruling authority was given to it. 7:7 After these things, as I was watching in the night visions a fourth beast appeared, one dreadful, terrible, and very strong. It had two large rows of iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and anything that was left it trampled with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns.

7:8 As I was contemplating the horns, another horn, a small one, came up between them, and three of the former horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This horn had eyes resembling human eyes and a mouth speaking arrogant things. 7:11 Then I kept on watching because of the arrogant words of the horn that was speaking. I was watching until the beast was killed and its body destroyed and given over to flaming fire. 7:12 As for the rest of the beasts, their ruling authority had already been removed, though they were permitted to go on living for a time and a season...

7:17 These large beasts, which are four in number, represent four kings who will arise from the earth.7:23 This is what [the angel] told me: The fourth beast means that there will be a fourth kingdom on earth that will differ from all the other kingdoms. It will devour all the earth and will trample and crush it. 7:24 The ten horns mean that ten kings will arise from that kingdom. Another king will arise after them, but he will be different from the earlier ones. He will humiliate three kings. 7:25 He will speak words against the Most High. He will continually harass the holy ones of the Most High. His intention will be to change times established by law. They will be delivered into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

These four beasts parallel the four metals of the earlier vision of the statue. The fourth beast, Rome, is distinguished from the rest and is again associated with iron. Since nothing like the “10-3-1” kings has happened yet, they must be yet future. The “one” king possibly refers to the world leader, the Beast of Revelation, who will technically be a “king of kings”. The intention to “change times established by law” could mean the midpoint of the 70th “week” (covered shortly) where the antichrist stops the temple sacrifices and declares himself God.

Vision #3: The Goat and the Ram (chapter 8)

This vision is widely held to describe events of the time following the death of Alexander the Great. It is so precise and detailed that many have tried to assign a late date to Daniel’s prophecy to explain it away. Because of its great detail we can say with a high degree of assurance that the vision has been fulfilled and no part of it remains.

Vision #4: The 70 Weeks

9:24 Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place.

9:25 So know and understand: From the going forth of the message to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times.

9:26 Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction. 9:27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of that week he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys.

Notice that this vision concerns only Israel and Jerusalem; the Church is not in view here at all. This time is also a seal that ends prophecy and sin, ushering in perpetual righteousness when completed. The fact that all 70 weeks are seen as a unit is further indication of the focus on Israel. Without the cutting off at the end of the 69th week (the church age) there is no doubt as to the identity of the key players in the last week. That week will pick up where the previous one left off, pretty much as if nothing had happened.

In our hindsight we can see that the Church Age began with Israel’s rejection of her Messiah. This interruption, which Paul called a mystery that has now been revealed (Col. 1:26), will continue until God’s focus shifts back to Israel— a shift that cannot happen while the Church is still on the earth. Remembering that the Church is not involved in the last week of Daniel’s prophecy will clear up many misunderstandings.

So the 70th week will pick up at the point where Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed (AD 70) by the Roman Empire, involving a king who will desecrate the Temple. This of course necessitates the rebuilding of the Temple in order for it to be desecrated. We can therefore reasonably speculate that the covenant with many for one week concerns a 7-year peace accord between Israel and the Empire, with the Israelis agreeing to lay down their arms under the king’s “protection” in exchange for allowing the Temple to be built and the sacrifices reinstated.

But in the middle of the week, which is 3 1/2 years after the accord is signed, the king turns on Israel and attacks her. The few Jews who come to trust Jesus as Messiah during that time are to be kept in a safe place until Jesus comes back to the earth to reign, while the unbelieving Jews who remain in Jerusalem are destroyed.