3 Preliminary observations about the book of Daniel
4 Daniel’s message is important in the total revelation of God. The book of Daniel may be said to occupy a position at the historical crossroads of the OT and NT. It sets forth God’s vision of the development of His kingdom from the OT perspective and in anticipation of what would be accomplished through the Messiah.
5 Understanding Daniel is especially relevant to our understanding of Revelation. The connections between Daniel and Revelation are apparent. The book of Daniel might be described as the book of Revelation in miniature. Or, Revelation could be said to be an inspired elaboration on the message of Daniel.
6 There are mainly three interpretative approaches to the book. An uninspired sermon of hope to an oppressed nation.Predictive prophecy of future historical events.A philosophy of history with no specific historical fulfillment.
7 No approach has resulted in a consensus interpretation. Daniel has defeated the most skilled expositors. Even those committed to the inspiration of Daniel have not agreed on its meaning. Numerous viewpoints have been offered, none of which are entirely satisfactory to everyone.
8 Daniel seven in the context of the whole book’s structure
9 The content of the book suggests a thematic structure. Prosaic Reports of Israel’s Faith in a Pagan World. (Chapters 1-6)God’s contemporary sovereignty over the nations for the benefit of His people.Prophetic Visions of Israel’s future in a pagan world (Chapters 7-12)God’s future sovereignty over the nations for the benefit of His people.
10 The chronology of the chapters points to a thematic structure. The arrangement of the chapters are not chronological throughout. However, the chapters within the two major divisions (1-6 and 7-12) are chronologically arranged.The vision of chapter 7 falls between the historical events of chapter 4-5; yet, it serves as the starting point for the second section of the book.
11 The linguistic structure supports the unity of the book. Note how the Aramaic section bridges the two main divisions.
12 Within the Aramaic section there is an intriguing chiasm. The four kingdoms to come (2)Deliverance from a pagan power (3)Judgment of a wicked ruler (4)Judgment of a wicked ruler (5)Deliverance from a pagan power (6)The four kingdoms to come (7)
13 There is an impressive use of parallelism that also suggests a single author. The visions of chapter 2, 7, 8, 9, make known different aspects of one big picture.The visions of chapters 7-12 could be prophetic overlays of the vision of chapter two.
14 A thematic outline of the book. God’s sovereignty demonstrated in the lives of His faithful people (chapters 1-6).God’s sovereignty predicted in visions to His faithful people (chapters 7-12).
15 What did Daniel see? (Textual insights into the vision) In sum what Daniel saw was a horrifying portrayal of the conflict between a incredibly destructive world power and God’s people. He saw the alarming success of an ungodly ruler whose power could only broken by the intervention of God. The message, though alarming, was ultimately assuring. He saw ultimate victory for the “saints of the most high”. He saw that God’s kingdom would be victorious.
16 Summary and brief evaluation of various interpretations of the characters in Daniel seven
17 The Liberal View (summary) This view contends that the book of Daniel was a pseudepigraphal creation of an individual from the Maccabean period (c. 166 bc). It sees the book as an unknown writers’ attempt to give hope to the downtrodden Jews suffering under the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes. The writer purportedly urged them to believe that the end of their sufferings was near by reviewing history up to his point in time (inaccurately at times) and then proposing his own “prophecy” of victory for the near future based on the hope of success.
18 The Liberal View Babylonian Empire Persian Empire Antiochus Epiphanes LionPersianEmpireLeopardAntiochusEpiphanesLittle HornMedianEmpireBearGreekEmpireTen-horned BeastFall of AntiochusComing of Son
19 The Liberal View (evaluation) Belief in supernatural predictive prophecy is interwoven with our fundamental conceptions of who God is. His ability to declare what shall be furnishes to man proof of both His existence and divinity (Is. 41:22-23).In addition, our belief in the inspiration of Daniel’s words hinges upon our faith in Jesus Christ and the evidence that supports His claims to be God. Jesus himself appeals to the prophecy of Daniel as a prophetic source for the fact that Jerusalem would be destroyed (Mt. 24:15).
20 The Amillennial View (summary) The amillennial viewpoint rejects the idea of a literal millennium (1000 year reign of Jesus on earth). However, amillennialists (like premillennialists) anticipate the coming of a future Antichrist whose persecutions will be brought to an end by the second coming of Christ.
21 The Amillennial View Babylonian Empire Greek Empire Antichrist Roman LionGreekEmpireLeopardAntichristLittle HornMedo-PersianEmpireBearRomanEmpireTen-horned BeastFinal comingof JesusComing of Son
22 The Amillennial View (evaluation) The advocates of this position have been conservative and respectable scholars. And this viewpoint was widely reflected among those who lived in the period following the NT era. One can be sympathetic to their difficulty of finding a precise literal fulfillment of Daniel seven that satisfies all expositors in all details of the text. However, this view has the luxury of postponing verification due to its futuristic viewpoint. The issue is whether or not there is a past fulfillment that satisfies the details of the prophecy and the proximity statements of Revelation.
23 The Premillennial View (summary) Premillennialists affirm that Jesus will return before a thousand year reign among the Jewish people known as the millennium. This interpretation sees the completed fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in the future appearance of the Antichrist arising out of a revived Roman empire. They contend that there has not been any literal historical fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecies; therefore, we must still look for a future fulfillment.
24 The Premillennial View BabylonianEmpireLionGreekEmpireLeopardAntichristLittle HornMedo-PersianEmpireBearRomanEmpireTen-horned BeastPremillenialComingComing of Son
25 The Premillennial View (evaluation) The premillennial scheme contradicts the simple statements of Scripture that the Messianic kingdom has been established. Its fundamental thesis, that Christ’s failure to set up the kingdom calling for a prophetic gap (the church age), contradicts the Biblical statement of the church’s role in God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10). Its practical scheme demands multiple personal comings of Christ and multiple resurrections from the dead in contradiction to the NT statements that Christ will return and that all the dead will be raised at the “last day”.
26 The Post-millennial View (summary) Post-millennialists affirm that Jesus will return after a millennium (1000 year period). This view was popular among aggressive anti-papists in the post-reformation era (such as Adam Clark) as well as in our spiritual heritage (such as Alexander Campbell). Typically, they believe that the Roman Catholic church (the papacy) is an extension of the ancient Roman empire and is to be identified with the “little horn”. His judgment (the reformation? Or a future overthrow?) will inaugurate a millennium of peace on earth for the true church.
27 The Post-millennial View BabylonianEmpireLionGreekEmpireLeopardAntichrist(Papacy)Little HornMedo-PersianEmpireBearRomanEmpireTen-horned BeastPostmillennialComingComing of Son
28 The post-millennial view (evaluation) Though the post-millennial view continues to have advocates among brethren today (for example, Wayne Jackson), it demands that the Roman Catholic church be seen as the “false prophet” and the contemporaneous partner of the “sea beast” (the Roman empire). Though a source of persecution to some, it does not appear that the papacy per se satisfies the evidence of the book of Revelation nor Daniel. It appears to me that the “sea beast” and “land beast” must be contemporaneous partners rather than successors as this position demands.
29 The Late-date Partial Preterist View (summary) This view sees the fulfillment of Daniel (and Revelation) in the Roman empire and its conflict with the church during the first few centuries of its existence. The “little horn” is identified with Domitian the supposed persecuting emperor at the time of Revelation’s composition. Scholars differ on whether the “new Jerusalem” now exists or whether the imagery will only be fulfilled in the eternal kingdom of God in heaven.
30 The Partial Preterist View (Late date) BabylonianEmpireLionGreekEmpireLeopardEmperorDomitianLittle HornMedo-PersianEmpireBearRomanEmpireTen-horned BeastFall of Roman EmpireComing of Son
31 The Late-date Partial-preterist View (evaluation) Not all would be satisfied with the explanation of some of the more specific statements in Revelation 17 intended to identify the characters of the Revelation (eg. the harlot or the seven heads of the beast). Moreover, it is interesting to observe that those living under the persecutions of the Roman emperors in the 2nd-3rd centuries did not see them as a fulfillment of Daniel or Revelation. Instead they were inclined to see these passages as pointing to a future “antichrist” that would arise.
32 The Symbolic View (summary) Adherents to this view maintain that the fact that Daniel’s message is couched in symbolism suggests that we should use a philosophy of history approach and interpret the symbols in general terms and not look for a specific literal historical fulfillment. The ten horns are symbols of full world power and the little horn represents despots who arise from time to time in opposition to God and His people. Consequently Daniel is teaching the general truth that God’s kingdom will triumph over whatever forces arise against it.
33 The Symbolic View Babylonian Empire Greek Empire Various Persecutors LionGreekEmpireLeopardVarious PersecutorsLittle HornMedo-PersianEmpireBearRomanEmpireTen-horned BeastJesus’ Final ComingComing of Son
34 The Symbolic View (evaluation) The symbolic interpretation may be attractive to those frustrated by the many contradictory viewpoints. One can surely appreciate the importance of not allowing the message of the book to be lost in the details of expounding particular features of the vision. However, the text itself seems to make clear that there is some literal fulfillment of the visions, and it appears that the great majority of expositors through the centuries have considered the book to contain precise historical prophecies.
35 An Early-date Partial-preterist View (summary) In the late 1800’s there were a number of commentators who set forth a early-date preterist interpretation of Revelation. They contended that these books concerned the fall of the Jewish state and the Roman empire. In this view, the ten-horned beast is the Roman empire and the little horn that wages wars with the “saints” is the Roman emperor Vespasian, who brought about the destruction of Jerusalem.
36 The Partial Preterist View (Early date) BabylonianEmpireLionGreekEmpireLeopardEmperorVespasianLittle HornMedo-PersianEmpireBearRomanEmpireTen-horned BeastFall of Roman EmpireComing of Son
37 An interpretation of the principle features of Daniel seven
38 The lion is the kingdom of Babylon. Parallel to the first vision and God’s own explanation, “you are the head of gold” (2:38).Cf. Jeremiah’s comparison of Nebuchadnezzar to both a lion and eagle (Jer. 49:19-22).Recall the incident of Nebuchadnezzars’s humiliation (Dan. 4) and the somewhat corrected perspective it gave the monarch (Dan. 4:34-37).
40 The bear is the Medo-Persian empire. Parallel explanation in 2:29 (“another kingdom inferior to you” andNote chapter 8:20 (“the kings of Media and Persia” represent one entity). Notice that in Daniel they are treated as one (Dan. 6:15).The three ribs may symbolize conquered nations like Lydia, Egypt, and Babylonia.
41 The leopard is the kingdom of Greece. Parallel explanation in 2:39 (“a third kingdom that will rule over all the earth”) and in 8:21 (“the kingdom of Greece”).The “four heads” appear to represent the kingdoms into which the Greek empire eventually was to break up after Alexander’s death. Cf. Dan. 8:22 (“four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power”).
42 The terrifying beast is the Roman empire. Parallel with chapter 2 identifying the beast with that time when the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed (Lk. 3:1-3; Mt. 3:1-2).The beast of Revelation 13 is also a ten-horned beast. It is also likened in various aspects to the features of a leopard, bear, and lion, the images under which the predecessors of the beast of Daniel 7 are also described (Rev. 13:2).
43 The ten horns are the vassal kings of the Roman empire. It seems best to treat the ten kings as contemporary rather than consecutive. The ten-horns of Revelation are contemporaneous “kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev. 17:12). Daniel is given a picture of the transition from republic to triumvirate to emperor.
44 The little horn is the Roman emperor. In Daniel the little horn represents the emperors who used their power against the people of God. Perhaps the reference is more specifically Vespasian who served as a revived Nero. He is the “beast that came up out of the abyss” of Revelation and the antitypical fulfillment of the “small horn” (Dan. 8:9) who also destroyed the “holy people” in the Maccabean period.
45 The saints are the nation of Israel. This vision should be interpreted in view of the OT division of Israel versus the pagan world. Twice in Daniel the expression “holy” is used to describe the OT people of God (Dan. 8:24; 12:7). What Daniel foresees is the attempt of the pagan world, the fourth kingdom in particular, to overthrow God’s purpose for Israel to establish His kingdom through the Messiah. God would use them as He had in the past to judge and purify the holy people.
46 The Son of Man is Jesus, the Messiah of OT prophecy. Jesus commonly used this self-designation (Mt. 24:30; 26:64; Mk. 13:26; Rev. 1:7)The action of “coming in the clouds” in Hebraistic thought suggests an act of God“All peoples” are said to serve Him (Dan. 7:14), authority that Jesus claimed for himself (Mt. 28:18).
47 Principles governing God’s future treatment of Israel.
48 Subjugation to foreign powers serves as a chastisement for sin. Throughout the OT God allowed foreign nations to oppress Israel because of their sin. This “indignation” toward Israel’s sin will continue to the end. This process will culminate in God’s use of the Romans (the beast) as His agent of wrath upon Israel to finish His indignation against the sinful among the nation. The affect of this judgment will be to purge the holy people of those unworthy of the kingdom.
49 In such chastisement, God preserves for Himself His true people. Though God uses pagan powers to chasten His people, He preserves for Himself a faithful remnant through which to fulfill His promises (the 144,000 of the book of Revelation). They would be a remnant who would endure the conflict with Rome and receive the promises made to the fathers.
50 After Israel’s chastisement, God’s will judge the rod of His fury, Rome. God’s kingdom promises will not remain unfulfilled. God will judge in favor of His elect. The dominion of Rome, the instrument of His wrath, will not be allowed to defeat the Messianic promises made to Israel. God will bring the fourth beast to destruction.
51 Through the Messiah, God’s kingdom will be restored to God’s true Israel. Messiah’s kingdom was established upon His ascension to occupy the throne of David at God’s right hand. But his dominion is a progressive one that increases with the overthrow of each of His enemies. The destruction of Jerusalem was another step in the advancement of the kingdom of God (Lk. 21:31). The fall of Rome another.
52 God’s kingdom belongs to those who accept His Messiah, among both Jews and Gentiles. As God judges the Gentile powers He has used, he will “restore the kingdom to Israel”, that is, the true Israel of God! (Cf. Ac. 1:6; Rev. 11:15-18). God’s true Israel will reign through their victorious Messiah, the Son of Man. They will constitute a “new Jerusalem”, the true “bride” of God.
53 It is not the physical nation, but the spiritual seed of Abraham who have the dominion. These constitute the “new Jerusalem” emerging from the destruction of the old, the glorious “bride” in contrast to the wicked “harlot”. God’s kingdom consists of those who believe in Jesus Christ; they are the true Israel of God and His true holy people. They will reign forever with the Messiah.
54 What Israel Had Experienced in the Past... Judgment by God through pagan powersPreservation of the faithful through the conflictExaltation by God in a pagan world
55 Israel Was Yet To Experience in the Future! Judgment by God through pagan powersPreservation of the faithful through the conflictExaltation by God in a pagan worldThe overthrow of pagan power by the Messiah and the establishment of God’s kingdom in those who believe in Him.
56 The destruction of Jerusalem was the culminating act of judgment and deliverance for the Israelite people. It serves as a prophetic type of Jesus’ final return to judge the wicked and deliver His kingdom to God.
57 Practical lessons from Daniel 7 The Scriptures affirm that God is in control of the birth and destiny of nations (Dan. 4:25; Ac. 17:26).Earthly governments are destined to fall because they by nature lack respect for God as creator. (Psalm 9:17)The conflict between human kingdoms and God’s kingdom is inevitable.The victory of God’s kingdom over the forces of evil is certain.
58 The kingdom is ultimately given to a certain kind of person. (Mt. 5-7) The kingdom is ultimately given to a certain kind of person. (Mt. 5-7). Victory for us is not guaranteed by membership in an organization, but in a Christ-like character!No matter how difficult life for the believer may be, Daniel 7 arises to comfort him. As a part of the seed of Abraham, we are heirs to the victory of the Messiah. No power on earth will be able to withstand His ultimate overthrow of all His enemies. Praise God! “We win!”