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The book of Daniel is an amazing apocalyptic book of the Bible. Within its pages, nations, events
and even individual people were foretold ... often decades or hundreds of years
before they actually stepped out upon the scene of human history.
It is the apocalyptic book of the Old Testament as Revelation
is the apocalyptic book of the New Testament. The word, Apocalyptic comes from the word apocalypse, referring to disasters or doom or ... as is the case in these two books of the Bible ... the end of the world. Daniel and Revelation predict many of the same events and personalities that are yet to come. Hence, they go hand in glove together and are both essential for the study of end times (eschatology).
The Greek word translated Revelation in Rev. 1:1, is Ἀποκάλυψις (apocalupses). It means unveiling or uncovering ... a pulling back of the curtain, so to speak, in order to reveal things that were previously unknown. It involves the following elements:
1. Revelation that comes about through a dream or vision. The book of Zachariah also falls into this category, recording several visions.
2. Revelation that comes through the use of symbols. If the reader is unfamiliar with the Bible, it is sometimes difficult to determine which is symbol and which is not.
3. Revelation or predictions of the future of God's people. With great specificity, Daniel predicts many things that will happen in the future to God's chosen people ... the Jews ... many of which have already come to pass ... just as Daniel prophesied ... and others that are still yet to come.
4. Written in a prose style ... rather than a poetic style.
As a youth, Daniel was carried out of Jerusalem as a captive by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. This took place in the first deportation of the Jews around the year 606 BC. There were two more invasions and deportations by Nebuchadnezzar after that when the Jews that Nebuchadnezzar had left behind became rebellious. The third time he had to return to Jerusalem, he was so angry at the Jews that he completely destroyed the city and literally plowed the ground before he returned home again.
Jesus called Daniel a prophet in Matthew 24:15, and so he was. His writings are filled with prophecy. However, during his lifetime, Daniel never held the official office or title of prophet as did, for example, Isaiah or Amos. The distinction is that Daniel was not actually a spokesman for God to God's people, the Jews. Rather, he was God's spokesman to the Gentiles (non-Jews). All his adult life, he was a statesman in a Gentile court. Therefore, the book of Daniel was not placed among the "prophetic" books by the Jews, but was placed among the "historical" books.
Daniel lived during the time of two great world empires ... Babylon and Persia (including Medo-Persia). Under those kingdoms, he served under several kings ... beginning with Nebuchadnezzar in 606 BC, and ending with the reign of Cyrus around 536 BC. He was well know among the Jewish people. Ezekiel mentions him in his prophecy in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and 28:3.
Daniel wrote the book using two languages, the lion's share is in Hebrew and there is a small amount of Aramaic. He goes from Hebrew to Aramaic and then back to Hebrew again. These two languages provide a neat separation for outlining
the book as follows:
1. 1-2:4a (in Hebrew) ... containing a simple historical account of Nebuchadnezzar's expedition and Daniel and his friends' experiences in Nebuchadnezzar's court in Babylon. Logically, this was written in Daniel's native tongue of Hebrew.
2. 2:4b-7:28 (in Aramaic) ... containing the prophecies of the Gentile nations that were yet to come ... their character, relations, successions and destinies. Since these prophecies do not relate directly to the Jewish people, the language used is the Gentile tongue of Aramaic.
3. 8:1-12:13 (in Hebrew) ... containing the prophecies of God's future program for his Jewish people. Consistently, and appropriately, the language reverts back to Hebrew for the prophecies that directly concern the Jewish people.
Early records confirm that the book was
indeed written by Daniel. As far as can be determined, every Jew and early Christian
attributed the book to Daniel. Even Josephus, the secular
Roman historian of the first century, does. The authorship and date of the
book was first challenged around AD 300, by the anti-Christian philosopher,
Porphyry. Porphyry saw that the book of Daniel foretold many
historical events that occurred between 600 BC and AD 70 ... especially things during the days of
Antiochus Epiphanes, the "Madman" ... and concluded that the book of Daniel must then have been written
after the events it recorded ... saying that it was merely written to comfort the Jews who were suffering and to prop up their religion. His thinking being, After all, no one can
foretell the future! This is a stubborn view that is still held by secularists and theological liberals who
deny the historicity and miracles of the Bible.
I will not go into detail about the arguments put forward by these critics who wish to relegate this beautiful and historic prophecy to just another Jewish apocalyptic fantasy. If the reader would like to do further study in this area, I would highly recommend the book, In and Around the Book of Daniel by Charles Boutflower. He takes these critics "head on" and does a masterful job of laying out the case for the historicity and authorship of Daniel. Dr. Herbert Lockyer says of his book, ...there is no other that can compare with Boutflower's masterly work for a right understanding of the historical background of Daniel's prophecy. Another one of the great defenders of the authorship of Daniel was none other than the studious Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate.
Modern archeology has put to rest many of the critic's objections to the book by uncovering records showing the uncanny historical accuracy of Daniel's prophecy. The East India House Inscription at the British Museum, is an example. This stone block, covered with finely carved cuneiform, was found in the ruins of Babylon before 1801, and was given to the representative of the East India Company in Baghdad (hence its modern name). It records Nebuchadnezzar's desire to glorify his god, Marduk, through his many construction works in his capital, Babylon, and nearby city of Borsippa.
Finally, just let me
repeat that Jesus referred to Daniel's authorship (Matthew 24:15). His stamp of approval is proof enough
for me. Someone has said, If I cannot
believe Christ, it doesn't make much difference what I believe about Daniel! ... or, I might add, anything else, for that matter!
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