It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
I have long been fascinated with the life of Daniel and the mysteries in his prophetic book. Daniel and his friends grew up in the ruling class. They likely heard about a religious fanatic who was despised by many of the nobles because he kept predicting the inevitable judgement of God. We know that fanatic as the prophet Jeremiah. I can imagine the parents of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah as devout followers of Yahweh and can picture conversations they may have had about the controversial messages of Jeremiah. We know that Jeremiah was ultimately was proven to be God’s man, but at the time, his behavior was strange even for a prophet, and his message was disturbing. God’s judgement came in the middle of Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry as the Babylonian exile began.
Daniel and his friends were contemporaries of not just Jeremiah, but possibly had childhood interactions with King Jeconiah before his rule and subsequent exile. I also wonder if they ever met and spoke with Ezekiel, either before or after the exile. And I’ve even read of certain rabbinic traditions that Daniel was Mordechai’s messenger killed by Haman in the book of Esther. Although this last relationship seems far-fetched to me, Daniel certainly lived at a pivotal point in Jewish history.
Daniel’s life was surrounded by mystery and prophecy. From his early years before the Babylonian exile to his own growing understanding of God’s will as he studied Scripture, Daniel lived obediently and prayed for an ever-greater understanding. Yet the visions he received were often a mystery even to him, and more than once he was told to seal up the end times vision that was written for a future generation.
God has many purposes and He weaves all things together in ways we can only understand in part. While the book of Daniel has been used to strengthen believers through millennia, I have come to believe it was primarily written for God’s people in these end times to comfort and encourage us.
A Book for the End of the Age
The Book of Daniel clearly predicted things that could not have been known by man, such as the rise and fall of Alexander the Great and the corresponding rise of Western culture. I believe God gave Daniel these predictions in large part so that we can have greater confidence in the events that have yet to unfold. It shows us that God is in control. It reveals the history of the world as foretold through Daniel and paints a picture for last days that God and His Scriptures can be trusted. More importantly, the book answers Daniel’s question to God about when Israel’s sins will be atoned and promises God’s redemptive faithfulness in the days that are coming.
So how is Daniel’s prophetic writing to be understood as an encouragement in these last days?
- Chapter One encourages us to be faithful in captivity. Just as God blessed Daniel and his companions, He will reward our faithfulness to Him when circumstances pressure us toward compromise.
- Chapter Two reaffirms that man’s rebellion will be destroyed by the Rock of God, Jesus. God will destroy the rebellion of man as represented by the idolatrous image of man and will shatter the 10 regions (toes) of the final rebellious kingdom represented by this idol. The chapter also reminds us that God still speaks and answers our attempts to understand Him.
- Chapter Three teaches us that God protects the faithful. God will walk with us through our tests of obedience to Him, and He will use our faithfulness so that others will come to believe.
- Chapter Four reminds us that God will discipline and humble us for our own good. He will do whatever it takes to break down our resistance to Him and His ways; His discipline is a reflection of His love. How much better if we discipline ourselves in humility!
After these first four chapters, Daniel’s story is no longer told chronologically.
- Chapters 5 & 6: Years go by, and Daniel is forgotten until a supernatural hand appears writing an ominous warning on the wall. The king who showed contempt for the God of Israel is disposed overnight and a new king is established who raises Daniel to a position of great prominence. All the schemes of the wicked have no significant effect upon Daniel.
- Chapters 7 & 8: Revealed to Daniel around 553 BC, years before the events of chapters 5 & 6, we see how God was unfolding the rise of western civilization to Daniel. God is in control and the shifts of world powers do not surprise Him; it is all part of His plan.
- Chapter 9: around the same time as the events of chapters 5 & 6 (539 BC) and about one year before the Babylonian Exile ends when the Temple is rebuilt, Daniel prayed in intercession for the Israel and is given a revelation of the seventy weeks of Israel’s redemption. These are non-contiguous weeks that extend well past the Babylonian Exile, beyond the Diaspora and into our future. These final seven years that have yet to occur are when all rebellion against God will be brought to an end.
- Chapters 10 – 12: the final revelation in Daniel is explicitly for the latter days (Daniel 10:14) was revealed to him around 556 BC, long before the revelations of chapters 7, 8 and 9. Twice Daniel is told that this revelation should be sealed up until the end (Daniel 12:4,9) because it is not for him to understand. It is intended for God’s people in the last days.
The Book of Daniel is not just a prediction for Israel but for all God’s people. All of Scripture tells the story of how God created man as a companion, but man rebelled against God’s rightful authority and rejected His love. God was not surprised and already had a plan to end the rebellion and woo His Beloved back to Him. That plan is a Person, Jesus, meaning “Yahweh Saves!”. Still, God’s salvation plan through Jesus was initially rejected by Israel just as Daniel predicted. And that prediction continues to describe a time that is coming when the rebellion of man will ultimately be squashed… Jesus will be enthroned and the Remnant who accept His authority will be remade as God always intended us to be!! God is gracious, patient and loving, but He is also just. In these last days, the Bride will be lifted up, but those who continue reject His rightful authority will be cast into eternal fire.
Be strong and courageous, people of God!
copyright ©2021 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com /)