I thought that the next logical step to understanding the foundation for the book of Revelation would be to take a look at what the Old Testament prophets had to say in their apocalyptic books. These next few studies are not going to be all inclusive. I will only touch on things I believe to be important for understanding the book of Revelation.
One important thing to note about the book of Daniel. It's chapters are not arranged in chronological order. Here is the order I believe they should be in chronologically.
Daniel 1 - Daniel captured and taken to Babylon
Daniel 2 - Nebuchadnezzar's 2nd year
Daniel 3 - Nebuchadnezzar still king
Daniel 4 - Nebuchadnezzar still king
Daniel 7 - Belshazzar [Neb's grandson, Nebonidus's son and co-king of Babylon] is in his first year
Daniel 8 - Belshazzar's 3rd year
Daniel 5 - Belshazzar's final night alive
Daniel 6 - Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes (Daniel 9:1) begins to rule at age 62 (Daniel 5:31). Darius the Mede is not Darius I the Great of Persia who ruled long after Cyrus and who we read about in the book of Ezra. Note that in both cases where Darius the Mede is said to have become ruler, his rule was given to him or he was “caused to rule” rather than obtaining that rule on his own merit through heredity or conquering. [Historical Corroboration: Darius the Mede is probably Gubaru, Cyrus uncle (not Ugbaru, who died a few weeks after Babylon fell). Gubaru was probably a nickname referring to a penchant for eating beef. Cyrus’s uncle’s personal name was Cyaxares II, son of Astyages, Cyrus’s grandfather. Gubaru was historically given control over Babylon “the land of the Chaldeans” when Cyrus overtook Babylon and the kingdom of the Medes. He is the decendamt of Ahasuerus (a form of Xerxes, in this case Cyaxerxes) ]
Daniel 9 - Darius the Mede is made ruler over the Chaldeans by his nephew, Cyrus.
Daniel 10-12 Cyrus's third year
The first chapter of Daniel is simply historical with no apocalyptic writing. It is straightforward and needs no other comment for our purposes.
Daniel 2 is a very familiar passage to many and most of the story need not be covered here as it is tangental to our purpose. However, Daniel 2:31-45 cover the vision of king Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation of the vision. Visions, are by nature, symbolic. As this is very familiar territory I will endeavor to be brief for this section.
Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a statue made of four metals: gold, silver, brass, and iron. The statue is destroyed by a stone which became a mountain that filled the whole earth.
Gold - Nebuchadnezzar as representative of Babylonian Empire. The first earthly kingdom. Silver - The Medo-Persian Empire. The second earthly kingdom. Brass - The Greek Empire. The third earthly kingdom. Iron - The Roman Empire. The fourth earthly kingdom.
No mention is ever made of any other earthly kingdom as the millennialists contend.
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the [fourth] kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the [fourth] kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
It is during the fourth kingdom, the iron kingdom, that God's indestructible kingdom, the church, would be set up. We see that recorded in Acts. Some points to mention are the iron and brass as specific references to specific kingdoms. I believe that these metals in symbolic language are keys to understanding what nations are being spoken of throughout scripture.
Go back to Lev. 26:19 where God makes His conditional promise of blessing or destruction to the Israelites. What does that verse mean? If we understand it symbolically, the only way that I think it can reasonably be taken, then God will make their heaven, their rulers "iron" [Rome] and their earth, the people "brass" [Greek]. If the Jews understood scriptures the way they should, they might have seen the Romans in rule and their language, their culture, which was entirely Greek, as a warning sign.
One other important point is that the kingdom of God, the church, is called a mountain. We then can associate the word mountain with “domain” or “kingdom”.
Daniel 3 is another historical event and one that does not need comment here as it does not directly relate in any way to Apocalyptic language.
Daniel 4 concerns a vision, a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, but in the interpretation, Daniel shows us that it is a vision of immediate discipline on Nebuchadnezzar and as such has no bearing on our study.
In this chapter, Daniel has a vision which is interpreted by one of the celestial angels. It is similar in many ways to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. The four beasts are the same as the four metals, the four great kingdoms of the earth: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
I'd like to take a closer look at the symbols in this chapter ONLY from the context of this chapter for the moment. I do not, at this time, want to get ahead of myself and start applying the interpretation. I only want to handle the fundamentals here.
Ancient of Days - this is Jehovah God, the supreme Creator, Ruler, and Judge of all creation.
Fire - this symbol, as previously discussed, is a symbol of judgment against nations. Here the fire is in the throne and round about it and proceeding from God. Judgment is His right and He is presiding over the court in this dream to judge the nations of the world [these four mentioned] that relate to the everlasting kingdom.
son of man - we know this is Christ. Here we see Christ pictured as coming in the clouds to receive a kingdom, the church, which would be an everlasting kingdom never to be destroyed. His saints, are interpreted as receiving this kingdom as well at that time (vs. 18).
dragon-beast - this dragon-like fourth beast with teeth of iron and many horns is identified as Rome, the fourth world empire concerned with the nation of Israel and the church. It is during this empire that Christ's kingdom is set up.
ten-plus-one horns - ten kings (or rules) in succession over this fourth empire. Three of the kings/rules would be supplanted by another king/rule who is distinct in properties from the other ten. This eleventh king would speak against God and "wear out" [Aramaic - Bela - to harass, mentally wear down] the people of God for three and a half years. No names are given to these kings/ruler-ships so we will not attempt to do so here.
time and times and the dividing of time - essentially time = 1 year. Plural means more than 1, basically 2. And the simplest division of 1 is 1/2. So you have 1+2+1/2 = 3 1/2 years. The people of God [saints, holy ones, Christians] would suffer harassment and attempts to change their laws and times under this eleventh king. But the eleventh king's rule will be taken away from him.
saints - this is a general reference to God's people, Jews or Christians depending on what time period is being referred to. In this particular prophecy, we would have to have more information than provided in this chapter to determine which is specifically being spoken of, if not both. Default, for OT scripture is the Israelites.
Here is another vision of the progression of empires towards the coming of the kingdom of Christ.
The ram - this empire is the Medo-Persian empire
Two horns - one horn for the kings of Media, the other, which is higher on the head and came after is the kings of Persia. Keep in mind that the Medo-Persian had several kings, not just two, so here the horn represents a ruler-ship, not a single king.
The goat - this empire is the Greeks
The great horn - the first king/ruler of the Greecian empire under whom the ram (Medo-Persia) falls.
The four horns - after the first king dies (is broken off), four more will rise to rule over Greece but not with the power/authority of the first
The little horn - another king near the end of the time of the Greecian empire will rise up and fight against God's people
2300 evenings and mornings - how long "the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot" would be [not really relevant to the book of Revelation]
saints, holy people, mighty people/host of heaven/stars of heaven - these are the Jews in this particular instance and the events of this prophesy concern only them and the empires that encompass them
One phrase that is of utmost importance in this chapter is 8:26 where the angel tells Daniel "wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days". Here the rise of the Greek empire was far enough away that Daniel is told to shut up or seal his prophecy. This is important because it begins to give us a time table comparison for other prophecies which are required to be shut up/sealed or not.
MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSON
The only mention we need make in this chapter is that Daniel interprets the last word of the hand writing on the wall as the take over of the Medes and Persians, the second kingdom prophesied in Daniel 2. Belshazzar, son of and co-regent with Nabonidus, son of Nebuchadnezzar dies the night of this event and the Medo-Persian rule over Babylon and the more importantly the Jews is begun. Cyrus the Great is the main ruler, but he makes Darius the Mede [his uncle Gubaru] the ruler over the land of the Chaldeans.
Daniel in the lions den under the rule of Darius the Mede. Darius the Mede is king of the Chaldeans under Cyrus the king of the entire Medo-Persian Empire, both of whom Daniel prospered under (Daniel 6:28).
This is under the rule of Darius the Mede, regent of Babylon, during the reign of Cyrus the Great, king of all Persia.
This chapter begins with a reference back to the prophet Jeremiah who prophesied that the southern kingdom of Judah would be in captivity for 70 years (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10) in Babylon. Daniel then prays a long prayer in which he asks God to forgive Judah of their sins and remember the prophecy and act on it.
Then Gabriel, the only named celestial angel in scripture, comes and gives Daniel understanding.
Seventy sevens are determined upon your people and upon your 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. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one the Prince shall be seven sevens, and threescore and two sevens: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troubled times. And after threescore and two sevens shall the anointed one be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the commander that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many. One seven and in the midst of the seven he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Weeks is not a clear translation here. The better translation is "period of seven" instead of "weeks" contextually. Every seventh year, the Israelites were to allow the land to rest. It was called a sabbatical year.
1. 70 sevens are determined upon Daniel's people, the Jews, and upon the "holy city" Jerusalem, to...
...finish or make an end of their sins [the sins of the Jews]
...bring in real reconciliation, everlasting righteousness [which the law of Moses could not do - Acts 13:39]
...seal up vision and prophecy [concerning Daniel's people and Jerusalem, not all prophecy and vision entirely, remember the overall context of this passage context]
...and anoint the most Holy [make Messiah the king that they SHOULD have been looking for]
The rest of the passage breaks down those 70 sevens, the 490 years which deal with the Jews and Jerusalem.
2. Between the time the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and the actual completion of the command would be seven sevens (7x7=49 years). We see this take place in Ezra and Nehimiah. Cyrus commands Jerusalem and the temple to be rebuild (Ezra 1). Ezra shows that it takes years to rebuild the temple (cause people were trying to build their own homes first and other peoples were attacking the city.) Haggai and Zechariah help. From Daniel we understand, internally, that 49 years later the command was completed (through the reigns of Cyrus, Artaxerxes, and Darius).
3. Until the coming of the Messiah would be 7 sevens (49 years to rebuild the temple) plus another 62 sevens (or a total of 483 years). After the 62 sevens (after 483 years) the Messiah would be "cut off". This is Christ being sacrificed.
4. This final section is about the the destruction of city and the sanctuary (temple).
...it will be destroyed by the people of the leader/captain/ruler/prince (nagiyd).
...it will be destroyed with a "flood" [we'll learn in later books that this symbolically references a massive army]
...at the end of the wars there will be a desolation [this is the desolation Christ referenced on the mount of Olives]
...this destruction will happen in the 70th seven (the last seven years concerning the Jews), specifically half-way through it.
This vision takes place in the third year of the reign of Cyrus the Persian, Cyrus II the Great.
Daniel is out with a number of people by the river Hiddekel (the Tigris) fasting and mourning when he sees a man in linen and gold stand before him. None that are with Daniel can see him, but flee in fear nonetheless. The man is strangely beautiful having the following properties:
1. a body of beryl (possibly his body was gem-like and a yellowish color Hbr. tarshiysh)
2. his face was like lightning (radiant white and blinding)
3. his eyes were like flames of fire from a lamp
4. his arms and legs were like polished brass
5. his voice was like a multitude of voices
Daniel sees this man and next to him feels weak and ruined. Daniel finds himself in a deep sleep with his face on the ground. Then the man touches Daniel and set him on his hands and knees, tells Daniel to stand up, and Daniel then stands.
This man then tells Daniel that Daniel’s prayers have been heard from the first moment he set his heart on God and to understand God’s will for he and his people and that this bright and shining man had been sent to answer Daniel’s cry for understanding.
For verse 13, I will only mention two things. One, the standard translation is one that I have difficulty accepting. I believe that the YLT is the most accurate:
And the head of the kingdom of Persia is standing over-against me twenty and one days, and lo, Michael, first of the chief heads, hath come in to help me, and I have remained there near the kings of Persia;
Second, Michael, who is said to be the first, the foremost, of all princes, is powerful enough and has enough authority over this messenger from God (angel) that he is able to help the angel. That there are things an angel would need help with against mortals is...well, beyond my comprehension. But that there is one, the one who leads all the others, that is able to help is comforting. More on who this Michael is later.
In verse 14 the angel tells Daniel that he will explain what will happen to his people in the "latter days" [or last days]. This is a key, a very important one, to understand all the things of Daniel's prophecy and references to the last days in the New Testament. Remember, the OT was "written for our learning" (Rom. 15:4).
Daniel falls, feeling too weak to hear the words concerning his people, the Jews, but the angel strengthens him and explains that he, the angel, will return to fight against the king of Persia and when that king is gone, the king of Greece will come. The vision he is about to show will explain this transition and what will befall his people in "the last days".
The angel then concludes his preface to the visions with these two assurances:
1. What the angel will show Daniel is that which is written in the scriptures of truth.
2. Michael, Daniel's prince, this first of all princes, stands with the angel confirming these things to be true.
Remember from Daniel 10:1 that Daniel is writing in the 3rd year of Cyrus. The angel tells Daniel that it was he who strengthened Daniel during Darius the Mede's reign (chapter 6) when he was thrown to the lions.
The angel tells Daniel that there will be four more kings after Cyrus, the fourth will be the greatest of all. [Historically these are Cambyses II, Cyrus son, Smerdis, Darius I of Persia (from Ezra) and then Xerxes the Great.] The fourth king would anger the Greeks.
Then the Greek kings come in, just like in Daniel 8. There will be one mighty king [Alexander], then his kingdom gets split up into four kingdoms after he goes away. It is important to note that in the majority of this chapter that references to “the king of the north” and “the king of the south” is actually references to many kings during this Grecian Empire time period. So that the king of the south is actually quite a few men who rule in the southern portion of the Greek Empire and the king of the north is quite a few men who rule in the northern portion of the Greek Empire.
For a time, the Jews will find themselves subjects to the southern Grecian kings who rule over Egypt and the surrounding territories. The Jews will attempt to become independent from the southern kings by making a deal with the northern, but the attempt fails and ends up subjugating them to the northern kings. During their subjugation to the northern kings, the ruler of the north at that time will profane the temple and cause a cessation of the sacrifices. [Historically this is Antiochus Epiphanes.]
This northern king will fight against Egypt in a big battle and win. He eventually will get some news from the areas to the east and north and take a great many off to war again. This time this king loses and a lot of his army is destroyed. In the end, this Grecian king will be dying and no one can help him [Josephus records a distemper or disease] so he passes.
This chapter begins with a reference to Michael, not as one prince among many, but as “the great prince”. Michael (which means “one who is like God”), is he that watches over the Jews. In verse 1, Daniel writes “At that time Michael will arise…” When is “that time”? It is a time of trouble that the Jews will face that they have never faced before, nor ever will again. If these words seem familiar to you, its because we saw them in Matt. 24:21. We are talking about the first century AD now.
So Michael, who is like God, the great prince, the first among all princes, will arise. Then there will be a time of trouble for the Jews unlike any other past or future. At that time, Daniel’s people, specifically the faithful Jews like Daniel (those whose names are written in the book), will be delivered (saved). And at that time, there will be some sort of great resurrection. At this point, all I will assert is that this is NOT the resurrection at the end of the universe. We’ll see why in a minute.
At that time, those who are wise (this is wise according to God’s wisdom and instruction, not wise in the ways of men) will shine (illuminate, this is a reference to educating) forth as stars in heaven (rulers, or those who reign over the “earth” in some sense). Their shining (education) will turn many others to righteousness (Jews converting Gentiles). Here, the idea of being stars in heaven (rulers) is equated directly with converting others to righteousness.
But Daniel is told to shut up the words and seal the book concerning the things he was told until the time of the end. He is told this twice, in fact. Why? Because the time of these events was not soon.
“many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased”
“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”
These phrases are basically parallels. Events would transpire. People would go about their lives between now (the time that Daniel is hearing these things) and then (the time of trouble, the time of the end).
After the angel finishes telling Daniel these things, he sees a couple of other men who apparently have been listening. Remember, he was with several people by the Tigris river. They ask the angel when these things shall be, pressing the angel to give more information after he has told Daniel to seal up those things. The angel responds with no new information. He repeats what was said to Daniel in Daniel 7:25. When was this going to happen? In the time of the kings of the fourth dragon-beast. It would happen in the middle of the 70th set of seven years.
What was going to happen? “…that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished.” (ESV) The holy people then are the Jews and when they “come to an end” all of the visions and whatnot would be over concerning them. The angel is talking about an end to the Jewish nation.
Daniel asks further as well, but the angel says again to seal the prophecy until the time of the end [of the Jews] came about. The angel further says that the wicked would not understand, but the righteous would understand when the time came. This relates back to what I was saying in the Coming of the Lord as a Thief in the Night blog post.
Then the angel makes two final symbolic references. He says that the time between the taking away of the sacrifices (refer back to Daniel 8:11-13 “taken away” not Daniel 11:31 “caused to cease”) and the abomination of desolation (a reference to the destruction of the temple as in Matt. 24:15) will be “1290 days” which is the same 3 ½ years or “time, times, and dividing of time” in Daniel 12:7. Again, the angel is not giving Daniel any more new information because he is insisting on sealing up the vision for a long time until the time for its fulfillment nears. The 1335 days (45 days more) is the time period from the destruction of the temple to the utter destruction of the whole city by Titus and his troops and complete capture or destruction of those Jews still besieged in remnant sections of the city.
Those Jews who last beyond that time period (because they converted to Christianity, they made their robes white, were written in the book of life, were wise), are blessed.
Daniel, for his faithfulness, was given to know the ultimate end of his nation: a transition into the church for the faithful and final destruction of the rest.
In Truth and Love.