Daniel 1-2 and Daniel 7-12
We shall now take another tour into a different book of the Bible – the Book of Daniel. In order to better understand better the political system and events that surround the last seven years, the Tribulation Period.
Let us start with Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream in Daniel 2. In the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, Daniel had been exiled along with the King, his court and the majority of the rest of the population to Babylon. It was here that the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar decided to bring to his own court some of the most academically able and capable young men, men from the royal family and the nobility of Judah. Daniel was one of those chosen. Nebuchadnezzar provided the best of everything for them – education, food and living conditions. In return, he expected them to be prepared to serve and follow instructions, as and when they were given. It would have been extremely easy for these men to succumb to all that had been provided for them, and initially, many of them did.
Food from Nebuchadnezzar’s table would have been considered contaminated by the exiled Jews as the first portions would have been offered to idols, so although many of the chosen young men overlooked their principles, Daniel was different. His family had taught him from an early age to love and trust in God, so he chose – along with three others – to ask to be fed on nothing but vegetables and to be given only water to drink. God blessed Daniel and his three friends and prospered them in their health so that after just ten days, their health and general demeanour was better than every other person in the selected group. The result was that, with the King’s approval, this diet was continued and was given to all the other selected students!
Daniel’s determination to choose to follow God’s ways rather than to succumb to the trappings of the wealthy nation in which he now lived, formed the basis of a pattern for his life. He would always love God and put Him first in whatever he did – even when it appeared that because of his stand he would lose his life, Daniel 3 and Daniel 6. As a result of Daniel’s faithfulness, God began to do amazing things in his life. He could understand all kinds of literature and learning, along with his three friends, but Daniel was given the unique ability to interpret visions and dreams. Nebuchadnezzar himself talked to these young men; he tested them and discovered that they were ten times more able in wisdom and understanding than all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.
This ability to decipher dreams was given at the time when Nebuchadnezzar and his successors (as King) were given dreams by God which could not be understood by the Babylonian Court Officials, magicians, enchanters and astrologers (those on whom Kings relied for particular and so-called ‘spiritual’ wisdom).
The task was not only to explain the dream, but to tell the King what he had dreamt in the first place Daniel 2:4-6. The minions belonging to Satan – astrologers, magicians and the like – had no idea what the dream had been about, so they asked Daniel to tell them what it was. As the King was about to put to death his entire entourage of ‘spiritual’ advisers, Daniel offered to interpret the King’s dream and asked for time to do so. He came back to his three friends and together they prayed and asked God to provide both the dream and the interpretation. During the night, God answered their prayers and gave Daniel the dream and its meaning. Daniel 2:17-19.
There are two points that we need to pick up on here. First, it is never too late to begin to take a stand for God. Daniel was already a young man at the King of Judah’s Court when he was deported to Babylon. But he decided to put aside all the pleasures of the world so that he could serve God better and be prepared for whatever He had in store for him. Second, God blessed his faithfulness; His Nature can never change! Under no circumstance is it ever too late for us to make a fresh start and like Daniel, be determined to choose to follow Jesus and His ways, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Hebrews 13:8. God will provide us with the wisdom and discernment we need, at exactly the required time, to enable and equip us to speak into the lives of a person, group, Church or even a nation! Instead of saying ‘God can no longer use me,’ all we need to do is to say that we’re ‘available,’ and then dare to be a ‘Daniel!’
God knows where we live, and the state of our heart. With His help, we need to choose to rid ourselves of lethargy, laziness, fear and unbelief and present our bodies as living sacrifices, Romans 12:1. God has an amazing plan for our lives, Jeremiah 29:10-14. This promise is especially for those who are held captive by whatever holds us in bondage. It might be fear, physical limitation, finance, relationships and all others, which Satan uses to tie us up in knots.
God answered Daniel’s prayer. God will always answer prayer. He longs to have a relationship with His people and will hold nothing back from us! Prayer is simply a dialogue with God. Pour out your heart to Him, and receive His answers to your requests. Let Him walk through the rest of your life as a friend Who is closer than a brother!
When Daniel returned before Nebuchadnezzar, the first question he faced was ‘Can you tell me what the dream was and can you interpret it for me? Daniel took this opportunity to explain that only God could reveal this kind of mystery, then went on to interpret the dream to the king, Daniel 2:27-35
Not only must this have been an amazing dream, but also one that was extremely frightening. The king probably thought that it related to him, and foretold his downfall. But now Daniel explained what the dream meant, and we, living in the 21st Century are privileged to be able to look back over time and see the gradual unfolding of this dream and its interpretation.
The next time you become aware of hearing Satan’s voice accusing you of having failed God years ago – telling you that you are worthless and there’s no point in returning to Him – celebrate! If he’s annoying you, you must be doing something right! Satan never bothers those who are sitting on the sidelines, only those who are on the frontline! In the Name of Jesus, remind him of his future. He knows what awaits him, and because you resist him, he will flee!
Daniel’s interpretation is this: Daniel 2:37-45
Five kingdoms are involved here.
The fifth kingdom will be entirely different from the other four. It is one that shall never end neither shall it be left to another people. The first four kingdoms were overcome. This kingdom and its inhabitants will never be overcome. It is the Kingdom of Heaven, the King of which is none other than Jesus, our Lord. It is populated with Believers – no atheists or idolaters will ever be part of it, Daniel 2:44-45
The Tribulation Period we are discussing occupies the entire last 7 years of the Church Age. At the end of this time, Jesus will return with the Church (His Bride, the Believers) and will rule and reign. Nebuchadnezzar was privileged to know and to understand some of what would happen in the future.
Through God’s Grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are living in a time when we can understand much more fully the events which have happened since these Old Testament times. Through the Spirit and His Word, we can also discern some of the future events. Clearly the first three kingdoms described in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream have passed. The Greek Empire was overcome by the Roman Empire in 63BC.
This Chapter appears to have been regarded by the Old Testament saints in the centuries preceding the Messiah’s first advent as primarily the “prophetic word” concerning the coming of the Messiah.
Daniel’s Vision laid out for us in this Chapter describes four wild animals, three of which he identified, the fourth of which was so horrific that he described it as a terrifying and frightening beast. The three identifiable animals refer to the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece (see the table above), all of which have now passed away, Daniel 7:3-6 Amp
But it is the fourth (terrifying and frightening) beast which we shall now spend some time studying. This beast was entirely different from the simplicity of the others, it was much more complex, Daniel 7:7-8.
This beast had certain characteristics that we need to notice:
*It was powerful, and dreadful and strong.
*It had iron teeth that devoured.
*It trampled what was left with its feet.
*It had ten horns symbolising 10 kings.
*A small horn arose from among the 10, three of which were uprooted.
*In the small horn were eyes like those of a man.
*In the small horn was a mouth that could speak and it spoke great things.
So who or what was this beast? The interpretation of the dream has answers, Daniel 7:19-20 Amp. Naturally Daniel was also curious! He gives us now some more information that will help us in our own investigations. The horn which had eyes and a mouth (the small horn) made war on Christians and prevailed over them Daniel 7:21 Amp, but only until God said ‘Enough’! Daniel 7:21-25 Amp. This kingdom is the Roman Empire which was indeed vicious, ruthless and frightening, and it certainly did ‘devour the whole earth, tread it down, and break it in pieces and crush it.’ Although this kingdom is no longer overtly visible, it did not disappear like the rest.
If we look closely at the political scene of our day, the Roman Empire is being reconstituted in a smaller and less cohesive way in the development of Europe right in front of our eyes. Until relatively recently, especially when Europe was formed of ten nations, those who studied Revelation feared that this indicated that the End was upon us! However, when studying any Biblical subject, we have to take into account everything that the Word of God states. Europe then became larger – composed of over 20 nations so people began to doubt that Europe was indeed the kingdom indicated here. As Europe develops, however, we find that a ‘fast track’ of countries is being created within the European Union that seem to be orchestrating what is happening. This may very well comprise the 10 nations to which this prophecy refers and if that is the case, then we need to look carefully at what happens next.
Daniel describes a smaller horn, one which is quite different; one that appears to be a human being (it certainly has eyes and a mouth). It seems to have authority over the original 10 nations as it will strip the power vested in 3 of them 10 nations. Daniel 7:25 begins to refer to this horn as ‘he’ and ‘him’. If it was a nation, John would have referred to it as ‘it’. In fact the indications are that this ‘man’ is most likely to be the antichrist. The description fits all the characteristics we anticipate him to have. He will speak against Christians, and will change God’s Law by which the Jews live, and the Believers left on earth at that time shall be given into his hand for a time (one year) + times (two years) + half a time (6 months), or as we have been discussing, the last half of the 7 years of the Tribulation Period.
Daniel is given a second Vision that does not refer directly to the Tribulation Period, but rather points to the second kingdom (refer to the Table) as the Ram. The goat which knocked the Ram to the ground and destroyed it is the third kingdom, the Greek Empire. The horn that was broken off at the height of its power produced four more horns, and out of these came another horn that ‘started small’ but grew in dominance to the south to the east and particularly against Israel (the Beautiful Land). This horn is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a particularly nasty and vicious ruler who took it upon himself to destroy the Jewish faith, and those who adhered to it. He conquered Israel, set himself up as ‘God’, ordered the daily sacrifices in the Temple to end and set up an altar to Zeus Olympus in its place.
From this desecration to the reconstruction of the altar by Judas Maccabeus after Antiochus IV Epiphanes had been removed, 1150 days passed. This also points the way to a similar event that will occur in the Tribulation Period under the auspices of the antichrist referred to in Matthew 24:15-18 by Jesus. This man Antiochus IV Epiphanes is considered to be a type of the more ruthless beast of the last days and referred to as the ‘small horn’ in Daniel 7.
Daniel 10 and Daniel 11:1-35
These verses refer to the second and third Empires but from Verse 36 onwards, Daniel begins to prophesy about (to him) the more distant future end times, or the Tribulation Period as it is also known, Daniel 11:36-45 and Daniel 12.
The Antichrist will not turn out to be a man of peace and reconciliation, but instead, one of war. He will attempt to forcefully subdue those nations who do not bow their knee to him. The Antichrist would really like his power base to extend to the entire earth, but because he is merely Satan’s pawn, we must see that neither the Antichrist, nor his master Satan, will ever have control over what they covet. God is always in control, even during the difficult times of the Tribulation Period. At no time will Satan ever have control of more than a part of the earth.
The king of the south and the king of the north will rise against the Antichrist who will attack these kings on land and by sea. The Antichrist will overcome them, invade many other countries, including Israel, but Edom, Moab and Ammon will escape. It is here that (it is thought) the remnant of the Israelis will be hidden by the Lord during the worst of the Tribulation, just before Jesus’ return to earth. The Antichrist will meet his end on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, perhaps in relation to the Battle of Armageddon.
This continues to describe events during the second half of the Tribulation Period, ‘But at that time your people— everyone whose name is found written in the book— will be delivered’. Daniel 12:1. It will not only be the Antichrist who is waging war on people who do not want to obey him, it will also be God Who is waging war on the Antichrist. As we see when we look at Revelation 8, the plagues are also going to be extremely unpleasant. So when Daniel prophesies that this period will be one of extreme distress which history has never witnessed, we can be sure that life will be close to unbearable most of the time, and more than occasionally terrifying.
The time we have been discussing is that immediately before Jesus returns and when He does, it is the moment of Judgement for all people. We have seen that those who have become Believers during their lives, be that before or after the Tribulation, will receive their inheritance of Eternal Life. They will be judged, but only according to how they have built on the foundation which is Jesus Christ. They will stand before God and the deeds of their lives will be played before them. They will either be rewarded or suffer loss, but they will be with God in eternity. So when Daniel speaks of the resurrection of the dead here, Daniel 12:2-3, he is looking ahead to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
Tragically, not everyone will choose to become a Believer. They will face Judgement, followed by eternity in hell. This is a place of complete isolation and darkness; of eternal torment, cut off from Love Himself and where all the missed opportunities of giving their lives to Jesus will haunt them for eternity.
These passages of the Bible show that there will be differences between people in Heaven. God longs for us to be wise and to believe in His Son for our salvation. On earth, each of us will have had the opportunity to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The chances we have had to follow Jesus will have been many and varied; but when we are in heaven, they will be likened to gold, silver and precious stones. Our lives will be tested by fire on that Day of Judgement. Gold, silver and precious stones can only be refined by fire, not destroyed. On the other hand, wood hay and stubble will disappear in a plume of smoke and smell, never to be seen or remembered again.
Each Believer will receive reward for what they have accomplished, or loss for what they have left undone. Those whose actions come closest to the heart of God, in leading many to righteousness, will shine like the stars in eternity. Is now the time for us to reconsider our ways? If so, is this also the time to ask ourselves whether we have told our friends and family about Jesus?
The last half of the Tribulation is a time which is limited to three and a half years; people will never be able to say that they were ignorant of what was happening. This is what the Holy Spirit through Daniel has written, so that everyone might know and understand what is about to take place, Daniel 12:11-12.
18 Revelation – Information from Daniel – Challenge Questions
It is suggested that you answer all the questions in your homework but only do those marked with ‘*’ in your group to save time and give more time to prayer.
1. Read the Notes and the Bible Verses referred to in them. Highlight the points that ‘speak’ to you and be prepared to share in your group.
2. What are your impressions from the life of Daniel? Can you apply any points to your own life?
Read Matthew 24 and Matthew 25, also Mark 13 and Luke 21:5-36
3. The disciples commented on the Temple as they left for the Mount of Olives. What did Jesus say in return as He spoke about the near future? Did this occur and if so, when? Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 21:5-9
4. *List several things described in Matthew 24:4-7 that Jesus says will indicate the nearness of His return to earth. In the light of current events, do you think that Jesus could return soon?
5. Can you give any current examples of people being misled by deceivers today? How could anyone prevent themselves from being deceived?
6. *Matthew 24:9-24 alludes to suffering, affliction, tribulation death and hatred. Who would cause such things to happen and to whom? Daniel 11:31
7. From Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians what is holding the lawless one back? When he is here what will he look like? When he is revealed who will overthrow him? How? 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
8. Note the warning points Jesus gives in Matthew 24:10-13. Can you see this happening today? How can this be prevented according to Jesus? Whose responsibility is it to try to prevent people being affected in this way?
9. *Matthew 24:14 gives us a piece of information indicating a universal awareness of the Gospel. How could this happen? During which period of the Tribulation will everyone hear the Gospel message?
10. *What type of construction will occur in Jerusalem prior to the second half of the Tribulation period in order for this prophesy to be fulfilled? Could that occur today? What prevents it from happening?
11. *Why is the Temple so important to the Jews, and what will happen in it while they have complete charge of this new building?
12. Read Matthew 24:15-22. To which group of people is this passage aimed? What must they do to protect themselves and how soon should they do it?
13. *What events are described in Matthew 24:29-31? How does this relate to what Joel prophesied (Joel 2:28-31). What will God do during ‘the last days’?
14. What lesson do you and I need to learn from the fig tree? What lesson do we need to learn from the Days of Noah? Matthew 24:32-45
15. *Read Matthew 24:45-51. Describe what we have been asked to do by the Lord. What is our reward for obedience? How can we keep vigilant when it seems as if the master has not returned?
16. Give one short sentence to sum up the warnings from Jesus in Matthew 24.