Introduction to the Book of Daniel:

Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah in 605 B.C. and took many captives to Babylon that included Daniel when he was most likely a teenager. This was the first of Judah’s three deportations. Ezekiel was taken in the second one. Daniel’s ministry lasted 70 years and he lived to be 85 or older. He functioned as a prophet and wrote inspired Scripture, but he was a government official in a Gentile land rather than a preaching prophet. Daniel lived and worked among Gentiles primarily, whereas Ezekiel lived and ministered among the Israelites.

This is one of the most amazing books in the Bible. God reveals major historic events and empires that would rule the earth during and after Daniel’s life. The Book’s main purpose is to proclaim that God is sovereign over human affairs culminating in a grand redemptive plan. He reveals an amazingly detailed timetable about the end of the Old Covenant and Jesus’ first coming as well as the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He emphasizes that all world governments will fall but God’s Government will be the only one lasting forever. He prophetically describes in detail the emergence of four world empires and their destruction. Some of his verses parallel those in the Book of Revelation, and Jesus quoted him several times. If we understand that the “stone formed without human hands” in Chapter 2 is Jesus Christ and His Eternal Kingdom, we can more easily perceive what God has done up to our time in history. Daniel also cites several great things that Jesus would accomplish through His death. There are some verses that refer to THE Antichrist, or, as some believe, an antichrist. I anticipate that parts of this Book will be difficult to understand, but my hope is that I say what is true and encouraging to all who read this commentary.

Daniel 1 – When Nebuchadnezzar took Hebrew captives, he ordered his men to select good-looking, intelligent Jews to be trained in their language and educated for three years in order to eventually serve him. They were fed well. Daniel was one of those selected. These men were assigned new names, so Daniel became known as Belteshazzar. He determined not to be defiled by eating the King’s choice food and wine so he sought permission from the commander of the officials to not eat it. God gave him favor in the eyes of this commander, but the commander still feared for his life if Daniel started to appear unhealthy to the king due to not eating much. Daniel proposed a deal – let him eat vegetables only for 10 days and then see if he looks bad. He agreed and after the 10 days, Daniel and his three friends looked better than those who ate normally. So the overseer continued to feed Daniel only vegetables. God then anointed these four men with knowledge and wisdom, and Daniel could discern dreams. Finally after 3 years, Daniel and his friends were all presented to King Nebuchadnezzar. He was thoroughly impressed so they were all appointed to the king’s personal service. Over time, these men were revered above the king’s magicians and conjurers.

Applications for Today:

1) Staying true to our convictions when they go against the flow may be difficult, but there is always a pay-off from God down the road whether it be in this life or in the life to come.
2) Working for non-believers is not always wrong. If we find ourselves in this situation, we should serve them well and be a model worker for them as a testimony about how real Jesus Christ is and how He can bring about great change in people’s character and situations.

Daniel 2 – King Nebuchadnezzar suddenly had very disturbing dreams preventing him from sleeping. He demanded that his sorcerers and magicians tell him what the dream was and what it meant. They realized that only “the gods” could know and interpret the dreams and that there is no man on earth that could tell the king what he needed. I think they admitted this only because their lives were threatened by the king if they failed at explaining the dreams (they often would speak what kings wanted to hear to make them feel good). So they quickly realized they were out of their league on this one. The king got so angry with them that he ordered all the wise men to be killed. That would include Daniel and his 3 friends.

In faith, Daniel approached the king on behalf of himself, his friends, and all the other wise men and asked for time to discern the dream. Apparently the king agreed because Daniel went immediately to his friends asking them to pray to God for mercy and compassion so that he could receive what the dream was and the meaning of the dream for the king. Nowhere in Scripture was there need to describe a dream, only interpretations of dreams. Nowhere in Scripture prior to this do we find united prayer. This was a tough situation, but those prayers were answered by a night vision and Daniel went before the king. I also like the fact that Daniel was concerned about the lives of those sorcerers and magicians considering they probably were not the most righteous men around. There is also a good chance that these men were envious of Daniel and wanted him dead, yet Daniel wanted them spared.

From this vision, Daniel knew that it was God who removes and establishes kings. Kings often thought it was their gods who did this. The first thing out of Daniel’s mouth to Nebuchadnezzar was a declaration of how no one on earth could get this right except the true God in heaven, and that he himself did not have the ability but it was given to him by God. His dream was symbolic of man’s history from the Babylonian Empire to the Persian, to the Greek, and finally to the Roman Empire.

How can we be sure that these are the empires of the vision? Daniel 8:20-21 identifies Persia and Greece. Babylon was the only power before the Medo-Persian takeover and was the topic of Daniel’s interpretations. Daniel, referring to the fourth kingdom in 2:44, reveals that God set up His Kingdom during that empire’s rule. Since Jesus came and began His Kingdom during the Roman Empire’s reign, that established this interpretation. Finally, in Daniel 7:26, it speaks of this fourth kingdom again and states that the “saints” would be worn down by it but THEY (the saints) would take away its power. Only the King James Version makes this wording clear. The Roman Empire produced two powers that “wore down” the saints (true believers). They were Caesar and the Papacy. God judged the Caesar part by destroying Rome in 476 AD and the papacy’s world power was brought to an end by the Word of God getting out via the Reformation. In 1798 AD, the papacy’s world power came abruptly to a halt via Napoleon. No longer could a pope order other countries to arrest or kill “heretics” (true believers actually). Whoever or whatever persecutes God’s people will be judged by God eventually. History shows this. Even many Islamic countries that have persecuted Christians are now fighting amongst themselves much like the Philistines did when fighting against the Jews in the Old Testament.

Here’s a quick look at history:

1) Babylonian Empire fell to the Persians in 539 B.C.
2) Medo-Persian Empire led by Cyrus the Great fell in 331 B.C.
3) Greece—under Alexander the Great fell in 31 B.C.
4) Roman Empire fell in 476 A.D.

Iron may represent strength and clay weakness. They probably refer to types of government and how much control they had over the people. There was something extraordinary described with that fourth world power – the Roman Empire. A stone hewn without human hands emerged and crushed all four empires and lasted forever. Jesus Christ is that stone! He was not born of this earth or of human seed, came during that Roman Empire, and started the Kingdom of God on earth as “a small stone” (Ps.118:22; Acts 4:11; Matt.21:42; Mk.12:10; Lk.20:17; 1 Peter 2:7). He set up His eternal kingdom (as a mustard seed or small stone) when He defeated Satan and his demons via the Cross, something no earthly king could do. Over the “time of the Gentiles” or the Church Age, Jesus conquered and continues to conquer the hearts of many. There exists a Nation among the nations (Christians interspersed within nations), and it will be the only kingdom left standing (in other words, all other ones will be “dusted” as verse 35 suggests).

All this so impressed the king that he admitted and confessed that Daniel’s God is over all and he promoted Daniel and his friends in his administration and never did kill all those others.

Application for Today: The Bible has a wonderful consistent message over hundreds of years and it is reassuring and comforting. His Plan will succeed and all the junk that grieves our hearts today will one day be gone forever! It is a Plan that we did not make up. Nor is it a Plan that we can control. Nor is it a Plan that we fully understand as individual humans caught in time and space. But it is Something we can all flow in and be a part of NOW, and it will be accomplished. I take much comfort as my understanding of His Plan revealed in His Word comes together in my mind. I hope in yours as well.

Daniel 3 – Apparently Nebuchadnezzar’s awe of Daniel’s God was wearing off. Perhaps his main problem was that he simply added the true God to his many false gods still not yet realizing there is only one God and He is sovereign over all things (this is implied in verse 15 when he wondered what god could save men from that blazing fire). So he made a huge gold image that people had to bow and worship when a horn would sound. Anyone who refused would be executed. Some Chaldeans, who did not like Jews, told the king that Daniel’s three friends would not bow. Enraged at this report, the king brought the three men to him and demanded an answer. They said their God would deliver them out of the king’s hands, even from the fiery furnace that awaited them. But they also said if God does not deliver them, they would still not bow and worship that gold image. Filled with more wrath, the king made the furnace 7 times hotter, tied up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and had them thrown into that furnace. It was so hot that the men who tossed these three into it were burned to death. Then the king saw a fourth man walking around inside the furnace with the three. He described him as being like a “son of the gods.” No one in the heat was being hurt. In fact, when the three came out, not even their hair was singed nor was there any smell of smoke on them! The king was astonished and proclaimed their God as blessed. He further sent out a decree a death sentence upon anyone speaking against this God. He again promoted the three men. But rather than conclude that there is no other god, he says that there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way. In other words, there is a strong hint here that he believes there are many gods, although not quite like Daniel’s God. Many theologians believe that the fourth man was an angel or Jesus Christ Himself. There are a few other incidents in the OT that may have described Jesus before He was born into humanity. This is called a theophany.

As OT times unfolds, God reveals bits and pieces of who He is to mankind. All pagans assumed that their are different gods ruling over different things (sun, moon, weather, passions, war, food, crops, etc.). When pagans were impressed with the Hebrew God, they tended to add Him to the many in whom they trusted rather than forsaking them all for the One True God. So God kept showing them more and more of His power and that He is sovereign over all things not just one or two. The Hebrews’ message to the world was supposed to be that only Yahweh is God, there are no gods beside Him.

Deeper Interpretation: The reign of Nebuchadnezzar may be symbolic of the soul-life of each individual person. Before we are saved, like this king, we rule our lives and spheres of interest. Without even realizing it, our WILL is our God. In order to get saved, we must humble ourselves, admit that we are not God, yield our will to Christ (surrender to Him), and allow Jesus to give us His righteousness rather than trying to gain it ourselves.

Applications for Today:

1) We usually do not face death for our faith living in America, although this could change someday. However, there will be times when unsaved people want us to do something against what God says and we are called to take a stand, including a willingness to suffer consequences. If we bow to the worldly gods, we may accept a bribe, accept money under the table, or not speak up if a group is going in a wrong direction. There are all sorts of examples. We need to have the same spirit in us as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in order to give testimony to the One and Only True God. We must testify with our actions and with our words – not just one or the other. Jesus did say that we (His children) are the salt of the earth, meaning, I believe, we are to preserve truth and righteousness.
2) At this point, the king believed in the Hebrew God but clearly did not believe that the He could save the three from a fiery death. Similarly, many people today believe that God inspired the Bible, but they do not believe that He can deliver them from their serious personal problems, much less world problems.
3) Notice that the three believers said that God may not deliver them. This goes against what I would call the “Hyper-Faith Movement.” These Christians claim that if we do “A, B, and C,” then God HAS TO DO “D.” In other words, according to “faith extremists,” if we live sinless, never confess doubt, then God will give us what we ask for. We can declare things into existence they say. God is not a genie in the sky, and our righteous actions do not have the power to “boss Him around.” Even Paul wanted his “thorn” to be removed but God said, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” These three men confessed doubt that God would save their lives, but did not doubt His existence or faithfulness. Is our God still faithful to us if He is calling us to martyrdom? Yes, because he forgives all our sin and gives us eternal life.
4) These three men were willing to die for God. Are we?

Daniel 4 – King Nebuchadnezzar had another dream about a huge tree that grew strong and had influence throughout the “entire earth” (probably not literal in the original language but conveys the vast scope of his kingdom). But then an angel ordered it to be chopped down except for one little stump with its roots still in the ground. The king’s “seers” failed to interpret the dream again. Daniel explained that the tree represented the king but that he would be suddenly driven away from mankind, probably for a time of 7 years in order to have him come to the realization that it is God who is all-powerful and sovereign rather than himself. The stump represented the kingdom that would be restored to him when he humbles himself before Almighty God. Daniel advised the king to break away from his sins and do right and show mercy to the poor. At this point the king most likely viewed God as one of many other gods rather than just One, which may explain why he kept those seers around despite their recent failures.

One year later, as the king was contemplating his great power, a voice from heaven said his power has just been removed. Immediately he was driven away from everyone and ate grass like cattle and his hair and nails grew long. He became insane. Finally, when his reason returned, he acknowledged that God is God, not him. Then his majesty and splendor were returned and greatness was added to him. Now the king praised God, proclaimed His ways are just, and that He is able to humble those who walk in pride.

Possible Symbolism: As the head of Gentile power, Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling may be representing the final overthrow of Gentile world dominion by “a small stone” – Jesus Christ (2:35, 44-45). Considering other passages in the Bible speaking prophetically of Babylon being a symbol of worldly power and its ultimate downfall (Isaiah 13 &14), it is reasonable to believe that the contest between God and Nebuchadnezzar is a broad illustration of God’s dealings with the entire human race and especially the Gentile world in its pride and failure to recognize the sovereignty of God. [Source: Dr. Constable].

Historical Evidence: Historians have identified a seven-year period during his reign when he engaged in no military activity (around 582-575 B.C.). This most likely is the seven years during which he was temporarily insane. Also, archaeologists have discovered ancient documents in which Nebuchadnezzar boasted of the glory and splendor of Babylon.

Scientific Evidence: “Zoanthropy” is a form of mental illness that causes a human to think they are an animal so they may actually eat grass. Or the king’s condition may have been “boanthropy.” This is where someone thinks they are an ox but maintains their individual consciousness, hence, he could still “look up to heaven” which may have been a sign of repentance as he returned to his senses.

Application for Today: I think in the broadest sense this chapter symbolizes the salvation of the individual. Each person who is born of sin will regard self as most important and we tend to be selfish (no parent ever needs to teach this to their kids). Like King Nebuchadnezzar, we each set up our little kingdom that we rule over. Unless this is broken and the humbling born-again experience is gained, there is no hope of salvation. Pride seems to be a major human problem, as it was for Lucifer. Even as believers, we always must be on guard against it. Furthermore, “tree” symbolized “kingdom in this chapter and as each individual person humbles themselves before God Almighty and accepts Jesus Christ as the One who bore their sin, God says to us not to fear because it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32). Therefore, just like in Nebuchadnezzar’s case, once he humbled himself, his kingdom was restored to him. I think his story may be a “template” for every living soul. If so, God is revealing to us an amazing look into part of His Big Plan for man.

Daniel 5 – After 9 years, Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson named Belshazzar took over as king of Babylon. He also became arrogant and held a great feast with lots of drinking. He took out the confiscated Jewish temple vessels and drank freely from them while praising the gods of earthly wealth. Suddenly a finger wrote three words on his wall, but no one could read or interpret them, except Daniel. Daniel refused offered gifts and told the king what it all meant. God’s judgment was swiftly coming down against him because he knew of his grandfather’s experiences and yet became arrogant in spite of that. So God was going to put an end to his kingdom, the king was found to be deeply deficient, and the kingdom would be divided between the Medes and the Persians. All came true and Belshazzar was slain that very night. Again, the overriding principal is that God is God, not us. If we have gained power or prestige, God has allowed it and always should be given credit rather than hogging credit for ourselves (or false gods). Furthermore, we need to use this God-given power in righteous ways, i.e., helping the downtrodden, respecting human life, never accepting bribes in any form, appointing decent people to important positions, and, of course, seeking God’s counsel for wisdom. Lastly, I was once again impressed with Daniel’s character because he could have gained much money for agreeing to interpret those three words since no one else could, but he declined to be paid for what God had anointed him to do.

Daniel 6 – Angels-1 Lions-0

Darius, the Mede, was now in charge and he appointed Daniel as some sort of commissioner within his government. Daniel flourished as God’s anointing was upon him. But other officials became jealous and wanted Daniel out of commission (pardon the pun). So they conspired together and asked Darius to write up and sign an official decree that condemns to death anyone who prays or bows to any other god except the king. Darius king agreed. The conspirators knew the Med-Persian Law. No decree signed and sealed by the king could be changed in any way – ever! Later, they reported Daniel’s prayer behaviors to Darius. Reluctantly, the king agreed to throw Daniel into the lion’s den, but set his mind on figuring out a way to spare him. Apparently finding no way to do this, he ordered Daniel into the den, but said to him that his God would deliver him. That night the king fasted, allowed no entertainment in, and could not sleep. At dawn he hastened to the den and found Daniel alive and totally unharmed. Then the king threw the conspirators along with their families into the lion’s den. They were instantly killed, even before they hit the ground! As a result of all this, Darius made a decree that identified God along with His attributes. Daniel’s prosperity continued.

Application for Today: No matter what controversy or situation we face, God wants to be glorified in its midst. Do not compromise, stay true to Jesus Christ and His Word. More people hear about Him when we pass through difficult situations and allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us. The more difficult our circumstances are, the more God will be glorified by them. Perhaps our biggest enemy is the spirit of fear, especially the fear of man. So pray against such things so that in your hour of testing you will pass.

Daniel 7 – Antichrist – Came & Gone, Ongoing, or Coming?

There are various viewpoints and approaches to interpret End-Time Prophecy. Accuracy can be difficult to determine. There are premillennialism, post millennialism, amillennialism, dispensationalism, historicism, idealism, and preterism mindsets. Interpretations will vary greatly depending upon what approach is used. I prefer the historical view which aligns past historical events with prophecy.

Antichrist Controversy – Perhaps surprising to many Christians today, the term antichrist is not mentioned in Revelation or Daniel. For that matter it is not mentioned in any Book of the Bible except in two epistles from John (1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7). The word appears only five times in the Bible. There are several verses in Scripture that have been interpreted to be describing THE Antichrist, but all or some of those verses could well be describing various men in history that did horrible things and would be AN antichrist, but not THE Anti-Christ. John reveals that there is more than one antichrist and they were already in this world at his writing. He further reveals there was a “spirit of antichrist” working in his day. At one point John describes antichrist as a person who denies Jesus came in the flesh. This was a condemnation of gnosticism which maintained that Jesus was a mere ghost who was not comprised of flesh and blood. Despite stating there are many antichrists, John strongly implies that a particular one was coming in 1 John 2:18. Paul does the same in 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12 but he never uses the word antichrist.

To further complicate this issue, the prefix “anti” has two meanings: 1) against, and 2) in place of. Furthermore, when “he” is used referring to antichrist, it can sometimes mean more than one person. I think it is safe to say that any person, institution, government head, religious leader that persecutes God’s people (Jews and/or Christians) throughout history, or claims to be Jesus Christ on earth (and is venerated as such by others) is a good candidate for fulfilling this role.

Here is a brief description of the four major ways of interpreting End-time prophecies:

Dispensationalism (Futuristic) – Believes that God has related to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants in a series of “dispensations,” or periods in history and that God deals with Jews differently than with Gentiles. It asserts that most of Revelation is yet to be fulfilled. It also tends to interpret End-Time verses literally, but not always. It claims that THE Antichrist (one man) is yet to come and will take over the whole literal world and literally place a 666 (possibly a hi-tech chip that can be scanned) on foreheads or right hands of his followers and will not allow buying or selling without the mark.  He will be part of the “missing week” of Daniel Chapter 9 (called the 70th week; each week equals 7 years). He will make a pact with Jews but after 3 1/2 years he will break that and turn against all Jews causing The Great Tribulation. As part of this tyranny, he will sit in a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and claim to be God. It asserts that just before Christ returns, many Jews will get saved thus fulfilling God’s promises to Abraham. They further claim that the sun and moon will literally stop giving off light, and many other literal signs from Scripture will come true.

[You will later see that there is no “missing week” as that 70th week was fulfilled by Christ’s death. This also wipes out “The Great Tribulation” and antichrist claims from a rebuilt Temple. All is explained in my Chapter 9 commentary].

Historicism – Asserts that the Book of Revelation charts events in church history from the time of John to the end of the world all in symbolic language. Why symbolic? Perhaps to protect the Church (God’s enemies could not follow what His plan was). This “camouflage approach” would prevent fallible humans doing stupid and harmful things in order to bring about what they think God’s Plan is (remember Peter slicing off a Roman soldier’s ear when Jesus was being arrested? Jesus had to stop him). Often God’s prophecies are not fully understood until after they are fulfilled. The Messianic prophecies of the First Coming were like that. The historical approach tends to see most of Revelation fulfilled. For example, “great tribulation” occurred during the 3-year siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The Scriptures never put the word “the” in front of “great tribulation.” But when dispensationalist Cyrus Scofield translated Revelation 7:14, he inserted the word “the” because it fit his notions. This is not acceptable scholarship. Jesus described this event in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. The “abomination of desolation standing in the Holy place” clue that Jesus gave as the chief warning sign to flee Jerusalem most likely referred to the pagan Roman army (abomination) surrounding Jerusalem (the Holy place) in 66-67 AD. The army suddenly returned to Rome but returned with vengeance later. This temporary retreat gave the believers time to obey Jesus’ prophetic command to flee before the siege resumed and destroyed everything and everybody (with the exception of a few who were captured and exiled).

Preterism – Believes that most of Revelation was fulfilled by 70 A.D., including Jesus’ Second Coming, and identifies the Roman Emperor Nero as THE Antichrist. Most Christians, however, do not believe that Jesus has returned in some symbolic manner. This approach does contain some good points to consider, however. The 70 A.D. siege definitely needs to be seriously explored as to how it could fit Biblical prophecies.

Idealism – This believes that apocalyptic (prophetic doom) texts are idealized as typical struggles between good and evil that occur in every age. Everything is treated as an allegory. For example, Babylon is mentioned in the Bible in order to reveal that a variety of political and religious forms of opposition to Christian Truth will occur throughout history. It is reluctant to link specific events or people to any End-Time prophecy.

On to Chapter 7 – Daniel receives a vision in his mind and then writes it down. He then receives some interpretation about it. The first thing he sees is described as the “four winds of heaven stirring up the sea.” The Hebrew word for “wind” can also be “spirit” and can also refer to a big event. So I think is a metaphor for spiritual truth having a major impact on governments and people. Briefly, he sees four beasts arise that would greatly shape human history and would lead up to the Messiah’s birth into this world. Beasts symbolize the temporary power behind human-made governments. The first was Babylon. Babylon used both the lion and the eagle as national emblems. The second was Medo-Persia as the bear represents more strength than a lion. The “three ribs” in verse 5 most likely represent the conquest of Lydia, Egypt, and Babylon. The third was Greece because the animals portrayed bore the characteristics of the animal described here are speed, strength, and cunning. Alexander the Great was known for his speed of attack and conquest, and his kingdom was divided into four parts, as verse 6 prophetically indicates. Medo-Persian and Greece Empires are identified in Chapter 8:20-21 as being what this vision showed.

Verse 7 – The 4th beast gets Daniel’s attention because it was dreadful and terrifying and did much destruction. From it came ten horns (ruling powers) which were kings coming from the beast. Every commentary I’ve read agrees that this fourth Kingdom has to be the Roman Empire. These ruling powers were most likely the ruling territories following Rome’s collapse in 476 AD:  Vandals (North Africa), Sueri (Portugal), Visagoths (Spain), Franks (France), Saxons (England), Burgundians (Switzerland), Alamanni (Germany), Ostrogoths (Austria), Lombards (Italy), and Heruli (Germany).

Verses 7-8 – These accurately describe the Roman Empire, the fourth beast. Historically, it rose to power after the Greece, which was after the Persian, which was after the Babylonian eras. The “ten horns” can represent Rome’s 10 districts which had power, or the ten districts that ruled following Rome’s fall. Later, a “little horn,” emerging from these 10 horns, destroyed three. The tribes that attacked and defeated Rome did not establish any governing structure, so there was a power void. Emperor Justinian, in an effort to bring back Roman power, revived governing structure by placing so-called Christian bishops in power throughout the territories. The “little horn” which emerged after Rome, may have been an antichrist or THE Antichrist. Justinian, Nero Caesar, or the position of the papacy (which consisted of many men over 1,260 years) are all possibilities because they all “wore down” the saints (v21). By 538 AD, the emerging Holy Roman Empire had taken over three “horns,” namely the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths. Consequently Emperor Justinian placed Vigilius as Pope and Supreme Ruler of the entire Holy Roman Empire and demanded that anyone not swearing allegiance to “God on earth” would be killed. Over the years, papal persecution of true Christians escalated. This, I believe, is described in verse 21.

Verses 8 and 20-27 reveal more specifics about that 4th beast (the Roman Empire and what followed). That “little horn” man toppled 3 rulers. At this time the former Roman conquerors were driven out and the power vacuum was filled. As stated earlier, Justinian turned over much land to the bishops of Rome. These were religious leaders, some of whom would become powerful popes. Many were power-hungry and arrogant. So what followed the Roman Empire was the Holy Roman Empire when popes gained world control. There was a major shift from a civil authority to a spiritual authority. Some theologians believe that these verses are describing this portion of history. Soon the papacy emerged as THE world power. Over the years, papal persecution of true Christians escalated. The secular Roman Empire also persecuted Christians and I believe it was judged for it in 476 AD. Following the secular Roman rule, The Holy Roman Empire, headed up by pope puppets, murdered millions of Christians during the Papal State World Reign of Terror from 538 AD to 1798 AD, which comprised of 1,260 years of Church history. This may be described in verses 21 and 25.

Keep in mind that I believe the best approach to interpret End-Time Prophecy is to understand the consistent symbolic language that God uses not only in the NT but the OT as well. Forty-two months = 1260 days, and if days represent years as we will see that Daniel 9 dictates, then we’ve got an interesting match-up. Verse 26 is key, but I believe only the King James Version states it accurately. It says, “they shall take away his dominion.” Who are “they?” The context says they are the saints. So this could be referring to the Protestant Reformation which eventually overthrew the world domination of the Papacy in 1798 AD. What was the power source? The Word of God became known to the common person starting with Martin Luther. In Revelation, Jesus is depicted with having a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth and it tells us that this is the Word of God, not a literal sword. It was people discovering the Word of God that eventually brought down the power of the papacy, although it took many years. People discovered that God’s Word says we are saved by faith not religious rituals, indulgences, or allegiance to a pope. With The Word, Jesus would conquer nations (Rev.19:13-15). This is what the Word did throughout history – it changed nations. Finally verse 27 pictures Judgement Day when the saints are rewarded and God’s Kingdom is established forever. Revelation 13 repeats much of this content.

Important Note: These historical facts are not meant to condemn Catholic people of today. I have friends who are Catholic. Most Christians have not taken the time to find out what Christian history was like and are quite shocked when they find out. I do have serious disagreement with Roman Catholic beliefs, however. I do encourage people from any religious institution to examine and judge beliefs with the Bible in hand. Too often both Protestant and Catholic beliefs are based on traditions of men rather than Scripture, which, I believe, is the ONLY source to which all beliefs must conform. If I was alive and proclaiming this in 600 A.D. I would have been killed by Roman Catholic powers.

As this position of the papacy was doing its thing, verses 13-14 give us a huge piece of great news! Daniel saw a triumphant Jesus Christ entering His eternal glory as the Kingdom is handed over to Him. This scene is further described by King David in Psalms 110:1-3: “The LORD says to my LORD: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet'” ….rule in the midst of Your enemies…Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power….” I believe this describes the current Church Age. Jesus is now ruling from the right throne of God and His people (Christians) gladly do missionary work, good deeds, and help others like no other time in Old Covenant history. One might even say from these verses that Jesus is ruling through His people. See also Psalms 2:6-12.

At this point, however, Daniel could still hear those boastful words coming from that “little horn” which most likely represents the (or an) Antichrist’s power (there are more details about this monstrous king in Daniel Chapters 8-11 and Revelation Chapter 13).

After a brief time, that 4th beast was slain and thrown into a fire. The power in the other beasts was stripped from them, except for a brief period of predetermined time. Then Daniel sees “One like the Son of Man” coming up to the Ancient of Days and dominion, glory, and a kingdom was given to Him. This never-ending kingdom consisted of all people of every tongue. Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” several times which leads almost all theologians to believe this verse is about Jesus after He ascended to the Father following His resurrection.

Verses 18 & 27 – Reveal that we believers will rule (seated with Christ – Eph.2:6) all the kingdoms throughout eternity and that God has planned many more “ages” after Judgment Day. Exciting!

A Tough Question – So who is the Antichrist and where does he fit into history? Christians from the historical approach believe he has already appeared and has been stripped of his power. Christians from the dispensational (futuristic) approach believe he is yet to rule this world. I will attempt to explore this question in a brief manner as my commentary in Daniel continues. I hasten to say, however, that I do not believe anyone knows all the truth on this topic. On the other hand, there is more insight today than ever before, and Daniel 8:26 and 12:4 reveal this would happen. Further revelation will come from Daniel Chapter 8 & 9.

Daniel 8 – Two years later, Daniel gets another vision subsequent to the previous one. This one was not a dream, however. The archangel Gabriel was told by another, who appeared to be a man (perhaps Jesus Himself), to explain the vision to Daniel. It pertained to the “time of the end.” This does not mean that the world would end shortly after Daniel’s life. Nor does it mean “the end of time.” It simply meant that some things are going to happen that has important significance before something ends. Daniel’s message was directed at his people, the Jews. So “end” in verses 17 and 19 refers to the end of the Old Covenant, but it could also mean the end of the “period of indignation” (Antiochus’ persecution) mentioned in verse 19.

Dispensationalists (futurists) perceive several verses explaining the activities of a future Antichrist world leader, but I believe we find an historical leader who typifies an antichrist, but is not one described in other verses in Daniel, Revelation, and 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12. The ram w/2 horns and much power represented the kings of Media and Persia (v3 & 20). Verse 3 reveals that one horn grew longer than the other. Initially, Media had power over Persia but Cyrus changed that in 550 BC. Cyrus is again described in verse 4 because he came from the east and pushed outward. The goat (v5 & 21) was Greece and its large horn was its first king (most likely Alexander the Great). Verses 5-7 describe the swiftness of Alexander’s conquests over the Mede-Persia Empire. Verse 8 most likely describes his death. This verse implies he died young and Alexander did die at age 33. He was so proud that he made his men bow to him (v8). Both Greece and Media and Persia are mentioned as the explanation of the vision. In other words, these are not interpretations. We are told directly what they were. This gives more credibility to the theory that Alexander the Great was also being described here.

The broken horn and the additional four horns were kingdoms coming out of Greece about 20 years after Alexander’s death, so they weren’t formed by his power as verse 22 states. We know from history that, after Alexander, four of his generals set up four kingdoms within his conquered lands which is consistent with verses 8 & 22 (the “broken horn” is Alexander’s death). Here are those kingdoms along with the generals):

1) Macedonia (Cassander & Thrace)
2) Asia Minor (Lysimachus)
3) Syria (Seleucus…and later Antiochus IV who is most likely described in verses 9-14)
4) Egypt (Ptolemy).

Verses 9 and 23 are directly related as they describe the latter time of the four-kingdom rule. A “little horn” would be a very arrogant and smooth-talking king arising and destroying many, including God’s people. This most likely was Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC) because he arose from one of the four kingdoms arising from Alexander, namely, the Seleucids. Being from Syria, his power would have to spread toward the south, east, and toward the “Beautiful Land” (Palestine) as verse 9 reveals. He was the 8th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. The name “Antiochus” means “opposer” or “withstander.” He assumed the title “Theos Epiphanes,” meaning “the Manifest God.” This connects to the arrogance described in verse 11. However, he was known by his enemies as Epiphames (“madman” or “insane”) after he had slaughtered 100,000 Jews (1 Maccabees 1:24, 37, 57-64; 2 Maccabees 5:11-14, 23-26) as described in verse 24. Centuries before it happened, Daniel saw this in his vision.

Antiochus IV ascended to the throne by intrigue (evil scheming) as verse 23 states. Following the murder of his brother Demetrius, the rightful heir, who was being held hostage in Rome, Antiochus seized the throne and became the eighth ruler of the Seleucid dynasty. This little horn grew “until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them.” The starry host is the promised offspring of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 15:5; Jeremiah 33:22).

How did Antiochus IV trample the Jews? He was determined to exterminate them and their religion. As a ruthless dictator who suppressed the Biblical faith and the worship of the one true God during the time of the Maccabees, he expelled Israel’s godly high priest Onias III from his office at the beginning of his reign in 175 B.C., and he assassinated him in 171 B.C. Thereafter, he pursued his evil policy of securing control of the high priesthood and bringing increasing pressure on the Jewish hierarchy to surrender their religious loyalties in the interest of conformity to Greek culture and idolatry as implied in verse 25 – “He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence.”

Note: A similar effort has been in effect in our country.  Secular humanism has control of government-run (public) schools. Christians are pressured to be “politically correct” on many issues that conflict with the Bible. And, if a family opts for a Christian school, they must pay more money…so much for freedom of choice and fairness.

In 169 B.C., Antiochus IV arrogantly entered God’s sanctuary and took the golden altar and the lampstand. Two years later, he sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem to profane the Sabbath and feasts, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, and to forget the law and change all the ordinances (1 Maccabees 1:41-49). Outside the Most Holy Place of the Temple, Greek games were held (an extreme glorification of man – athletes wore no clothing).

On top of everything else, these games were dedicated to Zeus, whose statue was erected in the Temple. Apollo, the historic deity of the dynasty, disappeared almost entirely from the Seleucid coinage after the reign of Antiochus, and Apollo was replaced by Zeus.

He devastated Jerusalem in 168 BC, defiled the Temple, offered a pig on its altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, prohibited Temple worship, forbade circumcision on pain of death, stopped animal sacrifices (verse 11), sold thousands of Jewish families into slavery, destroyed all copies of Scripture that could be found (v12 – “flung truth to the ground”), slaughtered everyone discovered in possession of such copies, and resorted to every conceivable torture to force Jews to renounce their religion. Antiochus (and Satan) knew that the uniqueness of Israel depended on its sacrificial system and the truth written in the Torah. The Books of the Law which they found were torn in pieces and burned with fire. When the Book of the Covenant was found in the possession of anyone, or if anyone adhered to the law, the decree of the king condemned them to death (1 Maccabees 1:56-57). It is possible that this decree could have led to the Essenes hiding their scrolls or the Jewish priests hiding the Temple scrolls in the caves of Qumran. Discovered in A.D. 1947, the writings became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

All of Antiochus IV’s persecution of the Jews led to the Maccabean Revolt from 167 to 160 BC. It was one of the most heroic feats in history. His desecration of the Temple became known to the Jews as “the abomination of desolation.” This is not to be confused with what Jesus predicted before He died regarding the destruction of the Temple which was fulfilled in 70 AD which coincides with Daniel 9:27.

Verse 14 reveals a timetable. The destruction and abomination would last for 2300 “days and nights.” Because of this phrase “days and nights,” I think it is correct to take these as literal days rather than years as I did in Chapter 7. This interpretation does fit history as Antiochus’ horrors lasted a little over 6 years (2300 days). The Maccabean Revolt ended the misery in 160 BC. So this gave just enough time for the Temple to be restored to its former glory for Jesus Christ to enter it. In verse 25, the “Prince of princes” most likely refers to God or the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which he opposed vehemently. He eventually died of a physical or nervous disorder, so he was not murdered (“broken without human agency or hand”).

This “little horn” of the goat is different than the “little horn” of the fourth beast (7:8). The former rises out the Greek Empire (the 5th from 4 horns), while the latter rises from the revived Roman Empire the 11th horn that uprooted 3 horns). Both oppose God, magnify themselves to the level of deity, demonstrate fallen man’s extreme obsession to rule the world apart from God, and persecute the people of God. There are strong similarities between the two “little horns” since the one of the goat may foreshadow the one of the beast in the End-Times. Many scholars believe that both the typical little horn (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) and the anti-typical little horn (Antichrist) appear in succession in chapter eleven.

Verses 23-25 are commonly assumed to be about a future Antichrist by dispensationalists, but historicists maintain they refer to Antiochus IV. Verse 23 sets the timetable. This king would arise from “the latter period of their (the four kingdoms following Alexander) rule.” Therefore, these verses cannot refer to some future world dictator that dispensationalists would call The Antichrist. Some Bible scholars, however, suggest there may be a double prophecy here. This means that someone already fulfilled the verses in past history, but someone else will parallel these verses and fulfill them again sometime beyond the initial fulfillment. This suggests that these verses connect to King Herod and/or his descendants through to his grandson Herod Agrippa I:

  1. King Herod – His power came from Rome, not himself; he went after Jews; moved against the “Princes of princes” when killing the babies in Bethlehem; history claims he died from disease (no human hand).
  2. Herod Antipas (son) – killed John the Baptist and went after Jews, died in exile.
  3. Herod Agrippa I (grandson) – Acts 12 reveals he went after and killed Christians, including James the brother of Jesus, and almost killed Peter. At this point non-Christian Jews had joined Agrippa in hunting down God’s people (Christians). Does this fulfill Daniel 8:25? Not sure. Acts 12:21-23 reveals that Agrippa became so arrogant (Dan.8:25) that an angel struck him dead (no human hand).

So we can see that there are parallels in some prophecies, but whether or not they refer to more than one time in history is debatable.

Verse 26 reveals the fulfillment would be many days in the future. History once again agrees. Alexander’s reign was more than 200 years after Daniel’s vision and Antiochus’ rule was just under 400 years from Daniel. At the end of the explanation of the vision, which left Daniel so reeling that he was sick for days, he was told to keep it a secret. The implication is that understanding would come forth closer to the actual time of the end.

Daniel 9 – Brace yourself!

There are two predominant ways to interpret Bible End-Time prophecies:

1) Dispensational (Futuristic) – tendency toward literal interpretation and THE Antichrist has not yet come and will appear just before Christ’s Second Coming, the rapture will take place before or after what they call “The Great Tribulation.”

2) Historic – tendency toward symbolic interpretation and most of Revelation is about Church history and has been fulfilled, including the Antichrist. The Antichrist’s power has been taken away not by literal breath coming out of Jesus’ mouth as 2 Thessalonians 2:8 states, but rather the spread of the Word of God during the Reformation since the Bible states that the “sword from His mouth” is not literal but symbolic of His Word (Rev.19:13-15). The amellenialists believe the rapture will take place at Christ’s Second Coming when “The End” occurs since, they maintain, the millennium is not a literal 1,000 year period but rather a long time chronicling the church age where Christ rules from the right hand of God ever since His ascension.

After much reading on this subject, I believe the historic approach better fits the meaning of the prophecies in Scripture. While this view dominated the early church, few Christians today have been exposed to it. This is a shame and unfair.

Apparently Daniel was reading what Jeremiah had prophesied concerning the 70 years that Israel would be serving in Babylon (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10). Daniel interpreted the “70 years” that Jeremiah predicted as being literal, actually nearing fulfillment in his day. As he saw the end of this period approaching, he sought God for the restoration of his people. Rather than rejoicing and throwing a party to celebrate this great happening, he fasted, prayed, confessed his sin, confessed the sin of the Jewish people, and then appealed for God’s compassion and mercy (v3-19). No wonder God said he was “highly esteemed.” He got the message.

Verse 23 reveals that Daniel’s prayer was answered from its beginning. The angel Gabriel had the privilege to bring God’s Word to him.

For a better lineal picture of the history relevant to verses 24-27, consider the following (dates may very slightly among sources):

605 BC = Jeremiah’s prediction of Judah’s captivity. First captives deported to Babylon.
587 BC = God’s word came to Jeremiah promising the re-inhabiting of Jerusalem.
586 BC = Jerusalem fell, the first temple was destroyed, and most of the remaining Jews were deported to Babylon.
558 BC = Cyrus II (the great) became king of Persia and enlarged his kingdom to include Media (among others).
539 BC = Cyrus’ general, Gobryas, attacked the Babylonians.
538 BC = Gobryas defeats Babylon, kills Belshazzar, & becomes King Darius the Mede. Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” prophecy & Cyrus’ decree to end Jewish captivity.
536 BC = Foundations of the 2nd temple were laid, ending the 70-yr. captivity (605-536).
457 BC = Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild temple.
445 BC = Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem.
7-4 BC = Birth of Christ.
27-30 AD = Beginning of John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ ministry.
30-33 AD = Death of Jesus.
70 AD = Fall of Jerusalem.

Verse 24 states that this entire vision pertains to Daniel’s people, the Jews. This is important to keep in mind. Scholars do not view the Hebrew phrase of “Seventy weeks” as literal weeks but rather “weeks of years” not “weeks of days.” So each week contains 7 years. When 70 weeks of years is multiplied  by 7, we get a total of 490 years. The total time given to the Jewish people is “seventy weeks” or 70 sevens or 490 days, which, again, would  be 490 years. This time period concludes with the ending of the Old Covenant (more on this later). Those “70 weeks” are presented in three segments in verses 25-27, namely 7 weeks (49 years), 62 weeks (434 years), and 1 week 7 years. Dispensationalists teach there is  a large gap of time before that final week occurs rather than being 490 consecutive years, but you will soon see that the Messiah’s work has to be included AND CONCLUDED in the 70th week. Now, this “day equaling a year” concept was established in Ezekiel 4:5-6: “For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity….” Again, God commanded the prophet to lay on his side one day for each year of Israel’s iniquity. Also Numbers 14:34 God told Moses that for each day the spies spied out the Promised Land, the rebellious Jews would wander a year in the wilderness. Those spies worked for 40 days, hence the 40 year experience in the wilderness. So the concept of a day symbolizing a year has support in Scripture.

Daniel learns that 6 things will be accomplished during the “70 weeks” for his people:

1) “Finishing of the transgression” – see John 19:30
2) “Make an end to sin” – see Matthew 1:21 and Hebrews 9:25-26
3) “Make atonement for iniquity” – see 1 John 1:7,9 and Titus 2:14
4) “Bring everlasting righteousness” – see 2 Corinthians 5:21
5) “To seal up [fulfill, end] the vision and prophecy” – Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant and ushered in the New Covenant (insight from Luke 5:36-39 and the wine miracle at Cana in John Chapter 2); Mt.5:17; Eph.1:13; Heb.8:13 & 9:16
6) “To anoint the most holy” (the word “place” as been added in some versions but should not be there) –  see Hebrews 1:9. Jesus is now the Holy Temple and He is not a physical building (John 2:19-21) & Ps.2:6.

We can now see that the 490 year interpretation works well for Jesus’ life and accomplishments since it would include the time Jesus was on earth. A literal 490 day interpretation, however, does not even come close to Jesus. One problem, however, is no one is sure when this 490 year period began. The seventy sevens start with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. The question is to which decree Daniel is referring? There are four possible decrees:

1) Cyrus in 538-536 BC (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:1-5; Isaiah 44:28; 45:13);
2) Darius Hystaspes in 521 BC which reaffirmed Cyrus’ decree (Ezra 6:6-12);
3) Artaxerxes to Ezra in 457 BC (Ezra 7:11-26);
4) Artaxerxes in 444 BC to Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:1-8).

Verse 25 gets more specific and reveals there will be “69 weeks” or 483 years from the time that a decree is given to rebuild the Temple and when Messiah would come. Artaxerxes commanded permission to rebuild the Temple in 457 BC (Ezra 7:12-26). Nehemiah saw to it that it would be built in spite of strong opposition and distress, as predicted here. So if we add 483 years to the year 457 BC we get to 26 AD, about when John the Baptist began his ministry. This leaves one more “week” (7 years) left for the Jewish people, or, as I believe, the Old Covenant. I’ll address this a bit later.

It greatly helps to realize that one day represents a year when involved with prophecy. So, again, there was to be a period of 490 years when Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt, then at a time before the end of 490 years the Messiah would come, but verse 26 says He will be “cut off” (Hebrew meaning is “executed in judgment”) having nothing (Jesus gave up all on the cross and the church had not yet gotten off the ground).

Here is a chart listing possible ending dates for the 490 year period for the Jews:

  DECREE DATE      69 WEEKS            70 WEEKS
                  (483 YEARS)         (490 YEARS)
Ezra 1   537 BC      54 BC               47 BC
Ezra 6   520 BC      37 BC               30 BC
Ezra 7   457 BC      26 AD               33 AD
Neh. 2   444 BC      40 AD               47 AD

According to these dates, 457 BC seems to be the best starting point for the 490 year countdown to begin and END IN 33 AD. NO ROOM FOR A FUTURE “WEEK” YET FULFILLED.

As an overall, general, and simplified way of looking at the timing of these prophetic verses, let me say the following: At least we know by the year 444 BC the countdown of the Seventy Sevens had begun. We know that the Temple would again be destroyed some time after the death of the Messiah. This event, however, does not have to occur during this 490 year period. Since it happened in 70 AD, it is past the latest date belonging to that 490 year period and that is okay. The Messiah would have to appear on the scene after the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25-26) and be killed sometime before Jerusalem and the Temple are again destroyed in 70 AD. The life and death of Jesus Christ fits this.

Verse 26 continues on to reveal that the people of the “prince to come” will destroy Jerusalem and its Temple. These people had to be Romans according to history. If so, the “prince to come” (possibly an antichrist or the Antichrist) would come from Rome. With all the time frames mentioned in this chapter, the Messiah would have been killed around 29-34 AD. If we do not see that one day is a year here, then nothing points to Jesus Christ as the time frame of history does not fit. Further confirmation of this interpretation is the fact that scholars have figured out that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 458 BC and John the Baptist started his ministry around 26 AD. This span of time can be 483 years. This is awesome. Some people in Jesus’ day apparently figured this out because they were waiting to see Him. Examples include Anna, the prophetess and Simeon (Luke 2:25-38). So there would be 70 weeks (490 years) for the Jewish nation to last. This means that all of the following had to be accomplished in those years:

1) Rebuilding Jerusalem (v25),
2) Appearance of the Messiah,
3) Messiah killed,
4) All the Messiah’s accomplishments mentioned in v24 but no one realized these things at that time,
5) The Old Covenant fulfilled (ended).

As stated earlier, the annihilation of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the nation of Israel would occur sometime after the “62 weeks” but the Bible does not state that it must be included in the 490 year period (70 weeks). The end of the Old Covenant may have been when Jesus exclaimed “It is finished” on the cross. Perhaps more likely it ended with the stoning of Stephen in Acts (more on this shortly). The 70 AD desolation, I believe, was a statement to the Jews and to the world that a huge change took place when Jesus was crucified. God Himself had fulfilled the Old Covenant so there would be no more need for a physical temple and no more need for animal sacrifices. Jesus is the Temple and His blood does not merely cover sin but banishes it forever.

All 490 years pertain to Daniel’s people (Hebrews), not Christians of any time period. Dispensationalists assert that this final week has not yet occurred and many Jews will convert to Christ just prior to His Second Coming. They also contend that verse 27 is a reference to the Antichrist. They believe he signs a 7-year peace treaty with the Jews, then breaks it, desecrates the rebuilt Temple, causing The Great Tribulation (see note below). Much has been invented here due to a mindset that is in serious error.

  • The Great Tribulation” is a phrase invented by dispensationalists. The Bible, unless translated by a dispensationalist such as Cyrus Scofield, never has the word “the” in front of the word “tribulation” or in front of the words “great tribulation.” Mr. Scofield added the word “the” to Revelation 7:14. The King James Version does not. Jesus spoke of great tribulation when referring to the horrors of 70 AD. Revelation speaks of believers coming out of great tribulation which could refer to any time period in the church age. A special reward awaits these people. According to dispensationalists, however, only one group living in the future would get this honor. In my view, this disrespects all believers who have gone through very tough times, even being tortured and murdered for their faith. I believe they will all be given this special reward.

Historicists see this last “week” (7 years) differently. This week is mentioned in v27 when the Messiah ended OT sacrifices in the middle of that “week.” If so, the killing of the Messiah was to occur in the middle of the “week.” We realize that Jesus was executed after 3 1/2 years of ministry which puts it in the middle of the “week” (7-year period). The remaining 3 1/2 years may be found in the Book of Acts, which is still directly involving the Jewish people up until the stoning of Stephen. There is good reason why, just before he was murdered, Stephen publicly presented a lot of Jewish history (Acts 7) to the Jewish leaders and that each word was recorded in Holy Scripture for the generations that follow. He concluded that they were of the same spirit of those who murdered the prophets. He started with detailed accounts from Abraham to Moses to David to Solomon, then rebuked the Jewish leaders and proclaimed them as having murderous hearts and Mosaic Law breakers. Ouch! Shortly after this monumental event, the Gospel went to the Gentiles and no longer to the decimated nation of Israel. Saul, who became Paul, was there in full agreement with the stoning. This event, may have been the last straw for the nation of Israel (not individual Jews) and probably was when God veiled the eyes of Israel for the upcoming “period of the Gentiles.” For Saul (Paul), it may have been the beginning of God’s goads pricking his conscience. In other words, Saul may have been hearing for the first time God’s Word through Stephen that would help him accept Jesus later on the Damascus Road. From Acts Chapter 7, Jerusalem is never mentioned except to bring one offering to the poor there. Spiritual newness and growth was occurring everywhere else, however. So those “70 weeks” (490 years) that God decreed for the Jewish nation ran out in Acts 7, ending with the stoning of Stephen. See Matthew 21:43. This does not mean individual Jews cannot be saved. Saul became Paul after this and he led some Jews to Christ. God’s Nation, however, continued as evidenced in 1 Peter 2:4-10. This is now One Nation made up of Jew and Gentile.

What about Israel today? Preterists contend that it is done forever, but many other Christians, especially dispensationalists, believe it is relevant to prophecy and that God has not abandoned the Jewish Nation. Many believe that just prior to Christ’s Second Coming, many (or all?) Jews in Israel will convert. They believe Romans Chapter 11 claims this. On the other hand, the context of Chapters 9, 10, and 11 is that Jews can still be saved by the New Covenant, but not all will, only a remnant, which was a recurring theme even in Old Testament Scripture. So, perhaps when Paul states later in 11:26 that “all Israel will be saved,” the word “Israel” (at the end of the context) means the True Church” or people that have been “circumcised in heart by Jesus.  Whatever End-time interpretations are correct, I do not believe that any Christians should dispise or look down upon Jews or the nation of Israel.

The Orthodox Jewish attitude toward these Scriptures in Daniel 9 is one of abhorrence. They pronounced a curse upon anyone who calculates the historical time frame, as Christian scholars have done, because it all points to Jesus as the Messiah. “May the bones of the hands and the bones of the fingers decay and decompose, of him who turns the pages of the book of Daniel, to find out the time of Daniel 9:24-27, and may his memory rot from off the face of the earth forever” (Talmudic Law, p. 978, Section 2, Line 28). After the first century, Jewish leaders removed the Book of Daniel from the major prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah), and placed it with the minor prophets because many Christians were citing these verses as proof of the identity of Jesus. This action demoted Daniel and Ezra to the category of being mystical or allegorical rather than historical. I’ve also read that they did not like Daniel’s Book because he did not make the verses public immediately (but God did tell him to seal it up until a later time).

Locking this passage into only a 490 year period in history is a tremendous advantage as it clears up many questions. For example, the identity of the Antichrist or “prince to come” is that he (see note after this paragraph) would stem from the people who destroyed Jerusalem, which was in 70 AD. Those people were Romans led by General Titus. So the Antichrist or “prince to come” would have to come from Rome, but AFTER its fall. You may recall that this lines up with the vision of the 4 major empires, the last one being Roman. So this powerful ruler could not appear until that last kingdom (Rome) was destroyed. This is why the early church fathers and several famous men during the Middle Ages (Dark Ages), including Martin Luther, interpreted the “one that restrains” in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 as the Roman Empire. This verse reveals that Antichrist or this “powerful ruler” cannot come until “he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” I choose to believe that the “one that restrains” or prevents this prince from appearing was the Holy Spirit using an intact Roman Empire thus preventing a religious leader emerging from within the Church. Why do many scholars believe that this person will be a religious rather than a secular leader? Because in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 it says he will “takes his seat in the temple of God.” This phrase “temple of God” in New Covenant terms refers to Jesus Christ and His people (John 2:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 3:16). So, the interpretation is that an or the antichrist will arise within the Christian Church.

Note: “He” in the original language of the Bible, does not necessarily mean “one person.” It can mean “a series of people.” In this context of Anti-Christ it could denote a certain position of power that several men would hold, i.e., the Papacy.

Some may wonder why didn’t Paul make it obvious that secular Rome stood in the way. Why use the word “he” if it refers to a government? “He” might have referred to the Roman Emperor, and, probably out of fear of Rome (the government would not take kindly to someone proclaiming their eventual doom) made Paul choose his words carefully when putting them in writing. In verse 5, Paul said he talked to these people about these things. I presume he spoke in more specific terms then. When God inspires His Word, He uses wisdom :-).

I know this may be a paradigm shift for many, because popular dispensational authors, such as Hal Lindsay in his book, “The Late Great Planet Earth,” assume that when the church is raptured off the planet, the Holy Spirit must leave earth as well since He lives inside believers. Now, they assert, no evil can be restrained without the Holy Spirit on earth, hence the Antichrist will then have more power to do what he wants to do. I say the Holy Spirit is God and He can be anywhere at anytime He wants, therefore His presence is not dependent on the locations of human believers. Hal Lindsey holds many solid Christian beliefs. I just don’t agree with his End-Time interpretations.

Verse 27 describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. Luke 21:20 sheds the most light on this account also found in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14. The Book of Hebrews explains why that Temple was destroyed and why the animal sacrifices were halted (even to this day!). A huge surprise to dispensationalist is the meaning of the phrase “he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week.” Verse 24 sets the context establishing that these verses are referring to Daniel’s people, the Hebrews, not 21st Century Christians. And, as stated earlier, verse 24 lists Jesus Christ’s accomplishments during His ministry. This is huge. Some think that “the most holy place” means the Temple. The word “place” should not be there. Jesus, however, did refer to His own body as the Temple (John 1:14; 2:19), so He is the only “most holy” (see Mark 1:23-24). Thus I do not think v27 is referring to the Antichrist as dispensationalists claim but rather to Jesus Christ. Since when can Satan make a “FIRM” covenant?!! He’s the father of lies!  But Jesus certainly made one! In God’s eyes, all animal sacrifices and grain offerings stopped having validity following Jesus’ accomplishments after His 3 1/2 years of ministry. This verse also contains the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel in 70 AD which consequently ended animal sacrifice in man’s eyes. In God’s eyes it ended at the crucifixion. The destruction in 70 AD was judgment for the rejection of the Messiah. To offer animal sacrifice after what Jesus did was and is a huge affront to God. The Jewish priesthood ceased as well. Neither has returned since 70 AD. To have a priest acting as a go-between sinful mankind and God is also an affront to God. The entire Book of Hebrews tells us why – in short, it’s because Jesus now serves as our High Priest and is the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). The New Testament teaches that God gave apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers, and evangelists to equip the believers. No priests. No human go-betweens. Just Jesus. The priesthood IS NO LONGER NEEDED THUS IT HAS BEEN ABOLISHED.

What about that so-called future 7-year great tribulation that gets so much “publicity” throughout Christian circles? It is a myth because it comes from a serious interpretive error regarding those “70 weeks of years” and a lack of understanding what Jesus fulfilled!


This whole chapter describes Daniel’s preparation to receive the next vision, which will be quite incredible. He was in mourning for 3 weeks and did not eat good food. On the 24th day “a man dressed in linen” appeared and spoke to him. This “man” had a face like lightning, had glowing eyes of fire, and had a voice like roaring thunder. His friends could not see anything but fled in fear. Daniel’s strength left him and he fell face down on the ground and could not even speak as he fell into a deep sleep. Then “a hand” touched him enabling him to finally stand upright but trembling all the while. The “man” said to not be afraid and called him a man of high esteem. He also revealed that Daniel’s prayers were answered on the first day of his fasting and mourning, but the “prince of Persia” thwarted him for 21 days and prevented him from arriving. In fact, he could not break through to Daniel until the Archangel Michael came and helped. This “prince of Persia” was a demon that apparently had strong influence over the kingdom of Persia in those days, and Michael apparently had more power than the angel sent to Daniel. Now Daniel couldn’t speak, but “the man” touched his lips and he could speak. He said his strength was gone, so “the man” touched him again and strength was restored. The “man” again called Daniel a “man of high esteem” and told him to not be afraid and to be filled with courage. As the “man” was gearing up to tell Daniel about the next vision, he revealed that he must return to fight against that prince of Persia because the prince of Greece is about to come and the only help is Michael. Nevertheless, the “man” does have enough time to tell the prophecy to Daniel before he leaves. That will be contained in the next chapter.

Consider the following questions and their answers which are all contained within this one chapter:

1) Are there really demons and angels? Yes.
2) Are they at war with each other? Yes.
3) Are they much stronger than humans, even if a particular human is highly esteemed by God? Yes.
4) Do angels and demons each have various amounts of power? Yes.
5) Are good angels sent to humans so humans can carry out tasks? Yes.
6) Do humans need to totally empty themselves of themselves and depend on supernatural strength to even converse with them and carry out the orders? Yes.
7) Do demons actually preside over earthly nations (kingdoms)? Yes (Satan told Jesus that all the kingdoms of the earth belong to him – Matthew 4:8-9).
8) Is it a good idea to pray and fast in order to move God’s hand? Yes.
9) Does God really intervene on man’s behalf? Yes.
10) Does humbling ourselves get God’s attention? Yes.
11) Are our prayers really heard in heaven? Yes.
12) Are answers to our prayers delayed sometimes? Yes.

Daniel 11 – What Daniel experienced in the previous chapter (utter weakness) and the strength that an angel provided him, should make us realize the importance of the revelation in this chapter. It begins at the same place as the vision of the ram and the goat in Chapter 8. It begins with the second kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Ch. 2) and with the second of the four beasts (ch. 7), namely, Medo-Persia. This chapter actually flows into Chapter 12:4. Interpretation difficulties arise with verse 36 and beyond because it becomes difficult to attach historic events of the past to what is stated. Many believe that the activities of a future Antichrist are described there. Some think that they pertain to both Antiochus IV and a future tyrant. Prior to verse 36, there are specific ties to events after Daniel but way before our time. There were many battles between northern and southern kings. The North was Syria ruled by the Seleucids (the Antiochus family was there) and the South was Egypt ruled by the Ptolemy family.

Verse 2: Daniel learned that three more Persian kings would arise after Darius. Historically, these would be Cambyses (529-523 BC), Pseudo-Smerdis (523-522 BC), and Darius I (522-486 BC). The fourth Persian king was Xerxes I (Ahasuerus, he was with Queen Esther). His riches are mentioned here and in Esther 1:4.

Verses 3-4: The mighty king who arose and did as he pleased was Alexander the Great of Greece. He quickly destroyed the Persian Empire in 332 BC. After he died at age 33 in 323 BC, four of his generals took territories to rule:

1) Cassander ruled Macedonia,
2) Lysimachus ruled Thrace & Asia Minor,
3) Seleucus ruled Syria,
4) Ptolemy ruled Egypt.

Verses 5-20 describe the conflicts between the Ptolemies (Egypt) and the Seleucids (Syria). The following list identifies the names and events in history that parallel each verse in this section of Scripture:

Verse 5: The King of the South is Ptolemy I Soter (322-285 BC). One of his princes was Seleucus I Nicatar (312-280 BC). Both were former generals under Alexander the Great who died in 323 BC. Seleucus broke from Ptolemy and became king of Babylon. Ptolemy, a close childhood friend of Alexander, became the ruler in Egypt. These two kingdoms would become rivals for many years.

Verse 6: The king of the South (Ptolemy II, 285-246 BC) had a daughter named Berenice. There was a marriage alliance involving her with Syria (Seleucids) in 250 BC. Later, Laodice, former wife of Antiochus II, arranged the murder of Antiochus II, Berenice, and their infant son. Some suggest she killed Antiochus II by poisoning.

Verse 7-8: “One of her descendants from her line” was Ptolemy III (246-221 BC). He was the brother of Berenice. He “displayed great strength against the North.” Ptolemy III attacked the Seleucids, killed Laodice, and carried away much booty (as verse 8 predicts).

Verse 9: “The latter” refers to Seleucus II (246-226 BC). He was the son of Laodice and led an unsuccessful campaign against the Ptolemies in 240 BC.

Verse 10: “His sons” are Seleucid III, Antiochus III (226-187 BC). “Will wage war up to his very fortress” refers to the temporary gain of Palestine and West Syria. Raphia was the Ptolemic fortress where there was a major battle in 217 BC.

Verse 11-12: The “king of the South” was Ptolemy IV (221-203 BC). The “king of the North” was Antiochus III and he lost 14,000 men at Raphia in 217 BC.

Verse 13: Antiochus III joined with Philip V of Macedon and went into battle stronger.

Verse 14: Jews are mentioned here to be involved with uprising against Ptolemy IV. Remember, this vision given to Daniel was all about “his people,” the Jews. This verse says there would be some Jews prone to be violent and they would arise but fail. This may document the seeds for the eventual Maccabean Revolt (167-160 BC) about 40 years later when the Jews conducted a successful campaign against Antiochus IV and restored the desecrated Temple. Back to Ptolemy IV, he died mysteriously and his 4-year-old son became king.

Verse 15-16: Describes the king of the North beating the king of the South. Antiochus III beat Egypt’s General Scopas at Sidon in 198 BC. which ended Ptolemic rule in Palestine (the “Beautiful Land”).

Verse 17-18: The “daughter” mentioned here was Cleopatra whose father was Antiochus III. He gave her to be married to Ptolemy V which apparently turned her against her own father because she sought Roman help to go against his plans to control coastal cities in Asia Minor that were controlled by Egypt.

Verses 19: Antiochus III was defeated by Roman General Lucius Cornelius Scipio around 188 BC.

Verse 20: The “one in his place” was Seleucus IV Philipator (187-175 BC). He was the older son of Antiochus III and attempted to rule Syria. His country was greatly indebted to the Romans and was in poor condition, so he had to demand high taxes (an “exactor”). He dies soon after, although there has been a shroud of mystery concerning his death, as is stated in this verse.

Verse 21: The “despicable person” was Antiochus IV. He would seize power “by intrigue” (evil secret plans). This guy was not the legitimate successor of brother Seleucus IV since Seleucus IV had a son. His rule would be from 175-164 BC. He received much “ink” in Daniel’s prophecies throughout the Book. Some have called him the “Antichrist of the Old Testament.”

Verse 22: He shattered many, including “the prince of the covenant.” This might have been about the assassination of High Priest Onias III in 171 BC in Jerusalem. If the word “covenant” in this verse refers to the Old one, then this interpretation has credibility.

Verse 23: Antiochus IV continued his cunning deceptions and gains power.

Verse 24: Antiochus IV actually did plunder the most fertile soil in his conquered province, then gave away the spoils to the people in order to get them on his side.

Verse 25: Antiochus IV now attacks the king of the South, who at this time in history was the son of Cleopatra, Ptolemy IV. Cleo’s son would lose at Pelusium on the border of Egypt.

Verses 26-27: Schemes against Ptolemy IV would destroy him and both kings were evil. The end of all this would occur at an appointed time set by God.

Verse 28: “He” refers to Antiochus IV, not Ptolemy IV. He will “set his heart against the Holy Covenant” refers to his hatred of the Jews and their religion. He also discovered some secret plans to go against his supporters so he plundered the Jewish Temple.

Verse 29: Antiochus IV invaded Egypt again in 168 BC, but he would not be successful as before. Verse 30 predicts the details.

Verse 30: “Ships of Kittim (Cyprus) refers to Roman armies under the command of Gaius Popilius Laenas. Rome had many warships in those days as their power was rising. He forced Antiochus back from Egypt. Being “disheartened and “enraged at the holy covenant,” he tried to exterminate the Jewish religion.

Verse 31: Temple was desecrated in 168 BC. He set up an idol of Zeus and sacrificed a pig on an altar in the Temple. This was “the abomination of desolation” to the Jews.

Verses 32-35: This is about a split developing among the Jews. Some were Hellenized (Greek or pagan cultured) and some revered the Covenant of God. “Granted a little help” in verse 34 may refer to an elderly priest named Mattathias whose sons would wage a guerrilla war in order to restore things in Israel. This would be the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt. They were made up of Jews who wanted to get paganism out of the Temple and Jerusalem and restore the Holy Temple. Also, verse 35 speaks of a Jewish “purging.” Some think this refers to the remainder of Jewish history through to the Second Coming of Christ.

I would like to give specific attention to Antiochus IV who is most likely being described in verses 21-35 because he is a type of Antichrist. Prior to verses 36-45, it seems obvious that Daniel’s vision is describing Antiochus IV. From verse 36 on, however, it becomes difficult to connect him to those verses. Some scholars do believe, however, that verses 36-39 represent his religious policies and verses 40-45 describe his ambition leading to his fall. Others believe these later verses describe a future world leader known today as the Antichrist, while still others think the verses could be about both Antiochus IV and a future tyrant.

Verses 21-35: This probably was the great persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes IV. God gave more information about the following individual than He did about all the preceding ones combined. The reason is his devastating influence on the Jews and that he was a type of antichrist. Even Epiphanes, the name he gave himself, means “God manifest.” So his ego was in the stratosphere. He corresponds to the little horn of Chapter 8:9-12, 23-25, and he foreshadows the little horn of Chapter 7:8 which may be describing Justinian (the Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565 AD) or the papacy. Justinian sought to revive the Roman Empire’s greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire which had been conquered since Rome’s fall in 476 A.D. Unfortunately, he forced people to convert to Christianity and persecuted those who did not go along with him. This actually laid the foundation for the oppressive, murderous Papal State that would rule the civilized world for 1,260 years.

Antiochus IV ordered part of his army into Jerusalem on what he claimed was a peaceful mission. When they were inside the city, however, they attacked the Jews on a Sabbath and killed many, and ravaged and burned the city. He wanted to exterminate Judaism and Hellenize Palestine. So he prohibited the Jews from following their Law, and did away with the sacrifices, festivals, and circumcision. He also installed an image of Zeus in the Temple. Then he sacrificed a pig on the altar on December 16, 168 B.C. The Jews called this “the abomination that caused desolation” since it polluted their altar. He died insane in Persia in 163 B.C.

The Book of Revelation Chapter 13, which most likely dates after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., predicts the coming of a “beast” who will behave as Antiochus did, only on a larger scale. Many scholars believe the following verses apply to someone after Antiochus IV and having more destructive powers:

v36: This king is a monstrous king that parallels descriptions in other Scriptures that are thought to refer to Antichrist. He will magnify himself above all gods, will speak against God, and will prosper (militarily & monetarily? – read v38).

v37: Shows no regard for the gods of his fathers. It is difficult to say what this means. He will not have desire for women also. So I assume he rules without being married. If the Antichrist is a position of authority from which several different men rule, then maybe there would be a rule against being with women or being married to one (i.e., the papacy).

v38: KJV = “But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.” It’s difficult for scholars to interpret this one. This may refer to strategies for military success, or perhaps using power and wealth to make people feel that nothing could ever bring his power down (or the power of an institution he heads up), therefore they worship him because they are too afraid to do less than that. The English translators have arranged the words so that we cannot escape the view that “the estate” is the king’s, but the natural meaning of the Hebrew order is that it is “on the place” or “pedestal” of the god. The word translated “estate” is used in Genesis 40:13 for “office.” Perhaps it all means that this ruler will worship his position of authority (or the belief among Catholics that the Pope is Jesus on earth) knowing that this alone is where his power comes from.

v39: He gets help from a foreign god to go against the strongest of fortresses. I’m not sure what the “strongest fortresses” are, but at least it appears that he has influential power to persuade other governments to do his will in return for power and land. The Bishop of Rome, became the largest landowner and most prestigious figure in Italy, and began by default to take on much of the ruling authority that Byzantines were unable to project. As Byzantine power weakened, the Papacy formed and took an ever larger role in defending Rome from the Lombards, usually through diplomacy, threats, and bribery.

v40-45: While the previous verse interpretations are held by many, these verses are the most difficult to understand. There is a consensus, however, that they refer to an antichrist sometime after Antiochus IV or the Antichrist that has not yet been revealed in history.

Interesting historical note: Few people realize where and when the idea of a futuristic Anti-Christ originated. The Protestant Reformation was gaining strength as the Bible got into the hands of the common people (the Roman Catholic Church forbade this for years). The early reformers such as Martin Luther and many others saw the Papacy as the Antichrist. As part of the Catholic Counter Reformation, a Spanish Jesuit named Francisco Ribera (1537–1591) came up with the idea of the Anti-Christ is a leader in the far away future. This was dreamed up to take some heat off the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, John Darby (the father of dispensationalism in the 1800s) and his followers later agreed and aggressively promoted the idea in the western world. Spanish Jesuit Luis De Alcazar (1554-1613) claimed that Nero (someone in the past) was the Antichrist which became the cornerstone of preterism. To this day, both dispensationalists and preterists fail to perceive the papacy as Antichrist. I think the “beast” in Revelation is Satan working via pagan Roman power and the papacy sprang out of that “beast’s power” after Rome fell. So the position of pope is Antichrist, but whoever is pope is the false prophet. Many pope’s and Catholic rules claim equality with the pope and God. See my Book of Revelation commentary for details.

One may wonder why Daniel’s visions and prophecies centered only around those four major empires in history. I think the reason is because it was a trail leading up to having a direct affect upon the Jews, the apple of God’s eye. Other historical events going on in distant countries probably did not have direct impact on God’s people and the eventual arrival of Jesus Christ.

The more I study Biblical End-Time prophecy, the more I believe God obscures the meanings just enough so that people will not know everything before it happens, but will be able to see it fulfilled after the fact and know that God is real and has spoken. Here is a relevant quote from Sir Isaac Newton:

The folly of interpreters has been to foretell times and things by this prophecy, as if God designed to make them prophets. By their rashness they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the prophecy into contempt. The design of God was much otherwise. He gave this and the prophecies of the old Testament, not to gratify men’s curiosities by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and His own providence, not the interpreters’, be then manifested thereby to the world. For the event of things predicted many ages before will then be a convincing argument that the world is governed by Providence.  http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1425541

I have examined different views about Antichrist and have concluded there is no way to tell FOR SURE which is the most accurate, at least yet. Therefore, my commentary on Daniel has been difficult to compose. To present all the different views would take up volumes. I felt I had to be brief as possible.

My frustration has been that many Christians have been repeatedly exposed to one viewpoint. That would be what is called “Dispensationalism.” This method of interpretation views symbolic verses literally and assert that most of the Book of Revelation is not fulfilled. I think this is seriously flawed because it disregards church history. I also embrace the symbolic interpretation approach when it comes to the Book of Revelation, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Just as Jesus’ Apostles were blind to the prophecies of the Messiah’s first coming, many Christians today have wrong expectations of End-Times and Antichrist. Dispensationalists believe that these prophecies have yet to be fulfilled whereas I think that most of them have already occurred in history. Just before His ascension, Jesus had to “open the minds” of the disciples to the meaning of the Scriptures that predicted His death and resurrection (Luke 24:46-47). I think we also need this experience to perceive accurately the End-Time prophecies recorded in this amazing book called the Bible.

I prefer the method of letting the Bible interpret the Bible rather than looking at current events and speculating how they could fit prophecy. Dispensationalism, does not regard Old Testament language and established phraseology as a means to give insight to New Testament prophecy. For example, several times in the OT the sun and moon would not give light. Each time there was an historical fulfillment of the prophecies connected to this phrase, but the sun and moon continued to shine. The phrase simply meant judgment was coming and is not to be taken literally. Revelation uses the same phrase. Since few Christians have been exposed to this approach, I thought it good to give “more ink” to the historical view.

Daniel 12:

v1-2: One important notion to keep in mind is the difference between two phrases: 1) the time of the end, and 2) the end of time. Perhaps the former refers to the end of the Old Covenant and/or the Jewish nation, while the latter refers to the end of this world as we know it. Some of these verses in chapters 11 & 12 may also be pregnant with double meaning/fulfillment.

“At that time” links to the previous chapter. That context described the horrible persecution from Antiochus IV as it pertained to the Jewish nation (Daniel’s people). That evil ruler certainly filled the bill as an antichrist. Verses 1-3 may include the years from Antiochus IV to the time of Christ since that was only about 190 years away. Verse 1 reveals that Michael, who guards Daniel’s people, will arise during horrible distress and persecution. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the archangel incarnate. Jude 9, however, identifies Michael as an archangel, one of high rank, and Hebrews 1:5 makes it clear that God never made one of His angels into His Son. Then it says the people who will be rescued are the ones whose names are written in the Book of Life. Does this refer to people of all generations through to the Second Coming, or just those Jews at the time of the Maccabean Revolt through to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD? This is difficult to determine. At present, I lean toward the latter. Verse 2 says many will awake and face judgment, not all who sleep (the dead). About 67 AD, the Jewish believers heeded Jesus’ warning from Jesus’ in Matthew 24. They were to flee to the hills when they saw “the abomination of desolation“ that Daniel spoke about which was the pagan Roman army that surrounded Jerusalem. All believers were rescued from death. Historian Josephus claimed they all fled to a town called Pella and survived the slaughter. Perhaps the archangel Michael was directing that escape from above.

Verse 1 says, “there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since their was a nation until that time.” Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 24:21 describing this event as a “great tribulation.” Notice He did not say THE great tribulation. The definite article (the) should not appear. As stated earlier, it was added by dispensationalists. It seems that Jesus here is describing the Temple destruction of 70 AD by the Roman army. To better understand Matthew 24 (also known as the Olivet Discourse), it helps to view verses 5-14 as a brief overview of the entire Church Age, although some verses certainly pertained to those disciples of Jesus. Then in verses 15-28, Jesus is telling His disciples what THEY would experience. This is why verse 34 states that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” The word “generation” does not mean “race” as dispensationalist have asserted. This is an example of bending words to fit an assumed belief.

Verse 29 in Matthew Chapter 24 may be describing the state of the world following His judgment against the nation of Israel in 70 AD. When “sun is darkened” or “coming in the clouds” is mentioned in Scripture, it always refers to God’s judgment in the Old Testament. So why should we take this literally in the New? Verses 29-31 may be His description of the Church Age, complete with all the tribulation against both Jews and Christians, as well as warring nations over religion.

Since Daniel’s revelations are coming to an end concerning “his people,” it is very probable that verse 1 is describing the 3+1/2 years of Roman army siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Somewhere between 33 AD (crucifixion) and 70 AD (Israel wiped out as a nation) marked the end of the Old Covenant. Verse 6-7 state that this nightmare against the Jews would last 3+1/2 years.

The Roman siege began in 66-67 AD but was withdrawn, but no one knows for sure. This was the window of opportunity that Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 24:15-16. They knew what He meant and they escaped to Pella. Shortly later, that army returned during the height of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, so Jerusalem was packed full of Jewish residents and out-of-towners. Once this army returned, there was no escape.

Well known historian Flavius Jospehus recorded the horrific details of this tribulation. This was a siege, not one big attack. Inside the walls there was a great division among the Jews. Some wanted to surrender in order to survive while others (the zealots) wanted no such thing. The latter became violent as they viewed the other side as a cause for defeat, so they started to murder them by cutting their throat, about 12,000 of the more distinguished Jews were killed by Jews! It was horribly ugly, but it would get worse. This internal slaughter continued and in one day 8500 lay dead in the outer court of the Temple. Some were thrown outside and eaten by dogs and beasts. Blood and piles of corpses were everywhere inside Jerusalem. And this was all before the Romans got through the walls! This is why Jesus, when on His way to be crucified as women were following Him weeping as He went, warned the “daughters of Jerusalem” in Luke 23:26-31 by saying:

…daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed. Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?

Jesus was referring to Himself as “the green tree.” In other words, those people had the most important person ever possible to be in existence as Eternal Life flowed from Him, and they treated Him with scorn and rejection, and when He is gone (dry tree) only death awaits.

Trapped Jews began fighting each other over small scraps of food, then some turned to cooking their babies to prevent death from starvation. Those caught sneaking outside the walls for food, were tortured and crucified within sight of the people within the walls. About 500 per day met this fate. The Romans eventually ran out of crosses. Perhaps the grossest part was when the soldiers rammed stakes up private orifices of some living bodies. The Romans would finish off what was left alive inside the walls, although they did carry off 97,000 to be sold as slaves. The death toll rose to 1,100,000. Josephus concluded that this 3+1/2 years contained the most misery than at any other time. Deuteronomy 28:49-57 actually describes all this to a tee. The context is what would happen to Israel if they broke the Covenant.

Other Jewish cities were attacked as well. In Alexandria, 50,000 were slaughtered, including infants. No mercy was shown. In one hour, over 20,000 were killed in Caesarea. As the attack came, some men would kill their own family members before killing themselves.

Now, there have been other horrible slaughters throughout mankind’s dark history where even higher numbers of people perished, some over longer periods of time. The awfulness and intensity of Jerusalem between 67-70 AD, however, was perhaps the worst ever. Surprisingly, the atom bomb explosion in Hiroshima, as devastating as it was, killed only 1/10 of Jerusalem’s total. Also bear in mind that certain expressions are used in the Bible that do not necessarily translate into literal meanings. Examples of expressing the concept of “worst ever” are found in Exodus 10:14, 2 Chronicles 1:12, 1 Kings 3;12, Ezekiel 5:8-9, and, of course, in Daniel 12:1 as well as Matthew 24:21. After Solomon, there have been wealthier people, but that is not to take away what the Bible said about Solomon’s great wealth.

The reason I shared the horrific details for this monumental event in Jewish history is to link Daniel 12:1 to this time period.

v3: Some will have insight in the end days and will lead many to righteousness. These believers in Pella went on to spread the Gospel to many nations turning many to righteousness. The Gospel continues to perform this to this day. Therefore, this verse may be one of transition from pertaining only to the Old Covenant to and through the current Church Age. If so, it may help us interpret verses 5-12, but it remains difficult.

v4: Daniel is ordered to conceal and seal up the prophecies of this entire Book “even until the time of the end when many will go back and forth and knowledge will increase.” Now the word “even” was inserted by King James translators and could alter the meaning to mean the “actual end of time.” I’m not sure this is right, but it does fit better since “knowledge and travel” have only increased dramatically in the past 100 years. Think about modes of travel in Genesis’ time – horses, donkeys, camels, and human feet. How about Moses’ time? – horses, donkeys, camels, and human feet. How about Jesus’ time? – the same. How about during the Middles Ages? – the same. In 1903, the Wright Brothers flew 12 feet high off the beach at Kitty Hawk. Just 65 years later, we landed on the moon! Technology is booming higher and faster than anyone could have imagined 40 years ago. I think we’re on the brink. Time will literally run out soon.

I do not think this means humans are smarter, just more informed. We now have a much larger knowledge base to work from than the ancient people, and technology certainly expedites everything. The rate and speed of information availability and exchange is out of sight today. Moreover, according to Daniel 12:4, God saw this increase happening centuries before it happened. When God originally made the human brain, He did not make it inferior than it is today. That’s evolution brainwashing making people think that way. Even ancient Egyptians forged mathematical formulas that make my head spin. Humans were always extremely intelligent, from the Garden of Eden through today. It’s just that we have the above cited factors at work for us today and God allowing it all to happen.

Some dispensationalist leaders interpret “many will go back and forth” as meaning that in many years in the future (like right now), people will “pour over the Scriptures” and understand more. That is a stretch in my view.

v5-7: Revelation is given as to how long it will take for all these events to occur – “time, times, and a half of time” was the answer. Some say this means 3 1/2 years. If so, it may refer to the “time of distress” from 67-70 AD. Some claim it means 1260 years which may refer to an antichrist’s (papal) reign. If so, it may imply this antichrist is a position of power filled by several men over those years. Perhaps Revelation’s “Beast” is a demon or Satan himself behind a system of power over the earth while the men ruling that system play the role of the false prophets (if the system claims to be Christian rather than secular).

v8-10: Again, Daniel wants to understand things but is prevented. It appears that the understanding will come during those days when wicked people will continue acting wickedly, but some will have the insight to understand.

v11: More hints on the time frame – from the time when the regular sacrifice (Jewish Passover rituals) is abolished (probably 33 AD or 70 AD, or maybe 168 BC via Antiochus IV) and the “abomination of desolation” is set up, there will be 1290 days. Some scholars take “1290” literally, so something had to have happened in the Temple about 3 1/2 years later. To my knowledge, nothing did. Other scholars think that “1290” are years. I wish I could provide a solid interpretation here but I can’t.

v12: I have no idea what this verse means. Commentaries offer little help.

v13: Daniel is told to “go his way” until he dies then he will be given his allotted portion at the “end of the days.” This phrase must refer to the end of this world.

Well…that’s all I’ve got for now. Hope you enjoyed the ride. This is SOME Book!


“Decoding Daniel,” Spreading Light Ministries Network.
The Reformation Study Bible, R.C. Sproul, General Editor, Ligonier Ministries, Orlando, FA.
“The Prophecies of Daniel,” Lehman Strauss, BMH Books, 1969.
“Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy,” Jones, Gundersen, & Galan, Rose Publishing, 2011.
“Great Prophecies of the Bible,” by Ralph Woodrow, 1971.