Daniel

Daniel: Revealer of Secrets (Part 2)

Daniel: Revealer of Secrets (Part 2)

In the last installment, I introduced you to my friend from ancient Babylon, the prophet Daniel.

I commented on some of the overarching themes of his book in the attempt to demonstrate its significance, and further provide some structure that might aid additional study. But I also tried to remind us of Daniel’s real, human experiences as a captive in Babylon—and the impression they should make on each one of us.

And that is where I want to pick up in this concluding installment—sharing specifically how the book has impacted my life and ministry.

In His infinite grace, the Lord has given me a wealth of opportunities to study and teach the book of Daniel. Surely the high point for me was in the fall of 1995, at Faith Baptist Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, where I was blessed to be part of a modular course on Daniel taught by Dr. John Whitcomb.1

That was only my second class with Dr. Whitcomb. He had written a commentary2 on Daniel which I had read when I preached through Daniel in the first small church I pastored. I took notes in that textbook, then had him autograph it.

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Daniel: Revealer of Secrets (Part 1)

Close up of part of the Ishtar Gate to the city of Babylon

I have a friend and counselor in ancient Babylon.

I have turned to him countless times for wisdom, strength and direction. In fact, he has foreseen the future, and has instructed me carefully regarding “days yet to come” (Dan. 10:14).

I am always amazed at his dedication, courage, faithfulness and prayerfulness. What an example he offers of trusting God during incredible difficulties!

His Hebrew name means “God is my judge,” and it is a name that has become common in our own culture. His name is Daniel.

Many faithful Bible teachers believe that Daniel did not compose his book until the ninth decade of his life. But what a treasure he gave us when he did! It contains the revelation “of secrets” (Dan. 2:47)—some of which are found nowhere else in all of God’s Holy Word.

We could not understand the prophetic Scriptures—even the book of Revelation itself—without essential passages in Daniel such as Daniel 2:31-45 and Daniel 9:24-27. Yet, these treasures were “revealed to” (Dan. 2:19, 30; 10:1) him alone.

But these are not the only “secrets” (Dan. 2:28, 29, 47) that Daniel had the privilege of announcing to the world for the first time. He also declared the following by means of predictive prophecy:

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Leadership Lessons from Daniel

Reconstruction of Nebuchadnezzar's Ishtar Gate (Pergamon Museum in Berlin)

Of all the great characters found on the pages of Holy Scripture, none—outside, of course, of our Lord Jesus Christ—serves as a greater example to us than the prophet Daniel.

Transported to Babylon in the first wave of the captivity of Judah in 605 B.C., Daniel’s life was upended at an early age. This could have been an excuse for him to abandon any ties to his people and his God. He was taken to a strange land, given a new name and offered all the worldly comforts available in the king’s court (Dan. 1:7-10).

There he remained for more than 70 years, enduring the launches of two world empires and serving under seven world leaders.

But Daniel took the opportunity—not to blend in, but to stand out. He believed that God had not forsaken him, but rather promoted him. They had taken the boy out of Jerusalem, but they could not take Jerusalem out of the boy (e.g., Dan. 9:21).

And the Lord rewarded Daniel for His faithfulness. Interestingly, the man who received the final prophetic revelation of the New Testament was the Apostle John—“the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). Daniel is often regarded as the counterpart to John within the Hebrew Bible, as the one who received the highest understanding of the prophetic future in the days before the coming of Christ. He, too, was a “man greatly beloved” (Dan. 10:11).

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Are Daniel and Ezra Models of Corporate Repentance for Historic Sins?

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been preparing a review of Latasha Morrison’s Be the Bridge book and Bible study materials. In so doing, I’ve been reading her recommended resources, and have been struck by how central the following claim is to this genre of “racial reconciliation” material: “members of a group have the responsibility to confess and seek reconciliation on behalf of that group for sins that those members themselves may not have even personally committed.”

I went back and forth on whether I should post this portion of my critique separate from my full review of Be the Bridge, or leave it inside the longer review (which is posted here). I decided to run it separately because while it is only a small component of Be the Bridge, this theme reoccurs in other resources. In other words, I’ve encountered a repeated argument that white people have a responsibility to confess the sin of racism that other white people have committed in the past, to repent for those sins, and then to seek reparations on behalf of those wronged by the sin.

So today I want to address that specific argument. Then, in my review of Be the Bridge, I can refer back to this post here.

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Some Notes on Daniel 7 (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

A Time. Times, and Half a Time

The length of time that these saints are given into his hand is described cryptically as “a time, times, and half a time” (7:25). If we stand back and think a little about these words, it will become apparent that the only possible way in which they can make sense is if we understand the plural “times” as designating “two times.” If it can mean any more than two the whole revelation drops into irrelevance. This is because if any more than “two times” is meant, it might be three or four, or twelve, or twelve hundred times. Who’s to know?

No, the only way “times” designates anything for sure is if it is a simple doubling of a “time.” This would mean that we have one unit (or “time”), and two additional units (“times”), and then a half unit (half the first unit). Hence, whatever the units are we have three and a half of them.

Since we know that these units are units of time the best suspects are days, weeks, months, or years. In Daniel 4:23, 32 it is most likely that the “seven times” in which Nebuchadnezzar was insane stands for seven years. If that is correct then “a time, times, and half a time” in Daniel 7:25, and later in Daniel 12:7 stands for three and a half years.

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Some Notes on Daniel 7 (Part 1)

Detail from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - Michelangelo Caravaggio

Just as there are four kingdoms represented by the materials in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-image in Daniel 2, four kingdoms are also present in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts in chapter 7. Since we find weird creatures, portents of the last days, a supernatural guide and such, this vision is associated with apocalyptic genre.1

Saying something is “apocalyptic” is enough in some quarters to designate it non-literal, but comparison of biblical apocalypses with plain prophetic passages strongly suggests that they can refer to the same things, and that therefore, apocalyptic texts should not be understood apart from the more straightforward prose of comparative prophetic literature.

Each of the four beasts arises out of the sea (Dan.7:3). This “great sea” (v.2) is not interpreted, but it possibly refers to the Mediterranean, although it has additional value as a symbol for the world, especially in resistance to God (v.17; Isa. 57:20).2

The standard opinion of conservative commentators is that the beasts in Daniel 7 represent Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece (Macedonia), and Rome, exactly as in Daniel 2.3 I believe this is the correct understanding of the four beasts of Daniel 7:4-7, although I shall have to leave more detailed explanations to the commentaries.4

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Fulfilled Prophecy a Potent Argument for the Bible

(About this series)

CHAPTER IV — FULFILLED PROPHECY A POTENT ARGUMENT FOR THE BIBLE

BY ARNO C. GAEBELEIN, EDITOR “OUR HOPE,” NEW YORK CITY.

“Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen; let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them, or declare us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know, that ye are gods” (Isa. 41:21-23). “I declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying. My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46: 10).

This is Jehovah’s challenge to the idol-gods of Babylon to predict future events. He alone can do that. The Lord can declare the end from the beginning, and make known things that are not yet done. The dumb idols of the heathen know nothing concerning the future. They cannot predict what is going to happen. And man himself is powerless to know future events and cannot find out things to come.

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Sovereignty of God & Human Responsibility: Nehemiah & the Daniel 9 Prophecy

Daniel 9:24-27 is a monumental passage, emblematic of God’s sovereignty over human events. It provides the chronological skeletal system of Biblical prophecy, recording Gabriel’s revelation to Daniel in around 516 B.C., of a 490-year timeline for Israel’s future: “for Jerusalem, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy” (9:24). The clock begins its countdown with “a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (9:25).

The certainty of the timeline is non-negotiable and inalterable. The seventy sevens had been decreed or determined, as the Hebrew term nichetaka (decreed, determined) is in the niphal perfect, which typically indicates a passive (niphal) and completed (perfect) action. The timeline had already been determined. Daniel would be able to “know and discern” (9:25a) the timing from a particular point in history—a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.

When we examine the Biblical literature, we find only one decree regarding the rebuilding of the temple. There was a decree to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4,5:17), but that did not match Gabriel’s description of the decree to rebuild the city itself. For the decree matching the Daniel 9 description, we look to Nehemiah 2.

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