Tag Archives: Daniel

Was the book of Daniel written after the events it foretold?

Short answer: No.

Medium answer: See below.

Long answer: See this.

I was listening to the book of Daniel and thinking about how spectacularly accurate his prophecies were.  Even most liberal scholars agree that Daniel accurately describes the reigns and activities of several empires covering several hundred years.  They just think Daniel was written after the fact and is pretending to be prophecy. When you are an atheist or theological liberal your anti-supernatural bias tends to get in the way of the facts.  I think the evidence is on the side of the early writing and that all of the critics’ issues have been well addressed.

At my former church we studied the book of Daniel and I was horrified to see that the study guide assumed that Daniel was written after the events it foretold.  What was most galling is that the author didn’t even acknowledge any counter-arguments.  I’ve seen that as a common thread whenever theological liberals (read: non-Christians) attack the dating and authorship of books of the Bible.  Uh, if you think that one or more books of the Bible are complete lies, why call yourself a Christian?

Jesus obviously viewed Daniel as the real author, as shown in Matthew 24:15-16 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel . . .” That is a pretty good trump card regarding the dating debate, assuming you are talking to someone claiming to be a Christian.

It is encouraging that God shows us through his Word that He knows everything that will happen. Psychics can’t predict what will happen next week, yet God predicted the specific course of many countries covering hundreds of years with 100% accuracy. This is one of the proofs showing the reliability of the Bible. No other Holy Book contains confirmed prophecies like this. There are also some very specific prophecies about Jesus in the book of Daniel.

Here’s a good overview of the dating issue:

Both Jewish and Christian (cf. Matt. 24:15) tradition have held that the author of this book is Daniel, a Jew who lived during the sixth-century B.C. Babylonian exile. Many of the chapters are dated and range from the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (605 B.C.; Dan. 1:1) to Cyrus’s third year (536; 10:1). But because of its detailed prophecies of events in the middle of the second century B.C. (see ch. 11) and alleged historical inconsistencies with what scholars know of sixth-century history (see note on 5:30–31), some scholars have argued that the book must be a second-century document, from the time when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 B.C.) was oppressing God’s people. In that case, it would contain “prophecies after the fact,” put into the mouth of a famous historical character rather than being written by Daniel himself. Thus, the visions that “Daniel” saw would attempt to interpret rather than predict history. It has also been argued that the book must be dated later than the sixth century due to its language, especially the presence of Persian and Greek loanwords. However, the facts do not require a late date. In the first place, current knowledge of sixth-century B.C. history is far from complete, and there are plausible harmonizations that explain the alleged discrepancies. Second, the Bible asserts clearly that the Lord announces ahead of time his plans through his prophets as a means of vindicating his sovereignty and encouraging his people (see Isa. 41:21–24; 44:6–7), and there is no reason in principle why such prophecies should not be detailed and precise. Some scholars, who allow in principle that God can foretell events, nevertheless suggest that such detailed foretelling is unparalleled in the rest of the canonical prophets, and that it cannot be reconciled with the usual purpose of prediction (namely, that the first audience should be faithful to the covenant). In reply, note that Jeremiah did give a specific amount of time for the exile (Jer. 25:11; cf. note on Dan. 9:2). Further, the high degree of specificity in Daniel’s prophecies does serve its first audience as well as those to follow: this shows how carefully God has planned events and governs them for his perfect ends; therefore the faithful can recognize that none of their troubles take God by surprise, and none will derail his purpose of vindicating those who steadfastly love him. This is quite relevant to the people of God in Daniel’s day, who are on the verge of horrendous devastations and persecutions (see notes on ch. 11); they must be assured that the story will continue to its appointed fulfillment, so that they do not lose heart. Third, there were likely Greeks and Persians present at the Babylonian court as mercenaries and in other capacities, providing a ready explanation for the presence of loanwords. Fourth, the book of Daniel was accepted as canonical by the community of Qumran (who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls). This is telling because this group emerged as a separate party in Judaism between 171 and 167 B.C., before the proposed late date. They would not have accepted the book if it had appeared after the split. Fifth, some who favor a later date say that the author of Daniel represented Antiochus IV Epiphanes using the figure of Nebuchadnezzar. Literary studies, however, have shown that the book of Daniel puts Nebuchadnezzar in far too positive a light (e.g., he comes to acknowledge the true God) for him to be an effective image of the relentless persecutor Antiochus IV. Of course the book’s lesson, about God’s sovereignty over even the imperial forces, would have taken a heightened relevance in the days of Antiochus IV; but that is different from saying that the book was written for that particular occasion. There are therefore no compelling reasons to deny that Daniel wrote this book.

Bibles, Crossway (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible (Kindle Locations 210473-210497). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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Daniel 12

This reading is Daniel 12. It is a fairly short chapter so I pasted it below the commentary as well.

There are many references to angels in the Bible. They are typically described as doing one of three things: Worshiping God, bringing messages, or protecting people (plus the occasional slaying). I’m not sure precisely how angels work in our spiritual realm, other than that they are real and have probably protected us more times than we think.

Verse 2 is a direct teaching of the resurrection of the body and that we will all face a final judgment from God. Verse 10 notes that “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked.” It is interesting that we “will be” these things, not that we accomplish them ourselves.

I can relate to Daniel when he says, “I heard, but I did not understand.”

The Book of Daniel closes out powerfully with Michael the archangel comforting with the knowledge of God’s sovereignty. Like Daniel, we will most likely “rest” (i.e., die) then arise at the resurrection.

This concludes our study of Daniel! The next reading is an overview of Mark.

Daniel 12
1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”
5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”
7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”
8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?”
9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.
11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.
13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

Daniel 11

This reading is Daniel 11.

There are some general descriptions in Daniel 11 about war and leaders that could have applied to many situations, but there are many specific prophecies that accurately predicted the course of various countries over a couple hundred years. The close of the chapter addresses some events that took place before Christ but also some predictions of the future antichrist.

If you are a history buff you recognize some of these kingdoms, battles and wars listed in this chapter.

Antiochus Epiphanes was the ruler described in verses 31-32 and preceding. He set up “the abomination that causes desolation,” which included erecting an altar to Zeus at the temple in Jerusalem, and had a pig sacrificed on the altar. This was an extreme insult to the Jewish people.

Verses 33-35 are reminders of the challenges Christians may face. We don’t experience these as much in the U.S., but many fellow believers around the world do.

For those of you more well versed in prophecy than me, please feel free to chime in!

The next reading is Daniel 12.

For those of you who want to get ahead, the next study will be the Gospel of Mark.

Daniel 10

This reading is Daniel 10.

The messenger isn’t identified by name, but he appears to be Gabriel, the angel who has already appeared to Daniel. Some think it may be Christ, but that would mean Daniel’s vision was of Christ and that a messenger came as well. For Christ would not have been hindered for 21 days as the messenger was (v. 13).

This passage shows how real, serious and active spiritual warfare is. It reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-12:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Daniel was obviously exhausted, anguished and fearful. The angel calms his fears and sets up the prophecies to be given in chapters 11 & 12.

The next reading is Daniel 11.

Daniel 9

This reading is Daniel 9.

The Israelites were captive in Babylon because they had repeatedly rejected the warnings that God had given them through various prophets. God had given his usual Old Testament message: Obey him and receive blessings or disobey and receive consequences. Daniel knew that God had promised to return the Israelites to Jerusalem after 70 years as Jeremiah had written:

Jeremiah 25:11-12 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever.”

Daniel prayed wearing “sackcloth and ashes,” as those were signs of grief and/or repentance. Note that Daniel’s passionate prayer for mercy was answered as soon as he began to pray (v. 23). Feel the passion in v. 19: “O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

Regarding the prophecy of the seventy ‘sevens,’ it is typically understood that each item represented one year. Therefore, this would have been 490 years. Some believe that the first 69 ‘sevens’ represent the time from Daniel to Christ’s crucifixion and that the final ‘seven’ is part of the great tribulation that is still to come. Therefore, it would predict Jesus’ first and second coming.

The next reading is Daniel 10.

Daniel 8

This reading is Daniel 8.

The prophecies in Daniel 8 occur two years after the visions from chapter 7. Again, the vision is described in the first part of the chapter then explained in the second. The prophecies are absolutely stunning in their clarity and accuracy. Stop and think about how Daniel was able to predict 200 years ahead of time Alexander the Great’s reign, death and the fact that his kingdom would be split into four pieces:

Daniel 8:21-22 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.

Greece was not a world power when this prediction was made. Who can predict what will happen in world events next week, let alone to identify something that specific that far ahead of time? Only the one true God.

The king referred to in verses 9-12 and 23-26 is Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He was a truly evil ruler. He took over, looted and desecrated the temple in Israel (“the beautiful land”). He was also a foreshadowing of the Antichrist (more on him later).

The next reading is Daniel 9.

Daniel 7

This reading is Daniel 7.

These events actually takes place before chapter 5. The first half of the book was history and the second half covers visions Daniel received from God. The typical pattern is that Daniel has an unusual vision, then it is explained to him. I am not strong on symbolism or prophecy, but I will rely heavy on my Life Application Study Bible notes and do my best to offer some thoughts on these passages. Please add your comments if you have additional insights (or corrections!).

The lion represents Babylon, which was in power at the beginning of the Book of Daniel. The bear represents the Medo-Persian empire, which overtook Babylon. Greece is represented by the leopard, which represents how quickly Alexander the Great conquered much of the world in only four years. The fourth beast appears to be a mix of the Roman empire and an empire yet to come. If you are a history buff you will really enjoy this section.

The “son of man” in v. 14 is Jesus. This was his favorite nickname for himself.

The phrase “time, times and half a time” in v. 25 appears multiples times in Daniel and Revelation. It is generally thought to represent 3.5 years (time = 1, times = 2, half a times = .5), though perhaps it just means that the time the saints (believers) will suffer will be limited.

While there is some mystery to the end times prophecy, we can rest assured that v. 27 will come to pass: “Then the sovereignty power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.”

I appreciate Daniel’s very human reaction in v. 28: “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

The following section is from our Daniel overview, but I thought it was worth repeating:

The most amazing thing about Daniel is the accuracy of the prophecies. Even most liberal scholars agree that Daniel accurately describes the reigns and activities of several empires covering several hundred years – they just think Daniel was written after the fact and is pretending to be prophecy. I think the evidence is on the side of the early writing and that all the critics issues have been well addressed. You can read more about the dating of Daniel here (Warning: it is a little dry).

Jesus obviously viewed Daniel as the real author, as shown in Matthew 24:15-16 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel . . .” That is a pretty good trump card regarding the dating debate, assuming you are talking to a Christian. It is encouraging that God shows us through his Word that He knows everything that will happen. Psychics can’t predict what will happen next week, yet God predicted the specific course of many countries covering hundreds of years with 100% accuracy. This is one of the proofs showing the reliability of the Bible. No other Holy Book contains confirmed prophecies like this. There are also some very specific prophecies about Jesus.

The next reading is Daniel 8.