This book speaks about the end time, that is, the time immediately before the coming of the Lord Jesus to reign on earth. It is an important book. This is also evident from the fact that the enemy attacks it again and again. It is perhaps the most attacked book of all Old Testament books. This is because the book contains many prophecies that were already fulfilled in the time when the Lord Jesus was on earth.
An example of this we see in the rise of the four consecutive world realms over which Daniel prophesied. Unbelief cannot accept that a prophet has predicted this so accurately. Therefore, Bible critics have dated the book much later. According to these people, the book was written after the fulfilment of the prophecies and so, they claim, cannot be from Daniel.
But we have to do with a God who indicates in advance how history will go and how events will take place (Isa 46:1010Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
). In the book we also see things that took place later and things that also still have to happen. Above all, we have the clear testimony of the Lord Jesus Himself. He speaks emphatically of “Daniel the prophet” (Mt 24:1515“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),). His testimony is the end of all contradictions.
There is also a testimony about the Lord Jesus in the book of Daniel and that is His title ‘Son of Man’. In the Gospels the Lord speaks several times about Himself as “the Son of man”. This name appears three times in the Old Testament: twice in Psalms (Psa 8:55Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
; 80:1818Then we shall not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
) and once in Daniel (Dan 7:1313“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
). Every time He calls Himself by this name, it is a confirmation of the historical accuracy of the book of Daniel, for He is the Son of man Who Daniel describes, Who will come once to establish His kingdom of peace (Dan 7:1313“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
In the book of Ezekiel we also find evidence of Daniel. Ezekiel is a prophet in exile and speaks of Daniel (Eze 14:14,2014even [though] these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their [own] righteousness they could [only] deliver themselves,” declares the Lord GOD.20even [though] Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “they could not deliver either [their] son or [their] daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”). Daniel is already known then. This is an extra argument that the book of Daniel can only be dated in that time and not later.
It is still important to know something about the historical background of this book. The last God-fearing king in Judah is Josiah. Josiah dies in the war against the king of Egypt, Neco, a war he should not have waged for Neco is on his way to Assyria and not to Judah (2Chr 35:21-2421But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? [I am] not [coming] against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from [interfering with] God who is with me, so that He will not destroy you.”22However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo.23The archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.”24So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.). Of the four sons that Josiah has, the people take the youngest son and make him king (2Chr 36:11Then the people of the land took Joahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in place of his father in Jerusalem.). He rules only three months. The king of Egypt has power in Israel and takes him to Egypt. He makes the second son of Josiah, Eliakim, king, and gives him the name Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim is a godless king (2Chr 36:5-85Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God.6Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze [chains] to take him to Babylon.7Nebuchadnezzar also brought [some] of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon.8Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son became king in his place.). This king Jehoiakim is the one mentioned in Daniel 1 (Dan 1:11In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.).
Babel became a world empire in the year 612 BC with power over Assyria and Israel. Nebuchadnezzar is given authority over these countries by his father. In the book of Daniel we are in the year 606 BC. From that time on, the seventy years of exile are counted (Dan 9:22in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was [revealed as] the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, [namely], seventy years.). Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim. This siege is not mentioned in non-biblical history, but here the Scripture writes history. Only later, in the eleventh year of Jehoiakim, does Nebuchadnezzar take Jerusalem. Then the second deportation takes place. The first deportation takes place during the first siege, here in Daniel 1. The third deportation is under Zedekiah. Daniel and his friends are also taken away on the first deportation and end up in Babel.
There is another aspect that is important to remember and that is the division of God’s people into ten tribes and two tribes. That division is caused by the sin of the people and their kings, beginning with Solomon (1Kgs 11:11-1311So the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant.12Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, [but] I will tear it out of the hand of your son.13However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, [but] I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”). By persevering in their sins, God finally had to remove the ten tribes from the land first. He used the Assyrians, who deported the population of the ten tribes from their area and scattered them over other countries over which the king of Assyria ruled (2Kgs 17:3-63Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him, and Hoshea became his servant and paid him tribute.4But the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea, who had sent messengers to So king of Egypt and had offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as [he had done] year by year; so the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison.5Then the king of Assyria invaded the whole land and went up to Samaria and besieged it three years.6In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, [on] the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.). The ten tribes are still in the ‘scattering’.
The two tribes have not been warned by this, but have continued to sin and have sinned even worse than the ten tribes (Eze 23:1111“Now her sister Oholibah saw [this], yet she was more corrupt in her lust than she, and her harlotries were more than the harlotries of her sister.). God carries out the judgment on them by giving them in the hand of the king of Babylon (2Chr 36:11-2111Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.12He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD.13He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear [allegiance] by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel.14Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful [following] all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem.15The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent [word] to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;16but they [continually] mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.17Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave [them] all into his hand.18All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought [them] all to Babylon.19Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles.20Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,21to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.; Jer 52:28-3028These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away into exile: in the seventh year 3,023 Jews;29in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar 832 persons from Jerusalem;30in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile 745 Jewish people; there were 4,600 persons in all.) for a seventy-year exile: “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place’” (Jer 29:1010“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.).
The book of Daniel is set in Babel. Babel means ‘confusion’ and represents the religious confusion so characteristic of Christianity. In this book God shows in the attitude of Daniel and his friends what the attitude of His own should be in such circumstances. Daniel and his friends have not chosen for their stay in Babylon and the career they have been given.
Daniel means ‘God is my Judge’. That is an encouragement for him and it is an encouragement for us too. If we are in circumstances comparable to those of Daniel and his friends, we may know that only the judgment of God counts.
There are many prophetic books in the Old Testament, but Daniel is special. In all prophetic books, Israel is still God’s people, the people are still in God’s land, and there is still the throne of God. God still recognizes the people. There are also prophecies in those books concerning the coming of the Messiah. In the book of Daniel it is different. Israel is no longer God’s people in this book, but it is “Lo-ammi”, which means “not My people” (Hos 1:99And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.”
). The people are no longer in the land either, but they have been taken to Babylon.
Here begins what the Lord Jesus calls “the times of Gentiles” (Lk 21:2424and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.). From now on, time is counted according to the kings of the world empires. The throne of God is no longer in Jerusalem. The glory of God has gone away from the earth. This happened in phases (Eze 9:3a3Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case.; 10:18-1918Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.19When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD’S house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.; 11:22-2322Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.23The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.). God is no longer the God of the earth, but of heaven (Dan 2:28,3728However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind [while] on your bed.37You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory;), to which He has withdrawn. His government is no longer connected with Jerusalem.
Division of the book
We can divide the book into two parts:
1. Daniel 1-6: In this part we have the fates of Daniel and his friends;
2. Daniel 7-12: This part shows us future events through visions that Daniel has received.
Not only the second part of the book is prophecy, but the whole book, so also the first part. We will see that what happens to Daniel and his friends also has an application to the future.
The first part contains visions and dreams that are given to gentiles, but they must be explained by Daniel. Daniel represents the believing and faithful remnant of Israel in the end times. He is one of the wise men about whom we hear in this book and who have insight into the thoughts of God. The first part also describes the circumstances of the gentile rulers in connection with their behavior.
In the second part the announcements are made to the faithful prophet. These are events that are more directly related to the people of God.
Introduction to Daniel 1
The subject of this chapter is the conduct of those who, as a result of God’s judgment of His people, are in the foreign land, whereby the favor of God rests on them. The message is that obedience to God gives insight into His thoughts and also the power to act in accordance with them. This is further elaborated in the following chapters.
Daniel and his friends are a picture of the faithful remnant of Israel in the end times. It is not a remnant in the land of God, but among the nations. That is how it will be in the great tribulation. The true believers in our days are also a remnant for God, they also live in an end time. It is about God finding in us something of the characteristics that should be found in the whole people. We see that in Daniel 1.
Daniel’s personal behavior is the basis and introduction to gain insight into the whole book. With us it is the same. Separation from the (Christian) world – a pertinent refusal to participate in what it has to offer – puts us in a position to receive what God wants to communicate to us.