The prophecy of Daniel is remarkable among the books of the prophets for, along with other things, the breadth of the visions it contains. The visions range across the whole history of the western world from the times of Babylon right to our present days and beyond. The majestic visionary sweep of chapter 2 is the foundation and framework for both Daniel’s later visions and for the detailed prophecies given by other Divine penmen. The scope of the vision in chapter 2 alone is clear evidence of the divinity of the scriptures and of the providential work of God’s angels amongst the nations.

Daniel the Prophet

The Lord made specific reference to Daniel’s prophecy in respect to Jerusalem in Matthew 24:15— “whoso readeth, let him understand”. This challenge of the Lord to his disciples in the first century comes down to us today as we live in the end of the times of the Gentiles and close to the time when the Son of man will come “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Dan 7:13–14; Matt 24:30).

Another important dimension to Daniel’s prophecy is the way it is expanded in the book of Revelation. The words of our Lord, particularly in Revelation chapters 11, 13 and 17, are based upon the prophecies of Daniel in his seventh chapter. It is well worth the exercise to note down, whilst reading Daniel, the connections to the book of Revelation. Some of these are noted in the centre margin of the Oxford edition of the King James version.

There are several excellent pictorial aids to the prophecies of Daniel, including one chart that depicts the image of Daniel 2 and traces the connections through Daniel’s succeeding prophecies and their connections to Revelation. These Bible insert charts are available through the Christadelphian Scripture Study Service. There are several books and study notes on Daniel, including the foundation work of Brother Thomas, the Exposition of Daniel.

The Example of Daniel

The faithful life of Daniel and of his three friends shines through the prophecy. He was taken into captivity as one of the youthful and talented young men “in whom was no blemish” and taught the “learning and tongue of the Chaldeans” (1:4). This first chapter and the subsequent chapters on the trials of the fiery furnace and the den of lions (Daniel by then an old man), demonstrate the quality and sincerity of the faith of these captives. Even at the end of the era of the Babylonians, Daniel was still held in great respect, as shown in chapter 5 when he is called in to interpret the handwriting on the wall and to spell out the end of Belshazzar’s reign. Daniel occupied important and lofty positions in the administration of Babylon (2:49) and later Persia (6:1–2). His conduct was so exemplary that it is stated by his enemies, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God” (6:5). He was by now a man of advanced years, but he kept to the habits of his youth in his prayers and devotion to the land of his fathers. Despite the decree of King Darius, he opened his windows towards Jerusalem and getting down “upon his knees, three times a day, [he] prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (6:10).

Daniel’s prayer for his people, land and city was heard and there was an immediate response (ch 9). He was told by the angel that he was a “man greatly beloved”, a wonderful honour. Daniel was a legend in his own time. In the writings of his contemporary prophet in the captivity, Ezekiel, God says, “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in it [Jerusalem] they would deliver their own souls” (14:14). That he should be named in this threesome, also shows the high regard God had for him.

His was a life of faithfulness, and no matter the decree of king Darius, the King of Heaven came first and into His hands Daniel committed his trust. As we read his prophecy may we take in his example of faith and diligence.

Analysis

Chapter 1     The Power of Example

1–2                              The captivity

3–7                          Challenge of Babylon

8–16                        Prove thy servants

17–21                         Faith vindicated

Chapter 2      World History in a Dream

1–9                          The King’s demand

10–13                      The Chaldeans fail

13–16                       Daniel given time

17–18                       Power of prayer

19–23                   Daniel gives thanks to God

24–45                   Daniel interprets the dream

46–49                   Nebuchadnezzar praises God

Chapter 3            The Trial of Faith

1–7                    King demands universal worship

8–12                 Three friends accused to the King

13–23                Three friends cast into fiery furnace

24–30                 Faith vindicated and God exalted

Chapter 4            The Most High ruleth

1–18                Dream of the bands of iron and brass

19–26                    The dream interpreted

27–37                 Nebuchadnezzar praises God

Chapter 5          Babylon weighed and found wanting

1–4                            Belshazzar desecrates vessels

5–9                                 Handwriting on the wall

10–16                            Daniel called to interpret

17–29                           Daniel reprimands Belshazzar

30–31                        Kingdom passes to Medes & Persians

Chapter 6            Daniel, an Excellent Spirit was in Him

1–3                           Daniel elevated in Darius’ Kingdom

4–9                               Jealous officials accuse Daniel

10–17                           Daniel cast into lions’ den

18–23                           No manner of hurt found

24–28                           The Living God exalted

Chapter 7              Four Beasts of World Dominion

1–8                                 Dream of the four beasts

9–14                         Kingdom of God established

15–28                       The dream interpreted

Chapter 8             Eastern Domains Persia and Greece

1–12                          Dream of the ram and he-goat

13–27                        Interpretation of the dream

Chapter 9              The Desolation of Jerusalem

1–19                         Daniel’s prayer for his people

20–27                         Prophecy of 70 weeks

Chapter 10            Time Appointed is Long

–9                          No strength remains in Daniel

10–21                    Daniel revived but vision is long

Chapter 11           Kings of the North and South

1–2                               Four kings of Persia

3–4                              Alexander the Great

5–9                         Grecian empire divided into four

10–19                         Antiochus the Great

20–21                      Unrest in the Grecian sector

22–31                      Antiochus Epiphanes

32–35                     Conflict with the Maccabees

36–39                      Roman little horn exalted

40–45                      Russian King of the North

Chapter 12          Thou Shalt Stand in Thy Lot

1–4                        Time of trouble such as never was

5–11                           The wise shall understand

12–13                        Blessed is he that waiteth