A lot of brilliant men have written superb commentaries on the book of Daniel. Without competing with them, as we step into this book, my personal focus is on its remarkable contrasts.
- Nebuchadnezzar’s chapter 2 Golden headed statue of the empires of the Gentiles is singular. Moving into chapter 3, it breaks into combative, consuming creatures by chapter 7.
- Neb goes from naming four Hebrew boys after his own gods in chapter 1 to proclaiming God to his empire in chapter 4.
- In chapter 5, Daniel looks at Belshazzar and tells him his grandfather, Neb, was a real King but he was a pipsqueak who had been weighed, found wanting, and would die that night. Persian Special Forces diverted the Euphrates and the Persian Army marched into Babylon in knee-deep water, that night, terminating the Golden head and beginning the silver chest of Neb’s statue.
- Even the language changes. From Daniel 2:4 to 7:28, Daniel shifts the writing into Aramaic. This was the language of business and government for the Babylonian empire. At the writing of 8:1, Daniel shifts back to Hebrew. This remarkable contrast is a micro-imitation of God’s word.
- From 1:1 to 2:4, the focus is on explaining the situation to Hebrew readers. Babylon and empires of the Gentiles are being viewed through the lens of Israel. Beginning at 2:4, Daniel shifts to Aramaic. We can see a broadening of how God views humanity. Almost seventy years of service, prophecy, and interactions with angels follow. In chapter eight, especially chapter nine, the language returns to Hebrew. It is a return to God viewing Humanity through the Lens of Israel.
Big picture, the Bible does the same. Placing the Bible in chronological order, until Daniel’s day, the books are written in Hebrew. From Daniel through the Gospels, they are mostly Aramaic then shifting to Greek. The book of Revelation was written in Koine Greek but its imagery and prophecies shift back to God viewing humanity through the lens of Israel.
The prophecy and prayer of Chapter nine receive singular focus but even here, we find remarkable contrasts. It is the end of the seventy years and Daniel wants to go home. He is praying in accord with prophecies in Jeremiah 25 that proclaimed seventy years on Israel. We know from 2 Chron 36:11 that Israel failed to celebrate the Sabbath year every seven years. That was a 490 year failure from Eli to the first Babylonian captivity.
From this prayer in Chpt 9, God reveals a new seventy weeks. Weeks of years. This equaled 490 years. Most of us accept the break between the 69th week and 70th week. Sir Robert Anderson wrote a great book that detailed to the day how Jesus’ triumphal entry on the 10th of Nissan in 33 AD fulfilled the 69 weeks of years to the day.
As we prepare for Pastor Steve’s series in Revelation, It would be a great exercise to link Dan Chpt 7 to various prophecies and fulfillment in the book of Revelation.
BOTTOM LINE: Daniel is an incredible study in contrasts – Past vs. future, Times of the Hebrews vs. times of the Gentile, Antiochus vs Rome, Anti-Christ vs Christ.