We have spent a considerable amount of time covering the prophet Daniel, and we have seen that his prophecies were not only about the coming of Christ but that Jesus Himself talked about Daniel’s prophecies of Him. Furthermore, we saw that both Jesus and Daniel talked about things such as the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation/time of distress, which we determined is the great persecution of Acts 8:1. Finally, and most importantly, we see that they both alluded to the resurrection.
The resurrection is the defining moment in history. It is what separates the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the chaff. However, the great persecution, aka the great tribulation, aka the time of distress, as well as the abomination of desolation, is where most people want to spend their time talking. Where a person stands on those issues determines much about that person’s outlook on life.
While many people have spent significant time attempting to decipher Daniel 9:24-27 and 12:1-4, a careful look at, and a comparison of, the six items in the former passage with those of the latter will show that not only do both passages point to the resurrection but that the resurrection satisfied all of the items. Again, a careful examination will show that those claims which we have been making and are making here are claims that the Scriptures themselves make on our behalf. We should not read those verses as though they are isolated, for they were not written in a vacuum – one should read them objectively and in context.
Jesus said to His disciples and His followers, “To you, it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (Matthew 13:11; Mark. 4:11). Jesus also said to His disciples, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 16:19). There is no reason to believe that Jesus’ directive to them was meant only for them and ended in the first century, for we too are His followers and disciples.
Furthermore, we showed that the New Testament teachings confirmed as much when we referenced Ephesians 1:4. God has indeed blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (1:3). In fact, in the entire first chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul gives us a glorious depiction of who we are and what we possess in Christ. In addition to that, the apostle Peter tells us that God, in Christ, has granted to us everything pertaining to life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Those are the words of the God-inspired Scriptures, and those are the things that should guide our lives.
The point is this: eschatology is not separate from the rest of the Scriptures. It may make up only about ten percent of the New Testament and less than one percent of all of Scripture, but we miss the point when we see it differently from the overall message of the Scriptures. That message is this: that the Old Testament consistently tells us of the coming of the Messiah – Jesus Christ; the gospels are all about the actual ministry of Christ – His teachings, healings, and miracles; and finally, we have the teachings by the apostles about those things which Christ taught. In other words, it all relates to Christ, and all that He did and taught is accentuated by what He accomplished at the cross – and His resurrection.
Revelation does not violate that principle. It is the ἀποκάλυψις, pronounced apocalupsis, where we get the word apocalypse, which means an uncovering, unveiling, or revealing – hence the Revelation – of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are His story – History. It is the story that God is telling about His plan for us. That story is told many times in many ways. When one sees the larger picture, the details come into focus.
Let us now finish our study of the book of Daniel by looking at chapter 7 and see how it relates to chapter 2 and to the larger message of which we just spoke. In chapter 2, the king’s dreams and visions were about a statue representing four kingdoms, culminating with a stone cut out from the mountain without hands, which smashed all of the kingdoms. If one is objective, knowing the overall message of the Scriptures, one cannot interpret the stone any other way than as the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom that God set up, and that which we see given to the Son of Man as He is presented to the Ancient of Days in chapter 7.
The unnamed kingdom, i.e., the fourth kingdom, which we see in both chapters 2 and 7, was the Roman Empire, which followed the kingdom of Greece. Whereas the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece each lasted for a few hundred years, the Roman Empire lasted for nearly 2000 years. It began with the Roman Republic, which was established in ~510BC, then the Empire itself was declared in 27BC. That was followed by the Eastern Roman Empire, also called the Byzantine Empire, in 476AD, which finally collapsed in 1473. All of this was undoubtedly the fourth kingdom/fourth beast of Daniel.
Not only do those things fit the events of Scripture, but they also fit the events of history. It was during the time of those kingdoms, most notably the fourth, that the stone cut from the mountain without hands, the chief cornerstone, the stone of stumbling, the rock of offense – Christ – came.
In the dream that Daniel had with a vision of four beasts, the fourth devoured and crushed and trampled down the “remainder” with its feet. That fourth beast, as we said, is the fourth kingdom. It was the Roman Empire, for it was the Roman Empire that persecuted the church, trampling down the remainder with its feet.
As for the “remainder” itself, it is represented here by those who came out of the Babylonian captivity, i.e., those who rebuilt the Temple, and those associated with them until the time of Christ. Incidentally (coincidentally? not!), the seventy-year captivity ended in 516BC, just six short years before the establishment of the Roman Republic.
The “remainder” also includes those believers who walked with Christ and those who died for the cause of Christ in the great persecution. Also included were those who were alive but were still suffering persecution. These are no different from any “remnant” or remainder whom we saw in the Old Testament after judgment, for God always saves a remnant. Today, that remnant includes all who came out of the great persecution and those who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior.
As to the minor details, the little horn was Caesar Nero, the beast. There has been much written and said about the identity of the beast and his number. Some excellent sources on that subject are: Days of Vengeance, Chilton, pp. 344-352; Before Jerusalem Fell, Gentry, pp. 198-201; The Parousia, Russell, pp. 462-465; Biblical Hermeneutics, Terry, pp. 476-477; The Harlot of Revelation, pp. 129-133.
Much of the controversy and confusion about the beast and its number and/or the Antichrist can be attributed to the early church fathers, most notably Papias, Irenaeus, and Eusebius. In fact, a study on Revelation cannot be done without coming face to face with the writings of Irenaeus. He quotes Papias, but Irenaeus is the key figure. The entirety of Part IV of The Harlot of Revelation and the Great Tribulation deals with the writings of Irenaeus, as well as those of Eusebius. No serious student of eschatology can ignore them.
In closing, the kingdom that the Ancient of Days gave to the Son of Man when He was presented before Him, the kingdom that will last forever, is the stone cut without hands that fills the whole earth. It is a kingdom that is given to the saints of the Most High, and we are those saints of the Most High.
We have concluded our study of Daniel.