Search The Scriptures —Study 14 — Daniel 11:21 – 12:13

Study 14 From the Book of Daniel is:  Daniel 11:21 – 12:13

With this study we will end the book of Daniel. Tomorrow we will go back the last time to the book of Psalms

At chapter 11:21 the predicted course of events as told in the vision reaches the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the historical fulfilment can be traced with accuracy up to verse 35. The career of Antiochus is revealed in four main features: (a) the craft by which he obtained the throne and won his way to power (verses 21-23);  (b) his love of munificent and lavish giving (verse 24a); (c) his plans for war (verse 24b), and especially his wars against Egypt (verse 25-30); and (d) his acts of sacrilege against the Temple in Jerusalem’ and persecution of the Jews (verse 31-35).

            The remainder of the passage (11:36-12:4) seems at first sight to be a continuation of the career of Antiochus, but on closer examination is seen to go beyond it, alike in its description of the king (verse 36; cf. 2 Thes. 2:4), in the events which it records (e.g., 12:1, 2), and in the emphasis laid upon its being ‘the time of the end’ (11:35, 40; 12:4). The figure of Antiochus seems here to merge into the more sinister figure of the antichrist. With 12:2, 7, cf. 7:25; 9:27.

  • Gather out the evidence given here on the one hand of man’s sinfulness and lust for power, and on the other of God’s overruling control and purpose. Cf. Je. 17:5-14.
  • What are the characteristics of those who will be glorified and of those who will be put to shame at the last?

Notes

  • 11:21. I. e., he was not the recognized heir to the throne.
  • 11:22-24. ‘The prince of the covenant is probably Antiochus, the infant son and heir of Seleucus IV. ‘The strongholds’ are those of Egypt.
  • 11:27. Antiochus actually captured the king of Egypt, but they pretended to be friendly.
  • 11:30. ‘Ships of Kittim’: i.e., Roman ships, which refused Antiochus liberty to proceed. He vented his anger, therefore, upon Palestine.
  • 11:31. ‘The abomination that makes desolate’: a small altar was placed upon the altar of burnt offering and sacrifices were offered to idols.
  • 11:37. ‘The one beloved by women’ refers to the god Tammuz. See Ezk. 8:14.

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Search The Scriptures —Study 13 — Daniel 11:2-20

Study 13 From the Book of Daniel is: Daniel 11:2-20

This passage is a forecast of history, not continuous, but selective. The period is one of nearly 400 years, from the time of Daniel’s vision to the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. Verses 2-4 are introductory, having reference (a) to the rulers of Persia, up to Xerxes (verse 2), and (b) to the rise of Alexander the Great nearly 150 years later, and to the division of his kingdom into four (verses 3, 4). From this point the prophecy confines itself to two of these four kingdoms: Egypt, whose ruler is called ‘king of the south’, and Syria, whose ruler is called ‘king of the north’. The successive rulers of these kingdoms in historical succession were (a) Egypt: Ptolemy I (304-285 BC); Ptolemy II (285-246 BC) Ptolemy III (226-221 BC) Ptolemy VI (221-205 BC.) Ptolemy V (205-180 BC); Ptolemy VI (180-145 BC); (b) Syria: Seleucus I (312-280 BC); Antiochus I (280-261); Antiochus II (261-246 BC); Seleucus II (246-226 BC); Seleucus II (246-226 BC); Seleucus III (226-223 BC); Antiochus III, called the Great (223-187 BC); Seleucus IV (187-175 BC); Antiochus IV, called Epiphanes (175-163 BC).           

Verse 5a of our chapter refers to Ptolemy I, and verse 5b to Seleucus I, who for a time was one of Ptolemy’s general, but be came ruler of a wider empire then Ptolemy’s. Verse 6 refers to Ptolemy II, who gave his daughter Berenice to Antiochus II in marriage upon certain conditions. The conditions were, however, broken and Bernice lost her life. Verses 7 and 8 refer to Ptolemy III, brother of Berenice, who successfully attacked the kingdom of Syria under Seleucus II and returned with great spoil. Seleucus II later invaded Egypt, but without success (verse 9). Verses 10-19 predict continued wars between the kings of Syria and Egypt in the reigns of Antiochus III, Ptolemy IV and Ptolemy V. The victory turned now to the north (verse 10), and now to the south (verses 11, 12).  Then Antiochus brought Egypt low (verses 13-17), but, wishing to press westwards (verse 18), made an alliance with Egypt by giving Ptolemy V his daughter Cleopatra in marriage (verse 17). The plans for a conquest westward were, however, defeated by a Roman commander (verse 18), and Antiochus had to retire to his own kingdom, where he died verse 19. Verse 20 refers to Seleucus IV, who imposed heavy taxes upon Palestine to build up his kingdom’s finances. In all this time Palestine, named ‘the glorious land’ (verse 16) and ‘the glory of the kingdom’ (verse 20), was the pathway of marching armies, and a bone of contention between the warring nations. But it had not yet suffered what it was soon to suffer under Antiochus IV.

  • What was the purpose of this detailed prediction? In what way would it help the remnant during the persecution which was to come?
  • Ponder the words in verses 3 and 16 ‘shall do according to his own will’. See also verse 36, and contrast Jn. 4:34; Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Jn. 2:17. Are you learning to say with Christ Mt. 26:42 and Heb. 10:7?

Note. Verse 14. A party among the Jews will rise up, thinking by violence to bring to pass the fulfilment of prophecy.

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Search The Scriptures —Study 12 —Daniel 10:1–11:1

Study 12 From the Book of  Daniel is: Daniel 10:1–11:1

  • This chapter is introductory to Daniel’s last vision. Consider the date (10:1) and trace out from Ezr. 1:3; 4:, 5 what was happening at that time to the first contingent of those who returned from exile. What light does this throw upon the mourning of Daniel (verse 2) and upon the purpose of the vision?
  • What does this passage teach of the costliness of communion with God, and of true prayer?
  • Read Eph. 6:10-13 in the light of this chapter; also 2 Ki. 6:16-18; Ps. 34:7. In the presence of the mysterious spirit-world, what comfort may we draw from the New Testament revelation that our Lord is supreme there also? Cf. Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:16; 2:15.

Notes

  • Verses 5, 6. It is not said who this august being was. Some features of his appearance and person remind us of the visions of Ezekiel and John (Ezk. 1:13-16; Rev. 1:13-15).
  • Verse 8. ‘No strength’: ‘Before God gives strength and power unto His people He makes them sensible of their own weakness.’
  • Verse 13. ‘Prince’: used here of guardian angels of the kingdoms.
  • Verses 16, 18. The angelic figure described in these verses is probably the same as the original being of verse 5, but the text is not very clear.

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Search The Scriptures —Study 11 — Daniel 9:20-27

Study 11 From the Book of Daniel is: Daniel 9:20-27

Daniel had assumed that a period of seventy years would finish ’the desolations of Jerusalem’ (verse 2), and in his prayer, had pleaded with God for this (verse 18). God sends Gabriel to give him fuller understanding (verse 20-23), by conveying to him ‘a word’, which speaks not a seventy year, but of seventy weeks of years. The message is very condensed, and every clause is significant.

  • Verse 24. What are the six things here mentioned? Noticed that they all concern the Jews and the holy city, and are to come to pass at the end of the full seventy weeks of years.
  • The seventy weeks of years are divided into three periods of seven weeks, sixty-two weeks and one weeks respectively. What the first period signifies is not certainly known, unless it is the time taken to build the city. What event, however, is stated as happening at the end of the second period?
  • The reminder of the passage has been variously interpreted even by those who regard it as inspired prophecy. If verse 26a is a reference to the cross of Christ, then verse 26b seems to point to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in AD 70. But such questions, as these arise: (a) Does the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 exhaust the prophecy? (b) Who is the ‘prince that shall come’, and is he to be identified with the little horn of 7:8, 24, 25? See Note 3 below.

Notes

  • Verse 24. “To finish the transgression’ and ‘to put an end to sin’ are parallel expression meaning to bring Israel’s sinning to an end. Cf. Rom.11:26, 27. ‘To seal both vision and prophet’: i.e., to ratify them as being fulfilled. ‘To anoint a most holy place’: i.e., the consecration of the Messianic Temple, fulfilled in the establishment of the church, the body of Christ.
  • From the decree of Artaxerxes I, referred to in Exr. 7:11ff. (458 BC), sixty-nine weeks of years bring us to the period of Christ’s ministry. This prophecy of Daniel may account for the widespread expectation of Messiah at the time Jesus appeared (cf. Mt. 2:1, 2; Lk. 2:25, 26; 3:15), and may lie behind our Lord’s own words in Mk. 1: 15a.
  • Verses 26, 27. Many hold that in this prophecy, as in other Old Testament passages, the beginning and end of the Christian era are telescoped together, and that the prophecy here leaps forward to the end of the age. If so, the last ‘week’ is separated from the first sixty-nine by the whole interval between Christ’s first and second comings. With verse 27, cf. 2 Thes. 2: 8.

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Search The Scriptures —Study 10 — Daniel 9:1-19

Study 10 From the Book of Daniel is:  Daniel 9:1-19

  • Consider the effect of the fall of Babylon upon one who, like Daniel, saw in it a fulfilment of prophecy (verse 2; cf. Je. 25:11; 29:10-14; 50:1-5). What did it lead him to do (cf. Ezk. 36:37), and what light do verses 2 and 3 throw upon the use of Scripture in our praying?
  • As you read through Daniel’s prayer, how would you describe his praying? See especially verses 3 and 19. In his confession, how does he speak of God? How of himself and his people? In his petition, on what does he base his plea for mercy, and for what does he ask?

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Search The Scriptures —Study 9 — Daniel 8

Study 9 From the Book of Daniel is: Daniel 8

The vision of this chapter received historical fulfilment in the overthrow of Persia by Alexander the Great (330 BC), the division of Alexander’s kingdom into four (‘but not with his power’, verse 22), and the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes, who did what is here foretold of him in verses 9-12 and 23-25 (170-164, BC). Gabriel’s emphasis, however, upon the vision having to do with ‘the time of the end’ (see verses 17 and 19) suggests that its meaning is not exhausted in Antiochus, but that he is only a type of one greater than he, and yet to come, who will act in a similar way. Cf. 7:24-26 and Mt. 24:15; 2 Thes. 2:8-10.

  • What expression is used both of the ram and of the he-goat in the time of their prosperity, and also of the king of verse 23? Yet what was the end of these kingdoms? Notice the repetition of the verb ‘to break’.
  • Why was Daniel so deeply affected by this vision? Consider how the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel seemed to indicate that the return from exile would coincide with the advent of the kingdom of God (see, e.g., Je., 32:37-44; Ezk. 37:21-28); but this vision shows long vistas of history stretching into the future, and further suffering for the Jews.

Notes

  • Verse 9. ‘The glorious land’: i.e., Palestine
  • Verse 10. ‘The host of heaven… stars’: used figuratively of Israel and her leaders.
  • Verse 11. ‘The prince of the host’: i.e., God Himself. Cf. verse 25.
  • Verse 12. Israel was to be given over into the power of the ‘horn’ because of transgressions, and true religion was to be supressed.
  • Verse 14. If the burnt offering ceased for 2, 3000 times, that would be 1, 150 days, which is a little more than three years. It is known that Antiochus did suspend the burnt offering for three years and possibly a little longer.

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Search The Scriptures —Study 8 — Daniel 7

Study 8 From the Book of  Daniel is:  Daniel 7

The chapter records, first, the vision (verses 2:14); then the general interpretation (verses 15-18); then Daniel’s enquiry concerning three features of the vision (verses 19, 20); and lastly, the answer given to these enquiries.

  1. Assuming the four kingdoms to be the same as those which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream (chapter 2), what is there new in this vision which caused Daniel such distress and agitation of spirit (verses 15, 28))?
  2. To Nebuchadnezzar the kingdoms of this world appeared in the glittering splendour of material wealth and power, whereas by Daniel they are seen as beast of prey. What is the difference between these points of view, and which is the deeper and truer view? Cf. 1 Sa. 16:7; Mt. 4:8; 1 Jn. 2:16, 17.
  3. What is to be the final goal of history to which this vision looks forward? Who are meant by ‘the saints of the Most High’  (verse 18)? What privileges will they have in the days to come?

Notes

  1. Verse 5. The bear represented the Medo-Persian Empire, noted for its greed for further conquest.
  2. Verse 6. The wings on the leopards’ back indicate the swiftness of Alexander’s campaigns. After his death his empire was divided into four parts.
  3. Verse 7. The fourth beast is either the Seleucid Empire, with its many kings (horns), of whom Antiochus Epiphanes was the most deadly, or Rome with its many emperors, under one of whom arose the Son of man.

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