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            In this essay we are studying Daniel 12:5-13, which will complete our study of the Book of Daniel.  In the next essay I am going to break out of our pattern of studying individual biblical books and begin a study of Christian theology. 

            I want to begin today’s lesson with chapter 12, verse four, because it contains an instruction for Daniel rather than an additional revelation.  Daniel was to “close up and seal” the vision in the sense of preserve it, because it was for the time of the end, not just for Daniel’s day.  In addition, the command refers to the entire book, not just the final vision. 

              When the visitor said, “many will go here and there to increase knowledge,” most evangelical scholars believe that the Hebrew means that people would “run here and there” in the book rather than literally, and gain knowledge from it. 

            In verse five two additional beings appeared on either bank of the river.  Most believe they were angels.  Although the Hebrew is a bit uncertain, it appears that one of the two additional beings asked the question in verse six rather than Daniel.  In any case, there are differing interpretations of who was conversing with Daniel in these final verses.  Some believe it was the man clothed in linen, and other believe it was one of the two angels. 

              It seems to me that since the one who spoke with Daniel was “above the waters of the river,” rather than on one of the banks; and since he is described as “a man clothed in linen,” as was the visitor by the Tigris in 10:5, I believe that it was the same visitor continuing the revelation, rather than one of the two angelic visitors have just come on the scene.  

            The question asked of the visitor was, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled”?  After swearing an oath by “him who lives forever,” he answered “that it will be for a time, times, and half a time,” literally “a seven, two sevens, and half a seven.”  And then the visitor told Daniel that the events of that time period will be complete when the power of God’s holy people is finally broken.  You may recall that “a seven, two sevens, and half a seven” also was the length of time given in 7:25 as the duration of the oppression of the little horn king.  

              As we see, Daniel heard the answer; but he did not understand it.  So he asked for clarification in verse eight.  But the visitor told Daniel to be on his way, because the revelation was “closed up and sealed until the time of the end.”  Thus we see that, the first thing Daniel was told was a reminder that the prophecies were for the end time rather than Daniel’s time (v. 9). 

            Then second, Daniel was reminded that the suffering of the faithful will purify them; and that the wise will understand God’s prophecies.  But the unfaithful, the wicked, never will understand them (v. 10). 

            Then in verse 11, the visitor returned to the question about duration asked of him back in verse six.  And he did that by tying it into the “abomination that causes desolation,” which we saw earlier in the letter referred to the reign of Antiochus IV, who was a type of the Antichrist. 

            Dispensationalists further tie this statement to the broken covenant that takes place in the middle of the 70th week in chapter nine.  You will recall that they believe that the 70th week is the Great Tribulation. 

              This means that for the Dispensationalists, the twelve hundred and ninety days in verse 11, and the thirteen hundred and thirty-five days in verse 13 both will begin in the middle of the 70th week.  The first period will carry 30 days beyond the end of the Great Tribulation, and the second 45 days beyond its end. 

            According to Leon Wood, a prominent dispensationalist, the extra 30 days are to allow time for the final judgment; and the extra 45 days are to allow time to organize the government of the Millennium.  Other scholars interpret the numbers symbolically.  They believe that the numbers simply represent the oppression of Antiochus as a type of the end time Antichrist. 

              Now then, we are ready to look at the parallel imagery in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two, and the visions given to Daniel in chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10-12.  We will first look at the data from the various visions, and then we will try to make some sense out of it. 

            If you turn to chapter 2, you will find Nebuchadnezzars dream.  It was of a statue whose head was gold; its breast and arms were silver; its belly and thighs were bronze; its legs were iron; and its feet (obviously including 10 toes) were of iron and clay.  Then in the vision, a stone which was cut by no human hand struck the statue and destroyed it. 

              In the interpretation of the dream, the head of gold was identified as Nebuchadnezzar himself, and the others as succeeding, inferior kingdoms that were not identified by name.  The stone was identified as the Kingdom of God that will one day destroy the kingdoms of the earth.  The Kingdom of God is a kingdom that will never end.  This “leap” to the end-time, as we have called it, is standard in all of the visions.

            The vision in chapter seven was of a series of four beasts.  The first was like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, but the fourth was not likened to an animal.  The fourth beast had 10 horns.  And from those horns arose a little horn.  And then the son of man came, which of course was the leap to the end time. 

            We learned in the interpretation of that vision that the beasts, like the various parts of the statue in chapter two, represented succeeding kingdoms.  Details were provided in the vision that established parallels between the four beasts and the first four parts of the statue.  And the bringing of the Kingdom of God by the Son of Man was the leap to the end-time.

            The major difference between the dream of chapter two and the vision of chapter seven was that the vision of chapter seven added something; namely, the little horn.  The ten toes on the statue are paralleled by the 10 horns, but there is no parallel to the little horn of chapter seven in chapter two.  

              Next, in chapter eight Daniel was given a vision of a ram with two horns, one higher than the other, that was attacked by a goat from the West.  The goat had one conspicuous horn; and when it attacked the ram, it broke the horns of the ram. 

            Later, the conspicuous horn itself was broken; and four horns arose in its place.  And out of one of the four arose another horn.  Here we notice a difference between chapters two and seven.  There is no reference to a symbol representing ten kings.  Rather the vision moves from the four horns to another horn that grew large. 

              The interpretation was more specific in this instance.  The ram was identified as Media and Persia, the goat as the king of Greece, that is, Alexander the Great, and the four horns as the four kingdoms that arose after his death.  The horn that arose from the four and grew large was not identified by name; but the revealed information indicates that it represented Antiochus IV at one level, and the end-time Antichrist at the end-time level. 

            The leap to the end-time in this vision indicates that the Antichrist will be broken, “but by no human hand.”  Note the same language as in the leap to the end time in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, where the stone representing the kingdom of God was cut with no human hand.. 

              In chapter nine Daniel was given the vision that usually is called “the vision of the seventy weeks.”  That vision is totally different from the others.  The only thing that is the same is that like the others it ends up with a leap to the end.  As it usually is interpreted, it actually extends over the entire period from Nebuchadnezzar to the end time, but its events take place at the end time. 

            The final vision is found in chapters 10-12.  We studied it in the last three essays.  It began with four successive kings of Persia followed by a mighty king of Greece (Alexander), who was followed in turn by Kings of the North and South, who were descendants of two of the four generals who divided Alexander’s kingdom after his death. 

              Then came the prophecy of the kings leading up to the time of Antiochus IV, which in turn were followed by Antiochus himself.  And the record of Antiochus was followed by the typical leap to the end time, when the end time King of the North will be destroyed.

            Now as I said earlier, there are alternative interpretations of the four successive empires.  I have given the interpretation that I believe best interprets the book.  The kingdoms symbolized are the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek (meaning Alexander the Great), and Alexander’s successors. 

            One very common alternative is to interpret them as the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Roman empires.  This is especially common among Dispensationalists, because they anticipate that the end time Antichrist will head a revived Roman Empire, or at least an empire that will rise out of the cultural deposit of the Roman empire, namely Europe. 

            The main problem with this view is that none of the revelation found in Daniel, apart from that dealing with the end time, goes beyond the second century B.C., which was the time of Antiochus IV.  And the Romans were only marginally on the scene at that time. 

            Still another alternative is to split the Medes and Persians.  Thus the four are interpreted to be the Babylonian, the Median, the Persian, and the Greek.  This view is not so common.

            Well, that is our study of Daniel.  God told Daniel that most of what he revealed was “for days yet to come” (10:14), rather than for Daniel’s time.  And in part it was for “the time of the end” (11:40; 12:9). 



            In this essay we will complete the final vision of the book of Daniel.  The last two essays have dealt with this final vision.  As we have seen, it is a long vision, with three sub-visions within it.  The first sub-vision was of a visitor by the Tigris River in chapter 10.  The second sub-vision, in 11:1-39, was a prophecy of future events regarding coming kings.  These events were revealed to Daniel by the Tigris River visitor.  The third sub-vision, with which we are dealing in this essay, is found in 11:40-12:3.  It is a vision of the end-time.                The next essay will be the last in the series and will conclude our study of Daniel.  In it we will study the end of the book in 12:5-13, and we will do an analysis of the parallel aspects of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2, and the visions given to Daniel in chapters 7-12. 

            All right, let us turn to 11:40-12:3, the vision of the end-time.  As I mentioned in the last essay, some scholars believe that the typical leap to the end time that we have observed at the end of each of the visions in the book begins for this last vision at verse 36.  But if it does not begin there, it certainly does at verse 40.  You will notice that I have opted for verse 40. 

              First note that Verse 40 begins, “At the time of the end ….”  There could be no clearer marker that we are now reading a prophecy of the end-time. 

            Second, there is no possibility that this section relates to Antiochus IV.  It simply does not fit the historical situation of Antiochus IV.  It has to do strictly with the end-time. 

              Let me give you some historical background, so that you can see that this part of the prophecy does not refer to Antiochus.  As we noted in the last essay, Antiochus’ second campaign against Egypt took place in 168 B.C.  The Romans frustrated him by telling him that an attack on Egypt would be an attack on them.  Therefore he had to return without defeating Egypt.  So on the way back, he took out his frustration on Israel. 

            Now from Antiochus’ point of view, he had good reasons to attack Israel.  The Jews traditionally followed their unique religious ways, and their foreign rulers allowed them to do that.  But Antiochus did not want to allow them to do it. 

              Therefore even before this Egyptian campaign, Antiochus had determined he was going to make the Jews conform to the Hellenistic religious culture.  The Jews of course had resisted, and Antiochus did not like it. 

            So when Antiochus could not use his army against Egypt, he took advantage of the opportunity to force the Jews to toe the line.  While he was returning home, he attacked Jerusalem; he killed many of the Jews; and profaned the Temple.  In the latter case, he built an altar to Zeus in the Temple, and sacrificed swine on the altar.  In the prophecy, at the historical level, this profaning of the temple was the “the abomination that makes desolate” of 11:31. 

            Now as we have seen, all of this was prophesied; and it all happened as prophesied.  But that brings us to the end of the part of the prophecy that had a fulfillment at the historical level. 

            Now we have come to an important place in our understanding of this final vision.  The next historical event of note was the so-called Maccabeean Revolt that began in the following year, 167.  That came about because of Antiochus’ determination to make the Jews conform. 

              Antiochus decreed in 168, after his attack on and profanation of the temple, that all Jews had to participate in pagan sacrifices.  In order to follow up and enforce his decrees, Antiochus sent representatives to various Jewish villages to oversee the process. 

            One of the representatives came to the village of Modin, which is near Jerusalem.  He called everyone together and ordered the elderly priest of the town, whose name was Mattathias, to offer a sacrifice to one of the Hellenistic gods.  Mattathias refused. 

              Another villager stepped forward and said he would do it.  This made Mattathias so angry he killed both the willing villager and the representative of Antiochus.

            Of course this made Mattathias an outlaw.  He and his five sons fled to the hills with some sympathizers and began a gorilla war against the Seleucids that lasted for 25 years.  And wonder of wonders, they won!  Thus Israel gained her independence as a nation for the first time since 586 B.C. 

            None of that history is in this prophecy.  Notice that verses 40ff. suggest another Egyptian campaign by the king of the North.  For Antiochus, that would have been a third against Egypt.  1 Maccabees tells us (3:27ff) that after the events of the earlier portion of chapter 11, Antiochus split his army into two parts.  He left one part to fight against the Maccabees, but Antiochus himself returned to Persia with the other part; and he died in Persia in 164 B.C. 

            Again none of that is here in the prophecy.  This prophecy is about the end-time, not about Antiochus.  Most evangelical interpreters believe that this end-time king of the north will be the end-time Antichrist. 

              At any rate, the end-time king of the North will conquer “the glorious land,” that is Israel. He also will conquer Edom, Moab and Egypt (vv. 41-42).  Then he will press further south and conquer the Libyans and Ethiopians (v. 43).  And finally he will take up residence in Israel, where he will be killed (v. 45). 

            None of this fits the historical events of Antiochus’ life.  But it does fit the Old Testament prophecies about the end of the Antichrist (Ezek. 39:1-6; Joel 2:30-3:3; Zech. 14:1-3; cf. Rev. 19:11-21). 

            Now we come to chapter 12.  Chapter 12 begins with another time reference, “At that time….”  We must ask, “At what time”?  It was at the time of the end, as indicated at the beginning of 11:40. 

            In 12:1-3, once again we get differing interpretations among evangelicals.  All agree that the “time of trouble such as never has been seen” of verse one will be the Great Tribulation of the end-time.  They also agree that verse two is speaking of end-time resurrections. 

              There are two major differing opinions among evangelical interpreters.  There is the interpretation of the Dispensationalists, believe that the Church will be raptured from the earth prior to the Great Tribulation, and will be safe in heaven during that time of unparalleled suffering.  Thus they believe that the people of God on the earth, who will be delivered by Michael, will be Daniel’s people in a literal sense.  They will be Ethnic Israel.

            Therefore the Dispensationalists believe that it is national Israel who, during the Great Tribulation, will be persecuted by the Antichrist and delivered when Christ destroys the Antichrist and his armies at Armageddon.  And it is the Jews who die under the persecution of the Antichrist who will be resurrected “to everlasting life” when the Tribulation period ends, so that they can participate in the millennial reign of Christ. 

            It is not evident from Daniel, but those who are raised to “shame and everlasting contempt” are not raised at the same time as the others.  Rev. 20: 4-5 shows that they will not be resurrected until after the Millennium. 

            The alternative evangelical interpretation that I call the traditional would deal with the passage a little differently.  The traditional view believes that the second coming of Christ will not be in two phases, as the Dispensationalists suggest. 

            In other words the Church will not be raptured before the Tribulation.  Rather, the rapture will occur after the Tribulation, during a single complex of events that will make up the second coming of Christ. 

            This means that the Church will be present on the earth during the Tribulation, rather than in heaven.  It means that the Church (the New Israel) rather than Ethnic Israel will be the people of God who will endure the persecutions of the Antichrist, and who will be delivered by Michael and Christ. 

            The “many” who will be resurrected to “everlasting life” (Dan. 12:2) will be all of the believers who have died, whether they died before or during the Tribulation.  They will participate in what the Revelation calls the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4, 6). 

            The traditional interpreters would agree with the dispensationalists that the resurrection of the dead unbelievers to “shame and everlasting contempt” will not take place until after the millennium.  The vision given to Daniel did not show the millennium intervening between the resurrections.  We learn that from the Revelation. 



            In the last essay we began a study of the final vision of the book of Daniel.  We noted, then, that it is the longest and most complicated of the visions in the book, extending from 10:1 through 12:3.  Thus it has three sub-visions within the larger vision.                The first sub-vision is a vision of a visitor by the Tigris River in chapter 10, which we studied in the last essay.  Then in 11:1-39 comes a second sub-vision, in which the visitor reveals future events regarding certain coming kings.  And in 11:40 through 12:3 we find the third sub-vision, which is a vision of the end-time.

            This morning we will study the middle sub-vision, the vision of the kings.  As we get into it, you will see that Daniel was given amazing, minute details about future events that led up to the reign of Antiochus IV, and of the reign itself.  It is the presence of these minute details that has led liberal scholars to conclude that the book was written after the events.  They do not believe in real predictive prophecy.  Therefore in their view, the material had to be written after the fact. 

              In verses 2-20 we find the events that led up to Antiochus’ reign.  The Persian king at the time when Daniel was given this vision was Cyrus (10:1).  I have listed Cyrus and the next four kings, with the dates of their reigns below:

            –Cyrus (539-29)

            –Cambyses (529-522)

            –Smerdis (522)

            –Darius I (521-486)           

           –Xerxes (486-465)

            You will note that Smerdis was king for only part of a year.  Indeed he was an imposter, who reigned only for six months.  So most scholars assume that he was not included in the prophecy. That means that Xerxes instead of Smerdis was the fourth, very rich, king who stirred up the kingdom of Greece.  And that fits actual history very well. 

            The “mighty king” of verse three, whose kingdom was broken and divided in four directions, “but not to his posterity,” was Alexander the Great.  You will recall that we noted in earlier essays about how four of Alexander’s generals divided Alexander’s kingdom among themselves, after he died in 323 B.C.; and of course, they were not of “his posterity.” 

            In verses 5-9 we see that the primary kingly players here are the “king of the south” and “the king of the north.”  The original kings of the south and north would have been the two generals of Alexander who took over those parts of Alexander’s kingdom.  The one who took over the south, which consisted of Egypt and Palestine, was named Ptolemy.  His descendants are called Ptolemies.  The one who took over the north, which essentially was the former Persian Empire, was named Seleucus, and his descendants are called Seleucids. 

              The attempted but failed alliance described in verse six was initiated in 248 B.C.  Ptolemy II was on the throne of Egypt at that time, and he gave his daughter Bernice in marriage to Antiochus II (grandson of Seleucus).  But the alliance failed three years later when Bernice was murdered. 

            The “branch from her roots” of verse seven was Bernice’s brother.  He became king of the south and won a war against the Seleucids.  The results of that war are related in verse eight. 

            Verses 9-20 continue the detailed account of the thrusts back and forth between the two kingdoms.  We won’t work through all of that; but historical records document that all of it took place.  So the prophecy is quite detailed.

            Little of permanent change happened during those many decades until 198 B.C.  In that year the Seleucids finally won Palestine away from the Ptolemies.  You will recall that it had been in the control of the Ptolemies since the death of Alexander in 323.  The account is in verses 15 and 16. 

              The “well-fortified city” is the city of Sidon, where a decisive battle occurred that brought Palestine under Seleucid control.  If you have a map of Palestine in your Bible, Sidon is a coastal city in northern Palestine in present-day Lebanon.  The expression “beautiful land” refers to Palestine.  Thus the king of the north won a great victory over the king of the south. 

            Seleucid rule over Palestine was still in effect during the time of Antiochus IV.  Antiochus IV became the Seleucid king (that is the king of the north) in 175 B.C.   The vision picks up his story in verse 21.  This is exactly how Antiochus IV came to power.  He seized it while the rightful heir, a nephew of his, was being held hostage in Rome.  That circumstance enabled Antiochus to take the throne by flatteries. 

            Once he had the reigns of power, he was successful in keeping them; and he engaged in frequent military pursuits.  Verse 22 tells us that he quickly brought Palestine under his thumb.  The “prince of the covenant” was either the Jewish High Priest, or it could be a reference to Israel herself.

            Verses 25-27 speak about the first of two military campaigns Antiochus made against Egypt.  Verse 25 indicates that Egypt had a large army; but it wasn’t very effective, because as verse 26 suggests, there was treachery within the ranks.  So Antiochus won a victory, and the two kings (of the north and south) sat down to eat together in an attempt to settle matters.  But as verse 27 prophesied, neither was honest with the other; and evidently, neither believed the other. At any rate, verse 28 informs us that Antiochus returned with considerable booty, part of which he took from the Temple in Jerusalem as he passed through Israel. 

              Antiochus’ second campaign was the more important.  It is prophesied in verses 29-39.  “At the time appointed” in verse 29 was 168 B.C.  That was the year of Antiochus’ second campaign against Egypt.  He believed that this time he could actually win Egypt for himself.

            But a new factor entered into the situation this time.  As the prophecy indicates, “ships of Kittim” became an unexpected part of the military equation.  The term “kittim” historically referred to the island of Cyprus.  But the meaning of the term became broadened to mean places across the sea, especially to the West, such as Macedon.  In this case the Romans are meant. 

             As Antiochus IV approached Alexandria Egypt, a fleet of Roman ships appeared on the scene.  Antiochus was handed a letter from the Roman Senate forbidding an attack.  It was a classic instance of international power politics.  The idea was, if you attack Egypt, we will consider it an attack on us.  Since Antiochus did not want war with the Romans, he reluctantly, and angrily, backed off. 

            On the way home, of course he had to pass through Palestine.  So Antiochus took out his frustrations on Israel.  He schemed with certain apostate Jews in Israel; and he turned his wrath on “the holy covenant,” the “holy covenant” being a euphemism for Israel. 

              This attack was not just an opportunity to plunder, as was the case when he returned from his first campaign.  This time Antiochus, as verse 31 says, profaned the Temple.  He abolished the Jewish sacrificial system, and set up what Daniel’s visitor called “the abomination that makes desolate.” 

            Notice in verse 32 that some ofthe Jews cooperated with Antiochus, because they believed it would be to their advantage.  He evidently made them flattering promises.  But others fought him and died for their efforts.  Verse 35 indicates that Israel would be purified by the struggle.  But it also contains what we have seen is a characteristic leap to the end-time. 

            Now then, verses 36-39 present an interesting interpretive problem.  Liberal interpreters, of course, interpret them as referring only to Antiochus.  Others would interpret them as an example of prophetic perspective and apply them to both Antiochus and the end-time Antichrist.  And still others would interpret the verses as part of the vision of the end-time. 

              It seems to me that the reference to both Antiochus and the end-time antichrist is possible, though I lean towards the end-time only interpretation.  But I see no need to make a dogmatic decision about it, so I would call these verses a transition to the end-time. 

           The verses certainly cannot be referring to Antiochus alone.  Antiochus did not do the second of the four things mentioned in verse 36.  He did do his own will; he did speak some astonishing things against God; and he did prosper.  But he did not magnify himself as God.  The Antichrist is the one who will do that (2 Thess. 2:4). 

              If we believe in predictive prophecy, and I certainly do, it seems to me that the coming to pass of this kind of minutely detailed prophecy indicates that God does indeed know what we call the future.  Those of us who are locked into a spectrum of time, and all human beings are in that category, have no way of predicting future events with any certainty, especially events that are in the distant future.  But God does have that capacity. 

            Classically in theology, this ability on God’s part has led to formulation of the attribute of God called omniscience (all-knowing).  And for God to be omniscient, he has to have the ability to function outside of time.  In the next essay we will study the end-time vision.


            In the last essay we studied the vision of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel, chapter nine.  In this essay we move to the final vision of the book found in 10:1-12:3.  This final vision has three parts, or three sub-visions, within it. 

            The first sub-vision is that of a visitor by the Tigris River in chapter 10.  Then in the first 39 verses of chapter 11, the visitor reveals a vision of future events regarding certain coming kings   And that is followed in 11:40 through 12:3 by a vision of the end-time.

            In this essay we will study only the first sub-vision, the vision of the visitor in chapter 10. Verse one tells us that this vision took place in the third year of Cyrus of Persia.  That seems to be a very concrete date.  But actually there are two possible ways to figure the first year of Cyrus.

            Cyrus conquered Babylon in 538 B.C.  But he placed Darius the Mede on the throne of Babylon in that year, rather than ruling over it personally.  Therefore one could consider 538 B.C. to be the first year of both Cyrus and Darius.

            But then Cyrus personally took the reigns of the Babylonian government two years later in 536.  That was the year when the exiles returned to Jerusalem to re-establish the nation and rebuild the temple.  Of course, this means that one could interpret 536 to be the first year of Cyrus, because it was the first year he personally reigned.

            Therefore, the third year of Cyrus, the year when God gave Daniel this final vision, could have been 535 or 533, depending on which year Daniel used to begin counting the years of Cyrus’ reign.  In either case it probably occurred after the return of the first exiles to Jerusalem to re-establish the nation and rebuild the Temple. 

            There is no evidence that Daniel ever returned to Palestine.  He was in his eighties by the time the Exile ended; and since he held such a high position in the Babylonian government, he undoubtedly believed that God wanted him to stay where he was.  From what we know of Daniel, he certainly would have given up his high position and returned if God told him to do so.

            Here, as in chapter nine, God gave Daniel a vision during a time of prayer and meditation. In this case Daniel had chosen to fast and pray during the first month, which was Nisan.  At the time the vision came, on the 24th of the month (v. 4), Daniel had been in spiritual retreat for three weeks (v. 3), which interestingly would have been right through the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, which took place on the 14th through the 21st of Nisan.

            If you look at verses 2-9 keeping in mind the vision of Christ in Rev., chapter one, there is some similarity of imagery to the appearance of this person in Daniel’s vision and that of Christ in Rev. one.  Therefore some have interpreted this visionary person to have been an Old Testament appearance by Christ. 

            Others believe it was an angel.  I agree with this latter view for a couple of reasons.  First, the person was functioning as a messenger, which is the primary function of angels.  And second, in verse 13, the visitor told Daniel the prince of Persia held him up for 21 days, and that the archangel Michael had to come to his aid.  All of these facts seem more characteristic of an angel than of the Lord himself.  But absolute certainty is not possible. 

            As you can see, when the visitor spoke to Daniel, the strength went out of him, and he fell prostrate in a trance before the visitor (vv. 8-9).  But the messenger touched Daniel, and his strength returned (v. 10). 

            To my mind verses 10-14 is an extremely important passage.  It reveals several significant things about the spiritual realm more clearly than any other passage in the Bible.  I say that because the relationship between events that take place in the spiritual realm, and those that take place in this physical realm where we live, is one of the great biblical mysteries.  And this passage provides some real insight into the matter.

            First of all, this is one of the many passages of Scripture that reveal that there is a spiritual realm, where real activity among real spiritual beings takes place at the same time that we are active in this realm.

            Second, it reveals that there is an ongoing conflict in the spiritual realm between good and evil beings.  In response to Daniel’s prayer, God sent the visitor to him with a message.  But “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” attempted to stop him, and did hold him up for 21 days.  Only the intervention of the archangel Michael enabled him to continue his journey.

            This teaching is supported in the New Testament in Jude and the Revelation.  Jude, in verse nine of his epistle, informs us that Michael is an archangel, and that back in the days of Moses Michael had a conflict with the devil over the body of Moses.  This story illustrates the mystery about which we are speaking.  Michael and the devil, both part of the spiritual realm, had a conflict over the body of Moses, which was part of the physical realm. 

            Revelation 12:7-9 also supports this mystery.  Those verses tell us about a war that took place in heaven, which of course is in the spiritual realm, between the devil and his angels on the one hand, and Michael and his angels on the other.  The result was that the devil and his angels were cast out of heaven to the earth.  Of course the earth is part of the physical realm.

            Third, the passage reveals that evil spiritual beings seek to influence what is happening in this physical realm.  The reference here to a “prince of the kingdom of Persia” is not a reference to Cyrus, the human ruler.  It is a reference to a spiritual being associated with Persia who was opposed to God’s will in relation to Daniel’s situation.

            Fourth, the passage reveals that what happens in the spiritual realm can affect what happens here.  Daniel’s prayer was heard immediately.  But the conflict in the spiritual realm resulted in the answer being held up for 21 days.

            And Fifth, on the positive side, this brief passage reveals that prayer uttered in this physical realm can affect what is happening in the spiritual realm.  As we have seen, Daniel’s prayer here caused a whole series of events there.  The messenger was dispatched to Daniel.  “The prince of the kingdom of Persia” sought to intervene, and Michael moved to counter that action.  Therefore prayer is extremely important in more ways than we usually acknowledge. 

            Now then, before we move on to the next paragraph, we must not forget the visitor’s statement in verse 14.  The visitor told Daniel that the vision he was going to reveal to Daniel was “for days yet to come.”  And that certainly proves true, as we shall see in a future essay. 

            In verses 15-19 Daniel once again loses his strength, but is revived by the visitor.  The most important thing in these concluding verses is found in verse 20.  The visitor indicates that the warfare in the spiritual realm will continue.  He must return to do battle with the prince of Persia, with whom he left battling Michael earlier.  And he prophesies that after that he will have to battle the “prince of Greece.”


            In this essay we continue our study of Daniel, chapter nine.  Last session we began that study and did a preliminary study of four interpretive approaches to the vision. 

            We saw in the first two verses that the vision came at a time when Daniel was meditating on Jeremiah’s prophecy that the Babylonian Exile would last for seventy years (Jer. 25:11-12 and 29:10).  Since Daniel’s personal captivity had begun 67 years earlier, Daniel was quite aware that the 70 years prophesied by Jeremiah were about up.  But Daniel also was aware that the chastisement of the Exile had not produced fruits of repentance among the people.  So Daniel prayed.  We saw his prayer in verses 3-19.

            Daniel prayed in two ways.  First, he confessed the sins of Israel (vv. 3-15).  Then second, he petitioned God on behalf of Israel (vv. 16-19).  Amazingly, God began to answer Daniel’s prayer even before he finished it.  Gabriel suddenly appeared to Daniel and gave him a vision of seventy sevens (vv. 20-27). 

            We noted that the first of the four interpretive approaches to the vision is typical of liberal interpreters. Therefore I called it the liberal view.  The heart of it is that the events of the seventy sevens were fulfilled in the days of Antiochus IV, because they believe that the book of Daniel was written after the second-century events it predicts took place.

            The second approach I called the symbolic.  These interpreters understand the phrase “seventy sevens” as a symbolic measure of time.  They understand the “seventy sevens” to be coming from Jeremiah’s seventy years, on which Daniel had been meditating.  The first seven sevens symbolizes the period from the Babylonian Exile to the first coming of Christ.  The sixty-two sevens symbolize the period from the first coming of Christ to the coming of the Antichrist.  And the seventieth seven symbolizes the rise and fall of the Antichrist.  There is no connection to literal weeks or years.  Only symbolic periods of time are intended. 

            The third approach is that of dispensationalism.  Dispensationalists interpret the seventy sevens as weeks of years.  In other words, these are not regular weeks of seven days each, but they are weeks of years, containing seven years each. 

            They arrive at this conclusion, because the context itself rules out seven-day weeks.  There is no way that all of the things indicated could have happened in 490 days.  Therefore they conclude that the seventy weeks means weeks of years.  Thus the seventy sevens, or weeks, weeks represent a period of 490 years.

            Their basic view says that the first 69 weeks (483 years) extend from the time of Daniel to the time of the death of Jesus and the destruction of the Temple in the first-century A.D.

            Then they say that the seventieth week is still in the future, meaning in our future.  Since the events of the seventieth week have not yet happened, this means that there is a long separation between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. 

            The fourth approach is what I called the traditionalist.  The traditionalist view has some things in common with that of the Dispensationalists.  For instance, like dispensationalists, traditionalists believe that the sevens are weeks of years.  But there are major differences as well. In the traditionalist view, the seventy weeks are consecutive.  That is, there is no separation between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks.  All seventy weeks are in our past, and the events of the seventy weeks had an historical fulfillment in the first century A.D. 

            But this view includes the prophetic perspective, which allows for more than one historical fulfillment.  It is not uncommon in biblical prophecy to have more than one fulfillment.  For example, Isaiah’s prophecy that a child would be born who would be Emanuel, had an historical fulfillment in Isaiah’s day as a sign to the king of Israel.  But that prophecy also had a future fulfillment at the time of the birth of Jesus.  Similarly here, the vision of the seventy weeks not only had an historical fulfillment at in the first century A.D., it had an additional historical fulfillment at the time of Antiochus IV in the second century B.C. and will have still another fulfillment in the end-time when the end-time Antichrist comes on the scene.

            Since most evangelicals hold one of the latter two positions, we will focus on these two approaches.  If you look at verse 24, you will note that there are six events that are to take place during the seventy weeks.  First, the transgression will be finished.  This refers to Israel’s rebellion against God.  It will be stopped, in the sense of sealed up.  Second, sin will be ended.  Third, iniquity will be atoned for.  Fourth, everlasting righteousness will be brought in.  Fifth, both vision and prophet will be sealed up, again the sense of stopped.  That is to say, when rebellion against God is ended, the need for vision and prophet will be ended.  And sixth, an holy thing, place, or person will be anointed.  This difference in possible meanings leads people interpret this last event differently. 

            Many believe that Gabriel was speaking about a holy place.  Some of them suggest that Zerubbabel’s reconstruction of the temple after the Exile fulfilled the prophecy.  Others believe it was fulfilled when the temple was reconsecrated following the victory of the Macabees in the days of Antiochus IV.  But neither of those temples was anointed.  Dispensationalists apply it to a future rebuilt temple, in harmony with their understanding that the seventieth week is still in our future.

            Still other scholars believe the reference is not to an holy place, bur to an holy person, the Christ.  But there is no definite article in the Greek to indicate that this was the meaning.  Therefore it may be best to leave the matter open for now.  At least I cannot tell what was intended.  But whatever Daniel’s intention was regarding the last event, all six were to take place within the seventy weeks. 

            Verse 25 presents an immediate problem.  It tells us that  the sixty-nine weeks began with the time, “from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem.”  But what did this statement mean?  Three possibilities have been offered. 

            The first possibility is Daniel’s time.  Ezra 1:1-3 tells us that Cyrus, in the first year of his reign, issued a proclamation that the Jews who wished to do so could go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.  That was 538 B.C. 

            The second possibility was Ezra’s time.  Eighty years after Daniel (in 458 B.C.) King Artaxerxes issued a similar proclamation, though he went a step further and financed the project (Ez. 7:11-26). 

            The third possibility took place in 445 B.C. in Nehemiah’s time.  This was a second incident connected with Artaxerxes.  Nehemiah asked Artaxerxes for, and was granted, letters to enable him to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and temple (Neh. 2:1-8).  Some have interpreted the letters that Artaxerxes wrote as a  third proclamation.  And that makes a possible third date from which the seventy weeks can begin

            Verse 26 says that after the sixty-two weeks (483 years), an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.  This seems to be prophesying the death of Christ and the destruction of the Temple.  The former took place about A.D. 30; and the latter in A.D. 70.

            There are a number of problems with trying to interpret this passage using literal years.  For example, in verse 25 we are told about an anointed prince who was to come on the scene in seven weeks (49 years).  But there is no one in history at that time that fits the description.  Zerubbabel was not anointed, and neither Ezra nor the high Priest Onias III were princes.  Another problem arises in verse 26.  No matter which starting date for the sixty-nine weeks you use, the period in literal years does not stretch to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

            Obviously, the symbolic approach has an advantage here, because it doesn’t have to worry about literal years.  It identifies the anointed one after seven weeks as Christ in his first coming; and the anointed one after sixty-two weeks as Christ in his second coming.  But as we have seen, most evangelicals do not accept that view.

            Liberals of course identify the anointed one of verse 26 as Antiochus IV, and the abominations of verse 27 as the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus in 167 B.C.  Thus in their opinion the passage is an account of Antiochus’ activities in the second century B.C.

            Dispensationalists and traditionalists interpret the seven weeks as the period immediately following the Exile, during which the city of Jerusalem was rebuilt.  Then the sixty-two weeks of verse 25 constitute the period between the rebuilding of the city and the time of Jesus’ death. 

            Both groups view verse 27 as representing the seventieth week, but in entirely different ways.  And this is where we get the main difference between the two interpretations.  As we noted earlier, dispensationalists believe that the seventieth week did not follow immediately upon the sixty-ninth.  Indeed it still has not taken place.  It is in our future. 

            The way they explain this is that God’s end-time clock stopped after the sixty-ninth week.  When Jesus came the first time, he offered the end-time Kingdom to God’s people, Israel, but they rejected it.  This is what led to the dispensation of the Church in which we now live.  Israel still is God’s people; but so is the Church.  In effect there now are two peoples of God, in the dispensationalist view. 

            When Christ comes again, he will rapture the Church to heaven before the Great Tribulation.  Much of Israel miraculously will be converted; and they once again will be the people of God on the earth during the tribulation period. 

            The Antichrist will come on the scene at that point beginning the events of the seventieth week.  Therefore God’s end-time clock will begin again.  The anointed one of  verse 26 is Christ, and the prince is Antichrist.  In verse 27 the “he” of “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week” is the Antichrist, and the “many” with whom he makes the covenant in mid-week is Israel.

            But then the verse continues, “and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease.”  This will be an end-time desecration by the Antichrist of a rebuilt end-time temple.

            As I said earlier, the traditionalists believe that the seventieth week follows immediately upon the sixty-ninth.  Of course this completely changes the interpretation.  It puts the seventieth week in our past, and the death of Christ during the seventieth week. It means that Christ is the one who made the strong covenant, rather than the Antichrist.  And the ending of sacrifice and offering in the middle of the week is not a breaking of the covenant, but the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

            One final comment I would make to make is the leap to the end time that we see here.  This is a feature we have seen consistently in the book of Daniel.  We saw it at the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and at the end of all of Daniel’s visions.  This vision takes us to the time of Christ, and then leaps to the end time.