Weird Dream

Posted by: David Carroll

In chapter two of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has this weird and disturbing dream. It is the figure of a man with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. The disturbing part was next. A stone comes flying out the air and crashes into the statue's feet, disintegrating the entire thing into dust which is blown away by wind. Finally the stone becomes a mountain which fills the entire earth.

Nebuchadnezzar wants to know the meaning of the dream but not trusting the wisemen he inherited from his father, he puts them to the test by not only asking the meaning of the dream but also requiring them to tell the dream itself. After all, they are supposed to be in contact with the gods. Of course they cannot tell the dream.

But Daniel, beloved of God, asks Him to reveal to him this dream and so He does. Needless to say, Nebuchadnezzar is impressed.

The standard model for the interpretation of the dream is the image represents a sweeping panorama of world history as four succeeding world kingdoms: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome embodied in the four metals of gold, silver, bronze and iron. Each kingdom is conquered by the next one, except for Rome. Who conquer's the Roman empire, nobody they fell from within.

It is apparent that each empire is significantly larger and lasts longer than the preceding one. Why then the decreasing value of the metals from gold to iron? Shouldn't they increase in value proportionate to the empire's longevity and size?

The reconciliation is to see the value of the metals relating to the type and effectiveness of the government while the size and length of the empires relates to the relative strength of the metals, iron being the strongest and gold the weakest.

So why would Nebuchadnezzar be considered a more valuable form of government? The government was an absolute monarchy. The king's command was law, period. As treacherous as that can be, it is still quite effective and unambiguous.

It is interesting to note that Persia was a combined rule between the king and the nobles. Greece introduced the aristocracy into the governing influence. Finally, Rome had a senate representing the voice of the people. You can see the increasing decentralization of government. Of course, as citizens of the United States today, we would argue that a democracy is the best form of government albeit the most decentralized form.

So what's the value in a dictatorship? If that dictator is good and wise and righteous with a servant's heart, it could be a marvelous thing. Of course this is a description of the Kingdom of God. Will there ever be a time when the Kingdom of God will reign over the earth in a geo-political way? If you believe what the Bible says about the millennial reign of Christ, there will.

That stone which destroyed all the kingdoms of this world represents Christ, the stone which the builders rejected and became the chief cornerstone. He is also the stumbling stone, over which many will fall who do not believe. Finally, he is the smiting stone which grows into a mountain, a common symbol of government in the Bible. The image has this mountain covering the whole earth.

So God reveals to Nebuchadnezzar the prophetic dream which outlines all history including the second coming of Christ and beyond to the millennium kingdom of our Lord.

Daniel 2:44-45 (NKJV)

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.

Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Posted by: David Carroll

Daniel 1:5 (NKJV)

And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.

Daniel and his three friends have been enrolled in the Babylon MBA program where they are treated to the best the world could offer in modern education, luxurious room and board, and job waiting for them in the highest positions of government. Keep in mind, as great as this sounds, it is in reality an indoctrination program designed to smooth the future captive population of Hebrews into Babylonian society. Daniel and his friends had already been taken away from home's familiar surroundings and given new names. They would now learn to speak a new language and learn about everything the pagan world had to offer. They even had the privilege of eating from the finest foods from the King's kitchen. How could it get any better than that?

Daniel did not complain about his new pagan name; he figured they could call him anything they wanted to. It would be difficult to prevent that. Besides, Daniel knew who he was and would never forget that. He also did not complain about the potential of collaborating with the enemy. He knew that God had delivered his people into this captivity and he might as well make the best of it.

But this food that was set before him was a problem. Perhaps it had been offered to idols. Certainly it was not prepared in the kosher way. He was between a Rock and a hard place. It would bad for him if he went against the King's orders and the food had to be wonderfully tempting. After all, so far away from home, who would know? That is the hard place Daniel was in. But God would know; God is the Rock pressing him against the hard place. Would he please God or man? It would be a decision Daniel would have to make quickly and without wavering. He "purposed in his heart" that he would not eat it without first doing what he could to be obedient to God's law.

Daniel 1:8 (NKJV)

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Notice how Daniel showed good judgment and commonsense in handling this situation. He did not demand in a hard, obnoxious way. There is no civil disobedience here.

Daniel 1:10 (NKJV)

And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king."

Daniel is turned down, but for good reason. How could Daniel expect this chief to risk his own neck just so Daniel could obey some silly commandment of his God?

Now how many of us would conclude that there is no way out of the situation. After all, he had tried to be obedient and he was polite, giving no offense either. He is off the hook right? Daniel is not looking for an excuse, he wants to obey God. He takes another approach.

Daniel 1:11-13 (NKJV)

So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants."

Daniel goes to the steward, who had less to risk than the chief, and proposes a short trial period, one easy to say yes to. The only thing left is for Daniel to trust God to improve their appearance. It is out of Daniel's hands now. The decision is up to the steward and the results are up to God.

This book is full of stories of what God will do for those who put their faith an trust in Him. Not only did Daniel's plan work, rather than suffering punishment or experiencing any loss, they actually excelled and advanced over all the other hostages.

How would I react to a situation where I am thrust into a foreign world, indoctrinated in the worlds ways, tempted with the world's pleasures? Come to think about it, that is exactly where I am. I pray that I can be like Daniel.

James 3:17 (NKJV)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Daniel in the Skeptics Den

Posted by: David Carroll

I should have known it but I was amazed at how much criticism there is of the book of Daniel regarding its authenticity. Skeptical critics gone to great effort to discredit Daniel. Why is this? The higher critics using textual analysis say that Daniel must have been written after the desecration of the temple in 167 B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes entered the Temple in Jerusalem, erected a altar to Zeus and sacrificed a pig on it. This event was so accurately described in the book of Daniel that the critics say it must have been written by a eye witness to the event. Notice the assumption here, because the prophecy is accurate it must not have been written earlier. The implication is that the critic is working from the position of unbelief in the supernatural. The reason Daniel is so attacked is because of the miracles and prophecies it describes. A liberal critic does not believe in such things and must therefore explain it away.

It turns out that Daniel is the most authenticated book in the Bible. The book of Daniel was in trade three centuries before Christ in the Septuagint. Ezekiel a contemporary of Daniel wrote about him three different times. The Qumran scrolls contain this book proving it was around well before the defilement of temple occurred. Later in this series, I'll look into how this event has both a near fulfillment in 167 BC and also a far away fulfillment during the tribulation period. In the meantime however, clearly Daniel was a prophetic book explained only by a supernatural knowledge of the future.

But the most convincing evidence for me is that Jesus quoted from this book three times and attributed authorship to Daniel. So if you believe Jesus, you have no problem believing the book of Daniel. Of course if you don't believe in Jesus, well, the authorship of Daniel is not your biggest problem. Speaking of Daniel being quoted by Jesus, it turns out that every chapter of Daniel is referred to or quoted somewhere in the New Testament and every New Testament writer makes use of Daniel's prophecies. Daniel is truly an important book.

Daniel Series Begins

Posted by: David Carroll

I remember being introduced to the book of Daniel shortly after I became a Christian when I read Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth. The startling prophecy of Daniel Chapter nine gave me a thrill.

If God has the ability to create us then certainly he also has the ability to get a message to us. The question is, how does he authenticate that message? Prophecy, basically writing history ahead of time. To help understand such a phenomenon, I've heard the example given of a parade. On the street you can only see the float right in front of you. Like we only see what is happening right now. But the person high above the parade on a building's rooftop can see the whole thing from beginning to end. He can see what you have not yet seen. God is the only one who can do this when we consider time as the parade.

The book of Daniel Includes the most amazing prophecy in the entire Bible in my opinion. In fact, Jesus points to it as key to all prophecy. He says:

Matthew 24:15 (NKJV)

Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand) ...

Here Jesus is answering his disciples who had come to him in private asking when the things Jesus was talking about (the tribulation period) would happen. He is referring to the book of Daniel. So not only does he use Daniel's prophecy as a key to all of eschatology, he holds us accountable to understand it!

I am excited about the this series. We'll learn some fascinating things about prophecy but this book will also challenge us to live godly lives in an ungodly world. Daniel is the perfect model for us today on how to be holy yet still influence our world.