A comprehensive overview of the book of Daniel. Links are embedded for notable persons and events.
Daniel 2 contains a dream given to Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted by Daniel.
Head of Gold. This is said to be Nebuchadnezzar himself, and the Babylonian kingdom as well.
Chest and arms of silver. This is the Medo-Persian kingdom.
Belly and thighs of bronze. This is the Greek empire.
Legs of iron. This is the Roman Empire.
Feet of iron and clay. A final form of the Roman Empire which will exist at the end of the age.
The stone cut out by no human hand is Christ. The mountain which fills the earth is the kingdom come, the kingdom of Christ.
Some pertinent points are that the entire image is standing until the stone strikes the image. Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, all these are not completely destroyed until the end of the age. The stone will strike the final arrangement of iron and clay mixed.
Daniel 7 contains a vision given to Daniel. The four winds strive on the great sea, Daniel 7:2, which would be the Mediterranean Sea. Each of the four beasts rises out of the Mediterranean Sea. So the juxtaposition of each empire to this sea is important, each one bordering significantly upon it.
The Lion. The transformation of the lion in this vision shows that the lion represents the person of Nebuchadnezzar and the transformation in Daniel 4. This beast represents the Babylonian Empire, but specifically Nebuchadnezzar embodies the empire as its head throughout much of the book of Daniel.
The bear. Raised up on one side, this shows the uneven balance of the Medo-Persian Empire. The Medes and Persians would take control together, but the Persians would clearly dominate by the end. The three ribs are three nations that were devoured by this empire.
The leopard. This is the Greek Empire. Four heads are pictured, but this is the final form of this empire. At its conception, this empire was united. Daniel 8 explains this is greater detail.
The beast with great iron teeth. The Roman Empire is in view here. There are two clear aspects. The first is the Roman Empire which devoured the previous three empires. The Roman Empire fulfilled this around the first century BC by absorbing (digesting) the other nations, religions, commerce, etc. right into their empire, Daniel 7:7. However, the ten horns on the beast show a form that was never realized. There has never been a documented empire of a ten nation confederacy which fulfilled this passage. Since the ten horns appear first, then the little horn rises up amongst them uprooting three of the horns in its rise to power, Daniel 7:20, this also has not been fulfilled. We can overlay this two fold aspect with the colossus of Daniel 2. The legs of iron were the Roman Empire, yet the portion that is to be struck by the stone is not yet in its final form. There remains a future arrangement which is pictured in Daniel 2 by the feet made of iron and clay mixed, and is pictured in Daniel 7 by a ten horned beast.
Daniel 7:24 gives the interpretation of what the ten horns represent. The phrase “out of this kingdom” means the kingdom that will devour the three previous beasts. That is the Roman Empire of the first century. Out of this empire will arise ten kings. Then after the ten kings arise, there will arise another king after those ten. The ten kings never appeared and are yet future. The little horn pictured here also never appeared, and hence this great persecution of the saints is yet future. The time, times, and half a time is the final time segment at the end of this age just before the Son of Man appears to judge the systems of this world. After this fiery judgment, the saints inherit the kingdom, Daniel 7:27.
So in both Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 we have a time gap. The Roman Empire is in view when seeing the legs of iron and the beast with great iron teeth which devours the previous three. BUT, there is the final form of a future Roman Empire which has not yet appeared pictured in the feet of iron & clay and the ten horns. This is the arrangement that will be in place when the stone strikes the colossus and when the Son of Man comes to give the body of the fourth beast to the burning flame.
Daniel 8 is contained within the second and third empires which Daniel 2 and 7 describe. The ram is named as Medo-Persia, Daniel 8:20. The two horns are a parallel to the bear raised up on one side. The male goat is named as Greece, Daniel 8:21, and pictures the transition of a united empire into an empire with four divisions. The leopard with four heads in Daniel 7 is pictured in Daniel 8 as the male goat with four horns. The little horn in this vision comes out of the third beast in Daniel 7, so it should not be confused with the little horn from the fourth beast. Alexander the Great was the notable horn, and the four horns which spring up are the divisions of the kingdom by four kings, or military rulers. After the Greek Empire transitions into an arrangement of four kingdoms, there appears a little horn, said to be an ominous king in Daniel 8:23. This little horn will commit specific acts of aggression against the holy people. This is the first mention in Daniel that the sanctuary would be rebuilt, being understood that sacrifices will have to be resumed in order for them to be taken away. So even though it hasn’t been listed yet, one of the things that will occur by the time the Greek Empire enters its phase of four, the sanctuary will be rebuilt and sacrifices resumed. However, this little horn that arises will grow great, stamp some of the holy leaders in Israel to the ground, take away the regular offerings, and transgress the sanctuary making it desolate. This episode of persecution against Israel will only last for 2300 days then the sanctuary will be restored to its rightful state.
The vision of the little horn of Daniel 8 begins and ends within the confines of the Greek Empire in its division of four. The little horn here is not to be confused with the little horn of Daniel 7. The time markers for Daniel 7 place this little horn only after the ten kings appear after the Roman Empire has reigned. The little horn in Daniel 8 appears during the Greek Empire and specifically during the division of four. So one is clearly past and one is clearly future. Yet they have many similarities. The ruler who committed the acts of aggression against the holy people fulfilling Daniel 8 was Antiochus Epiphanes. He was party to the murder of Onias III which began the period of oppression against the nation of Israel. He also instigated many of the Jews to commit apostasy against the laws of Moses. He desecrated the temple, yet within 2300 days the sanctuary was restored as prophesied. There will be a future leader during the end times who will fulfill Daniel 7, perhaps in a way similar to how Antiochus Epiphanes persecuted the holy people in his day.
Daniel 9 confirms that the temple would be rebuilt, as hinted at in Daniel 8. It also gives a countdown to the Messiah. Daniel understands Jeremiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled, Daniel 9:2. The year of this vision is the first year after Babylon’s fall. The seventy years of punishment under the hand of the Babylonians has come to an end. Daniel calculates and realizes that Jeremiah had foretold of 70 literal years of captivity. That time of captivity is over, prompting Daniel to pray asking for the sanctuary to be restored, Daniel 9:17.
The seventy sevens are best understood against the context of the 70 years that Jeremiah had prophesied. 70 years have just expired, and now seventy sevens are given as the new timeline for Israel. Since Darius and Cyrus began their rule at the same time, the decree was given the same year that Daniel received this vision. God’s plan immediately proceeded forward into the seventy sevens, which are seventy sevens of years. The reckoning of history is inaccurate since secular historians decided to follow the corrupted list of Persian kings rather than the more accurate Jewish historians. The Persian kings inflated the time of their reigns to make their prestige more impressive. Therefore it seems like there is too much time that transpires between the decree of Cyrus and the appearance of the Messiah, but that is not the case. If history were calculated correctly, it would be demonstrated that the first sixty nine sevens of years, or 483 years, coincides with the decree of Cyrus and the death of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
The beginning of the 70 sevens is at the beginning of the Medo-Persian Empire’s reign after Babylon’s defeat. The end of the 69th seven is during the Roman Empire, but the ten kings have not yet appeared when Christ is crucified. After the 69th seven there is described a period of time during which the city (of Jerusalem) will be destroyed along with the sanctuary. So not only does this prophecy envision the temple being built, it also tells us that it will be destroyed and when. The 69th week will expire, the Messiah will be cut off, then the rebuilt temple will be destroyed. The people of the prince to come will be responsible for this. The empire is the Roman Empire, therefore the prince to come in Daniel 9:26 is some type of Roman leader.
The 70th week is set apart in this prophecy. Someone makes a strong covenant for one seven, that is, seven year period. Even though the covenant is made for one seven, half way through the seven, something is changed. By the language we can see that the temple will have to be rebuilt again after the destruction which followed the 483 year period which brought the Messiah and saw Him cut off. The covenant is made at the beginning of the final seven year period, but half way through, the offerings and sacrifices are put to a stop. This leads into the description of the desolator upon whom a decreed end is poured out. The desolator is another ominous figure who comes on the wing of abominations. Since the people of the prince to come are mentioned as destroying the temple, then an individual who makes a covenant is the next individual to be spoken of, there is a strong connection between the one who makes a covenant for one seven year period and the Roman prince. To see the person who initiates the covenant as the desolator would link him to the people of the prince to come which would destroy the second temple. This would mean that the Romans and their prince destroyed the temple, but there are unfulfilled portions which a Roman prince has yet to fulfill.
This can be considered another parallel to the past and future portions of Daniel 2 and 7. Daniel 2 and 7 both show first century fulfillment during the Roman Empire. Yet the final events never took place, including the arrangement of iron clay mixed, the appearance of ten kings, and the rise of the little horn over the ten kings. This ominous ruler rises to power making a covenant with many for one final seven year period. Half way through, he puts a stop to the sacrifices and offerings at a temple. Yet he meets his decreed end after he came with abominations. These things simply never happened in the first century.
There is the temptation to force a fulfillment upon the clay and iron mixed, or upon the ten horns, or upon this ruler who makes a covenant for one seven year period. But let us simply believe as the apostles saw fulfillment in their day. They saw the Messiah appear in real time and space. Even though a significant number of prophecies were fulfilled, many were not. They believed all the more that the rest of those prophecies would be fulfilled just as they were written, since they had a more sure word of prophecy. Bethlehem and Galilee were literal fulfillments of prophecy, Micah 5:2, Isaiah 9:1-2. Healings and miracles were literal fulfillments of prophecy, Isaiah 53:4, 8:18. Crucifixion was a literal fulfillment of the Messiah being cut off, Psalm 22:16. So let us believe that the rest of these prophecies in Daniel will be fulfilled literally, as allowed by symbology.
Daniel 10-12 is the final vision which gives even more information alongside the previous four vision which I have detailed. Of note is Gabriel’s description of the angelic role in confirming, strengthening, and fighting with the spiritual powers that be in order to bring about the prophesied arrangement which Daniel had already foreseen. Here is a description of angels working through governmental authorities in order that God’s plan be implemented, Daniel 10:13, 20-21, 11:1. This leads directly into the foretelling of the future. This description of the past and present (from Daniel’s point of view) cannot be separated from the future since the same principles govern all of them. Because Gabriel and Michael have been working behind the scenes to ensure that the Medes and Persians gain control over Babylon, issue a decree for the temple to be rebuilt, and allow the Jewish people to return from captivity; it can be ascertained that the Greek Empire will appear right on schedule.
The detailed list first begins with the second beast of Daniel 7, that of Medo-Persia. Because the second horn of the ram of Daniel 8 is now higher, only the Persian kings are listed. The three kings were Cambyses, the false Smerdis, and Darius I Hystaspes, Daniel 11:2. The fourth king is described in greater detail in the book of Esther, known there as Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes I. Then we are introduced to the realm of Greece. The mighty king of Alexander the great stands up, Daniel 11:3. His kingdom is broken and divided. We know from Daniel 7 and 8 that it will be divided into four, Daniel 11:4. Then we have a description of the struggles between two of the dominions, known in the prophecy as the king of the south and the king of the north, but known in history as the Ptolemaic kingdom and the Seleucid kingdom. The other two were the kingdom of Pergamon (Asia Minor) ruled by Lysimachus and Macedon (Macedonia and Thrace) ruled by Cassander.
The warfare between the Ptolemies and Seleucids is outlined until we reach Antiochus Epiphanes. In verse 5 is described Ptolemy I and Seleucus I. In verse 6 the detailed description of the failed attempt to unite the two kingdoms through Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy II given in marriage to Antiochus II. She was murdered, but out of her roots, Daniel 11:7, meaning her brother being from her parents, came one with an army, this being Ptolemy III Euergetes, who survived Seleucus II by four years, thus fulfilling verse 8. Verse 10 jumps to “his sons” taking us to the next generation sometime later. Antiochus III (Antiochus the Great) now as the king of the north with Ptolemy IV as the king of the south. The Battle of Raphia is unmistakably described in verses 11-12, although it proves to be an empty victory since after certain years, the king of the north, still Antiochus III, returns with a great army defeating the Ptolemaic forces at the battle of Panium thus ending Ptolemaic control over Judea, Daniel 11:15. This sets the stage for the conflict between the Jews and the king of the north. Antiochus III now stands in the glorious land, Daniel 11:16, looking to gain the whole kingdom, meaning the king of the south’s domain. He (Antiochus III) shall give him (the king of the south being now Ptolemy V) the daughter of women, meaning his own daughter, Cleopatra I, Daniel 11:17. This having a combined purpose of perhaps uniting the kingdom (since the Seleucids now had gained the dominant position and would most likely hold the dominant position in a united kingdom) and also appeasing the Romans (who backed the Egyptian realm rather than the northern stronghold) by attempting to demonstrate that he wanted peace with the Ptolemaic regime. She does not stand with him (her father Antiochus III) but instead with her husband. After her husband’s death she ruled as the first Ptolemaic queen with no attempt to unite the two kingdoms. Antiochus III finally undertakes an expedition against the coast isles of Asia Minor, Daniel 11:18, but is defeated by the Roman consul Lucius Cornelius Scipius Asiaticus. He turned toward the fort of his own land, Daniel 11:19, and died right in Persia while attempting to rob a temple in Elymais, disappearing from history. His successor, Seleucus IV, was compelled by financial necessities to ambitiously raise a significant amount of money, Daniel 11:20. He sent Helioderus to go to Jerusalem and seize the temple treasure. On his return, Helioderus assassinated Seleucus IV, taking the throne for himself, thus fulfilling verse 20 being destroyed but not in anger or battle.
This clear roadmap leads us to the vile person to stand up in the place of the next king of the north. This is none other than Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The previous people, wars, and circumstances are described in such great detail that there can be no mistake. Verses 21-35 describe specific details in the conquests of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This includes a league with the apostate Jews, his wars against the king of the south, including an ultimate retreat into his own land due to the ships of Kittim or fleet of Rome, and the abomination of desolation in the temple of Israel. This leads into the Maccabean tribulation which immediately followed the abomination of desolation committed by Antiochus IV. All of this history can be documented as precisely as the above events, but is summarized to demonstrate literal fulfillment in real time and space, as opposed to verses 36-45 which were never fulfilled by Antiochus IV. While some of the characteristics in verses 36-39 could be applied, history does not corroborate with this. But quite specifically, history testifies against verses 40-45 being fulfilled by Antiochus IV. Although an arrangement between the king of the north and the king of the south is named, he did not reenter the glorious land and overthrow it following the Maccabean revolt. A further conquest was not entering the land of Egypt after Gaius Popillius Laenas drew the line in the sand forcing him to retreat. His conquest over Egypt never included having power over the treasures of gold, silver, and all the precious things of the Egyptians. Finally, he never planted the tabernacles of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain.
We are led to a clear choice just as we have had in Daniel 2, 7, and 9. Many details were fulfilled to the letter. Yet some are not fulfilled. We could force the interpretation and try to imagine ten kings ruling, or try to twist the text into saying that another entity succeeded the king of the north and fulfilled these things spiritually. Or we could simply leave them unfulfilled for a future time of the LORD’s choosing. The events of Daniel 12:1-3 are clearly at the time of the end of the age. So if following verse 35 we have the beginning of unfulfilled prophecies, we should include the break between past fulfillment and future fulfillment at that precise location. From Daniel 11:36-12:3 we have one passage which describes the time of the end. It will begin with a wicked king who will honor the god of forces. His conquests are described in Daniel 11:40-45 which culminate in Michael the prince standing up for the children of Daniel’s people, Daniel 12:1. This time of great tribulation, sparked by this wicked king, will end by the true people of God being delivered out of this time of tribulation. The righteous will be resurrected from the dust at that time, Daniel 12:2.
The time period of this end times tribulation is given at the very end of this prophecy, Daniel 12:11. The beginning point is marked by two events linked together, the first being the daily sacrifice being taken away, the second being an abomination that brings desolation being set up. From that point in time when these two events occur there will be numbered 1290 days, which is an equivalent to time, times, and half a time, already mentioned in Daniel 7:25. Since the 2300 days of Antiochus Epiphanes were literal 24 hour days, we can expect no less from this end times wicked ruler who very closely resembles him. It is also stated that there is a special blessing for those who wait and arrive at the end of 1335 days, which is a 45 day extension over and above the 1290 days.
This represents an overview of the book of Daniel from a Futurist perspective. The portions which were literally fulfilled lead us to believe that the rest will be literally fulfilled as well. The Preterist and Historicist views both run into serious problems when confronted with the fact that ten kings must arise before the end times events can come. No history ever documents ten nations ruling the earth in the same territory that the Roman Empire did. Out of those ten kings must arise one dark ruler who will persecute the saints of the Most High.
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