The prophecies of Daniel are so precise and accurate in fulfilment. He foretold the rise of four world empires beginning with one which reigned in his time, Babylon, and then the second of Persia. His visions about the third empire of Greece contained astounding details of how the Grecian empire would eventually divide under four heads following the death of its great ruler. Today who doesn’t know about Alexander the Great and the four great generals – Seleucus, Cassander, Ptolemy, and Lysimachus – who rose after him?
One of the prophecies in Daniel went so far as telling the details of how out of one of the four kingdoms, a ruler would rise who would prevail over the land of the Jews and desecrate their temple. Again, as any student of history is aware, it was out of the Seleucid dynasty that an evil ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes, rose. He thought himself to be the manifestation of God and desecrated the Jewish temple exactly as had been foretold. What is even more intriguing is the fact that the period of his persecutions and desolations of the Jews tarries with what had been specified in the prophecy, 2300 days! Numbers do not lie and are never biased. One may expect that such evidence of fulfilment of particular details of prophecy would easily turn critics into believers. However, the contrary often happens. With regards to Daniel, men arose to seek for errors in the details of the book.
The following are some well known arguments used to discredit the book (some worthwhile, and others, plainly ridiculous arguments):
- Daniel 1:1 contradicts Jeremiah 25:1. In Daniel 1:1 we are told that “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it”. In Jeremiah 25:1, “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.” Here the critic respects the record of Jeremiah’s “fourth year” to be authentic, and dismisses Daniel’s “third year” to be erroneous. So, it is concluded, Daniel has his history wrong and is therefore not reliable.
- “Belshazzar” is a name only found in the book of Daniel. It is nowhere found in secular records of history. Therefore, there was never a king in Babylon by that name. It was only a figment of Daniel’s imagination. Thus, the book of Daniel is a forgery, a fake!
- The book of Daniel has some portions written in Hebrew (starting from Daniel 1:1 to 2:3), and others (remaining chapters) in the Babylonian language, Aramaic. Then there are some portions written in Greek, and that’s where the problem is spotted. How could Daniel, having only lived during the time of the Babylonian empire, and in the early years of the Medo-Persian empire, have written words in a language that was unknown in his region then? The Greeks only overcame Persia much later, way after the supposed Daniel was no longer alive. This controversy made critics to suggest that the author of the book of Daniel lived at a time when the supposed prophecies had already fulfilled, during the Maccabean period.
I hope and trust that “Notes on Daniel: a verse-by-verse exposition” will not only give you answers to the sceptics’ challenges outlined above, but will inspire your faith, not only in its authenticity, but its mind-blowing precise prophetic predictions. Furthermore, apart from prophecies, the book of Daniel contains rich lessons for how believers ought to live and conduct their lives. The temptations Daniel, Mishael, Azariah and Hannania went through encourages us to always remember that no matter what situations the power of man or the world may put us in, God is ultimately our righteous judge. And that is actually what the name “Daniel” means – “God is my judge.” He judges righteously and He vindicates His people. More importantly the book reveals that a time is coming when God won’t just vindicate isolated incidents of individual believers but will judge the world and do away with kingdoms of men. That actually forms the principal message of the book – political systems of mankind will one day fall, and the everlasting kingdom of God shall come and be established on Earth – “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan.7:27).
In His Service,
Andrew C. Phiri
Next in the series: Daniel Chapter 1