Day 250 (Sept 7): Daniel’s vision of four beasts, ‘beasts’ vision explained, Daniel’s vision of a ram and goat, Gabriel explains the vision, writing on the wall, Daniel explains message

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Daniel 7-8:27

Daniel 5

Questions & Observations

O. It had been a while back since we had discussed Daniel, so I googled him to refresh my memory about his place in society.  I found this summary to be eye opening:

Q. (Daniel 7): Wow.  This is one of those places in the Bible where it reads so fast because it’s so enthralling.  We have the vision explained, so there is only one question left for me.  Does this vision come into play in the OT or is it yet to come?  This is just a glimpse of the devastation we’ll see in Revelations, right?  (You’ll probably make me wait on that answer.)

A. Visions like this one are a bit more complicated than “has it happened” I’m afraid.  In one sense, this vision has already come to be.  It is a description of the rise and fall of four nations in the Middle East during this era: the lion is Babylon, which will soon fall to the Medo-Persian Empire (which we see with the death of the king in chapter 5 with the writing on the wall).  The leopard with four wings is the Greek empire that swiftly conquered under Alexander the Great (the four wings imply swift movement).  After Alexander’s untimely death, his empire was divided into four parts (the four heads of verse 6), none of which were as powerful as the united empire under Alexander.  The last beast is the Roman Empire, which conquered much of the known world.  The ten horns of the last beast seem to represent the coalition of the Roman provinces.  The last “horn” appears to represent the Emperor of Rome, who would stand in direct opposition to God, and therefore be seen as the great enemy of the Ancient One (similar to our vision of Gog back in Ezekiel).  We obviously know that the “final” confrontation between the powers of this world and God has not yet taken place, so you could argue in that sense that the vision is not yet complete.  This is very common in scripture: we have this tension of already but not yet, if that makes any sense.  It is the same way we understand what Christ has done for us.  His sacrifice has already won for us the victory over sin, but He has not yet claimed the final victory- already, but not yet.

One other note, the “characters” in this story (the four nations) are also seen in the vision of the statue of Daniel 2 (Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome) and to a lesser extent the vision of the ram (Persia) and goat (Greece) in chapter 8.  Note the divisions of the Greek empire into four parts.

Q. (8): Again, this vision is for then or now?  In 2300 years from then, it would have happened around 1850.

A. A little bit of history will help unravel this one: one of the four parts of the Greek Empire (called Seleucid Empire after one of Alexander’s generals) had control of the restored nation of Israel (this is in the future of our reading timeline, and between the Testaments).  One particular ruler of this nation, Antiochus Epiphanes, attempted to exterminate the Jewish faith via imposition of Greek god worship and cutting off Jewish customs such as circumcision.  He rashly desecrated the rebuilt Temple and incited a revolt — which we will talk about later — by the Jews.  After this revolt, the Jews reconsecrated the Temple.  The distance between these events was just over three years, which would give us around 1150 days (roughly).  Since sacrifices at the Temple were made to God every morning and evening (as it says in verse 14), we double that number to get the 2,300.  That’s what it means: It refers to the period of just over 3 years when the Temple was not “functional” because it was desecrated.  The reconsecration event has become known as Hanukkah, a relatively minor Jewish holiday that is celebrated to this day around December.

Q. (8:3-12): We have talked about the symbolic meaning of horns long ago.  This would be a good time to review it again.

A. The horn is a symbol of power.  I think that about covers it.

Q. (8:25): It’s awesome to see Gabriel in this text, and also does the Prince of Princes refer to Jesus?

A. It refers to God, or possibly a Prince of heaven (which might be an angel like Gabriel), but I think God is correct.

O. (5): According to Wikipedia, this story is where the saying “He didn’t see the writing on the wall” originated.

Q. (Daniel 5:8-9): Why was the writing on the wall written so that the King or his spiritual leaders could not read it?

A. They could read it (the words simply refer to currency in the ancient Near East), but they could not interpret it.  There is a lot of discussion about why DANIEL could interpret it when the other men failed, but unfortunately there’s not a lot to go by there.  Sorry.  I don’t know the answer to that one.

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