Taken captive during Nebu-chadnezzar’s attack on Jerusalem in 605 B.C., Daniel became a chief minister at the royal court in Babylon. He prophesied the downfall of the Babylonian and succeeding empires. Like his ancestor Joseph, Daniel, in an alien land, was given an opportunity to interpret a message from God to a pagan king. The Aramaic message on a wall was written by a disembodied hand. It was directed toward the young king Belshazzar. In bold Aramaic, the message read as follows: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.” The words were somewhat luminous and, while the audience was familiar with Aramaic, these letters were cryptic and hence no one understood. When someone remembered that Daniel had interpreted dreams for
Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar’s grandfather, he was sent, for immediately. When Daniel arrived at the scene, Belshazzar was shaking in fear. Daniel proceeded with I to interpretation word by word. “Mene,” he said, meant that God had numbered your kingdom and finished it.
“Tekel” showed you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. “Peres” indicated your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians. Because of this interpretation and the recognition of his spiritual knowledge, Daniel received a royal appointment.
And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, 0 king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by sheaving mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility. All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 4:26-29).
That same night in October of 539 B.C., the message of the handwriting on the wall was fulfilled. The combined armies of Medea and Persia, under the leadership of Dares the Mede, penetrated the walls and overwhelmed Babylon.
Daniel’s interpretation of the handwriting on the wall incident is most well known. However, it was his interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams that are most significant.
Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men could not interpret his dreams, and so he called upon Daniel, who had demonstrated that ability. One dream was of a great tree that was chopped down. Daniel instructed Nebuchadnezzar that it was the king himself who would be struck down with a disease (called boanthropy). He experienced this debilitating disease but was restored within a seven-year period.
The most important dream was of a great statue made of several different metals. It was
destroyed by being hit by a stone. Within this dream was the political future of the entire times of the Gentiles, from Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem to the final reign of Messiah in the kingdom to come.
Israel would be subjugated to the power of the other nations and thus the Messiah referred to those times as “the times of the Gentiles.” ‘And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). These times would be completed at the second coming of Messiah. He would return to establish His kingdom with Jerusalem as His capital of the nation of Israel.
Thou, 0 king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried the nr away, that no place was found for them: and Me stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35).
In human form the statue was a demonstration of several metals at various stages of the body. The head was gold, representing the kingdom of Babylon. The chest and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire, which lasted from the sixth to the fourth century B.C. The stomach and thighs of brass indicated the Grecian Empire extending from the fourth to the first century B.c. The legs and feet were iron at the top and a mixture of iron and clay at the toes. This composite stood for the Roman Empire beginning in the first century B.C. and continuing to this present age. The revitalization of the old Roman Empire is represented when the then-nations of Europe are confederated under the ultimate leadership of the antichrist.
The stone which is thrown at the feet of the statue and obliterates the image represents the Messianic kingdom of God. The aforementioned stone enlarges and covers the whole earth, indicating the destruction of all the Gentile kingdoms. The kingdom of God will be established and permanent peace will ensue. How amazing that such an important prophetic dream should be given by God to the Gentile king Nebuchadnezzar. In addition, the king had forgotten the dream, but it was revealed to Daniel, who gave it interpretation. With great accuracy we have seen history fulfill most of this prophecy, and we watch with amazement the breakdown of communist barriers in Europe toward the predicted European unification. We realize that we are at the doorstep of the return of Messiah Jesus.
Daniel had spent most of his life in captivity in Babylon; always, it seemed, with an abiding hunger to return to his homeland, Israel, where, in Jerusalem the worship of God would be restored. As he prayed intensely for this return and restoration, God gave Daniel a vision about the future of Israel. The angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel, revealing a new concept about the number seventy—not the idea of seventy years in Babylon, but seventy sevens, or seventy sets of seven. This prophecy didn’t concern the Gentiles but, rather, Israel.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in
everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Daniel 9:24-27).
The prophecy will commence, then, with a decree of the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. It was almost a century after Daniel’s prophecy that this did, in fact, happen. It was in 445 B.C. that this occurred (Nehemiah 2:7-9). The decree was issued by King Artaxerxes. It was at that time that the seventy sets of seven, as prophesied by Daniel, began. The seventy weeks are broken down into three periods: seven weeks, sixty-two weeks and one week.
In order to understand the definition of the term weeks, we must consider that the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, including its walls and streets, took approximately forty-nine years, with a completion around 396 B.c. These initial forty-nine years represent the first seven weeks, with each week equaling about seven years. Mathematically speaking, then, the remaining sixty-two weeks of this second period times seven years per week, would equal 434 years. The sum total of 483 years, of these first two periods (sixty-nine weeks times seven years) from the inception of 445 B.C. (the beginning of the rebuilding) would reach fruition, or fulfillment, in approximately 38 B.C. However, when we consider that the normal biblical year is calculated on the basis of 360 days, rather than 365, in terms of prophecy our completed date or fulfillment would be closer to 30 B.C.I The statement that the Messiah prince would be cut off describes the time Jesus presented Himself to the city of Jerusalem on the magnificent Palm Sunday entry, which occurred on or about that same date.
The final period of the last week of Daniel’s prophecy refers to that period in time with the “prince who is to come,” which is the antichrist. The nation of Israel and this false messiah will make a treaty commencing this final seven years,
This false messiah will arise from the people who had destroyed the second temple in 70 A.D. Thus, the remnant of the Roman Empire will be revived. The present breakdown of communism and the reunification of Europe should alert us as to how close we are to the fulfillment of this prophecy. This antichrist will deceive both Israel and the world in general through his peacemaking ability. He will be worshipped by Israel and the world. However, he will break a treaty with Israel at midpoint in the agreement, or about three and a half years. He will then commit the abomination of desolation as described by the apostle Paul in II Thessalonians 2:3-4: Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (II Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Claiming to be God, or to have a characteristic of God such as infallibility, the antichrist will enter the temple and there be seated. The book of Revelation describes the judgments that will then fall down from heaven. It specifies a seven-year period divided into two halves. This antichrist will wage war against Israel with all the armies of the world. At the point where it looks like he may succeed in destroying Israel, the Messiah will return and defeat His enemies. Thus, on the second coming of Jesus, Daniel’s prophecy of the seventieth week will be fulfilled. Christ will establish His kingdom on earth and will reign for 1,000 years.]
‘Anderson, Robert, The Coming Prince, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich. 1984, p. 19.
The above article “Daniel” is written by Wesley Shaw. This article was excerpted from chapter 16 in Shaw’s book The Certified Messiah.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.