In this Bible study we will first study the dreams and visions, written in the book of Daniel. Then we will have a look into Revelation as well, because much of what is written in Revelation has a connection to what Daniel saw in the dreams.
These dreams are about mysteries that God wants to reveal. God wants to tell us what will happen in the latter days.
We will read the dreams together, but to get a better understanding I advise you to read the entire book of Daniel first. If you don’t want to read Daniel entirely at this time please read the following sections at least.
Daniel 2:1-3, 16, 26-45 The dream of Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 7:1-28 The vision about the four beasts.
Daniel 8:1-27 The vision of a Ram and a Goat.
We will first look at the dream of Nebuchadnezzar.
In that dream is a point that has been overlooked by virtually all biblical scholars. Daniel interpreted the image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. For completeness I put the whole passage below:
"31"You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue-an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
36 "This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.
37 You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory;
38 in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
39 "After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.
40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron-for iron breaks and smashes everything-and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.
41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.
42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.
43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
44 "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands-a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
"The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy."
We have seen that those different parts of the body depict different kingdoms which succeed each other.
I want to focus now on the verses 34-35 and 44-45.
"35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time"
44 "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed,"
On one hand it is made clear that all these kingdoms are contiguous, but on the other hand, it is also made clear that all these kingdoms will be crushed at THE SAME TIME. And all that will happen at the time that the God of heaven will establish His kingdom. God has not done that yet. So this prophecy has not happened yet but it will happen when Jesus returns.
Let’s have a closer read at what it says. In verse 34 we read that a rock was cut out and it struck the statue at the feet of iron and clay. And then at the same time it simultaneously crushed the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold, all part of the same statue. So when the fourth kingdom will be destroyed the previous empires will be destroyed at the same time.
As we have seen in other Bible studies, prophecies in the Bible have often a double layer of fulfillment which is also the case here. The first fulfillment took place many centuries ago, the second fulfillment will take place in our days.
Daniel 2 is about the rise of the ten-toes-empire in the last days. This empire will rise and rule over the countries of the four ancient empires. It will be the kingdom of the Antichrist.
The fourth kingdom -the feet of iron and clay- will revive and will be crushed by the stone which is Jesus. At the same time the first three empires will be crushed too.
What does this mean?
Those countries that were dominated by these various rulers will also be dominated by the ruler who rules over the revived fourth kingdom.
The dream and its interpretation are focused on the future. What should be made clear is that the prophecy is about the countries and regions mentioned, namely Babylon and Mesopotamia large. God wasn’t explaining to Nebuchadnezzar that the future would be in the Western world, but it would be the future of the areas where Nebuchadnezzar ruled.
The scripture that speaks about the fourth kingdom says: “40Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others”.
Does this fourth kingdom apply to Rome? Did Rome conquer all these kingdoms? Did Rome crush the Babylon empire, the Mede-Persian Empire (Iran), and the Greek empire? No it did not.
So Rome is not the fourth kingdom.
If it is not the Roman empire, which empire is eligible? What kingdom has conquered all three preceding empires?
An interesting question. And we will try to find the answer. But before we move on, we will discus the text sheets which can be downloaded.
Because it is quite difficult to keep a good overview of the texts, especially if you compare them side by side, I created text sheets. These text sheets are divided into sections to make comparison easier.
It's best to print it out. Therefore I made an Acrobat PDF file. This can be downloaded by clicking the right button.
But there is also a page that can be viewed on the screen. Just press that button. -->
Initially, the three visions don’t seem to have the same subject. But if we put them side by side (which we do in the text sheets), we see that they really are connected. These visions are different examples, which are all the same topic. That subject is: The history of the world, with Jerusalem the center of it, until the time of the end.
Boxes A text sheet 1
The image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream symbolized different time periods during which different empires are in power.
The first empire is that of Nebuchadnezzar. "Thou, O king, art this head of gold. " (2:37-38). This is the Babylonian empire.
The ‘first’ animal in Daniel 7:4 represents the same empire.
Daniel 7:17 is in section A, because, in context with the vision of the four great beasts, that verse makes two things clear right away:
The born again Christians will receive kingship at Jesus’ second coming. These four kingdoms Daniel is talking about, bridge the time between Nebuchadnezzar and Jesus’ second coming.
The verses of Daniel 8 in box A are introductory verses. After that the image of the ram and the goat appears. Verse 19 clearly indicates that this picture relates to the time of the end. The Lord announces what will happen later in the time of wrath. So this speaks about the time when God’s wrath will be poured out upon this world.
Boxes B text sheet 1
In Daniel 2 the statue, Nebuchadnezzar saw, is further described and explained. From these verses it seems clear already that with this huge statue a number of world powers is depicted. The breast and arms are of a different metal, less expensive than gold. This part of the statue is showing a second world power following the Babylonian empire. This second empire is that of the Medes and Persians.
This second empire in Daniel 7 is symbolized by the second beast without further explanation though.
According to verse 20 the symbol of the second empire is the ram as in the vision of Daniel 8. "The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia." About these four kings, God speaks in Daniel 10:1 and Daniel 11:21.
Boxes C of text sheet 1
Back to the statue Nebuchadnezzar saw. The belly and thighs of brass. This will be the third kingdom. A third empire.
The third beast of Daniel 7 is then described, “and it was given authority to rule”. Again, no explanation can be found in Daniel in addition to the previously quoted text (verse 17) “The four great beasts are four kingdoms”.
Continue to Daniel 8. The third kingdom is described in more detail here. It is symbolized by the goat. Verse 21 shows that it is the king of Greece. The first king of that world empire of Greece is shown by the great horn between the eyes of the shaggy goat.
The kingdom of the Medes and Persians will be overcome by the king of Greece. This king will be, according to this prophecy, great beyond measure. (We shall see that it all literally became true). That great king (of Greece) will ‘break off’, and four kingdoms shall arise from his kingdom.
Exactly how this all will work out, (as seen from the time when Daniel lived) is told in Daniel 11. We begin with a brief introduction to the second, or the Persian empire, and then we will study this third Greek empire extensively, based on Daniel 11. The key to this prophecy is its incredible accuracy. For those who love history, this prophecy is a gem, for others it might be a little on the dry side. We will look into this prophecy because we can learn several things from it.
The content is only partially important, so we will go through this fast without going into detail. Note the incredible precision with which this prophecy is shown, which must have a meaning.
For some this part might not be particularly interesting, for others it is. It is
possible to skip this section and go straight through to page 8 without missing the main part of this study. But remember that this very detailed prophecy was put in the Bible for a reason. Whether a prophesy is fulfilled will give the prophet his credentials. And in this case this prophecy was accurately fulfilled.
When we see that, then we will know that the next prophecy will exactly be fulfilled as the previous one.
Belshazzar: "Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."
Belshazzar was the son of Nebuchadnezzar. He was king over the mighty Babylonian empire, also called the empire of the Chaldean’s, the First empire. God told him that his kingdom will be broken and given to the Medes and Persians. This became reality when the Medes and Persians defeated the Babylonians.
Belshazzar was slain (Daniel 5:30), and Darius the Mede received the kingship (Daniel 6:1-2). He was probably viceroy or governor under Kores.
Now we move on to Daniel 11.
This very extensive prophecy, we will look at verse by verse. The angel who spoke to Daniel says:
"And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him (here speaks Daniels Prince Michael) "Now then, I tell you the truth:"verse 2
"Three more kings will appear in Persia. . . . "
These three kings are the kings which follow Cyrus: Cambysus, Smerdes and Darius I Hystaspes.
"... and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece."
The fourth king was Xerxes I (485-465 BC). He led the Persian Wars against Greece. Eight Persian kings followed, but they are not relevant to this prophecy. After the war, fought by Xerxes (the Persian) against Greece, King Philip of Macedonia adopted a plan for a major war to conquer the Persian Empire, with an army that consisted almost entirely of Greek. He died before he could implement his plan.
"Then a mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases."
The son of Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, took the plans of his father and attacked Persia. He defeated the Persian army at the Battle of Issus. 333 BC (Daniel 8:5-6). Then he marched to Egypt and with the Battle of Arbella (331BC) he defeated the Persian empire.
Alexander the Great defeats the Persians. Barely begun his reign, he died at age 33. June 323 BC
"After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others."
Alexander the great had no heirs. From his empire grew four empires (301 BC). Four generals divided the empire of Alexander the Great.
"The king of the South will become strong."
This is Ptolemy I Lagi (Soter), one of the four generals. He ruled over Egypt. The south means south of Israel.
"but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power."
Seleucis I Nicator, one of the generals of Ptolemy, was also strong. He conquered with troops of Ptolemy Babylon, and took possession of the throne, using the fact that Ptolemy was occupied with a war.
"After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance"
After 50 years this happened exactly as described! The king of the North (Syria) was then Anthiochus II Theos, the second successor of Sleucus I Nicator. The daughter of the king of the South is Berenice. Her father is Ptolemy Phila-Delphus II (285-247 BC). Antiochus II in 260 BC conducted a war against Ptolemy II which was ended in 252 BC by a marriage between Antiochus and Bernice.
"But she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort"
That marriage resulted in the birth of a son. Ptolemy II (king of the south) died and Antiochus II (king of the North) reconciled with his first wife Laodice who poisoned him. Berenice and her child, together with her entire royal escort, was slain.
"and her father "
Her father Ptolemy II of Egypt.
"and the one who supported her."
Antiochus II, which married Berenice.
"One from her family line will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious."
One from her family. This is the brother of Berenice; Euergetes Ptolemy III (247-221 BC government). Ptolemy III would avenge the murder of his sister and later attacked Syria 245 BC and defeated Seleucus II Callinicus.
"He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone."
The inclusion of gods is a sign of complete victory.
"Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country."
This is the failed campaign of Seleucus III Callinacas in 240 BC
"His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army"
The sons of the king of the north, Seleucus III Ceraunus (226-223 BC) and Antiochus III the Great (223-187 BC). These two sons of Seleucus II who formed huge armies to wage war against Egypt. They wanted to avenge their father and recapture the lost areas.
"....which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress."
Antiochus III took after 27 years his fort Seleucia again and he also conquered the territory of Syria, to Gaza, including Judea, through which he completed the last part of verse 10.
"Then the king of the South will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North, who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated."
I. e. Philopator Ptolemy IV (222-205 BC) He brought with an army of 20,000 men Antiochus III (the Great) a heavy defeat . . .
"When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant".
"Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him."
Philopator Ptolemy IV (222-205 BC) who -with an army of 20,000 men- defeated Antiochus III (the Great) and killed tens of thousands and added Judea back to Egypt.
(Not triumphant = not overcome.)
"In those times many will rise against the king of the South."
Then he signed a treaty which Philip of Macedonia and others, they became allies against Egypt.
"The violent men among your own people will rebel in fulfillment of the vision,"
In addition they received help from some of the Jews, according to the historian Josephus. It is the party of Tobiads.
Without realizing it, these Hellenistic minded Jews fulfill Daniel’s prophecy about the coming reign of Antiochus Epiphanes before the appointed time.
"but without success.."
They will not succeed but fall victim to oppression (see Daniel 11:33).
"Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand."
Antiochus III, has driven back the Egyptian commander Scopas, who again subdued the Jews to Egypt, into the fortress Sidon and captured it in 198 BC.
"The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it."
I. e. Antiochus III (the great) who marches against Egypt.
"He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him,"
‘Alliance’ in Hebrew stands for ‘equal conditions’ or ‘marriage’. The woman is Cleopatra, which is given to Ptolemy Epiphanes as a wife. But that daughter will not lend herself to the machinations of her father, but taking sides with her new homeland.
"Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them,"
Therefore Antiochus III turned his attention elsewhere and tried in 197 and 196 BC to win the islands and coasts of Asia Minor.
"but a commander will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him."
But the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Scipio brought him a devastating defeat at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC
"After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more."
Antiochus then turned his attention to the fortresses of his own country, in the East and West. The Romans laid him heavy war contributions. Antiochus the third impoverished so much that he wanted to plunder the temple of Bel in Elymais, but he was beaten to death by the infuriated people in 187 BC.
This is Antiochus' son, Seleucus IV Philopator (187-176 BC).
"will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor"
This Seleucus IV sent his tax collector Heliodorus through Judea to raise money.
"In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle."
Heliodorus poisoned his king Seleucus IV after he had ruled only 11 years.
"He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty."
This is the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC), brother of Seleucus IV, but not his heir, as Seleucus IV had a son Demetrius. He is called here a despised man, because according to the law he was not intended for the throne.
"He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. "
Through various machinations, aided by his servant Eumenes, expels Antiochus IV Heliodorus and take the throne in 175 BC.
"Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him"
The opposition to this coronation was great, but he easily overcame this opposition.
"both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed."
Some think this is the assassination of the high priest Onias III in 171 BC. Others believe that it is about one of the princes which Antiochus IV had a covenant with. (see verse 23).
"After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power."
Although he first had only a few at his side he succeeded, through his devious manoeuvres, deceit and flattery, to get more power and acquiring wealth.
"When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses-but only for a time."
He also attacked Galilee and Lower Egypt. His ancestors, the ancient kings of Syria, were the Jews benevolent, but they were now driven to desperation by the mad plan of this headstrong monarch.
"With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South."
Threatened with war by the ministers of Ptolemy VI Philometor (at that time the king of the South) which demanded Palestine (as the dowry of Cleopatra, the deceased Queen Mother), Antiochus IV sieged Egypt in 171 BC.
"The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him."
He came face to face with his nephew, Ptolemy VI Philometor, the king of the south, which had also a great army.
"Those who eat from the king's provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle."
The Egyptian king was defeated through treachery of his officers and he was fooled by Anthiochus IV.
"The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time."
After his victory at Pelusium, Anthiochus IV marched to Mephis, and after the king of the south (Ptolemy Philometor) had fallen into his hands he tried to use him as a means to get the entire country to its knees. In 174 BC the uncle of the king of the south joined a banquet. Anthiochus acted as if he wanted to conclude alliance with the young Ptolemy against his brother, Euergetes II, but each tried to cheat the other.
"The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country."
With lots of loot he withdraw from Egypt to his own country. Coming through Palestine he turns against the Jews, killed many, and robbed the temple.
"At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before."
In the same year he again attacked Egypt, but without his previous success, because Philo Meter (the king of the South) received help from Rome.
"ships of the western coastlands will oppose him,"
The vessels are from the residents of Kition in Cyprus, which transported the Romans. These Romans forced Gaius Papillus Laenas, Anthiochus IV, which already penetrated deep into Egypt, to relinquish his conquests.
"and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant."
Anger at the humiliation, which the Romans inflicted, Anthiochus IV had bitterness against the Jews and that’s when he decided to start his plan to Hellenise his entire empire, in a violent way. He implemented plans to destroy the Jewish religion into reality.
"He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant. "
He granted special favors to those Jews which would renounce their religion.
(from here also prophetically to the coming Antichrist.)
"His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation."
In 167 BC, the following year, was the low point of the horror. Antiochus IV sent troops to the holy land, the temple and the sanctuary were desecrated. (compare Daniel 8:11&24). He set the altar of the Greek god Zeus atop the altar in the temple and there were pigs sacrificed. (see “abomination” Deuteronomy 29:17; 1Kings 11:5 ; 2Kings 23:24 and Ezekiel 20:7 ).
"With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant,"
Apostate Jews get special favors.
"but the people who know their God will firmly resist him."
However many Jews didn’t apostate and were very angry that the temple was profaned. Despite tribulations they stick to the covenant with God.
"Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered."
By their example, many come to realize that it is better to follow God than Antiochus.
"When they fall, they will receive a little help,"
Those who loved God’s covenant were led by priest Matthatias who started a small rebellion against Antiochius. That rebellion led to the recapturing of Jerusalem by Judah Maccabeus and restoring of the worship in the temple in 165 BC (revolt of the Maccabees).
"and many who are not sincere will join them."
For fear that otherwise the liberators of them will take revenge, many apostates returned back to the old religion. But that return was only feigned.
"Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless"
Stumbling in the sense of vs. 33 = prosecuted. The result is that the feigned returned shall feral off again.
"until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time."
This does not mean that it is the end of this present world, it can also be intended the end of time for this part of history, where this prophecy is talking about.
The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place."
Antiochus Epiphanes acted as protector of the Greek gods, but he put himself in fact on one line with the gods. Even on the coins he showed himself to be a god. The name Epiphanes means: Revealed (god). (Antiochus is always a type of Antichrist).
"He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all."
That is Tammuz, in Greek: Adonis, the god of dying and new life emerging nature, the “thrice desirable “, was especially revered through women.
"Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts."
Zeus Olympios is the god of fortresses for whom Antiochus in Anthiochius founded a statue and whose altar he put in Jerusalem on the burnt altar.
"He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price."
"At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood"
From that encounter in history we can’t find anything, and that makes sense because of what is described here refers to a time yet to come. It says, “but in the end”. This prophecy is still to be fulfilled.
We will now think a little bit more about Daniel 11 and particularly about “the abomination of desolation”. We will do this in Part 2.
"1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision."
"2 Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece."
"30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, 31and Darius the Mede"
"1 It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel."
"33Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered."
"15 Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand."
11 "It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low."
24 "He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people".
You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold".
"He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites".
"Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem".
"And I said to them, “Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.".
"“Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered".