Daniel 1-8 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight DAN01
The Bible from 30,000 feet, soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Daniel the prophet is to the Old Testament what the Book of Revelation is to the New Testament. So I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news is there is only 12 chapters in the book of Daniel.
That's the good news. The bad news is it's the book of Daniel. And 12 chapters in Daniel is like 80 chapters in any other kind of didactic literature, poetic literature. So it's a fly-by.
In the book of Daniel tonight at 30,000 feet, I'm going to attempt to do that. We're going to zoom in on landmarks in this book. It's pretty easy, I think, to understand now that we are a few thousand years removed from its writing, and so much has been fulfilled. So in retrospect, we can look back, and it's easy to see how those puzzle pieces fit together that Daniel predicted.
I have had the opportunity to go to Iraq, where Babylon is located, on two different occasions. And the first time I went to Iraq, I went to Babylon. This is in the '90s right after the Gulf War.
And I was able to see the city remains where Daniel the prophet lived and worked for his adult life. And I was able to see the Ishtar Gate and go down sort of part of the main thoroughfare. And they showed me where they believe the lions' dens were.
And the courtyard and room where Belshazzar, the King in chapter 5, was sitting when the handwriting wrote on the wall. And that was a very moving experience to be in Babylon. I then went years later not to Babylon, but the city of Erbil up in Kurdistan part of Iraq. And I went there, and I worked with some IDPs, Internally Displaced Peoples, as well as refugees from other countries.
And I share that I unpack that because those two experiences of mine being in Babylon and dealing with refugees are a perfect setup for this book because this book takes place in Babylon. And Daniel was a refugee. He writes as a refugee as one of God's holy people, Jewish people who had been taken captive and placed in this foreign land of Babylon. It is the setting of the book.
Now ancient, Babylon even the ruins are amazing, but ancient Babylon in its glory was absolutely magnificent. The walls of the city were 85 feet thick, 300 feet tall. Every 65 feet above the level of the wall were watchtowers, which made it more impressive.
And even around that city-- and by the way, the circumference of the city of Babylon, according to ancient historians, was 60 miles-- 60 miles of wall-- around the greater metropolis of Babylon. And to top it off, just outside the walls was a moat, so it was heavily protected through the center of the city of Babylon with the Euphrates River, right down through the middle, right under the wall through the city, kind of working its way through, taking a turn, and going out again under the city wall. If you were to go through the ancient Ishtar Gate on a normal day in Babylon, you would be on a street that would be 65 feet wide of paved, pure limestone flanked by two red-tiled sidewalks like a gorgeous modern city.
I mentioned the river Euphrates ran through the center of town. And the retaining walls on the banks of the river were out of a fired shiny blue brick and placed within the brick, yellow mosaic of lions, a symbol of Babylon, and dragons. So this is a few thousand years ago, and you're dealing with a very sophisticated and opulent, magnificent and very well-protected city.
The founder of Babylon was a guy by the name of Nabopolassar. He was the dad of Nebuchadnezzar. We're familiar with Nebuchadnezzar. He is mentioned in this book. Nabopolassar, Neb's dad, named him Nebuchadnezzar because, in their language, that name means oh, Nabu-- which is one of the chief gods of Babylon-- oh, Nabu, protect my son.
What's interesting about the god Nabu-- and they worshipped several deities in Babylon-- is Nabu was the god of wisdom and prophecy. I think that's noteworthy because in this book, Nebuchadnezzar-- oh, Nabu, protect my son, the prophecy god protecting his son, he didn't have anybody in his palace who could tell him what dreams or prophecies meant, except one guy, and that was a guy by the name of Daniel because Daniel showed that not Nabu but Yahweh is the God of wisdom and prophecy. So it is sort of like a showdown of the gods when you get through this book.
Thing about Nebuchadnezzar is that he had a hot temper and a short fuse-- not a good combination. He was the guy who took King Zedekiah of Judah, killed his young sons in front of his eyes, so he would have that as the last living memory of his eyesight.
After killing them in plain sight of his dad, then he put Zedekiah's eyes out, blinded him, so he would always remember that to his dying day. That's his temper. Add to that chapter 3 of the book of Daniel where anybody who doesn't bow down and worship an image essentially of him gets thrown into a fiery furnace. This guy has issues with anger.
Let me take you back to one of those three dates. Remember last week and the week before, I mentioned those dates to you of Judas' capture and assault. I gave you 605 BC, 597 BC, and 586 BC. You remember those dates?
Sorry to do this again, but it's by now, you're becoming like historic Bible experts. That first date, 605 BC, let me tell you why that's monumental and why that's the first date-- the reason that became the first date for the captivity of which Daniel was taken captive in that first assault. Here's why.
There was a showdown at the OK Corral, not literally the OK Corral, but sort of the equivalent in ancient times. But the OK Corral back then was the city of Carchemish, which was on the modern-day Turkish-Syrian border. Carchemish was a town where three armies converged, the Egyptian Army, along with the Assyrian army, that formed one huge army against the Babylonians. That's where they had a battles for who would win the battle and be controller of the Earth.
And in that battle of Carchemish, in 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar won. Because he won, he conquered Assyria and Babylon and essentially everything else because those were the two superpowers. So the rest of the world was easy pickings.
And so he marched. And in his march to let everybody know he is in charge, one of those stops was Jerusalem. And he announced he'd won the battle.
His troops were there. Nobody dare argue with him. He did damage to the city, though did not destroy it, and took the first round of captives. And one of those was the young Daniel.
So the book of Daniel is very easy to outline. You can cut it in half. There are 12 chapters. You can take the first six and the second six, and there's your outline. The first six are organized as historic literature.
The next six are prophetic literature. So in the first six chapters, it's all personal. And in the second six, it's all prophecy.
So we have in chapters 1 through 6, the prophet Daniel, and in 7 through 12, the prophecies of Daniel. That's easy to outline. That's how the book is laid out.
Now Daniel is described as the author of this book, but wouldn't you know it, you'll get liberal scholars who say Daniel didn't write this book, and they have an old theory that has been debunked time and time again. But they keep trudging it up because they don't have enough intelligent acumen, creativity to come up with a new theory. And the theory is Daniel didn't write it, but somebody in the second century BC during the Maccabean era wrote it. He was writing history, disguised it as prophecy.
The only problem with that is we have made discoveries, not we as in I personally, but the world has discovered a very interesting archaeological dig over in Israel called the Dead Sea Scrolls. They've been around now for several decades. And when they were discovered in Cumeran by the Dead Sea in Israel-- remind me when we're there. I'll point that cave out to you-- cave number four is where they found a copy of the book of Daniel that predated the Maccabean era.
So I think that the scholarship that has been intact before and since all of that stuff has been dredged up and the Bible accused of a forgery has pretty well been debunked. But all of that aside, whether we made the discovery or not, here's really the way to debunk it-- the words of Jesus. He said, and when you see the abomination of desolation, as spoken by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place. You are in Jerusalem. Flee to the mountains.
Jesus called Daniel a prophet and referred to one of his prophecies that he writes about in chapter 9. OK, Daniel chapter 1 verse 1-- we're going to hit it hard. You ready?
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god. And he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
Who's in charge here? Well, it mentions King Nebuchadnezzar who asserted his power, his authority, his military prowess. He's mentioned here as taking over the city. But it seems clear from the next few statements that God is assuming responsibility for it all. The Lord gave Judah into his hand.
Nebuchadnezzar can Ezra could not have won the battle of Carchemish in 605 BC, nor have taken the city of Jerusalem were it not for the Lord. So God proudly takes responsibility for the misery of His own people taken captive in Babylon. You should note that. That's an important thing to see. God delivered him over.
Nebuchadnezzar was strong. Nebuchadnezzar thought he was the king. In reality, Nebuchadnezzar was a pawn on God's chessboard.
God is moving Nebuchadnezzar to this place. Like it says in Proverbs 21, the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord. And like the rivers of water, he turns it wherever he wishes.
Why is that? Why would God do that? Why on earth would God allow this to happen? Two reasons-- it's a divine sentence. Second reason it's a divine setup.
First it's a divine sentence. God is doing what he said He would do is judging the land for their sin. The Jews time and time again, decade after decade, century after century, disobey God's law.
God said, you keep doing that, I'm going to take you into captivity in Babylon. Prophet after prophet said that. We read their processes, considered them. It's a divine sentence.
But second, it is a divine setup to get Daniel into a key position, so he can write this book and influence no less than five historic kings. I love the book of Daniel. How often in trouble we go it's the devil. This is the work of the devil. Satan's against me.
So you just figured that out? He's been against you your whole life. Or we say, how could a God of love allow that to happen to me? What you need to do is frame what you go through with the wisdom of Joseph, who went through harder trials, I believe, than even you and said, God, you meant this for evil.
But God meant this for good. No matter what evil is around you and pushing in on you, though there are people and powers that mean that for evil, God always means it for your good. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
Down in verse 6, it tells us who some of these captives are. Now from those of the sons of Judah where Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them, the chief of the eunuchs gave names.
He gave Daniel-- that's his Jewish name-- the Babylonian name Belteshazzar-- which means Bel protect the King. Bel is not the name of a god. That's the name, Lord. It could refer to any of the gods. It's a generic term.
So Daniel's new name was basically god protect the king, or god Save the king. So every time you would say Belshazzar, you are you're saying basically god Save the king. That was Daniel's name. To Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; to Azariah, Abedinago. Please mark that Nebuchadnezzar thought it was important to steal from every captive his most private possession, his own name.
He redesignated the captives. He renamed them. He took away their identity. Why? Because to a Jew, that was his spiritual identity.
Daniel means God is my judge. That name is stripped from him. He is given a new spiritual identity. This is Nebuchadnezzar's attempt to conform captives into the image of Babylon.
Like it says about us in Romans chapter 12. Be not conformed to this world, but transformed. The world is always trying to make you like they are. They work hard at that every day in every song you hear, in every billboard you read, in every message and value system that is passed in a court of law, the world is trying to conform you to their image.
What you find out about Daniel quickly is that this boy was not a thermometer. He was a thermostat. He did not go up and down with the temperature around him like most other people do. If people are cold, he's cold.
If people are hot, he's hot. He wasn't that kind of a person. He was a thermostat. Man, he'd walk into a room and set the temperature. He was bold and here's why, verse 8.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with a portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank. Therefore, he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. A three-year training course for these captives to pamper them, to indulge them to get them thinking man life is a lot better here in Babylon than it ever was in Jerusalem and then to put the dots together saying, well, our God did not protect us from the Babylonians, and life was bad in Jerusalem. My goodness, it pays to live in the worldly system. This is great.
Who would want to go back to Jerusalem? He could have easily said, when in Babylon, do as the Babylonians. Even if I do return to Judah, what happens in Babylon stays in Babylon. He could have had all sorts of excuses.
Why not indulge? Who's watching? Who cares? But Daniel wasn't looking for an excuse because Daniel was living with a purpose. And when you live with a purpose, you're not looking for an excuse.
He purposed in his heart. He made an internal commitment. You might say Daniel conquered inner space. We have celebrated 50 years after going to the moon. It's great.
I saw that little special they did on Apollo 11. It was moving how we got from this speck of dust in the Milky Way galaxy to that speck of dust, amazing. We can conquer outer space pretty well. Our big problem is we don't do so well with our inner space.
When it comes to your own life, what's around you, the way to conquer your outer space is to first conquer your inner space, to conquer what's inside, to purpose something in your heart, to live with conviction so that you don't fall in compromise. Chapter 2 is a good illustration of how God can use insomnia.
In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams his spirit was so troubled-- the word means agitated or disturbed-- that his sleep left him. The old boy has a case of insomnia. Then the king gave the command to call the magicians and the astrologers and the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dream. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, I've had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.
There's a great old saying, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. It's great to be king-- that's what Tom Petty is saying-- but with it comes a price tag. All the worries about the kingdom, all the fear of the future, if I conquered this kingdom, I'm in charge. But who else out there could be stronger than me, waiting to conquer me?
So he's troubled. He's agitated He's tossing. He's turning. You and I dream.
Do you know that you dream every night? And I don't know. I remember my dreams frequently these days.
Maybe it's because it says your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. But the truth is we all dream, and you start dreaming about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. That's when you go into REM.
And every 90 minutes through the evening, you go into another dream. I mean thereabouts. That's the average span.
Each one gets a little longer as you go through the night. That's why typically, you remember those right before you wake up. The large cells in your brain stem fire spontaneously and send the stimuli to the cortex of your brain. That's what causes you to have the memory of the dream you dream.
Now all of that happens for everyone. But in this case, God's behind it. God is causing the cortical stimulation to occur with just the right images at just the right time and just the right intensity. So Nebuchadnezzar calls his men to him, and he makes a demand. I said that he had a hot temper and a short fuse. Here's his demand.
I don't just want to know the interpretation of what I was dreaming. I want to know the contents of what I was dreaming. You tell me what I dreamed, and you tell me what it means.
Now they were waiting, saying, king, tell us where you dreamt, and we'll tell you what it means. Well, anybody can do that I can make anything up, and that's what they were waiting for. They had no real power. Anybody can give fortune cookie predictions.
It's going to rain tomorrow somewhere in the world or whatever-- some generic kind of a prescription. But for him, it wasn't good enough. He demanded what the contents were as well as the interpretation.
Well, they couldn't do it. So he said, great, here's the deal. I'm going around y'all up, kill you, chop you up, and destroy all your homes and your families, sorry.
So Daniel hears of it, tells the keeper of the guy, rounded up all the help, tell the king to stop this. I'm going to pray. And we'll tell the king the dream and the interpretation.
He gets his buddies together that night, goes, boys, we need a prayer meeting. Our head's on the line. This whole event is a real pain in the neck. Our heads could come off tomorrow.
So let's pray and see if God gives us interpretation. He did. Daniel goes in to the king and says, king, there's a God in Heaven who knows what you dreamed. And in verse 32 of chapter 2, he reveals the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had that night of a huge statue, an image that represented four world governing empires who would also not only rule the world at their time, but have control over the Jewish people.
Verse 32, he mentions a head a fine gold. That represents Nebuchadnezzar. He had absolute power.
He was the absolute monarch. He shared his power with no one. He was the head of gold, followed by the chest and arms of silver, which is the Medo-Persian Empire.
This is all explained by Daniel to the king. Don't have time to go through the whole thing. It's one empire with two arms, Medo-Persia, the Medes and the Persians that coalesced to form one followed by the belly and thighs of bronze, which is the Greek empire and the Greek soldiers who aren't even really around yet of any substance would be called the bronze-coated Greeks or the brass Greeks. Then legs of iron-- this is the Roman Empire. This is the longest part of the statue.
Rome had the longest rule of any of those worlds governing empires, 1,000 years. But like legs that divide from the trunk, the empire was divided east and west. Then finally, feet partly of iron and partly of clay-- Daniel will explain in the interpretation of the dream-- he's just telling Nebuchadnezzar what he saw-- he will explain down in verse 44 of chapter 2 that those 10 toes are 10 future kings.
Now that verse of those 10 coming kings goes along with chapter 7 of Daniel where Daniel sees a beast with 10 horns, also shows up in the Book of Revelation chapter 17, where we are told the 10 horns which you saw are 10 kings. So Daniel and Revelation interface and agree on that point.
Now because of these passages in Daniel and Revelation, for 2,000 years, scholars have been looking for what they call a revived Roman Empire of sorts. Keep that in mind as we go on. Verse 34, you watched-- he continues-- you watched, Neb, while a stone was cut without hands, which struck the image on the feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. Nebuchadnezzar was able to dream the future. He is looking into the future all the way through the times of the Gentiles.
Ever heard that term the phrase, times of the Gentiles? It's a phrase used by Jesus. It is a phrase used by scholars to speak about world dominion by non-Jewish leaders Gentile leaders. He gets a peek into the times of the Gentiles, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, all the way to the second coming of Christ, which this stone represents.
Then verse 35, the iron, clay, bronze, silver, gold were crushed together, became like chaff from the summer threshing floor. And the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found, and the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole Earth.
By the time we get to chapter 7, Daniel has his own vision. It's the same exact vision, but no, not the same vision. The same exact meaning with a different vision. He doesn't see a statue and four successive kingdoms. He sees wild, crazy, ravenous beasts.
But they are then identified afterwards as the kingdom's of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and then a final empire, which we find out is Rome. This is essentially-- chapter 2 and chapter 7 of Daniel-- a picture of man's rule on the Earth and successive empires that will come in contrast to the day of the Lord. I hope you are familiar with that phrase, the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is represented by the stone that strikes the image, decimates it, grows into a mountain that fills the Earth.
Here's what is to me interesting. What did Nebuchadnezzar see in his vision? An image, a statue, an idol-- Babylon was the land of idols. To me, it's significant that God was speaking to Nebuchadnezzar in a language Nebuchadnezzar could understand.
He was used to statues. Man, he was used to idols. He was used to images. He sees that as, ooh, which God is this, as he sees this polymetallic image in his vision, in his dream.
I just need to make this note because we're not going to be able to go through chapter 7 in-depth. Again, this is the Bible from 30,000 feet. But what Nebuchadnezzar sees, a statue, and what Daniel sees, four beasts, same truth, different visions, is vindicated by history.
Indeed, after Babylon did come, the Medo-Persian Empire-- they overcame the Babylonians and reigned. After that, the Grecian empire ruled the world under Alexander the Great. After that, the world was conquered by Rome. And we are awaiting a coalition, of some group of 10 nations in the end times.
What is interesting to me is that Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel saw the same truth from two different viewpoints. Nebuchadnezzar saw it from a human viewpoint. Daniel saw it from God's viewpoint. Nebuchadnezzar was impressed with his statue, gold, silver, bronze, iron and strong.
God saw them from a divine standpoint-- or Daniel did-- and that is just a bunch of ravenous beasts destroying each other, killing each other. No beauty at all in it. Also, gold is first. Silver is second. Bronze and then iron, the metals decreased in value as the vision continues.
As time goes on, the metals grow stronger but less valuable-- again, the opposite of what the truth is. We think as time progresses, we get more gold and aged. We kind of start out as primitive man, iron and clay.
And then another generation comes. We get stronger, then another generation. Finally, we're now in the golden age of technology. We have it backwards.
Now you're dreaming if you think that. The truth is we're degrading. And the real truth is Daniel chapter 7. People are destroying each other.
Well, that's chapter 2. 16 years pass after chapter 2 when we get to chapter 3. Nebuchadnezzar had a very moving time. He acknowledged God.
But 16 years go by. He is more powerful. He is more prideful. Chapter 3, verse 1, Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of what?
Not gold, silver, bronze, and iron, but just gold. Whose height was 60 cubits-- that's 90 Peter. Its width was six cubits. That's nine feet. He set it up in the plane of Dura in the province of Babylon.
Verse 5, he said at the time that you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and sultry in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. That was the deal for all the Babylonians in that town. The Babylonian Philharmonic Orchestra was going to play their tune. And as soon as the music and the symbols go, everybody hits the ground and worships.
It's either bow or burn. That's the command. Boy, when I read Chapter 3, I think, Nebuchadnezzar was a prideful man because, essentially, what he's saying is nuts to the silver and bronze and iron. I'm going to make a statue of all gold as if to say I'm going to have any turn a long-lasting kingdom.
Nobody's taking over. I think chapter 3 is a 16-year-old response to the vision he gets in chapter 2. It is his response of defiance, so to speak.
Well, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego-- you know the story from Sunday school-- they didn't bow, so they were thrown into the furnace to burn. They didn't burn because he sees a fourth man. He says there's one like the Son of God. It looks like-- some translations say, a son of the gods-- in the midst of the fiery furnace with them protecting them. I actually believe it was the Son of God.
I believe it was a theophany, a Christophany. It was Christ in a preincarnate form, some kind of a form appearing there to protect them. And so they get delivered from that. Verse 30, they get promoted because of that. Chapter 4 is another interesting dream vision that Nebuchadnezzar gets.
There's an old saying. Let me kind of preview chapter 4. It says you can put a pig in a parlor, and it will not change the pig. But it will certainly change the parlor.
That makes sense, doesn't it? You can dress up a pig, put a bow tie on the pig, put him in a parlor of perfume. You're not going to change the pig. It's still a pig. It can act like a pig, but you will change that parlor if you turn them loose in that.
Now in chapter 4, the pig changes. You could put Nebuchadnezzar anywhere, and he doesn't change until now. Something radically changes him, and he writes about it. In fact, chapter 4, is mostly written by King Nebuchadnezzar.
Now Daniel, it's the only chapter in the Bible written by a Gentile king. It's his personal testimony. He writes it, and it is posted everywhere in the kingdom.
Now this is toward the end of King Nebuchadnezzar's reign. This is several years, as I said, after chapter 3, probably 25 years after chapter 3. So think of it, Daniel 2, then Daniel 3 is 16 years after 2, now 25 years after chapter 3. Daniel is probably in his 50s, and Nebuchadnezzar has a dream.
He has a dream of a tree that grows up. It fills the Earth. You can see it from afar in all the kingdoms of the world. Think of Jack and the Beanstalk. It's so tall, it goes from Earth all the way to heaven.
And then there's this angelic watcher, who after the tree grows up, calls down and says, chop down that tree. And the tree gets chopped down to a stump. And Nebuchadnezzar is troubled. And Daniel comes in. And Nebuchadnezzar goes, I had a dream.
What does it mean? He goes, well, I got good news and bad news. The good news, I can tell you what the dream means. The bad news is you're the tree who's going to get chopped down.
In fact, we might as well call you stumpy. No, he didn't say that, but he said you are that tree you. It's about you, king.
Go down to verse 29 of chapter 4, at the end of the 12 months, he was walking about the royal palaces of Babylon, and the king spoke, saying, is not this the great Babylon that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty? As humanly speaking, he had every reason to boast. As I mentioned, it was a magnificent city.
Nebuchadnezzar's palace was called the marvel of mankind. He had hanging gardens to look like a mountain peak because his wife hated Babylon. It was flat desert.
And so he built a mountain in the city that was watered. It was one of the wonders of the world, and that was where he lived. There's a proverb in Proverbs 6 that says there's six things God hates.
Remember that scripture? Seven are an abomination. So God gives you a list of everything He hates. You do well to memorize that list because you don't want to ever do any of those things on that list.
I mean, if God hates it, you don't want to do it. One of the things God hates is a proud look. This man was filled with pride.
And so the tree gets chopped down, verse 31, while the word was still in the king's mouth. I'm awesome. Look at this Babylon.
A voice fell from heaven. King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken. The kingdom has departed from you. He was going, I did this, and I did that. And God is saying I'm speaking to you, and I'm taking this from you.
Verse 32, they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen seven times shall pass over you until that the most high rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever he chooses. Essentially, King Nebuchadnezzar sinks to the level of an animal, and he lives outdoors, not like I'm camping out with REI gear outdoors, like a lunatic, like an animal. He had what experts call insania zoanthropica. That means he was nuts because he thought he was an animal. And I have been in mental institutions where there are people that I have met that believe that they are animals.
Some think that they're a werewolf. Some think that they're this or that animal. Nebuchadnezzar thought he was ox man. He acted like an ox. So he's living out in the fields eating grass.
Well, he gets humbled. He acknowledges that God is God, turns around. It's monumental. He posts that testimony everywhere that there's only one true God. That's the God of Daniel.
Now chapter 5, as we're moving along, is famous for supernatural graffiti. You know what I'm talking about-- the handwriting on the wall. The year is 539 BC. That's a historic year because that's the year Babylon fell to the chest and arms of silver. It fell to the Medo-Persian Empire.
Nebuchadnezzar is dead at this time. This is now his grandson, Belshazzar. The grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabonidus. This is Belshazzar.
He is a party animal. He's having a cocktail party. He's bringing in the vessels, the cups from the temple where they Stole them from God's house in Jerusalem. A lot of alcohol is going on at the party.
And have you noticed that people say really stupid things when they drink, and they do stupid things when they drink? I remember witnessing to a guy who was drunk. I was so proud. I led him to the Lord. I think it was the first person I ever led to the Lord.
He was drunk as a skunk, and he was, I love you, man. And he was praying with me, and I thought, that's awesome. I was just so stupid, so naive.
I found him the next day. He didn't even know who I was, had no recollection of the night before. I do have to say that I did stand in this hall, so this is a very precious scripture to me. I stood in the banquet hall of Belshazzar was pointed out by archaeologists the wall they believe where the handwriting was-- just an awesome moment to be there.
Daniel is in his 80s at this time. Chapter 5, verse 24, Daniel gets brought in because he sees a hand, a man's hand writes something on a wall. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].
And so Daniel says the fingers of the hand were sent from him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. This is the interpretation of each word. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], God has numbered your kingdom and finished it. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], you've been weighed in the balances and found wanting. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.
In other words, your number is up, you lightweight. That's essentially what he's saying. The word [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] means numbered way divided. You're a lightweight.
God weighed you. You're lighter than fluff. Your number is up. You're about to lose it all tonight.
At that very moment that Daniel was making this interpretation of the inscription on the wall, the Persians were already inside the gates of the city, unknown to Belshazzar. They went through underwater.
As they diverted the flow of the Euphrates River upstream, they got in. It was up to a man's waist. They waited in.
Hundreds, thousands of soldiers opened the gates. So the army was there ready to take the city. So by the time we get to chapter 6, Babylon is under new management.
Chapter 6 opens with new management. It is Persian rule, not Babylonian rule. Darius the Mead is the viceroy of king Cyrus who is in charge. They're joint ruling.
Daniel is 87, so he's pushing 90 years old. You might think, boy, when you get that old, you're ready for retirement home, not Daniel. Daniel is still fruitful in old age. I love this. This is such an encouragement.
Psalm 1, his leaf also shall not wither. I may wither, but I'm praying my leaf and the fruit doesn't wither. So Daniel's pushing 90, and he's still going to be used of God in this chapter.
Daniel has been promoted in chapter 6. And all of the people, all the younger guys who didn't get the promotion are jealous about it. And they want to see Daniel dead. They want to see him gone. I mean, come on, he's almost 90 years old.
Who is this guy? This guy's been around way too long. Get the millennials in charge. Get rid of this old guy.
So they try to find a crime to pin on him. They can't. He's flawless.
It says in this chapter he's a man of just an upright spirit. You can't pin anything on him. So they knew the only thing we can do to get him is to find something in the spiritual realm, something in his devotion to God.
So verse 5 of chapter 6, the men said we shall not find any charge against Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God. So they had the king pass a law that you can't pray to any other God but the king. You've got to pray to the king as God for a month, for 30 days. That's the law.
You think Daniel is going to obey that law? Not at all. He went right home after the edict was signed, knowing that it was signed, opened his windows. Everybody could see him toward Jerusalem, bowed down and worshipped Yahweh.
He gets arrested. He gets arrested. And Daniel is thrown to a den of lions. You know the story. Everybody does know the story.
So Daniel got a sleepover with the lion king. It seems that Daniel-- I can't prove it-- but probably had a pretty good sleep because the lions lay down, didn't bother him. So Daniel probably slept. In contrast to that, King Darius had insomnia.
He was so worried for Daniel he was trying to figure out a way to bail them out. He couldn't do it. And all sleep went from him. So this reminds me of Peter In the book of Acts who was arrested and was announced the next day we're going to take you out in Jerusalem and kill you, cut your head off.
And it says that Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. I love that. How do you sleep with soldiers attached to your wrists, knowing that tomorrow, you're going to be decapitated? How could he do that? You can give me a good answer.
Oh, he does trust God. No, he knew he wasn't going to die tomorrow. Oh, no, they said he was going to die. I know, but he knew it's not going to happen.
You know how he knew that? Because Jesus said to Peter, before Jesus ascended, Peter, when you are old, they're going to take you where you don't want to go, stretch out your arms, and kill you. Peter was still a young man. So when they said you're going to die tomorrow, he said, I'm going to sleep.
I'm not dying tomorrow. I've been dying for years. I'm still a young guy, wait till I'm old. He had a promise, and he rested on that promise.
Well, Chapter 7 through 12 is that second part of the book. It is an appendix of processes that spanned debt Daniel's entire career. Chapter 7, as I mentioned, is Daniel's own night vision of the succession of kingdoms.
He sees a winged lion, which is an emblem of Babylon. He sees a bear raised on one side. An emblem of the Medo-Persian Empire, was off balance because when empire was stronger than the other, though they came together in a coalition. The third was a fast-moving leopard, and the fourth was a dreadful and terrible beast.
Look at chapter 7 verse 17, sort of as a key to unlock it, those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the Earth. By the time we get to chapter 8, we have a conflict between kingdom number two, which is the Medo-Persian Empire, and kingdom number three, which is the Greek Empire. So it's the chest and arms of silver in chapter 2, the bear in chapter 7, against the belly and thighs of brass in chapter two, the leopard in chapter 7-- different motifs, same truth.
There is a language change in this chapter back to Hebrew. Chapter 1 is written in Hebrew. Chapters 2 through 6 are written in Aramaic. And beginning in chapter 7 to the rest of the book, it's written in Hebrew again.
I'm not going to tell you why. I just like to assign that as homework. How's that? Go have fun with it. But there's a good reason why, and I'll let you find that out.
So chapter 8 becomes the historical precursor to somebody who is coming in the future who will be the ultimate persecutor against the Jewish people called the Antichrist. Do you follow? One becomes the historical precursor.
It's historical to us. It was still prophetic then. It was in the future-- all of it was. But this portion is fulfilled, but it's a precursor of something greater.
So it is a vision of a ram and a goat. The ram is the Medo-Persian Empire. The goat is Greece. And the kingdom-- the second kingdom of Greece-- gets divided into four parts. Let me just give you a snippet.
Verse 5, as I was considering-- he's seeing this ram and goat-- as I was considering, suddenly, a male goat came from the east. He's considering this ram with its two horns. As I was considering, suddenly, a male goat came from the west-- the area of Greece-- across the surface of the whole Earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had no notable horn between his eyes. A horn in the scripture, by the way, is always a symbol of authority.
So this goat is moving so fast. It doesn't touch the ground. This is turbo goat. The national emblem of ancient Greece was at one time a goat, so it all fits-- a goat with a horn.
Verse 8, therefore, the male goat grew very great, but when he became strong, the large horn was broken. And in its place, four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven. Now again we don't have to guess what this is. We're off to kind of put some of our own meaning and go down to verse 21. The male goat is the kingdom of what?
Greece. It says so. The male goat is a kingdom of grace.
The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. First king was Alexander the Great. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdom shall arise out of that nation but not with its power.
There's a couple things that occurred when Greece met Medo-Persia. Number one, what is remarkable is the speed of victory. A relatively small army-- Alexander the Great had 35,000 men-- conquered the entire horde of the Medo-Persian Empire.
Some of you seen movies, and you read the books. You know that-- amazing victory, very, very quick victory, very speedy. Alexander the Great was very young and very ambitious, and he had a desire to rule the world. By the way, he did that and died at age 33 in Babylon.
So the speed of the victory of Greece was amazing. Second amazing thing was the speed of its breakup. Once Alexander the Great ruled the world, he died. shortly thereafter, and it immediately broke into four.
Why four? Because when he died, they said, well, who is going to take the kingdom? He said give it to the strong. They interpreted that to mean his four generals by the name of Salukis, Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Cassander. Those are the names. They became four empires.
Cassander took Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus took Asia Minor the kingdom of Thrace, Seleucus took the Asian provinces, especially Syria, to the north of Israel, and Ptolemy took Egypt and Israel. And there was always battles between north and the south, king of the north and king of the south.
Verse 9, out of one of them-- not going to go through all the battles. I've done studies on this book in depth, so I'm just going to touch on this. Out of one of them, out of one of the kingdoms came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. What do you think that refers to? Israel-- the nation of Israel.
Now this can only be-- and it's dealing with that king of the north-- the eighth Seleucid king. Remember I mentioned the name Salikus-- one of the generals of Alexander? So the Salikus, his empire was the Seleucid Empire. The eighth king and the succession of Seleucid kings was Antiochus the fourth or Antiochus Epiphanes.
How many of you have ever heard that name? Good, you're Bible students. You've been around. You know that. Antiochus the fourth reigned from 175 BC to 164 BC during the intertestamental times between the Old and the New Testament.
He reigned. He's persecuted the Jews. He tried to assimilate them into the Greek culture. They refused because, after all, they're Jewish. They're loyal to their God.
So he goes to Jerusalem. He kills 80,000 of them, and he takes another 40 to 80,000 captive as slaves. He plunders the temple.
He takes unclean flesh, a pig, sacrifices it on the altar of sacrifice in the temple courts. The Jews see that. That's an abomination to them. Their courts are left desolate because of that so that becomes what they call the abomination of desolation historically.
It's fulfilled. He did that. And yet Jesus said after that happened and when you see the abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel the prophet, which he does predict, again, happening in chapter 9 of this book. That was done by Antiochus Epiphanes.
Antiochus Epiphanes-- he gave himself a name, and he put it on coins [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]-- a Greek word, two Greek words that mean God manifest. You think he had a pride issue? I am God in flesh. I am God manifest.
So he called himself that. The Jews did not call him [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], which means God. They didn't call him [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], They called him [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] means the beast or the animal, Antiochus the animal.
So got him into trouble, a lot of more killed. The Syrian rule gets ended-- and see, I'm looking at the clock because I'm realizing, I did it again. I swore this time, I can do Daniel in one fell swoop.
So next time, we're going to be going through some of the deeper prophecies of Daniel 9 and the rest of the book. So we'll close it at chapter end. I apologize. It's hard for me not to drill down. It really is.
But let's close on an up note, shall we? 25th day of the Jewish month of [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] is when a group of freedom fighters in Israel between the Old and the New Testament called the Maccabeans overturned the Syrian army and drove them out of Jerusalem. They found one cruse of oil-- enough oil that would keep the lamps in the temple relit as they would open it a back up for service and worship of God for only one day.
They put the oil. They lit the lamps. It lasted through the first day, the second day, the third day, the fourth day, the fifth day, the sixth day, seventh day, the eighth day-- lasted eight days miraculously. That's the legend-- it's not in scripture.
It's the story-- that miraculously, the cruse of oil that lights the menorah in the tabernacle of the temple lasted for eight days. And so that became known as the festival of lights. You know it as Hanukkah.
When you hear the name Hanukkah, remember Antiochus Epiphanes and the Syrians were overturned by the Jewish freedom fighters, the Maccabeans on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, and that's what Hanukkah is not like a Jewish form of Christmas. It's not like a competing holiday.
It's their celebration of the festival of lights, which by the way, Jesus celebrated in the New Testament, Hanukkah festival of lights. That also I'm assigning you for homework to find that. We'll pray, and then we'll dismiss.
Father, thank you for the book of Daniel. Thank you for this amazing man who did define normal, who stood up, purposed in his heart, stood before the king, got in his grill, got in his face graciously as a man of God with class. He was not crass about it but just this amazing man who was able to stand up against the onslaught of paganism in his time and live a witness for God, unsullied by the world, uncompromised, and an example to us that has endured the test of time. Thank you for this young man who became an old man and lived his life faithfully in those courts of all those different kings. Keep us, Lord, men and women of purpose for your glory, in Jesus' name, Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from the Bible from 30,000 feet.