A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts: Part I: A History of the Times…And the Setup for Coming Attractions: | Part II: Events Prophesied…Prophecies Fulfilled.
… These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.
Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
After the events in this chapter occurred, an apparently docile King Nebuchadnezzar issued a proclamation declaring he had finally learned his lesson: that indeed the most high God was in control of a realm greater than his own-a Kingdom that will last eternally, dominating earthly powers for generations to come. This decree was written by the king himself, his regal attempt to tell an entire nation of the great God he had now come to honor and respect.
I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, 0 Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof and all flesh was fed of it.
I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
We have now arrived at the latter half of the king’s reign, and some twenty-three years have passed between chapters three and four.
Nebuchadnezzar has been a successful warrior abroad for most of his career, and he is now spending the remainder of his life in relative ease at his palace in Babylon. Chapter four could probably be called Nebuchadnezzar’s spiritual biography. But just as leopards are not known for changing their spots, so the king remained a proud man and would later have to pay the price for forcing his subjects to worship his great gold image on the plain of Dura a generation earlier. The score would soon be evened, as we shall see as the drama of this chapter unfolds.
Daniel-Consistent in Courage
Once again, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that caused him great anxiety. By now, he seemed convinced that the old guard of magicians, astrologers, and wise men would not have the necessary skills to interpret his latest dream, so he brought in a new group of seers, “all the wise men of Babylon,” not just those from the palace. This time, he didn’t play games by asking them to tell him his dream and give him the interpretation. He told them the dream immediately. Still, even the wisest in the realm were at a complete loss for an interpretation.
I’ve always wondered why he didn’t bring Daniel in immediately instead of going through the frustration of working with supposed wise men who never seemed to be able to deliver. Eventually, Daniel (Belteshazzar) was brought before the king, taken away momentarily from his busy life as judge and prime minister of the realm. Nebuchadnezzar now knew that only a supernatural being could interpret his latest anxiety-ridden dream, and he seemed confident that Daniel was the man to give him the answers he needed.
Trees = Power
As described in the passage above, the king’s latest dream was about a luxuriant tree of great height, with branches heavy with enough fruit to sustain the lives of many. But then a holy “watcher” descended from heaven and commanded that the tree be cut down, leaving only a stump in the ground. To a king who was already paranoid about losing his kingdom, this dream was one more in a painful series that indicated neither time nor the God of the Hebrews was on his side. Let’s look at this dream and its various components as they relate both to biblical symbolism and to final end-time mysteries.
Throughout the Word of God, trees represent kingdoms and powers. Two examples:
The cedar tree usually refers to the nation of Lebanon (1 Kings 4:33) and The fig tree speaks of Israel (Joel 1:7; Hosea 9:10; Matthew 24:32).
Nebuchadnezzar did not know it at the time, but the great tree that reached to heaven represented him and his vast empire. Babylon was a powerful tree-a mighty kingdom that had refused to bow its head to anything but a lifeless Marduk and the other Babylonian gods. But it was an abusive power, filled with the pride of an arrogant king who had crafted a golden image and made his subjects bow to it. Because of the king’s arrogance, God would cut the tree representing Nebuchadnezzar’s great power to the ground, but enough would remain (the stump) to indicate that it was still alive enough to undergo seven years of testing, a graphic picture of the seven-year Tribulation hour-a time we are rapidly approaching.
During those seven years of trouble, according to the dream, the king would be stricken down. He crawled about on his hands and knees, disheveled, a mad monarch forced to eat grass as an animal. His hair probably grew to where it touched his back. His fingernails were like bird claws.
There was a time when skeptics argued that such a situation was not plausible. Raymond Harrison recited a personal experience with a modern case similar to that of Nebuchadnezzar, which he observed in a British mental institution in 1946. He found a man who was mentally deranged, had claws like a bird, with matted hair hanging all the way to his feet. Furthermore, the man’s diet was grass, which he ate while crawling on all fours.
The disease was given a name: Boanthropy, or Zoanthropy.
Medical records prove this malady does, in fact, exist-and is the same disease, or the equivalent, that Nebuchadnezzar experienced in his dream and life. This state of mental derangement would last for seven years, representing the duration of the Tribulation, that terrible time on earth when millions who insist on honoring a false god will go through judgments destined to inundate the world.
How many judgments will there be during these perilous days?
Each of them is listed in Revelation chapters six to eighteen.
Here are just a few:
Revelation 6:2 says the Antichrist appears on a white horse; verses Revelation 6:4-8 tell us there will be three other riders.
The red horse depicts peace being removed from the earth with the cataclysmic judgments of war annihilating one-third of the world’s inhabitants; verse Revelation 6:5 says the rider on a black horse causes mass starvation; and verse Revelation 6:8 gives us the dramatic picture of a rider on a pale horse that causes myriads of diseases, eliminating another one-fourth of the human race; in verse Revelation 6:9, we see yet another judgment, where millions are slaughtered for honoring the name of God and for declaring their allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ; verse Revelation 6:12 speaks of the judgments in the heavens: “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.”
The judgment described in Revelation 8:1 is so terrible that it unleashes the other fourteen judgments, causing an unusual silence in heaven for about the space of half an hour.
The angels, knowing what is coming, are so stunned as they contemplate the future that there is a holy hush in the presence of God. This day is rapidly approaching, and the Book of Daniel is the prophecy through which these end-time mysteries are now being unsealed. In chapter two, we saw the future kingdoms clearly delineated, and now we know that most of Daniel’s prophecy has already happened. There is only one part of the prophecy yet to come: the stone smashing the feet of the image- Christ’s glorious return to establish His millennial reign for one thousand years upon the earth (Revelation 20:4).
This is all going to take place soon. But before it does, there will be the Tribulation period, pictured by the example of a mentally deranged, animal-like king, who crawls on the ground eating grass for seven years. Once again, a desperate king turns to his foreign friend and counselor for the interpretation of his dream. And again, what Daniel is about to tell the king is not good news. But Daniel remains courageous, refusing to dodge the issue. God has given Daniel the interpretation, and he is prepared to speak the mind of God freely before King Nebuchadnezzar.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE