The Bible is the Word of God. All the adjectives and superlatives of all the languages on earth fall short of the necessary adequacies to describe this Book of all books. David wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy loving kindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name" (Psalm 138:2). If anything can be greater than God's name, it is His precious and plighted Word to man. If His Word is not truth, His name is meaningless.
Outstanding among the books of the Old Testament is the book of Daniel. Some higher critics legendize this book. While some of these men are of profound learning and scholarship, they are, for the most part, opposed to the supernaturalism of Christianity which includes the fact that the Bible is a divinely revealed and supernatural Book. One critic said that the book of Daniel was written after the events occurred and then put into the form of prophecy in order to make it interesting reading. Another critic has told us that the book of Daniel belongs to the Maccabean Era and that it is nothing more than a romance. But they are wrong! Men are to be pitied when they foolishly turn from divine light which makes clear God's future plans.
The Old Testament, or Hebrew canon, comes to us in three divisions: (1) The Pentateuch, called the Law or Torah, which includes the first five books of the Bible, is so designated because these terms stress the legal element which controlled the religious and civil institutions of Israel's national life. (2) The Prophets, or Nebhiim, consisted of the former prophets, comprising Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; and the latter prophets, comprising three major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel); and twelve minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). This second division is called the Prophets because the penmen of these books were considered as having held the office of a prophet. (3) The Hagiographa, or writings, comprising the poetical books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs); the rolls (Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations); and the historical books (Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel).
It could come as a surprise to some when they see the book of Daniel omitted from the Prophets and included in the Writings. No doubt there are good reasons for this, among them being the fact that Daniel was a statesman rather than an official prophet, and that the book bearing his name is not totally prophetical but more accurately historical-prophetical. If we call Daniel a historian we are correct, and if we call him a prophet we are correct. Daniel was both a historian and a prophet, as the contents of the book of Daniel reveal. Our Lord referred to him as "Daniel the prophet" (Matthew 24:15) thereby putting His seal of approval upon both the man and his message. Though Daniel never claimed to be a prophet, and nowhere in the Old Testament is he spoken of as such, yet part of the book is apocalyptic.
The book of Daniel is a mighty tonic to faith in the absolute sovereignty of God throughout the entire earth. Two significant phrases in the book reveal this pertinent and precious truth. The first is, "There is a God in heaven" (2:28). I say that here is a pertinent and a precious truth. In this second chapter alone God is referred to as "the God of heaven" not less than five times (verses 18, 19, 28, 37, 44). Also in this chapter He is called "the great God" (2:45) and the "God of gods" (2:47), and later in the book, "the King of heaven" (4:37). The second phrase is that "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" (4:24, 32). Both truths are announced in Daniel's statement to Nebuchadnezzar, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory" (2:37). The whole point in these two phrases is that the God of the Bible, who is the Christian's God, is sovereign over the affairs of men and nations. "He removeth kings, and setteth up kings" (2:21) "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" (4:17).
Another interesting feature in the book of Daniel is the oft repeated name of God, namely "the most High," appearing not less than thirteen times (3:26; 4:2, 17, 24, 25, 32, 34; 5:18, 21; 7:18, 22, 25, 27). Note this name of God and mark it in your Bible. Its first appearance in the Bible is in connection with an incident in the life of Abraham. Abraham's nephew Lot had been taken captive by some enemy tribes. When Abraham received word of the incident he set out at once in pursuit of the invaders. He overtook them, completely routed them, rescuing Lot and returning with much of the enemy's goods. Whereupon the king of Sodom tried to make a deal with Abraham, offering to Abraham the material goods and suggesting that he be permitted to keep the captives. "Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich" (Genesis 14:22-23). This name for Jehovah, the most High God, is the translation of the Hebrew name El Elyon, meaning "the possessor of heaven and earth." It is that name God uses when He wants to declare His ownership of His creation. In the book of Daniel He is called the God of heaven, but He is declared at the same time to be the most High God, the possessor of Heaven and earth. Though His earthly people Israel are in captivity and there is no word to them from God, all men in the earth must know that He rules sovereignly over them.
The book of Daniel was undoubtedly written by Daniel himself. He is the one who received the revelations and who speaks in the first person (7:2, 4, 6, 28; 8:1, 15; 9:2; 10:2; 12:5-8). While the book is in two parts, history (chapters 1-6) and prophecy (chapters 7-12), the entire book is the work of one writer. There is a literary unity in the book as will be seen in the examination of the text itself. True, the book is written in two languages, Hebrew (1:1-2:4a; 8:1-12:13) and Aramaic (2:4b-7:28). While it is difficult to determine precisely why two languages have been used, the fact that there are two does not reflect in any way upon the claim that one man penned the entire book, and that the writings were given to him by direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The book is neither a romance nor a forgery, but it does consist of accurate history and divinely given predictive prophecy. Those arguments, so strongly opposed to accepting Daniel as the author of this book, are specious. If the reference by our Lord Himself to Daniel's book (see Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14) were the only statements we had to go by, these would be sufficient, and nothing more need be said in support of Daniel and his book. But we do have, in addition to Christ's testimony, distinct references to Daniel in the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3) as well as a strong hint that both Ezra and Nehemiah had learned some true and deep prayer lessons from the penitential prayer of Daniel (see Ezra 9 and Nehemiah 9, cf., Daniel 9). Whoever therefore denies the divine authority and authenticity of the book of Daniel casts aspersion on the integrity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. S. Maxwell Coder, in his "Home Study Series" published serially in Moody Monthly, has an interesting comment in the section, "Archaeology Confirms the Old Testament" (January 1967):
"The book of Daniel was for years made the subject of one of the bitterest, most arrogant attacks in the history of the entire anti-Bible movement. Considerable literature was written denouncing the historicity of the book being answered by other works in its defense.
"From 1899 to 1917 the German, R. Koldewey, excavated the ruins of Babylon and proved conclusively that Nebuchadnezzar was responsible for the city's greatness, as claimed in the book of Daniel (4:30). Koldewey found in the remains of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar a great banqueting hall 56 feet wide and 173 feet long, with a niche opposite the main entrance for the royal throne. This was undoubtedly the setting for Belshazzar's feast (Daniel 5).
"To escape the force of Daniel's remarkable fulfilled prophecies, it was said the book of Daniel was written much later than the accepted date. (Daniel foretold the fall of Babylon, the rise of the Medo-Persian empire, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the many outstanding events in the long period which followed Alexander's death to the coming to age of Rome. He predicted the coming of Christ and gave the time of His crucifixion.) It was claimed, for example, that Greek musical instruments were listed in it several centuries too early. Babylonian records answered this by showing that Greek artisans and mercenary soldiers were employed in Babylonia in the time of Nebuchadnezzar.
"One of the most striking examples of the defeat of the opponents of the Word of God is to be seen in the fifth chapter of Daniel, where Belshazzar, king of Babylon, is said to have been slain during a feast on the night of the city's fall. Secular historians named the last king of Babylon as Nabonidus; they said he was not present at the capture of the city, that he was not killed, but taken captive and kindly treated, and lived in retirement as a private citizen. Here, said the critics, was a clear case of error in the Bible.
"No one had any idea how the two accounts could be reconciled until Sir Henry Rawlinson discovered an inscription on a cylinder in the Euphrates valley containing the facts needed to clear up the problem. There were two kings of Babylon during Daniel's later life, a father and son. Nabonidus, who occupied a stronghold outside the city, had made his eldest son, Bil-shar-uzzer (Belshazzar), coregent, and allowed him to use the royal title. Belshazzar was slain while defending the city; Nabonidus was spared. Thus, even the apparently insignificant detail of Daniel 5:7, 29, about the prophet's being made the third ruler in the kingdom, was explained."
Some knowledge of the book of Daniel is necessary if we are to understand future world events as predicted here as well as in other Bible prophecies. Moreover this book is essential to the interpretation of the book of Revelation. The whole course of "the times of the Gentiles" mentioned by our Lord in Luke 21:24 has been dramatically unfolded in this remarkable prophetic preview. The rise and fall of Gentile nations have been within the permissive will of God, and whatever time remains until the coming again of Jesus Christ, and however many nations are yet to rise and fall, the affairs of this world are leading up to that greatest climactic event when "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).
The book is chiefly about the man Daniel and his message. The man himself stands out uniquely among the great characters in the Bible. There are other good men in the Scriptures, but none quite like Daniel. He compares with the highest and wisest of men. He was exposed to the temptations of the flesh and he had every opportunity to be spoiled, yet through it all he remained pure and humble. Possibly some of this could be attributed to the fact that Daniel was born and reared during the great spiritual awakening under the good and godly King Josiah. Those impressions that were made upon him during his early, formative years were carried with him throughout his long and useful life. Like Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15), Daniel enjoyed the blessings and benefits of godly training in his youth. The history of the Christian Church reveals that much of the best and enduring work of the Church was accomplished by those persons converted to Jesus Christ in spiritual awakenings.
Recently, while reading through the book of Daniel, I was impressed with the fivefold appearance of the phrase, "He touched me" (8:18; 9:21; 10:10, 16, 18). What a subject for a sermon! The touch of the Almighty! Here we may learn the secret of Daniel's greatness. He had the touch of God upon him. Nothing finer could be recommended to the youth of today than a study of the life of Daniel. He is an aristocrat of the Old Testament, a truly great man because God had touched him.
Because God had touched Daniel he was a man of perception, purpose, principle, prayer, purity, and power. He had the touch of God upon him because his trust and confidence were in God. "No manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God" (Daniel 6:23). Many modern psychologists and psychiatrists would convince us that faith in God, as a rule and principle to live by, is an antiquated concept of an unscientific and unenlightened era that is behind us. Today they tell us, have faith in yourself! But we are learning that faith in ourselves leaves us cold and comfortless when sickness and sorrow come to us. Let a man trust God and the touch of the Almighty will be upon him.
Much more could be written in this Introduction about Daniel. However, it is in my heart and mind to get to the study of the inspired text. But before we proceed with the exposition, I want you to share a paragraph written in 1959 by E. L. Langston of England in The Prophetic News and Israel's Watchman (January 1959):
"The book of Daniel should be the textbook of every modern politician. If I had my way I should compel, not only every Christian, but the prime minister, members of the cabinet, ambassadors, the consular service, and all diplomats to study it. It is a panorama of the main political events at the end of 'the times of the Gentiles.' Its predictions concern Europe, Rome, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, and the Jews, the certain grouping of nations and individuals that will be prevalent just prior to the advent of the Messiah. The predictions concern labor and capital, the growth of infidelity and modernistic tendencies. We shall see the idea of a king of Syria or Assyria and a king of Egypt, and the United Nations organization which are not new, but predicted 2,500 years ago, and now being fulfilled before our very eyes. Do we realize that at least half of the prophecies foreshadowed in this book have literally come to pass, just as specified 2,500 years ago? Therefore, surely we are to expect the remaining prophecies to be just as literally and minutely fulfilled."