DANIEL - INTRODUCTION
The Prologue To Revelation
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
The prophetic character of the book of Daniel has invested it with a peculiar fascination for readers from all walks of life, and that it has been equally intriguing to all kinds of writers is attested by the number of books it has spawned, that profusion prompting the question, Why another?
The answer is that there is probably no need for another, except for the fact, that with a few rare exceptions, books tend to go out of print - even good ones - with the result that the next generation of readers is denied the opportunity of having easily available to them material that would be as profitable to them as it was to their predecessors.
The authorís objective therefore has been, not necessarily to produce a commentary that would be different from any other, but rather to incorporate into this work the best of what others have written. Since some of those books are now out of print, this present work offers the reader, not only the results of the present authorís studies, but that also of others.
By its very nature therefore it will supply the reader with the best of what has been written on Daniel, without his having to consult other books.
It should be explained, however, that the presentation of that material doesnít consist in the verbatim reproduction of what others have said or written. As with all who study, and listen to the ministry of Godís Word, what the author has read and listened to over more than fifty years has become so much a part of his total knowledge that it is impossible to say what is the result of his own studies and what the result of the labors of others. He makes no claim to much originality in what is presented in this present work, but very gratefully acknowledges his deep indebtedness to the oral and written ministry of many.
In the course of over forty years of Bible teaching it has been the authorís privilege to have given many talks on the book of Daniel, and over the years the question was asked with increasing frequency whether the material was available in written form.
Since the same question was also being asked relative to similar talks on other books of the Bible, there began to develop the idea of perhaps producing a small periodical devoted to just that purpose. This, however, wasnít something to be undertaken without careful seeking to know Godís will in the matter, because a full time Bible teaching ministry involving studies each night of the week, and speaking engagements every Lordís day, left little time for such an undertaking.
The nightly Bible studies involved a great deal of travel time, and gradually the question began to present itself whether that time might be better used to bring the material in written form to a wider audience. The author continued to seek guidance from God, and believing that ďin the multitude of counsellors there is safetyĒ (Pr 11:14), consulted also with several brethren whom he felt to be men of wisdom. He didnít, however, mention the question of the travel time involved in the Bible studies, and took it, then, as clear guidance from God when one of those brethren approached him with the suggestion that the travel time might be more profitably used in writing.
The result was that the first issue of the magazine GREEN PASTURES went out in July 1986, but again, as formerly with the Bible studies, the question began to be asked whether the serialized articles might be made available in book form. After careful seeking for Godís direction, publication of GREEN PASTURES was stopped in July 1995, so that the author might devote time to editing and revising the manuscripts that had developed in the course of preparing material for the study classes and for the magazine, and now it is his prayer that God may be pleased to use this study on the book of Daniel, not only to instruct His people, but to build them up, revive their spirits, and quicken their expectation of the Lordís return, for no Spirit-instructed person can doubt that that great event is imminent.
The author wishes to take this opportunity to acknowledge his indebtedness to the goodness of God for having made production of the book possible. He likewise gratefully acknowledges his deep indebtedness to many others whose oral and written ministry has furnished no small part of what constitutes the essence of this present work.
And it would be base ingratitude were he to omit grateful acknowledgement of the willing sacrifice by his wife of very much time she has uncomplainingly relinquished over many years so that the author might devote himself to the Lordís work, and apart from which sacrifice, production of this book would have been impossible.
It is doubtful whether any Bible book has been as violently attacked as Daniel, and for an obvious reason: as Gaebelein has written, ďProphecy gives the clearest and most conclusive evidence, that the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God.... One of the most powerful answers to infidelity is Prophecy.Ē And Peter exhorts, ďWe have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your heartsĒ (2 Pe 1:19).
Unquestionably Daniel is the very foundation of prophecy, as Revelation is the capstone, and one doesnít have to be a very deep student of the Bible to know that these two books must be studied together if the full scope of the prophetic Scriptures is going to be understood. The reader is therefore urged to study the authorís companion volume on the book of Revelation.
The prophetic character of the book of Daniel, however, has tended to obscure the fact that it also contains a considerable amount of practical teaching, the result being that commentators have tended to focus only on the prophetic. The present work represents an attempt to deal with both aspects.
Though the book doesnít lend itself easily to a verse by verse exposition, that is the format that has been used, since it makes reference easy, and appears to be the one preferred by most Bible students.
Since many others have already ably defended the historical integrity of the book of Daniel, the author felt it unnecessary to include another such defence.
As to the duration of the Babylonian captivity (seventy years), it is to be noted that this was because of Israelís failure to obey Godís command relative to the sabbatic year. The land was to be allowed to lie fallow each seventh year, Le 25:4, but for four hundred and ninety years, greedy Israel had disobeyed Godís command, and finally, His patience exhausted, He ensured that the land had rest for the seventy years during which Israel had rebelliously worked it, Le 26:34-35. The removal of the scepter from Israel marked the beginning of the times of the Gentiles, an epoch which has continued to the present, and which will end only when Christ returns in power and glory to end the Tribulation and inaugurate His glorious millennial reign. A man cannot rob God without impoverishing himself.
There is a peculiar irony in their being carried into Babylon, the home of idolatry, for Israel had brazenly worshipped the gods of the heathen, but it is significant that since those years of chastisement in Babylon, she has not been guilty of this particular sin.
It is scarcely necessary to mention that in the experiences of Daniel and his three companions, God would have us see the foreshadowing of the experiences of the faithful remnant in the coming Tribulation era.
We might note also the parallel between the life of Daniel and that of Joseph: as the one was carried captive to Babylon, so was the other carried captive to Egypt. Each in the land of his captivity was tested relative to his loyalty to God; each was endowed with the ability to interpret dreams through which the mind and will of God were revealed, and each was eventually promoted to a position of authority next only to that of the king. The reason for the parallel becomes clear when we remember that Babylon represents the world of false religion; and Egypt, the world of business and pleasure. Together they portray the world in which the believer must live, and in which his loyalty to God is also tested.
The experiences of these two godly young men, both of whom are very clearly types of Christ, foreshadows His experience here on earth. He too revealed the mind and will of God; His loyalty to God was tested far more severely than that of any other, and accordingly His promotion has been infinitely higher. Crowned with glory and honor, having been given a name that is above every name, He sits on the throne of heaven, at the Fatherís right hand. There is, however, one notable difference: Joseph and Daniel were carried captive against their will: He came willingly down to the scene represented by Babylon and Egypt, to do His Fatherís will.
T≠he record of the lives of Daniel and Joseph h≠as been preserved to encourage every believer to walk in their footsteps, for they, like Paul, walked as far as is humanly possible, as did the Lord. The ultimate reward of their fidelity reminds us that ours will have a similar recompense: we will reign with Christ.
With this brief introduction, then, this book is commended to the reader with the prayer that his perusal of it may yield the same pleasure and spiritual profit as its preparation has to the author.