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The prophecies of Daniel are mysterious and foreboding; or, at least they were in Daniel’s day. In looking back in history from the perspective of the present day, these prophecies are remarkably clear and precise. However, the historical accuracy of these prophecies is largely ignored today because a chiliastic view of eschatology attempts to see glimpses of a millennium and events leading up to it as the object of many of the things revealed to Daniel almost 1500 years ago.

Higher Criticism acknowledges the accuracy of the prophecies but it cannot accept that Daniel was indeed the prophet and writer of the Book of Daniel. The argument is that the information contained in the prophecies is so accurate that it is impossible for Daniel, who lived some 300 years before much of what is recorded, to have written the book. Obviously, it must have been written much later in time.

In the 1800s the Adventists reached into the prophecies of Daniel to learn when Christ would return to “cleanse the sanctuary.” Through their efforts, October 22, 1844 became known as the Great Disappointment. Other groups, particularly those with a primitive church orientation, have discerned in the prophecies of Daniel events that led up to, and possibly identify, their specific movement or time in the Christian era. The little horn of Daniel chapter 8 has been identified by many Bible commentators and writers as the rise of Papalism and an apostate church.


The First Principle


The concept of first principle is very important to understanding the prophecies of Daniel. The Oxford Dictionary defines first principle(s) as the fundamental concepts or assumptions on which a theory, system, or method is based. The concept of first principle sets the parameters which govern the interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies and these parameters must be followed without derivation to ascertain the true meaning of each prophecy.

The first principle of the prophecies is revealed in God’s first communication with Daniel via the dream given to Nebuchadnezzar. In this dream was a succession of four kings or kingdoms that is ended with the coming of a stone cut out of the mountain without hands. The succession shown in this dream remains constant throughout all the prophecies. Not all the prophecies deal with all the kingdoms, but where they appear, the kingdoms involved appear in the order first revealed to Nebuchadnezzar.

The Kingdom of God is the intended purpose of God for mankind. It began in the Garden of Eden but man rebelled against God’s rule over his life. It is picked up again in the Abrahamic Covenant later to be squandered by Israel. The prophecies of Daniel reveal the temporal kingdoms of man that have opposed the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament and lead up to the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation is not specifically the history of the church; it is the continuing history of the Kingdom from the time of the stone cut out without hands to the end of time. In short, the prophecies of Daniel must not be confused with the prophecies of the Book of Revelation. The prophecies of Daniel end with the coming of Messiah and the establishment of His rule in the Kingdom of God.

A concise statement of the first principle of Daniel’s prophecies is that they concern the four world-wide kingdoms, or empires, from the time of Nebuchadnezzar and the first advent of Messiah. Within this first principle is the obvious impact these kingdoms have on the Jews living in Judea (Palestine). The impact in some cases is so catastrophic that Daniel was struck with illness because of what he learned.


About This Book


The prophecies of Daniel were prepared and presented as Bible studies during Sunday evening services. Inasmuch as a normal congregation is not filled with academics and Bible scholars, the material was prepared for a general audience without the formality of an academic work. Those lessons are contained within this book, formatted for printed publication, but still with a general audience in mind.

The prophecies concern ancient history and who knows how many text books have been written on ancient history over the centuries. Some authors research scores of texts to learn what they already know in an attempt to show that what they know is really so. Several sources have been used for this book and, undoubtedly, academic critics would criticize the small list of resources used. But, inasmuch as most people that have gone through high school did study, or at least had to take a course in, ancient history, it was assumed that the audience (and the potential reader) will remember some of what they learned in school. It was felt that an abundance of footnotes would be utterly useless as anyone who would question a fact presented in this book will research that question on the Internet.

There are some difficulties with ancient history that remain even today. Most of those difficulties have to do with names and dates. Different authors will show different dates for the same events. This is done, not with the purpose of confusing readers and researchers, but because of differing opinions, differences in the sources used, and different calculations in determining ancient dates that have been used over time. (For example, it is now known Christ was born in 4 b.c., not 0 or 1 a.d.) Within this book you may find a date assigned to an event that is different from chapter to chapter. Also, names that are unpronounceable to the average American tongue have different spellings depending on the time in history which various books were written. Another factor is that ancient names appear differently or even as different names because of the country in which the name is used—a king called by one name in one country is called by another name in another country. Another thing that is confusing is when reading about the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, it seems as if they all have the same name: it is either Ptolemy, Seleucid, Antiochus, or Epiphanes. So, when reading in the prophecies that concern these rulers the reader may want to pay special attention so as not to get confused.

There are several examinations of Hebrew words in this book. This does not imply that the author is an expert in ancient Hebrew or has even studied Hebrew. Many wonderful works by very knowledgeable scholars exist to make up the deficiency in those of us that have never had the time or opportunity to study that ancient language.

The primary sources used for this book were Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible and Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. Additional information was gathered mostly through

Direct quotations are acknowledged and, for the most part, they are contained in indented paragraphs; however, footnotes are not used because the information quoted is either contained in a commentary for the verses concerned, or the history involved is considered to be “common knowledge” and can be verified quickly by looking in an ancient history textbook or by doing a web-search.


The Prophecies


There are five prophecies recorded in the Book of Daniel. The first prophecy was actually a dream given to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. The dream was a mystery that none of his wise men could interpret for him. God gave Daniel the interpretation of the dream, which was actually a prophetic vision of the four world-wide kingdoms from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the coming of Christ.

There are four prophecies which were given directly to Daniel. The topics of these prophecies include a recapitulation of the events in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the advent of a mysterious little horn, the coming conflict between Persia and Greece, a prophecy of the coming Messiah, and a prophecy concerning the conflict between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid Dynasties.

The five prophecies of the Book of Daniel are:


·         Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream. Chapter 2. 604 b.c.

·         The Four Beasts. Chapter 7. 553 b.c.

·         The Ram and the Male Goat. Chapter 8. 551. b.c.

·         The 70 Weeks. Chapter 9. 539 b.c.

·         The Kings of the South and North. Chapters 10–12. 536 b.c.




There is a great deal of interest in the prophecies of Daniel spurred on by an intense interest in dispensational premillennialism in evangelical churches. This book rejects any association of these prophecies with a rapture, a tribulation, a future establishment of an earthly Kingdom of God, and any other tenants of that approach to eschatology. Having said that, no offense is meant or intended to any or all who hold to that line of thinking. We all have our opinions on that subject and we all know we are right and the other guy is wrong. In any case, we will know what the end is when we get there.

Where names of groups and individuals are used in this work in a context that might be considered negative or adversarial by some, such naming is not intended to offend, criticize, or discredit those named, but merely for the sake of factual accuracy.


Important Notice


All Scripture references are from the New King James Bible published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, unless otherwise noted.