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The Handwriting on the WallSECRETS FROM THE PROPHECIES OF DANIEL
By David Jeremiah
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 1992 David Jeremiah and C. C. Carlson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA PROPHET FOR OUR TIME
THE MEMO SAID, "TOP SECRET." Every person in the Oval Office had been given orders to arrive promptly at 8 A.M. No one must know, especially CNN, that the president of the United States, the vice president, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council, congressional leaders, and selected members of the cabinet had been called for this executive briefing. Object: To hear a futuristic projection of the rise and fall of our planet's major countries and their leaders. This was not a strategy meeting. This was to be the unveiling of the destiny of the world.
The president never looked more serious. He sat facing his advisers, men and women of keen intelligence whom he had entrusted with decisions that could affect millions of lives. With his fingers pressed together under his chin, he looked like he was praying. Considering the state of the world, his attitude was logical. When he signaled to an armed guard, the door was opened to allow one man to enter. The man hesitated for a moment and glanced at the illustrious gathering of military and political might. The president pointed to a chair directly in front of the polished executive desk. The man took his seat and faced the leadership advisers of the most powerful nation on earth.
The secretary of state cleared his throat. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs wiped his forehead nervously. The secretary of defense looked at his polished shoes. Tension was high.
"Gentlemen," the president said soberly, "you are about to hear about the future of the world as we know it. Listen carefully, for your very lives are at stake."
Is this an imaginary scenario, or could it happen someday? What is fiction today may easily be fact tomorrow.
This scene did occur in a another country with different players. One man, divinely inspired, accurately prophesied the rise and fall of empires and their rulers. Scholars have scoffed and doubters have discredited, but history has substantiated his words and the future will verify his predictions. Believing or disbelieving what this man said could change our lives forever.
Who was this man? Some of his critics say that he wrote his book of history and prophecy after the fact. They might compare him to the members of the modern-day Procrastinators Club, who predicted on January 1, 1992, that the Persian Gulf War would be over in 1991, that Gorbachev would topple and the Soviet Union disintegrate, and that Clarence Thomas would be appointed to the Supreme Court. "We just now got around to our predictions," the president of the club said.
Daniel is the man. No matter how his critics have tried to discredit him or belittle the book that bears his name, they have failed miserably. Their names are forgotten, and his name lives on as a man of intense integrity and profound piety.
We cannot pass him off today as just the man in the lions' den or a dreamer of surrealistic dreams. To know Daniel is to learn how to live today and look at the future with confidence.
This is not merely a biography of someone we should know, but an outline of our future. It's not the images in a crystal ball or the babbling of a clairvoyant, but the truth contained in the Book of books.
Daniel on the Witness Stand
The prosecutors of Daniel are the liberal scholars who find he is an embarrassment to them. They level all of their energy in trying to destroy his credibility. He has been under attack more than the Book of Genesis. According to his critics, prophecy is an impossibility. There is no such thing as foretelling events to come, therefore a book that contains predictions must have been written after the fact. They claim his book is fiction written like prophecy in order that it might be more interesting to the readers.
When the prosecution presents their case before the jury, they use, whether they realize it or not, the conclusions of a fellow by the name of Porphyry who lived in A.D. 233. He wrote fifteen books with the revealing title Against the Christians. Porphyry became a polytheist, which means he embraced many gods and worshiped them. One of his favorite targets was Daniel. He did everything he could to prove that this book was written about 165 B.C., and that all of the events which the Book of Daniel prophesied were written after they had already come to pass.
All of the modern critics have taken old Porphyry's conclusion and rehashed it. They have not done any homework on their own. If they belonged to a law firm today, they would probably be fired for incompetency.
Testimony of Daniel's Contemporaries
When Ezekiel takes the witness stand, he is very sure of Daniel's existence and writing, for they were neighbors in Babylon. He said that Daniel was a real fellow. If the prosecution does not believe Daniel, then they have a problem with Ezekiel, also.
The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord." Ezekiel 14:12–14
If the prosecutors can't deal with Daniel, they will have to call Noah and Job to the witness stand too.
In Ezekiel 28:3, God is speaking to the prince of Tyre, and He says, "Are you wiser than Daniel?" He didn't say Solomon, who is generally named as the wisest man who lived, but he named Daniel, which shows what God thought of him.
Testimony of the Archaeologist
If the prosecution cannot discredit the witness, then they search for contradictions in his testimony. The first and second verses of Daniel say that Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon, took vessels from the temple at Jerusalem and brought them into the treasury of his god.
"Never heard of such a thing," says the prosecuting attorney. "That was a completely unknown custom. We can't find any reference in ancient history to such a practice."
Suddenly the archaeologists burst into the room, brushing the dirt from their hands and placing their shovels and sieves in front of the judge. They have discovered an inscription that proves Nebuchadnezzar always put his choicest spoils into his house of worship. Just one of those peculiar habits of the king.
In the first chapter of Daniel there is reference to a fellow by the name of Ashpenaz, who was master of the eunuchs. The prosecution says, "No one ever heard of this fellow. He was just another fictional character out of Daniel's fantasy."
During the last quarter of a century, the name Ashpenaz has been found on the monuments of ancient Babylon, which are now in the Berlin Museum. It says, "Ashpenaz, master of eunuchs in the time of Nebuchadnezzar."
If the prosecution can trip the defendant on details, he can cast doubt on his credibility. The opponents of the Word of God love to say, "But the Bible contradicts itself."
In the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel, the story is told of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, who is said to have been slain during a drunken feast on the night Babylon fell. Secular history says the king of Babylon at that time was Nabonidus. Who is right? No one knew how to reconcile these two accounts until Sir Henry Rawlinson discovered an inscription on a cylinder found in the Euphrates River. It cleared up the problem. There were two kings of Babylon during Daniel's later life, a father and a son. Nabonidus, who occupied a stronghold outside the city, had his eldest son, Belshazzar, as co-regent. He allowed him to use the royal title. Belshazzar was slain while defending the city; Nabonidus was spared. This detail explains Daniel 5:29, where it says: "Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom."
He was the third ruler because there were already two others, Nabonidus and Belshazzar. So the prosecutor returns to his seat and searches for more incriminating evidence to indict Daniel.
The Star Witness
When this Person takes the stand, the prosecution is at a loss. In Matthew 24:15, Jesus says, "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel ..."
Jesus says that in the Old Testament scriptures, Daniel the prophet wrote about the abomination of desolation. He said Daniel was for real. With that testimony, I know I can go through the Book of Daniel and dig out its truth with full confidence that I have God's word in my hands.
When God wants His work to be done, He turns to His children. Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).
Most of us love praise. We display our trophies, blue ribbons, and awards on the wall. We love the applause of an audience. Nothing wrong with that. But I'm reminded of Corrie ten Boom, who found it difficult to accept all the adulation that came to her after the success of her books and the movie of her life. Then she prayed about it, and "the Lord showed her a beautiful way of using the tributes and accolades: Each one would represent a beautiful flower, and then, at night, she would collect them into a beautiful bouquet and give them back to Jesus, saying 'Here, Lord, they belong to you!'"
In the same way, Daniel did not look for personal recognition, although he was intelligent, perceptive, strong, and sensitive. His book reveals much of his character, but the theme is not his greatness, rather that "the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes" (Dan. 4:25).
The Book of Daniel has a high and lofty view of the sovereignty of God. The theme is: There is a God in heaven. The book repeats that He is the great God, He is the God of gods, the King of heaven. When we understand that prevailing theme, we are able to understand how God may use some people for His purposes, even when they are not His own children. For instance, we read in Daniel 1:1–2: "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 delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand."
Nebuchadnezzar thought he captured the city. The Babylonian Daily News probably headlined, NEBUCHADNEZZAR CONQUERS KING OF JUDAH. No, he didn't. God gave it to him.
When Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream, he said, "You, O king, are the kings of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory" (Dan. 2:37). How did Nebuchadnezzar, a wicked, despotic king, come to the throne of Babylon? It is simple. The God of heaven gave it to him.
Later, Daniel is speaking to the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar and says, "O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor" (Dan. 5:18). Sometimes God uses even the worst of men to carry out His will. We will meet Cyrus, king of Persia, another corrupt man who was also a tool of God's (see also Isa. 44:28).
Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning." Daniel 2:19–21
This book is being written during an election year in the United States. Many people will work hard to see that their candidate is elected to a local, state, or national office. If he or she is elected, they may have a victory celebration and shout, "We did it! We won!" They didn't win. God put that person in office. I don't always understand how God does it, but I know that He rules in the halls of government today, just as He has done in the past and will do in the future.
What Daniel will teach us, if we allow him, is that the kingdoms of this world are passing away and the kingdom of heaven is coming to pass. In only one year we saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the demise of communism in many other countries. As I see this old world reeling and rocking on its axis, I am more motivated than ever to proclaim what God has prophesied, especially through His prophet, Daniel.
Christians should be the calmest people on earth. We have no right to run around this world in frenzied activity, staying up and walking the floor at night, wondering what is going to happen. God in heaven rules the kingdoms of men.
Above the Crowd
Daniel came to Babylon as a teenager and stayed until he was past eighty. Through all those years of captivity, he was a leading official in three kingdoms. As he walked the halls of the palaces, he could watch how God worked in the lives of kings.
Daniel was there to see the ruthless Nebuchadnezzar at work. This man possessed the cumulative cruelty of Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and Hussein. He was a dictator of the first order. We get a clue about him when we read, "all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared" (Dan. 5:19). This was a fellow who put away those whom he didn't like, or promoted those whom he liked. He ruled his kingdom on the basis of whim.
One man did not fear him, and he watched as God brought the king to his knees, literally and figuratively.
Daniel was there to see Belshazzar, who didn't have the problem of pride as Nebuchadnezzar did, but nonetheless was a man who "set [himself] up against the Lord of heaven" (Dan. 5:23). He was presumptuous enough to compare himself to God. One night God sent him a message. That message is one we can hear today, echoing through the centuries to our modern world.
Daniel watched God deal with Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. He was the man behind the scenes watching God at work in the halls of the leaders of nations.
During all the troubles of the nation, from the king's insanity to the murder of his successors, during the whirling intrigues, the plots and persecutions, Daniel stood like an iron pillar in a hurricane because the sovereign God of the universe was also the sovereign God of his life.
If Daniel were sitting in the Oval Office today, he would look at many faces that were openly hostile. Most of the men and women assembled there would be graduates of prestigious universities with many years in private and public service. Some had been strategists in several wars; others had been the heads of large corporations. What could they learn from someone who lived in a country that no longer exists?
However, a few edged forward in their chairs, eager to hear and understand what this prophet had to say. They were the ones who believed his credentials.
The president broke the tension. "We are here to find out what Daniel has to say about the future of the world as we know it. I, for one, have found his book fascinating—but baffling. I propose, ladies and gentlemen, that we hear him out with open minds."
No one left the room for several hours.
Chapter TwoHISTORY IN A CAPSULE
Graveyards and wasted lives are tragic results of warnings that were scorned or ignored. Why don't we listen? When the yellow light is flashing, the red light follows. When God gives His inspired prophets strong admonitions for His people, it's time to take notice. Wake up.
In Daniel 1:1–2, we read: "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 delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god."
Did the collapse of Judah and the capture of its king come as a surprise? For many years the threat of judgment hung over that country. God had warned them, and they would not listen. In fact, their attitude toward God was like that of the people in Noah's day. They were having a wild time, right up until the moment Noah and his entourage entered the ark. It was too late to repent when they were going under for the last time. That's the way it was in Judah when the prophets were speaking and the people had their eyes and ears closed. Live it up. Have another drink.
Excerpted from The Handwriting on the Wall by David Jeremiah Copyright © 1992 by David Jeremiah and C. C. Carlson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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