01 Sept. 2004            
A Prayer
of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

The Promise

Chapter 8
The Messengers of God

By Edgar Jones


Matthew 24
15 When therefore you see the abomination of devastation, the thing said through Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (the one who reads, let him understand), 16 then those in Judea, let them flee to the mountains. 17 The one on the roof, let him not come down to take anything out of his house, 18 and the one in the field, let him not turn back to take his clothes, 19 but woe to the pregnant and those giving suck in those days. 20 But be praying in order that your flight not come to pass in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then will there be great afflictions such as have not come to pass from the beginning to this time nor shall ever be. 22 And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved, but because of the chosen those days will be shortened.

The Book of Daniel, to which Jesus referred but once, in the utterance above, makes a limited but significant contribution to the Promise.  Daniel does not mention any of the Fathers -- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, -- by name; he does not mention the 'inheritance' that was promised to the Fathers and he does not mention David to whom the sure Promise of the kingdom was given.  He does not mention the Messiah; his  references to an "anointed one" point not to Jesus, but to earthly kings or commanders.  He does mention "the covenant" seven times, of which three are described as the "holy covenant" but does not describe or define it. Daniel's is a past tense covenant, not anything new or future.  Some, perhaps all, of the references to "covenant" refer to things other than God's covenant with the Fathers.

Why, then, do I devote a separate chapter to him? 

Because of his influence on later Christian writers, most specifically on the New Testament document, The Revelations, and on modern fundamentalist Christians in their interpretations of the Promise as gleaned from Daniel and Revelations.  It is therefore necessary, in a book on the Promise, to clarify Daniel as a witness to the Promises of God.  Our purpose here, then, is to unveil the misleading pretensions of this document so as to clear dust from our view of the True Promise and its fulfillment.  There is no better place to start than with an examination of the one event in Daniel that Jesus called forth in his teaching, for it is well documented in the history of the times -- the Abomination of Desolation.

I. The Abomination of Desolation and the Date of Daniel

Let us examine some of the ancient witnesses.

In the year 168 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Selucid king of Syria, attacked Egypt but was intimidated by the threat posed by the Romans ships, and expelled.  He returned through Jerusalem, thinking the Jews had favored his enemies.  There he proceeded to do, in Jerusalem, what he had been unable to do in Egypt.  In the late autumn of the year 167 BC:

1.  From Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. II, p. 582
He . . . slaughtered the Jews of either sex by the thousand, desecrated and looted the Temple, appropriated for the royal coffers its golden altar, its vessels, and its treasuries, restored Menelaus to supreme power, and gave orders for the compulsory Hellenization of all Jews.  He commanded that the Temple be rededicated as a shrine to Zeus, that a Greek altar be built over the old one, and that the usual sacrifices be replaced with the sacrifice of swine.  He forbade the keeping of the Sabbath or the Jewish festivals, and made circumcision a capital crime.  Throughout Judea the old religion and its rites were interdicted, and the Greek ritual was made compulsory on pain of death.  Every Jew who refused to eat pork, or who was found possessing the Book of the Law, was to be jailed or killed, and the Book wherever found was to be burned.  Jerusalem itself was put to the flames, its walls were destroyed, and its Jewish population was sold into slavery.  Foreign peoples were brought in to resettle the site, a new fortress was built upon Mt. Zion, and a garrison of troops was left in it to rule the city in the name of the King.

2. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews,  Bk. XIII, Ch. V. Par. 4.
And when he had pillaged the whole city (Jerusalem), some of the inhabitants he slew, and some he carried captive, together with their wives and children, so that the multitude of those captives that were taken alive amounted to about ten thousand.  He also burnt down the finest buildings; . . . And when the King had build an altar upon God's altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious worship in that country.

3. I  Maccabees 1:54
And on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the hundred and forty and fifth year, they builded an abomination of desolation upon the altar, and in the cities of Judah on every side they builded idol altars.

4. Dan.11
[29] "At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south; but it shall not be this time as it was before.
[30] For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and give heed to those who forsake the holy covenant.
[31] Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.
[32] He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant; but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.
[33] And those among the people who are wise shall make many understand, though they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder, for some days.
[34] When they fall, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery;
[35] and some of those who are wise shall fall, to refine and to cleanse them and to make them white, until the time of the end, for it is yet for the time appointed.

This event, termed by Daniel "the abomination that makes desolate," occurred in 167 BC. and the "prophecies" of Daniel, up to that time and shortly thereafter, accurately reflect the history. 

But very shortly thereafter Matthias, of the family of Hasmonai and the tribe of Aaron, began to resist the forces of Antiochus IV.  He withdrew into the mountains of Ephraim with his five sons and a small company of devout Jews.  Matthias died soon thereafter, and was succeeded to the leadership of the resistance by his son, Judas, called Maccabee (the Hammer).  After winning two valiant victories over the forces of Antiochus IV, against great odds, Judas and his freedom fighters reclaimed Jerusalem, drove the forces of Antiochus IV from the temple precincts, removed the pagan altars, cleansed and rededicated the Temple and restored the ancient rites to the acclaim of  the returning orthodox Jews.  This was on 25 Kislev, 164 BC according to I Maccabees 4:52.  Hanukkah is the annual celebration of the anniversary of this event in nearly every Jewish home to this day.

In the next year, 163 BC, Antiochus IV sent a new army under his regent, Lysias, to recapture Jerusalem, but word came to Lysias on the way that Antiochus was dead.  Other things had a higher priority for the successor, who turned away from Jerusalem to more pressing matters. 

Daniel's supposed prophecies are word for word accurate until 11:31, and until some time after the desolation of the Temple by Antiochus IV.  Verses 11:32-35 are suggestive of the early resistance under the leadership of Matthias and his Sons.  But then, Daniel goes on to prophesy, beginning with vs. 36, the continuing successes of Antiochus IV contrary to every fact we know of history.  Then the document continues the prophecies of the actions and successes of Antiochus IV (the king of the North) in a campaign against the "king of  the South" (a designation of a Ptolemaic king of Egypt, Ptolemy VI Philometer, reigned 180-145 BC) and other events that never took place.  Most telling, while prophesying of these non events, he failed to mention very important events.  Specifically, he did not prophesy the rise of the Hasmonean and their signal victories over Antiochus IV, the rededication of the Temple in 164 BC, the death of arch enemy Antiochus IV (the king of the North) in 163 BC.  He surely would have mentioned these had they occurred before publication of the document, or he would have prophesied them had he been a genuine prophet.

We can come to but one conclusion based on the following simple facts:

1. Daniel's 'prophecies' of events prior to and including the desolation of the Temple (167 BC) are a retelling of history ending with 11:31 (or perhaps v.35)  They are not prophecy.
2. The only real prophecy begins with 11:32 or perhaps 11:36, and it tells of events following 164 BC, during the reign of Antiochus IV, that have no place in history.
3. Therefore, the genuine prophecy is false prophecy (prophesied events did not occur).
4. The Document was brought to its present state of completion early in 164 BC when the retelling of history ended and the genuine but failed prophecies began.

There are other items of evidence that point to the date of composition of this document.  One of the most telling is that there are two lists of Jewish Heroes from the ancient literature.  One of them is I Maccabees 2:59,60 (100 BC) that includes Daniel.  But in the earlier list of 180 BC (Ben Sira, Sir. 44-49) Daniel is unknown. The evidence is compelling.  The document was written (completed) after 180 BC. 

II. Evaluating the Document

Having established the date of composition, we have doubtless generated many other questions.  Let's take a look at some of them.

1. How should we classify the Book of Daniel?

The Book of Daniel is an early (perhaps the earliest) example of "Jewish Apocalyptic," of which the Book of Revelations is one of the later ones. 

What is Jewish Apocalyptic? 

This is a literary genre consisting of documents that the writers set in a previous age, then by means of dreams, visions and communications from angels, proceeds to prophesy events of subsequent history (thus validating the document for his contemporary readers). Then he enters into prophesying wonderful things to come. We, who follow long afterward, get sucked into the mystery language and fall for it also! 

Documents of this genre typically appear in times of great national distress, when all hope seems lost.  Daniel appeared subsequent to the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus, and the Book of Revelation (another example of Jewish apocalyptic) similarly appeared following the desecration of the Temple and its complete destruction by the Romans in 70 AD, and during a time of persecution under the Roman emperor, Domition. 

Another characteristic of Jewish apocalyptic literature shared by both Revelations and Daniel is the attribution of the message to an earlier heroic figure -- Daniel in the case of Daniel, and the Apostle John in the case of Revelations.

2. Who wrote it?

Like many other books in the Bible, it is a cobbled document, consisting of contributions from different writers combined into one.  There is much to confirm this assertion, including the fact that the oldest copies have portions in Aramaic and other portions in Hebrew.   We do not know the identity of any of the writers, nor of the cobbler who produced the finished document in 164 BC.  Our present "Daniel" omits many things that were included in it in the Septuagint
and elsewhere. "Bel and the Dragon" is one of these, which we find in the Apocrypha.

The document identifies one of the Hebrew exiles in Babylon as the writer.  While it is conceivable that such a person made a contribution, even this is very unlikely, since he was apparently unknown as a "Jewish Hero" until after the document appeared (164 BC). 

3. Why was if written?

This is speculation, since we have no explanation from the cobbler.  Yet it is very easy to conceive of a motive (characteristic of Jewish Apocalyptic
), both for its writing and for its early popularity in Israel of the mid Second Century BC. 

We must first set the stage.  Having been once destroyed as a state and taken captive by the Babylonians, then having high hopes for a restitution of the kingdom during the time of the early Post Exilic Period (Perhaps under Zerub'babel), which had not materialized after three humdred years, things were very bleak for the ancient Jews.  They were pawns of power, dominated by first one alien king then another, and then the unthinkable: the utter desecration of their Temple and the dispersal or murder of their multitudes.  God's promises through the Patriarchs and Prophets were beginning to look very thin to the survivors; something was required, and urgently, to give hope to a defeated and oppressed people.

Daniel does that by combining hero stories from their times of greatest despair with prophecies of a glorious future.  The heroes -- Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego -- gain status as ideal representatives of Israel in many ways, including setting their stories in the upper echelons of the administrations of the King who had captured them and destroyed their kingdom.  The message of the book says that, no matter how desperate the situation, God has not forgotten us -- look what he did for Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego!  Keep the faith!  Hold fast --  your promised kingdom is coming!

4. Is it truth or fiction?

Persons cast into a burning, fiery furnace do not come forth unscathed, without even the smell of fire.  Such stories are fictional Jewish hero myths. Go to the following links for more detailed information:

Go to this for well informed general information about the Book of Daniel (also Revelation):

Go here for a will informed information about Jewish Apocalyptic literature:

III. Evidence of the Promise

The Lord found a way, even in Daniel, to remind us of the Promise, as it is a promise of the kingdom that had been announced through David and other prophets.  In such an apocryphal document, it is required that the ultimate promise be fulfilled -- that of the restoration of their lost kingdom.  This also accurately sets the historical era when the promised of the kingdom was fulfilled.

Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the colossus with the head of Gold.  Recounting history, the document speaks of the Babylonian king (the head of Gold), the succeeding kingdom of the Medes and the Persians (the inferior kingdom, 2:39), the Kingdom of Alexander the Great and his four successors, then the kingdom of the Romans (strong as iron, vs. 1:40f).  The "feet partly of potters clay and partly of iron" represents the phase of the Roman dominion that existed in the First Century.  The "potters clay" is fired clay, hard and brittle, that lends itself to be broken, and so we have this prophecy that is true to the facts and to the Good News of the Kingdom announced by Jesus:

Daniel 2
43] As you saw the iron mixed with miry clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay.
[44] And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever;
[45] just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.

This metaphor of the shattered kingdoms was not original with Daniel.  It appeared in prophecy in Psalm 2 as follows:

Psalm 2
[7] I will tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, "You are my son,
today I have begotten you.
[8] Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
[9] You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

To verify the fulfillment of the kingdom prophecy of Psalm 2, one need only count the many separate nations today that were once under the Roman dominion.  His rod of iron shattered them to pieces precisely as the colossus of Daniel was shattered.  To see when and how this prophecy of the coming of the kingdom of God was revealed through Jesus, go to Jesus and listen carefully to his Word.  You may also read my testimony in this chapter of Jesus: the Rock of OffenseDaniel meant his prophecy to be fulfilled with the restoration of the kingdom of David as it was before.  This did not occur, but if one takes Daniel's 'prophecy' and makes it purely metaphorical, it also can be made to apply to the coming of the Kingdom of God as revealed by Jesus.


Jesus' single overt reference to Daniel in Matthew 24:15 does not validate the entire book, neither can it mean that Daniel accurately prophesied the Roman desecration of the Temple in 70 AD.  Rather, Jesus knew that the Abomination of Devastation (desolation) experienced under Antiochus IV was soon to be repeated following a rebellion against Rome.  He therefore referred to Daniel, with which his disciples were familiar, and to the devastation by Antiochus IV to explain what was soon to take place prior to the passing of that generation (Matt. 24:34, Mark. 13:30, Luke 221:32). 

There are other prophecies in Daniel, in particular in the last half of the book, that many take to refer to the (yet unfulfilled) Promise.  This is not likely, since it can be readily seen that they refer to the restitution of the kingdom of the Jews as it was in the time of David.  There are also certain phrases that lend themselves to incorrect interpretation by Christians through the ages and today.  "The Saints" refer to faithful Jews who endure all the persecutions of Antiochus IV without losing faith.  "The time of the end" and similar phrases that lend themselves to interpretations of modern Christians as applying to the end of the present age, or the end of the world, was clearly defined by the document:

[35] and some of those who are wise shall fall, to refine and to cleanse them and to make them white, until the time of the end, for it is yet for the time appointed.
[40] "At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack him; but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall come into countries and shall overflow and pass through.

This identifies the "time of the end" with the time of a war between Antiochus IV, elsewhere clearly identified as "the king of the North" and the Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt,
Ptolemy VI Philometer, as the king of the South.  That such a later clash between the two rulers never materialized does not mean it is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled.  It means only that the Book of Daniel contains false prophecy. 

The Book of Daniel, like the Book of Revelation, is a poor predictor of future events.  It does not carry forth the Promise of God as do other Old Testament witnesses.

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