Significance Of The Book Of Daniel
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Daniel, chapter 4. We have looked at this chapter in detail as a testimony from the high and mighty potentate, Nebuchadnezzar. It is a testimony of how God dealt with a heathen potentate who got the idea that he was bigger than God.

We pointed out to you the testimony given in the first few verses:

Daniel 4:

1Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
2I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
3How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

We pointed out to you that this testimony has all the earmarks of a New Testament testimony—that of a sinner saved by grace. It begins with the word peace , which is the testimony of every born-again Christian. Nebuchadnezzar thought it good to declare all of the signs that God had wrought toward him.

Subject Matter of Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

Then if you will look at verse 37, Nebuchadnezzar concluded his testimony by saying:

Daniel 4:

37Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

The last statement of verse 37, “those he is able to abase,” gives you the subject matter of his entire testimony. We are not going to look at it again in detail because our time is limited.

Healing Nebuchadnezzar of Insanity

You will remember that there came a time in the life of Nebuchadnezzar when he stood in his palace, looked out the window and said, “Look at all of this that I have done.” According to the warning that God gave him, his reason left him and he was driven out into the wilderness to wander for seven years as a wild animal. After the seven years were finished, he turned his eyes toward Heaven. He could not speak, but in one moment of lucidity, he realized what his trouble was. Immediately, after he just looked toward Heaven, unable to utter a word, God restored his reason, and he became a converted man and gave the testimony at which we have looked.

Prophetic Import of Daniel

We told you when we began our study of the book of Daniel that the book is not only a historical book, but is primarily a prophetic book. The Lord Jesus Christ did not refer to the story of Daniel; He referred to the prophet Daniel. He did not refer to the history of Daniel; He referred to those things which were spoken of by Daniel the prophet. Therefore, if we are studying the book of Daniel and fail to recognize its import, we have missed the real message of the book.

The Ministry of Iniquity

I would like for us to look at this chapter from the standpoint of its typical and prophetic significance. First, turn with me in the New Testament to the second letter of the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians. I do not believe that you can understand the full import of Daniel, chapter 4, without keeping in mind a principle which the Spirit of God lays down for us in II Thessalonians:

II Thessalonians 2:

1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

The verse of Scripture in which we are primarily interested as it is related to Daniel, chapter 4, is verse 7:

II Thessalonians 2:

7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

This verse of Scripture tells us that the Antichrist and all of his program, described in the first six verses and re-emphasized in verses 8-12, is but the culmination of a process that is already in action. It is but the culmination of a process which you should be able to recognize if you keep your eyes open to things that are about us.

Guard Against Supporting Satan's Programs

I call your attention to that because if we are able to recognize the mystery of iniquity, if we are able to recognize the things that are now going on, we can determine our part and lot with it and not be found guilty of supporting something which will eventually result in the manifestation of the Antichrist himself. We will not be found guilty of supporting something that will pave the way and make it straight for this wicked one who is described in II Thessalonians, chapter 2.

Let us go back to Daniel, chapter 4, and consider it from a prophetical and typical standpoint.

Conditions in Babylon When Nebuchadnezzar Lost His Sanity

I would like for you to notice with me those verses in chapter 4 which describe the condition of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom when he lost his sanity. Notice the condition of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom when God found it necessary to intervene and bring a man down to a humble place that he might realize that God was God.

Notice Daniel, chapter 4, verse 4:

Daniel 4:

4I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:

Then will you notice verse 22, where Daniel, interpreting the dream about which we have learned, said to Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 4:

22It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.

And will you notice, please, verse 30:

Daniel 4:

30The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?

You will realize that the kingdom was in a state of great prosperity; it was in a state of great security; it was in a state of great rest. Its greatness was known throughout the whole earth, throughout the whole world. The dominion and influence of this kingdom were known to the ends of the earth.

Taking Personal Glory Instead of Glorifying God

The leader of this kingdom stood up and said, “This is what God has done. This is the manner in which God had prospered this kingdom of mine. All the glory goes to Him.” Is that what he said? No, it isn't, is it? It is not what my Bible says. My Bible says that the ruler of this kingdom stood to his feet and said, “Look at this great Babylon that I have built.” There was no mention of God.

I would like to remind you that the mystery of iniquity doth already work. I am going to say to you that I am greatly concerned about our nation at this present hour. Our influence is known throughout the world. I am going to suggest to you that before God is through—not only with this country but with this world—the governments of the world will declare that they have built a society which is foolproof and which has need of nothing.

When Nebuchadnezzar reached this place in his life, you will remember, as was the tree in his dream, he was cut down and sentenced to wander in his kingdom seven long years in the grip of insanity.

The Kingdom of Babylon

Look at Daniel, chapter 4, verse 10, one of a number of verses which describe the power, the wealth, and the influence of the kingdom of Babylon:

Daniel 4:

10Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
11The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
12The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.

We pointed out to you that this tree as Daniel interpreted it represented the kingdom of Babylon. We pointed out that this was not an unusual feature for Daniel to emphasize.

Other Illustrations of Kingdoms as Trees

Ezekiel describes kingdoms in their relation to trees; Paul describes kingdoms in relation to trees; the Lord Jesus Christ Himself describes kingdoms in relation to trees. Trees are appropriate illustrations of kingdoms.

Location of Babylon

You will notice in the passage of Scripture which we have read, in verse 10, we are told the kind of kingdom this was, as far as its location was concerned. It was in the midst of the earth. This is more than a geographical location. As a matter of fact, if you insist that it is a geographical location, you are going to be hard put to make it stick. The kingdom of Babylon was located in the midst of the earth as far as influence was concerned. In its day, it was the best located kingdom as far as wealth and prosperity were concerned that one would desire.

Notice again, in verse 11, that this tree grew from a very small one to a strong one and that its height reached to Heaven and its influence to the ends of the earth. It was not a tree that grew in a corner. It was not a tree that grew on the streets of Brooklyn. It was a tree that grew in the center of the earth so that all the world was conscious of its existence.

In verse 12 we are told that everything that it produced was fair and the fruit was plentiful:

Daniel 4:

12The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much,……

This tree assumed the responsibility (it was not thrust upon it) of providing meat for all the world. According to the last statement of this verse, all the flesh—all human beings—were fed by it.

Seeking Glory for a Government

An act of mercy should not be derided, and we would not seem critical of any such act. If you get the feeling of this passage of Scripture, you will recognize that all the flesh was not fed because there was concern about hungry hearts. All the flesh was fed that more glory might be attributed to this kingdom which was proud of its height and proud of its influence.

This was the desire of the king—to leave behind him a record that more people looked to him for sustenance than to any other person in all the world. The mystery of iniquity doth already work.

I beg to suggest to you that President Lyndon Johnson's plan for “the Great Society” did not originate with him. It had its roots here in chapter 4 of the book of Daniel, and it was just another illustration of the mystery of iniquity that is already working. When the mystery of iniquity reaches its culmination, world governments will feel the same way in every respect, and God will turn this earth over to the madness of nations that forget God. It happened to Nebuchadnezzar.

Judgment During the Height of Prosperity

If you remember what we read, you remember that this judgment happened quickly, suddenly, without any warning, when it was least expected. Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom did not dwindle away under invading forces. It did not dwindle away because there was not a market for things produced. It fell at the height of its prosperity. I hope you are not taking any comfort in the good days. I hope you are not taking any comfort in the fact that this nation enjoys the greatest period of prosperity it has ever known in all of its history. Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom was in just such a condition as that when judgment fell.

look at Daniel, chapter 4, verse 13:

Daniel 4:

13I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
14He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:

If you pursue your reading of this chapter, you will discover that that is exactly what happened. When the Holy One decreed that the time of judgment had come, the tree was cut down. You will notice that it lay alone. All the fowls and beasts—the fowls which had taken refuge in its branches and the beasts which had taken refuge under its branches—fled and left it alone.

Am I overdrawing the picture? Am I reading too much into this passage of Scripture when I say to you that I fear that if something does not change, our own beloved country will be hewn down in just this manner. All the fowls that are dwelling in our branches now and all the beasts of the earth that are only too glad to take shelter under our branches—all the friends that we have bought with our foreign aid—will leave us alone just as this tree is alone in Daniel, chapter 4.

Someone may leave here and say, “What are you? A Democrat? A Republican? Whom are you mad at?” Nobody. I believe that I am a prophet of God—not in the sense that I know any more than you do, but in the sense that I have a responsibility before God when I come to truth in the Word of God to declare it. I believe that in this passage of Scripture is the truth that I have laid down before you because the mystery of iniquity doth already work.

What we are seeing in a small way in our own nation will eventually engulf the world. The watchers looking down at this earth will eventually say, “Enough. The governments of this world must cease. Anarchy must be the order of the day,” and trouble will begin.

World Conditions Preceding the Tribulation

Turn, please, to I Thessalonians, chapter 5. Here the prophet of God has been pleased to describe the condition of the world when the watchers will utter their decree, when the Holy One shall say, “It is enough.” As we look at I Thessalonians, chapter 5, you will recognize worldwide conditions similar to the conditions which existed in the land of Babylon. Paul said:

I Thessalonians 5:

1But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

Let's pause for a moment. The “day of the Lord” is an expression which describes God's judgment upon the earth known as the Tribulation. Paul said, “The day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night.”

I Thessalonians 5:

3For when they shall say, Peace and safety;…

Yes, the United Nations may succeed. It may. For when judgment falls, there will be peace and safety throughout the whole world. Whether it is brought about by the United Nations or by the fear of nuclear destruction, I know not, but there will be peace and safety.

Folk have said that there will be no peace until Jesus comes and that wars will not cease until He returns. I would suggest that we qualify that statement and say that peace will not come permanently until Jesus comes, and wars will not cease forever until Jesus comes. But the Bible very plainly teaches that before judgment falls, there will be a great period of peace and safety. We read here in verse 3:

I Thessalonians 5:

3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

As suddenly and as unexpectedly, as far as the exact moment is concerned, as travail comes upon a woman with child, judgment will fall. The world will not escape.

Hope For The Christian

This is not an encouraging message for us if we stop right here. But the message does not stop right here. You will notice verse 4:

I Thessalonians 4:

4That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

You see, you shouldn't be in darkness. I am not the only one who teaches this truth, thank God. But let's forget that anybody else has preached it save me. You are without excuse before God. You are not in darkness. If you've never heard this truth until now, you are no longer in darkness. I have warned you that the mystery of iniquity is already working, and that this day of sudden destruction should not overtake you as a thief.

I Thessalonians 5:

5Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

Skip down to verse 9:

I Thessalonians 5:

9For God hath not appointed us to wrath,…

He hath not appointed us to this sudden destruction:

I Thessalonians 5:

9For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

The word salvation means “deliverance.” We are told in God's Word that when sudden destruction comes upon the earth, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will return in the air and catch up the Church to be with Himself. That which was hindered, that which has held back iniquity, that which has held back the course of sin, will be taken out of the way; and the iniquity that has been piling up through the centuries will flow as a great flood, sweeping everything before it.

Immorality During the Tribulation

If you think that we are living now in a world where morality is low, if you think our society in this present century is blighted by immorality, you haven't seen anything yet! For when He who now hindereth is taken out of the way, this world will go mad. God help the people who live in it then.

Turn back to Daniel, chapter 4, and notice the story of Nebuchadnezzar again as it is recorded in verse 15:

Daniel 4:

15Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
16Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.

Insanity To Grip The Earth's Governments

As we learned, this is a prophecy that Nebuchadnezzar would lose his sanity and would roam the earth for seven years as a wild beast. The phrase, “seven times” interpreted in the light of Daniel, chapter 9, means “seven years.” That is exactly what is going to happen to this world of ours. When God has had enough of the madness of men who leave Him out of their planning and their purpose, the governments of this world will lose their sanity, and for seven years this earth of ours will be in the grip of a madman and mad men. Society will be in a terrible state indeed.

Turn, please, to Psalm 2 that you may hear the Spirit of God describe this madness, this insanity which will grip the earth, manifesting itself personally in the wicked one, the Antichrist himself.

David was a prophet. As he looked down through the corridors of time, he said:

Psalm 2:

1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

Everywhere you see the word heathen in your Bible, you should place nations . The word heathen doesn't have the same connotation now that it had when the King James translation was made. Usually we think of heathen as being in some remote portion of Africa somewhere, but this represents the nations of the world other than the nation of Israel. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 2:

1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

The seven years of Tribulation will be related to the madness of men as they rage against God and attempt to break His bands from them. Read the rest of the Psalm and you will find that of course they do not succeed and cannot succeed.

The End Of Earth's Madness

Turn to Daniel, chapter 4, as I remind you that this period of madness, thank God, will come to an end. It will not last forever. It will last for only seven years, as is indicated in Daniel, chapter 4. You will remember that in the dream which Nebuchadnezzar had, the tree was cut down, but the stump was not dug up. In verse 15, we read:

Daniel 4:

15Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass,…

As bad as things get during the Tribulation, as awful as things become, the nations of the world are not utterly destroyed. They are nearly so, but not utterly so (Rev. 6:19). Now notice Daniel, chapter 4, verse 16:

Daniel 4:

16Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.

In verse 26:

Daniel 4:

26And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom [Daniel interprets to Nebuchadnezzar] shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.

You will notice verse 32:

Daniel 4:

32And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

The Nations Will Recognize God

At the end of the seven year period known as the Tribulation , the nations of the world will realize that God is God. They will realize that the Most High rules among the nations of men. Led by the nation of Israel, they will lift their eyes toward Heaven and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. When they do, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will return to this earth, as is described in chapter 19 of the book of Revelation.

Separating Sheep and Goat Nations

One of the things which He will do is to restore the tree to the stump. According to Matthew, chapter 25, the nations of the world will be gathered around Him, and He will separate the sheep from the goats.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that that is related to your salvation. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your salvation is so uncertain that you have to wait until you get to Heaven to find out whether you are a goat or a sheep. It has nothing to do with your salvation. It has to do only with the restoration of the tree to the stump.

The Lord Jesus Christ will judge the nations of the world; and those nations, known as sheep nations, which are willing to acknowledge that the Most High ruleth among the sons of men, will be able to enter into God's kingdom upon the earth. This is known as the Millennium , the kingdom that has been prepared from the foundation of the world.

Turn, please, to Psalm 100, as I remind you that when the tree is restored to the stump, there will be no Nebuchadnezzars who stand and boast and brag about their accomplishments. There will be no individuals who builds a Great Society without recognizing God and without regarding the rights of people they trample down. There will be no individuals boasting and bragging about their mandate from the people by the greatest plurality history has ever known.

The Millennium Foretold In A Psalm

There will be individuals who lift their voices to God in response to the plea of the Psalmist as it is recorded in Psalm 100. How many times have we read this Psalm? How many times have we read it simply as a bit of devotional material without recognizing the literalness of what it suggests? Much of the truth that is in the book of Psalms is lost because the book of Psalms has always been considered a book of devotionals. The book of Psalms is more prophecy than it is devotions. It prophesies the time when the tree will be restored to the stump.

The Psalmist says that when that time comes:

Psalm 100:

1Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

This doesn't mean that you serve the Lord in some Christian work. It doesn't mean that you come into some place dedicated to the worship of God and sing a song. It means that the nations of the world will serve the King of Kings throughout the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth. They will not serve Him by force; they will serve Him with gladness. They will come before His presence with singing because He will sit upon the throne of David and personally rule and reign on this earth that we know now.

David said:

Psalm 100:

3Know ye that the Lord he is God:…

Is that not the lesson that Nebuchadnezzar had to learn? Is not that the lesson that every high and mighty potentate must learn? Is not that the lesson that our own beloved nation must learn if we are to continue?

Psalm 100:

3Know ye that the Lord he is God:…

Individually Created By God

Make it more personal than that.

Psalm 100:

3…it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves…

There is no such thing as a self-made individual. Sometimes people get puffed up with their own pride, their own self satisfaction, and talk about what they have done. But we who know the Lord humbly confess that it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves.

The people who will be living on the earth during the Millennium, worldwide, will give testimony to the fact that it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves.

Psalm 100:

3…we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

In verse 4, the nations of the world are encouraged to:

Psalm 100:

4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

How many times has this Psalm been read at Thanksgiving time and people encouraged to enter into their respective churches with thanksgiving and into the courts with praise. We wonder why in the world the Psalmist didn't say, ”Why don't you go to church and sit in the front pew?” Well, he wasn't talking about going to church. He wasn't talking about sitting in the front pew. He was talking about the day when the tree will be restored to the stump and the nations of the world will enter with thanksgiving into the gates of the millennial temple which will be in Jerusalem. They will enter into that court with praise, and they will be thankful unto God and will bless His name:

Psalm 100:

5For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Thank God that in Daniel, chapter 4, when the tree was cut down, the stump was left. There is hope. Thank God that even though the tree may fall, the tree can grow back again. God will then be honored and men will realize that He is all and in all.

The Future For The Saved

Nations are made of people. If God is going to judge nations, God is going to judge individuals. I would humbly suggest that we examine our relationship to the Lord, and remember that if we know not the Lord Jesus Christ as our own personal Savior, judgment is all that awaits. Remember though, that if we do know the Lord Jesus as our Savior, there will never be any judgment because there is therefore now no judgment to them that are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Remember also that if we are the children of God, it is time that judgment begin at the house of God (I Peter 4:17). If we who belong to God are scarcely saved—that is, if we who belong to God are saved with discipline, judgment—where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear(I Peter 4:18)?

May I remind you that God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (I Peter 5:5). Let us humble ourselves before Him.


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