DANIEL 5:1 – 8:27 and REVELATION 9:1–12
The fall of Babylon is about to take place and it will happen under the rule of King Belshazzar who was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. He was a wicked ruler and it goes as no surprise that it would be someone like him at the helm when the Babylonian empire falls. His actions bring the iniquity of Babylon to its fullest resulting in its fall in the matter of one night. Once again there are many pertinent messages that we can draw from this time in history. We see one of those parallels in verse 1. The number of lords surrounding the king at this feast is 1000 which is the number of the millennium. The Babylon of the last days will cease just prior to the formation of Christ’s 1000 year reign upon earth. Babylon takes on many forms throughout scripture but perhaps it can be best seen as a system that enables Satan and the man of sin to function through. It puts man at the center of all things. This Babylonian system has made great strides in recent decades. It seeks to displace Judeo-Christian values seeing that it serves as a deterrent to its agenda. This is why there has been such a concerted effort to marginalise Christianity today. The church has become a toothless tiger and its relevance continues to diminish. Thankfully the Lord always has a remnant in the midst of such apostasy. Daniel is an example of this as we shall see in this and subsequent chapters.
Belshazzar openly defies and mocks the living God by taking the sacred vessels out of the temple and drinking from them. He was toasting the god of forces which in actuality was the same thing the founder of Babel did back in Genesis. Nimrod provided Satan a vessel through whom he could operate to rally the men of his day to his side. It is a picture of the man of sin (antichrist) and what he will do in the last days as he gathers people to himself in open defiance against God. In other words what we see in these early verses of chapter 5 is a mini window as to what will happen in the last days. It seems like Belshazzar’s feast has already begun in our modern day application.
Everything changed as we see in verse 5. God intervened as a hand came forth and wrote an inscription at the candlestick upon the wall. The candlestick speaks to the 7 spirits of God so it’s clear that this is a divine intervention. Let us never forget that God is not mocked. I think it is interesting to note the abrupt change of countenance in the king. Up until this moment he was cocky, self-assured and boastful thinking nothing of what he was doing. He no doubt drew strength from the 1000 lords and others around him. Is this not the way it is today? There is no fear or sense of pending judgement. People today laugh off any talk of God and His warnings. I am reminded of a newspaper headline earlier this week where it says the following. “God did not stop this! It was a mocking taunt at God and at those who were praying for the victims of a terrorist incident. These are the days of Belshazzar. The whole atmosphere changed when suddenly a hand appeared in the room and began writing upon the wall. In one moment the realization hit the king and those around him that everything was about to change. The brash and emboldened king lost his faculties and began to shake uncontrollably. In the matter of a few hours he was dead. God is not mocked.
In the midst of this evil environment was a man whom the Lord sustained and preserved. Daniel had not been heard from in recent years due to the king having no use for him but even at an old age he is summoned before the king. His reputation is something we want to take note of here. The writing on the wall needed to be interpreted but there was no one who could speak to its significance. Just like we saw in chapter 2 Daniel comes before the king to do what no other man can do (Dan 2:10). The queen mother was sought. She was not the wife of Belshazzar but thought to be the wife of Nabodinius which would make her the daughter in law of King Nebuchadnezzar. She spoke of a man who was known to have an “excellent spirit” and whom the holy gods operate. What a reputation to have in the midst of an evil atmosphere. Daniel is a good example of the quality of character that can function in the evil day. The key in understanding how Daniel could function in this capacity can be traced back to his attitude of heart in chapter one. It is a heart issue, a choice and determination to not be defiled with the things of the world.
Daniel was summoned and he delivered the interpretation. One of the other qualities we see in Daniel was that he did not put a price on his gifting. He told the king to keep the treasures to himself as he proceeded to give the message. His interpretation included a bit of history so as to remind the king and those gathered that God had previously intervened when similar pride was evident in his grandfather. They knew what happened to Nebuchadnezzar and they had no excuse (vs 22). Though these things were known they did not humble themselves. How many reminders do we need today? It is bad enough that Belshazzar and those of his day did not learn the lessons of Nebuchadnezzar but what about our enlightened generation? We are far more accountable yet we (the world) continually defy the living God. We should all be shaken to the core when we read of the sudden judgements that came upon Belshazzar and Babylon in chapter 5. How much more when we see ourselves living in a similar day? The message seen in Daniel 5 should remind each and every one of us that we will one day stand before the eternal king. We will give an account of the life we lived. It is imperative that we understand that God is not mocked and He is not one to be trifled with. These are the days of Belshazzar.
The last verse of chapter 5 provides a key lead-in to chapter 6. Later when we look at chapter 9 I will include a separate study that reflects the importance of the recorded age of Darius. It amazes me in seeing how much the Book of Daniel serves as a blueprint for the last days. It is not limited to the dreams of the image and animals (Dan 2 and 7). The qualities of Daniel are once again on full display in this chapter. It also provides us a window into the hearts of others when a righteous man seeks to live a godly and upright life. We saw this earlier with Moses when he sought to uphold God’s standard of holiness. The more he lifted up God’s standards the more offended certain leaders became due to their unwillingness to live up to that standard. Korah, Dathan and Abiram rose up to challenge Moses on his leadership. This is what happens when a leader has a heart after God. Their example reveals the hearts of others. When such a person(s) is exposed in not having those same qualities they often display envy and jealousy. This is the case in chapter 6 with Daniel. Though the men who challenged Daniel were not godly they represent an element that exists in today’s modern church. There is much to glean from this chapter.
Daniel is among three presidents who were appointed of the king. He was chief among them and he drew their ire and disdain. Daniel was a man of strong moral fibre while carrying the fragrance and purity of Christ. The expression “an excellent Spirit” is again used in describing him. He had the kind of character where no manner of fault could be found. This is what Jesus said of himself when He mentioned the prince of this world coming to him but not able to find any fault. This is something we are not capable of achieving on our own. It is a work of grace that God produces in those who allow him to do so. It reflects what the Apostle Jude writes in his letter where we can be presented faultless before the throne of grace (Jude 1:24). The enemy seeks something in our lives that can allow him to gain a positon or foothold within. It can be hidden and suppressed for a time but if not addressed it can one day cause us to stumble. Daniel sought to not allow his heart to be defiled and we see the fruits of it here later in his life (Dan 1:8).
There was only one way the enemies of Daniel could find where they could undermine him. Believe it or not it was in the area of his devotional life to God. That was not enough to bring him down. In order to do this there had to be some laws that would need to be changed. I know this is constantly being repeated but can we not see the same thing happening today? Man is taking it upon himself to rewrite laws so as to remove God and those who serve God from the equation of today’s secularized way of life. A person can be reprimanded or even arrested in saying “God bless you”. The only way that Daniel could be taken out was to trap him in the manner of his consistent devotional life. That is a tremendous testament of Daniel’s faithfulness right there. These conspirators knew that Daniel would not change his pattern of prayer and devotion. Their motive for the law was not because they cared for the king but because they hated Daniel and were looking to take him out because he was a devoted follower of God. The motive of these other presidents should be examined because it provides a powerful window into the motive of the conspirators of our day. These conspirators can also be found in the church. They are those who are offended and challenged by the saints who seek to live godly and aspire to the vision of Zion.
These men sought to flatter the king so that he would enact a law they knew would call Daniel into question. The king did make allowance for this decree due to his inability to discern the motives of these men. It is something that God allowed and it is not held against the king, especially when we see how he responded after he came to know of Daniel’s situation. He sought ways to undo the law that he signed but knew he could not do so once it was signed. His actions and his words speak volumes as we see his words from verse 16. He said that the God you have faithfully served will deliver thee. What a statement this was for the king to make. He clearly had no intention for something like this to happen to Daniel. He fasted all night without sleep and went to the cave early in the morning to see of his fate. Notice his words even when he was checking to see if he was still alive. O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Daniel responded that God hath sent an angel and that all was well. The king was greatly relieved and rejoiced that Daniel’s God had indeed spared him.
Let us consider the actions of Daniel for a moment. When the king made the decree he could have adjusted things a bit and not made an open display of his prayer and devotion. If he would have resorted to this the enemy would have only made more demands. Daniel loved God and had a consistent life of devotion and prayer unto God. This again was seen in chapter 1. He not only sought not to have his heart defiled but he separated himself unto God in prayer and fasting for 10 days. This is who Daniel was and he was not about to change due to this newly enacted law. The laws of God today are being removed and redefined right before our very eyes. Our ability to hold steady will be dependent on the quality of our daily devotional life. God honoured Daniel in his hour of need because Daniel led a life of honouring God. The three friends of Daniel were honoured by God because these men were willing to lay down their lives in not conforming to the demands of the “system”. Can we see the level of commitment and devotion that will be required in these last days? A casual come as you are type of Christianity will not suffice. The days of Belshazzar and the conspiring of the leaders that we have seen in chapters 5 and 6 are not limited to the world but alarmingly are seen in the church. The feasting seen in Belshazzar’s court speaks of the absolute dullness in much of the church in not being able to see the handwriting on the wall. At the same time the presidents seen in chapter 6 can also speak of the leaders who espouse doctrines that allow for compromise via an easier gospel. There are so many lessons and parallels to draw from these two chapters as we witness the falling of the Babylonian Empire in its leading into the reign of the Medes and Persians. As we shall see a bit later it speaks of the fall of the Babylon system in the last days in preparation for the millennial reign of Christ. May we dare to be a Daniel; to have his qualities and the qualities of his three friends.
This chapter is another one that has great significance concerning the last days. It contains the account of the 4 great beasts and the little horn. There are similarities that will be seen with the king’s dream of the image from chapter 2. These 4 beasts will be compared to the 4 sections of the image that was seen in chapter 2. The first half of Daniel centered on the time period from Nebuchadnezzar to Darius. The 2nd half of the Book covers the Gentile period onwards. In verse one it is Daniel that has a dream during the reign of Belshazzar. It would be a few years before the actual fall of Babylon. The location of this activity taking place in this dream is around the great sea which would be a reference to the Mediterranean Sea. In this vision Daniel sees 4 great beasts which coincide with the 4 kingdoms revealed in chapter 2. These 4 beasts are easily aligned to the 4 kingdoms of Babylon, Medes-Persia, Greece and Rome. The 4 beasts in order are a lion with eagle wings, a bear, a leopard and a beast with great iron teeth with powerful feet. This 4th beast is diverse and different from the other 3 (vs 7). Daniel also noted 10 horns that were upon it.
Daniel continues to consider this 4th beast with the 10 horns and notices a little horn emerging that had eyes like a man but a most notable mouth speaking great things (vs 8). It needs to be noted that there were 10 toes spoken of in chapter 2 to reinforce the truth that these two dreams are linked (Dan 2:44-45). In fact the description of the 4th kingdom in chapter 2 is very similar to the description of the 4th beast in chapter 7.
There is a future reference to this little horn that emerges in the Book of Revelation. In chapter 13 there is a beast that will have 10 horns upon him. This beast in Revelation is the little horn that emerges in Daniel chapter 7. There is further clarification in Revelation concerning this little horn. It makes clear that he is a man who will come on the scene. This little horn that emerges in Daniel 7:8 is the future antichrist. The beast that carries the 10 horns in Rev 13:1 is the same antichrist. The antichrist will be a man who will come on the scene in the last days.
Rev 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
In verse 9 Daniel has a vision of God the Father who is noted as the Ancient of Days. He carries great authority and it is interesting that this vision is given to Daniel immediately after the emergence of the man of perdition in verse 8. It is a picture of what will take place in the last days. It is a quick scene that reflects the beast in his fullness followed by the awesome display of God’s throne and judgement. The scene now goes back to the words of the antichrist in verse 11. There is a clear parallel between Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. (earlier we also paralled Daniel 3 with Revelation 13) Daniel sees the Beast being slain in verse 11. This is paralled in Rev 19:19-20 where the beast and false prophet are slain at Armageddon and cast into the lake of fire. It really is amazing to see how Daniel 2 and 7 link up with events in the last days. We will see much more of this in the following chapters. The blueprint for the last days is established in the Word of God. We may not know exact dates but clearly there is more than enough insight that the Word of God provides through the Spirit to those who seek after truth. In verse 12 it is clear that the dominion of the other beasts (kingdoms) will continue for a short time. This means that after the antichrist is slain there will be a brief time where Babylon, Persia and Greece will exist. To understand this truth further we must reconcile Rev 13:2 where you have the mention of the leopard, bear and lion.
We can link verses 13-14 with Dan 2:44-45 which speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ coming forth to establish his everlasting kingdom. These visions and dreams were troubling to Daniel because he was being given revelation and insights that were too much for mortal man to absorb. We can read these accounts with great awe and admiration but imagine being Daniel and having these revelations coming to you. The holy watchers speak of angels who have insight and knowledge that goes beyond that of mortal man. They convey to Daniel the interpretation of what he is being shown. The emphasis is placed upon the last days where there will be a period where the antichrist will come on the scene to make war with the saints and even prevail against them (vs 21). These watchers then speak of the Ancient of Days who comes and at the same time gives authority to the saints to possess the kingdom alongside the conquering king of kings. There is further emphasis given regarding the antichrist in verses 24-25. He will have great power and authority coming from his mouth. This will be picked up again in Daniel 11 when we see a more detailed description of the future antichrist through the life of Antiochus Epiphanes IV. In verse 25 there will be lawlessness and the changing of ordinances. This is the environment where the antichrist will flourish. This strongly links with Isa 24:5 which speaks of a time when the laws and ordinances of God have been changed.
Isa 24:5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
Isa 24:6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
This chapter concludes with the kingdoms of the most high being established upon the earth. It is given to the saints of the most high who have triumphed alongside the conquering king. The kingdoms of this world have now become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ (Rev 11:15). Amen!
Daniel has a vision involving a ram and a he-goat in chapter 8. This chapter opens in the third year of Belshazzar making it clear that the Babylonian Empire was still dominant. What is interesting is that Daniel sees himself at Shushan while having this vision. Shushan is located in Persia, not Babylon. He sees a ram with two notable horns; the second horn being the higher of the two. This ram was able to assert itself in several directions with little resistance. Then Daniel sees a goat that comes from the west which is able to move without its feet touching the earth. This goat moved with great anger against the ram and smote it, breaking the two horns. There was no more power left in the ram and no one could deliver the ram out of the hands of the goat. Soon thereafter the great horn upon the goat was eventually broken resulting in the formation of 4 more horns. Out of one of these 4 horns came a notable horn which became great even to the host of heaven. It goes on to describe how this horn magnifies himself against the prince while causing the daily sacrifice to be taken away. There is a time sequence given of 2300 days for the cleansing of the temple. Daniel was naturally astonished at this vision and sought to know its meaning. It is Gabriel who will come and make the vision and its interpretation known to Daniel. This is a significant vision that Daniel has and it is important to understand certain truths concerning it (vs 1-16).
It first must be remembered that Daniel does not yet have the advantage of history like we do today. Babylon was still dominant but was in its final hour as an empire. What is the significance of chapter 8? How does it help our understanding regarding end time events? Are there differences in this vision from those of chapters 2 and 7? Let’s first look at the ram. Its interpretation is pretty straight forward as we look at verse 20. The ram with the two horns are the kings of the Medes and Persia. This empire is soon to come into the ascendancy. The more notable horn of the two would be Cyrus of the Persians. At the fall of Babylon it would be Darius the Mede who would be in power. It would be Cyrus who would then be king over the entire Persian Empire. Cyrus represents the greater horn of the two upon the ram. The interpretation of the goat and its first king is also straight forward as seen in verse 21. The great horn upon the goat would be Alexander the Great. The primary reason for Alexander’s wrath against the ram (Persia) was the burning of the city of Athens by the Persian king Xerxes. It was something that Alexander and the Greeks would never forget.
After Alexander’s death there would be 4 generals that would arise. Of these 4 was a man named Seleucus. Remember in verse 9 where it says that out of one of these 4 would come a notable little horn? This would be a man by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes IV who would be a ruler of renown in later days. It is here where we see very real similarities between this little horn and the little horn mentioned in Daniel 7:20. The question we then need to ask is if these two little horns are the same? The answer would be no and we validate this by at least two reasons. First, the little horn in chapter 7 comes forth from the ten horns which is part of the extended Roman Empire. The little horn in Daniel 8 is that which comes forth from Greece. Secondly the time period give in chapter 8 is a duration of 2300 days and there is no other timeline with that number of days in scripture. The timeline for the beast of the last days is a period of 2360 days. It seems that these isolated occurrences concerning the little horn in chapter 8 is to make clear that we are talking about a person unrelated to the little horn of chapter 7. Yet, there are similarities between the two. So who would this notable horn of the 4 generals of Alexander the Great be referring to? It will be a man by the name of Antiochus Epiphanies the IV. We will look more extensively at this man in chapter 11. He provides us a very real portrait and insight into what the antichrist will be like. This chapter makes clear however that Antiochus Epiphanies cannot and is not the antichrist. Chapter 8 helps to make this point very clear so as to clear up any confusion. It is an extraordinary vision that Daniel is given here. The insights from this vision may have helped Daniel to better understand the writing on the wall at the time of Belshazzar’s feast in chapter 5, the night when the Babylonians fell to the Medes. When he was summoned before the king he had already had the visions of chapter 7 and 8 revealed to him. That which God was declaring to the king in chapter 5 was already well known to Daniel by way of the visions he had already had.
John sees a star falling from the heaven to the earth at the sounding of the 5th trumpet. This falling star represents a fallen angel who happens to have a key to the bottomless pit. This key will enable him to unlock the abyss of the bottomless pit which will result in the release of a horde of fallen angels that have been previously bound. This helps to make clear that hell is located in the center of the earth. This is also substantiated in Eze 31:16. This bottomless pit is a horrible place. People who have been taken to hell describe the bottomless pit as a place where one never loses the sense of falling. There have also been descriptions of great darkness, smoke and the endless cries of the damned who have been sentenced there. When this pit is opened it releases such a torrent of smoke that it literally darkens the sun and the air. This is not too difficult to imagine when viewing the consequences of some of the recent volcanic eruptions. The description of hell that is seen here should be enough to cause any of us to live uprightly and to provoke us to save others from hell’s fate. One can surmise that the opening of the bottomless pit will be like one gigantic volcanic eruption. The increased frequency of volcanic activity should serve as a warning for what is coming.
John then sees creatures that are described as locusts that had the power that is seen in scorpions. The power of scorpions is the power of the sting they have in their tail. A scorpion’s sting is usually not fatal however the pain associated with its sting is a whole other story. The power of their torment upon men will be for a period of 5 months. This is the approximate period of the period of judgement at the time of the flood under Noah (Gen 7:24).
In verse 6 we see that the torment is so strong that people are seeking to take their life to escape but are unable to do so. It is a period of time where God will not allow people to die who suffer under this particular judgment. Why would God allow for such a judgment? There are two things that initially come to mind. First, there is an increase in suicides taking place in the world today. The sense of hopelessness is reaching astronomical proportions. It is God who determines when one is born and when one is to die. It is true that the pain (physical and otherwise) is often more than what people can cope with. The bottom-line however is that most people who commit suicide go to hell seeing that they are assuming themselves to play the role of God in the taking of their lives. (I do believe there have been exceptions but that is for God to determine.) This leads to my second thought. I feel that the Lord is allowing a people to have a taste of what eternal torment will be like. Since they do not die during this 5 month judgment perhaps it will provoke people to reconsider their ways. When you weigh this 5 month torment without death in light of eternity it can then be seen as God’s mercy. It is the reality of hell with a chance to repent and change their ways. It is just a thought I have pondered over when considering this account. Still, for those who are alive it is much better to be among those who are sealed and marked by the Lord.
The description of these hellish creatures is given in verses 7-10. They are described as half animal and half human. A few days back I came across an article highlighting an upcoming movie that features among other things the raping of a man by a grizzly bear. What is being described in these visions by John in chapter 9 is becoming a reality in our life. How far have we digressed in such a short period of time? There is little resistance seen in the church against this tidal wave of degradation that is filling the earth. The restraining hand of God is being removed which is allowing the door of iniquity to be opened up. Can we not see the handwriting on the wall? I ask this question to the churched not the world. We better wake up and wake up soon.
There is a ruler over these hordes of demons who goes by the name of Apollyon. Interestingly, we gain further insight into this creature by way of John Bunyan’s allegorical work entitled Pilgrim’s Progress. He is a ferocious foe to those who have an eye in going on to Zion. He encounters Christian, the primary character in Pilgrim’s Progress after his period of Rest in the house for the wayfaring pilgrims. This may help to provide a sequence of events as to how things will play out in the latter days. Since Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory and not scripture we can only speculate and conjecture while making certain assumptions. What is clear is that Apollyon is a powerful foe of those who seek to press on in God. The weapon that Christian used to overcome him was the sword of the Spirit. It suggests a life that is filled with the Word of God that will help to ensure success against this enemy.
It then goes on to say that one woe has passed with two others yet to come. The 6th trumpet will represent the 2nd woe. As the trumpet sounded there was a voice that came forth from the four horns of the golden altar where the prayers were offered up as incense earlier. The command was given to loose the 4 angels that were bound in the Euphrates River. The Euphrates represents the northern most boundary of the nation of Israel which was promised to Abraham in Gen 15:18. It also represents the judgements that were upon Babylon seeing that it was built on both sides of the river. There seems to be a reference to judgement whenever the Euphrates is mentioned. It will also come into view a bit later in Rev 16:12. These angels were more than likely part of Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven who have been bound in this locale only to be released for this season to execute judgement. They will be responsible for the killing of about 1/3 of mankind. The Bible makes clear that there is an appointed time and season for this event and it is represented by the sounding forth of the 6th trumpet. Don’t forget there has already been the removal of ¼ of the population with the 4th seal judgement. The earth is being decimated at a very rapid rate. The army that John sees consists of about 200 million and they are formidable with no one able to stand against them. A further description is given concerning this army and it resembles the all-conquering army of the Babylonians when they came against Israel. The prophet Joel gives the future account of what this army was going to look like and indeed they lived up to that billing. The last day battle that John is seeing is going to be far more destructive. At this chapter concludes we see that people still do not repent in the midst of the judgements. What a very sad state of affairs. The Lord in the midst of all these woes is still extending opportunity for people to turn to Him but it appears the majority only become more enraged against God.