Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel, and more specifically, is found in the first fourteen verses of the eighth chapter. When the third chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel opens, it opens up a full two years after the first vision Daniel received during the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon. The vision which is recorded in the seventh chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel was released during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon, while this particular vision took place two years later during the third year of his reign. The first few verses within the eighth chapter of the book of Daniel reveal how “in the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palac, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river Ulai” (Daniel 8:1-2). It’s imperative to note that this vision was indeed a second vision which came after the first vision had already been released. When the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel draws to a close, it does so with Daniel speaking of how his “cogitation much troubled him, and his countenance changed within him.” What’s more, is that what Daniel had received of the Lord during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar he kept within his heart. In all reality, I would dare say that for the next two years Daniel spent a considerable amount of time meditating upon the dream and visions which he had seen at first during the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon. It might very well be possible that as and while Daniel was still meditating and pondering the vision he had received two years earlier, a second vision came unto him—a vision which would go on to further reveal the mystery that had already been revealed. There is not a doubt in my mind that this vision was a supplemental vision given unto Daniel—a vision that further explained that which was going to take place within the coming days.
Building on this concept of a secondary vision that was released unto Daniel, I can’t help but think that there are specific times and seasons within our lives when the Lord may very well release a particular vision unto us, yet He doesn’t provide us with the full picture. There may very well be times within our lives when the Lord can and will release vision(s) unto us and within our lives, yet the vision which appears and is manifested unto us first might very well be a generic and Birdseye view of what is to come and what is to take place. The vision which Daniel received in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon was essentially an introduction to a greater mystery that would come in various waves during Daniel’s lifetime. DO NOT EXPECT EVERYTHING AT ONCE! There is a growing tendency within our hearts and minds that when the Lord desires to speak something unto us that He reveals everything all at once. There are a number of men and women who spend their days and live their lives thinking that what the Lord has revealed unto them is essentially the complete and total picture, and that there could not possibly be anything further that can proceed thereafter. What we find and what we read in this passage of Scripture essentially reveals that it is possible that the vision the Lord releases unto us at the first is nothing more than a high level overview of that which is to come, and that which is to take place. While the Lord might very well release understanding and knowledge concerning the vision He has just released unto us, He doesn’t reveal the entire picture. The Lord reserves every right to reveal divine mysteries piece by piece, and to not release everything all at once. In all reality, I would dare say that one of the single greatest reasons why the Lord didn’t immediately release everything unto Daniel immediately was because He knew and understood that Daniel would be unable to handle everything all at once.
Consider if you will how the various chapters of the prophetic book of Daniel begin—starting with the seventh chapter and moving forward unto the final chapter. “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea” (Daniel 7:1-2). In the fifteenth verse of this same chapter we find and read these words: “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all of this. So he told me, and made name know the interpretation of the things” (Daniel 7:15-16). The seventh chapter concludes with these words concerning the experience Daniel had with the vision that had been released unto him: “As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart” (Daniel 7:28). As the eighth chapter begins, it does so with the following words: “In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai” (Daniel 8:1-2). When we come to the fifteenth verse of this same chapter we read these words: “And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with. Me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: buit he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be” (Daniel 8:15-19). The eighth chapter concludes with this description of how this particular experience and encounter affected Daniel: “And I daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it” (Daniel 8:27).
When we come to the ninth chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel we notice a transition that begins to take place, for Daniel speaks not of the reign of Belshazzar, but of the reign of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes: “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession” (Daniel 9:1-4). In the first year of the reign of Belshazzar a vision was released unto Daniel—a vision of which Daniel was able to inquire as to the understanding of the vision. In the third year of the reign of the same king, a second vision was released unto Daniel, and Daniel was again provided understanding concerning and regarding the dream. When we come to the ninth chapter, however, we don’t find any vision being released unto Daniel. What we do find in the ninth chapter is Daniel coming to a place of understanding based on what had been written by the prophet Jeremiah. It was from this place of understanding that Daniel was immediately thrust into a place of prayer, and confession, and intercession and repentance before the Lord. In the eighth and ninth chapters we read of visions and understanding, while in the ninth chapter we read of understanding and prayer. VISIONS AND UNDERSTANDING! UNDERSTANDING AND PRAYER! I have to admit that I absolutely love what I read in this particular passage of Scripture for there are times when understanding—especially understanding regarding that which has been written in the divine word of God—brings, and even thrusts us into a place of prayer and intercession. It wasn’t any vision or dream that thrust Daniel into this place of prayer, confession and intercession, but rather an understanding of the words which the prophet Jeremiah had written. Daniel understood by books the number of the year, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that the Lord would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. It was this particular place that brought Daniel to his face before the Lord to seek Him by prayer and supplication.
The first nineteen verses of this chapter deal specifically and exclusively with the prayer which Daniel prayed before and unto the Lord, while when we come to the twentieth verse we notice a response that occurred as a result of his prayers and intercession. “And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblations. And he informed me, and talked with m e, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision” (Daniel 9:20-23). The angel Gabriel appeared unto Daniel as a direct result of Daniel’s prayer and supplication in order that he might reveal unto Daniel an even greater mystery. The ninth chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel is actually quite unique in that it is a chapter that is centered upon prayer and intercession, and the Lord’s response to such manifestations within one’s life. The angel Gabriel was sent unto Daniel in direct response to his prayer(s) and intercession(s) before the Lord of hosts, in order that further understanding might be revealed unto him. While in the presence of Daniel the angel Gabriel declared unto him that he was sent forth to give him skill and understanding—and not only to give him skill and understanding, but to shew him in order that he might understand the matter, and consider the vision. It was given unto Daniel the ability to understand visions and dreams—a reality that was expressed at the beginning of this prophetic book. Consider what is recorded earlier on in the prophetic book regarding Daniel—and not only Daniel, but also Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams…And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm” (Daniel 1:17, 20).
When we come to the tenth chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel we discover further revelation and understanding given unto Daniel—one who was highly esteemed by the Lord of hosts. “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was Called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was but the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of this words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: For from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? For as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace by unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince” (Daniel 10).
The vision which Daniel saw in the eighth chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name was one that took place a whole two years after the first vision was released during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon. One of the most intense realities surrounding the remaining chapters of the prophetic book of Daniel—beginning with the seventh chapter—is that they deal exclusively with visions of that which was yet to come. It was given unto Daniel to understand dreams and visions, and up until this moment he had interpreted the dream which Nebuchadnezzar dreamt upon his bed concerning the image that was made up of various materials, as well as the second dream which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about the large tree that was instructed to be cut down. In the fifth chapter of this prophetic book we find Daniel being summoned into the presence of the king and all his lords and princes and wives in order that he might interpret the handwriting that had appeared upon the wall of the banquet hall. When we come to the seventh chapter and beyond within this prophetic book we find visions being revealed and released unto Daniel—visions that did not concern himself, but concerned events that would come in the days ahead. What’s more, is that the visions that were revealed unto Daniel were visions that contained a vast amount of symbolism and images. If there is one thing that is noticeable about the passages we read in these two chapters thus far, it’s that there is a vast amount of imagery and symbolism that is contained therein. The Lord did indeed release visions unto the prophet Daniel, yet those visions weren’t absent symbolism and images. Perhaps one of the most profound realities surrounding the prophetic book of Daniel is not merely the prophetic nature that is contained within it, but that the prophetic nature and language that is found within the book is centered upon images and symbolism. While it is true that Nebuchadnezzar dreamt a dream upon his bed at night, that dream contained within it a symbol and image that in and of itself carried with it a meaning which Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t aware of until the interpretation was provided by Daniel. There were two separate occasions when the king was given a dream which he dreamt upon his bed, and on both occasions the king himself was not able to understand the meaning of the dream—much less understand the interpretation of the dream. On both occasions it wasn’t until Daniel was brought into the presence of the king that the interpretation of the dreams were revealed.
What marks the seventh chapter and beyond within the prophetic book of Daniel as unique is that the visions were no longer limited to Nebuchadnezzar, but were now being revealed and released unto Daniel. What’s more, is that one of the greatest and most powerful truths surrounding the prophetic book of Daniel is the tremendous need to seek and search for understanding concerning that which had been revealed. When it came to both dreams which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, Daniel wasn’t immediately given understanding concerning the individual dreams. Consider if you will what is recorded in the second chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel after Daniel learned of the decree to slaughter all the Chaldeans, all the magicians, all the astrologers, and all the wise men in Babylon—“Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree to hasty from the king? Then Arioch m are the thing known to Daniel. Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision” (Daniel 2:14-19). Immediately after learning of the decree of the king to destroy all the wise men, Daniel not only petitioned the king for time to provide that which he had requested, but Daniel also made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah in order that they might pray and entreat the God of heaven. That same night Daniel and his three Hebrew companions sought the face of the God of heaven in order that He might answer their prayers and reveal unto Daniel the mystery which had been given unto Nebuchadnezzar. In essence, there was not the vision without and apart the need to seek out and search for understanding concerning and regarding the dream that was released unto the king with its images and symbols.
One of the most profound truths that is found in the prophetic book of Daniel is the need to get alone before God and to seek His face for understanding concerning that which has been revealed. Understanding regarding the visions that were released unto Daniel concerning the dreams and visions that were found within this book came as a direct result of Daniel entreating the face of the living God. Daniel was one who was given understanding concerning dreams and visions, but that wasn’t always the cause without and apart from his humbling himself before the Lord his God. IN fact, the entire ninth and tenth chapters of this book are dedicated to the humility Daniel exercised before the Lord of hosts—humility through prayer, through confession, through intercession, through fasting, and perhaps even through weeping and mourning. Daniel wasn’t content with living without and apart from understanding concerning and regarding the divine mysteries that were found and revealed. If you ask me, I happen to find it incredibly intriguing that the Lord saw fit to reveal and release such mysteries while the people of God were living as captives and strangers within a strange and foreign land. The visions that were revealed concerning the days which were to come came not during the days when they were living and dwelling securely within the land of their inheritance, but rather when they were living as strangers and exiles within the land of their captivity. The Lord not only revealed part of the mystery surrounding the kingdoms and empires that would emerge upon the earth to a Gentile king, but the Lord also continued to reveal those mysteries to Daniel the prophet. The Lord chose and the Lord saw fit to reveal unto Daniel mysteries concerning future kingdoms and empires that would emerge upon the earth—a reality that is actually quite interesting when you think about it. The reason I find this to be so intriguing is that when Malachi uttered his final words which are recorded for us in the Old Testament, the earth would be thrust into four-hundred years of silence with no open vision, and no word from the Lord. Even before Malachi stepped on to the scene and prophesied the word of the Lord, the Lord was already revealing unto Daniel the mysteries surrounding the kingdoms and empires that would emerge upon the earth.
If there is one thing I believe and one thing I am convinced of when reading the prophetic it’s that the people of God didn’t enter into four-hundred years of silence without and apart from an understanding of that which was to unfold. I can’t help but wonder how many who walked and lived through those days turned and directed their attention to the prophetic words of Daniel and understood that what was taking place within and upon the earth was the fulfillment of that which was taking place in their generations. The visions which Daniel saw were visions concerning kingdoms and empires that would emerge upon the earth—specifically kingdoms and empires that would emerge upon the earth during the period of silence that ensued upon the earth. There were essentially two prophetic empires and kingdoms that emerged upon the earth during those four-hundred years of silence known as “the intertestamental period”—The Grecian Empire and the Roman Empire. I would dare say that those who were actively seeking understanding, and those who continued to pursue the Lord in prayer would understand that which was taking place during their generation based on the word(s) that was released unto and through the prophet Daniel. It would be through the prophet Daniel that those who walked through those four-hundred years of silence would not only encounter the prophetic word of the Lord, but would also understand that which was taking place during their days. It is quite possible that there were those during that period of time who understood the days and times they were living in based on the prophetic words which Daniel wrote. The visions which were revealed unto Daniel were not only visions that would reveal events and times that were to come, but would also reveal the times in which men and women were living. I see the prophetic book of Daniel—not only as a blueprint for how we are to conduct ourselves in the midst of Babylon, but also as a prophetic timeline of events that would unfold within and upon the earth. I am convinced that we must read the prophetic book of Daniel as a powerful testimony concerning events which have already taken place and unfolded within and upon the earth, but also concerning events which have yet to take place. If there is one thing the prophetic book of Daniel provides us with, it’s a way to understand and interpret the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ—another book that helps us understand the events and times in which we are living. Oh that we would read the book of Daniel and would seek to understand the days and times in which we are living—much like the sons of Issachar did during the days of David.