From the Editor’s Notebook: Major Prophets, Daniel

From the Editor’s Notebook

W. Ross Rainey

Outline Studies of The Major Prophets

Daniel: The Book of Divine Dominion

Key Word: Dominion.

Message: “The Universal Sovereingty of God” (Robert Lee).1

Key Verse: 2:22 — “He revealeth the deep and secret things; He knoweth what is the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him.”


Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), an English mathematician and philosopher who formulated the binomial theorem, the laws of gravity and motion, and the elements of differential calculus, said that “Daniel is the most distinct in order of time, and easiest to be understood; and therefore, in those things which relate to the last times, he must be made the key to the rest.”

W. Graham Scroggie has significantly stated that “the Book of Daniel is a Prophetic Philosophy of History, and is the greatest book in the Bible on Godless Kingdoms and the Kingdom of God. These are portrayed in chapter ii, from the human standpoint, by a dream; and in chapter vii, from the Divine standpoint, by visions. In the one view the world’s kingdoms are likened to a power-Colossus, and in the other view, to four vicious Beasts.”2

Like Ezekiel, Daniel, whose name means “God is my Judge,” was a Jewish captive in Babylon. It is believed that he belonged to a family of high rank, if not the Royal House, and that he was taken captive at the age of 16, eight years before Ezekiel. If this is an accurate picture of things, and it appears to be so, then Daniel was carried away as a captive in the first invasion of Palestine by Nebuchadnezzar (606 B.C.; cf. 1:1-3), while Ezekiel was taken captive in the second invasion. From the time of his capture, Daniel spent his whole life in Babylon (1:21), a period of 69 years, and in a sordidly sinful court he lived a holy life, so much so that in Ezekiel’s prophecy he is referred to as a model of righteousness (14:14-20; 28:3). In addition to Ezekiel, his contemporaries were Jeremiah, Habakkuk and Obadiah.

Actually, the book of Daniel is not among the Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, but is one of the five “Latter Writings” (Kethubim), the others being Ezra, and 1 & 2 Chronicles. As to its contents, the book is historical, prophetical and apocalyptical, the historical section occupying about half of it. While Daniel wrote for the Jews in captivity, and for generations unborn, his main theme deals with “the times of the Gentiles,” his book dealing more fully with the Gentile nations than with his own nation, Israel (see Luke 21:24). In Daniel 3 there is the prophecy of the 70 weeks which actually began with the restoration of Jerusalem in the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes (9:25 — 445 B.C.). Evidently, the “wise men from the east” knew the prophecy of Daniel. A portion of the book is written in Aramaic (2:4 -7:28), the language of the Gentiles of that day.

Daniel served and rose to prominence under four kings and three nations: Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar (Chaldea), Darius (Media) and Cyrus (Persia). The events recorded in Daniel cover at least 70 years, Daniel himself having undoubtedly been over 90 years old at the time of his death.

The Lord Jesus Christ set His seal upon this great book as inspired of God (Matt. 24:15), His own title, “Son of Man,” being based on 7:13.

The prophecies of Daniel are among the most remarkable in all the Bible, having special importance today. The key message of the book concerns the universal sovereignty of God or, as G. Campbell Morgan has called it, the “Persistent Government of God in the Government of the World.”3 Thus the primary object of the prophecy is the contrasting of God’s infinite power with the finite world-power of men. In addition to the main message of the book, there are other important messages as well:

1. The Lord’s faithful and obedient servants are often blessed with worldly success (1:9, 20; 2:48-49).

2. Such are trusted with His secrets (2:19, 22, 47).

3. In times of great suffering and distress such have the comfort of His blessed presence (3:25).

4. The book of Daniel sounds a loud warning against sinful pride (4:30-37).

5. The book holds a definite warning to those who fail to honor and glorify God (5:22-23).


1. Historical (1-6)

2. Prophetical (7-12)

Notable Notes

The empires introduced in the book of Daniel are the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman.

The theme of the book is summed up in 2:44.

One of the chief values of the book is the portrait of Daniel himself, one of the great passages being his prayer in chapter 9. As for the man Daniel, there is not a single blot recorded against him in the Scriptures, reminding us of Joseph. Daniel was a man of:

1. Purity (1).

2. Purpose (1:8).

3. Principle (1:8).

4. Prayer (2; 6; 9; 10).

5. Perseverance (1:21).

6. Power (2:48).

7. Prosperity (6:28).

In reading and studying a book like Daniel, it should be kept in mind that the great purpose of Bible prophecy is that we might realize, in a practical way, the certainty of coming glories. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that a person see the forest as well as the individual trees.

H. P. Barker tells of an 18-yearold boy who, being deeply interested in scientific subjects, was one day given a telescope by his father. Having a keen interest in optics, he began to study the telescope, examining each part, and never did use it for the purpose for which it had been given to him. He was studying the telescope instead of the studying the heavens!

Let us not get so involved in the pursuit of the mechanics of Bible study relative to its many prophecies that we miss in turn their practical message for our hearts and lives. Rather, let us be like Abraham who, upon learning of Jehovah’s purpose regarding Sodom and Gomorrah, humbly sought the Lord’s face in earnest intercession (see Gen. 18).

Daniel’s visions sweep the entire course of Gentile world-rule to its catastrophic climax, and to the ultimate establishing of the coming Messianic kingdom.

It is noteworthy that Daniel was “greatly beloved” by the Lord (9:23; 10:11, 19), and so are we today who truly know the Lord (Eph. 2:4).

In the book of Daniel the LORD JESUS CHRIST is revealed as the SMITING STONE (2:36-49; cf. Matt. 21:44; 1 Pet. 2:6-8).

Later Years

Recently, in my day to day reading, I came across some thought provoking statements by Malcolm Muggeridge, written when past his 75th year. For years Mr. Muggeridge was editor of the British satirical weekly, Punch, but then rather late in life was reached by the transforming Gospel of God’s grace and brought into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what he wrote:

“When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly is that what seemed at the time most significant seems now most futile and absurd. For instance, success in all of its various guises, being known and praised, ostensible pleasures, making money … In retrospect all these exercises in self-gratification are diversions designed to distract our attention from the true purpose of our existence in this world; which is, quite simply, to look for God, and in looking to find Him, and having found Him to love Him …”

Still further, Muggeridge wrote: “It is often said that old age is a sort of second childhood. And it’s true in a way. One does go back to childhood. For instance, I remember things that happened when I was a child much more clearly and vividly than things that have happened more recently. More often than not, yesterday is totally obliterated, but I can recall exactly happenings as long as fifty or sixty years ago. It is the same with places, with natural scenes like a lovely field, the sheep, the orchard, the sky.

“And then with people, too… Thus, when people see this second childhood as an intimation of senescence, I don’t agree. I am more inclined to think of it as a conditioning process for eternity, as accustoming one to the circumstances that one is going to move into. Furthermore, it bears out those sayings of Jesus about how we have to be like a little child to understand His words and to enter His kingdom.”

Here, then, is a timely message for those among God’s people who have, in a measure of health and strength, reached old age. Muggeridge is stating in no uncertain terms that the Lord has given to some of His saints the experience of advanced years for the express purpose of developing a clearer, sharper perspective and focus on God Himself, and this, with a view to seeking, knowing, finding and loving Him who chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

1 Robert Lee, The Outlined Bible.

2 W. Graham Scroggie, Know Your Bible, 1, p. 199.

3 J. Vernon McGee, Briefing the Bible, p. 47.