The Book of Daniel reveals God's sovereign control of
history from 605 B.C. to the Second Advent of Christ. This
prophetic writing contains hundreds of predictions that
revolve around five overall themes.
1. The Rise and
Fall of Four Empires
2. The Coming of the Everlasting
3. The Coming Princes
4. The Time of Israel's
5. The End Times
My objective in Decoding Daniel is to show history
revealing prophecy and prophecy revealing history. Yahweh
is the Lord of time and history.
He is sovereign over the world, though considerable
power and freedom of will have been given to human and
angelic beings. Because of this freedom, a great conflict
within the physical and spiritual realms is revealed in
the Book of Daniel as humans, angels, Satan and God strive
control the future.
God elects to relate to
humanity in such a way that humans become a factor in His
life and He becomes part of their lives. Because of this
interaction, prayers, dreams and visions play a
significant role in the events of this book as God reveals
the rise and fall of future empires and
Although biblical history shows that God changes in
the way He feels, plans, and acts in response to our
response to Him, there are boundaries to His change. The
LORD responds to human actions without compromising His
revealed, unconditional plans and purposes. In addition,
He never violates His veracity, righteousness and
holiness. Hence, the future God
has mapped out in the
Book of Daniel will occur.
From the beginning,
man’s history has been the story of rebellion against God.
Instead of developing morally, humanity continues to head
down the slippery slope of decadence, declension and
destruction. For this reason, God is able to forecast the
future with absolute accuracy as He overrules evil for His
plans and purposes. Although in some of Daniel’s
prophecies evil may appear to be victorious, God is
working behind the scenes for good. Joseph characterized
God's sovereign rule over evil for good in this same way
in Genesis 50:20: "You intended to harm me, but God
intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done,
the saving of many lives."
Prophetically, the Book
of Daniel is the key that unlocks eschatology, the study
of the last days. It is indispensable for understanding
Christ's predictions and the Book of Revelation. Many of
its symbols are employed in diverse ways in the Apocalypse
of Jesus Christ.
God's plan for the world is
unfolded in amazing detail in Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar's
Dream of the Great Image, Daniel's dream and visions of
the Four Beasts, and the Ram and Goat, along with
Gabriel's unveiling of the Seventy Sevens provide the
framework for prophetic history from
605 B.C. to the
second coming of Christ.
Daniel is written in
prose and it differs from other prophetic books of the
Bible, which often have their oracles written in poetry.
Consequently, it appears in the Hebrew Scriptures among
“the writings” and not “the prophets.” Nevertheless,
Daniel cannot be read like a narrative or novel
it contains images and symbols that need to be decoded
before God's plan for the future can be understood. One
cannot decode its predictions without first knowing a
great deal about the rest of the Bible and history.
The kinds of predictions in the Book of Daniel are
twofold. There are “types” or “foreshadowings” concealed
within the narratives, and there are revealed dreams and
visions of future events, people and places. The prophet
has deciphered the dreams and visions with the help of the
Spirit of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, and
angelic beings. Herein a
significant part of the
outline of God's plan for “the times of the Gentiles” has
been decoded by the prophet. However, decoding the details
of this period is left to the readers. I have endeavored
to aid in this task by
1. Connecting the symbolism decoded by Daniel to
historical events, people and places.
2. Interpreting and connecting the symbolism that
belongs to yet future events, people and places based on
other prophecies contained in the Scriptures.
3. Discovering and interpreting the “types” in the
4. Explaining the words that have been closed up and
sealed until the time of the end.
Practically, the Book of Daniel abounds with personal
applications. Daniel himself models a godly life, blessed
by God from teenage years through old age. Hence, a
section appears at the end of each chapter, containing a
few applications gleaned from Daniel and others mentioned
within that chapter. The first six chapters include types
With the exception of chapter twelve, which
is a continuation of the two previous chapters, each
chapter begins with a time line and background material.
Chronological dating of Old Testament events varies
slightly among scholars. Many variations arise from the
Biblical writers themselves. Some count the ascension year
as the first year of a king’s reign, others do not.
Earlier scholars date the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.
and Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 B.C. I
have followed the scholars who date these events as 586
B.C. and 444 B.C.
The Book of Daniel has been a
battleground of “higher criticism.” For instance, liberals
view this book as Pseudepigrapha, written to inspire the
hopes of the Jewish victims during the Seleucid
persecution of 170-165 B.C. I believe it was written by a
historical Daniel at the time of the Babylonian exile.
One's beliefs and interpretation of Daniel can be a litmus
test of conservative or liberal orthodoxy. The
interpretations of Daniel’s prophecies sharply divide
premillennial views from amillennial outlooks. The reader
should find that the exposition in this commentary is
conservative and premillennial.
bibliography contains the
principal works that I utilized in the preparation of
Decoding Daniel. I recommend that these sources be
consulted concerning the hotly debated issues of the
authorship, composition and dating of the Book of Daniel.
These sources represent a mix of liberal and conservative
scholarship from theologians who hold diverse views.
In this commentary, I have attempted to blend the
prophetic and practical teachings of the Book of Daniel,
while showing that God ultimately controls every nation,
having determined the times set for them and the exact
places where they should live. For that reason, I have
structured Decoding Daniel upon God's Sovereignty in the
Rise of Four Hebrews, Five World Empires, and their
The outline for the chapter headings of
this commentary was modified and expanded from an outline
constructed by John C. Whitcomb (Daniel, 18-19).
May God add His blessing to your study of the Book of
Robert P. Conway