We are continuing to share with you the opinions of 17 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Daniel. You should find these interviews fascinating and very informative. The interviews were conducted at a national Bible prophecy conference that was held in the Dallas, Texas area.
The third question is related to the twelfth chapter of Daniel where the prophet Daniel was given many end time prophecies which he did not understand. When he asked the Lord to explain them, he was told that they would not be understood until the time came for them to be fulfilled. Are we in that period of time today when we are understanding end time prophecies that no one has ever understood before? And if so, does that mean we are living in the season of the Lord's return?
So the question for our experts is this:
#3. Are we finally understanding prophecies we've never understood before?
Al Gist, Maranatha Evangelistic Ministries
Yes, we are. One of the opening prophetic chapters of Daniel is chapter 2 where Daniel interprets the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar concerning the successive Gentile empires that would rule over Israel. In that interpretation given to Daniel, God told him only initially that the first empire would be the Babylonian Empire. God didn't really explain to him what the other empires would actually turn out to be.
Later on in chapter 8 in the vision of the ram and he-goat, God reveals to Daniel the next two empires, which were the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire. But, the fourth empire — the one that Daniel was most interested in and asked about, God does not specifically say it's the Roman Empire. Later in Daniel 9, it's revealed to Daniel that the people of that fourth empire would destroy Jerusalem, and from history we know that it was the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Because of that destruction, we now know that the people of the Antichrist accordingly were from the Roman Empire, as the Antichrist will be.
I'm not sure if Daniel really understood who that fourth empire was, but God then begins to give him many other details about that coming Roman Empire, including that last stage or last phase of it represented by the feet of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream which is not made of solid iron but iron that has been mixed with clay. This imagery indicates a kind of weakness that would be in that last stage of the Revived Roman Empire. Even then, I don't think that Daniel fully understood that last empire. From where we are in history, obviously we can look back at Rome. Having now gone beyond 70 AD, we can understand Daniel's prophecies much better and we can see today that the Roman Empire has revived in the form of the European Union. That's one example of the many prophecies that Daniel probably did not fully understand, and there are probably others.
Daniel is told in chapter 12 to close up the book and seal it because it was meant for the times in many days to come. Those prophecies were not all for his time. I think that Daniel could accept that and realized that he was merely the recorder, the messenger. He was not the one who would need to be able to explain all of it to everybody in his day.
Andy Woods, Sugar Land Bible Church
One of the examples that comes to mind is Daniel 7:23. There the passage talks about the final empire that would exist before the Second Advent of Jesus. It is the fourth beast and Daniel says it's going to subdue. The language is very specific about that. The final empire is going to subdue the whole world. That's talking about a one-world government.
I don't think Daniel in his time period could have ever seen something like a one-world government with his own eyes. He was prophesying during the days of Neo-Babylonia which was a localized government, and yet he's revealing some entity that would have jurisdiction over the entire world according to Daniel 7:23.
Just look at what's happening today. Look at the plans in store for a one-world government. Look how these politicians no matter what party they are in can't even get through a speech without mentioning globalism in some way. Clearly we are living in the time period where we have caught up to Daniel's prophecy of globalism.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Ariel Ministries
Within the prophecies of Daniel, especially in the issue of the four empires and the final ruler of the fourth empire who is the Antichrist, there are lots of gaps in the information. You could not just take the book of Daniel and develop a full-scale chronological sequence of events. Daniel is told to seal the book, for it would not be fully understood in his time. Not that nothing could be understood, but a lot couldn't be understood.
When John finishes Revelation, he is told the opposite, to not seal the book because the missing pieces of information in Daniel were then provided in Revelation. When you combine the two books, you can get a good study of the sequence of events. And so, the reason that Daniel is told his prophecies wouldn't be fully understood is because there are gaps in the information, and those gaps we now have filled in Revelation.
August Rosado, Today in Bible Prophecy Ministries
Daniel 12:4 says that, "Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased." I believe we are seeing that knowledge being increased today in the 21st Century. I have no doubt in my mind that Daniel longed to want to understand these prophecies, but he could just not understand them in his day. But, in the Last Days, those who will seek to understand and read these prophecies will be able to do so.
I tried reading the Bible before I became a born again Christian and it was like trying to read Chinese. I couldn't understand one iota of that book. But, when I got saved, then the Holy Spirit of God came to reside within me. That's the last days ministry of the Holy Spirit as explained in John chapters 14-16 which tell us that the Holy Spirit will enlighten us to understand these very prophecies. Psalm 119:18 is fulfilled, "Open thou my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." So, it's the Holy Spirit of God that illuminates us to understand these very prophecies.
God told Daniel, "Daniel, you are going to seal the book, and these prophecies are not going to happen in your lifetime." And yet, God tells John in Revelation 22:10, "Seal not the sayings or the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand." That's talking about the imminency of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ which could happen at any moment and at any time. Until the return happens, knowledge will be increased and so too our understanding of these last days prophecies.
Don McGee, Crown and Sickle Ministries
In Daniel 2, it's recorded that Nebuchadnezzar lay in his bed one night and he had a dream. Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon and so a very powerful man of a very powerful empire. He saw a statue that was composed of four different kinds of metals. He didn't understand what this statue meant, so Daniel was called in eventually and he interpreted this dream for Nebuchadnezzar.
Nebuchadnezzar was wondering what was going to happen in the last days and later years. After he was gone, what would life be like? Who's going to be running things? Daniel's interpretation of that dream is the answer to Nebuchadnezzar's question about what is going to happen in later days. Specifically, Daniel talked about the four empires: the Babylonian Empire which Nebuchadnezzar was a part of, then the Medo-Persian, then the Greek, and then the Roman Empire.
Very, very interesting is the part of the interpretation that just grabs my attention which is that dream ends with a stone that is cut out of this mountain without human hands. That stone becomes the dominant, the premiere kingdom, over all the earth. It crushes even any memory of the original four. That could not be understood until the days in which we are living right now, and that's the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
In the eighth part of this series on the book of Daniel, the remaining members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will continue to answer, "Are we finally understanding prophecies we've never understood before?"