A Fresh Look at Daniel - Part 1

Posted in: 2008
By Tom L. Ballinger
May 19, 2008 - 3:55:32 PM



“Like a team of mountain climbers, Bible students are trekking, steadily, upward to the dazzling heights of Biblical truth.” This was written on April 19, 2003 in the first Plainer Words Online. From that, we refer to students of the Word as being Mountaineers. With the idea of being Mountaineers, I would like to invite you on a climb to whatever peaks of the Book of Daniel we can reach. We will not trek Mount Daniel, following the route of Charles Larkin, nor will we ascend upward along the routes pioneered by Welch, or Bullinger, or Scofield . These men were extraordinary Mountaineers, but our climb will ascend from another route. Our trek may lead us to see sights which others have never seen before.

As far as this Mountaineer is concerned, he plans to go as far as he can. Come go with me. It might be interesting. I pray that it will be. The Eleven Parts of this study are a re-vision of the study first published in 2003-04.

                     Tom L. Ballinger

Part I

Twelve years ago, I purposed in my heart to study the Book of Daniel. In so doing, it was determined to lay aside every vestige of what I had, previously, been taught. I wanted to look at it as if I had not read any of the great expositors of prophecy, or dispensational truth.

One of the first things noticed, as Daniel was perused, was that God Himself interpreted the prophecies. The question then arose, “Why have expositors of eschatology re-interpreted God’s clear interpretations? Have they re-interpreted them to make it fit their own theological views?” Consider these two questions as we take a “fresh look” at the dreams, visions, and interpretations of the Book of Daniel.

I was struck right between the eyes with Daniel’s inspired statement to Nebuchadnezzar; “the dream is certain, and the interpretation is sure” (Dan. 2:45). If God, through Daniel, said the interpretation is sure, why must Christian expositors re-interpret, embellish, and sensationalize God’s interpretations of the dreams and visions He gave? I will withhold my comments and only say that as we approach these things, we’ll follow the principle – the interpretations given by God Himself will stand as they were written.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Forgotten Dream

In Chapter Two, Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, was troubled by dreams he dreamed. One particular dream really troubled him, but he couldn’t remember it.

Being troubled by his forgotten dream, he summoned his staff of advisors (V. 2). Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, were still being tutored in Babylon’s “School of Statecraft” and were not called. The king told his staff that he was troubled about a dream he had. He told them he wanted to know what the dream was (V. 3).

In Verse Four, the staff asked him to tell them what he had dreamed, and, then, they would tell him the interpretation of it. In Verse Five, he informed them that he couldn’t remember the dream. He became enraged and said, “If ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut to pieces, and your houses will be made a dunghill.”

Of course, they were given an impossible task. How could they know what the king dreamt? They told him only the gods could do that (V.11). “For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain” (Vs. 12-13).

Daniel let it be known that if Nebuchadnezzar gave him time, he would tell the king what his dream was and give the interpretation of it. Daniel’s wish was granted.

In Daniel 2:17-23, we read where Daniel went to his house and told his three friends about what had occurred. The mystery of Nebuchadnezzar’s forgotten dream and its interpretation was revealed to Daniel in a night vision.

“Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch [the captain of the king’s guard], whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation. Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation” (Vs. 24-25).

In Verse Twenty-Six, Daniel was brought before Nebuchadnezzar, and the king said to Daniel (who was named Belteshazzar), “Art thou able to make known unto me the dream, which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?”

Daniel, now before Nebuchadnezzar, answered the king, “ … The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart” (Vs. 27-30).

What, immediately, should catch our attention, forgetting and laying aside what we had been taught, was “in the latter days” and what should come to pass “hereafter.” Daniel indicated that the interpretation of the dream which was to be made known to the king was what was going to transpire during a time that has not yet, historically, happened.

The word, “hereafter” (Strong’s No. 311), means “afterwards.” I don’t know about other parts of the English speaking world but in the South, when someone referred to the “hereafter,” Southerners knew the person was referencing a time after death and resurrection. “Should come to pass hereafter” meant life beyond the grave. In this context of Daniel Two, “hereafter” refers to a time when Nebuchadnezzar shall live again in resurrection. The “latter days” pinpoints the time and makes it specific when Nebuchadnezzar will live again. In plainer words, Nebuchadnezzar will live in resurrection during the “latter days,” i.e., the next dispensation.

The “latter days” in Old Testament Scripture is another name for the New Testament name of the Kingdom of God, or the Day of Jesus Christ. More will be detailed as the study progresses but suffice it to say, for now, the fulfillment of this dream must take place in the latter, or concluding days. This holds true for every part and phase of the dream.

The Dream As Told By Daniel

Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar what he had dreamt – Chapter 2:31-35.

“Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. (V.31)

“This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, (V.32)

“His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. (V.33)

“Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. (V.34)

“Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (V.35)

We’ll examine the elements of this dream, verse-by-verse.

V. 31. In the dream, the king looked and standing there before him was an enormous statue, it was dazzling and awesome in appearance.

V. 32. The head of the statue was pure gold, its breast and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of brass.

V. 33. The legs were of iron, and the feet were a mixture of iron and clay.

The head of the image was one member. The breast and the arms, as well as, the belly and thighs, each, had three members, the legs and the feet had two members. Yet, all of the members made up the whole body of the statue. There was no mention, here, concerning toes on the feet. There are five parts named here - gold, silver, brass, iron, and the mixture of iron and clay.

The description went from head to foot in descending order. The metallic materials which made up the image decreases in value and specific gravity.

V. 34. As Nebuchadnezzar continued to look at the image, he saw a stone cut out, “without hands,” and smote the image on the feet. “Without hands” indicated the absence of human instrumentality and an act of God. The feet were pulverized.

V. 35. Here, it is learned that with the crushing of the feet, all other parts of the statue disintegrated “together” and became like chaff, and the wind carried the dust-like particles away without leaving a trace. But, the Rock (Stone) that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

The fact that all the elements of the image, which represented the five parts of the body, all disintegrated “together” as a unit, indicated that whatever the awesome statue was to represent, it fell as a unit without a trace being left behind. It is essential to remember that the whole image disintegrated “together.”

Tom L. Ballinger