Key passages:

2 Pet. 1:19-21 – Prophecy not a matter for private views
Isa. 61:1-3 – Good news and vengeance
Luke 4:16-21 – Good news without vengeance
Daniel – Historical prophetic sequences, culminating in the restored kingdom of God
Revelation – Victory for God and His people, but without a clear historical sequence
Zech. 1-3, 14 – Prophecies of God’s original plan for Israel

Key questions:

1. How does a community of believers arrive at a “correct” understanding of Scripture? How does the individual or “private” view come to be shared by the whole?
2. When Jesus selectively quoted Isaiah 61:1-3, applying it to his own ministry, but omitting the element of vengeance (Luke 4:16-21), how were his hearers to know that Jesus was rightly dividing the word of truth?
3. With reference to the prophecies of Daniel: how can that book be a blessing to those who can’t read or who aren’t in a western setting where the Mediterranean powers are well-known?
4. With reference to the prophecies of Revelation: how can that book be a blessing to believers, consoling the faithful but warning the careless? Is it easy to feel beleaguered and threatened when reading Revelation?
5. Does one need a knowledge of history to be blessed by Daniel and Revelation?
6. Historicist interpreters often are reluctant to speak of “conditional prophecy” with reference to Daniel and Revelation, but do apply it to the prophecies of Zechariah. But if an “end-time” scenario, such as that found in Zechariah 14, is seen as set aside, at least in part, because of changing events, is it possible that some traditional interpretations of Daniel and Revelation may also be modified with changing events?
7. Why is it that the books which deal with last day events, Daniel and Revelation, in particular are subject to such widely divergent interpretations?


The Prophecies of Daniel – Addendum B

In the interpretation of the book of Daniel, it is important to note which parts of the prophetic chapters are interpreted by the Bible itself. Where no specific interpretation is given, interpreters diverge; where the Bible is explicit, all interpreters agree: Babylon is the head of gold in Daniel 2 (2:38); Medo-Persia and Greece are the ram and male goat in Daniel 8 (8:20-21). The following chart illustrates where the Bible itself is explicit.

 Daniel 2 Daniel 7 Daniel 8 Bib. Interp. (ch) Reformers
Gold head Lion Babylon (2) Babylon
Silver Chest Bear Ram Medo/Persia (8) Medo/Persia
Bronze Belly Leopard Goat Greece (8) Greece
4 Wings 4 Horns 4 Kingdoms (8)
Iron Legs Beast Rome
Iron/Clay Feet 10 Horns Rome
L. Horn L. Horn
Stone Judgement Cleansing

Fourth Kingdom: Greece or Rome? Most scholars agree that 2 Esdras (IV Ezra) 12:11-12, written about AD 90, confirms that Daniel’s fourth kingdom had earlier been interpreted as Greece, but as Rome rose in prominence, it came to be seen as the fourth kingdom: “The eagle which you saw coming up from the sea is the fourth kingdom which appeared in a vision to your brother Daniel. (12) But it was not explained to him as I now explain or have explained it to you” (RSV).

The Little Horns: Both the little horn in Daniel 7 and the one in Daniel 8 are evil characters, beating up the saints and mutilating the truth. The little horn in Daniel 7 emerges from among the 10 horns, displacing 3 of them; the little horn in Daniel 8 emerges from one of the 4 horns or (or from one of the 4 winds; the Hebrew is ambiguous). Since the Bible itself does not explicitly identify either of the little horns, interpretations vary according to the presuppositions brought to the text. Consistent Historicists see both little horns (in 7 and in 8) as referring to papal Rome; consistent Preterists see both little horns as referring to Antiochus; dispensationalist Futurists see the little horn in 7 as referring to the future Roman antichrist, but interpret the little horn in 8 as referring to Antiochus. Idealists can interpret both horns as symbolizing any of God’s enemies.

Comments are closed.