The study of Bible prophecy

Notes on Daniel 7:15-16, 19, 28

I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of [my] body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things…Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth [were of] iron, and his nails [of] brass; [which] devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;…“Hitherto [is] the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart. (Daniel 7:15-16, 19, 28 AV)

This chapter is interesting for a number of reasons:

  • It takes a chronological step backwards into the time period between Chapters 4 & 5. We should always pay attention to the chronology of Scripture. Sometimes the order in which events are recorded is not the chronological order. This has the effect of making us think and of bringing certain truths out into prominence.
  • It opens a new section in the book in that there is a move away from historical narrative to prophetic vision.
  • It concludes the Aramaic section of the book and Hebrew is again employed 8:1ff. The use of Aramaic implies a focus on Gentile affairs and interests, a Gentile perspective of events and prophecies.

This vision is in the main prophetic—v5-14 were future to Daniel’s time; v8-14 remain future to our own day. Daniel’s attitude/response to the vision is vital to his understanding of it and is exemplary if we would come to an understanding of these things. He sets before us an example of how to study prophecy specifically and scripture generally.

I  HE HAD A WORD FROM GOD TO CONSIDER.

1. Daniel’s inquiry and study was based solely on the revelation that God had given. Others are ready to express opinions on these things, II Thess 2:12 and sadly there is a readiness to accept such views as authoritative. We must make sure that our study of eschatology is based entirely on the revelation God has given.

2. He clearly had a grasp of the details of what God had revealed to him. N.b. the verbs of v2, 4-9, 11, 13, 21. He is able to relate the details of the vision, v19-22—evidently having grasped the details of what he as yet did not understand! Not understanding all the details should not prevent us from diligently taking note and learning what God has revealed.

II  HE WAS DEEPLY PERTURBED BY WHAT GOD HAD REVEALED.

1. He took seriously what God had said, v15. He did not dismiss what God had said as too far-fetched, or too mysterious, etc. Many find the subject of eschatology a source of jest. It ought not to be so.

2. The terms he uses to describe his reaction to the vision:

a) Grieved, v15—distressed, pierced through < ‘to dig’. The word of God pierces his heart.

b) Troubled, v15—to tremble in fear < to run in terror. Daniel was stirred to take speedy action. There was an immediate response.

3. He was stirred to the depths of his being. In his soul, to the depths of his physical and spiritual constitution, he was grieved and troubled! The reaction was not a superficial one. Nor was this an isolated instance of such a response, 8:27. Cp Rev 10:9-10.

We are too little moved by the word that God has given!

III  HE SOUGHT HEAVENLY COUNSEL AS TO THE TRUTH OF WHAT GOD HAD REVEALED.

1. He makes inquiry of one of them that stood by, v16, 10. Either a saint or an angel is in view. This inquiry takes place in the course of the vision. He searches for the meaning immediately! Knowledge imparted from Heaven is essential to a right understanding of God’s revelation. This is illustrated here and elsewhere: Zech 1:18-21, Rev 1:1, 6:1, 7:13ff, 22:16. The child of God is in a happy circumstance indeed when we are in such company as is able to enlighten us in the teaching of Scripture! Such heavenly wisdom is communicated to us by the Spirit Who works through His word, John 16:13, I Tim 4:1-3.

2. Daniel was convinced of the truth of what he had seen, v19.

3. An explanation is always forthcoming to those who seek it.

4. Such seeking is required on an ongoing basis. He has already learned of God the details of the vision in Chapter 2 yet he needs to inquire again. Cp 8:15-17.

IV THE EFFECT OF THIS VISION AND ITS EXPLANATION WAS NOT QUICKLY FORGOTTEN.

1. What he had seen and heard occupied his mind, v28. Cogitations = desire, thoughtful study. The troubled (as v15) state of soul persisted.

2. The effect was a visible one. It showed on Daniel’s face that he had seen something of what God has revealed of the end times.

3. He guarded/maintained the matter in his heart. Clearly the word of God impacted his heart but that effect must be maintained. The heart is not immune to loss of the truth and its effect! Cp Heb 2:1.

If Daniel was careful to secure the long-term effect of this message how much more should we be diligent to act as he did. We live in the very midst of these developments and are much closer to the time of the end than he was.

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