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Epistemology, Origin and Meaning
with Application to Daniel
The question of guidance by dream or vision, and the limits of divine usage of them in our present Covenant has been covered in A Question of Gifts, X and XI, with some bases in earlier Sections.
What God binds, man is not free to loose. The Bible sits in sovereign majesty over all dreams and visions, a criterion of doctrine and a basis of belief. It is not now being written by a kaleidoscope of impressions or a potpourri of imputation. (Cf. SMR Appendix D.) God has made His own word distinct and contradistinct in all doctrine. He is of course not because of this in some way limited as to his personal intimations (John 14:21-23). God is Himself, does not contradict Himself and is not limited by the traditions of religious man. As to His word, HE it is who has said it.
However, on this occasion, our concern is somewhat broader. What is the stimulus that may initiate dreams, the meaning validity or type to be conveyed and the source of such knowledge ?
Indeed, is it knowledge, or kaleidoscopic imprints of heterogeneous paraphernalia, without little significance ? or validity of but slight dimensions ?
When we deal wisely with such a subject, naturally we start with Biblical PERSPECTIVE that is independently validated. Otherwise, we might address a mathematical problem, to take a parallel, whilst simultaneously seeking to compose our minds on the epistemology of numbers and so forth. The Biblical perspective, which alone is valid, is independently manifested in SMR and TMR as well as A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 7, and 15, and more broadly in the works on this site, as depicted for example in SMR 348ff., 611ff., 620ff., 316Cff., It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls ... Chs. 9 , 11, Joyful Jottings 25 -26, Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Appendix I, Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 9, Repent or Perish Ch. 7.
then, where we have finished elsewhere, we look to our present topic.
The stimulus, and the validity both arise in this field.
Closely allied is the source, though this will be given further attention at a later stage.
Stimuli for dreams include gastric upsets, too tight bedclothes that imprison rather than drape, loud noises without, noises or other sensory impacts associated with arresting meaning when one is awake and so forth. These are the immediate stimuli which may bring to a measure of consciousness certain events, episodes or sequences of thought, at the physical level.
However, there may be mental stimuli also. Thus anxiety wanting to drape itself in thought or symbolic interpretation, love desiring to see action not otherwise found, or otherwise than actually found, hatred, aching to invest its talents in some visible phenomena, outside the normal limitations of the passion and so on, these may be the immediate stimuli of dreams.
Again, there is the spiritual stimulus. Aspiration for better life (in oneself, from oneself) may drive the mind to produce heightened dramas or episodes which interpret either what is, what one would like to see, or what one would like not to be. Despair (because of hidden or repressed awareness or due evaluation of sin), hopelessness trying to invent something better in another world of its own, the dream time mime and so on, these and countless such spiritual stimuli may operate.
One is careful however in all these things to distinguish the stimulus, physical, mental or spiritual, from the source. A mental stimulus (or a simply emotive one, mentally construed) may indeed push the mind to create, but from WHAT does it create, HOW is it selected and WHY!
These are most legitimate questions. Thus the spirit of a man may respond to the emotional query with a flurry or flourish, indeed a mini-mandate of its own, to supervise and advise the wrought-up emotions of what is their true status; or if the spirit is itself sufficiently pathological in its own domain, it may seek to advise the vortices of emotion on their needlessness, seeking to show or imply that one is really at least as good as many one could name, and with all modesty felt to be due, probably far better! Thus it may be that it becomes a spiritual pep talk, based in pride, worked in immodesty and imagined into symbols supplied by the mind, with its various and most diverse equipment either in the public symbolic area, or the private vaults of the life concerned, in all its history and education.
WHAT is created can thus be wish fulfilment, wish denial, pride depiction or pride abasement, hope or hopelessness met, and the strivings of the unresolved can thus bathe themselves in metaphors given allegorical status, and come to a form of life both arresting and colourful.
It all depends on the state of one's spirit, mind and body, and the collaboration which relates to the specific spiritual, mental and physical ingredients. Always of course, in view of its special function, the spirit will be the furthermost advanced in the case, either scurrilously seducing fact with desired fiction, or valiantly sequestering fiction with the substitute of desired fact, or dealing with dead 'realism' to replace it with visionary aspiration, which may be based nonetheless on logical apprehension. The chameleon has nothing on these varied and wholly diverse options. In some the flight from logic may be evaded by a mind determined not to be subverted, so that a mental last stand may come in between the desolatory depravity of the spirit and its due end. On the other hand, a depraved mind may find an enquiring spirit arresting its irrationality and pomp, seeking a plateau that is stable for all action.
These things may seem complex, but really when you come to the beginning, they tend to fall into place. When you find the One who made the mind, body and spirit, and the design which relates them synthetically in one meaningful whole, the meaning of which is directly derivative from and answerable to this same Creator, then the actions of the human spirit become far easier to interpret, the failings, flailings or frenzies of the mind simpler to elucidate and the inputs of the body, selectively attended to for such symbolic purposes as dreams, more readily interpretable from their relationships to the MOTIFS of spirit, and its action relative to its Maker (cf. Psalm 86:11).
Thus a man fleeing reluctantly from God may tend to put on the spiritual brakes as his mind surges on the crests of the roaring waves, seeking a nice, easy slide on the surf board of slithering desire. There are not brakes for a surf board ? Oh yes there are. You simply fail at the last moment, raised up on the tumultuous power of the incipient breaker, to make that final lurch and thrust which will put your selection and timing to the test.
Without this, there is no hope. This is the brake of breach, and breach at the outset. In other words, if you are fleeing reluctantly, your spirit may be resisting your wilful flash of desire, and your mind may or may not be in harmony with this arrest. As the personality breaks up as a holy organ, and becomes the subtle serpentine thicket of logical and moral thuggery which is not uncommon, and basic where Christ does not dwell, for all the face paint that may be applied to help the self-esteem (and applied, for that matter, in 'interpretative dreams'), there may be diverse movements of the mind, the spirit and the past and developmental aspects of both, like cross waves near the sea shore, foaming rather subdued, but still with some strength, horizontally to the forward movement of the main breakers.
is the validity of such diverse sources ? of such multi-diversionary and
almost ingenious workings in the mind at war with God admittedly, ostensibly
or flamboyantly (and there are a
host of other devices and depths in this martial art of warring with God, including the other often found norm of society itself, war lost in a host of untrue words, ostensibly mellow, substituting for fact pending a new attack) ?
Obviously where specious argument and devious desire are locked in battle with moral thrust and libidinous lust in the broadest sense, there is almost no validity at all. However this is not the same as entirely none at all. The difference is vital.
The spirit of man may be sick, and relative to the knowledge of God, desperately ill, morbid and in fact moribund, cut off completely from the source which is its bearing, life and meaning. This however is not at all the same as having NO design residue, NO stability trend and NO awareness of ANY reality. Deep in the heart of man, dead to God though he may be, there is yet, unless the case is past all cure with the blood of Christ trodden underfoot (which only Christ can diagnose so that all should seek Him, whose promises do not fail and whose Gospel is still COME and I WILL GIVE), a trend to arrest in the follies of the flesh, the mind and the spirit. There is input that may not lack yearning or hope, abased from the Lord though it be.
It may be conscience (see Predestination and Freewill index), moral battlements not yet decimated with means embezzled from truth, and warped, a stirring of spirit with a subtle and uncontrollable yearning for truth, even THE TRUTH, and indeed this in a spiritual diversification of the utmost complexity. However its basis is simple: MADE BY God FOR God, man is only with the utmost effort able to depart eternally FROM Him, so that there is neither hope nor remedy, help nor anything hallowed. There are first inhibitions, not merely prohibitions, like some mockery of man pondering a first murder. Though man is apart from God now by nature, except He come by the invitation of Christ, there are yet depths of rebellion and heights of arrogance which conscious life may hesitate to pursue.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit of God who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16) may be striving with a man, as well as may conscience, memories and spiritual inputs and impacts of the past, the word of God where remembered here or there, together with the impact of examples seen, and of upbringing - indeed, again many things. The THRUST out of the mire is met by the gluggy and intemperate holding OF the mire, so that there is effort, struggle with correlations of elements, dim desire, hopeful aspiration perhaps, very like the movement of a car from a deep bog, half way up a hill; and these things may be clothed by the mind, in response to the endeavours of the spirit, with dreams.
Validity is thus measurable, but not by man; and it is ultimate only when God Himself, designer and director of salvage, brings into the mêlée His own perspective, principles and power. Then the presence of the objectively unspoiled, the objectively authentic and authoritative gives to the whole scenario and scene, however complex or complicated, of however many elements, of whatever devious aspects and undeveloped components, a light which can interpret. It is like a scout-master findings some boys struggling ill-temperedly on the way home to the Camp on some dark night, and shining on them a torch, directing Smith out for his foul play, Jones aside for his ill-tempered lungings and Brown away for his wild hitting, advising each of his shortcomings, all of their disciplines to follow, and reminding them of the rules of the Movement.
It is more. For when the Spirit of God acts, there are vast reaches involved. First, it is THE truth and not someone's opinion of it. This has a statuesque majesty. Then the truth includes THIS that Christ died to save sinners, and His salvation is broad enough in capaciousness to cover the whole world (I John 2:2 - His scope of offer and willingness being of course diverse from the scope of His actual salvation, for not all who may have operations do have them, and those who do not, do not at any time relate to what it costs cf. Romans 8:32).
Hence in such action BY the Lord, there is an example at once, diverse from and tutelary to the worst and the least of the offenders. There an intrinsic grace about the movement therefore. Again, there is the fact that the Christ became man that we might become adopted children of God, so that there is a delicious initiative before our sin. Finally, in this short selection of aspects, there is the love of God, which unallayed by the alloys of sin, reaches with a passion both wise and total, for the recall and restoration of what is deep in the quicksand of unfounded life.
the validity of the dream, if there is to be any, comes as the corrective
PERSPECTIVE and the INTRUSIVE REALISM of God the Creator. He may initiate
or interpret, do both, or leaven a lump; or simply provide a subtle spiritual
comment that tends to awaken. The invalidities of breaches of logic, truth
and spiritual design which made sound things unclear, are thus contrasted
with the validities of Him who has no breaches, never has had any, never
will have any, knows all things, always has done so, and knows who are
His own, being incapable of deception, immune to duplicity and not a respecter
of persons (Isaiah 46:10, Acts 15:18, 14:8, Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:28ff.,
11:33)... and who loves (I John 4:7-8) without mutilation of majesty, or
truncation of truth*2.
Thus the origin of a dream must be conceived in three primary categories: the immediate cause, in the stimulus, the mediative cause in the material, and the final cause, in the purpose. The purpose itself may be of the man to the man for the man, being like an internal TV circuit; but this is never able to be entirely insulated from other aspects of conscience, past hearings, learnings, leanings and the like, light as gossamer or heavy as lead.
Again, the purpose may be of God, for God and from God, as in the visions of Daniel to which we shall shortly plan to look. It may be that the purposes of man are INTERRUPTED by the purposes of God, or the presentations of God are speedily DISPERSED by the spirit of man. It must be clearly realised that just because God is omnipotent this by no means implies or requires that He be intrusive to the point of dictatorship. He gets what He wants, but as noted in Predestination and Freewill, what He wants is NOT dictatorship. He is not only the Sovereign, but the Sovereign of Sovereignty. The SORT of sovereignty which is His, relates to the nature of His personal Being. GOD IS LOVE (I John 4:7-8), and He is not interested in violation (Appendix B, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4).
As He says through and concerning Stephen, who had much experience in this sort of thing in HIS MINISTRY to recalcitrant fellow citizens of Israel (Acts 7):
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”HOW OFTEN did God speak by DIVERSIFIED and MULTIPLIED images and imagery to the children of Israel, in order to reach hearts so occluded, so bemused, so dilettante or so obtuse in self-deceit, self-esteem or self-will! Is it not as Hosea the prophet declared! (Ch. 12):
When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”
And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
"I have also spoken by the prophets,Thus the strivings of God, the leadings, the lassoings at times, the releases, the teaching, the imprints, the extravagant graces the amazingly tender researches into the spirit of man (as in Matthew 23:37, Jeremiah 17:19ff., Hosea 1-3); the strivings of man, the duplicities and deceits, aspirations and impassioned pleadings, conscious, subdued in consciousness but alive with thrust; the delusions of sin, inspirited by Satan, and perhaps with connivance from man: these things make a formidable palette. In the end, it is the LORD whose choice determines the validity or otherwise of a dream, and the resultant, since knowing all, and seeking all, with His own chaste principles, He proceeds in a quality control in all operations which is ONLY HIS OWN. He never fails, and He never falls.
And have multiplied visions;
I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.
"Though Gilead has idols—
Surely they are vanity—
Though they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal,
Indeed their altars shall be heaps in the furrows of the field.
"Jacob fled to the country of Syria;
Israel served for a spouse,
And for a wife he tended sheep.
By a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt,
And by a prophet he was preserved.
Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly;
Therefore his Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him,
And return his reproach upon him."
What then does any dream MEAN ?
Clearly from the epistemology, source and stimulus, there are many varieties of meaning.
A dream may be an inherent warning from one's own psyche. It may be laced with duplicities from Satan or one's own pride or other spiritual defect. It may tenderly seek the truth, or rambunctiously despise it. It may seek fulfilment or despair of it; or it may seek despair of all, or all but God. It may seek to undermine, or to build up; it may project the future, suggest good paths for the future; symbolically or in episodic treatments like a novelist, depict an interpretation of life, a comment on one's own life, a warning or a witness for it or against it. It is a vast canvas, with variable authors.
When however man is not sick, spiritually, and is in fact and instead a converted soul living in and for Christ, so that despite considerable imperfections, the heart is alight for Christ, alive for Christ, lit by Christ, has no other desire (cf. Psalm 73:25-26), then the commission and the communication of a dream may be a direct guidance. It happened no less than three times to Joseph, as well as once more to those involved in the events of the birth, after Jesus was born, as we see in (Matthew 2:13,19,22 with 2:12).
As we there may realise, ONE dream of Joseph warned and gave appropriate direction in view of dark events, with an indication of the duration of the guiding direction involved; one gave stimulus to act and ground for the leading to concretise that; and a third warned again, tending like a sheep dog with its sheep, to nudge, impress and in a general flitting and clever way to indicate what is needed in a way the sheep can follow. The dreams were precise and composite in their coverage, but required faith and complete dependence on God: they were far from unfactual, but relied on superior spiritual knowledge, the property of God made available.
Dreams can be from God for a warning a guidance and a grace of spirit, to inspire, to illumine or to attest. There is no limit on what the Lord may see fit to do (Psalm 78:41), and woe to those who foolishly and intrusively seek with sanctified theology or other devices, to achieve one! On the other hand, there is a very DECISIVE limit to what man is permitted to do with doctrine, since it is all finished and the New Covenant is irreplaceable, intransigeant in finality, a culmination in glory that is parallel to and derivative from the very Cross of Christ, whose goings are from everlasting (Galatians 6;14, Micah 5:3, Ephesians 1:10, Rev. 22:18, Deuteronomy 12:1-4 cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 9).
MODE of intimation is open; the DOCTRINAL content is SHUT as far as innovation
Daniel is a fine example of the last category of dream, that directly from God for guidance; but with Him, since even the Old Testament Canon was not then complete, let alone completed with the New Testament attestation of the ONLY INCARNATION, and its meaning, there IS a very definite openness for new doctrine. Here was prediction of the COMING of the ONE who would in Himself and His works CONSTITUTE the New Covenant (cf. Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 2,4,8-10).
We have seen how ludicrous and quaintly, benightedly confused is the effort to make Antiochus Epiphanies of the 3rd of Daniel's Kingdoms, equate with the Little Horn of the 4th.. An Empire out in a series of only 4 Empires is not a very commendable confusion, common though it has been, and such is the rampant desire to dismiss godliness, in Daniel or elsewhere. For this calamitous error, see Biblical Blessings Ch. 2 and Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 10, with SMR pp. 1082ff..
Nearly anything and everything that COULD be wrong with this diversionary dereliction of exegesis is, as in Ch. 10 noted above, wrong in this liberal action as if to outface truth with delirious fiction, impugn the Bible with extraneous and irrelevant antics of the faithless mind.
In fact, it is always necessary to take the text as a datum and so interpret; and not possibly relevant to this is cutting and chopping, adding or subtracting, intruding. Cannot a man write for himself, that he must be invading what another wrote, in order to interpret the synthesis! Even in law, you would do ill if you were to assume such proprietary rights to another's script!
The Little Horn*3of Daniel 9 and Daniel 7 is to be found in two different Empires (cf. SMR pp. 886ff., Biblical Blessings Chs. 1, 2 and 6), one leading to a culmination of abomination in the Jewish Temple as the time drew nearer for Christ to come, in the next Empire, and 4th., while one is designated for the end of that final Empire itself. Each of these evil characters is intractably evil, filled with evil vision, devious ways and deceitful opprobrium. The one is an introduction to the other, and gives a breath of the spiritual halitosis. to be found, a warning for all time, in the end time of our Age.
Daniel was not, because it could not be, written to inspire people in the days of the first Little Horn, Antiochus, since there was a HUGE period to elapse before the end; for as in Daniel 12, there was ENORMOUS suffering yet to come, the ensuing 4th. Empire having yet to make its impact on Israel AT ALL, and the Messiah having yet to come and be set at nought, as in Daniel 9:24 (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 29, pp. 221ff., SMR p. 760, News 87 *1). This in turn had to happen before it should lead to protracted sufferings as in 9:26-27, as the end, amidst fearful desolations should come. Indeed, as Daniel 12:1-3 shows, there was to be unexampled horror at the end of the 4th. Empire, the culminating one which was to follow that in which the works of Judas Maccabaeus were to shout defiance at the intruder.
Thus there is nothing remotely near the END of suffering, in view for the Maccabean time when the Little Horn Mark 1 was to come; and there were examples all but innumerable, long before of the outcome of faith in the midst of suffering, in battle and out of it. Indeed, it was a empire beyond the one of Antiochus, and wait for it, phases within that, as its rule held on partly strong, partly broken, throughout its phases (Daniel 2:42 gives this detail in parallel), which, if anything like those for Empire 3 in Daniel 11, would be prodigious, multiple and extended. Would it be nice ? Not at all. It would be climateric in evil, suffering and gravity, in desolations (9:27) and horror.
book of Daniel moreover with prodigious accuracy which only God could know,
in the midst of a spiritual situation which only God could envisage, which
came to pass in and after the time of Christ, centuries after the Maccabees
were long gone, predicted the date of the Messiah*4.
All this, long after Empire 3 itself, was even in the next Empire,
number 4 itself, long before the "end of the Age", in which such
fearful non-delections were to abuse the human race. Indeed, if this
is ALL you have to fear, it is as if to say, be content. If
this troubles you, what then will it be in the swelling of the Jordan ?
(as it was put to the prophet Jeremiah, as noted in Jeremiah 12:5)...
We shall fight them on the beaches, and we shall never given in. It is in fact just as well that we shall never give in, for after this is all over , and Hitler long dead and buried, another Empire is to arise which will make all this seem but a prelude, a trailer, a preliminary. This will have such gems as the lustful killing of the your only hope, the Christ, and a series of desolations after this which may seem interminable; and after all that, more is yet to come.
Why, far from all your precious beaches, there he will be, the universal empire holder, with no escape to ANYWHERE for he will have ALL lands in his hands. Then you will really know it, and many of you will be purified, and made white.
So then, fight away with Hitler. There is far more to come when this is done.
The fact that the Antiochan concept is simply wrong, and violates the text of Daniel, is pointed out in Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 10, also. On that hinges a whole door of irrelevance for the inept theories which account for nothing but the prejudice of the theorists, explaining precisely nothing in the text. They do however have one decisive value: their prodigious ineptitude shows the intensity*1of the prejudice against the word of God, naturally super-intensive with Daniel, since the record both of the book and the man, objectively, is unblemished and soaring into realms both clearly presented and testable. What then of the validity of Daniel's dreams, in terms of dreams as a function of man ?
Daniel's dream was valid because God was its source and a chosen writer of scripture was its recipient. It was true because God is true. It is verified by performance, and by its being the work of the prophet assigned to it, all prophets being vetted by the most stringent means (Deuteronomy 13), and none being about to receive any nonsense without contemporary fulfilment in deeds noted by many.
It is verified in performance in particular by being fulfilled in all things, in all empires, from long before Christ by any reckoning, to long after Him, and in Him. It is verified likewise in the intense hatred for it shown by misled Liberals for so long foolishly and vainly seeking to manufacture some illicit scenario, by which an impossible interpretation of the text as it stands was used to make an inconceivably childish and needless addition to actual history, so that deceit might give nerve to arms which in fact, would be more likely to buckle in sight of the huge and often ghastly future to open up long after the conflict current in the days of the Maccabees.
It is verified in having
no other explanation for its existence, for its results or for its infallibility
in view of its enormous coverage and actual words, than this one:
So vast was the time between the prophecy and the fulfilments that Daniel was instructed, like Moses, yet not in his case immediately, that he would have to die and long await the fulfilment of these things before, in the resurrection (12:1ff., 12:13), he would be given his own divinely appointed inheritance (cf. John 14:1-3).
Anything but an episodic book of contemporary acclaim, it was one of the longest range, multiple, independently targeted works that there is, with stopping stations for each Empire, with such specialisation on each, especially the third and fourth, on the Messiah's death and outcomes, on Israel's coming events and details of the empires that surrounded it, each in its clime and time, as one could ever wish. Nothing is of any mundane comfort at any time; and nothing is of any comfort but Christ to come and the resurrection, the rest being dependent, at one time as at another, on the fellowship with the Lord such as Daniel himself experienced, something which no merely extrinsic stimulus can provide, and which is vain for those merely wanting spectaculars from the supernatural. It is moreover such as was enjoyed by Samuel, David and Isaiah, with many others, great and small (cf. Psalm 84:7). It was a reminder of reality, by reality; not an intoxicant against truth.
It is not that God cannot or will not provide these spectacular intrusions of deliverance; He often does, but He is sparing in the use of vast invasions of the created universe which has a plan, purpose and program which especially allows things to manifest what they really are, being exposed. Nevertheless, He can and sometimes does act with direct intrusion; at His discretion. Thus we find realism in that sterling answer from Daniel's friends, where the case is this,
God MAY deliver in miraculous fashion; and He MAY not; but IN ANY CASE, they will not do as the king requires and their spiritual deliverance which is the one that matters, will be total. There is courage, to be sure; but it contained no assurance that they would not burn, whether express or implied. GOD COULD deliver in that way; God WOULD deliver from the evils of the king in any case, whether they burnt or not (as in Luke 21:12-19). SOME of you, Christ said, "they will put to death" - whereas to all, He declared in the same place, "not a hair of your head shall be lost". Now that we know DNA, it is easy to understand some aspects of this.
What is always clear however is this, that Daniel teaches you may indeed die, and be persecuted cruelly, that you must without regard to the outcome be faithful, not worshipping false gods. For this constancy, even if you die, you are not lost, for God has His place for you.
THIS is no more than all scripture constantly says. What it especially stresses is this, that there is a resurrection and that there is power in God, if He should so choose, to deliver, but this is not necessarily in the flesh now from the cruel gambits of the garbage of the earth. It may be; it may not: it is at His option. It is, in other words, just as Proverbs 10:25, 12:28 and 23:17-18 and indeed Psalm 22, 16 and 2 had for so long taught.
There is a price to pay; there is the true and only God to pay it back; there is the very Lord of hosts to deliver you in this world if this is the plan, and He will have His way through whatever strategy, whether it involve personal suffering for you, and indeed, long term periods of intense and immense challenge and pain, or not (cf. I Peter 4:1, 12ff.).
It exemplifies what was long known; adds predictions in terms of what was categorised and factually reported ahead of time; and shows wave after wave, if you will, the state of the ocean as time proceeds. Tracing empire after empire from Babylon onwards, this prophecy did not gain popularity through inane and simplistic failures to take account of time, as in Daniel 7 and 8, or contradict history, but instead, it is the critics who contradict history. Daniel did very well whether in the 2300 days or in the 3 and one half sevens as shown in the references given above. It was just that one came long AFTER the other, and HOW LONG was also specified!
It is in fact quite an error when you
1) confuse what is diverse, even simply and elaborately so,
2) accuse the writer of error, imagine he would be accepted though a child could see it was wrong (on the false assumption of Daniel 8's little horn be identical with that of Daniel 9), if this were the case, and then
3) bypass the Messiah, ignore his death date and collapse centuries into years.
In fact, the work of the prophecy is precise, powerful, of a grand scope and deft disposition, enormous in predictive coverage, careful in categorising the different stages, stern in indicating vast trials to the end of the Age, culminating in the worst, distant in moving the final scenes of the Age to a far removed time. It is an unanswerable testimony, and a sure word, invulnerable, ineluctable and determined, going from some 600 B.C. to (so far) 2100 B.C., 2700 years without missing a beat, needing the slightest alteration, while divulging things of the uttermost importance with realistic detail. The anger and force, like the vanity and futility of the many efforts to evade it are but the more testimony of its divine mandate*1, as was the case with Christ Himself, in His case of His divine nature, whom they could not but crucify, since He was intolerable, as the Truth, invincible then as now.
It was both a prelude to the Messiah, a validation of Him when He came on time, in the setting indicated, and a source used by Him as He extended the predictions which He authenticated in two ways:
DANIEL's KIND OF VISION
These things being so, it is fascinating to look for a moment at the special aspects of DONATION of Daniel's vision. This is not here a question of content, but mode of presentation.
In the INTERPRETATION of the king's dream, Daniel is MOST emphatic as to the divine source of the answer to the King's challenge (tell the dream AND the interpretation, so showing you really are in contact with something way beyond man, not merely clever deceivers). He also asseverates that it is no special wonder of his OWN that has led to it - Daniel 2:23,27-28,30. no, neither wisdom nor because of special marvels, but for another reason - it is rather "for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart". He did not hesitate to expose to the king, his own liabilities as the one on whom the dream sat, like lead!
As to the mode of deliverance OF the vision TO Daniel, "then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven" - Daniel 2:19. It is precise, it is adequate, it is provided in the night, and it covers all the specifications, leading to praise.
In Daniel 5, Daniel is already understood concerning the way in which he receives help from the only Creator, the God of all the earth; and the matter is direct. It has already been sufficiently dramatic, eloquent and impactive!
In Daniel 7, "Daniel had a dream and visions of the head while on his bed. The he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts." This is a vast coverage of future history, segmentalised into parts, with additional material on the consummation (vv. 9ff.). It is provided as a factual report of what was revealed. It is potently visual (7:11), allowing study and contemplation; and involves something like TV, in which the screen is the spirit of Daniel and the resolution comes through the correct tuning of his mind to the material clearly portrayed before him.
In Daniel 7:15 we find the enormous effect which this had on him, as on some other occasions, so that he is troubled, the thing being of vast significance. It is then interpreted further for him (7:15ff. his survey and query), in 7:22ff.. 7:28 stresses the burden and weight of such amazing revelations, but at the same time shows Daniel's enablement to continue on his way.
In Daniel 8:1ff., this prophet is transplanted for vision purposes to a new location, and sees a number of dramatic enactments with beasts. These with wonderful brevity and precision survey a specialised 3rd Empire scene and scenario. In this, we find he "heard a holy one speaking" (v. 13), and that he looks long at the scenes so that we may read, "as I was considering, suddenly" (v. 5). Again, he overhears a conversation between two holy ones (8:13), and this appears to be taken as something requiring an answer TO the prophet, as if the query were made as a didactic device, to ensure that to DANIEL the answer was made known, on the part of a solicitous tutor, so that there is a sense of company of fellowship, in a way like a tutorial.
Indeed, this flavour is strengthened when we come to 8:19 - "And he said, 'Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation", so that we find the events distant from the day of the prophet, just as other events are distant from the time of which Ch. 8 itself is speaking (Daniel Ch. 9, Ch. 12).
Further, as Daniel completed his visual inspection of the vision, seeking within for the meaning, he heard a supernatural voice, and Gabriel was instructed, "make this man understand the vision". This then occurred, and the first emphasis was this, that the thing in view was moving into new chronological territory, as history would move on to its fulfilment.
At the end of this, Daniel faints. The scope has taken him forward hundreds of years, and the scenario as we see in Daniel 9, includes a common element in this 3rd. kingdom survey, with that of the 4th., soon to follow, so that it touches, courtesy of this 'little horn' into the very kind of territory which is the end.
Daniel then faints and is sick for days. There is thus interchange; there is a sort of cargo redisposition, from the angelic ones to himself; and there is a sense of weight and high significance, with an awareness of time exposure so vast that Daniel - who unlike us found this all new, without our advantages both of knowing what he wrote and what has happened - was overwhelmed. He was not however in the least confused. He took these things with the utmost gravity, and deeply empathised with the vastness of it all.
In Daniel 9, we find that Daniel who had been studying Jeremiah, found that the time for the restoration of the Jews, exiled in Babylon, to their home in Jerusalem was about come, and made confession and intercession on his own initiative, to God.
While he is so engaged, the angel Gabriel comes declaring that he has been charged "to tell you, for you are greatly beloved." The command has gone out to this effect. There is here a sense of love and acceptance, joy from the Lord, together with the communication. The prodigious prophecies of Daniel 9:24-27 now proceed (cf. SMR pp. 886-901, 943ff., Biblical Blessings Chs. 1 and 6, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 29, pp. 221ff., SMR p. 760, News 87 *1).
In Daniel 10, one learns that Daniel was mourning and fasting from pleasant food - "blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted" said Christ - concerned for his people and seeking the Lord. This seeking went on in this condition for three weeks. The vision of God comes then (10:5ff.). Amidst this vision of God, there comes a revelation*6from one of God's servants who reveals the pressures and spiritual forces involved (10:10ff.). However, everything gets done in its time - hence the precision of the prophecy. Even though he speaks only to a servant of God, in the presence of the vision of God. Daniel is quite overcome, but reassured - "O man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you."
is to tell Daniel "what is noted in the scripture
of Truth". This he does in amazing detail
(notably in Daniel 11, but also 12), leading on to a further parallel between
Antiochus and the final Little Horn, which shows even more emphatically,
the large amount to be learned about the ways the antichrist will show
when he comes, since this is the second time the parallel has been prominent.
The trailer in the first little horn is most instructive!
In devious alignments, in spurious pretensions, he will seduce the people whom he is to conquer.
The vision proceeds now to the end where, as earlier, we see Daniel emphatically made to realise how vast is the time till the end, and he must be content to leave this earthly scene and await in God the time of the bodily resurrection (12:1ff.), when he will go to his lot (12:13).
This is the manner of the revelation, in which Daniel is ACTIVE, TUTORED, able to ENQUIRE, and made the recipient of COUNSEL, even as one being regarded and considered in such a way that he is sure to gain the correct understanding, as he watches, listens, queries and is instructed.
It is thus far from a meander of the mind; wholly contrary to a spiritual vagary, is a communication express and intense, with implications and applications so enormous that they weigh upon the prophet's human spirit almost to breaking point; and yet, it is done in a spirit of love and trust so profound that it is a wonder to his spirit and an oil to his soul. The topic is truth, the theme is development in history to its culmination, as evil rears and the Lord puts in the chapters, cutting here and directing there, to achieve the disposition of doctrine, as freedom fulminates and truth dominates. The coverage is huge (cf. SMR Ch. 9, pp. 959ff.).
The internal seekings, yearnings, responses, enquiries, meditations, quests, and the external donations of doctrine, truth, understanding; the resultant amazement, imbuement with dimensions like those of a gigantic canyon next to Everest, all soared over as if by some stable aeroplane; the dedicated desire for truth, the delight in Daniel from the Lord, the sense of fellowship with Him: all these things are characteristic of Daniel, for whom the dream, his own or another's, the vision, direct or more mediated, is an instrument like a hammer and anvil for a blacksmith. With these, much work is done, many results accrue. He is in his milieu; but let us be clear about one thing.
It IS his milieu not in some sense of psychological expertise, or engineering estimates of the dynamics of mind, the pulsations of the psyche or any other humanistic terminological device or putation; the vision is his in this, that it is an instrument of divestment from the Lord, of knowledge and understanding, compressed like some computer data transmissions. It is opened out, unpacked if you will, by angelic and other means, while Daniel grows into sight, at first more merely impactive, then more comprehending. It involves a display of the interchange paths from the control who is the Lord, from the Master who is his God, from the Director of history, who is his teacher, to Daniel, student, lover of God and man in the friendly presence of His God, at peace with Him, who is at peace with His servant.
That is the domain. The results accord with this to such a precision of power and wonder, that this in itself is yet further verification. The accurate depictions of HOW it all came, relate to the accurate fulfilments of WHAT came, like sunrise and sunset on the same day! a dawn of wonder, and a sunset of splendour.
NOTHING fits but the truth. NO effort to rationalise can explain the ingenuity of the method, the compression that stays accurate, the dimensions of the precision, the depth of the announcements, in full accord with all that should come, had come and did come. Bumbling breaches of the text to force it into some rationalistic mould merely show the lack of precise scholarship of the seducers, for the clear words are not followed as shown in Biblical Blessings and Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 10. They also exhibit a lovely precision as fully according with the accuracy of Peter in II Peter 2, and Paul in II Timothy 3, in dealing with formal religion, lacking its power, as one of the decisive characteristics of the end of the Age style religion, and the subversion from within the church. Daniel to many is a bait; but it envelops the fish, merely exhibiting its character!
There is a further lesson in this, and it is well that it be received.
NEVER is it wise or right to receive deceivers, to befriend the habitually inaccurate whose word is in actual confrontation with the Bible, whatever the pretentious names by which their 'schools', like those of the magicians in Egypt, may go. Churches which failed to purge such seductive scandals as this against the word of God, thus helping to render themselves indefensible and merely alluring with humanistic 'charm', have either gone under, or lost much, as with the Presbyterian Church of Australia which lost some 2/3 of its entire force of people and means of work. Long did it suffer, yes for decades, such things in large numbers, without ground, without reason, and without good.
Alas this body is still not decisive as noted in its place*7; and this tendency to ambiguity and continuity, without a clear break from error and evil, so very 'statesmanlike', portends alas, yet more loss.
Other denominations have often lost all, being merely gobbled up into unbelief, no more even pretending the Bible as the base, as with the Uniting Church, where the Bible is received as but a testimony to truth.
The word of God is not to be mocked; and if it is, alas, those who mock, whatever the pious seeming phraseologies, end being mocked, and taking like some Islamic self-bomber, many with them. Titus however is not like that: on the second admonition reject (TItus 3:10). One can always repent. Until then, one contains the disease.
Daniel ? It is sound, in good health now as always, untrammelled with mischief,
untangled with scheme and schema, itself like the laws of nature, not about
to change. So with the works and the word of God, they do what they are
told. It is man who being made upright, has devised many devices (Ecclesiastes
7:29); and sadly for him, it is himself who falls into the very pit which
he digs (cf. SMR pp. 1174Bff.).
The word of God goes neither to the right nor to the left; and the judgment
is deflected by nothing but repentant return and remission of sins, not
by some invented christ, but by the LORD's CHRIST (Luke 2:36), whom Daniel,
Isaiah and history have all depicted, all the same, never varying, the
Gospel which He bears likewise, insuperable, insurpassable, immutable (Galatians
1 cf. That Magnificent Rock Chs.
2 and 3, Barbs,
Arrows and Balms 17, Biblical
Blessings Ch. 9).
*1 From SMR pp. 1082 comes this illustration.
DANIEL AS A DOCUMENT
Daniel is of course one more prophetic reference to the Messiah in His humiliation, which (9:26) corresponds with Jesus Christ whom the Jews reject as a nation; whereas the Book of Daniel is Jewish scripture. We may be sure they did not invent it in order to forward the acceptance of the Messiah whom they rejected! In turn, Christ, Matthew, refers to Daniel the prophet, and as Dead Sea Scrolls show, the Daniel text before Jesus Christ, God-as-man, has strong correlation with our own.
The Dead Sea Scroll date for the literature in one Daniel segment is around 120 B.C. - that is, the date of the COPYING of this particular MSS, according to Dupont-Somner in Aperçus Preliminaires: at the latest. This is based on paleography. R. Laird Harris, in The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Vol. III, p. 296 notes that F.L. Cross, Professor at Harvard, sees a script from the Dead Sea material7 of Daniel not later than second century B.C.. R. K. Harrison in his Introduction to the Old Testament, refers on p. 1118 to the copies and fragments of Daniel at Qumran and declares:
''In the interests of objectivity it should be noted in passing that the Persian terms found in Daniel are specifically Old Persian words, that is to say, occurring within the history of the language to about 300 B.C..'' (Op. cit. p. 1126.)
They fit before that, then.
Harrison further points out that even a second century dating for Daniel is: absolutely precluded by the evidence from Qumran, partly because there are no indications whatever that the sectaries compiled any of the Biblical manuscripts recovered from the site, and partly because there would, in the latter event, have been insufficient time for Maccabean compositions to be circulated, venerated, and accepted as canonical Scripture by a Maccabean sect.
Earlier therefore is the time for Daniel, evidentially.
Professor Gleason Archer in his Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, in comparing the Daniel exhibits with those dated for the second century B.C., makes this note:
Any fair-minded investigator when faced with such an overwhelming body of objective data pointing to the temporal interval of centuries between the two bodies of literature must conclude that a second-century date for the book of Daniel is completely out of the question... The complete absence of Greek loan-words, apart from musical instruments of international currency... points unmistakably to a time of composition prior to the Alexandrian conquest.
He continues that only a 'dogma-ridden obscurantist can adhere' to so late a date as second century B.C., and even he 'must henceforth surrender all claim to intellectual respectability.'
Since all the parties move in the B.C. era for the writing of the MSS of Daniel, discovered at Qumran, and we are faced with hundreds of years prior to Christ's death, it becomes an academic exercise of great interest, but no necessity for our work to pursue it further. Suffice to say that it is interesting to gain B.C. writings of Daniel nowadays in such volume, used so widely in that period. This is precisely what one would EXPECT, from a birth date for the book of Daniel, at the time stated within it, for Daniel the prophet.
Daniel is really an object lesson in prejudice: the number of aborted criticisms of it, that are interred with recent excavations of archeology, is truly startling. The book stands in all its untouchable dignity, sharply verified. The Jews did not make up a scripture of which none knew, and solemnly hoodwink the populace, scuttle their souls or blaspheme God for the purposes of religion. Daniel, like all prophets, had to make the grade on predictions (Deuteronomy 18). He has done so admirably, in a fashion far more spectacular in kind, than is the U.S. landing on the moon: for He predicted the date of the death, in human form, of that divinity who should rule over all nations for ever... hundreds of years before it happened.
As we see, his predictions from long before Christ's advent, concerning His death, represent perhaps the greatest detailed falsifiable prediction of all history, to the days of Christ... and THAT, says the examiner, should do! (See Ch. 9 supra, The Daniel File - esp. pp. 946, 940, 896-898.)
Two more points remain. The intemperate and reckless attacks made on this book, while information was less in archeology, is one more evidence of the truth of the scriptural precision of the analysis of men in Romans 1:19-21. Thus this negative anti-Biblical fury, now in vain, verifies the Bible. Professor Archer's language above, reflects the reluctance to cease the attack on the part the contra-Daniel assault force, which he, doubtless from experience, conceives. The author of this present work, indeed as a student, when - under express professorial challenge - duly, rationally and successfully maintaining the integrity of the book of Daniel, inherited revealing spectacles of fury and fabrication instead of logical answer. This evil was later justly to be deplored by a Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, even my reinstatement serving to stress the surging outrage.
In view of such assaults on it, how rock-like once more is the word of God shown to be. Oil of vitriol, indeed rancorous aqua regia is poured on it without effect. It just stays. In fact, Jeremiah 23:29 indeed shows that the word of God will 'BREAK ROCK'. It does.Is not my word like a fire ? says the Lord; and like a hammer*2 See Predestination and Freewill, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, Tender Times for Timely Truths 2, esp. *1.that breaks the rock in pieces ?
*3 That is, a mini-hearted ruler of maxi-powers, deviously arising to practise his controlling arts over humanity, an epitome of humanism with divine singeings of the tainted aspirations, making his impact before his ruin is complete in the return of Christ. Found in II Thessalonians 2, he is an object of horror, which many have, and perhaps more will tend to emulate before the final edition of this blood-thirsty and domineering farce is ... printed.
See also for trend Beauty of Holiness Ch. 5, SMR pp. 727, 732Bff., 750Aff. (references to the end of Glossary), Biblical Blessings Ch. 2, and Unity in Index.
*4 See SMR pp. 886ff., Biblical Blessings Ch. 6, Benevolent Brightness or Brothy Bane 87, *1.
See SMR Chs. 8-9, Answers to Questions Ch. 5.
It is quite delightful to see the intense parallelism between this vision of Daniel, and that of Paul as recorded in Acts 9 and 22. In the latter, we read that "those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but htey did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me" - 22:9. In 9:7 we find the attendants "stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one." Clearly the light as a dynamic event, they responded to; the voice as an auditory phenomenon, they discerned; but the words they did not, since it was not in communicative mode for them. The fwnh they heard(22), but not the fwnh of him who spoke to me. It was depersonalised, depropositionalised, a voice kind of noise, but not words.
What then happened to Daniel ? DANIEL ONLY saw the vision (that is the precise celestial communication, this as with Paul, being for his eyes only). Nevertheless the actual vigour of the phenomenon was so great that they fled in terror. Daniel retained no strength, but these, they tried to hide! So is it not only with the scriptural donation from God, but with the impact of His Spirit on many. They do not discern, they flee to hide; but they do not escape. While it is true that these men with Paul and Daniel were not called to listen, for the revelation was given to those who would provide the written materials concerning it; yet men today, all of them, women and children alike, ARE called to listen to what is written.
THAT remains. The real fear is the folly of faithless living without God, without desire and without cover, for that is death, living death, indeed an atrocious thing in the end.
See for example, The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, at the site reached by this hyperlink, with News 97 and Biblical Blessings Ch. 11 at this location.