Will the Real Daniel Stand Up
October 1st, 1967 @ 8:15 AM
WILL THE REAL DANIEL STAND UP
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-1-67 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message. The sermon is one in a long series on the Book of Daniel, and these several first sermons introduce us to a world to which I would suppose hardly any of us has ever been introduced. Most of the studies that I am making are for the most part altogether unknown to me, but it is something that we ought to be aware of. The academic world, the liberal world of our generation, forces it to our attention. Not since the beginning of creation has there been such an attack made on the Word of God as we witness in our day and in our time. Now were the attack made by infidels, were they made by blaspheming, atheistic communists, we might say, “We could have expected that from the infidel, and we could have thought for no other thing from the voice of a communist or an atheist.” But this attack against the Word of God does not come from the infidel, nor does it come from the atheist, nor does it come from the communist. This attack that is made on the Word of God comes from the modern, liberal theologian. And all you have to do is to listen to the student as he is taught in the college, to listen to the young minister as he is taught in practically all of the liberal, in all of the liberal seminaries, which include practically all of them in the world. All you have to do is to read the religious section in a magazine like Time magazine to see that everywhere, in every area of life, the Christian theologian, the liberal theologian is himself leading the attack against the Word of God.
Now, if the liberal theologian is right and if he is correct, the Book that I hold in my hand is just like any other book; it is a man’s search after truth. I could hold in my hand the philosophies, the books of searching for knowledge and truth by Plato or by Aristotle, and I could be just about as near the truth as if I held this Book in my hand. This is the modern attitude toward the Bible. Now, as the attack is made against the Word of God, there are certain sections of it that are signally and significantly picked out, chosen, for the scathing denunciation of the modern theologian. And the number one of all of those books that are singled out, the number one that is singled out for ridicule and for rejection is the Book of Daniel.
Now, we ought to know why. What is it that the liberal theologian says against the Book of Daniel, and what is to be said, what is to be known as we listen to what the liberal theologian avows? And that has been the burden of these several beginning messages on the Book of Daniel. Then after we have been through these, why, we shall turn to an exegesis of the volume itself. Now the title of the sermon today is Who Is This Daniel, or in the parlance of a popular TV program, Will the Real Daniel Stand Up.
Now, again and again he mentions himself in the book. For example, the first verse of the eighth chapter he writes, “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel.” Now who is that Daniel? “A vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel” [Daniel 8:1]. Now this Daniel in the Bible, the Daniel who introduces himself in this book, this Daniel, he says he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, in 605 BC [Daniel 1:1-6]. And he says in his book that he continued in the court of Babylon until the day when Babylon fell in 539 BC [Daniel 1:21], from 605 BC down to 535 BC. Then he says that he continued even into the third year of Cyrus, the Persian who overwhelmed the Neo-Babylonian Empire [Daniel 10:1]. So he says in his book that he lived from 605 BC down to 535 BC. Now that’s what he says in the book, and that the things that he wrote in this book God gave to him by revelation [Daniel 2:19-23, 27-30]. And in these apocalyptic visions this Daniel says that God revealed the centuries and the years of world empire that were to come. That’s what he says. That’s what the book says [Daniel 2:36-45].
The modern liberal, the rationalistic critic, says there is no syllable of that that is true. He says that this man Daniel, whoever he was, lived four hundred years later than he says he lived. He says that this Daniel lived, whoever he was, in 165 BC, four hundred years later, in the days of the Maccabees—and that what he did, he wrote history, it had already come to pass, he wrote history and placed it in the garb of prophecy in order that he might gain acceptance of the book, the forgery, the counterfeit that he wrote. Now, we shall look at that this morning and see if we can find the real Daniel.
First of all, may I point out to you that the book that he wrote, whoever he was, is one of the greatest masterpieces of literature in all of the world. Put it all together, the great literature of the Greeks, and the great literature of the English speaking world, the French, the Russian, put it all together, and there is not in all literature a masterpiece like the Book of Daniel. There is nothing to compare with it; it is a book of genius. That’s one thing. Another thing about it is this: that the truth of its prophecies have been verified by the centuries and the centuries and the centuries. We have already had something like two thousand five hundred years to verify the prophecies of the Book of Daniel. There are things about it that are miraculous and supernatural and amazing; and we can see this for ourselves.
Now you have a phenomenon to account for, so let’s see how the critic accounts for it, and let’s judge what he says. First: he says that the author of this incomparable prophecy and the genius who wrote this masterpiece lived four hundred years after he said that he did, and that he lived in 165 BC, and wrote this in 165 BC in the days of the Maccabees. So let us turn to the days of the Maccabees. Now I told you that one of the finest pieces of penmanship, of workmanship, of authorship in the world is 1 Maccabees. First Maccabees could be in the Bible, and you would say, “Thank God for its message.” It is a great work itself. We have a meticulous outline of the days of the Maccabees.
Now, one of the things that you will find when you read 1 Maccabees is this: that the author constantly laments that there is no prophet, nor has there been for centuries. For example, in the fourth chapter of the book of 1 Maccabees, the altar is taken, and Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king, made the temple of Jerusalem dedicated to Jupiter, the Greek god Jupiter. And in order to defile the temple, he offered a sow on the great brazen altar and took its juice and spread it all over the temple in order to defile the Jewish temple. And he dedicated it to Jupiter.
Now, Judas Maccabeus, one of the sons of Mattathias, won the independence of the nation against the Greek-Syrian king. And when he did they dedicated the temple anew. And that’s the Feast of Dedication that you have in the life of Jesus [John 10:22], the Feast of Dedication that is observed today, when Judas Maccabeus dedicated the temple after it had been defiled by Antiochus Epiphanes. Now the fourth chapter of the first book of Maccabees says that when they came to the altar, the holy altar that had been defiled by the offering of a sow and its juice poured out over the temple, they did not know what to do. So the fourth chapter of 1 Maccabees says they took the stones of the altar and put them out into an unclean place until a prophet should arise who could tell them what to do with those stones; for there was no prophet in the land.
All right, second: in the book of 1 Maccabees in chapter 9 there is the description of the death of Judas Maccabeus. And the author says that they so lamented over Judas Maccabeus, his death—he was slain in that war—they so lamented over him that, he says, as there was no such lamentation since there was no prophet in Israel. There hadn’t been a prophet in Israel since the days of Nehemiah and Malachi; and there had never been a lamentation in Israel as there was since the days of Nehemiah and Malachi. There was no prophet in the land.
All right, once again, in the fourteenth chapter of 1 Maccabees it says that when the other sons of Mattathias had been killed, they chose Simon to lead them. And then the author says, “They chose Simon, the son of Mattathias, to lead them until a prophet should appear to guide them in the way.” The lament of the days of the Maccabees is, “There is no prophet.” And yet the critic says that Daniel lived and wrote this glorious message, the Book of Daniel, in the days of the Maccabees in 165 [BC].
May I point out to you another thing? You can search the annals of Jewish history, every targum, every Talmud, every Gemara, every Mishna, every piece of literature of the ancient Jews, and you will find that there is no prophet from the days of Malachi, Nehemiah, until the days of John the Baptist. There is no man in that period who appears who could have produced the Book of Daniel.
May I point out one other thing before I leave this part of the discussion? Nor was there any man since the days of Malachi and Nehemiah, nor was there any man who was received as a prophet and whose writings were looked upon as inspired, and as such as could be included in the canon of the Old Testament. That ancient synagogue had a tremendous conviction concerning inspiration and the addition of a book to the canon. And it was their belief that Ezra himself closed the canon of the Old Testament; and that he did it back there in the days of Nehemiah, Malachi. Can you imagine, is it conceivable to you that a forger, living hundreds of years later, could have smuggled into that canon a book, a romance, a counterfeit, written in their own day and in their own time? Yet that liberal critic would have us believe it.
All right, second now, we’re going into a little study here that is for the most part new to us; but listen to it. These things are a part of the very warp and woof of the background of the canon, the Word of God, the Bible we hold in our hands. First, I have said the liberal avows that this Daniel lived in 165 BC, in the days of the Maccabees four hundred years after he says that he lived. Second, they say that he is one of the faceless, anonymous, unknown authors of the pseudepigrapha, apocalyptic pseudepigraphic writings. Now we have to break that down so we can follow it.
About 250 BC, about 250 years before Christ, there began to appear a great many apocalyptic books. An “apocalypse” is a book in which the vehicle of truth is delivered by visions and by symbols. There are two apocalyptic books in the Bible: Daniel and the Revelation. The vehicle that God uses in an apocalypse is visions, and symbols, and signs; like a lion, or an iron-toothed beast, or a leopard with four wings. Now that is an apocalypse. About 250 BC there began to appear apocalypses. And all of them were delivered under the names of biblical characters who lived long ago. Their authors are anonymous.
I might pause here to say something about pseudepigraphic literature, those apocalyptic visions that began to be published about 250 BC. They all apparently were produced by a sect of the Jews. The authors are dependent upon each other, and they are mutually acquainted with each other. Now that sect is not the Pharisees, we know that; that sect is not the Sadducees, we know that. The sect was the Essenes, and this was a part of the esoteric wisdom of the Essenes. And they wrote these intrinsic books of wisdom to them, the secret knowledge that was revealed to them, they wrote those things in apocalyptic frames. They were apocalypses, they were visions they got from God purporting to outline the future. Now they put all of those apocalyptic visions in the name of some biblical worthy who lived centuries and centuries before.
Now I’m going to name some of those pseudepigraphic-apocalyptic discourses, books. There is the Testament of Adam; there is the Testament of Abraham; there is the Testament of Job; there is the Apocalypse of Baruch; there is the Assumption of Moses; there is the Ascension of Isaiah; there is the Odes and the Psalms of Solomon; there is the Book of Jubilees; there is the Fourth Book of Ezra. Now, as I name those pseudepigraphic-apocalyptic books, you can see that they all were written as though they were prophecies of some Biblical character who lived long time ago. Here is a book, the Books of Enoch; they’re very famous in the scholastic world, The Books of Enoch. Enoch lived long ago, but he is supposed to have seen these visions—actually, it is just history thrown back into the garb of prophecy. So they took these characters, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Baruch, who was the amanuensis of Jeremiah, they took these great names of biblical characters, and they wrote these prophecies as though they had seen them. Now that is what you call pseudepigraphic literature; and it began to appear about 250 BC; and there’s lots of it. Now, the liberal says that Daniel is a part of that pseudepigraphic literature; that it is an apocalypse like the apocalypses written under the false names—that’s what pseudepigraphic refers to, a false name—that Daniel is written under a false name.
All right, now we have seen that these works in that pseudepigrapha, that they are under the names of somebody who is revered and loved and known in ancient Bible story; like Enoch, like Abraham, like Job, like Moses, like Isaiah. Now we’ve got to find the name that this author chose, this ancient worthy. So it’s Daniel. Well, who is Daniel? Will the real Daniel stand up? When we look through the Bible for Daniel, like we’d look to the Bible for Enoch, we look through the Bible for Moses, we look through the Bible for Isaiah, for Abraham, there he is, and we can see him; and the pseudepigraphic apocalypse is put in his name. All right, we must now look for the name of Daniel. Who is Daniel? Well, we look through the Bible for Daniel, and in the third chapter of 1Chronicles, there is a Daniel who is the second son of David, and the son of Abigail [1 Chronicles 3:1]. And in 2 Samuel [3:3] he’s called Chileab. Well, nobody ever heard of him; nobody has any idea of anything about the second son of David named Daniel. So it couldn’t be he. He’s not famous and an Old Testament worthy. So I keep looking through the Bible, and I find one other Daniel: in the Book of Ezra, in the second verse of the [eighth chapter] of Ezra, I find a Daniel who is a priest of the post-exilic days of the Jewish people [Ezra 8:2]. Here is a second Daniel; and he is named also in Nehemiah, the tenth chapter [Nehemiah 10:6]. Well, nobody ever heard of that Daniel; it couldn’t be that Daniel because it has to be somebody like Adam or Abraham or Moses. And nobody ever heard of these Daniels. So you just come to the end of the way; the critic says that the book is written under the name of an old worthy whose name is Daniel; but nobody ever heard of a worthy named Daniel!
Well, that looks as though we’re at the end of a way. But there is one other place in the Bible where Daniel is mentioned. In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, verse 14 and verse 20: Ezekiel says, “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in the city, I still would destroy it” [Ezekiel 14:14]. And in the twentieth verse, he says the same thing, “Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, saith the Lord, I would still deliver these people into captivity” [Ezekiel 14:20]. So they say, “There he is! That’s the name of an ancient worthy that this pseudepigraphic author chose; there it is—Noah, Daniel, and Job!” Well, nobody yet ever heard of this Daniel that is supposed to be an ancient worthy. Who is this Daniel that Ezekiel names? Noah, Daniel, and Job! “That’s the word,” they say, “that’s where this pseudepigraphic author got the word, Daniel—is out of Ezekiel.”
Then, lo and behold, something happened. In 1930, in 1930, in a town in northern Syria, named Ras Shamra, which is ancient Ugarit, they discovered, oh, a great number of those cuneiform tablets. And as the Assyriologists pored through those Ugaritic tablets, those Ras Shamra tablets, they found the legend of Aqhat. And the father of Aqhat was the Canaanite, Danel. And this Danel, who lived about 1400 BC, was known for wisdom and justice as he judged the orphan and the widow. And the critic said, “There is that Daniel. Noah, Job, and that Daniel that Ezekiel names is a Canaanite man who was known for wisdom and for justice; and that’s the Daniel of Ezekiel 14:14, 20.” Then you look at that Ugaritic literature, those tablets more closely, and what kind of a man is that Danel back there? First, he worships Baal, and he eats his meal in the house of Baal. Second, he raises a stele, a stele, a monument, a slab, and he writes on it inscriptions and dedicates it to his ancestral god, and offers libations and drink offerings to his ancestral god. Third, he gets drunk [Genesis 9:20-21], he gets drunk. Now Noah here got drunk; but that was a tragedy, one time in his life. This Danel of the Ugaritic literature, that Danel, who lived fourteen hundred years ago, whose name is a legend for righteousness, the critic says, that Danel made it a practice of getting drunk, it was his way of life. And another thing about him, he curses his enemies, and he has no hope in the living God. Yet that drunkard and that Baal worshipper is supposed to be the holy and the righteous man that Ezekiel names here along with Job and Noah [Ezekiel 14:14, 20]. The whole thing becomes a fabric of unbelievable credulity.
Who is this Daniel of the Bible? You cannot find him anywhere in the past, except the Daniel who wrote this book [The Book of Daniel]. There is no Daniel legend as though he lived back in the days of Moses or Isaiah or Enoch. There is no name in heathen literature or in Biblical literature that identifies that man except the man who is presented here in the Word of God. Oh, I wish I had time to bring this discussion to a close.
I must briefly add: because there are spurious apocalypses does not mean they are all spurious. Because there is counterfeit money does not mean it is all counterfeit. And because there are pseudepigrapha—nameless, anonymous, unknown authors of that literature—does not mean that Daniel has to be a part of it. Somewhere, sometime, there had to be a first apocalypse, a beginning, if there ever was one. And that first apocalypse is Daniel’s [The Book of Daniel]. And these critics bring the past in their theory of miracle beyond anything that you will read in the Book of Daniel itself; for they say, they say it was written in 165 BC, four hundred years later. But, how could a man who lived four hundred years later place in his book bits of historical information that had been lost out of history until we have found it in the Assyriologists tablets that have been dug up out of the ruins of Babylon? And how could we find the words and the language that he uses in this book as though he had written it four hundred years later? It is impossible! He makes, in his theory, a greater miracle than any miracle we read in the Book of Daniel.
Will the real Daniel stand up? Here he is, here he is. He is a man of the captivity [Daniel 1:1-7]. He is a man of great devotion. He purposed in his heart to stay true to God [Daniel 1:8]. Here is the Daniel of the Book. He is a man of tremendous spiritual courage. He stands before Belshazzar and denounces the king, the monarch [Daniel 5:22-28]. And here is Daniel; he could have closed his window when he prayed three times a day that those might not see him pray. He opened his window, as aforetime, and prayed toward the holy city Jerusalem [Daniel 6:10]. He is a man of tremendous prayer. I do not know, in the Bible, one of greater appeal than this, “O my God,” in the ninth chapter, “O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, O Lord hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; O my God, defer not” [Daniel 9:18-19].
Thinking a man like that being a forger and a fraud; he was a man greatly beloved! Three times here in this page of my Bible opened, in chapters 9 and 10, he’s called “greatly beloved” [Daniel 9:23 10:11, 19], and he was a man of tremendous hope and confidence and vision. I haven’t time to speak of it. “And in those days, and in those days shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed . . . and it shall stand forever” [Daniel 2:44]. Daniel was like a prophet of old. Daniel was like an apostle. Daniel was like John the sainted disciple of the Lord. This is the only and the real Daniel that is known to history; and it is the only and the real Daniel who is exhibited here and introduced in the Bible.
We must sing our song. While we sing it, a family you, to come into the fellowship of the church; one somebody you, to give his life and his heart to Jesus; a couple you, on the first note of this first stanza, come and stand by me, “Here I am, pastor, here I come. This is my wife, and these are our children, all of us are coming today.” As God shall lay the appeal upon your heart, come on the first note of this first stanza, decide now. And in a moment, when you stand up, stand up coming. And God bless you as you walk through the open door. Come now, do it now. While we stand and while we sing.