Daniel and Revelation
January 21st, 1968 @ 10:50 AM
DANIEL AND REVELATION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-21-68 10:50 a.m.
Now on the radio and on television, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Daniel and the Revelation. If I had four or five hours, it would be just the same. I would hardly touch the hem of the garment with such a subject: Daniel and the Revelation. This is the tenth and the last introductory message to the Book of Daniel. And though I will have but a moment to point out some of the things this morning, the message will be carefully written out, and, along with the other messages on Daniel, it will be published this coming November, and we can read it and study it. And may it be as great a blessing to your heart as the preparation of it has been to mine. The Book of Daniel had an influence beyond any way that we could unravel the scheme. The Book of Daniel had an influence upon all the centuries that followed in the writings and in the history of God’s people. And especially was that true upon the Christian community, upon both the writers of the New Testament and the story of the development of the Christian community in the years that followed.
Our Lord loved and read and studied and knew the Book of Daniel. I picked out six times where the Lord referred to the Book of Daniel. And, by name in the apocalyptic chapter, Matthew 24, where He refers to the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet; speaking of him by name [Matthew 24:15]. When the apostle Paul was in his last incarceration, just before he died, in the fourth chapter of 2 Timothy, he referred to being delivered out of the mouth of the lion [2 Timothy 4:17], such as was Daniel. In the list of heroes, the heroes of the faith in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, Daniel is mentioned: “Who by faith stopped the mouths of lions” [Hebrews 11:33]. But upon all of those who followed after Daniel was the influence of the prophet not greater than upon John the seer, to whom God gave the vision of the Revelation [Revelation 1-22]. You will find so much of Daniel in the Revelation. And without an understanding of Daniel, you cannot understand the Revelation.
Now the Revelation, the Apocalypse, was an unveiling that God gave to Jesus, and through Him and the angel to the apostle John, to us here in the Bible [Revelation 1:1]. But from the heavenly point of view the same One that revealed the vision to Daniel revealed the vision to John [2 Timothy 3:16], and of course much of the nomenclature, the language, the thought, the truth, the revelation would be the same, because the same Author did it [2 Timothy 3:16]. But from the earthly point of view, the Book of Daniel is so much in Revelation. And as you read Daniel, you will find it in the Revelation, and that’s why the comparison of the two books in the introductory message this morning.
First we shall compare the two men. They were favored of heaven. They were loved of God, of men, and of angels. Three times Daniel is referred to as “O man, greatly beloved” [Daniel 9:23, 10:11, 19]. And five times in the Gospel of John is John referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” [John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20] Favored of God, both men were given the privilege of seeing the sweep of history until the consummation of the age. Again, both men wrote apocalyptically. Daniel is unique among the authors of the Old Testament. John is unique among the authors of the New Testament, for both men wrote apocalyptically. Daniel is the apocalypse of the Old Testament [Daniel 1:1-12:13]; and the Revelation is the apocalypse of the New Testament [Revelation 1:1-22:21]. Apocalyptic writing is a vehicle by which the message of God unfolding the future is presented in visions and in signs and in symbols. And the things we read in the Book have a great meaning beyond themselves. We shall illustrate that in a moment.
Now a third thing about the men: they both wrote and saw their visions in exile. Daniel was an exile in Babylon [Daniel 1:1-6]. And John was an exile on the lonely Isle of Patmos [Revelation 1:9]. And, while both men were exiled away from home, God showed them those marvelous visions of what the Lord purposes for His people in the future. “The saints shall inherit the earth”: so Daniel; so says John [Daniel 7:27, Revelation 21:7].
All right, a fourth thing; the books the men wrote are books of prophecy, and that is all-important in our study and in our remembrance. They are books of prophecy. For example, five times in the Revelation is the book referred to as a book of prophecy. Look at this, in the third verse you just read: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy” [Revelation 1:3]. That is, the things in them have a meaning beyond themselves. The books are books of prophecy. And when I study the book, when I read it, I am to remember that God has a message in it beyond what is in the syllable or sentence itself. In the Revelation, for example, the Lord sends messages to the seven churches of Asia [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. Were there just seven churches in Asia? Why, no. There are far, far more churches than seven in Asia, the Roman province of Asia. Right across the Lycus River from Laodicea was one of the famous churches of all time, the church at Hierapolis. The pastor of it was Papias, a disciple of John and a friend of Polycarp, who was the pastor at Smyrna. But Hierapolis is not named, nor dozens of others.
Well, why those seven? Because they are vehicles of a great revelation from God; they are prophetic. They are prophetic churches. They are used and they stand for something meaningful and significant far beyond their own day and hour. And in the case of the seven churches of Asia, they represent this prophetic unfoldings of the future. There is an Ephesian period in the history of the church [Revelation 2:1-7]. There is a Smyrnan period [Revelation 2:8-11]. There is a Pergamean period [Revelation 2:12-17]. There is a Thyatiran period [Revelation 2:18-29]. There is a Sardinian period [Revelation 3:1-6]. There is a Philadelphian period [Revelation 3:7-13]. There is a Laodicean period of the church [Revelation 3:14-22]. And, beyond what you read, is a great meaning and message from God. John was so given to that.
In the Gospel of John, for example, John never uses the word “miracle”—para dunamis—never. Always it was the sēmeia, “signs”; that is, what he saw Jesus do represented something far beyond the thing itself. When He turned the water into wine, there were foot tubs there made out of stone, and they were filled according to the law [John 2:1-11]. They were filled, then they drew out and took to the governor of the feast [John 2:6-8]. That is, Jesus fulfilled the old law, all of it, and now, in liberty, in grace, “for the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” [John 1:17]. This is a new love. It’s a new freedom. It’s a new dedication. It’s a new revelation. This is the Christian faith. It is not legal, that was filled. Ah, we have a new religion and a new life in Christ! John saw that in the miracle, and he calls it a semeion: a sign [John 2:11]. Opening the eyes of the blind [Matthew 9:27-30]; a gracious deed; but all beyond, Jesus is the light of the world [John 8:12]. Or the raising of Lazarus from the dead [John 11:42-43]; a man resuscitated, yes, but that’s incidental. The great thing is the semeion, the sign. He is the resurrection and the life [John 11:25]. Now when I read then the book of prophecy, I am to understand that beyond the page, beyond the actual thing itself, there is a great revelation of God, a prophetic overtone. Now, when I turn to the Book of Daniel, beyond what I read, I am to see, I am to understand, I am to sense the great profound meaning that God is speaking to our hearts and revealing to us. Now the Book of Daniel is divided in two: the first six chapters are historical [Daniel 1:1-6:28], the last six chapters are prophecies as such [Daniel 7:1-12:13]. But remember, all of it is a book of prophecy. Like the Revelation: the first part of it to the churches of Asia, but that is a prophecy; the second part, the tribulation period, but that a prophecy. So it is in the Book of Daniel. The first six chapters: historical. They are prophetic as well as the last six chapters.
So when I look at the Book of Daniel and turn to the first chapter, here is the captivity of Daniel and his friends [Daniel 1:1-6]. It is a picture of the diaspora, the captivity, the scattering abroad of God’s people. I turn to the second chapter. Here is the vision of the king, Nebuchadnezzar, but, here also is the revelation of the great sweep of human history until the consummation [Daniel 2:1-45]. I turn to the third chapter, and this is the story of the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. But I am to see in this a prophecy of the ordeal of God’s chosen people in the fiery tribulation, and their deliverance therefrom [Daniel 3:1-30].
I turn to the fourth chapter. This, though I would suppose it is hardly ever read and never mentioned, yet this is one of the great, prophetic, significant chapters in the Word of God. The fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel is the story of the vision of the tree that is cut down and then it grows again. And it applies to Nebuchadnezzar, historically. He lost his mind and was taken out of the kingdom, but God restored him [Daniel 4:1-36]. Now that is prophetic; it has a meaning beyond itself. Look at it just for a second. I’m reading now from the fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel. “I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the High God hath wrought toward me. How great are His signs! And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation” [Daniel 4:2-3]. If I read that, why, you would say that is a psalm, isn’t it? Or one of God’s saints wrote that, didn’t he? No! These are the words of a heathen and a pagan king. For the first verse says: “Nebuchadnezzar the king” [Daniel 4:1]. Nebuchadnezzar, that brutal and fierce king; Nebuchadnezzar the king “unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you” [Daniel 4:1], then the two verses that I read [Daniel 4:2-3]. This is a symbol. It is a prophecy of the day when the Gentile nations and the whole earth shall turn to God; that millennial glory that is yet to come. Isaiah described it as a time when “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain, for the earth should be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” [Isaiah 11:9]. Same thing, the fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel: it is a prophecy of the conversion of the Gentile nations of the earth [Daniel 4:1-37].
Now in the fifth chapter; the fifth chapter is the story of the handwriting on the wall [Daniel 5:1-3]. This is a story of the judgment of God upon the nations of the earth. Isn’t it a strange thing when Nebuchadnezzar looked at them in his dream, the nations of the earth looked like a great man? [Daniel 2:31]. But in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, when Daniel looks upon them, they look like fierce beasts; ravenous, voracious, carnivorous! [Daniel 7:2-7]. There is a handwriting on the wall [Daniel 5:5]; that is, there is a judgment upon nations who flout God. That’s includes America. Ah, weighed in the balances; America. God is not just the God back yonder in the days of the Hebrews. These things—and every once in a while I’ll stumble into a man who doesn’t like to come to church here, and he doesn’t like to hear me preach. And he will say, “The things that you preach are in the Bible, and it happened thousands of years ago,” as though God lived a thousand years ago, but today, He is dead! Well, that’s what the modern theologian say. That’s what he avowed. That’s not so! The same Lord God that weighed into the balances the nations of the earth is the same Lord God that weighs the nations of the earth in His balances today, and that fifth chapter is about that; weighed, judging the nations and the handwriting on the wall, the judgment day [Daniel 5:1-28].
And this sixth chapter; Daniel in the lions’ den [Daniel 6:14-23], that has a tremendous prophetic meaning two ways. One: it’s a prophecy of the burial of God’s people, His chosen family, in the earth and their preservation. But also, bless God, praise His name: it is a marvelous picture of God’s deliverance of His saints in any age and at any time. That’s why Paul referred to it just before he died. Taken out of the Mamertine dungeon to have his head cut off, he referred to Daniel being delivered out of the mouths of the lions [2 Timothy 4:17]. This is the theopneustos Word of God: the “God-breathed” Word [2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21]. When I open it and read it, I am to see far beyond just the syllable and the sentence.
Now these men wrote of the sweep of history in which we live, our day and time, and of the great consummation. They did it differently, because what was sealed in Daniel [Daniel 12:4], was opened in Revelation [Revelation 5:5]. In the last chapter of the Book of Daniel, for example, he will write—Daniel says, “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my lord,” to the revealing angel, “O my lord, what shall be the end of these things?” [Daniel 12:8]. Daniel saw the great sweep of history, the Gentile’s times, our times. He saw them unto the end [Daniel 2:45]. But when he got to the end, it was blocked. It was clouded. It was closed. It was sealed [Daniel 12:4]. It was not revealed. And Daniel said, “O my lord, what is that at the end?” And the revealing angel said to him, “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” [Daniel 12:9].
Now, what was sealed in Daniel is revealed, opened, unsealed in the Revelation. There’s not a greater passage in literature, nor is there a more dramatic scene to be found in all of the writings of men than the fifth chapter of the Book of the Revelation. Do you remember it?
I saw in the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne a book written on the back side and on the inside, and sealed with seven seals.
And I heard a great voice saying, Who is worthy to open the seals, and to look on this book?
And a search was made in heaven and in earth, and no man was found worthy to open the seals or to look thereon. And I wept much because no man was found worthy….
Then one of the elders spake unto me, and said: Weep not, for the Lamb, the Lion of Judah, hath prevailed to open the seals, and to look thereon.
Then follows that incomparable Revelation: “All of that was sealed in Daniel” [Daniel 12:9]. His eyes couldn’t see it. For example, in the Revelation, you will have the story of the entire sweep of the history of the Christian church [Revelation 2-3]. Daniel never saw a syllable of it. No Old Testament prophet saw the church, this age of grace in which we live. It was a mustērion, Paul calls it in the third chapter of Ephesians, it was a mustērion hid in the heart of God, and it was only revealed to His apostles [Ephesians 3:3-11]. And the end time was only revealed to John the seer in the Apocalypse, in the Revelation [Revelation 1:9-22:21].
Now just for a minute, then we must close: the books themselves you’ll find, when I write it out, a great many things in Daniel echoed here, word for word, in the Revelation. But one of the mightiest things, and one of the most triumphant things is, in the Revelation you have an identification, an unveiling, a further opening of the things that you will find and read in the Book of Daniel. I mention one of them and that’s all: “I saw in the night visions,” Daniel writes:
And behold, One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.
And there was given to that Man—
whoever He is, there was given Him who came before the Ancient of Days—
there was given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, and people, and nations, and languages, to serve Him; and His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and it shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall never be destroyed.
Who is that somebody that Daniel saw? He looked like the Son of Man. And He came with the clouds of heaven. Who is that? That is the beginning of the Apocalypse, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. “Behold,” and this the text of the Revelation: Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” Who is this marvelous Person who comes before the Ancient of Days, and the whole creation is given to serve Him? [Daniel 7:13-14]. It is none other than the crucified and resurrected and blessed Lord Jesus! And when I turn in the Revelation to the vision of Him, this One called exactly: “like unto the Son of Man [Revelation 1:13], His head and His hair is white like wool, white like snow; His eyes as a flame of fire; His feet, as if they burned in the furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters” [Revelation 1:14-15]; where did he get that description? Of course, looking at Jesus, but if you’ll read the tenth and the eleventh chapters of the Book of Daniel [Daniel 10:6], you’ll find the Person described in the Revelation already having been seen and described in the Book of Daniel [Daniel 7:9]. And the end is exactly alike [Revelation 1:13-15].
The theological conception, the eschatological presentation in the Book of Daniel is exactly as it is in the Revelation. In the Book of Daniel, this end time comes with a tremendous cataclysmic intervention from God. When Daniel saw it, it was the kingdoms of the earth in a form of a great image, the image of a man [Daniel 2:31-35]. And the head of gold, the silver breast, the thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the toes, iron and clay; and there is a stone cut without hands that smites that image on the feet, and it is broken in fragments, and the winds blow it away. That is what Daniel saw in the consummation of the age. And the stone grew to fill the whole earth [Daniel 2:37-44].
John says the same thing. The course of history shall follow, and then suddenly, there is the intervention of God out of heaven. In the Book of the Revelation, it’s in the nineteenth chapter:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was Faithful and True, and in righteousness does He judge and make war.
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns . . .
He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God . . .
And on His vesture and on His thigh was a name written, the KING OF KINGS AND the LORD OF LORDS.
Intervening suddenly, in human history, in the Revelation, in the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:14, 16]; eschatologically, theologically, both books are exactly alike coming to the end, and the Lord suddenly intervening in human history.
Oh, it’s a great study we have ahead of us! I’m just blessed of God, oh, how much! And may the Lord mediate to all of our souls that same glorious, incomparable, triumphant message Daniel saw, John saw, and God gave to us, that we might exalt and triumph and glory in Him. That’s why we ought to sing a lot, Dr. Hustad. The book opens with praises, “Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” [Revelation 1:5]. And they sang a new song, saying unto Him: “The glory and the dominion and the honor . . .” [Revelation 1:6]. That’s the Book. That’s the Revelation. That’s what God hath purposed for His saints in the earth.
Now we sing our song of appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, giving your heart to Jesus; a couple you, coming into the church; or one somebody you, while we make appeal, while we sing this song, would you come and stand by me? “Here I am, pastor, I give you my hand. I have given my heart to the Lord.” Or, “We’re all coming, pastor, today. This is my wife. These are our children. All of us are coming today.” As the Spirit of Jesus shall press the appeal this morning to your heart, come now. Make the decision now wherever you are. And when we stand up in a moment, stand up coming into that aisle, down to the front, down one of these stairwells at the front and at the back and on either side. When we stand up in a moment, stand up coming. “Here I am, here I come.” And may the Lord attend you in the way. He will. Come now. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.