Noah, Daniel and Job
November 3rd, 1996
NOAH, DANIEL AND JOB
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-03-96 Sunday School
That I take these Sundays and speak about the background of the Book of Daniel lies in the fact that it is almost unbelievable to me, that in that little period of time there were five books of the Bible that were included in the canon. We’re talking about thousands, and thousands, and thousands of years, from the beginning until the day that we live in. And we’re talking about vast civilizations, one after another. And yet, in that little tiny – comparatively – period of time, there are five books of the Bible that come out of that little period: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. It’s just hard for me to believe that!
Now, another thing about what I am doing; I love to study and look back upon the things that lie in our faith. Our faith is not just in our generation. It’s in those years, and years, and generations past. And if we have any purpose in our hearts to understand what it is now, we have to go back and understand where it came from, where it was born, all of those details that lie in its creation. So I felt that, as a difference, as anything that we have ever been introduced before, we would come with our head, as well as our heart. And we would attend with our mind as well as with the moving experience of mission and ministry. So we are following through that conviction and commitment, this morning especially.
Now, I want you to turn to the Book of Ezekiel. The Book of Ezekiel – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. And, in Ezekiel, I want you to turn to chapter 14 – chapter 14, Ezekiel, chapter 14. And in Ezekiel, Chapter 14, two verses, verse 14 and verse 20. Now Ezekiel chapter 14, verse 14: "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should but deliver their own souls," That’s Ezekiel 14 and 14. Now you turn to Ezekiel 14 and verse 20: "Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they will but deliver their own souls," Now, I want you to turn to one more: Ezekiel 28, Ezekiel, chapter 28. He is addressing the king, the prince of Tyre, and you look at verse 3: "Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is hidden from thee." That’s what he thinks.
Now, you notice three times, three times in this prophecy of Ezekiel, he uses that same nomenclature: "Noah, Daniel, and Job." Why under high heaven didn’t he say: "Noah, Moses, and Job?" Or why didn’t he say: "Noah, Solomon, and Job?" Think of the distinguished men of God, gifted from heaven itself that he could have named. But look at the amazing choice of this prophet Ezekiel. He says: "Noah, Daniel, and Job."
Job was, I suppose, one of the greatest poets who ever breathed, or whoever wrote a syllable, who ever composed a poem – Job. Job lived, oh, dear, thousands of years maybe before Ezekiel, at least hundreds and hundreds of years before Ezekiel. And he names Noah. The Lord only knows the dates – we don’t have the dates. The Lord only knows the dates of Noah. These archeologists, you know, look at these rocks and see evidences of the world-wide flood, the Lord only knows that.
But instead of a Moses or a Solomon, instead of a somebody who lived back there thousands of years ago, he names Daniel. Daniel! Daniel is a contemporary – Daniel is about oh maybe, about ten years younger than Ezekiel. And Daniel is a eunuch slave who lives, maybe, two blocks from Ezekiel down there on the river Chebar, the canal Chebar. I tell you when I look at that and read that in the inspired Word of God and in the prophecy of Ezekiel: "Noah, Daniel," who’s right there, a young fellow, I say, a eunuch, a slave, a captive – put him between Noah and Job! It’s just beyond my understanding and thinking! So these three he names in prophecy.
Now, look at Ezekiel himself. He was a priest and a prophet. In those three deportations – the destruction of the nation of Israel and their scattering throughout the world – the first one in 605 when Daniel was taken, the next one in 597 when Ezekiel was taken, and the last one in 586 when the nation was destroyed forever, until 1948, when you were alive.
Those things are just amazing to me. And this Daniel is a young contemporary of Ezekiel and of Jeremiah. As Jeremiah, the great prophetic figure in Judah and Jerusalem lived during those tragic days of the Babylonian invasion, so Ezekiel, the great prophetic figure in Babylon after the deportation, both of them lived – Jeremiah, before; and Ezekiel, after – one of them in Jerusalem and Egypt; and the other one in Babylon.
And five years after his deportation, Ezekiel saw the remarkable vision recorded in his first chapter. Then, soon after, he saw the remarkable vision recorded in the second chapter of his prophecy. Then in chapter three, he ate the scroll and sat with the captives in Tel Abib, on the river Chebar; and he dwelt there and delivered his prophecies from that place. And right there was Daniel.
Now, that occasions the endless attack of the critics. There is no piece of literature in this world that has been attacked as viciously and as continuously as the Book of Daniel. None! And of course, that includes the Bible. It is unthinkable, they say, that Ezekiel would name a contemporary between those two great ancient patriarchs, Noah and Job. For one thing, they say, he was too young. He was younger by more than ten years of Ezekiel, who is writing it. Daniel could have been middle-aged when he wrote his prophecy, but he still is young. Now, the only thing that I can say about it is, Napoleon was emperor when he was thirty-four. And Alexander the Great was dead when he was thirty-three. And Jesus was crucified when he was thirty-three. So, when Ezekiel gave the message from the Lord and quoted in his prophecy those three, Daniel was just about the age of those other great empire builders.
Well, look at the wonderful figure and prestige of Daniel in the eyes of all of those contemporaries, those thousands of slaves who had been taken into captivity. The infinite life of sadness that characterized those captives is also indescribable. Jeremiah, in his prophecy in chapter 29, said they’ll be there seventy years. And when they left Jerusalem and were situated and settled – in those great canals called rivers in the Bible, out of the Euphrates, the river that ran through the glorious city of Babylon – when they were settled there, you have Psalm 137; one of the saddest pieces of literature, as they remember their home in Israel.
Now, this sadness of those people was compounded when Daniel looked upon the fruit of their sins. Their young king, Jehoiakim, was only eighteen years old when he, his mother, all the royal family, the princes, were carried away captive. The visitation of God’s judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem – oh, dear, those people of the Lord – the city was absolutely destroyed: The temple, all the things that pertained to the service of God and the people, in their tears and sadness, carried away – and the personal grief and sorrow of that royal family that included Daniel.
Now, what did those people think for and look for in their infinite, indescribable, destructive sadness? I would think that to have somebody like Daniel up there in that court, representing them before the king, would be again beyond thinking, beyond description. He is called the beloved disciple. And he is beautifully referred to as the one whom God loved – as did God love John. He had a flawless life. Through the whole period of the entire captivity, Daniel lived, and the people saw him, and knew him, and watched him. And his life was beautiful.
Now, you think of that in the white life, the white public life of a heathen court, this is a Jew. And I don’t care what century you look at or what civilization you’re describing, a Jew in it is somebody over there. That’s just one of the providences of God – and some would say a judgment of God. But a Jew – a Jew! – to be there as the head of the government of the Chaldeans, and that for a generation, a Jew is unthinkable.
So this wonderful man of God talks with angels, has visions from the Lord Himself. In Hebrews 11:33 he is referred to as a hero of the faith. It is a remarkable thing that we behold when we look at that day, that civilization, that court and that Jew. He had an exalted place in the court. He was a representative and advocate of everything that you would love to describe as from heaven itself. Those people were so enslaved; they were subject to every whim of the Babylonian people. For example, Haman is typical – hang the guy, upon a whim.
He is in a place of dazzling splendor. His fame, and great as it was, could not have failed to loom even greater in the eyes of the enslaved and humiliated captives. Neither Noah or Job could have had as large a place in the hearts and hopes of the people as did that Daniel. His name was on every lip. His power somewhat was the hope of the security against the oppressors of the people. And his influence was a hope of return to the land of their fathers. It’s just a remarkable thing to look at it. And the reputation for wisdom is exemplified in those three verses in Ezekiel; "Noah, Daniel, and Job."
Now, I want to point out something to you that I bet you hadn’t ever thought of in your life. It hadn’t me until I began studying these lessons for you. The Chaldean Magi came to see the infant Jesus. The Chaldean, Chaldean Magi, the most famous in the world; and those Chaldean Magi continued through the centuries and the centuries down through Matthew, chapter 2, verse 1. And Daniel was the chief among them, those Magi that continued through the centuries and the centuries down to worship the Lord Jesus. When Ezekiel wrote Daniel had been the chief of these wise men for more than a score of years – in wisdom, in state-craft, he was the most foremost figure in the world court at Babylon.
So his story of triumph would have lost nothing in the telling among the people, in their introduction to him, in their listening to him. Consequently, if you ever study the inter-biblical period, 1 Maccabees, the only book I know of that ought to be in the Bible. But because it was written in Greek, it was not in the canon. A book had to be in Hebrew in order to be included in the canon of the scripture. And 1 Maccabees is written in Greek. But if you were picking out a piece of literature in this earth to go in the Bible, I would put 1 Maccabees in it.
And in 1 Maccabees, Daniel is a hero. And then I mention the fact that Hebrews 11:33, he is mentioned among the heroes of the faith. And today, we have a little phrase: "Dare to be a Daniel." Oh, dear, I tell you, when I study all of these things and read all of these things, I am simply overwhelmed by what I peruse in this open Bible; and just marvel at the providences of God.
Now, we’re going to do something that I pray will not be boring to you. We’re going to look at a thing that I have called: "Daniel Is Eaten Up in the Critic’s Den." I told you a moment ago, that there is no piece of literature in the world, and certainly no part of the Bible, that is as viciously and as continuously attacked as is the Book of Daniel.
I’ll give you an illustration of it to start off with. The last development of Greek philosophy was in Alexandria, there where the Nile pours into the Mediterranean. In the City of Alexandria – it was the second city in the Roman empire, and was the second city for uncounted centuries. It still is Alexandria. In Alexandria was the last development of Greek philosophy; and the development is called "neo-Platonic, Neo-Platonism." And the philosopher who headed the school there in Alexandria was named Plotinus. Now Plotinus lived in about 200 AD, about two hundred years after Christ. And Plotinus became greatly concerned and troubled by the expanse of Christianity. Dear me, remember about 300 AD, Christianity overwhelmed the civilized world. Well, about 200 AD, Plotinus, who headed those schools of philosophy of neo-Platonism, became alarmed over the expanse of the Christian faith. Plotinus had in his school in Alexandria a brilliant young fellow by the name of Porphyry. And Plotinus turned to Porphyry and gave him an assignment.
Plotinus told Porphyry about his dread of the possibility of Christianity supplanting all of these philosophies and becoming the leader of the world. So Plotinus asked Porphyry to study the Christian faith and to write books against it. Porphyry gladly accepted the assignment. And he wrote fifteen books against Christianity, and most of them were against the Book of Daniel. Isn’t that unusual? As he thought to slay the expanse of the Christian faith, he did it by slaying the authenticity of the Book of Daniel.
I would to God – even though it’s a heathen thought – I would to God we had one of those books. But Theodosius, the emperor, a Christian in the 300’s AD, commanded those books to be destroyed. At his note, his cohorts went throughout the civilized world, and they destroyed every one of those fifteen books written by Porphyry. The only reason that we’re acquainted with them at all is that the church fathers such as Eusebius and Theodius once in a while will quote a thing from Porphyry in order again to slay, to denounce, what the heathen thought about the Bible, and of course about Christ.
So the tremendous attack against the Christian faith and against the Bible centered in the attack against the Book of Daniel. It was to them, the most vulnerable; so they tear it asunder. There is nothing in the book that they accept as authentic; nothing. They say it was written in 165 BC, in the days of the Maccabees, which is four hundred years after Daniel is purported to have been written. They say it belongs to the Pseudepigrapha, the Jewish literature that was written under falsely assumed names, like the Book of Enoch or the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. These appeared in the second and first century BC and these scholars, with Porphyry, say that Book of Daniel is one of those Pseudepigraphic volumes. It was written about four hundred years after it was purported to have been written.
They say it is a religious novel. It is pure fiction. It is a work of the imagination, cleverly put together. It’s great facts are fancies. It’s mighty miracles are feats of imagination. Its so-called prophecies are past history clothed with the garb of prophecy, a favorite practice of the Pseudepigraphic apocalypses. So they attack it under four categories. Historical, that’s it’s full of historical errors. That it is philologically incorrect, it’s full of linguistic irreconcilables. It is false in its prophecies, full of prophetic impossibilities. And doctrinally, it is full of doctrinal aberrations.
So we are just going to take a moment here and look at what these critics have said about Daniel and his book: One, Daniel 1:1 starts off with "In the third year of Jehoiakim." They say that contradicts Jeremiah 46 and verse 2, which speaks of the fourth year. But rather, it’s just the opposite. Wouldn’t it be unthinkable to you that a man would be a fabricator, with Jeremiah before him, would write a contradiction up there in Daniel 1:1? What happens, of course, is very simple – and I don’t have time to go into it. But the Babylonian way of counting and the Jewish way of counting were the opposite. One would account, would include, the piece of a year in which a king began to reign before the full year. And the other one would account a piece of a reign as a year that was later full. It is the difference in accounting.
Another thing, they say in Daniel 1:1, Daniel misspells Nebuchadnezzar. But it is spelled the same way in Kings and Chronicles and Ezra and in Jeremiah half of the time. In Daniel 1:1 it refers to Nebuchadnezzar as a king before Nabopolassar died. But looking at archeology, they reigned together. And in Jeremiah 27, verse 16, they’re reigning together. He was a co-sovereign with his father Nabopolassar – and Nebuchadnezzar.
Now, Daniel 1:3 refers to Ashpenaz. He was the leader of the eunuchs. You remember that Daniel belonged to that group. And they say that’s pure fiction. There never was a name in Babylon called Ashpenaz. But a few years ago, digging through those ruins in Babylon, they came across a canonical brick, preserved now in the British Museum. And the name on it is the name of Ashpenaz.
In Daniel 1:6 – refers to Daniel: They say no such person ever existed because the name is not found on any monument or any record of Babylon. But I challenge you: Where would you find the name of Moses on any kind of an archeological brick or stone or wall? I ask you again: Where would you ever find the name of Jesus on any ancient brick or stone? Or the name of Paul? You just don’t! Thus far, it is not in existence. And when you don’t find the name of Daniel, you’re just classifying him with the historical references to Moses, or to Jesus, or to Paul.
Now in Daniel 2:2 it refers to the Chaldeans as being magicians. And they say there’s no reference to astrologers or magicians until centuries later. That’s not so, Herodotus, that ancient historian who was a contemporary of Daniel; Herodotus talks about astrologers. The profession of witchcraft, of astrology, was almost universal in that day.
And one of the beatenest things is – and goodness alive, I have read this world without end – Daniel 5, the chapter of Daniel 5 starts off with Belshazzar. And all of his critics say there is no such one who ever lived named Belshazzar, much less that he was a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, and much less that he was a king over Babylon. Dear me, they have gone to town on that! And while all these critics were burning up the Book of Daniel, because of the story about Belshazzar and the writing on the wall, and his slaying that night – while they were just up there in the seventh heaven, to them, using that as an illustration of the idiocy of the Book of Daniel – while they were doing that, these archeologists began to dig, and to dig, and to dig in the ruins of Babylon. And here’s what they come across: You could write a biography about Belshazzar, so much was learned, so much was delivered about him. His father, Nabonidus, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the empire, was a hermit. He didn’t like anything about people. And Nabonidus, the father of Belshazzar, went to the deserts of Arabia and there secluded himself as a hermit in the middle of the deserts of Arabia. And his son Belshazzar was left on the throne to rule the city and the empire. And the story of his demise is in the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel. Oh, dear, the whole thing is just like that – over and over again!
Now, I have to stop. Daniel, chapter 2, verse 4 – through Daniel 7, verse 28 is in Aramaic. It’s not in Hebrew. So these critics looking at that say that this part of Daniel, written in Aramaic, is late Palestinian Aramaic, not early Babylonian Aramaic. Then Qumran – haven’t all of you heard about the discoveries in Qumran? – in Qumran they dug up all of that literature written way back yonder hundreds of years before Christ. And the Book of Daniel that they have dug up in Qumran is the Aramaic of that ancient period.
So there is no such thing as dismissing the Book of Daniel under the fierce attacks of these critics. And I close: Daniel 12:2-3 – that’s the last chapter, these are the last verses – Daniel 12: 2 and 3 write about a beautiful resurrection:
Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting judgment.
But they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
Where did you ever hear something like that? I will read it to you. I’m going to turn to Job chapter 19, beginning at verse 25: "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy my body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Beautiful in Daniel – beautiful in Job, about the resurrection from the dead: "Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh – raised from the dead! – shall I see God. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold."
These things are just impossibly precious, whether we read them in the Book of Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John, or listen to their preaching in the Book of Acts; and in the letters of Paul they are no less precious, maybe doubly so, because we read about them about the resurrection of the dead and the gathering of the saints in the presence of God. We read about them in the prophecies of Daniel and of Job.
Well, God bless you! I tell you, if I had my way about it, I would do this for hours and hours. You are so preciously beautiful