Why Critics Assail Daniel
November 10th, 1996
WHY THE CRITICS ASSAIL THE BOOK OF DANIEL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-10-96 Sunday School
Now, we turn to the book of Daniel – the Book of Daniel. And our lecture this morning concerns the gift of prophecy. The title of the sermon is: Why the Critics Assail the Book of Daniel. The subject as I say, is the wonderful gift of prophecy. And as we look at the subject, you are going to learn, I pray, some wonderful things about our dear Lord.
As a background text, look at Daniel 1:17. Daniel 1:17: "As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom." Then turn to verse 27: "Daniel answered the king and said, The secret which the king hath demanded – this secret is from God. – For there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king what shall be in the latter days." [Daniel 2:27, 28] All of this is in keeping with what God does and knows, and He alone. And we’re going to see that this precious moment.
All right, to start; there is not a liberal theologian in the world who accepts the authenticity and integrity of the Book of Daniel. He doesn’t exist. He hasn’t and he’s not going to be. All deny the authenticity of the Book of Daniel. All declare it – all of these liberals – declare it a blatant patent forgery. Its contents is made up of pure fiction. It is a pattern of denial for the years and the years and the years.
Why this unceasing and vicious attack against the Book of Daniel? Because of the attempt on the part of modern rationalism to destroy the supernatural and the prophetic in the Bible. They have given themselves to make the Bible a human book like any other book. Consequently, there is no prophecy in it.
They start here with the Book of Daniel because Daniel, to them, is most vulnerable. Again, whatever else they may achieve in their destructive criticism, if Daniel is left intact, they have failed. There are no theses against the supernatural in the Bible that could stand as long as the Book of Daniel stands. Daniel is a revelation of the years and the centuries that followed after, which is something that only God could do.
So, we’re going to speak of prophecy in the Bible. In the Bible, prophecy is everywhere – throughout the Bible. It is not incidental. The predictive element, like a Gulfstream, makes its way from shore to shore through the sacred Word – all of it. One writer avows that two-thirds of the Scriptures are prophetic, symbolic. More than one-half of them are yet to be fulfilled. If you have any interest in the future at all, read the Bible. It will reveal it to you.
Now, look at this. Prophecy is unique in the Bible. Nowhere else in all literature or in all other religions is there such a thing as prophecy. All other religious books contain no predictions as to the future. And there’s no exception to that. And you look at this for just a moment.
This week, I went through books on the Hindu religion, the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads are the sacred books of the Hindus. But, in all of those books, there is not one reference to the possibility of a prophecy, of what could happen in the future. Jainism, with its Angas book and its Sutra-keit-anga book, has no reference to anything of the future.
All right, Buddhism with its two sacred books, the Vinaya Pitaka and the Abidhamma Pitaka – there’s nothing in any of those books about the future. Sikhism, with its sacred book Grantha – no syllable of anything about the future. Confucianism, with its Analects and its Mencius: their sacred books – not a syllable of anything about the future. Taoism, with its Tao te King – not a syllable about the future. Shinto, the religion universal in Japan – their two sacred books: Ko-ji-ki and Nihon-gi – no syllable about anything of the future. Zoroastrianism, with its sacred book Avesta – not a syllable prophetic, not anything about the future and the Mohammedan religion, Islam, with its sacred book, the Koran, there is not a syllable in the Koran about anything of the future.
The reason for that is very apparent. All of these sacred books – if their human authors had attempted to foretell the future, their errors and mistakes and mis-guesses and un-fulfillment would long ago have discredited their writings. Only the Bible has prophecy. There’s none other book existent – certainly, not in the world of religion. There is no other book that has prophecy. In no small part, the Bible bases its authority and authenticity and inspiration on prophecy. You don’t believe it? Then look at what it says of the future and the fulfillment of those predictions.
Take the word of Jesus. In John 14:29, He says: "I have told you before it come to pass, that when it comes to pass, you may believe." One of the authenticity avowals of the Word of God is: "Just look at it." That’s what Jesus says. If it comes to pass, God alone could know it. That’s what Moses says in Deuteronomy, chapter 18, 21 and 22: If it comes to pass, it’s from God, because men don’t know the future.
You have the story of Micaiah and Zedekiah in 1 Kings 22 and in 2 Chronicles 18 and Jeremiah 29. Micaiah the prophet said: "You’re going into captivity in Babylon." And Zedekiah the false prophet said: "It is idiocy and foolishness what this prophet Micaiah is saying." Then, in the story follows the shame that came to Zedekiah.
Jeremiah, you remember, you can read this in 28 – Jeremiah 28. Jeremiah went around Jerusalem wearing a yoke. And the reason he was wearing the yoke was because of his prophecy that Judah was going into captivity in Babylon. And Hananiah, a false prophet, Hananiah broke the yoke from off of the neck of Jeremiah saying: "There’s no such thing as that we are going into captivity into Babylon." And Hananiah broke the yoke from off the neck of Jeremiah. And Jeremiah, in verses 16 and 15, Jeremiah says: "Not only is Judah going into captivity into Babylon, but because of what you have done, this year you shall die." And in two months, Hananiah was dead. The whole Bible is like that. Prophecy is history written in advance. And only God could possess such knowledge.
In Daniel 2:45, God has made known what shall come to pass. Prophecy is two-fold. One: it is exhortative, declarative; and second: it is predictive. The prophets were both forth-tellers and fore-tellers. They possessed both insight and foresight. Their utterances were not the deductions of reason but were inspired and imparted to them by the Holy Spirit. For example, in 2 Peter 1:21: "For the prophecies came not from the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
Prophecy is like a great river, making its way through the Bible. It widens and deepens into veritable oceans and seas and, finally, is consummated in two apocalyptic books, namely, Daniel and the Revelation. So, by these infidels and secularists, both are violently attacked, but particularly and especially Daniel.
Well, how attack plain prophecy? It’s right here before you. Just read it and look at it in history. What do they say? Well, these liberals and these modernists and these infidels, they can say of Israel crossing the Red Sea – and I’ve heard them – "it’s a mistranslation: ‘Red Sea.’ It’s really the Reed Sea and they just waded through it. It was only about six inches deep." When I read the thing like that, I think, "Well, how is it that the Egyptian army drowned in a sea of six inches?"
They say of the manna that it was the common sap oozing from a desert plant. They say of Elijah, and the fire on Mount Carmel, that it was a chance bolt of lightning. They say of Jesus’ resurrection: it was a hallucination in the heads of the disciples. And they say of Paul’s Damascus Road conversion, that it was a result of an epileptic fit. That’s what they can say. But, prophecy that is predictive of the future that is fulfilled, what can you say about that?
Well, there was, and I mentioned him before – there was a brilliant student of Plotinus. They lived about 200 some-odd AD. And Plotinus headed neo-Platonism. That’s the last development of Greek philosophy. And he became greatly concerned that the Christian faith was supplanting Greek philosophy, particularly Platonism. So, he assigned to the most brilliant student, I guess, any professor ever had, named Porphyry – he assigned to Porphyry the task of discrediting the Christian faith. And the way Porphyry did it was to discredit the Bible. And he gave himself to showing how the Bible is full of mistakes and errors, and its prophecies were just imaginative and never true.
In that attempt to destroy the Christianity that was spreading throughout the Roman Empire, he brought his assault especially against Daniel. He said it was not prophecy at all – that it was not written by Daniel. It was not written in BC 535, during the Exile, but was written by some unknown Jew in BC 165, during the time of the Maccabees, after the events had already come to pass. It was a spurious forgery, Porphyry said, written 400 years after it says was written. Of course, that was an insult of the Christian faith. His works were finally destroyed by Emperor Theodotius.
And these early church fathers, like Eusebius and Thodius, they just stood up and took what this Porphyry had said and showed how illogical and unbelievable it was. So, the thing died out. The attack of Porphyry against Daniel and prophecy in the Bible abated. For all those years and years thereafter it was largely overlooked.
Then – and that’s in your lifetime – then, the modern rationalist, liberal movement that had its birth in higher criticism of Germany, in their efforts to destroy the Bible as the Word of God – to reduce it to a common human denominator, they turned to Porphyry after hundreds and hundreds of years and repeated his vicious attack against the Book of Daniel: that it is a forgery, that its author lived 400 years after he was supposed to have lived. And that is universally accepted among liberal minded theologians today. I just have the hardest time getting in my head realizing such things can come to pass. But, there is not a liberal theologian in this world that accepts prophecy and accepts the Book of Daniel.
Well, why would that be a concern to us? Here’s one reason. Jesus, in Matthew 24:15, Jesus called Daniel "a prophet." Jesus did not refer to him as a forger, as deceptive, but Jesus said: "the prophet Daniel." Now, why would the Lord say that? Why would the Lord describe Daniel as a prophet? Because Daniel is the indispensable introduction to the New Testament and, especially, to New Testament prophecy, and most especially to the Revelation. Woven into the warp and woof of the New Testament is these prophetic revelations.
I wrote down here a quote from Sir Isaac Newton, who was born in 1642. He wrote, quote: "Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of Saint John; Whoever rejects the prophecies of Daniel does as much as if he undermined the Christian religion itself, which, so to speak, is founded on Daniel’s prophecies of Christ." Now, that’s what Sir Isaac Newton wrote. These things are vital to us who accept the Word of God and who believe in their prophetic prognostications about the Lord Jesus.
The Book of Daniel is a classic of the very highest character. Reading it, again and again, the inspirations of God’s presence and voice are moving in those pages. This attack upon it is founded upon the exigencies and necessities of modern infidelity. The visions of Daniel afford an unanswerable testimony to the reality of inspiration and the reality of the supernatural. This voice must be stilled, if these modernist and higher critics are going to have any acceptance among anybody. These words of prophecy have to be done away with. Wherever there is a miracle in the Bible, they find a natural cause.
I just can’t believe this. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is a prophecy of the coming of Christ. He will bear our burdens. He will save us from our sins. All of the wonderful things of God are found in this coming Messiah: the death for our sins, the blood atonement. All of it is there in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah in our Bible. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace is upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.
Well, what do I read about that from these infidels? They say that doesn’t refer to the Messiah. That doesn’t refer to Jesus. That doesn’t refer to the Lord at all. That refers to the Jews. I just have the hardest time even thinking in terms of what these infidels say about prophecy in the Bible. Well, we must come to a conclusion.
Now, if the visions of Daniel were truly and verily seen in the fifth century BC, in the 600’s and 500’s, skepticism becomes impossible. You would feel like an idiot – like a fool – to read the prophecy here and then, 500 years later it comes to pass. What do you say about that? Therefore, the farrago of the attack against the book; it has to be discredited. The propaganda to degrade the Bible to the level of a human book found it’s essential to prove that Daniel was written after the events it possesses to predict. The attempt is to destroy prophecy. And if you destroy prophecy, you destroy the Christian faith. You don’t have it.
Christianity is a revealed religion or it is nothing at all. For example, Job 11 says man, by searching, cannot find God. You can just be as smart as you can and go into every experiment known to the possibility of the human hand, but you won’t find God. God has to reveal Himself. And if He doesn’t, we don’t know Him, nor can know Him. The Bible is the record of the self-disclosure of God. And as I have said, the fact of prophecy predicting things hundreds of years and, sometimes, thousands of years ahead, is a substantiation of the inspiration and truth of the prophetic Word of God in the Bible. To take that supernatural self-disclosure out of the Bible is to destroy the Christian religion itself.
The attempt to make the faith nothing but man’s search for God is to lower it to the level of any other philosophical or religious system of which the world has too many. But, Christianity is alone. It is separate. It is unique. It is apart. It is exalted. It is holy. And this uniqueness can be seen in its prophetic nature.
Dear me, for example – and I close here – 2 Peter 1 – and I can’t believe this. In 2 Peter 1, he describes the truth of Christ Jesus in the fact that they saw it with their eyes. They looked upon it. Then, he says again the second time, we have an authentication of Christ in the great transfiguration. There are Peter upon there – who’s the other one on the Mount of Transfiguration? Peter and Elijah – you have those two up there on the mount of transfiguration: a glorious avowal of the beautiful Lord Jesus.
But, Peter says, in chapter 1 of 2 Peter, that though we have the eyewitnesses of the disciples and the apostles, and though we have the tributes of Moses and Elijah, yet we have a more sure word of prophecy. Even the men who looked at Him and saw His miracles, and talked with Him after the resurrection after the dead – even their testimony is not equal to that of the prophets who lived back yonder, hundreds of years before the Lord.
Do you remember Luke 14, when the Lord Jesus speaks to those to whom He is revealing Himself as raised from the dead. It says in Luke 24:27: "Beginning at the prophets – beginning at the prophets – He spoke of the things concerning Himself." So in Acts 26, before Herod Agrippa, he avowed the deity and the Saviorhood of Jesus by the prophets. And in Acts 10:13, Peter, in the house of Cornelius says to him: "Give all the prophets witness."
I have to close. There’s not anything in all creation like this Book. And there’s not anything in the mind or history of mankind like the prophecies that are in this Book. And sweet people, there’s only about a half of them are fulfilled. More than half of them are ahead of us. And when we read God’s Book, we read the pages of tomorrow.
WHY THE CRITICS ASSAIL THE BOOK OF DANIEL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Liberal theologians do not accept the Book of Daniel and deny its authority
A. Rationalism must destroy the supernatural
B. Book of Daniel to liberals is the most vulnerable
II. Prophecy in the Bible
A. Prophecy is everywhere in God’s Word not just Daniel
B. Prophecy is unique to the Bible
C. Prophecy is like a great Gulf Stream moving from shore to shore
III. But how, attack plain prophecy?
A. Prophecy fulfilled
B. Attack by claiming Daniel was written after the fact
IV. Why is that a concern for us
A. Jesus called Daniel a prophet
B. Daniel is the indispensible interconnection to the New Testament
C. The book is a classic of highest character
D. Christianity is a revealed religion or it is nothing at all