Daniel and the End of the Ages

The main reason many people read Daniel for its teaching on the end times. The book teaches that God is sovereign and that he has a plan for the world. This plan will be successful despite human sin and rebellion. For Daniel, this means there will be a succession of kingdoms ruling over Israel until God breaks into history in a spectacular way and establishes a new kingdom of God fulfilling his promise to David. The future in Daniel is based on the foundation of the past.

Homer, end of the worldBefore that future arrives, the successive kingdoms of the Gentiles will oppress the Jews and make it difficult for them to live as the people of God. This calls for patient endurance and commitment to God in a pagan world which will eventually attempt to stamp out all godliness altogether.

Many of the eschatological themes from Daniel are echoed in the New Testament.In Matthew 24:15-28Jesus cites Daniel when he describes a future “abomination which causes desolation.” For a Jewish listener in AD 30, this abomination looked back to the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but Jesus says there is another abomination coming in the future. This might refer to the Roman destruction of the Temple in AD 70, or any number of desecrations of the Temple Mount leading up to a still-future sacrilege.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Daniel 7:13-14 for understanding messianic expectations in the late Second Temple period. That Jesus would call himself the son of man (Mark 10:45, for example) and he alludes to the passage when he responds to a direct question from the high priest, “Are you God’s messiah?” (Mark 14:62). Even the Great Commission may allude to Daniel 7:13-14: after the resurrection “all authority in heaven on earth” was given to Jesus.

Paul may have themes from Daniel in mind when he describes the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2. Paul’s description of this final enemy of God is similar to the “little horn” in Daniel 7 and 11. John Goldingay suggests 1 Corinthians 15:23-38 is shaped by Daniel 6 (Daniel2, 107).

The New Testament book most influenced by Daniel is obviously Revelation. Daniel provides the outline for Revelation’s vision of the final conflict. In addition Daniel is one of the main sources for Revelation’s imagery of an end-times beast, an anti-God government making war against the people of God, a final judgment using thrones and books, etc.

In the history of the interpretation of Daniel, it is the eschatological themes that have dominated. When will the “fifth kingdom” of Daniel 2 finally arrive? When will God break into history and rescue his people from their oppressors and finally establish his kingdom?  

Church history is full of movements that attempted to make Daniel (and Revelation) apply to their own day by reading the numbers of Daniel as a prediction of the number of years until God destroys the kingdom of the final beast, usually just a few years in the future.

Is it possible to predict the second coming of Jesus as the Messiah? Do the numbers found in Daniel someone extend into present age? Although the book of Daniel does have a remarkably accurate outline of history up to a certain point, it is silent on the period between the cutting off of the Messiah and the return of the Messiah to establish the kingdom.

These attempts to interpret Daniel as a roadmap to current events obscure the real message of Daniel: God is still sovereign and he is still protecting his people as the faithfully serve him in an increasingly ungodly world.

18 thoughts on “Daniel and the End of the Ages

  1. P. Long’s blog post on Daniel and end times is helpful in addressing the Biblical connections between different books in the Bible. Recognizing the connections between the books of the Bible helps demonstrate the fact that though God inspired a multitude of people to write, that the Bible’s truth author is God. As 2 Tim. 3:16 states, all scripture is God breathed, thus the connections within Scripture is logical and Biblical.

    P. Long’s blog post also brings to light the fact that throughout history people have read books such as Daniel and Revelation and attempt to calculate the end times. Not only do they attempt to calculate when the end times will occur but most often they interpret Scripture and apply it to meaning within a few years of their own time. Even as I read P. Long’s description of Daniel being a source of Revelation’s imagery of end times and a anti-God government, I thought to myself that certainly those things are occurring in today’s world. Thus it is not hard to project our own worries and time onto Scripture.

    The cliffhanger question on if it is possible to predict when Christ will return again is quite simple in my opinion and when examining Scripture. In both the gospels of Matthew and Mark the account can be found where Jesus states that no one not human or angel knows the hour Jesus shall return (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32).

    • This blog post does a great Job of explaining how Daniel tells of the end times and connects to other books of the Bible written on the return of Christ or the end times, such as revelation. This post also proves how Daniel gives many of us purposes for our life with God, as well as trust in God’s sovereign plan for his people. Daniel also argues that though we know Christ will return to save his people and bring about the new heaven and earth, that we do not know the time that Jesus will return to do so. As Matthew 24:42 says we do not know the time. Everything that was stated in this blog post I completely agree with.The bible clearly states in Daniel through the dreams of both Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel that Christ will return. Therefore us as Christians can have faith that God will return that he will create a new heaven and earth and will take his people home. This also means that we should act as though our Lord is going to return by following the spirit. We should also be on the look out for his return. 1st Peter 7:11 clearly tells us to live as Though Jesus is coming soon.

  2. I will admit that I can be very curious about the charting of the numbers in Daniel as many before me have been. Yet, I know for a fact that we will not be able to predict when Jesus comes back. Scripture even says so itself in verses such as 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 and Matthew 24:36-42 that no one knows the day that Jesus will come back. If you are going to chart out an estimated time as to when the second coming in and hold strongly to that timeline, you are going to be greatly disappointed. As mentioned at the end of the article as well, the time when Jesus is coming back is not what we should be focusing on. Not knowing the return of Jesus is just the reality that people are going to have to face but they should acknowledge the fact he is actually coming back and prepare for when he does. God is still actively working in the world and there will be a time when Jesus comes back to claim his people. The writings are to give people an idea for what is yet to come but is not meant to be fully interpreted as to when. This is the reason that Daniel’s outline is not completed within scripture because it loses its urgency of sharing the gospel otherwise.

  3. The prophetic aspect of the Book of Daniel (especially Daniel 7) is remarkable and vital to our understanding of the book of Revelation as well as understanding the prophetic coming of a Messiah. Any prophetic element that scripture mentions that comes true, immediately becomes a way to evangelize and use apologetics to those who don’t believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.

    No, I do not believe that the book of Daniel supplies the evidence for the second coming of Christ. As the comment bellow mine says, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 are very clear in that no one will know the hour or day of Christ’s return. Some recent Charismatic YouTubers as well as some of the beginning founders of the Jehovah Witnesses tried pin pointing a date to when Christ would return by using a lot of the prophetic verses in the book of Daniel; instead they were left looking stupid. Christians should not make it a goal to predict the date in which Jesus will return as there is so much ministry to be done in our broken world today. I do believe it is important to study Eschatology, especially Daniel, 1 Thessalonians and Revelation, however we as humans need to live as if he could come at any moment and not worry about dates and times concerning the return. As far as the missing week in Daniel’s 70 weeks that is found in Daniel 7 between the Messiah and the second coming of the Messiah, I believe that to be the “age of the Church” or the “age of Grace”. The apostle Paul uses language such as “my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8) and “this gospel I was made a minister…the mystery hidden in the ages of God” (Ephesians 3:7,9). To me, this Pauline revelation of the church having both Jew and Gentile equality would be apart of Daniel’s 70 weeks.

  4. One similarity that the book of Daniel and the various books of the New Testament have in common is the reality of suffering in the believers life. The author of Daniel assumes that the people of God will indeed go through plenty of suffering before the kingdom is finally fulfilled, but something important to keep in mind is the fact that, even in our inevitable suffering, Christ is sovereign. He is certainly not ignorant of the suffering of His people, and Daniel gives us plenty of assurance that it is actually a part of his plan. This obviously echoes the words of our Lord in John 16:33–even though we must suffer, Christ will use it for our good and His glory. Moreover, I do not believe that the book of Daniel provides any evidence for when the second coming of Christ will be. If it did, Matthew 24:36 would contradict it. God has specifically concealed this information from us, and I do not think that an investigation of Daniel for this purpose would prove to be very fruitful. As stated in the above article, there are many other themes and truths that one can deduce from the prophetic book. Nevertheless, it would be asinine to believe that the book of Daniel did not provide the foundation for the writings of John in the book of Revelation. One merely has to read both of them and the parallels are extremely evident.
    In my opinion, there has to be some kind of understanding that every book of the Bible serves purposes that the original author perhaps did not know about. How could Daniel have known that one day–hundreds of years later–his book would be used to inform the most complete apocalyptic book we have? Our job is to look at the whole text of Scripture, including what our Lord said about the end times in Matthew, and apply it to Daniel–coming up with a cohesive and cogent eschatology.

  5. Daniel is clearly an apocalyptic book. The outline and imagery it gives for Revelation are impeccable. However, this can lead people into some dangerous territory. People have become obsessed with trying to figure out the end times. Christians, in fact, do this fairly often. The thing that baffles me is that Jesus clearly states that no one will know when these things will take place (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32). No one will know when. Only God knows and everyone needs to be okay with that. What is clear to me is that Jesus, more often than not, talks about how to live in this world as opposed to the afterlife. This leads me to my understanding of Augustine’s idea of the City of God and the connection it has to the application of Daniel.
    In Augustin’s City of God, he writes about how Cain founded the city of man and Abel founded the city of God. The theory is that Jesus is the example of how to live in the city of God and the city of God will eventually be new earth. As Christians, we do our best to be continually sanctified by the Holy Spirit. We learn how to live the best life possible, which is ultimately how we will live in the city of God. The connection to Daniel is that this book teaches us about the sovereignty of God and also being faithful in suffering. We need to strive to live like we are living in the city of God no matter what we are going through or what situation we are put into. More so, we have to trust God in and through it all. Ultimately, the goal should not be to figure out when Jesus is coming back. No one will ever figure it out. The goal, rather, should be to learn how to live in the city of God. To learn how to live the best life possible.

  6. As to the question of whether or not it is possible to predict the second coming of the Messiah, the answer to this is a resounding no. There are multiple passages and verses of scripture that attest to this, with no room for wondering, or ambiguity. Mark 13:32: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matthew 24:44: “For this reason you must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will”. As any believer can see here, we do not and never will know the day nor the hour of Jesus’ return until it actually happens. The bible even states that the Son Himself (Jesus) does not, only God the father. The purpose of Daniel is not as some “magical” predictor of Christ’s return, as some false teachers have tried to make it into. IT is to inform us of events that will occur in the end times, as well as to teach and remind us of God’s faithfulness to those who love Him. The type of faithfulness God shows is expressed in the telling of impossible situations Daniel and his friends were placed in, such as being thrown into a den of devouring lion, or cast into cast into a scorching death furnace. All that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to do to avoid this was simply bow down before a meaningless golden image (Daniel 3:8-10). But did they? No. They chose to endure a torturous death rather than shame the one and only true God who had given them life, both earthly, and eternal life.

  7. So many people question when will the Son of God return to earth and bring us to God’s kingdom. This has been a question going around for many ages since Jesus proclaimed that he will be coming back on the clouds. Daniel and Revelation provide an imagery of what the end times will be like and explain what will happen. They tell of the promises that will happen during the end times, bit it does not give a specific date of when this will happen. In Daniel 2, it talks about a fifth kingdom that will be coming which refers to the kingdom of God. Our world today is struggling to look up to God and to stay faithful. Many have thoughts of how hard this world is and wonder when Jesus will be coming because the world is tough. People discuss when the events of the Messiah returning and opening up his kingdom to us, but there is no accurate time. Daniel tells us of what will happen, but he also shows us as mentioned by P. Long that God is still protecting his people as faithfully serve him in an increasingly ungodly world. This is important because even when we do not know, we should always look to God because he is always there and always faithful.

  8. Just in my lifetime, there have been more apocalypse predictions than I can count. People everywhere of many different faiths and religions have tried and are still trying to predict the end times. There are even “doomsday preppers” that are trying to prepare for whatever outcome they believe will happen. As christians, I think it is important to completely avoid this. Through Daniel and John, we have the inspired Word of God about the end times. This is not clear or specific enough for what many people want to know about the end times, but because it is scripture, it must be exactly what God wanted us to know. The classic verse “no one knows the day or the hour” (Matthew 24:36) is quoted all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We have to remember that the end times will happen the way that God intends them to despite what we know or don’t know, and what we do or don’t do. Just as we aren’t able to see the complete pathway of God’s plan for our own lives, we aren’t able to see the complete pathway for all of creation. When we stay in relationship with Christ and seek to live the way He taught us to live, we will be more aligned with the will of God and therefore don’t need to worry about what comes next. Jesus spent almost all of his time on earth teaching people about what to do during their earthly life. If there was a huge emphasis on the end times or what to do in the afterlife, don’t you think Jesus would have talked about it? He knew his time on earth was limited, and used every moment He could to share what we needed to know. A big takeaway from the book of Daniel is the sovereignty of God, and we trust that God is sovereign even over things we don’t understand, such as the end times.

  9. Daniel and the End of the Ages
    As Christians, we have the knowledge that Christ will return and take us to our eternal home in Heaven. But the knowledge we do not poses is when exactly this will be. There are a number of verses in the New Testament where we are told that we do not know the day and time that Christ will return (Matthew 24:36; Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40). These verses tell us clearly that we do not know the day or the hour that the Lord will return, but what it does tell us is of signs that can we be on the watch for with the returning of the Son of Man. This is similar to first coming of Christ. They were not able to predict the exact day and time of Christ’s arrival, but they knew what signs and prophecies to look for (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2). These verses did not give them the exact day that the Lord would be born, but it did give them signs to look for. Just like in our lives today, we do not know exactly when the Lord will come, but we do know what to look for (Matthew 24). Another thing to think about is that we are told that we do not know the Lord’s thoughts, His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). As humans, I do not believe the Lord intends for us to know when He will return, He will come like a thief in the night—you just simply cannot predict that. Daniel gives a good correlation to Revelation to show signs of what is to come in the End times, but is it our job to predict the end of times and when the Lord will return? No, I do not believe so.

  10. The question is, “is it possible to predict the second coming of Jesus?” my initial thoughts are no. but as I ponder this question more, I don’t think its directly about the day and time but more about a general place in time in which everything thing has come fruition.
    Throughout time people have turned to scripture to try and find out what the Bible has to say about when Jesus will be coming Back. in Scripture there are several events and prophecies that people will try to interpret and come up with a date in which Jesus will be coming back.
    This has always made me laugh because if someone is willing to study the bible that much: How come they never came across the verse in Mark that says “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Mark 13:32).” the context of this scripture is Jesus talking to his disciples about the destruction of the temple and signs of the end time. I think that it is safe to say that even today we won’t be able to predict the day or the hour.
    As Christians patiently waiting for the day when Jesus comes back. In Thessalonians, Paul says “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” basically we know that he is coming, so we don’t need to be surprised or try and figure out when he is coming. We need to have hope in the promise of eternal life.

    • Soraida, I liked your heartfelt and lovely response to this question. As you mentioned, we do not know the exact day or hour of the messiah’s return, but we can observe what is taking place in relations to the signs God told us would take place in the national of Israel before his return.

  11. As I pondered on the questions asked on this blog post, I keep thinking; what if Israel is the time clock of God’s interactions and plan unveiling right in front of us? What keys does Israel hold when it comes to how the world response to God’s plans? Dr. Long states, “Daniel is the outline for Revelation’s vision of the final conflict.” Even to this day, Israel in most times in conflict with other countries, if it’s religious reasons, military tactics such as defense and offense methods, government, independency, economy, foreign relations, etc. What makes the great tribulation different than the ones we are enduring now? In general, I should turn to the truth that the Lord is control and overseeing everything that is happening in every generation in existence and those to come to past. I have been told, to be watchful of what is happening to Israel because whatever is going on there is causing supernatural changes in the whole wide world. It’s one thing to see things in physical perspective, it’s another thing to view it in the spiritual realm. What is happening in the spiritual realm that is manifesting in the physical realm?
    To answer the question, “is it possible to predict the 2nd coming of Jesus as the Messiah? I say, what is going on in Israel that is drawing us closer to that prediction. We may not know the exact hour or time, but we can take in consideration towards that revelation in close view and to be watchful when it is near.

  12. When it comes to the topic of end times we know that the book of Daniel has a lot of incite on this subject. This book can seem mythological at times but also will help us as believers know when the end times will actually occur. End times can be scary in a way to people that do not believe in the Word because they do not have the guidance and the knowledge they need to know about what is going to happen. Christians do not exactly know what will happen either but what we do know is that God is in control of all and he will not let his children suffer. Daniel does a great job of outlining what is to come in Revelation. Daniel had visions for some of the outcomes that come in Revelation and can give us some idea of what is to come. You could say that it paints a picture in our mind. But Christians should not live out their lives predicting when Jesus will return. We know that he will return but we need to make sure that we live out our lives as if he were to come tomorrow and take all of his followers with Him. Christians should live each day thinking that the Messiah could come the next day. It says in Matthew 24:36, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of the heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) Overall, End times are out of our hands, Daniel and Revelation outline what it will be like when the day comes when the Messiah will return.But what we do know is that it is only in God’s hands when that day will come.

  13. I want to first start by addressing this statement, “Church history is full of movements that attempted to make Daniel (and Revelation) apply to their own day by reading the numbers of Daniel as a prediction of the number of years until God destroys the kingdom of the final beast, usually just a few years in the future” (P. Long). This leaves me at a loss for words, Jesus states, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt. 24:36 NIV). Therefore, to try and figure out when the rapture will happen is contradicting to Jesus and the Bible, and I would ask why those groups, why are you trying to make the Bible contradict itself? For that task is impossible.

    Moving forward, it is not possible to predict the second coming of Jesus as the Messiah. Even Jesus himself claims it impossible as stated above. However, there will be some significant events that will happen that will be signs towards the second coming drawing near, one example would be the two witnesses will die, and “some from every people, tribe, language, and nation will gaze on their bodies,” and then they will raise to life three days later (Rev. 11:1-14).

  14. I think there are many people who only think about Revelation being the End Times book of the Bible, but clearly the book of Daniel is also prophesying the End Times. I also think that you need to have some sort of understanding of the book of Daniel before diving into a deeper understanding of Revelation. Both books are about prophesy, but you need both to understand the other.

    I also think many try to take one and not the other to determine when Jesus is coming back, but it’s impossible even if you did use both books. There is no way you can predict second coming of Jesus because it states in two different gospels that no one will figure out when He will return. I have attempted two different studies of the End Times and never have been able to finish, so I am genuinely excited to learn more about this topic. Understandably, this isn’t going to be an easy study, but I hope to have further understanding of everything that’s happening in Daniel, Revelation, and the End Times. There is much to unpack because prophesy doesn’t really say everything outright. In conclusion, Daniel and the end times is an important part of our history. We have to have an understanding so that we know what is coming.

  15. You will never know when the son of man, Jesus Christ is coming back again. Many scholars have lived their entire lives trying to figure out when this time will take place. Decades after decades later, and their predictions are wrong.
    Simply by reading the books of Daniel and revelation cannot draw you close to the knowledge of when the messiah is coming again. If you read your Bible, you know well that no one knows when God is coming back, even Jesus himself does not know when this day will be as he states it in the book of Mathew 24. Although, there are signs we need to keep watch. As a believer in Christ, we need to keep our faith in what The word of God says. We need to continue living for his glory despite our circumstances, Proclaiming the Good news all over the world so that anyone who believe may not perish but have eternal life when Christ returns. These are the mysteries only God the father Himself know.

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