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Daniel Eight in the New Testament

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Archives / 1961 / November

 

 

Daniel Eight in the New Testament

Desmond Ford

Department of Religion, Australasian Missionary College

 

Our Lord's Use of Daniel 8:9-14

IT IS a significant fact that the only time Christ gave a command to understand a specific Old Testament proph­ecy He placed His finger upon Daniel 8:9-14. Not only so, but the two chief writers of the New Testament, Paul and John, by allusion to this same prophecy re­inforced their Lord's admonition.

Justification for the following study re­sides not only in the above emphasis but also in the fact that if it can be demon­strated that inspired men of the first cen­tury used the terminology of the ancient prophet to apply to events future in their day, it is thus evident that the significance of Daniel 8 was not exhausted by events of the pre-Christian age. Furthermore, if it is discovered that these New Testament references to Daniel 8:9-14 are placed in the setting of the establishment of the king­dom of God, we have further proof of the eschatological application of the 2300-day prophecy made by Seventh-day Adventists. Here then are the words of Christ in Matthew 24:15: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him under­stand:) . . ."

There can be no mistaking this refer­ence. Christ names a power specified as having been described by "Daniel the prophet." Many commentators have de­clared that Christ is referring to either Daniel 9:27 or 12:11. Neither the King James Version nor the original Hebrew makes the parallel entirely apparent, but the Septuagint uses in these texts the same phrase found in Matthew 24:15, with the exception that in Daniel 9:27 it is plural, "abomination of desolations."

However, the use made by Christ of this phrase should not be restricted as an al­lusion to either or both of the above pas­sages, for these are but two of four pas­sages that refer to the identical power, and the basic passage of the four is that of Daniel 8:9-14. Compare Daniel 8:9-14; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. Scholars of all schools of thought have recognized that in Daniel 8 the primary description of "the abomina­tion of desolation" is to be found. It is here that the initial picture is presented of the blasphemous ravages of the wicked power referred to again and again later in the book. Bishop Wordsworth, comment­ing on Daniel 9:27, says: "See also the parallel in viii. 13, where the same word is used as here, 'the transgression of desola­tion,' literally (as in the margin), the trans­gression that maketh desolate."

The Hebrew word for desolation in Daniel 8:13 is shomem which according to Strong signifies "a devastation that causes astonishment and awe." How appropriate this definition is to the onslaught pic­tured in chapter 8 of Daniel. Says the prophet:

It waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of trans­gression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. . . . And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people (Dan. 8:10-12, 24).

Certainly this is a description of a devas­tation that caused astonishment and awe, and it is not strange that we read that Daniel was ill several days as a result of the vision, and describes himself as one "as­tonished" (verse 27). The later references to this "abomination of desolation" were in visions given to Daniel to explain this primary vision of chapter 8. See Daniel 9:22; 10:1, 14.

Considering the foregoing, it is evident that Christ's words are a summary in one reference to the substance of all Daniel's references to the desolating abomination. It is significant, however, that the state­ment from the Mount of Olives coincides more closely as a parallel with Daniel 8:IS than with any other expressions from the exile prophet. Consider the threefold par­allel suggested below:

POWER

Daniel 8:13

The transgression of desolation

Matthew 24:15 

The abomination of desolation

PLACE

The sanctuary 

The holy place

DESECRATION

Trodden under foot 

Standing

Wordsworth on Matthew 24:15 adds: "But the reference to Daniel made by our Lord in this His prophecy concerning Ju-dea and the World show that Daniel's pre­diction was not yet exhausted, but was to have a fuller accomplishment IN JERU­SALEM, and also in the CHURCH AT LARGE . . ." (caps his). "In the Christian Church the prophecy of our Lord concern­ing the setting up of an Abomination of Desolation in the Holy Place appears to have been in part fulfilled by the setting up of the Bishop of Rome upon the Altar of God in St. Peters."

This learned commentator thus recog­nizes that the abomination of desolation applies to both pagan and papal Rome, which is the identical position of the Ad-ventist Church upon the little horn of Daniel 8. Ellen G. White has given an ad­ditional interpretation of this passage from Christ's second advent sermon. She sees in the enforcement of the pagan Sunday through the influence of the Papacy an analogy to the time when pagan Rome with her idolatrous ensigns besieged Zion of old.

"As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight to the Judean Christians, so the assumption of power on the part of our nation in the de­cree enforcing the papal sabbath will be a warning to us."—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 464; see also page 451.

In considering this reference by Christ to the power described in Daniel 8, it is im­portant that we remember that His words are part of His answer to the question "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matt. 24:3). The question in the minds of the disciples was relative to the setting up of the king­dom for which they had long prayed. This entire discourse of Christ's is concerned with the signs of the approaching kingdom of God. Thus His words immediately prior to the reference to the abomination of des­olation are these: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." This 14th verse with its mention of the kingdom is vitally linked with the 15th, for He adds, "When ye there­fore shall see the abomination of desola­tion . . ."

In summary it can be stated that in the New Testament's first book we have a spe­cific reference to Daniel 8:13, 14, and the application made is not only to the future; it is specifically connected with the end of the world and the setting up of the king­dom of Christ. This is evidence of the strongest possible kind that Daniel's time prophecy is important for our age, being eschatological in meaning and not merely a local reference to Maccabean times, as some interpreters have held.

The Apostle Paul's Reference to Daniel

The second reference in the New Testa­ment to Daniel 8 is by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

It is important to notice that Paul is not introducing a hitherto unheard-of power. He speaks of "that man of sin . . . the son of perdition"—one many times mentioned before. He adds, "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" In Acts 17:1-3 is the record concerning Paul at Thessalonica. There we read, "Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days rea­soned with them out of the scriptures." In this reasoning he must have told them con­cerning the apostasy foretold in the writ­ings of the prophets, which would result in the revealing of the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, the son of perdition, who would oppose himself to God and exalt himself above all that is worshiped. Where in the Scriptures did Paul find such a reve­lation as this? In the eighth chapter of Daniel we find the very expressions Paul used in 2 Thessalonians. Compare the words of 2 Thessalonians 2:4, "Who op-poseth and exalteth himself above all that is called God," with Daniel 8:10-13, "And it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host . . ."

Most Bible margins refer the reader of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4 to Daniel 7:25; 8:25; and 11:36. Both the A.R.V. and R.S.V. in­clude Daniel 8:25 as a parallel passage to this one in Thessalonians. Daniel 8:25, of course, is only an interpretation of the sym­bol pictured in verses 10-13.

One of the most illuminating remarks from commentators on the origin of Paul's reference is found in Hendriksen's New Testament commentary, where he quotes Vos and adds some comments of his own.

"No clearly traceable and safe road leads back into the past to discover the man-of-sin concept ex­cept that via the prophecy of Daniel."

Having reviewed the various misconceptions re­garding the nature of "the man of sin" and the origin of the idea, it can now be positively stated that the apostle's use of the concept is capable of being traced to a canonical book. It is, indeed, true, as conservatives have always maintained, that many of the features in Paul's description of the great and final prince of wickedness are derived from the book of Daniel:

(1) "the man of lawlessness," cf. Dan. 7:25; 8:25.

(2) "the son of perdition," cf. Dan. 8:26.

(3) "the one who opposes," cf. Dan. 7:25.

(4) "and exalts himself against everything (that is) called God or worshiped," cf. Dan. 7:8, 20, 25; 8:4, 10, 11.

(5) "so that he seats himself in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God," cf. Dan. 8:9-14. —Hendriksen, on 2 Thess. 2:3, 4.

It is specially interesting to notice that in the above quotation Hendriksen takes the position that the reference to the tem­ple of God in Thessalonians has its origin in the statement regarding the sanctuary in Daniel 8:9-14.

Outstanding features of comparison are listed as with Matthew 24:15:

POWER

Daniel 8:13

Transgression of desolation

2 Thess. 2:3, 4

Man of sin

PLACE

The sanctuary 

The temple of God

DESECRATION

Trodden under foot

Sitting

Considering the setting of this verse in Thessalonians, it is found to be similar to that in Matthew 24. The textual frame­work is eschatological. The believers at Thessalonica expected the kingdom of God to be set up at any moment. In his letter Paul tells them that that day cannot come until the apostasy takes place. Further­more, he links the apostate power to the time of the unveiling of Christ when it will meet its destruction. See 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 9.

In summary, this passage from Paul adds strength to the conclusions based on Mat­thew 24:15. The inspired apostle projects the real fulfillment of Daniel 8:9-14 into the future and links with his description the promise of the ultimate vindicating kingdom of Christ.

The Apostle John and Daniel 8:13

The third obvious reference to Daniel 8 is by John in Revelation 11:2:

But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

It is commonplace among Bible stu­dents to declare that the book of Revela­tion is a complete mosaic of Old Testa­ment references. The great majority of its phrases and allusions are Old Testament in origin. Most Bible marginal references to the above verse place Luke 21:24, Dan­iel 8:10, and Daniel 12:7 as parallel pas­sages. It should be remembered that Luke 21:24 is a reference to Daniel 8:27 and akin in significance to Matthew 24:15, which has already been shown to stem from Daniel 8:9-14. Similarly, Daniel 12:7, describing a power referred to in the con­text as "the abomination that maketh desolate" has for its basis the fundamental passage of Daniel 8:9-14.

The parallel with Daniel 8:13 is as fol­lows:

POWER

Daniel 8:13

The transgression of desolation

Revelation 11:2

The Gentiles

PLACE

The sanctuary 

The holy city

DESECRATION

Trodden under foot

Tread under foot

It should be observed that not only is the thought similar but some of the iden­tical words are used, for example, the phrase tread "under foot."

The preceding verses in the context have much to say about time and in that connection quote from the book of Daniel. Note Revelation 10:5-7 and the marginal reference to Daniel 12:7. The two verses in Daniel 12:6, 7 are, of course, a repetition to some extent of Daniel 8:13, 14, where the same characters, the same place, and the same question "How long?" are found. This similarity is evidence that the "time, times, and a half" are a portion of the 2300 days. Therefore the mention of "forty and two months" in Revelation 11 by re­ferring back to Daniel 12:7 also alludes to Daniel 8:14. Thus in Revelation 11:2 we have unmistakable allusions to the sanc­tuary vision of the Old Testament seer.

Does this apocalyptic description have particular reference to the ushering in of the kingdom of God? Verses 3-14 of this chapter constitute a parenthesis and verse 15 actually is the successor to verses 1 and 2 of this chapter. This is also indicated by the juxtaposition of verse 7 of the preced­ing chapter regarding the seventh trumpet with the reference to time in verses 5, 6. Here in Revelation 11:15 again the sev­enth trumpet is described immediately after the parenthetical section following verse 2.

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

In verse 19 the temple mentioned in verse 2 is once more referred to in associa­tion with imagery connected with the sec­ond advent of Christ: And the temple of God was opened in heaven,, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his-testament: and there were lightnings, and voices,, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

As with Matthew 24:15 and 2 Thessa-lonians 2:3, 4 the passage in Revelation that alludes to Daniel 8 also occurs in a kingdom setting. Thus we have further corroboration of the fact that the proph­ecy of Daniel 8 points forward to the lat­ter days, even to the very days preceding the setting up of Christ's kingdom. Christ, Paul, and John the revelator have singled out the prophecy of the 2300 days and viewed it as a delineation of events con­nected with the end of the great contro­versy between Christ and Satan. Like the concentric ever-widening circles on the surface of a river or lake after the casting of a stone, so these New Testament texts elaborate the significance of the Old Tes­tament vision. Seventh-day Adventists have a divine right to stand in the highways of this generation, with the book of Daniel uplifted and the inspired message: "Under­stand the matter, and consider the vision."

To them the promise is given that at the time of the end "the wise shall under­stand."

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