The book of Daniel, although written more than 500 years before Christ's birth, contains specific parallels and references to the final deliverance of God's people at the Saviour's second coming. Incidents from the first to the last chapter repeatedly focus on confrontation over the worship of the true God, threat of extinction or a death decree, providential deliverance, and final triumph for the people of God. Thus the book of Daniel has a peculiar application to the last generation—those who will be involved in the climactic confrontation of the ages, face a death decree, and rejoice in that final deliverance at the voice of God and the second coming of Jesus.
Biblical interpretation needs to proceed by a careful observance of hermeneutic principles applied in an orderly fashion. Probably nowhere is this rule more valid than in dealing with apocalyptic material such as Daniel. Uriah Smith in his verse-by-verse exposition of the book used a literal approach in which he identified the historical settings of Daniel and made historical applications from the prophecies.
After such a base is established, the preacher, with homiletic freedom, may draw parallels, make comparisons, and note general principles and consistencies in God's dealings with man, thereby making the texts significant to the contemporary generation, and specifically relating the prophecies to the final conflict and deliverance of the people of God.
Without a basic literal-historical exposition, analogy is unreliable. On the other hand, the mere linkage of history to prophecy is barren, unless made spiritually pertinent to the contemporary generation. The prophecies of Daniel take on meaning for us today when the literal-historical approach merges with analogy in reference to the final crisis and deliverance.
Seven specific accounts of deliverance occur in Daniel's book, be ginning with the personal experiences of Daniel and his friends, and expanding to embrace the Jewish nation, the Gentile Christian church, and at last the grand theme of worldwide deliverance from sin and the grave. These seven deliverances are: (1) Daniel's deliverance from Nebuchadnezzar's death decree for the wise men (chap. 2:18-46); (2) the three Hebrews' deliverance from the fiery furnace (chap. 3:24-30); (3) Daniel's deliverance from the lions' den (chap. 6:22, 27); (4) deliverance of the Jews from Babylonian captivity (chap. 9:25); (5) deliverance of the Gentile Christian church from the "little horn" power (chap. 7:26, 27); (6) deliverance of God's people from sin (chap. 9:24); (7) deliverance from the grave (chap. 12:1-3).
Likewise, seven chronological lines in the book of Daniel culminate either in the deliverance of God's people or in the establishment of the kingdom of everlasting righteousness. When placed in context, these prophetic lines all reveal a common focus—the deliverance of God's people from persecution, oppression, and sin. The seven are:
1. The metallic image and the establishment of the "stone" kingdom (chap. 2). Through the ages, various governments have persecuted and martyred God's saints, but the great stone shall break in pieces and consume all these persecuting powers.
2. The four beasts and the "little horn" persecution ending in judgment (chap. 7). The prophecy pictures the little horn making war with the saints, but concludes with the assurance that "the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his do minion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end" (verse 26).
3. The ram and the goat, the fierce king, and the cleansing of the sanctuary (chap. 8). A heavenly inhabitant questions, "How long shall be the . . . desolation?"(verse 13). The answer returns that the persecuting power will be "broken with out hand" following a 2,300-year period (verses 14, 25).
4. The detailed computation of the 2,300 years until the "consummation" (chap. 9). The angelic tutor gives the general and specific objectives of the investigative judgment—"to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, ... to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness" (verse 24). In regard to final persecution and deliverance, the angel concludes by saying, "For the over spreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the con summation" (verse 27).
5. The succession of kings continuing to the reign of the King of kings (chaps. 11 and 12). The reiteration of the rise and fall of kings and the struggle of nations builds to a climax when the "king of the north" goes forth "with great fury to destroy" (chap. 11:40, 44). However, the drama comes to a thrilling conclusion with the magnificent deliverance of the living righteous and the resurrection of the sleeping saints.
6. The 1,290 days of "the abomination that maketh desolate" (chap. 12:11). This time period, given in reference to a persecuting power, must be viewed in connection with Revelation 13:16; 14:9, 16-18.
7. The 1,335 days until the pronouncement of blessing. "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days" (Dan. 12:12). Ellen White writes: "The voice of God is heard from heaven . . . delivering the everlasting covenant to His people. . . . And when the blessing is pronounced on those who have honored God by keeping His Sabbath holy, there is a mighty shout of victory." —The Great Controversy, p. 640.
In addition to prophetic lines dealing with deliverance for God's people, many parallels significant to the last generation may be found throughout Daniel's book.
Chapter 1 points out the striking contrast between the faces of those in Daniel's band who followed the counsel of God and the faces of those who ate the food of Babylon. This experience may be seen as a parallel to the contrast between the faces of the wicked, which "gather blackness" (Nahum 2:10), and the glorified, shining faces of God's triumphant people.
"Jesus rides forth as a mighty conqueror. . . . Before His presence 'all faces are turned into paleness;' upon the rejecters of God's mercy falls the terror of eternal despair. '. . . and the faces of them all gather blackness.' Jeremiah 30:6; Nahum 2:10. The righteous cry with trembling: 'Who shall be able to stand?' . . . Then the voice of Jesus is heard, saying: 'My grace is sufficient for you.' The faces of the righteous are lighted up, and joy fills every heart." —Ibid., p. 641.
When the king Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the supernatural rev elation of his dream and the manner in which the God of heaven had delivered Daniel from the death decree pronounced upon the wise men he "fell on his face, and worshiped Daniel" (Dan. 2:46). In parallel, during the final conflict, the wicked will see the deliverance of God's people, and they, as had Nebuchadnezzar, will fall down and worship at the saints' feet.
"Then it was that the synagogue of Satan knew that God had loved us who could wash one another's feet and salute the brethren with a holy kiss, and they worshiped at our feet."—Early Writings, p. 15.
Nebuchadnezzar's gathering of "the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of [Babylon]" (chap. 3:3) finds a parallel in the gathering of "the kings of the earth and of the whole world" (Rev. 16:14) to the final confrontation.
Other parallels between events in Daniel and the experience of God's people at the end of time include: (1) the death decree on the plain of Dura (Dan. 3) and the final death decree (Rev. 13:15); (2) the interpretation of the words mene, tekel, and upharsin of Daniel 5:25-28 ("God hath numbered thy kingdom. . . . Thou art weighed . . . and . . . found wanting. . . . Thy kingdom is divided") and the three angels' messages of Revelation 14:6-12 ("Judgment is come. . . . Babylon is fallen." God's wrath is come); (3) Darius' diversion of the Euphrates River to accomplish the fall of Babylon (Dan. 5:30, 31; Isa. 44:27-45:1) and the drying up of the Euphrates to prepare the way for the kings of the east (Rev. 16:12, 19). Many other such parallels may be found.
The book of Daniel remains a precious message from God thou sands of years after it was written, giving courage to those who face the final confrontation between good and evil. The student of Daniel's prophecies will find its pages an exhaustless mine of truth filled with timely applications and parallels to his own day.