Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Sunday afternoon Bible study. Today we are going to begin a study series in the Book of Daniel and we will continue these studies each Sunday until we reach a point where there may be a very difficult passage and I lack understanding of it, then we will go back to the Book of Proverbs for a while in order to give time to continue study in the Book of Daniel as the Lord opens our understanding.
I think it would be good for us to study the Book of Daniel at this time, considering that we are looking to God for further understanding in regard to the time of the end. This Book has a good deal of information concerning the end of the world, including the Great Tribulation and the time of the end. God gave Daniel visions of the time of the end, but this Book also reveals that God opened up the understanding of Daniel. Let us look at that as we begin and I think you will see what I mean. It says in Daniel 1:17:
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Then look at what it says in Daniel 2:19-22:
Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
It also says in Daniel 8:15-17:
And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
Then it says in Daniel 8:19:
And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.
It says in Daniel 9:2:
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Then it says in Daniel 9:23:
At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
It also says in Daniel 9:25:
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Then it says in Daniel 10:10-12:
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
It goes on to say in Daniel 10:14:
Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.
Or, it says in Daniel 12:9-10:
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
So we see that throughout the entire Book of Daniel, from the first to the last chapter, one thing God is emphasizing is that Daniel is being given understanding concerning the end of the world and he did not understand it, again and again. He lacked understanding of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, but he went to God and besought Him for understanding and God gave him the dream and the interpretation of it. God gave him visions concerning the end of the world and Daniel would admit that he did not understand and then God would cause him to understand.
When we put this altogether and when we consider our present situation in which we lack understanding and our desire to gain understanding, it appears the Book of Daniel is the right Book for us to turn to, but it is a very difficult Book in some places. God uses very mysterious language in some places in the Book of Daniel because it is information that involves the end of the world and, as we have learned, the end of the world is not a simple matter. It is a very complex judgment program that God has been involved in unveiling to us for many years. So we are going to embark on this endeavor and trust in God to grant us understanding according to His will as we study this Book.
By God’s grace we do have some understanding of much of the material in Daniel, so we should be able to learn some things as we go along and as we are reminded of other things at the same time.
Let us turn to Daniel and I will read the first couple of verses. By the way, the name “Daniel” means “judge of God” or “judgment of God,” so it is a very apt name since the Book has much to say about God’s judgment program. It says in Daniel 1:1-2:
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
Here, God gives us the date that the Book of Daniel begins to be written and it was the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. At that time Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came against Jerusalem and besieged it, so the date would relate to the reign of the king of Judah, so let us take a look at King Jehoiakim. We read more about him in 2Kings 23:29-30:
In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him. And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father's stead.
We know the timeline for King Josiah. He began to reign at the age of eight years old in 640BC and he reigned for 31 years until 609BC. At the age of 39, Josiah died in battle with the Egyptians. Josiah is a king that God relates to the end of the church age. He was the last “good” king of Judah. Following him, there will be four kings that will reign from 609BC through 587BC, a 23-year period (inclusive) and in 587BC there will be no more kings and Jerusalem will be destroyed. That 23-year period typified the Great Tribulation.
The first king that reigned after Josiah was Jehoahaz his son and it goes on to say in 2Kings 23:31:
Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem...
We can see that God is emphasizing the number “23,” as we saw that from Josiah’s death there would be four evil kings that would reign for 23 years, inclusive, and the first king happened to be 23 years old when he began to reign. After these four kings reign God ends the line of the kings and Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the last king, Zedekiah, happened to be the 23rd king of Judah. Of course, this would include kings Saul, David and Solomon that ruled over the united Israel and Judah. Then for Judah, there was a series of 20 kings, of which Zedekiah was the 20th king of Judah and the 23rd king overall. Then the line of the kings would come to a close, so we can see the number “23” is very much in view, along with the number “13”. Josiah was 39 when he died, which is “3 x 13,” so it was the purpose of God that at the end of the world in the 13,000th year of earth’s history the church age would come to an end and a 23-year Great Tribulation period would unfold. The year 1988 was the 13,000th year of earth’s history and 23 years from that point brought us to May 21, 2011. We are not really going to get into that, but we can see it in these references to the line of the kings.
Let us continue in 2Kings 23:31-34:
Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done. And Pharaohnechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold. And Pharaohnechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim...
The name “Eliakim” means “God raising” or “God will raise.” The Egyptian pharaoh, Pharaohnechoh, changed it to “Jehoiakim” which means “JEHVOAH will raise.” I do not understand why or what could be the spiritual meaning of that change, but we need to mention that his name was changed. Then it goes on to say in 2Kings 23:34:
...and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.
So this is after Josiah’s death and it is the second king. The first king Jehoahaz only reigned three months. In 609BC Jehoiakim (aka Eliakim) began to reign. Then it says in 2Kings 23:35-37:
And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaohnechoh. Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
Likewise, the second king was said to have done evil. This is because it typifies the corporate churches without the Spirit of God during the 23-year period of the Great Tribulation. We know that God did leave the churches and turned them over to Satan, just as during the 23-year period from 609BC to 587BC Judah was turned over to Pharaoh, a figure of Satan, and then later Nebuchadnezzar will overcome Judah and he is also a figure of Satan. The consistency is that both Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar are types of Satan that rule over Judah. Judah is not independent and it does not have God as its ruler during this time because God has given them up. We know from elsewhere in the Bible God calls Nebuchadnezzar “his servant” as he accomplished the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem.
Let us also go to 2Kings, chapter 24 to learn a little bit more about this period of time and the reign of the kings. It says in 2Kings 24:5-6:
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
Jehoiachin is also known as Jeconiah or Coniah and he was the third king since Josiah.
Then it goes on to say in 2Kings 24:7-9:
And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt. Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.
So this king Jehoiachin also reigned only three months. That cannot be coincidental. The first king reigned three months and was followed by Jehoiakim who reigned 11 years and was followed by Jehoiachin who reigned three months. He was followed by Zedekiah. How long did Zedekiah rule? He ruled eleven years. We can see a pattern here. A king rules three months, followed by a king that rules eleven years. Another king rules three months, followed by another king that rules eleven years. I am not sure why there is this pattern, but we can definitely see that God has established a pattern. The number “three” points to the purpose of God, but other than that, I am not sure why God did it this way.
It says in 2Kings 24:15-20:
And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah. Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
his would be the conclusion of that 23-year (inclusive) period and the end of the line of the kings of Judah. The line of the kings of Israel had already been destroyed about 100 years earlier. So this was the last king before the Lord Jesus Christ would be born the “King of the Jews” and enter into the world. Of course, Christ was not of this line of kings which had been “cut off.”
Let us look at one more thing before we consider the statement in Daniel 1, verse 1, where it says, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah,” and that is to look closer at the third king after Josiah, who was Jehoiachin, and who was also known as Jeconiah or Coniah. We just read about this in 2Kings 24:8:
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
When we compare it to 2Chronicles, there appears to be a problem. It says in 2Chronicles 36:8-9:
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. 9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the JEHOVAH.
Here, the age of Jehoiachin is said to be eight years old, but in 2Kings 24, verse 8 he was said to be 18 years old. We are given more information about the length of his reign in Chronicles as three months and 10 days. How are to understand this difference in ascension age? The way we understand it is that Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim (the king mentioned in the Book of Daniel), began to reign in a co-regency with his father from the beginning in 608BC. When he was eight years old, his father Jehoiakim made him a co-regent. We can see why because it was a very volatile time. The Egyptians had authority over them and Jehoiakim wanted to make sure his son would be ruler if anything happened to him. Of course, Jehoiakim had full control (as the adult co-regent) and he was the controlling king, but for his peace of mind he made his son the co-regent. They continued that way for 10 years until Jehoiachin was 18 years old and in that year Jehoiakim was no longer king and Jehoiachin began to reign for 3 months and 10 days before he was taken away captive. Now we can see how everything fits.
But notice how God writes it. It is just amazing how God is so willing to give the appearance of an “error” in His perfect Book, the Bible. We cannot think of it any other way. God is intentionally writing it this way to give the appearance of error so if anyone has a doubt in their mind concerning the trustworthiness and perfection of the Word of God, God gives them opportunity to see it as an error. And many people are quick to say that there was a scribal error with the words “eight” and “eighteen,” but there is no error. Jehoiachin did began to reign with his father, but when his father left the throne, he began to reign alone and, therefore, both statements are true and faithful. He began to rule when he was eight years old, but he had sole reign by himself when he was 18 and he reigned for three months and 10 days. Again, I will read 2Chronicles 36:9:
Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign...
But in the very same sentence, God adds: “and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem.” But this was 10 years later after the co-regency and, yet, God combines the two facts into one verse. It is as if God is saying. “So be it if you do not trust the Bible. Then take this verse and doubt all you want and go your way. You were never one of my elect.” This is basically what God is saying, but God gives His people the utmost faith and trust in the Word of God. They do not doubt a jot or tittle because God is so careful to assure us, as He says of His Word in Psalm 12:6-7:
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
God keeps His Word and He preserves His Word. No error has crept in. It was not possible for a scribe to make an error in the original Greek or Hebrew because God would not permit it. The scribes were so zealous and the Bible was written over many centuries and it was copied and recopied again, and again. Many, many scribes touched the Bible in that sense, so why did they not make a correction when they saw these apparent errors? They could have said, “Oh, it says eight years here, but it said 18 years over there.” Certainly, they noticed it, but they never altered or changed it. They did not dare to do so. God would not permit it. There were many faults in Israel of old, but they were never able to change the Word of God in any word or letter because God prevented it in the days of Israel and in the days of the churches. So many casually charge, “Oh, the churches changed the Bible.” Or, they say, “The Catholic Church altered it.” No, they did not. God said He would keep His Word and preserve it “from this generation for ever,” and He is speaking of the “generation of evil.” This applies to both the Old Testament and the New Testament and it applies to eternity future. It will not be changed forever. It cannot be changed. The Bible is perfectly trustworthy and faithful in everything we read.
We are going to read some things that may give the appearance of contradiction, but can know, assuredly, that there are no actual contradictions or errors. This is going to come into view when we look at the third year of Jehoiachin in order to get a proper date for the Book of Daniel, but before we do that we are going to go to a couple of verses in 2Kings where we will see a statement about when a king begins to reign in two chapters. In one chapter there will be a different statement made than what is made in the next chapter, to the point where you could think there had been a super careless scribe. It is so obviously wrong that even a scribe that was “new on the job” could not make that kind of mistake. It is so obvious that the scribes would have been tempted to make correction down through history and, yet, they never did because God would not let them make correction due to the fact that there is no actual error.
Let us go to 2Kings 8:25:
In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign.
So we see it was the 12th year of Joram, the son of King Ahab of Israel, when Ahaziah the son of King Jehoram of Judah began to reign, but if we go to 2Kings, chapter 9, it says in 2Kings 9:29:
And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.
But, hold on, because it was just in the previous chapter that we were told it was the 12th year of Joram, not the 11th year. You know, this is not the newspaper where sometimes you read an article, but further on in the same story they contradict what they said earlier. You say, “Hold it, because you said something different earlier.” That is exactly how it is with these two statements in 2Kings, chapters 8 and 9. They are obviously different. Anyone reading these consecutive chapters, as people of God have done for thousands of years, would notice the discrepancy. How could it be that Ahaziah began to reign in Joram’s 11th year and he also began to reign in Joram’s 12th year? They are clearly different years, or are they? The child of God knows the Bible has no mistakes and, therefore, both statements have to be true. This is always the way we approach the Bible when there are seeming contradictions. When God says it was the 11th year of Joram, we know that is true. When God says it was the 12th year of Joram, we that this is also true. So Ahaziah began to reign in the 11th and the 12th year of Joram – both are correct. Once we understand that, we realize there was a special system of speaking about the reign of kings. Actually, historians recognize that kings kept track of the length of time they reigned in two different ways: 1) the ascension year system; and 2) the non-ascension year system.
In the ascension year system, the first year of a king’s reign is not counted until it has been going on for one full year. In the non-ascension year system, the first year of a king’s reign counts the first year as the year he began to reign. Let me give you an example of that in regard to birthdays. Let us say that someone’s birthday is November 22, 2015. The way we keep track of time concerning a person’s age, we would say this baby is a new born baby, but we would not say the baby is 1 year old and, yet, the baby was alive in the year 2015. On November 22, 2016, it is the baby’s first-year birthday and that is when the baby is considered to be one year old and, yet, it is the baby’s second year because he has been alive in two calendar years. So this is basically how they looked at the duration of the reign of kings in these two different ways. The ascension year system is like waiting until the one-year anniversary to recognize the first year of reign. In the non-ascension year system, the reign is recognized in the year it began and one year later it is recognized as the second year of his reign. These are the two systems of describing the duration of the reign of kings.
In the case of Joram, the 11th year of Joram and the 12th year of Joram have both systems in view. Historically, Joram began to reign in 853BC. His first full year would have been 852BC, according to the ascension year system. Joram’s 11th year would have been 842BC when Ahaziah began to reign, but according to the non-ascension year system Jehoram began to reign in 853BC and that was “year one” and Joram’s 12th year would be 842BC when Ahaziah began to reign. So we see it was the year 842BC that was the 11th year by the ascension year system and 842BC was the 12th year by the non-ascension year system, but both dates focus on the same year of 842BC.
Okay, let us go back to the Book of Daniel and read Daniel 1:1:
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
Here, we read it was the third year of Jehoiakim that Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem, but if we compare it to the Book of Jeremiah, it says in Jeremiah 25:1:
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;
Now we appear to have a problem because Daniel 1:1 says it was the third year of Jehoiakim when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, but Jeremiah 25:1 says that it was the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Again, you can see the obvious difference. God wrote the Bible this way. God gave numerous verses that are, seemingly, in error. They are a year off and, yet, the fact is that both statements are correct. The “mistake” is with the reader not being careful enough and not understanding the way the reign of a king could be considered. We know the third year of Jehoiakim is the same as the fourth year of Jehoiakim and it would be the first year that Nebuchadnezzar began to reign. This just proves the ascension and non-ascension year systems, because it was not possible for these things to have happened in Jehoiakim’s third year since Nebuchadnezzar began to reign in his fourth year unless you understand the two different ways of tracking time. It actually proves that the ascension year system and the non-ascension year system were definitely in use with the kings of that era.
But, this does bring up another problem. According to Mr. Camping’s teaching, Jehoiakim began to reign in 609BC. That was the year that Josiah died. It was the year that Jehoahaz (the son of Josiah) reigned for three months and it was the year that Jehoiakim began to reign. However, if you do a graph and you write out 609, 608, 607, 606, and 605, you find that Jehoiakim’s third full year by the ascension year system would be 606BC. According to the non-ascension year system it would also be 606BC. So what is the problem? In Mr. Camping’s writings he had Nebuchadnezzar’s first year as 605BC and it does not match the third year or fourth year of Jehoiakim. There seems to be a mistake of some kind. We have a way of proving Nebuchadnezzar’s first year and it is also found in Jeremiah, chapter 25. It says in Jeremiah 25:2-3:
The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, 3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.
Remember that verse 1 said, “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon.” Yet, verse 3 says that Jeremiah began to prophesy in the 13th year of Josiah even unto this day, which would be the fourth year of Jehoiakim and then it added that was the “three and twentieth year.” I have read this before and I have seen the period from the 13th year to the 23rd year as a 10-year span, but that is not a proper way of reading it. When Jeremiah says that he began to prophesy in the 13th year of Josiah, according to the ascension year system, it would have been 626BC. But when it says, “even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year,” it is not in regard to Josiah’s reign, but it is from 627BC (the 13th year of Josiah) and 23 years from that point is when Jeremiah began to prophesy. In other words, it is the 23rd year of Jeremiah’s prophesying, since 627BC. If you count 627 as “year one” and you count down the years for 23 years, it falls on 605BC as the fourth year of Jehoiakim, which would be the first year of King Nebuchadnezzar, so Mr. Camping was correct in saying that Nebuchadnezzar began to reign in 605BC. Other theologians and archeologists also date his reign from 605BC and it so happens it is the correct Biblical date. From Jeremiah’s statement, it is locked in based on the period he began to prophesy and 605BC is the fourth year of Jehoiakim and also the third year of Jehoiakim. That would seem to mean that Jehoiakim had to begin reigning in 608BC.
This is something I hope to spend more time looking at, but if this date for Jehoiakim is 609BC, it would not be possible for Nebuchadnezzar to begin ruling in 605BC. That is definite, according to the third year and fourth year statements about Jehoiakim’s reign. It would have to be 606BC, but when we check that against Jeremiah’s statement it does point to Nebuchadnezzar reigning in 605BC, which would bring Jehoiakim down one year. If Jehoiakim began reigning in 608BC (according to the ascension year system) then 607BC would be year one; 606BC would be year two; and 605BC would be year three and this would match the statement made in Daniel, chapter 1. According to the non-ascension year system, 608BC would be year one; 607BC would be year two; 606BC would be year three; and 605BC would be year four, which matches with Jeremiah 25, verse 1. This would bring harmony to everything else, but now we have to see if that is permitted by other Scriptures. Does that fit with other chronological references to the kings? That is what I want to check out further.
But this is just the beginning of our study in the Book of Daniel and we can see how God has hidden information that is, seemingly, not super significant, but it is a way God hides truth. This is why the people of God must ask God for understanding. We have to go to Him, humbly, acknowledging that we do not know anything. We cannot know anything and we will never figure it out unless God shows us and causes us to understand, as the Lord said to Gabriel, “Make this man to understand the vision.” That is our only hope as we go to the Bible to understand truth, especially the truth concerning the time of the end.