Lesson 39: Daniel – Part 2

Reading Preperation:
  • Daniel 2; 4; 7; 9
Lesson Notes:
1. Daniel – Part 2
Richard D. Draper notes,
“The Book of Daniel easily divides into two sections… The first half of the book (chaps. 1-6) deals with the experience of Daniel and his associates [which we addressed in chapter 38 and]… the second portion of the book (chaps. 7-12) deals with God’s dominion over later nations and, finally, with the establishment of his kingdom in the latter days” (“The Book of Daniel” in Studies in Scripture 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 322-323).
In chapter 38, our attention was on the experiences of Daniel and his associates. In part II, we now turn our attention to four specific dreams. The first two dreams are found in chapters two and four. They were given to king Nebuchadnezzar, who then sought Daniel for their interpretation.
The dream recorded in chapter seven involving four beasts was given directly to Daniel. It occurred during the first years of Belshazzar, king of Babylon prior to the Medes-Persian conquest.
In chapter nine, we will examine our final vision that occurred during the first year of the rule of king Darius following his overthrow of the Babylonians. It was given in response to Daniel’s inquiry of the Lord regarding the continued captivity of the Jews beyond the seventy year period that Jeremiah had prophesied.
2. Daniel 2: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Coming of the Kingdom of God
Like Isaiah, and others, Daniel’s visions and interpretations cover a wide spectrum of the earth’s history. One of Daniel’s most important dream interpretations involves Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It relates directly to the establishment of the kingdom of God during the latter-days. It is important for us especially to understand this dream as we will then be able to see many aspects of its fulfillment.
This dream, as noted, occurred during Daniel’s third or fourth year in Babylon (603 B.C.). Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which troubled him in spirit. He made an unusual request of his royal consultants, for he demanded that his wise men tell him the dream and its interpretation without his having first told them the dream. Their response is revealing.
Daniel 2:10-11
10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter:…
11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
This statement is true, “There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king [his dream]” except that man had received the knowledge of the dream from the Lord himself. Only a prophet of God would know the dream and then be able to give its interpretation, without the king having first shared the dream with him.
The response of the king is striking, in view of the impossibility of his request.
Daniel 2:12-13
12 For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
13 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
Ellis T. Rasmussen suggests,
This was a test of the court interpreters, if they “can tell him the dream, he will know that they know what they are taking about and he will know whether he can have confidence in their interpretations or not (An Introduction to the Old Testament and Its Teachings, Part II. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Printing Service, 1972, Second Edition, 92).
When they failed the test, the king decreed that all wise men in his kingdom would lose their lives. This decree included Daniel and his associates Shad-rach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (see Daniel 1:7; Daniel 2:17).
Daniel upon hearing the decree, asks “the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? (see Daniel 2:15).
Daniel 2:16
16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
Daniel sought in prayer to know Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation from the Lord. All Daniel needed to do in order to answer Nebuchadnezzar’s request was time, faith, and an answer to prayer. These are also the same ingredients that each of us need in order to proceed in our lives.
God, through Daniel, was able to do what the gods of the wise men could not. The answer came and Daniel went to meet with King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel having received an answer to his prayer did not delay in expressing his gratitude and appreciations. An example we could also follow.
Daniel 2:23
23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.
Daniel is now ready to meet with the king.
Daniel 2:26-28 [underline added]
26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
Daniel now gives to king Nebuchadnezzar the dream which he dreamed and its interpretation.
Daniel 2:31-35 [Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream] Daniel 2:36-45 [Daniel’s Interpretation]
31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
32 This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thights of brass.
33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38 … hath made thee ruler… Thou art this head of gold.
39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over the earth.
40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: foreasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but these shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be party strong, and partly broken.
43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made know to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
The response of the king to Daniel sharing with him his dream and its interpretation was overwhelming.
Daniel 2:46-47
46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.
47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
Nebuchadnezzar’s response was to fall upon his face before Daniel.
The following chart is provided in order to provide clarity to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
King Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
Reference: W. Cleon Skousen. The Fourth Thousand Years. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, [Sixth Printing 1972], 749).
We will now examine the elements of the dream. They are: A great image in the form of a man with (1) Head of fine gold; (2) Breast and arms of silver; (3) Belly and thighs of brass; (4) Legs of iron, and (5) Feet of part iron and part clay. There was a stone that was cut out without hands that hit the image upon its feet. The image broke into pieces and became as chaff and the wind blew it away. On the other hand, the stone remained. The stone then became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
The interpretation is as follows: (1) The head of gold represents the Assyria-Babylonian Empire (671-538 B.C.); (2) The Breast and arms of silver represent the Medo-Persian Empire (538-331 B.C.); (3) The Belly and Thighs of Brass are the Greco-Macedonian Kingdom (331-160 B.C.); (4) The Legs of Iron – The Great Roman Empire (160-395 A.D.), and (5) The Feet and Toes – Part Iron and Part Clay – group of ten nations of Europe as they originated (496 -1829 A.D.).
The stone that was cut out without hands represents the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the Lord Jesus Christ through his appointed latter day prophet, Joseph Smith, on April 6, 1830. From its small beginning of just six members, the church has grown to over 14 million members world-wide {2013]. It will continue to grow until it fills the entire earth.
Spencer W. Kimball confirmed,
“… the God of heaven [according to Daniel] would set up a kingdom—the kingdom of God upon the earth, which should never be destroyed nor left to other people. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored in 1830 after numerous revelations from the divine source; and this is the kingdom, set up by the God heaven, that would never be destroyed nor superseded, and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and would fill the whole earth” (“The Stone Cut without Hands” in “Ensign, May, 1976, 8-9).
King Nebuchadnezzar sought to honor Daniel by giving him gifts and by making him “ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and the chief of governors over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:48). Daniel then sought appointment for positions of responsibility for his associates, Shadruch, Meshach, and Abed-nego within the province for which he was ruler which was granted by the king.
The response of Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel’s interpretation has led some to assume his conversion to Daniel’s God.
Richard D. Draper states,
“The king’s confession did not acknowledge that Jehovah was the supreme God, let alone the only God, but it did make the Lord a recognized member of the Babylonian pantheon. Having Jehovah become just one of the gods was not the objective, however. So the king had more to learn” (“The Book of Daniel” in Studies in Scripture 4. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 325).
The “more” the king had to learn came in the form of another dream which we will now examine.
3. Daniel 4: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of Tree that was Cut Down and Grew Again
Chapter four is an extension of the “more” king Nebuchadnezzar had to learn. It came in the form of another dream that came to the king one evening that made him afraid. He initially consulted with his wise men.
Daniel 4:7-8
7 Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
8 But at the last Daniel came in before me…
When Daniel came in, the king told Daniel
Daniel 4:9
9 … I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret trouble thee, tell me the vision of the dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
The king now proceeds to tell Daniel his dream. In an effort to provide clarity, one column is the dream with the corresponding column providing Daniel’s interpretation.
Daniel 4:10-17 [Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream] Daniel 4:22-26 [Daniel’s interpretation]
10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven’
22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaven, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
16 Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree toots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee after that thou shall have know that the heavens do rule.
These are the elements of the dream: (1) a great tree which had many leaves that gave shade to the animals; (2) a watcher and holy one who came down from heaven and commanded that the tree be cut down; (3) the stump and roots were to be left in the earth, with (a) a band of iron and brass; (b) it would be wet with the dew of heaven; (c) it was to eat grass; (d) its heart was changed from a man’s to a beast’s heart, and (e) seven times passed over him.
Sidney B. Sperry offers the following insight,
“(1) The tree in all its strength and greatness represented the king and the extent of his dominion in the earth; (2) The stump of the tree, and his portion with the wild beasts of the field till seven times should pass over him, represented the fact that the king should be driven out from men, become insane, and dwell with the beasts, and eat grass like oxen for seven years, until he acquired sufficient humility to realize that the Most High rules among men. The stump left in the earth meant that the dominion of the king should be made sure to him after he had learned the lesson that the heavens, not men, rule” (The Voice of Israel’s Prophets. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1952, 250, numbers added).
Daniel concludes his interpretation with the following words of admonishment to the king. These words of counsel may have been the final warning given by the Lord that if the king had heeded, may have prevented the following calamity from occurring.
Daniel 4:27
27 Wherefore, O king, et my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.
The Old Testament student manual notes,
“Mercy to the poor was mentioned [by Daniel] as a prerequisite to obtaining forgiveness of sin. It is one of the most sincere evidences of repentance and submission to the Lord’s will (Compare James 1:27)” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982, Second Edition, 300).
Richard D. Draper states,
“Daniel is careful to point out the specific sin that brought the curse from God–Nebuchadnezzar’s pride–and at the same time show that he tried to prevent it… But the arrogant king refused” (“The Book of Daniel” in Studies in Scripture 4. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 328).
The depth of the king’s arrogance is noted “twelve months later” (Daniel 4:29).
Daniel 4:30
30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
Adam Clarke states,
“Here his heart was inflated with pride; he attributed everything to himself, and acknowledged God in nothing. The walls, hanging gardens, temple of Bel, and the royal palace, all built by Nebuchadnezzar, made it the greatest city in the world” (Is not this great Babylon? Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. Abridged by Ralph Earle. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1967, [Nineteenth Printing March 1991], 695).
Daniel 4:31-32
31 While the word was in the king’s mouth [“Is not this great Babylon that I have built”], there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoke; The kingdom is departed from thee.
32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and sever times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
Thus was fully exposed the king’s self-centered refusal to recognize the hand of God, in spite of personal revelation. In order to humble the powerful, yet prideful king, the Lord chooses to humble him in an unusual manner. The king became psychotic.
Sidney B. Sperry states,
“the disease with which the king was afflicted is known technically as lycanthropy. The patient believes that he has changed into an animal and, to a limited extent, acts like it. We may reasonably assume that Daniel advised the king to make suitable arrangements beforehand for the government of his dominion, in preparation for the day when his affliction should come upon him” (Voice of Israel’s Prophets. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1952, 251).
Richard D. Draper notes,
“the curse lasted until, eventually, the king turned to heaven for help. Then came peace. Nebuchadnezzar was humbled at last” (The Book of Daniel” in Studies in Scripture 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 328).
Daniel 4:34-35
34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand.
Richard D. Draper states,
“The lesson was learned. God will not long put up with pride. He and he alone rules the nations and sets their course” (“The Book of Daniel” in Studies in Scriptures 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 328).
4. Daniel 7: Daniel’s Vision of the Beasts and the Ancient of Days
This is a vision that Daniel had personally during the first year that Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, served as king of Babylon. His vision involved the appearance of four beasts.
Daniel 7:4-14 [Daniel’s night vision] Daniel 7:15-27 [Interpretation of Vision]
15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
16 I came near unto one of them that stood by,and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feat as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
5 And behold another beast, a second like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and beheld a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20 and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of the horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
23 Thus he said, the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall treat it down, and break it in pieces.
8 I considered the horns, and behold, there come up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end.
21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousands stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. 27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, and shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
Before we proceed in our understanding of the elements of Daniel’s night vision. it is important that we consider the general insight given by Joseph Smith regarding actual and images of figures in dreams or visions.
Joseph Smith states,
“The prophets [Daniel; John] do not declare that they saw a beast or beasts, but that they saw the image or figure of a beast. Daniel did not see an actual bear or a lion but the images or figures of those beasts. The translation should have been rendered ‘image’ instead of ‘beast’; in every instance where beasts are mentioned by the prophets… when the prophets speak of seeing beasts in their visions, they mean that they saw the images, they being types to represent certain things. At the same time, they received the interpretation as to what these images or types were designed to represent” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976, 291).
We will now proceed to identify the elements of Daniel’s night vision included four beast. The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings. The second was like a bear with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. The third was like a leopard with the four wings of a foul on its back, and lastly, the fourth was a beast that was dreadful and terrible with strong and iron teeth and ten horns. Among the horns came up another small horn in which three of the first horns plucked up from the roots were eyes like the eyes of a man with a mouth that spake great things. Then Daniel saw the “Ancient of Days,” sitting upon a throne and myriads of persons ministered to him. Judgment was set and the books were opened. The great beast with the horns was destroyed and burned with fire. The dominion of the other beasts was taken away from them, but their lives were prolonged for a time. Then one, “like unto the Son of Man” came with the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days. He was then given dominion, glory, and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion was to be an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom should never be destroyed (see Daniel 7:4-14).
Sidney B. Sperry states,
“Most interpreters seem to conclude that there is a correspondence between the beasts which Daniel saw and the kingdoms represented by the images in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (ch. 2)” (Voice of Israel’s Prophets. Salt Lake City: Desert Book, 1952, 257).
This suggests that the four beasts represented four kings that should arise out of the earth. Thus the lion compares to the head of gold, the bear to the breast and arms of silver, etc.
Joseph Smith provides further insight referring to Daniels Vision,
Referring to Daniel’s vision, he stated, “the figures of the beast… represent those kingdoms which had degenerated and become corrupt, savage and beast-like in their disposition even the degenerate kingdoms of the wicked world… You there see that the beasts are spoken of to represent the kingdoms of the world, the inhabitants whereof were beastly and abominable characters; they were murderers, corrupt, carnivorous, and brutal in their disposition… ” (History of the Church 5. Edited by B.H. Roberts. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-52, Second Edition, Revised, 341).
Sidney B. Sperry notes,
“In this statement [by Joseph Smith, it is] the moral nature of the kingdoms concerned, not their political identity, if they have any” (The Voice of Israel’s Prophets. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1952, 258).
Lastly, Daniel saw in vision the “Son of Man” coming with the clouds of heaven, coming even to the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:13). The Savior of the World, even Jesus Christ, will appear at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Davies County, Missouri (see Doctrine and Covenants 116:1). His purpose will be to receive from all the prophets of the seven dispensations, including the ‘Ancient of Days’ an accounting of their stewardship.
To whom was Daniel referring when he spoke of the “Ancient of days?” We learn through modern revelation that the title, “Ancient of days” refers to the oldest member and patriarch of the human race, Father Adam.
Doctrine and Covenants 27:11
11 And also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days;
Joseph Smith states,
“Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council… The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976, 157).
In accordance with Daniel’s vision, it will be those who have previously held positions of responsibility on the earth who will then present to Father Adam an accounting of their stewardship. Adam, or the Ancient of days, will then present to the Lord Jesus Christ, the final report.
Joseph Fielding Smith states,
“At this council Christ will be received and acknowledged as the rightful ruler of the earth. Satan will be replaced. Following the event every government in the world, including the United States, will have to become part of the government of God. Then righteous rule will be established. The earth will be cleansed; the wicked will be destroyed; and the reign of peace will be ushered in” (Doctrines of Salvation 3. Edited by Bruce R. McConkie. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956, [Eighteenth Printing 1978], 13-14).
This will be a glorious occasion for all who are in attendance, but likely will be unknown to the general public. It is yet another of the final events to occur prior to the Lord’s Second Coming.
Who does the fourth beast represent?
Sidney B. Sperry states,
“May I suggest that the last beast which Daniel saw, which was so terrible and which had a mouth speaking great things (7:7-8), is none other than the “great and abominable church” of our modern scriptures… Latter-day Saints may thus understand that the great beast seen by Daniel does not necessarily have a particular political identity at a special time in history. It rather represents the great forces of evil that have operated for centuries in the world against the work of God and that will continue to operated until the judgment spoken of by Daniel takes place” (The Voice of Israel’s Prophets. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1952, 260,262).
While to some Daniel’s night vision and its interpretation remains yet another event that defies understanding. To others who are blessed to receive revelation from on high, the vision has great significance and they yet await its complete fulfillment as outlined.
5. Daniel 9: The Vision of Seventy Weeks
As previously noted, this vision, like that of the four beasts, came personally to Daniel.
Sidney B. Sperry states,
“sometime during the first year of Darius the Mede, Daniel was mediating over the Scriptures,… particularly those writings of Jeremiah having to do with the period of the Babylonian Captivity. He was especially concerned with the time of completion of the seventy years of exile predicted by Jeremiah (Jer.25:11-12;29:10)… In view of the fact that my people have not yet been restored, I shall inquire of the Lord and confess my people’s sins… While he was yet praying, Gabriel (Dan.9:21), appeared to him” (Voice of Israel’s Prophet’s. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1952, 266).
We might ask “Who is the heavenly messenger or Gabriel, who appeared to Daniel?
Joseph Smith states,
“Noah… is Gabriel, [and] he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Edited by Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976, 157).
Sidney B. Sperry states,
“Gabriel’s explanation to Daniel (9:24-27), forms one of the most difficult passages in all of the Old Testament… [and it has been interpreted by Bible scholars in many different ways]… [It is Sperry’s belief that]Gabriel, among other things, assured Daniel concerning the time that the Babylonian Captivity ended.
[Sperry continues] “In my opinion no interpretation yet given of 9:24-27, completely satisfies,… I personally lean toward the interpretation that Gabriel’s words do involve Christ’s coming in the flesh, His death, and the destruction of the Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 A.D.” (The Voice of Israel’s Prophets. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1952, 266-267).
Richard D. Draper notes,
“Jesus referred explicitly to the afflictions foretold in Daniel 9:27 when he warned the Jews of ‘the abominations of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet concerning the destruction of Jerusalem” (see Joseph Smith translation of Matthew 23:39 and chapter 24 (JS-M 1:12)” (“The Book of Daniel” in Studies in Scripture 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 332).
6. Conclusions
Because not all has been revealed regarding the identities of the symbols found in the book of Daniel, much is not yet known. It may be for this reason that some will minimize the importance of visions and dreams as a source of insight and revelation. Both Daniel and king Nebuchadnezzar recognized the value of dreams as messages from the heaven and sought to understand their significance. It is important that we not dismiss the potential importance of dreams or visions, just because we do not immediately understand their complete implications. As we patiently continue to mediate and pray about their possible importance, we may yet discover their additional value in our lives.
Richard D. Draper observes,
“… what is abundantly clear and unmistakable throughout the book is the message of the visions: God’s kingdom will prevail in the last days. It will grow until it consumes all other kingdoms, until it is the only kingdom on the face of the whole earth…
“[Also] During the reign of the beastly kingdoms, the Saints will have distress… God’s people in the latter days will be much like the Jews of Daniel’s day, strangers and foreigners serving for a time in an unfriendly land, waiting for the day of final deliverance. The task set before exiled Judah and modern Saints is to learn to do the will of God while living in an environment that opposes it. This message makes the book of Daniel relevant both then and now” (“The Book of Daniel” in Studies in Scripture 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 333).