Nov 6, 2009

Daniel: A Hated Book

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

When I think of the book of Daniel, I am always reminded of a remarkable experience I had in 1983, during the third year of Lamb & Lion Ministries.

It started with a telephone call from a person in the mid-cities area between Ft. Worth and Dallas. He said he was a regular listener to the radio program I had at the time. He wanted to know if I would come to his church on a Sunday evening and speak on Bible prophecy. I told him I would be happy to do so if his pastor would invite me.

"That's the problem," he responded. "You see, my pastor doesn't like Bible studies, and He prefers entertainment on Sunday evenings — like pop singers and dancers. It's not going to be easy to talk him into inviting you, so please give me a jazzy title."

A "jazzy title" instantly popped into my mind. "Let's call it 'The Future of the Late Great Planet Earth.'"

"Hey! That's really jazzy," he replied. "Please pray I will be successful in persuading him."

The next afternoon the man called me back, and he was so excited you could have heard him without a phone. "Praise the Lord!" he shouted. "My pastor agreed to invite you without us even having to argue about it. All I did was tell him your topic, and he said, 'Invite him!'"

What the man did not know, and what both of us were to discover later, after my appearance, is that when the request was made, the pastor was sitting at his desk reading a book entitled, "The Future of the Late Great Planet Earth." It was a vehement attack on Hal Lindsey, and it was a denial of Bible prophecy. The pastor thought that because I had selected the book's title as the title of my presentation, I was going to agree with the viewpoint of the book's author! (God has a great sense of humor!)

When the time came for me to speak, it didn't take long for me to discover that I was in trouble. The pastor introduced me as "an expert on Bible prophecy who will explain to you that there is no such thing as prophecy in the Bible and will illustrate to you why Hal Lindsey is a fool." Needless to say, I was stunned by the introduction.

I stepped up to the podium, tapped the pastor on the shoulder, and whispered, "I'm afraid there has been a terrible mistake. You see, I believe in Bible prophecy, and I believe Hal Lindsey is right on target. Should I forget about speaking and go home?"

The pastor thought a moment and then said, "No, you go ahead and speak, but keep it short."

With sweaty palms and a dry mouth, I stepped up to the microphone and said, "Please open your Bibles and turn to Acts chapter 2." I wanted to show them how the first Gospel sermon ever preached — the sermon by the Apostle Peter on Pentecost — was a survey of Bible prophecy from start to finish, showing how Jesus had fulfilled a variety of Messianic prophecies.

Before I started reading Acts 2, I looked out at the audience and noticed that no one had a Bible! I asked them to open the pew Bibles. A person blurted out, "We don't have pew Bibles in this church." I then requested some men to go through the education wing of the building and collect Bibles from the classrooms. I led three songs while we waited for them to gather the Bibles. When they returned, one of them reported, "We can't find any Bibles in this church!"

At that point the pastor announced that he would get some Bibles out of his office. He came back with about six, and he distributed them among the 200 people who were present.

Once again, I asked them to turn to Acts 2. The pages started rustling — and they continued to do so, because no one could find the book of Acts! So, I took the opportunity to introduce them to the Bible. I explained the division between the Old and New Testaments. I pointed out the types of books in both testaments, and then I led them to the discovery of the book of Acts.

After I made my point with Peter's sermon in Acts 2, I asked them to turn to the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Suddenly, the pastor stood up and said, "I'm sorry, but I do not allow the book of Daniel to be read in this church."

When I asked why, he responded, "You obviously are not a seminary graduate, because if you were, you would be aware of the fact that Daniel is a fraudulent book. It was written like prophecy, but in fact it was written long after the events it claims to prophesy."

I was stunned. And I decided I was not going to allow the rebuke to pass without a response. I began to present one argument after another in behalf of the validity of Daniel, and each time the pastor just scoffed at me in disdain. Finally, I asked, "Do you want me to go home?"

"No," he replied, "just don't quote the book of Daniel."

I stood there for a moment, still in a state of shock. Then, I resumed by asking the congregation to turn to Genesis 3:15. "I want to show you the very first Messianic prophecy in the Bible." But before I could read it, the pastor interrupted me again.

He jumped to his feet and said, "I'm sorry, but I can't allow you to read that verse because I know you are going to claim that it is a prophecy about the virgin birth, and we don't believe in the virgin birth at this church!"

All this happened at a mainline Protestant denomination.

The pastor's attitude I experienced that evening is commonplace in Christendom today. Daniel is the most controversial book in the Bible. Liberals hate it because they do not believe in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, and Daniel's book is a great testimony to divine inspiration. That's because it contains some of the most remarkable prophecies in the Bible, prophecies that are detailed in content and broad in scope, stretching from Daniel's time to the day of the Messiah's Second Coming. As one person has put it, "Daniel wrote history more accurately before it happened than anyone has ever done after it happened."

To discredit the book, liberals have tried to argue that it was written long after the time of Daniel by someone who assumed his identity. They usually place the time of its authorship around 100 years before Christ. They are determined to date it after the time of the Greek tyrant, Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned from 175 to 164 BC. The reason they are so determined to do this is because the book of Daniel prophesies the reign of Antiochus in detail, including the atrocities that he would commit against the Jews.

But the efforts of the liberals to trash the book have all been in vain. One of the strongest rebuttals is the fact that Daniel was included in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. This is the translation of what we call the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek. It was done by a group of 70 Hebrew scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, in about 280 BC — long before the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Also, Josephus, the First Century Jewish historian, reports that when Alexander the Great came to Jerusalem in 333 BC, the High Priest showed him where he and his empire were prophesied in the book of Daniel, and he was so impressed that he spared the city from destruction (Jewish Antiquities, vol. 11, p. 311).

But the most important evidence of the book's authenticity is to be found in the New Testament in Matthew 24:15 where Jesus Himself quoted the prophecies of Daniel and thus personally attested to the validity of the book.

Related Links

Daniel - His End Time Prophecies - Lamb & Lion Ministries
What are the seventy sevens in Daniel 9:24-27? -
Fictitious Daniel - The Berean Call
The Forgotten Dream and the Unforgettable Daniel - Grace to You (John MacArthur)
Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation - John Walvoord (Book)