The Testimony and Its Vessel Unto the Time of the End
The Abiding Message of the Book of Daniel
In this introductory word it will be necessary for us to take a broad view of what is before us and to be occupied mainly in a general application. The more specific spiritual application will remain for subsequent consideration and you will understand that the peculiar nature of this present time is just preparation for what my follow.
We shall have to take what this book (Daniel) brings into view along a two-fold line, in the main. Firstly the historical and prophetical; and then secondly, the typical and spiritual. But I would like here immediately to say that it is not one's thought or intention to deal with the Book of Daniel in any way exhaustively along prophetical lines, that is, it is not just prophecy as contained in this book which will occupy us, although that will be latent and sometimes patent all the way through.
We are aware that prophecy by itself need not be spiritually helpful or enriching or building up. It may be very interesting, very fascinating, very educational, but it does not always have a spiritual effect, and I do not think the Lord ever intended His people just to study prophecy as a subject, but to recognize that everything in His thought is intended to each down into the life and to make very radical changes there, and in order for prophecy to do that, you have to do a great deal more than study dates, times, seasons and signs. There has to be a spiritual interpretation and application, and it is that which we have especially in mind here. But for the present moment we just take some more or less broad view of what is here brought before us.
2,500 Years of This World's History
We know that the Book of Daniel covers and outlines that part of this world's history which was designated by the Lord Jesus Himself as "the times of the Gentiles." You will remember that He said (it is recorded in Luke 21:24): "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," and this Book of Daniel covers, and outlines, that period; roughly a period of some 2,500 years. It commenced when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were entirely overthrown and Gentile powers took possession of their land; in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar introduced the times of the Gentiles, the Gentile world-powers; and never since that time has there been a king of Israel of Judah. Now the outline of this period is given to us largely in the second, seventh, eighth and ninth chapters of this book.
In the second chapter we have the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and the seventh and the eighth chapters are enlargements of the second, that is, a fuller account of what is contained in the image of that dream. I am not going to attempt to deal with all the details of that, but just to remind you of that image and what it pointed to.
(continued with # 33)