Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 31

Chapter 31: Daniel—A Prophet of God ~ Matthew 24:1-21

Q1 – How does Jesus’s prophecy concerning the near future correspond with what Daniel had prophesied over 500 years earlier?

A1 – This whole conversation that Jesus had with his disciples began as they were leaving the temple. His disciples commented about the buildings, and in reply, Jesus told them they would all be torn down. Later, His disciples wanted to know more about this occurrence and asked when it would happen. They knew it would all be tied to Jesus being recognized as the Messiah and the ending of the age.

So Jesus began to tell them what would take place. Several things He talked about seem to parallel what Daniel had spoken of in his vision recorded in Daniel 10-12:

  • Matthew 24:6-7—Wars and rumors of wars would occur. Much of Daniel’s vision described the great conflicts that were to come (Daniel 10:1 and much of Daniel 11).
  • Matthew 24:9, 24:19-21—Persecutions and great distress were to befall God’s people, “unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21, NIV). Daniel vision also stated that many “will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered” (Daniel 11:33, NIV). Further, in Daniel 12:1 (NIV) almost the same statement appears that Jesus would make centuries later: “There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.”
  • Matthew 24:15—When they saw standing in the holy place the “abomination that causes desolation,” Jesus told them it would be time to flee. He was referencing Daniel’s prophecy concerning this occurrence: “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation” (Daniel 11:31, NIV; note that this is also mentioned in Daniel 12:11).

As you read through these passages in Matthew and in Daniel, you may find further parallels. Jesus, by living a life without sin, perfectly fulfilled the requirements of the Old Law, thus ending that era. With his death, burial, and resurrection, He ushered in a new age and established forever a spiritual, rather than an earthly, kingdom. As Daniel’s prophecy had foretold, this would be a tumultuous time. Jesus was telling His disciples in this scripture in Matthew 24 what to expect as they lived through this time of great transition, the likes of which the world had never seen.

Q2 – Jesus’ disciples had likely heard or read the scripture in the book of Daniel to which Jesus referred. How do you think they felt upon hearing Jesus tell them these things were going to occur soon?

A2 –  Surreal is the word that comes to mind, probably accompanied by a great amount of anxiety. These people were born under the Old Law and had looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, as had generations of their ancestors before them. To be able to know the Messiah personally, to walk and talk with Him, was something all those who came before and all those who would live after could only dream about. Yet, they were among the few to actually experience His presence and teachings. Perhaps this helped give them the strength they undoubtedly needed to endure the tremendous upheaval and the great persecutions that were to come in their lives.

Q3 – The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls have further affirmed both the contents of the book of Daniel and date around which it was written. How do these scrolls along with other historical records attest to the divine inspiration of the scriptures?

A3 – In the late 1940s, ancient manuscripts were discovered in caves close to Qumran, some of which dated back over 2000 years. Numerous scrolls or fragments of scrolls from the book of Daniel were among those discovered. Prior to this discovery, certain Bible critics who did not believe the Bible was inspired by God attempted to discredit the authenticity of the book of Daniel. Because his writings contained prophecies that were known to have come to pass, they claimed the book of Daniel was written after the fact and made to appear that it had been written earlier.

Why were there so many scrolls of Daniel in these caves? The ancients, as a means of preserving God’s word, meticulously copied these writings over and over through the centuries. Sometimes the older copies, as they became damaged from use and age, were destroyed. Critics argue that mistakes occurred in the recopying, yet these ancient scrolls attest to the diligence of the scribes who copied them and show that the scriptures we have today are authentic.

The age of these scrolls also attest to the fact that the book of Daniel was written well before the occurrences which were foretold in the prophecies came to pass. Because of this, we can know Daniel’s writings were inspired by God. Moses clarified that point long ago when he told the people: “But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22a, NLT).

Other archeological finds have been made that attest to the authenticity of the Bible. For example, Luke names many different nationalities and places in the book of Acts that, for centuries, were unknown outside of his writings. Unbelievers were convinced there was no accuracy to this book in the Bible. In fact, according to Sir William Ramsay:

“[A]bout 1880 to 1890, the book of the Acts was regarded as the weakest part of the New Testament. No one that had any regard for his reputation as a scholar cared to say a word in its defence. The most conservative of theological scholars, as a rule, thought the wisest plan of defence for the New Testament as a whole was to say as little as possible about the Acts (1915, p. 38).” (See Note 1 below.)

It should be noted that Sir William Ramsay was an archaeologist. As an unbeliever, he set about to prove the inaccuracy of the book of Acts. However, the evidence he unearthed in his digs throughout Asia Minor convinced him otherwise. In the end, he became a New Testament scholar and proclaimed Luke to be an excellent historian.

Who knows what other treasures are just waiting for future generations to find! Undoubtedly, they will all attest to the truth of God’s word. “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…” (Romans 3:4, NASB)

Below are a few articles that you may find useful in your studies:

6 Things You May Not Know About the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Integrity
Archaeology and the New Testament
3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God
Archaeology and the Historical Reliability of the New Testament
Archaeological Evidence

(Note 1) This reference came from the article, “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” and is a quote from the book: Ramsay, William (1915), The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (London: Hodder and Stoughton).