By Hank Hanegraaff
One of the most significant demonstrations that the Bible is divine rather than merely human in origin is the undeniable reality that the prophet Daniel, writing six centuries before the advent of Christ, was empowered by Almighty God to do what no soothsayer or astrologer could. With awe-inspiring precision, he predicted a succession of nations from Babylon through the Median and Persian Empires, to the “terrifying and frightening and very powerful” kingdom of Greece, which “crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left” (Dan. 7:7). Daniel foresaw the mighty Alexander the Great suddenly burst into history, traverse “the whole earth without touching the ground” (8:5), shatter Medo-Persia, and leave a horrific legacy that culminated in the persecution and suffering of the Jews under the second-century Greco-Syrian beast Antiochus IV Epiphanes, including the despot’s desecration of the Jerusalem temple, his untimely death, and freedom for the Jews under Judas Maccabaeus. Moreover, as Daniel looked down the corridor of time, he got a glimpse of a kingdom that will itself endure forever. Truly, the succession of nations immortalized by the book of Daniel is a surpassingly spectacular star in the constellation of biblical prophecy.
During the century following the death of King Solomon, a divided nation—Israel to the north and Judah to the south—grew indifferent to God’s prophets and precepts. Intended to be a light to the nations, they became a mere microcosm of pagan culture. The kings of Israel made unholy alliances with pagan nations from Egypt to Babylon. They adopted the religions of foreign lands and built altars and shrines to pagan gods. Thus, as God had forewarned them,1 the land vomited out the Israelites as it had the Canaanites before them. The Northern Kingdom was exiled in Assyria (722 BC) and the Southern Kingdom was exiled in Babylon (606 BC).
God, however, was far from finished with His covenant people. Through the prophet Daniel in Babylon, He revealed his present and eternal purposes for the world. As such, six centuries before the advent of Christ,2 Daniel was empowered by the Almighty to do what no soothsayer or astrologer could do. With breathtaking precision, he predicted a succession of nations from Babylon to the coming of the Babe of Bethlehem—a king who would usher in a kingdom that will never be vanquished or destroyed (see Dan. 2 and 7).
FROM BABYLON TO THE MEDES
Daniel begins his prophetic foretelling of the succession of nations by predicting that Babylon—who had broken down the wall of Jerusalem and carried off her treasures, had burned the temple and destroyed the royal palaces, and had carried the remnant of Israel into exile and servitude—would itself fall from its lofty perch as golden head of the nations…
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