Daniel’s Prophecy—Dreams That Affect You
“You know, I turn back to your ancient prophets in the Old Testament and the signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if—if we’re the generation that’s going to see that come about. I don’t know if you’ve noted any of those prophecies lately, but believe me, they certainly describe the times we’re going through.”—U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
PRESIDENT Reagan is not the only person who has wondered whether the times in which we are living are the ones foretold in Bible prophecies. Millions of others have also been struck by the way present world conditions correspond with Scriptural prophecies. These prophecies, however, foretell not only an unprecedented time of distress but a righteous new system of things that will follow immediately.
This article opens a series, spanning four successive issues of The Watchtower, designed to familiarize you with one such ancient prophet, whose name was Daniel. You may know of him. He was a Jew of noble birth. While still a youth, Daniel was transported to Babylon, where he was educated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This was at the end of the seventh century B.C.E., before the destruction of Jerusalem. Daniel remained in captivity until Babylon’s fall in 539 B.C.E., after which he served in the court of the early Medo-Persian rulers. During his exile he interpreted dreams and had inspired visions that affect our day. Yes, you and your family are involved in what Daniel foretold.
Prophetic Dreams and Visions
The dreams and visions of the book of Daniel are, in fact, short-range and long-range prophecies. They are world history written in advance. They give forevisions of the power struggle of men, dynasties, and political empires from Daniel’s time down through history until “the time of the end.”—Daniel 8:17, 19.
The fulfillment of the short-term prophecies should inspire our confidence in the long-range prophecies that reach down to our time. What are some of these short-range predictions?
One was a dream about a great tree that was cut down and banded for “seven times,” or years, before being allowed to sprout again. (Daniel 4:10-17) In its short-term fulfillment this prophecy applied to King Nebuchadnezzar, who had the dream. Just one year later, this ruler was ‘cut down,’ apparently by mental illness. For seven years he conducted himself like a beast of the field. Then, “at the end of the days” predicted, Nebuchadnezzar recovered his reason and his throne. (Daniel 4:28-37) According to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ancient sources indicate that Nebuchadnezzar did become sick toward the end of his reign. But this dream also had a long-range fulfillment, as a later article in this series will show.
Another short-range prophecy in the book of Daniel is provided by the miraculous handwriting on the wall of the banquet hall where Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson Belshazzar and his princes were feasting. (Daniel, chapter 5) They were profaning the sacred vessels taken from the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem. Under inspiration, Daniel interpreted that message of divine judgment. And in fulfillment, “that very night” Babylon fell and “Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed,” as confirmed by Greek historian Xenophon. (Daniel 5:30) But today there is handwriting on the wall for the present wicked system of things. This, also, will be explained in an article of this series.
Unsealed at “the Time of the End”
Toward the end of his prophetic book, Daniel recorded this message that he received from an angel: “As for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of the end. Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.”—Daniel 12:4.
Today “the true knowledge” of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy has indeed become abundant. This increased understanding has convinced millions of serious Bible students that we are truly living at “the time of the end” and that God’s Kingdom of righteousness is near. (Daniel 2:44) Showing the relevance of the book of Daniel in this respect, the Soncino Books of the Bible states: “The ultimate triumph of righteousness, with its sequel in the establishment of the Kingdom of God, is fundamental in Daniel.”
Do you hope for “the ultimate triumph of righteousness”? If so, the prophetic dreams and visions of Daniel are of vital concern to you. The following article will acquaint you with some of these and will present evidence proving that Daniel is an authentic book of prophecy.