Series: On This Day in Christian History – April 23 – By Mike and Sharon Rusten*
“God sometimes tells us ahead of time what is going to happen”
In 536 B.C. Daniel was a very old man living in Persia. He had been deported from Jerusalem sixty-nine years earlier with the first group of captives and taken to Babylon. In Babylon Daniel rose to the top in government service, serving under Nebuchadnezzar, Darius the Mede, and perhaps also Cyrus the king of Persia. Under Nebuchadnezzar Daniel became the governor of the province of Babylon. Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him to be third ruler in his kingdom, and Darius made him one of three presidents to whom his 120 satraps reported.
Three years earlier, after a time of prayer and mourning over the sins of his people, Daniel had received a vision from the angel Gabriel who gave him a message that included the timing of the future events in the history of God’s people (Daniel 9:20-27).
Now once again Daniel was in prayer and mourning. In particular he prayed for greater understanding of the visions he had already received. For three weeks as he prayed, he ate no rich food or meat and drank no wine. Then suddenly on April 23, 536 B.C., as the old man was standing beside the Tigris River, he looked up and saw a vision of “a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a dazzling gem. From his face came flashes like lightning, and his eyes were like flaming torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice was like the roaring of a vast multitude of people” (10:4-6).
Daniel was the only person who saw this vision. The men who were with him saw nothing but became so terrified that they ran away to hide. So Daniel was left all alone to watch the awesome vision. He began feeling very weak, and when the man began to speak, Daniel fainted, falling facedown on the ground. Then the man’s hand touched Daniel and lifted him, still trembling, to his hands and knees. The man said, “O Daniel, greatly loved of God, listen carefully to what I have to say. Stand up, for I have been sent to you” (10:11). When he said this, Daniel stood up, still trembling in fear.
Then the man said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come to answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come” (10:12-14).
Daniel was then given a summary of the future kings of the Persian Empire (11:2) and told of the appearance of Alexander the Great (11:3) and the division of Alexander’s kingdom into four lesser kingdoms (11:4). Daniel is next told of the continuing struggle between Syria (the king of the north) and Egypt (the king of the south) from 323 B.C. to 167 B.C. when Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Syrian ruler, erected an altar to Zeus on top of the brazen altar in the temple in Jerusalem and there offered a pig as a sacrifice (11:5-32). This is followed by a description of the Maccabean revolt in which the Jews were able to win independence from Syria (11:35).
The vision then fast forwards to the future Antichrist, a person similar to Antiochus Epiphanes in many ways, and describes the battles of the end times (11:36-12:13).
The message to Daniel and the book itself ended with the words “You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you” (12:13).
When God describes the future, what does that tell you about Him? God is not only the author of the Bible but also the author of history—past, present, and future.
“God rules the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them.” – Daniel 5:21
Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the April 23rd entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.