Home > Bible Study, Daniel, hermeneutics, S. Lewis Johnson, typology > The Book of Daniel: Illustrations of the Future Great Tribulation

The Book of Daniel: Illustrations of the Future Great Tribulation


I’m currently listening to S. Lewis Johnson’s series through Daniel, a 16 part series he did in 1979, and have completed the first six chapters.  These are familiar chapters to many Bible students, in a book that is commonly divided into two parts: Historical — chapters 1-6, and Prophetic — chapters 7 – 12.

S. Lewis Johnson suggests a slightly different outline, one that notes the interesting use of Arabic language for chapters 2 through 7 — the chapters which have to do with the nations outside of Israel:
Chapter 1:  Introduction
Chapters 2-7:  Concerning the Gentile nations
Chapters 8-12:  Concerning Israel

I previously blogged through John MacArthur’s Daniel series, from transcripts I read back in early 2009, when I was still learning about premillennialism and didn’t yet understand how everything fits together.  That series helped me understand some of the basics, especially what the Bible has to say concerning the rise and fall of the various nations throughout history — and that God’s future kingdom is just as physical and just as much a part of human history as the human kingdoms described in Daniel.  At that time I was still “unlearning” the amillennialist / preterist scheme which sees the final kingdom in Daniel 2 as relating to Christ’s First Coming.  But as MacArthur often pointed out in that series, in Daniel chapter 2 God’s kingdom is one that will play out in human history, in the same realm as the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

S. Lewis Johnson’s Daniel series is more concise, and yet he brings out some interesting ways in which we can relate the historical events in Daniel (types) to the future events associated with Christ’s Second Advent.

But first, three principles of Bible Interpretation:
1.  Primary interpretation:  the history and grammar of the text
2.  Present application:  Paul and others in NT said that the OT was written for our instruction, and that includes application to us
3.  Prophetic Revelation:  passages in OT that look on to the final consummation of events in the future

Following SLJ’s established definition concerning the proper use of types (or illustrations), we can note the following correspondences in Daniel 3:

  • Nebuchadnezzar setting up his image of gold — like the AntiChrist who is to come
  • The Image Itself — like the Abomination of Desolation
  • The Three Hebrews — the nation Israel in the Great Tribulation
  • The Fiery Furnace — suggesting the Great Tribulation itself
  • The Deliverance by “one like the son of the gods” — like the Second Coming deliverance of our Lord Jesus, by which He delivers Israel from the tribulation judgments

In this chapter the number 6 (the number of man) predominates:  “60 cubits tall and 6 cubits wide” (the dimensions of Nebuchadnezzar’s image) brings to mind the man-made worship in Babylon, the place where man’s worship began (Genesis 11) and where it will end as well (Revelation 18).

Daniel 4 can also be seen as a Typical presentation of the future — of the Gentiles in the last days:

  • Tree:   often symbolic of a man of great power and influence.
  • Nebuchadnezzar:    typical of Gentile world dominion
  • “Chop down the tree” — end of Gentile world power, and the madness of Gentiles during the Great Tribulation (the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments)
  • leave the stump — no complete destruction of Gentiles during the Great Tribulation; some are preserved, and experience blessing afterwards in the Millennial Kingdom
  • “till 7 times” — 7 years, which interestingly enough is the same time period as that of the period of judgment in the future — ref. Daniel 9 and Daniel’s 70th week.

For next time:  the application of Daniel 4, and lessons from Daniel 6 (the Lions Den).

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