Daniel the Destroyer

The significance of the prophet Daniel for the “death and resurrection” of the nation of Israel becomes clear when the sacrificial “matrix” is discerned in the process.

The ministry of Daniel among Gentiles recapitulates that of Joseph. The Lord sent Joseph into Egypt as a forerunner, established a new house for him and integrated the old house of Jacob into it. Pharaoh was converted under the ministry of Joseph, humbled himself before Jacob and requested his blessing. Likewise, Daniel was taken to Babylon before the destruction of Jerusalem to mediate for the preservation of Israel. The Jewish captives were not slaves but were given their own houses. But the ministries of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel also allowed the rulers of Judah to fill up their sins as “Egyptians.” By the time Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon were destroyed, the nation was entirely without excuse.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Gospel

The book of Daniel consists of three heptamerous cycles, each cycle becoming the first step in a greater one.1See Daniel’s Long Shadow. At the thesis (center) of the first cycle (Daniel 1), Daniel passes through a “priestly” death and resurrection (having to do with food). At the thesis of the third cycle (Daniel 9), it is Christ who passes through the process, a “prophetic” death and resurrection (regarding Israel and the nations). Between the priestly and the prophetic is the kingly “death and resurrection” of Nebuchadnezzar, and the strange details of the account reveal this king, like Daniel, to be a type of God’s future work.

References   [ + ]

Cyrus the Shepherd

After the events in Daniel 6, Cyrus made his famous decree (Ezra 1) authorising the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. Isaiah predicted Cyrus by name over 100 years before Cyrus’ birth. Daniel would have been familiar with the prophecy, and like the inhabitants of the province of Babylon, welcomed the end of Belshazzar’s rule. Following the patterns given to shepherds Moses (Priestly) and David (Kingly), the prophecy in Isaiah 44:24-28 presents the building of the Jew-Gentile (Prophetic) oikoumene Temple as a new microcosmic Creation:



(Creation – Ark of the Testimony)

Thus says the Lord (Ark – Sabbath)
your Redeemer, (Veil – Passover)
He who formed you (Bronze Altar – Firstfruits of Land: Genesis 3:17-19; 17:8)
from the womb: (Golden Table – Firstfruits of Womb: Genesis 3:16; 17:7)

The Lord has already referred to the Forming of Israel a number of times in this chapter. The word has the idea of fashioning something from clay. It is “earthy,” referring to the creation of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:47-49). Israel was “shattered” like Egypt (Jeremiah 18) and would be remade, not from the broken pieces but from fresh earth.

The Cycle begins with a statement of Yahweh’s Transcendence. “From the womb” might have been Succession, but the Stanza only has four lines (“the Lord” cannot be placed at Hierarchy), so this seems to be only half a Stanza. Thus the womb is a reference to Israel as God’s firstborn, the Isaac, the Ascension Offering. The literary structure thus lifts Israel up from bondage (in this case Babylon, not Egypt) and places him on the Altar awaiting the holy fire as “breath” from heaven to bring him new life.


(Division – Veil – between heaven and earth)

“I am the Lord
who makes all,
that stretches forth the heavens
by myself
that spreads abroad the Land
the waters

This Stanza includes the word mayim, meaning waters, yet strangely the English translations I checked all seem to omit them. The literary structure requires their presence, referring to the division made on Day 2, but also to the command against idolatry in Exodus 20:4. You might notice that this Stanza begins with the Lord in heaven Above, moves the Land, and then to the waters “under” the Land. The final word is tricky, but “among” seems to be the most suitable meaning, since the new Israel will be a Land washed clean, rising from the waters of the other nations. Also, the heavens are placed at Ascension (Covenant Head) and the earth is placed at Maturity (Covenant Body).


(Ascension – Altar and Table – Plenipotent Man)

to make void (Creation – Ark – Genesis)
the signs (Division – Veil – Exodus)
of boasters, (Ascension – Altar – Leviticus)
and make diviners (Table)
mad, (Testing – Lampstand – Numbers)
to draw wise men (Maturity – Incense – Deuteronomy)
backward (Conquest – Mediators – Joshua)
and make their knowledge foolish, (Glorification – Rest & Rule – Judges)
The subject matter of this Stanza might not appear Levitical at first glance, but Leviticus concerns the “firstborn,” and the “firstfruits” offerings. The Levites were themselves referred to as the firstborn.

Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, for all the firstborn are mine. (Numbers 3:12-13)

Christ, as firstborn from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father and opened the mystery of God. This was prefigured in both Joseph and Daniel, who served their emperors as wise men, and ironically in Haman. That is the allusion here.

The word “annul” or “make void” in Line 1 is not the “void” of Genesis 1. This word has legal connotations instead. At Creation, it is a reference to Transcendent power, but that power is in the hand of a plenipotent mediator, such as Joseph or Daniel (see “Images of God” in Sweet Counsel for a full discussion).

The word “mad” at the center literally means “to shine.” It carries the idea of a false glory, of boasting, which ties it not only to the “shining  one” in Eden, but in Arabic it also has the connotation of moonlight, an allusion to Day 4.

“Backward” means hind parts, and possibly refers to failing to enter into rest and rule with God. Thus the word “knowledge” in Line 7 is the word used in Genesis 2:9, referring to moral knowledge, sound judgment. Thus, when Christ ascended, He became the one who sent a strong delusion to confuse, confound and divide His Judaistic enemies, just as the Lord sent troubling and lying spirits in the Old Testament.



(Testing – Lampstand – the Word)

who confirms the word (Transcendence)
of his servant (Hierarchy)
and fulfills (Ethics)
the counsel (Oath/Sanctions)
of his messengers, (Succession)

The Word is primary here. Notice the priestly “servant” at Hierarchy and the wise at Sanctions. “Messengers” is placed at Succession, which carries the idea of representation by faithful sons who image their Father. Carrying this forward, it refers to Christ’s obedience in fulfilling the Law.


(Maturity – Incense Altar – Resurrection)

who says
of Jerusalem,
‘You shall be inhabited,’
and to the cities of Judah,
‘You shall be built,
and their ruins
I will raise up’;

The theme at Maturity is resurrection, a new “bridal” Israel constructed after the death of the old Adamic body has been bloodied. The scepter of Judah at the center is the government of the Messianic King.


(Conquest – High Priest and Sacrifices – Dominion)

who says (Transcendence)
to the deep, (Hierarchy)
‘Be dry; (Ethics)
and your rivers (Oath/Sanctions)
I will dry up’; (Succession)
Historically, the “deep” is a reference to the Red Sea and the Jordan, waters through which Israel had to cross to possess the Land. Architecturally, the “deep” is a reference to the Laver, the washing of the priests and sacrifices as the “Body.” You can see the waters in this position in Stanza 2. The baptismal accounts in Acts place the baptisms at this point in their structures. Ezekiel speaks of the nations conquered by Babylon as testifying from the deep. Israel was the only nation of the old order which would rise again, although in a different, more glorious and prophetic form. Standing or walking upon the waters refers to dominion over the nations, beginning with Adam’s position over the springs in Eden, alluded to in Isaiah 11:15 concerning Israel’s return, and serving as background to Christ’s walking on the water. The basic meaning is Sanctuary access as a Covenant mediator through the power of God.



(Glorification – Shekinah – Co-regents)

who says of Cyrus, (Initiation)
‘my shepherd,’ (Delegation)
and ‘all my purpose he shall perform’; (Law Given – Priest)
saying of Jerusalem, (Law Opened – King)
She shall be built,’ (Law Received – Prophet)
and to the temple, (Vindication)
‘Your foundation shall be laid.’” (Representation)

Just as the filling of the Tabernacle occurred at the end of the book of Exodus, so the foundation of the Temple is the beginning of a new era for Israel. The placement of Cyrus as the “he,” the Head, and Jerusalem as the “she,” the body, is striking. Outside of that, we have the shepherd at Passover/Delegation and the Temple at Atonement/Vindication. And of course there is the Ethical progression at the center which is a microcosm of the entire Cycle: Priest (Forming), King (Filling) and Prophet (Future).

Daniel’s Long Shadow

The book of Daniel is itself the blueprint for a new Temple. It is a “literary ziggurat.”

…by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous… (Isaiah 53:11)

The High Priest made two approaches to the Most Holy on the Day of Atonement – one for the Head (Adam) and one for the Body (Eve), lifting the curse on the Land and the Offspring. As Israel represented all nations, so one man represented all Israel. Once a year, one man would “die” for the people.

We see the same Head-and-Body (totus Christus) structure in the book of Daniel. The first six chapters concern the Jewish head, lifted up into the court of the emperor, and the last six concern the Jewish body in subsequent history. As we see in the Creation Week, the book has a Forming (priestly) and a Filling (kingly), and ends with a promise of the Future (prophetic). Daniel’s ministry as court prophet was a microcosm of Israel’s “latter day” prophetic ministry throughout the empire. His ministry to a single empire laid the foundation for Israel’s ministry to all four empires, culminating in a fifth, the rule of Christ and His Church.

The book of Daniel is itself the blueprint for this new “social” Temple, a literary ziggurat with three stages. Each heptamerous stage becomes the first step of a larger heptamerous pattern. It has a Most Holy Place (Daniel 1), a Holy Place (Daniel 1-7) and Gentile Courts (Daniel 1-12). This ziggurat shape means that the book resembles the mountain of God in textual form, a blessing flowing from the obedience of one man in the highest court flowing through a four-cornered Altar-Land into all the nations.

Garden – Daniel 1
Land – Daniel 1-7
World – Daniel 1-12


Garden – Daniel 1

Creation – Captivity: The glory of the Lord goes before His people as the articles from the Temple are taken to the treasure house of Nebuchadnezzar
Division – Priests: The young Judahites are taken to Babylon to be trained as Babylonian “court magicians”
Ascension – Gifts: As high priest of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar appoints three years of training, with the king’s food and wine
Testing – Miracle: Daniel and his friends refuse the food of “Egypt” and are fed miraculously by God in the wilderness. They are given new names
Maturity – Gifts: God gives them gifts of wisdom, interpretation, strength and beauty
Conquest – Priests: They are chosen to serve before the king, above all the other wise men
Glorification – Captivity: Daniel’s ministry continues until the first year of the next empire, the proclamation that brings the end of the seventy year captivity


Land – Daniel 1-7

Genesis / Sabbath
– Daniel resists the offer of kingdom without priestly obedience (Ark)
Exodus / Passover
– Daniel shelters the wise men by interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s night vision (Veil)
ETHICS (Law given, Law opened, Law received)
Leviticus / Firstfruits
– Daniel’s mighty men are offered to the flames (LAW OF MAN) (Altar)
Numbers / Pentecost – The king of kings is humbled as a beast and regains his kingdom as a man (LAW OF GOD) (Lampstand)
Deuteronomy / Trumpets – Daniel warns Belshazzar that the kingdom is about to fall. He has drunk from the Lord’s prophetic cup and been found “wanting” (LAW OF GOD’S MAN) (Incense)
Joshua / Atonement
– Daniel survives the lions’ den, and is “resurrected” from the sealed “tomb” (Priest and People)
Judges / Booths – Daniel is given a vision of the end of the Restoration Covenant era, the final Old Covenant Succession (Shekinah)

As the final verse of Daniel 1 is opened in Daniel 1-6, so the final chapter in this second section (chapter 7) is opened in chapters 8-12. Israel’s “latter day” future, her “Succession,” is revealed to Daniel.


World – Daniel 1-12

Creation/Day 1 – The Lord establishes worship outside the garden and land in the world (Daniel 1-6)
Division/Day 2 – The world empires are revealed in a night vision as Land beasts (some with wings) carrying Israel over the Sea. The saints rule the firmament (Daniel 7).
Ascension/Day 3 – Daniel sees the conquest of Persia by Greece. This time, the empire beasts are sacrificial Land animals, a ram and a goat. The Herods exalt themselves to the heavens at the “terminal time” (Rome) and usurp the throne of the priestly “STARS” (Daniel 8 ).
Testing/Day 4 – After fasting and prayer, Daniel is shown that this second 490 years (the latter days) of the Temple would end the same way as the first 490 years (the former days), with its desolation by a Gentile flood. The Messiah would be both High Priest and sacrifice (Daniel 9).
Maturity/Day 5 – Daniel experiences “death and resurrection” at the hand of a metal man sent to reveal the last days of the Jews (Daniel 10).
Conquest/Day 6 – From Alexander the Great, the history of Greece and the Herods (Rome) is predicted (Daniel 11).
Glorification/Day 7 – There is a great “time of trouble” that brings an end to the wicked. The coming of the Word of God awakens some to everlasting life and some to everlasting contempt. The saints witness to the truth and shine like priestly STARS (Daniel 12). This “first (corporate) resurrection” brings the Old Covenant to an end.

If we do not read the Bible as literary architecture, a lot of it isn’t going to make sense. But if we do, we will find it has a disarming beauty. Here, we can see that just as individual sin becomes corporate sin, so individual holiness becomes corporate holiness. God rips a holy man open to make a holy place, a shelter for others. As the man becomes a Holy Husbandman, so the barrenness and trouble of Eve is removed (Genesis 3). The entire restoration era rested upon the foundation of Daniel’s faithfulness, a life which began with a simple refusal to compromise in a day of “small things.” The long shadow of Daniel is a robe, a flowing train, of righteousness, which resulted in the construction of a Bridal city. God is faithful in transforming a life of faithful witness into a legacy that benefits many generations.

If you are new to this method of interpretation, please visit the Welcome page for some help to get you up to speed.