The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that Alexander took time out from the sieges of Tyre and Gaza to visit the temple at Jerusalem. Here he is shown the manuscripts written by Daniel so many years before. Sitting here today it is very easy to see where Daniel is describing Alexander in et least three settings. We see him as the bronze part of the warrior following Nebuchadnezzar’s gold, Cyrus’s silver and followed by Rome’s iron. We can easily see him historically described as the leopard and the goat with the notable horn representing Alexander beating down the two-horned ram representing the Persian and Mede empire of Darius, who Alexander has already defeated once and is on the way to defeating again. The description lets us see the breakup of his kingdom following his death into 4 parts. Within these prophecies are also moments of looking forward to the times of the anti-Christ as well as descriptions of the fighting between two of Alexander’s generals and its impact upon the “glorious land” or Israel.
It reads so much like history that for the Jews at the time of Christ there were many Messianic movements. We see history unfold in Daniel, but we see in the midst of that time of Roman dominion the creation of a kingdom without end; created out of a stone “cut out of the mountain without hands”. The Jews all saw this as the prophetic arrival of the Messianic kingdom. This might explain their willingness to take on Rome in a suicidal death match. This was the goal of the Pharisees, maintaining a people who were faithful to the laws of the covenant so as to be ready to welcome and follow the Mesiah when he comes. Daniel seems to insinuate that He will come sometime during the existance of that final kingdom, Rome, described in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
For the Jews that moment has come and gone, much to their dismay. That branch of Judaism called Christianity saw things differently. For them the prophecy of the Messianic kingdom did come true during the time of the Roman Empire. For them that stone described by Daniel is Jesus the Christ.
So Chrisitans look back at the history described in Daniel seeing the coming of Jesus Christ as the “stone” cut out of the mountain without hands. The Book of Daniel becomes an incredible book of prophecy. For the Jews it becomes a bitter piece of prophecy that led them to destruction. They have since downgraded the book of Daniel from a book of the prophets, which it had been, to a book of history, actually written after the fact. They didn’t make this decision when it was supposedly written they made it 400 years after Christ was born.