Responding to the Critics: Sam Frost’s Fatal Admission on Daniel 7 – #1
In a recent, on-going dialogue with former preterist Sam Frost, he took the position that Daniel 9 is not a Messianic prophecy of Jesus, but rather foretold nothing but the bloody actions of Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century BC. As a result of many of Frost’s comments it became increasingly evident to me that Frost rejects the idea that any of Daniel foretold the coming of Jesus.
Not wanting to misrepresent him, I posed the following question to him: “Does the book of Daniel contain any prophecy of the coming of Jesus, the True Messiah of God? Yes or NO?”
Frost refused to answer the question for several days, even though I continued to post it. Finally, the admin of the FaceBook page, Barry Isaac, posted the question reminding Frost that he needed to answer. In what can only be construed as an evasive answer, Frost finally gave this: “Barry, not directly, no. The “one like a son of man” is left purposely in a mystery in Daniel.”
So, Frost says that Daniel did not “directly” predict the coming of Jesus as the true Messiah of God., but, the “one like the son of man is left purposely in a mystery in Daniel.” This is the epitome of obfuscation and refusal- but, at the same time – revealing.
Why will Frost not openly state that he rejects Daniel as a direct prophecy of Jesus and his ministry? As I have pointed out before, one of the major ironies with Sam’s current theology is that on the one hand he claims to hold to the historical view of the early church; he is “orthodox.” And yet, as I have shown, the historical view of the early church- by a wide margin- is that Daniel did predict the coming of Jesus and his ministry!
I should also point out that while many Rabbins did apply Daniel 9 to the time of Antiochus, not all of them did by any means. It is recognized that one of the reasons many rabbis came to adopt the AE view was to eliminate it from being used by Christians as a prediction– a fulfilled prediction- of the coming of Jesus. In other words, their anti-Christian ideology – not exegesis – drove them to accept the non-Messianic view of Daniel 9! That hardly recommends itself as a desirable view.
But, let’s look closer at Frost’s response, as we continue to Respond to the Critics, shall we?
His comment that Daniel does not “directly” predict the coming of Christ is very much of a smoke screen. In fact, in follow up comments, after being challenged to clarify his comments, he offered this:
“As far as Daniel directly relating to Jesus…..Daniel 7.13,14 – a vision of “one like a son of man” that is left out of the interpretation that follows. All the characters are mentioned in the interpretation that follows, except one: the one like a son of man. This fact has puzzled many commentators…..even Daniel was puzzled (last verse). There have been a variety of ways to explain this, and I am sure you claim that yours (sic) and yours (sic) only is the only acceptable, irrefutable interpretation that settles all other alternatives (we should just sit at the feet of Don, shut up, and listen). Matthew explicitly picks up Daniel 7.13,14. The opening description of Jesus in Revelation 1.10-ff explicitly picks it up and applies it as fulfilled in Jesus.” (The reader will note Frost’s deep sarcasm. He exhibits this attitude more and more, unfortunately).
You simply MUST catch the power of this admission by Frost! Frost’s answer is more than revealing, and it is totally destructive of his non-Messianic claims about Daniel.
He is saying that when Jesus or a NT writer applies an OT prophecy that this settles the case. The OT prophecy that they are applying to Jesus was a prophecy of Jesus, (and of course, also the events that the NT writers were applying the OT prophecy to). I could not agree more with this!
I think it also important to point out here that the NT writers did not, as a general rule, and as Frost so desperately wants them to be doing, simply refer to people and events of the OT analogically, i.e. for mere illustration purposes. When they cited OT scriptures they were doing so within the context of prophecy – fulfillment. Gregory Beale expresses the issue well:
Beale notes that when NT writers cite the OT prophets, that they are interpreting it. An OT prophecy is likewise a prophecy in the NT:
“Should not those with a high view of scripture begin with the assumption that the NT interprets the OT contextually and with hermeneutical integrity? Accordingly, if an OT passage quoted in the NT is a prophecy in its original context, would not a NT author also see it as a prophecy, and would he not see it as a beginning fulfillment if he identifies the prophecy with some reality in his own present time?”
Beale then considers the question of whether the NT writers could cite an OT passage analogically and not prophetically:
“Possibly a NT writer could use the OT analogically, but, the weight of the prophetic context of the OT passages tilts toward the notion of fulfillment, if there is no clear evidence to the contrary in the NT context. If this is a correct hermeneutical approach, then the prophecies discussed in this chapter about Israel’s land being widened to include the whole earth have an already-not yet fulfillment in the NT.” (Gregory Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, (Grand Rapids; Baker Academic, 2011), 772).
This is significant since Frost insists that in Matthew 24:15, when Jesus said, “when you see the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet (whosoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee” that Jesus was not saying that the events of his day were actually foretold by Daniel. Yet, I will show below that Frost’s admissions about Jesus being the Son of Man foretold by Daniel 7 demands that Daniel’s prediction of the Abomination in chapters 9 & 12 did apply to Jesus’ day!
According to Frost, Jesus was supposedly saying to his audience: “When you see the events I am predicting take place, remember that Daniel foretold events for the days of Antiochus, and they were fulfilled. Likewise, my words will come to pass, just as Daniel’s did in the days of Antiochus.” But, as Beale points out, this is not the way that the NT writers utilized and applied OT prophecy.
One of the things that we could ask in response to Frost’s comment about “direct” prophecies of Jesus in Daniel is: What OT prophecies are in fact “direct”? Is Isaiah 53 a “direct prophecy” of Jesus? According to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 there was no established Messianic understanding among the Jews of that great chapter. Does Frost reject it as Messianic because it is not a “direct prophecy”? And what about Isaiah 42:5f that foretold the coming of the “Servant of the Lord” that would be so gentle so as not to crush a broken reed? Is that a “direct prophecy?” Indeed, what about the entire corpus of Suffering Servant prophecies? Does Frost reject that large group of prophecies as Messianic because they are not “direct?” We could go on and on with such questions, but, it is simply incredible -and sad – that Frost would resort to such obfuscatory and diversionary comments to avoid dealing with the questions forthrightly and candidly.
To appreciate the power of what will follow, the reader needs to understand an ancient Hebrew concept called Raz Pesher. In a nut shell, what this term meant was that it was believed and understood that the OT prophets did not fully understand the prophecies that they were delivering. For instance, even the Dead Sea Community of the Essenes held to this concept:
“According to the Qumran commentators, then, God conveyed his purpose to the prophets in the form of a mystery’. No one can understand this mystery unless its interpretation has been given to him. The interpretation depended on direct revelation from God as truly the mystery had done. The Qumran commentators gave the impression that no one before their day had understood the prophets; they were able to understand them because of the interpretive key was at their disposal.” (Charles Kimball, Jesus’ Exposition of the OT in Luke’s Gospel, (Sheffield Academic Press, JSOT, Supplement Series 94, 199), 67; Kimball cites F. F. Bruce, (Biblical Exposition, 78),
This is a Biblical principle. Notice the words of Peter:
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.” (1 Peter 1:10-12).
Naturally, those who accept the inspiration of the Bible will reject the idea that the Qumran community revealed the true meaning of the Old Testament. My point in sharing their ideas was simply to illustrate the point, that the ancient Jews believed and understood that the OT prophets did not fully understand the prophecies that they gave.
What is so significant about Raz Pesher is that the book of Daniel offers us direct insight into the reality that the OT prophets did not understand their own prophecies!
Notice some fascinating and important texts from Daniel:
“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.” (Daniel 10:1).
On the surface, this seems to contradict Raz Pesher, but, we are not through:
The angel that had been sent to Daniel told him:
“Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.” (Daniel 10:14).
If Daniel truly understood the full scope of the vision, (by the way, look at Daniel 7:28) why did the angel say he was sent to make him understand it? I believe that there was an “at hand” reality that was understandable by Daniel, but, there was a “not at hand” element (explicitly stated) that went far beyond the present realities of Daniel’s time, all the way to Israel’s last days.
Side Bar: The time of Antiochus Epiphanes was not Israel’s last days, they were not Israel’s last end. Israel’s last days were “far off and not near” in Daniel. This referent to Israel’s latter days, her last days, takes us back to Deuteronomy 32 where the Song of Moses foretold Israel’s “latter end” her last days. However, Israel’s last days were the first century generation. And since Jesus and the NT writers emphatically said that their days were the last days, then even on Frost’s admission, this should settle the fact that the “far off” times, of Daniel 10-12 were not the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. To reiterate: The time of Antiochus Epiphanes was not Israel’s last days.
Additional Side Bar: Frost is fond these days of rejecting the Biblical time statements, insisting that “at hand,” “soon,” “shortly” and “quickly” do not objectively convey true imminence. Well, would he now, in light of Daniel 10:14, say that “many days yet to come” refers to things that were actually not far off but near instead? If “at hand” and “soon” do not mean anything, then what did “a long time” and “many days yet to come” actually mean? The idea that God does not communicate truthfully about time is a specious and desperate claim with no merit.
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished. 8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.”
Several things stand out about this text.
✬ Daniel saw a vision of the time of the end. What time of the end is this? It is about Israel’s last days that the previous elements of the prophecy have brought the reader to. The span of the prophecy certainly included the days of Antiochus Epiphanes (chapters 10-much of 11) – but, to reiterate – the days of Antiochus were not the last days of Israel. But, as I documented in an earlier article, in chapter 11, we find a transition from the horrors of Antiochus’ days, to the days of Rome, when Daniel was told about the future confrontation between Caius Popilius Laenus (i.e. Rome) and Antiochus.
Laenus, a former friend of Antiochus and now a Roman general, confronted Antiochus on the shores of Alexandria, Egypt (where Antiochus had gathered for an invasion of Egypt) and told him to stand down or face the might of Rome. Antiochus, seeking time to escape, asked to give an answer later. Laenus took his staff and drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus, and told him to give an answer before leaving the circle. Antiochus, in the face of the dominant force of the Roman army, backed down. Rome was now in control. (See Elizabeth Latimer, Judea from Cyrus to Titus, (Chicago; A. C. McClurg and Co., 1899), 123+). It was to that time, the time of Rome, that Daniel 12:1 refers when it says “at that time there shall be great tribulation such as has never been.”
Notice in light of this that Jesus himself applied Daniel 12:1- the prediction of the Great Tribulation in the days of Rome – to the impending horrors of the Jewish War (this will be confirmed even more as we proceed, and we will show that Frost’s admissions will confirm this). Thus, per Frost’s expressed hermeneutic (which we will explore even more) that when Jesus or a NT writer applies an OT prophecy to their time, that it meant that the OT prophecy foretold their time, this is prima facie proof that Daniel 12:1 is a “Messianic prophecy” of the first century events, and not the days of Antiochus.
Of course, this fits perfectly the angel’s declaration that in contrast to the at hand events of Daniel’s time, the vision also extended many days into the future to Israel’s last days. Remember that Jesus did NOT say, “As it was then, there will be another analogous Tribulation.” No, he said that as Daniel foretold the Abomination, they would understand Daniel when they saw what Daniel foretold, and he said that it was in his days that the Great Tribulation would be fulfilled. The Tribulation would be in the last days, the time of the end, and in Matthew 24 Jesus was answering questions about “the end of the age” (24:3f), and the time of the end (24:14).
✬ Daniel was told that the time of the end was far off. Now, Frost might well respond by noting that the days of Antiochus were far off from Daniel, which of course was true. But, this does not deal with the text of Daniel 12. Remember that Daniel had been told that his vision extended to Israel’s last days. Daniel 12 deals with that terminal period as the climax and consummation of the vision.
What was Israel’s last days. It was the time of the end of Daniel 12:4, 10f. It was the time of the resurrection in v. 2 and the time of the kingdom in verse 3! (Hang onto this since it will become extremely important in light of Frost’s admissions concerning Daniel 7). It was the time of the resurrection (v. 2). The time of the end was Israel’s latter days, her “appointed end,” her last days.
✬ Notice that Jesus confirms that Daniel was speaking of his day. Daniel was told that the vision was sealed until the time of the end when the righteous would understand his vision. Jesus told his disciples, who would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth (John 16:6f), that when they saw the Abomination they would understand!
Was Jesus mis-applying Daniel, who was told that the vision was sealed until the time of the end when the wise would understand? Was the time of the end, and true understanding of Daniel actually past when Jesus cited Daniel in Matthew 24? Was the time of the end in the days of Antiochus, and not in Jesus’ day? This is the implication of saying that Daniel was actually fulfilled two hundred years before Jesus appeared – but that idea flies in the face of the many NT passages that tell us that the first century was the last days. They were living in the time of the end! They were living in the time foretold by the OT prophets (Acts 3:21-24)!
The reader must understand that unless Frost can prove that the days of Antiochus were Israel’s last days, his claims are wrong. Unless he can show that the “time of the end” was in BC 168 then his claims are false. Unless he can show- in overt denial of Daniel and his own admissions – that the Son of Man coming in his kingdom was in the days of Antiochus, then his claims about Daniel are specious. And of course, his admission on Daniel 7 belies this idea anyway.
So, Jesus was living in Israel’s last days and said that his disciples would understand Daniel when they saw the Abomination, which would be set up in Israel’s last days – that extended past the horrific days of Antiochus. This is Jesus’ “direct” interpretation of Daniel, proving that Daniel 9 & 12 were Messianic prophecies of Jesus’ first century generation.
Let me close this installment of this short series Responding to the Critics on Daniel 7 and Frost’s admissions by calling attention again to Frost’s admission above. He admits that Matthew and Jesus applied Daniel 7 specifically to Jesus. Likewise, Revelation applied Daniel directly to Jesus. Thus, since Jesus and the NT writers applied Daniel 7 Messianically, it is clearly and irrefutably wrong to deny that Daniel 7 is Messianic.
Do you catch the power of that???
Hang onto it as we proceed, because as I have noted, this admission by Frost completely refutes his non-Messianic application of Daniel 2, 9 and 12.
In the meantime, get a copy of my book, Seventy Weeks Are Determined…For the Resurrection. It is a powerful, compelling study of Daniel 9 proving that it foretold the coming of the True Messiah, Jesus, and the end time resurrection.