At the conclusion of chapter 8 Daniel describes his reaction to the vision and the explanation given by the angel Gabriel, saying, “I, Daniel, was overcome [exhausted] and lay sick for some days … I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.” His confession of failure to understand the vision must refer to his failure to understand why the devastation, destruction, and persecution of his people, which the vision foretold, should be necessary. It is the reason he was appalled. He was appalled in the same way any of us would be if God should give us a vision of some future period of great suffering.
But all this is past, of course – at least if our interpretation is correct. We can see how this affected Daniel. What does it have to do with us? Let me suggest two ways we should be affected.
First, predictive prophecy teaches us that the God of the Bible is the true God. This is because the only way that prophecies can come true is if God stands behind them, the true God who alone is able to determine the outcome of history. If the God of the Bible is not the true God, if another, bigger God (or even no God) stands above and behind Him, then the God of the Bible cannot control what will happen. Then the prophecies of the Bible, given in His name, will not come to fulfillment. This is not what has happened. These prophecies have come true, and the God of the Bible is thereby shown to be the one true, sovereign God of everything.
Human beings can make shrewd guesses, of course. Soothsayers have done this. The devil can make even shrewder guesses. But history is complex. Human beings are often unpredictable. Therefore, mere guesses, while they are sometimes partially accurate, do not come to fulfillment as the Bible’s prophecies do.
Second, predictive prophecy proves that the Bible is the true and trustworthy revelation of this true God. The story of Micaiah is a wonderful illustration of this point. Micaiah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel at a time when Ahab, the king of Israel, wanted to go to war against the king of Aram to capture Ramoth Gilead. He persuaded Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, to go with him. Jehoshaphat wanted to consult the Lord first. So Ahab called four hundred of the paid court prophets together and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” (1 Kings 22:6).
These men knew who was paying them and what the king of Israel wanted to hear. So they said, “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious … for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
This was more than enough for Ahab. But Jehoshaphat had a little more spiritual sensitivity and was just a bit suspicious of the answer. He said – “isn’t there also a prophet of the Lord somewhere from whom we can inquire?”
Ahab’s answer is hilarious. “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.”
To get the full force of what happened now, you have to understand something of the geography of Samaria where this took place. Samaria stood on a high ridge of a hill and was surrounded by an enormous wall. In the center of the city was a large square. So everyone in the armies, the four hundred false prophets, and the two kings who were assembled in the city square could have seen the messenger go. And what is more important, they all would have been watching as Micaiah responded to the king’s summons and made his way up that long road, along the ridge, through the gate, and into the city. It was a dramatic scene.
When the messenger reached Micaiah he warned him to say what the king wanted to hear, and Micaiah responded, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”. But when Micaiah finally stood before the two kings with the eyes of this great priestly and military host upon him, he responded mockingly, saying word for word what the four hundred false prophets had spoken: “Attack and be victorious … for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
Ahab understood that this was not genuine. So he rebuked Micaiah. “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”
This time Micaiah spoke in earnest. “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”
Do you know what Ahab did when he heard that? He turned to Jehoshaphat and said, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”
At that point Micaiah went on to additional details, including a specific prediction of Ahab’s death. And Ahab did what kings do to unpopular prophets. He threw him in prison and went out anyway to fight against Aram for possession of Ramoth Gilead. Yet before he did this, Micaiah called out, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” We never hear of Micaiah after that. Perhaps he perished in prison. But we do know what happened to Ahab. He was killed in the battle, and the people were scattered each one to his own town, as Micaiah had prophesied (1 Kings 22).
The point is obvious. God, the true God, had spoken through Micaiah, his true prophet. And because it was God who had spoken, the word of this God through Micaiah could be trusted.