Please read the Introduction to the Prophetical Books if you have not already done so.
Book of Daniel
This is where Daniel fits into the history:
----------------605-586 - BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OF JUDAH (SOUTHERN KINGDOM)
605-536: DANIEL 1-12
593-559: EZEKIEL 1-48
Daniel was born of noble birth during the middle of Josiah's reign (2 Kings 22:23) and would have grown up during that king's many reforms. Josiah was killed in 609 B.C. and the southern kingdom of Judah turned back to its wicked ways. Four years later, in 605 B.C, Babylon made Judah a vassal state. Daniel was a young Jew when he was taken captive and made the 500 mile trek to Babylon under very harsh conditions.
Daniel served as a prophet to the exiles from 605-536 B.C. Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian empire in 539 B.C., and Daniel lived to see the return of the first exiles to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. He was a contemporary of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk. He quoted Jeremiah in Daniel 9:2. Ezekiel states that Daniel is a "righteous" and "wise" man (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3). His dreams and interpretations of the dreams of others give witness to both Jews and Gentiles that power is from God alone.
The book is partly historical but primarily prophetical. He gave a message of hope for the exiles who felt hopeless. The main message is that God is sovereign over the affairs of men!
The book is not chronological. I have included this chart from Be Resolute by Warren Wiersbe and added the kingdom and king in parentheses:
The Chronological Order of the Book of Daniel
Daniel 1–4: Captivity and interpretation of dreams and visions (Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar)
Daniel 7: Vision of the four beasts (Babylon, Belshazzar)
Daniel 8: Vision of the ram and he-goat (Babylon, Belshazzar)
Daniel 5: Belshazzar’s feast—conquest of Babylon (Babylon, Belshazzar)
Daniel 9: Vision of the seventy weeks (Persia, Darius)
Daniel 6: Daniel in the lions’ den (Persia, Darius)
Daniel 10–12: Daniel’s prayer and visions (Persia, Cyrus)
(Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be resolute (9). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor.)Daniel 1:1-2:3 and 8:1-12:13 are in the Hebrew language focusing on the Jews.
Daniel 2:4-7:28 are in the Aramaic language focusing on the Gentile nations.
Daniel 1 - Man of Integrity
The land of Shinar is the old name for Babylonia (Genesis 11:2; 14:1; Isaiah 11:11; Zechariah 5:11). Nebuchadnezzar's god was probably Bel, also called Marduk. Daniel's name was changed to "Belteshazzar" which means "Bel's Place".
The food and wine would have been considered unclean by devout Jews because it was prepared by Gentiles, and it was probably food forbidden in the Law. Also, it was probably sacrificed and offered to the gods of the Babylonians prior to being served (Exodus 34:15). God gave Daniel and his three friends strength and good health.
The strength, health, wisdom, and understanding of the four Jews were a testimony of the power of the One true God to the Babylonians.
Daniel 2 - The King's Dream
The king had a recurring dream and none of his wise men could help him. Wise men included magicians (men who practiced the occult), conjurers (could be those who used incantations), sorcerers (those who cast spells) Chaldeans/astrologers (religious priests of Babylon who depended on revelation through the stars perhaps like the Magi in Matthew 2), and diviners (those who tried to predict the fate of people).
The wise men were all to be put to death for not being able to interpret the king's disturbing dream, and this included Daniel and his friends! When Daniel heard of it, he boldly approached the king to delay the execution while he interpreted the dream. God had given him the interpretation in a night vision, and Daniel praised God. Then, he gave glory to God before the Gentiles when he said, "There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries" (2:28). YAY Daniel!
The large statue represented the four empires that would dominate the world and rule over the land of Palestine:
Head of gold: Babylonian dominating from 606 - 539 B.C.
Chest and arms of silver: Medo Persian dominating from 539-331 B.C. (5:28, 31;6:8)
Belly and thighs of bronze: Grecian dominating from 331-146 B.C. (8:20-21)
Legs and feet of iron and clay: Roman dominating from 146 B.C.-A.D. 476 (defeated Grecian in 63 B.C.)Some commentators interpret this as the "times of the Gentiles" that Jesus referred to in Luke 21:25-28.
The Roman empire of iron deteriorated to a state of clay mixed with iron which cannot be mixed. True to Daniel's prophecy, the Roman Empire was a divided kingdom that could never unite all the peoples it conquered.
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
Only God will be able to unite all the peoples of the earth under the King who will rule over it, and that is JESUS!!!! He will and, in many respects, already does "rock" (2:34-35, 45) an eternal, divine Kingdom that cannot be destroyed. The rock/stone is frequently an image of God in Scripture and especially the Messiah (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16; Matthew 21:44; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Peter 2:4-8).
Amen, come Lord Jesus!
All of this caused the pagan king to promote Daniel and proclaim that Daniel's God was the God of gods and Lord of kings!
We are in for quite a ride in the book of Daniel. This was the most difficult book for me when I went through the Bible Book Club the first time. I did not want to offend anyone based on their view of end times. I even had one reader send me a book about Daniel based on his theological view.
So, I want to emphasize that our focus will not necessarily be on end times but the present time. We want to focus on the God of Daniel and how Daniel lived his life and stayed true to his faith in the midst of a pagan culture.
Living out our faith today is something we can all agree on.
Today, I have been listening to this modern day song:
You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage
I don't have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails
("Your Love Never Fails" by Jesus Culture)Also, I have been reading the lyrics to an old song:
Dare to be a Daniel!
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known!
(Philip P. Bliss, musician with D.L. Moody)I pray that our study of Daniel will give you the faith to weather any storm and the strength to stand strong in today's world!
A Resolute Man God Greatly Loved
It’s important to study the prophecies that Daniel wrote, but it’s also important to understand the life that Daniel lived. Knowing God’s future plan and obeying God’s present will should go together. “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3, nkjv). “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11, nkjv)
Both Daniel and Joseph were called of God to serve Him in difficult places at the center of authority in pagan empires. Both were cruelly taken from their homes and handed over to foreign masters. Both went through periods of testing, both were lied about and falsely accused, but both maintained godly character and conduct and became respected leaders in the nation. Most of all, both were able to minister to God’s people and help preserve and encourage the nation of Israel when the days were difficult. What Daniel wrote gave the Jews courage in the centuries following their release from captivity, and it will encourage them in the end times when they again experience severe persecution from their enemies.
It’s interesting to note that the Book of Daniel and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians have much in common. Ephesians teaches us about the spiritual battle in the heavenlies (Eph. 6:10–18), and Daniel participated in such a battle (Dan. 10:10–21). Paul prays two prayers in Ephesians, the first for enlightenment (Eph. 1:15–23) and the second for enablement (3:14–21). Daniel and his friends also prayed that way, that they might understand God’s plan and receive the power they needed to serve Him and remain true to the end.Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians emphasizes the spiritual posture of believers: we are seated with Christ (2:5–6), we walk with Him (4:1, 17; 5:1–2, 8, 15), we take our stand in Christ (6:11, 13–14), and we bow our knees to Christ (3:14). Daniel was a man who bowed his knees to the Lord, walked with Him, and was able to take his stand against Satan. He was given a place of authority in Babylon, but that was nothing compared to the authority God gave Him from the throne of heaven. Daniel was a pilgrim and stranger in Babylon because his home was in Israel, and we are pilgrims and strangers on this earth because our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20–21). Like Daniel and Joseph, we live in an alien culture with people whose thinking, values, actions, and goals are totally different from and opposed to that of God’s people. And yet, just as Daniel and Joseph kept themselves pure and helped to transform people and circumstances, so we can become transformers in our world today.
The key to Daniel’s successful life and ministry is given in Daniel 1:8—“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” He was a resolute man. He wasn’t intimidated by powerful people or frightened by difficult circumstances. Like Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, he said, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”But what was the source of this man’s courageous and resolute heart? For the answer to that important question, let’s review the life of Daniel.
He was tactful and considerate
Some people have the idea that the only way to change things in the political world is to blow up buildings, block traffic, or attack people they consider evil. Daniel exerted considerable influence during the reigns of four kings, and yet he never resorted to force, accusations, or threats. “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all” (2 Tim. 2:24, nkjv).
When Daniel and his friends wanted to eat clean food, not food dedicated to idols, they didn’t stage a hunger strike or argue with those in charge. Daniel knew that any problems they created would reflect on the prince who was assigned to them and get him into trouble, so he took a different approach. He tactfully asked if they could be tested for ten days, knowing that the Lord would make the test successful. He won the respect and confidence of the prince in charge, and the word got out in the palace that the four Jewish boys in the training classes weren’t troublemakers.
Certainly Daniel didn’t agree with the theology or lifestyle of the people in charge, but even if he couldn’t respect the officers, he respected their offices. (See Paul’s teaching on this subject in Rom. 13.) He spoke respectfully to them and about them and cultivated “sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8, nkjv). Too often believers adopt a “holier than thou” attitude and fail to show proper respect for officials they disagree with, and this always hurts the cause of Christ.
(Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be resolute (149). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor.)
Can you hold on to your faith in hard times?
Do you dare to stand strong in the midst of pressure to conform to this world?
Daniel used discernment in accepting some things in Babylonian culture (learning their language and literature) and rejecting those things that violated God's Law (food and wine). Can you discern in this way? What things in your culture are acceptable? What things must you reject?
Talk to God about that.
Let Daniel's praise be yours today:
Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, (Daniel 2:20-23)