What The Book Of Daniel Teaches Us About Living In Uncertain Times
I want to address, perhaps, the most pressing question on our minds this week. To quote a text I received yesterday, I am trying to understand Gods next steps. Arent we all? The question on all of our minds is this: what is God doing?
We may never know the answer to that question. Romans 11:33 is clear, Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Though we might not know Gods next steps, we do know that He is infinitely wise, aboundingly good, and absolutely sovereign.
And in unpredictable times, such as the one in which we find ourselveswith a virus controlling the news, with our government taking unprecedented measures, and with our economy on the brink of great lossthere is assurance, hope, and certainty.
In the book of Daniel, we are reminded that in the midst of great turmoil, our God reigns. And He is to be turned to in faith, trusted without fear, and worshiped in praise. The book of Daniel speaks profoundly to us this week.
In 586 BC, the Israelite nation was expelled from the Promised Land and taken into captivity by the mighty Babylonian army. The holy city of Jerusalem was left in ruins. The temple of Yahweh was destroyed. And the Davidic monarchythe very monarchy that God promised would never be destroyedwas no longer visible.
Insights You Didnt Notice In The Book Of Daniel
Now that weve established the historical context and meaning of the Book of Daniel, lets explore some insights you may not know about this book.
Daniel Was 14 or 15 When Taken into Captivity
Possibly younger or older, but we can solidly place Daniel in his teens . Nebuchadnezzar enrolls Daniel into a three-year school program where he and his friends must learn the Babylonian language, ways, and religion. More impressive is when Daniel refuses to eat the Kings food in Daniel 1. Many theologians have guessed the food went against the kosher diet, but no matter what the reason, Daniel risked death for his defiance of the King’s orders.
The Book of Daniel Was Written in Two Languages
Part of the reason why skeptics think someone else wrote the book is that this book contains two languages: Hebrew and Aramaic. We do have to keep in mind, however, that people in the Bible spoke multiple languages. Jesus, for instance, wouldve had to know Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and probably some Latin to get by in Roman circles.
No One Knows Where Daniel Was during the Fiery Furnace
Daniel Hails from the Line of David
According to Overview Bible, Daniel comes from the line of David. This makes sense given the narrative in Daniel 1.
In addition to that, the King of Babylon chose good-looking men to enroll in his education program. Sadly, they likely became eunuchs, so anyone swooning over them probably missed out on with them.
Daniel Cares about His Enemies
Iv Author Of The Book
A. Late: Someone living during the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes
B. Early: Daniel the self-proclaimed author of the book living during the sixth century B.C.
1. External Evidence:
a. Jesus identifies Daniel as the prophet who spoke of the abomination of desolation in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24:15-16
b. The Jewish Talmud attributes the writing of Daniel to the Great Synagogue22 but it is questionable whether such a synagogue ever really existed.
c. The writer shows an accurate knowledge of sixth-century events:
1) The city of Shushan is described as being in the province of Elam back in the time of the Chaldeans 23
2) In chapter 9 the writer goes beyond the Maccabean period by predicting the crucifixion of Christ and the following destruction of the city of Jerusalem24
2. Internal Evidence: The author refers to himself as Daniel throughout the book
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Antiochus Epiphanes The Maccabees And The Abomination Of Desolation
Verses 21-34: These verses document the tyrannical oppression of the Jewish people by Antiochus Epiphanes, who by force tried to make the Jewish people forgo their religion in favor of all things Greek.
This was the time of the Maccabees, who resisted this Hellenistic influence. In Antiochus Epiphanes they saw the worst tyrant of history . Antiochus borrowed the surname Epiphanes, manifest, to indicate that he was a manifestation of the deity. Strongly reinforcing a tradition of the Seleucids, he required men to worship him as Olympian Zeus .
Antiochus viciously slaughtered Jews who continued to obey biblical instructions, and he desecrated the temple.
For a brief explanation of Antiochus actions against the Jewish people and how they fulfilled prophecy, see Abomination of Desolation: What Is It?
Gods Sovereignty Always Brings Himself Glory
Once Daniel is freed, Darius writes a public proclamation that travels throughout the land, ascribing ultimate glory to the God of Israel .
Darius decree acknowledges that Daniels God is not dead, nor has He been defeated to the contrary, He is alive and steadfast, actively bringing to pass His divine plan. Even though Jerusalem and its temple lay in ruins, Darius proclaimed to the world that the one true and living Gods rule is eternal and will never pass away . The God of Israel is far different than the false gods of the Babylonians, the Medes or the Persiansthe gods who have eyes but cannot see, ears but cannot hear, and mouths but cannot speak . Daniels God is the only God who is able to deliver, rescue, and perform signs and wonders. Only the God of Israel was able to shut the mouths of the lions.
So why did God allow the evil plans of the commissioners and satraps? Why did God allow Darius to sign the injunction? Why did God allow Daniel to be thrown into the lions den? Why did God deliver Daniel from the lions den? Why does God do what He does?
Back to the question we started with: what are Gods next steps?
The answer to all of these questions is the same: all of this took place so that the message of the greatness of the glory of God would be proclaimed throughout the world.
Gods glory being put on display was the ultimate purpose for everything that took place in this storywhich is the ultimate purpose for everything God does .
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A Summary And Analysis Of The Book Of Daniel
If it had been composed a little bit later, the Book of Daniel may have been consigned to the pile of texts labelled the Apocrypha, and the stories of Daniel in the lions den, the writing on the wall at Belshazzars feast, and Nebuchadnezzar throwing Shadrach and his fellow Jews into the fiery furnace would not have become the well-known tales they are.
So, why did the Book of Daniel become part of the canon, despite being composed so late some four centuries after the events it describes? And how should we interpret the books meaning and significance?
Before we offer an analysis of the Old Testament Book of Daniel, heres a brief summary of its contents.
The Book of Daniel: summary
The name of Daniel is mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel as a man famed for his wisdom and righteousness. He forms a kind of holy trinity with Noah and Job, two other righteous figures from the Old Testament. However, in being grouped with those two well-known men, it is implied that Daniel is clearly an ancient figure, rather than someone alive at the time of the events of the Book of Daniel. The name Daniel was probably therefore appropriated by the author of the later Book of Daniel whoever that author may have been because of its connotations of religious fidelity. The Daniel of the Book of Daniel is, though, a fiction.
The main events of the Book of Daniel are as follows.
The Book of Daniel: analysis
Dates Of Composition And Characteristics Of The Parts
Both the rabbis of the Talmudic Age and the Christian Church Fathers accepted the book’s own statements that the four apocalypses of Daniel B were written by a man named Daniel in the last years of the Babylonian Age and in the first ones of the Persian Age, i.e., approximately in the decade 545535 B.C.E., and they did not question the historicity of any part of Daniel A
THE FOUR AUTHORS OF DANIEL B.
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Each And Every Leader Of Government
As Daniel 5 concludes, this mighty city of Babylon, which was thought to be impenetrable, falls to a new ruler . But Daniel ensures that his readers know that it is the hand of Yahweh who initiates this change, as seen in the literal appearance of the hand of the Lord .
In this day, when kings were defeated, their hands were cut off as a symbol of utter defeat: the fallen king could no longer wield his scepter. Yahweh ensures that the rulers of Babylon know that He has not been defeated His hand was still active, so much so that His hand determined Belshazzars end and Darius beginning . In the very words of Daniel: the most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind andHe sets over it whomever He wishes .
Gods sovereignty encompasses all the leaders of government, no matter how righteous or evil.
Questions And Answersabout The Book Of Daniel
Who was Daniel?
Daniel was a Hebrew, apparently of noble birth, who was taken captive as a youth by Nebuchadnezzar when he attacked Jerusalem in 605 B.C. Daniel became an official in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, and he continued to serve later rulers, until the first year of Cyrus . Although not called a prophet in the book, Jesus referred to him as such in Matthew 24:15. The Bible has only good things to say about him. He is regarded as one of the great saints of the Old Testament .
What is the Book of Daniel all about?
Daniel is not grouped with the rest of the prophets in the Hebrew Old Testament, but rather among the writings . The Book of Daniel depicts events which occurred during the 70 years of Judahs captivity in Babylon. It records a number of very important prophecies concerning future events, some of which were fulfilled in Daniels lifetime, others in the years up to and including the first coming of Jesus Christ. Still other prophecies are yet to be fulfilled when Christ comes once more, to establish the kingdom of God on the earth.
In general terms, Daniel is about the personal piety of Daniel and his three friends and the prophecies which were revealed to, or through, Daniel during his lifetime.
What are some of the characteristics of the Book of Daniel?
The book of Daniel was written in two languages: Hebrew, the language then spoken by the Jews , and Aramaic, the language of the Babylonians .
What is the unique contribution of Daniel?
8 Ibid., 1123.
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Daniel And The Lions Den
Daniel lives his life as a prophet, helping kings with their dreams and prophesying about his own visions he is receiving from God. At one point, some administrators who are jealous of Daniel trick the king into passing a law that forbids others to pray to their God.
When Daniel breaks the law, the king is heartbroken, but has to throw him into the lions den. In the morning, the king runs to check on Daniel and sees that he isnt harmed, and in turn, throws the palace administrators in instead. Spoiler alert: they dont make it.
The book of Daniel in the Bible is a historical account and prophesy of what is to come for future empiresnone of which will last, but will all eventually be replaced by the one true kingdomthe kingdom of God!
Daniels Contribution To The Scriptures
The Book of Daniel provides us with valuable insights into conditions in Babylon during the 70 years of Judahs Babylonian captivity.
The Book of Daniel testifies to the accuracy and reliability of the Word of God. All that God had said would happen to the southern kingdom of Judah did happen, as the Book of Daniel bears witness.
The Book of Daniel links the Old Testament to the New by prophetically revealing the events to take place in the 400 silent years between the two testaments. Bible students have often commented concerning that 400 year period in which no book of the Bible was written. While God may have, in one sense, been silent during the 400 years, He was not silent about the 400 years. Daniel describes some of the events which will take place during these four centuries with such accuracy, the critics insist it must be history rather than prophecy.
The Book of Daniel is perhaps the most comprehensive layout of Gods prophetic plans in all of the Old Testament. The theology, themes and symbolism of Daniel provide the student of Scriptures with the key to prophecy :
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What Is The Book Of Daniel About
The Book of Daniel is odd in the fact that its split into two sections. The first contains Babylonian narratives of Daniel and his friends standing strong in their beliefs. The second section shows visions of historical events to come and End Times events . This is why we have reason to believe that Daniel wrote the book throughout his life, when he received visions and when he experienced the events from Daniel 1-6.
The book has a couple of purposes. First, it shows us how to stand firm in our beliefs in a hostile culture.Babylon wouldve been everything antithetical to Judaism. And yet, Daniel and his friends would not back down. Secondly, the book hints at events to come, that have happened in history and that have yet to take place.
Daniel In Later Tradition
Daniel in rabbinic literatureDaniel in the Lions’ DenPieter Paul Rubens
Daniel is not a prophet in Judaism: prophecy is reckoned to have ended with Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. In the Hebrew Bible his book is not included under the Prophets , perhaps because its content does not match the prophetic books but nevertheless the eight copies found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and the additional tales of the Greek text are a testament to Daniel’s popularity in ancient times.
The Jewish rabbis of the first millennium CE reckoned Daniel to be the most distinguished member of the Babylonian diaspora, unsurpassed in piety and good deeds, firm in his adherence to the Law despite being surrounded by enemies who sought his ruin, and in the first few centuries CE they wrote down the legends that had grown up around his name. His captivity was foretold by the prophet Isaiah to King Hezekiah in these words, “they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” This misfortune was turned to a blessing when Daniel and his three companions were able to show their mutilated bodies to Nebuchadnezzar and so prove their innocence of charges of leading an unchaste life.
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B Babylons System Of Indoctrination
1. The best and the brightest of Jerusalems young men are chosen and taken to Babylon.
Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the kings descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the kings palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
a. Bring some of the children of Israel: Nebuchadnezzar not only confiscated holy things from the temple but also the shining lights of Judahs future .
i. Walvoord on the phrase kings descendants: The Hebrew for the princes is a Persian word, partemim, which is cited as another proof for a late date of Daniel. However, inasmuch as Daniel lived in his latter years under Persian government as a high official, there is nothing strange about an occasional Persian word.
b. Who had the ability to serve in the kings palace: Nebuchadnezzar demonstrated that he was a wise administrator and a shrewd tactician. Taking these young men as hostages reminded the people back in Jerusalem that they should not revolt against the recently imposed Babylonian rule.
2. In Babylon, the Hebrew youths are groomed for the civil service.
i. In the ancient world much more than in the modern world there was a huge difference between the food enjoyed by the elite and what common people ate.
Chiastic Structure In The Aramaic Section
There is a recognised chiasm in the chapter arrangement of the Aramaic section. The following is taken from Paul Redditt’s “Introduction to the Prophets”:
- A1 A dream of four kingdoms replaced by a fifth
- B1 Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace
- C1 Daniel interprets a dream for Nebuchadnezzar
- C2 Daniel interprets the handwriting on the wall for Belshazzar
In the third year of King Jehoiakim, God allows Jerusalem to fall into the power of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon. Young Israelites of noble and royal family, “without physical defect, and handsome,” versed in wisdom and competent to serve in the palace of the king, are taken to Babylon to be taught the literature and language of that nation. Among them are Daniel and his three companions, who refuse to touch the royal food and wine. Their overseer fears for his life in case the health of his charges deteriorates, but Daniel suggests a trial and the four emerge healthier than their counterparts from ten days of consuming nothing but vegetables and water. They are allowed to continue to refrain from eating the king’s food, and to Daniel God gives insight into visions and dreams. When their training is done Nebuchadnezzar finds them ‘ten times better’ than all the wise men in his service and therefore keeps them at his court, where Daniel continues until the first year of King Cyrus.
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