Daniel, sometimes referred to as the “Apocalypse of the Old Testament,” presents a majestic sweep of prophetic history. TheBabylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans will come and go, but God will establish His people forever.
Nowhere is this theme more apparent than in the life of Daniel, a young God-fearing Jew transplanted from his homeland and raise in Babylonia. His adventures—and those of his friends—in the palace, the fiery furnace, and the lion’s den show that even during the Exile God has not forgotten His chosen nation.
And through Daniel, God provides dreams—and interpretations of dreams—designed to convince Jew and Gentile alike that wisdom and power belong to Him alone!
- Nebuchadnezzar is on the Babylonian throne and brings captives from Jerusalem to Babylon.
2 Chronicles 36:7, Jeremiah 27:19-20, Daniel 5:2
- Timespan – 605-536BC, approximately 69-70 years.
- Daniel was of royal birth. The text interestingly tells us he was good-looking and showing intelligence in every wisdom (Daniel 1:3-6). He was 16 when he was taken into captivity and would’ve been 85 years old under Cyrus’s reign.
- Daniel is the first of the “apocalyptic” books. We might think of an apocalypse as the end time or Armageddon, but it simply means a revealing, unveiling, or disclosure.
- Features of Apocalyptic literature:
- A person who receives God’s word
- Symbolic language
- A future description, often of God’s people Israel
- Poetic in style
- Daniel, portions of Ezekiel (chapters 37-48), Zechariah 1-7, and Revelation can be considered apocalyptic and deserving of good study.
- Features of Apocalyptic literature:
Prominent features in Daniel:
- Fiery furnace
- Nebuchadnezzar – hubris to madness, humility to recognizing Yahweh Elohim
- Daniel and the writing on the wall
- Daniel in the lion’s den
Within Bible believing churches, we see trends. In the 1970’s we had great interest in prophetic literature. We moved into a focus on spiritual gifts in a major way. In more recent years, these have mutated into a plethora of introspective tests and instruments that tell us who we are: Meyers Briggs, Strongs, DISC, Enneagram…
While these tools range from novel to helpful, the trait they share is that they are self-focused. They tell me about me.
But they cannot replace Scripture.
The western Christian mindset grows increasingly introspective and it’s a reminder to all of us to keep Scripture in front of us: this is the Word of God and any person who can read or hear it, can grow.
The book of Daniel contains portions in both Aramaic and Hebrew. Aramaic was the language of the day but Hebrew, of course, was the language of the Jew.
In this single book it seems we have a message readily accessible to the Gentile population. This is important, especially when you think about prophetic literature.
Mark Water suggests the Major Theme, “When God’s people had little hope, Daniel provided encouragement by revealing God’s power and His plans for the future.” (1)
5 Purposes for the Book of Daniel:
- Daniel served as an outstanding example of godliness to the exiles.
- The book emphasizes that God’s sovereign authority is over Gentile nations (observe Daniel 4:35).
- The book gives an example of God’s faithfulness to His covenant people, protecting and preserving them even though they were under divine discipline for their disobedience.
- The book outlines the prophetic period known as “The Times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), and shows in detail the effect Gentile nations will have on Israel while she is waiting for God’s covenants to her to be fulfilled under the Messiah’s reign.
- The book reveals Israel’s future deliverance and the blessings she will enjoy in the coming Millennial Age. (2.)
Major Theme: There is one King who reigns for all eternity, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Daniel 2:20-22, Daniel 2:44, Daniel 7:13-14
- The faithful life included blessings and trials.
- Daniel’s determination: Daniel 1:8-9Determination. Not a vain attempt to make our flesh better, not spiritual discipline that will make us “better” Christians, but determination to stay within the parameters outlined to us by God’s Word and His Spirit.
- No one can thwart God’s will: Daniel 4:35
- Prayer reveals how we see our sin and how we see our God.We have to learn to pray more in line with Scripture than our experience.
- Mark Water, The Books of the Bible Made Easy, The Made Easy Series (Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishing, 2001), 27.
- . Dwight Pentecost, “Daniel,”in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1327.)