VIDEO The Book of Daniel Explained

Title: The title of the book comes from the name of its chief character and author. Daniel who through the book received revelations from God. Daniel bridges the entire 70 years of the Babylonian captivity from (605 to 536 B.C.; compare 1:1 and 9:1-3).

Nine of the 12 chapters relate revelation through dreams and visions. Daniel was God’s mouthpiece to the Gentile and Jewish world, declaring God’s current and future plans. What Revelation is to the New Testament prophetically and apocalyptically, Daniel is to the Old Testament.

Author – Date: Several verses indicate that the writer is Daniel (8:15, 27; 9:2; 10:2, 7; 12:4-5), whose name means “God is my Judge.” He wrote in the autobiographical first person from (7:2 on), and is to be distinguished from the other 3 Daniels of the Old Testament (compare 1 Chron. 3:1; Ezra 8:2; Neh. 10:6). As a teenager, possibly about 15 years old, Daniel was kidnapped from his noble family in Judah and deported to Babylon to be brainwashed into Babylonian culture for the task of assisting in dealing with the imported Jews. There he spent the remainder of a long life (85 years or more). He made the most of the exile successfully, exalting God by his character and service. He quickly rose to the role of statesman by official royal appointment and served as a confidante of kings as well as a prophet in two world empires, i.e., the Babylonian (2:48), and the Medo-Persian (6:1-2). Christ confirmed Daniel as the author of this book (compare Matt. 24:15).

Daniel lived beyond the time described (in Dan. 10:1; ca. 536 B.C.). It seems most probable that he wrote the book shortly after this date but before (ca. 530 B.C.).

(Daniel 2:4b – 7:28), which prophetically describes the course of Gentile world history, was originally and appropriately written in Aramaic, the contemporary language of international business. Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah were Daniel’s prophetic contemporaries.

The authenticity of few books in the bible has been more furiously assailed by critics than the Book of Daniel. The primary reasons for this is:

1.      The book is said to make several historical blunders.

2.      The language of the period.

3.      The position of the book in the third part of the threefold division of the Old Testament Canon (laws and writings), shows that it was written too late to be placed in the collection of the Prophets.

4.      The book contains many examples of historical events that occurred long after the time of the traditional date for Daniel.

The arguments for the book’s authenticity however are quite convincing and answer well those negative doubts:

1.      The charges of historical blunders have proved false in the past (e.g., the mention of Belshazzar, now firmly established by the discovery of the Nabonidus Chronicle, was once thought to be a mistake). Present problematic passages will eventually likewise be solved.

2.      Not only do the international contacts of the Neo-Babylonian Empire account for the presence of foreign words, but recent linguistic research has rendered obsolete the argument concerning the supposed lateness of Daniel’s language.

3.      Daniel was a statesman as well as a prophet, and could thus easily be included in the writings.

4.      Since God is the Sovereign of history, He can inspire men to record accurate predictions of events both near and far.

5.      Jesus quoted Daniel as a prophet (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14).

6.      Daniels contemporaries mention him as a person known for his righteousness and wisdom (Ezek. 14:14, 20; 28:3).

7.      Ancient authorities, both Jewish and Christian, accepted the book’s authenticity.

8.      Taken at face value, the book purports to be a document (of the sixth century B.C.), written by a prophet of God. There is no good reason to reject Daniel’s authorship of the book.

If the claims of the book are taken at face value, it was written during the lifetime of Daniel at various periods between the time he was captured and the third year of Cyrus (605 to 536 B.C.), or simply (the sixth century B.C.). The dates of the three kings mentioned in the book are well known: Nebuchadnezzar (605 – 562 B.C.), Belshazzar (553-539 B.C.), and Cyrus (559 – 529 B.C.). Cyrus’s reign over Babylon, the scene of the later chapters of Daniel (began in 539 B.C.).

Interpretation – Purpose: The interpretation of the book can be determined only by understanding its historical background. (In 626 B.C.), Nabopolassar of Babylon freed his city from Assyrian control and thus began the Neo-Babylonian Empire. (In 612 B.C.), Babylonia and Media together defeated the Assyrians and destroyed Nineveh, their capital. Nabopolassar was succeeded by his son Nebuchadnezzar (in 605 B.C.), shortly after the latter had defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish. The Babylonians were then the undisputed masters of the ancient Near East. In the first of three campaigns against Judah, Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and his three friends, among others, captive to Babylon (605 B.C.). Later campaigns resulted in the taking of 10,000 captives, including Ezekiel (597 B.C.) and finally, the destruction of the temple and city itself (586 B.C.).

Four successive Babylonian kings are not mentioned in Daniel: Amel-marduk (the Evil-merodach of the Bible; 562 – 560 B.C.), Nergalsharusur (the Nergal-sharezer (of Jer. 39:3), known to the Greeks as Neriglissar (560 – 556 B.C.), Labashi-marduk (556 B.C.); and Nabonidus (555 – 539 B.C.). However, the final king of the Empire, Belshazzar (553-539 B.C.), is an important figure in Daniel’s account. Belshazzar, although a co-regent with his father Nabonidus, was in fact the reigning monarch for much of his father’s term. During Belshazzar’s rule Daniel had the vision of the four beasts (chapter 7), and the vision of the ram and the male goat (in chapter 8). The famous “handwriting on the wall” (in chapter 5) was a prediction of Belshazzar’s fall, since the city was taken that night (Oct. 12, 539 B.C.) by Cyrus the Persian. Cyrus is the only Persian king mentioned in the book. Darius is clearly identified as a Mede and should not be confused with a later Persian king by the same name.

The writing of this book has several purposes:

1.      It presents a divine philosophy of history. God is represented as the Sovereign over all of history. He moves men and nations according to His will (4:35).

2.      It provides a prophetic framework for the future, that period called by Jesus as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). The world empires mentioned (in chapters 2 and 7), show the ultimate fortunes of Gentile powers.

3.      It explains other portions of Scripture. The Book of Revelation could not be understood apart from the Book of Daniel. (Revelation chapters 4-19), is a commentary on the events of Daniel’s “seventieth week” (Daniel 9:27).

4.      It served as a book of encouragement to the Babylonian exiles, whose hearts were no doubt lightened by Daniel’s predictions of the ultimate triumph of Israel over her enemies.

Background – Setting: The book begins (in 605 B.C.), when Babylon conquered Jerusalem and exiled Daniel, his 3 friends, and others. It continues to the eventual demise of Babylonian supremacy (n 539 B.C.), when Medo-Persian besiegers conquered Babylon (5:30-31), and goes even beyond that to (536 B.C.; 10:1). After Daniel was transported to Babylon, the Babylonian victors conquered Jerusalem in two further stages (597 B.C. and 586 B.C.). In both takeovers, they deported more Jewish captives. Daniel passionately remembered his home, particularly the temple at Jerusalem, almost 70 years after having been taken away from it (6:10).

Daniel’s background is alluded to in part by Jeremiah, who names 3 of the last 5 kings in Judah before captivity (compare Jeremiah 1:1-3): Josiah (ca. 641 – 609 B.C.), Jehoiakim (ca. 609 -597 B.C.), and Zedekiah (597 – 586 B.C.). Jehoahaz (ca. 609 B.C.), and Jehoiachin (ca. 598 – 597 B.C.) are not mentioned (compare Jeremiah Introduction: Background – Setting). Daniel is also mentioned by Ezekiel (compare 14:14, 20; 28:3), as being righteous and wise. He is alluded to by the writer of Hebrews as one of “the prophets … who through by faith … stopped the mouths of lions” (Heb. 11:32-33).

The long-continued sin of the Judeans without national repentance eventually led to God’s judgment for which Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah had given fair warning. Earlier, Isaiah and other faithful prophets of God had also trumpeted the danger. When Assyrian power had ebbed by 625 B.C., the Neo-Babylonians conquered:

(1)   Assyria with its capital Nineveh (in 612 B.C.);

(2)   Egypt in the following years, and

(3)   Judah (in 605 B.C.), when they overthrew Jerusalem in the first of 3 steps (also 597 B.C. 586 B.C.).

Daniel was one of the first groups of deportees, and Ezekiel followed (in 597 B.C.).

Israel of the northern kingdom had earlier fallen to Assyria (in 722 B.C.). With Judah’s captivity, the judgment was complete. In Babylon, Daniel received God’s word concerning successive stages of Gentile world domination through the centuries until the greatest Conqueror, Messiah, would put down all Gentile lordship. He then will defeat all foes and raise His covenant people to blessing in His glorious millennial kingdom.

Historical – Theological Themes: Daniel was written to encourage the exiled Jews by revealing God’s program for them, both during and after the time of Gentile power in the world. Prominent above every other theme in the book is God’s sovereign control over the affairs of all rulers and nations, and their final replacement with the True King. The key verses are (2:20-22, 44; compare 2:28, 37; 4:34-35; 6:25-27). God had not suffered defeat in allowing Israel’s fall (Dan. Chapter 1), but was providentially working His sure purposes toward an eventual full display of His King, the exalted Christ. He sovereignly allowed Gentiles to dominate Israel, i.e., Babylon (605-539 B.C.), Medo-Persia (539 – 331 B.C.), Greece (331 – 146 B.C.), Rome (146 B.C. – 476 A.D.), and all the way to the Second Advent of Christ. These stages in Gentile power are set forth (in chapters 2 and 7). This same theme also embraces Israel’s experience both in defeat and finally in her kingdom blessing (in Chapters 8 through 12; compare 2:35, 45; 7:27). A key aspect within the over-arching theme of God’s kingly control is Messiah’s coming to rule the world in glory over all men (2:35, 45; 7:13; 14, 27). He is like a stone (in chapter 2), and like a son of man (in chapter 7). In addition, He is the Anointed One (Messiah; in chapter 9:26). Chapter 9 provides the chronological framework from Daniel’s time to Christ’s kingdom.

A second theme woven into the fabric of Daniel is the display of God’s sovereign power through miracles. Daniel’s era is one of 6 in the Bible with a major focus on miracles by which God accomplished His purposes. Other periods include:

(1)     The Creation and Flood (Gen. 1:11);

(2)     The patriarchs and Moses (Gen. 12 – Deuteronomy);

(3)     Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17 – 2 Kings 13);

(4)     Jesus and the apostles (Gospels, Acts); and

(5)     The time of the Second Advent (Revelation).

God, who has everlasting dominion and ability to work according to His will (4:34-35), is capable of miracles, all of which would be lesser displays of power than was exhibited when He acted as Creator (in Gen. 1:1). Daniel chronicles the God-enabled recounting and interpreting of dreams which God used to reveal His will (Chapters 2, 4, and 7). Other miracles included:

(1)   His writing on the wall and Daniel’s interpreting it (chapter 5);

(2)   His protection of the 3 men in a blazing furnace (chapter 3);

(3)   His provision of safety for Daniel in a lions’ den (chapter 6); and

(4)   Supernatural prophecies (chapters 2, 7, 8; 9:24 – 12:13).


The Book of Daniel Explained | David Jeremiah


Betrayed

Today's Devotional

Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. Psalm 41:9

 

In 2019, art exhibitions worldwide commemorated the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. While many of his drawings and scientific discoveries were showcased, there are only five finished paintings universally credited to da Vinci, including The Last Supper.

This intricate mural depicts the final meal Jesus ate with His disciples, as described in the gospel of John. The painting captures the disciples’ confusion at Jesus’ statement, “One of you is going to betray me” (John 13:21). Perplexed, the disciples discussed who the betrayer might be—while Judas quietly slipped out into the night to alert the authorities of the whereabouts of his teacher and friend.

Betrayed. The pain of Judas’ treachery is evident in Jesus’ words, “He who shared my bread has turned against me” (v. 18). A friend close enough to share a meal used that connection to harm Jesus.

Each of us has likely experienced a friend’s betrayal. How can we respond to such pain? Psalm 41:9, which Jesus quoted to indicate His betrayer was present during the shared meal (John 13:18), offers hope. After David poured out his anguish at a close friend’s duplicity, he took solace in God’s love and presence that would uphold and set him in God’s presence forever (Psalm 41:11–12).

When friends disappoint, we can find comfort knowing God’s sustaining love and His empowering presence will be with us to help us endure even the most devastating pain.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Sunday Reflection: The Promise of His Healing

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

After completing His famous sermon (read Matthew 5-7), Jesus came down from the mountain, and a leper approached, asking to be made clean (Matt. 8:1-3). Under the laws of the time (see Leviticus 13), touching this man would have meant defilement—ceremonial uncleanness—which required ritual purification to regain one’s place in Jewish society.

Apparently physical contact wasn’t even necessary, as we read just a few verses later that Jesus healed a centurion’s servant with words alone (Matt. 8:5-13). Yet He chose to touch the leper anyway—not only to heal Him, but also to make him clean.

Consider this: Though we may not have the man’s disease, each of us approaches God as if we’re leprous, with a sick heart in need of healing. What a joy to know that His presence—His touch—cleanses, restores, and sets us free.

Think about it
• The leper bowed before the Lord, saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean” (Matt. 8:2). What does it mean to be cleansed (or redeemed) by Jesus?

• Picture Jesus stretching out His hand toward you as He did in Matt. 8:3. Is it easy to reach out and accept His offer of restoration?

The Places He Has Been

“And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.” (John 18:2)

In the 18th and 19th chapters of John’s gospel, there are four “places” where Jesus had to go to accomplish our salvation. The first was the place as noted in our text: He, “knowing all things that should come upon him” (John 18:4), nevertheless went directly to that place, knowing that Judas would meet Him there.

Then He went to the place of trial: “Pilate…brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called…Gabbatha” (John 19:13). But He did not stay there long; the mockery of a trial was soon over, and Pilate delivered Him to be crucified. “And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull” (John 19:16-17). And in that place called Golgotha, He died for our sins.

He was betrayed in a place called Gethsemane, condemned in a place called Gabbatha, and crucified in a place called Golgotha. But that was not all; He must yet be laid in a tomb. “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus” (John 19:41-42).

And that also was the place from which He arose, and our salvation was secured forever! Now, just before this amazing four-place itinerary of our Lord Jesus, He had promised still another place to which He would be going.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Because He went to a place called Calvary, we shall soon be with Him forever in a place called heaven! HMM

From Among The Common People

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

—1 Corinthians 1:26-27

 

Christian believers and Christian congregations must be thoroughly consecrated to Christ’s glory alone. This means absolutely turning their backs on the contemporary insistence on human glory and recognition. I have done everything I can to keep “performers” out of my pulpit. I was not called to recognize “performers.” I am confident our Lord never meant for the Christian church to provide a kind of religious stage where performers proudly take their bows, seeking personal recognition. That is not God’s way to an eternal work. He has never indicated that proclamation of the gospel is to be dependent on human performances.

Instead, it is important to note how much the Bible has to say about the common people—the plain people. The Word of God speaks with such appreciation of the common people that I am inclined to believe they are especially dear to Him. Jesus was always surrounded by the common people. He had a few “stars,” but largely His helpers were from the common people—the good people and, surely, not always the most brilliant.   TRA005

In our church, Lord, help us to treat all alike as Your servants. Amen.

 

Getting Priorities in Order

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

—Romans 11:33

 

Our Lord knows us very well. Yet He has given us the power of choice. I believe our Lord Jesus, by the Spirit of God, keeps whispering to us, “Watch out! It is very easy to put today’s world first and spiritual treasures second—or last!”

We must make our choice in response. What will it be?

I confess that I feel a compulsion to cry out in prayer: “My Lord, I have so many earthly treasures! I must continually give thanks to Thee, my God, for Thy blessings. But I know that I am going to have to leave these things, to give them all up some day. Therefore, I do deliberately choose to earnestly seek spiritual treasures, putting them above all else. They are the only treasures that will not perish.”…

He would have us continue to decide for Himself and His kingdom. MMG085

In the kingdom of God the surest way to lose something is to try to protect it, and the best way to keep it is to let it go. BAM096

 

The Sacrifice of Stewardship

Romans 12:1

Stewardship, we have said, is a privilege more than a duty. Now I am saying that stewardship is sacrifice. Most people think of sacrifice as something done out of a sense of obligation or oughtness. Few think of it as a privilege. When is it a privilege? It is a privilege when we give up the old self-centered existence for the God-centered existence—when we deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Christ (Mark 8:34)—when we put to death our self-absorption (Galatians 5:24). Sacrifice is a privilege when it opens the door to new life, when it takes us out of ourselves as we leave behind the lesser selves created by our sin.

Stewardship is the day by day living out of Christian privilege through the process of self-denial. The self-denial is essential because seeking that which is worthy requires the abandonment of that which is unworthy.

Stewardship is a sacrifice in two ways. First it is sacrifice in the sense of something given up. Second, it is sacrifice in the sense of something given.

The Apostle Paul appeals to the Roman Christians: “In view of God’s mercy… offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). This presentation of ourselves is a twofold sacrifice. Yes, we become masters of dispossession in contrast to being bent on mastering the art of acquisition. But this “giving up” is an empty exercise if it is not the reflection of the “living sacrifice” of which Paul speaks. The all-important sacrifice is giving ourselves to God. This complete sacrifice triggers a life-offering of reflexive sacrifices as the offering of ourselves to God works itself out in daily offerings.

Our stewardship is the substance of our commitment. It is the sacrificial lifestyle of those who have sacrificed themselves to a God who sacrificed everything. It is the joyful practice of self-denial. The crazy thing about stewardship is that sacrifice is profoundly rewarding.

What is the one enduring treasure? It is the kingdom of God. Those who take this Kingdom seriously look at their own material treasures in an entirely different light. They cease being treasures and become resources. They become expendable for the kingdom.

Philip D. Needham, The War Cry