The Book of DANIEL is a highly popular book due to memorable Sunday School stories and its prophetic intrigue. Most profound is that it’s grounded in measurable history. ◊
Even if one (like me) did not grow up going to Sunday School, they will have had some exposure to the popular Bible stories about Daniel in the lion’s den, or the one about his 3 friends with the strange names surviving the burning furnace.
Growing up, I just thought those stories were like Aesop’s Fables, although I never quite got the moral of the story other than to pray to God when you’re in trouble.
Within Christian circles, this Bible book also attracts a lot of attention because of its prophetic intrigue with dreams and God-given interpretations. Much of End Times or Last Days prophesy controversies have some linkage to several prophetic chapters in the Book of Daniel.
Even Jesus references Daniel’s words in His famous discourse about the coming destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24 (also Mark 13 and Luke 21).
Yes, the Book of Daniel is rich in engaging story-telling, strange dreams, mysterious visions, and even spelled-out interpretations that lend themselves to wide debate and controversy.
Yet I believe this book is so much more in that it is grounded in measurable human history that profoundly supports the Word of God and God’s intervention in the affairs of kings, kingdoms and nations over centuries.
Over 600 Years of Bible/Human History
As will be addressed in the upcoming Biblical Viewpoint study of the entire Book of Daniel, Daniel’s prophecy spans from the early 7th century BC to well into the first century AD. We’ll take a chapter-by-chapter look at the text and review the various prophetic speculations that run the gamut from well-known and popular to some perspectives you may have never heard.
Given the awesome power of God and His intervention in real human history, the profound impact in a study of Daniel will be in the recognition that no man, king, kingdom or nation, rises or falls apart from the hand of God. Tapping into your memories of middle school, high school, or even college studies of world history, the Book of Daniel will have you realize that God is deep in the details of human societal development.
Book of Daniel Summary
Daniel was a young contemporary of the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah. He was part of the early group of Hebrew elites taken captive in 605 BC by the initial invasion of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the most powerful nation in the world. Chapter 1 highlights young Daniel’s test of his Jewish faith in the midst of his new pagan rulers. Chapter 2 describes Nebuchadnezzar’s extensive dream and his frustration in finding anyone who can interpret it for him. Daniel’s bold confidence in God plays out here in a fascinating display of prophetic gifting that leaves the king awestruck and Daniel rewarded.
Chapter 3 is about the young friends of Daniel who object to an idol-worshipping edict by King Nebuchadnezzar and their miraculous survival from a brutal burning punishment. Chapter 4 relays a curious episode in the life of Nebuchadnezzar that shows God’s power and control of even arrogant kings at the peak of their wealth and reign. Chapter 5 takes place decades later when Daniel is now called to interpret the strange “handwriting on the wall” at an extravagant dinner party in the palace of King Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.
Chapter 6 is the account of the famous story of Daniel in the lion’s den and his miraculous delivery during the reign of King Darius of the Medo-Persian empire. Chapter 7 details Daniel’s own disturbing dream of the “four beasts” of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, and a fifth kingdom that will have everlasting dominion over all the world. Chapter 8 is a drill-down vision of two of these beast kingdoms; namely, Medo-Persia and Greece, and highlights two historic figures: Alexander the Great of Greece (356-323 BC), and Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164 BC), a later Greek/Hellenistic king.
Chapter 9 contains the extensive prayer of Daniel on behalf of his sinful, exiled nation and then God’s angelic delivery of the famous “vision of the 70 weeks” which is at the crux of modern-day prophecy interpretation controversies. Chapter 10 provides an odd but intimate glimpse into the angelic spiritual realm and the impact of prayer, specifically Daniel’s prayer, and yet another vision. Chapter 11 dives deep into the intrepretation of Daniel’s last vision involving the divided kingdoms following the death of Alexander the Great and specifically the abomination conducted by Antiochus Epiphanes in the Temple (165 BC), a foreshadowing of the coming abomination spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24. Finally, Chapter 12 ends the book with another controversial prophetic view that actually calls for the sealing up of this final word “until the time of the end” – of which a case can be made refers to the end of the Jewish age, not the end of the world.
Again, the Book of Daniel goes well beyond Sunday School stories. I maintain that an open-minded Bible-based study of this critical Old Testament book is helpful for deep believers and Christian skeptics alike. Laced with historic reference points of people, kings and nations, as well as views of the powerful hand of God manifested in physical and spiritual ways, this book will stir your thinking while leaving you at some level of awe and wonder.
Have you really read the Book of Daniel?
As for me [Daniel], this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind. – Daniel 2:30
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