Survey of the Bible - Daniel

Text: Daniel 2:20-23


I.         Daniel is a contemporary of Jeremiah and Ezekiel

            A.        Daniel was taken in the first wave of captivity, indicating he was a member of the upper class in Israel.

            B.        Daniel means “God is my judge”

            C.        Daniel is one the few characters in the Bible whom nothing wrong is recorded about him.

                        1.         He is mentioned three times in Ezekiel as one of the greats - Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3

                        2.         Jesus verifies the book by quoting Daniel 9:27 and attributing it to Daniel - Matthew 24:15

II.        Background

            A.        Nebuchadnezzar’s style of conquering nations was to take youths of the ruling class, train them in the Babylonians ways and then use them to govern, with the idea that their loyalty would be to Babylon - Daniel 1:4-7

            B.        The city of Babylon was huge

                        1.         Nebuchadnezzar continually build and improved the city during his 45 year reign.

                        2.         "In addition to its size," wrote Herodotus, a Greek historian in 450 BC, "Babylon surpasses in splendor any city in the known world." Herodotus claimed the outer walls were 56 miles in length, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high. Wide enough, he said, to allow two four-horse chariots to pass each other. The city also had inner walls which were "not so thick as the first, but hardly less strong." Inside these double walls were fortresses and temples containing immense statues of solid gold. [The Seven Wonders - Hanging Gardens of Babylon,]

            C.        Daniel governed through the 70 years of captivity, during which time the Babylonian government fell to the Medes and Persians. Significant is that Daniel continued to rule under those kings as well - Daniel 1:21

            D.        It is because of this forward looking comment that most agree that Daniel was written at the end of his long service.

III.       Overview

            A.        Daniel 1 and 8-12 are written in Hebrew. Daniel 2-7 are written in Aramaic.

            B.        Daniel 1-7:1 is written in third person. Daniel 7:2 to the end are written in first person.

            C.        Daniel has been picked on as being a fraudulent book.

                        1.         People want to place the dating of its writing to the era of the Macabbees because there are so many prophecies in Daniel that are accurate in minute detail.

                        2.         But the argument is backwards because it assumes that no book can be accurate in prophecy.

                        3.         Another argument is the use of Aramaic that includes Persian and Greek words

                                    a.         Daniel’s Aramaic is an early Imperial Aramaic – what you would expect from some one schooled in Babylon.

                                    b.         The Persian is expected since Daniel served in the Persian empire

                                    c.         The Greek words are the names of some of the musical instruments, which mere show their origin.

                                                (1)       In reality if it was written in the late second century BC, you would expect more Greek words because the Greek empire was dominate at that time.

                                                (2)       It is the lack of Greek words that argues for an earlier date.

            D.        Two ways to divide Daniel

                        1.         By the language, showing who is being addressed

                                    a.         Three parts: Personal, Nations, Israel

                        2.         By the style,

                                    a.         Daniel 1-6 are the historical stories

                                    b.         Daniel 7-12 are the visions of the future

IV.      Content

            A.        Daniel’s Background - Daniel 1 (written in Hebrew)

                        1.         Note three years of training - Daniel 1:5

                        2.         Daniel’s loyalty to God is established early on - Daniel 1:8-17

                        3.         The four Israelite’s intelligence was superior - Daniel 1:19-20

            B.        Prophecies to the Nations - Daniel 2-7 (written in Aramaic)

                        1.         The Dream of the Great Image - Daniel 2

                                    a.         This takes place three years after Daniel’s captivity, so he is still quite young. He hasn’t finished the official training.

                                    b.         A prediction of four major empires, with Babylon being the first.

                                    c.         The king is told that he was given his kingdom - Daniel 2:37-38

                                    d.         Nebuchadnezzar is impressed - Daniel 2:47

                                    e.         The appointments might have taken place after the three years of training, or the three years were cut short - Daniel 2:48-49

                        2.         Shadrach, Meshak, and Abendigo and the Furnace - Daniel 3

                                    a.         The time is not mentioned.

                                    b.         Caused by a resentment that these young men were given such powerful positions

                                    c.         A demonstration of great courage and faith. Despite knowing it would cost their lives - Daniel 3:15-18

                                    d.         Nebuchadnezzar destroys Israel, but God tells Nebuchadnezzar that He is ruler - Daniel 3:28-30

                        3.         Nebuchadnezzar learns God is in Control - Daniel 4

                                    a.         Unique as it is a copy of Nebuchadnezzar’s record of the event

                                    b.         Nebuchadnezzar loses his sanity as prophesied by Daniel for seven years.

                                    c.         At the end, the king gives testimony - Daniel 4:34-37

                        4.         Belshazzar and the Writing on the Wall - Daniel 5

                                    a.         The fall of Babylon took place near the end of captivity. It is 66 years since the captivity. Daniel would now be a very old man, perhaps in his late seventies to early eighties.

                                    b.         We see the moral decadence in which Babylon’s leaders had fallen

                                                (1)       All the more when we learn that a party is being held while the Persian army is camped outside the city.

                                    c.         Daniel foretells the downfall of Belshazzar’s kingdom, but the king only rewards Daniel.

                                    d.         That night he dies.

                        5.         Daniel and the Lions’ Den - Daniel 6

                                    a.         With the Medes in charge, Daniel would be in his late 80's or early 90's

                                    b.         Darius the Mede was king over Babylon, under the emperor Cyrus, the Persian

                                    c.         Again, the cause of attack was jealousy for Daniel’s position.

                                    d.         Darius was already favorable to Daniel, but note his impression of God - Daniel 6:25-28

                        6.         Vision of the Four Beasts - Daniel 7

                                    a.         Again a vision of four empires - Daniel 7:15-18. 23-27

                                    b.         About 600 years of history is given, showing God remains in control

            C.        Prophecies to Israel - Daniel 8-12 (written in Hebrew)

                        1.         Vision of the Ram and Goat - Daniel 8

                                    a.         A focus on the Persian and Greek empires - Daniel 8:19-22

                                    b.         Persia is a two horned ram (for the Medes and the Persians)

                                    c.         Greece is a one horned goat, but the horn is replaced by four

                                                (1)       Conquers under Alexander the Great who dies and his kingdom is divided under his four generals.

                                                (2)       A later king, whom most think is Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 BC). He tried to force Greek beliefs throughout his kingdom. He even put up an idol in the temple, forbade Jews from circumcising their children or worshiping on the Sabbath.

                                                (3)       The exact time of the desolation is given, a little over six years - Daniel 8:13-14

                        2.         Vision of the 70 weeks - Daniel 9

                                    a.         The date is the end of the seventy years, as it contains Daniel’s prayer for Israel’s return

                                    b.         A precise dating of when the Messiah would arrive

                        3.         Visitation of the Angel - Daniel 10

                                    a.         Here we are told that angels are behind the nations and at war between the good and the bad.

                                    b.         It is a warning that all isn’t as it might appear from our earthly perspective

                        4.         Prophecy of the future - Daniel 11-12

                                    a.         A focus on the Greek empire leading up to the time of Christ

                                    b.         Hard to interpret as it covers the years of silence, so there is no explanation of “this is what was meant when Daniel said, ...”

                                    c.         It is also a period of history with large upheavals, yet we only know the broad events, not often the fine details.

                                    d.         These verses are often “hijacked” for modern events, but Daniel had asked about what would happen to the Jews and this is the answer. They would be caught between the power struggles of two kingdoms.

V.        Daniel’s book is about God’s sovereignty over the nations

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