“What you do with the Bible ~ Will determine what God will do with you”
Date of Writing: The Book of Daniel was written between 540 and 530 B.C.
Purpose of Writing: In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon had conquered Judah and deported many of its inhabitants to Babylon – Daniel included.
Daniel served in the royal court of Nebuchadnezzar and several rulers who followed Nebuchadnezzar.
The Book of Daniel records the actions, prophecies, and visions of the Prophet Daniel.
Daniel 3:17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Chapter 1 describes the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
Along with many others, Daniel and his three friends were deported to Babylon and because of their courage and the obvious blessings of God upon them, they were “promoted” in the king’s service (Daniel 1:17-20).
Chapters 2-4 record Nebuchadnezzar having a dream that only Daniel could correctly interpret.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great statue represented the kingdoms that would arise in the future.
Nebuchadnezzar made a great statue of himself and forced everyone to worship it.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused and were miraculously spared by God despite being thrown into a fiery furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar is judged by God for his pride, but later restored once he recognized and admitted God’s sovereignty.
Chapter 5-6 records Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar misusing the items taken from the Temple in Jerusalem and receiving a message from God, written into the wall, in response.
Only Daniel could interpret the writing, a message of coming judgment from God.
Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den for refusing to pray to the emperor, but was miraculously spared.
Chapter 7 God gave Daniel a vision of four beasts. The four beasts represented the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
Chapters 8-12 contain a vision involving a ram, a goat, and several horns – also referring to future kingdoms and their rulers.
Chapter 9 records Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy.
God gave Daniel the precise timeline of when the Messiah would come and be cut off.
The prophecy also mentions a future ruler who will make a seven-year covenant with Israel and break it after three and a half years, followed shortly thereafter by the great judgment and consummation of all things.
Daniel is visited and strengthened by an angel after this great vision, and the angel explains the vision to Daniel in great detail.
Who was Daniel?
As a young man of 16 years, Daniel was exiled from Jerusalem, in 605BC, when Babylon conquered Jerusalem.
Daniel and his three friends were selected for special training and service in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar, because they were “good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve…” Daniel 1:4.
Although in exile, in a foreign land, Daniel rose to the highest levels of leadership under three kings, yet without compromising his Faith.
Daniel means: “God is my Judge.”
One of the Greatest Prophets
Daniel was a contemporary of the prophets Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah.
Ezekiel described Daniel as one of the most righteous and wise examples of integrity, along with Noah and Job (Ezekiel 14:14).
Our Lord Jesus quotes from the prophet Daniel in Matthew’s Gospel.
The Book begins in 605BC when Babylon conquered Jerusalem and exiled Daniel and other nobles from Jerusalem to Babylon.
It continues to the demise of the Babylonian Empire in 539 BC when the Medo-Persian Empire conquered Babylon (5:30-31), and goes on to the rule of the Persian king Cyrus, who gave permission for the exiles to return and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (10:1).
Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon for 45 of its 70 years of existence.
Babylon ruled the most powerful empire that had existed up to that time.
Daniel lived through the whole 70 years of Babylon’s existence, seeing its rise and fall.
Daniel bridges the entire 70 years of the Babylonian captivity (605-536BC); (Daniel 1:1-9; 1-3).
Daniel is referred to by the Book of Hebrews as one of “…the prophets; who through faith… stopped the mouths of lions” Hebrews 11:32-33.
LESSON: Jeremiah 29:7, the prophet tells the Hebrew people in captivity to seek the welfare of their new communities established by their captors.
It wasn’t an easy thing to ask: other cultures worshiped other gods, kept other customs, and recognized other holy places.
Jews who were used to worshiping their own God at their own temple according to the Torah had a lot of adjusting to do.
The book of Daniel tells the story of one Hebrew who still followed God despite being subject to systems that didn’t recognize God.
Daniel is a special character in the Bible.
He’s a handsome member of the royal family (like David).
He’s wise (like Solomon).
He counsels kings (like Samuel and Isaiah).
He intercedes with God on behalf of the people (like Moses).
He receives visions about the future (like Ezekiel).
But unlike these biblical headliners, the Bible never tells us about Daniel doing anything wrong.
He’s a rare character who follows the Torah and embodies the ideals of the Jews who lived under the rule of world empires.
Christians place the book of Daniel with the prophets for two good reasons.
First, Daniel includes a good deal of prophecy about Israel and the empires of the world.
Second, Jesus called Daniel a prophet.
These prophecies anticipate a day when the kingdoms of the world are finally brought under the rule of God’s kingdom, which will bring about an era of peace and justice for everyone.
Daniel’s prophecies are referenced not only by Jesus, but also heavily drawn upon the author of the last book of the Bible, Revelation.
Summary of Daniel
The book of Daniel is a strange one.
It contains several vivid, bizarre dreams and visions.
But beyond this, the book is written in two languages.
While half of the book is written in Hebrew like the rest of the Old Testament, the other half is written in Aramaic.
And that Aramaic portion is in the middle-ish of the book, beginning in the second chapter and ending with the seventh.
This makes structuring Daniel an involved task, but the book breaks down into two halves: the first six chapters and the last six chapters.
PART 1: Stories about Daniel (1–6)
This section follows Daniel in third-person.
Daniel and his (fireproof) friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are taken to Babylon, where they are trained to serve in Nebuchadnezar’s court.
They abstain from violating the Torah’s purity laws, and as a result, are blessed with favor in the sight of the Babylonians.
Daniel becomes a beacon of wisdom in Babylon, interpreting troubling signs and dreams that the kings receive from the divine realm.
The Babylonian kings are very arrogant, considering themselves God’s peers.
This gets them into divine trouble, and the Babylonian empire eventually falls to the Persians.
Daniel remains in exile after the Persian king, Cyrus, allows the Jews to return home, using his wisdom to serve the Persians, too.
His wisdom and favor make the other (non-Jewish) leaders jealous, so they plot to have Daniel disgraced and killed.
But Daniel’s so flawless that the only way they can get him in trouble is to make his piety to Israel’s God illegal.
Still, Daniel remains loyal to God, and gets thrown to the lions— which he famously survives.
Throughout these stories, Daniel’s wisdom and loyalty to God foil the arrogant and power-hungry humans of Babylon and Persia, pointing to Israel’s God as the one with true power.
PART 2: Daniel’s visions and dreams (7–12)
Here the book shifts from third-person narratives into a first-person account of Daniel’s dreams and visions.
Daniel sees future empires (depicted as beasts) dominating the world and oppressing Israel.
He sees that the 70 years predicted by Jeremiah are just the start of Israel’s problems.
In fact, Israel will still struggle with loyalty to God—and subjugation to the nations—until the Messiah sets up a new kingdom of peace and wisdom and justice.
REMEMBER: In the New Testament, the author of Matthew references the writings in this book as those of “the prophet Daniel.” (Matthew 24:15)
Practical Application: Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we should always stand for what we know is right.
God is greater than any punishment that could come upon us.
Whether God chooses to deliver us or not, He is always worthy of our trust.
God knows what is best, and He honors those who trust and obey Him.
God has a plan, and His plan is down to the intricate detail.
God knows and is in control of the future.
Everything that God has predicted has come true exactly as He predicted.
Therefore, we should believe and trust that the things He has predicted for the future will one day occur exactly as God has declared.