Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book of Daniel in a nutshell

Daniel 1:9 "Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials."

Brief Introduction
In today's post I am interested in acquainting the reader with an overview of the Book of Daniel.  Daniel was a Jewish lad of 15 years of age when he and his fellow Jews were taken away into exile by the Babylonians to the land of Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar, the king of what came to be called the "Neo-Babylonian Empire" took the Jews into captivity over a period of three stages in 605 b.c, 597 b.c and the final defeat of Jerusalem occurring in 586 b.c.  These dates are important to consider for getting into the reader's mind both Daniel's day and the prophets who were ministering in Jerusalem.  Daniel would had been among those in the first deportation, Ezekiel in the second stage of exile and Jeremiah representing those Jews who saw Jerusalem fall in the final wave of exile in 586 b.c.  Daniel's book is interesting because he begins writing it as a young man of 15 and receives the visions from God up until past his 85th year of life.    

Ways in which to approach Daniel
As a young man Daniel had been called and gifted by God to receive and interpret visions, as well as compose the series of revelations that would span the over 70 years he would spend in Babylon.  To get a feel for the types of things Daniel wrote in his book, we can divide the Book up topically or chronologically:

Three Topical sections covered in Daniel
Section 1: Testimonials Daniel 1,3,6
-Daniel and his 3 friends. Chapter 1
-The 3 friends and the fiery furnace. Chapter 3
-Daniel and the lion's den. Chapter 6

Section 2: Prophecy Daniel 2, 4, 7-12
-Predictions for the remainder of history until Christ's return. Chapter 2
-Prediction of the humbling and restoration of Nebuchadnezzar. Chapter 4
-Predictions and further elaborations on prophecies of history until Christ's return. Chapters 7-12

Section 3: History Daniel 5
-The empire of Babylon falls to the Persians

Four sections of Daniel in Chronological order
1. Daniel 1-4 occurs during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon 605b.c-562 b.c
This is where we see Daniel in his youth and where the themes of God's Sovereignty and Kingdom are developed.

2. Daniel 7-8 occurs during the brief reign of Nebuchadnezzar's son, known in history as Nabonidus in 556 b.c.  History outside of scripture records that Nabonidus had a son by intermarriage with his father's daughter of a different mother by the name of Belshazzar.  As Nabonidus grew more interested in seeking adventure to fill his appetite for archaeological relics, Belshazzar was installed as his co-king and overseer of the empire.  It was with this background that Daniel, a far older man, received his second series of visions concerning history in general and the time in between the Old and New Testaments.  

3. Daniel 5-6 Though appearing in the text of Daniel before chapters 7-8, chapters 5-6 chronologically are revealed to Daniel after 7-8.  Daniel's book primarily is organized more in a topical, rather than a Chronological manner.  In the language of the court, Belshazzar is called "son" of Nebuchadnezzar due to his being in the dynastic line of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5:2). Daniel interestingly enough ends up being 3rd in command over Babylon in Daniel 5:29, a title which would enable him to serve the court after the switch from the Babylonian to Persian Empires.  It is in these chapters we see Daniel make statements about events near to his day and the King of Persia, Darius, issue a decree by Daniel's pen of the universal reign of God's Kingdom. (Daniel 6:26-28)  

4. Daniel 9-12 is the longest and most far reaching prophetic section of Daniel.  Composed by Daniel in his mid-eighties, we see the most remarkable prophecies recorded in the Old Testament.  It is in this last section where we see all of God's prophetic insights to Daniel come to bear.  The Book of Daniel ends as a sealed book, a "padlock", awaiting the time when Jesus in Matthew 24 and other books such as Revelation will come and "unlock" the wonders revealed in Daniel.  

It is hoped that this brief survey has aided the reader in gaining a greater appreciation and grasp of the Book of Daniel.  

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