Elon, North Carolina
Today, we begin a new study on the book of Daniel. It is a perfect topic to study in the summer. It is a small book. It is only twelve chapters long. Some of us have studied Daniel before. We may have studied Daniel in a class or small group (Beth Moore, Kay Arthur). My goal for this class is for you to see this book in a fresh way. You should see some things in this book that you have never seen before.
Daniel is a Sunday School favorite. Some of the greatest Bible stories are found in this book (Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, the fiery furnace, writing on the wall, Daniel and the lion’s den). Every child knows these stories. Daniel is not just a book for children. It is also a book for the most advanced Bible student. This book is deep. It is advanced material. It is meat, not milk.
Today, will be an introduction. Before we look at the first chapter, we need to ask some basic questions about the book. Who was Daniel? What do we know about him? Why should we study this book? How is it relevant to you and me today? Daniel lived in Babylon in modern-day Iraq. He wrote the book twenty-five hundred years ago in two different languages that we do not even speak.
How is Daniel relevant to us today in America? Daniel is critical for the church today. Daniel has a lot to teach us today. We are going to look at six reasons why every Christian should study the Book of Daniel.
Reasons to Study the Book
1) It is a book of prophecy
Liberals HATE the book of Daniel. It is one of the most attacked books of the OT. They say that the book was not written by Daniel and that Daniel was not even a prophet. They may not think he was a prophet, but Jesus not only said that Daniel wrote the book but he called him a prophet. Jesus calls him “Daniel THE PROPHET” (Matthew 24:15). His book is a prophecy.
It tells us about the future. It is a prophecy of future events. In fact, it is one of the most important prophetic books in the Bible. The Book of Daniel is the backbone of bible prophecy. Daniel is the OT counterpart to Revelation. It is the OT Book of Revelation. You cannot really understand Revelation without understanding Daniel. It is the key to understanding Revelation. It is extremely important. It is the key to all bible prophecy.
Parallels Between Daniel and Revelation
1. Daniel mentions a Tribulation period.
Daniel says, “There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (Daniel 12:1 NIV). Jesus used that language to describe the Tribulation Period (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14)
2. Daniel mentions the phrase “a time, times and a half of time” (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 12:14).
3. Daniel mentions a future end-time ruler who will persecute the saints.
He describes a little horn “that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them (Daniel 7:20-21 NIV).
Revelation describes the same thing. The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them (Revelation 13:5-7 NIV).
4. Daniel mentions a beast with ten horns (Daniel 7:7; Revelation 13:1).
5. Daniel mentions the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13; Revelation 1:12-13).
6. Daniel mentions Michael the Archangel (Daniel 10:13; Revelation 12:1).
7. Daniel mentions the Second Coming (Daniel 7:13; Revelation 1:7).
Daniel mentions the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven In Revelation, Jesus returns to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16)
8. Daniel mentions a Messianic Kingdom (Daniel 2:44).
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever” (NIV).
What is interesting about this kingdom is that it will not just be a Jewish kingdom. Jesus is going to rule over the whole world. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; ALL Nations and peoples of EVERY language worshiped him. (Daniel 7:14 NIV)
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15 NIV).
9. Daniel mentions the Book of Life (Daniel 12:1; Revelation 20:15).
10. Daniel mentions resurrection from the dead (Daniel 12:2, 13).
Daniel is one of the clearest books of the OT to teach the concept of physical resurrection from the dead. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake” (Daniel 12:2 NIV). “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” (Daniel 12:13 NIV).
In Revelation, the dead stand before God and the books are opened (Revelation 20:12) and the dead come to life ruling and reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4)
11. Daniel mentions two eternal destinies.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:2-3 NIV). Revelation describes two different destinies and they are also eternal destinies.
The first reason we should study this book is that it is a prophecy. Anyone who is serious about studying Bible prophecy should study Daniel. Daniel made all kinds of predictions in those chapters. Many have been literally fulfilled.
Daniel predicts the coming of the Greek king named Alexander the Great, the military genius who conquered most of the known world in his day and he was not even born for more than a hundred years after Daniel.
Daniel predicts the coming of a madman named Antiochus Epiphanies. This Syrian king was a monster. He stole sacred vessels out of the temple. He set up an altar to Zeus in the temple. He sacrificed pigs on the altar. He commit “the abomination of desolation.” Daniel uses that phrase three times in his book (9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Daniel predicted his coming.
Antiochus was a type of the Antichrist. He was the Adolf Hitler of the OT. He was the Antichrist in the OT, but Daniel also predicts a future Antichrist who will also commit “the abomination of desolation.” This will happen in the Tribulation Period. Jesus quotes Daniel in Matthew 24:15. Someone in the future will also commit the abomination of desolation.
Daniel is a prophecy of end-time events. Daniel talks about “the time of the end” (Daniel 11:35; 12:4). We live in the end-times, so this book is relevant to us today.
Daniel is also a prophecy of Gentiles and Gentile nations. Most of the OT prophets focused on Jews. Daniel had a lot to say about Gentile nations. That describes our country. Half of the book was not even written in Hebrew. It was written in Aramaic. Why Aramaic? That is what the Babylonians spoke.
If we put this first point together, we see that Daniel is relevant to us today because it is a prophecy of future events. It is a prophecy of end-time events and we live in the end-times. It is a prophecy that specifically deals with Gentile nations (which describes our nation).
2) It is a book of ministry
This book tells us about ministry, multicultural ministry. Some of the prophets just spoke to Jews. Daniel did not just minister to Jews. He ministered to Gentiles as well. He ministered to the Babylonians and when the Persians took over, he ministered to them. He interpreted visions for foreign pagan kings and gave them God’s revelation to them. That is the kind of ministry we have today. We minister to Jews and Gentiles. There is another way that his ministry is relevant to us today.
Daniel was not a pastor or church leader. He did not work full-time in the ministry. He had a job. God does not call everyone to occupational ministry. Most Christians are not pastors or missionaries. They work jobs. They minister on the side in their church or in a small group.
Daniel also had a job. He worked in the Babylonian government. He was a politician. He is the perfect example of a lay minister. He did not have the office of a prophet. He did not work for a church, but he still served God in a different capacity and you can too.
3) It is a book of challenges
This book tells us how to deal with challenges to our faith by our culture. Daniel faced some of the same challenged or problems that we face today as believers. We have not been kicked out of our country or invaded by a foreign military power, but we face some of the same challenges in our culture and land. We are surrounded by our own Babylon. America is modern Babylon. Babylonian culture is similar to Western culture.
Like Daniel, we live in a pagan culture. He lived in a dark place and so do we. Like Daniel, we are in the minority. Like Daniel, we will be tempted to compromise our faith. Like Daniel, we will be attacked by people who do not like us and try to persecute us. In Daniel 6, some people were looking for a reason to find fault with Daniel. If we are following God and shining the light, people will do the same thing to us today. Jesus said that “the world will hate you like it hated me” (John 15:18)
4) It is a book of godly examples
We need the example of Daniel today. We need more people like Daniel today in our world and in our church. What kind of a man was Daniel?
Daniel: A Character Study
1. He was a man of Bible study
We see him studying the Bible in Daniel 9. In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years (Daniel 9:2 NIV). He did his devotions in the Book of Jeremiah. Daniel was a Bible student.
2. He was a man of prayer
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10 NIV).
Daniel was disciplined. He did not just read his Bible; he prayed. He prayed regularly. He was a man of regular private prayer. Some of us do not pray once a day. He prayed three times a day every day on his knees. Do we do that? Do we pray like Daniel? Anne Graham Lott wrote a book called ‘The Daniel Prayer.’ We will look at some of his prayers, like the one in Daniel 9 that is five hundred and fifty words long.
3. He was also a man of fasting
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks (Daniel 10:2-3 ESV). He did not just read his Bible and pray; he fasted. Is this the same thing as what people call the Daniel Fast? Is the Daniel Fast biblical? The answer may surprise you.
4. He was a man of courage
Daniel was not afraid to share his faith with others. He gave a bold witness to two kings. He was not a secret believer. He was the one who prayed with his windows open, instead of secretly. He was not afraid to take a stand for his faith, even if it was against the law and even if he could lose his life for it. Are we like that? He was not afraid to break the law if it was unjust. Daniel engages in civil disobedience.
5. He was a man of principles
We will see that next week. One of the great verses of the Bible is Daniel 1:8. Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank (HCSB). There were certain things that he determined to do and certain things that he determined not ever to do. Does that describe us today or do we blow with the wind? Do we just go in whatever direction the society or culture is going? Daniel did not follow the philosophy “when in Rome, do are the Romans are doing.”
6. He was a man of gifts
And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. (1:17 NIV). Daniel had two gifts. Daniel could interpret prophetic dreams and visions. There were four visions in Daniel, just as there were four visions in Daniel.
Nebuchadnezzar has a dream (Daniel 2). It was a nightmare and it bothered him so much that he could not sleep. The only one who could interpret it was Daniel. Cyrus the Persian ruler had a vision and Daniel interprets (Daniel 10). We have gifts as well. We may not be able to interpret dreams but we all have a gift.
7. He was a man of humility
Daniel had incredible gifts, gifts that no one else had and yet you never see him boasting about his gifts or taking the credit for them. He gives God all of the credit.
As for me, 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 NIV)
In fact, Daniel had two different dreams that he couldn’t interpret, and the angel Gabriel came to tell him what it meant. When he came, Daniel was terrified and fell face down on the ground (Daniel 8:17). He was exhausted for days (Daniel 8:27). Daniel not only saw angels, he talked to some archangels, not once but twice. Most of us will never talk to an ordinary angel all our life.
8. He was a man of integrity
Only two people in the Bible have nothing negative said about them and Daniel was one of them. Joseph was the other one. What did they both have in common? They were both politicians, high-ranking politicians. They worked in government.
Many wonder if Christians should be involved in politics? If God calls you into politics, you should do it. Joseph and Daniel were both politicians and they both had integrity. Today, we think all politicians are dirty (from both parties) but these two were honest politicians.
That is rare today. It is almost unheard of. They were not sinless. Daniel has a long prayer of confession of sin in Daniel 9, but the Bible does not have any criticism of him. There is zero dirt on him. He did not have any scandals.
That is amazing. He was faithful to God all his life. The book BEGINS when he was a teenager (thirteen or fourteen years old perhaps) and ENDS when he was in his 80s, yet it has no criticism of him, even when he was a teenager and teenagers always do stupid stuff, but this teenager had wisdom beyond his years. He had a great testimony before unbelievers. Do we? Are we blameless, like he was?
It is also amazing because he is surrounded by unbelievers all over Babylon. Daniel was a government official, but he did not work for a Christian government. He did not have godly people around him in his job. He served a series of pagan kings.
It is like going to a public school and being the only believer in the whole school or being surrounded by unbelievers at work. What does that tell you? It is possible to live in a wicked environment and still be faithful to God. Daniel did it. Noah did it and so can we.
5) It is a book of spiritual warfare
When we think of spiritual warfare, we think of Ephesians 6. Daniel 10 gives us some spiritual warfare in the OT. It describes territorial spirits, assigned to particular regions of the word. It mentions angels and demons fighting in another realm. It also shows how spiritual warfare in the invisible realm can affect what takes place in the world and even hinder prayers.
6) It is a book that has Jesus in it
The Book of Daniel is Messianic. Jesus is in it. Where is Jesus in Daniel? Daniel contains some of the most incredible prophecies of Jesus found in the OT.
- Jesus is the great stone that will crush the kingdoms of this world. It crushes the statute of iron, clay, silver and bronze and breaks it into pieces (Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45).
- Jesus is the “Son of Man” who comes with the clouds of heaven in Daniel 7:13. That is what Jesus called himself. It was his favorite designation of himself in the Gospels and it comes right out of the Book of Daniel.
- Jesus is the Messiah (Mashiach) who will be killed in Daniel 9:26.
“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. (Daniel 9:25-26 NIV)
Daniel predicted the coming of the Messiah. Daniel even said exactly when He would come. Daniel predicts that the Messiah will come AFTER the exile but BEFORE the rebuilt Temple is destroyed. The Romans destroyed the city and the temple in 70 AD. Daniel has a prophecy that tells us exactly when the Messiah would come.
He had to be born in the first century. That is amazing. Daniel lived five hundred years earlier but predicted the Messiah would come to earth in the first century. We are not told when Jesus will come back. No one knows the day or the hour, but Jews were told when the Messiah would come the first time and they are told this in the Book of Daniel.