SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH
Introduction to the Book of Daniel, Part 1
October 30, 2016,
Good morning everybody. We’re going to open every book but Daniel today so you might want to open up to Deuteronomy 28, and you’ll see there’s a method to the madness in a moment, Deuteronomy 28:49-50. And then you might want to keep a finger over in the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 14 and verse 14. The title of our Message this morning is, and I worked all week on this, are you ready? Introduction to the Book of Daniel. That’s the best I could come up with.
I preached a 4th of July message that ended on October 24th so we did a lengthy series on voting and the believer’s responsibility to vote and things of that nature. And now that we’re finished with that topical study we’ve moving into verse by verse teaching and taking a look, beginning today, at the Book of Daniel.
I think one of the mistakes we make as Bible readers is we just charge into a book and start going verse by verse and we really don’t understand why the book is here; we don’t really understand what the background of the book is and so typically… and I’ve followed this pattern ever since I began teaching at this church, every book I’ve ever introduced or taught I’ve always done an introduction to it. So what I’d like to lead you through are what I call the building blocks; these are the foundational stones, if you will, that are necessary to understand the Book of Daniel. As you grow in appreciation for these foundation stones you see the Bible starts to come into focus and you start to understand what this book of the Bible is doing here.
So here are the foundation stones I want to walk through with you very briefly this morning. The first is the Diversity of Topics, this is kind of a whet your appetite type of slide. Why should we, in the year 2016, why in the world would we be studying a book written 2600 years ago, back in the 6th century B. C. I mean… what is actually here for us? Well, if you give yourself to the Book of Daniel there are several things you start to learn; here’s a few. Number 1, prophecy. You say well what is prophecy? Prophecy is history in advance; the Bible reveals historical information before it happens and Daniel, of course, is known for this.
The second is a fancy word called eschatology; eschatos means end, ology means what? The study of; eschatology is the study of the end. You say well isn’t that prophecy? Not necessarily because you see, many of the prophecies of the Bible have already been fulfilled. Think how many prophecies were fulfilled in the life of Christ. But there is a branch of prophecy that is yet to come and we call that eschatology, the systematic study of what the Bible reveals concerning the future. And obviously the Book of Daniel has a great contribution to make to the subject of eschatology.
And something else you’ll walk away with if you give your mind to the study of Daniel, you’ll walk away with confidence that the Bible is the Word of God. I’m the type of person that can’t just believe something just because someone tells me to believe it; I have to have facts, I have to have evidence. And what I have discovered is the Book of Daniel gives me that evidence because only God knows the end from the beginning; only God could have revealed the future so clearly to Daniel. And this is what distinguishes the Bible from virtually any other religious holy book on the horizon today; no other book reveals the end from the beginning the way the Bible does. You kind of get the impression that the God who knows the end from the beginning authored this book.
Something else you walk away with is a knowledge of the intertestamental period. You say what in the world is that? Well, it’s a time period between the Testaments. You know, when you close the book of Malachi Persia is in control, the Jewish people are speaking Hebrew, Aramaic is the known language of the day. You open the pages of the New Testament and Rome is in power and the language of the day would be Greek. And you say well, wait a minute, what happened between Malachi and Matthew? What happened between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. The answer is a lot; 400 years, that’s a long time, that’s almost double the length of the United States of America. And without a knowledge of the intertestamental period you don’t understand the transition between the two testaments. The interesting thing is Daniel fills out that time period for us but he does it 400 years before it happened. So the better you understand the prophecies of the Book of Daniel the better you can bridge that gap between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament.
Something else you walk away with is an understanding of angelology which is the doctrine of the angels. The Bible tells us that there are myriads of angels, ten thousand times ten thousand. And it’s astonishing to discover how active the angels are in our daily lives, without us even being aware of it. The angels are used constantly by God to dispatch and accomplish His purposes on the earth. Angels are huge in the Book of Daniel, in fact, we are going to run into two of them by name, one is named Michael and one is named Gabriel and they do different things.
We also, from the Book of Daniel, walk away with an understanding of spiritual warfare because Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against” what? “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Whether you understand it or not or accept it or not the moment you place your personal faith in Christ for salvation is the moment you inherited three enemies that you didn’t have before and these enemies actually will tag team on you and gang up on you. They are the world, the flesh and the devil. And nothing reveals that better than the Book of Daniel, specifically chapter 10 because there’s a scene there when an angel, who I think is Gabriel, is dispatched from heaven to answer Daniel’s prayer request and yet that prayer request (you see this in Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:20-21, that prayer request) was not answered for three weeks or twenty-one days.
Daniel 10:13, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” Daniel 10:20, “Then he said, Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.  “However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.”]
Have you ever wondered why your prayer requests were not answered immediately? The explanation is given in Daniel 10; the angel, Gabriel, dispatched from heaven to answer Daniel’s prayer request was held up through a battle with a fallen angel called the prince of power over Persia. And these two angels literally duked it out for twenty-one days, and finally God sent another angel to help the first angel and they ganged up on the angel from Persia and the initial angel got through and answered Daniel’s prayer request and now the angel says you know what? Now that I’ve answered your prayer request I’m going to go fight my way out. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,” [Ephesians 6:12] that’s why we’re told to put on the full armor of God. Nothing reveals the spiritual conflict that we are in perhaps better than the Book of Daniel.
What else do you walk away with from the Book of Daniel? How to live for God in a pagan society, because the storyline of the Book of Daniel unfolds, not while the nation of Israel is resting comfortably in the land of Israel, they have been removed from their land by the hand of God 350 miles to the east in a place called Babylon, which is modern day Iraq. They’re away from the temple, they are away from the religious system, they are away from everything they knew and they’re living on pagan turf. And how in the world do you live for God in that kind of a society? The Book of Daniel, through its various stories, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nigo in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lion’s den and other stories are role models for how Israel is to live in a pagan society.
And beloved, let me just say something; America has become a Romans 1 culture. The United States of America was founded on a Christian base; this in fact is a citation from the United States Supreme Court in 1892, a unanimous decision declaring that America is a Christian nation… the Supreme Court, not someone’s opinion but the jurists. After going through multiple historical precedents that same Supreme Court in 1963 said if portions of the New Testament were read in the public schools it could be psychological harmful to the child. Something happened in between 1892 and 1963; the Judeo-Christian moorings of America were removed and we are living in the aftermath of that. We are not living any longer in a Christian nation; we are living in a pagan nation that I call a Romans 1 culture, where our biblical beliefs and assumptions are no longer the majority opinion. So that raises an interesting question; if you still believe in all of those truths of the Bible how are you supposed to live? The answer largely is given in the Book of Daniel as we watch Daniel and his three friends under that same circumstance. We follow their example which we’ll be talking about.
Something else you learn about in the Book of Daniel is God’s sovereignty over empires. God is in control of what empire comes into existence, how long it lasts and the next empire. And I think we need a little dose today of the sovereignty of God, particularly as we are on the precipice of national election; everybody is biting their nails—what’s going to happen? Well, here’s my prediction; you ready? The person that wins is the person that is supposed to win; that’s my prediction, because God is the one that sovereignly allows political leaders to come into existence. Daniel 2:21 says of God, He removes kings and He establishes kings. [Daniel 2:21, “[It is He who changes the times and the epochs;] He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.”]
Whoever we get somehow is there because God put them there, I don’t know why, maybe as an instrument of grace, maybe as an instrument of discipline. You know, the funny thing about God is He never consults me either when He makes His decisions, He just moves His little tiny finger and does it. But Andy, what about the liberal media bias? Andy, what about voter fraud? I’m sure God up there is real worried about voter fraud; I’m sure He’s real worried about the liberal media… being a little bit facetious there. God is in control completely. And everybody today is talking about this is the most important election in American history and everybody is nervous and everybody is mad at each other on social media and fighting back and forth, and the fact of the matter is we need to step back and get a heavy dose of the sovereignty of God and kind of get over ourselves a little bit; we’re not that important. The Book of Daniel is a reminder of this. And so as you give yourself to the Book of Daniel you start to discover all these truths.
The second building block is the date. When was this book actually written? What you will discover is there’s a big fight on that amongst the theologians. There are those that argue for a second century date; what I mean by “second century” is second century B.C. 200 years before the time of Christ this book was written. There are others, like myself, that say no, the book was not written in the second century, it was written in the sixth century B.C. 600 years before the time of Christ.
Well, what difference does it make if it’s written 200 years before the time of Christ or 600 years before the time of Christ, who really cares. It’s a big deal! Why? Because there’s a motivation behind people that will not assign an early date to the book. Here’s the motivation: Daniel says a bunch of things about the intertestamental time period that came to pass with great precision; how could Daniel have known all of that 400 hundred years before it happened? And those that have an anti-supernatural bias look at that and they say this just can’t be. So what they do is they drag the Book of Daniel 400 years into the future and they make it look like Daniel is giving a history lesson rather than a prophecy. And they come up with arguments that they use to support their view and I kind of listen to their arguments and I say to myself, is that your A-game, is that all you can bring.
I mean, I watch the history channel, A&E, Mysteries of the Bible, all these people, PhD’s from Harvard, they’re going to come out and disprove the Book of Daniel, I listen to it and I say is that the best you’ve got? One of the arguments that they use is Daniel is placed in what is called the Ketuvim, the “im” ending means plurality, the Jews did not organize what we call the Old Testament the way we Protestants do; they organized it by what’s called Tanakh, TNK, “T stands for Torah, the first five books of the Bible; “N” stands for Nevi’im which basically means prophets, Ketuvim stands for writings, and you’ll discover that Jesus Christ, in Luke 24:44 talked about those three divisions of Hebrew Bible. He says the whole Hebrew Bible points to Me in the Law of Moses, that’s the “T” for Torah; the Prophets, that’s the N for Nevi’im and the Psalms which is the most prominent book in the Ketuvim or the Writings. [Luke 24:44, “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’”]
And what people say is well, Daniel is not placed in the prophetic section, it’s placed in the Writings section so therefore Daniel is not like Isaiah and Jeremiah and all those guys that wrote very early; he must have written later. That’s their argument, which to me is basically no argument at all; the reason Daniel is not placed in the Nevi’im but is placed in the Ketuvim is because Daniel really doesn’t read like the book of Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. It’s got interwoven into it prophecies and narrative stories. You don’t have anything like this that predominates Isaiah or Jeremiah. That’s why the Jews put it in the Ketuvim; they didn’t put it in the Ketuvim because they were trying to make a statement about the late date of the Book of Daniel.
But the arguments for an early date are so much better. I had you turn to Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel is writing in the sixth century. Did you know that Ezekiel mentions Daniel. It says in Ezekiel 14:14, “even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,’ declares the Lord GOD.” Isn’t it interesting that Ezekiel knew about Daniel. Well, how could he have known about Daniel if Daniel wrote 400 years later than Ezekiel?
In Ezekiel 14:20 you’ll see another reference that Ezekiel makes to Daniel; in Ezekiel 28:3 you’ll see the same thing. [Ezekiel 14:20, “‘even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.’” Ezekiel 28:3, “‘even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live’, declares the Lord GOD, ‘they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.’”]
It’s obvious that Daniel was a man who lived in the sixth century because Ezekiel, who also lived in the sixth century, knew of Daniel by way of reputation. Daniel’s reputation preceded him which is a great compliment to his character, which we can throw in a few applications here and there. Does your reputation precede you? Does my reputation precede me? When people think of my name or your name what are they thinking of? Godliness and holiness or oh no, here comes trouble?
Daniel had a great reputation and Ezekiel makes reference to that; something he couldn’t have done if Daniel hadn’t even lived yet, which raises another interesting point: who wrote the Book of Daniel? This has to do with what we would call authorship. Well, it depends on what date of the Book of Daniel you hold to. The late date (here’s a fancy word, I paid a lot of tuition money to learn these fancy words, I thought I’d use them on somebody) the late date of Daniel is called… here we go, The Maccabean Pseudepigrapha Theory. What does that mean? Well, you recognize the word pseudo, which means false, graph which means writer, a false writer. Maccabean simply means the empire that was in place when Daniel allegedly wrote this, the time of the Maccabees, which we’ll be talking about in this study because the Maccabees are predicted by Daniel 400 years in advance. But there are those that don’t believe God can know the end from the beginning so obviously someone forged the writing. That’s pseudepigrapha means, forgery; it was not written by Daniel but someone using the penname Daniel after the real Daniel died.
So if you hold to a late date of Daniel you are simultaneously denying authorship, Danielic authorship of the Book of Daniel. I, obviously because I hold to an early date of Daniel don’t believe that. I think Daniel wrote the book of Daniel. Isn’t it sad that we’re living in a time period where you have to actually come out and defend the idea that Daniel wrote Daniel. Daniel 12:4 says this; God speaks to Daniel, “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book” you get the impression that Daniel was writing down the words in a book. I also agree with Jesus; isn’t that a good practice, to agree with Jesus. Matthew 24:15, Jesus says this: “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION” (a very important prophecy by the way) “which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet,” he’s quoting there Daniel 9:27, “standing in the holy place (let the reader understand).”
Jesus quotes Daniel 9:27 and doesn’t say this was written by the Maccabean Pseudepigrapha. He says this was written by Daniel. All things considered, Daniel was not written in the second century, it was written in the sixth century. All things considered this book is not a forgery; this book was actually written by the prophet, Daniel, during the time period in which he lived.
Which takes us now to another building block, another fancy word… ready? Literary genre. What is a genre? Genre basically refers to a species or a kind; it’s a French word actually and it asks the question, what kind of literature are we dealing with here, because you know, when I read the Book of Daniel it sure doesn’t read like the book of Romans. There’s obviously different styles of literature; Romans is a letter, Daniel seems to be something different. Here’s, I think, the proper literary genre; most of the Book of Daniel is narrative. What is narrative? Narrative is rehearsing the story that took place, much like reading the book of Genesis. Most of chapters 1-7, now there may be some exceptions there in 2 and 7 which I’ll tell you about, but most of chapters 1-7 are what we would call narrative, simply telling the story of who Daniel was, who his three friends were and how they wound up in Babylonian captivity.
Once you move into chapters 8-12 the style of writing changes for now Daniel is giving prophecies, predictions, oracles if you will, of the future. Some of those prophecies, as we look back at them in the year 2016 have transpired, others are yet to come. The part of it that’s transpired we call prophecy, the part of it yet to come we call eschatology.
Now why in the world do I have you open up to the book of Deuteronomy in a study of the Book of Daniel? The answer to that is that’s what my professor, J. Dwight Pentecost, made me do. When I first arrived at Dallas Seminary I was so excited to take this class that he was offering as an elective, called Daniel/Revelation. He walking the room, I had followed his writings for years, almost an idol of mine, and he said “open up to the book of Deuteronomy.” I thought maybe he was getting a little… you know… senile, D—Deuteronomy, D—Daniel, both start with the letter D. But what he did for me was such a life changing thing. It was so beautiful because he linked the Book of Daniel to the covenants of God. You cannot understand the Book of Daniel, you really can’t understand any book of the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, without a foundation in the covenants that God made with the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In Genesis 15 we run into a Hebrew word, Berith, I believe you pronounce that Ber-writh which refers to a covenant. God contractually binds Himself to do certain things for the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; specifically God promises these people three things: number 1, land, which is basically a tract of real estate from modern day Egypt to modern day Iraq. Number 2, descendants that were innumerable. And number 3, personal blessing. And God, as you see from this PowerPoint slide comes along later in biblical history and never changes that covenant; He just adds clarity to it. The land is amplified in the Land Covenant, Deuteronomy 29 and 30. The Davidic Covenant amplifies the seed promises. The New Covenant amplifies the personal blessings.
The two things to understand about the Abrahamic Covenant, both begin with the letter “U” is the Abraham Covenant is unconditional, number 1, and number 2, unfulfilled. If you can understand unconditional and unfulfilled the Bible will start to make sense. The hand of God as it moves in history will start to make sense because when God makes a promise He… remember the movement Promise Keepers, I hate to rain on their parade, there’s only one Promise Keeper and that’s God. When God makes a promise He moves heaven and earth to fulfill the promise. Abraham didn’t just have a promise from God, he had a contract, a covenant. God obligated Himself to do three things, land, seed and blessing. The rest of the Bible is God just vindicating what He said He was going to do. When the Abrahamic Covenant was entered into Abraham, and you can read all about this in Genesis 15, followed a ritual whereby animals were severed and arranged in two parallel rows. This is a common way covenants were entered into in that time. The parties to the covenant passed through the animal pieces and the parties were saying if we don’t fulfill our obligation under the terms of the covenant then symbolically we are to be torn in two the way these animals have been torn in two.
That’s why when you entered a covenant of this solemn nature you were as good as dead because your life was no longer your own, you lived to fulfill the covenant. What’s so interesting about Genesis 15, is God put Abraham to sleep and God alone, as represented by the oven and the torch, passed through the animal pieces. And God is saying if these promises of land, seed and blessing do not materialize then let Me (God Himself is saying) be torn asunder as these animals have been torn asunder. That is the solemn nature of the Abrahamic Covenant and that’s why, beloved, you can never get rid of Israel from the equation. It doesn’t matter how wicked Israel becomes, it doesn’t matter how Christ-less they become, God has made an obligation contractually to fulfill His purposes through these people, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This is why the prophet Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 31:35-37 says this: as long as there is sun, moon and stars Israel will always be a nation before Me, God speaking that through the prophet Jeremiah. [Jeremiah 31:35-37, “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:  “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.”  Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,’ declares the LORD.]
That prophecy was given while the nation of Israel was at the height of disobedience. In fact, they were about to go into the Babylonian deportation because of discipline and they were just doing little sins, you know, small ones, like throwing your kids into a fire to satisfy a god named Molech. You can’t get more Christ-rejecting and God-hating than the way these people became and yet God, through Jeremiah says as long as there’s sun, as long as there’s moon, as long as there’s stars Israel will be forever before Me as a nation; even when they’re in discipline they’re My people.
So if you want to get rid of Israel you don’t aim your rockets and tanks and bombs at Israel, you aim your missiles at the sun, the moon and the stars because as long as that fixed order remains Israel will always have the protective care and hand of God upon them. And that covenantal structure, you can try to find it anywhere in history, has never been completely fulfilled. In fact, that dark area is what Israel got under Joshua. That lighter area is everything yet to come.
But let me tell you something: “Whom the Lord the Lord” what? “chastens.” And this is why He brought them to Mount Sinai after 400 years of captivity in Egypt and He entered into another covenant with the nation of Israel a full six centuries after the Abrahamic Covenant had been entered into; this was called the Mosaic Covenant. Notice, if you will, Exodus 19:5-6, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;  and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” This is different, is it not, from the Abrahamic Covenant; this is the Mosaic Covenant. You see the “if – then” language.
What is an unconditional covenant anyway. An unconditional covenant, like in the Abrahamic Covenant, is a promise that God will make good on regardless of whether the other parties or party fulfills conditions. Not so the Mosaic Covenant; it is conditional. For this covenant to come into blessing the nation of Israel must obey God. What does this whole thing look like? Can I throw a fancy word at you? An unconditional covenant with a conditional blessing; that’s what it is. An unconditional covenant; you look at the whole thing, it’s an unconditional covenant but with a conditional blessing. Israel will always be the owner of land, seed and blessing but for a generation to enter into the blessings that they own, to enjoy the blessings that they own it requires the fulfillment of a condition, the satisfaction of the Mosaic Covenant.
There’s a world of difference between ownership and possession. I could own a beach house in the Hamptons, let’s pretend I do, I don’t, but I am so busy working I don’t have time to possess or enter or enjoy it, I’m just an owner but not an enjoyer. Because the nation of Israel is in disobedience she owns these blessings but she never enters those blessings to their maximum state, enjoys those blessings, until she complies with the covenant at Mount Sinai. The Mosaic Covenant is given, it’s articulated in Exodus chapters19-24.
And can I throw some more fancy words at you? This is a covenant that is known as a Suzerain Vassal Treaty. Don’t let those words frighten you. Suzerain, “S” think of superior, Vassal, think of inferior, a common covenantal structure where a superior (the Suzerain), who in this case would be who? God, enters into a covenant with an inferior, a vassal, who in this case would be who? The nation of Israel. And the Suzerain says to the Vassal, if you obey the covenant text then I will bless; if you disobey the covenant text I will curse.
So the nation of Israel is under a system whereby they remain God’s chosen people forever. But “whom the Lord loves, the Lord chastens.” [Hebrews 12:6] The Mosaic Covenant itself explains the chastening that comes, or the blessing that comes. If Israel is in compliance with the covenant text, which in this case would be the Ten Commandments… it’s very similar to your relationship with the Lord. We teach at this church one saved always saved. We believe very strongly in the doctrine of eternal security. In fact, we’re teaching a Sunday School lesson on that, we’re moving really fast, we’re up to part 37, I encourage you to come early and attend that. So I am God’s and I’ll always be God’s but guess what? What happens when I step out of line? “Whom the Lord loves the Lord” what? “chastens.”
It’s the same sort of relationship that Israel had with God as a nation. His chastening can be very severe but it cannot cut Israel loose, cut her cord and disown her. In fact, the Bible tells us the fact that we are disciplined by God is proof that He loves us. It’s proof that He owns us. So in the Mosaic Covenant you have this suzerain vassal treaty; the book of Deuteronomy fits the exact same characteristics of suzerain vassal treaties, going back to the time of Moses, that we know from archeology. There’s always a preamble, a historical prologue tracing the relationship between the two parties. And then there’s the covenantal obligations; what does the vassal have to do? And then there is storage and reading instructions and God told the nation of Israel to store the covenant text where? In the ark. And He gave them instructions related to how periodically read the Law, exactly what you have in ancient Suzerain Vassal Treaties. Then there was always witnesses called. But who could be God’s witness? God says I’ll call heaven and earth as My witnesses. Deuteronomy 32:1. [Deuteronomy 32:1, “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.”]
And then comes the spine of the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 28, which is why I had you open to Deuteronomy 28, which is a blessings and curses section. The blessings are given in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Israel if you obey the covenant text here’s what you can expect to happen: you will lend but not borrow. You will go out and fight your enemies against overwhelming odds and you will win. You will be the head and not the tail. You will be in a place of prosperity and not poverty. Now do you notice this chapter, the blessings only go on for 14 verses.
[Deuteronomy 28:1-14, “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God:  “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.  “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.  “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.  The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.  “The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you. The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.  So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will be afraid of you.  The LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.  The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully,  and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.”]
You get to verse 15, all the way through the end of the chapter and it’s curse after curse after curse that the nation would physically and materially experience as they went into disobedience. Notice, if you will, Deuteronomy 28:15, “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:  “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.  “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.  “Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.” And it goes on and on and on like this. We call these the “cycles of discipline.”
These cycles of discipline would mount, almost like a rolling snowball getting larger and larger and larger and finally at the height of it God says here’s what I’m going to do. That’s why I had you turn to Deuteronomy 28:49-50; at the height of it all the  “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,  a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.” What is going to happen is I’m going to bring a pagan power against you that will displace you from your land. And this becomes the spine of the Old Testament, explaining why the Old Testament reads like it does.
You know the Law of God, the Mosaic Covenant, says a king is not to place himself above the Law, he is to place himself below the Law. He is not to multiply wives, he is not to multiply wives for himself, Deuteronomy 17:14-20. [Deuteronomy 17:14, “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’  you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.  Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’  He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.  Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.  It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes,  that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.”]
What did Solomon, the third king of the United Kingdom do? It’s almost like he woke up one day, read Deuteronomy 17 and did the opposite. He put himself above the Law; he multiplied wives; he multiplied wealth for himself, and so God, as He promised all the way back in the time of Moses, brought discipline and the kingdom was divided the moment Solomon left the throne. And that’s why when you go through the Old Testament you’ll see two kingdoms; the northern kingdom consisting of ten tribes took on the name Israel, the southern kingdom taking on the name Judah, consisting of two tribes, Benjamin and Judah. North/south. The capital of the north, Samaria; capital of the south, Jerusalem. The north didn’t do so well. In fact, the north had nineteen kings, not a single king was ever called good in the north. Now if your team is going 0 and 19 you’re not having the best season.
So God made good on what He said he would do through Moses seven hundred years earlier, He brought a nation that spoke a foreign tongue, called the Assyrians and they dispersed the north. They became scattered, the scattered ten tribes. Now you would think the south would have learned what happened to the north and straightened up. Not so! The south actually became worse and God finally brought the south into judgment, into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. You’ll notice that God had more grace on the south than the north; they lasted 170 years longer; they were not scattered, they were brought into captivity, into a single geographic location in Babylon. They had twenty kings and at least they had eight good kings, quasi good, a lot of them did good things but did bad things too.
So what you see is the hand of God extending the south greater grace. Now why would God do that? Because of the prophecy that He made all the way back to the time of Jacob in Genesis 49:10 which says the Messiah is going to come through which tribe? Judah. That would be in the south and that’s why God is preserving the south, giving additional grace to the south because the south has to be in place to give birth to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, several centuries later.
Nebuchadnezzar, the instrument that God used to bring the south into captivity, was nobody’s fool; let me tell you! This man had a strategy and what he said is here’s what I’m going to do; I’m not going to take down the south, Judah and Jerusalem in one foul swoop, I’m going to do it in three waves. The first wave I’m going to come and I’m going to take the best and the brightest. So he came in 605 B.C. under one of the final kings of Judah named Jehoiakim, and that’s when Daniel, as a very young man, is brought into Babylonian captivity. And Nebuchadnezzar has a game plan; I’ve got the best and the brightest, I’m going to brainwash them. That’s what’s going on in Daniel 1, they’re learning all the literature of the Chaldeans because I’m going to get them on my side so they talk the rest of the population into coming along peaceably, which is a great strategy of the devil, by the way, you just get the best and the brightest on your side and the rest will fall into place. They can be talked into anything.
And then later in 597 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar comes again and this time the king in Judah was Jehoiachin and this time Nebuchadnezzar took the majority, about 10,000 people, into Babylonian captivity. And that’s when the prophet Ezekiel goes into captivity in the second deportation. And then with the hard work done Nebuchadnezzar comes back in 586; Zedekiah is the last ruling king over Judah, and Nebuchadnezzar comes and destroys the remnant, what’s left of the remnant; he destroys the temple and the sanctuary, something the Jews thought could never happen because that’s where the Shekinah Glory of God was once. And yet Ezekiel traces the departure of the Shekinah glory of God and how Nebuchadnezzar took that temple apart piece by piece.
And Jeremiah, during this time, writes the book called Lamentations. Why is it called Lamentations? Because he’s lamenting; he’s lamenting what has happened. And so this is why when you open the pages of the Book of Daniel the nation of Israel is not in Israel, they are 350 miles to the east in a place called Babylon. And in that time period, which basically lasts 70 years, Jeremiah is very clear in Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10 that the captivity will last exactly 70 years, God raises up two men; one of them is named Daniel, the other one is named Ezekiel. [Jeremiah 25:11, “’This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.”]
And they are the exilic prophets, if you have good eyes there, prophesying in that space or gap of time. Their whole ministries took place while the nation, particularly Judah, is in captivity. How can you understand the captivity, how can you understand what’s happening without that background. That’s why Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, when he opened with Deuteronomy and not Daniel gave me a gift; he put into my hands the keys by which the Scripture can be understood and unlocked. And you see, that’s what I’m trying to give to you; I’m trying to help us understand that the nation of Israel has not been severed from God; the Abrahamic Covenant won’t allow that. But “Whom the Lord loves the Lord chastens,” that’s the outworking of the cycles of discipline; that is the outworking of the Mosaic Covenant. That’s why Israel, or Judah particularly, is in captivity when the Book of Daniel opens.
So that takes us now to the message of the book. What is this book about? Simply put this book is about a period of time that has never been revealed prior, called a mystery, called the times of the Gentiles. It’s a period of time when the nation of Israel will have no king reigning on David’s throne, Zedekiah being the last. And the nation of Israel is going to be trampled down by various Gentile powers which are detailed for us in chapter 2 and chapter 7 in the form of two visions. And the nation of Israel will be bullied by the Gentile nations of the earth, trampled down. But one of these days the times of the Gentiles will end, Jesus will return at the end of the Great Tribulation, He will rule from David’s throne, Matthew 25:31 indicates that. [Matthew 25:31, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.”] He will set up His kingdom through the Jewish people and the times of the Gentiles will be over.
So what you have to understand, and as we speak today the nation of Israel is in the times of the Gentiles; they’re still in it. There isn’t anybody that’s more pro-Israel than probably myself; I’ve even tried to look at my family tree, you know how you can do that on the internet these days, to see if I’ve got some kind of Jewish blood in me I’m so exuberant about the nation of Israel. I just love the Jewish people. But having said that, while we should bless the Jewish people, what you have to understand is that the nation of Israel today, as a Christ-rejecting nation, is under the discipline of God. God has not cast them aside; He can’t, the Abrahamic Covenant won’t allow God to do that. But He can put them through severe discipline, something that they’re under now.
And God, who never leaves the earth without a witness of Himself begins in Acts 2 to raise up the church, which is us. The church consists of all people who have trusted by faith in the Messiah that national Israel rejected. We are a new man and one of these days the church age will be over. I think God has laid the foundation of the church, from my point of view He’s putting on the roof. But the very last Gentile that’s supposed to come into the church age will believe, the body of Christ will be complete, the church will be removed from the earth and then God will put His hand back on national Israel and make good on every promise He’s ever made to them, even bringing them to faith in the midst of unparalleled distress.
Daniel doesn’t talk about the church; Paul does, but the concept of the times of the Gentiles is laid out very clearly in the Book of Daniel. In fact, that’s why God raised Daniel up, to explain this time period. And more important than that how are you supposed to live in this time period? That’s what chapter 1, chapters 3-6 are there for, because we have role models of what Daniel did in a pagan society. Here was his basic modus operandi: no compromise, in every area no compromise and even though I can die I’m going to trust my life and my circumstances to God. Oh, how God came through for Daniel and his three friends, over and over and over again.
What compromise are you involved in, in your life? What are you not trusting God for? Can’t God come through for you the same way He came through for Daniel and his three friends? That’s the application to us. So the entire purpose of the Book of Daniel is there to encourage Judah by emphasizing the sovereignty of God during the Babylonian Captivity and to teach Judah how to live while they’re outside the land. The Law of God taught Israel how to live while they were inside the land. They’re in a different era now; now they’re outside the land. What do we do now? You follow the example of Daniel and his three friends because although it’s painful, although its uncomfortable, although you’re under discipline, although Babylon is now in power God has not lost control of this. In fact, the only reason Babylon exists is because of the sovereign purposes of God. That’s what the Book of Daniel is here for. The whole concept of the book is encouragement during a time of discipline.
And this is the great problem that we have as Bible readers; we bifurcate the Book of Daniel. When most Christians think of the Book of Daniel they think of their Sunday School days where their Sunday School teacher on a flannel board somewhere told them the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. And then when they think of the Book of Daniel they think of the last prophecy conference that they went to where all of these so-called experts were giving their opinions about the ten toes of Daniel 2. In fact, I’ve listened to some of those explanations; some of those explanations are so detailed that these folks cannot only tell you about the ten toes they can tell you about the ten toenails. So people think of the book of Daniel as a complicated prophecy and stories. What they miss is the whole message; everything in the book, whether it’s a story of history or a prophecy is there to show them that God is in control; God is in charge!
And so we ought to see the whole book for what it is rather than bifurcating it in our minds the way we do. Which leads us to another point, how do you outline this book? Have you ever studied the veins on the leaves of the tree so intently that you forget what the forest looks like? We do that a lot in Bible study, don’t we. Bible churches are the worst at this; we’re so detailed oriented that we lose sight of the big picture. An outline of the book gives you the big picture.
I had a friend, a friend of mine when I was living in Dallas, the two of us became friends, he was a longtime resident of Dallas and he said you know, when I drove around Dallas when I first came to this city I used to get lost all the time; and then one day it dawned on me how this city is structured, how this city is set up and I began to develop in my mind not a street by street understanding of the city but an aerial shot, and once I understood the big picture I understood where I was supposed to go; I never got lost again.
You know, I used to get upset with some of my basketball coaches because I didn’t think they saw things correctly. So they would put me on the bench, I didn’t do something right, I didn’t like that very much, I spent a lot of time on the bench, by the way, and then one day I got injured so I had to sit in the bleachers at the top of the gym where I could watch the team practice, I could watch the team play games and when I saw that I wasn’t just focused on my own position and myself, I could see the whole game of basketball. What a different view that is. And I began to understand why the coaches put me on the bench, I wasn’t fitting into the system that you need to win basketball games.
And see, that’s what we’re like with the Bible; we’re so focused on a detail here and there we don’t see the big picture. So what is the big picture? Well, here’s the outline I used to use, chapters 1-6 is the narrative section; chapters 7-12 is the prophetic section. There’s a little problem with that; chapters 2-7 are in a different language, called Aramaic. The rest of the book, chapter 1, chapters 8-12 is in Hebrew; this outline interrupts the Aramaic sections so here’s, I think, the right outline of the book. Chapters 1-7, part 1; chapters 8-12, part 2; in part 1 Daniel interprets his own visions, he speaks of himself in the third person and he’s primarily talking about the Gentile nations. Chapter 1 is in Hebrew; chapter 2 is what we would call an Aramaic chiasm, which is a strange method of literature to the western mind but it’s very common in biblical times. It’s arranged like an X, it gets the word “chiasm” from the Greek word kai, which looks like an X, and what you have is this: the beginning and the end of that section line up. And then you move in a little bit, the second section lines up with the second to last section. Then you move in a little bit more, the third section lines up with the third to last section. And the point of the chiasm is right there in the middle.
That’s why Daniel 2-7 is in Aramaic; it’s giving us a chiastic structure. Chapter 2 lines up with chapter 7; chapter 3 lines up with chapter 6; chapter 4 lines up with chapter 5. What is God doing in chapter 2? He’s giving an outline of the empires that will trample Israel down during the times of the Gentiles. My goodness, that’s the exact same thing that happens in chapter 7, except in chapter 2 it looks like an image made of precious metal because it’s from the vantage point of Nebuchadnezzar who’s doing the trampling. Daniel sees the same thing in the form of four ferocious disgusting beasts; he’s giving the Jewish point of view because he and his people are being trampled upon. Then you move into chapter 3 and it lines up with chapter 6. What’s the topic in both? Civil disobedience. Is it ever right to disobey the government? I was asked that in our Bible and Voting series and the answer is hold the question because we’re going to be getting to it in the book of Daniel. Daniel 3 and Daniel 6 answer that question. They disobey government when government contradicted God and they were willing to risk their lives in doing it. Chapter 3 is Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego doing it; chapter 6 is Daniel doing it in the lion’s den.
And then you move into the interior of the chiasm and God is revealing Himself to a Gentile king; the first King of Babylon when Babylon came to power over Jerusalem, chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar. God reveals Himself to Nebuchadnezzar. And then God reveals Himself to the last King of Babylon before Babylon was overtaken by the Persians, a man named Belshazzar in chapter 5. Chapter 4 is grace on a Gentile king; chapter 5 is judgment on a Gentile king. It’s chiastically organized. That’s supposed to be Roman numeral II, part 2 of the book, the prophetic section where now an angel does the interpreting, not Daniel. Daniel speaks of himself not in the third person but the first person. He is not focused on the Gentile nations, he’s focused on the Jewish nations and the language switches from Aramaic back to Hebrew. Chapter 8 is the vision of the ram and the goat, the ram being Persia which follows Babylon; goat being Greece which follows Persia. And then chapter 9 is the Seventy Weeks Prophecy which we may never get out of. In fact we may be in the Seventy Weeks Prophecy longer than Daniel was because that prophecy reveals the time to the day that Jesus showed up in His triumphal entry. It reveals a gap of time that we’re in now and a final seven years of history that is yet to come. And then finally Daniel, in chapters 10-12 has his final vision; chapter 10 being the spiritual warfare chapter, and then the vision moves from the time of Daniel into the intertestamental period; it leapfrogs our age and goes into the tribulation and the millennial kingdom, the final vision from God.
So the flow of the book in terms of the succession of Gentile powers is Babylon is in power first, 605-539. The two prominent Babylonian kings are first of all Nebuchadnezzar, and later Belshazzar. And then there is a seat change politically, as Daniel predicted would happen Babylon is overthrown by the Persians in a single night and that political seat change happens in Daniel 5. And then the Persians come to power and then Darius is prominent and then Cyrus. That’s the flow of the book.
This chart here will help you keep which Empire is in place in which chapter. Chapters 1-4, the king that’s in place is Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Chapter 5, Belshazzar of Babylon is the featured subject. Chapter 6, the king that threw Daniel into the lion’s den is Darius of Media-Persia. Chapter 7 and 8, Belshazzar of Babylon is in power. Chapter 9, when Daniel had the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks Darius of Media-Persia was in power. And then when Daniel had his final prophecy Cyrus of Media-Persia is in power, chapters 10-12. There’s a change between Babylon being overtaken by the Persians in a single night, Daniel chapter 5.
You say well wait a minute, this is out of order. Babylon, Babylon, Media-Persia, wait, 7 and 8 go back to Babylon; chapter 9 goes back to Media-Persia. Chapters 10-12 goes back to Media-Persia. And you’re right, it is out of order because the book of Daniel is not structured chronologically, it is structured what? Chiastically. See, we want everything to start here and end there; that’s how the western mind works. That’s not the way the Bible is written many times. That’s not the Aramaic chiasm is written; embedded chronology, believe it or not I’m getting close to finishing, hang in there. There are several places where a date is given. Daniel 1:1, the third year of Jehoiakim, 605. Daniel 2:1, second year of Nebuchadnezzar, 603. Daniel 5 happened October 12, 539 B.C. How do I know that? Because my professor, Harold Hoehner, one of the greatest chronologists that ever lived, figured that out. Read his book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ and you’ll see his proof. Chapter 7, verse 1, the first year of Belshazzar, 553, Daniel 8:1. The third year of Belshazzar, 551, Daniel 9:1, first year of Darius, 538, Daniel 10:1, third year of Cyrus, 536. Wait a minute, hold the phone, chapters 7 and 8 are what? out of order. It goes 605, 603, 539, then it goes back to what? 553, it goes back up. Why are 7 and 8 out of order? Because the book is not structured chronologically, it’s structured chiastically.
Daniel served through two empires, pagan empires. And when you put the whole thing together he served two Babylonian kings and two Persian kings; that was Daniel’s career which lasted about seventy years. He served under two, actually four different administrations. Was he tempted to compromise? You bet, but he remained faithful to God no matter where he was and who he was serving. And God honored him, which is the message for us.
So the last point is if we can figure out this embedded chronology we can figure out Daniel’s age. Most believe that Daniel was taken into captivity as a very young man, about the age of 15 in Daniel 1. Daniel 2 happens two years later which means he was about 17. And I’m just following the chronology that I showed you on this chart here. When his friends are thrown into the fiery furnace he’s probably 19 or 20. When he interprets New Testament’s second dream, chapter 4, he’s probably somewhere between 45-50. When Daniel 5 happens and Persia overthrows Babylon in what we call the handwriting on the wall chapter he’s probably in his early 80’s. When he’s delivered from the lion’s den he’s 83 years old. So all of these pictures you see about Daniel in the lion’s den with biceps out to here, looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, all that is false. He was not thrown into the lion’s den as a young man; he was frail and old and he had no one to depend upon but God. And guess what position you’re in when you’ve got no one else to depend upon but God? You’re in the best position you could be in.
But wait a minute, hold the phone, now we’re back down to his 60’s, chapter 7 and 8. Then we go back to his early 80’s when he has the seventy weeks prophecy, and then when he has the final vision he’s in his mid-80’s. Why does it go from 80’s to 60’s to 80’s? Because 7 and 8 are out of order because the book is not structured chronologically; the book is structured chiastically.
And by the way, this is a little application here, a lot of you people think you’re too old to be used by God. We call that retirement; oh, I’ve done that, God’s finished using me. As long as there is breath in your body God wants to use you; it doesn’t matter how old you are. Can I say one other thing; it doesn’t matter how young you are. He was used by God as a 15 year old and he had his greatest visions in his mid to late 80’s. And by the way, the pattern that he had as a 15 year old, no compromise followed him into his old age, because we have a mindset today among young people that says this: oh, I’m just going to sew a few wild oats, I’m going to compromise a little bit and then I’m going to get serious about God. Beloved, it doesn’t work that way. Whatever stance you’re taking as a young person, that becomes part of your character, which will follow you in terms of your habits of living until old age.
This is what we need to be telling young people; stand for God now while you’re young because it will formulate the right character, which will allow you to stand for God later. A lot of people ask me, Andy, why are you the way you are? And I’ve thought about that, why am I the way that I am? The reason is because as a very young person I heard the gospel; I didn’t waste any time, I got serious about it and there were certain decisions that became part of who I am which largely explains who I am today. And I wonder how different I would be if I lived in compromise all those years. So that is a little bit of background on the book of Daniel; I hope you’re looking forward to this study and we’re going to begin a verse by verse teaching of it.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for the book of Daniel and the way it speaks to us in our lives. Be with us as a flock and as a congregation as we travel through this very ancient book and You teach us things about our time period, how to live, prophecy, and the wonderful truth you have for us. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We lift these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said Amen.