No Need to Bypass the Book of Daniel
No Need to Bypass the Book of Daniel
When last did you read the Book of Daniel? It was possibly a long time ago, recently or never. Some persons may ask, “Where is that book found?” Persons tend to shun the books of Daniel and Revelation, as they appear hard to understand. “There are simply too many images lacking relevance for us today,” admit some individuals. Even some Christians bypass these two books preferring to read the gospels, psalms and proverbs, for they make for easier reading. However, if we are to gain an understanding of the past, the present and the future, then Daniel and Revelation are a must. We will certainly understand some of the current issues and ills. Therefore, I encourage a study of the Old Testament book of Daniel.
Looking at Daniel 1-6 (Narratives)
For starts, let's consider the author. Who wrote this Old Testament book? It was Daniel, a young Hebrew captive taken to the city of Babylon in 605 B. C. When Babylon overpowered his nation of Judah, he and some of his Jewish friends were removed from their home and taken as captives to Babylon, then the strongest nation of the world under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar. Christ recognized Daniel as author as noted in Matthew 24:15. There He says, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)...." These words of Christ not only confirm the authorship of Daniel, but they again underscore the need to read and understand the book of Daniel. It is to be known for more than just some of its familiar stories. It is also known for it's relevance for the present.
Breaking Down the Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is divided into two sections: Daniel 1-6 and Daniel 7-12. Daniel 1-6 is regarded as the narrative section. It comprises of those familiar stories such as the capture of Daniel and his Hebrew friends in Daniel 1; and also their faithfulness and loyalty to God in not compromising their principles even in a foreign place. Daniel 2 speaks of a dream by Nebuchadnezzar, which he could not remember. However, God would expose the so-called magicians and elevate Daniel and his companions by making known the dream and its interpretation to Daniel. Chapter 3 is even more familiar. It records the well-known story of the golden image erected by Nebuchadnezzar and the refusal of Daniel’s Hebrew companions to worship it or (by extension) Nebuchadnezzar. In Chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar is humbled; and in chapter 5, there is a new ruler namely, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, who holds a feast ignoring the true God; and finally, Daniel 6 which comprises possibly the best known story of the Bible --Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Therefore, it can be argued that the Book of Daniel is not that difficult thus far.
Looking at Daniel 7-12 (Visions)
In order to comprehend this section (chapters 7-12), it is important to refer back to the themes of Daniel chapters 1-6. You will discover that they are paralleled in chapters 7-12. For instance, the destruction of the temple, the persecution of God’s people, the longest time prophecy, judgment, and finally God standing up for His people and delivering them. However, you will discover that there is a repeating of the prophecy of Daniel 2. Instead of one image as noted in Daniel 2, in Daniel 7 there are 4 great beasts referring to the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Likewise in Daniel 8, there is the vision of the Ram and the Goat. The Ram with the two horns, one being higher than the other refer to Medo-Persia. Additionally, the male goat with a notable horn between his eyes refers to Greece, but the large horn was broken into 4 pieces pointing to the dividing of the kingdom of Greece into 4 kingdoms. Then finally, there is reference to the little horn growing “exceedingly great”. Persecution is associated with this little horn. This was troubling to Daniel, and rightly so, as this system persecutes the saints of God and attempts to change God's law. Whereas Daniel 2 speaks about pagan Rome or imperial Rome, there is clear reference to Papal Rome in Daniel 7, 8 and 9.
What Is the Point?
God wants us to know what is happening, what will happen in our world, and the importance of being ready for His return. More importantly, the book of Daniel offers the present generation a sense that God is in control; and while it may appear that our world is spiraling out of control, the events of these last days will usher in the eternal kingdom of God - one that will stand forever. It gives the church a perspective that otherwise would lead men and women to despair for example the feet of the image of Daniel 2, refer to the divided kingdoms of Europe. This period precedes the kingdom of God. Daniel therefore provides a knowledge of the future today, and based on what has been fulfilled, the prophecies of Daniel can be trusted. Is it any wonder that the enemy would seek to prevent persons from reading and understanding Daniel and Revelation? People fear and despair for a lack of knowledge, but this needs not be the case for us. Our loving God is not willing that any be lost; therefore, He has prepared a plan whereby we might know and be aware of the situation in the world. No matter how dismal current affairs may appear, God's word teaches that there will be an end to it, and we will have a new experience in Christ. Shouldn't this motivate followers of God to be eager in sharing this knowledge?