The Book of Daniel – Trusting that God’s Got A Game Plan Even When We Can’t See the Playbook

Posted: May 18, 2016 in 27-Daniel

THE BOOK OF DANIEL

Today, we move on from our 9-month trek through the Gospel of Matthew. After spending the better part of two years or so in the New Testament meditating on three of the four gospels and on 1 Corinthians, it has been on my heart to start a review of the book of Daniel. The Holy Spirit has led me hear because being a guy who love symmetry to things, it made more sense to me to finish the gospels since I had already gone through Matthew, Luke, and John recently. However, there is something that draws me here and we shall go back to the book of Mark and review it when we are done here but there is some reason that I am drawn here. Let us find out together. Before we begin our passage by passage devotionals tomorrow, I wanted to take today to give both you and me some background on the book of Daniel. There is a wealth of information available that summarizes this book (some of which spend an inordinate amount of time discussing whether Daniel was really the author of the book and whether it was really written during the Babylonian exile). It is enough for me that the author self-identifies himself as the author and that Jesus made reference to him as the author of this book.

 

The following is the best short summary of the background of the Book of Daniel and can be found at http://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Daniel.html (accessed May 18, 2016 6:40am). Let’s see what one of my favorite apologetics websites has to say:

 

Author:

The Book of Daniel identifies the Prophet Daniel as its author (Daniel 9:2; 10:2). Jesus mentions Daniel as the author as well (Matthew 24:15).

 

Date of Writing:

The Book of Daniel was likely 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.

 

Key Verses:

Daniel 1:19-20, “The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.”

 

Daniel 2:31, “You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue – an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.”

 

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.”

 

Daniel 4:34-35, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

 

Daniel 9:25-27, “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree 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 cut off 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. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

 

Brief Summary:

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.

 

Daniel chapter 5 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. In 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. Daniel 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.

 

Foreshadowings:

We see in the stories of the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lions’ den a foreshadowing of the salvation provided by Christ. The three men declare that God is a saving God who can provide a way of escape from the fire (Daniel 3:17). In the same way, by sending Jesus to die for our sins, God has provided an escape from the fires of hell (1 Peter 3:18). In Daniel’s case, God provided an angel to shut the lions’ mouths and saved Daniel from death. Jesus Christ is our provision from the dangers of the sin that threatens to consume us.

 

Daniel’s vision of the end times depicts Israel’s Messiah by whom many will be made pure and holy (Daniel 12:10). He is our righteousness (1 Peter 5:21) by whom our sins, though blood-red, will be washed away and we will be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

 

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.

 

MY TAKE ON WHY WE ARE DRAWN HERE:

I think that our God, though great and mighty and has this master plan for the entire universe, has a plan for each of our lives that is part of this greater Master Plan. I think that this may be the reason that I am drawn here and am taking you along with me is that I know that I struggle with God’s purpose for my life at times. Some times more so than others. At present, I am in one of those periods of my life. It is a time of waiting that I find myself in at the moment.

 

Although I am serving the Lord in a capacity that utilizes my talents from my past at my church here in the present, I cannot help but feel that there is something more to come that will stretch me beyond my comfort zone. Accounting and Finance are certainly my comfort zone. I have educational background there (a bachelors degree in business administration and accounting and a masters degree in management) and thirty years of real world business experience both in internal audit and in financial management. So, the fact that I pursued my masters degree in Christian ministry was the beginning of the stretch beyond the comfort zone. I have always felt that there was I was called to ministry over the past 15 years since my salvation but have always stayed in my comfort zone. So, the pursuit of my pastoral degree was the first step in the stretching beyond the comfort zone. So, therein lies the internal struggle with the Lord. There is no doubt that God has used my talents from my past to improve the financial reporting systems of my church. I have no doubt that this work has been of great use to the kingdom as it expressed through my local church. As my senior pastor often says, “God is preparing us for what He has prepared for us.” So, the waiting is the hardest part. I know that I am in preparation time for what is next and I know that I am being used for the might of the kingdom right now, but what’s next, where I get stretched beyond what I know, stretched beyond what I can do on my own, stretched to the point of complete and total dependence on God. Those are the times to come. And I know that when those hard future times to come are before me, I will wonder why I wished for them and should have enjoyed my comfort zone time and the training that occurred here while in my comfort zone.

 

Maybe, that is why we are here at the Book of Daniel. To learn trust in the Lord. To learn trust in His plan. To learn that His plan will be revealed on His time table not mine. To learn that we must trust that there is a plan for my life from God Almighty Himself that is far greater than I could ever imagine. I just have to learn trust. Trust in His plan not mine. Trust that the doors will open to His final plan for my life for these remaining 15-20 years when He is ready to reveal it. Trust that I will be ready to be stretched beyond what I ever imagined that I could do previously so that I will give the glory only to Him because it was so far beyond what I could ever have imagined doing under my own power.

 

The Book of Daniel is about God’s providential plan even in the smallest of details. God has a plan for everything down to the nth degree and that includes His specific plans for our lives, our individual lives, you and me. Let’s see what we learn about trusting that plan as we move forward with the Book of Daniel beginning tomorrow.

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