Daniel: Introduction

The Book of Daniel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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The book of Daniel splits into two distinct parts. The first half of the book of Daniel contains stories which would be familiar to any child who has attended Sunday School and VBS. They seem to be simple stories, but are deceptively so. They describe the challenges of Daniel and his three friends as they are exiled from their homeland and are forced into service for foreign kings. Each chapter brings a new crisis, but they never waver from their faith. God repeatedly demonstrates his sovereignty over the affairs of men.
The second half of the book changes drastically. causes even the most learned of Bible scholar consternation. The apocalyptic visions of Daniel are complex and difficult.
There is one main theme which unites the book of Daniel.

Main Theme: In spite of present appearances, God is in control.

1. The Sovereignty of God

We should miss that the character of Daniel and his friends have a purpose. Their purpose is not to tell us about their lives, but rather to reveal God to us.

A. God’s sovereignty in every day life

God’s sovereignty in the book of Daniel is not present as just a theological abstraction. It is presented as a reality of everyday life.

B. God’s sovereignty over all of life

It is God, not Nebuchadnezzar, who is behind the Babylonian captivity. It is God, not Daniel, who interprets the visions. Each chapter is a story of God’s sovereignty.

2. The Original Audience

Who was the book of Daniel written to?

A. Date: The book of Daniel was set in the 6th century

The book contains the names of well-known characters and events from history.

B. Major Challenge: the second half of the book makes no-claim to when it was written.

The second half of the book contains prophecies which are uncannily accurate in their details concerning world events and powers. They are so accurate it is almost as they were written after the fact in the 2nd century. This has led to two groups of thought. One for the early 6th century composition of the entire book. One for the early date for the first half and a later date for the second half. If the second position is taken, then you are left with the problem that the book causes you to think that prophecy is being recorded, but really is talking about past or current events. This would be a problem for the veracity of the Scriptures.

3. Outline of Daniel

A. Daniel and his three friends in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace (1:1-21)

1. The fall of Judah (1:1-2)

2. Training for service (1:3-7)

3. Avoiding defilement (1:8-16)

4. Daniel and his friends have God-given success (1:17-20)

B. God reveals Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to Daniel (2:1-49)

1. The failure of the king’s advisors (2:1-13)

2. God’s revelation to Daniel (2:14-23)

3. The dream and the interpretation (2:24-45)

4. The response of the king (2:46-49)

C. God saves the three friends from the fiery furnace (3:1-30)

1. The image of gold (3:1-7)

2. The accusation against the three friends (3:8-12)

3. The confrontation with Nebuchadnezzar (3:13-18)

4. Deliverance by the hand of God (3:19-27)

5. Nebuchadnezzar worships God (3:28-30)

D. The Fall of Nebuchadnezzar (4:1-37)

1. Nebuchadnezzar’s decree (4:1-3)

2. The dream and search for interpretation (4:4-18)

3. The interpretation (4:19-27)

4. The fulfillment (4:28-33)

5. Healing and restoration (4:29-31)

E. The writing on the wall (5:1-31)

1. The desecration of the the holy vessels (5:1-4)

2. The puzzle of the writing on the wall (5:5-12)

3. Interpretation (5:13-28)

4. Reward and punishment (5:29-31)

F. Daniel and the Lion’s Den (6:1-28)

1. The Plot (6:1-9)

2. The trap and reluctant punishment (6:10-18)

3. Daniel’s rescue (6:19-24)

4. Darius’ decree (6:25-28)

G. The vision of the 4 beasts (7:1-28)

1. Horror by the sea (7:1-8)

2. Heavenly Power (7:9-14)

3. Divine Victory (7:15-28)

H. The Ram and the Goat (8:1-27)

1. The vision (8:1-14)

2. The interpretation (8:15-27)

I. Daniel’s prayer of repentance (9:1-27)

1. Preparation (9:1-4a)

2. Invocation and confession (9:4b-10)

3. God’s punishment (9:11-14)

4. Appeal for mercy (9:15-19)

5. The prophecy of the 70 weeks (9:20-27)

J. The vision of the heavenly messenger (10:1-11:1)

1. Vision (10:1-9)

2. A conversation with a supernatural being (10:10-11:1)

K. The Scope and end of history (11:2-12:13)

1. Persia and Greece (11:2-4)

2. Kings of the North and Kings of the South (11:5-20)

3. The climatic king of the north (11:21-35)

4. The lawless king (11:36-45)

5. The salvation of God’s people (12:1-4)

6. Final Words (12:5-13)

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