The  Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel - Lesson One

 

There are 8 books of the Old Testament with names that end in "ah".

 

Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah

And in all cases except Jonah and Micah the ah is connected with a contracted form of the name of God, Jehovah and that form is JAH

Psalm 68:4 tells us of this form,  Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

Nehemiah (Consolation of Jah),

Isaiah (Jah has saved),

Jeremiah (Jah will rise),

Obadiah (serving Jah),

Zephaniah (Jah has secreted),

Zechariah (Jah has remembered)

We are beginning today a series of lessons from one of four books in the Bible whose name ends in el which is another name for Jehovah.

Can you guess which one we will be studying?

Another hint is that two of them that we will not be studying mean "Heard of God" and the third means "God will strengthen".

So, yes, that just leaves the book of Daniel.

Daniel is one of the most beloved characters of the Bible and is counted as one of the great saints of the Old Testament.

He is one of those rare men of the Bible who only have good things said about him.

He, along with Joseph, the son of Jacob, stand alone in this assessment for both men lived pure, dedicated lives and this was shown by their willingness to yield themselves wholly to God in love, obedience and service.

But Daniel as well as Joseph was a sinner and this was recognized by Daniel in the ninth chapter where he offered a prayer of repentance.

Daniel 9:4-6,  And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;  We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:  Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

Children, early on, learn the stories of Daniel as his character was exercised with regard to those who wished his demise and with regard to the kings whom he served.

We challenge our children with the song "Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone", for this is what is usually called for in the Christian.

We are always thrilled at Danielís victory over the lions where he had a good nightís sleep with the kings of the jungle and answered as the king called in the morning:

O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

And because of the character of Daniel, but especially of the God whom he so faithfully served, Daniel was able to say:  O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lionsí mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

Such was the testimony of this beloved man whom God used in a mighty way in the land of Babylon where he lived in exile his whole adult life.

The name Daniel can be broken down into two words.

Dan and el. Dan was the name of Bilhah and Jacobís son and it means judge.

El of course refers to Elohim, the God of Israel, Jehovah.

So the name Daniel means God is Judge.

This is one of the themes of the book for this book carries us through the ages of this world, its sin and evil until the time when the harvest takes place and God judges.

Now Daniel was a Hebrew, most likely of noble birth, who was taken captive as a young man by Nebuchadnezzar when he attacked Jerusalem in 605 B.C.

Some commentators say he was probably born in Jerusalem in 623 B.C. during the reign of Josiah, which would put him at an age of about 18 when he was taken to Babylon along with other young men and the sacred vessels of the temple.

In Babylon, residing in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, he entered into the service of the king, and in accordance with the custom of the age received the Chaldean name of Belteshazzar, i.e., "prince of Bel," another name for the god Baal, the national god of the Babylonians

His training in the schools of the wise men in Babylon (Dan. 1:4) was to fit him for service to the empire.

Daniel quickly stood out from those taken from Israel and became an official in the court of Nebuchadnezzar and he continued to serve later rulers, until the first year of Cyrus in 536 B.C. which was a period of 69 years, one year shy of the 70 year exile.

Daniel is not called a prophet in the book of Daniel nor anywhere else in the Old Testament, but our Lord Jesus Christ referred to him as such when he spoke of him in:

Matthew 24:15,  When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

In our English Bibles we group the book of Daniel with the prophets but this is not so in the Hebrew Old Testament.

In the Hebrew Old Testament Daniel is grouped with what is called the writings.

Jesus spoke of the Old Testament in terms of three commonly recognized divisions: the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament); the Prophets (divided into two categories: "Former" and "Later"); and the Psalms (which is also known as the writings).

The "writings" include Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles.

In many ways it is a historical book but of course it is also a prophetical book so we can see why the difference in its placement in various Old Testaments.

The Book of Daniel touches on the history of events which occurred during the 70 years of Judahís captivity in Babylon.

It records a number of very important prophecies concerning future events, some of which were fulfilled in Danielís lifetime, others in the years up to and including the first coming of Jesus Christ.

Still other prophecies are yet to be fulfilled when Christ comes once more, to establish the kingdom of God on the earth.

A continuing theme of the book concerns the godliness of Daniel and his three friends and the prophecies which were revealed to, or through, Daniel during his lifetime.

Two parts of the book of Daniel were written in Hebrew, Chapter 1 thru 2:4a and Chapters 8 thru 12 while Chapters 2:4b thru 7 was written in Aramaic which was the language of the Babylonians.

After the captivity, the language of the Jews ceased to be Hebrew.

Only a select few would retain the ability to study the Hebrew Scriptures.

The Jews of our Lordís day spoke a form of Aramaic which was brought back to Israel when the exiles returned.

Why Daniel was written in both Hebrew and Aramaic languages I do not know but Daniel was fluent in both.

Some commentators ascribe it to a desire of God to communicate the message of the book to both Jews and Gentiles.

Chapters 1-6 deal with people and events in Danielís day and tend to be more historical and biographical than prophetical.

Included in these chapters is Daniel, writing in the third person, in a chronological pattern, and interpreting the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar which none in their own strength were able to understand and also his interpretation of the handwriting on the wall.

The first dream is of the great statue, in chapter 2, and the second is the dream of the tree, in chapter 4, and chapter 5 includes the revealing of Belshazzarís revelation from God revealed from the "handwriting on the wall.

Chapters 7-12, do not deal with current events in Danielís life but deal with events from Danielís day to eternity and tend to be more prophetic then historic.

In this part of Daniel he writes in the first person, describing not the dreams of others, but his own visions for which God provides the interpretation not from Daniel but through an angelic interpreter.

So we are given an interweaving of history and prophecy along with a testimony of a godly man and a godly triplet of friends.

It is a perfect textbook for all, especially our young people.

The writings of Daniel are quoted by both Old Testament and New Testament writers.

As we previously said Jesus spoke highly of Daniel and called him a prophet putting his stamp of approval upon his prophesy.

The prophet Ezekiel who lived during the exile and probably spent some time in Babylon also spoke highly of Daniel placing him in rank with Noah and Job.

In speaking of His wrath against Israel Ezekiel wrote in:

Ezekiel 14:14,  Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

The writers of the New Testament refer to the book of Daniel on many occasions as it is the backbone of Old and New Testament prophecy.

Paulís doctrine of the coming Antichrist has basis in Daniel 7 and 11.

The visions of John in the book of Revelation coincide with the prophesies of Daniel.

There have been lists made of New Testament verses that quote the book of Daniel and they show that most of the books of the New Testament are included.

Not every book cites Daniel but every author in the New Testament does, resulting in one-hundred-thirty-three New Testament references listed, citing 68 references in Daniel.

There are many modernists who deny the existence of Daniel but the Bible speaks for itself in this and our Lord himself validated the stature of Daniel and that ought to be good enough for any believer.

The criticisms of Daniel all begin with unbelief in a sovereign God, who supernaturally foretells future events and then brings them to pass.

But a non-believer cannot accept the fact that God knows the future and he chose to communicate that future to Daniel.

The skeptic looks at its prophecies of future events, as too precise.

For such prophecies to have been made, and then be precisely fulfilled, would require the supernatural, and this is not acceptable to those who reject a sovereign God who is in control of history.

Those that deny the supernatural are then forced to provide reasons why Daniel was able to say what he did.

And those reasons are that Daniel did not live in the 6th century but in the 2nd century B.C., some time after a good part of the prophesy was completed or in effect.

I donít know why unbelievers even comment. What is the point?

But this book is a perfect book to precede a study of the book of Revelation for it provides us with a complete prophetic picture of the ages.

Every prophesy of Daniel up until this day has been accurately and minutely fulfilled in every detail.

There is no reason therefore to doubt the Bible as to prophecies that have not as yet been fulfilled.

The Bible is established as Godís word and Godís word will be carried out.

Daniel describes some of the historic events which took place during the Jews seventy-year exile in Babylon.

In addition, Danielís prophecies show future events from the time of Daniel to the establishment of Godís kingdom in the future.

Danielís prophecies describe events which took place during the 400 silent years between the Old and New Testaments, and serve as a connection between the two testaments.

Daniel is not only a book of future prophecy, it is a book which demonstrates the fulfillment of prophecy.

The captivity of the Jews and of Daniel, as well as his ministry to Babylonian kings, is the precise fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, from the time of Moses onward.

Daniel deals with things which have happened, which are still going on now, and which will happen during the Gentile age and in the tribulation period known in the Word of God as the time of "Jacobís trouble" or the time of the great tribulation.

This book is particularity valuable in our teaching of young people for it gives to Christians an example of a godly man, who was faithful from his youth to the end of his life.

This book shows us that a Christian can live a godly life in an ungodly world and not only live but have a great impact upon the society in which he lives.

Daniel and his friends were the smallest of minorities and in spite of that was able to stand alone for God when it was fatally dangerous to do so.

He was separated but he was not isolated.

He did not hide in order to save his skin.

It is easy for those of us in Christian ministries to hide in the ministry and avoid taking a stand in an evil world.

But this was not the case with Daniel and his friends and because of this he has much to teach us about faithfulness in times of suffering and adversity, about leadership, and about the sovereignty of God.

Daniel is a reminder of Godís faithfulness, even when men are unfaithful.

Daniel shows how God can work in our lives, even through those who are unbelievers and who are opposed to Godís people.