Life in the Lion's Den - A Study in the Book of Daniel (May 2010 - August 2010)
The Old Testament book of Daniel is a biblical record of the life and prophetic revelations of Daniel - a Jew that was taken captive as a youth by the Babylonians during King Nebuchadnezzar's first conquest of Jerusalem (605 BC). Culminating with the third reigning year of King Cyrus the Persian (536 BC), Daniel's record of events span approximately 70 years. Daniel's name means "God is my judge".
One unusual feature of the book of Daniel is that it was originally written in two different languages. A central portion of the book (2:4 – 7:28) was written in Aramaic (the common language of the Babylonian empire). The remainder of the book was written in Hebrew (Daniel's native tongue). As a result, some scholars have divided the book into three parts: (1) Introduction, Daniel 1; (2) The Times of the Gentiles (written in Aramaic), Daniel 2-7; (3) Israel in Relation to the Gentile Nations (written in Hebrew), Daniel 8-12.
The book of Daniel is usually divided into two halves, the first six chapters (Daniel 1-6) being a record of historical events in Daniel's life, and the last six chapters (Daniel 7-12) containing prophetic revelations given to Daniel by God. The book of Daniel is considered to be apocalyptic scripture, along with the books of Ezekiel, Zechariah and Revelation. The word "apocalypse" comes from the Greek word "apokalypsis", which means, "unveiling of truth that would otherwise be concealed".
In the first half of the book, parallels can be drawn between the life of Daniel and today's Christian. Both find themselves living in cultures that are hostile to their walk of faith in the Lord. For example, Daniel literally experienced life in the lion's den as a result of his faith (Daniel 6). Christians are assured of similar spiritual experiences, knowing that Satan "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Spiritually, Satan was the ruler of worldly kingdoms in Daniel's time and is the "ruler of this world" today (John 12:31). Thus, Christians should expect to draw practical applications from the experiences of Daniel and his three colleagues (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego).
In the second half of the book, we find prophetic revelations of God's future plan for both the Gentile nations and Israel that are not found elsewhere in scripture. Thus, biblical scholars consider Daniel to be the key to prophetic revelation. Daniel's writings assure us that God has unchanging plans for both Jew and Gentile that will be fulfilled according to His timetable. We should rejoice that Jesus Christ has a pre eminent place in these plans (e.g., the prophetic "70 Weeks" found in Daniel 9).
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