Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Daniel 1-2, 6-7

Daniel 1 – Daniel’s Faithfulness

In the 3rd year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Jerusalem was taken captive by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.  God allowed them to be delivered into Babylon’s hands along with some of the articles from the temple.  King Nebuchadnezzar chose the brightest young men from the Israelite families to serve in his palace.  Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  They were given new names.  Daniel given the name Belteshazzar; Hananiah was given Shadrach; Mishael was given Meshach; Azariah was given Abednego. (Dan. 1-7)  Daniel was a teenager, about 17 years old.

Daniel didn’t want to defile himself with the king’s rich food and wine so he asked the guard if they would eat only vegetables and water.  He ask to let them do this for 10 days and then compare their appearance with the others who at the rich food.  The guard agreed.  At the end of the 10 days Daniel and his friends looked healthier that the others.  Since they were so faithful to God by not defiling themselves, God gave the 4 knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  Daniel was able to understand dreams and visions.  The king was pleased and they entered into the service of the king. (Dan. 8-21)

Daniel’s life changed when he was captured.  Why?  God had a bigger purpose for him.  The king tried to change Daniel and his friend’s thinking and make them citizens of Babylon, but God’s kingdom is in every location and in every person.  Whether you believe Him or not, He is the ruler of all.  As Creator, He rules all things.  Daniel shows us what it’s like to be in the kingdom of God.  As we submit and obey Him, we are expanding His kingdom on earth.  God’s kingdom is here and now and also in the future.  God is in charge.

I am sure it was very hard to resist the charms of Babylon.  Babylon was all about self.  It was a philosophy, an attitude, and all about indulgent choices.  It was about beauty and self-absorption.  We live in a Babylonian time.  We are surrounded by a Babylon of our own.  In this day and time the world is all about ME.  As a nation we believe in luxury, culture, education and beauty.  We have everything, yet we are still not happy and satisfied.  Daniel and his friends resisted Babylon’s poisonous harms.  They are great examples for us to resist our Babylon.

Do you have the strength of Daniel to resist worldly choices?
How does Daniel encourage you?
How has God blessed you in your faithfulness?

Daniel 2 – Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream.  He called on all his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he dream and what it meant.  If they couldn’t, he would have them cut into pieces.  Then the astrologers remember Daniel who could interpret dreams so they call upon him.  Daniel and his friends prayed that God would reveal the dream and that night God did just that.  God revealed to Daniel the mystery of the dream.  Daniel was faithful to God and God was faithful to Daniel.  Daniel told the king what his dream was and what it meant.  He praised God for His wisdom, power, knowledge and for revealing to Daniel the meaning of the dream.  Daniel didn’t take credit for his wisdom, but told the king that the God in heaven is the one who reveals mysteries. (Dan. 2:1-28)

The dream was of an enormous statue.  The head was made of pure gold.  The chest and arms were silver.  Its belly and thighs were bronze.  Its legs were iron and its feet were part iron and baked clay.  Then a rock was cut out not by human hands, struck the statue’s feet and smashed them.  Then the rest of the status was broken into pieces.  The broken pieces were swept away without leaving a trace.  Then the rock became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. (Dan. 2:31-45)

Each of the parts of the statue represents a world empire. 
The head was Babylon - historical fulfillment in 626-539 B.C.
The chest and arms was the Medo-Persian Empire – historical fulfillment 539-331 B.C.
The belly and thighs were the Greek Empire – historical fulfillment 331-63 B.C.
The legs were the Roman Empire – historical fulfillment 63 B.C. – A.D. 476.
The feet could be the outgrowth of the divided Roman Empire.  The toes and feet may represent a political system yet to come.  The ten horns foretell a ten kingdom confederacy that will operate jointly at the time of Christ’s return.  (Dan. 7:7, 24; Rev. 13:1; 17:12)
The rock represents the kingdom of the Messiah, which will fill the whole earth.

History has proven Daniel’s interpretations.  Earthly kingdoms come and go, but the Kingdom of God will last forever.  It will NEVER be destroyed.

How is this encouraging to you?
How does the promise of God’s kingdom give you hope in the future?
What is your view of God’s authority?

Daniel 6 – Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Daniel was put in charge of all the king’s wise men.  He had distinguished himself among the others.  They became jealous of Daniel, but couldn’t find a way to discredit him.  They came up with a plan.  They told the king that he should order everyone to pray only to the king and not to other gods or they would be thrown to the lions.  I am sure this flattered the king so he agreed.  They knew this would finally be the end of Daniel, because they knew he would pray to God.

This didn’t stop Daniel.  He continued to pray 3 times a day to God with his windows open.  Of course he was found out and put into the lion’s den.  We all know the end of this story.  God saved Daniel.   Daniel said, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.”  Dan. 6:21.

Daniel was loyal to God, but loyalty to God’s kingdom often comes at a personal cost.  He doesn’t always rescue us when persecuted.  Sometimes rescue comes with suffering or even death.  With death we are rescued from this world then we can be with Him in heaven.

What hard choices do you have to make to be faithful to God?
How could you faithfully impact those around you?

Daniel 7 – Daniel’s Dream

(Note:  Chapter 6 and 7 are not in chronological order.  At the end of chapter 6 Daniel is about 80 years old.  In chapter 7 is about 68 years.)

Now Daniel was about 68 years old and he himself had a dream.  In his dream he saw 4 heavenly winds churning up the sea and 4 great beats came up out of the sea.  The first was like a lion with wings of an eagle.  The second was like a bear.  The third was like a leopard with 4 heads and was given authority to rule.  The fourth beast had 4 horns and was frightening and very powerful.  Daniel then saw a little horn that came up among the others.  This horn had eyes like a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.  (Dan. 7:1-8)

Verse 17 interprets the sea to be symbolic to the earth and the 4 beast to be 4 earthly kingdoms.  We saw these kingdoms in chapter 2 in the form of the statue.

 Then Daniel saw the Ancient of Days (God) seated on His throne.  He was clothed in white with hair like white wool.  The throne was blazing with fire.  There was a river of fire coming out from the throne.  Thousands attended Him.  The court was seated and the books were opened.  This is the Great White Throne Judgment and the books are considered to be the book of deeds.  God is about to judge the little horn, which is the Anti-Christ.  See Rev. 20.

This should give you great confidence in God and His dominion over all the earth.  God is in control and in charge and there is nothing or no one greater or more powerful.

Then Daniel saw the judgment of the beasts and little horn (Anti-Christ).  (Dan. 7:11-12)  Then he saw one like a son of man (Jesus) coming in the clouds.  The Ancient of Days gave him authority, glory and sovereign power over all people and nations.   All men worshiped Him and His dominion is everlasting and will never be destroyed.  (Dan. 7:13-14)

Daniel said he was deeply troubled by what he saw.  Does this trouble you or does it give you hope and encouragement?  I have mixed feelings here.  I am sadden that there will be those who will suffer, but encouraged that God is in charge and He will win in the end.

Next week we will get back to Revelation and study chapter 4 – The Heavenly Throne Room.  Hope to see you here.


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