Introduction to the Book of Daniel

Background notes: Daniel and friends are placed in captivity in Babylon (Iraq) in 605 BC. They were chosen to be a part of Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Persia (Iran) conquered Babylon in 539 BC. Daniel was once again given a place of power.

Main themes: God has absolute sovereignty over kings and kingdoms. He is the ruler over all things. (2:21; 4:34-37). All kingdoms will come to an end and be replaced by God’s kingdom (2:44; 7:27). God’s saints will persevere to everlasting life in the final kingdom (12:1-3)

Book Outline: Chs. 1-6 (A Godward Life, the Prophet) Narrative, Chs. 7-12 (Power to Persevere, the Prophecies) Apocalyptic Visions.

The Power of God to Overcome Cultural Captivity

Daniel 1:1-9

I. God is at work even during our suffering (1:1-2) I want to point out the Jehoiakim was an evil king. He wasn’t anything like his father Josiah. There was a great spiritual decline in Judah, so as mentioned in verse 2, God gave the kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar. I like what Dale Davis says, “Sometimes God may allow hardships to reach us because he wants his mercy to reach beyond us.” God’s purpose in our hardships is often to demonstrate his strength, his wisdom, and his glory that we might become solely dependent upon Him. Discipline is used to draw is closer to God. Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
II. God is at work as He spreads His message through scattering His people (1:3) We especially see this in the book of Acts in which persecution happens after the stoning of Stephen and the church is scattered out! God brought these Godly influences to a Godless place to show His glory! Do others see you as a godly influence? If your boss is a Nebuchadnezzar, be a Daniel!

III. God is at work calling followers to surrender to Him and not be taken captive by a worldly culture (1:4-9) I’m reminded about what Paul tells the Colossians in 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” How? Colossians 3:1-2 “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” What you listen to, what you watch, all matters! Find nourishment in the Word of God!

How does culture take us captive? Daniel Akin suggest these four aspects of cultural captivity.

a. Isolation (1:3)
b. Indoctrination (1:4)
c. Assimilation (1:5)
d. Confusion (1:6-7) Trying to make someone have a new identity causes confusion, especially when it’s an identity outside of Christ.

Daniel -“God is my judge” is renamed Belteshazzar -“O lady, protect the king.”  This is in reference to Bel. Hananiah -“Yahweh is gracious” was renamed Shadrach to mean “command of Aku the moon god.” Mishael -“Who is What God is?” was renamed Meshach which means “who is like Aku the moon god.” Azariah -“Yahweh is a helper” was renamed to Abednego which means “servant of the shining one Nebo.” 

Why did Daniel and his friends not eat from the menu of the king?

Three possible answers

1) Unclean Food.

2) Polluted Meat and Wine.

3) Denial of Luxuries. 

Characteristics of God’s People Who Are His Instruments

1) Bold

2) Different

3) Protection