There’s no question that Daniel 7-12 are difficult chapters to understand and apply rightly. Less so with Daniel 7:1-28 in which Daniel saw a terrifying vision of kingdoms and beasts, but also a comforting vision of the rule of the Ancient of Days with the heavenly figure of the ‘Son of Man’. In the last in this series, this message seeks to explore these things and bring them to a place where they can be understood and applied to us, the readers who need to be assured that ‘Jesus will reign where’er the sun does his successive journeys run’.
In the flow of the stores recorded in the book of Daniel, the story of Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6:1-28) is perhaps the most well known and one every Sunday School student would have heard. But it’s far from a children’s story and is a wonderful story of courage, bravery, loyalty and faith – especially so when it brings us to the One who wasn’t saved from the ‘lion’s mouth’ but was willing to go there for our sake!
The text of Daniel 5:1-31 takes us to the rule of Belshazzar king of Babylon. Daniel is older now and seems to have been forgotten (or bypassed) for duties in the roal court, until the night of the King’s feast when a mysterious hand appeared to write a message on the wall in front of the king’s eyes. It was a message of judgement for this king (like chapter 4) and this judgement fell swiftly upon him. Daniel’s role in the matter was to translate the message and deliver it faithfully and observe yet another king come and go while he continued to faithfully serve his God.
There is no doubt that all through the first four chapters of the book of Daniel, God was dealing with King Nebuchadnezzar – and why wouldn’t He? Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful ruler in the world. In fact you could say, the ruler of the world. So it was no surprise that God should engage with him. And that is just what he did! In Daniel 4:1-37 we find the story of how God brought this king down. Humbled him. Brought him to nothing. It is a salutary tale. One that we should take full note of!
The story of Daniel’s three friends being thrown into the fiery furnace in Daniel 3:1-30 is far, far from being a cute Sunday School story. What a testimony these men had! What courage they displayed! What determination to not give in to the threats of the most powerful King! What faith they had that the true King would be given their full obedience regardless of the outcome! The story is powerful and challenging, reminding us of the full cost that many make in following the Lord Jesus even now.
While far away in exile in Babylon, Daniel 2:1-49 tells us how Daniel and his friends soon faced another test – one not of their own making, but one that the Lord was certainly in. When King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream troubled him and he sought answers about it, Daniel and friends were about to lose their heads. But through earnest prayer and the grace of God, these young men were able to see God come to their aid and actually do more for the advancement of His Kingdom than they might ever have expected!
The book of Daniel is a wonderful encouragement to God’s people because it tells the story of Daniel and his friends, living faithfully before God in the most difficult of circumstances. The exile of these young men of Judah into Babylon was no small test. To be a young man and far from home and the regular worship of God and the means of grace can never be underestimated. And then also, to be placed within the King’s court and palace with new Babylonian names! This would not have been easy. But Daniel 1:1-21, tells us that Daniel and his friends passed the test and in doing so proved that ‘the Lord honours those who honour Him’.
The story of the three Hebrew men standing firm in the face of the fury of the King Nebuchadnezzar and his infamously hot furnace, has long been a Sunday School favourite. Yet the story is far from one that belongs to the children alone. Daniel 3:1-30 tells of courage, bravery and obedience – all in the face of great trial and remains something that urges God’s people along today on our walk with the Lord in this world.
You can be sure that the story of Daniel in the lion’s den found in Daniel 6:1-28 will make it to just about every children’s Bible that has ever been or will be published. Funny The funny thing about that is this – the story is not really just a children’s story. Instead it is one of the great stories of the Bible that forces us to examine our own loyalty and faithfulness to God. It might have been an extreme test that God allowed Daniel to endure – and while he proved to be faithful, how would you go at being in Daniel’s position?
Guest speaker, Jordan Brown, a student at PTC, preached from Daniel 8. We can take heart because God reigns over politics and superpowers, both in empires then and in the world now. Daniel was shaken by the vision he saw of the future and we might be shaken by persecution we face, but we live in a privileged time. Not only can we look back and see the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled but we can see the faithfulness of God even clearly in Jesus. One day every knee will bow before him.