Overview of Daniel

CHAPTER ONE — Daniel’s Training in Babylon
1:1-21 Daniel was among the first Jews to be exiled to Babylon in 605 BC by King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, of noble birth, was probably a young man (teenager) at the time he was deported from Judah. Daniel and his friends were enrolled in a course to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians. Daniel determined not to defile himself with the royal food because, in all likelihood, it was food that had been offered to idols. Daniel proposed a diet of vegetables rather than compromise his beliefs.

Note: Like Daniel, our convictions should be based on God’s Word. When we are tested or tempted, we should stand firm rather than compromise our convictions.

CHAPTER TWO — Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream & Daniel’s Interpretation
2:1-49 King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream which none of his “magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers” (v. 2) could interpret for him. This angered the king and he ordered the execution of “all the wise men of Babylon” (v. 12), including Daniel and his friends (v. 13). Daniel appealed to the king for time to interpret the dream (v. 16). He asked God to show him Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the interpretation. God answered Daniel’s prayer. Daniel successfully interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and was rewarded and promoted to a high position in the king’s administration (v. 48).

Note: Like Daniel, we should pray and ask others to join us in prayer when we are dealing with difficult issues. And, we must be sure to praise God for His answer.

CHAPTER THREE — The Golden Image and Fiery Furnace
3:1-6 King Nebuchadnezzar made a colossal image of gold and ordered everyone in his kingdom to bow before the image or be thrown into a blazing fire.

Daniel’s friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) refused to bow before and worship the image and were thrown into a blazing furnace.

Daniel’s friends survived their fiery ordeal. They emerged unharmed from the furnace. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged their God and issued a decree that any person who spoke against the God of Daniel’s friends be put to death.

Note: Like Daniel’s friends, we must be willing to do what is right, even if it means we must suffer for it. We must trust and obey God, whether the result of our obedience is triumph or tragedy.

CHAPTER FOUR — Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Tree
4:1-18 King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a great tree cut down to a stump. He asked Daniel (also referred to as Belteshazzar in v. 8) to interpret this dream for him.

Daniel interpreted the dream for the king. The great tree in the dream represented Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel cautioned that unless the king humbled himself before God, he would be cut down and reduced to the level of a beast for seven years.

Nebuchadnezzar boasted of his glory and was reduced to living like an animal for seven years (see also 5:20-21). “And at the end of the days” (v. 34), Nebuchadnezzar came to his senses and worshiped God.

Note: We must always keep in mind that God hates pride and arrogance (see Prov. 6:16-19).

CHAPTER FIVE — The Writing on the Wall
5:1-4 King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, profaned the articles of God’s temple at a great banquet.

A hand appeared and wrote a message on the wall. Frightened, the king called for his wise men to interpret the message but “his lords were astonied” (v. 9). The queen suggested the king send for Daniel, now more than 80 years old, to interpret the message (vv. 10-12).

Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall — spelling out Belshazzar’s death and the doom of the Babylonian empire. “That very night Belshazzar … was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom…” (v. 30).

Note: Belshazzar failed to learn from his grandfather’s experience (5:20-21). We must not forget the lessons learned and modeled by those in the past.

Note: God continued to use Daniel, even in his old age, because he lived a godly life. Like Daniel, we too should endeavor to live in a way that pleases God — for a lifetime.

CHAPTER SIX — Daniel in the Den of Lions
6:1-9 Darius gave Daniel great responsibility in his administration. The other government officials, motivated by jealousy and a hunger for power, devised a way to entrap Daniel. They talked Darius into issuing a decree making it illegal for anyone in the kingdom to pray to anyone other than the king. Violators were to be thrown into the lion’s den.

6:10-28 Daniel continued to pray to God three times a day. Reluctantly, the king had Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. God shut the mouths of the lions and protected Daniel. Daniel’s accusers were then thrown into the lion’s den and the king issued a decree that the people of the kingdom “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel” (v. 26).

Note: Daniel continued to kneel in prayer before God rather than before the king. Like Daniel, we must remember that our convictions are in our knees.

CHAPTER SEVEN — Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts
7:1-14 Daniel recorded his dream about four animals, a winged lion (v. 4), a bear (v. 5), a leopard with four heads (v. 6), and a beast with ten horns (v. 7). These beasts correlate with the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed about years earlier (see chapter 2).

Each beast represented a kingdom. The terrible fourth beast represents the anti-Christ (see 1 John 2:18; 2 Thess. 2:3; and Rev. 13:1). Daniel was assured that the fourth kingdom would come to an end and be replaced by God’s everlasting kingdom.

Note: Daniel’s dream assures us that God is in control of history. The God who knows what will happen tomorrow can certainly help us make it through today!

CHAPTER EIGHT — Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and a Goat
8:1-14 Daniel recorded a second vision he had while in the royal city of Susa, 350 miles east of Babylon. In his vision he saw a powerful ram with two horns. In his vision a mighty goat with “a notable horn between his eyes” (v. 5) challenged and defeated the ram.

An angelic messenger named Gabriel interpreted the dream for Daniel (v. 16). He explained that the two-horned ram represented the kings of Media and Persia and the goat represented the king of Greece. Daniel’s vision described persons and events that would occur several centuries after Daniel’s lifetime and also foreshadow events to occur in the last days.

Note: The fulfillment of prophecy should give us greater confidence in the truth and reliability of God’s Word. The fulfillment of prophecy should also motivate us to share the good news with those who have yet to hear it.

CHAPTER NINE — Daniel’s Prayer
9:1-17 Daniel read the “word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet” (v. 2 NIV) and understood that the seventy year period of captivity was coming to an end. Daniel therefore prayed on behalf of the Jewish people. He confessed his sin and that of the people and asked God to forgive them and rescue them from their plight. He asked God to restore Israel and Jerusalem for His sake and glory (vv. 17-19).

While Daniel was praying, God sent Gabriel to give him “skill [insight] and understanding” (v. 22). God revealed several future events to Daniel — Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Crucifixion, and more.

Note: Daniel served in high government positions and was, undoubtedly, a busy man. However, Daniel found time to read God’s Word and to pray. What about us?

CHAPTER TEN — Daniel’s Vision of a Man
10:1-3 Daniel had a disturbing vision of the terrible times that lay ahead for his people — a great war. This vision was very disturbing to Daniel who was happy that many of his people were returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the city.

After a three week period of fasting and mourning, Daniel had a vision of a supernatural being near the Tigris River. Some scholars believe this was a theophany —  an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus Christ. At this point, a heavenly messenger appeared to explain to Daniel what would happen to his people in the future (v. 14). The messenger explained that he had been delayed twenty-one days because of resistance by the king of Persia (v. 13). Michael, the archangel, had to assist this heavenly messenger in his fight with demonic forces.

Note: Read Ephesians 6:11-12

CHAPTER ELEVEN — The Angel’s Message
11:1-45 The angel that appeared to Daniel in chapter 10 shared detailed predictions with Daniel about wars between Medo-Persia (v. 2) and Greece (v. 3) and Egypt and Syria (vv. 4-35). These events also foreshadow events that are still to come — the Antichrist (vv. 36-39) and his defeat (vv. 40-45).

Note: Knowing that the end is coming should motivate us to live godly lives and to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.

12:1-13 The angel concluded his prophecy with hope. Michael will defend the Jews. Those who place their faith in Christ during the period of tribulation described in these verses will be preserved.

Note: God is in control of history.

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