Daniel Introduction In a foreign land Daniel 1-6
Transformed into his image....in a foreign land....in God’s church....through Christ’s example.
This term we are looking at God’s character and ours, seeing both how it is that God wants us to be transformed, and how it is possible. This series looks at God’s character as revealed powerfully for us through the life of Daniel and his three friends, as recounted in the book of Daniel chapters 1-6.
The over-arching message of the book of Daniel is that despite current appearances, God is in control. Daniel was written to encourage God’s people in a time of trouble and hardship, both by recounting the tales of 4 young men taken into service of the enemy in Babylon, (chapters 1-6) and also through apocalyptic visions of the future given to Daniel (chapters 7-12).
This message that despite current appearances, God is in control, is one that resonates for us in many ways. As we look at world events and perhaps at situations closer to home within our families and circles of friends, how often are we tempted to think that things are completely out of control, or worse still that evil has the upper hand.
The book of Daniel challenges us to relook at our world view and to see that God is still the author and director of history, whatever the circumstances might tempt us to think; and it also gives us a picture of what it might mean to live as one of God’s people in a foreign land. Philippians 3:20 reminds us as Christians that “our citizenship is in heaven”. We too are aliens and strangers in a foreign land, and so Daniel and his friends give us powerful models of what it might mean to live as one of God’s people when you are not in God’s land, nor directly under his rule.
Daniel 1 Spiritual formation in a foreign land
Daniel 2 Hearing God speak in a foreign land
Daniel 3 Feeling the pressure
Daniel 4 Telling the truth
Daniel 5 Declaring God’s judgement
Daniel 6 Vindicated by God
“Despite current appearances, God is in control”
Chapters 1-6 are a series of stories about how God brings honour to himself through Daniel and his 3 friends while they are exiles in Babylon. [Chapters 7-12 are essentially a set of apocalyptic visions, speaking of the time to come, and specifically dealing with the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV in 169-165 BC.]
The action of chapters 1-6 occur during the time of the exile, between 605 – 530 BC. There is much controversy over exactly when the book was written down, either during the time of the action recorded or later during the time of Antiochus IV, the period addressed by the visions of the second half of the book. Issue is over supposed historical inaccuracy of earlier chapters, versus historical accuracy of apocalyptic visions (fulfilled in 169-165 BC). This has led to some proposing a very late date for the composition of the book. Other scholars argue for the natural reading of the text and propose an date contemporary to the events described.
Daniel is a unique book within the Old Testament, being written partly in Hebrew (Ch 1, 8-12) and partly in Aramaic, the common language of the Near East of the time (Ch 2-7).
The structure of the Aramaic section of the text is in a chiasm (sandwich) pattern; the book beginning and ending in Hebrew. This might suggest that the Hebrew sections were for Jewish readers while the Aramaic sections were meant for a wider audience.
Ch 1 introduction (in Hebrew)
Ch 2 vision of future kingdom (ending in God’s final eternal kingdom)
Ch 3 story of miraculous deliverance, where opposition has been directed against God
Ch 4 & 5 demise of 2 Babylonian kings who opposed God
Ch 6 story of miraculous deliverance, where opposition has been directed against God
Ch 7 vision of future kingdom (ending in God’s final eternal kingdom)
Ch 8-12 apocalyptic vision (in Hebrew)