Daniel 1: 1,2 Introductions (April 15, 2020)
The book of Daniel is the fifth major prophet book in the Old Testament: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations by Solomon, Ezekiel and then Daniel. All are major books as they lived as significant times in the history of Israel and were “the voice of God” to his people. The man, Daniel, was not a theologian like Paul, not a doctor like Luke, nor a fisherman like Peter but was one of the captives taken from Jerusalem to “the land of Shinar” i.e. Babylonia, originally where the Tower of Babel was located (Gen. 10:10; 11:2), and what is now modern day Iraq.
The book of Daniel was written in the second century BC and has two major divisions. The first six chapters were written in Aramaic about adventures of Daniel in the court while the last six chapters were written in Hebrew with more apocalyptic visions. That means they were more prophetic about the future whereas the first six are more relating how Daniel lived out his gifts in the intrigues of court life. Perhaps the question we seek wisdom for is how a teacher, a businessman, a retiree, an ordinary person maintains integrity is secular culture.
The goal of the study is not to do an in-depth analysis of the book of Daniel as I am not a Biblical scholar but to ponder how God might be speaking to our lives today. We will look at this famous book, not to discern images of end-times but to see how a man living in difficult times, lived out his faith. So we are going to start with “introductions.” The Bible sets the book of Daniel historically and geographically.
I invite you to join me with a pen, a piece of paper to write your answers and a favorite drink.
Daniel 1: 1a In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah,
- Jehoiakim was the second son of Josiah (the boy who became king at age 8), king from 609-598 BC after his father had died and his older brother was removed from the throne by an Egyptian invasion and he was made king. His name was changed from Eliakim to Jehoiakim. He was the next to the last king of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, centered around Jerusalem.
- 1. What historical leaders define our lives? For a few it might be Uncle Ike, but for most of us it is JFK, or Clinton, and maybe Obama? Each name raises images of cultural struggles that have formed our lives and defined us – Vietnam, Desert Storm, Civil Rights, 9/11, turn of the century, Twin Towers or Covid-19. What historical people and events have formed you? ______________
1b King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord let King Jehoiakim of Judah fall into his power, as well as some of the vessels of the house of God. These he brought to the land of Shinar, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his gods.
- Nebuchadnezzar is famous for rebuilding the Babylonian empire, building the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World). He destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and initiated the Babylonian captivity, attacking Jerusalem twice.
- Perhaps of note is that the Lord allowed this to happen. We start this study right after Easter where we pondered Jesus, MIA. God does not always choose to miraculously save His people. I would note the difference between “God caused this to happen” and “God let this happen.” 2. Can you think of a time in your life when God seemed to step back and allow a difficult situation unfold, challenging your faith? ______________________________ 3. Now as you reflect on that situation, can you see lessons learned or benefits from living through that difficult time? ______________ 4. What helped your faith during those “silent” times? ___________
- “Some of the vessels of the house of God” were taken into captivity. I think of 1 Samuel 4,5 when the Philistines capturing the Ark of God. I think of Sampson being captured and imprisoned. Later in Daniel we will see these vessels play an important role but for now, we note that God’s ways are not always understandable or predictable. Debate reigns in the USA today as that which we think of as sacred, is not respected by the dominant culture: statues of the Ten Commandments, rules surrounding the Sabbath, and perhaps more. 5. Where do you struggle the most with the dominant culture today? __________
- Summary: The Bible has introduced the book of Daniel, geographically, historically, and somehow socially. Write your introduction that could be posted on line should you choose as a comment, or be shared with friends when we can again meet. _____________________________________
As we go through this study we will see how Daniel was caught in the unfolding swirl of his day. We might get some clues on how to cope with our changing realities.