Category Archives: Daniel

Dispensational Apocalyptic View

I’m sitting in a lecture right now about Daniel & Malachi, and the first part is an overview of the Dispensational view of the end of the world. The lecturer is Brian Irwin of Knox College/Toronto School of Thelogy. I’m intensely interested and thought I’d live “blog” it. As I take my notes…

2 very influential books that has shaped most evangelical Christians’ view of the apocalypse… 1) The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. And 2) Left Behind by Tim LaHaye (I read every book in this series back when I was 14-16 years old).

The theologies presented in this book have its origins in John Nelson Darby’s Dispensational Theology… Which, in North America, was promoted by C.I. Scofield, who produced an annotated Bible that promoted dispensational theology.

Dispensational theology essentially believes that the history of the world can be divided up by periods of dispensations… Eg. Dispensation of Innocence – Garden of Eden. Dispensation of Moses/Law. Dispensation of Grace/Church – current. Etc.

In terms of the Apocalypse, the Rapture is the start of the event. A secret return of Christ, when true Christians will be taken up to heaven (others are Left Behind, which is why LaHaye’s books are titled that way). This ushers a period of Tribulation in which peace in the Middle East will be brought about by the Anti Christ, who will eventually demand he be worshipped.

This tells dispensationalists that 1) Israel needs to be back in the Middle East to make peace, and 2) the Temple must be standing. This has lead some, especially since the return of Israel to the land, to try to reproduce temple furniture in preparation for the temple to be rebuilt and begin use. For example…

Temple Institute

Eventually, the Russians will attack Israel, along with a “revived Roman Empire (European Union)”, but will be destroyed. The end of the Tribulation brings about Christ’s public return to earth and the start of his 1000 year reign. The end of this reign, Satan is released from the pit, and leads a rebellion of people who lived through the reign but now rebel against the God who has ruled them. At this point, judgement occurs, and evil is vanquished for eternity. This rolls everything back to the period of the Garden – the lowering the new heaven and the new earth. Repopulated by the people who have remained faithful, and so live in eternity with the Triune God.

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What is Bible Prophecy? Stuart & Fee, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: “Prophets are Covenant Enforcement Mediators”. No it is not prediction, but Prophecy were more like smoke detector. A theological early warning system that God gave to Israel.

Israel was supposed to be his intermediaries in the World. The connection between people outside the Temple and God, who lives inside the temple. They were separated by their physical impurities. The priests were called to a high degree of ritual purity that allowed them to go into the temple.

When the people obeyed the Law, the received the blessings associated with the covenant. If they disobey, they suffer the curses. They will not enjoy bounty, good health, etc. They go astray, and God sends the prophet to make predictions to set them back on the correct path. Their predictions are more like the ones made in cop shows… eg. “Listen buddy, if you don’t confess, you’re gonna get 20 to life”. They’re not making wild predictions, but educated guesses based on what they know about the law. Likewise, Biblical prophets typically make predictions like this based on what they know about the Mosaic Law. The goal is to provoke a response by using near-term prediction.

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Jeremiah 18:7-10 … [7] If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, [8] and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. [9] And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, [10] and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. (Jeremiah 18:7-10 ESV)

The point is, God cannot be gotten on a technicality… Another example, the book of Jonah. When preached to about their wickedness, they repented and were not destroyed. What this says about prophecy is that there is the potential for reading some prophecy in the Bible as having a shelf life… This is important to keep in the back of the mind with regard to the fulfilment of prophecy.

Return to the land is the ultimate covenant blessing… So, the fact that Israel is now repopulated is seen by most as a fulfilment of prophecy. But unfortunately, Israel is not at all faithful… In fact, it is quite secular. So there is some difficulty in seeing this return (though you can’t say for sure that God has no hand in it at all) as the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy, at least under the conditions that God has set about in his covenant.

Prophecy is a genre of covenant warning. And it uses near-term predictions to accomplish this. The caveat is, God reserves the right to withdraw blessing as the need may be.

In light of this, what is apocalyptic literature then? First of all, it is not a genre of prophecy, but of hope and fulfillment. We find it in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.

Apocalyptic genre can be embedded into a prophetic book, and that’s why we can sometimes miss its meaning. Comes from Greek word meaning “Disclosure”. Over time, the word has taken a more ominous tone. Normally we now think of it in terms of negative. Unfortunate because it is not what the literature is all about. In fact, it is about HOPE.

How do we know that something is apocalyptic?

  1. A revelation or unveiling given by God
  2. Given through a mediator
  3. Given to a seer
  4. Concerning future events

Apocalyptic literature arises in situations where people are expecting blessings, but are not. And so God uses Apocalyptic literature to speak hope into that context.

So what happens now? It’s this kind of setting that apocalyptic literature happens… it does 3 basic things…

  1. Reminds people that God remains the Lord of history
  2. Faithful believers enjoy his support in the present oppression
  3. God will someday intervene to usher in a better age

In the book of Daniel, this is expressed in 2 different ways… (Stan Walters: “The End of (What) is at Hand?” TJT, 2/1: 23-46).

Daniel Inductive Study

I really enjoyed this study in the Book of Daniel.. I kind of want to preach on it now!

 

Inductive Study on the Book of Daniel

 

Part 1: Table of Contents

Verses

Caption

PART 1: Daniel 1 – 6

The Sovereignty of God & The Pride of the Mighty Kings

Daniel 1

Prelude: Judah in Exile, Characters Introduced

Daniel 2-3

Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st Dream: A Warning

Daniel 4

Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd Dream: Judgement

Daniel 5

Belshazzar’s Pride & The Judgement on the Wall

Daniel 6

Darius’ Pride Throws Daniel in the Lion’s Den

PART 2: Daniel 7 – 12

The Sovereignty of God at the End of Time

Daniel 7

1st Vision: Four Beasts, the Ancient of Days, and the Son of Man

Daniel 8

2nd Vision: The Ram, Goat, and the Horns

Daniel 9

3rd Vision: First Vision of the End Times

Daniel 10-12

4th Vision: Second Vision of the End Times

 

 

Part 2: Analysis of the Book’s Structure

There are two major divisions in the Book of Daniel, which combine various genres of text. Much of the text is in narrative form, especially in the first major part, while much of the text in the second part is prophecy/interpretation in the form of poetry or dialogue. There were also other occasional poetry texts in the first part, used as psalms of praises, while in the second part, poetry is used for some of the prophecies recorded.

The difference in the genres of the first and second parts stands as the clearest indication of the division as it is clear that chapters 1-6 is mostly narrative and 7-12 is mostly prophecy. In the first part, there are five major subdivisions. The first, in Daniel 1, is an introduction which frames the stories for us: Judah has been overrun by the Babylonians and many Israelites are being sent into exile, and four main figures emerge from these who were exiled(Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). The following subdivisions then serve as four narrative units concerning these main figures, and the kings they were serving. Two of the subdivisions concern Nebuchadnezzar, and one each concern his son Belshazzar, and Darius the Mede. These stories pit these mighty kings and their pride against the sovereign God of all.

The most problematic issue of this way of subdividing this section is the connection between the various narrative sections which concern Nebuchadnezzar. On the one hand, you could look at it as consisting of four sections: (1) the narrative of an initial dream which revealed to Nebuchadnezzar the future beyond his reign in Daniel 2; (2) Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image in Daniel 3; (3) Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream warning of judgement for his pride in Daniel 4:1-27; and (4) Nebuchadnezzar’s continued arrogance, his judgement, and then his restoration in Daniel 4:28-37. The other way to look at it, the one I have chosen, is to see these two dreams as the framework for the division of the two narratives concerning Nebuchadnezzar. These two dreams were each followed by an interpretation, followed by praise, yet followed by Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance and the consequences thereof.

This framework is reinforced by the narrative concerning Belshazzar as it contains the same elements, though in a different sequence. In this narrative in Daniel 5, Belshazzar’s arrogance is first portrayed, followed by a divine communication requiring interpretation. Following the interpretation, a form of praising occurs (in this case, praise of Daniel and not directly of God as was the case in the Nebuchadnezzar narratives), and finally the consequences of the arrogance. The reason for the mixing of the sequence might be seen in what Daniel says to Belshazzar in Daniel 5:22-23a. After recounting what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel goes on to accuse him: “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven.” (ESV)

The Darius narrative does not follow the same flow as the preceding narratives, but it is nonetheless clear that it is a separate narrative. The most obvious reason is the different subject: Darius the Mede, who took over the throne after Belshazzar. This narrative does not contain any divine communication, though the most important aspect of the previous narratives is present: the display of arrogance for the king and its consequence. This is important for the theological theme and subthemes of the book, discussed below.

The most important reason for dividing the second major part of this book from the first was already given above: that it contains mostly prophecy, as opposed to the narrative of the first part. In addition to that, the chronological sequence is broken in Daniel 7, providing yet another reason to divide Daniel in this manner. The first part ends with Darius, who reigned after Belshazzar, the second part returns to the first year of Belshazaar’s reign. In addition to serving as the division between the first and second major parts, this also provides us with a framework for subdividing this second part. These chronological markers of when Daniel received (or recorded) each of the visions serves as the subdivisions for the second major part.

The first vision occurred in the first year of Belshazzar’s reign, and was a vision of four beasts on earth, the Ancient of Days reigning, and the Son of Man being given the kingdom. The second vision occurred in the third year of Belshazzar’s reign, and was a vision of a ram and goat becoming great and mighty. These two animals are explained to be the representation of various kingdoms which will become great and rule the land. The third vision occurs in the first year of Darius’ reign and it starts off with Daniel’s plea on behalf of his people concerning the time they have spent in exile. He is provided an answer by the angel Gabriel. Finally, the fourth vision occurs in the third year of Cyrus’ reign. This is by far the most extensive vision, consisting of the final three chapters of the book.

 

Part 3: Theme of the Book

The overwhelming theme of the book, clearly evident in both the narrative and prophetic parts, is the absolute sovereignty of God. In the first part, God’s sovereignty is seen in relation to his interactions with the mighty rulers Babylon, and their dealings with the four Jewish exiles Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We first encounter it in Daniel’s refusal to eat the food provided by the king in chapter 1. Despite being given what was seen as inferior food, Daniel and the others proved to be much healthier and better developed than those who ate the “superior” food of the king.

God’s sovereignty comes to a head in his divine communication with Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar that required Daniel’s interpretation. We see it in both the fact that communication even occurred, as God’s sovereignty extends to the kings’ subconscious, and in Daniel’s ability to correctly interpret the communication. Furthermore, two of the divine communication announced coming judgements against Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar: judgements that were then fulfilled. This fact alone already indicates God’s sovereignty, but when the reason for the judgement is factored in, the theme becomes indisputable. The judgement occurred because these two kings dared to set themselves above the God of heaven, and acted prideful in the face of overwhelming evidence provided to them of God’s greatness and sovereignty.

The theme is not as clear cut in the Darius narrative, though it is there nonetheless. First of all, it is seen in Daniel’s salvation from the lion’s den. But even more important is the reason why he was thrown in to the lion’s den: that he made his petition to God, instead of Darius as was directed in the royal ordinance. Here, despite the absence of the “obvious” signs of God’s sovereignty seen in the previous narrative, the details of the story provide us with a way to see the theme coming through. God is the one to whom petitions must be made, and not man, even one as great as Darius.

In the second part of Daniel, the theme of God’s sovereignty comes through in two important ways. The first is in that that these prophecies are given at all, because implies a sort of sovereignty: at the very least it can be seen in the omniscience of the ability to foretell events yet to occur. I would even tend to go a step further and see God’s sovereignty in that this part indicates God’s ability to determine and direct the future of mankind, and not just in his ability to foretell the future. The second way which this sovereignty comes through is the scope and magnitude of the visions. These are not simple predictions made about the future, but grand visions of the rise and fall of nations and kingdoms.

 

Part 4: General Observations and Theological Insights

One of the most important subthemes of this book is the pride and folly of man, as it can naturally be set against the sovereignty of God. Reading through the first part, I could not help but think of the verse, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom. 1:21, ESV). In the Nebuchadnezzar narratives, it is very interesting to see that Nebuchadnezzar praises God numerous times in response to God’s various great manifestations. Nonetheless, while he acknowledges God’s greatness, he seems to be a step back from truly acknowledging God’s sovereignty even over himself, as indicated in his response to Daniel’s interpretation of his first dream “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery” (Dan. 2:47, ESV). Clearly, God is mighty enough to reveal mysteries; maybe even mighty enough to be foremost among gods and kings. Yet, God apparently is not mighty enough over Nebuchadnezzar’s pride when he created the golden image and praised himself for his own glory and majesty.

Another subtheme clearly seen is how God delivers those who are faithful to him. Throughout this essay, I have chosen not to directly discuss the most obvious and well known narratives of Daniel: the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lion’s den. That is because it became quite clear to me that despite these stories being well known as stories of God’s deliverance, it seemed much more important to look at these stories of deliverance in light of the main theme. Simply put, these stories of deliverance serve the purpose of magnifying God’s sovereignty. Nonetheless, God does deliver those who are faithful to him. Beginning with Daniel and the other three’s health despite not eating the “superior” food of the king. How this deliverance actually works itself out, however, must be taken in to account. To be sure, it ended well for these four faithful exiles: they were delivered from fiery furnace and the lion’s den. Yet somehow, if it had gone the other way, God’s sovereignty would have been glorified anyway. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego says to Nebuchadnezzar: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:17-18, ESV).

 

Part 5: Ideas for Preaching or Teaching

If I were to preach or teach through the book of Daniel, I would likely continue to hammer through those themes of God’s sovereignty and deliverance of the faithful. This will of course be quite easy through the narrative part, but would likely become quite difficult, through not impossible, in the prophecy part. In many parts of the prophetic section, it would likely suffice to examine the prophecies closely and see how God’s sovereignty will work itself out in the end of times. But in addition to that, there are other ways to enter in to the subthemes of the book.

One of these is an examination of Daniel’s prayer for his people in Daniel 9. In that chapter, Daniel’s pious concern for his people, and thus his faithfulness, comes out and receives an answer in the form of a response from the angel Gabriel. The response is a foretelling of the deliverance yet to come for God’s people. Another way to see God’s faithfulness to see how God delivers those who are faithful to him can be found in the next chapter, when the angel Gabriel once again comes down to comfort Daniel, this time from a terrifying vision. In this case, Gabriel informs Daniel that he actually did battle with the forces of evil just to come down and comfort him (Dan. 10:12-13). As such, God’s protection extends even to realms which don’t see.

Exploring the Kerygma, Part 2

Chris Evangelista
Catherine Sider Hamilton
WYB1501HF
2 November 2011

Exploring the Kerygma: Part 2

Section 1
Four elements of the core kerygma can be clearly seen through a cursory reading of Matthew 27:45-60. Most obviously, Jesus’ death is at the forefront as it is the account of his crucifixion. In addition, there is a statement establishing that Jesus is the Messiah as the centurion utters in amazement: “Truly this was the Son of God!” (27:54, ESV). Also, it is also explicitly stated that several witnesses were “looking from a distance, [witnesses] who had followed Jesus from Galilee” (27:55, ESV). Finally, Jesus’ burial was narrated at the end of the pericope. Of these four elements, Jesus’ death and burial really stand as the main emphases, as this pericope is, after all, an account in which Jesus’ death is central. However, it does seem that the author did take care to mention that certain people were watching from a distance, emphasizing the fact that there are witnesses to this event.

While these four elements can easily be seen, a fifth one may also be discerned through careful reading and reasoning. This element is that these events are accomplished in God’s power. This is evident in the curtain being torn in two, the earth shaking and rocks splitting, and some of the saints coming back to life (27:51-53). Though these events are not explained in the passage, such astonishing events occurring at the moment of Jesus’ death can only suggest that God was supernaturally at work throughout the event.

On the one hand, several elements would seem to be missing from the passage at first reading. Foremost of this is the explanation that all of this had happened for the forgiveness of sin. Any thought of the resurrection is also missing, though to be sure, this will be covered later on in the narrative. Finally, also seemingly absent is any reference to these events fulfilling Old Testament scripture.

On the other hand, we may also see several elements being added in this account. Most curiously, there is the declaration of Jesus as the “Son of God”, which although is one of the elements of the core kerygma, who makes the declaration comes as a surprise. It is a Roman centurion and not one of the disciples, witnesses, or even a Jew who recognizes Jesus as such at the moment of his death. Another added element is in verse 50 where it says that Jesus “yielded up his spirit” at the moment of his death. This seems to suggest that Jesus was in control even of his own death, which shows his willingness to sacrifice himself to death. Finally, as mentioned above, the supernatural events occurring in verses 51-53 are not part of the core kerygma, though it may be seen as an extension of other elements from the core. Continue reading