Tag Archives: Authority
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
PART 1: Daniel 1 – 6
|The Sovereignty of God & The Pride of the Mighty Kings|
|Prelude: Judah in Exile, Characters Introduced|
|Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st Dream: A Warning|
|Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd Dream: Judgement|
|Belshazzar’s Pride & The Judgement on the Wall|
|Darius’ Pride Throws Daniel in the Lion’s Den|
PART 2: Daniel 7 – 12
|The Sovereignty of God at the End of Time|
|1st Vision: Four Beasts, the Ancient of Days, and the Son of Man|
|2nd Vision: The Ram, Goat, and the Horns|
|3rd Vision: First Vision of the End Times|
|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.
The Authority of the Bible, preached at KBCF Lighthouse Church on June 26, 2011. Text is from 2 Chronicles 34:1-21.
Before we begin to consider our text for today, I have to first set up and explain what will be happening here at KBCF Lighthouse Church starting in 2 weeks when I will be coming back to preach again, and going on for pretty much the rest of the summer.
I will be doing much of the preaching for you in July – in fact, next week, which is the first Sunday of the month, is the only week I won’t be preaching. And so, starting July 10, I will be with you for 4 weeks straight so that Pastor Alvin can receive a much deserved break, and a little bit of time to do some deputation for his ministry.
Anyway, during my 4 weeks with you, I will be starting a series of sermons based on this little book called “What is the Gospel?”, and it has just 8 short chapters. Today, I will kind of be covering Chapter 1… And I do say “kind of” because really the bulk of the chapter is just an introduction to the next four chapters, which is what I will then be covering in more detail with you when I come back in July. Afterward, the last three chapters will be covered by either Pastor Alvin, Pastor Mike, or myself.. Or some combination thereof.
Some quick little details about the book… It was written by Greg Gilbert, who is a pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. The senior pastor of that church is Mark Dever, who also wrote a popular book that has helped guide many churches, pastors and elder boards, called “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church”. That book went on to propagate an organization called “Nine Marks”, which produces resources to help build healthy churches. And this book, is one of their publications.
I first heard of the book more than a year ago… maybe around December of 2009, a few months before it was even published. At the time I was just starting to get acquainted with a group called “The Gospel Coalition”, which is headed up by D.A. Carson, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, and Timothy Keller, a reformed pastor in New York City. You probably know him for his book “The Reason for God”, which was actually on the New York Times Best Seller list for a little while.