As we enter an election year, Christians will be increasingly torn in their loyalties as politics will dominate the media and social media. Sadly, a sense of pressured urgency has already begun to polarize Christians into warring factions. It is possible that the average Bible-believing Jesus-loving church- attending Christian is torn and troubled wishing there was an option between veering to the right or left. Thankfully, there is an option. That option is going up to the King and Kingdom who rules over all kings and presidents, kingdoms and nations. The Old Testament book of Daniel is incredibly timely because the Word of God is timeless.
In the days of Daniel, he was taken into exile to Babylon. Today we’d call him a prisoner of war, or this act as human trafficking.
Daniel prophesied during the Babylonian captivity at the same time as Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:14, 14:20, 28:3), Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2), and possibly Habakkuk, who may have been still alive at that time. While in Lamentations, Jeremiah looked back at Israel’s destruction and Ezekiel looked forward to religious restoration, but Daniel awaited political restoration under King Jesus.
The book of Daniel can be divided into two sections. The first section (Daniel 1-6) records the experiences of Daniel as he interprets the dreams and visions of others. The second section (Daniel 7-12) records the four future apocalyptic visions that God gave to Daniel. The book spans a great number of years and was likely completed around 530 BC. The theme is the destruction of all ungodly kingdoms and coming of the King Jesus Christ and His eternal Kingdom.
Babylon was corrupt to the core. It was the largest and most powerful nation on the earth in its day, a superpower with a deadly military, strong economy, and demonic power. There, Satan and demons tried to counterfeit God’s heavenly Kingdom of light with an earthly kingdom of darkness. Everything from politics to entertainment, gender sexuality and education, was ungodly, unhealthy, and unbiblical. Daniel was trapped in a world that he could not control and was pressured to think and act like a Babylonian which would have made his life easier at the cost of having a relationship with God. Simply stated, Daniel was forced to decide between living as a believer or a Babylonian.
In the opening chapter of Daniel, he and three other young men (likely teenagers) were removed of the birth name given by their parents and instead had the government legally change their names. Those name changes are listed below, and each one is an attempt to forcibly convert them from devotion to the true God to devotion to the demonic spirits worshipped as Gods in Babylon.
Hebrew Name Babylonian Name
Daniel: “God is my judge” Belteshazzar: “Bel protects his life”
Hananiah: “Yahweh is gracious” Shadrach: “The command of Aku”
Mishael: “Who is what God is?” Meshack: “Who is what Aku is?”
Azariah: “Yahweh is my helper” Abed-Nego: “Servant of Nebo”
In naming the young men, we see that the spirit of Babylon that exists in every nation and culture is always seeking to change our loyalty from the one God to the counterfeit demonic gods. Throughout the book of Daniel, the young men are called by their new names by the Babylonians, but curiously never refer to themselves by those new demonic names. The point is that our identity must be set by our God who gives us a new nature. Worldly cultures can change your name but only God can change your nature. It doesn’t matter what others put on you, it only matters that God’s Spirit is in you.
In many ways, Daniel is a case study in the principles of living as a missionary in this world as found in 1 Peter 2:11-12 (NIV): “Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”
You can read the entire book of Daniel at once in about an hour or read the book in a week with ten minutes of daily reading. As you read, you will find two realms, three kinds of people, and three periods of history.
Start reading Daniel today, praying before you read, inviting the Holy Spirit to speak to you through the Word of God.
In addition to this introduction to and overview of Daniel, you can find the corresponding sermons, daily devotions, men’s ministry resources, and hundreds of additional sermons and Bible teaching resources for free at markdriscoll.org or on the Mark Driscoll Ministries app.
To visit the Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, you can plan your visit at thetrinitychurch.com.