In our day when it is simply assumed that teenagers will rebel, continue their self-destruction in college, then graduate for a decade of dating, relating, and fornicating, the example of Daniel is clearly counter-cultural. As a teenager away from his homeland, church, and family and pressured to the point of death to rebel against God, Daniel remains resolutely steadfast in his faithfulness to God.
Daniel means “God is my judge.” This name summarizes how Daniel lived his life. Even though he was a prisoner of war forced into slavery, he lived solely for God’s final judgment remaining loyal for an entire lifetime.
Little is known about Daniel’s family history, though it is implied that he began prophesying as a teenager (1:4) and was from a ruling family (1:3). Daniel served during the reigns of four kings (1:1, 5:1, 5:31, 10:1).
Daniel was taken into exile in 605 BC, apparently when king Nebuchadnezzar made a raid upon Judah for wealth, slave labor, and brilliant, skilled young men to help enlarge his kingdom by serving as slaves. God elevated Daniel to hold the crucial role of key advisor to the foreign kings. Daniel’s unwavering commitment to serve God even in the face of death for his faith brought great respect for his God and many blessings to his fellow Jews in captivity. These include religious freedom, decent jobs, communication with family and friends back in Judah, etc. Daniel, like Joseph and Nehemiah, serve as examples of how a believer can serve their God faithfully despite being part of a godless government.
Daniel lives in such a way that embodies faith in the sovereignty of God to guide history as He desired. The Bible never has anything bad to say about Daniel. At no point in the book do we find Daniel filled with anxiety or fear. While not a fatalist passively awaiting his demise, Daniel is also not a blind optimist who believes that justice and righteousness will be ushered in during his lifetime. Instead, Daniel defines life forward and lives it backward. He begins with the reality that King Jesus the Messiah is coming one day to establish His Kingdom, and then interprets all of his contemporary reality in light of the end to come. In so doing, Daniel has his head and heart lifted beyond what is to imagine what will be. In this way, prophecy of the future is intended to give us hope in the present.
Daniel is a bilingual missionary. Daniel includes a section written in Aramaic to Gentiles (2:4-7:28) and the rest of the book is written in Hebrew. Seeking to help everyone learn more about the One True God, Daniel taught in Hebrew for those who knew that language. He also taught in the Aramaic language that would have been familiar to the Babylonians, as well as the Hebrews born in Babylon. In this way, Daniel’s ministry was a bit like dealing with first generation immigrants in our day. The first generation knows their mother tongue, their children become bilingual and know their mother tongue and the language of their new nation, and the third generation and beyond often only know the new language of their homeland, which is different than their grandparents. To reach and teach all groups requires bilingual ministry.
The book opens with Daniel as likely a teenager, and the book concludes some roughly sixty-nine years later when Daniel would have been an elderly man in his eighties. Daniel lived to an old age in his eighties, and prophesied for roughly sixty-nine years, longer than any other prophet. This is an important fact to note, as Daniel would have been a very elder man in his eighties when he was thrown into the lions den and not a young man like most kids Bibles depict. The book of Daniel records the entire lifetime of faithful service to God and should encourage people of every age to keep their ministry amidst a world that has lost its’ mind.
What most intrigues you about Daniel? Why?
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.
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