An Overview of the Book of Daniel (Daniel Sermon 1 of 17)
December 01, 2000 | Andy Davis
Book Overviews, The Kingdom of Christ
I. The Message of History
We are going to be taking a broad look this morning at the entire Book of Daniel, so we're not focused on any one section, we're going to try to understand it's message as a whole.
Recently, I was watching a television program called Nova, it's a science program and they have some cosmologists. Those are people who study the universe and astronomers, who gaze at the stars, and they are trying to analyze the things that they're learning, the things that they're seeing, and the general trend of cosmology, the study of the universe right now, is toward that of an accelerating universe. In other words, a universe is accelerating away from itself, away from a common point of origin. It's going faster and faster. So I don't know if any of this is true. Science changes its paradigms, major paradigms, every generation, if not more frequently than that. But it's interesting, they had one cosmologist, one physicist that at the end, and he was just thinking about where it was leading, thinking about the future. And he said, "If this is true and if history goes on for a long time, there'll come a point when you'll go out at night and look up and you won't see any stars." There'll be nothing up there.
Now, I already know what the Bible says about that. The stars are going to fall from the sky, etcetera, at the end of the world. But he, as he looked at it, he said, "This is a very dark and dreary end to history. No starlight, only perhaps, the planets that are in the solar system." And he seemed pretty shaken by it, although it was pretty clear, he wasn't going to be around at that point and he knew that, but he said, "It's kind of a dark end." And I thought about it, about the tendency we have to look ahead to the future, to look on to see what's coming and perhaps even to be somewhat apprehensive about it.
And I believe, it's for this very reason, we need to understand the God of the Book of Daniel. A God who declares the end from the beginning, a God who has all of history in his hand, a God who understands where we're going, and a God who has revealed some of it to us. Recently, I've been reading about a theological debate. Most of you aren't that concerned with theological debates, but I found it interesting. And debates in theology and academic circles, after a while, begins to affect the local church. Give it a little while, it starts to come in.
And there's this one man named Greg Boyd, and he's teaching something called the openness of God. The idea that God does not know the end from the beginning. He only reacts to things as they come to him, and he is so sovereign, so powerful, that he can handle anything that comes. And he put these views in a book called The God of the Possible. And what it does is, it elevates human decision, the free agency of human beings above all other things, and in effect says, whatever we decide goes and God reacts to it, and he's able to weave his plan around decisions that he doesn't know what they're going to be ahead of time. That's why he can't know the end from the beginning because we are free in our decisions and our choices.
The Book of Daniel clearly refutes this view. The Book of Daniel posits not a dark end to the universe, but a glorious end, in which all those who are righteous, who have trusted in Christ will be resurrected and will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. And it does not posit a God who has no idea where we're going, but rather a God who's very clearly laid out the road map and declared it in Scripture. And there may be no book in all the Bible that demonstrates this more clearly than the Book of Daniel.
Henry Ford, who invented the American production of automobiles, the whole approach that we take, and was a genius in automotive engineering, had this to say about history. Now, I said all that about Henry Ford because he wasn't a historian. But this is what he said. He said, "History is bunk." Now, what does that mean? It means, as we look back at where, what's gone on to this point, we can't make any sense of it. It's just this swirling mass of events. There's no rhyme, there's no reason, there's no story. It's nothing. And then, we take our time on the stage and we do a bunch of meaningless things and then we disappear, and then the next generation takes over. History is bunk.
The Scripture does not declare this at all, but rather that history is His story, the story of Jesus Christ, the story of God himself. And he is unfolding his character and his plan, generation by generation. He says in the Book of Revelation 22:13, "I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the first and the last. I am the beginning and the end." Well, the beginning and end of what? Well, of everything. The beginning and end of your life, the beginning and end of history, the beginning and end of everything that has been created. All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And it is the unique glory of our God, the God of the Bible, to know history before it happens. It sets him apart from us. It sets him apart from all the false gods. It is his unique glory that he knows what's going to happen tomorrow before it happens. He knows what you're going to say before a word has even formed on your tongue, Psalm 139. He knows in detail, long before it comes to pass. And so, he said in Isaiah 46:9-10, "Remember the former things, those of long ago. I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say, my purpose will stand and I will do all that I please." That is our God. And as I think about that Nova program, if Greg Boyd is right, and God does not know the end from the beginning. Now, I think that's a terrifying universe to live in.
A terrifying universe. And it gets very personal and practical, because all of you are wondering, "What's my history? What's going to happen to me? And is there a God who can hold it all together?" The answer of the Book of Daniel is, "Yes, there is." There is a wise, a powerful God who is working out and unfolding his plan in a great scale and on a micro scale as well.
One time Sunday evening, we were having a time in which people were just sharing from portions of Scripture and just sharing Scriptures that were their favorite Bible passage. And people stood up and shared all different kinds of verses, and then when I got up to teach, someone said, "Well, Pastor, what's your favorite verse of the Bible? Or what's your favorite section of Scripture?" And the other people started to laugh because I say every time I preach, "This is my favorite book of the Bible."
Daniel is my favorite book of the Bible. I love this book because I love the God that it displays, his majesty and his sovereignty. I love the themes in the Book of Daniel. I love what we can learn from Daniel himself, but far greater what we can learn from Daniel's God. I love the Book of Daniel, and I'll keep loving it in front of you as long as I get to preach it. I love this message and I hope you will, too.
II. Context of Daniel
Now, in order to understand Daniel, we have to understand it in historical context. Against Henry Ford, history is not bunk, but there is an unfolding of events that led up to Daniel 1:1. And we need to understand them.
We know that Abraham, the father of the Jewish Nations was called out of Ur of the Chaldeans. Very interesting. Ur of the Chaldeans is Babylonia, it's the same place to which these exiles were being brought. In effect, God was saying "after all their history, you're back where you started, back in paganism, back in idolatry." But Abraham was called out of idolatry to separate out for himself a people for his own name and for his own glory.
Abraham had a son in his old age, Isaac. Isaac had a son Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons. One of those sons, Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt. And there, by the hand of God and by his supernatural power to interpret the future through dreams, he was raised to a position of power and authority in a pagan land, Egypt. Very similar to what happened to Daniel. Very similar.
And because of a famine, all of the tribes, the 12 tribes came into Egypt and they lived there for over four centuries. And then, at the right time, after they'd been sold into slavery and been oppressed, they were led out of Egypt by God's mighty right hand, and his outstretched arm, by miracles and power, led out of Egypt.
And they were given the law, which they immediately broke. And one of the commandments is that they should make no idols nor should they worship any idols, and they should have no other god besides God. And yet, they made a golden calf the very day that Moses was coming down with the Ten Commandments. And so, the trend and the pattern was set. They would not believe God and they would not enter the promised land, and so for 40 years, one full generation, they wandered in the desert until finally, the time came, and Joshua led the people into the promised land. But right before he did, Moses gave the law one more time. The Book of Deuteronomy is that second law giving.
And as he declared to these people, he told them "you about to enter the promised land; you must obey my commandments, because if you do not obey my commandments, I will evict you from this land, and I will expel you to a far country, a pagan country, where you will worship false gods and idols and bow down to them and serve them because you would not worship me." And so, the Book of Deuteronomy laid it all out ahead of time before it ever happened.
God knows the end from the beginning. He told them what would happen. He taught it to them in the Song of Moses. And as these people lived it out over history, they did not heed the warning. And so, God sent prophets, one after the other, saying, "You must repent. You must not bow down and worship idols" one after another, but they would not listen. And the northern kingdom of Israel, after the people had separated it into two, they were carried off into bondage by the Assyrian army.
God kept his remnant, Judah and Benjamin, and gave them another 150 years, gave them time to repent, but they would not. And that brings us to the beginning of the Book of Daniel. After all the prophetic warning about idolatry and about turning away from God, they still would not listen, but stubbornly went their own way. And so, God brought the Babylonian army right to the gates of Jerusalem. They were led by a man named Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had a great father, Nabopolassar. Nabopolassar was able to organize the Chaldean people to be a stronger and stronger force within the Assyrian empire, got to the point where they were able to take over politically and even militarily, the whole Assyrian empire.
But they had wider ambitions than that. And so, they started to head down toward Egypt, down to that fertile land, and they went through Palestine. Nebuchadnezzar was the army, the leader of the army, the general of the army; his father, the king. And he, Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Necho at Carchemish, defeated him on the battlefields. And then came right up to the walls of Jerusalem, and then received news that his father Nabopolassar had died and he was now king of the Babylonian empire. This is Nebuchadnezzar. And Nebuchadnezzar was invited into the city, the holy city of Jerusalem, there was, as far as I can see, no battle fought at that point. City was not destroyed yet. It happened in stages and one of those stages, the Judean youth, some of the nobles, Daniel included, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were brought into exile to Babylon, along with some of the articles of the temple of the Lord.
And that is the context into which Daniel is spoken. Daniel was a Jewish youth, just a teenager at that point, living in a pagan land, surrounded by pagan temptations and it was going to be very difficult for him to live out a godly lifestyle. But with the opening up and the conquering of Jerusalem, and eventually the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire, with that began what Jesus later called the times of the Gentiles. In Luke 21:24, it says... This is the words of Jesus Christ, "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
Now, what are the times of the Gentiles? It's the time in which the Gentile nations are in control politically of the promised land, and it's extended right up to this present time. The Jews do not have absolute sovereign authority over Jerusalem. We know that from the Dome of the Rock, and from all the struggle that goes on right up to this present time. These are still the times of the Gentiles and they began here and now, at this time, Daniel 1. And this is the context of the Book of Daniel.
III. Major Themes in Daniel
Now, as we look across the whole 12 chapters of Daniel, what are the major themes that we're going to see? A number of them, and as I was sitting in a pew there before I began to preach, I thought of one or two more. This is a rich, rich book.
Supernaturally Accurate Predictive Prophecy
The first is the whole issue of supernaturally, accurate, predictive prophecy. Supernaturally accurate predictive prophecy.
For example, the exact order of the kingdoms that followed the Babylonian empire, what would come next? The coming of Alexander the Great. Over 300 years before he was born, clearly predicted in Daniel 8, the coming of Antiochus Epiphany is a Greek king who most of you perhaps many of you have never heard of, a very minor figure in world history. And his very small importance and the detail to which the book of Daniel goes into describe his reign is breathtaking; it's written 300 or 400 years before it happened. And it's a stumbling block for those who deny supernatural prophecy.
But more than any of this, is the coming of the kingdom of the Messiah Jesus Christ, clearly prophesied in Daniel 2, a stone cut out but not by human hands which would fill the whole world, the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ which will move and expand to conquer the whole world, so that all nations, people from every tribe and language and people and nation just as Kyle stated is going to happen. Because the whole world will be Christ's Kingdom, all of this laid out very accurately in the book of Daniel.
Battle for the Bible: “Daniel in the Critics’ Den”
The second major theme, therefore, has to be the battle for the Bible. Critics have attacked Daniel because it's too accurate; it's too perfect. And so therefore they think it must have been written afterwards. There's no way that anyone can know this kind of detail. And so we have rather than Daniel in the lions' den, we have something called Daniel in the critic's den. Can the book of Daniel itself survive the attacks and the criticisms? We're going to be talking about this. And as I go through and I preach I'm going to try to do my best to bring out attacks that liberals have made against the Scripture and to refute them; every one of them can be refuted.
But more than anything I think we need to understand that this book will always be spoken against because of what it talks about and how clear it is. If Daniel is in fact a pious forgery written after the fact, then Scripture starts to tumble, and I think eventually your salvation with it.
Daniel’s Godly Character
A third major theme is the theme of Daniel's godly character. Daniel is a role model for us, as we see him living his life surrounded by pagan values and pagan temptations and a pagan culture and pagan power and see him standing firm for the lord. And standing with zeal but with a tenderness, with a winsomeness, with a winning personality.
We have a role model for where I perceive America to be heading. We need to be Daniels; we need to be willing to stand up in the middle of our culture just as Daniel was. He was an uncompromising man in an age of compromise, and that's what we need more than anything. He was also a humble man of prayer and Scripture intake. He was a man who devoted himself three times a day to getting down on his knees and praying to God every day. And he did it his whole life.
He was a man who knew the Scriptures; he studied carefully the prophecy of Jeremiah and knew that within 70 years, at the end of 70 years that a remnant would return. He did this by Bible study. So he was a man of prayer; he was a man of personal Bible study. He was also a man of self discipline in terms of his personal habits as we see in Daniel Chapter 1.
God’s Sovereign Control Over All Nations and All History
Fourth major theme is God's sovereign control over all nations and all history. World history is traced out on a grand scale here. We see armies marching over large tracts of land, whole empires being built up rising up to an incredible height and then being crushed and destroyed by the next empire. There is nothing too big for the God of all history; there's no movement of troops too large for him to handle. As a matter of fact he is actually orchestrating all of this for his own glory and for the coming of the kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ. And we also see with the whole story and the detail, the accurate detail about Antiochus Epiphanes and how he would rise and how he would fall.
We see God actually micro managing and caring for small details; big tapestries are woven together with small threads. God knows that, and he's able to, to even control the casting of a lot, or a sparrow falling to the ground to bring the whole big picture apart.
God’s Glorified by His Personal Dealings With Gentile Rulers
Fifthly, we see God's glorified by his personal dealings with Gentile kings and leaders. There are many expressions of praise in the book of Daniel coming from the lips of mighty Gentile potentates. Nebuchadnezzar does most of it. In Daniel 2 he praises God, in Daniel 3 he praises God, in Daniel 4 he praises God twice, both at the beginning of the chapter and at the end. And then when his time to worship and to praise the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is over, he raises up Darius the Mede who praises God in Daniel 6. The praise and worship and adoration of Gentile pagan leaders is prophesied in Isaiah 52, "Kings will hear him and will shut their mouths and bow down before him." It's fulfilled right here in our pages.
We also see God's amazingly gracious dealings with Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4, and in 2 and 3, and how he unfolds just dealing with this tyrant, and deals with him in power and for his glory. Nebuchadnezzar humbled and then exalted perhaps even to heaven. But then we also see contrastingly, the shockingly immediate destruction of Belshazzar, perhaps his grandson, as they're in the middle of a drunken feast and the writing comes on the wall and that very night Belshazzar's life is required of him.
This is our God; this is how he deals, graciously with one and immediately with another. He is sovereign and not to be trifled with. And we see also the miraculous vindication of Daniel before Darius and the friendship that Daniel had both with Nebuchadnezzar and with Darius.
The Deity and Glorious Kingdom of the Coming Messiah
But more than any of these themes, we see the majesty, and the glory, and the splendor of the coming kingdom of Christ the Messiah. Perhaps most clearly explained his deity in anywhere in the old testament, Daniel 7. Christ kingdom clearly prophesied in Nebuchadnezzar's dream Daniel 2. Christ person perhaps seen in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3.
And then his kingdom proclaimed and his second coming glory in Daniel 7 with the image of the Son of Man.
IV. Controversy over Daniel
Now as we look at the controversy over Daniel, we have to ask ourselves, what is at stake? All of the themes that I've just traced out for you are at stake. If the book of Daniel is a pious forgery then all of those things are shaken, and the Bible starts to tremble. But if Daniel really was written in the 6th century BC that's all, just if it was written then, then you have a rock to stand on which cannot be shaken.
You have a God who knows the end from the beginning. And who can even declare to you that if you trust in Jesus Christ your end will be glorious and nothing can take it away. That's the importance, that's what we're struggling with, that's what's at stake. The identity of Jesus Christ himself is at stake. Daniel testified to Jesus Christ and to his Kingdom. Jesus Christ testified back to Daniel and to his veracity, to his truthfulness, and so therefore the identity of Jesus Christ is at stake with the issue of this book, the Book of Daniel.
So also is the truthfulness of Scripture. Daniel purports itself to be history, doesn't it? We come to it and we read, and it just reads like history. If it was in fact written in the 2nd century BC it's a lie; it's all a lie. And how can we trust any other Scripture if that's true? William Newell put it this way, "If the keys of the Bible up to the book of Psalms hang on Moses books, then the rest of the Bible through revelation hang on the book of Daniel".
And Edwin Jenkins said this, "The best proof of the inspiration of Scripture is prophecy, but because the church has allowed false teachers to come in, prophecy has been neglected and laid aside. When this is done, the people fall prey to every wind of doctrine eventually disbelieving that the Bible is the Word of God. Prophecy is the most sturdy rung in the ladder of faith."
What else is at stake? Perhaps the proof of the existence and the identity of God himself. God has done this so that we may know that he exists, because we are time bound creatures and we can't even predict the weather right. We can't even get that right. So how can we know what's going to happen five, six, seven centuries later. But if there's a God who knows the end from the beginning and if it can be shown from history that God declared it long before it happened, then there is a God who should be worshipped and glorified, and who may have salvation for you, sinner though you may be. That is our God.
And that leads us to the fourth issue that's at stake, your own salvation. If you don't have a certain Scripture, and if you don't have a God who knows the end from the beginning, and you don't have a God who's sovereign then how do you know where you're going to spend eternity? How do you know what's going to happen to you? Your own salvation depends on this. And so we're going to deal with these critics we're going to take them on one at a time and we're going to answer them.
We're not going to spend too much time with them, why waste our time? Let's look at the glories of this inspired word from the Book of Daniel. One of the beautiful things about the Scripture is how it testifies to itself. People say that this Daniel never existed, say he's a fictitious mythological creature; nobody could ever be this way, this pious, courageous man who had the ability to interpret dreams and visions, to stand in the face of potentates courageously. It's a myth; he never existed.
But Ezekiel says he does. Ezekiel was a prophet who lived at the same time as Daniel; they may have been friends. They lived at the time of the exile to Babylon, and this is what Ezekiel wrote, in Ezekiel 14:14 and 20 it says, "Even if these three men Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, [namely the land] They could only save themselves by their righteousness, declares the sovereign Lord." So this Daniel that Ezekiel was writing about was a righteous man, and then later it says in Ezekiel 28:3, "Are you wiser than Daniel, is no secret hidden from you?"
So the Daniel that Ezekiel was writing about, not only is a righteous man but is able to understand mysteries; nothing is hidden from him. He's a wise man, who can even write about the deepest darkest secrets. Does that ring true? Absolutely. But all the more we have the testimony of Jesus Christ, who spoke of the second coming, and he spoke of the days of the antichrist, and he spoke also of the destruction of Jerusalem, and he laid it all at the words of this prophet Daniel.
"When you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel, let the reader understand. Then let those that are in Jerusalem flee to the mountains" and so he said.
V. Chapter by Chapter Overview
Now what I propose to do at this point is to give you a brief overview of the contents of the book, so that you can see a big picture road map. The book breaks out into two sections, two main sections. Daniel 1-6 is a historical section; we just get the account of Daniel's dealings with pagan kings as he's in a court, his interactions with them one at a time. And then in Daniel 7-12 we have what we call apocalyptic visions, visions of the future.
The Historical Accounts: Daniel 1-6
Now in Daniel 1 we have established Daniel's uncompromising character. Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are in the court and they're being trained by the Babylonians, and they're tempted to eat the food which has been sacrificed to idols but Daniel resolves that he will not do this. He resolves, Verse 7 in Chapter 1, that he will not defile himself with this food, and his resolution is upheld by God; his faith has been tested and tried and it stands firm. It says in Verse 17 " To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds."
So that sets up the rest of the book. But Daniel's character is tested and proved in Daniel 1. In Daniel 2 the king Nebuchadnezzar has an incredible dream, and as he dreams the dream he's terrified and he wants to get an interpretation to the dream, but he can't because none of his wise men are able to give him the meaning. And he threatens all of them with death until Daniel stands up with courage at that moment and says, "Give me some time and I will beseech the Lord, the God of heaven, and he will give me the secret."
And so he gets his friends around him and they have a prayer meeting; some prayer meetings are different than other prayer meetings. That was a fervent prayer meeting, and they were on their face because their lives were hanging in the balance, and they prayed and God gave them the revelation. And what was it a revelation of? Of all of human history until the coming of the Christ and the establishment of his kingdom. And God gave this vision to a pagan king in a dream, and to a Jewish youth in Babylon. But he really gave it to us so that we may know that God holds empires in his hand; he raises one up and casts another one down.
It's Daniel 2. In Daniel 3 Nebuchadnezzar, I believe, responds to the image that he had, that statue with the head of gold and chest of silver, and belly of bronze, and the legs of iron. Says "Oh, is that how it's going to go? If I am the head of gold I want the whole statue gold; the whole thing is going to be me. And not only that but everybody's got to bow down and worship me. And if you don't, I'm going to throw you in the fiery furnace." Well Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refused to do it. I really wish you'd memorize those names instead of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When I tell you what those names mean you'll want to remember Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. But they refused and so they were thrown into the fiery furnace, but God protected them and one like a Son of the Gods, that's what they said but we know perhaps the Son of God himself, walked with them in the fiery furnace and drew them out miraculously.
Daniel 4, God humbles this mighty potentate. Lowers him lower than the dust, and for seven years Nebuchadnezzar acted like an animal, thought like an animal; he's insane, and he ate grass like a beast until at the end of the seven years he lifted his eyes toward heaven and acknowledged and humbled himself and acknowledged that mighty as he is, there is a king mightier than he. And that king is the very one God himself who raised Nebuchadnezzar up and put him on his throne, and he can take him off his throne any time he chooses. And so the whole chapter summed up with that statement, those who walk in pride God is able to humble, Daniel 4.
And then along comes Nebuchadnezzar's grandson Belshazzar. He forgets all the lessons that his father had learned, at the hands of this merciful and powerful God. And he goes and gets those articles that were taken out of the temple and he says, "Let's have a feast. And let's worship the gods of wood and clay and stone and iron, and let's use these vessels from the temple of the God of Israel to do so." And so they're having a drunken feast and in the middle of it, the writing on the wall comes. Have you ever used that expression, "you saw the writing on the wall"? Well Belshazzar saw it that night. The hands came and the writing went but no one could read it, and so they brought Daniel in to read it and Daniel stood there and read that prophecy. That very night, that very night Belshazzar's soul was required of him. He died at the hands of the Medes and the Persians, and Babylon fell; mighty empire ended forever, Daniel 5.
Well it's a new regime, the Medes and the Persians are in charge. What happened to Daniel? God saw to it that Daniel was influential there as well. The problem was that the other Medes and Persians, the other officials were upset and angry that he had the confidence of Darius the Mede, and so they started a plot against Daniel but they could find nothing wrong with his life. They looked carefully at him, but there were no skeletons in his closet. Don't you wish we had a man like that to run for an office in our land. There's no skeletons; they can't find anything wrong with this man except that it might have something to do with his God because he seems to worship him all the time and to serve him and to praise him and to pray. And so they orchestrate, they trick the king, probably he was a young man at the point into having for one month everybody just pray to him. Daniel refused to do it and so he's thrown into the lions' den, but God sent his angel and he rescued Daniel from the lions' den. And that ends the historical section, chapters 1-6.
The Apocalyptic Visions: Daniel 7-12
In chapter 7-12 we have a series of visions that God gave to Daniel. Apocalyptic, end time visions and the greatest of all of them is in Daniel 7. It's a vision of one like a Son of Man. The Ancient of Days is seated on his thrown; it's judgment day. And then into the presence of the Ancient of Days comes one like a Son of Man. He is not the Ancient of Days, but he's one like the Ancient of Days in that he comes right into his presence and then people from every tribe and language and people and nation fall down and worship the Son of Man. Who is this Son of Man? It is none other than the second person of the trinity, Jesus Christ. He is not God the Father, but he comes into the presence of God the Father and receives worship from people from every tribe and language and people and nation; all of it predicted six centuries before he was born. Jesus Christ is deity and it's proclaimed clearly in Daniel 7.
In Daniel 8 we have a clear prediction of the coming of Alexander the great and it's because of Alexander the great all of you that are in seminary that you study Greek; it's because of him. Because he conquered all of that area, Palestine and all of it. And he did it incredibly quickly, and then at the height of his power he died. His power was broken off and divided into four, among his four generals, just like Daniel 8 had said 300 years before hand. Clearly predicted. In Daniel 9, Daniel understood from reading the book of Jeremiah that the 70 years were all it would be that the exile would take place during Babylon. At the end of 70 years, a remnant would go back and reestablish God's people in the holy land. And so he got down on his face and began to pray and prayed most fervently that the very thing that God had promised he would do that he would actually do it.
Isn't that strange? But isn't that what Jesus prays? He prays that the very thing that God has promised you will actually take place, namely that you will be saved on judgment day. He intercedes for you every day. The right hand of God. And so Daniel in a godly way gets down and prays for God to do the very thing he said he's going to do, restore Israel into the promised land. And so he continues to pray and then an angel comes to him in Chapter 10 and tells him the greatest compliment I find given anywhere in Scripture to an individual, to a human being. And that is, "Daniel, you are a man who was highly esteemed by God." All of you who are Christians you should be hungry for that; you should yearn that God would highly esteem you. He does not flatter and he doesn't do it lightly. But his eyes penetrate to the core of who you really are. Daniel was a man who was highly esteemed. And in Daniel 11 comes the vision of Antiochus Epiphanes. This king who would take over Palestine, a minor king, but the detail will take your breath away. And then in Daniel 12, the clear prophecy and prediction of the general resurrection of all humanity at the end of the world. And thus does the Book of Daniel lay out for us. An incredible teaching. And we're going to have a chance God willing to look at it step by step.
Now as we look at this what kind of applications are we going to be seeing? Well I have more applications here than we have time for.
But each one of them, we're going to see chapter by chapter. If I could just take out a few, number one is, dare to be a Daniel. Begin looking at your life and see in what ways perhaps you may have capitulated, surrendered to the surrounding pagan culture. And begin resolving in yourself by prayer, by fasting, by determination, by resolution, Daniel 1:7, that you will not be defiled by this pagan culture we live in. We need this in the church, folks. We need men and women who have this kind of resolution the way Daniel did. Let's resolve to be holy. Be godly and follow the ways that God has established, the ways of prayer and fasting and Scripture intake the way that Daniel does.
Concerning Scripture, I want to say, never, never underestimate the accuracy and the perfection of the Word of God. You can't study the Bible too carefully. And for all those of you who are here and who have not given your life to Christ, if there are any like that, be warned, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. He gave Nebuchadnezzar seven more years, and Nebuchadnezzar repented. He gave Belshazzar zero more years. The time ended, and that was it. Today is the day of salvation. The Son of Man, Jesus Christ, has died in the place of sinners. That's the whole reason for Christmas, that we might have a savior from our sin. Jesus, Son of Man, a human being, took on a human body to die in our place. Don't presume that you have forever and ever to wait to make your decision. Today, even now, is the time of salvation. Today is the day in which God will help you if you'll cry out to him.
For all of us, every one of us, needs to take the warning of Daniel 4, "Those who walk in pride, he is able to humble." Do not walk in pride; humble yourself before God and he will raise you up. Over the next number of weeks, if God gives us time, we're going to be studying carefully this book of Daniel. I'd like to ask and challenge you to read the chapters ahead of time. We're going to be going about at the rate of one chapter a week, although in chapter 2, we're going to have to take two weeks. Get your mind ready. Begin raising questions, thinking about it and reflecting on Scripture. Please close with me now in prayer.