Exiled: A Study of Daniel
Daniel is an Old Testament book that serves as both a history and a book of prophecy. Written by Daniel in the 6th century BC, the book chronicles over 70 years of the Babylonian Exile. Daniel can be easily divided into two sections. Chapters 1-6 provide historical narratives of Daniel’s experience as an exile in Babylon. Some of the most familiar stories from the Old Testament are found here: Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Daniel’s Friends and the Fiery Furnace, The Writing on the Wall.
Daniel 7-12 are apocalyptic literature filled with Daniel’s dreams and the interpretations of them. This is the part of Daniel that creates good dialogue about interpretation and how we understand these passages. The primary point of Daniel 7-12 is that God is sovereign in world affairs and that there is coming a King who will eternally reign over the earth.
Why are we studying Daniel?
In his article, “Stage Two Exile: Are you ready for it?” Steve McAlpine looks at the cultural shifts in Western Culture over the last half century. McAlpine argues that we were preparing for a cultural seat at the table where we could have a humble, mutually respectful exchange of ideas. However, what we have found is not a seat at the table, but a culture where we are told to bow before the golden statue du jour. We were preparing for Athens, but we were confronted with Babylon.
Daniel prepares us for this cultural Babylon by showing us how to live long term in a culture where the gospel is under attack. In Daniel, we see not the missionary speeches of Peter and Paul, but the courage of government employees who could not only lose their jobs, but their lives for following the God of the Bible. And if we are going to faithfully embrace our culture, we must learn courage from them.
Courage does not mean bombastic pronouncements to the world, not at all. It has to be much deeper than that. It will mean, upon hearing the king’s command that no one can pray to any god save the king for thirty days, that we go into our rooms with the window open towards Jerusalem and defy that king even as our accusers hunt us down. It means looking the king in his enraged face and saying, even if our God does not rescue us from the flames, we will not serve your gods or bow down to your statue of gold. Unlike Athens, Babylon is not interested in trying to out-think us, merely overpower us. Apologetics and new ways of doing church don’t cut it in Babylon. Only courage under fire will.
To be clear, Daniel is not sounding retreat into a cultural bubble or an uninformed longing for the “good ole days”. Rather Daniel sounds a call to live with courage in the culture as a means of God’s common grace in the very culture that seeks our exile. We are to learn to wisely apply Jeremiah’s words to the people who were living the Book of Daniel.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:4-7
Daniel prepares us to live with courage for the good of our community. We are able to live with a proper view of suffering as we seek to bless those who curse us. We are able to live through the reign of lesser kings because we know the King of Kings who not only controls the rise and fall of kings, but will one day come finally to establish peace in the new heaven and new earth. Daniel gives us this kind of courage and calling.
My hope is that our study of the book of Daniel will give us a greater vision for seeking the welfare of our community by courageously standing for the glory of God regardless of what that means.
Schedule – Daniel Begins on April 17
Babylon vs. Athens – Living in Exile
Daniel 1 – Quiet Faithfulness
Daniel 2 – Sacrificial Service
Daniel 3 – Courage
Daniel 4 – Praying for our Leaders
Daniel 5 – Praying for our Leaders
Daniel 6 – Courage
Daniel 7 – The Coming King
Daniel 8-9 – The End of Exile – The Coming Kingdom
Daniel 10-12 – The End of Exile – The Coming Kingdom