Monday, September 27, 2021

An Overview of the Book of Daniel

 Daniel's Answer to the King by Briton Rivière (1840–1920)
A few weeks ago, I gave a lesson on the book of Daniel as part of a Bible survey series. You can listen to the lesson on Daniel at this link. (You can also listen to my sermon series on Daniel here.) Here is the handout that I provided along with the lesson. 

Daniel and his three friends were some of the youths “of the royal family and of the nobility” (1:3) taken from Jerusalem to Babylon in 605 BC when Babylon first subdued Jerusalem (cp. 1 Kgs. 24:1). Isaiah had prophesied that this would happen in 2 Kings 20:18. Daniel would rise to prominence as a ruler and counselor in the courts of Babylon and Persia. His career recounted in the book of Daniel spans 69 years. 

The theme of the book of Daniel

God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men. He will deliver and exalt his people and humble proud rulers. He will establish his anointed one and his kingdom, which will fill the earth.


1 - Introduction: Daniel and his friends in Babylon

2-7 - In Aramaic

        2 - The vision of the image and the mountain
                3 - God saves Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace
                        4 - God humbles King Nebuchadnezzar
                        5 - God judges King Belshazzar
                6 - God saves Daniel from the Lion’s Den
        7 - The vision of the four beasts and the son of man

8-11 - In Hebrew

        8 - The vision of the ram, the goat, and the little horn that becomes great
                9 - Daniel’s prayer and the vision of seventy weeks
        10-12 - The vision of the kings of Persia, Greece, the north (Seleucids), the south (Ptolemys).

The Four Kingdoms/Empires (as they are described in the referenced chapters)

Babylon: golden head (2), lion with wings (7)

Medes and Persians: silver chest and arms (2), lop-sided bear with three ribs in its mouth (7), lop-sided ram (8), kings of Persia (11).

Greece: bronze middle and thighs (2), leopard with four wings and four heads (7), the goat with one horn that becomes four (8), Greece’s mighty king, whose kingdom will be divided in four (11)

Rome: legs of iron and feet of iron and clay (2), the fourth beast with ten horns (7).

The Little Horns that Become Great

The third kingdom divides into four after Alexander the Great’s death. From one of them comes a ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes, described in chapter 8 and 11-12. He persecutes the saints and profanes the temple.

The fourth kingdom also has a little horn that rises to prominence and persecutes the saints, the Roman emperor, described in chapter 7. Rome also is used to destroy Jerusalem and the temple (9).

The Fifth Kingdom/Empire

The kingdom of God: a rock that becomes a mountain (2), the Son of Man and the saints (7), the anointed one, a prince (9). It arises in the days of the rulers of the fourth kingdom, Rome (2:44, 7:13-14, 18, 22, 27)


605 BC - Daniel taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, about 14 years old (1:1-16). 
605-562 BC - Nebuchadnezzar’s 43-year reign in Babylon.
553-539 BC - Belshazzar reigns as king, though technically a regent under his father Nabonidus.
539 BC - The Medes and Persians conquer Babylon; Daniel is about 80 years old. 
536 BC - The “third year” of Cyrus’ reign in Babylon, when Daniel receives his last recorded vision (10:1). 
336-323 BC - The reign and conquests of Alexander the Great
175-164 BC - The reign of Antiochus Epiphanes 
167-165 BC - The Maccabean revolt
64-63 BC - Rome conquers Jerusalem and finishes conquest of the Seleucid kingdom
49-27 BC - The rise of the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus
33 AD - The death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ

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