The Lord Is There: Chapters 40-48 describe an ideal temple, the promised land, . A major implication of this section is found in the name of the great city, “The Lord Is There,” Ezekiel 48:35. In all our conjecture about eschatology, we should maintain our focus on the supreme privilege of the Christian life, and that is to know the Father and the Son, John 17:3. The best promise of heaven is to be present with the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5:6-7; Philippians 1:23; John 12:26, 14:1-3. This is also the major point of the New Heavens / New Earth / New Jerusalem as found in Revelation 21-22. But the New Covenant is not just about our eventual fellowship with God in eternity, it is about having it now. Fellowship and worship with a perfect Prince who has offered perfect and eternal sacrifices in the heavenly places.
Background: Daniel went to Babylon with the first of the exiles in 605 B.C. Babylonians often took the best and brightest people and their writings from conquered peoples to fill their court with knowledge. With God’s blessings, Daniel obtained a position of high influence as chief of the Magi for the Babylonians. When the Medo-Persian empire defeated Babylon in 539 B.C., Daniel’s influence continued. Chapters 1-6 focus on God’s providential intervention in the lives of individuals while chapters 7-12 focus on God’s providential intervention in the affairs of world empires, and the ultimate kingdom to come in Jesus Christ.
God’s Sovereignty: Daniel 1-6 shows how God intervenes the in the lives of individuals. He draws people to himself for salvation (Nebuchadnezzar). And He protects and develops his own people (Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah). All the while bringing glory to Himself. Daniel 7-12 shows how God intervenes in the affairs of nations. What did the people of Israel in exile need to know more than the fact that God was still working His plans – plans for them and for the whole world? This is the ultimate encouragement for God’s people in a foreign land. Do you see the applications for believers today? We are indeed all strangers in a strange land, sojourners. We need to know that no matter how dark things may seem, God is still at work and will bring all his plans to completion.
Daniel 1: God keeps his promise to bless Israelites even in exile. All four were exceptional in their God-given abilities and their faithfulness. Israelites were allowed to eat most meats, however it is likely that all of the meat being served here had been sacrificed to idols, and it would not be proper for them to consume it. See Acts 15:20, 29. What are the implications of this for believers today?
Daniel 2: The dream shows Nebuchadnezzar the succession of empires – Babylon, Persia (Medo-Persian), Greece, Rome, with him as the head of Gold. A stone that was cut out by no human hand (Jesus Christ and His kingdom) breaks all these in pieces. The Roman empire (iron) was not conquered as the others, but mixed with the nations it has absorbed (mixed with clay). Jesus came during the time of the Roman Empire.
Daniel 3: Nebuchadnezzar makes a large image of gold – perhaps rejecting the notion that he would only be the head of gold mentioned in chapter 2. The three Hebrews of course refuse to worship it, but God saves them from the fiery furnace. The fourth person, “like a son of the gods,” in the furnace may be a Christophany – a revelation of Jesus in the Old Testament.
Daniel 4: Daniel 4:1-18, 34-37, seem to be the only sections of the Old Testament written by a Gentile – Nebuchadnezzar of all people! Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is a warning from God, who extends an invitation via Daniel to repent, Daniel 4:27. Notice the progression of Nebuchadnezzar’s understanding of God in Daniel 2:47, 3:28-29, 4:1-3, 4:34-37. Jesus said the that proud would be humbled and the humble exalted.
Daniel 5: King Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was having a party while the forces of the Medo-Persian empire had the city of Babylon under siege. He was trusting in the walls of that great city to protect him. Little did he know that the army had stopped the flow of water into the city upstream so the army could penetrate the city where the river entered into it. That night the Medo-Persian empire conquered the city of Babylon and Belshazzar was killed. What is the clear lesson here?
Daniel 6: The Medo-Persian empire has taken over, but Daniel still has a job! However, there is a plot against him, and God delivers him. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Daniel 7: “Here is the end of the matter.” What encouragement that the end is known! The beasts represent the empires in order, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, like the image in the dream in Daniel 2. Note that the leopard (Greece) has four heads. The Greek empire spread in the conquests of Alexander the Great who died young and left it to four of his generals. The “little” horn of the Roman empire has often been assumed to be the Antichrist from his detailed description, so he is likely the “beast” in the book of Revelation. While this is a possibility, the far more important are the visions of the “Ancient of Days” and “one like a son of man.” The Father and the Son of course are mentioned here and the theme is that they win!
Daniel 8: The images change now to the defeat of the Medo-Persian empire by Alexander the Great, the “conspicuous horn” of the beast representing Greece. This “king of bold face” seems to refer to Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes who ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 to 164 B.C. He put an end to temple worship for a time, desecrated the temple (the abomination of desolation spoken of in Daniel 8:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; Revelation 17:5), burned the scriptures, and slaughtered many Israelites. God sent Gabriel to give Daniel help on this. Note how the visions affect Daniel. Knowing the truth comes at a cost. Have we grown too familiar with the wrath to be poured out on the earth in these last days?
Daniel 9: Daniel was reading Jeremiah 25:12 and realizing that the time of exile was drawing to an end. He prays. What is the basis of his prayer, and what can we learn from it? See 2 Chronicles 7:14. God sends an answer – and more! Daniel 9:24-27 is known as the “Seventy Weeks of Daniel.” It predicted the timing of the coming of Christ – 69 times 7 years from the giving of the decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8) to the “coming of an anointed one (Messiah), a prince, that is Jesus! The years work out if you assume 360-day years. I have seen two different scholars work this out to Palm Sunday in AD 32 or 33. This helps Jesus’ statement in Luke 19:41-44 make more sense. He gives as the reason for the destruction coming upon Jerusalem in 70 AD as “because you did not know the time of your visitation. Astonishing! Who could do this but God? There are seven years yet to fulfill. We seem to be on a pause between the 69th and 70th weeks which is how Jesus can say that no one will know the day or the hour. This whole chapter is about God and His covenant people, Daniel 9:24. At first glance, this would seem to only be about Israel, but Daniel 12:1 brings in “everyone whose name shall be found written in the book,” suggesting that these visions are pertinent to all of God’s people. For emphasis on this point, Daniel 9 is the only chapter in the book that contains the covenant name for God, Yahweh (Exodus 3:14), which is shown by the use of the word LORD in all capitals, of course, seven times.
Daniel 10-11: Daniel is given more details concerning the next transition from Persia to Greece. Then he is given great detail concerning the struggle between two of the Greek kingdoms who wage war back and forth over Israel. These are the Seleucid kingdom north of Israel and the Ptolemy kingdom south of Israel in Egypt.
Daniel 12: The vision seems to skip to the end, mentioning a “time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.” This seems to parallel the teaching of Jesus on the “Great Tribulation,” Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19; Luke 19:43-44. Notice that the resurrection of the righteous is mentioned here. What is the application of this knowledge for Daniel? For you? The judgment pictured has a finality about it – only one of two possible outcomes for every human being, Daniel 12:2, 7:10; John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:4-6, 12.
Another Helper: List for yourself the roles of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. John 14 and John 16 provide the greatest details of His roles. How do these roles affect your understanding of the Christian life? How can knowledge of these roles shape your prayers?
In my name: Jesus assures his disciples over and over that whatever they ask in his name, they will receive. John 14:13-14, 15:7, 15:16, 16:23-26, 16:26-27. To ask for something in the name of another is to do so only according to their will. This means that successful prayers will come about in proportion to our knowledge of the will of Jesus for each of us and His church. So a fruitful prayer life is going to require that we know what to ask for. James cited two reasons for unanswered prayers. One, failing to ask, and two, asking amiss according to our own desires. James 4:2-3.
His prayer for us: John 17 accounts what some call “The High Priestly Prayer.” We are included in this prayer in John 17:20, showing us that this prayer is for all disciples of all times! Remember we will receive what we ask in His name, that is according to His will. John 17 represents to us a beautiful expression of Jesus’ will for us. So this prayer should be our prayer for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s a prayer that God would be glorified in us, that we would be kept by the Father, that we would be unified with one another and the Father and the Son, that we would have joy, that we would be sanctified! We must hold our prayers up next to this one to see if they measure up. Of course this is not a complete picture of His will for His church, but it’s a beautiful start.
“I am” continued: As Jesus is arrested, three times He says “I am” in the distinctive ego eimi (ἐγώ εἰμί) formula that was so provocative to the Jewish leadership. Look at the reaction! John 18:5, 6, 8.
The trials: Conducting these trials at night was illegal for the Jews to do. There’s also a lack of witnesses, cross-examination, and other elements of due process that should be present according to Israelite law. However, Jesus made no protest or defense. Look how perfectly Jesus fulfills what he said about laying down his life in John 10:15-17, and the apt description of his act in Isaiah 53:7.
Pilate’s pinch: Notice what a predicament Pilate is in. He clearly does not want to crucify Jesus, but he fears the crowd more than injustice and more than Jesus, so he follows through with it. Jesus seems to let him partially of the hook in John 19:11, but clearly Pilate is held responsible for this miscarriage of justice. Pilate obviously had no affection toward the Jewish leadership. He even writes a provocative sign to place over Jesus in the three most common languages of the day, “I am King of the Jews.”
The crucifixion: John includes several prophetic fulfillments here to illustrate that the crucifixion was no mistake. Just as Jesus said, he was laying it down willingly. Never forget that this was done on the Passover, Exodus 13, Jesus being the “Lamb of God,” John 1:29. This was substitutionary atonement – Jesus taking our place to take on the wrath of God that we deserve.
The resurrection: Think of all that John has said about eternal life and his ability to give life to those who believe in Him. His resurrection proves all that He said on the subject. With the crucifixion and the resurrection covered, John then states the purpose of his writing in John 20:30-31. Notice the use of the key words here – believing and life.
Psalm 88: Unlike most Psalms, Psalm 88 does not turn around at some point to be more encouraging. But does that mean that this one is not encouraging? According to the Psalmist, from whom do these troubles come? So how is this encouraging? Where do we turn in troubles? Who can ultimately help us? Who has plans for even troubles to have benefit?
Psalm 91: What does it mean to make the Lord your “dwelling place,”? See Psalm 91:9, John 15. Notice how all the illustrations of the Lord’s care here flow into the idea of abiding in Him.