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Douglas Wilson – Surveying the Text: Daniel

Posted On February 14, 2016

Introduction:

The theme of the book of Daniel is the universal sovereignty of Jehovah over all the nations of men. This sovereignty was active through God’s providential oversight of historical events in the time of the Old Testament. But the book is also rich in promises with regard to the coming new era, the time when God’s rule over the nations of men will be mediated through Messiah, the Prince.

The Text:

“Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego” (Daniel 1:6–7).

Summary of the Book:

There are two basic sections to the book of Daniel. The first has Daniel writing of himself in the third person (Dan. 1-6), and it records a series of six historical sketches, in which Daniel and/or his friends are delivered and/or otherwise vindicated. There are six stories here and each one is a chiasm. Below is a description of each story, and a statement of what is revealed at the center of the chiasm.

Life in a pagan court > Daniel and friends are healthier than the others

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream > God reveals the dream to Daniel

The fiery furnace > The three men are unharmed

Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity > The king goes mad

Belshazzar’s feast > Daniel is recalled.

Daniel in the lion’s den > Daniel is unharmed

In the second section of the book, Daniel speaks of himself in the first person, and records a series of visions relating to Israel and the surrounding nations. Daniel predicts the rise of the Greeks (Alexander and his generals), and even gets as far as the Romans. But his great interest is found in how the glorious statue is brought to nothing by the kingdom of God.

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