Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reading Through the Book of Daniel (5-8) #2

E and DLast week we continued reading through the book of Daniel accompanied by, Esther & Daniel, The College Press NIV Commentary, by Mark Mangano. Chapters 5-8 of Daniel remind us of the battle that is going on between good and evil in the physical and spiritual realms and assure us that God is in control now and will win in the end. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

Chapters 5-6 record two more "court conflicts" between Daniel and the king and officials who  were in power in Babylon and Persia. Belshazzar takes Nebuchadnezzar's arrogance to another level by taking the temple treasures of YHWH and using them to worship the Babylonian idols. God sends a disembodied hand to write a decree of judgment on the Babylonian empire for what they did to Jerusalem and for their refusal to submit to God. God continued to be active in the Persian period to protect and preserve Daniel and His people. When the Persian officials conspire against Daniel to destroy him because of his faith, God works to bring justice, as the corrupt officials receive the death they had planned for Daniel. In all of this, YHWH is the living and engaged God who is active, day to day, to make his plan happen and save His people.

“We have already heard in general terms that God is settling accounts by paying out the kingdom which He has weighed on the scales; now we hear the name of the nation by which God will execute His sentence upon Babylon. In the final analysis, the embodiment of God’s judgment over Babylon can be captured in one word: Persia!” Daniel 5, 225

“What the chapter finally seems to be saying to us at this point is that empires rise and kings come and go, fashions and lifestyles change, but the one stable thing in the midst of all this change is Daniel himself—the man of God who does justice, and loves kindness, and walks humbly with his God.” Daniel 6, 239

Darius was quite right then to refer to Daniel’s God as the living God (6:20, 26). Daniel’s God had a history of saving his people from their enemies. Daniel could now be added to that wondrous history. Daniel had indeed been saved from the hungry lions! Daniel 6, 240

Daniel 7 and 8 contain two visions that Daniel received about the future of the nations and the people of God. The vision of the 4 beasts corresponds to the statue vision in Daniel 2 and reveals that there will be a succession of oppressive kingdoms before God's kingdom is established. God will judge the nations through a messianic character called the "Son of Man." 7.14 is the verse Jesus quotes to identify Himself before the Jewish leadership at his trial. Chapter 8 focuses on the domination of Judea by the Persian and Greek empires. The "little horn" of chapter 7 is identified with Antiochus Epiphanes as a prototype of the oppressive, persecutors who will persist throughout history and reach their climax before the final intervention of God to judge and make right the world and establish the rule of the Son of Man.

The beasts may be horrific, but their terror is relativized by two truths. First, each beast is followed by another. In other words, the terror of each beast is eclipsed by its successor. Second, these beasts are each controlled by a greater power—the power of God. Daniel 7, 246

This verse emphasizes the universal and everlasting rule of the Son of Man. Jesus probably had this verse in mind when he told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18). The word translated worshiped in verse 14 is used in biblical Aramaic to refer only to the homage due to God. How, then, can one not identify this Person as the Second Person of the Godhead? Daniel 7.14, 249

Truth has indeed been thrown to the ground. Neither modernism nor postmodernism has it right. The scientific method is essential to our pursuit of better understanding the world in which we live, but it cannot relegate God and his Word to the periphery of our cosmos. And truth is not a preference. Jesus’ claims are true whether any community believes them or not. Daniel 8.12, 267–268

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