|@October 23, 2023||ESV (2016)||ESV Prophets Plan 2023|
Review conducted using the TGC’s Knowing the Bible: Daniel by Todd A. Wilson. All pull quotes are taken from this resource.
A simple subject-verb combination is used three times in the opening chapter of Daniel: “the Lord gave . . .” (Dan. 1:2), “God gave . . .” (Dan.1:9), and “God gave . . .” (Dan. 17). Arguably, these three “God-gives” shape the flow of this chapter and the division of its paragraphs (Dan. 1:1–7, Dan. 1:8–16, Dan. 1:17–21). But more importantly, this simple expression captures the good news about what God has done in Christ
This is such a wonderful insight into God’s giving nature. I had totally missed this in my initial reading of the first chapter.
Daniel and his three friends display a readiness to engage in the culture and customs of the Babylonians, and yet this clearly has limits. Daniel does not simply accommodate to the host culture of the Babylonians. At the same time, he does show a high degree of acculturation: acquiring both learning and skill in “all literature and wisdom” of the Babylonians (Dan. 1:17). This provides a good case study for thinking about the challenge of being in the world, but not of the world (John 17:15–16).
It is helpful to see the book of Daniel as an example for how we are to balance our life in this fallen world with our kingdom citizenship.
Apart from God’s gracious self-disclosure, there would be no Christianity. Daniel 2, then, puts its finger on an important theological truth: divine revelation, or the fact that God “reveals deep and hidden things” (Dan. 1:22). But this chapter also reminds us of the goal of revelation: doxology, or the adoration and worship of God, which we see exemplified in both Daniel’s (Dan. 1:20–23) and Nebuchadnezzar’s response to God’s revealing his mystery (Dan. 1:46–47).
That the goal of God’s progressive self-disclosure is doxology and praise is so beneficial for us to understand as followers of Christ. It provides much needed context as well as the proper response to all circumstances, prosperous and difficult alike.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great tree whose top “reached to heaven” (Dan. 4:11) is eerily reminiscent of another structure forged in the depths of man’s pride—the Tower of Babel, which was intended to have its “top in the heavens” (Gen. 11:4). Both of these episodes reveal the insidious and self-aggrandizing nature of pride; they also clearly reveal how God reacts to such displays of self-exaltation: the Lord of heaven cuts both down to size! Interestingly, ancient Babylon is the geographic setting for both. No wonder Babylon serves in Scripture as a symbol for all that is corrupt in the world (Revelation 18).
This is so good! I had never made the connection between the tree in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the Tower of Babel. Nor did I see in the bigger picture how this fits with the ongoing narrative of Babylon’s subversion to God’s kingdom.
Because of sin, human beings have the ability to induce within themselves a willful ignorance of the truth, so that what should be obvious to them is nevertheless lost upon them. They’re ignorant of it, not because they lack exposure to it but because they choose to deny what is plain to them. We see willful ignorance in Belshazzar, which only multiplies his guilt before the Lord. He no doubt has heard what happened to Nebuchadnezzar, how he was humbled by the God of Israel and, once restored, gave God praise (Daniel 4). But in his pride and folly, Belshazzar seems blissfully unaware of this. And yet we learn from the apostle Paul that willful ignorance operates in every fallen heart, as people suppress the knowledge of God to such an extent that they become ignorant of him—even to the point of denying his existence as they worship idols (Rom. 1:18–23).
This is a great reminder to acknowledge sin as an agent of blindness and obstinacy. How often I was exposed to the truth of the gospel and yet wholly rejected it. No earthy method could have made it more clear, and yet I refused to see. Praise the Lord for His gracious work of softening my heart and removing the shroud from my eyes.
What a fruitful overview of Daniel today. It was worthwhile to see some new connections and illuminations I had not seen before. It is a book rich with God’s grace, justice, deliverance and redemption. I know I have said it multiple times, but being able to take this time to study the prophets has been truly amazing. There is so much here, more than anyone would be able to capture in a single lifetime. But, I am thankful to have the opportunity to explore what God has for me to see in this season.