Taken simply as a literary work, the book of Daniel has something for everyone. Marvelous bedtime stories to inspire children (or grownups). Tales of betrayal, insanity, and suspense. For the lover of mysteries and puzzles, plenty of symbolism, miracles, and prophecy. Yes, simply as a literary work, it is genius. Even though it is a historical piece, documenting the succession of nations, it grabs the reader’s attention. A “greatly beloved” main character and his three friends, ripped from their homes, face conflict within and without. Will the enemies have them killed? Will they withstand all temptation to turn to idols and away from their God?
But taken as a work of God, the book of Daniel transcends mere literary interpretation. It is “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). It is an eternal, personal message to us all from a God who wants to demonstrate His power, His sovereignty, His love. It is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is a gift.
This week in the sermon, Larry will help us review what we have read and heard from Daniel. Our goal is to remember what new things the Lord was teaching us—and maybe what old things the Lord was reminding us of. As familiar as Daniel’s harrowing tales may have been to you, the Spirit can bring new insights. If this was your first time reading it, there must have been many surprises. One thing is for sure, none of us finish the book without scratching our heads just a little and asking, “What just happened?” Maybe, like Paul, you found yourself saying, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:33-34).
As Larry has said throughout this series, “There are things we will put in our ‘This We Know’ bucket, and there are things we will put in our ‘This We Don’t Know’ bucket.” I know Daniel escaped from the lion’s den. I don’t know why other people have not. I know there was a man walking in the fire with Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. I don’t know for sure who that man was. I know that God is here promising the return of Christ. I don’t know when that will be or whether I will be here for it. I know there are spiritual forces at work all over this world. I don’t know what invisible battles are happening at this moment. I know that God has time all planned out. I do not know what any of those cryptic numbers like “seventy ‘sevens’” mean.
If you are tempted to be frustrated by what we don’t know, keep this in mind: The amazing thing is that the God of the universe entrusts any of His story to us. He who stooped down to become man does not give us cryptic histories and prophecy to make us frustrated. He gives us such mysteries because He is kind to the lowly. Because He wants our blind eyes to be opened to His wonders. Because He wants to share Himself and His plans with our feeble human minds. Take heart! Each time you read the book of Daniel, God will make more things clear. This is why we review with Larry. And one day when we receive our “allotted inheritance” with Daniel, our sinless souls and brains will be able to comprehend it all.
For now, grab hold of Daniel and rejoice that God in His grace is sending you messages of love.
Just think how God has preserved this grand book throughout war and tumult so that you would be able to read it. Just think how He made sure it was translated from Hebrew into your language and bound into a book for you to hold. Just think how He helped scholars and teachers to interpret this message so that you could find meaning in it. God has come very close to you. He is speaking to you. What do you hear Him saying? Has He given you some new understanding of Himself? Has He given you a step or two that you need to take in obedience?
Oh, praise our God who has sent us His Word, on the page and in the Flesh. Praise the Son who died so that we might approach the heart of God. Praise the Spirit who illuminates mysteries and inspires us to seek more understanding. North Wake, it is worth all your effort to dig into His Book.