Daniel Bible Study Lessons
An earthquake shakes the foundation of our security; a tornado blows away a lifetime of treasures; an assassin’s bullet changes national history; a drunk driver claims an innocent victim; a divorce shatters a home; terrorism frightens a nation. International and personal tragedies make our world seem a fearful place, overflowing with evil and seemingly out of control. And the litany of bombings, coups, murders, and natural disasters could cause us to think that God is absent or impotent. “Where is God?” we cry, engulfed by sorrow and despair.
Twenty-five centuries ago, Daniel could have despaired. He and thousands of his countrymen had been deported to a foreign land after Judah was conquered. Daniel found himself facing an egocentric despot and surrounded by idolaters. Instead of giving in or giving up, this courageous young man held fast to his faith in his God. Daniel knew that despite the circumstances, God was sovereign and was working out his plan for nations and individuals. The book of Daniel centers around this profound truth—the sovereignty of God.
After a brief account of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege and defeat of Jerusalem, the scene quickly shifts to Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). These men held prominent positions within the Babylonian government. Daniel, in particular, held such a position because of his ability to interpret the king’s dreams that tell of God’s unfolding plan (chapters 2 and 4). Sandwiched between the dreams is the fascinating account of Daniel’s three friends and the furnace (chapter 3). Because they refused to bow down to an image of gold, they were condemned to a fiery death. But God intervened and spared their lives.
Belshazzar ruled Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar, and chapter 5 tells of his encounter with God’s message written on a wall. Daniel, who was summoned to interpret the message, predicted Babylon’s fall to the Medes and Persians. This prediction came true that very night, and Darius the Mede conquered the Babylonian kingdom.
Daniel became one of Darius’s most trusted advisers. His privileged position angered other administrators, who plotted his death by convincing the king to outlaw prayer. In spite of the law, Daniel continued to pray to his sovereign Lord. As a result, he was condemned to die in a den of hungry lions. Again, God intervened, saving him, and shutting the mouths of the lions (chapter 6).
The book concludes with a series of visions that Daniel had during the reigns of Belshazzar (chapters 7–8), Darius (chapter 9), and Cyrus (chapters 10–12). These dreams dramatically outline God’s future plans, beginning with Babylon and continuing to the end of the age. They give a preview of God’s redemption and have been called the key to all biblical prophecy.
God is sovereign. He was in control in Babylon, and he has been moving in history, controlling the destinies of people ever since. And he is here now! Despite news reports or personal stress, we can be confident that God is in control. As you read Daniel, watch God work and find your security in his sovereignty.
Life Application Bible Notes (Tyndale, 2007), 1374.