The Book of Daniel

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The Book of Daniel

This is a six-week course taught by Dr. Stephen Bramer. Explore adventurous stories like the lions’ den, fiery furnace, and the hand writing on the wall. Begin this course today and discover the ultimate meaning of hundreds of incredible prophecies in the book.

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Session 1 - Daniel 1

This week we will be introduced to the book. We’ll also study the first chapter where
Daniel and his friends start their education in Babylon.

Lesson Points

Daniel is a controversial book because of all the specific prophecies that are fulfilled 400 years later.
Critical scholars prefer to date the book in the second century BC and turn Daniel into a recorder of history.
Conservative scholars who take Daniel at his word date the book in the sixth century BC.
Daniel is a blend of prophecy and piety. The book prophetically shows that God has a future for Israel, and it encourages pious devotion while waiting for God’s kingdom.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azaraiah all had Hebrew names referring to God. In Babylon, they were given new names with these references removed: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Daniel creatively avoided defiling himself with the king’s food.

Worship Moment

In this first lesson Dr. Bramer explains, “Daniel is written to assure the Jews that even though Israel and Judah have been destroyed, God will yet prevail and establish His kingdom.” Even though…God will yet prevail. How wonderful to serve a God whose plans cannot be thwarted! Praise God that His will always prevails!

Discussion Questions

Daniel is an inspiration as a man of God who is faithful from young adulthood even to the end of his life. Is there anyone in your life faithfully serving God even at an advanced age?
In our pluralistic society, Christians are sometimes pressured to do things we feel are inconsistent with our faith. Can you think of an example of this?
If your boss or peer group asked you to do something unethical, how would you respond?

Further Study

Daniel 1 (recommended)
Daniel from The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries series by John F. Walvoord, Philip E. Rawley, and Charles H. Dyer pgs 13-53 (recommended)
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Session 2 – Daniel 2

This week we will learn about Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue.

Lesson Points

A chiasm is a type of literary parallelism where the first matches the last and the climax is in the very middle.
Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of a statue with head, chest and arms, belly and thighs, and legs and feet made of different materials.
Daniel explained that each part of the statue represented a different kingdom.
The rock that struck the statue represented a kingdom set up by God.
Some say the rock refers to Christ’s first advent. After all, Christ was born during Roman rule, the fourth kingdom after the Babylonian Empire.
Others say the rock is Christ’s second advent, because only then will all kingdoms of this world be destroyed.
Daniel saved the wise men of Babylon from execution, but he did not do it alone.
Daniel asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to pray for God’s mercy concerning the mystery of the dream.
When Daniel was honored for giving an accurate interpretation of the dream, he saw that his friends were also honored.

Worship Moment

When the mystery of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was revealed to him, Daniel knew his life would be spared. But, instead of going straight to the Babylonian officials, Daniel first praised the Lord! The God we serve is still the One who changes times and seasons, and He is still over all the kings of this earth. Praise God for His kingdom that will never end!

Discussion Questions

How does the chiastic structure of Daniel 2–7 help us interpret these passages?
Just as Daniel acknowledged the help from his friends, Dr. Bramer urged his students to be thankful for the people that made it possible for them to study at DTS. In fact, if you’ve ever made a donation to DTS, through our free online courses or in some other way, you are part of the group that enables us to train men and women for ministry—and we are grateful for you! Who has made it possible for you to get where you are today? How are you helping others as they seek to serve the kingdom of God?
Why do some people interpret the rock that destroys the statue as Christ’s first coming? Why do others interpret the rock as Christ’s second coming? What is your interpretation?

Further Study

Daniel 2 (recommended)
Daniel from The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries series by John F. Walvoord, Philip E. Rawley, and Charles H. Dyer pgs 57-93 (recommended)
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Session 3 – Daniel 3-4

This week we will cover Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery
furnace and Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling through madness.

Lesson Points

Some wonder if Nebuchadnezzar required all the provincial officials to bow to the image of gold in order to prove their loyalty after an unsuccessful coup.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego demonstrated sound theology.
They acknowledged God’s omniscience with “The God we serve is able to save us.”
They acknowledged God’s sovereignty with “But even if He does not…”
In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar tells the story of his temporary insanity to prove that God’s kingdom is eternal.
Predictions of judgment are often warnings sent to inspire repentance.
Most likely Nebuchadnezzar lived with the mind of an animal for a period of seven years.

Worship Moment

The Bible does not give us enough information to answer whether or not we will see Nebuchadnezzar in heaven. We know that he acknowledged God’s power and dominion, but we do not have any evidence that Nebuchadnezzar demonstrated faith in God or the promise of the coming Messiah.

Some may believe in God, but have not committed their life to Him. Romans 10:9 says: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Have you trusted in Jesus, God’s Messiah, and committed your life to Him as your Lord and Savior?  If not, will you do so today?

Discussion Questions

Why should it alarm us if church leaders require their subordinates to take loyalty oaths?
How can your church show sacrificial devotion to Christ’s kingdom even now, when you likely are not facing physical persecution? How about you individually?
How merciful of God to preserve and protect the tree stump representing Nebuchadnezzar’s life. Have you ever known someone whose life appeared to be spiritually dead, but it turned out that the Spirit was still working on him or her? Has God ever preserved you through a time when your life did not reflect a recognition of God’s sovereignty?

Further Study

Daniel 3–4 (recommended)
Daniel from The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries series by John F. Walvoord, Philip E. Rawley, and Charles H. Dyer pgs 97-138 (recommended)
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Session 4 – Daniel 5-6

This week we will examine the stories of Daniel interpreting the writing on the wall and Daniel in the lions’ den.

Lesson Points

It is odd that Belshazzar held a banquet while his enemies surrounded his city.
Belshazzar needed Daniel to explain the meaning behind the words written on the wall.
Mene, tekel, and parsin are weights or amounts of value similar to a penny, a nickel, or a dime.
Noting that Aramaic is a verb-based language, these words are best understood to mean “numbered,” “weighted,” and “divided.”
The other administrators and satraps in Babylon had trouble undermining Daniel because he was so upright and faithful in his work.
Daniel 5 and 6 have parallel chapters to reinforce their points.
Daniel 5 is parallel to Daniel 4 and shows us that God’s kingdom will be eternal.
Daniel 6 is parallel to Daniel 3 and teaches that God will protect His people during persecution.

Worship Moment

In this lesson, we see God’s power to take down a prideful king and His power to rescue a righteous government administrator. God would not let Belshazzar use holy articles from His temple to praise false gods. And, He would not let Daniel’s enemies prevent Daniel from finishing the Lord’s work in Babylon. Praise God for His power to work in the world!

Discussion Questions

How was Daniel’s relationship with Belshazzar different from his relationship with Nebuchadnezzar? What position did Daniel hold in each kingdom? How did Daniel react to each king when delivering bad news (see Daniel 4:19, 27, and 5:18–23)?
The Bible describes Daniel as being neither corrupt nor negligent. How good are you at avoiding corruption? How about negligence? Are there any good things you habitually neglect to do?
Some believers think that because Daniel prayed three times a day, that means everyone should. Dr. Bramer warns us not to take a devotional practice that means a lot to us and turn into a law for everyone else. What’s your favorite way to spend time in God’s Word? Do you have a regimented prayer life, or are your prayers always spontaneous?

Further Study

Daniel 5–6 (recommended)
Daniel from The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries series by John F. Walvoord, Philip E. Rawley, and Charles H. Dyer pgs 141-178 (recommended)
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Session 5 – Daniel 7-8

This week we will explore Daniel’s vision of the four beasts and his vision of the ram and the goat.

Lesson Points

Because of the chiastic structure of Daniel 2–7, we can match the four beasts of Daniel 7 with the four kingdoms of Daniel 2.
We can speculate that the first three beasts represent Babylon and the two kingdoms after it: Medo-Persia and Greece.
Chapters 8–12 are about God’s prophetic plan for Israel during their time without a Davidic king.
The two-horned ram represents the kingdoms of Media and Persia. The goat represents the kingdom of Greece.
There are many similarities between the stern-faced king of Daniel 8 and the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes.

Worship Moment

But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)

There are a lot of things in Daniel 7–8 that are confusing and even depressing. But Daniel’s angelic interpreter made it very clear that, unlike the earthly kingdoms, God’s kingdom will last forever. And we who have trusted in His Messiah will possess that kingdom forever. Praise the Lord for the eternity that awaits us!

Discussion Questions

Bramer contrasted the ancient Hebrew culture that saw white hair as a sign of wisdom and honor with our own culture full of biases against people’s appearance. Has human nature or worldly values ever led you to believe that someone was a better or lesser person based on age, attractiveness, height, or maybe even race? Has your initial assessment ever been proven wrong after you knew the person better?
Daniel 7:14 says glory and sovereign power are given to the Son of Man. Daniel 7:27 says sovereignty, power, and greatness will be handed over to the saints. How are both of these passages true? See 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 5:10, or Revelation 22:5. If you have already taken the course Understanding God’s Covenants, does this concept sound familiar to you?
What is the worst persecution you have experienced? Do you personally know anyone who has experienced severe persecution? Let us hold fast even if our persecution is relatively small, and let us pray for those who already fear for their lives because of their faith in Christ.

Further Study

Daniel 7–8 (recommended)
Daniel from The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries series by John F. Walvoord, Philip E. Rawley, and Charles H. Dyer pgs 181-246 (recommended)
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Session 6 – Daniel 9–12

This week we will study Daniel’s prayer of confession and his last two visions.

Lesson Points

Because the seventy-year exile did not produce repentance, the Israelites would go another 490 years without a Davidic king.
According to the lunar calendar, there were 483 years between the time Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and Jesus’s Triumphal Entry.
The seventieth “seven” is the Great Tribulation described in Revelation.
The fulfillment of the prophecies of Daniel 11 demonstrate God’s trustworthiness in fulfilling all His promises.
The prophecies of Daniel do not answer all of our questions about the future. However, they do assure us that one day the Lord will reign over the entire earth forever.

Worship Moment

The first thirty-five verses of Daniel 11 contain more than one hundred specific prophecies that were all fulfilled within a few hundred years of Daniel recording them. You can see why people without faith would insist that the Book of Daniel was written after all of these events took place! However, for those of us with faith, these verses show us that with God the future is as certain as the past. This means all of God’s promises that are still waiting to be fulfilled are as sure as the fact that the sun came up this morning. Praise God for the surety of His coming kingdom!

Discussion Questions

How did God demonstrate His faithfulness when He exiled His people from the Promised Land?
Why do you think God wants us to know numbers and timelines like those mentioned in Daniel 9? Is this actually an important part of being a Christian? Is it ever possible to be too concerned with biblical numbers?
In this whole six-week course, what is something you learned about the Book of Daniel that you did not know before?

Further Study

Daniel 9–12 (recommended)
Daniel from The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries series by John F. Walvoord, Philip E. Rawley, and Charles H. Dyer pgs 249-383 (recommended)
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