Introduction

Daniel 1-6 and 7-12 are 2 distinct sections that convey very different messages. Although there are signs and wonders in each part, the meanings of things in the 1st section are clearly explained, while those of the 2nd section are not. The first half of Daniel is really 6 situations that portray examples of believers interacting with others. In each example there are God’s witnesses (Believers), non-believers, a sign, and a spiritual result. The message in the first half of Daniel is really about being used by God to reach men’s hearts in the “End Times”, in Daniel’s case as Israel has been taken into captivity by Babylon.

[Note: If you’re leading a study and everyone has read Daniel 1-6 prior to going through this study, then discussion can concentrate on the questions provided for each chapter and the reading of each chapter can be reduced/eliminated.]

Click to read Daniel 1

[Read Chapter 1]

Q: Who are the non-believers in this passage?

A: Ashpenaz and Nebuchadnezzar

Q: Who are the believers – or witnesses – in this passage?

A: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego

Q: What is the issue at hand?

A: Following the world’s way or God’s way.

Q: What is the sign or miracle provided by God in this instance?

A: Visibly superior appearance to the non-believers.

Q: What was the spiritual result?

A: Obedience to God made the believers stand apart as a visible, different example from the world’s followers. Non-believers could tell that something was different – and superior – from the rest.

Q: What is the application for us?

  • God can be revealed to others through our simple, personal obedience to God.

  • Regardless of what all others are doing around us – even when vastly outnumbered – we’re responsible to obey God’s laws over man’s.

  • Our part is to obey Him – He will take care of the results.

Point: It’s important to note that this first example establishes the key application through all six scenarios: Personal obedience is all that’s required on our part – God supplies the rest.

Click to read Daniel 2

[Read Chapter 2]

Q: Who are the non-believers in this passage?

A: Nebuchadnezzar and his magicians, conjurers and sorcerers.

Q: Who are the believers – or witnesses – in this passage?

A: Daniel and his companions.

Q: What is the issue at hand?

A: The king is seeking absolute, spiritual truth. (Notice how he innately knows that he is surrounded by false religious experts and how he seeks a true representative of God.)

Q: What is the sign or miracle provided by God in this instance?

A: Interpreting a dream not revealed by the one who dreamed it.

Q: What was the spiritual result?

A: The king experiences a personal revelation of the One True God.

Q: What is the application for us?

  • God has chosen to reveal himself to men through men; we are His representatives.

  • God sometimes reveals Himself supernaturally to others through us.

  • Unlike the false religious leaders and experts, Daniel always pointed to God as the source as well as the ultimate destination.

Point: Daniel never emphasizes the signs – they are just a tool to explain their real point that each person needs to submit their life to the One True God. The goal is not enhanced knowledge but changed faith.

Click to read Daniel 3

[Read Chapter 3]

Q: Who are the non-believers in this passage?

A: Nebuchadnezzar and his officials.

Q: Who are the believers – or witnesses – in this passage?

A: Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.

Q: What is the issue at hand?

A: Whether or not to stay true to one’s faith.

Q: What is the sign or miracle provided by God in this instance?

A: They are unharmed in a furnace heated 7 times hotter than usual.

Q: What was the spiritual result?

A: The king publicly acknowledges the power and sovereignty of the One True God of Israel.

Q: What is the application for us?

  • God can be revealed to non-believers through our commitment to our faith. (And our obedience to Him during trials & persecution.)

  • “Faith” trusts in God regardless of how He answers – in this case knowing He is capable of a miraculous rescue, but may choose not to – and just knowing that however He answers will work to His glory, not ours.

  • A lifestyle of obedience (the three have consistently obeyed God from the beginning – they didn’t just start here) prepares us in times of crisis.

Point: Every situation – regardless of how hopeless or awful it looks – is a vehicle that can change lives for God’s glory. The effect on the king’s faith is more important than the three being saved from the effects of the furnace.

Click to read Daniel 4

[Read Chapter 4 ]

Q: Who are the non-believers in this passage?

A: Nebuchadnezzar

Q: Who are the believers – or witnesses – in this passage?

A: Daniel

Q: What is the issue at hand?

A: Nebuchadnezzar’s pride. He’s acknowledged God’s working in Daniel and his companions but it has not completely changed his heart.

Q: What is the sign or miracle provided by God in this instance?

A: Journey into madness and back. (A type of spiritual deception.)

Q: What was the spiritual result?

A: Nebuchadnezzar’s true salvation.

Q: What is the application for us?

  • We can reveal God to others through His judgment on, and works within, non-believers.

  • Our love for others must be accompanied with the truth of God’s character and working so that they can understand spiritual consequences.

  • God’s punishment in this life is meant to bring us back to Him and, from eternity’s perspective, ultimately provide salvation.

Point: We cannot make others’ choices for them, but must be personally responsible to communicate the truth in order that they may learn the right lesson from the experience.

Click to read Daniel 5

[Read Chapter 5]

Q: Who are the non-believers in this passage?

A: Belshazzar, his wise men, and his guests.

Q: Who are the believers – or witnesses – in this passage?

A: Daniel and possibly the queen.

Q: What is the issue at hand?

A: Judgment for sin and blasphemy.

Q: What is the sign or miracle provided by God in this instance?

A: The meaning of the supernatural handwriting is explained by God through Daniel.

Q: What was the spiritual result?

A: The king has understanding but dies in his refusal to repent.

Q: What is the application for us?

  • Not everyone that God is revealed to through us will accept His message; but the example of our obedient life to God is also an example to non-believers so that they are without excuse for their own choices.

  • We have a responsibility to communicate the Gospel regardless of whether or not it is accepted or rejected.

  • All things prophetic will be clearly explained by God PRIOR to their fulfillment, but only according to God’s timing.

Point: Knowledge never makes up for lack of obedience – in fact, it brings greater conviction and judgment from God because we know better but decisively choose to rebel and go our own way even though we know the consequences. There’s a difference between temporarily straying and permanently leaving.

Click to read Daniel 6

[Read Chapter 6]

Q: Who are the non-believers in this passage?

A: The officials.

Q: Who are the believers – or witnesses – in this passage?

A: Daniel and Darius.

Q: What is the issue at hand?

A: The deceitfulness of wicked men against the righteous.

Q: What is the sign or miracle provided by God in this instance?

A: Safety in the lion’s den.

Q: What was the spiritual result?

A: Salvation of a nation.

Q: What is the application for us?

  • God can be revealed to non-believers through the treatment and interaction of believers.

  • Persecution will come but cannot overcome God’s will, sovereignty, or power.

  • The activities of spiritual persecution clearly reveal who is affiliated with which side.

Point: As in every example, Daniel allowed God to be the chief witness. Notice that although Daniel clearly saw the entrapment that he made no attempt to explain it to the king. Daniel only speaks when God directs him to speak – otherwise Daniel knows that God will speak for Himself.

 

Overall Application of Daniel

Point #1: In reality there are 3 people/kings: Nebuchadnezzar in chapters 1-4, Belshazzar in chapter 5, and Darius in chapter 6. For Nebuchadnezzar the sequence goes:

  • Chapter 1: Believers enter Nebuchadnezzar’s life and he notices something different about them from all others.
  • Chapter 2: Nebuchadnezzar is personally exposed to the sovereignty and power of God.
  • Chapter 3: Nebuchadnezzar personally accepts God as king and savior.
  • Chapter 4: Recovery from backsliding by returning to God.

Belshazzar is the type of person who permanently rejects Christ, Darius the type who immediately accepts Christ, and Nebuchadnezzar the type for whom it takes a series of events to finally come to Christ.

This could be characterized as a model of the salvation experience, the theme in each phase for believers being to “witness” simply by remaining personally obedient to God in every day life.

Point #2: We have no record of ANYONE “coming to the Lord” or experiencing a spiritual awakening from the visions Daniel receives from God later in life as outlined in chapters 7-12, the second half of the book of Daniel. But in these first 6 chapters, during the mainstay of his life and service, we have examples of works greater than the visions: Changed lives. One of the signs of a true prophet is that his ministry results in changed lives and that the greater portion of their teaching concerns returning to God. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, for instance, spend far more time preaching repentance than providing End Times prophecy.

Point #3: The visions that are revealed in the first 6 chapters of Daniel are all clearly understood because their meaning is provided. Those in the latter half are subject to much debate because their precise meaning is not given, but promised for a later time. Daniel speaks of a final 7 years split evenly into 2 halves where it seems that in the first half spiritual awakening is still possible but not in the second half when final judgment is executed. Is it a coincidence that this mirrors the structure of the book of Daniel itself? The first half are examples of God still trying to reach hearts, whereas the last half appears to be devoted to final judgment.

Point #4: The real gem of spiritual understanding in Daniel is that we have no responsibility to act on visions or prophecy – God will reveal them clearly according to His own schedule. Our responsibility is to be personally obedient and allow God to communicate through us to non-believers at every opportunity under every circumstance. Everything else takes care of itself. Remember Jesus’ own words in Luke 18:8, “…However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” He doesn’t ask if He’ll find people with knowledge or even fully cognizant of the signs of the End Times – He asks if He’ll find faith. End