The stories of the first six chapters of Daniel are often taught in Sunday school and in sermons. The second half of the book is usually lef alone! We're going to work our way through it, but it's worth taking a moment to understand more about how to read this section of the Bible.
So today's study isn't really a study--it's a (hopefully) helpful introduction.
A clear structure
Read Daniel 7 v 1
- - What's curious about the timing here (look back to 5 v 30-31)?
In terms of time, chapter 7 is placed between chapters 4 and 5. In other words, having finished the events of chapters 1–6 we now rewind to read about Daniel’s dreams. Chapters 1 – 6 and 7 – 12 have been structured to form two overlapping sections.
Similar but different
Read verses 15-18
- - What's happening to Daniel here?
These are much like what was going on in chapter 2 (it might be worth taking a cou- ple of minutes to read through it)—but now Daniel is the one who has the dreams. And he has to be told what they mean, rather than interpreting them himself.
There is also more about the political powers of the ancient world and how they relate to God. But the difference is that God doesn't intervene as obviously and directly as he does in the first six chapters. His people often suffer for faithfulness rather than being saved miraculously. Arrogant kings seem to prosper rather than being humbled.
The same theme
The theme of the book is still the same, however: God remains the true God so stay faithful to Him. And faithfulness often means suffering persecution, even death, while waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
The content of the dreams is in symbolic language (technically it’s called “apoca- lyptic” writing), where the objects stand for certain things. Some of these are clearly interpreted for us—for example, look at 8 v 20.
We’re not familiar with this kind of writ- ing today. We need to remember that despite being a bit weird, it is simply a symbolic audio-visual display to Daniel; there’s nothing particularly mysterious about it. That’s not to say it’s all easy to understand, mind you— but the general idea is straightforward enough.
Pray for God's help in understanding and applying this section of His word during the next few weeks.
This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from The Good Book Company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.
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