We continued our series on the book of Daniel this past weekend at Eastbrook Church by turning to Daniel’s famous prayer in chapter 9. Daniel’s prayer takes place in the first year of Cyrus’ reign, around 539 BC, and references Jeremiah 25:10-11 in recognizing that the time of the exile is reaching its conclusion. Daniel has been in exile for more than 60 years, but his imagination has not been closed in by the suffering of exile. Instead his prayer takes flight through an imagination set fire by the revelations of God.
After a weekend off due to sickness (thank you, Pastor Jim Caler, for covering for me last weekend!), I continued our series on the book of Daniel this past weekend at Eastbrook Church by turning to chapter 8, the second of Daniel’s apocalyptic visions.
Daniel 8 continues the apocalyptic visions of the second half of the book. As with my message on Daniel 7, “Faith in God Amidst the Beasts,” this message, “Faith Looking Forward,” engages our imagination through God’s inspired symbols and images of what is really going on in the midst of human history. Daniel has this vision during the third year of the reign of Belshazzar, the last of the Babylonian kings represented in Daniel, and thus it takes place chronologically before Daniel 5 and 6. We are introduced to figures that stand against God which both reflect the antichrist spirit and the future Antichrist figure that is to come.
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series on the book of Daniel by turning our attention to chapter 7, which begins the markedly different second half of the book. Chapters 1-6 are court narratives, while chapters 7-12 are apocalyptic visions. This first vision serves as a sort of parallel to Daniel 2 and overview of where the rest of the book is going.
As we continued our series on the book of Daniel this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I turned our attention to chapter 4, where Daniel interprets another of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. This is an interesting passage, and has been debated in its historicity. In the Dead Sea Scrolls the “Prayer of Nabonidus” (4Q242) echoes this chapter, both confirming the authenticity of the tone of Daniel 4, yet also raising some questions about the historical framework presented there. Nabonidus came to the throne in Babylon after overthrowing Neriglissar, who succeeded Amel-Marduk (after his execution) as king. Nabonidus ruled the empire for some time from Teima, a site in present day Saudi Arabia, while his son, Belshazzar (see Daniel 5), ruled in the city of Babylon.
Beyond the historical issues, there is a clear theme in the book of Daniel of God being the One who rules over all kingdoms and all kings. In this instance, the king learns that lesson, while in Daniel 5 the king pushes back against it to his harm. Even in the kingdoms of our own lives, we have the opportunity to either submit to God as ruler of all or push back against His rule.
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our sermon series on the book of Daniel entitled “Daniel: Apocalyptic Imagination and Exile Faith.” This first weekend, “Faith in Exile,” offered me the chance to introduce the book of Daniel, while this weekend I focused on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace from Daniel 3. Throughout this series, I am giving attention to way in which we experience tension between our heavenly citizenship, or allegiance to God, and our earthly citizenship, or the claims of our culture.