Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Living in an Alien Culture: Daniel 7

Living in an Alien Culture
Daniel 7

1.    Relationship of chapters 1-6 to 7-12

a.    Chapters 1-6: Stories about Daniel

b.    Chapters 7-12: Visions of Daniel

c.     “Daniel’s message about God’s control requires both the stories of the first six chapters and the visions of the last six.  The stories give us comfort, the visions a sense of our finitude. Without the latter, the stories would lead us to believe in a false relationship between human works and God’s grace—if we do certain things, God must provide.  Without the stories, the visions could lead us to an impractical, disembodied mysticism.  With both, this book offers a helpful confidence that God is indeed in control.”[1]

d.    “While children resonate with the lessons of Daniel 1-6, seasoned Bible scholars scratch their heads over Daniel 7-12 with the move from simple stories to obscure apocalyptic visions… Even though there is a dramatic contrast in genre between the two halves of the book, however, the overall message of the book is uniform: In spite of present appearances, God is in control.”[2]

e.    Hebrew and Aramaic in Daniel

                                               i.     1.1-2.4a: Hebrew

                                              ii.     2.4b-8.1: Aramaic

                                            iii.     8.1-chapter 12: Hebrew

                                            iv.     Chapter 7 is pivotal: vision but still in Aramaic

2.    Some thoughts on the nature of “Apocalyptic” literature[3]

a.    Usually reserved for when things were so bad for the people of God only an outside intervention in terms of a cataclysmic display of God’s power could remedy the situation.

b.    Take the symbolism and numbers seriously but not literally.

c.     Observe the prophet’s pastoral concern for his audience.

                                               i.     God controls history

                                              ii.     Brings comfort to God’s suffering saints

d.    Move beyond details and see the main points of the text.  The key question: What is the text about as a whole.

e.    Application should derive from the text’s main points.

f.     Read Old Testament apocalyptic in connection with the New Testament apocalyptic (i.e., Revelation)

g.    Image oriented

                                               i.     Apocalyptic is a metaphor-rich genre

                                              ii.     “Images evoke powerful feelings in readers. Again, because the original readers had a more immediate understanding of these images, the feelings would be more potent and natural in them.”[4]

                                            iii.     “As such, images speak truly and accurately, but not precisely.”[5]

3.    Outline of chapter[6]

a.    (1-8): Horror by the Sea

b.    (9-14): Heavenly Power

c.     (15-28): Divine Victory

4.    Relationship between Daniel 2 and 7

Daniel 2 Statue
Daniel 7 Beasts
Head of gold
Lion with wings of an eagle
Chests & arms of silver
Middle & thighs of bronze
Leopard with wings of a bird
Legs of iron, feet of clay
Beast with iron teeth

o   Chart from: James M. Hamilton Jr., God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 330.

5.    Horror by the Sea (1-8)

a.    Time: First year of Belshazzar 552/551 BC: 50 years since Daniel’s deportation to Babylon 

b.    The sea (2-3): place of chaos and destructive evil

c.     Four beasts

                                               i.     “These beasts are bizarre, they are mutants, perversions of what God intended by his creation.  As such, they evoke not only horror in the original reader, but also revulsion.”[7]

                                              ii.     First beast: “… lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.” (v 4)

1.    Q: When was the last time we saw a beast become more human in Daniel?

2.    A: Chapter 4: Nebuchadnezzar coming out of his animal-like stupor

                                            iii.     Beasts are kings/kingdoms: vv 17 and 23

                                            iv.     Beasts are under the power of God

1.    First is humanized (v 4)

2.    Second is commanded to eat (v 5)

3.    Third, dominion is given to it (v 6)

4.    Fourth, slain and thrown into fire (v 11)

5.    Remaining three, dominion is taken away and extension granted (v 12)

6.    Heavenly Power (9-14)

a.    “In essence, we have gone up the chain of being.  Evil human kingdoms were described as horrifying hybrid animals; the divine realm is imaged as human beings.”[8]

b.    Majestic throne room scene 

                                               i.     Ancient of Days

                                              ii.     Fire around and flowing from the throne

                                            iii.     Thousands of beings surround the throne

                                            iv.     Books (of judgment) opened 

c.     Beasts and their kingdoms destroyed (11-12)

d.    “Yahweh’s rule is not arbitrary; it is morally determined.  In the vision of Daniel 7:9-14 the Ancient of Days judges the earthly powers that have become subhuman, bestial, in their arrogant, self-centered exercise of sovereignty.  He deprives them of their sovereignty and gives it to ‘one like a human being.’  It is in God’s kingdom, under his sovereignty, that humanity reaches its full potential.  Salvation history culminates in the achievement of the purpose that God had when creating the world, a world in which humans exercise sovereignty as his representatives (Gen 1:26-28).  This is the significance of the ‘one like a son of man’ receiving sovereignty in Daniel 7:13-14.”[9]

e.    Son of Man

                                               i.     “He is riding the cloud chariot, which is the prerogative of God alone.”[10]

                                              ii.     Human: the fulfillment of Genesis 1-2 and what humankind should be

                                            iii.     He is given dominion, glory, and a kingdom that all peoples might serve him.

                                            iv.     Son of Man: Individual, Collective, both?

7.    Divine Victory (15-28)

a.    Verses 17-18: summary of the visions

                                               i.     Verse 17: Beasts rage and war against the saints

1.    See v. 21: “… waging war with the saints and overpowering them.”

2.    Beasts overpower and devour: not everybody escapes the fiery furnace

                                              ii.     Verse 18: “But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.”

1.    See v. 27: “Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey him.”

2.    What is spoken of the Son of Man in v. 14 is applied to the people of God in verses 18 and 27

     [1]Terry C. Muck in the “General Editor’s Preface” to Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 14.
     [2]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 19.
     [3]See William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation—Revised and Expanded (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 385-387.
     [4]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 178.
     [5]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 178.
     [6]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 179.
     [7]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 183.
     [8]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 186.
     [9]E. C. Lucas, “Daniel: Book of” in Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophetsedited by Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville (Downers Grove, Ill: Intervarsity Press, 2012), 121.
     [10]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 187.