Facing Uncertain Times

6 Descriptions of Christ’s Coming Kingdom From the Book of Daniel

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Facing Uncertain Times

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Daniel’s World: Culture

Dr. David Jeremiah

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Those of us who have been involved in stage plays, either as an actor or an audience member, know the importance of the word backdrop. The backdrop “sets the stage.” When the opening curtain rises, we immediately know where we are: a Western farm scene if the play is Oklahoma! or a Southeast Asian royal palace if we’re watching The King and I.

Backdrops help when studying books and characters of the Bible, too. Remember, the Bible’s original readers were people who knew the backdrop and the context of what they were reading. There was no need to provide the backstory to the original readers; the authors just dove right in with only the barest historical markers to orient the reader. Like Daniel 1:1: “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” That was the backdrop, but it was enough. The original readers would have said, “Got it”—and the story would begin in verse 2.

But today, we need a broader backdrop.

If we are going to appreciate the life of Daniel and his three friends, we need to know more about Daniel’s world.

Only by understanding the radical culture shock they went through by being uprooted from their God–centered lives in Jerusalem and dropped into the pagan, idol–oriented context of Babylon, can we gain a full appreciation for their conduct, character, and commitment.

The Handwriting on the Wall Set

Secrets From the Prophecies of Daniel

For Christians of every generation, understanding the truth of biblical prophecy offers confidence and hope for the future.

From 722–586 B.C., God judged the ten northern tribes of Israel and the two southern tribes of Judah for three primary reasons: failure to keep covenant with God, failure to honor the Sabbath–year rests for the land, and idolatry. God used Assyria to judge the ten northern tribes, culminating in their exile to Assyria in 722 B.C.

A century later, Babylon had replaced Assyria as the ruling nation in Mesopotamia and became God’s instrument of judgment against Judah and Jerusalem. There were three waves of judgment and deportation of Jews to Babylon. The first deportation was in 605 B.C. which included Daniel and his friends (and the treasures of the Jerusalem temple); the second was in 597 B.C. which included the prophet Ezekiel; the last was in 586 B.C. when Jerusalem and the temple were totally destroyed and left in ruins. That’s how and why Daniel and his friends found themselves in Babylon.

In spite of the spiritual corruption of Israel as a whole, Daniel and his friends were faithful covenant keepers.

They were young, well–educated, with courtier backgrounds—we know this because of how they stood out in Babylon as young men with potential in the political life of Babylon. They were all quickly chosen for a three–year training program of royal and political life in Babylon (Daniel 1:3–7).

So, what was their new home like? Babylon was the capital of a vast empire that had been inhabited for many centuries by successive powers. When Daniel arrived in 605 B.C., the city was at the height of its splendor under Nebuchadnezzar. The city was gigantic with massive walls and gates, gorgeous, many times the size of Jerusalem, home to numerous temples, and the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens. It was probably the richest, most elaborate city in the world at the time.

Spiritually, the probable meaning of Babylon itself—“gate of god”—says a lot. Daniel and his friends were transplanted from a monotheistic culture into a polytheistic system that worshiped many idol–gods—including the king himself. Babylonians gave credit for the founding of their city to the god Marduk, contrary to the biblical record (Genesis 10:10). Morals and ethics were man–made and allowed for brutality and death toward those who defied the king—as Daniel and his friends would ultimately find out.

Four young men, raised with a code of righteous ethics and covenant loyalty, were asked by God to represent Him in a carnal, corrupt, and chaotic culture. And they did! More than 2,500 years later, we are being asked by God to do the same. Our world is different from Daniel’s in space and time, but alike in so many ways.

This article is an excerpt from the February 2020 issue of Turning Points Magazine & Devotional. Click here to request a complimentary subscription.

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Decoding Daniel’s Seventy–Weeks Prophecy

6 Descriptions of Christ’s Coming Kingdom From the Book of Daniel

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