Monday, March 2, 2009

Daniel – Reflections of his Life and Prophetic Ministry

The life and times and legacy of significant people in history cause us to pause, ponder, reflect. Not only is their vision for an unknown future often truly astounding in retrospect, they seemed to know how to achieve the ends they set out to achieve.

Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension all point to this significance. But, there was one who came before him, who indeed pointed the way to Jesus, and the ensuing kingdom of God[1]; and lived what one could term one of the most profoundly prophetic lives in human history. Enter Daniel.

His Prophetic Ministry

Daniel’s prophetic ministry spanned about 57 years, from 603 B.C.E. to 536 B.C.E., from the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:26f) to Daniel’s last vision of a man (Daniel 10:1).[2] This period is charted for us mainly in Daniel chapters 7-12.

Liberal theologians have disputed the dating of Daniel vigorously,[3] but the literary fact remains, God’s inspired Word leapt forth through his prophesy as he forth-told numerous power shifts over the succeeding several hundred years, even calling forth the time of Christ’s “everlasting dominion.”

So significant is the prophesy of Daniel, Jesus himself alludes to it three times in Matthew 24:15, 21, 30.

Daniel’s Life

But, what was more significant that his prophesy, if that were possible, is he backed it with a faith equal to that of the other heroes of faith detailed in Hebrews 11; see verses 33-34. Sprinkled throughout the Book of Daniel are examples of his courage and conviction of faith. The first six chapters of Daniel provide the main landscape of his life.

The Minuteness of Daniel’s Prophesy

God gave the Book of Daniel the prime purpose of bridging the intertestamental era, and the minuteness of his prophecies are pivotal to this understanding. “God was preparing His people to depend more on His invisible presence.”[4]

The new covenant was being forth-told.

Most specifically perhaps is the vision of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, in 7:13-14:

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Jesus referred most often to himself using the term “the Son of Man” throughout the gospels, highlighting that he concurred with the outplaying of arguably Daniel’s most significant (Messianic) prophesy.[5]

Daniel’s life and prophetic ministry serve both as endearing examples of how to live faithfully and prayerfully and simultaneously call forth the eternal purposes of the everlasting kingdom of God.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] John E. Goldingay, Word Biblical Commentary: Daniel (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002, Word Biblical Commentary 30), S. 330. “The book [of Daniel] as a whole concerns how the rule of God becomes a reality of this world... The purpose of God is to be realized on earth, but by the transcendent power of heaven.”
[2] John Phillips, Exploring the Book of Daniel: An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2004), 280-81.
[3] Liberal theologians have been successfully contended with in the view of Phillips (pp. 266-69) by virtue that their allusions of Daniel 11 having been written much later (i.e. after [indicatively] c. 168 B.C.E.) were shut down by the landmark, exhaustive scientific work of Professor Robert Dick Wilson (1922, 1959).
[4] Phillips, Ibid, p. 275.
[5] Phillips, Ibid, p.237.

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