Scripture Text:(click to open in a new window or tab)
1. What war experience have you had?
- as a veteran?
- a friend, relative or spouse of a veteran?
- a victim?
- a protester?
- from books and movies?
- as a war buff, collecting relics and memorabilia?
- as a kid, playing war games?
2. If you could relive any of those wars as a war hero or commanding general, which war would you choose and why?
3. What feelings arise within when you sing Onward Christian Soldiers?
4. Would it matter to you that these kings and their successors can be positively identified from secular history? What would that add to your appreciation of this passage?
5. Which of the following kings would you consider the most important for Daniel? Why?
- the Persian kings (verse 2): reigning 530 – 465 BC (among them, Xerxes who attempted to conquer Greece in 480 BC)
- Alexander the Great (verses 3 and 4): reigning 336 – 323 BC
- the kingdoms of Ptolemy and Seleucus (verses 5 – 9): reigning 323 – 223 BC
- Antiochus the Great (verses 10 – 19): reigning 223 – 187 BC (at war with various Egyptian kings)
- Antiochus IV Epiphanes (verses 21 – 35): reigning 175 – 164 BC
6. In describing the wars of the kings, what does Daniel have to say about such pitfalls as . . .
- pride going before the fall?
- the fault of alliances?
- abuse of power?
- lack of honor among thieves?
- futility of war?
- illusion of security?
- principle of just desserts?
- rebel in the ranks?
- spoils of war?
- authority corrupts and absolute authority corrupts absolutely?
7. What happens “at the appointed time” (verses 27, 29, 35)? Note: Many think this specific “abomination that causes desolation” is the altar honoring Zeus, set up by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 BC, typical of a later one Jesus warned of (see Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) foreshadowing the Antichrist. What does this imply about God’s control of history, even heathen nations and kings?
8. Which wars sound like “holy wars”? Why do you think so? What faith and wisdom do these Jewish leaders display? With what “success” (verses 32 – 35)? What precedent do they set for suffering Christians who “know God” and are martyred for it?
9. From what vantage point does Daniel purport to be “telling the truth” (verse 2) concerning these kingdoms? How do you account for his accuracy: prophecy written with remarkable foreknowledge? Or after the fact? What from this passage support your view?
10. From what you know of secular and religious history, what impresses you about someone’s sudden rise to power and equally precipitous fall (from grace)?
11. What is the place of political ambition for the Christian who wants to avoid the pitfalls described in Daniel?
12. What are your feelings about “sons preparing for war” (verse 10)? What is your view on the call to Christians to defend, with force, certain human rights or freedoms?
13. Daniel’s portrayal of what it’s like to be a “king’s kid”is a bleak scene of betrayal and tragedy? By contrast, how do you see life as an heir to the victorious King?