Daniel’s Prayer (Daniel 9:1 – 19)

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Daniel 9:1 – 19

Daniel was favored by God and kings. In this chapter he is comforted by the words of another prophet, Jeremiah. Evidently copies of Jeremiah’s prophecies have be circulating among the exiles ever since Baruch penned the last words on the third scroll 20 years earlier. It is now 542 BC: 63 years since Daniel and other exiles were taken in the first deportation. Realizing Jeremiah’s prophecy indicates still another seven years before the promised restoration is to begin, Daniel turns to God in prayer.

Daniel’s response shows that despite his government service to two enemy empires (Persia and Babylon), his loyalty to his homeland never faltered. The remarkable prayer in today’s study expresses well his intimate relationship with God. In fact, God cited Daniel as a sterling example of faith, along with Noah and Job (Ezekiel 14:20).

1. What’s the longest prayer you have ever timed? Who first said prayer with you at night and taught you how to pray? When did prayer become your own conversation with God?

2. What moves Daniel to pray as he does? What clues do Jeremiah 25:1 – 14 and Jeremiah 29:10 – 14 provide?

3. How does Daniel prepare himself for this divine encounter? Who is Daniel speaking for as he prays? What elements of common prayer do you see here?

4. How does each aspect of God prompt a round of Daniel’s confession:

  • God is great and awesome?
  • God is faithful to His covenant?
  • God is righteous in bringing judgment?
  • God is merciful and forgiving?
  • God is jealous for His Name?

5. Why will God answer his prayer (verses 16 – 19)?

6. What does this prayer say about God’s covenant: Based on grace or works, His character or ours? Conveys love or justice? Forever binding or always able to be renegotiated?

7. Daniel’s study of Scripture drove him to pray a prayer filled with Scripture. How could you use Scripture in your prayers?

8. Judging from the content of your recent prayers, what concerns you most these days?

9. Daniel humbled himself before God in prayer (verse 3). How do you prepare to meet your God? How do you keep from viewing God as a celestial butler?

10. What aspects of God move you to pray? Why? Who do you pray for most frequently? What prayer agenda for you does Daniel chapter 9 suggest? Try it.

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The Writing On The Wall (Daniel 5)

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Daniel 5

1. Recall one of your most scary, hair-raising, goose-bumpy, heart-thumping experiences. What was so frightening?

2. Whom do you know who is good at solving crosswords, puzzles, riddles, rubic cubes, etc.?

3. Tell about a time when you saw “the handwriting on the wall”. How did you feel? What did you do? What happened?

4. Given this script for a scene in a mystery thriller to be developed by you as the movie director, how would you underscore the drama, musically? Where would you place the drum roll, crescendo, cymbals and taps? Where would you place the minor and major keys in dissonance, and in resolution?

5. As the movie director, how would you set the stage? What special effects would you use for the mysterious handwriting on the wall? What close-cropped visuals and panning shots of the audience would you weave in for greatest effect?

6. What flashbacks to Nebuchadnezzar’s reign would provide contrasting relief and background insight to the drama here? What sin has Belshazzar added to his father’s (verses 2 – 4)? How is this an insult to God? How is this even worse than his father’s sin (verses 22 and 23)?

7. What does Belshazzar’s reaction to the mysterious hand (verses 6 – 9) disclose about him? About his little, secure world? His guilt? His fear?

8. What does the king learn that money, things and promotions cannot buy, but only Daniel can supply? How is that point made by the queen (verses 10 – 12)? By Daniel (verse 17)?

9. What does Daniel’s rejection of flattery and rewards say about the authenticity of this man and his message?

10. What does the handwriting on the wall mean (verses 26 – 28)? How is that prophecy fulfilled (verse 30)? In accord with what prediction (see chapter 2:36 – 39)?

11. Compare the two kings’ portraits in chapter 5:29, 30 and chapter 4:34 – 37. Whom do they praise? What does that tell you about them? From their contrasting fates, what do you learn about God’s mercy and justice, power and authority?

12. What contemporary examples come to mind of people mocking God by demeaning sacred things, as Belshazzar did with the temple goblets? Does it seem God is quick, or slow, to judge sacrilegious behavior? Why?

13. What have you learned from your parents or predecessors? Why do people often fail to learn from the past?

14. What would you do if you were offered position and/or power as a way to buy your vote or pre-determine your thinking?

Additional Comment:

Who actually killed Belshazzar is not known, but presumably it was Darius the Mede. Yet that only compounds the issue, because the identity of Darius is itself unclear. He is definitely not the great Darius of Persia who will come to power some 20 years later. Most speculation centers on a man by the name of Gobryas (or Gubaru), who is sometimes identified as an ally of Cyrus and the governor of the Gutium peoples (who took Babylon from the Babylonians).

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Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and a Goat (Daniel 8)

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Daniel 8

1. When you think of people butting heads like two rams, what sport comes to mind? What do you like, and not like, about contact sports?

2. What does it matter when (before the events of chapter 5) and where (in the mind of Daniel) this vision actually takes place?

3. What about this vision makes you wince and rub your forehead?

4. What does the two-horned ram represent (verses 3 and 20)? The goat and its prominent horn (verses 5 and 21)? What do the charging animals, the shattering of the two horns and the breaking off of the large horn represent (verses 7 and 8)?

5. What other “little horn” does the emerging horn in verse 9 bring to mind (see chapter 7:8 and 11)? How is this one different in origin, nature and destiny? How is it similar in its overwhelming pride?

6. What do you make of Daniel’s specifying the time frame for the fulfillment of his vision (verses 13 and 26)? Why do you think God allows the transgression of His moral law for such a long time?

7. Verses 20 – 25 (also Daniel 7; Revelation 12; Revelation 13) are the background for the Christian belief in an Antichrist, the last days and God’s doing battle for us. What do you see here? How will “he” be destroyed?

8. What impact does all this have on Daniel (verses 15, 17 and 27)?

9. Does Daniel’s prophecy strike you as history written beforehand or after the fact? Why?

10. If the horn that “started small” but “grew in power” toward the “Beautiful Land” of Israel (verse 9) was Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who set up a pagan altar in the temple in 168 BC, then the rededication of the temple was three years later by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BC. If this horn also prefigures the world-wide ecumenical movement or a merger of East-West religions (as some say), then when will verse 13 take place? What do such multiple fulfillment say about the nature of biblical prophecy?

11. When have you been dismayed over something God revealed to you? Some triumph of evil or good?

12. The study of Daniel’s prophecies often produces more heat than light. How do you relate to other Christians who favor an interpretation that differs from yours?

13. How might one reach for the stars, desecrate the temple, or trample underfoot, as in verses 10 – 12?

  • “play God”?
  • deny Jesus as God?
  • disregard Biblical truth?
  • other?

How long can your society get away with that?

14. Where have you seen God active in violent world affairs?

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