Sermon:  Pulling Back the Curtain in Daniel


Summary:  Parts of the Bible pull back the veil in order to give us enough of a glimpse of the spiritual realities that war against us.  This added perspective shows us that God and his people triumph over those that oppose us, no matter how seemingly strong and terrifying they may seem.  God is the almighty creator, and everything else is creature, not God.  Therefore, we can be courageous and confident as we stand with God.


Text:  Daniel 7-12


Scripture Reading:  2 Cor 4:7-18



1.      How do you decide in what way to communicate?

a.      Some things you email, or text.  Others in person

b.      What if want to communicate – I Love you?  How communicate?

                                                     i.          Wife complain – You never say you love me.  Husband says, I told you at wedding.  If change, I let you know

                                                    ii.          Can just say it.  Or share poem, playlist, essay, drawing

c.      What if want to communicate divine wisdom?

                                                     i.          Discourse, proverb, observation, life less, analogy

                                                    ii.          Bible dispenses divine wisdom in all these ways

2.      How do you communicate – “You are not a loser, not insignificant in the face of overwhelming hostile and/or humiliating powers & authorities.”

a.      You can just say it

b.      But like the ways of saying, “I love you,” there are more compelling ways to communicate this

3.      Daniel communicates this in two ways

a.      First half of book – Historical Narrative

b.      Second half of book – Apocalyptic Prophecy

4.      Now in a part of Daniel many preachers skip over

a.      Not sure what to do with the bizarre images and visions

b.      There has been a lot of wild interpretations and speculation from this part of Daniel

c.      We are on ground that is unfamiliar to us

d.      Before jumping into chapter 7, needs to do some groundwork first


I.     Daniel 7 is a major transition

A.   When you come to a transition in a book, things look different

1.    Maybe the narrative slows down to focus on a particular element

2.    Maybe a major turning point in the story

3.    Maybe moves on to another chapter

B.   What Kind of transition is Daniel 7?

1.    In English, it looks like it is beginning a new section

a.    Previous chapters were all historical narratives

b.    A few visions and dreams, which Daniel interpreted

c.    Pretty straightforward

2.    In original text, chapter seven looks like conclusion of previous section

a.    Daniel 2-7 is written in Aramaic, the rest is in Hebrew

b.    Would be like reading a book in English, then read something in Old Scottish.  Barely understand one or the other

c.    We would associate all the English passages as a section, and the Scottish sections as another

d.    Aramaic was international language at the time

3.    Dan 2-7 also make up a unit thematically – definite structure

a.    Chap 2 Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of kingdoms as a statue, followed by God’s everlasting Kingdom

b.    Chap 3 Faithfulness of Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah in not bowing down to kings statue

c.    Chap 4 Pride of king Nebuchadnezzar

d.    Chap 5 Pride of king Belshezzar

e.    Chap 6 Faithfulness of Daniel in not following the Kings’ edict prohibiting him from praying to God

f.      Chap 7 Daniels dream of kingdoms as beasts, followed by God’s everlasting kingdom

C.   Conclude with Chap 7, which returns to theme of chap 2

1.    Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream in Chapter 2

a.    A Huge statue

b.    Various parts with various metals – each represent another kingdom

c.    Finally, a rock cut without hands smashes statue

d.    It becomes a great mountain, fills the earth – Kingdom of God

2.    Daniel’s Dream in Chapter 7

a.    Instead of a statue, four unusual hybrid beasts

b.    Each beast represents another kingdom

c.    The ancient of days sits on his throne and passes judgment

d.    Beast is destroyed, dominion taken away, given to one like a Son of Man

D.   It is basically a revisiting of the theme and message from chapter 2

1.    However, the text communicates the theme in a very different way

2.    There is a genre switch in chapter 7…


II.   Chap 7 and forward communicate with a different genre – Apocalyptic

A.   It is important to note genre

1.    If not know genre, can cause massive misinterpretation

2.    ILL:  Hypothetical Archaeological Dig in North America. Year: 5221

a.    Find a fragment of a manuscript

b.    Starts with “Dear Dave”

c.    Experts in Ancient English determine that Dear means to be close to.  So Dave is close to whoever wrote this document

d.    It is signed, Ed McMahon.

e.    We recognize it right away, “Dear” has nothing to do with close relationship

3.    Genre comes with a set of expectation, unspoken rules as to how to read an understand a document

B.   Jewish Apocalyptic is its own genre – falls under heading of prophecy.  Characteristics:

1.    Give an answer to a crisis of faith

a.    Dt 18 – God promised to bless his people, will punish unfaithfulness

b.    What if you are persecuted because of your faithfulness?  - God not faithful?  Not powerful enough?

c.    Apocalyptic writing to comfort the faithful afflicted – gives a vision of hope

2.    Uses the language of conflict

a.    There are battles, wars

b.    Pictures intense despair for the present, but great hope for the future

c.    Pictures victory for the righteous, and judgment for the wicked

3.    Use of Visions – Chief means of communications are visions from God

4.    Use of Vivid symbols, dreams, and numbers

a.    Animals, buildings, geographic features, numbers – symbolic

b.    Need to take the picture as a whole and not get bogged down in minute details (unless the text indicates otherwise)

5.    It pictures many angels, demons, celestial beings in the progress of the story

a.    Shows that history is not just a chain of arbitrary events

b.    Get a look behind the scenes, there is a spiritual reality

c.    There is a conflict between good and evil behind the scenes

6.    Typically, the symbols are only meaningful and therefore interpretable by the ones who receive it

a.    Symbols are meaningful to a culture and time

b.    It was not meant to be so mysterious the recipients could not understand it

C.   ILL:  Some of images seem bizarre to us only because we are not familiar with them

1.    Hybrid beasts not unusual in Ancient Near Eastern Art

2.    Readers would understand images such as

a.    The sea – unruly, dangerous forces opposed to God, and humans

b.    A Great Mountain – Usually refers to a kingdom

c.    A Beast – Powerful and oppressive kingdoms

d.    Certain Numbers – 10, 1000, 7, 6

3.    ILL:  Here are some modern examples of how Apocalyptic works:

a.    Various social commentary cartoons…

b.    Elephant and Donkey in Boxing Ring – We know what picture means

D.   Point:  This is not mysterious, but is intended to communicate

1.    Need to do a little work since we are removed by time an culture

2.    Will make note of these things as we progress


III.  Why Apocalyptic?  What does the use of this genre teach us?

A.   With some genres, the form is part of the message

1.    Poetry – communicates beauty, symmetry, order, predictability

2.    That’s why our music is written in poetic lines and fits with music

B.   Apocalyptic prophecy – part of message is in the medium as well

1.    There is a Spiritual Reality Behind the Scenes

a.    Looking at things that seem slightly familiar, but different

b.    This other-worldly view shows us that there are realities behind the scenes

c.    The battle raging here is reflective of a spiritual battle raging behind the scenes

2.    Beasts are Creatures

a.    Seems like overpowering kingdom, but they are creatures, not creators

b.    Eg:  666 – Scary Number?

c.    (Rev 13:18) 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

d.    Beast is not a god

i.      No matter how many 6666666 – still not a seven

ii.     Beast is not even a demon, but a human

iii.    Beast represents HUMAN activity

iv.   666 – not meant to scare us, but to encourage and strengthen us…

3.    What is grotesquely powerful is nothing before God

a.    Does not matter how big, how many teeth, horns, arrogant a beast is

b.    Whether a behemoth, or a frog, they are just creatures, not gods!

c.    Reminds me of Battle of Armageddon

i.      Where is it fought?  - In Revelation 16 – Never happens

ii.     Out of mouth of dragon, beast, false prophet – more beasts… like frogs!  Gather for war at Mount Megiddo – Armageddon

iii.    Seventh angel pours out his bowl of wrath on the air and declares – “It is finished!”  - No sword fights, no bombs, guns, sounds of battle

iv.   Scene is supposed to be fiasco – Fight again Captain Croak, Colonel Kermit, and Sergeant Slime.

d.    Visions not intended to scare us, but to encourage us to be strong

4.    God is on our side even when it seems we are outnumbered

a.    Even if it seems we are losing, these visions pull back curtain and show a different picture

b.    God is in charge, and he has already determined that we, his people win!

C.   Example:  Ezekiel 37 – One of my favorite passage of Prophetic Scripture

1.    (v.1-3) – Imagine the scene & what it expresses

a.    Some battlefield where the battle has been lost

b.    The entire army slain a long time ago – bones are dry

c.    This is a picture of defeat, hopelessness.  No future left,  We lost

d.    Can these bones live?  Do I dare answer – “Lord God – You know”

2.    (v.4-10) – Look at what God can do!

a.    Hear the word of the Lord!

b.    Notice the power of God – they were dead, but he brought them back

c.    What does all of this mean????

3.    (v.11-14) – God’s explanation

a.    The bones are Israel – Temple destroyed, exiles, no hope, its over

b.    Not true!  I will bring you back to life!

4.    Your job as my spokesman is to relay this message to them

a.    The word of God does not come back empty

b.    When God declares and decrees something, it will happen

D.   Remember as we read

1.    These are not supposed to terrify us, but to embolden us

2.    “Apocalyptic” – we think of doom and gloom, destruction,

3.    But this is for God’s enemies, not God’s people!

4.    The final picture we have in scripture is God’s people restored to the tree of life, the Devil, sin, death – all destroyed



1.      This is why Jesus came.  To defeat sin and death, power of Satan (inv)

2.      If you have obeyed, then remember the message God is giving us in passages such as this.  God is the creator, and not creature can opposed God or his people.  We win.

3.      Remember this as we dive into chapter 7 next time, and in the rest of Daniel