This morning I finish teaching the book of Daniel to the students at Word of Life Bible Institute in Hudson, Florida. Since this is my fourth year to teach this one-week course, I’ve gotten a bit of rhythm in my teaching. Each year we start off strong with the story of Daniel and his friends courteously but firmly refusing to eat the food at the king’s table (Daniel 1). We gain traction as we hit the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who would not bow down (Daniel 3), the handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5), and Daniel in the lions’ den (Daniel 6). The class inevitably slows down when we reach the four strange beasts in Daniel 7, the vision of the ram and goat in Daniel 8, and the mysterious “70 weeks” of Daniel 9.
It’s much easier to teach the historical part of Daniel and much more challenging to teach the prophetic sections. But it all goes together. History and prophecy. Bible stories and predictions about the future.
That shouldn’t surprise us because besides being a godly man and a wise statesman who prospered in a pagan environment, Daniel was also a prophet of God.
Not long ago I chatted with a pastor who told me that he was thinking about preaching through Daniel, but only, he said, through Daniel 6. That is, only through the historical part. “I don’t know what to do with the prophecy part,” he said with a grin.
Preach the whole book.
Preach it the way God wrote it.
I say that cheerfully to my friend, not reprovingly.
Why preach the whole book of Daniel?
1. Because that’s the way God gave it to us.
2. Because without the prophecy, you miss the point that God is sovereign over history.
3. Because we need the lessons of prophecy just as much as we need the lessons of history.
4. Because we need to learn how preach passages that may not be easy for us.
5. Because the prophecies of Daniel may soon be fulfilled.
When Daniel speaks of the rise and fall of great world empires, it reminds us that we serve a sovereign God whose purposes span the centuries. We need the long-term perspective that history is truly His Story.
If Daniel 12 teaches us (as I think it does) that Daniel will be understood better as we approach the Last Days, then we ought to teach the whole book to our people for their own spiritual good. If some have gone overboard on Bible prophecy, we hardly improve the situation by throwing Bible prophecy overboard.
Tell us about the statue and the four beasts and about the “70 Weeks.” If you aren’t sure about something, that’s fine. Tell us. We don’t mind humility in the pulpit. But please don’t shortchange us when you preach through Daniel.
Don’t stop at Daniel 6.
We want to hear the whole book.