by Bob Ostenson
transcribed by Roger McCay
13 January 1980
Sermon Passage: Daniel 1:8-16
Link to Audio Version
… one of the most neglected books of the Bible is the Book of Daniel.
Modern critical Scholarship has done its very best to do away with and disprove this book, largely because of the great prophecies that are found in this book. Unbelief, which denies the supernatural cannot condone the fact that this book reveals prophecies hundreds of years ahead of the time in which they were actually fulfilled. Unbelief, which does not believe that God has given his written Word to man, cannot except the fact that God revealed to a man truth concerning historical events, which were to be fulfilled hundreds of years down the road. As a consequence, unbelief has denied the authorship by Daniel. It has tried to advance a later date of writing, saying that Daniel was written hundreds of years after the actual events had taken place.
But let it be said, in the absence of historic or scientific evidence (on their part), there is no reason for us to depart from the traditional, Judeo-Christian dating of the book of Daniel in the 6th Century B.C., nor of the authorship by the prophet.
The only book that is comparable to this book is the book of Revelation, in the New Testament. This book was written during the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people, but what we find in this book is the revelation of the march of empires and the revealed truth that our sovereign God rules over the events of history, over nations, and over men.
There’s another conclusive reason why we should not depart from the traditional view of the dating and the authorship of this book, and that’s the authority of the Lord Jesus himself. For our blessed Lord, in his great Olivet Discourse, in Matthew 24, refers to the authorship of Daniel. Yay, the Son of God puts his stamp of authority upon the authenticity of the authorship of the prophet. For we read in Matthew 24:15, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand).”
Now, Lord willing, we’re going to devote the next several Sunday mornings to a study of this important book. Not to be sensational, but because this is part of God’s whole counsel unto men; because Daniel is part of God’s infallible Word; and because this book contains spiritual truth that is not only illuminating to our minds, but it is comforting and it is challenging to believers who live in this 20th century.
This morning we consider the first chapter under the title “Four Who Said ‘No,’” and at once we’re ushered into a scene that is tragically too familiar to us today. It’s the picture of the occupation of a country by a foreign power, and the seizure of its inhabitants, and their forced labor by the conquerors. But, immediately we must add right here, that which had taken place, namely the siege and the sack, and the captivity of Jerusalem had been ordained and decreed by Almighty God; because he had warned his chosen people again and again that unless they repented, and unless they turned from their apostasy and turned back unto him, he would certainly bring judgment upon them. He had announced this to them time and again through his prophets that judgment would come unless they turned back to the living God.
By way of background, you’ll remember that at Mt. Sinai, God entered into a covenant relationship with the people of Israel. He had manifested that they had been his chosen people by the fact that he had brought them through a great deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. And there at Mt. Sinai, he entered into a covenant relationship with them. And so, God’s purpose was that these people, now, in a real sense, should be a kingdom of priest. They should be a theocracy, that is, a God-ruled people. It was to be a holy nation. It was to be a witness to the gentiles. They were to be the instrument for bearing the knowledge of the true God to the rest of the world.
However, we know that Israel was not faithful to their high calling. After they had been in the promised land for a short time, they wanted to break the principles of the theocracy. They looked about them. They saw all the heathen nations with their kings. And they said, “We want a human king.” And so God granted them their request and brought leanness to their souls. And their first king was Saul, and he was followed by David (a man after God’s heart). But, because David was a man of war, God would not permit David to build the temple, which was the symbol of God’s kingdom. But, rather, during the peaceful reign of Solomon, son of David, the temple was built. But, after the death of Solomon, the northern tribes rebelled against the theocracy, against the kingdom, and they renounced the covenant relationship. And the remaining history of Israel, in both the North and the South, is a history of wickedness, of apostasy, of idol worship, of turning from the Almighty. And, consequently, God announces that he will bring judgment upon his covenant people.