Understanding Daniel


Understanding Daniel


In the years leading to the Second World War, Winston Churchill often complained that Parliament wasn’t taking Hitler’s threats seriously enough, and Churchill sometimes quoted a little poem that asked, “Who is in charge of the clattering train?”


That’s the question Daniel asks and answers in his incredible book of stories and prophecies. Intelligent, well–trained, and God–fearing, Daniel was among the first captives taken to Babylon. There he became a powerful statesman in both the Babylonian and Persian empires. His book divides into two parts of six chapters each. The first half tells stories showing the power of God’s providence in human affairs. The last half is comprised of visions about the successive kingdoms of the earth.


Daniel saw the Babylonian kingdom replaced by the Persian, the Persian replaced by the Greek, and the Greek replaced by the Roman—exactly as it later happened in history. But he also saw the eventual establishment of a kingdom that would never be destroyed. His predictions provide a framework for all the rest of biblical prophecy and serve as a backdrop for the book of Revelation. Daniel’s overarching message is that the Most High rules over the affairs of men, and God is sovereign over the tides of history. 

As we read the headlines each day, we’re led to wonder, “Who is in charge of the clattering train?” But when we read Daniel, we know the answer: Heaven rules. The Most High is laying the tracks of history and steering it toward its final destination.


Key Thought: The Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and over the tides of human history.


Key Verse: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3


Key Action: We must serve God faithfully, resolved to remain undefiled in a godless society, living prophetically for the future.


Key Prayer: Lord, may I face future times with confidence, always remembering the maxim: Heaven rules.