I just wrapped up a series on the book of Daniel. You can see the sermons and resources here.
Because I get asked a lot by pastors about sermon prep, putting a series together, making the Bible relevant, I thought I’d share 3 tips for preaching the book of Daniel.
The book of Daniel is not one that many pastors preach through. In researching it, I found most people who preach through Daniel stop at chapter 6. I’ll be honest, it’s tempting to do. The first 6 chapters are filled with narrative, extraordinary faith, prayer, and God doing incredible miracles. The last 6 chapters are filled with visions, revelations, images that are debated and a lot of head scratching.
3 Tips for Preaching the Book of Daniel
1. The book is about God, not Daniel, the end times, or your church.
Yes, the book of Daniel has a lot about the end of the world (especially if you are a dispensationalist), but spending your time on this does a disservice to the book and your church.
The word king or kingdom is used over 150 times in the book of Daniel. That is the theme, that is the battleground of the book. While it’s tempting to focus on Daniel and obviously his life and faith are an important part of the book, the book is about God and his power. The book is about the temptation to worship something or someone other than God.
2. Don’t get stuck in the weeds.
Daniel, like the book of Revelation, is filled with a lot of images. These images are fascinating, confusing and debated. One of the things we decided at the beginning is that we wouldn’t get into the timeline debate that centers on Daniel. You can see how we handled chapter 9 (which is one of the most hotly debated passages in the Bible).
Are there people in your church who want to debate the end of the world, when Jesus will return, who the anti-Christ is? Yes. What we asked was: What are these passages about? For us, they came back to who God is and what His character is, so we focused on that. What do these passages tell us about God, because that is what God was communicating with Daniel?
3. Tell people about God’s character and power.
Preaching through Daniel, especially when you talk about the lion’s den and furnace, for those who are skeptical about God, these are passages that make you scratch your head. I had multiple conversations with people wrestling with, “Do you actually believe that happened?”
These passages, the images in the visions and dreams are about the power of God and his character, who He is.
Your church needs to hear those things and it is a great opportunity to show the relevance of them.
Many sermons today, and I’m all for this, are based on felt needs and speak to what the people in your church are struggling with and walking through. Focusing on who God is, while not a question they are asking, is the question they need answering and is the hope to what they are struggling with.
This power not only catalyzed the faith of Daniel but can do the same thing for your church.
One of the greatest examples of this is how much Daniel prayed in the book. While I was preparing for the series, I missed this, but as I was preaching through it, it stood out boldly in the book.
Several times we’re told, “Daniel prayed as was his habit” (or something similar to that). That’s important. When Daniel came up against struggles and power, he prayed to a God he trusted and had the power to save him.
Daniel is a book every pastor should preach through. It is so relevant to our day and age as we struggle to live out our faith in a culture that is opposed to it. It is a book that reminds us of the God we serve and the power He has.
Josh Reich is the Lead Pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ. He is the area lead for Acts 29 in Arizona and speaks at a variety of conferences on church planting, leadership, and marriage. He is also the author of Breathing Room: Stressing Less & Living More. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaReich.