Theme Municipal Growth Groups 2020-2021 ‘Dare to be Daniel’

Every year new material is available for the Municipal Growth Groups (GGG), including for the 2020-2021 season. The Evangelical Work Association from which the GemeenteGroeiGroep is based has chosen the theme ‘Dare to be a Daniel’. Participants in the Congregational Growth Groups are challenged to remain faithful to their faith and testify to Jesus Christ in a predominantly non-Christian environment. The subtitle of the material is: ‘Imitating Jesus outside your Christian bubble’.

The Evangelical Work Association

The (EW) describes itself as ‘a network of Christians and local churches, originating from the Protestant Church in the Netherlands and beyond’. The EW aims to win people for Jesus Christ. It is a movement of spiritual renewal. The Evangelical work association wants to establish churches and Christian communities. To this end, church leaders and pastors need to be encouraged and supported. The Evangelical Work Association can be seen as a community that needs students (disciples) to make new disciples of Jesus.

Municipal Growth Groups (GGG)

In a local religious community, the Municipal Growth Groups (GGG) are places to learn, to grow together in faith and trust in Jesus. A GGG should provide a safe place in which you can discuss the meaning of the Christian faith in your personal life with others. Every season the Evangelisch Werkverband compiles new study material for the GGG. In the 2020-2021 season, GGG’s theme is ‘Dare to be Daniel’. The book of Daniel is central to this season.

The theme ‘Dare to be Daniel’

Daniel is a Jewish young man who resides in the royal court of Babylon. In this environment, the faith of Daniel and his friends is challenged. Daniel and his friends were a minority in an environment that did not take the God of Israel into account. How did Daniel and his friends withstand all the trials they faced? Does the way Daniel worked also have meaning for Christians today? By working on these and other questions, the participants of the GGG are challenged to be just like Daniel: ‘Dare to be Daniel. Imitating Jesus outside your Christian bubble.

The structure of the GGG book ‘Dare to be Daniel’

The booklet ‘Dare to be Daniel’ consists of three parts. The first part is an introduction to the method and theme. In the second part you will find the programs for the GGG meetings. The 17 programs are divided into two parts, A and B. These two parts correspond to the division of the Bible book of Daniel. Part A covers the first part of the Bible book of Daniel (chapters 1 – 6), which concerns the adventures of Daniel and his friends at the Babylonian court. Part B is about the second part of the Bible book of Daniel (chapters 7-12) which describes the four visions of Daniel. The last part of the book ‘Dare to be a Daniel’ provides background information about the themes that are discussed and advice and tips for dealing with the material and with each other as a GGG.

The life of Daniel

The place and date of Daniel’s birth and death are not explicitly stated in the Bible. The book of Daniel begins with the capture of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1: 12). Daniel is taken to Babylon (Daniel 1:3-6). Daniel was probably born and raised in Jerusalem. The capture of Jerusalem took place in 605 BC. Daniel was at that time placed in the category of young men to be trained at the Babylonian court (Daniel 1:4). He would have been approximately between 15 and 20 years old. His date of birth would then be around 625620 BC, in the middle of the reign of the last godly king of Judah, Josiah (640609 BC; 2 Chronicles 3435).

The last dated event in the Bible book of Daniel is a revelation given to Daniel: “In the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel who was called Belteshazzar” (Daniel 10:1). Since the Babylonian Empire fell in 539 BC, that would mean that the last event in the book of Daniel took place in 537-536 BC. At the end of this prophecy, a heavenly being informs Daniel that he will go his way until the end (Daniel 12:7). That would mean that Daniel would still have some time to live afterwards. It is therefore almost certain that Daniel lived to be well over 80 years old, and possibly over 90. Daniel spent more than 70 years of his life in exile. All this time he has remained faithful to the god of his people Israel, the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Daniel refuses the king’s food / Source: Otto Adolph Stemler (1872-1953), Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Important events in Daniel’s life

The first six chapters of the Bible book of Daniel describe what Daniel and his three friends experience. First, it tells how Daniel was determined to keep the rules of purity. He wanted to abstain from the food and wine from the king’s table (Daniel 1:8). This is in line with what the former Chief Rabbi Medalié from Antwerp notes: ‘Every Jew, wherever he is in the world, is confronted with his Jewishness, with his religious identity, through the dietary laws.’ Daniel’s friends are also confronted with the question of whether they want to remain faithful to their faith or whether they bow to the image that the king has set up for himself (Daniel 3). It becomes exciting for Daniel when he is forbidden to pray to God. Only the king may be worshiped. Daniel continues to pray in front of the open window. By doing so he violates the king’s command and Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den. Fortunately, God provides a solution. Twice Daniel interprets a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2 and 4).

Striking differences between the first and second parts of Daniel

It is striking that the first six chapters of the Bible book are written in the third person, the ‘he form’. In the second part, Daniel himself speaks as ‘I-person’. In the first part, Daniel is described as one who, through the wisdom of God, interprets the dreams and visions of others. In the second part he himself receives dreams and visions from the Lord. The first six chapters of Daniel are written in Aramaic. The second part, chapters 7 to 12, are written in the Hebrew language.

The visions that Daniel received

Daniel received four visions from God: the four beasts and the son of man (Daniel 7), the ram and the goat (Daniel 8), the seventy weeks (Daniel 9) and the revelation about the end times (Daniel 10-12). Daniel is the only book in the Old Testament that reveals the mysteries of the end times. In the book of the Bible the world and its history are contrasted with the kingdom of God. At the end of time, God will judge this world and his kingdom will finally break through. In one of the visions, the resurrection from the dead is mentioned for the first time in the Old Testament (Daniel 12: 1-3). The Bible book of Daniel is the first to mention the names of the angels, such as those of Michael and Gabriel.

At that time Michael will arise, the great prince who will protect the children of your people. It will be a time of tribulation, such as has not been since there was a nation. At that time your people will be saved, all who are written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the earth, in the dust, will awake, some to live forever, others to be despised and detested forever. Those who are enlightened will shine like the bright heavens, and those who have turned many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:1-3)


The Son of Man

In the New Testament we find many references to the book of Daniel. In the Revelation of John, symbols and images frequently refer to images and symbols from the visions that Daniel had. Jesus referred to himself as the son of man, or the son of man. This term comes from one of Daniel’s visions.

I looked in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man. He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. To Him was given dominion, honor, and kingdom, and all peoples, nations, and tongues were to worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not be taken from Him. (Daniel 7:13-14, Revised Standard Version)


The core message of the Bible book of Daniel

The lasting meaning of the Bible book of Daniel lies in its exhortation to remain faithful to God, in the faith and trust that God has this world in his hand. Even though it is sometimes hard to see, God has the ultimate power. One day all misery and injustice will come to an end. One day God will break through empire.

read more

  • The story of Daniel in the lion’s den and its meaning
  • Meaning of the title Son of Man for Jesus
  • The explanation and meaning of dreams in the Bible

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