DANIEL: PROPHET TO THE NATIONS
John M. Oakes, Ph.D.
© 2000 by John M. Oakes, Ph.D. All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be duplicated, copied, translated, reproduced or stored mechanically or electronically without specific, written permission of the author and publisher.
Published by Great Commission Illustrated Books, First Printing, April 2000. ISBN 0-9653469-3-5
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Scripture references marked NAS are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright The Lockman Foundation 1977. Used by permission.
To Jan, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Kathryn and Ruth Oakes, my mother.
Thanks go to my wife Jan who has always supported my efforts to study and to write.
I owe a debt to those who have given input into the text and editing including my mother Ruth Oakes, Andrew Lamb, and Brian Craig.
I would also thank my publisher Rex Geissler whose tireless efforts in producing this work have been invaluable.
In addition, much deserved thanks to Gordon Ferguson and Douglas Jacoby both of whom, as Christian writers, have been a model and an inspiration.
It is a privilege to write this Foreword for John Oakes’ new book on Daniel. I have known John for many years and respect him so much as a disciple of Jesus Christ. John and Jan were on the San Diego ministry staff for a period when Gregg Marutzky and I were leading the church there. John was a very competent minister and a very supportive, encouraging friend. For all of his intellectual capacity and academic training (with a Ph.D. in Chemistry Physics), he is a very down-to-earth practical man and a very humble one. Therefore, my first thoughts about commending the book to you come through the avenue of being able to commend the writer as a great brother in Christ. He is not just good at writing – he is good at living what he writes about and he personally sets the example that he calls others to follow.
But now to the book I am commending. Several things stand out in reading the book, which will make it a very valuable addition to any library. One, John writes in a very practical and challenging way. As Daniel and his friends faced the spiritual battles of their day, the readers find plenty of direction to examine our hearts and lives as we face similar temptations in our day. For example, as John wrote about the temptation of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to bow down to the king’s idol in order to save their lives, he posed some probing questions by which to evaluate our level of idolatry in a number of areas. Then he added this little story from his own life.
I can vividly remember the day when, as a graduate student, my advisor called me into his office to share a concern. He said it was really obvious that pursuing a Ph.D. and a career as a professional scientist was not my first priority. He said in all sincerity that if I did not intend to make the pursuit of science my life, I might need to consider doing something else. What could I say in response to this? In my heart I was saying, “Yes! It is working! My boss has noticed that my commitment to God is far more important to me that getting a Ph.D.” I hope that my colleagues would make the same sort of comment about me today. If not, I must ask myself if I have not begun to be at least a part-time worshiper in the church of academia.
Those convictions coming from a college professor definitely gain my respect for him and force me to take a closer look at my own temptations to compromise in perhaps subtle ways to avoid having others think badly about me. This book will have that kind of effect on you.
Another outstanding part of the book is in how John’s knowledge about the history, culture, language and political situations of Daniel’s day enable him to blend together these elements to set the stage well for us readers. Even if we are quite uninformed in these areas, we will end up really understanding what before was a mystery, as these things are brought to life in a manner that grabs our attention. John knows these subjects well, and without such knowledge being passed on to us, our intellectual grasp and appreciation of Daniel would be lessened considerably.
Yet another area that I think is outstanding is John’s willingness to address the symbolism in the book in a straightforward, thorough manner. Writers are sometimes tempted to skim over the harder issues of interpretation and focus mainly on the easier ones, especially those that are more practically applicable. John covers the practical applications well in the narrative sections of the book, but wades right in to identify the meaning of the signs and symbols that occupy a fair segment of Daniel. You will not put this exposition down without knowing what the “beast with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth” (Daniel 7:5) symbolizes or what the other key symbols represent. As the meaning of all of these symbols is unfolded for you, your faith in the Bible and in the present Kingdom of which we are a part will increase dramatically.
To this end I commend this new book and its author to increase our knowledge, our faith and our commitment to live our lives as sold-out disciples of Jesus. May God add his blessings to accomplish these things for all who read the book, and may it find a wide base of readership. Its potential impact on individuals and the kingdom deserves that exposure. And to God be the glory!
April 10, 2000