I just finished the last test for the Koinonia Institute course “Book of Daniel” and decided I should do a review of it.
Just as a little background: I’ve been using Chuck Missler’s Bible study materials since I was a new believer (circa 1995) and was stationed in Germany for 2 years while enlisted in the US Army. My first mentor in the faith would give me a tape each week along with a hand-written letter containing answers to the list of questions I’d given him the week before. I would listen to those tapes every night while laying in bed, and they helped solidify the Bible for me in those formative years.
Fast forward to 2020 and I discovered the Institute that used to have a membership fee to join was unexpectedly made free of charge and I immediately signed up for classes. It’s been slow going since then for several reasons: 1. I was in the middle of my Master’s and then went into my Doctoral programs at the same time I started at KI. 2. I decided at the onset that I would complete all the assignments for the courses, not just the required 1 or 2 discussion questions per lecture. I’m also working through the Candidate Research Projects as well (even though I think these are pretty much defunct at this point).
So, let’s jump in and go through the Book of Daniel course at KI. It was certainly an experience….
What I Liked About the Course
The main reason I decided to enroll at Koinonia Institute, despite it being unaccredited and provides no degrees, is I: 1. have always wanted to formally study at KI. 2. Wanted to fill the tremendous gaps left in my knowledge base after finishing not only my undergraduate degree but also after my MA and even after my ThD.
It is a known trend happening in Seminary over the last several years and maybe even the last few decades, that the education you get today is not the same as what you would get at the turn of the century or before. The first century Jews and even Christians memorized the Bible, sometimes all of it. They knew histories and theologies and even philosophies of the day.
This is not the case in this age of professional clergy and rack ‘em and stack ‘em church organizations that are all about numbers and marketing and are so watered down doctrinally and theologically that they could care less about teaching the whole counsel of God.
Don’t get me wrong. I studied quite a few things in Seminary. Unfortunately, I did not study “all things” and much of it was contrived. Often seminarians can get through their courses with a class in Genesis, John, and only one course in all the epistles of Paul (if they cover him at all).
So, when I finished my ThD, I wanted to return to KI and make a commitment to finish all the contextual courses they had available. Book by book. I’m not concerned for degrees or standing in some denomination. Most would consider me a heretic anyway.
But, let me talk about this course in particular. The Book of Daniel is a nice, short book, or shorter than some others. As always, the course layout at KI is adequate. I’m not certain what LMS system they’re using. They call it the studycenter, but I’ve never heard of it. Part of me thinks it’s Moodle or some variation of that, but I really don’t know. It works well enough, though.
This is the second book oriented course I’ve taken from KI and just like the Book of Jude, this course left me much more comfortable and confident in the content of the book after I finished. Missler is certainly thorough and the course provides 14 hour long lectures, about 7 discussion questions for each lecture, and also a corresponding required 10 question quiz at the end of each lecture. The membership, assignments, etc are all free of charge. The video or audio lectures and accompanying pdf notebooks must be purchased (which is the real tuition required), but they are also available online if you can find them. K-House has posted several lectures on YouTube. There is also a $20/month streaming membership you can purchase to gain access to the curriculum materials, which I think would be well worth it. I’ve personally had all of Chuck Missler’s materials for years (as I stated, started collecting cassette tapes in the mid 90’s) so the entire program is free for me (as in really free).
I will say it is disappointing to see the Institute underutilized. I guess several years ago the program was a happening place with many students enrolled and fighting for positions in courses (that were structured on a semester schedule). These days, though, were gone before I ever enrolled. I actually like it better this way, self-study, though I would like to develop a study group that met and discussed the course material or a group of individuals who were committed to going through the courses together.
I do like the solitude, though, and the self-directed pace. I’m not really interested in the internal levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold) but in the individual book courses mostly. Several topical courses I really have zero interest in. I did sign up to become a volunteer mentor for courses in the future. Not certain that will materialize into anything. The way the participation level is almost non-existent from others in the student body, I’ll be surprised if there is a need for me to do so. Which I’m okay with. I’m simply making myself available in any way I can and let the Lord do whatever it is he will do.
What Would I Do Differently?
There are a few things I do that I’ve discovered are kind of bad habits and plan to correct in upcoming courses I take. Currently I’ve been watching all the lectures leisurely (still taking notes, etc) then going back and answering all the discussion questions, then going back again and taking all the tests. Doing it this way I’ve realized that I find myself going back often to rewatch portions of the lecture since I’ve forgotten something that was said. This is not very efficient.
Instead of this current approach, in my next class I plan to:
1. Read all the Discussion Questions for a particular lecture just before I watch the lecture video. This way I will have the questions fresh in my head while watching the lecture.
2. I will then read the text in question (maybe several times) just before watching the lecture. I think I will read the entire book in 1 or 2 settings before starting the course, then repeat the reading of the chapter or section along with any cross-references assigned in the previous lecture, and will then re-read the entire book again at the close of the overall course.
3. I will then watch the video lecture, while taking notes, and also looking for the answers to the discussion questions.
4. I will then answer the discussion question for that particular lecture shortly after finishing the lecture. This will hopefully keep the material in my mind so I can do one pass on the questions and be done instead of having to go back and re-watch the lectures. I would also like to post the discussion questions after finishing them for each lecture rather than waiting to finish all of them to post.
5. I would also like to look through the DQ posts and select two from other students to respond to. I have not been doing this.
6. Shortly after finishing 1-5 for each lecture I want to take the corresponding exam. I do not want to wait until I’ve finished all the course material since this often means I’ve forgotten the material and have to go back and re-watch lectures or try to find answers online.
7. Only after I’ve finished all the DQ’s and their responses to other students, the Quizzes for all lectures do I want to reformat and post on my blog. Then I will also cap off the course (like I’m doing with the Book of Daniel) with a review episode on the podcast covering the material and my thoughts and opinions about the content.
I will say the internal message system for the StudyCenter is quite odd. I’m not really certain I know how it works. When I took my first course the SA (Student Assistant) I had read through all my discussion questions, and posted in-depth responses to my answers. I found it very edifying and uplifting. Since then, though, there has been no communication really with the other SA’s. If I’m entrusted with a course in the future as a mentor at KI, I plan to exemplify my first SA, but I also want to do the same work as a student in providing detailed and in-depth answers to other students about their work and insights. If I want the curriculum and the program to be used more, then I need to be willing to use it more. Maximize it’s potential. This is also a way I can function as a mentor even if I’m never given a course officially to be an SA for.
Now, though, the message system seems a little broken. I had 600+ messages built up. But when I went in and tried to delete them (or thought I was deleting them) I somehow set it so I would no longer get any messages or notifications. I really don’t know. If I’m officially mentoring a course in the future, I will have to ask about this and work it out. But, it is very confusing. If nothing else I will just put in my footer of my forum posts my email for students to use to reach me.
What Did I Learn?
The Book of Daniel has always been one of the “inaccessible” books for me in the Bible, along with Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the sleep-bringing historical books. I personally don’t understand how prophecy books are written, why their written so as to bring about as much confusion and rabbit trails as humanly possible (or divinely possible as it were). More the better part of my 30 year journey as a believer I’ve avoided books like these. I’ve read them. A few times. I’ve watched lectures and videos about them. But, they really don’t address issues for today, right? They were either fulfilled way back when or they won’t be fulfilled for so longer into the future that they lose all their relevance for today. At least, that’s what I used to think. But, given today’s current events and the horrendous and fascinating cultural slide we’ve seen the last few years in the West toward authoritarianism and a kind of quasi-paganistic culture religiosity founded on sheer extremistic insanity (Isa 5:20; Ro 1:21; 2 Th 2:11) it takes no leap of the imagination to recognize that prophecy is most probably being fulfilled in this age, and that potentially the end of the world has begun and the earth dwellers are preparing themselves (and being prepared) for the revealing of the antichrist. The Book of Daniel is the touchstone for all of this as the end has been predicted beforehand.
In Daniel 1 we see a young man and his friends being carried off into (essentially) slavery, despite what one could consider to be quite interesting and comfortable circumstances. They quickly find themselves in a foreign culture and faced with the decision to compromise and stand firm on their religious convictions. This, of course, is played out in the issue of eating certain kinds of meat and with provisions granted, they ended up being healthier than their counterparts.
In Chapter 2 we see Daniel being caught up in a battle between the King and his inherited advisors. It is dire, as he is being lumped in with the other magicians in the land and a death sentence is levied against him. But, God intercedes and Daniel is given not only the King’s dream but also its interpretation. He ends up not only saving the lives of all the magicians in the land but he is promoted over them.
In Chapter 3 we find an account in Daniel’s absence, the response from the magicians after having Daniel embarrass them as he did in chapter 2. They plot the deaths of Daniels friends, and succeed by leveraging the King’s pride. They are thrown into the furnace only to entertain a bodily “pre-christ” or an angel among the flames. They are not touch and stand by faith as a witness to the King.
Chapter 4 focuses on the delirium of an arrogant and prideful gentile king who is brought to heel by the only truly living God and creator of the universe and all that lives and breathes within it. For seven years the man was put out to pasture (literally) and by the end of that time he comes to a knowledge of the Hebrew God. He is restored and his acknowledgement is sent throughout the kingdom as a testimony of Yahweh to all the world and is also included in the Book of Daniel to be part of the written record for all of eternity.
Chapter 5 moves on to another king, Belshazzar (Nebuchadnezzar having died a year after he was restored to health – talk about a close call), the result of a coup against the rightful heir and really only a prince in charge while his father, Nabonidus, was actual king but indisposed. Here we find Daniel most likely living in retirement (since the king doesn’t really know about him) and is brought back into service because of supernatural events that have transpired, aka, the handwriting on the wall. He interprets the writing and the king/prince that night is deposed, losing Babylon to Darius.
Chapter 6 discusses Darius, the nephew of Cyrus, who reigned in Persia after the overthrow of Belshazzar and Nabonidus in Chapter 5. The king was duped by his advisors (who had it out for Daniel) into signing a law against worshipping any other god but the king. This landed Daniel in the “lions den” where he was left overnight. By morning the king discovers Daniel is alive and attests that angels kept the lions from harming him. The king subsequently pulls Daniel from the pit and throws in the conspirators headlong instead, along with their wives and children. The text says the lions killed them before they could even hit the floor.
In Chapter 7 we find an account of Daniel’s dream of four beasts which are four kings and are defeated by God. The end times is prophecied of the 10 kings, the antichrist, who ultimately falls to God.
In Chapter 8 we have Daniel’s dream of the ram and the goat. These represent the kings of Media and Persia. The goat becomes a great power but it’s horn is broken and replaced by four (successors to Alexander the Great) with one horn (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) coming to power. This horn takes away the daily sacrifices and destroys the holy of holies. The angel Gabriel explains to Daniel that the vision does not refer to Antiochus but to the time of the end.
In Chapter 9 Daniel is reading Jeremiah and figuring out when the end of the 70 years will occur. He prays about it and is visited by Gabriel who explains the 70 weeks (70×7=490). Then from the decree to restore Jerusalem to the Messiah there would be ((7+62) x 7 years = 483 years). The Messiah would then be cut off and the city would be destroyed. The antichrist will make a covenant with Israel but will break it (after 3 1/2 years) and will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings and will fulfill the abomination of desolation.
Chapter 10 illustrates the greater war that is occurring all around us but we (for whatever reason) cannot see. Daniel is praying for 21 days and is visited by an angel who claims he was sent on the first day Daniel started praying but was opposed by the prince of Persia for 21 days, and only with Michael’s help was he able to get to Daniel.
Chapter 11 is a summary in advance of the 400 years or the “Silent Years.” It is claimed God does not speak during this time, but this chapter provides a detailed overview of the events.
Chapter 12 is the culmination of the end times, when Michael stands up for the Jewish people in their time of trouble, when they are delivered, the resurrection occurs, and their time of trouble is 3 1/2 years (ostensibly the later half of the 7 year period). There is predicted 1290 days from the abomination of desolation to the end of all things.
Needless to say, there is a lot of material to cover, and yet this is such a short book. I’m leery to jump into something like Genesis or especially Revelation. I also have a difficult time generally with prophetic topics. They really don’t make much sense to me, I’m not certain I understand their hermeneutic in how they derive their interpretations in the first place. I especially don’t like the detail, the extrapolation, and also the immensity of error that has propagated under the church universal for the last 2000 years. You would think a supernaturally identified group that has the Holy Spirit dwelling within would get something right once in a while. But apparently not so.
During this study I was also wrestling with the pre vs post millennial viewpoints. I came away not necessarily more so a premillennialist but definitely less of a postmillennialist. The idea that the world is getting better and better or that we have an excuse to embrace the world and get involved in politics or raise children since we will literally inherit the earth and the only way God’s kingdom will come is if the church does it’s job in evangelizing the world I think is preposterous. It is just an excuse of those who have children and grandchildren or who can’t stomach the reality that we will suffer in the future. Any kingdoms that has the Christian Church as it’s leader I want nothing to do with. We’ve seen what the church does with power and authority. They are no better than the secularists who are in charge today. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I certainly found the Daniel course at KI to be well put together and covers the material quite well. I’m certainly still quite confused on a lot of points, but less so than I was at the onset. I found the accounts in Daniel to be quite fascinating. The detail is important to consider.
I am a stanch futurist. I think there will be a third temple built, and there will be an actual antichrist emerge to subdue the world and overthrow any Christians who are still living. I’m not as certain about the rapture, though. I am more certain it is mid-trib rather than pre. It is possible it’s post but I don’t think so. There are too many passages referencing how the church was not made for wrath or that we will be able to escape the wrath to come.
I see a greater relevance to the content of Daniel today as we slide toward authoritarianism and the wealthy elites seem to be laying the foundation for the new world order (much more so than there were in the 90’s when I just couldn’t see any connection at all). I’m watching and waiting, anticipating a new temple to be started some point soon, unless they need to have a few wars first so Israel can expand their borders and produce the safety spoken of in the lectures. I’m also expecting (hoping) that I won’t have a chance to see any of this, that they will either round up Christians early on and get rid of us or the rapture will occur soon and I won’t have to worry about any of it any longer. Only time will tell. May God’s will be done.
What’s My Next Course?
I’m pretty certain my next course will be Revelation Part 1, though I am dreading the idea of jumping into another prophecy/end times book. I might consider a smaller, Old Testament book first, like Amos or Jonah or Job (though Job is quite large and in-depth). If not the next then Revelation Part 1 will be on deck. With the times as they are, though, I’m at least partly interested in solidifying the content of end-times prophecy so I at least know what to expect in the coming months and years ahead, if indeed we are in the end times in this generation. It is quite possible that we are still, historically, part of the early church and there are another 1000 years to go before the end times begins. If the OT spans 4000 years (from Gen 1:1 to John the Baptist) and then the NT spans 2000 years from the Cross to Today, then that’s 6000 years. With an additional 1000 years for the millennial reign of Christ that would fit perfectly with the 7 days, 7 years idea that I’ve heard about before. I would LOVE for this to be about over. For the rapture to take place and for judgment fire to sweep across this god forsaken earth. But many have thought they were in the end of days and were not. We know Daniel was told specifically that he was not. He was told he would rest and then would rise to his inheritance at the end of days.
What a crazy concept.
Overall, the course was quite good. The quality and completeness of the program is one of the main reasons I decided to commit my time to the Koinonia Institute rather than others that are not as quite established or have more topical approaches. My hope is to finish within 1 year but I don’t think that’s at all realistic, given that I’m doing all the assignments and also the extra material as well. Maybe 2 years is a better estimate to shoot for.
I would certainly recommend KI for anyone who wants a sure grounding in the biblical text. It is contextual, systematic, biblical, and relevant even to today’s environment.
Check it out, especially now that it’s free enrollment.
Until my next course review…
Excerpt from Our Daughter:
“Okay, mom,” Randy said.
“You behave yourself and be nice. You’re lucky to have company while you wait for the doctors.”
The woman turned and started back the way she came.
“The nurse said it would be twenty or thirty more minutes, so we’ll eat quick and be back up here before they take you in, okay?”
“Sorry for him,” the woman said to Katie as she walked by.
As the woman left, Katie noticed the boy moving around again on the bed. Before she realized what was happening, the tiny lump disappeared and she could hear the faint sound of bare hands and feet on the tile floor.
He was low crawling under the beds toward her.
A moment later, Randy popped his head out from under the nearest hospital bed, craning his neck around to look up at her.
“Hello, there,” Katie said.
Randy disappeared back under the bed, the bed sheet draping down almost to the floor. Katie could still see three little fingers pressed to the tile.
“What are you here for?” Katie asked, readjusting her seat in the chair, trying to get the ache in her chest to lessen.
For whatever reason, the wheelchair was really uncomfortable.
“Why are – “
Randy’s voice trailed off for a moment as he looked around.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m getting my leg fixed,” Katie said. “See?”
Randy poked his head back out from under the bed and looked at the leg she was pointing to.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“The doctor said it’s broken,” Katie said. “Shattered.”
“Can you feel it?” Randy asked, able to stay out from his hiding place.
“I can feel it, but it’s not too bad,” Katie said, then tapped the IV in her arm. “This thing is giving me medicine of some kind for the pain. At least that’s what the nurses said.”
“Why are you – “
Randy stopped mid-sentence.
He scooted out from under the bed entirely and slowly crept over to er on all fours.
“What are you, some kind of spider?” Katie asked, giggling a little.
“What are you?” Randy echoed.
He was now only about a foot away from her chair and sat there, his legs folded up under him, gawking up at her.
“What are you staring at me for?”
“I’ve never – ”
Randy put out a hesitant hand and ever so gently touched her arm.
“Are you some kind of ghost?”
He looked around again.
“Are you – ”
He leaned in, talking in a whisper.
“Are you dead?”
A nurse came around the corner and stopped abruptly, spotting the empty bed in the far corner where Randy should have been.
“Randy Andrews,” the nurse said, her hands now on her hips. “You get right back into the bed and you stop playing around, please. They are ready for you in surgery.”
Katie watched as Randy scrambled on all fours under the beds and back up onto his, pulling the sheet back over top of himself again.
She started to ask him about his question, but couldn’t get the words out before his parents appeared at the door.
Katie sat there quietly, watching Randy stare back at her from under his sheet. She glanced over at his parents and the nurse, noticed Randy’s dad had no hair on the top of his head.
Are you dead?
What kind of question was that?
The snap of the wheel locks being disengaged on Randy’s hospital bed jarred Katie out of the confusion she was in.
The doctor she’d first seen was now at the door, waiting for Randy.
He was his surgeon.
They wheeled Randy out of the room, his parents following right behind, disappearing to the left, heading for his operating room.
The pre-op room was empty again.
Are you dead?
What kind of crazy question was that?
The nurse came back through the double doors.
“It won’t be long now,” she said.
Katie tried not to think about the dull ache growing just behind her sternum.
The nurse disappeared around the corner as Katie watched the double doors to the operating rooms slowly shut.
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