Daniel – Part 1
By Dennis Huebshman
First a disclaimer. This is not intended to be a totally in-depth study of the book of Daniel as that would take more space and time than we have left here. The intent is to create an interest in what is there to invite further reading and study from all who see this. Also, I would like to present it in a manner that is not totally confusing and complicated, but simple enough for even me to understand. Because a friend requested an overview of Daniel, I would like to share it at this time. It will be in at least two parts with the biography first and prophecy afterwards.
Daniel is a book of 12 chapters which are divided into 2 distinct sections. Chapters 1-6 are the historical biographical sections, and 7-12 are the prophetical ones Daniel was one of the main prophets of the Bible, but did not say God spoke directly to him. Daniel had dreams and visions and on a couple of occasions contact with the Angel Gabriel. It is evident from the opening chapter, Daniel is in God’s good favor.
Besides Daniel who was renamed Belteshazzar when he got to Babylon, he had three companions – Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach) and Azariah (Abednego).
A bit of history of the Babylonian captivity; Daniel was born around 620 BC and was in the first deportation from Jerusalem to Babylon around 605 BC or when he was about 15 years of age. He lived until approximately 538 BC. In 539, Persia conquered Babylon from Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar, and Cyrus was the overall ruler of the Medes and Persians. He allowed the captive Jews to return to Jerusalem to start re-building the city which is described in other books of the Old Testament. King Darius that is mentioned, was also a ruler in the empire, but subordinate to Cyrus. Babylon was located southwest of what is now Baghdad, Iraq and Persia is now Iran. Daniel’s prophecies are said to have been written around 539 BC or about a year before his death. The actual death is not recorded even though there are several possibilities from several sources. This message will not go into them.
Daniel becomes known as someone who could interpret dreams and was given a high court position by King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel became very fond of Nebuchadnezzar as evidenced in Chapter 4 when he interpreted a 2nd. Dream of the king. Daniel said before interpreting the dream that he wished the outcome would fall on the king’s enemies rather than the king himself. The dream came true 12 months later when the king was in a moment of serious self-pride. He was walking on the wall of Babylon and said to himself how great a city it was that “He Had Built”. At that moment, the dream came true and the king was made to go “insane” for 7 periods of time – possibly 7 years. He lived like an animal but was protected by God from being killed, and after that time ended, was brought back to rule the kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar became an avid believer in Daniel’s God, and we will possibly see him when the time comes for us to go Home. He gave all honor, praise and glory to God for all He did for the king.
There was one occasion before this where Daniel’s three friends got in the pathway of Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath. The king had erected a golden statue that was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide and made a decree that when certain sounds were made, everyone was to bow down and worship the statue. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, and the king gave them one more chance. They made their famous proclamation in Daniel 3: 16-18, “…we do not need to give you a reply concerning this. (17) If our God whom we are serving exists, (and they truly believed He did) He is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire and He WILL rescue us, O king, from your power as well. (18) But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we don’t serve your gods and we will not pay homage to that golden statue you erected.” (any emphasis is mine)
We all know the outcome about this very famous Bible story. Before they were thrown into the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar threw a fit and demanded the furnace be heated 7 times hotter than usual. It was so hot that it killed those who threw them in. Nebuchadnezzar was able to see inside the furnace and saw 4 men walking around untied, and the 4th. Had the appearance like that of a god. Many prophecy people believe this was the preincarnate Jesus. After they were brought out, there wasn’t even the smell of smoke on them. As with the God of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar declared that anyone who blasphemes their God (who was one and the same) would be killed in very gruesome ways.
After Nebuchadnezzar, his grandson Belshazzar became king and did something very foolish. He held a drunken party using the vessels from the Temple that were taken from Jerusalem and had everyone drink from them and praise false gods. There appeared a hand – probably very large – which was writing something on a wall. Needless to say, this frightened Belshazzar, and he asked if anyone could interpret what was being written. The Queen Mother (grandmother) told him about Daniel and the king had him brought in. Just imagine how disgusted Daniel must have been to see what was being done to the religious artifacts from his Temple. The king offered Daniel gifts if he could tell what was being written, and Daniel did so but told him to keep his gifts. Daniel told the king that God had lost patience and was going to take his kingdom away. It was a swift judgment as the king was killed that very night by Darius the Mede.
Daniel is now under his 3rd. ruler since arriving at Babylon. The book doesn’t come right out and say so, but God’s will is evident throughout by causing all the kings to find favor in Daniel all his life.
Nebuchadnezzar used a fiery furnace for Daniel’s friends, but King Darius used a den of lions. Darius really liked Daniel, but unscrupulous leaders set a trap for Daniel that the king could not get out of. All laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed once issued. Because of pride (remember what caused Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity), Daniel was found to have “broken” the law and the king is forced to have him thrown into a den of lions. His crime was to pray to the Father daily from which he would not back down no matter what. The king then spent a sleepless night worrying about what was happening. At the earliest part of the morning, the king is said to have “rushed to the lion’s den” He called out asking if Daniel’s God had saved him. Now imagine his total surprise and relief when he heard, O King, live forever.” There was absolutely no injury to Daniel the same as no injury to his friends that were saved from the furnace. Then came the justice. The king’s new order, that could not be broken, was to have all who plotted against Daniel be taken to the lion’s den and be thrown in. Not only them, but their entire families as well. The “peaceful” lions came very much back to normal, and all those thrown in were killed before they even reached the bottom of the den. Like Nebuchadnezzar, Darius praised the God of Daniel as being the “True Living God” whose authority is Forever! I believe we may see him in heaven as well.
From here, we will go into the prophecies in chapters 7-12 in the next section.