Daniel chapters one begins with a discussion of the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Daniel 1:1). This was the time when Jehoiakim was king of Judah. God had warned Jerusalem and Judah of coming judgment. They continued to ignore the warnings of the prophets sent by God and were eventually seized and captured. As part of his conquest, Nebuchadnezzar carried off a significant portion of Judah’s population, relocating them to his own country Daniel and other children were part of this conquest and were sent to Babylon (Daniel 1:3-7) to serve the king:
“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.”
Daniel purposed in his heart to honor God
Babylon was a place that worshiped idols. Additionally, the language was new and the lifestyle was different from what Daniel knew. Essentially, Daniel and the other children became slaves, and the Babylonians wanted to strip them of their identity. They were given new names and a new way of life. They were also commanded to eat food contrary to their belief.
Daniel determined in his heart that he would not compromise his godly training by indulging in practices that opposed the laws of God and petitioned the official (Asphenaz) to let him and the three other captured Hebrew boys to eat only vegetables and drink water.” The food that was served to the boys was a part of idol worship and they did not want to eat it (Daniel 1:8-16):
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned yourfood and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.” Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.”
Daniel’s devotion to God
Daniel chose to set himself apart as a young man; he did not waiver from this principle and continue to pray to and worship God. He was a man of prayer, and he did his best to live a godly life and God blessed and honored him. He knew who he was in relations to the purpose and will of God and did not falter from his belief in God. His courage and convictions resulted in him being placed in a position as the third highest ruler in Babylon (Daniel 5:29). More importantly, he was a manof God who was able to demonstrate the wisdom and power of God. He was mentioned in the book of Hebrews as a man of faith who “…..shut the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:33b).
After Daniel’s training was completed, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which he found very distressing. He called in magicians and astrologers from across the land and demanded that they would first tell him what the dream was about, and then interpret the dream for him. When they were unable to so, the king angrily commanded that all the wise men be put to death. Daniel found out about the decree, and together with his friends, prayed to God for the answers. The dream was revealed to Daniel, who in turn relayed it and the meaning to the king. In response, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged Daniel’s God as the only true God, and set Daniel as the administrator of all the wise men (Daniel, chapter 2).
Several years later, the Bible records that Nebuchadnezzar had yet another dream, which only Daniel could interpret. The message was a warning to Nebuchadnezzar, to humble himself under the God who had given him the ability to conquer. Nebuchadnezzar did not heed the message, and ended up enduring a seven year period of insanity. After this experience, the king wrote a letter to be dispersed throughout his entire kingdom; in the letter, he acknowledged the one true God who had spoken through him repeatedly through the prophet Daniel (Daniel, Chapter 4).
Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel, Chapter 6)
Daniel had favor with Darius, the new King of Persia and son-in-law of Cyrus. He was one of three leaders who oversaw the kingdom. Eventually, this favor gave Daniel full authority over all of the kingdoms. This caused the others to become jealous and they decided to devise a plan where it would make it illegal for Daniel to worship God and convinced Darius to make it mandatory for all to worship Darius for 30 days. It was illegal to worship anyone except Darius. If so, they would be thrown into a lion’s den
Daniel disobeyed that directive and continued to worship God. Darius was forced to deliver Daniel into a den of lions. As he watched Daniel being placed into the lions’ den he said to him, “Your God whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Then he sealed up the den, went home and, refusing to eat, spent a sleepless night alone (Dan 6:16-18).
Darius came back to the lion’s den early the next morning and said to Daniel: “Has your God whom you serve continually been able to save you?” Daniel answered. “O King live forever. My God sent His angel and he shut the lions’ mouths. They have not hurt me because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I done anything wrong before you, O King” (Dan 6:19-22).
Daniel had not been harmed by the lions. Darius had his false accusers placed into the lions’ den along with their wives and children. Before they reached the floor of the den, the lions over powered them and crushed all their bones (Dan 6:23-24)
The book of Daniel records numerous dreams and visions that God gave to Daniel to give to the children of Israel concerning their future fate.
What does this mean to us today?
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of them whose hearts are perfect toward Him.” -2 Chron 16:9
We too, can proclaim the work of God to a dying world. Daniel showed a deep faith in God during difficult times. We have to realize that no matter how difficult things may seem, evil cannot defeat the plans and purposes of God. Importantly, his life shows that the works of God can be revealed through man.