Claims to fame: Daniel was captured by the Babylonian army at Nebuchadnezzar’s instructions. He was thoroughly educated by the royal court’s academic elite and added to the royal court’s advisors and wise men — a prayer warrior.
Daniel knew Jeremiah’s prophetic writings and other Hebrew scriptures in detail. Received several incredibly detailed future-focused visions from angels sent by God. Uncompromisingly Jewish in all spheres of life.
Daniel’s Famous Stories
Daniel and God prove that vegetables and water beat food and drink from the king’s table (Daniel 1). God miraculously reveals the king’s dream and its interpretation in answer to earnest prayer (Daniel 2). God miraculously spares three of Daniel’s friends from certain death (Daniel 3).
The king is punished by God after not heeding Daniel’s plea that he repent of his sins (Daniel 4). A later coregent king defiles cups from God’s temple, watches a divine hand write on the wall, and is killed when Babylon falls that very evening.
The new empire’s jealous officials see God miraculously spare Daniel’s life only to suffer terrible deaths themselves (Daniel 6).
Daniel’s Book of the Bible
It’s a bit unusual. Daniel is often referred to as the fourth “major” Old Testament prophet. In his book, Daniel urges readers to remember that God is directing all of history and in the end will judge each of us. That’s not what’s unusual.
Daniel’s book is “major” because of its substance, not its length (unlike the very long books by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel).
In his book, Daniel presents some of the world’s best-known and best-loved Bible stories (Daniel 1-6), as well as the Old Testament’s most detailed prophetic outlines of future events.
In the dramatic first half of the book, we read of Daniel’s refusal to eat King Nebuchadnezzar’s food (Daniel 1) and of Nebuchadnezzar’s plan to kill Daniel and many others unless they can accurately tell what the king dreamed the previous night (Daniel 2).
We read of Daniel’s ability to read and interpret the divine handwriting on King Belshazzar’s banquet wall (Daniel 5) and the time Daniel is thrown into a lions’ den by King Darius (Daniel 6). These events take place over a period of nearly 70 years.
In the more prophetic second half of the book, we read of four visions that Daniel received predicting the fall of the Babylonian Empire; the rise and fall of the Persian, Grecian, and Roman Empires; and the last days before the Lord judges the living and the dead (Daniels 7-12).
A few of these predictions come true in Daniel’s later years, most are fulfilled hundreds of years later, and some have yet to happen.
Throughout the book, Daniel remains true to God in the midst of extremely difficult and compromising situations.
Can someone serve the Lord as a ranking member of a communist party or dictatorship? As a trusted adviser to an immoral prime minister? As the secretary of state for a country on the brink of collapse? Daniel shows us that in any situation or station of life we can remain true to the Lord our God.
Taken from his family and homeland as a youth and then thoroughly educated in the pagan beliefs of his day, Daniel had no props on which to lean his faith in the Lord. Yet Daniel never used excuses for half-hearted obedience to God.
Others may have cited circumstances, lack of believing friends, political pressures, and even the threat of death as reasons for not serving God. But not Daniel.
Daniel served in one prominent position after another but was always willing to forsake politics rather than compromise his integrity.
From his youth on, Daniel’s first priority was to remain true to God whether that meant using diplomacy to avoid ceremonial uncleanness, asking God for wisdom to answer the king’s harsh demands, or calmly going to the lions’ den instead of forsaking his faith.
No matter what political or personal waves beat against him like a rock Daniel would not waver from his steadfast devotion to the Lord Almighty.
You and I may wonder about the difficult places God sometimes puts His servants, yet Daniel’s example reminds us it’s never impossible to remain true to the Lord.
Scriptures about Daniel
That’s not all we read about Daniel.
Daniel’s VIP Verse
Daniel 5:23 is arguably the most important verse within the Book of Daniel. Scholars say it describes the downfall of the Babylonian empire on October 11 or 12, 539 BC. And, with 74 words it wins “longest verse in the entire NIV Bible.”
Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways (Daniel 5:23).
If only, after hearing that last sentence, King Belshazzar had repented. That sentence should strike the fear of God in all who read or hear it.
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/RomoloTavani
David Sanford’s book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His newest book is Life Map Devotional for Men published concurrently with his wife Renee’s new book, Life Map Devotional for Women.