Daniel – Stayed True to God
by John C. Westervelt
Daniel and three friends were among a group of hostages from Jerusalem who were captured by King Nebuchnezzar in 605 B.C. and taken on the long trek to Babylon. The king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to select some good-looking, intelligent Hebrew youth for a three-year school in Babylonian language and literature to prepare them for government service. Daniel and his friends were among those chosen. The chief official changed Daniel’s name to Belteshazzar and his friends’ names to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The youth selected for the school were to eat food prepared for the king’s table. As a good Jew, Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating non-kosher food. He asked the chief official if he could eat vegetables. The official let Daniel and his friends eat vegetables, while the other youth were eating the king’s rich food. After ten days, Daniel’s group looked healthier than the others, so their diet was approved.
When the three-year training program was completed, the chief official brought all the young men before King Nebuchnezzar for questioning. For all matters of wisdom and understanding, Daniel and his friends were ten times more astute than the king’s magicians and astrologers.
King Nebuchnezzar had a dream, and among all the king’s counselors only Daniel could interpret the dream. The king was so impressed that he promoted Daniel and his friends to high offices. Daniel served at the king’s court, while Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego became administrators of Babylonian provinces.
Babylonia prospered so that Nebuchnezzar ordered the construction of a ninety-foot image overlaid with gold. All the people were required to bow down before it. The people in the provinces reported that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not bowing down before the idol, so the king had them cast into the fiery furnace. Onlookers reported seeing four bodies moving safely around inside the furnace, and wondered if the fourth figure was a guardian angel. When Nebuchnezzar received the report that the three Hebrews were unscathed, he sent the word to all his people, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”
Daniel’s counsel to kings continued after the death of Nebuchnezzar in 562 B.C. At a great banquet held by King Belshazzar, suddenly a man’s hand appeared and began writing on the plaster wall of the palace. Daniel’s interpretation depicted a divided kingdom given over to the Medes and Persians. That very night Belshazzar was slain.
Darius the Mede took over the kingdom. He appointed a leader to head each of 120 provinces. These were divided up to report to three administrative assistants to the king, one of whom was Daniel. All the other leaders became jealous of Daniel because he had better insights than they did. They convinced Darius to sign a statute that read, “If anyone makes a petition to any god or man besides Darius, he shall be cast into the lions’ den.”
With the law in place, the leaders and administrators told the king that Daniel was petitioning the God of the Hebrews in daily prayer. The king hoped to dismiss the charge, but Darius’ advisors reminded the king that the law of the Medes and Persians could not be broken. Therefore, a despondent king told Daniel, “Your God must deliver you,” and then he had Daniel cast into the lions’ den.
After a fitful night of no sleep, Darius arose at dawn and went to the lions’ den. He called out to Daniel. Daniel replied, “My God has kept me safe from the lions.” The king then cast Daniel’s adversaries into the lions’ den where they were devoured. Darius wrote to all his subjects, saying, “Honor Daniel’s God.” Daniel’s success continued under Darius and later under Cyrus the Persian.
Daniel was used by God to see visions and to prophesy. Daniel recorded his dream of the four beasts and of the ram, goat, and little horn. As Daniel sought to understand these visions, Gabriel spoke to him, saying, “The vision pertains to the time of the end.”
Daniel continued to record his visions and prophecies, but confessed that he didn’t understand their meaning by saying, “My Lord, what will be the outcome of these events?”
The Lord replied, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.”
The same God who saved Daniel from the lion’s den and his three friends from the fiery furnace is Lord over the last days as well. Six hundred and twenty-five years later, instead of concealing His revelation, God would tell John on Patmos, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”
Daniel Revelation 22:10
Copyright 2003 by John C. Westervelt
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