Daniel’s story began in 605 B.C. as Babylon invaded Jerusalem and enslaved “some of the Israelites from the royal family and from the nobility—young men without any physical defect, good-looking, suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace” (Daniel 1:3–4; 2 Kings 24:1-7; 2 Chronicles 36:6-7). “Among them, from the Judahites, were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief eunuch gave them names; he gave the name Belteshazzar to Daniel, Shadrach to Hananiah, Meshach to Mishael, and Abednego to Azariah” (Daniel 1:6–7).
Daniel’s prophecies were later confirmed and attested to by our Lord Jesus (Matthew 24:15), but the Book of Daniel is NOT Daniel’s story. It’s God’s story! God is its author, and God is its main character.
The nation of Israel had turned away from their God to worship dead gods fashioned by sinful hands. Jehoiakim, king of Judah, was nothing like his dad, Josiah, but “did what was evil in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestors had done” (2 Kings 23:37).
The Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem was God’s judgment on the disobedient, unrepentant children of Israel, foretold by Moses eight hundred years earlier. “The Lord will bring you and your king that you have appointed to a nation neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone. You will become an object of horror, scorn, and ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.... The Lord will bring a nation from far away, from the ends of the earth, to swoop down on you like an eagle, a nation whose language you won’t understand, a ruthless nation, showing no respect for the old and not sparing the young” (Deuteronomy 28:36–37, 49-50).
Notice how clearly Daniel records it. “The Lord handed King Jehoiakim of Judah over to ... Babylon” (Daniel 1:2). The Sovereign, All-Mighty, King of kings used a pagan king and his pagan people for His Divine purposes and plan. God did it!
Daniel and his three buddies were exiled to Babylon where they entered a three-year, forced indoctrination. And still God was in control. “God had granted Daniel kindness and compassion from his captors” (Daniel 1:9).
And “God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind... In every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king consulted them about, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and mediums in his entire kingdom” (Daniel 1:17, 20).
Interestingly, Daniel’s story mirrors Joseph’s. Both were very young men. Both were captured in Canaan and carried off to foreign soil. Both were men of great character, who served their God, interpreted the dreams of dignitaries, and rose to the highest ranks faithfully serving foreign governments.
The Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent God of Daniel is still at work today. You and I, with our citizenship in Heaven, are living on foreign soil. We’re exiles. Like Daniel, God will use us as light in the darkness.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.