The book of Daniel has been studied over the centuries by people much smarter than me. I only understood it while watching the sermons of Dr. Walter Veith and even then, I had to watch and listen multiple times to truly understand the essence of the scripture. Once I understood the symbolism, the rest was quite easy, and I thank God for granting me understanding of His word. The book is the abridged story of the life of Daniel, a prisoner taken from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar after the first siege of Jerusalem.
Nebuchadnezzar was the son of Nabopolassar, the first of the Chaldean Dynasty of the Neo-Babylonian empire. Under the rule of Nabopolassar, who reigned from circa 626BC to 605BC, Babylon started to regain its former glory, first by defeating the Assyrian empire, then the Egyptian empire, and the states that were friendly to these powers. Nabopolassar only started the work, which was finished in great majesty by his son, Nebuchadnezzar.
The rise of the Babylonian empire coincided with the start of prophet Jeremiah’s ministry. It is no coincidence that the prophet started warning the people about Babylon, when Babylon was just starting to become a world power. God was warning His people that He will allow Babylon to conquer even the holy city, and destroy the nation of Israel, unless they turn back from their apostasy.
We pick up with Daniel after Jeremiah’s prophecies start to come true. Nebuchadnezzar, in pursuit of the Egyptian armies after the battle of Carchemish, comes across Jerusalem and lays siege to the city. King Jehoiakim finally surrenders the city, but Nebuchadnezzar only takes the vessels from the temple and some captives, from the noble families of Israel. Daniel was among these captives.
In the first chapter of the book, we get a short account of this story, and what happened to Daniel and his friends after they were taken captive. Seeing as they were of noble birth, and quite knowledgeable in the ways of kings and court proceedings, the boys were given to the master of eunuchs to be trained as Chaldeans. This meant learning the old knowledge being revived by the Neo-Babylonians, that of the Sumerians and Akkadians. This culture dates back to the days of Hammurabi, in the 3rd millenium BC.
Needless to say, the ancient culture being literally unearthed by the Neo-Babylonians was highly steeped in rites and rituals related to the sun and the moon, amongst other “deities”. Daniel and his friends were forced to study all these things, but God was with them, and they never forgot Him. When asked to partake of the meat of the king, they refused, saying that they did not want to be defiled by the meat and wine. These boys were pure, not only in spirit, but also in flesh. They never forgot the commands of God, and were righteous in His eyes.
Throughout their studies, “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom”. God even gave Daniel the gift of understanding visions and dreams. The king, Nebuchadnezzar, was extremely impressed by these young men, and “he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm”, in all matters of wisdom and understanding.
The magicians and astrologers did not have the advantage of the everlasting God of the universe whispering the answers in their ears. Daniel and his friends were close to God, and God allowed them to know secrets that the magicians could only dream of knowing. Daniel and his friends never forgot who was the source of their knowledge and always testified the eternal God, and His great and mighty power.
In chapter 2, we will see how Daniel starts to be used by God to start the conversion of Nebuchadnezzar’s heart. Thank you for reading thus far and may God keep you and bless you until next time.