Daniel is unique in that only positive characteristics are attributed to him. He is pictured as a man of self control (1:8 & 10:3), courage (5:22), integrity (6:4), consistency (6:10), prayer (6:11), and humility (10:15-17). On several occasions he interprets dreams and visions (2:26-28; 4:4-5 & 7:2). His sterling character is renowned, even in his own lifetime. Ezekiel mentions Daniel twice, referring to both his righteousness and his wisdom (Ez. 14:14 & 28:3).

Little is known of his early youth other than he is descended from the royal family of David and raised in Jerusalem (Dan.1:3). He is probably born just before Josiah began his great reforms around 621 BC. As a teenager he is taken captive and transported from Judah to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar after the decisive Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC (Dan. 1:1-4). He is introduced to us as a stalwart young man among other Hebrew captives in Babylon. This is the average age men are selected for systematic and comprehensive assimilation into Babylonian culture.

Daniel is a man greatly loved by Jehovah (Dan. 9:23; 10:11 & 10:19). His name means “God is my Judge” or “He who does justice in the God’s name.” However, the Babylonians are noted for seeking to erase all trace of nationality and religion in their captives. Nebuchadnezzar therefore changes Daniel’s Hebrew name to Belteshazzar, meaning “Keepers of the Treasures of Bel,” a Babylonian god.

Daniel spends his entire life in Babylon and his ministry extends over the full 70 years of the captivity. God gives him favor in the eyes of his captors and he lives an active life as a royal public servant under the reigns of four successive rulers in Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. Although world history is not precise concerning the exact lengths of time each of these rulers is in power, it is certain Daniel is in his early 80’s when he is thrown to the lions.

The Chaldean wise men not only owed their lives to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but to Daniel in particular. He interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2). Had he not, all of the kings wise men would have been killed. They “repay” them by pointing out to the king that three defiant Hebrews will not bow to the king’s golden image. The story of their deliverance from the fiery furnace is legendary (Dan. 3).

For decades Daniel refuses to blend in politically or acculturate into an ungodly lifestyle. It is easy to understand that the pagans working alongside him will resent a foreigner being promoted and highly favored by the king. Walking close to God generates opposition. The plot to destroy Daniel is based on two factors: their jealousy and their firm belief his faith will not waver. They know he will not let anything, however life-threatening, interfere with his prayer life.

A brief timeline of the events in Daniel chapter six is as follows:

~ Daniel holds the key political position in Babylon during the reign of Darius (vv. 1-3).
~ Those who work with Daniel enviously conspire to destroy him (v. 4).
~ They understand Daniel will not compromise his spiritual principles (v. 5).
~ They urge King Darius to sign an unalterable decree that no person can call upon any god - except the king - for one month or they will be thrown to the lions (v. 7).
~ After Daniel knows the decree is official, he continues his habit of praying with his windows open three times daily (v. 10).
~ The conspirators tell the king, reminding him he must honor his decree (vv. 12-13).
~ The king is sorrowful and seeks for a way to spare Daniel (v. 14).
~ Just before Daniel is cast into the den of lions, the king tells him he is certain his God will deliver him (v. 16).
~ The king fasts all night, overcome with grief (v. 18).
~ The next morning the king comes to the den, calling to Daniel to see if his God is able to save him (vv. 19-20).
~ Daniel affirms Darius he is unharmed because God has shut the mouths of the lions (v. 22).
~ The king releases Daniel from the den, confessing that Daniel’s faith in God is the reason for his safety (v. 23).
~ Darius casts Daniel’s accusers and their families into the den where they are immediately devoured (v. 24).
~ The king decrees the entire nation must worship Jehovah because of His power to deliver so completely (vv. 25-27).
~ Daniel continues to prosper in Babylon (v. 28).

As the book unfolds, we see how God overrules seemingly impossible political entrapments. Another truth established numerous times through the book is the weakness of those who appear to be the strongest. Though surrounded by jealous co-workers, Daniel consistently demonstrates integrity (6:3).

The scope of the book of Daniel reaches far beyond godly men surviving furnaces and lions. Only in his twelve chapters is so much significant prophecy written so concisely and precisely. The eternal and universal purpose of his work is to show God will ultimately establish “a Kingdom which can never be destroyed,” not by the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Romans, Assyrians, Egyptians, or any satanic force (2:24; 6:26 & 7:14).

Points to Ponder:

~ Envy manifests itself when goodness and greatness is manifested in the lives of others. It is clear jealousy sets the stage for the series of events that develop in this chapter.

~ Divine law transcends human law. Daniel stays true to God despite the king’s legislation. Bad laws can never justify bad conduct.

~ The lives of Christians are closely monitored. Those who seek to destroy Daniel know his lifestyle is faultless.

~ Daniel’s prayer life is a matter of public record. The world is watching to see if our faith in Christ is consistent.

~ The tables will turn as integrity and fidelity are maintained. Those who attempt to take away Daniel’s life lose their own lives.

~ Those high in political circles need not forsake God in order to succeed. Daniel held the highest office in Babylon next to King Darius and stays true to God.

~ We must be willing to take spiritual risks. Daniel is fearless of the consequences of his disobedience to the king.

~ A Believer who stands strong in faith, despite possible repercussions, will ultimately force his adversaries to confess God’s reality and power (vv. 26-27).


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