Old Testament Walk Through: Daniel 1–6

Jesus Christ the Rock!
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces” (Daniel 2:44, 45 NIV).

The Challenge

“Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone,
Dare to have a purpose firm, and dare to make it known . . .
Many mighty men are lost daring not to stand,
who for God had been a host by joining Daniel’s band”­­– Philip P. Bliss

Daniel’s life is a challenge to you to serve God faithfully from your youth in purity, and with great courage and faith in times of great difficulty; relying on God by meditating on His Word with much prayer!

Introduction
The life of Daniel revolves around his integrity (the ability to choose right and do right under all circumstances; favourable or unfavourable), his wisdom especially the ability to understand and interpret dreams, and his habit of prayer.

His story begins as a slave carried away from his homeland at about the young age of sixteen. His story continues through conflicts with the worldly wisdom found in the kingdom of Babylon. We find Daniel always choosing God’s wisdom. Though he speaks with wisdom and tact when needed, he never compromised when it came to the question of prayer.

And in the first half of the book, we find his three friends giving him company in great exploits for God as well as in great praying! God exalted Daniel and his friends in the court of the greatest of all earthly kingdoms the world has seen, Babylon, to prove to the world that their God is sovereign over all kingdoms!

I Young Men Who Would Not Compromise
Daniel and his three friends were from the royal family and the nobility and had great physical as well as intellectual qualities (1:3, 4). They were selected to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

First of all the chief official had their names changed.

“Their Hebrew names, which they received at their circumcision [done on the 8th day after birth], had something of God, or Jah, in them:

Daniel—God is my Judge;
Hananiah—The grace of the Lord;
Mishael—He that is the strong God;
Azariah—The Lord is a help.
To make them forget the God of their fathers, the guide of their youth, they give them names that savour of the Babylonian idolatry.”­­– Matthew Henry. But changing their names could not change their godly character.

Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine (1:8). This was because these foods may not have been drained completely of blood as was demanded by God’s holy law (Leviticus 3:17, 7:26) or perhaps they might have been offered to idols before being given to them (Exodus 34:15).

God caused the official to show favour and sympathy to Daniel, but he was afraid that the king would have his head if these young men looked worse than other young men their age. Daniel then asked him to put the four of them to a test lasting ten days. He asked for vegetables and water to be given them during this time at the end of which a comparison with others can be made. At the end of ten days, these young men looked healthier and better nourished. So God honoured the decision of these young men not to compromise their faith.

II Young Men Without Equal
“To these four young men,” young men who did not compromise their faith, “God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand dreams and visions of all kinds” (Daniel 1:17 NIV). It is interesting to note that Ashpenaz was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians (1:4). But note that it was God who gave knowledge and understanding to these young men.

These young men were then personally interviewed by the greatest monarch of the greatest kingdom that ever ruled the world, Nebuchadnezzar. And he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters of his kingdom (1:20).

In this context, it is good to reflect on this verse: “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:99 NIV). If at all you lack wisdom, ask God and He will give it to you (James 1:5). Most people do not ask God for wisdom and therefore do not get it. Remember it is God’s wisdom in you that will set you a class apart from your competition. So make wisdom from God a top priority in your life.

III Young Men Who Prayed
King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which troubled him. But he also forgot the dream. And he wanted the astrologers to tell him the dream and interpret it for him. This was impossible. The astrologers told the king, “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men” (Daniel 2:11 NIV). The king was angry and furious at this reply that he ordered the execution of all wise men of Babylon. So the life of Daniel and his friends were also under threat.

When Arioch the commander came, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact (2:14). Remember, “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Daniel, having found out the reason, goes to the king and asks for time. Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his three friends. “He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery” (2:18). And during the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.

It is important to note a few things here:
● Ask people for time but plead with God for mercy.
● Talk to people with wisdom and tact when they threaten you, but take the matter to God in prayer.
● Explain the matter to your friends and ask them to pray with you. Apostle Paul did this often (Eph. 6:19, 20; Col. 4:3, 4; I Thess. 5:25; II Thess. 3;1, 2).

Daniel’s Prayer (2:20—23)
Daniel praises God for making known to him the king’s dream. Daniel praises God for His wisdom and power and His ability to change times and seasons; to set up kings and depose them. Daniel says that God “reveals deep and hidden things” because God knows what lies in darkness. And as God gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning, God gave them the answer to their prayers.

IV Daniel’s Interpretation
The king had seen a large statue that was enormous, dazzling and awesome in appearance. This dream talked about God’s plan of human history.

king had seen a large statue that was enormous, dazzling and awesome in appearance. This dream talked about God’s plan of human history.

The Statue and What Each Part of It Stood For
Part Material Kingdom
Head Gold Babylon

 

Chest and Arms Silver Medo­-Persia

 

Belly and Thighs Bronze Greece

 

Legs Iron Rome

 

Feet Partly Iron and Baked Clay Divided Rome

 

Then the rock cut out but not by human hands strikes the statue breaking to to pieces and then becomes a huge mountain filling the whole earth (Ref. Isaiah 2:2 and Micah 4:1)!

The Rock:
In the time of the kingdom of Rome, God will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed (2:44). That is important to note because earthly kingdoms rise and fall. But God’s kingdom will never be destroyed. It will crush all other kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the rock cut out of mountain, but not by human hands. That talks about the divine origin of the new kingdom.

Who is this Rock?
No one other than Jesus Christ. Luke mentions clearly that Jesus was born during the time of Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1). So Jesus came during the time when Rome was at the height of its power. But He did not crush their empire as people expected Him to do. That means He has kept the crushing part to another time—His Second Coming! Isaiah 9:6, 7 talks about Jesus who will reign on David’s throne forever! Micah 5:2 talks about Bethlehem, from where one who will be ruler over Israel will come whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. You will find references to Jesus Christ the Rock in the following passages: Psalm 118:22, Isaiah 8:14, 28:16 and Zechariah 3:9.

The Significance of Daniel’s Interpretation
The interpretation given by Daniel was exactly fulfilled in history. Through Daniel God has given us a blueprint of history. And we are living at a time when we have every reason to expect the Rock to hit the statue and crush it to pieces. The Roman Empire is still divided (geographically, present day Europe) though many great rulers like Napolean and Hitler tried their best to unify Europe (Read Daniel 2:43. Verse 44 begins, “In the time of those kings . . .).

This dream and its interpretation form the foundation on which the Book of Revelation can be understood. The meaning of this dream is further explained in the second half of the Book of Daniel. Even Jesus referred to Daniel’s prophetic utterance in Matthew 24:15 as He was speaking of the signs of the End. So it is absolutely important for us to understand the message of Daniel. Without it, it is impossible to understand the Book of Revelation and God’s plan for the end times.

The Reaction of Nebuchadnezzar
The most powerful emperor of those times paid honour to Daniel when he heard the dream and its interpretation. But still he was not willing to acknowledge the God of Daniel as his own Lord. Instead he said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries” [emphasis added]. And he placed Daniel in a high position.

Daniel did not forget his friends who prayed with him. He recommended them to the king and they were also placed in places of authority. Like Joseph, Daniel too came to a high position because the king had dreams which he could not understand!

V The Image of Gold (Chapter 3)
King Nebuchadnezzar was not willing to acknowledge God as Lord. So he made an image of gold. It was almost 8 to 9 storeys high (90 feet) and almost wide as 2 small cars parked side by side (nine feet). He called everyone to attend its dedication.

The role of music: Then the herald proclaimed that when they heard music of all kinds they must fall down and worship the image of gold. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.It is important to note that music is used in idol worship. That means that all kinds of music are not godly. In these modern times many kinds of music are related with drug addiction, homosexuality, suicide, idolatry, astrology (such people have no place in heaven/see Revelation 22:15) etc.

Exposing yourself to these kinds of music can create huge disturbances in your relationship with God. More than that it will allow Satanic influences to control your behaviour. So pray to God to give you discernment and wisdom to know what kind of music to listen to.

A look at Revelation 13 and the Image Which Spoke
Most of Chapter 12 talks about the dragon (who is Satan or the devil) and he stands on the shore of the sea. Then a beast comes out of the sea (the sea possibly represents people of the world outside of Israel).

Most Bible Scholars believe that this beast is the Antichrist, the world ruler who will rule on earth.Then beginning at verse 11 we see another beast coming out of the earth (the earth here possibly represents the nation of Israel). He is also known as the false prophet [Refer Revelation 19:20 and 20:10 where the devil, the beast (Antichrist) and the prophet are thrown into the lake of burning sulphur.]

The false prophet had two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon (Rev. 13:11). That means he appeared innocent but was devilish. He performed great and miraculous signs (it is a clear warning that in the end times many demoniacally­-powered people will show great signs and wonders). He thus deceived the people.

He orders to set up an image in honour of the Antichrist (or the first beast). “He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed” [emphasis added] (Revelation 13:15 NIV). Note that the false prophet was given power. By whom? By Satan or the dragon.

Think about this. John wrote this around 96 A.D. Now nearly 2000 years have passed. With the coming of television, computers, mobiles and even robots powered by artificial intelligence, an image that can speak is a reality. Think about the times we are living in. It is the time of the end! The point to note is that the events of Daniel 3 can be seen as a foreshadow of things yet to come!

VI God’s Bold Young Men
Young people are often challenged in today’s world to compromise their faith. When friends make fun it is difficult to stand for God. But you can find encouragement from the life of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. You need to remember that they were standing against the most powerful ruler the world had seen till then. Today’s difficulties you face are not greater than what they had faced.

These young men refused to worship the image of gold even though they were threatened to be thrown into the blazing furnace. The king asked, “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (Daniel 3:15b).

But they replied that the God whom they served was able to rescue them. “But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18 NIV). This is true loyalty to God—To trust in God whether He chooses to deliver you or not! (For example, Graham Staines and his two children were not rescued by God when they were burned in the fire in January 1999).

The Fourth Man:
When the three men were tied up and thrown into the fire which was made seven times hotter, the king saw four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looked like a son of the gods! (3:25).Immediately Nebuchadnezzar called the young men out, addressing them as “servants of the Most High God.” When you refuse to compromise your faith, others will know that you are servants of the Most High God because of the “One” who walks with you in the fire. Though the identity of the person is not revealed, many people love to think of the fourth person as the Son of God!

The King’s Reaction:
He understood that “no other god can save in this way” (3:29). And he gave a command that no one should say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When you take a stand for God, others will speak of Him as the God of ________ (your name)!

VII Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Tree (Chapter 4)
He writes a letter to the people of his kingdom describing the miracles God had done for him. He mentions that God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom (v. 3). He then tells about a dream he had where he saw a high tree. A messenger comes from heaven and calls out to cut down the tree leaving its stump and roots in the ground bound with iron and bronze.

Then the tree is identified with a man and his mind is changed from that of a man to that of a beast for seven years. The purpose of the dream is to teach that God “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men” (Daniel 4:17b NIV).

Daniel Interprets:
Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, “You, O king, are that tree!” (4:22). He told the king that he will be driven away from people and will live with wild animals for seven years until he acknowledged that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (v. 25). But the kingdom will be restored to him after seven years. That is why the stump of the tree and its roots were left intact when the tree was cut down. Daniel advised the king to renounce his sins by doing what was right and also show kindness to the poor so that his prosperity may continue.

Even though a year was given by God to the king he did not repent of his ways. Instead as he uttered proud words (vv. 30, 31), judgement came on him. Compare what happened to King Herod in Acts 12:21—23! When Nebuchadnezzar came back to his senses, he was willing to “praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven” saying that “those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (4:37).

VIII The Writing on the Wall
King Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar gave a feast. He while drinking his wine gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that was taken from the temple of Jerusalem for the people to drink wine in them. Not only that they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron and wood and stone as they drank from it.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall the words, “MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN.” He was terrified. Even though he promised many gifts nobody could read it.

Finally the queen came and told him about Daniel. Daniel, by this time an old man of around 80 years comes to his presence. He addresses Daniel as “one of the exiles.” Daniel refuses his gifts but decides to read the writing for him.Daniel tells Belshazzar that his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar was stripped of his glory when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride. He was restored to his position only when he acknowledged that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes” (5:21b).

After saying this, Daniel rebuked king Belshazzar saying that he had not humbled himself even though he knew all this. Instead he had set himself up against the God of heaven by using the goblets from God’s temple to drink wine and praising the gods of gold and silver and bronze and iron and wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. He did not honour the God who held his life in His hand. And then Daniel told him the interpretation that God had not only judged his kingdom but also given it to the Medes and the Persians. Daniel was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

But that very night, while the Babylonians were feasting, without much of a resistance, Darius the Mede took over the kingdom. Thus the interpretation of Daniel was fulfilled that very night.

The Writing on the Wall is a phrase in the English language that suggests the certainty of the coming doom. The phrase comes from the above­-mentioned incident in the Bible. When “the writing is on the wall” it means that the final verdict of destruction is clear.This incident from the life of Belshazzar tells us that God can turn the events of even the most powerful kingdom in a night to fulfil His purposes in human history. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NIV).

IX Daniel in the Den of Lions (Chapter 6)
We have a glimpse into the character of Daniel in this chapter:

● Daniel distinguished himself with his exceptional qualities. Read Proverbs 22:29 which says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (NIV).

● Those jealous of him could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

● Finally they decide that they cannot find any basis for charges against him unless it had something to do with the law of his God. Read 1 Peter 4:12—16. It says that if you suffer as a Christian you need not be ashamed but you should praise God that you bear that name.

● Daniel is not intimidated (put to fear) by the king’s decree that he should not pray to anyone except the king for the next thirty days. Just as he had done before he knelt down and prayed three times a day. That means he had a strong habit of prayer. Therefore a crisis did not find him in panic but strong in the Lord. Therefore youngsters, when you are young itself, create a strong habit of prayer so that even in your old age (Daniel was above 80 when he was thrown into the lion’s den) you can have God as your refuge in prayer.

● Daniel is recognized as the servant of the living God by the king. What a privilege to have those who do not know God to confess that you are a servant of the living God. So imitate the life and example of Daniel’s godly life.

● Daniel attributes his safety to God who sent His angel to shut the mouth of the lions. Note that Daniel does not make the least attempt to take any glory for himself.This incident makes the king write a letter to all the peoples saying that in every part of his kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

Remember it was one man’s influence. Your life too can have a vast influence for God. Dare to be a Daniel and dare to stand alone. With God!

Related Posts:
Daniel 4:26 Leave the Stump of the Tree
Daniel 6:10b Daniel, Just As He Had Done Before
The Habit of Prayer