Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, became the new king, and during a banquet he ordered the gold and silver goblets that had been stolen from the holy temple in Jerusalem to be brought out for use. In response to the defilement of such holy items, Belshazzar sees a hand writing on the wall. His astrologers are unable to assist him in its translation, and so Daniel is called upon to interpret the writing (Daniel 5:13-16
). As a reward for interpreting the writing, Daniel is promoted by King Belshazzar to the third highest position in the Babylonian kingdom (verse 29). That night, as Daniel had prophesied, the king was slain in battle, and his kingdom was taken over by the Persian Cyrus the Great, and Darius the Mede was made king.
Under the new ruler, Daniel excelled in his duties as one of the administrators to such a degree that King Darius was contemplating making him head over all the kingdom (Daniel 6:1-3
). This infuriated the other administrators so much that they looked for a way to bring Daniel down. They could find no wrongdoing on Daniel’s part, so they focused on the matter of Daniel’s religion. Using flattery, the administrators coaxed Darius into issuing a decree forbidding prayers to any god other than the king for the next thirty days. The penalty for disobedience was to be thrown into a den of lions. Daniel disobeyed the edict, of course, and continued to pray openly to the true God. As Daniel made no attempt to hide his activity, he was seen praying and arrested. With much regret the king gave the order for Daniel to be thrown into the lions’ den, but not without a prayer that Daniel’s God would rescue him (Daniel 6:16
). The next day, when Daniel was found alive and well, he told the king that God had sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths and so he had remained unharmed. This miracle resulted in King Darius sending out a decree that all his subjects were to worship the God of Daniel. Daniel continued to prosper throughout King Darius’ reign.
Daniel is also well known for the prophetic dreams and visions God gave him, recorded in the book of Daniel. Daniel’s prophecies cover a broad range of human history, as he predicted the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman Empires and the rise of a powerful king who “will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods” (Daniel 11:36
). Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy spoke of a Messiah who would be killed (Daniel 9:24–27
). We saw this prophecy fulfilled with Jesus. The remainder of the prophecy—the seventieth week—will be fulfilled in the end times. Daniel had other apocalyptic visions as well, and understanding his prophecies is important to eschatology.
Daniel exercised great integrity and, in doing so, received the respect and affection of the powerful rulers he served. However, his honesty and loyalty to his masters never led him to compromise his faith in the one true God. Rather than it being an obstacle to his success, Daniel’s continual devotion to God brought him the admiration of the unbelievers in his circle. When delivering his interpretations, he was quick to give God the credit for his ability to do so (Daniel 2:28
Daniel’s integrity as a man of God gained him favor with the secular world, yet he refused to compromise his faith in God. Even under the intimidation of kings and rulers, Daniel remained steadfast in his commitment to God. Daniel also teaches us that, no matter whom we are dealing with, no matter what their status is, we are to treat them with compassion. See how concerned he was when delivering the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream (Daniel 4:19
). As Christians, we are called to obey the rulers and authorities that God has put in place, treating them with respect and compassion; however, as we see from Daniel’s example, obeying God’s law must always take precedence over obeying men (Romans 13:1–7
; Acts 5:29
As a result of his devotion, Daniel found favor with man and with God (Daniel 9:20-23
). Notice also in those verses what the angel Gabriel told Daniel about how swiftly the answer to his prayer was dispatched. This shows us how ready the Lord is to hear the prayers of His people. Daniel’s strength lay in his devotion to prayer and is a lesson for us all. It is not just in the bad times but on a daily basis that we must come to God in prayer.
- If you think like today’s people, you will never understand the Bible!
- They used to write differently!
- They used to speak differently!
- They used to think differently!
- They used to act differently!