As Ezekiel was proclaiming God’s very specific predictions of what will happen in the days to come, king Nebuchadnezzar ransacked Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s warning was not taken to heart and many Jews were killed. King Jehoiakim of Judah ordered that a few young, educated Jewish men be taken from among the noble families of Israel. Those that were chosen were taught the language and traditions of the Babylon. Daniel and three of his friends were among those selected. Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar, and his friends were also given Babylonian names; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The king also ordered the slaughter of all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel inquired why the king wanted to kill the wise men. He learned that the wise men were unable to interpret the king’s dream.
Daniel returned home and requested that his friends pray for God’s mercy so that they too would not be among those executed. INSIGHT: When we hear disturbing news, like Daniel, we are wise to first pray for guidance before we proceed.
That night God gave Daniel a clear vision and he woke up praising God for making him wise. He woke up and returned to the man in charge of the execution. Daniel courageously tells the kings servant to call off the killing of wise men. He asks to be presented to the king. The king asked Daniel to tell him what his dream meant. Daniel wisely replied that no wise man, magician or otherwise had that power, but “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.”(2:27) The king described his dream. A weird statue of a man with a head of gold, a chest of silver, bronze hips and legs of iron and his feet were made of clay. A hand from the sky was seen cutting a stone out of a mountain and then the hand hurled the stone and it crushed the feet. The whole immense statue then tumbled into pieces. All the pieces scattered, but the stone that smashed the statue became a mountain.
Daniel interpreted; The God of heaven has given the king the head of gold and the power to rule. An inferior king will rule next, and then a bronze kingdom will overtake him. A fourth iron takeover will smash the previous kingdom to bits. The crushed feet will dissolve into a mixed kingdom with bits of clay and unbending iron. The kingdom will not bond, it will not last. Throughout all this turmoil the God of heaven will build a kingdom that will never be destroyed. The Ruler of heaven and earth revealed to Nebuchadnezzar all that would occur.
The king fell on his face in awe. Daniel was promoted as governor over Babylon and the chief above all the wise men in the king’s court which included Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The handsome youth with a connection to God, qualified him to serve in the king’s palace.
Twenty seven years fly by and we learn that Nebuchadnezzar built a golden image of himself and commanded all to worship it. When Daniel’s three wise friends refused, the king in a rage ordered that the furnace fire be turned up seven times hotter. With bound hand and foot, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were tossed into the blaze. The flames were so hot that they burned up those who threw them in. Those who looked in the furnace were astonished to see four men walking in the flames, totally unharmed
The king called them out of the fire to have them examined. Not a hair was scorched, and their clothes did not smell of smoke. Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!” He declared to all people and nations in the world “May you prosper greatly! It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.” (4)
The king issued a decree that protected these three men from any harm. Later, the king had another terrifying nightmare and Daniel was called to interpret it. “The tree you saw was you. You oh king saw a messenger, a holy one coming down from heaven demanding that the tree be cut down and destroyed leaving the stump.” The king’s eternal soul was at stake, it was time for him to confess his sins, but he refused.
One year later, a pride filled Nebuchadnezzar overlooked his kingdom and said: “By my power and for my majesty I built the great Babylon” With those words spoken a voice from heaven said “Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle.”
After seven years, the king’s sanity was restored and he praised God. “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right an all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (4:37)
The king’s son Belshazzar hosted a great banquet and ordered that the gold and silver goblets that were taken from the temple in Jerusalem be used to serve his nobles, wives and concubines. As they drank they praised the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand wrote on the wall. Daniel was summoned to interpret what was written on the wall. Daniel stated that Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God, “But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven.” (5:22)
God numbered the days of the king and that night Belshazzar was slain and Darius became king of Babylon. As King Darius planned to elevate Daniel to a high position, the palace administrators investigated Daniel but found no corruption in him. Motivated by jealousy, they convinced the king to throw Daniel in the Lion’s den for his worship of God. The king said to Daniel “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (6:16) Daniel was placed in the den with the lions. The king tossed with a restless sleep and at dawn the king hurried and called into the den. Daniel answered “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and He shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” (6:22)
Overjoyed the king commanded that Daniel’s false accusers along with their families be thrown to the lions. Immediately the lions killed them all. God continues to use His servant Daniel as He speaks to people then, and today about what is to come during the end times. During the reign of king Cyrus of Babylon, Daniel was almost ninety years old when the king decreed that the walls of Jerusalem were to be rebuilt (Ezra 1)
In chapter 12 a time of trouble is described. Daniel asked God: “My Lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” He replied, “Go your way, Daniel because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.”
There are many scholars who study the prophecy in the book of Daniel. As many books have been written about what it all might mean, it is good to simply trust and obey God. What we can rely on is that God is faithful to keep His promises.
A scripture to remember: “Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love them and show Myself to them.” (John 14:21)
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Alley Hoyle.
All rights reserved.
“It is finished” – 5/18/19