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Daniel a Major Old Testament Prophet

Daniel is considered a major prophet by Biblical scholars and the reason why he is of such importance is because there is a great deal of information about him in God‘s word.  His name means “worshipper of God”. Daniel lived during the time period that Judah went into exile around the 6th century BC which is where he appears on the Biblical Timeline.

When he was a little boy he was taken captive with three of his friends back to Babylon. These three youths would be known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel and his companions came from noble families and they were chosen by some Babylonians to serve in the court of king Nebuchadnezzar.

Once the young Hebrew boys were in the court they were instructed in the ways of Babylonian culture, custom, religious worship and speech. They were to be instructed in the ways of Babylon for the next three years and then serve the king as a part of his court. Throughout this process, God inspired the boys to remain loyal to their faith. Their faith in God is what would help Daniel and his

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‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by Simeon Solomon, 1863.’

companions to survive and prosper while they lived in Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar had two disturbing dreams during the time period that Daniel served him. The first dream was about a large rock smashing a strange bronze statue. The second dream was about a large tree with animals feeding underneath its branches. When King Nebuchadnezzar had his first dream he wanted his magicians or wise men to interpret the dream. He didn’t want to tell them what the dream was about. The king told them if they couldn’t figure it out on their own he was going to kill them. Daniel found out what was going on and interceded. Since his companions and he were considered wise men in Nebuchadnezzar’s court, they too would die as well. God then presented Daniel with the answer to the king’s dream. Daniel then told the king the meaning of his dream. Daniel revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar that his empire was going to eventually come to an end by the Persians. He also told him that his God would one day establish a kingdom that would be far greater than any on the Earth. The second dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had occurred at a later date. This dream was given to the king by God so that he could humble him. King Nebuchadnezzar was made to realize that he was only a great ruler because God allowed it. Daniel told the king that God was going to make him think he was a wild beast for seven years and when it was over he was going to acknowledge him as Lord.

Daniel worshiped only the one true God no matter the consequences.

Daniel became a very powerful man after interpreting the first dream of Nebuchadnezzar. He was made a governor and his companions were elevated to high positions within society as well. In time, King Nebuchadnezzar passed away and King Belshazzar came to power. One night while this king was feasting he saw a hand come out of nowhere and write on the wall of his banquet hall. He eventually summoned Daniel to interpret the writing that was engraved on the wall from this vision. Daniel told him that the Persians were going to take his kingdom and it happened later on that night. Before King Belshazzar was assassinated by the Persians he rewarded Daniel with a royal robe and elevated him to the position of the third highest ruler in the land of Babylon.

Daniel had many visions including the End of the World

Soon the Persians were in power and Daniel still held a high position in the land. While the Persian king ruled the officials who didn’t like Daniel told him to pass a law that all people should worship him as a god. If a person didn’t do this they were to be put to death. Daniel did not follow this decree because he  worshiped God alone. So the king had Daniel thrown into the lions den even though he didn’t want to carry out this deed. Daniel was not eaten because an angel from the Lord shut the mouth of the lions. The evil advisors who plotted against Daniel were thrown in the lions den with their families and they were all eaten alive.

Daniel also had visions about things to come and the end of the world shortly before he died. Daniel 7 records the vision of the four beasts and Daniel 8 is about the vision of the ram and the goat. The rest of the chapters of Daniel reveal other visions such as the 70 weeks in Dan 9 and the vision of the end times in Daniel 10. Daniel’s visions also shed light on what is taking place in the spiritual realm and how these events affect people on Earth. Daniel eventually passed away after living a long and prosperous life in Babylon. The date of his death cannot be determined, but most biblical scholars and historians place it somewhere in the 6th century B.C.

Biblical References:

  • Daniel 1 Some young boys were taken from Judah‘s royal families and were trained to become advisors to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and his three companions were given special favor by God for learning.
  • Daniel 2 Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream concerning a statue a large rock that smashes the statue. He is rewarded the position of governor.
  • Daniel 4 Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a large tree with animals grazing underneath. Daniel tells the king that he will go mad until he recognizes God as the one and only true Lord of all.
  • Daniel 5 Daniel tells King Belshazzar about his vision concerning the handwriting on the wall. Daniel tells the king that the Persians were going to destroy him and his empire. Daniel becomes the third highest ruler for interpreting the dream.
  • Daniel 6 Daniel is saved by an angel of the Lord after he is thrown in the lions den.
  • Daniel 7 – 12 God gives Daniel many prophecies about events that have taken place in history and those that will occur in the future. He also says a prayer for his people in chapter 9.