Daniel Encyclopedia

Daniel the Prophet.

Daniel was a believer in the Old Testament known for his great faithfulness, prayer, wisdom, and courage. Daniel lived in a difficult time and a difficult environment for a believer. He was taken away from his home, in Judea, his parents, and most importantly, the geographical center of his faith; i.e. Jerusalem. The first chapter of the book of Daniel describes how some of the youth of the Jewish nobility were taken and brought to Babylon. There they were granted a privileged Chaldean education in order to make them useful servants for the king of Babylon. Their home was changed, their names were changed, their food was changed, and likely they were made eunuchs (they were under the care of "the prince of the eunuchs"), meaning their bodies were changed. This would’ve been a devastating chain of events in the life of young Daniel. And yet we can see from his very earliest years in Babylon, how faith in the one true God rises above even the most difficult circumstances. Daniel received extensive prophetic revelations concerning the future of the Gentile powers, in what is called “the times of the Gentiles”, and of their end at the coming of the Son of man to establish His everlasting kingdom. The dreams he interpreted and the visions he himself received form a foundation of prophetic understanding. Almost all the key players in prophecy are introduced, the important battles are outlined, and we have a timeline given as to how God will accomplish His purpose on earth through prophecy. Through it all, Daniel maintained a remarkable humility, and continued in steadfast prayer and communion with God.

Daniel’s Character. We do well to consider who Daniel was as a person. Notice this expression, repeated three times: “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved” (Dan 10:11, 19; 9:23). God loves all of us with an unmerited, unconditional love. But Daniel was one who, through his life, and by the character that was developed in him, gained the affection of heaven in a special way. Daniel was one who truly communed with God, like Abraham and Moses. May we imitate the characteristics that we see in Daniel! He was:
  1. A Faithful Man. Despite being taken captive to Babylon, he remained faithful to God, remaining separate from that which would defile him. The meat and drink of the king of Babylon had been offered to idols, and Daniel would not take it (ch.1). He did not want Belshazzar’s gifts: the chain of gold, etc. (ch.5). He refused to compromise with the world. Daniel never forgot who he was, in spite of where he was. Culturally, he insisted on an alternate diet that was approved by the law. Geographically, he knew where Jerusalem was, and prayed toward it daily, remembering Solomon’s words. Chronologically, Daniel knew when the evening sacrifice would normally have been offered (ch.9). His thoughts were continually about the Lord, and the Lord’s people.
  2. A Courageous Man. Daniel displayed great courage throughout his life. He intervened when Nebuchadnezzar wanted to kill all the wise men, etc. in ch.2. He did not withhold the terrible truth from Belshazzar in ch.5 when he interpreted the hand writing on the wall. He maintained his regular prayer routine when it became illegal under King Darius’ decree in ch.6.
  3. An Enlightened Man. Daniel was given exceptional wisdom from God, and ability to interpret dreams and visions (Dan. 5:12). This ability is used primarily in the first half of the book. Then we have Daniel’s own dreams and visions in the last half, and the amazing depth of knowledge of future events that God bequeathed to him. We too have been given wisdom, that which comes from reading and understanding the prophetic scriptures. We know what is coming in this world!
  4. An Upright Man. In the reign of Darius, the princes could find no dishonesty in Daniel’s practice. He was upright in all his dealings, even when no one else was watching. In Ezek. 14:14 the name of Daniel (a contemporary of Ezekiel) had risen to the ranks of Noah and Job concerning personal righteousness!
  5. A Praying Man. Daniel was known for praying three times a day (ch.6), and he continued to do this, windows open, even when a decree was passed forbidding prayer. In Daniel 2:17-18, when death, they prayed for God’s help in understanding Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In Daniel 9:3-19, Daniel prays a prayer of confession and supplication to God.
  6. A Studious Man. It is clear than Daniel was well instructed with the law of Moses, with Solomon’s prayer at the dedication, with the history of the kings of Israel and Judah, as well as the prophets. He was familiar with Jeremiah’s prophecy, and poured over the chronologies of scripture to understand the timing of Jeremiah’s prophecy (9:1-2). He was devoted to the scriptures!
  7. A Humble Man. Daniel’s reaction to learning that the 70 years of Jerusalem’s desolation was almost expired, was not to rejoice, but rather to be sorrowful and contrite. He prays a prayer of confession, not separating himself from the nation of his birth, but owning their sin, and pleading to God to restore them. God in response opens up to Daniel a far wider scope with a far higher purpose, then the restoration of Jerusalem.
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