Daniel is considered a major prophet, even though his book is not that lengthy. In my notes about the Major Prophets I explain that it is more than length that determines a major prophet.
Daniel was carried away captive into Babylon in the first wave of captivity. There were three waves of captivity. In the first wave Nebuchadnezzar carried away the finest young men and minds of Jerusalem. He then carried away 10,000 and placed them in a captives settlement on the River Chebar. Ezekiel was in this group. Then the final gleaning carried all the rest into Babylon in 586 BC (2 Kings 24).
Daniel probably would have had a great career in Jerusalem, but he was never given the chance. At 18 years old he is ripped from his prominent family and carried away into a far away country. The Babylonians did not care about his dreams or plans. He was a refugee to them, a captive.
The Babylonians saw his potential and trained him in their schools. After his graduation Daniel was put to work for the King. This same king Daniel worked for, continued to war against Daniel’s people for another 20 years.
I find no record of any family members around Daniel. It appears he was alone except for some other young men also carried captive.
Daniel rose to the position of Prime Minister. For an outsider to achieve this high position speaks volumes about Daniel. He kept this position for many years, even when Kings were dethroned. Daniel’s career at the top lasted at least 66 years. When he was thrown into the Lion’s den he was over 80 years old. There is no finer example in the Bible about how to live and excel with people who do not serve your God or share your beliefs.
Later in His life, God gave Daniel a series of visions about the future of planet earth. In grapic terms God showed Daniel the future. Daniel’s people would duplicate his personal experience on a world scale. God used Daniel to show the Hebrew people what to do when the Diaspora unfolded.
The Hebrew people thought they had exclusive rights to God. The book of Daniel shows God’s intent was to save the world, not just the Jew.
To me one of the most magnificent things the book of Daniel offers, is the proclamations by heathen kings. These proclamations brought more honor to God than anything a Jewish King had done in decades! Daniel’s book teaches how God’s people can live caught in the jaws of brutal world politics.
Daniel continues his career at least until the 3rd year of Cyrus. Cyrus was a despot. When Cyrus was killed, the queen cast his head into a vat of blood and said, “Thy thirst was blood, now drink thy fill”. Somehow this incredible man Daniel was able to navigate all these treacherous waters of politics, and remain unscathed.
The first 6 chapters of his book are stories about the life in Babylon. The rest of his book is a series of visions about the world’s future.
An interesting note is that before the captivity is final, Daniel refers to God as “Lord of hosts”. After the captivity happens, he refers to God as “The God of heaven”. I wonder if he felt God had moved out of planet earth because of the captivity?
When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he carried away 2499 vessels. These were kept in storage until Cyrus gave the permission to return and rebuild the Temple. Then these vessels were used in the rebuilt temple.
I am of the opinion that it was Daniel that signed the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.
That decree was issued in the first year of Cyrus, and Daniel continued at least until the third year of Cyrus. What an honor to live your life in such a manner to be the one to attach your signature to the rebuilding of the temple.
I am also of the opinion that Daniel is the author of Psalm 119. This great Psalm sings of the word of God. That was all Daniel had. Whoever wrote Psalm 119 had no temple to attend. The author had enemies in high places, and was persecuted for his love of God. These parameters seem to fit Daniel perfectly. If this is true, how it must have thrilled him to be able to sign the document to rebuild the temple for all future Jews!
Daniel was forced to live for over 80 years without the house of God, but future generations would be blessed again with a temple. His exemplary life allowed him to see this come to pass.
In addition to his long and fruitful career in foreign palaces, he also had a personal audience with the archangel Gabriel.
He also took up Jeremiah’s theme of 70 years and gave us the 70 weeks of years.
How much more magnificent could one life be?
Finally let me offer this about Daniel.
Daniel speaks about how a young person can do great things for God. He was a contemporary of Ezekiel. It is simply amazing to me how Daniel receives honor from his peers. In Ezekiel 14.14, Ezekiel says though Noah, Job and Daniel stood before me, they would deliver but their own souls. Again in chapter 28 and verse 3, Ezekiel speaks of the wisdom of Daniel.
For future generations to venerate you and speak of your greatness is not that uncommon. Here is a young man while in his prime that is seen by his peers as one of the greatest of all time. Ezekiel looked at Daniel and placed him with Noah and Job, then used Daniel as the ultimate measure of wisdom.
Show me another example in the Bible of a young man who gathered that kind of honor while still young. Show me another young man in the Bible who received such honor from his peers, and from God himself.
Daniel was a giant of his day and one of the truly great men of the Bible.
The shadow he casts reaches across thousands of years.
Thanks for reading today!