by Wayne Blank
The Prophecies of Daniel
Daniel was of royal lineage (Daniel 1:3), probably born in or near Jerusalem about 622 B.C. during the reign of Josiah (see Kings of Israel and Judah). In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim, about 605 B.C., the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, looted the original Temple that had been built by Solomon (the complete devastation would come later, about 586 B.C.), and took a number of the people of Judah away into exile in Babylon. Among them was the teenage Daniel (Daniel 1:1-3).
Despite being a prisoner-exile, Daniel's living conditions in Babylon were likely at least as good as they had been back home. He was selected, along with a number of others, to be trained for service in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:3-7). There, he distinguished himself with wisdom and ability (Daniel 1:19).
Daniel's first great test came when he was required not only to interpret the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, but to do so without the king even telling him what the dream was (Daniel 2:1-23). With the help of God, Daniel successfully interpreted the dream (see Daniel's Statue) which represented the great future empires of history, from the time then of Babylonian supremacy (Daniel 2:37), to the Persians who conquered them (see Ancient Empires - Persia), to the Greeks who in turn conquered them (see Ancient Empires - Greece), to the successive revivals of the Roman Empire (see Ancient Empires - Rome) that will lead right to the Return of Jesus Christ (Daniel 2:34,44).
The Babylonian king's response to Daniel's God-given abilities was to actually bow down to his prisoner:
"Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon." (Daniel 2:46-48 KJV)
Daniel thereafter held a very high position in the government for about 70 years, the actual ruler of what is modern-day Iraq, right until his famous "handwriting on the wall" interpretation on the night before the fall of the Babylonian kingdom to Darius the Mede (Daniel 5:1-29). The then elderly Daniel's position was not diminished however, despite an attempt by political rivals to have him discredited - his survival in the well-known "lions den" incident actually increased his position even more, in the reigns of both Darius and Cyrus (Daniel 6:1-28).
Daniel's remaining years produced more detailed prophecies, including the "four beasts" (Daniel 7:1-28), the "ram and goat" (Daniel 8:1-27), the "seventy sevens" (Daniel 9:20-27), and the "kings of the north and south" (Daniel 11:1-45). He died in his late eighties or nineties, a faithful and obedient servant of God, and one of the greatest prophets that has ever lived.
Fact Finder: Did Daniel himself understand all of the prophecies that God gave to him, or were some "sealed until the time of the end"?