When King Nebuchadnezzar conquers the nation of Judah, he deports most of its citizens. He sets aside young men who are members of the royal family and nobility. They’ll undergo training and be forced into a lifetime of service to the king who conquered them and killed many of their friends and relatives.
Daniel is one of these young men. He may even be a boy when this occurs.
Despite this challenging situation, Daniel and three of his friends pledge to serve God, even though they could have turned their backs on him for not protecting their nation and keeping them safe.
In his work for his captor, Daniel conducts himself well, rising to a level of power and respect. Among other things, he interprets dreams. He also serves at least four kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. In all, Daniel’s loyal service spans seventy years.
The book of Daniel opens with six stories about him and his three friends. Best known is the account of when his detractors toss him into a pit of hungry lions because of his steadfast worship of God. God protects Daniel throughout the night. The next day he’s removed and replaced by his accusers. The hungry lions devour them.
The book of Daniel ends with four prophecies. The third prophecy, as recorded in Daniel 9, happens during the reign of King Darius.
Daniel recalls Jeremiah’s prophecy of seventy years of exile before the people return. The time is almost up. Daniel fasts and prays, confessing the sins of the people and imploring God to act. That’s when God’s prophetic word comes to his prophet. His perspective, prayer of confession, and faith in God are powerful examples for us all to follow.
The Bible says Daniel remains in Babylon until the first year of King Cyrus, and Daniel has another vision two years later.
King Cyrus also allows some of the Israelites to return home. Included in the list of those allowed to return is the brief mention of a man named Daniel (Ezra 8:2). This could be another person with the same name, or it could be this Daniel, who lived in exile for seventy years and returned home in his old age.
Are we willing to be like Daniel and confess the sins of our people? If we’re forced to serve people who harmed us, as happened to Daniel, do we still give them our best?
[Read Daniel’s story in the book of Daniel.]
Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.