Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Daniel
“THE book of Daniel is one of the most intriguing works in the Bible,” states the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. “Timeless truths fill its pages.” Daniel’s account begins in 618 B.C.E. when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon comes to Jerusalem and lays siege to the city, and he takes “some of the sons of Israel” into captivity in Babylon. (Daniel 1:1-3) Among them is young Daniel, probably only in his teens. The book concludes with Daniel still in Babylon. Now almost 100 years old, Daniel receives God’s promise: “You will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”
While the first part of the book of Daniel is presented chronologically in the third person, the last part is written in the first person. Penned by Daniel, the book contains prophecies regarding the rise and fall of world powers, the time of the Messiah’s arrival, and events that take place in our day.* The aged prophet also looks back on his long life and narrates episodes that encourage us to be godly men and women of integrity. The message of Daniel is alive and exerts power.
WHAT DOES THE CHRONOLOGICAL ACCOUNT TEACH US?
The year is 617 B.C.E. Daniel and three young friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, are in the Babylonian court. During their three years of training in court life, the youths maintain their integrity to God. About eight years later, King Nebuchadnezzar has a mysterious dream. Daniel makes known the dream and then interprets it. The king acknowledges that Jehovah is “a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a Revealer of secrets.” (Daniel 2:47) Before long, though, Nebuchadnezzar seems to forget this lesson. When Daniel’s three friends refuse to worship a giant image, the king has them thrown into a fiery furnace. The true God rescues the three, and Nebuchadnezzar is forced to recognize that “there does not exist another god that is able to deliver like this one.”
Nebuchadnezzar has another significant dream. He sees an immense tree, which is chopped down and restrained from growing. Daniel makes known the interpretation of that dream. The dream is fulfilled in part when Nebuchadnezzar becomes insane and then recovers. Many decades later, King Belshazzar holds a big feast for his grandees and disrespectfully uses vessels that were taken from Jehovah’s temple. That very night, Belshazzar is killed and Darius the Mede receives the kingdom. (Daniel 5:30, 31) In the days of Darius, when Daniel is more than 90 years old, the aged prophet becomes the target of a murderous scheme by jealous officials. But Jehovah rescues him “from the paw of the lions.”
Scriptural Questions Answered:
4:10, 11, 20-22
4:16, 23, 25, 32, 33
Lessons for Us:
1:3-8. The determination of Daniel and his companions to remain loyal to Jehovah speaks volumes about the value of the parental training they must have received. When God-fearing parents put spiritual interests first in their lives and teach their offspring to do the same, their children are very likely to resist whatever temptations and pressures that may arise at school or elsewhere.
1:10-12. Daniel understood why “the principal court official” feared the king and did not press matters with him. However, Daniel later approached “the guardian,” who may have been in a position to be more lenient. When dealing with difficult situations, we should act with similar insight, understanding, and wisdom.
2:29, 30. Like Daniel, we should give full credit to Jehovah for whatever knowledge, qualities, and abilities we may have acquired as a result of taking advantage of his spiritual provisions.
3:16-18. It is unlikely that the three Hebrews would have responded with such firm conviction if they had earlier shown themselves ready to compromise in connection with their diet. We too should strive to be “faithful in all things.”
4:24-27. Proclaiming the Kingdom message, which includes God’s adverse judgments, requires the same kind of faith and courage that Daniel displayed in making known what was to befall Nebuchadnezzar and what the king should do so that ‘his prosperity might be lengthened.’
5:30, 31. The “proverbial saying against the king of Babylon” came true. (Isaiah 14:3, 4, 12-15) Satan the Devil, whose pride is similar to that of the Babylonian dynasty, will also meet an ignoble end.
WHAT DO DANIEL’S VISIONS REVEAL?
When Daniel receives his first dream vision in 553 B.C.E., he is in his 70’s. Daniel beholds four huge beasts that portray a succession of world powers from his day to ours. In a vision of a scene in heaven, he sees “someone like a son of man” given “indefinitely lasting rulership.” (Daniel 7:13, 14) Two years later, Daniel has a vision that involves Medo-Persia, Greece, and an entity that becomes “a king fierce in countenance.”
The year is now 539 B.C.E. Babylon has fallen, and Darius the Mede has become ruler over the kingdom of the Chaldeans. Daniel prays to Jehovah about the restoration of his homeland. While he is still praying, Jehovah sends the angel Gabriel to make Daniel “have insight with understanding” about the coming of the Messiah. (Daniel 9:20-25) Time moves on to 536/535 B.C.E. A remnant has returned to Jerusalem. But there is opposition to the temple-building work. This becomes a source of anxiety to Daniel. He makes it a matter of prayer, and Jehovah sends an angel of high rank to Daniel. After strengthening and encouraging Daniel, the angel relates the prophecy that outlines a struggle for supremacy between the king of the north and the king of the south. The conflict between the two kings stretches from the time when the kingdom of Alexander the Great is divided among his four generals to the time when the Great Prince, Michael, “will stand up.”
Scriptural Questions Answered:
Lessons for Us:
9:1-23; 10:11. Because of his humility, godly devotion, studiousness, and persistence in prayer, Daniel was “someone very desirable.” These very traits also helped him to remain faithful to God to the end of his life. Let us be determined to follow Daniel’s example.
9:17-19. Even when we pray for the coming of God’s new world, in which “righteousness is to dwell,” should not our primary concern be the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the vindication of his sovereignty rather than an end to our personal suffering and difficulties?
12:3. During the last days, “the ones having insight”
Jehovah ‘Blesses Those Fearing Him’
What does the book of Daniel teach us about the God we worship? Consider the prophecies contained therein
What does the narrative part of the book of Daniel show about our God? The four Hebrew youths who refused to be assimilated into Babylonian court life received ‘knowledge, insight, and wisdom.’ (Daniel 1:17) The true God sent his angel and rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the fiery furnace. Daniel was delivered from the lions’ pit. Jehovah ‘helps and shields those trusting in him’ and ‘blesses those fearing him.’
For a verse-by-verse consideration of the book of Daniel, see Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Picture on page 18]
Why was Daniel “someone very desirable”?