Profile Of The Prophets - Daniel, Part 2

by Joseph Hunting

Daniel's life extended beyond the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to that of Cyrus, a period of more than sixty years embracing the reign of four monarchs. During this period Babylon's influence extended over 127 provinces stretching as far afield as India.

This vast kingdom was ruled by 127 princes. Over these princes were three presidents of whom Daniel was chief "because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king thought to set him over the whole realm." (Daniel 6:3).

Daniel wasn't the first, nor will he be the last to have enemies plot his downfall. "Then the presidents and the princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom: but they could find none occasion or fault, forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him." (verse 4).

Three times each day it was Daniel's custom to kneel before his open windows facing Jerusalem and to pray to God. It was this act of worship that provided his enemies with the plan to destroy him. The princes and presidents petitioned the king to issue a decree (which according to the law of the Medes could never be reversed or repealed), that he "establish a royal statute" and "make a firm decree that whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions." (verse 7).

Knowing full well the awful penalty, Daniel defied the decree and the trap was sprung. "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house, and his windows being opened in his chamber he kneeled upon his knees three times a day and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." (verse 10).

By his uncompromising action in defying the king's decree Daniel signed his death warrant. It was a deliberate act because Daniel knew that the law of the Medes was irrevocable and he also knew the awful penalty for laying on the line his fidelity to God. When Darius was informed that Daniel had violated the decree he was greatly distressed but there was nothing he could do to pardon Daniel. There was no court of appeal, nor could the law be changed. "Then the king commanded and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions." (verse 16).

The story of Daniel's miraculous deliverance has thrilled countless generations and his courage together with his faith and fidelity to God had a remarkable effect upon Darius. Whereas previously the Babylonians worshipped a multiplicity of gods "king Darius wrote unto all the people, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God, and steadfast for ever, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end." (verses 25 and 26). How different was this decree from the one that had occasioned Daniel's arrest and certain death had not God intervened.

In was during the reign of Darius that Daniel made a discovery which was to change Israel's destiny. He read in the prophecies of Jeremiah that the Lord had decreed that the people of Israel would be taken into captivity and Jerusalem would be desolate for seventy years. Again Daniel stepped into the breach, and with prayer and fasting, as he realized that the seventy-year captivity was drawing to a close. His prayer in chapter 9 is one of the greatest prayers of intercession ever recorded. It resulted in the angel Gabriel giving Daniel a most detailed prophecy concerning future events including the actual date for the coming of Messiah and the fact that He would be 'cut off'*

So effective was Daniel's prayer that following the death of Darius the next reigning monarch, Cyrus, issued a decree in the first year of his reign that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt, and thus the seventy-year captivity in Babylon came to an end. "Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem which is in Judah ..." (Ezra 1:1,2).

The astonishing thing about this very prophecy is that Isaiah called Cyrus by name 150 years before he was born, and foretold that he would be instrumental in rebuilding Jerusalem. "Thus saith the Lord to His anointed to Cyrus ... I will direct all his ways ... and he shall build my city ... and he shall let go My captives ..." (Isaiah 45).

A study of the book of Daniel is a most rewarding experience. His character is flawless, and one cannot but admire his integrity and courage in the face of great adversity. He exerted a great influence for good upon each of the reigning monarchs during his long public ministry.

Daniel's prophecies cover in detail events that happened in his lifetime and after the fall of the Babylonian empire through to the future Messianic kingdom.