By Brian Pepper
The Book of Daniel has fascinated many people. For
Christopher Columbus the discoverer of America, was an
ardent student of prophecy especially the Book of Daniel.
Sir Isaac Newton the famous mathematician spent many hours
studying this fascinating book. Prophecy has always
intrigued men and women down through the ages and it still
Some have said, "Why spend valuable time studying such an
ancient Book?" Most people want something that is up to
something that applies to their lives today. But those who
have studied this Book realize that it does have
something to tell us, something that we need to know.
Starting at the End of Daniel
I hope, you do not mind if I do something that is perhaps
a little unusual. I am going to go right to the end of
this Book just for a short while and I assure you that I
have a real purpose in doing this.
I wonder if any of you have ever looked at the last
chapter of a book to see how it all ends up. I must
confess that I have done this myself. You see, as we start
in studying this Book
we need to know what is the basic theme of Daniel.
Also why it was written, and what is the purpose of the
So I hope that you will not mind if I read a couple of
passages in the 12th chapter so we might be able to find
Daniel 12:4 says, "But thou, 0 Daniel, shut up the words,
and seal the book, even to the time of the end; many
shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
You will notice that it tells us that the words are sealed
till what time: the time of the end. Now let’s notice
verse 9, “And he said, Go thy way,
Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the
time of the end”.
Book of Daniel Sealed
Two things are emphasized here. The Book is closed or
sealed until the time of the end. And when is the Time of
the End? There are several time prophecies in the Book of
Daniel, and as we study these we have no problem in
recognizing that we are living in that particular period.
So this Book is important. It is applicable to the time in
which we are living. Thinking men and women everywhere
recognize that this world is on the verge of a tremendous
The cities are filled with crime and violence. Nation after nation
is involved in political turmoil. Well established banks are
collapsing overnight. The Holy Scriptures clearly indicate that we
are living at the time of earth’s history known as the time of the
end. So you can see that the Book of Daniel has a special meaning
There are two very important Books, Daniel and Revelation,
which deal with the great and final events that take place on this
Division of Daniel
The Book of Daniel can be divided into two parts. First there are
stories of Daniel, then there are the prophecies of Daniel. The
prophecies tell us when the END will come. No, not the precise day
or hour but how close it will be. The stories tell us how
are to prepare for the end when it does come. For example, take
the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. It isn't just a nice story
to tell our children and say "Now wasn't that wonderful that
Daniel was delivered from those hungry lions!" No, the story of
Daniel in the lions’ den tells us something about the end time and
how it applies to us. You will be able to see this as we study
these stories later on.
Theme of Daniel 1
Now we are going to do the very thing you expected us to do
in the first place and that is start right in the first chapter.
Daniel 1:1 says, "In the third year of the
reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of
Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it."
The theme of the Book of Daniel is set forth in this one verse.
JERUSALEM and BABYLON. Jerusalem represents GOD'S people. Babylon,
the enemy of God’s people.
The very first verse tells us that there is a war, a battle, a
conflict. The whole theme of the Book of Daniel is a titanic
struggle between the forces of evil and the forces of right.
At the time when this Book was written the Jewish nation
was divided into two major sections.
There were ten tribes in the northern kingdom and two tribes in
the southern kingdom, and Judah was part of the southern kingdom. Jehoiakim was a wicked king who led
Judah into apostasy.
When Judah was faithful to God, God placed a wall of protection around them and the heathen nations were powerless to attack
Israel. However when Jehoiakim rebelled against God the wall of
protection was taken away. And so we find that Babylon under the
leadership of Nebuchadnezzar came and attacked them.
Siege of Jerusalem
Back in those days, a siege was a terrible thing, for all the food
supplies coming to the city were cut off
and none could go out and get food. And while the folk inside the
city were starving, the enemy on the outside
attacked the walls with battering rams, and catapults which sent
huge rocks hurtling at the walls and gates. Then the attackers
would put up their ladders on the walls and climb over.
Just at the time that Jerusalem was being attacked Nebuchadnezzar
received word that his father Nabopolassar had died. He was a
thousand miles from Babylon
and he realized that some would-be aspirant to the throne could
take over in his absence. So he quickly returned to Babylon taking
with him a number of captives.
Verse 2 says, "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim
king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house
of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of
his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his
The term ‘land of Shiner’ is just another way of describing
Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar went into the temple: the temple at
Jerusalem that was built and dedicated to the worship of
he took the vessels that were consecrated to the service of God.
And the text says, "which he carried into
the land of Shinar to the house of his god."
The special god of Nebuchadnezzar was Bel Marduk.
Apparent Defeat for God
As you read the first seven verses of the first chapter of Daniel,
on the surface it appears to be a great defeat for the true God
and a great victory for the prince of Darkness. I am sure that
Satan would have his followers taunt Daniel with these
accusations, "If your God is the true God, why has Jerusalem been
defeated?" "Why hasn't He protected you from the Babylonian? Why
has blood flowed on the streets? Why have the sacred vessels been
taken out of the temple? How is it that you and your companions
Even today Christians are faced with difficult questions
such as "If your GOD is the true GOD why does HE not do something?
Why does He allow sickness, disease and tragedy? Why does He allow
people to suffer pain and even torture?"
Those who live through the TIME of the END will need to know the
answer to that question. The Scriptures do not present a Christian
life that is free from trial and suffering,
from heartache and affliction. They rather present a GOD
who is able, who is sufficient, who is capable of bringing strength
and courage so that His followers are able to
face the crisis that come to them. And men and women living at the
time of the end will need to learn the same lessons as Daniel.
Choosing the Finest Youth
Now let us move on to read
"And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that
he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the
king's seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish,
but well favoured, and skilful in all
wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such
as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom
they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And
the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and
of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that
at the end thereof they might stand before the king."
The Babylonians had a very interesting practice when they
overthrew another nation. They would choose some of the key youth
and take them to Babylon, to educate them in the University of
Babylon. They were educated in the customs, the practices and
principles of Babylon. And after these young men were educated in
the logic, the science, the religion, and the philosophy of
Babylon, they would be sent back to the nation or city that they
were to rule for Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar was too wise to place Babylonians as rulers over
Jerusalem in his kingdom because there were continual revolts
against those Babylonian rulers. So he took some key young people
who were respected and admired by the citizens and brainwashed
them by filling their minds with the principles and practices of
Daniel and his three friends
Verse 6 says, "Now among these were of the
children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:"
Among the captives were four youths. How do we know that they were
youths? One of the reasons is that the course of study they were
was that of advanced education in the leading university of
Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar wanted these young men to be taught to
absorb in their minds the philosophies and logic of Babylon so
that all thought of GOD would be obliterated. To accomplish this
he changed their names.
Verse 7 says,
"Unto whom the prince of the
eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of
Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael,
of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego."
Why were their names changed?
Why did he change their names? What significance is there in
changing names? In the Bible a name represents character. For
instance, take the name Jacob. He deceived his brother Esau in
order to get the birthright. The name ' Jacob ' means ‘supplanter’
or ‘deceiver’. However Jacob’s name was changed from Jacob to
Israel which means ‘prevailed.'
You see Jacob had a change of character and thus he was given a
Daniel's name was changed because the king wanted his
Meaning of the names
The name Daniel was changed to Belteshazzar. In
Hebrew the name Daniel means ‘God is my judge’, and this prophet
of God was ever conscious of this but his name was changed to
And do you know what that name means? ‘The keeper of the hid
treasure of Bel.’
Just think of the pressure Nebuchadnezzar applied to Daniel's
mind. "Your city is destroyed, Daniel,
and your people are in captivity. Even the vessels consecrated in
the service of the Lord's house are not there.
They are in my temple. You will be the custodian of these
treasures. the keeper of the hid treasures of Bel."
Now look at some of the other names and observe how they were
changed. Hananiah meaning
‘the Lord is gracious unto thee’ was changed to Shadrach which
simply means ‘Inspiration of the sun.’
Next Mishael, ‘godlike’ was changed to Meshach, ‘he who belongs to
the goddess of Sheba’.
Azariah, " the Lord is my helper’ became ‘servant of Nebo.’ You
see this was part of Nebuchadnezzar’s brainwashing.
Why did Daniel refuse to eat the King's food?
Daniel 1:8 says, “But Daniel purposed in
his heart not defile himself with the portion of the king's
meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the
prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself."
Daniel chose not to eat the food. And he made that choice for two
Firstly in that it had been offered to idols. And to eat it would
have been to participate
in the idolater's worship.
Secondly, Daniel chose not to eat foods that would cloud his
thinking and judgment.
Also there would be unclean foods as well.
Let us look at that text once again.
Verse 8 says, “But Daniel purposed in his
heart not defile himself with the portion of the king's
meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the
prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself."
Daniel made a stand for right
The Bible says, Daniel purposed in his heart. Daniel did what? He
decided. What else? Daniel chose, he determined.
You see Daniel had a clear perception of right and wrong. He did
not say to himself,
"I might offend the king and that will be the end of me, after
all, I should be thankful
that the king has been so gracious in providing these things.
Really it is only a small thing. I am sure God would not mind on
No not for a moment did Daniel subscribe to such ideas.
Neither did he believe that When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians
The Scripture says that he purposed in his heart to serve GOD no
matter what the outcome might be.
He was willing to stand up and be counted. He was willing to be
I would like to read a statement that fits very nicely in our
discussion of Daniel's integrity.
"The greatest want of the world is the want of men (we might say
men and women)
who will not be bought or sold."
People say, if we could only have honest politicians, what a
difference it would make.
If only businessmen could be trusted. Yes, honest men are rare
these days. What a difference there would be
if there were a few Daniels around.
Verses 11 and 12 say, "Then said Daniel to
Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel,
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech
thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to
Daniel tested in diet and faith
Daniel asked for a ten day test. He requested a diet of fruits,
nuts, grains and vegetables. And what was the result?
Verses 14,15 say, "So he consented to them
in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten
days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than
all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."
As good as that diet might be, and there is no question that diet
does play a very important part in our health and physical well
being. And I personally can testify to that. It was more than diet
that produced such remarkable results. It was the blessing of GOD
on Daniel’s faithfulness, on his loyalty, that made him look
healthier than the others.
And now let’s notice
verses 17-20, "As for
these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all
learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions
Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring
them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before
Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them
all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom
and understanding that the king inquired of them, he found them
ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were
in all his realm."
Now isn't that wonderful! These young men were tested not only
with their diet but as to their faith. Though they were surrounded
by pagan practices and heathen influences
they stood out for that which was right. They were willing to
stand up and be counted. Just as Daniel purposed in his heart to
serve GOD so did his three companions.
Men who will not be bought or sold
Yes the greatest want of the world is the want of men and women
who will not be bought and sold, who do not fear to call sin by
its right name. That is the great lesson we learn in this first
chapter of Daniel, and this is the kind of person that God wants
us to be. That is why it says in
Revelation 14:12, "Here is the patience of the saints: here
are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of
Daniel recognised his blessings were from God
It is the blessing of God that makes it possible for us to have
this said of us
but we can only be that type of person as we recognize this. Daniel
recognized where his blessings came from and acknowledges this in
Daniel 2:23 (first half),
“I thank thee, and
praise thee, 0 thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and
might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for
thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter."
If we are prepared to acknowledge the same, the LORD will bless us
as He did Daniel. And each one of us can be used of God to
accomplish what He desires us to do.