A Prophet In the Palace – Daniel 1

The prophet Daniel would be a great bright spot in the history of the people of Israel.  God used him to bring hope to the exiles who had been carried off from Jerusalem into Babylon after their defeat by King Nebuchadnezzar. 

Daniel was a person of great faith who would serve in positions of authority under top leaders from both the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires.  He would experience severe testing of his faith and also be given divine visions with tremendous impact for all believers who follow.  These visions provided insight into the coming world powers, the succession of their rising and falling, and end times events associated with the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Through Daniel, God would lay out the framework for the coming kingdoms, both human and divine.

The book of Daniel begins with a setting of the stage for his emergence as a great prophet. 

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord handed Jehoiakim king of Judah over to him, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.  Daniel 1:1-2 (NASB)

God used Nebuchadnezzar to bring an end to the line of the kings of Judah.  From here forward, the line of the Messiah would include governors rather than kings followed by even more humble positions up until the birth of Jesus.

The prophet Ezekiel would dwell among the exiles by the River Chebar in Babylon, but the Lord would call Daniel to live and be His mouthpiece in the luxury of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace.  The events leading to his call begin this way:

Then the king told Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom there was no impairment, who were good-looking, suitable for instruction in every kind of expertise, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability to serve in the king’s court; and he ordered Ashpenaz to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king also allotted for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and ordered that they be educated for three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach, and to Azariah Abed-nego.  Daniel 1:3-7 (NASB)

God extended great favor to Daniel, placing him in the king’s palace for God’s own purposes.  The Lord had a tremendously important role for Daniel to play and selected him from among all his peers to be the one to represent Him.  There are strong parallels between the position Daniel played in service to King Nebuchadnezzar and the trial-filled, life-saving role Joseph played under Pharaoh of Egypt, as described in Genesis 41.  (This is a different Joseph than Jesus’ stepfather, who came onto the scene much later).

Through studying the scriptures available to him, Daniel would discover from the writings of the prophet Jeremiah that the people of Judah would be in exile in Babylon for seventy years.  This time period allowed their farmland to honor the sabbath rest required by the law of Moses yet ignored by most of the people.

34 ‘Then the land will restore its Sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and restore its Sabbaths. 35 All the days of its desolation it will have the rest which it did not have on your Sabbaths, while you were living on it.  Leviticus 26:34-35 (NASB)

When the seventy years of sabbath rest for the land were completed, Daniel saw that the people would begin to return to the land.  He would intercede in prayer on their behalf and God would hear Daniel’s request.  Daniel’s prayer honored and drew upon the law of Moses as presented in the Old Testament book of Leviticus.

44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so loathe them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. 45 But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, so that I might be their God. I am the Lord.’” Leviticus 26:44-45 (NASB)

God loves all of His people deeply but must at the same time honor His own holy law.  Because of His great love, He always makes provision for those of us who are unable to follow His perfect law ourselves.  Jesus Christ lived a perfect, humble life then gave Himself on the cross for us to fulfill the law of Moses. By sacrificing His own holy life on our behalf, He did for us what we clearly could not have done for ourselves. We now have the ability to have our own imperfections covered by His pure holiness if we so choose.

The book of Daniel will show several examples of God stepping in to protect His faithful servants during times of trial.  May we all learn much about God’s will, protection, and great eternal love for us as we go through the book.

Reflection

Where have I seen God step in for my protection or to make up for my own shortcomings in life?

Father, we are so grateful for all of the generous blessings of life that You extend to us.  Forgive us for all of the times we have fallen short and help us to honor You and Your holiness with our thoughts and actions today.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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