-Introduction: Daniel’s prophecy is written in approximately 536 B.C. during the reign of Cyrus, King of Persia. It records events and prophecies given during the time of the Judean exile in Babylon between the periods from approximately 605 B.C. until 536 B.C. This was the captivity which Jeremiah predicted as a contemporary, and Ezekiel and Habakkuk wrote during. Daniel was deported as one of the first captives in the third year of Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah. He was carried off with other exiles from the sons of Israel including some of the royal family and their nobles (Daniel 1:1-3). Themes of this book revolve around the sovereignty of God under all situations and circumstances. Daniel rose to prestigious positions in two major world powers, that being Babylon and the Medio-Persian Empire. He lived and served God under Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. He proved that man can live for God and be blessed by Him under extreme persecution and the outlawing of worship to the Living LORD. The later portion of the book from chapters 7-12 have been called “the key to all biblical prophecy (New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, Pg. 1418).” Daniels dreams and visions unlock the coming of the Messiah to the exact date in human history, as well as releasing many “end of days” promises by God. Read this book in prayer and ultimate direction from the Holy Spirit, and you will receive all the wisdom, discernment, and understanding of the Almighty revealed through His servant, Daniel.
-Chapter 1- The partial capturing of Jerusalem and Judea during the reign of Jehoiakim resulted in the deportation of some of the best of the Hebrew youth (2 Kings 24 1-5, 2 Chronicles 36:5-8, Jeremiah 25, Daniel 1:1-4). When Daniel, along with his countrymen-kinsmen from Judah, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (better known by their Babylonian given names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Aded-nego), were appointed a daily ration from the king of Babylon’s choice food and wine, they politely requested that they be allowed to eat vegetables and water. Verse eight sums up the sentiment, “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials (Ashpenaz, Daniel 1:3) that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8).” This indicates that some of the food given by the Babylonians was unclean by the Law of God given through Moses. Now God granted Daniel and his Hebrew companions favor and compassion in the sight of their overseers and a ten day test was given to see how their diet would fair (Daniel 1:9-14). At the end of ten days it could be discerned that their appearance seemed better and their body fat thicker than all the youths who had been eating at the king’s choice food (Daniel 1:15). Therefore, the overseer kept withholding their unclean food and providing them healthy vegetables. These four youths were given knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom during their three year training for the king’s service. Not one was found in all the land like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and they were pressed into the king’s personal service (Daniel 1:5, 16-19). In fact, for every matter of wisdom and understanding in consulting the king they were found ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in his realm (Daniel 1:20). The last verse of the first chapter shows us that the book was written over a long period of time as Daniel continued to serve through the Persian King Cyrus when the Hebrews were allowed to re-enter their Promised Land to rebuild their Temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1).
-*Application* Imagine having to be deported over 500 miles through harsh conditions as a slave to a foreign empire that did not embrace your God or your cultural laws. Imagine the good life gone and an intense struggle to maintain your identity and character under peer pressure and opulent indulgence. In some ways we can imagine it, in others we simply can’t identify. While America has its allures and temptations, to this point we have been free to choose. Daniel and his friends are a shining example of standing out for righteousness and how God can garner favor and compassion upon those who are willing to stand for Him and do the proper thing. Dare to be a Daniel. Resist fear, capitulation, and compromise to incur the favor of the Almighty. Remember that He reigns in every situation no matter what the circumstance feels like.
Verse to Memorize: Daniel 1:8