Twenty-five centuries ago Daniel could have despaired. He and thousands o his countrymen had been deported to a foreign land after Judah was conquered. Daniel found himself facing an egocentric despot and surrounded by idolaters. Instead o giving in or giving up, this courageous young man held fast to his faith in his God. Daniel knew that despite the circumstances, God was sovereign and was working out is plan or nations and individuals. The book of Daniel centers on this profound truth â€" the sovereignty of God.
After a brief account of Nebuchadnezzarâ€™s siege and defeat of Jerusalem, the book quickly shifts to Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men held prominent positions within the Babylonian government. Daniel, in particular, held such a position because of his ability to interpret the kingâ€™s dreams that tell f Godâ€™s unfolding plan. Sandwiched between the dreams is the fascinating account of Danielâ€™s three friends and the furnace. Because they refused to bow down and pray to an image of gold, they were condemned to a fiery death. Once they were thrown into the furnace of fire an angel of the Lord appeared in the fire with them and spared their lives. When the authorities realized that not only were the three men not burning up but that there was a fourth person in the furnace they were amazed and many repented of their sins and came to believe in Danielâ€™s God.
Belshazzar ruled Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar and gave a large banquet for a thousand of his nobles. They were drinking wine and praising the gods o gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lamp stand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. He was terrified and called out for the enchanters, astrologers and diviners to be brought to him. He told them that whoever could read the writing and tell him what it means would be clothed in purple and would have a gold chain placed around his neck and would be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom. All of the kingâ€™s wise men came in but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. His nobles were baffled and the king became even more afraid. The queen told the king how Daniel had helped Nebuchadnezzar with dream interpretation so the king called him in. Daniel did interpret the writing, which declared that Belshazzarâ€™s reign was about to be brought to an end. Daniel was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom, clothed in purple and a gold chain was placed around his neck. That very night Belshazzar was slain and Darius took over the kingdom as king.
King Darius had three top administrators working for him and one of those men was Daniel. The other administrators did not like Daniel and wanted to get rid of him. They knew that Daniel had no marks against his character and he was trustworthy and not corrupt so they came up with a plan to trap him. Knowing what a devoted follower of God Daniel was, the administrators convinced the king to issue an edict and enforce the decree that â€œanyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to the king, shall be thrown into the lionâ€™s denâ€. Three times a day Daniel would go to his room and bow down and pray to God. He not only refused to worship King Darius but he continued to bow down and pray to God three times each day. The administrators caught Daniel praying to God and reported him to King Darius. Darius loved Daniel and was saddened to learn that he would have to be thrown into the lionâ€™s den. The king tried to find a way to have the edict changed or over turned but found out that there was no way to change it. Daniel had to be punished. Darius called Daniel in and through his sadness he said, â€œMay your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you.â€ Daniel was thrown into the den and a stone was placed over the mouth of the den. The king spent the night without eating or sleeping. As soon as the sun came up the king went to the lionâ€™s den. He called out to Daniel and Daniel answered him that God had sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions and he was not hurt. The king was overjoyed and gave the orders that everyone should bow down and worship Danielâ€™s God. Then, the administrators and their wives and families were thrown into the lionâ€™s den.
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