The Heroic Daniel
Faith in the Power of Faith
Daniel Held Captive in Babylon
When Jerusalem was attacked by the kingdom to the east, called Babylon, a young man of the upper class, highly educated, was taken captive and brought back to Babylon, 500 miles from the City of David. In those days, as now, people valued the interpretation of dreams. One such dreamer was the king of the Babylonian Empire, who approved of the interpretations given to him by Daniel. Like Joseph, son of Israel hundreds of years earlier who was appointed governor of Egypt based on interpretations of dreams, Daniel also was appointed governor of Babylon for his interpretations.
We have an expression, "handwriting on the wall." This comes from the Book of Daniel in which he interpreted a magical handwriting that suddenly appeared on the wall during a royal feast in Babylon. In this case, the handwriting spelled doom for the king. Daniel's interpretation was correct.
The great story of "Daniel in the Lions' Den" takes place when Daniel is punished for praying against the edict of the King of Persia, after Persia conquered Babylon. But the lions don't eat Daniel because an angel of God shuts the mouths of the lions.
Thus these incredibly great adventures made Daniel famous at a young age. Later in life, he became a first-class prophet. In the Book of Daniel, he tells of his dreams. He dreams of God, called The Ancient One, who puts beasts to death.
Daniel is revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The Book of Daniel contains not only the stories of his own life but also the well-known tale of Susanna and the two Elders who spied on her as she was bathing, tried to attack her, and in retaliation against her for rejecting them, accused her falsely of committing adultery. Daniel heroically showed the falsity of the elders' testimony, so that they were condemned to die for their perjury. (Ch 13)
Although Daniel revealed to the people of Babylon that their priests, who pretended to worship the Babylonian god Bel, were corrupt and fraudulent (Ch 14) Daniel himself never lost faith in the invisible God of Israel and prayed daily, facing Israel and Jerusalem to the west of Babylon where he was held captive for many years.
Daniel is remembered along with Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, as being one of the four greatest prophets of the Old Testament. They all prophesied against their own Hebrew people at a sad and dishonorable time in the history of Israel and the Jews, when the Babylonians finally conquered and destroyed Jerusalem. It was deemed just punishment by God for the lack of faith and sinfulness of the Hebrews of that time, around 600 to 700 years before Jesus.
Like modern clergy, Daniel emphasizes the struggle between God and the secular, everyday world of human beings, caught up with materialistic cares. (Chs 2-6) There is Chapter 7, which seems to refer to a Messiah and has been interpreted by Christians to refer to the future coming of Jesus.
Through faith in God, Daniel was able to succeed in impressing the King of Babylon by interpreting his dreams correctly, whereas others who failed to interpret correctly had been put to death. (Chs 2 and 4) Although the king ordered people to worship a golden statue, four men refused and place faith instead in the true, invisible God. They were thrown into a furnace but nevertheless survived. (Ch 3) The story of the handwriting on the wall occurs in Chapter 5, and the lions' den in Chapter 6.
Of all the stories in Daniel's book, he's remembered most for standing peacefully in a lions' den without being devoured, as evidence of what God can do for those who have faith, similar to Jesus' being able to feed 5,000 people with next to nothing. Some of the lions were thought even to have licked Daniel's hands the way a loving dog will lick its master. Many great artists through the centuries have painted pictures of Daniel in the lions' den, including the painters Brueghel, Riviere, Rubens, and Teniers.
The faith of Daniel is such an inspiration to millions of people of all faiths that one must wonder if it's really true that God can perform miracles and save us from tragedy that seems inevitable. But it's only logical that if there's a God who can create the seemingly boundless universe, including all of humanity, then that God is great enough to do anything at all within the imaginations of mankind. While prayer and faith are proven correct on a daily basis in the lives of people who have problems far less dramatic than Daniel's facing the lions, the stories of the Bible live on as reminders of where to turn in times of desperation. The prophet and saint, Daniel, will always be an inspiration to those of faith.