DANIEL was one of those who were carried away into Babylonian imprisonment by Nebuchadnezzar
after he in the time of king Jehoiakim
had conquered the city of Jerusalem, and had brought all the land of Judah under his dominion. He was one of the young man of the royal seed that had no blemish, but were of a beautiful countenance, and skillful in all wisdom, who, by the command of Nebuchadnezzar
, were taken and chosen out of many to be instructed in the books and language of the Chaldeans, to stand in the king’s palace, and to wait upon him at court, and afterward to be employed in high offices of authority, Dan. 1:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. God endued Daniel
with singular wisdom and understanding above all others, especially in revealing and expounding of dreams and visions, which He caused the kings of Babel, Nebuchadnezzar
, and Belshazzar
, to dream and see, which no other men, though ever so wise and skillful, were able to understand, reveal or interpret. Daniel
came for this to be in very great repute with those kings, and was also honored with very large presents, and exalted to high honor above his companions, and above many princes among the Babylonians. Nevertheless, being exceedingly hated and envied by the Chaldeans, magicians, sorcerers and stargazers for this, he was at last by their cunning and crafty plot (because he, according to the king’s decree, would not omit his wonted worshipping of the true God) cast into the lion’s den to be torn and devoured alive by them. Yet God Almighty, Whom he fervently served and worshipped, kept him from the lions, and his accusers and greatest enemies are cast into the den of lions, and are immediately rent and devoured by them, with their wives and children.
The prophet Daniel
described also how wonderfully God preserved his companions, Shadrach
, (who would not worship the image which king Nebuchadnezzar
had set up) in the fiery furnace, in order that one could not so much as smell the least scent of fire upon their garments, which in the meanwhile burnt and consumed several of them who heated this fiery furnace.
Besides the visions and dreams showed unto the kings at Babel, God also showed certain visions unto Daniel
himself concerning the state of God’s church and of the commonwealth, which the angel Gabriel
declared and expounded unto him, especially concerning the rebuilding of the city and temple of Jerusalem, of the coming of CHRIST in the flesh, of the destruction of the city and temple by their enemies, of CHRIST’S preaching and miracles, and of the abolition of the Levitical priesthood, of the very particular time when CHRIST would be put to death, as also how God would at last deliver and redeem His people, both temporally and eternally. It tends to the praise and commendation of this prophet, and to cause the godly reader to embrace his prophecies with more certainty and more assuredness, that Daniel
is highly praised and extolled among the prophets, both in the Old as well in the New Testament, and is placed by Ezekiel next to Noah and Job as a pattern of piety and holy zeal, Ezek. 14:14, 20
. And of his eminent extraordinary wisdom the same prophet Ezekiel
speaks, Ezek. 28:3, unto the proud king of Tyrus: Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee
In the New Testament our Lord JESUS CHRIST Himself speaks of the prophet Daniel, Mat. 24:15, and exhorts all people that they give good heed unto his prophecies. The apostle John
has in his book of the Revelation not only many things common with Daniel
, but he also often uses this prophet’s own words in relating his predictions.
The interpretations of the dreams and visions, shown by God unto the above named kings and unto Daniel
himself, concerning the state of the monarchies and of the church of God in them, for many ages to come, throughout the entire world, are indeed hard to be understood, but God the Lord has revealed them long ago already in part unto several of His faithful ministers, and He will continually cause more and more His servants, who shall fervently pray unto Him for it, to understand them yet more clearly. Well and truly speaks the ancient father Irenæus
, lib. 4, chap. 43
: Omnis Prophetia, priusquam impleatur, aenigma est: Quando autem impleta fuerit, manifestam habet intelligentiam et expositionem
. That is: every prophecy is as a riddle, until it is fulfilled; but when it is fulfilled, it may then be plainly understood and expounded.