Introduction Of The Book Of Daniel
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Daniel. We have begun a discussion of the book of Daniel which we will continue, the Lord willing, until we have examined all of the wonderful truths that are presented to us in this particular portion of the Word of God.

For the benefit of those of you who may need your memory stirred, I would remind you that in our introductory study to the book, we said that one of the reasons we are studying the book at this particular time is that we have just completed the study of the book of Revelation. We are studying the two together because there is a great similarity between the two.

Comparison of Revelation with Daniel

The two men who wrote the books—Daniel, who wrote the book of Daniel, and John, who wrote the book of Revelation—were greatly beloved of the Lord, and were so referred to in the Scripture.

We reminded you that the book of Revelation is the Apocalypse of the New Testament and the book of Daniel is the Apocalypse of the Old Testament. We reminded you that the book of Revelation describes the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in relation to the times of the Gentiles, and the book of Daniel describes the nations of the world in relation to the times of the Gentiles. That necessitated a brief definition which we will re-emphasize until we become familiar with the phrase, “the times of the Gentiles.”

If you understand your Bibles correctly, you will know that in chapter 15 of the book of Genesis, God chose a man. His name was Abraham. God told that man that He was going to make a great nation out of him. God kept the promise; God created the Jewish nation from the loins of Abraham.

God's Purpose With the Jewish Nation

He did this for a purpose, not because He thought any more of Abraham than He thought of anybody else, not because He loved the Jewish nation any more than He loved anybody else as far as the worthiness of the nation was concerned. He did it because He had a job to be done. The only way He could get the job done was to take a nation and separate it from all the other nations of the world—keep it separate and sure unto Himself—because through that nation, He wanted to bring His Son to the earth. Through that nation, He wanted to bring the Word of God to the hands of men. The only way it could be done was to keep that nation separate and apart from all the other nations of the world.

That nation had a great opportunity, but that nation, like a great many of us, failed in response to the opportunity. Because that nation failed in response to the opportunity, God sent them into the captivity of Gentile nations, and they have been in the captivity of the Gentile nations ever since. The time during which the Jews are under the dominion of the Gentiles, until the time when they will be set free from the dominion of the Gentiles and restored once again to their own land in its entirety is referred to in the Bible as “the times of the Gentiles”. It simply means that God, instead of working through the Jews, is working through the Gentiles.

That is the reason we are so vitally interested in the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel is going to show to us very plainly what the nations of the world are going to do. When we read our newspapers we wonder; we wonder what alliance of nations will arise next; we wonder where the next trouble spot of the world will be. God has laid it out for us here in the book of Daniel. All we need to do is to become familiar with it, and then when we see these things in our newspapers and hear them on our radios and televisions, we can see which way things are headed in relation to the Word of God.

So the book of Daniel describes the times of the Gentiles in relation to the nations of the world.

Outline of Daniel

In our discussion of the book, we told you that it falls naturally into two parts. The first six chapters deal with the visions which Daniel interpreted as they were given to someone else. The last six chapters deal with the visions which Daniel himself had and for which God gave him the interpretation. If you read the twelve chapters of Daniel with that in mind, you will be able to understand the various phrases that you find, whether in the first part or the last part of the book.

We noticed another characteristic of the book with which you will want to become familiar, though it will not always be apparent as you notice peculiar statements and peculiar phrases. That is that six chapters of the book are written in Hebrew and six chapters are written in Aramaic. I didn't say the first six chapters are written in Hebrew, and I didn't say the last six chapters are written in Aramaic. I said it is six and six—six in Hebrew and six in Aramaic.

Those chapters that deal with the Gentiles are written in Aramaic. Those chapters that deal with the Jews are written in Hebrew. If we were to take the time to examine each chapter, we would find that chapter 1 and the first three verses of chapter 2 are written in Hebrew. Then we would find that chapter 8 through 12 also are written in Hebrew. We would find that chapter 2 from verse 4 and chapters 3 through 7 are written in Aramaic. The book falls naturally into those divisions, and you are able to remember the subject matter accordingly.

The Reason for Chapter 1

That brings us to the first chapter of the book of Daniel. This is a chapter that most people in their study of the book pass over because they are hungry for prophecy. The prophecy does not actually begin, they think, until you get into chapter 2 of the book, so they just read hurriedly over the first chapter and jump into the second, and in so doing they miss the reason for the first chapter.

The first chapter of the book of Daniel is introductory. It gives us the only basis upon which the prophetic Word of God could possibly be understood. I want to suggest that we think about Isaiah's purpose in relation to God's provision and in relation to the proof to the world of a God Who does not fail.

Time will not permit us to read the entire chapter before we discuss it. We will talk about it as we read along. But before we do, let us bow our heads together and ask the Lord to help us.

Father, we are grateful that we can come to You and ask You to help us with our understanding of the Word of God. We recognize that Thou art the author and therefore Thou art able to explain it to us. We remember that David prayed, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” We pray that prayer, that we may behold out of the Word of God those things that are profitable to us. We pray in Jesus' name and for His sake. Amen

Notice the Daniel, chapter 1, verse 1:

Daniel 1:

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;
4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

We will stop our reading there for a moment because those four verses of Scripture are included in what I referred to in the beginning of our discussion as “Isaiah's prophecy.”

Why Daniel Was in Babylon

If you will turn with me to Isaiah, chapter 39, you will see why I refer to this paragraph as “Isaiah's prophecy.” This chapter tells us the story of a mistake that a man made in relation to the will of God and the sad results that occurred because of it.

You will remember that Hezekiah was visited by the prophet Isaiah one day with a message from God. That message was, “Set thy house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.” Hezekiah was no more anxious to die than most of us are. We do a lot of talking about it, but we are not so anxious to get it done. Hezekiah said, “Lord, why do I have to die right now? Why don't you give me an extension of days?” He continued that prayer, wishing, pleading, and begging God until God said, ”All right, that is not My first plan. It is not My first choice. But I will grant to you an extension of fifteen years. I will let you live fifteen years longer from this particular day.”

Hezekiah's Mistake

The king of Babylon (Babylon was just coming upon the horizon of the world then.) heard that Hezekiah had had a miraculous healing. So he sent to him some individuals from his kingdom, supposedly to congratulate Hezekiah upon his miraculous recovery. But he was using a method that is well known in our generation; he sent the men for the real purpose of spying out the strength of the kingdom of Israel. He did this with a view of someday overriding this kingdom that was wealthy in many respects and could provide a revenue for his kingdom.

Hezekiah was so flattered in his innocency because this young, prepossessing king of Babylon had paid him this attention that he took the emissaries from Babylon and showed them over his entire palace, over his whole house, over everything that he had. He didn't ask God before he did it, and he made a grievous mistake.

Isaiah's Prophecy

Isaiah 39:

3 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon.
4 Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
5 Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts:
6 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
7 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Let's think for a moment about what we have read. Because Hezekiah did not give God the courtesy of consulting Him, God said, “You are going to have to reap what you have sown. Your entire wealth someday will be transported to the land of Babylon. Not only will the wealth of this kingdom be transported to the land of Babylon, but your descendants, the young men of your royal house, will be taken to the land of Babylon as prisoners; not only will they be taken there as prisoners, but they will be made eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” This was the prophecy.

The Certainty of Fulfillment

If you had been living in that day, after the first two or three years you probably would have said, “Oh, well, it is not going to happen. Why be alarmed about it?” Because it didn't happen in two years and it didn't happen in ten years or fifteen years; it took one hundred years and three months to transpire.

Turn, please, to II Chronicles, chapter 33. I want you to see that this marvelous prophecy that we are studying, the book of Daniel, begins on the basis of fulfilled prophecy. If God can fulfill one prophecy, He is capable of fulfilling another one.

In II Chronicles, chapter 32, is found the record of the death of Hezekiah. He was succeeded by his son Manasseh, when Manasseh was twelve years of age, according to II Chronicles, chapter 33, verse 1. You will notice that according to that first verse Manasseh reigned fifty and five years in the city of Jerusalem.

Reigns of Hezekiah's Grandsons

If you will glance down at verse 20 of the chapter, you will read:

II Chronicles 33:

20 So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
21 Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem.

Manasseh reigned fifty-five years; Amon, his son, reigned only two years, a brief reign indeed; and so far they were not in the land of Babylon. What happened to Isaiah's prophecy? What happened to the authenticity of the Word of God?

Well, time has not run out yet. If you will notice in verse 22 you will see these words:

II Chronicles 33:

22 But he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them;
23 And humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.
24 And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house.
25 But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.

II Chronicles 34:

1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.

Hezekiah reigned fifty years. Amon reigned two years. Josiah reigned thirty-one years. Josiah had a good reign and a godly reign. He did all that he possibly could to bring the people back to God, and for that reason God blessed him in the length of his reign. But he, too, had to die.

Look at II Chronicles, chapter 36. You will notice that at the death of Josiah:

II Chronicles 36:

1 Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem.
2 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.

This indeed was a brief reign, the briefest of all the grandsons of Hezekiah.

As you read on in this chapter you will find that the Egyptian Pharaoh took Eliakim, the brother of Jehoahaz, changed his name to Jehoiakim, and made him king.

And if you will look at chapter 36, verse 5, you will read;

II Chronicles 36:

5 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God.

There you have it! Fifty-five years, two years, thirty-one years, three months, and eleven years—slightly over one hundred years did God wait until the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled.

Captivity in Babylon Begins

But you will notice in verse 6:

II Chronicles 36:

6 Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.
7 Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.

Go back to the book of Daniel with me and notice in chapter 1 that the first three verses of the chapter are a fulfillment of what Isaiah said to Hezekiah over one hundred years before it actually occurred. The grandsons of Hezekiah, of whom Daniel was one, were taken into Babylon into the palace of Nebuchadnezzar and were made eunuchs in the realm of Babylon.

There our story begins because we are introduced to the man who is the author of this book. We are introduced to the man who was so greatly beloved that God was willing to reveal to him, not prophecy related to a hundred years, but prophecy related to thousands of years, some of it not as yet fulfilled, but all of it which we can believe without a doubt will be fulfilled because God's Word does not fail.

Daniel's Purpose

I would like for you to look with me at Daniel's purpose, in chapter 1, verse 5. The purpose of Daniel is very important to the whole story:

Daniel 1:

5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

These verses of Scripture describe Daniel's purpose. We need to understand the reason he purposed as he did. Some people say it was because Daniel was a vegetarian. No, he wasn't. Some people say it was because he wanted to go on a special diet. No, he didn't. He had made a covenant with God that as a free Hebrew he would not defile himself with the king's meat. This king's meat and this king's drink had been offered to idols before it was set before Daniel. If Daniel had dared to eat of the meat and drink of the wine, it would not have been a matter of satisfying the hunger of his stomach and the thirst of his throat; it would have been a matter of participating in the worship of the heathen gods of Babylon. Daniel purposed in his heart that no matter what it cost him, he would not bow down to this thing.

Reason for Changing the Names

They thought that they could wear him down, so you will notice in verse 7 that the man who was in charge of the eunuchs changed the names of these four young men. And they were young; they were anywhere from the ages of fourteen to nineteen when they were taken captive into the land of Babylon. They all had names that were given to them by godly parents. They came out of a godly household. Daniel's name, for example, means “God is my judge.” Hananiah's name means “beloved of the Lord.” Michael means “who is like God.” Azariah means “the Lord is my helper.”

If they were to forget their God and if they were to be worn down in relation to their decisions and were to compromise their testimonies, something had to be done about their names. So the prince of the eunuchs changed every one of their names. He changed Daniel's name to Belteshazzar. “Bel” was the name of the leading heathen deity in the land of Babylon. Belteshazzar means “whom the sun god illuminates.”

Michael's name was changed to mean “who is like unto Venus.” Venus was the goddess who received most of their worship in the land of Babylon.

Azariah's name was changed to Abednego, which means “servant of Venus.”

Not Being Changed By Name Change

So you see? These boys who came out of the land of Israel had names that indicated that their parents honored God, and their names were changed to honor heathen deities.

Do you know something? If faith is planted deep enough and if training is what it ought to be, a mere change in names cannot change the nature. A mere change in names cannot change the picture. These four boys are one of the most interesting illustrations of the truth of Proverbs, chapter 22, verse 6, that you will find in the Bible or out of the Bible. You will remember the wise man said, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Train up a child according to his individual bent, and when he reaches the age of maturity, he will not depart from that training. They could not do anything about the change of names, but they could do something about their purpose, and they did.

Now, wait just a minute! Daniel's purpose was not the result of a spur of the moment decision. Daniel's purpose was the result of deep meditation in the Word of God.

A Basis For Purpose In Life

The word purpose in original Hebrew is a word that describes taking several different strands of things and plaiting them together to make one strong rope. That is what Daniel did. He carefully meditated upon all the truths that were in the Word of God, chiefly in the book of Leviticus. He recognized God's sovereign rule over his life, and his purpose was founded upon a firm understanding of the Word of God.

Do you know why many people don't stand on their purpose? Do you know why many people do not finish what they begin? Many times when they take their stand, many times when they form their purpose, they are having simply an emotional upheaval inside, and they do what occurs to them on the spur of the moment. When the emotion is worn away, everything else is gone. But an individual who examines the Word of God and is convinced that God's Word is truth and must be obeyed come what may, purposes on the basis of the Word of God. He never wavers, for he knows that God does not change; He is the same yesterday, today, forever. If God decides something is right today, it is always right. He doesn't ever change it.

A Purpose Greater Than Circumstances

Before we leave Daniel and his purpose, I want you to notice what he did in verse 8. I've always been so grateful for this:

Daniel 1:

8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat…

Let's pause there a moment. Daniel knew that if he were defiled, he would be the one that was responsible for it. He was in Babylon, yes. He was forced as far as human enterprise was concerned. Eating meat and drinking wine that had been offered to idols, he wasn't going to blame on Nebuchadnezzar. He wasn't going to blame it on the prince of the eunuchs. He said, “If I am defiled, I will be responsible for it.”

Daniel 1:

8.. he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank:

Notice this now:

Daniel 1:

8… therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

There was no empty boasting in Daniel's purpose. There was not a flaunting of his convictions. There was not the matter of standing on a soap box and ranting at the top of his voice. “I believe this, and this is all I will do.” There wasn't anything like that.

When the prince of the eunuchs came around he said, “Please, sir, I wonder if I could talk something over with you,” and he gave him his testimony. He said, “Would you mind not making me eat that meat and drink that wine?”

Now he had his mind made up; he'd die first. But he didn't say that to the prince of the eunuchs. He said, “Will you give me permission to keep my convictions?” That is real humility! It is a humility based upon a purpose from which you know you will not sway.

I'm always just a little concerned about the people who talk too loud about their convictions. I am afraid that they are trying to make up in steam what they lack in fire.

God's Provisions for Believers

Will you notice God's provision, for here is the point of this story. It is a wonderful thing how God knows the hearts of His children, and it is a wonderful thing how God goes ahead and prepares the way. Will you notice verse 9:

Daniel 1:

9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

Do you see how God made the provision? It was an unheard of thing to think that the prince of the eunuchs would permit a captive to tell him anything. But God had gone before, and He had prepared the way. He had put love and understanding of Daniel in the heart of this eunuch. When Daniel suggested it, he didn't jump down his throat and say, “Don't mention a thing like that to me.” He said, “I'd love to do that but I'm scared. Why, if I just let you fellows eat vegetables (that is the meaning of pulse) and you come up skinnier than anybody else, the king would cut off my head.” But Daniel said, “The king won't cut off your head, because it won't turn out that way.” The eunuch said, “I don't know that. You think that, but I don't know it.” And Daniel said, “Why don't you try it for ten days?”

Significance of Numbers

Ten, incidentally, is the number of testing in the Bible. Every time you find anything related to a test, you'll find the number ten. That shows the accuracy of the Word of God.

You read the story with me. They tried it for ten days, and they came out better off than all the rest.

Wait just a minute now. If you eat pulse on your own decision, you'll lose weight and get sick. But if you eat pulse because God directed you to eat it, you'll be healthier than if you ate anything else. It is all a matter of following the direction of God.

There are three years left in this chapter, for this test lasted three years. All we are going to have time to say about it is that when the three years were up, Daniel and his companions stood before Nebuchadnezzar and he communed with them.

Benefits of Remaining True to God

Daniel 1:

19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

May I suggest to you that this was not a fly-by-night proposition. They didn't lose weight and get dumb after the test was over. That is the reason the Holy Spirit put verse 21 in that chapter. Did you notice what it said?

Daniel 1:

21 And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.

Do you know what that means? It means that Daniel was the prime minister of the kingdom of Babylon from its beginning, through its rise, and down the stretch of time until it faded into oblivion. When Cyrus, the Persian, established his kingdom, which was the next kingdom to cross the stage of the world and which absorbed Babylon, Daniel was still there, and Cyrus acted on his advice.

This one last thought. There were a great number of boys that went into the land of Babylon, a great number of them. You can search the Bible in vain for their names. You can't find them! You can search related literature of this period and you can't find another name. The only four boys that lived to be remembered were those who didn't compromise. The only four who lived to be remembered were those who purposed in their hearts that they would be true to God.

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