FFF 9:3 (Mar 1963)
The God Beloved Man
Of all the characters of the Bible none is perhaps more lovable than the man Daniel. His very name, “God is my judge” reveals the purity of his life and the purpose of his legislation. In the threefold division of the Old Testament he is not listed among the prophets, but is mentioned in the Writings coming between Esther and Ezra. This may be due to the fact that Daniel exercised no oral ministry. On the other hand, because the Writings were largely associated with Jewish feasts, special holidays and momentous events in their national history, Daniel has a unique place among them. His Book is a divine classic concerning the past history of the Nation, their prophetic future and the loyalty and love of one of their own from teen age to old age. Let us consider Daniel historically, prophetically and spiritually.
The opening verses of the Book give us the truth of God concerning the nation’s capitivity. It was the Lord who gave Jehoachim into the hands of the enemy, not military strategy. The background of Daniel was one of captivity, consecration and continuance in his witness for God until he was nearly a hundred years old. The twelve chapters of the Book of Daniel divide naturally into two halves. The first six chapters are mainly the story of Daniel’s life, first as a boy in the royal Court of Babylon, and then, after a period of training, as a statesman in three world empires. He was no doubt of royal or noble birth, and of more than average intelligence, well favoured and of the highest entegrity. The biography of these chapters is a tremendous help in showing us how a man in the midst of vice and heathen custom of an oriental court can overcome temptation, and be true to God and live a practical, holy life. The second half of his Book consists mainly of actual prophecies concerning the future of Israel and of the world. From earliest times, Daniel and his Book have come in for many vicious attacks by the emissaries of Satan. How the devil hates the truth of Daniel since it speaks of the latter days, and the overthrow of all evil including himself, and the glorious dawn of a new day for the nation Israel! I have stood among the ruins of Babylon and gazed with wonder at the fulfilment of prophecy: “I will make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: for I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Isa. 14:23). The remains of ancient Babylon stand in mute attestation to the truth of the predictions in Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Daniel is mentioned by his fellow-captive Ezekiel, not as a writer, but as a model of righteousness and wisdom (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3). In the first passage, Ezekiel recognizes Daniel’s righteousness (2 Peter 2:5); Job was the pattern or righteousness (Job 1:1), and Daniel was the man who practised righteousness (Dan. 1:8). Noah overcame the world, Job overcame the devil, and Daniel overcame the flesh. How important to recognize our three foes: the world, the flesh and the devil, and to remember our three friends: the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the second passage in Ezekiel, Daniel’s wisdom is compared to that of the King of Tyre. Not only do we have the record of captivity, the contemporary Ezekiel, but also the confirmation of our Lord who specifically states that Daniel was a prophet (Matt. 24:15). Surely, in this story we have a divinely inspired record of the work of God in a human life, and the far-reaching purposes of God regarding the Times of the Gentiles, and the glorious future of His people Israel. Tradition says Daniel was buried at Susa, the capital of Elam, entering into rest and reward as the angel promised, “But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”
The life of Daniel is most attractive to all who would live godly in Christ Jesus. As a youth he had one presiding purpose, to live for God and be loyal to His Word. We are not told how he came to a knowledge of the Lord, but there is a good possibility it was through the reading of the Book of God. He was a lover of the Scriptures and a student of the writings of men like Jeremiah (Dan. 9:2). Daniel was one of a group of Jewish boys taken captive by the army of Nebuchadnezzar and brought from the city of Jerusalem to the city of Babylon. He was chosen because of his background, natural beauty and intelligence. The policy of Babylon with their prisoners of war was to so indoctrinate them that they would finally repudiate their own language and land. In spite of their brain-washing, Daniel never swerved from his allegiance to God and the truth of His Word. His whole life was marked by separation from all evil and stainless as to the corruption of his day. The motto of his life is summed up in the 8th verse of the first chapter: “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.” The test that came to Daniel concerned meat and wine that no doubt had been first of all dedicated to some heathen deity, or because they were unclean to an orthodox Jew. Among these prohibited meats were pork, the flesh of carnivorous animals, certain birds of prey and all fish without scales. Until this date, this prohibition is strictly carried out by Jews in Jerusalem. Well do I recall in Israel being charged 100 per cent duty on a food parcel because it contained a small can of bacon. To the Jew, the prohibition of these meats was a sign of Israel’s separation and peculiar relationship to Jehovah. Daniel refused the king’s meat because he knew it was unclean, and to eat would be disobedience to the revealed will of God. While others could eat and drink without any qualms of conscience, the believer must ever keep in mind that his body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and his earnest desire ought to be the glory of his God. How blessed today to see men and women adorning the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things instead of following the latest trends and fashions of this godless age! May God keep us from the devilish attractions of this age and the modern attire so unbecoming to femininity and motherliness. Another lesson to be gleaned is that, while Daniel was no fanatic in the matter of food, it is obvious the diet of pulse was better in every way than the rich foods of the Babylonians. Much that is eaten today needs to be tested and scrutinized, for our age is noted for the ability to make a quick dollar on foodstuffs rather than consideration for the physical welfare of the buyer.
Daniel was not only marked by godly piety in his purpose of heart, but also persistance in prayer. Again and again we find him on his knees in the second, the sixth, the ninth, and tenth chapters. How helpful it has been to our spiritual life to study the ninth chapters of Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah! Here one breathes the atmosphere of Heaven and the strength derived from such prayers is an incentive to stand and “dare to be a Daniel.” It is no wonder he exerted a powerful influence on his day and generation that extended through three empires and even until this present era.
While it is good to remember Daniel in relation to the past and the present application of the truth taught in his Book, he is pre-eminently God’s prophet. As a saint Daniel foretells the future, and how vividly he sets forth in the second division, chapters 7-12, the course of all future history. How important it is to see in the first section that the prerequisite for the understanding of things future is conditioned on a clean-cut separation from evil, and a burning conviction regarding the truth of God. How thrilling to have opened up the panorama of God concerning the future doom of world empires; the anti Christ and his kingdom; the international insanity of the last days; the judgment of God on apostasy; the calendar of the Jew, and their national conversion; and the last days and the End of Time. To live in the enjoyment and teaching ministry of the Lord’s return is to be wise in the things that matter most. Daniel was posted as to the past, present and future. As to the past, he saw Christ as the Ancient of Days; as to the present, Christ the Stone, as to the future, Christ the Messiah, the Prince (Daniel 2:45; 7:13-14; 9:25-26). To the Jews, Christ was a stumbling stone; to the nations of the earth, a smiting stone; but to us who believe, He is the Securing Stone. How exceedingly precious to see in the Prophetic Word truth that makes the Lord Jesus increasingly clear and dear to the heart of the Christian. Every prophecy found in the Bible has a twofold purpose of forth-telling and foretelling, of precept and predicion. Not only do we have light on the future, but lessons for our present conduct. Daniel’s Book clearly reveals the importance of one’s personal relation to God in order to know the mind of God regarding the days to come, that faithfulness in the midst of corrupt and uncongenial circumstances is marked by God and precious to His sight, and also notes that faithfullness and righteousness is the strength of all testimony in a world of unrighteousness and ungodliness. Finally, whether in Daniel’s day or our own, those oft-quoted words are still true: “Them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30).