When reading through the twelve chapters of the Book of Daniel it’s very easy to lose track of the time involved. Daniel was taken to Babylon in 604 B.C. and the temple was completed 88 years later in 516 B.C.
Therefore if Daniel was only 15 in 604 B.C. when he was taken to Babylon he would have been 87 when he was cast into the lions den and 103 when the temple was completed.
No, Daniel was not a young man when he fasted and prayed for the rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem and when he was cast into the lions den, he was well into his eighties.
In 604 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Assyrian army at Carchmesh on the Euphrates river and chased the Egyptians back down towards Egypt. He arrived at Jerusalem where he made a treaty with King Jehoahaz king of Judah.
This King Jehoahaz entered into an agreement with Nebuchadnezzar and as part of the agreement he sent Ezekiel, Daniel, Daniel’s three friends and many other craftsmen and administrators from Judah, sending them down to Babylon to help the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar; in building and administering his kingdom.
3 months later Pharaoh Neco of Egypt came up to Jerusalem and overturned King Jehoahaz and replaced him with his brother Eliakim. From there Judea had three more Kings, each one more wicked than the previous one ending with King Zedekiah.
Meanwhile in Babylon, this Daniel grew in godliness and he grew in esteem and in the eyes of his countrymen and in the esteem of the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar; who made him one of the chief administrators of his empire. While at the same time he became one of the chief among his brethren the children of Judah.
As Daniel grew in godliness and esteem in Babylon, the kingdom of Judea began to apostatize and fall into idolatry with the end of the reign of King Jehoahaz.
Soon King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon went back to Jerusalem where the city fell in 597 B.C. and the king of Babylon carried away several thousand people from Jerusalem back to Babylon.
In spite of this correction by God from King Nebuchadnezzar the Kings and people of Jerusalem and Judea did not repent and they continued in their idolatry growing worse and worse.
Meanwhile in Babylon, Daniel and his three friends would have been setting an example of godliness and zeal to live by every word of God, and they would have been teaching their brethren the same thing. They would have been teaching the children of Judah a passion and zeal to live by every word of God.
Those few thousand taken by Nebuchadnezzar from Jerusalem to Babylon in 597 B.C. would have been humbled by the siege and the forced march to Babylon, and they would have been welcomed by godly people; by a group of Jews led by Daniel who were passionate for godliness. Then the apostates from Jerusalem would have been taught, urged, to repent, to sincerely and quickly repent and turn to embrace godliness with a whole heart and many or most of them would have done so.
At that time Babylon had become a center for godly Jews while Jerusalem had become a centre of idolatry and apostasy.
Then Zedekiah the last king of Judea, having seen what had happened to the previous wicked kings and how they had been punished by the king of Babylon was also wicked, falling wholeheartedly into idolatry and all manner of evil and at the same time persecuting Jeremiah the servant and prophet of God.
Finally God brought Nebuchadnezzar up one more time to Jerusalem and he laid siege to Jerusalem in 588 B.C. and after 18 months of starvation and severe hardships which drove the people to the edge of madness the city fell in 587 B.C. and several months later in the spring or summer of 586 B.C. the walls of the temple and city were broken down and the temple and city were burned.
Then Nebuchadnezzar killed all the king’s sons and put out Zedekiah’s eyes so that the last thing he would have seen would have been the death of his own sons. After that he was taken to Babylon where he would live for the rest of his life with that memory as punishment for all his wickedness.
Along with Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar also deported almost all of the residents of Jerusalem and most of the Jews and Israelites that remained in Judea, leaving only the farming folk and herders to take care of the land.
All of the people that Nebuchadnezzar was deporting had been very wicked and idolatrous, therefore God has brought Nebuchadnezzar up against them to lay siege to the city and they suffered terrible hardships and horrendous famine during the 18-month siege of the city.
After which they saw their city and temple looted, broken up and burned, and then they were deported in a forced march during the heat of the summer through the area between Jerusalem and Babylon.
What do you think the state of mind of these people would have been as the approached the gates of Babylon? They had been through a terrible siege and had seen everything that they loved burned and destroyed and they had been marched through the summer sun; and now exhausted they were approaching the gates of what was to them going to be a prison.
What do you think their state of mine was? Their pride and arrogance would have been crushed, they would have been dispirited, devastated, distraught and thoroughly humbled and when they entered the city they would have been met by Daniel and those Jews who had previously been taking to Babylon and who had become a company of godly people following the example of Daniel and being zealous to live by every word of God.
While Jerusalem and Judea had apostatized into gross idolatry, those Jews who had been at Babylon had become a core center of godliness. Almighty God had used Daniel, his three friends, Ezekiel and others, to turn the Jews who were in Babylon into a faithful flock diligently passionately living by every word of God.
Then God humbled the apostates in Jerusalem and in Judea and brought them to Babylon where they were placed under the care of the righteous godly who had become a center of godliness in the world at that time.
For the next 50 years [From the Zedekiah deportation to the decree of Cyrus] Daniel led the people in godliness and taught them to live by every word of God, even all those people who had gone to Babylon originally with him in 604 B.C. and the people who have been deported from Jerusalem in 597 B.C. and finally those people who had been sent to Babylon during the Zedekiah deportation of 586 B.C.
Daniel faithfully fulfilled his role as a wise man in Babylon and a wise men of the Kings of Persia and at the same time he fulfilled his role as a man of God and chief among the people of Judah.
When Babylon fell to the Persians and Medes in 539 B.C. King Cyrus wanting to declare himself king over all Babylon would have consulted with the wise man, the chief administrators and the rulers in Babylon and he would have also consulted with the leaders of the various captive peoples, and in doing so he would have consulted with Daniel.
Daniel knowing from the book of Jeremiah that God had promised that the temple would be rebuilt in 70 years and being very desirous that that should happen; Daniel would have informed Cyrus that he was mentioned in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah by name as the man who would accomplish this.
This Cyrus had come from hundreds of miles to the north and would have had no knowledge of the God of Judah, yet here he was decreeing that the construction of the temple at Jerusalem should take place and openly stating at the beginning of the decree that Almighty God the God of Israel and Judah had commanded him to do so.
Then it happened that no less than 50,000 Jews, descendants of Benjamin and Levites and Priests, decided not only to support the rebuilding of the temple but to make the journey and to actively participate in the reconstruction of the temple of God at Jerusalem.
How do you suppose that a handful of righteous men sent the Babylon in 604 B.C. could result in 50,000 men righteous man eager to rebuild the Temple of God? Daniel had done his job!
Daniel and his friends had done a good job for the kings of Babylon, Persia and Media, and they had also done a good job for the Eternal Creator God.
We know from our programs about rebuilding the temple that those people arrived in Jerusalem and they began to work enthusiastically, but they were quickly greatly discouraged and the work stopped and then what happened? Here comes Daniel!
Daniel fasted and prayed and God sent Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to the work and they began to work, infuriating the Samaritans once again. The Samaritans sent messages to the new king Darius and the work was stopped again, until Darius’s acting on a request from the Persian governor and seeking to please Daniel made a search for the decree of Cyrus and finding it he decreed that the work should resume.
It was Daniel’s fasting and his steadfastness in the face of the lions den which impressed the king so much and God’s deliverance from lion’s den impressed the king so much; that he was quick to order a resumption of the work and command that every help and possible assistance be supplied at the king’s own expense.
This Daniel was much more than an interpreter of dreams and a prophet, he was a mighty man of God who had a profound effect upon the history of true religion.
By the time the temple was completed in 516 B.C. Daniel would have been over 100 years old and it is quite possible that he died never having seen the temple completed.
After Daniel’s death and after the death of Zerubbabel and the death of Ezekiel and the various other mighty men of God of that time and after the completion of the temple; true religion began to fall into decay once again.
Those people who had gone to Jerusalem to build the temple, their children and children’s children began to depart from the word of God and many of those in Babylon also departed from the word of God; yet a small core in Babylon remained faithful. We will pick up the story next time with the marriage of Esther.