Think on These Things: Jesus encouraged reading book of Daniel

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The book of Daniel should be required reading for everyone. Although Jesus encouraged the reading of the entire Bible, the only book He specifically mentioned was that of “Daniel the prophet.” It deals with “the time of the end.”

The first six chapters are stories with a parallel for today. The prophecies have application today. The stories graphically portray the character qualities needed to stand in the crisis ahead. The prophecies reveal the nature, timing and magnitude of the coming crisis.

We will be looking at Daniel this coming year. The book of Daniel was written to prepare us — those living in Earth’s last hour — for the glorious return of Jesus.

The first chapter starts out with a seeming failure of the God of Israel. His people defeated and some of the elite taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC. But, the chapter ends showing the superiority of God’s plans for clear minds and healthy bodies.

The elite were to be trained for three years and given what the king thought was the very best of food, the rich food directly from his table. But Daniel and his three friends were servants of God and would not defile themselves by eating foods — the unclean and rich foods — which had been dedicated to idols. To eat of these foods would be a denial of their faith. And they would not do that. They stayed true to principle in a firm reliance on God.

“Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. And he made a simple request of the one in charge of their well being. … ‘Test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,’ Daniel said. ‘At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s rich food. Then you can decide whether or not to let us continue eating our diet.’ So the attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the rich foods and wines. God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for learning the literature and science of the time. And God gave Daniel special ability in understanding the meanings of visions and dreams. … In all matters requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, the king found the advice of these young men to be ten times better than that of all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.” (Daniel 1:8, 12-17, 20)

Daniel served in some form of senior political and advisory position for six kings over some 70 years. Not bad for a captive! God identified Daniel as a “man greatly beloved” and he lived in accordance to God’s health laws and was blessed with physical strength and mental superiority. He was privileged to have unusual spiritual insight, which he could have used to his personal advantage. But he always made it clear that he was gifted by the grace of God — to whom he always gave credit. Furthermore, God used Daniel to record several of the most remarkable prophecies in all of Scripture. He was a significant person indeed!

Ian Cotton is the retired pastor of the Creston Seventh-day Adventist Church.