Prophet Daniel lived in very difficult time in history. The book of Daniel was written around 600-500BC, the same time Prophet Jeremiah was writing. Daniel studied Jeremiah's writing diligently. God told His people that they must obey His Word and gave them a long time to repent and return back to God. But they only became more and more evil and worshipped all kinds of idols. So God allowed a foreign king, the king of Babylon called Nebuchadnezzar, to take His people captive. Nebuchadnezzar enslaved the people and took them from the land given by God.
Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian Empire had no interest in finding the truth or the one true God. He set up many false gods and forced all the people to bow down and worship their gods. Prophet Daniel and his friends were devoted to God, even when the king threatened to burn them alive in the fire and throw them to the lion den! God miraculously rescued Daniel and his friends from harm. Both the king and the people saw Daniel's God was the one true God.
Dreams and visions
The Book of Daniel is in two parts. In the first 6 chapters, we read about how Daniel and his friends chose to remain loyal to God. In the other 6 chapters, we read about the visions and dreams God gave to Daniel about what would happen in the future: the coming of a Messiah.
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached God and was led into His presence. God gave him authority, glory and power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His kingdom will be everlasting and will never be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13–14).
In another dream, God showed Daniel His divine plan to atone all sins of mankind by making the final sacrifice:
"God has decreed 490 years for your people and your holy city to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to fulfil vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the Ruler God has chosen, comes, there will be 49 years, and then 434 years. It will be rebuilt with streets and trenches in times of trouble. After the 434 years, the Anointed One will be put to death and have nothing. The people from another ruler will come destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the destruction in the end." (Daniel 9:25–26).
What does it all mean?
Daniel wrote clearly that 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem had been issued, the Messiah God had promised to send to make atonement for the world's sin would be here on earth. He would be called the Anointed One, and His kingdom would be everlasting. But like all sacrifices, to make this final sacrifice of atonement for the world, He would be killed, not for his own sins, but for our sins.
What do we learn about the coming Messiah? Why do you think it was important that God revealed these details of the Messiah to Daniel?
Daniel’s personal story, though full of suffering and injustice under a foreign mepire, was a small part of God’s greater story. What do the visions and dreams God gave him teach us about God and His greater story?