Although Daniel lived twenty-five hundred years ago, he is a latter-day prophet. His character should be studied, for its development reveals the secret of God's preparation of those who will welcome Christ at his appearing. His prophecies should be understood, for in them is the key which unlocks history to the end of time. The Saviour himself bore witness to this. When the disciples asked, "What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?" he said, "When ye see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet . . . whoso readeth, let him understand." In this we have the divine permission to read and understand the prophecies of Daniel. These prophecies are intended, therefore, to warn a people of the coming of Christ.
True, it was once a sealed book, for the prophet was told to shut up the words, and seal the book "to the time of the end," "for at
the time of the end shall be the vision." And again, "The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." But the time of the end has come. It began in 1798, and though "none of the wicked shall understand," yet "the wise shall understand." With the book of Daniel in hand, and a heart open to hear the voice of God, man may come in touch with the Father of light. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith."
Daniel begins the book with the simple statement that in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, 607 b. c., Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, came unto Jerusalem and besieged it; that in the siege, Jehoiakim was given by the Lord into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, but allowed to remain on the throne in Jerusalem, yet Nebuchadnezzar carried with him to Babylon, as tribute, a part of the vessels of the house of God, and, as hostages, some of the members of the royal household.
This act, with similar ones which followed in swift succession, was but the culmination of events which began years before. In order to appreciate this climax, it is essential that we study the causes which led to it. Since the captivity of Judah is an object lesson to people of the last generation, it is doubly necessary that we trace the relationship between certain causes and results.
HISTORY IN BRIEF
God had an object in calling the Jewish nation to separate themselves from other nations of the world. It was that his people might stand before the world as light-bearers. As a beacon set on a hill, Israel was to send beams of
light to the world. The plan of education made known to Israel through her prophets was the means of keeping that light burning. When this God-given plan was neglected, the light, as a candle deprived of the life-giving oxygen, burned dim. Then it was that the nation was pressed upon all sides by the foe. There is a Hebrew maxim which says that "Jerusalem was destroyed because the education of her children was neglected." The prophecies of Daniel and the connected history prove the truth of this maxim. It may be added that the Jews were restored to Jerusalem as the result of the proper education of a few Hebrew boys.
Just about one hundred years before the days of Daniel, Hezekiah was king of Judah. After a reign of thirteen years, he was on his deathbed, but he pleaded with God to lengthen his life. This was done, and fifteen years were added. On the king's recovery he was visited by ambassadors from Babylon, to whom he showed all his treasures. They came to hear of the mighty God, that could heal the sick; but he showed them only earthly treasure. He lost the opportunity to give them of the treasure of heaven. Then came a message from God by the hand of the prophet Isaiah, saying, "Behold, the days shall come, that all that is in thine house . . . shall be carried into Babylon; nothing shall be left." He was also at the same time told that his descendants should be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
Here was portrayed the future captivity of the Hebrew race. The prophecy was placed on record, and repeated again and again by Jewish mothers as they taught their children. "Must
my son be a captive in the court of a heathen king? Then let me so train him that he will be true to the God of his fathers." There were other mothers who lightly let pass the thought, and the history of their sons' lives is recorded for our instruction.
Three years after his life had been saved, a son was born to Hezekiah. Notwithstanding the recent prophecy, Hezekiah and his wife, Hephzibah, failed to teach the young Manasseh in the way of truth. He was but twelve years of age when he came to the throne, but if he had been trained in the fear of God, he would not have chosen the worship of the heathen.
The youthful Christ at the same age settled not only his own destiny, but the destiny of the universe. When twelve years of age, standing by the temple in Jerusalem, his future work opened before him, and he accepted his appointed mission. Why? Because Mary, his mother, had taught him that heart service to God was his highest pleasure. Manasseh decided in favor of the heathen deities; did evil in the sight of God; and "for the sins of Manasseh" came the captivity of Judah.
At the age of twelve years, Christ made a decision which saved the world; at the same age Manasseh chose a course which brought ruin to the nation. In the training of your child, are you Hephzibah or Mary?
The long reign of Manasseh passed, and the prophecy sent to Hezekiah was not yet fulfilled. Men began to wonder if it ever would come to pass. "Since the fathers fell asleep," said they, "all things continue as they were."
It was in the days of Josiah, the grandson
of Manasseh, that Jeremiah prophesied. Through this prophet, God pleaded with Jerusalem to return to him. "Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from afar, O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not." Thus was Babylon described, and Jerusalem's impending doom portrayed.
Josiah was spared the sight of the complete destruction of Jerusalem because of the reforms which he attempted. In his days there was kept by Judah, and by Israel also, the greatest Passover feast in the history of the nation. "Because thine heart was tender and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, . . . behold I will gather thee unto thy fathers . . . and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place." In a peculiar way God gave Josiah an opportunity to avert the impending calamity. It was not yet too late to change the course of events. This opportunity was through the gifts of his sons. Josiah had three sons and one grandson, who were in turn seated on the throne at Jerusalem. Each, because of wrong training in youth, refused to take God at his word, and failing, hastened the final overthrow.
The three sons were Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. The grandson was Johoiachin, who preceded his uncle, Zedekiah. The fate of each is a solemn warning to people living at the end of time. He who might have been the light of heathen nations was swallowed up by Egyptian darkness. Jehoiakim, the second, who, properly trained, would have been so charged with the power of God that the heathen king
would either have united his forces with the king of Judah, or, opposing, would have been smitten as by a thunder-bolt, failing, paid tribute to Babylon. His capital was entered. Treasures from the house of God were ruthlessly torn from their place and dedicated to heathen worship. Youth,-bright, promising youth,were taken from the royal family to serve the king of Babylon. Jehoiakim beheld this, but was powerless to interfere. His life was gone; he was not connected with the throne of God. His mother and his father made a fatal mistake, for they did not give him the training which God had commanded them to give. Neither did he profit by these mistakes, but educated his son in courtly manners and in the philosophy of the world; and, as a result, his son Jehoiachin languished nearly thirty-seven years in a prison in Babylon. This was another lamp without the oil; another soul without the heavenly food; another son improperly trained to add to the disgrace of Judah. "Jerusalem was destroyed, because the education of her children was neglected."
Zedekiah, the third son of Josiah, had still an opportunity to save Jerusalem. Part of the treasures of this city were already in Babylon. Daniel and his companions had been in the court seventeen or eighteen years when Jeremiah came to Zedekiah with the words: "If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire. . . . Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live." In this time of peril, how did Zedekiah act? Did he deliver himself unto
the Babylonians? God had commanded it; the city would have been saved by it; his own soul would have been saved. Zedekiah pleaded a most human excuse, saying, "I am afraid."
In these three sons is revealed the weakness, the cowardice, the wickedness, and the final ruin of those trained for the service of the world and not for the service of God.
A TRUE EDUCATION
Living at the same time and in the same city with the princes already named, were others which the Scripture mentions by name. These were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, children of Judah, of the royal family-relatives of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah.
At the first siege of Jerusalem, 607 b. c., Daniel was not over eighteen years of age; about the age of the prince Zedekiah, who afterward ruled in Jerusalem. Daniel had a godly mother who knew of the prophecy concerning the destruction of their city. She repeated to her son the words of God, that some day Hebrew children must stand in the heathen court at Babylon. Carefully did this mother teach her son to read the parchment scrolls of the prophets. The history of Israel was studied; the story of Nadab and Abihu was told and retold. The effect of strong drink was impressed upon the mind. The laws of his own being were studied. He knew that excess in eating and drinking would so dull the mind that the voice of God could not be heard.
The songs which these Hebrew children sang told the story of God's dealings with his people. It was in this manner that the image of God was
engraven on their hearts. This education was not gained in the schools of the time, for they had departed from the plan of God; but holy mothers, living close to the everlasting Father, led their children by precept and example, by word and song, to form characters that would stand the test.
It was the age when most of the young men in the capital of Judah were wild and reckless. They were excusing themselves because of their youth. But God chose from their midst certain ones whom he could trust in a foreign land. Daniel and his three companions were snatched from the shelter of home, and with others were placed under the charge of Ashpenaz, master of the eunuchs in Babylon.
Now can be seen the results of the home training. Pure food, clean thoughts, and physical exercise placed them on the list of "children in whom was no blemish, but well-favored." But what of their intellectual ability? They had not been educated in the schools of Jerusalem, much less in those of Babylon. Was there not great danger that they lacked in the sciences or the essential branches? On examination, these four passed as "skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science," and able to learn a difficult, foreign language. God had fulfilled his promise in these children of the home school.
The crucial moment came when "the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat and of the wine which he drank." Daniel had unbounded confidence in the principles of temperance, not alone because he knew them to be scientifically true, but because they were God-given,
and, in his case, had been put into practice. His education had a Biblical foundation, and he knew that it was in harmony with true science. It was a life and death question; but the principles were divine, and he would obey, walk by faith, and leave the results with his Maker. "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 language of the prince of the eunuchs shows that there were other Hebrew youth who were selected, who did not make this request; "For," said the prince of the eunuchs, "why should he [the king] see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort?"
Daniel and his companions, after considering their dangerous and difficult position, took this matter to the Lord in prayer, and decided to be true to principle. Much was involved in this decision. If they sat at the king's table, they would partake of food which had been consecrated to idols; and the Hebrew children would thus dishonor God, and ruin their own characters by removing the safeguard of temperance, and allowing themselves to be influenced by corrupt associations. Even at the cost of appearing singular, they decided not to sit at the table of the king. They might have reasoned that at the king's command they were compelled to partake of the food at the royal table which had been dedicated to an idol. But they determined not to implicate themselves with heathenism, and not to dishonor the principles of their national religion and their God. Surrounded by perils, after having made a most determined
effort to resist temptation, they must trust the results with God.
With true courage and Christian courtesy, Daniel said to the officers who had charge over them: "Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenances of the children that eat the portion of the king's meat; and, as thou seest, deal with thy servants." It was no experiment with them; for they foresaw the result.
The officer hesitated. He feared that the rigid abstinence they proposed would have an unfavorable effect upon their personal appearance, and that, in consequence, they would lose favor with the king. The Hebrew children explained to the officer the effect of food upon the body; that overeating and the use of rich foods benumbed the sensibilities, unfitting mind and body for hard, stern labor. They urged most earnestly that they be allowed the simple diet, and begged that they be given a ten-days' trial, that they might demonstrate by their own physical appearance at the end of that time the advantages of plain, nutritious food. The request was granted; for they had obtained favor with God and with men. It was an act of faith; there was no feeling of envy toward those who were eating of the king's meat. The minds of the four were filled with thoughts of love and peace, and they actually grew during those ten days.
God approved of their course; for, "at the end of ten days, their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat of the portion of the king's meat."
The clear sparkle of the eye, the ruddy, healthy glow of the countenance, bespoke physical soundness and moral purity. The Hebrew captives were thereafter allowed to have their chosen food.
The pulse and water which they then desired was not always the exclusive diet of Daniel; for, on another occasion in his later life, he said, "I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth." But when entering upon the king's course of study and becoming connected with the royal court, he and his brethren voluntarily chose this simple, nourishing food. Likewise, when brought face to face with any difficult problem, or when desiring especially to know the mind of God, the record speaks of Daniel's abstinence from flesh food, wine, and foods which tempt the appetite.
The character of Daniel is referred to by Ezekiel, who was a contemporaneous prophet, as representing those who will live just before the second coming of Christ. People will be called to pass through experiences which require the keenest spiritual eyesight; therefore God asks them to give up all things which will in any way check the flow of the Holy Spirit through the mind. Herein lies the reason for strict adherence to the principles of health reform. Daniel and his companions gained the victory on the point of appetite. This was the avenue, and the only one, through which Satan was permitted to tempt Adam; and, had Adam proved true in the garden of Eden, and not eaten of the forbidden fruit, sin and suffering would never have been known. Appetite was the open door through which came all the results of sin,
which, for six thousand years, have been so manifest in the human family.
As Christ entered upon the work of his ministry, he began where Adam fell. The first temptation in the wilderness was on the point of appetite. Here the Saviour bridged the gulf which sin had made. He redeemed the whole family of Adam, and wrought out a victory for the benefit of all who are thus tempted. In the last days God will prove his people as he proved Daniel. A voluntary selfcontrol of appetite lies at the foundation of every reform.
It means much to be true to God. It embraces health reform. It means that the diet must be simple; it calls for the exercise of temperance in all things. Too great a variety of food taken at the same meal is highly injurious; and yet, how often this is forgotten. Mind and body are to be preserved in the best condition of health. Only those who have been trained in the fear and knowledge of God, and who are true to principle, are fitted to bear responsibilities in the closing work of the gospel.
Daniel and his companions passed through a strange school in which to become fitted for lives of sobriety, industry, and faithfulness. Surrounded with courtly grandeur, hypocrisy, and paganism, they exercised self-denial, and sought to acquit themselves so creditably, that the Israelites, their downtrodden people, might be honored, and that God's name might be glorified.
These children had the Lord as their educator. They were connected with the Fountainhead of wisdom, by the golden channel, the Holy Spirit. They kept continually a living connection with God, walking with him as did Enoch. They
were determined to gain a true education; and, in consequence of their copartnership with the divine nature, they became in every sense complete men in Christ Jesus. While diligently applying themselves to gain a knowledge of the languages and sciences, they also received light direct from Heaven's throne, and read God's mysteries for future ages.
When, at the end of three years, King Nebuchadnezzar tested the ability and acquirements of the royal princes from nations whom he had been educating, none were found equal to the Hebrew youth, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They surpassed their associates tenfold in their keen apprehension, their choice and correct language, and their extensive and varied knowledge. The vigor and strength of their mental powers were unimpaired. Hence they stood before the king. "And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm."
These youth respected their own manhood, and their intrusted talents had not been enfeebled or perverted by indulgence of appetite. The good they wished to accomplish was ever in mind. They were faithful in the little things. God honored them; for they honored him. God always honors adherence to principle. Among all the most promising youth gathered from the lands subdued by Nebuchadnezzar, the Hebrew captives stood unrivaled. Their regard for nature's laws and the God of nature was revealed in the erect form, the elastic step, the fair countenance, the untainted breath, the undimmed
senses. It was not by chance that they attained to their marvelous wisdom. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The foundation of the highest education is religious principle. Faith had been developed in childhood; and when these youth had to act for themselves, they depended upon God for strength and efficiency in their labors, and they were richly rewarded.
Where are the parents who to-day are teaching their children to control appetite, and to look to God as the Source of all wisdom? Our youth are daily meeting allurements to gratify appetite. Every form of indulgence is made easy and inviting, especially in our large cities. Those who steadfastly refuse to defile themselves will be rewarded as was Daniel. The youth of today may bear a weighty testimony in favor of true temperance.
These principles, cherished, would fit young men who are rooted and grounded in the Scriptures, to enter worldly universities, and, while taking a course of study, disseminate the truths of the gospel, and at the end of their course, come forth unsullied. There were consecrated youth among the Waldenses who entered worldly universities, and, while gaining their education, scattered the seeds of the Reformation. The papal authorities could not, by the most careful inquiries, find out who had introduced the so-called heresy; and yet the work had been accomplished, bearing fruit in the conversion of many who became leaders in the cause of Protestantism. Were these principles practiced, more young persons could be trusted as missionaries in responsible positions and in institutions
of learning. Many will yet be called to stand before judges and kings. How are the children being educated?
The last words of the first chapter of Daniel are truly significant: "Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus." In other words, Daniel lived all the days of the Babylonish captivity,-over seventy years,-and had the pleasure of knowing that Cyrus whose name the prophet Isaiah had mentioned nearly two hundred years before he had issued his wonderful decree for the deliverance of God's people.
NOTE.-In the margin are many passages of scripture that will direct the mind of the reader to those portions of the Bible which give light upon the story of Daniel the prophet. In the texts quoted, marks of ellipsis are omitted; and frequently several verses are cited in the reference, though only one or more are printed in full.
Page 13: Dan. 10:20; Dan. 10:14; Dan. 8:16, 17; Dan. 8:19; Matt. 24:3, 15; Luke 21:20; 2 Tim. 2:7; 1 Cor. 10:15; Dan. 12:4.
Page 14: Dan. 12:9, 10, 13; Dan. 8:26; 1 John 2:27; Rev. 2:29; Dan. 1:1, 2; Lam. 4:12; 2 Kings 23:36; 2 Kings 24:5; 2 Chron. 36:5-7; Deut. 32:8; Acts 13:47, 48.
Page 15: Isa. 42:6, 7; Isa. 49:6; 1 Sam. 10:5-12; 19:23, 24; 2 Chron. 17:7-12; Hosea 4:6-10; Isa. 5:13; Isa. 38:1-5; 2 Kings 20:1-6; Isa. 39:1, 2; Isa. 39:6, 7; 2 Chron. 32:24-26; Isa. 28:10.
Page 16: Isa. 48:18; 2 Kings 21:1-3; Prov. 20:11; Luke 2:42, 49, 52; 2 Chron. 33:1-10; Prov. 29:15-17; Gen. 18:19; 2 Peter 3:3, 4; Jer. 1:2, 3.
Page 17: Jer. 3:20; Deut. 28:49-52; Jer. 5:15; 2 Kings 23:21-25; 2 Kings 22:19, 20; Jer. 18:7, 8; 2 Kings 24:6, 7; 2 Kings 23:31-37.
Page 18: 2 Kings 24:1-4; 2 Kings 24:8, 9, 17; 2 Kings 24:10-16; 2 Kings 25:27-30; 2 Kings 24:17-20; Jer. 38:17-28.
Page 19: Jer. 38:19; Deut. 6:3-9, 20; 2 Tim. 1:5; Lev. 10:9-11; Prov. 23:19-22; Deut. 21:20, 21; Ex. 15:1-21.
Page 20: Judges 5:1-31; Ps. 137:1-4; 1 Sam. 2:1-10; Psalm 105; 1 John 2:13, 14; 2 Kings 5:2-4; Prov. 23:24, 25; Prov. 23:1-3; 1 Tim. 6:20, 21.
Page 21: Dan. 1:3-9; Prov. 20:1; Dan. 1:10, 11; Ps. 37:5, 6; Prov. 23:29-32; Prov. 31:4, 5; Isa. 5:11; Prov. 6:20-23.
Page 22: Dan. 1:12-14; Prov. 4:10-12; Prov. 16:14; Zech. 9:17; Isa. 55:2; Dan. 1:15, 16.
Page 23: Ps. 42:11; Isa. 58:8; 3 John 1:2; Dan. 10:3; Eze. 14:20; Eze. 14:14-20; Luke 21:34; Eze. 16:49; Gen. 2:16, 17; Gen.3:17.
Page 24: Matt. 4:1-4; Prov. 16:32; 1 Cor. 9:25; Gen. 18:6-8; Gen. 19:3; Gen. 25:34; Ruth 2:14; 1 Sam. 30:11, 12; 1 Kings 17:13-16; 1 Kings 19:5, 6; 2 Kings 4:42-44; Matt. 14:18-20; John 21:9, 12; Dan. 1:17; Prov. 2:1-5; 1 John 2:20, 27.
Page 25: John 16:13; Dan. 1:18:20; Prov. 16:22; Prov. 2:10-12; Prov. 13:15; Luke 16:10; 1 Sam. 2:30; Ps. 111:10; Job 28:28.
Page 26: Ps. 119:98-101; Eccl. 12:13; Prov. 22:6; Dan. 11:33; Prov. 22:29.
Page 27: 1 Peter 3:15; Dan. 1:21; Isa 44:28; Isa. 45:1, 2.