Carried Away

When Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, and the last company of captives were carried away, Daniel had been in Babylon more than eighteen years. From the first, he had been treated kindly, and had now long held a position of great honor, the highest, perhaps, next to the king. From Daniel 1:3-5 it will be seen that he was one of a company of young men chosen on account of their superior intelligence, that they might be educated in Babylon for the king's court. They had all the advantages that could be afforded them by the most powerful monarch on earth, and were instructed by the most profound scholars of the age. The king appointed them a daily portion from his own table, but as many of the articles of food thus furnished were forbidden by the God of the Hebrews, Daniel and some of his companions chose rather to subsist upon pulse and water. To these faithful ones, God gave knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and when at the end of three years they were brought before the king, he found that in all matters of wisdom and understanding they greatly surpassed the ablest magicians and astrologers of his realm.

At the time when Daniel was taken captive, Nebuchadnezzar was not really a king, although his father had given him that title, and placed him at the head of the armies of Babylon. 

When his father died, Nebuchadnezzar was in the west, probably in Egypt, whither he had carried his conquests after subduing Jehoiakim. 

On hearing the news of his father's death, he hastened to Babylon to claim the kingdom.

In the second year of his independent reign, he had a remarkable dream, which, although it made a deep impression upon his mind, he could not recall. Of all the wise men of the kingdom, none but Daniel could tell the dream; and he expressly informed the king that the God of Heaven had revealed it to him. The interpretation of the dream gave Nebuchadnezzar an outline of the future history of the world, and of the final establishment of the kingdom of God, which should stand forever. The king was so affected by this revelation that he bestowed the highest honors upon Daniel, and gave glory to the God of Heaven. The youthful prophet was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief of the governors of all the wise men. Thus the Lord prepared the way for his people to be kindly treated; and it is probable that they were regarded more as colonists than as slaves.

But the time soon arrived when the faith of the captive princes was put to a severe test. 

Nebuchadnezzar made an immense image of gold, and set it up in the plain of Dura, commanding all men to worship it. All the princes, governors, and other chief men, from the remotest parts of the empire, were called together; and the image was dedicated with great pomp. Since Daniel is not mentioned, we conclude that he must have been absent at that time. 

But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who at Daniel's request had been set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, steadfastly refused to worship the image, and as a consequence, were cast into a burning fiery furnace, heated so hot as to destroy the men who threw them in. 

When Nebuchadnezzar saw them walking about in the midst of the furnace, unharmed, and accompanied by another, glorious as the Son of God, he called them forth; and all the princes and governors saw that the fire had had no effect upon these men. Then the king made a decree that no one should speak anything against the God of the Hebrews, under pain of death.

So the Lord not only delivered his servants, but spread a knowledge of his name throughout the vast realm of Nebuchadnezzar.