The book of Daniel is almost two separate books, Chapters 1 to 6 that describe six incidents in the life of Daniel and his friends (history), and Chapters 7 to 12, which are visions and prophecy. They are written in a somewhat different style and, as we'll see in the study of Chapter 1, there is vigorous controversy as to when it was actually set down on paper and by who. In this Bible study, we will only be looking at the history portion of the book (Chapters 1 to 6).
These chapters record six distinct events that took place over a 70-year period from about 605 BC to 535 BC. As the book opens, Daniel along with 10,000 other Jews had just been deported to Babylon fron Judea by Nebuchadnezzar. The most talented of the exiles are selected for three years of training, after which they will serve in Nebuchadnezzar's government as administrators. After completing this training, Daniel served in the government during the reigns of six rulers including Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus.
These first six chapters tell familiar stories of Daniel and his three friends being selected for service to the king and then chosing not to eat the king's food. Nor did they bow down to the king's image, even under penalty of death. With God's help, Daniel was able to interpret two of Nebuchadnezzar's dreams that tell of God's unfolding plans for Babylon and the Jewish exiles. The men described in these chapters are inspiring examples for us of living a faithful life in a troubled and sinful world. These are stories of faith, perseverence, and trust in God under good conditions and bad.