Nabopolassar (Nebuchadnezzar’s father) who was a Chaldean chief had led a revolt against the Assyrian rule and proclaimed himself king of Babylon in BC 626. On his father’s death Nebuchadnezzar took the throne in BC 605 and started his campaign of war to capture new territory. These conquests included Jerusalem.
Despite the position he held as king, Nebuchadnezzar was childishly impetuous. Around him he had appointed a group of sorcerers, magicians and astrologers to advise him.
In his second year as king, he had a disturbing dream. Although he could not remember what he had dreamt, nevertheless he expected his counsellors to interpret the dream. When they told him this was unreasonably impossible, he made his first decree that all his “wise” men should be killed (Dan. 2:13).
When Daniel heard of this folly, he asked the king to give him time to know and interpret the dream. In fact God told him the dream in his own dream and he was able to explain the image that Nebuchadnezzar had seen.
A huge figure, head of gold, chest of silver, belly and thighs of brass, and legs and feet of iron. The iron of the feet and toes was mixed with clay. (See Daniel chapter 2).
The interpretation was of the coming of 4 world powers, of which the golden head was that of Babylon. I will explain more on this later.
Daniel was promoted and made second in command of Babylon. (Dan. 2: 48). But more challenges lay ahead. Filled with his own importance, Nebuchadnezzar made a huge statue of gold and set it up in a prominent position. Then another decree was made at the dedication of the statue. Every time music was played everyone had to fall down and worship this statue (Dan. 3:10). Those who refused were thrown into a very hot furnace.
Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego did not worship the statue. They were God fearing Jews and told the king straight they would not obey his decree. They also pointed out that the true God would deliver them. (Dan. 3:16 - 18). The scripture reports that Nebuchadnezzar was “full of fury” verse 19. So the Jews were thrown in only to be joined by a fourth Man Who looked like “the Son of God” (Dan. 3:25).
All 3 came out unharmed so the king made a new decree. This time, that only the true God Who had delivered the 3 young men must be worshipped. Promotion for these brave men of faith followed!
So 2 bad and 1 good decree and counting!
The next decree mentioned in the book of Daniel was, you guessed it, another stupidity. This time, it was signed by Darius, the new king. This was Darius the Mede, not to be confused with Darius the Persian king, whom we shall consider in chapter 4.
The king’s counsellors, once again motivated by jealousy at seeing Jewish men in high positions, set a trap. They urged the king to make a new decree that whoever made a petition to any god or man except the king himself, would be thrown into a pit full of hungry lions for a period of 30 days (Dan. 6:7 & 8).
This played right into the ego of the king who naively signed the decree. At 62 years old he should have realised the trap that was being prepared. He had made Daniel the top prince, recognising the excellent spirit in him. You probably know this famous story. Daniel prayed with his window opened, well aware of the decree that had been signed (Dan. 6:11). He was reported to the king who had no choice, because of his own decree to throw him to the lions.
Daniel spent the night in the company of the lions plus the Angel of the Lord Who was sent to shut the lions’ mouths. The king did not sleep, but spent the night nervously fasting. Early the following morning a joyful reunion took place and Daniel’s accusers themselves became breakfast for the hungry lions (Dan. 6:24).
Then Darius make his final recorded decree that all men should “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,” (Dan. 6:26).
The scripture then records that “this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian,” (Dan. 6:28). These were glorious victories for these faithful servants of God who survived the decrees of these kings and who enhanced God’s Name in the earth.