Focus on Daniel
Guide 1

Bad Happens, But God Provides

The wind whipped and stung his face like a hundred needles pricking at his skin. Daniel paused and wiped the gritty sweat from his forehead. The journey to Babylon seemed it would never end—his sandals crunching on sand, the harsh sun beating down on his beet-red neck, his eyes squinting through stinging perspiration, the shimmering heat. Oh, how he longed for this nightmare to end!

During more than one cold desert night, as Daniel lay wrapped in his blanket under the stars, he must have lain awake recalling the horrifying scenes as Nebuchadnezzar’s army swept into Judah and besieged Jerusalem. The Hebrews, his people, suffered gnawing hunger, fear, and despair. Then battering rams slammed against the city gates. Wave after wave of soldiers poured into the city after they crushed the main gate into splinters. The terrible screams of the fallen could be heard and bodies sprawled along Jerusalem’s streets.

These images haunted Daniel as he marched along with other captives on their way to exile in a strange land. It was a thousand-mile journey to Babylon, following the trade routes of the time. Every morning, Daniel would have to struggle to his feet, put on his dew-covered sandals, and prepare for another weary trek through the desert. Of all the thoughts running through his mind as he walked, the most puzzling question must have been—Why? Why this tragedy? What had he done to deserve it? What possible purpose could God have in Israel’s utter humiliation? Back home in Judah, Daniel had belonged to a loving family who gave him the best life had to offer. He faced a bright future as one of Jerusalem’s elite. Now he had nothing. The future seemed dark. Would he ever see his country, his home, his mother and father? Would he spend his days as a slave to a treacherous king in a foreign land?


Read Daniel chapter 1 before proceeding.

“Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand. . . . [Nebuchadnezzar] instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and . . . some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand . . . whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:1-4). 

Daniel was taken captive when Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, attacked Judah and its capital, Jerusalem. When the Babylonians overcame their enemies, they often carried off certain young men who were in excellent physical and mental condition. They taught them the language and customs of Babylon and trained them to serve in its government.   

“Now from among those sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego” (vss. 6, 7).