Daniel was one of the prophets of the Jewish exile in Babylonia, along with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The story of Daniel is a beautiful account of the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to save those who come unto Him. From the book of Daniel we can learn what it means to have a Savior and to rely upon His Atonement.
Desire Mercies of the God of Heaven
Because of his dependence on the Lord, Daniel came to be known among the Babylonians as a man of great wisdom. When Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was troubled with dreams, he commanded the wise men of his kingdom to tell him what his dreams meant. When a few of them could not do so, he ordered all of them destroyed.
“And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.” But Daniel asked the king for time and promised to interpret the dream for him.
“Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish.” (Dan. 2:13, 16-18)
Although our lives may not hang in the balance, nearly every day we like Daniel encounter problems that resist solution, that trouble us. How often do we “desire mercies of the God of heaven” concerning our problems? In other words, how often and how intently do we go to Him for help?
If we are faithful and do the best we can to solve our difficulties, the Lord will not turn away from us when we ask His help. We can be sure that his saving power, “the mercies of the God of heaven,” will be extended to us and that all will be well. That is the blessing of having a Savior.
“Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.”
A great prayer of gratitude follows: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever: for wisdom and might are his. . . . he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: he revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might.” (Dan. 2:19-23)
Are we grateful for the demonstrations of the Savior’s power in our lives? Too often we forget to acknowledge and thank Him for the many ways in which He touches, teaches, and heals us each day. Daniel did not forget to show gratitude. If you want to feel the Spirit, do as Daniel did and express your gratitude each day for the saving work of Jesus Christ.
A Kingdom, Which Shall Never Be Destroyed
So Daniel went to Nebuchadnezzar and described the dream:
“Thou, o king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
“Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:31-35)
Daniel then interpreted the dream. Nebuchadnezzer represented the “head of gold” and the silver, brass, iron, and clay represented inferior kingdoms. Many people have tried to identify the inferior kingdoms; as we prefer the interpretations given by latter-day prophets, let’s turn to President Spencer W. Kimball’s commentary on the dream:
“Nebuchadnezzar represented the king of kings, a world power, representing the head of gold. Another kingdom would arise and take over world dominion. The interpretation included the domination of other kingdoms. Cyrus the Great, with his Medes and Persians, would be replaced by the Greek or Macedonian kingdom under Philip and Alexander; and that world power would be replaced by the Roman Empire; and Rome would be replaced by a group of nations of Europe represented by the toes of the image.
“With the history of the world delineated in brief, now came the real revelation. Daniel said:
“’And in the days of these kings [that is, the group of European nations] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.’(Daniel 2:44)
“And it was in the days of these kings that power would not be given to men, but the God of heaven would set up a kingdom—the kingdom of God upon the earth, which should never be destroyed nor left to other people.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored in 1830 after numerous revelations from the divine source; and this is the kingdom, set up by the God of heaven, that would never be destroyed nor superseded, and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and would fill the whole earth.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Stone Cut without Hands,” Ensign, May 1976, 4.)
An Image in the Likeness of the World
The kingdom of the living Christ is the stone that will fill the earth. The great image represents the kingdoms, powers, and institutions of this world—all that we call “Babylon”—that compete with the Lord’s kingdom. This idol is “the image in the likeness of the world” that is worshiped by so many:
“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
“Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith.” (D&C 1:16-17)
The Restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the answer to the great “calamity” that has fallen on us, which is the obsession with worldly success that plagues us. Too many of us have consecrated ourselves to building up the wrong kingdom in the “image of our own gods.”
With regard to this devotion of many to this “image in the likeness of the world,” President Kimball said:
“I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited with flocks and herds and acres and barns and wealth and have begun to worship them as false gods, and they have power over us. Do we have more of these good things than our faith can stand? Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life.
“Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God—to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, ‘Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not.’” [Mormon 8:39.] (Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, June 1976.)
We must not forget that the Lord will ultimately destroy this world system of Babylon, and we may be destroyed with it if we are worshipers of our own self-image as Nebuchadnezzar was. On the other hand, if we follow the Savior, we will do his work—dedicating ourselves and our resources to the saving work of the Church, of missions and the temple and service to the hungry, the needy, and the afflicted. We will be building up His kingdom, which shall never be destroyed. The Lord said to Joseph Smith:
“The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.” (D&C 65:2)
Those Who Rely on the Son of God “Have No Hurt”
Jesus Christ is Himself the cornerstone of this kingdom, as the prophet Jacob taught of Him: “According to the scriptures, this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation.” (Jacob 4:16). He reaches out and saves all who belong to Him.
In our individual lives, we all stand between the golden idol of Babylon and the Son of God. That golden idol is often our own self-image. We choose every moment which way we will face, which deity we will bow down to.
In the dream of the image, God gave Nebuchadnezzar the extraordinary gift of choice—to worship the true God or to continue to exalt himself. As if to flaunt his arrogance in the face of God, Nebuchadnezzar went on to construct the golden image he had seen in his dreams and to command all to bow to it.
“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits; he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. . . . An herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages. . . . fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up; and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (Dan. 3:1-6)
This statue was ninety feet high by nine feet wide, or roughly thirty meters by three meters. It might have stood atop one of the Babylonian ziggurats, an imposing temple to a false god. The spectacle would have been overwhelming as music played and thousands bowed in the surrounding plain.
But Daniel’s three friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to call them by their Babylonian names—refused to bow down to the golden image. As a result the king had them thrown into the fiery furnace.
“Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? . . . . Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Dan. 3:24-25)
There will be “fiery furnaces” in life. The furnaces of rejection, hopelessness, disease, betrayal—these refining fires of life cannot be avoided. To stand up when everyone else is bowing to the image of the world can be frightening and lonely. This is why having a Savior means everything. Regardless of the heat of the trial, He is there with those who have faith in Him. Ultimately—and notwithstanding the pains of this life—because of His atoning sacrifice and His constant watch care, those who rely on the Son of God “have no hurt.”