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.