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A Prophet in Exile Receives Glimpses of the Future

A Prophet in Exile Receives Glimpses of the Future

Daniel prophesies about God’s Kingdom and the coming of the Messiah. Babylon falls

DANIEL, a youth of remarkable integrity, was taken into exile in Babylon before Jerusalem was destroyed. He and some other Jews​—exiles from the vanquished kingdom of Judah—​were granted a measure of freedom by their captors. During his long life in Babylon, Daniel was greatly blessed by God, even escaping death in a lions’ pit and receiving visions that allowed him to peer far into the future. Daniel’s most important prophecies focused on the Messiah and His rule.

Daniel learns when the Messiah would arrive. Daniel was told when God’s people could expect the arrival of “Messiah the Leader”​—69 weeks of years after the command to restore and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. A normal week consists of seven days; a week of years consists of seven years. That command was issued long after Daniel’s time, that is, in 455 B.C.E. Starting then, the 69 “weeks” ran for 483 years, ending in the year 29 C.E. In the following part of this publication, we will see what happened in that year. Daniel also foresaw that the Messiah would be “cut off,” or executed, for the atonement of sin.​—Daniel 9:24-26.

The Messiah would become King in heaven. In a rare vision of heaven itself, Daniel saw the Messiah, referred to as “someone like a son of man,” approach the throne of Jehovah himself. Jehovah conferred upon him “rulership and dignity and kingdom.” That Kingdom would last forever. Daniel learned another thrilling detail about the Messianic Kingdom​—the King would share his rulership with others, a group referred to as “the holy ones of the Supreme One.”​—Daniel 7:13, 14, 27.

The Kingdom will destroy the governments of this world. God granted Daniel the ability to interpret a dream that baffled Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. The king had seen a giant image with a head of gold, breasts and arms of silver, belly and thighs of copper, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. A stone cut from a mountain struck the fragile feet and crushed the image to powder. Daniel explained that the parts of the image represented a long succession of world powers, starting with Babylon as the head of gold. Daniel foresaw that in the time of the final ruling power of this wicked world, God’s Kingdom would act. It would crush all the governments of this world. Then it would rule forever.​—Daniel, chapter 2.

As a very old man, Daniel lived to see the fall of Babylon. King Cyrus overthrew the city just as the prophets had foretold. Not long afterward, the Jews were at last freed from their exile​—right on time, after the foretold 70-year desolation of their homeland. Under the guidance of faithful governors, priests, and prophets, the Jews eventually rebuilt Jerusalem and restored the temple of Jehovah. What would happen, though, after the 483 years ran their course?

​—Based on the book of Daniel.