When we consider Christmas heroes, Joseph, Mary, the wise men, and the shepherds immediately come to mind. For me, one of the great overlooked Christmas heroes is the prophet Daniel.
Why Daniel? Daniel is the only Old Testament prophet to predict the timing of the Messiah’s coming (Daniel 9:24–27). An angel told Daniel how many years would transpire between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the Messiah’s arrival.
The angel’s visit raises a question: Why Daniel and nobody else? Three times the angel explains that Daniel was “highly esteemed” (Daniel 9:23; 10:10, 19). Specifically, the angel noted Daniel’s unswerving commitment to gaining understanding, grieving over committed sins, and humbling himself before God (Daniel 10:12). He was the wisest man of his time, one whom everyone trusted. Daniel’s wisdom and trustworthiness were so great that two of the most powerful emperors who ever lived both made him prime minister over their realms. What made these appointments remarkable and unprecedented in human history was that these emperors ruled kingdoms that were at war with one another.
God used Daniel to bring His message to the most powerful rulers and, through them, to their citizens. Because of Daniel’s outstanding virtue and character, God entrusted him with insights and understanding about future events. Consequently, Daniel greatly influenced not only his own generation but also all subsequent generations.
As the wisest, godliest, and most trusted of all wise men (magi), Daniel influenced the wise men who lived at the time of Christ’s birth. So great was the respect these magi had for Daniel that, based on less than 100 words of his prophecy, they launched a major expedition to seek out the newborn Messiah and present gifts that guaranteed His survival.
How about wise men and women today? The Messiah is coming again. Many Bible texts tell us He will return. The most specific say His return will occur immediately after His followers take the message of redemption to all the people groups of the world. Will you, like Daniel, humble yourself before God, grieve over the sins being committed both within and without the church, and prepare for opportunities to share the gospel with anyone God brings to you? I can think of no better time than Christmas to bring lost souls into an eternally redeemed relationship with the Messiah and thereby hasten the ultimate celebration—the Messiah’s return!