Bible Ballistics: Vol. 11 No. 12 Tidbits From Daniel #1???
I just concluded teaching a two-part course on the book of Daniel, and thought I would like to spend the next few weeks considering some of the jewels that can be found in this amazing part of God’s Word. Many people avoid studying the book of Daniel because of the prophecies that it contains, yet there is so much practical information that we miss when we neglect this precious and practical portion of The Word of God, which shows us how to live a blessed and wholly holy life before God and man.
The account of Daniel begins at the first Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, and most believe that Daniel was a mid-teen, or thereabout; and with that in mind, it becomes even more impressive that this young man and his three friends had the impact on Babylon that they did.
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand……..
3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs,
that he should bring certain
of the children of Israel,
and of the king’s seed,
and of the princes;
4 Children in whom was no blemish,
but well favoured,
and skilful in all wisdom,
and cunning in knowledge,
and understanding science,
and such as had ability in them
to stand in the king’s palace,
and whom they might teach
and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Portions of Daniel 1:1-4
Here we find Daniel and his friends—Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—taken captive by the Babylonians, not for imprisonment, but rather to be trained for service to King Nebuchadnezzar (we’d call it brain-washing). While Israel had rebelled against God, and were receiving the judgment that God had warned them of, particularly by the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel and his friends were found to be faithful servants of God Almighty, caught up in the judgment of their nation. So what did these four young men do in this situation? Well, this my friends, is an amazing account worth spending the next few Sundays considering.
While we in our culture, would expect them to be angry, bitter and uncooperative toward their captors, the picture that God gives us of these young men ought to be inspiring and call us to examine our own walk with God. What are we willing to endure for the sake of ‘faithfulness’ to our God? What circumstances do we ‘use’ to ‘excuse’ our bad responses to God and others—those who are watching us to see if we will really live what we say we believe Let’s continue looking at the recorded account—it speaks very clearly.
Remember that according to the parameters set by the king, these were outstanding young men—
skillfull in all wisdom—
cunning in knowledge—
having ability to serve the king—
And on top of all of that, they were young men with—“no blemish….well favoured”! Some say there were dozens of them taken, and some accounts say it could have been a hundred, but regardless of how many there were, we do know that the record tells us that there were only four who stood fast before their God! These Jewish young men were taken to Babylon, offered the finest of the King’s food and drink, given the ‘royal’ treatment—but much of what was expected of them would have violate the Law of God.
“And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank:
so nourishing them three years,
that at the end thereof
they might stand before the king.” Daniel 1:5
It wasn’t simply the food that they were given, they were also given new names, to reflect Babylonian culture, in an effort to erase and replace their Jewish heritage. And this was especially note-worthy in light of these four faithful young men.
“Now among these were of the children of Judah,
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs
for he gave unto Daniel
the name of Belteshazzar;
and to Hananiah,
and to Mishael,
and to Azariah,
of Abednego.” Daniel 1:6-7
Daniel meant, “Judge of God”; Hananiah, “God has favored”; Mishael, “Who is what God is”; and Azariah, “God has helped”; so the Babylonians changed each of their names to a name that referenced a ‘Babylon god’ rather than Jehovah God of Israel! These young men had been transported hundreds of miles from their homes, their families and their Temple (which would later be destroyed by these same Babylonians); they are suffering the judgment caused by the disobedience of others, so what do you think they did? Well friends, we don’t have to guess! God tells us clearly what they did, not only Daniel, but his friends as well (How do we know? By their behavior and unity with Daniel, that’s how!)!
purposed in his heart
that he would not defile himself
with the portion
of the king’s meat,
nor with the wine which he drank:
therefore he requested
of the prince of the eunuchs
that he might not defile
himself.” Daniel 1:8
One of the greatest words in the Bible—“but”—reveals exactly what kind of young man Daniel was, as well as his three friends. Daniel in the same situation as all the other captives, made a decision—a determined decision—that he would “not defile himself”! Daniel’s heart was set on God—and he decided to trust to God’s grace and provision rather than the King of Babylon’s desires. But don’t miss what Daniel decided, “that he would not defile himself”; it is so important that we understand that Daniel had determined that while he was ‘ceremonially’ defiled already (because he had been castrated, the ultimate defilement for a Jewish male) he would do nothing, that was within his power to control, to defile himself! Daniel was determined to be right before God, and he sets an example that many of us need to learn from today. Notice what Daniel did with his decision, “therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself”. Daniel respected the authority of those over him. He didn’t jump and scream, he didn’t call for a demonstration, he didn’t throw down his marbles and try to leave—instead Daniel exhibited the godliness of a man totally dependent upon God! Daniel “requested” permission to do things differently than the rules called for, in order to be “undefiled” before his God! Daniel exhibits the character of a godly follower of God/Jesus, who walked in righteousness in the easy or the difficult. Why do we so often excuse our choices with our circumstances? Daniel shows us that when we put God and His ways first, He will meet us where we are—standing for HIM!
“Now God had brought Daniel
and tender love
with the prince of the eunuchs.
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel,
I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink:
for why should he see your faces
worse liking than the children which are of your sort?
then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
11 Then said Daniel to Melzar,
whom the prince of the eunuchs
had set over
12 Prove thy servants,
I beseech thee,
and let them give us pulse to eat,
and water to drink.
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon
and the countenance of the children
that eat of the portion of the king’s meat:
and as thou seest,
deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter,
and proved them ten days.” Daniel 1:9-14
Here we have the hierarchy of politics, a leader who really liked Daniel, but he was afraid of the fallout of making a decision that might go sour! Yet Daniel and his friends continued on in their pursuit of the right way before their God, and asked the next servant in line, Melzar, to “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days”! These young men were willing to trust themselves to God’s total provision, and asked this servant to put them to “test” for 10 days, and that they would be willing to accept whatever decision he made, based on what ‘he’ saw in their appearance! No anger, no pouting, no demands, no bargaining with God—Daniel knew where he was situated; yet his faith was still in his GOD! He never wavered in his faith, because his faith was in GOD and not himself. And that is where we often go wrong—we continually try to be “self-sufficient”, and that is always temporary! Even as Jesus said, “without me you can do nothing”, Daniel understood that only God could deliver them out of their present dilemma, and that He would bring glory to Himself, and accomplish their ultimate good through His purposes for them in Babylon. Oh, what adventures they had in store! How about you and I—what are we missing out on?
“So he consented to them in this matter,
and proved them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days
their countenances appeared fairer
and fatter in flesh
than all the children
which did eat the portion
of the king’s meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion
of their meat,
and the wine that they should drink;
and gave them pulse.
17 As for these four children,
God gave them knowledge
in all learning
and Daniel had understanding
in all visions
18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in,
then the prince of the eunuchs
brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19 And the king communed with them;
and among them all was found none like
therefore stood they before the king.
20 And in all matters
that the king enquired of them,
he found them ten times better
than all the magicians
that were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:14-20
There is so much that is overlooked in this passage, because we often pass right over the beauty of what God was doing for four young men of faith, who exercised their faith, and saw God display His glory to them and through them in an amazing way!
“As for these four children,
God gave them knowledge
in all learning
and Daniel had understanding
in all visions
Did you get it? “God gave them”……these who stood for God in faith, and God stood by them and made His glory to shine in them! And not only did God bless them to excel in this time of training and instruction, but they came out and stood before the King, who found them:
“ten times better
than all …..”!
Did you get it again? Not only were they better than their peers, they were “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm”! Ten times better—than all of the “magicians and astrologers” in service to the King! God had a plan for these young men, and the King of Babylon saw in them the extraordinary (the hand of God). Imagine that !!! God at work on behalf of His own! God at work in the midst of difficult circumstances! And that same God is at work for you and me, why would we choose to trust anything other than God The Father, and The Lord Jesus Christ? Glory!
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4