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Search BIBLE IN SONG
By Brian Pepper
The Book of Daniel has fascinated many people. For instance Christopher Columbus the discoverer of America, was an ardent student of prophecy especially the Book of Daniel. Sir Isaac Newton the famous mathematician spent many hours studying this fascinating book. Prophecy has always intrigued men and women down through the ages and it still does today.
Some have said, "Why spend valuable time studying such an ancient Book?" Most people want something that is up to date,
something that applies to their lives today. But those who have studied this Book realize that it does have
something to tell us, something that we need to know.
I hope, you do not mind if I do something that is perhaps a little unusual. I am going to go right to the end of this Book just for a short while and I assure you that I have a real purpose in doing this.
The Theme of Daniel
I wonder if any of you have ever looked at the last chapter of a book to see how it all ends up. I must confess that I have done this myself. You see, as we start in studying this Book
we need to know what is the basic theme of Daniel.
Also why it was written, and what is the purpose of the Book.
So I hope that you will not mind if I read a couple of passages in the
12th chapter so we might be able to find the theme.
Book of Daniel Closed and Sealed until Time of the End
Daniel 12:4 says, "But thou, 0 Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
You will notice that it tells us that the words are sealed till what time: the time of the end. Now let’s notice verse 9, “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end”.
Two things are emphasized here. The Book is closed or sealed until the time of the end. And when is the Time of the End?
When is the Time of the End?
There are several time prophecies in the Book of Daniel, and as we study these we have no problem in recognizing that we are living in that particular period. So this Book is important. It is applicable to the time in which we are living.
There are two very important Books, Daniel and Revelation,
which deal with the great and final events that take place on this earth.
Division of Daniel
The Book of Daniel can be divided into two parts. First there are stories of Daniel, then there are the prophecies of Daniel.
The prophecies tell us when the END will come. No, not the precise day or hour but how close it will be. The stories tell us how are to prepare for the end when it does come. For example, take the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. It isn't just a nice story to tell our children and say "Now wasn't that wonderful that Daniel was delivered from those hungry lions!" No, the story of Daniel in the lions’ den tells us something about the end time and how it applies to us. You will be able to see this as we study these stories later on.
Theme of Daniel 1
Now we are going to do the very thing you expected us to do in the first place and that is start right in the first chapter.
Daniel 1:1 says, "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it."
At the time when this Book was written the Jewish nation was divided into two major sections. There were ten tribes in the northern kingdom and two tribes in the southern kingdom, and Judah was part of the southern kingdom. Jehoiakim was a wicked king who led Judah into apostasy.
When Judah was faithful to God, God placed a wall of protection around them and the heathen nations were powerless to attack Israel. However when Jehoiakim rebelled against God the wall of protection was taken away. And so we find that Babylon under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar came and attacked them.
Siege of Jerusalem
Back in those days, a siege was a terrible thing, for all the food supplies coming to the city were cut off and none could go out and get food. And while the folk inside the city were starving, the enemy on the outside attacked the walls with battering rams, and catapults which sent huge rocks hurtling at the walls and gates. Then the attackers would put up their ladders on the walls and climb over.
Just at the time that Jerusalem was being attacked Nebuchadnezzar received word that his father Nabopolassar had died. He was a thousand miles from Babylon and he realized that some would-be aspirant to the throne could take over in his absence. So he quickly returned to Babylon taking with him a number of captives.
Verse 2 says, "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god."
The term ‘land of Shiner’ is just another way of describing Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar went into the temple: the temple at Jerusalem that was built and dedicated to the worship of God and he took the vessels that were consecrated to the service of God. And the text says, "which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god."
The special god of Nebuchadnezzar was Bel Marduk.
Apparent Defeat for God
As you read the first seven verses of the first chapter of Daniel, on the surface it appears to be a great defeat for the true God. and a great victory for the prince of Darkness. I am sure that Satan would have his followers taunt Daniel with these accusations, "If your God is the true God, why has Jerusalem been defeated?" "Why hasn't He protected you from the Babylonian? Why has blood flowed on the streets? Why have the sacred vessels been taken out of the temple? How is it that you and your companions are captives? "
Even today Christians are faced with difficult questions such as "If your GOD is the true GOD why does HE not do something? Why does He allow sickness, disease and tragedy? Why does He allow people to suffer pain and even torture?"
Those who live through the TIME of the END will need to know the answer to that question. The Scriptures do not present a Christian life that is free from trial and suffering,
from heartache and affliction. They rather present a GOD
who is able, who is sufficient, who is capable of bringing strength and courage so that His followers are able to
face the crisis that comes to them. And men and women living at the time of the end will need to learn the same lessons as Daniel.
Choosing the Finest Youth
Now let us move on to read verses 3,4,5, "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; 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 the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. 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."
The Babylonians had a very interesting practice when they overthrew another nation. They would choose some of the key youth and take them to Babylon, to educate them in the University of Babylon. They were educated in the customs, the practices and principles of Babylon. And after these young men were educated in the logic, the science, the religion, and the philosophy of Babylon, they would be sent back to the nation or city that they were to rule for Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar was too wise to place Babylonians as rulers over Jerusalem in his kingdom because there were continual revolts against those Babylonian rulers. So he took some key young people who were respected and admired by the citizens and brainwashed them by filling their minds with the principles and practices of Babylon.
Daniel and his 3 Friends
Verse 6 says, "Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:"
Among the captives were four youths. How do we know that they were youths ? One of the reasons is that the course of study they were assigned was that of advanced education in the leading university of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar wanted these young men to be taught to absorb in their minds the philosophies and logic of Babylon so that all thought of GOD would be obliterated. To accomplish this he changed their names.
Verse 7 says, "Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael,
of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego."
Why were their names changed?
Why did he change their names? What significance is there in changing names? In the Bible a name represents character. For instance, take the name Jacob. He deceived his brother Esau in order to get the birthright. The name ' Jacob ' means ‘supplanter’ or ‘deceiver’. However Jacob’s name was changed from Jacob to Israel which means ‘prevailed.'
You see Jacob had a change of character and thus he was given a new name. Daniel's name was changed because the king wanted his character changed.
Meaning of the Names
The name Daniel was changed to Belteshazzar. In Hebrew the name Daniel means ‘God is my judge’, and this prophet of God was ever conscious of this but his name was changed to Belteshazzar. And do you know what that name means? ‘The keeper of the hid treasure of Bel.’
Just think of the pressure Nebuchadnezzar applied to Daniel's mind. "Your city is destroyed, Daniel, and your people are in captivity. Even the vessels consecrated in the service of the Lord's house are not there. They are in my temple. You will be the custodian of these treasures. the keeper of the hid treasures of Bel."
Now look at some of the other names and observe how they were changed. Hananiah meaning ‘the Lord is gracious unto thee’ was changed to Shadrach which simply means ‘Inspiration of the sun.’
Next Mishael, ‘godlike’ was changed to Meshach, ‘he who belongs to the goddess of Sheba’.
Azariah, " the Lord is my helper’ became ‘servant of Nebo.’ You see this was part of Nebuchadnezzar’s brainwashing.
Why did Daniel refuse to eat the King's Meat?
Daniel 1:8 says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart 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 chose not to eat the food. And he made that choice for two reasons. Firstly in that it had been offered to idols. And to eat it would have been to participate in the idolater's worship. Secondly, Daniel chose not to eat foods that would cloud his thinking and judgment. Also there would be unclean foods as well.
Let us look at that text once again.
Verse 8 says, “But Daniel 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 made a Stand for Right
The Bible says, Daniel purposed in his heart. Daniel did what? He decided. What else? Daniel chose, he determined. You see Daniel had a clear perception of right and wrong. He did not say to himself, "I might offend the king and that will be the end of me, after all, I should be thankful that the king has been so gracious in providing these things. Really it is only a small thing. I am sure God would not mind on this occasion." No not for a moment did Daniel subscribe to such ideas. Neither did he believe that When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians do.
The Scripture says that he purposed in his heart to serve GOD no matter what the outcome might be. He was willing to stand up and be counted. He was willing to be different.
I would like to read a statement that fits very nicely in our discussion of Daniel's integrity. "The greatest want of the world is the want of men (we might say men and women) who will not be bought or sold."
People say, if we could only have honest politicians, what a difference it would make. If only businessmen could be trusted. Yes honest men are rare these days. What a difference there would be if there were a few Daniels around.
Verses 11 and 12 say, "Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink."
Daniel Tested in Diet and Faith
Daniel asked for a ten day test. He requested a diet of fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables. And what was the result?
Verses 14,15 say, "So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. 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."
As good as that diet might be, and there is no question that diet does play a very important part in our health and physical well being. And I personally can testify to that. It was more than diet that produced such remarkable results. It was the blessing of GOD on Daniel’s faithfulness, on his loyalty, that made him look healthier than the others.
And now let’s notice verses 17-20, "As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 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. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm."
Now isn't that wonderful! These young men were tested not only with their diet but as to their faith. Though they were surrounded by pagan practices and heathen influences
they stood out for that which was right. They were willing to stand up and be counted. Just as Daniel purposed in his heart to serve GOD so did his three companions.
Men who will not be Bought or Sold
Yes the greatest want of the world is the want of men and women who will not be bought and sold, who do not fear to call sin by its right name. That is the great lesson we learn in this first chapter of Daniel, and this is the kind of person that God wants us to be. That is why it says in
Revelation 14:12, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Daniel recognised his Blessings were from God
It is the blessing of God that makes it possible for us to have this said of us but we can only be that type of person as we recognize this. Daniel recognized where his blessings came from and acknowledges this in Daniel 2:23 (first half), “I thank thee, and praise thee, 0 thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter."
If we are prepared to acknowledge the same, the LORD will bless us as He did Daniel. And each one of us can be used of God to accomplish what He desires us to do.