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12-08-10 Daniel

December 8, 2010

A study of Daniel chapter 1
Israel was recently split into north (Ephraim) and south (Judah). The book Daniel takes place chronologically as Jeremiah comes to an end and at the same time as Ezekiel. Daniel is written just after the Lord followed through on the warnings Jeremiah gave and destroyed the north hill country of Ephraim. My memory is a little hazy so don’t quote me. But I think this is about the right general idea of where we start out in Daniel.

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.[b]
In verse 3 and 4 the kink that has now besieged Jerusalem describes the type of men from nobility of the Israelites that he will take into his kingdom and basically turn into Babylonian servants to the king. The description included Daniel.
5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
And then the king immediately attempts to show what he considers generosity as to turn these Israelite men of God to serve the king’s idols and gods.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

Let’s take a look at the meanings of these names real quick to get a better idea of what’s going on here. Why would the king rename these men? Well, the name Daniel means “God is my judge”, but Belteshazzar means, “Bel’s prince”. The name Hannaniah means, “Beloved by the Lord”, but Shadrach means, “Illumined by sun-god”. The name Mishael means, “Who is as God”, but the name Meshach means, “who is like venus”. And, finally the name Azariah means, “the Lord is my help”, but the name Abednego means, “servant of nego”. So you can see by the meaning of the names that it is clear that the king intended this change to get these men away from serving the Lord our God and get them to begin accepting the things of Babylon. It is so similar with our lives as Christians when we live in a secular world that daily attempts to convince us that we are being too strict, or too legalistic and that it is ok to do this or that (even though we know the Lord is against these things). The world attempts daily to change our identity in Christ that we would follow after their ways, but we are strictly warned of the end result of following after the ways of this world.

8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

Wow! What amazing nerve it must have taken, what faith to stand in the face of a man who was just involved in destroying everything and almost everyone you knew and as his prisoner make such a statement. “I won’t defile myself in such a way”, and he “resolved” or decided in his heart strongly that he wouldn’t do this thing. Daniel stood firm on his faith in the Lord and on what the Lord asked of him even in this stressful and dangerous time. So it us with us in the world daily when we are begged to go astray from our teachings and take part in the feast of sin that is available to us, that we must stand solid on the Word. Do not be move Christian.

11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

So We read that Daniel did not take part in the evil things that were offered to him and here we have just read the out come… He was blessed because of it. Not only was he healthier for following what the Lord had taught him, but he (along with those that were with him) gained understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. He also received the gift of interpreting visions and dreams. And so it is with us. Though often we will receive persecution from the world for taking a stand on the Word of God, we will also be blessed by our Lord for doing so. He will multiply our efforts. He will set us apart.

18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

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