Book of Daniel I

Below are Lessons 1-6 (in descending order) for chapters 1-5 of the BOOK OF DANIEL.  CLICK HERE for lessons 7-? (chapters 6-12) for the Book of Daniel… |

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Daniel Lesson 6:

I am sorry that this lesson is late being posted but my computer has been sick. Scriptures for this lesson are taken from: Daniel 5.

As we move into the events of Chapter 5, we need to understand the place and time in history.  Twenty some years have passed between chapters 4 and 5.  Daniel has been in Babylon close to 70 years. He is about 90 years old and the end of Israel’s 70 years of captivity are coming to an end.

Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC. He was succeeded on the throne by his son Evilmarduch.  He reigned poorly for 2 years and was assassinated by his brother-in-law, Neriglisar, who took the throne. He reigned 4 years.  He was succeeded by his son Laborosoardoch, a mere boy who reigned only 9 months before he was beaten and killed by his friends.  Nabonnidus, took the throne.  After the death of Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian Empire declined.  The succeeding kings were weak and unable to hold the kingdom together. The Medes and Persians had been taking Babylonian territory for several years.  By the time of the events in Daniel chapter 5, they had conquered all but the city of Babylon.  Nabonnidus has been away from Babylon leading the armies while his son, Belshazzar, ruled in Babylon.

Nabonnnidus Cylinder

Nabonnnidus Cylinder

At the beginning of our study I told you that some scholars do not believe that Daniel was a real man and prophet and that this book was written during the period between the Old and New Testaments.  One of their reasons is that history never mentioned a king of Babylon called Belshazzar.  However, the Nabonnidus Cylinder which has now been found relates the achievements of King Nabonnidus and it also mentions his son Belshazzar.

[Daniel 5:1-4] 5 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had

Belshazzar's Great Banquet

Belshazzar’s Great Banquet

taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.     Belshazzar holds a great banquet.      

The army of the Medes and Persians was outside the city of Babylon and King Belshazzar gives a great banquet for over 1000 people on the inside.  All of the noble people in the city are in attendance.  Why would the king hold a huge banquet when the army of their enemy was just outside the city trying to get inside?  It may have been a show for the people that the king had confidence in the great walls and security of Babylon to keep the enemy out.  Ancient historians say that the walls of Babylon were 60 miles around, 15 miles on each side, 300 feet high, 80 feet thick.  Because of the work of archaeologists, modern interpreters say that the outer wall was about 17 miles around and 80 to 100 feet tall.  There was ¼ mile of space between the city and the wall.  All the way around the wall there were wide, deep moats filled with water and tall towers on the wall for the guards and soldiers. The great Euphrates River divided the city in half.  More likely the king was using this large gathering of people to call on their gods for delivery.

Gold goblets

Gold goblets

Notice they brought out the gold goblets that the Babylonians took from the temple in Jerusalem and drank their wine from them as they praised their gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone gods. In chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a giant statue made of gold, silver, bronze, iron and iron and clay mixed.  This was a message to Nebuchadnezzar that the God of Israel declared that Babylon would be taken by another nation represented by silver.  I believe that King Belshazzar was mocking the God of Israel, using His goblets to praise their gods.  Whatever his reason for holding this banquet, it was not a good one.

Belshazzar shakes with fear  from the hand writing on the wall

Belshazzar shakes with fear
from the hand writing on the wall

[Daniel 5:5-9]Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.                                                             The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers  and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.

Belshazzar's Wise Men cannot interpret writing

Belshazzar’s Wise Men cannot interpret writing

There are 1000 people gathered in this great hall that is 56 feet wide and 170 feet long. This hall has been found and excavated.  The wine is flowing and the people are feeling no pain so to speak.  Suddenly high on the wall where everyone can see and bodiless hand begins to write a message.  The people must have been terrified.  I would imagine that they panicked and ran to get out of the building.  The passage tells us that the king’s face paled, his legs shook and he nearly passed out, he was so frightened.  He immediately called for his wise men to come and read the message on the wall.  He promised purple robes (a royal position) a gold neck chain and position of third ruler in the land to the person who could read the writing.  His father was the first ruler and he was second. When none of his wise men could read the message, the king was even more terrified.

[Daniel 5:10-16] 10 The queen,hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.” 13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

Who is this queen? She was most likely the Queen Mother, Nitocris who was Belshazzar’s grandmother, because  she knew about Daniel and the things he had done during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.  She must have been  a very old woman by this time.  They located Daniel and brought him before King Belshazar and he offered Daniel the same rewards he had offered his wise men.

[Daniel 5:17-24] 17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.                                                                                                                                                                                

Daniel explains the message written on the wall to Belshazzar

Daniel explains the message written on the wall to Belshazzar

Daniel admonishes Belshazzar for his pride and reminds him of what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar when he took credit for what God had given him.

18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.22 But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

Nebuchadnezzar lived as an animal because of his pride

Nebuchadnezzar lived as an animal because of his pride

Daniel faced this king with no fear.  He knew that God was always there with him. He let Belshazzar know that he was not interested in his gifts or positions of power. Daniel apparently was moved out of his high position next to the king when Nebuchadnezzar died and had been living in the background of the palace since then.  Before he told the king what the writing meant, while he had the king’s full attention, Daniel witnessed to him about the God of Israel who is the most high God, the all-powerful God.  He reminded Belshazzar of what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar when he was filled with pride about his accomplishments.  God took away all of his power and position and made him live like an animal until he was ready to acknowledge that all he had accomplished was a gift from God and that the God of Israel is sovereign over the kingdoms of men.  Belshazzar was filled with pride and had taken the goblets that came from the temple of Israel’s God and drank from them praising the gods of Babylon.  So Israel’s God had sent the king this message.  Also, this is part of God’s plan for the kingdoms of men.  The head of gold from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is going to pass on to the chest and arms of silver which represents the kingdom of the Medes and Persians.

[Daniel 5:25-29] 25 “This is the inscription that was written: mene, mene, tekel, parsin 26 “Here is what these words mean:  Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. 27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. 28 Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.  

Writing on the Wall

Writing on the Wall

                                                                                                                          True to his word, Belshazzar makes Daniel 3 ruler in the kingdom.  “Mene”  “Tekel” “Parsin” . The words mean, numbered, weighed and divided.  The number of days left is one.  “Tekel”  meaning the Babylonian Kingdom had been evaluated by God and failed.  “Parsin” from the word “peres” means that the kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

[Daniel 5:30-31] 30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

Medes and Persians enter Babylon

Medes and Persians enter Babylon

While the Babylonians were feasting, Cyrus was working outside the city walls.  The Euphrates River divided the City of Babylon in half.  The river was inside the outer walls of the city and all along the banks of the river there were great walls on both sides.  Across the river between the walls were huge bronze gates that were shut to keep boats from coming into the city on the river.  Cyrus had dug channels outside the city to divert the waters of the Euphrates and lower the river going into the city so that his men could walk in water below their waist.  When they came to the bronze gates that were across the river, the gates were open and Cyrus’s men marched into the city of Babylon without a fight.  They killed King Belshazzar and took the City of Babylon for the first time ever.

Lessons for us from Daniel 5:

  1. God will not tolerate idol worship.
  2. God will humble us when we continue to take credit for the things He has given us.
  3. God is in control of the nations of the world and chooses their leaders according to His will.
  4. God’s work will be done according to His timetable.

 

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Daniel Lesson 5

Scriptures used in this lesson are from: Daniel 4.

In Lesson 4, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s 90 feet tall golden statue, so they were thrown into the brick kiln to be burned up.  But God protected them and they came out untouched by the fire and smoke in the furnace.  Nebuchadnezzar accepted the power of Israel’s God and promoted the Hebrew young men.  In Lesson 5, Daniel chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar is going to have a very person experience with the Israelite God.  Chapter 4 begins with King Nebuchadnezzar calling all the people in his kingdom and all the world to hear about the miraculous experience that the Most High God as done for him.

[Daniel 4:1-3]  King Nebuchadnezzar, to the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth: May you prosper greatly! It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.

This appears to be a proclamation that is to be sent out to all the provinces of the Babylonian empire.  From the beginning of the Book of Daniel, it is apparent that God is dealing with Nebuchadnezzar.  He keeps having these dreams that are coming from God. The king is slowly beginning to realize that the God of the Israelites is much more powerful than any god that he has ever known about.  In these verses he calls Him, the Most High God.  He performs great signs or miracles, His kingdom is eternal. This is an interesting statement.  God’s kingdom will last forever and His dominion or His power and territory that He controls continues from generation to generation.  It goes on and on regardless who is the king of a nation.  This God is still in control.  This is amazing insight by the Babylonian king.

Beginning in verse 4, Nebuchadnezzar is relating his own experience and he wants all the people to know about it.

[Daniel 4:4-12] I, Nebuchadnezzar,  was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its

Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a great tree

Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a great tree

height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

Nebuchadnezzar has another dream. This time he tells his wise men, called magicians, what the dream is and asks them to interpret it.  They, however, are unable to tell the meaning of the dream.  So, Nebuchadnezzar call in Daniel. Notice that he calls Daniel the chief of the magicians. The head magician. He tells Daniel about his dream about a giant tree that reaches into the sky.  All the animals live below it and the birds live in its branches. The great has an abundance of fruit on it.

[Daniel 4:13-18] 13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

Holy messenger comes down

Holy messenger comes down

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.

17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had.   Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

The heavenly messenger comes down from the heavens and in a loud voice directs that the leaves and fruit be stripped from the tree and that it be cut down to a stump.  The stump and roots are to be left with a band of iron and bronze placed around the stump.  The iron and bronze band represents protection for the stump. Then the messenger continues to talk about the stump but it takes on the appearance of a man who is to live with the animals and become like an animal for a period of 7 years. The heavenly messenger declares that these things will come about so the living people will know and understand that the most high God is in control of the earthly kingdoms and He decides who will reign over them.  God is in control of the kingdoms and the kings.

danielinterpretsdream180x150

Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.

23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

Daniel was reluctant to tell the king the meaning of his dream, so the king encouraged him to go on and tell him whatever the meaning.  So Daniel explains that the great tree is Nebuchadnezzar.  His power is great and it covers a large part of the earth.  Then Daniel gives the king the bad news.

[Daniel 4:24-27] 24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king:25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

Remember the 90 foot golden statue that Nebuchadnezzar had built after Daniel interpreted his first dream about the statue with a gold head and silver arms and chest, etc., meaning that Nebuchadnezzar’s reign was going to end and another king would rule over his kingdom.  Nebuchadnezzar is a proud man who believes that all he has and the great things he has accomplished are all his doing.  He believes that he can control the future.  His kingdom will go on. By what Daniel says, Nebuchadnezzar was a cruel king in some ways, and Daniel encourages him to do what is right for the kingdom and his people and maybe God will not cause these terrible things to happen to him.

Nebuchadnezzar surveys his kingdom and all the things he has done

[Daniel 4:28-33] 28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

Nebuchadnezzar lives like a cow

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He

was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

One year had passed since Nebuchadnezzar had praised himself for all his power and possessions. Verse 28 explains it all.  “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” Look at all that I have done! The magnificent things I have built! I have done it all with my power and my glory!  The man was filled pride and his own importance.  Earthly positions and positions are temporary and can disappear in a day.  God blessed Nebuchadnezzar but because of his pride and attitude of self-importance, God took it all away.  His lost his position as king, the shelter of his palace and was forced to live out in the open like a cow. He had to live like that for 7 years and he was willing to acknowledge that God controls the kingdoms of men places kings over them according to His will.  The king so filled with pride has been humbled.

This condition that Nebuchadnezzar had is now known as a psychological disease called Boanthropy where to person believes they are a bovine or cow.

[Daniel 4:34-37] 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

After living outside as an animal, this most powerful king finally gets it.  He is just a man.  God is the eternal all powerful God who controls all the kingdoms and people on the earth.  God is pleased with men who are filled with pride.  When Nebuchadnezzar looked up to heaven praising God his sanity was restored along with his kingdom.  Nebuchadnezzar continued to praise God.  He seems to have learned his lesson.

What did we learn from Daniel chapter 4?

  1. All of our earthly possessions belong to God and are temporary.
  2. We can be well off today and poor tomorrow.
  3. Our health can change overnight.
  4. Pride is a sin the God does not tolerate.
  5. We should thank God and praise Him every day for all His blessings.
  6. God can control the nations of the earth and their leaders

Most of Israel’s 70 years of captivity have passed.  Nabonidas  was the last king over Babylon and Belshazzar was his oldest son who ruled in Babylon when his father was absent and is on the throne at the beginning of chapter 5

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DANIEL (Lesson 4):

Scriptures for Lesson 4 are taken from Daniel 3.

Nebuchadnezzar's golden statue

Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue

In Lesson 3, Daniel gave Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of his dream about the giant statue made of gold, silver, copper, iron and iron and clay mixed. Nebuchadnezzar then changed his mind about having all the wise men killed and he made Daniel the number two ruler over Babylon and gave the other three Hebrew boys important positions.

In Lesson 4, Nebuchadnezzar is going to react to this dream and the following incidents will bring about a great miracle.

[Daniel 3:1-3]  King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.                                     

A cubit is measured from the tip of the fingers to the back of the elbow. For most men this is about 18 inches so this is the standard for changing cubits to feet and inches.  Therefore, this statue was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide and it was made of gold.  The Babylonians were very religious and had many gods, the most powerful being Marduk. In the city of Babylon according to historical records there were 55 chapels of Marduk, 300 chapels for the gods of the earth, 600 for the sky gods, and 180 altars for the goddess Ishtar.

Marduk, chief god of Babylon

Marduk, chief god of Babylon

Goddess of Ishtar

Goddess of Ishtar

Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar would build this giant statue made of gold?  It does not tell us why he did it, but it seems pretty obvious to me.  Daniel had told him that God’s message to Nebuchadnezzar was that he-Babylon was the gold head on the statue in his           dream.  Babylon was going to be taken by another nation represented by the silver chest and arms.  I think that Nebuchadnezzar built this all golden statue so high to show the Hebrew god and any nation that might want to come against him, that he was all powerful and his nation was going to last forever, therefore, the full statue made of gold.  Poor Nebuchadnezzar, he was the ruler of the most powerful kingdom on the earth and he was going to go against the King of Heaven and Earth.  Nebuchadnezzar was going to learn a few things.

When the statue was finished Nebuchadnezzar ordered all of his government officials, the governors over all his extended provinces and all the important people in his kingdom to come to the dedication of the great golden statue.

[Daniel 3:4-7]  Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do:As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Nebuchadnezzar's statue Hebrew refuse to bow and worship

Nebuchadnezzar’s statue
Hebrew refuse to bow and worship

Whether this giant golden statue represented Nebuchadnezzar himself or he was creating a new Babylonian god, I don’t know.  Whatever the case, all the people in the kingdom were required to bow down and worship this statue when the musical instruments were sounded. Failure to bow down and worship the statue was punishable by being placed in a hot brick kiln.

[Daniel 3:8-15] At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stand before Nebuchadnezzar

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stand before Nebuchadnezzar

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”                                                                                                                                                

Famous Ishtar Gate for the goddess Ishtar

Famous Ishtar Gate for the goddess Ishtar

Nebuchadnezzar was a great builder. The famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world.   Babylon was a great and beautiful city with many of its buildings made of brick. The magnificent  Ishtar gate was built with blue and gold glazed bricks. These bricks were made in large brick kilns with heat 1200-1300 degrees or more.

[Daniel 3:16-18] 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stand up to the mighty Babylonian king and say that they will not worship his golden statue.  If he throws them into the fiery furnace then their God is able to save them from harm.  If God chooses not to save them, then that is all right too, but they will not worship his statue.  This is a big test of the Hebrew young men’s faith and they passed big time.  They believe that they can survive being inside that furnace that is so very hot and come out alive and well.  Would you be willing to walk into that furnace?

[Daniel 3:19-25] 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Hebrews in the Firey Furnace

Hebrews in the Firey Furnace

Nebuchadnezzar was so angry that these young men had the audacity to stand up against him that he had the furnace heated up 7 times hotter than it needed to be to cure the bricks and commanded that they be tied up and thrown into the furnace.  The fire was so hot that the soldiers who threw them in were killed. When they looked into the furnace the three Hebews were unbound, walking around inside unharmed and there was another man in there with them. Who was he.  Some say an angel, some say it was Gabriel or Michael and some say Jesus.  Whoever it was, he was sent by God to deliver Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

[Daniel 3:24-30] 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

What a witness these young Hebrew men have been.  God used their faith and his saving power to prove to this powerful earthly king, the He is God.  Does Nebuchadnezzar believe that He is the only god.  No, but he certainly believes that He is the most powerful god. He made a decree that would be spread all over his kingdom that no one say anything against the Hebrew God. Did he love God? No, but he certainly feared Him.  And the Hebrews were promoted to a higher position in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom.

What is your fiery furnace?

What is your fiery furnace?

                          Do you have the faith to walk out?

Next week, Nebuchadnezzar has another vision.

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Daniel Lesson 3

Scripture for this lesson will be taken from Daniel 2, Revelation 19

In Daniel Lesson 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a very puzzling dream.  He called in all his wise men and told them to tell him his dream and then interpret if for him.  They were of course unable to do this so the king ordered all his wise men to be killed.  Daniel and his three Hebrew friends were among the captives who were in wise man training would also be killed.  Daniel and Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah went straight to God asking Him to provide the answers that King Nebuchadnezzar wanted.  God answered and revealed to Daniel the dream and its interpretation.

In Daniel 2:24-35, Daniel goes to Arioch, the man who was to kill all the wise men and asked to see the king, explaining that he could interpret the king’s dream.  So Daniel was taken to the king .  When the king asked him if he was able to interpret the dream, Daniel said that he could not, no man could, but the God who was in heaven had revealed it to Daniel.  Daniel then proceeded to tell the king his dream and interpret its meaning.

The king’s dream was this:

The great statue from Nebuchadnezzar's dream

The great statue from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

[Daniel 2:31-35] 31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

The great statue made up of different types of metals and earth represents kingdoms that will rule over that part of the world for about 600 years.

The interpretation that was given to Daniel by God is this:

[Daniel 2:36-38] 36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

More specifically the great statue represents the kingdoms that will rule over Israel.  That is why it begins with the gold head that represents Babylon.  Babylon was the first to rule over Israel after they conquered Judah and carried away captives to Babylon In 606 BC

[Daniel 2:39] 39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 

The kingdom that comes next made of silver covering the chest and arms represents the Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians.  They will take Babylon in 538 BC.  It says that this kingdom will be inferior to Babylon, thus it is represented by a metal that is less valuable than gold.  The next kingdom to rule will be Greece and they are represented by bronze.  Led by Alexander the Great, the Greeks conquered the Persian Empire, including all of Palestine in 333 BC.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream statue including the nations

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream statue including the nations

[Daniel 2:40-43] 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

The fourth kingdom is represented by the two legs of the statue and they are made of iron.  This fourth kingdom is Rome.  The two legs represent the eastern and western Roman Empires.  Greece was finally taken by the Romans about 63 BC.  Herod the Great was proclaimed King over Israel by Rome in 37 BC.

Next on the statue we have the feet made of a mixture of iron and clay.  These represent world empires that will rule after the fall of the Roman Empire.  They will be many different nations, some weak and some strong and not united in purpose, therefore making them weak.  Following the fall of the Roman Empire we have the Church Age and the nations that have ruled and will rule until the end of the church age.  That is the time period we are in today.

On the feet we have ten toes.  They  too are made of iron and clay.  They likely represent ten nations that will rise up during the time of the Antichrist and his empire.

[Daniel 2:44-45] 44 “In the time of those kings, the God of  heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself

The stone representing Jesus Christ coming to destroy the Gentile nations

The stone representing Jesus Christ coming to destroy the Gentile nations

endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

You will see on the statue a rock.  This rock is cut out of a mountain by the hand of God and it will come down and crush the world nations that are in power at that time.  Following this battle, Christ will rule over a kingdom that can never be destroyed.

[Revelation 19:11-16] 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and  True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Christ comes to do battle with the nations

Christ comes to do battle with the nations

Daniel then tells Nebuchadnezzar that the great God has shown the king what will take place in the future and he can be certain that it will come about.

[Daniel 2:46-47] 46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”

Has Nebuchadnezzar truly believed that God is the only God?  Not likely.  He probably believes that Daniel’s God is more powerful than most gods and that Daniel’s God is a ruler over other gods as future lessons will reveal.

[Daniel 2:48-49] 48 Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. 49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.

King Nebuchadnezzar has now put Daniel in the position of his chief wise man, given him valuable gifts and made him chief ruler over Babylon next to the king.  The other three Hebrew boys are given positions as administrators or like governors over other provinces under Babylonian rule.  But the king keeps Daniel there at the royal court with him.  Notice that the other three Hebrew boys are now referred to by their Babylonian names.

I would like at this time to point out that God has allowed Babylon to take much of Israel, His chosen people captive. However, God has placed Daniel in a high political position where he will be able protect the Israelites during the 70 years that they are captives in Babylon.  Also note that here in Babylon, one of the captives is the prophet Ezekiel.  God has placed him here with his people to watch over them spiritually and to give them God’s messages all the time that they are in exile in Babylon.  Even though God is not with them as a nation anymore, He is watching over them and protecting them.

Lessons we can learn for our lives from Daniel chapter 2:

  1. God knows the future
  2. God is in control of the nations
  3. God protects and provides for His people
  4. If you have accepted Christ as you Savior, you are one of God’s people
  5. I believe that God uses us to watch over each other

Next week, Nebuchadnezzar reacts to his vision.

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DANIEL – Lesson 2:

As we begin our study in Daniel chapter 2, I want to address a couple of things that were brought out in chapter 1. First, Daniel and the other three Hebrew teenagers stood up to the Babylonian leaders concerning their diet. Even though they are prisoners in a foreign land, they are being faithful to God by not eating food that is forbidden in God’s Law.  Second, in Daniel 1:17 it tells us that God gave to Daniel a special knowledge and understanding about visions and dreams.  This ability to understand and interpret dreams is going to save the lives of the Hebrew young men and all the wise men in Babylon in Chapter 2.

[Daniel 2:1-6]  In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.”

King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream

King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream

Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”

The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”

Nebuchadnezzar was no fool. He knew that if he told them the dream they could make up an interpretation and he would not know the difference. But if they could tell him what his dream was, then they could interpret it.

[Daniel 2:10-13] 10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”

12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.

If you will remember, the Hebrew captives were in “wise men” training for three years. They were not officially wise men yet but they were included in those to be killed. Nebuchadnezzar reasoned that if his wise men could not tell his dream and interpret it, what good were they? Kill them all!

[Daniel 2:14-18] 14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

After being in Babylon for one year, the young Hebrews are faced with death. What did they do? They took it to God in prayer. They trusted and believed that God would provide the answer. What is the first thing you do when faced with a serious problem. I am afraid most of us try everything that we are able to do, and when all that fails, we take it to the Lord. Best to go to Him first!

[Daniel 2:19-23] 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel reveals to King Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was

Daniel reveals to King Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was

During the night, God reveals to Daniel the king’s dream and its meaning. What is the first thing Daniel does? He praises and thanks God.  He gives God all the credit, he acknowledges that God knows all things, has all wisdom and power, He controls the nations, the times and the seasons. This is great wisdom and understanding for someone so young.

[Daniel 2:24-26] 24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”

25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”

26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”

Daniel is very brave to ask to be taken to the king, but he has absolute faith in God that he has been given the King’s dream and God has given Daniel the interpretation. Absolute faith!

[Daniel 2:27-35] 27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about,28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:

29 “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

The great statue from Nebuchadnezzar's dream

The great statue from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

King Nebuchadnezzar had seen a giant statue in his dream. It had a head made of gold, the chest and arms were of silver, the belly and thighs were made of iron, and the feet were a mixture of clay and iron. Then there was a rock, not cut out by man, a special rock, it smashed into the feet of the statue and it all came down is small pieces that could be blown away with the wind and there was no trace of the statue left. But the special rock became a mountain that filled up the whole earth. It must have been a very frightening dream for the king. What did it all mean?  We will learn that in next week’s lesson.

What can we learn from Daniel in the first half of chapter 2?

  1. Take your problems and needs to the Lord first.
  2. Have absolute faith that He will provide.
  3. Proceed unafraid, trusting God

Next week, Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

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DANIEL – Lesson 1:

Scriptures for this lessen will be taken from Daniel 1, 2 Kings 20, Matthew 24.

Introduction

We began this Bible study with the Book of Prophet Jonah who was called by God to go to Nineveh to preach to the people of Assyria, calling them to repent of their evil ways.  They did repent for a number of years allowing God’s prophets to warn the Kingdom of Israel to repent of their idolatry.  They did not listen and in 721 BC God allowed Assyria to take the Northern Kingdom.  During the next 135 years the Southern Kingdom of Israel, Judah, struggled against Assyria, Egypt and Babylon to hang onto their kingdom.  During this time God used the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel to warn the people of Judah to give up their idolatry and return to God and following His laws.  They did not listen, so in 586 BC God allowed the Babylonians to take Jerusalem and the Nation of Judah.  The people of Israel, called the Hebrews, are now going into exile to the nation of Babylon for 70 years.  For reasons and background information, read the lessons on the Fall of Judah.

Things we will learn in the study of the Book of Daniel:

  1. Daniel’s prophecy concerning the Hebrew people from the time of the exile until the end times.
  2. Prophesies of the nations who will rule over Israel.
  3. Prophesy of the coming Messiah and the time of His death.
  4. Daniel through his prophesies shows how God is in control of the nations; how He uses, punishes and controls the nations on earth to bring about His will.
  5. We get a glimpse in the Book of Daniel of a whole spiritual world that is moving and working all around us and we are totally unaware.
  6. Daniel will show us how four Hebrew teenagers can be faithful to God and His teachings under extreme and dangerous situations  and God will provide, protect and guide them.

The authorship of Daniel is attested by Jesus Christ Himself in Matthew 24:15-16:  “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Daniel’s authorship is questioned by some critics who say that it was written during the time between the Old and New Testaments because his prophesies are too accurate.  The question is then, what about the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel or other prophets who were given their words from God? Does God not know the future?

Daniel was taken captive to Babylon in 606 BC with the first group of Hebrews from Jerusalem. King Jehoiakim had rebelled against Babylon refusing to pay tribute and King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem and took many captives who were nobles, officers and soldiers off to Babylon.  Daniel and his three friends were among them.  These boys would  probably be between 15 and 19 years old.  Daniel at least was a descendant of King Hezekiah which is a fulfillment of prophecy by Isaiah.  Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?” “From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came from Babylon.” The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?” “They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.” Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”  [2 Kings 20:14]

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah did indeed become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon! God’s prophecies always come about!

[Daniel 1:1-2] In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 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 and put in the treasure house of his god.

Gold serving utensils from the temple in Jerusalem

Gold serving utensils from the temple in Jerusalem

 The articles from the temple mentioned here and in the picture are lavers, cups, dishes, etc. used in the temple by the priests as they performed their work there.  Make a note in your memory bank to recall when we study about the handwriting on the wall as these articles will be brought out for use at a banquet.

[Daniel 1:3-5] 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— 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. 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.

Asphenaz  was a very important man in Babylon at this time to be given this great responsibility.  He was in charge of all the men in the king’s service who worked in and around the palace.  His name has been found on monuments from ancient Babylon, now located in the Berlin Museum. The statement on one monument reads: “Ashpenaz, master of eunuchs in the time of Nebuchadnezzar.”  It was a custom for kings who had many wives to have all the men who were around their palace and places of dwelling to be made eunuchs so the king was assured that any offspring from his wives would be his children.

Ancient Babylon

Ancient Babylon

The Hebrew captives were to be schooled for three years and during this time they would learn the Babylonian language, about their gods, literature, etc. in an effort to make them Babylonian.  This would also take advantage of the education in astrology, mathematics, botany and whatever other skills they had learned at home in Jerusalem.  The Babylonians were going to make good use of their captives.  The boys in training were assigned food of the same kind and quality that the king himself ate.  Only the best for them!

[Daniel 1:6-7] Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

Daniel refuses the kings diet

Daniel refuses the kings diet

Each of the captives was given a Babylonian name.  Daniel uses his Hebrew name through his writings but he uses the Babylonian names given the other Hebrew boys.

[Daniel 1:8-15] 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. 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 yourfood 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.”

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.

Hebrew boys are strong and healthy on fruits and vegetables with water

Hebrew boys are strong and healthy on fruits and vegetables with water                                                                                                            

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. 

This is really amazing.  We have young teenage boys who are trying to be faithful to God, living as prisoners in a foreign land, having the faith to stand up to the man in charge of them and request food that allows them to be faithful to the dietary laws given by God which are found in Leviticus chapter11.  What courage and what faith they had that God would take care of them. Daniel negotiated with Ashpenaz, that they would be given only water, fruits and vegetables to eat and drink,  believing that after 10 days he and his friends would be stronger and healthier than the other boys on the king’s diet.

[Daniel 1:17-21] 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.                                                                                                

The Hebrew boys in Babylon

Nebuchadnezzar questioned Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah

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.

God honored Daniel’s faith.  At the end of the ten-day test the four Hebrew boys indeed were stronger and healthier than the other captives eating the king’s diet.

We have in verse 17 a mention that God had given Daniel some special knowledge and wisdom concerning the ability to understand visions and dreams.  This special gift that God has given Daniel is going to put him in a position of power in the Babylonian kingdom next to the king. The gifts were given for a reason that will become more evident in the next few chapters.

In verse 21 we are told that Daniel will remain in the king’s palace until the time that Cyrus the King of the Medes and Persians becomes king of Babylon.  That will be 70 years from this time. So we see that Daniel as a teenage boy of about 18 in 70 years will be about 90 years old when the exile ends.  Cyrus is the king who will release the Jews and allow them to return to Jerusalem.

So the Book of Daniel begins with the young Hebrew boys coming as captives to Babylon, standing their ground to remain faithful to God and God honoring and protecting them.  This faith will continue as we move on into the next chapters.  What an inspiration and witness to us today to follow the Lord’s teaching for living our lives in spite of hardships.  The Lord will provide and protect.

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