Daniel Highlights

I have been raised in church my whole life and have learned many stories from the Bible, but for me they were all fragmented.  I learned them individually from week to week in Sunday School, and I didn't put them all together until I started studying the bible for myself.  When I did the study of Daniel several years ago, I found the book to be a fascinating.  However, this time when I studied the book, I have a better understanding of the Old Testament, and it had a much different meaning for me.  There is still so much for me to learn, but His Word is life changing!

I don't claim to be a bible scholar, but I am passionate about studying His Word.  I love to talk to others about what I have learned, but I have to reign it in so I don't talk your ear off once I get started.  So, I type it here.  Even if it's only to encourage just one person, I feel compelled to share my thoughts and what God has revealed to me through my own studies.

In this time of studying the book of Daniel, many times I had my Bible out, my Kay Arthur study, my Beth Moore study, my computer for commentaries, history books, and my phone nearby to call my go-to scholar, Wanda Newby.  The book is God's blueprint for prophecy and it can be confusing and complicated.  Daniel is also a man that we can look to for incredible example to pattern our lives after.  He is referred to as "a man of high esteem."

Like I said, when I did this study a few years ago, I didn't understand much of the Old Testament or world history. I didn't realize that Israel was divided into two kingdoms until recently.   I created a brief history in three charts below.  They are brief in detail, but it helped me to understand where the book of Daniel began and how and why they ended up where the were...in captivity.
This is where the book of Daniel begins.  After years of idol worship and many prophets sent by God warning them to repent, God brought forth judgement on Judah.  This was prophesied by Jeremiah but they refused to listen.  Many said that judgement wouldn't come upon them for years to come.  They also put false assurance in the fact that because they had the tabernacle, they felt that God wouldn't allow this to happen to them.  They went into captivity for seventy years.  The number of years they were sent into captivity was also significant. 

God set a model for rest when He created everything in six days and rested on the seventh.  God applied the same pattern in years for them.  They were instructed to rest the land on the seventh year.  They ignored this instruction for 490 years from the time of David's reign onward.  We may think that God is not concerned with areas where we let slide because He doesn't judge us instantly.  However, in this instance, He knew and was going to hold them accountable for their disobedience in this area.  While they were in Babylon the land back in Canaan enjoyed its 70 Sabbath years of rest.

Chapter 1 opens in 606 B.C., in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim.  King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon came into Jerusalem and besieged it.  He took with him vessels from the house of God.  He ordered his officials to take with him some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles. 

His criteria of who to take:
-no defect
-showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom
-endowed with understanding
-discerning knowledge
-has the ability to serve in the king's court

Among those who met this criteria were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They were assigned new names in Babylon. 

Hebrew Name and Meaning:                                    Babylonian Name and Meaning:
Daniel (God is my Judge)                                         Belteshazzar (Bel will protect)
Hananiah (Yah has been gracious)                           Shadrach (inspired of Aku)
Michael (who is what God is?)                                 Meshach (belonging to Aku)
Azariah (Yah has helped)                                         Abed-nego (servant of Nego)

Their Hebrew names had different descriptions of God.  Their new Babylonian names were meant to transform them to their new land.  The new names included false gods of Babylon and were trying to disregard the truth of the one and only God.  The king appointed that they should be educated three years, and at the end of the time, they were to enter the king's professional services. 

The young men, ages 15-18, were given daily rations from the king's choice food and from the wine which he drank.  However, this was against the law of the Lord for God's chosen people.  "Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank."  Even though this was permitted in the new land he would be in, he knew it was wrong.  This struck me because even though something is legal in our land, it doesn't mean that it is approved by God.  I can think of several examples that are perfectly legal in our country, however they are despised by God.  We need God's Word as our standard of right and wrong because laws change, and when left for man to decide what is right and wrong can get us into trouble. 

Another thing that I love about this passage is the fact that "he decided beforehand" on what to do.  What an example for us as a young boy around fifteen years old.  In the middle of a situation, peer pressure can sometimes win over our judgements.  It is very important to "decide beforehand" how we are going to react in a situation if possible.  I loved this quote from Beth Moore..."Don't think for a moment he wasn't tested and tempted by the sights and scents of succulent foods.  Had this decision been easy, it wouldn't have demanded resolve...godliness is never accidental.  Neither is victory coincidental.  Both stem from up-front, daily resolve." 

Babylon did everything to indoctrinate them with the new godless culture, but God had his hand on these four young men.  Daniel made the resolve and the other three joined with him.  Daniel asked the commander of the officials if they could just eat vegetables and drink water instead of the king's choice foods.  At the end of the ten days, their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king's choice food.  (Talk about depressing if you're on a diet...haha).  Because of their obedience, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom.   Daniel was even able to understand all kinds of visions and dreams. 

At the end of the three years, they were presented to King Nebuchadnezzar and these four stood out.  The king found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.   

Daniel found himself taken captive by a man who was a heathen-a man who didn't know God and who had no respect for the holy vessels of God.  He found himself a hostage in a strange land.  And whatever this 15-year-old had dreamed his future would hold, it was shattered.  He was no longer free.  He was held captive by a man who did not care personally for him or for his God.  And, since Daniel was chosen to serve in the king's court, it is likely that he was made a eunuch (was castrated).

Yet Daniel did not become bitter or question his God; he continued to faithfully serve God.  He did not break God's laws and defile himself with the king's choice food and wine.  It seems that only three of the other captives stood with him in that decision.

Daniel was firm in his faith, but never disrespectful to those who did not share his faith, to those who ruled over him.  And the God who was watching took notice and moved on his behalf.

O Beloved, may we be "Daniels" for the Lord.  No matter the circumstances of our lives, may we be faithful to the One who is over every circumstance-the One who is rightly called the Most High God.
                                                                                 -Kay Arthur, God's Blueprint for Bible Prophecy

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