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In doing some research on our reading today I discovered that the book of Daniel includes four different languages in the original writings….Greek, Persian, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Apparently many a doctorate of theology has used this fact to debate whether Daniel actually was the author of the book as opposed to someone (or ones) writing the book a few years later….which in their eyes makes the writing a “fake!!” However, IMHO … it makes it all the more accurate. I mean think about it… Daniel was taken into captivity in his late teens. We know he was from a wealthy family because the only people who were left behind in Judah were the extremely poor. Once in Babylonian captivity he was in the court of the king of Babylon. He placed God above all else and grew to be a wise man, and a counselor BECAUSE of God. Daniel would know Hebrew because of being from Judah. He would know Persian because he will eventually serve under King Cyrus of Persia. Greek could have been learned either because of his parents’ status and wealth or because of his exposure to different cultures while serving under two kings. And he would gain an understanding of Aramaic, the ancient language of Syria (“tongue of the Chaldeans” in 1:4). It just proves all the more to me just how intimately God was working in his life for the influence he would have on the king, the country, and his own people…all part of God’s plan.
I know it has been awhile but do you remember Josiah? Josiah’s high priest found the scrolls in the temple and brought them to Josiah. Josiah was in complete awe of the scrolls of the Law of the Lord which revealed God’s laws and brought about a revival in Judah. Remember how he made sure his people were trained on God’s Word, HIS ways, and he did away with idols and anything that was against God? Well….guess who grew up during the reign of Josiah, knowing what was in the scrolls, and knowing what God wanted from HIS people….you guessed correctly… it was DANIEL!!! Daniel learned and was rooted in the Law and God’s way!!! Is that not TOOO KEWL!!! We begin with verse 1 telling us that during Jehoikim (pronounced Jeh Hoy Eh Kim) Jerusalem was besieged and THE LORD handed over Judah ALONG with the articles from the temple. IF I were a teacher and going to give a “pop quiz” later I would say be sure to make note that the ARTICLES FROM THE TEMPLE were taken by the Babylonians in their final siege of Judah…..we will see how this plays out throughout our reading.
King Nebbie made three sieges on Judah beginning in 607 BC and ending in 586 BC (remember Jeremiah witnessed the first siege while in Judah. Daniel was TAKEN during this first siege BUT the book of Daniel is mostly from the perspective after the 3rd siege and told from the vantage point of living inside the king’s castle, Ezekiel was in the 2nd siege and is told from the vantage point of general Babylonian captivity.) MANY people of Judah went into captivity in Babylon….eventually everyone except the extremely poor was taken. The poor were left to survive with burned buildings and burned land!!! Basically the Babylonians believed if they left the poor behind there would be no survivors in Judah!! HA!!! God had other plans!!…. Remember the REMNANT!! ALL of the sieges were fulfillment of prophesy….God kept telling HIS people to RETURN to HIM and serve HIM ONLY but their refusal lead to judgment upon them and Babylon was used in God’s plan. God also told Judah they needed to get comfortable in Babylon because they would be there for 70 years….another prophecy we will see fulfilled when the King of Persia comes in to play!!! So can you already see why Daniel would have known all four languages???
Daniel and his friends were just three of these captives. The book of Daniel recaps some of the sieges/history…do you remember Hezekiah who became sick, then was healed and was visited by Babylonians? When he was visited by Babylonians do you remember that Hezekiah (probably a hundred years or so before the third siege) SHOWED all the contents of the Temple to them in pride. Well… the Babylonians remembered what they saw as lots of expensive BLING in the Temple!!! Not to mention when they totally destroyed Judah…they were keeping the “booty”….it had NO spiritual or religious meaning to them!!
So WHY were their names changed? Remember they were in the court of the king (Nebuchadnezzar). Did you notice that the Scripture in verses 4-5 mentioned how King Nebbie (Nebuchadnezzar) chose who would serve him (those who would serve him would be very smart, talented, without blemish, etc!!) Those who would serve King Nebbie were “fed his food and wine so they could be nourished in the ways of the king.” (things in quotes here are my paraphrasing…but the basic idea I want you to grasp is that King Nebbie made sure that his servants had 3 years of training as to the foods, customs, gods, ways, of the king of Babylon!! Their names were changed so they would be seen as “one of them” … more politically correct with the Babylonians. King Nebbie (Nebuchadnezzar) changed their names to the following:
- Daniel (means “God is my Judge” in Hebrew) was changed to Belteshazzar (“Bel” means protect his life…Bel, also called Marduk Babylon’s chief god)
- Hananiah (means “The Lord shows favor” in Hebrew) to Shadrack (Under the command of Aku —Babylon’s ‘moon god’)
- Mishael (means “Who is like God?” in Hebrew) to Mishak (Who is like Aku —another Babylonian god?)
- Azaraih (means “The Lord helps” in Hebrew)) to Abednego (servant of the Babylonian god nego ‘god of learning.’)
When I first learned of Shadrack, Mishak, and Abednego … the way I remembered their names was “Shadrack, Mishak, and AWAY WE GO” I know it sounds silly but for some reason that stuck in my mind and I could remember their names. 🙂
Verse 8 in the KJV says “Daniel purposed in his heart.” He PURPOSED in his heart not to defile his body with the king’s intoxicating, fatty, special foods. Daniel made his request known to the head eunuch. Then verse 9 tells us that because God had FAVOR upon Daniel by giving him favor in the eyes of the head eunuch. Of course the head eunuch was not thrilled with his request for fear Daniel and friends would become sickly then he would be blamed….possibly killed. So Daniel gently asked the eunuch to compromise…..just allow us to do this for 10 days and see what happens!! Daniel showed no fear, and he does not seem hesitant in ASKING ….what if we just try it our way??? I love that term “PURPOSED IN HIS HEART.” Some versions use the word RESOLVED. I know when I purpose in my heart to do something I believe God is leading me to do or resolve to do it…..it happens by the grace of God. It may not happen the way I plan or in MY timing….but it happens. So Chapter 1 truly sets the stage for Daniel’s heart, his resolve, his purpose…which is ALL about GOD. We will see that Daniel is not defiant or angry or disrespectful….he simply purposed in HIS heart to do what the Lord lead him to do. Because of Daniel’s desire and resolve to do God’s will we see today and throughout the entire Book of Daniel how God’s unseen hand is at work throughout this book and the entire Bible and if we allow HIM then HE does the same thing in our own lives. God is completely in control of EVERY move….regardless of how we feel or what Daniel’s or our circumstances appear to be….HE is in control. Isn’t that GOOD news!!!
Daniel’s character sets such a wonderful example for us today. I know God used him with King Nebbie, and with the captives in a BIG way. However in 2:14 KJV, it says Daniel spoke to him with Counsel and Wisdom. Other versions use the words wisdom and tact. Here Daniel is kind of under fire…no one else can interpret King Nebbie’s dreams….yet with the favor and blessing of God Daniel is not afraid to interpret the dream. Daniel KNOWS God has given him the interpretation!! Do you ever wonder what would happen if our leaders of our nation were first as committed to THE ONE TRUE God AND to leading with God’s leading hand? I PRAY continually for our leaders and that God would turn their hearts to HIM and if they already know HIM that they would PURPOSE IN their hearts to LEAD FOR HIM and WITH HIM. I have to limit the time I watch our current state of affairs….financial, economically, the debacle with the current health care dreams, plans, computer crashes, broken promises, and soooo much more. Yet as I read about Daniel and King Nebbie……I am greatly reminded that just like King Nebbie….our current leaders are not basing their decisions on biblical principles. IMHO….our leaders often seem afraid to say anything about God possibly for fear of losing power or possibly status. Does anyone else see this? The character of Daniel is such an awesome character to have as an example for our own actions and motives. Daniel did not rebel or revolt, or resort to name calling. However through his tack, counsel, and wisdom he confidently and respectfully disagreed and NEVER wavered in his obedience to the Lord. He had purposed in his heart/ resolved to be faithful to God and to never defile himself. That can seem like a HUGE undertaking for us as humans…..but we must always remember that with GOD alllllllll things are possible. Words for the day and we are only in chapter 2 —-FAITHFULNESS TO GOD, PURPOSE IN OUR HEART TO DO GOD’S WILL, RESOLVE TO DO GOD’S WILL, TACTFULNESS, RESPECTFULNESS, COUNSEL FROM GOD, WISDOM FROM GOD, NEGOTIATING WITHOUT COMPROMISE AND WITHOUT ANGER, !!! WOW!!
The Dream ….. HOLY MOLY!!! I KNOW that without God NO one could have interpreted that dream. I have been reading so many commentaries on just these three chapters that my head is spinning and I am praying I am pointing out the most important things to you for today’s reading. Do you recall anyone else in the Bible that could interpret dreams for a leader? How about Joseph? Joseph was in prison…in the dungeon…where it was cold and gross and after a few years of being there he was remembered as one who could interpret dreams!! The beauty of BOTH Joseph and Daniel is that NEITHER of them took credit for interpreting the dream….the each gave all the credit to God. They were not shy about it— they were not ashamed of it— they were not defiant, disrespectful, or prideful about it. ON the contrary they both seemed very gentle and humble while giving the interpretation and once the interpretation was done they both gave the credit to God….as they should have. OH MY … I am humbled as I sit here and write this…humbled by their actions. Humbled that our God is so good and WANTED others to know HIM ….. so HE allows others to have a glimpse of him through Daniel (and Joseph).
Things I made note of when Daniel was asked to interpret the dream follow:
- Daniel did not forget his close friends who prayed with him. They stood together and he appointed them leaders too.
- In Daniel 2:14-23 — Daniel was presented with a problem (all the wise men were to be put to death). I am so impressed by the steps Daniel took. A. He asked for TIME (again with wisdom and tact) so he could pray and have his friends pray with him. B. He went to Shadrack, Meshack, and “AWAY WE GO” and asked them to pray and ask plead for mercy from the God of heaven (THIS is where WISE counsel comes from!!). C. The answer was revealed to Daniel. D. Daniel PRAISED God before doing ANYthing else. Another great lesson for me.
- When Daniel went before the king — he said “we” will interpret the dream to the king, once again — including his friends for their intense prayers to God. (Daniel 2:36)
- Daniel and friends carefully ate and lived in continual prayer. Another WOW!!
- And Daniel 3:16-18 — Shadrack, Meshack, and “Away we go” (that’s how I remembered the third friend’s name growing up) — what faith, and trust. The last line “BUT even if God does not rescue us from your hand we want you to know O king that we will NOT serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” I don’t get the image that these three were rude, rebellious, or arrogant, they were simply and as kindly as possible stating their belief. Another example of being strong and courageous
The dream…. A big statue….WHAT does it mean????
- Head of Gold: represented the kingdom of Babylon which the LORD gave Nebuchadnezzar to rule. The Gold symbolizes superior power, and eventually it would be destroyed by a less inferior kingdom.
- Chest and Arms of Silver: represented the kingdom of Medo-Persia which is the power that would take over Babylon. Remember it this way, 2 arms, first one arm raised up (Darius the Mede) took Babylon without even a fight and then the other arm, Persia, Judah was currently under Persian rule and later gained control over Egypt and Libya. But eventually will be conquered by a lesser nation…
- Belly and Thighs of Bronze: represent Greece. In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great will conquer the entire area, bringing a teaching of Greek language and culture to everyone (thus the Greek written NT). But eventually Greece would be conquered by an even lesser kingdom.
- Legs of Iron and Feet of Clay: this evidently refers to the Roman Empire. The kingdom would be a mixture of people who would not be united. If you follow history you would see a long trail from General Pompey to Julius Caesar, to Herod the Great then to Pontius Pilate.
- Finally the ROCK……WOW!! The rock was cut out, but not by human hands, and it will break the whole statue to pieces and will be carried away by the wind. Then the stone will become a MOUNTAIN and will fill the whole earth! I am SURE you are doing a PRAISE dance right now or at least singing praise to God because this STONE….THIS ROCK in Chapter 2 is JESUS CHRIST!!!! Despite the wealth and power of all the nations, the promise of a covenant was made to Abraham and that promise will be fulfilled.
Ok…. Chapter 3 is possibly my most favorite Scripture and story today…maybe for always. The FOURTH man in the furnace…….YES…… WE see JESUS again in this chapter!!! Each time I read this I am still in awe of the fact that King Nebbie made it CLEAR to his men that this fire was to be the HOTTEST possible fire ever!!! The fire was so hot it was almost impossible to put the men inside or get them out!! Not only did Nebbie SEE the fourth man….he brought the other 3 men out of the fire. To EVERYone’s amazement……the ONLY thing that was burned on these men were the ropes that bound them…..their clothing was not harmed….their hair was not burned….and they did not EVEN SMELL like smoke!!! WOW!!! Jesus protected them!!!! How has Jesus protected you in your life??
And THEN came the conversion of King Nebbie!!!! I mean that was a MIRACLE!! God changed his heart by what he saw. Did you notice that Nebbie was the FIRST ONE to see the fourth man in the fire???? Nebbie could not deny what he saw….the fourth man in the fire…no fourth man came out of the fire…..no smell of smoke…no burns…. He called their God “The Most HIgh God”. And that is where Chapter 3 ended. Does Nebuchadnezzer realize his sin and give up his gods or does he just want to add another “god” to the list of those he served. He witnessed a TRUE MIRACLE. Does he make a total commitment to serve the ONE and ONLY TRUE God… even after he saw what he saw, including the angel of the Lord or the Lord in furnace with the other three? I don’t know… just pondering…. guess I have to read tomorrow’s read to find out the answers to my questions 🙂
Do you ever wonder if we impact others in our lives in such a way that there is no mistaking God is alive in us and then others WANT HIM? I will close on a Scripture that has continued popping in my mind concerning Nebbie’s conversion but actually deals more with those of us on this side of the cross. That Scripture is – Luke 15:10–” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over ONE sinner who repents.” I bet the angels rejoiced over Nebbie’s decision to KNOW which god (OUR GOD) was the most powerful!!!
Sharing HIS love,