Daniel Chapter One
In Chapter 1:1-2 God states that He gave Johoiakim, and the vessels of the house of God, to Nebuchadnezzar. God took responsibility for this event and He took responsibility for the outcome as well. Is He always in charge and can anything happen without His permission? Is this the central idea in Daniel and Revelation?
God wants us to study the history of the fall of Judah so that we can see how it occurred and why He gave Judah into the hands of Babylon. Long before the fall of Judah God allowed division to come into the nation in the time of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. Solomon had allowed so much evil to come into the camp by choosing to build temples for all of his heathen wives. I Kings 11. Because of this God chose Jeroboam the son of Nebat to be the king of the 10 tribes that would break off from Judah. When Solomon was about to die he chose Rehoboam, the son of Naamah the Ammonitess, the only wife of Solomon to be named, to be king in his place. I Kings 14:29-31When Rehoboam treated the Israelites poorly they behaved as God had prophesied – ten tribes broke off from Judah and only Benjamin remained with Judah in the south. See I Kings 12
History tells of the steady progress downward in the northern 10 tribes under the guidance of Jeroboam, who was so afraid of losing his control over these tribes that he forgot God and choose to worship idols of the golden calves of Egypt. Year after year Israel rebelled against God until God allowed them to go into captivity to Assyria. II Kings 17. In II Kings 17 God states that Israel had walked, or obeyed, the statutes of the heathen but had rebelled against the commandments of God and would not humble themselves to follow Him. The captivity into Assyria should have been a wake up call for Judah but they had been so into following the very sins of Israel that God said they were obeying Israel over Him. II Kings 17:19.
God even allowed Assyria to attack Judah but they were willing, at that time to surrender to God and Hezekiah pleaded with God for His deliverance and He destroyed the Assyrian army to reveal His power and to show His people that no nation could harm Judah if they stayed surrendered to Him. II Kings 18-19. But sadly they did not learn this lesson. After this deliverance the slide into sin continued until in the time of King Zedekiah Judah had been so thorough in their rebellion that God decided that there was no other way of helping Judah than to allow them to go into captivity. II Chronicles 36.
The hope of Israel was that God promised to send them into Babylon, but He also promised to bring them back out of Babylon in 70 years. Jeremiah 25:1-14. The promises of God were their only hope and they are our only hope today. Let us pray that we will learn the lessons of faith that Israel of old failed to learn.
When Israel had come to the point of rebellion that even God could find no other way to redeem them, God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to come upon Judah. Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judah, and Jerusalem, three times. Each time God gave them an opportunity to repent and cooperate with Nebuchadnezzar, and each time Judah rebelled against God, and rebelled against God’s servant and instrument Nebuchadnezzar. On the third time of rebellion Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city, destroyed the temple, and took all of the vessels of the tabernacle to Babylon, along with the people. These attacks are described in the book of Jeremiah and in the first verses of Daniel 1. Daniel was taken to Babylon in 605 BC in the time of the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel stayed in Babylon for the rest of his life and served God, and the kings of Babylon, and Medo-Persia. So as we read and study Daniel remember that God was using the “terrible of nations” to punish and chastise Judah and at the same time to use Judah to prepare Babylon to have special experiences with the true and only God, the God of heaven.
Before we move off this concept it would be good to spend a bit of time discussing the God of heaven. In Exodus 3:1-14 we have a unique story. The God of heaven comes to talk to Moses and chooses to talk to Moses while God was in the form of a burning bush. When Moses approached the burning bush, which did not consume in the midst of the fire, God spoke to Moses and told him that the ground upon which he stood was holy ground and Moses immediately fell on his face in acknowledgement of God. God and Moses held a lengthy discussion about using Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt. In Exodus 3:13-15 Moses asks God for His name so that he can tell the elders of Israel who it was that sent him. God told Moses that the God speaking to Moses was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and that the name that Moses was to use was “I Am”. Moses was led to understand that the name “I Am” was the identifying name of the God of Israel. That same name was claimed by Jesus of Nazareth in John 8:52-58. Jesus claimed to be the I Am. So it is important as we study Daniel that the God who gave Judah into the hands of Babylon, was the “I AM” of Exodus 3 and John 8. This God of Daniel was the Pre-Incarnate Son of God eventually to be named Jesus of Nazareth.
Daniel 1:3-7, In this section the Babylonians want to take certain of the children of Israel, of the kings seed, and of the princes (commoners and royalty) and train them for 3 years to in the learning and the language of the Chaldeans (Babylonians). This training put Daniel and his friends in a difficult spot. They need to fulfill the promise and command of Jeremiah 29:4-7 in that they need to seek the peace of the city they are in, and the land, but they also need to be able to keep enough objectivity to be able to put God first in all things. Whenever there is a conflict between helping the land you live in versus maintaining loyalty to God, God is always to come first. Acts 4:19; 5:27-29. Moses also had to face this issue. He learned all the wisdom of Egypt Acts 7:22 but when the time came he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter so that he could be loyal to God's people and follow wherever God would lead him and ask of him. Hebrews 11:24-27.
To prepare the children of Israel to take their roles in Babylon, they were offered the kings food and the king’s drink, and then changed their Hebrew names for names dedicated to Babylonian idols. Daniel 1:5-7. This was a trial for Daniel, Hananiah, Misahel and Azariah for in the Bible a persons name was a statement of their character. (See Genesis 32:26-30; Revelation 2:17; 3:5, 12; 14:1). Daniel means Judge of God or God is judge. Hananiah means Jah has favored. (Jah is one of the many names of God.) Misahel means Who is what God is. Azariah means Jah has helped. Strong’s concordance. As you can see the Hebrew names are focused on the God of heaven whereas the Babylonian names focused on the gods of the kingdom of Babylon. Belteshazzar (Daniel’s Babylonian name) means Master of the treasures of Bel. Shadrach means Decree of the moon god. Meschach means Devotee of the goddess Sheshach. Abednego means the servant of Nebo (god of the sun).
As we continue into the book of Daniel a formula is presented in verses 3-21. The formula is that there is a challenge to the Jews and their trust in the direction that Jesus has presented to them. The challenge requires them to stand firm to truth and not let appearances change their understanding of truth. God’s people meet the crisis and then God rewards and exalts them. This formula will repeat in chapters 2, 3,4,5,6. So let’s set the stage again. The Israelites have been captured and brought to Babylon. They have been chosen to be in the king’s service. They are being offered the king’s food, drink, and religious training. They are to be tested after 3 years of training. There are four of the Israelites who will handle this differently than apparently others who claim to be Israelites, the “your sort” of verse 10. We must remember that just to be born a Jew does not make them "Jews" in the eyes of God. In Romans a principle is established that if you keep the commandments, internally and externally, you are a Jew but if you do not keep the commandments your genetic inheritance does not take the place of the decisions of the heart. Romans 2:25-29.
Daniel, and friends, are about to be tested by God, as well as by the Babylonians. This test is the same test that shows up over and over again in the Bible. Adam and Eve failed the test. Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-11. Israel, nationally, failed the test. Deuteronomy 8:1-3; Exodus 16; Numbers 11; 15; Hebrews 3:7-4:11. Jesus passed the test. Matthew 4:1-11. God's last day people, the Israel of God - spiritually, will pass the test. Romans 9:6-8,30-33; Ephesians 2:12,19; Galatians 3:26-29; 6:16; Revelation 14:1 (on Mount Zion - the capital of spiritual Israel); 1-5 In verse 8 Daniel makes a strong statement. He purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the food and drink from the king. What do you think that defile means? A NT example of this issue is in Acts 15:19-21; 24-29. To keep yourself holy would be to obey these instructions and to defile yourself would be to knowingly betray a directive from your Lord and Master. Because Daniel makes this decision in his heart he asks the prince of the eunuchs for mercy and grace to not defile himself. Apparently this was very important to Daniel and appears to be very important to God as well since He chose to record this event. In v.9 it appears that God was blessing this decision of Daniel’s by giving him favor in the eyes of the prince of the eunuchs. The prince is concerned that Daniel’s plan would not be "healthy" and if it is not they all could die. In God's providence He grants wisdom and diplomacy to Daniel and Daniel suggests a ten-day test. Daniel, and friends, ask for the opportunity to eat the food they desire, pulse and water (see Ezekiel 4:9; Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14) for ten days and then ask for an objective review of the results. Then the prince could deal with them as he saw fit. The test was conducted and God's plan of eating was proven to be better than that of the kings. An interesting issue is to determine if this concept is just as effective today as it was back then. Does God's way of eating effect our appearance, our spirituality, and our conduct? If we were to follow God's plans today would it change us? Are there Daniel’s out there praying to know the will of Jesus on every issue and if through Bible study they were to find out the will of God would He bless them today as He did then?
Daniel and his friends, plus other of the Children of Israel, have been captured due to the general rebellion of God's people from Him and His laws and prophets. The people have been brought to Babylon, the capital of the new empire. Daniel and his friends have been selected for special training in the king’s service and have been offered the training program for this "honor" of serving the king of Babylon. Daniel and his friends refuse the honor of the world and stay true to Jesus and His guidance. The moral test is met and passed; the leader of the eunuchs is impressed with the wisdom of God's people. Evangelism is occurring in that the people of the world are impressed with the ways of God. Deuteronomy 4:6-8; I Kings 10:1-24. When the 3 years of testing had been completed all the people in training were brought before King Nebuchadnezzar for an investigative judgment by Nebuchadnezzar to see if the captives had used their time wisely. Daniel and his 4 friends were blessed with a variety of spiritual gifts, including Daniel having the gift of understanding all visions and dreams. Daniel 1:17; I Corinthians 12:10; 14:1-5 After Nebuchadnezzar’s assessment he found them 10 times better than all the magicians and astrologers in the realm. Apparently Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were ten times better than the wise men of the Babylonian kingdom.
This chapter should tell us many things about God and His ways of training us. One thing is that we will not escape tribulation but we will go through it in the power of Jesus. We must go through to give honor and glory to Jesus and His ability to change feeble, fearful, mortal beings into people that can stand before kings and have their testimony without guile. Revelation 14:1-5. We are shown that when we purpose in our hearts that we will not turn away from Jesus, and the instruction He has given us in His Word, Matthew 4:4, He will grant us the victory. When we have the victory over our appetite all the world will see and come under conviction for the truths of God. All the world will have to decide for themselves what they will do with the messages given in the book of Daniel. These messages are that God is always in control, and that He controls the rising and falling of nations as well as of individuals. God shares with us that if we will determine in our hearts to obey God constantly, God will bless us with great growth and opportunities to testify for Him. If we are faithful to God He will be faithful to us. God wants to assure us that our diets impact our ability to stay true to Him. When we stay true to Him He will lift us up to do service to Him in unique ways. The book of Daniel wants us to be sure to remember that God is in control of all of the Earth.