It is exciting to live in the last days. Teenage Daniel lived in times of national apostasy which was followed by national ruin. Everybody knew things could not last much longer. Then one day Daniel heard the news that turned his spine into a cold tingling object. A vast army had been spotted on the horizon. As people looked from their houses and from the top of the wall they could see that a problem was coming. They quickly shut the city gates and they piled as many heavy objects as they could against the gates to bolster their strength. People were scurrying to and fro. There was a lot of shouting and praying.
As they stood on the roof tops and up on the strong walls they could see the heathens coming. And the heathens were bringing weapons: battering rams, chariots, horses. (Ezekiel 21:21ff) It looked like the huge armada of a well prepared army. Military engineers busied themselves cutting down trees and building Siege Engines. Massive catapults were readied to shoot arrows up to six feet long. (see Machines, Buildings and weaponry of Biblical times by Max Schwartz p. 130)
I'm sure that many Jerusalemites prayed to God for protection. Many more prayed hard to their idols for protection. The battle began and both sides fought hard. Because the siege lasted so long, many thousands were dying of hunger and disease. The besieging towers of the enemy's forces were already overlooking the walls, according to Prophets and Kingsby E.G. White, p.471. Then one fateful day Nebuchadnezzar's armies broke through and entered the city of Zion and took captives. Thousands of people perished in the melee and lost their lives in a last desperate effort to defend the city.
Daniel surely must have prayed for God's protection, but, this was not God's will to protect His people at this time. Not His ultimate will, because Jerusalem fell. Daniel 1:2- "The Lord (himself) delivered Jehoiakim ling of Judah 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 the treasure in the house of his god." These Babylonians took over. Imagine it!--- God Himself involved in the defeat of His own people. That seems almost a tragedy, yet when you realize the ultimate purpose, of course, it's not!
Once inside these godless Babylonians quickly took over. Many were executed. Daniel 1:3- "Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of the court officials (eunuchs -KJV) to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility." They quickly found out who was who. IQ tests were given. The wisest men and the most beautiful women were taken captive. The cream of the crop was skimmed off of God's people and cruelly deported to the very headquarters of evil- Babylon!
He had to march and walk, 500 miles under harsh conditions from his home town down to Babylon! Eighteen year old Daniel (4T570) must have been impressed as he first viewed the lavish capitol of the world with all its gold and glory. Has anybody here walked 500 miles in one walking? That's a long way, isn't it? He first view that city on the horizon with its lavish gold. Remember, this was a city of gold.
Of course Daniel could have been discouraged or angry as he tried to sort out all that had happened. He didn't have any idea that he would be spending the rest of his life in that wicked place. But instead of asking "Why is this happening to me" I believe he prayed to be shown What God had in mind for him in this circumstance. Because God has a purpose in everything. I think what we need to be doing is not questioning why, but asking what God can do for us in this circumstance.
Daniel was a Christian Patriot. He was as true as steel to principle. He purposed in his heart not be corrupted in this heathen environment. It's almost like living in the wickedest city in the world. He would honor God even though he had lost everything. Actually he hadn't lost everything, had he?. He still had his greatest asset: Daniel still had God! God was his friend. He still had God!
Possibly Daniel and his three friends were surgically made into eunuchs in fulfillment of Isaiah 39:7- "And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." That is undoubtedly what happened to Daniel and his three friends and to the other Hebrew young men. It is easy to see why we never hear about Daniel being married. Eunuchs would be more docile and have more time for the King. No time would be spent by these teenagers in dating.
Notice the character of Daniel: (DANIEL 1:4) Young, with no physical defect. One Sabbath afternoon, some adult wanting to get rid of their children for a while said, "Go out and find me a perfect leaf off of a tree." It took them almost all Sabbath afternoon to find one perfect leaf off of a tree. Go, try it! Daniel was 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. You can't beat those qualifications, can you?
Do you know why Daniel had such a high IQ? Because he loved God and followed God. Listen: "As in the case of Daniel, in Exact Proportion as the Spiritual Character is developed the intellectual capabilities are increased." Vol. 4 of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, p.1168. (Quoted from The Review and Herald March 22, 1898)
Do you grasp the implications here? Intelligence increases in exact proportion as the spiritual character grows. Unite yourself with the God of Wisdom and you will become wise. That's why we send our children to Church School! That's why we send our children to Sabbath School! We become like what we worship.
Babylon and Jerusalem represent two great contrasts. Christ and Satan and the great controversy are basically here in Daniel 1. It must have seemed to those who lived at that time as if the forces of evil had won because the gods of Babylon outnumbered and out-powered the single God of those who lived in Jerusalem.
They carried of the people and even some of the priceless vessels of the holy temple were carried off to be desecrated. So it appeared that God had lost and the Babylonians were the victors. I want to tell you that when a city of this world attacks the city of God it always has one purpose in mind and that is robbery. The purpose of Satan in Eden was to Rob God of His children. Here Jerusalem was robbed of its finest children. From all outward appearances, the forces of hell had triumphed.
BUT our God has a master plan. And praise His Name that He is in charge. Behind the scenes things are taking place, His will is being done. All this was to wake up His people. Sometimes God allows things to happen to us that we can not comprehend. Why does my boy do drugs? Why has this illness happened to me? Why has my child gone out and gotten pierced ears? Why do I have no money? Why is my marriage floundering? God is losing control. Maybe He is not losing control! Maybe somehow your lack of employment, your situation is still in God's hands and is still for the best and I believe we aught to trust God. So instead of saying, "Where is God?" we need to be saying, "What do You have to teach me in this circumstance, Lord?" It is so human to forget that God is still in charge.
DANIEL 1:4b---(the chief of the court) "He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians." That seems harmless enough.... It is not sin to study foreign literature. But notice how they were brainwashed or reprogrammed:
1. SEPARATION.-- They were separated, weren't they? They were hauled off from Jerusalem, taken down to Babylon. I want to tell you that when you are removed from association with other Christians, when you don't have that family worship, when you don't associate with God's people, you are going to lose strength as a Christian, your light gets dim. Skip church often enough and you get weak.
2. TRAINING.-- They were re-trained. Daniel and his friends studied for three years in Babylon to think as the Babylonians think. Their minds were indoctrinated. I want to tell you that God's people think differently than the devil's people. Nebuchadnezzar realized that if he could re-program Daniel's thinking he could re-program Daniel. Their minds were indoctrinated.
3. COMPROMISE.-- Their diet would be drastically changed. Notice Daniel 1:5 - "The King assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table." Now what's wrong with that? The New Testament says that a little wine is good for the stomach. You don't have to drink it all. The king's food: The king ate it. And he's the king! So it must be okay. So it's okay for me to eat the king's food, right?
No, it's not! Let's talk about this one. Daniel had grown up on a diet of "Choplets" and "Wham"; of vegetables and nuts and grain and fruit (pulse was basically legumes: beans and lentils). He had never tasted any unclean food. He had never eaten any clean RED meat because the Jews slaughtered the animal in a way to drain the blood out of the animal carcass. Daniel had never tasted wine. It wasn't to be touched. To sit down at the royal Babylonian table and eat and drink these things would be tantamount to compromising everything that Daniel believed in. He could not do it.
How could he eat food that these heathens had prayed over to heathen gods to bless? "Dear BEL, please bless this roasted buzzard gizzard and dear MARDUK, strengthen us through this pork." Thus the food was consecrated to idolatry (EGW:Prophets and Kings, p.481). How could Daniel eat that? Notice something, Daniel's very first test was on diet.
What was Adam and Eve's first test? Adam and Eve were first tested on diet. The world went haywire from the start because it's first inhabitants didn't know how to pronounce the word, "NO." Let me eat that "apple". and we've been in trouble ever since. Jesus very first test included food, and praise God Jesus said NO! Daniel is first tested through his stomach. Daniel said NO! In fact can you find anything that Daniel did that was wrong? It's not in here. Daniel and Joseph were perhaps the most Christ- like people of any people that we know a lot about in the Old Testament. Think of the peer pressure when all the Hebrew captives except four were enjoying the pleasures of Babylon. High lavish living quickly blunts the commitment of youth in any age.
Have you ever heard someone say: We have several other Adventists that work here and they help us by working late on Friday night or even coming in on Sabbath Morning, why can't you? Why are you different? I tell you that Daniel was different. He did not give up on the God he loved so much. And I believe we need people who are different today. We need people who put God first in their lives and that's what Daniel did.
Do you notice something different about this? What's the name of this book of the Bible? Belteshazzar? It's Daniel. Daniel retained his God- given name. What do we call the other three worthies that were cast into the furnace? What were their names? Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah. Is that what we call them? No, we call them by their Babylonian names. They did not go by their Jewish names. That's interesting to think about. The purpose was for them to think of themselves as citizens of Babylon. To distance themselves as much as possible from Jerusalem. to get them to conform. And we usually live up to our names, don't we. They were to conform. Anything that reminded them of their past or purpose was removed. Notice a very important principle: The way we THINK determines the way we live. Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to think and be Babylonian.
The secret to victorious living is not to conform to the world. If Nebuchadnezzar had his way they would eat like the world, they would speak like the world, they would dress like the world and they would be called by the same names as the world. ROMANS 12:1--- Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. ROMANS 12:2---Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind....."
We generally tend to live up to our name. DANIEL = GOD is my judge - Belteshazzar = Marduk will protect me Hannaniah = God is gracious - Shadrach = Moon shows way Mishael = I belong to GOD - Meshach = I belong to moon god Azariah = GOD helps - Abednego = servant of Nabu
DANIEL 1:8 "BUT, Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. He asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way."
"When you're in Babylon do as the Babylonians do". That's what everybody else did. Do it or you will be executed. But not Daniel, not his three friends. He chose friends that also tried to live a correct life. What a contrast between Daniel and his friends and today there are so many that just tag along with the crowd, everybody's doing it. They're like a chameleon. If the chameleon is on a red surface, he turns red. If he's on green grass, he turns green. But Daniel stood for what he believed in his heart. He purposed to be true to God. He was part of God's true REMNANT (Romans 11:5). The pressure to conform was intense. But with Daniel God came first. From day number one Daniel nailed his colors to the mast.
This SINGLE DECISION was vital. His value to God's work basically began that decision to remain true from the first minute. The rest of his life depended on loyalty. By standing true from the very first he gained a bridgehead in enemy occupied land.
Young people, you need to listen to teenage Daniel. When you are asked to do some act that would dishonor God you must act immediately and decisively. Show your colors. No easier chance will come to you. Stand up for Jesus from the first moment.
Notice something else about Daniel. Notice how Christ-like Daniel is. DANIEL 1:12---- "PLEASE test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink." See how Christlike, polite, modest Daniel was. He begins his request with the word Please. He concludes his request by saying that after 10 days you come and check us out and we would honor whatever decision the official made. How can he make a statement like that? He knew that God would stand behind him. He does not use harsh words or threats, but humble respect. We don't have to be OBNOXIOUS to be a Christian.
Ten days worked a miracle on those faithful travel weary vegetarians. This natural diet produced GENIUSES. Daniel was the Einstein of his day.
DANIEL 1:15----"At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food."
DANIEL 1:20 "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."
I want to tell you today that GOD HONORS FAITHFULNESS! If you are faithful to God, God will honor you. Now it may not seem like that now at the minute, but God does honor His people. Someday we, like Daniel, will be judged as we stand before the king. The determining factor will be our relationship with Jesus Christ and whether or not we are covered by His free robe of perfect righteousness. We will be taken to heaven where we will have the high honor of meeting Noble Daniel face to face.
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last updated 2/3/98 by Bob Beckett.