Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25- Dan The Man

November 25, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Daniel 1:1-2:23; 1 Peter 3:8-4:6;
Psalm 119:65-80; Proverbs 26:14

Isaiah has been called the prince of the prophets, 
and I would like to say that Daniel, then, is the king of the prophets. 
 ~J. Vernon McGee

Daniel 1:1-2:23

Some people are just heavy hitters. They are the people who step to the plate of history and hit a grand slam.  Daniel is one of those men. In God's economy Dan is the Man. Today, we have the privilege of stepping into the inner circle of the kingdom of Babylon thanks to a man who was appointed by God to be right in the middle of this ancient empire. Daniel is a key player in the Babylonian government. As a matter of fact, he becomes the prime minister as a young man. From this vantage point, God reveals through Daniel God's testimony about himself to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon and also the future events that will take place on earth. This book of Daniel deals with the gentile nations, evil, Satan, the Great Tribulation period, the end of the age, the millennial reign of Christ, and eternity. This trusted prophet is the man who reveals God's mysteries about the future of the earth and eternity to mankind. Let's take a look at the background of Daniel's story.


We learn from the book that Daniel was carted into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon in the third year of the reign of the Judean king, Jehoiakim.  Daniel's life and work for God span the entire seventy years of the Jewish captivity in Babylon. This is until the Persian King Cyrus defeats Babylon. Daniel is just a teenager when he is taken into this foreign land. He remains in the land until he dies in his eighties, having served with distinction.

The first half of the book of Daniel is history. The last half of the book is prophecy. It is in this book that we most clearly see that God is the author of history (His Story) and His intention is to use the history of this earth to usher in His Kingdom in the future.  Daniel 2:44 states,
"And in the times 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 endure forever."
Well, I should have put a spoiler alert before that verse. I guess Daniel has revealed the end of the God's story for us. But don't worry, there are plenty of details to fill in. Keep reading with me, my friends!

Jerusalem Falls/Carried Away To Babylon:

How is it that Jerusalem fell? Jehoiakim was placed on the throne of Judah by Pharaoh Nechoh to succeed his brother, Jehoahaz. Both of these men were the sons of good king Josiah, but they were not like their father. They were evil. During Jehoiakim's reign, Nebuchadnezzar comes against Jerusalem and takes the first group of captives. The city is not destroyed at this time. Daniel and his three friends are among the royal family and elites that get taken. It should be noted that when an enemy overtook a people, the enemy would do a brain drain of the captive people by taking the best and the brightest to their own empire. The capturing nation would leave the poor and the average in the city/country being conquered.

One thing that Daniel points out as we watch the first group of captives go to Babylon is that part of the vessels that were housed in Solomon's Temple were carted to the land of Babylon with the people.  This will become important later in the story when King Belshazzar brings those vessels back out to use at a banquet.

Well, if you were wondering what Daniel and his three friends were like, the Bible tells us that Nebuchadnezzar only wanted strong, healthy, good-looking men, who were well versed in every branch of learning and had good sense. They also needed to be poised in order to work in the royal palace. Nice. Daniel was a stud. He was brilliant and good-looking and from royal/noble stock.  We will learn from God that he is much loved by God.

It may surprise you that God loves Daniel, but allows Daniel to be carted away from Jerusalem to live in a foreign land. Not only this, Daniel is made a eunuch, which means that he will never marry or have children of his own. Is this love? There is a great lesson here. God loves each of us and puts us in life situations where he can use our gifts and talents. The circumstances may not be what we would choose, but that does not mean that they are not the best for us. Daniel is an example of faith and trust. We see acceptance on Daniel's part. Not only this, Daniel flourishes in the circumstances in which he finds himself. Do you flourish in your circumstances?

The select captives are assigned to have a special rich diet like the king's. Daniel and his friends are devout in their faith and refuse to break God's dietary laws for the Jews. Daniel shows grace and wisdom in how he approaches the attendant of Ashpenaz, the chief official of the eunuchs, to see about allowing them to eat only vegetables and water. God is with Daniel and we read that Ashpenaz has great respect for Daniel. His attendant agrees to giving these boys a different diet. After ten days, Daniel and his three friends look healthier than the other eunuchs.  Here, we have an example of obedience to God at the risk of one's life. Daniel has this kind of faith and obedience to God. He is an extraordinary man.

The eunuchs are trained for three years in the language, customs, and disciplines of Babylon.  At the end of the three years, the young men are brought before King Nebuchadnezzar. Of all of the eunuchs brought before him, the king was most impressed with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Please note that they had been given Babylonian names, as was the custom with captives, and were called Beltashazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  These four were made permanent advisers to the king. We are told that the king thought their advice was ten times better than the advice he was getting from his magicians, astrologers, and enchanters. 

The Dream:

Next, we have the incident that catapults Daniel into his power position in Babylon.  It all starts with a dream. One night, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that shakes him to his core. He wants the dream interpreted, so he calls his magicians and enchanters and demands that someone tell him the dream and what it means. If they are unable to, the king intends to make their houses rubble and will tear them from limb to limb.  Here, we get some insight into what made his personality able to defeat the whole known world.  The guy was a bully. The astrologers and magicians  beg for the king to tell them the dream, first. The king is enraged and complains that they are stalling. They respond that no man is going to be able to tell the king his dream. They  state that only the gods could do this, and gods do not live among people.  They, of course, are wrong.

This is a great opportunity for the true God of the universe to step in and that is precisely what God is going to do by using his servant Daniel.

Nebuchadnezzar is furious. He declares that all the wise men in Babylon are to be executed. When Daniel is told that he is to be killed, he is as cool as a cucumber. His faith and wisdom prevail. He asks the king's guard why the king has made this decree. Arioch tells Daniel all that has happened. Daniel goes to the king and asks for more time.

Next, Daniel does what is key to making him such an important person in God's economy...he prays.  Not only that, he has his wise and trusted friends pray that God will reveal the dream to them. Note that God could have immediately given Daniel the dream, but God likes the symbiotic relationship that He has with His creation. God wanted Daniel's faith and the faith of Daniel's friends mixed with earnest prayer to affect the situation. God acted in response to faith. God gave Daniel the dream and its interpretation. We see in Daniel's prayer of praise that Daniel is humble. He acknowledges that all wisdom and knowledge come from God. He acknowledges that God determines the course of history and controls kings and kingdoms. God is who makes wise people wise. He, alone, reveals mysteries and is light. Daniel praises God for answering his prayer.

Do you go to God in prayer? Do you trust Him as the author of history? Are you humble before your Creator? How would these attitudes affect your daily life?

1 Peter 3:8-4:6

Peter has learned from the Master, Jesus. Now he has been called by Christ to shepherd the flock.  Peter reminds the sheep to love one another and not retaliate when injured by some one's words.  Peter teaches the radical concept of actually blessing that person in return. Peter quotes Psalm 34:12-16 as proof that this will please God.

Peter reminds us that God will reward those who suffer for doing what is right. We are not to deceive ourselves into thinking that when we suffer as a result of our own sins that we will be rewarded for that. Our very lives are to be an act of worship. Wow. Do you think like this? Are the mundane tasks of your day an act of worship in your head? This would change everything!

Part of suffering for Christ is to commit to being willing to face pain. Peter claims that in this you will stop sinning. If you have this mindset, you will not chase after evil anymore. Instead, you will be anxious to do the will of God. We see this mindset in Daniel and his friends. They are eager to follow God's laws. They do not live to be licentious.

Peter warns that if you give up immorality, lust, feasting, drunkenness and wild parties, your former friends will be surprised and speak evil of you. Good. Mission accomplished. Because God judges everyone for their behavior. Live in a way that pleases God.

Do you feel shepherded by Peter? Is he poking and prodding you down a narrow path? God called him to this.

Psalm 119:65-80

Notice how the psalmist loves God's law. It directs and comforts him. I can see Daniel saying these words.

Proverbs 28:14

If you have a tender conscience, you are not dwelling with the wicked. Tenderness is good.

What did you see today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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