We start the year with reading from Daniel, this blog covers the 1st 6 chapters. I titled the blog the way I did because looking at Daniel and Joseph they had similar experiences. Joseph sent into “exile” by his brothers – ultimately winding up in Egypt. Whereas Daniel was taken captive into Babylon during the first deportation; around 587 BC. Both entertained Kings; were elevated because of their ability to interpret dreams. Most obvious, the fact that the Lord God was with them and they prospered. Daniel served from a young age of about 20 years old. He was of aristocracy lineage, royalty of sort, so he was taken in first wave of exiles. Early on we find that even though Daniel [and friends] are in a foreign country, they held to their convictions and faith. The story of not eating the King’s food and wine, so as not to be defiled, speaks highly of these youth. We must remember the context of this book – Judah had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar as punishment by God for their gross idolatry and immorality. In an attempt to “convert” the Jewish children to the ways of the Kingdom, and show superiority to the masses; a test to indoctrinate them in all kinds of literature, and such seemed to be the way to go. Only thing is, these youth were already the cream of the crop; not much risk there. I find it very admirable that in a strange place, names changed and cultural difference prevalent; that there was the “made up mind” not to give up on who they were as Israelites. Under the same circumstances, I’m not sure how people would handle it today. End of that story, the four Hebrew children were better than those who had been indulging in the fine food and wine of the King. A Point of Interest – even though the Jews were in exile; they were given freedom to continue worship and cultural practices; such was not the case for the Northern Kingdom of Israel, they became the “Lost 10 Tribes” being so dispersed.
Daniel was elevated over all the Babylonian “counselors” until Cyrus was made King. The Image Dream is a huge revelation in this book. More than just a dream; Nebuchadnezzar is given a glimpse of future history for the next 600 years. Daniel gives the dream its interpretation for Babylon to be the greatest earthly kingdom – ever; followed by Persians-Medea; then the Greek empire under Alexander, then finally the Roman rule and the Caesars. I find this significant, for this was prophecy of God to man, and the facts we look at being fore-told, came true as God said. The historical accuracy of scripture is often overlooked. Too many times the Bible is discounted because it’s just “a religious book.” A statement was made by the “counselors” in 2:11, that no god could give the interpretation for gods did not reside with men. We have a Creator, Savior, and Heavenly Father that is Here! He has not created and left us to our own vices. God is at work in humanity, bringing His Plans to fruition. Daniel’s knowledge came from the Lord, not from his education. Daniel asked for interpretation and was given it – James 1:5-7 works!
There was one more Kingdom revealed by Daniel – the Eternal Divine Kingdom of God. the Picture that Peter draws in 1 Peter 2:6-8 is glaringly obvious in 2:31-35. Impact? There will be great kingdoms on Earth, but the Kingdom of God will always remain. Out of this dream interpretation, Daniel is promoted again. This time to the Chief prefect; of course Daniel didn’t forget his friends, they are elevated as well. The testimony of Nebuchadnezzar of “your God is god of gods” is short-lived. In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar builds an image of gold for all to bow down to and worship. So much for humility and praise of God. The herald cried out – when the music plays, all fall down – interesting I use to play a game that we fell down when the music stopped! We know the story, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refused to bow. I wondered as I read, why Daniel wasn’t thrown into the fiery furnace> He was in-charge, I guess they just wanted to make an example of the friends – Daniel was in good favor with the King. As you can imagine, people from the home country watching these upstart exiles being promoted was enough jealousy to cause them to be watched for opportunity. NOTE: is we are living out our faith, the world will not have to look too hard to find who we serve.
I am not sure what King Nebuchadnezzar was eating, but he sure had a lot of weird dreams! This dream however was a result of his own pride and arrogance. God reminded him just who was the greatest, and who was in-charge. For 7 years, Nebuchadnezzar was like a “wet dog” outcast from society; he did repent, but only until then would God restore him to the previous glory. In chapters 5-6 we find another king, Beltshazzar [note different spelling of Daniel’s new name Belteshazzar] the son of Nebuchadnezzar, doesn’t learn much of a lesson, for he exhibits the same pride and arrogance his father did. The hand-writing was literally on the wall for him! Kings will come and go; but Our God will always reign!