DANIEL – THE YOUNG PRINCE OF JUDAH IN EXILE.
The Relevance of Daniel in the 21st Century.
1. Daniel prophesies the end of Gentile powers (Daniel chapter 2 – The Man-vision/dream). The time is coming for Luke 21:24 – the words of Jesus to happen (see Revelation 11:2-3).
2. God’s personal care for Israel, the Jewish people and Jerusalem – the long term future.
3. Daniel is parallel to Revelation, relative to the End Times. Eschatological studies would be greatly impoverished if the Old Testament did not include Daniel. Predictive prophecy: the rise and fall of the final Antichrist from the Revived Roman Empire, the United States of Europe.
4. Strongly relevant to developments in the present day. Daniel 7, Europe and eventually the Middle East.
5. The coming of the Son of Man, Son of God. The ‘Stone’ smashing the feet and toes. The Messianic Kingdom will be established.
Babylonian background to the exile.
To the Jewish exiles, coming from the simplicity of life in Judah – the magnificence of the city of Babylon must have amazed and overwhelmed them. The head deity of Babylonish worship was Bel, or Baal (Jeremiah 50:2). Baal was the sun and fertility god, the god of the weather and the earth. The fertility and cultic rites were immoral and degrading, prostitution and perversion. The magical rites of such worship goes back into antiquity. (Even Greek and Roman deities have the same basis. (Roman god Zeus is Baal). The Babylonian temple was built and dedicated to Bel (Baal) and had a beautiful gold image object of supreme worship. (Compare with 2nd Thessalonians 2 & Relation 13:11-18, especially v15). (NB. Baal is Bul of Freemasonry). The Jerusalem Temple vessels had been brought to Babylon and placed in the Babylonian temple to illustrate Baal/BeI superior deity. Daniel and his three friends had to contend with all this around them as they lived a godly and separate life. How relevant this is for our day. were teenagers, perhaps 16? Babylon was a magnificent city with grand architecture and planning. The great gardens were a wonder. (Nations in Prophecy p67 and pictures).
Selection of the young men.
Intelligent, physically fit, educable – fit to grace a royal palace in Babylon. There they learned at great depth – higher education: Maths, Science, Astronomy, Agriculture, even Astrology was pushed at them and other undesirable elements of knowledge which they should reject as ungodly influences.
They remained loyal to Jehovah, rejecting idolatry and subtle powerful influences pushed upon them as part of a foreign culture. Three years of higher education (1:4).
1v5 – Choice delicacies etc. offered to them. Word – ‘pathbag’, from Persian ‘patbaga’ – as offering tribute to gods and then kings. Daniel and friends rejected this (see 1Corinthians 8:4-13 & 10:27-28).
Daniel, whose name means, ‘God is my Judge’, was renamed Belteshazzar – Nebuchadnezzar’s god (Daniel 4:8), Bel. Thus the attempt to corrupt to idolatry and implications along with it, cunning obliteration of the memory of the God of Israel whom they worshipped (like re-writing of history to remove essential roots and past). SPIRITUAL SEDUCTION of high principles to be eroded by powerful influences surrounding them and dominating life there in Babylon. Paganism. How similar to our day?
1v8 – No to meat offered to idols. No to idol worship. No to the gods of Babylon and all represented in paganism and idolatry in social and business life, associated with such practices. Kosher strictness and not only in eating habits! Daniel andand daring. No whittling away of godliness, undermining their high resolve – no compromise, no relaxing of self-imposed standards, yet given by God. RIGHTEOUSNESS lived out and within (see Psalm 84: 10-12, but particularly1. See also 1Corinthians 10:7-14, but particularly v13). friends stood firm in courage v1
1v12 – Test of 10 days. Biblical statement elsewhere (see Revelation 2:10). Pulse is vegetarian diet, no rich foods, rich meats etc. ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). The Lord God of Israel had blessed their stand of obedient faithfulness. What looks impossible for man, is possible with God – on HIS conditions. ‘Those who honour Me I will honour’ (1 Samuel 2:30). Obey God rather than men.
1v17-20 – Mental capacity grew in proportion to their spiritual development, resolve and growth. In addition, Daniel was given special gift of interpretation of visions and dreams. After 3 years of preparation – exceptional proficiency. Ten times (notice the number – administration and government) better than the equals of Babylon. God is no man’s debtor, obedience brings blessing – no matter how much pressure is against us to conform to this world’s standards (Romans 12:1-2). Daniel’s long life was a gift from His God. His wisdom and gifts continued unabated by age. Moses, also. Like Joseph, two years in prison wrongfully – then high office under Pharaoh. He, like Daniel,and friends, remained pure, also Moses, loyal to the Hebrews rather than the riches and power within the Pharaoh’s palace, where he had grown up (see Hebrews 11:24-27; Psalm 91:14-16; Hebrews 3:5; Numbers 12:6-8a). SEPARATION. SANCTIFICATION – HOLINESS OF LIFE leads to GLORIFICATION. If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. This does not always mean physical suffering. It can involve the mind and emotions, too, in addition to the suffering in spirit with all we see happening around us to people, those we know and love – people remaining in unbelief and spiritual ignorance – WILLINGLY!
Dare to be a Daniel in these years – if we have years ahead before the Lord comes! Occupy without compromise. Occupy till I come, says Jesus (see Luke 19:13; 1st Peter 4:12-19, especially verses 13-16,19).
The two languages in Daniel are Hebrew and Aramaic. There are two ‘programmes’ in Daniel.
- For the Gentile nations in Aramaic, mainly chapter 2 through to the end of chapter 7.
- Hebrew – for the nation of Israel.
Chapters 1-6 are a record of historical incidents in Daniel’s lifetime, plus prophetic revelation in chapter 2. Chapters 7-12 are a record of prophetic revelations, mainly with regard to the nation of Israel surrounded by her enemies – some already fulfilled, but with much yet to be fulfilled regarding the end of the ‘Times of the Gentiles’; the coming doom of the ‘little horn’ – Antichrist – the man of sin in the New Testament. One great feature in chapter 7 is the Kingdom given to the ‘Son of Man’ – the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter 2 calls Him the ‘Stone’ who will crush to powder all the enemies of Israel at His Second Advent to the Mount of Olives, as Zechariah clearly relates in chapter 14. However there is a marvellous unity in the book of Daniel and the link is chapter 2 with chapter 7. Daniel as the man, the author, unites the book anyway. The message of the book is the same throughout – God is Sovereign. He rules the nations and controls them, putting kings, leaders and presidents into power and also removing them. He fulfils His will in all cases. He preserves Israel with His sovereign power and purpose, eventually fulfilling all the promises as contained in the Abrahamic Covenant for Israel.
The book of Daniel was written in the 6th Century BC by Daniel himself living then. Jesus says Daniel was the author in Matthew 24:15. Daniel lived through the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. King Cyrus of Persia commanded the release of the Jewish people to go home and rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem. Daniel 1:21 says, ‘Daniel continued even to the first year of king Cyrus’. In fact Daniel lived on until the third year of Cyrus (10:1). Possible age of 85!
Nebuchadnezzar had attacked Jerusalem in 606 BC, taking Daniel and his friends away into captivity, a deportation into exile. Nebuchadnezzar returned a third time in 588 BC for a long siege of Jerusalem, finally destroying the city and the Temple in 586 BC. The 70 years exile begins from the beginning of the first attack on Jerusalem, 606 BC, the beginning of the ‘Times of the Gentiles’, to the time of the command to return to Jerusalem in 536 BC. This was precisely prophesied in Jeremiah 25:11-12. Also it is 70 years from the destruction of the Temple until its rebuilding was complete in 515 BC – again 70 years.
When we get to chapter 9 we shall see how precisely the God of Israel will fulfil His plans for His nation Israel.