09 July 2016

Stone 26 - Daniel

Our next prophet is Daniel. For some reason, I see him as one of the more well known ones. That may or may not be true. Let's meet him.

Company Merger
Right away we learn that Daniel was one of the people brought to Babylon in exile after the siege at Jerusalem. He was no ordinary exile, however, as Daniel was one of the chosen to be trained and eventually serve King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 1:3-7).

**While I cannot say I have ever worked for a company that was bought out by another one and forced to learn all new policies, procedures, etc., I have been part of companies when a new boss takes over and completely flips the apple cart so to speak. Sometimes it goes well and other times they simply come in and make everything worse.

How many times worse must this have been for Daniel and his companions? They even had their names changed to reflect the new culture. While not uncommon at that time, I can only imagine that to be uncomfortable at best. What is awesome about Daniel is that despite his precarious situation, he chose not to disobey the Lord which could have easily cost him his life and the life of his friends.

Go back to Ezekiel 14:12-23 - Here we read about how Daniel is held up in the same regard as Noah and Job. This should give some idea as to how much Daniel came to be respected.

So in Daniel 1:5 we read that they were to be fed from the royal pantry and allowed to drink the wine. For many people this would likely be a welcome perk to have. However, this newly offered diet likely contained meats and other items deemed unclean to eat for Daniel so he chose to decline the offer and requested only vegetables and water. Immediately, the chief official assigned to them recognized the dire consequences if they were to be caught disobeying the King's orders to serve them food from the royal kitchen (Dan 1:10). So Daniel proposed a compromise; Allow them to eat vegetables and water for 10 days and then compare them to the other trainees.

Lo and behold! They looked better and healthier than the others and so they continued to remain on their diet (Dan 1:15-16). How easily would we have been willing to go against the new boss?

As reward for their obedience, Daniel and his companions were granted knowledge and understanding and eventually were found to be without equal among those who had received training (Dan 1:19).

The Interpreter
Daniel was also given the ability to interpret dreams (v.17). And surely by no mere coincidence, the king was having some dreams that needed some interpretation. All the people he had summoned were not able to fulfill the king's request. What is interesting is that the king wanted them to tell him what his dream was so that he would know they had the ability and would not make something up that would please the king. Since they could not, the king wanted all the wise men killed (Dan 2:12). Daniel requested some time and asked God about the matter to which God responded in a vision for Daniel.

Daniel described the dream and gave the interpretation and King Nebuchadnezzar responded by promoting him (Dan 2:48).

Now consider Daniel 2:37-38 - Daniel informs the king that the God of Heaven has given him all these things. He is also told that he is the head of gold in the statue from the dream.

Don't Let It Go To Your Head
So the king decides to make a statue of himself (Dan 3:1) which is perhaps conceited enough but then he actually says that when people hear music they are to bow down and worship the statue or else be thrown into the furnace. Say What!? Worship me or else...

So Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who he had appointed to manage Babylon after he was promoted for interpreting the dream choose not to obey. They do not worship idols or false gods. Some others who were interested in ousting them from their positions used the opportunity to snitch on them knowing that they would be thrown into the furnace for disobedience.

So they were brought before the king and questioned. Wow! Consider the boldness of their response in 3:16-18. Of course the king was enraged so he had the furnace heated up even more and had them tied up and thrown in. Now the furnace was so hot that the guards who threw them in were consumed by virtue of getting too close (Dan 3:22-23).

Even If He Doesn't
Daniel 3:18 is really powerful; "But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."

These guys recognized that while God had the power to rescue them, He was not obligated to do so. They stuck to worshiping the one true God.

Now see what happens next - they fall into the furnace and shortly after, King Nebuchadnezzar hops up in alarm saying "Didn't we throw three men, bound, into the fire?" He now sees four men in the fire walking around unharmed noting that one looks like a son of the gods. I imagine that the ropes and other binding materials were consumed in the fire. The king calls them out and they appear completely untouched by the fire. Nebuchadnezzar responds by praising their God and issues a decree that anyone who speaks against their God would be punished and he rewards the three (Dan 3:24-30)

Wake Up, Man!
Sometime later, the king had another dream and called upon Daniel to give an interpretation. This time, however, the interpretation was a bit more grim. The dream foretold of what would happen. King Nebuchadnezzar. He would be driven out and would live off of the land for seven years but would be restored to his kingdom when he acknowledged that the Most High was the ruler. About a year later King Nebuchadnezzar gave himself credit for all that he had and at that point God sentenced him to the dream as it was interpreted.

**Sigh - we simply have trouble listening to good advice.

Finally, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges God and comes to his senses and soon after was restored to his kingdom.

So then we have Belshazzar who is the successor to Nebuchadnezzar and has himself a feast. In his drunkenness, he has the gold and silver vessels brought in from the temple of the Lord so they could all drink from them, all the while praising other gods.

Then this mystery hand appears and starts writing on the wall which, of course, freaks the king out so that he calls for his advisors who were unable to interpret what had been written. Soon after, the queen shows up and tells Belshazzar about Daniel who did this work for Nebuchadnezzar. So Daniel was brought in to take a look. He told Belshazzar of the inscription and as promised, Daniel was clothed in purple, given a chain, and declared third ruler in the kingdom. Shortly after, Belshazzar was killed and Darius took his place as king.

Going Into The Den
Just as with Daniel's friends - there were some others that wanted Daniel out of his office. However, finding no fault in Daniel they instead devised a plan to take care of him in a similar way that used against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They got together and talked the new King Darius to issue a decree about worshiping him and him alone or else be thrown into the lion's den (Dan 6:10). Of course, Daniel was not going to worship anyone but the Lord and they knew it. So they waited to catch Daniel praying to the Lord and snitched on him. Bound by his own decree, he had to throw Daniel into the den even though he did not want to.

Daniel was still alive in the morning and let out and King Darius had his accusers along with their families thrown in. Darius in turn honored the Lord.

**This is another great example of how God does not always prevent bad things from happening. Daniel was still thrown into the den, the three men were still thrown into the furnace. God, instead, was with them and helped them to come out unscathed. God may not prevent our tragedies but if we trust in Him he can be there to help through it.

Daniel's Turn For Dreaming
Daniel dreams of the four beasts and of the ram and goat but is unable to interpret them himself. Instead, an angel came to help him understand the dreams. I understand that the dreams were about the 400-year intertestamental period between Malachi and Matthew.

Until next time, give praise to Him

No comments: