Winners and Losers: Part 10 -
Daniel: A Man Who Lived his Life with his “Armor” On
Kathy's Sunday School Lessons Written for Young Boys and Girls by Kathryn Capoccia
© Copyright Kathryn Capoccia 2001. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.
Daniel is a man of the Old Testament who shines out with faith for the Living God as few others did. In the Biblical narratives of his life there is never any mention of any wrong doing that he committed; in fact, in EZE 14:14 Daniel is referred to as being outstandingly righteous, and Daniel says of himself that he was, “innocent in His [God’s] sight”, and that he had never, “done any wrong before you [Darius]” (DAN 6:22). He was a man who lived in difficult circumstances yet remained faithful to his God and to His standards of righteousness in a very public and compelling way. Like Joseph before him, he was placed in high government positions to testify about the character of the true God to pagan rulers in a foreign land. Leon Wood, author of “A Commentary on Daniel” wrote, “Pagans evaluated any foreign deity in terms of the size of the country whose people worshipped him, the degree of prosperity of that country, and the size and success of the army”: God wanted someone to counter the false impression of impotence that the chastened Israelites portrayed. Wood also wrote, “God chose Daniel to maintain the honor of the true God in a pagan land… to prompt adoration from the lips of foreign rulers”. Who exactly was Daniel and how did he accomplish so much for God? Let’s turn to the book of Daniel and look at his life; perhaps we can see something in his life that will help us become powerful witnesses for God as well.
I. Who Was He? (DAN 1-12; EZE 14:14, 20, 28:3; MAT 24:15; MAR 13:14).
A. What was his name? Daniel means “God is my judge” or God is Judge”.
B. When did he live? He lived in the latter part of the 7th century B.C. to the second third of the 6th century B.C., or from around 620 B.C. to at least 536 B.C..
C. Who were his people?
1. He was an Israelite of the Southern Kingdom, probably a resident of Jerusalem.
2. He was a member of royalty or of the Israelite nobility (DAN 1:3).
D. What was his occupation?
1. His first occupation was as a student, when he was probably about 15 years old since he is described in DAN 1:3 as a youth, which in Aramaic means a young man from between 15-20 years of age; Plato also records that education of Babylonian youth began at 14 years of age, continued for 3 years and ended at 17 when they were capable of entering into the king’s service (DAN 1:4,5): this information came from Keil-Delitzsch “Commentary on the Old Testament”, vol. 9, Eerdman’s Publishing (1978), pg73 .
2. He was a civil servant (DAN 1:19).
3. He was ruler of the entire province of Babylon and head of the “wise men” (DAN 2:48).
4. He was the third highest ruler in the kingdom of Babylon (DAN 5:29).
5. He was one of three administrators over 120 satraps in Media/Persia under Darius the Mede, viceroy of Babylon under Cyrus the Great (DAN 6:1,2).
II. What Did He Do?
A. He was a Prisoner (DAN 1)
1. He was captured by the Babylonians (DAN 1:1-3)
WHO WERE THE BABYLONIANS?
a. The Babylonians were Semitic residents of southern Mesopotamia, “Shinar”; they controlled a vast area of land arching around the eastern tip of the Mediterranean Sea which included parts of modern Egypt, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Syria, and southern Turkey; Babylon, the capital city of their Empire, was located on the Euphrates River.
b. They are described in JER 5,6 as God’s instruments of chastening upon His idolatrous and disobedient people:
1) JER 5:15-17, “I am bringing a distant nation against you- an ancient and enduring nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you do not understand. Their quivers are like an open grave; all of them are mighty warriors. They will devour your harvests and food, your sons and your daughters; they will devour your flocks and your herds, devour your vines and fig trees, with the sword they will destroy the fortified cities in which you trust”.
2) JER 6:22,23, “Look, an army is coming from the land of the north; a great nation is being stirred up from the ends of the earth. They are armed with bow and spear; they are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they ride on their horses; they come like men in battle formation to attack you, O Daughter of Zion.”
*While the city of Babylon was located due east of Jerusalem the normal trade routes into Jerusalem followed the Euphrates River NW to Haran and then S, down into Palastine; a harsh desert exists to the E of Palastine which acts as a natural barrier for travel from that direction.
c. In 605 B.C. the Babylonian army commanded by Crown Prince Nebuchadnezzar (Nabopolassar was king of Babylon until his death on 6/7 Sept. 605 B.C.) conquered Egypt and all “Hatti-country”, including Judah, in the 3rd year of the Israelite king, Jehoiakim (according to the Babylonian way of computing time; according to Judahite reckoning it would have been the 4th year): members of Judah’s nobility were taken prisoner (DAN 1-3; 2KI 24:1).
WHO WAS KING JEHOIAKIM?
1) He was the son of godly King Josiah (who had spent the 33 years of his reign purging Judah of false worship and destroying the symbols and worship places of idolatry). He was the great-grandson of Manassah, the most wicked king of Judah’s history. Like Manassah and Amnon his son, and like his brother Jehoahaz (Shallum), who ruled as king for 3 months, Jehoiakim “did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (2KI 23:37).
a) He is described in JER 22:17 this way, “Your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion”.
b) 2CH 36:5 says, “Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God”.
1) He was actually named Eliakim: Jehoiakim was the name he assumed when he was appointed to Judah’s throne by Pharoah Neco in the autumn of 609 B.C. after the Egyptian monarch had captured and enslaved King Jehoahaz (who had succeeded Josiah after his death at the hands of the Egyptians at Megiddo: 2KI 23:29-34).
2) Jehoiakim was forced to pay a tribute of 100 talents of gold and silver to Egypt, raising the money through taxation (2KI 23:33-35). He remained a loyal vassal of Egypt but when she was defeated by the Babylonians at the battle of Carchemish and her protection removed from Judah, Nebuchadnezzar swept through Palastine and Jehoiakim was forced to pay tribute to Babylon in 605 B.C..
a) Jehoiakim’s reign called for judgment:
i.) Jehoiakim did not “humble himself before the LORD” as Josiah did (2KI 22:18-20) and so judgment fell on him… “Because of Manassah and all he had done, including shedding innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood and the LORD was not willing to forgive” (2KI 24:3,4.)
ii. Jehoiakim shed innocent blood: he ordered the death of the prophet Uriah of Kiriath-jearim who prophesied as Jeremiah did (JER 26:20).
iii. Jehoiakim burned Jeremiah’s prophecies and called for the arrest of Jeremiah and Baruch (JER 36).
iv. He would not repent at the urgings of the prophets or court officials (JER 26).
b) Jehoiakim was judged:
i. Judah was ravaged by war by Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders (2KI 24:2).
ii. Jehoiakim was forced to pay tribute to Pharaoh Neco and Nebuchadnezzar.
iii. The Temple of God was looted by the Babylonians and some of its treasure carried off to Babylon to be put in the temple of Nebuchadnezzar’s god (DAN 1:2).
iv. The cream of Judah, the royal offspring and nobility (including Daniel, Hannaniah, Azariah and Mishael), were taken prisoner and deported to Babylon (DAN 1:1-3).
a. 2KI 20:18 had predicted that “some of your [King Hezekiah’s] descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon”.
b. JER 15:1,2) predicted God’s judgment in the deportation of Judah’s people.
c. Several deportations would be made to Babylon; the 1st was in 605 B.C., then there was one in 597 B.C. (which included the Prophet Ezekiel), one in 586, when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, and a last, small one recorded by Jeremiah in JER 40-44 in 581 B.C., after the death of Gedaliah (some Jews fled to Egypt taking Jeremiah with them at this point).
d. An estimated 70,000 Israelites were deported to Babylon in the combined deportations, but these were the remnant that God was purifying for Himself (JER 23:3; EZE 5:10, 6:8).
3) Jehoiakim remained a Babylonian vassal for three years but in 601 B.C. he rebelled, probably after Egyptian rebels repulsed the Babylonians. This rebellion would lead to the second conquest of Judah and a second deportation in 597 B.C., but Jehoiakim died mysteriously in 598 B.C. before Nebuchadnezzar could return with his army.
*DANIEL LIVED IN A TURBULENT TIME OF CONSTANT WARFARE IN A LAND THAT WAS UNDER THE JUDGMENT OF GOD: WHEN HE WAS JUST A YOUTH THAT JUDGMENT FELL UPON JUDAH AND HE WAS SWEPT UP IN THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS PEOPLE’S SIN.
2. He was conscripted by the Babylonians (DAN 1:3-5).
a. Israelite captivity in Babylon was mostly “liberal internment”:
1) most Israelite captives enjoyed relative freedom in Babylon:
a) most people lived in the area of farmland around Nippur in southern Mesopotamia, SE of Babylon, and could own their own homes/land.
b) most could marry and establish families as they pleased.
c) most people enjoyed freedom of movement w/in Babylon.
d) most people could carry on foreign correspondence (JER 29:6).
e) most people enjoyed employment opportunities, even to the point of becoming wealthy enough to send money to Jerusalem (ZEC 6:9-11; EZE 17:4, 12; JER 29:5-7).
f) most could employ their own institutions, such as elders, priests, and prophets, though no high religious festivals could be held.
2) some skilled Israelite captives were forced to labor for the Babylonians.
*this historical information came from “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, vol. 2, (1978), pgs. 424-428.
b. Daniel was chosen by Ashpenaz, chief court official (or possibly the chief commander of the eunuchs), to be trained to become a court official (DAN 1:3-6).
1) he met the qualifications for office
a) he had the correct lineage (DAN 1:3)
b) he had the correct physical attributes (DAN 1:4)
i. he had no blemish
ii. he was handsome
* The ancients believed that “freedom from blemishes and personal beauty were… characteristic of moral and intellectual nobility” Keil-Delitzsch.
c) he had the correct mental abilities (DAN 1:4)
i. he had an aptitude for learning
ii. he was well informed
iii. he was quick to understand
iv. he was qualified to serve in the king’s palace.
DID DANIEL BECOME A EUNUCH IN BABYLON?
THE SCRIPTURES ARE SILENT BUT IT IS POSSIBLE:
*2KI 20:18 states that members of Judah’s royal house would become eunuchs in Babylon.
*The chief court official was a eunuch and Daniel was being trained to become a court official.
*There is no Scriptural reference to a wife of Daniel; however, the narrative is not conducive to a discussion of his family life.
2) he was assigned to the royal training school for a three year course in :
a) studying the language and literature of the Babylonians (or Chaldeans): literature in Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform, a complicated syllabic writing system, and Aramaic, an alphabet script easily learned- it was the normal form of communication in the multiracial empire .
b) becoming fluent in conversing in Chaldee (the language of the Babylonian priests and learned men (magi).
3. He was consecrated to God
a. he was tested by the Babylonians
1) he was tempted to succumb to Babylonian assimilation (DAN 1:7)
a) by renaming him the Babylonians were trying to integrate Daniel into their culture/religion.
b) by having a Babylonian identity Daniel was tempted to forsake his heritage.
*Daniel did not succumb to loss of identity: every time he refers to himself he uses the name “Daniel”, and every foreign sovereign refers to him as “Daniel” as well (DAN 4:8,19, 5:12, 6:5,13,20); also, Daniel must have instructed the wise-men, the “magi” of Babylon, in the Scriptures because in MAT 2:1-9 they came to Jerusalem to adore and crown “the king of the Jews”.
2) he was tempted to succumb to dietary defilement (DAN 1:5)
a) the king’s courtier’s-in-training were commanded to eat from the king’s table, which meant eating meat and wine that had probably been previously consecrated by a pagan religious rite and thus offered to demons, not to mention that they were undoubtedly unclean for other reasons as well (DAN 1:5; 1CO 10:20).
b) Jews were forbidden by the Law from eating unclean food (LEV 11).
2) he resolved to obey God by not defiling himself with food (DEU 8:3; EZE 4:13,14).
3) he found a way to avoid defilement and asked permission to substitute other food for the royal food (see 1CO 10:13).
*THE FULL ARMOR OF GOD WAS UPON DANIEL AS HE TRUSTED GOD AND OBEYED THE SCRIPTURES.
b. he was supported by God
“The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him” (2CH 16:9).
1) God gave him favor in the sight of the chief official who agreed to a dietary test for 10 days (DAN 1:9-14).
2) God made Daniel and his 3 friends healthier and look better after 10 days than those who ate the king’s food so they were given permission to continue their vegetarian diet (DAN 1:16).
*THIS WAS A SUPERNATURAL PHENOMENON- 10 DAYS WAS NOT ENOUGH TIME FOR A NORMAL TEST TO HAVE ACCOMPLSHED WHAT WAS DONE.
4. He was commended
a. God granted Daniel and his friends special abilities:
1) they had knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning (DAN 1:17).
2) Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds (DAN 1:17).
b. Nebuchadnezzar recognized their abilities:
1) none was found to equal them (DAN 1:19)
2) He found them to be 10 times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom (DAN 1:20).
3) Daniel remained at court until the 1st year of Cyrus the Persian Emperor (at approximately 539 B.C., a term of 63 years).
*THINK OF THE ATTITUDE OF THIS YOUNG MAN, DANIEL, WHO HAD BEEN MADE A PRISONER, SEPARATED FROM HIS FAMILY AND COUNTRY, POSSIBLY EMASCULATED, AND CONSCRIPTED TO BECOME NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S SERVANT- HE MIGHT HAVE HAD A VERY BAD ATTITUDE ABOUT HIS CIRCUMSTANCES BUT HE MAINTAINED HIS FAITH IN GOD AND IN HIS PROVIDENCE AND SERVED HIM BY “DOING ALL THINGS TO THE GLORY OF GOD” (1CO 10:31).
B. He was a Prophet (DAN 2, 4,5,
“spoken by Daniel the prophet…” MAT 24:15 K JV)
WHAT IS A PROPHET?
A PROPHET IS ONE WHO SPEAKS FORTH THE WORDS OF GOD: PROPHECY CAN HAVE FUTURE FULFILLMENTS BUT ARE NOT RELEGATED ONLY TO FUTURE EVENTS.
1. Prophetic occurrences in Scripture (4 periods).
a. the time of Moses and the giving of the Law.
b. the time of the Prophets (including the captivity and deliverance of Israel from foreign powers).
c. the time of the New Covenant.
d. the time of the Second Coming.
2. Daniel’s prophecies
WHY WAS DANIEL GIVEN THESE PROPHETIC VISIONS AND DREAMS TO INTERPRET?
*THEY WERE GIVEN FOR THE GLORY OF GOD: PAGAN KINGS LEARNED ABOUT THE NATURE, POWER, AND PURPOSE OF GOD THAT THEY MIGHT FIND FAITH IN GOD AND LEAD THEIR PEOPLE TO HIM; JEWS RECEIVED THEM AS A SOURCE OF HOPE AND DIRECTION FOR THE COMING AGE.
DANIEL FOUND HOPE IN THE PROPHECIES ABOUT HIS NATION AND WE CAN FIND HOPE IN THESE PROPHECIES ALSO AS WE COME TO UNDERSTAND GOD’S PLAN AND POWER.
WHO RECEIVED THESE PROPHECIES?
*NEBUCHADNEZZAR, KING OF BABYLON; *BELSHAZZAR, CO-REGENT OF BABYLON; *BELIEVERS OF ALL AGES.
a. Foreign interpretations (prophecies concerning the gentiles: written in Aramaic).
1) Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st dream (of the statue, about 2 years after Daniel’s arrival in Babylon: DAN 2).
WHO WAS NEBUCHADNEZZAR?
HE WAS THE CREATOR OF THE NEO-BABYLONIAN OR CHALDEAN EMPIRE, RULING 43 YEARS OVER A VAST AREA OF LAND COMPRISED OF THE SOUTHERN SECTION OF THE FORMER ASSYRIAN EMPIRE (INHERITED FROM HIS FATHER, NABOPOLAZZER, 626-605 B.C.), SYRIA-PALASTINE, (WHICH NEBUCHADNEZZAR PERSONALLY CONQUERED AFTER HE DEFEATED EGYPTIAN FORCES AT CHARCHEMISH, 605 B.C.), AND POSSIBLY THE UPPER EASTERN SECTION OF EGYPT, THOUGH HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS ARE UNCLEAR.
HE HAD TWO WIVES: NITOCIS (WHOSE DAUGHTER MAY HAVE MARRIED NABONIDUS ANOTHER BABYLONIAN KING), AND AMYTIS THE DAUGHTER OF ASTYAGES, KING OF THE MEDES. HE HAD AT LEAST THREE SONS, AMEL-MARDUK (EVIL-MERODACH) WHO IMMEDIATELY SUCCEEDED HIM, MARDUK-SUM-USUR, AND MARDUK-SUM-LISIR.
HE BUILT EXTENSIVELY: WITHIN THE CITY OF BABYLON HE CONSTRUCTED A NEW PALACE, ENLARGED BABYLON, CONSTRUCTED PROCESSIONAL WAYS, TEMPLES, CANALS FOR WATER, AN ARTIFICIAL LAKE, A 17 M. DOUBLE DEFENSE WALL, TERRACED GARDENS (THE FAMOUS HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON, ONE OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD, ARE ASCRIBED TO HIM). NEBUCHADNEZZAR WAS PROUD OF HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS BUT GOD JUDGED HIM FOR NOT ACKNOWLEDGING HIM AS THE SOURCE AND POWER BEHIND THESE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
HE REIGNED FROM 605 B.C. TO 562 B.C. (WHEN HE DIED).
*THIS HISTORICAL INFORMATION CAME FROM “THE ZONDERVAN PICTORIAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE BIBLE”,VOL. 4, (1973), PGS. 395-398.
a) the test
i. Nebuchadnezzar set up a test of the wise-men by demanding not only the interpretation of his dream but the dream itself (DAN 2:5,6).
ii. the wise-men unwittingly set up a test for God by declaring, “No one can reveal it [the dream] to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men” (DAN 2:11).
b) the tribulation
i. Nebuchadnezzar condemned all wise-men to immediate death, including Daniel and his friends, for failure to tell the dream (DAN 2:12,13).
ii. Daniel appealed to Nebuchadnezzar for an opportunity to interpret the dream, not knowing if God would reveal it to him (DAN 2:16).
a. Daniel and his friends beseeched God (DAN 2:18).
b. Daniel received the dream in a night vision (DAN 2:19).
c. Daniel praised and thanked God for his mercy (DAN 2:20-23).
c) the triumph
1) Daniel gave glory to God (5 times)
i. Daniel instructed Nebuchadnezzar about God’s power over mysteries (DAN 2:27,28).
ii. Daniel revealed Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as a vision of a great statue and taught him about God’s sovereign choice of him as “the head of gold” (DAN 2:29-38).
iii. Daniel interpreted the dream as predicting four world empires and future events that would occur under God’s control (DAN 2:39-45).
2) Nebuchadnezzar responded humbly
i. he honored Daniel (DAN 2:46).
ii. he honored God (DAN 2:47).
iii. he promoted Daniel to the provincial ruler of Babylon and made him chief wise-man (DAN 2:48).
2) Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd dream (of the great tree, about 30 years after the 1st, toward the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s 43 year reign: DAN 4).
a) the prophecy
i. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which could not be interpreted by his wise-men (DAN 4:7).
ii. Daniel was finally summoned to tell Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of his dream because, “the spirit of the holy gods is in him” (DAN 4:8).
a. the dream was of a great tree which filled the earth and sky and sustained all beasts, birds and creatures, vs. 11,12.
b. the tree was decreed by a holy angel to be “cut down, trimmed, and bound with an iron band”, vs. 13-15.
c. the “tree” was a ruler under sentence by the Most High, vs. 15b-17.
b) the prediction
i. Daniel’s interpretation
a. Daniel was troubled by the meaning of the dream since it foretold adversity for King Nebuchadnezzar, vs. 19.
b. Daniel explained the message of the dream to be a warning to Nebuchadnezzar from God that he would soon be judged, vs. 20-26.
c. Daniel advised the king to repent, saying, “renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed”, vs. 27.
ii. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was fulfilled 12 mos. later and Nebuchadnezzar suffered the judgment prescribed for him (DAN 4:28-34).
c) the praise
i. Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree to his entire empire explaining “the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God had performed for me”, (DAN 4:1,2).
ii. Nebuchadnezzar praised and exalted God (DAN 4:3, 17,32, 34,35, 37).
a. He praised God: vs. 3, “How great are His signs, how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; His dominion endures from generation to generation”.
b. He acknowledged that God is sovereign: vs.17,32, “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes…”.
c. He acknowledged that God is eternally powerful: vs. 34,35, “He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can say to Him: what have You done?”
d. He acknowledged that God is good: vs. 37, “everything He does is right and all His ways are just.”
3) Belshazzar’s writing on the wall (539 B.C. : DAN 5).
WHO WAS BELSHAZZAR?
BELSHAZZAR WAS THE SON OF AND CO-REGENT WITH NABONIDUS (556-539 B.C.), THE BABYLONIAN KING WHO RULED WHEN THE MEDES AND PERSIANS CAPTURED BABYLON IN 539 B.C. NABONIDUS MADE BELSHAZZAR CO-REGENT AROUND 550? 553? B.C. AND BELSHAZZAR RULED IN BABYLON FOR ABOUT 10 YEARS BEFORE HIS FATHER RETURNED THERE FROM ARABIA WHERE HE HAD HEADED THE BABYLONIAN ARMY.
BELSHAZZAR IS REFERRED TO AS THE “SON OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR” IN THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT, BUT THE ARAMAIC TERM COULD BE TRANSLATED “GRANDSON”, “DESCENDANT”, OR EVEN “SUCCESSOR”. NEBUCHADNEZZAR WAS SUCCEEDED BY HIS SON, AMEL-MARDUK (EVIL-MERODACH), WHO RULED FOR TWO YEARS (562-560 B.C.); AMEL-MARDUK WAS MURDERED IN A ARMY COUP BY HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, NERIGLISSAR (NERGAL-SHAR-USAR), WHO RULED FROM 560-556 B.C. HE WAS OUSTED IN 556 B.C. AND SUCCEEDED BY HIS WEAK SON, LABASHI-MARDUK, WHO WAS ASSASSINATED THAT SAME YEAR (AFTER HAVING RULED ONLY A FEW MONTHS) BY A GROUP OF COURTIERS INCLUDING NABONIDUS. NABONIDUS THEN BECAME KING AND RULED FROM 556-539 B.C., THOUGH HE WAS ABSENT FROM BABYLON MOST OF THE TIME.
*THIS INFORMATION CAME FROM “A COMMENTARY ON DANIEL” BY LEON WOOD, ZONDERVAN PUBLISHERS (1973), PGS. 129,130, “THE ZONDERVAN PICTORIAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE BIBLE, VOL. 1, PG. 446, AND THE NIV STUDY BIBLE, PG. 1307.
a) the mistake
i. Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1000 Babylonian nobles (DAN 5:1).
a. It was an orgy of drunkenness and blasphemy: The Greek historian, Herodotus, confirmed that such revelries were typical of ancient pagan rulers.
b. It was probably an attempt to build morale because the Persian army was camped around the city of Babylon.
c. It was a military blunder since those attending became incapable of efficient warfare.
ii. Belshazzar called for God’s sacred vessels of gold and silver to used as common serving pieces, a desecration (DAN 5:2,23).
b) the message
i. supernatural writing appeared on the banquet wall which no one could interpret, vs. 5-9.
ii. Daniel was summoned because “the spirit of the holy gods [was] in him”, on the advice of the queen [mother] who had come late to the hall, vs. 10-12 (Belshazzar’s wives were with him in the banquet hall, vs. 2).
WHO WAS THE QUEEN MOTHER?
SHE WAS PROBABLY NITOCRIS, THE WIFE OF NABONIDUS AND THE DAUGHTER OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR.
a. Daniel was addressed by Belshazzar not only as one who had “the spirit of the holy gods”, “insight, intelligence, and outstanding wisdom”, and was “able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems”, vs. 14,16, but also as one of “the exiles my father [Nebuchadnezzar] the king brought from Judah”, vs.13: Daniel was known to him as a follower of God, whose vessels Belshazzar had defiled.
b. Daniel declined the rewards for interpreting the writing but promised to reveal the message, vs.17.
c. Daniel rebuked the king for pride, unbelief and blasphemy (DAN 5:22-24).
c) the meaning
i. Daniel revealed the message of MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN (DAN 5:25) .
a. MENE: God had sovereignly decreed an end to Belshazzar’s reign, vs. 26.
b. TEKEL: God had weighed Belshazzar and found him wanting, vs. 27.
c. PERES: God had chosen to give the realm to the Medes and Persians, vs.28.
ii. Daniel was promoted to the third highest ruler in Babylon, vs. 29.
iii. Belshazzar and Babylon fell to Media/Persia that night, vs. 30.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
a. the Medes and Persians had diverted the Euphrates River from flowing through Babylon (thus leaving an opening under the walls through which the army might pass) and the army entered the city without a battle because the city was drunk.
b. Belshazzar was overpowered in his palace and slain along with his attendants, vs. 30, *Wood, pg. 130.
4) Daniel’s 1st vision: The four beasts and the Ancient of Days (in the 1st year of Belshazzar’s reign: DAN 7).
a) the vision (DAN 7:2-14):
i. the 1st beast was like a lion with the wings of an eagle: it came out of the great sea.
ii. the 2nd beast was like a bear raised up on one side with three ribs in its teeth: it came out of the great sea.
iii. the 3rd beast was like a leopard with four heads: it came out of the great sea.
iv. the 4th beast was terrifying, very powerful and had iron teeth with ten horns, three of which became uprooted by an eleventh, boastful horn: it came out of the great sea.
v. the Ancient of Days was the judge who gave authority to “a son of man” whose dominion would be everlasting.
b) the interpretation:
i. the four beasts represented four kingdoms that would rise from the earth (DAN 7:17).
ii. the fourth beast was a different kind of kingdom which would trample and crush the whole earth: its horns represented the 10 kings arising from the kingdom- the 11th horn would be a unique king who would subdue three of the other kings, “speak against the Most High and oppress His saints and try to change the set times and the laws” (DAN 7:23-25).
iii. the Ancient of Days would judge the 11th horn and destroy his power and turn everything under the whole heaven over to the “son of man” and to the saints, the people of the Most High, forever (DAN 7:26,27).
c) the reaction:
i. Daniel was deeply troubled by his thoughts (DAN 7:28).
ii. Daniel’s face turned pale (DAN 7:28).
iii. Daniel did not disclose the matter (DAN 7:28).
b. Future Israelite events (those things prophesied by Daniel which pertained uniquely to Israel: written in Hebrew).
1) Daniel’s 2nd vision: The ram and the goat (in the 3rd year of Belshazzar’s reign, DAN 8).
*THIS VISION AND THE ONE IN DANIEL CHAPTER 11 WERE SO PRECISE AND WERE FULFILLED SO EXACTLY THAT LIBERAL SCHOLARS DOUBT THEIR AUTHENTICITY- THEY WANT TO SAY THEY WERE WRITTEN AFTER THE FACT WHEN ALL THE DETAILS WERE KNOWN BY MAN; BUT ALL INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL EVIDENCE POINT TO DANIEL AS THE INSPIRED AUTHOR, HUNDREDS OF YEARS BEFORE THE FACTS WERE AVAILABLE TO MEN.
a) the vision:
i. a ram was standing beside the Ulai Canal having two horns, one of which was longer than the other, though it had grown later. The ram charged westward, northward and southward and none could stand against him (DAN 8:2-4).
ii. a goat with a prominent horn attacked the ram furiously from the west, shattering its horns, knocking it to the ground, and trampling upon it. At the height of its greatness the goat’s horn was broken off and four smaller horns, pointing toward the four winds of heaven, grew up in its place. One of the horns sprouted a smaller horn which grew in power toward the south, the east and the Beautiful Land and caused the hosts of heaven and the holy rituals to be brought low (DAN 8:5-12).
iii. the small horn was given 2,300 evenings and mornings for its rebellion against heaven to be fulfilled, then the sanctuary would be consecrated (DAN 8:13,14).
b) the interpretation (given to Daniel by “one who looked like a man”, called “Gabriel”, DAN 8:15,16):
i. the ram represented the Medes and the Persians, with the longer horn reflecting the dominant role of the Persians in that state, vs. 20.
ii. the shaggy goat represented Greece which would conquer Media-Persia under its first great king. This king would be replaced by four others who would establish kingdoms for themselves (DAN 8:21,22).
iii. the small horn would arise in the latter part of the Greek Empire, as a man of intrigue with Satanic power to destroy the daily sacrifices and the holy people. He would exalt himself against God but would be destroyed by Him.
*THIS PROPHECY OF THE SMALL HORN WAS FULFILLED BY ANTIOCHUS IV (CALLED ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES) WHO CAME TO POWER BY DECEIT AND RULED ISRAEL IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE GREEK EMPIRE. FROM 168-164 B.C. HE TRIED TO DESTROY JUDAISM BY COMMANDING AN END TO RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES, BY MASSACRING JEWS AND BY SETTING UP AN IDOL IN THE TEMPLE. HE DIED OF ILLNESS OR GRIEF IN 164 B.C. THE TEMPLE WAS RESTORED BY JUDAS MACABEUS IN DECEMBER 165 B.C.
c) Daniel’s reaction:
i. He was terrified (DAN 8:7).
ii. He was emotionally exhausted (DAN 8:27).
iii. He was appalled by the vision (DAN 8:27).
2). Daniel’s vision of Gabriel (in the 1st year of Darius the Mede: DAN 9:20-27).
a) Daniel’s prayer for his people (DAN 9:1-20).
i. Daniel had studied the Scriptures and understood from them that the time of the exile in Babylon should be ending soon (DAN 9:2).
ii. Daniel petitioned God to restore Israel and glorify Himself (DAN 9:4-17).
b) Daniel’s answer from God (DAN 9:20-27).
i. a heavenly messenger was sent to Daniel.
a. Gabriel came “while Daniel was still speaking” (DAN 9:20).
b. Gabriel instructed Daniel “about the time of the evening sacrifice” concerning the answer to his prayer (DAN 9:21-23).
ii. an earthly hope was given to Daniel.
a. 70 sevens were decreed for Israel until everlasting righteousness would be brought in; in the first 69 sevens Jerusalem would be rebuilt, the Anointed Ruler would come, and then the Anointed One would be cut off (DAN 9:25,26).
b. in the last 7 of the 70 sevens Jerusalem would be destroyed, there would be wars and desolations, a ruler would come and make a covenant with many and then break it by putting an end to sacrifice and by putting “the abomination that causes desolation” in the Temple. But at the end of that seven transgression would be ended, wickedness would be atoned for and the Most Holy would be anointed (DAN 9:24,26,27).
3) Daniel’s vision of a great war (in the 3rd year of Cyrus: DAN 10,11,12).
a) Daniel’s humble desire
i. Daniel humbled himself before God by denying himself choice food and lotions for three weeks (DAN 10:2)
ii. Daniel petitioned God to give him understanding about his nation’s future (DAN 10:2,3, 12).
b) Daniel’s angelic instructor
i. Daniel saw a vision of a “man” on the banks of the Tigris River who terrified him and caused such dread to fall upon those who could not see him that they fled (DAN 10:2-9).
ii. The “man” was dressed in linen with a gold girdle (a belt 2-6 in. wide); his body was like chrysolite (a topaz: gold and lustrous), his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like burnished bronze, his voice like the sound of a multitude (DAN 10:5,6).
iii. The “man” strengthened Daniel and said, “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them” (DAN 10:12).
c) Daniel’s exalted explanation
“I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future” (DAN 10:14).
i. the prophecy of Greek kings (DAN 11:2-33).
a. Three more Persian kings would follow the present one (Cyrus), (DAN 11:2).
b. A fourth Persian king would gain wealth and agitate the people against Greece and its king (Alexander the Great), but Greece would prevail; this kingdom would become divided into four, “toward the four winds of heaven” (DAN 11:2-4).
c. One of the divisions, the South (Egypt under Ptolemy I Soter), would grow strong but one of its commanders (Selecus I Nicator) would establish his own kingdom (Babylonia); eventually these would become allies (DAN 11:5,6).
d. An alliance would be made between the king of the South (Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt: 285-246 B.C.) and the king of the North (Antiochus II Theos of Syria: 261-246 B.C.) through the marriage of the southern king’s daughter (Bernice) to the northern king. Both she and her husband “would not last” (Antiochus and Bernice were killed by his former wife, Laodice). But a member of the South’s family (Ptolemy III Euergetes, brother of Bernice: 246-221 B.C.) would take revenge (DAN 11:6-8).
e. the king of the South (Ptolemy IV Philopater: 221-203 B.C.) would eventually wage war against the king of the North (Antiochus II) and lose. A descendant of the king of the North (Cleopatra I, daughter of Antiochus) would marry one of the South (Ptolemy V: 194 B.C.) to effect an alliance. The king of the North (Antiochus the Great) would die to be succeeded by another who would be destroyed in peacetime (Seleucus IV Philopator: 187-175, who was murdered by his tax-collector, Helidorus) (DAN 11:11-19).
f. A contemptible descendant of this last king (Antiochus IV Epiphanes, brother of Seleucus: 175-164 B.C.) would assume the throne by deceit, invade the richest provinces, distribute booty to his supporters, and wage war with the king of the South (Ptolemy VI), and try to destroy the holy covenant (DAN 11:21-32).
*This information is from The NIV Study Bible notes on Daniel.
ii. the prophecy of the anti-Christ (DAN 11:36-12:4).
a. He will set himself against God, uttering blasphemies, honoring a god of fortresses and will reward those who aid him (DAN 11: 36-39).
b. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with satanic power; he will be attacked by the South and the North but will invade many countries, including Israel but not including Edom, Moab, and Ammon. He will control Egypt’s wealth, as well as the Libyans and the Nubians, but will be forced to continue to wage war against armies from the east and north until his end in Israel (DAN 11:40-45).
c. He will come to his end alone (DAN 11:45).
d. After that time of distress all those whose names are written in “the book” will be delivered and multitudes of believers will be resurrected to everlasting life; unbelievers will be resurrected to face judgment (DAN 12:1,2).
iii. the signs of the time of the end (DAN 12:4-13).
a. “Many will go here and there to increase knowledge” (DAN 12:4).
b. It will be “for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken all these things will be completed” (DAN 12:7).
c. “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked” (DAN 12:10).
d. “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days” (DAN 12:11,12).
d) Daniel’s glorious destiny
“You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance” (DAN 12:13).
C. He was a Pious Man (DAN 9, 6).
WHAT IS PIETY?
*“WEBSTER’S NEW TWENTIETH CENTURY DICTIONARY” DEFINES IT THIS WAY: DEVOTION TO RELIGIOUS DUTIES AND PRACTICES; BEING ZEALOUS IN THE PERFORMANCE OF RELIGIOUS OBLIGATIONS.
DANIEL SHOWED HIS DEVOTION TO GOD IN HIS DETERMINATION NOT TO DEFILE HIMSELF WITH THE KINGS FOOD, AND BY GIVING GLORY TO GOD IN HIS WITNESSING BEFORE THE BABYLONIAN KINGS IN INTERPRETING PROPHECY, BUT IN THE LATTER PART OF HIS LIFE HE ALSO CONTINUED TO SERVE GOD THROUGH HIS PRAYER LIFE AND THROUGH HIS ACTIONS. IN DANIEL CHAPTERS 9 AND 6 WE SEE DANIEL INTERACTING WITH ANOTHER RULER, DARIUS THE MEDE, AND WE SEE HOW GOD AGAIN USED DANIEL TO TEACH ABOUT HIMSELF TO DANIEL AND TO THIS UNBELIEVING KING.
WHO WAS DARIUS THE MEDE?
*HISTORIANS ARE NOT COMPLETELY CERTAIN THEY KNOW THE IDENTITY OF THIS MAN. HE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN A PERSIAN GOVERNOR UNDER CYRUS THE GREAT NAMED GUBARU. (HE IS NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH UGBARU, THE PERSIAN GENERAL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CAPTURE OF BABYLON, BECAUSE UGBARU DIED WITHIN THREE WEEKS OF THAT FEAT.) GUBARU WAS BORN IN 601 B.C. TO AHASUERUS THE MEDE. HE WAS APPOINTED BY CYRUS OVER BABYLON AND THE REGION BEYOND THE RIVER (DAN 9:1), WHICH BASICALLY MEANT ALL OF BABYLON. HE ASSUMED FULL SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY OVER BABYLON FOR NINE YEARS WHEN CYRUS WITHDREW FROM IT IN 539 B.C., THE SAME YEAR IT FELL TO HIM. THE NAME DARIUS, “HOLDER OF THE SCEPTER”, MAY BE A TITLE, FOR LATER IN HISTORY FIVE PERSIAN MONARCHS ADOPTED THAT NAME AS A TITLE, OR IT MAY BE ANOTHER NAME FOR CYRUS (ALTHOUGH THIS IS NOT LIKELY).
*This information came from Wood’s, A Commentary on Daniel”, pgs. 153-155, and “The Ryrie Study Bible”, PG. 1319.
1) He was sanctified.
WHAT IS SANCTIFICATION?
*IT MEANS TO BE SET APART FOR SACRED SERVICES; TO BE MADE HOLY; TO BE CONSECRATED (DEVOTED OR DEDICATED).
a) He studied God’s Word (DAN 7:28, 8:27, 9:2)
i. He knew the Biblical dietary standards for Jews (DAN 1:8).
ii. He meditated on visions he had received from God (DAN 7:28, 8:27).
iii. He had the Scriptures and he read them (DAN 9:2).
iv. He studied the Prophet Jeremiah to ascertain the date of the end of the captivity (DAN 9:2).
b) He prayed (DAN 6; 9: in the first year of Darius, 538 B.C.; 10)
a. He had a consistent habit of praying three times a day, probably at the 3rd, 6th, and 9th hours; these were the hours of the morning sacrifice, midday, and evening sacrifice (DAN 6:10).
b. He prayed at times of need (DAN 2:17,18, 9:3).
a. He humbled himself by praying kneeling towards Jerusalem (DAN 6:10).
b. He fasted, wore sackcloth (penitential garment made of hair) and ashes, i.e. “sprinkling the head with ashes as an outward sign of true humility and penitence”, Keil/Delitzsch, commentary on the Old Testament, (DAN 9:3).
c. He mourned by not eating any tasty food, nor using ointments (DAN 10:2,3).
a. He confessed his people’s sins before God (DAN 9:5-11).
b. He prayed for Jerusalem and the Jews to be restored for God’s sake (DAN 9:16).
c) He was blameless (DAN 6)
“I was found innocent before Him [God]; and also toward you, O king [Darius], I have commited no crime” (DAN 6:22).
i. He was praised because of his excellence
“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings (PR) 22:29).
a. He was elevated above others, being one of three commissioners; he was slated to become the sole overseer of all administrators (DAN 6:2,3).
b. He distinguished himself by his exceptional qualities: faithfulness, trustworthiness, conscientiousness (DAN 6:3).
c. He could not be accused of corruption (DAN 6:4).
ii. He was persecuted because of his righteousness
“Blessed are you when men cast insults on you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me” (MAT 5:11).
a. His rival’s jealousy prompted them to set a trap for him (DAN 6:5).
b. His commitment to prayer caused the rivals to condemn him (DAN 6:10-13,15).
c. His violation of the law caused Darius to prosecute him (DAN 6:16).
WAS DANIEL RIGHT TO BREAK THE LAW DARIUS WROTE? (SEE ACTS 4:19, 5:29; ROM 13:1,2).
*There is potential for conflict between man’s laws and God’s. Whenever men make a law that violates God’s Word or whenever a law is made that outlaws worshipping God, Christians must make a stand for God; however, we should be aware that there may be severe consequences for such actions.
2) He was secure.
“I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2TI 1:12).
a) He trusted God
i. He feared God because he knew His character and power
a. from the Scriptures: he had portions of the Old Testament- the Law and the Prophets, i.e. the Pentateuch and the prophetic writings available.
b. from personal experience
*He had seen God judge Judah in accordance with his Word.
*He and his three friends had been delivered from death (DAN 1).
*He had seen Nebuchadnezzar humbled by the power of God (PRO 21:1; DAN 4).
* He had seen Belshazzar judged and deposed (DAN 5).
c. from the experience of others- DAN 3: the fiery ordeal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and their deliverance.
ii. He believed God’s promises
a. that He would be faithful
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9
b. that He would protect and defend His people
“Whoever touches you [Jews] touches the apple of His eye” - Zechariah 2:8
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. Isaiah 41:10
“But now, this is what the LORD says - he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…’” Isaiah 43:1-3
c. that God would protect and defend him
“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7
“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” Psalm 91:5-8
iii. He did not fear man
“In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (PSA 56:4).
a. Nebuchadnezzar did not successfully oppose God.
b. Belshazzar did not intimidate Daniel (DAN 5:17).
c. the satraps and administrators did not curb Daniel (DAN 6:10).
b) God protected him (DAN 6: sometime in the reign of Darius; Daniel was at least 85 years old)
i. The test- Daniel and all Jews were prohibited by an unbreakable law from praying to anyone other than the king for 30 days (DAN 6:7-9).
*the immutability of Medo-Persian law can also be seen in Esther 1:19; 8:8.
ii. The tribulation- Daniel was thrown into a “cistern” of lions and sealed inside with a stone covering for disobeying the law prohibiting devotions (DAN 6:15-17).
WHAT IS A CISTERN?
IT IS A PIT, NATURAL OR MANMADE, WHICH NORMALLY HOLDS RAINWATER.
WHAT IS A LION’S CISTERN?
*According to Keil/Delitzsch lion’s cisterns have been found in Morocco similar to that of Daniel’s account: these consisted of large square caverns under the earth, open to the sky, and divided by a partition with a door. The door could be raised or lowered from above so that lions could enter the other room, perhaps while the main den was cleaned. Surrounding the opening would be a 4 ½ ft. wall over which observers could safely look into the den. According to “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, vol.2, pg. 101, the Babylonians kept lions captive for hunting and for pets; later Medo-Persian rulers did as well. JOB 38:39-41 mentions the appetite of lions in their dens. In the Christian era it was a common execution to be thrown to the lions.
a. When he had thrown Daniel into the den King Darius had said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you” (DAN 6:16).
b. After a sleepless night Darius came to the lion’s den and said, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” (DAN 6:20).
iii. The testimony- God was honored as Daniel was preserved from the lions.
a. Daniel survived the night with the lions because “God sent his angel and shut the lion’s mouths” (DAN 6:22).
b. Daniel’s accusers and their families were thrown into the den after Daniel was released and “before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.” (DAN 6:24).
c. Darius issued an edict for Babylon that, “people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For He is the living God and He endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end.” (DAN 6:25).
*Where had Darius heard of the Living God? From Daniel, of course.
DANIEL WAS A WINNER IN HIS SPIRITUAL WAR, WINNING EVERY BATTLE THROUGH HIS FAITH IN GOD AND POWERFULLY WITNESSING ABOUT GOD TO ALL THOSE HE CONTACTED.
III. What Can We Learn From Him?
A. Our good testimony of faith can bring God glory in ways that we never dreamed of and influence people to believe in God as we do.
B. When we rely in faith on God alone to meet our needs we not only give Him the opportunity to supply these, our faith grows as He does so.
C. We need never have anxiety or a poor attitude about life’s circumstances because God is in control of us and He has promised “never to leave us or forsake us” (HEB 13:5).
D. We need to make meditation and prayer more important parts of our lives and let the Holy Spirit teach as about God as we think about His Word and spend time in His presence.
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons for Young Adults" by:
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