Daniel's Decision of Faith
Comments for Study 1
Memory Verse: 1:8
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Daniel wrote the first chapter in the Hebrew language. Chapters 2 thru 7 were written in Aramaic, the then common commerce language used throughout the Gentile nations. Chapters 8 thru 12 are written in Hebrew. Daniel was deliberate in writing in these two languages. The Hebrew chapters are about Israel's future (not just Judah), future from Daniel's point of view. The Aramaic chapters are about the Gentiles' future from Daniel's point of view. Jesus called it the time of the Gentiles. (Luke 21:24) Most of the events predicted in this book are history to us. The godless kingdoms referred to are the Gentile nations, and the kingdom of God are those who will partake in the millennial reign of Jesus (Yeshua) Christ (Messiah) centered about Jerusalem and Israel. Many of Jesus' parables explain about the kingdom of God.
I. When Israel Did Not Maintain God's Blessings (1-2)
>1. What was the situation of the people of Judah and Jerusalem at that time? Read 2 Kings 23:29-30 and Jeremiah 46:2.
* Daniel 1:1-2 "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god."
* 2 Kings 23:29-30 "While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Neco faced him and killed him at Megiddo. Josiah's servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father."
* Jeremiah 46:2 "Concerning Egypt: This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:"
* "In the third year" -Jehoiakim began his reign in the middle of 609 B.C. Judah's calculating the king's reign (by Hebrew calendar) was different than Babylon and other Gentile nations (by Tishri calendar). Here Daniel uses the Babylonian system of computing the years of a king's reign. His first full year of kingship after his accession began on New Year's Day and so the third full year would be in 605 B.C. The Judean system would have counted the year of accession as the first year even though it wasn't a full year and thus call his third year of reign as 606 B.C. and his fourth as 605 B.C. (Jeremiah 25:1, 46:2)
* "Jehoiakim son of Josiah" -Jehoiakim (609-597 B.C.) was ambitious, cruel and corrupt. (2 Kings 23:36-37; and 2 Chronicles 36:2-8) Egypt's Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Neco the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments. (2 Kings 23:33-34) In the third and fourth years of his reign Babylon defeated Egypt and besieged Jerusalem. Jehoiakim played the role of reluctant Babylonian vassal for several years, but after Nebuchadnezzar's failure to invade Egypt in 601, he again broke with Babylon and sought the support of Egypt in his rebellion. This disloyalty eventually proved fatal and led to the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 597 B.C.
* "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon" -Nebuchadnezzar (634562 B.C.) was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire reigning from mid-August 605562 B.C. His father, Nabopolassar in early summer 605 B.C. along with his allies, the Medes, conquered the last bastion of Assyrian strength at Carchemich and then died in mid-August. The Akkadian name Nebuchadnezzar means "O god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son". Nabu is the Babylonian deity of wisdom, and son of the god Marduk. In an inscription, Nebuchadnezzar styles himself as Nabu's "beloved" and "favourite". Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its three centuries of vassalage to its fellow Mesopotamian state Assyria, and in alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, laid Nineveh in ruins. During the last century of Nineveh's existence, Babylon had been greatly devastated, not only at the hands of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal, but also as a result of her ever renewed rebellions. Nebuchadnezzar, continuing his father's work of reconstruction, aimed at making his capital one of the world's wonders. Most of the city of Babylon that has been uncovered by modern excavators dates from Nebuchadnezzar's reign. The Chaldean kingdom was primarily his creation, and it crumbled only a generation after his death. This great king was remembered in many cultural traditions, including sources from Greece (who knew him as a great builder).
* See written evidence of Babylon's first invasion and deportation of Jews to the right. Babylon dealings of the events described in the Bible is in the cuneiform text. It reads, "In the seventh year (of Nebuchadnezzar) in the month Chislev (November/December) the King of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of Harti (Syria/Palestine) he laid siege to the city of Judah. On the second day of the month Adara (16th March) he conquered the city and took the king (Jehoiachin) prisoner. He installed in his place a king (Zedekiah) of his own choice, and after he had received rich tribute, he sent (them) forth to Babylon". (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)
* "came to Jerusalem and besieged it" -The siege lasted many months. Jerusalem finally fell in 605 B.C. This was the first of three incursions of Babylon to subdue Judah who kept rebelling against Babylon's rule in Judah.
* The kingdom of Judah was defeated by Egypt (south west of Israel) in 609 B.C. (2 Kings 23:33,34) Egypt made Jehoiakim king of Judah. (2 Kings 23:33,34). Babylon (north east of Israel) attacked and defeated Egypt in 605 B.C. (2 Kings 24:1-7) This brought Babylonian influence to the kingdom of Judah. Judah was allowed to maintained their national, spiritual, and cultural identity. Jehoiakim, the king of Judah attacked Babylon in 597 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar defeated them and tightened his control. One of the things he did was to take around 10,000 selected captives. Among these including Daniel and his friends mentioned in this chapter. Later Ezekiel, the author of the proceeding book in the Bible was taken. The captivity lasted 70 years dating from Nebuchadnezzar's first decent on Judah and Egypt. (Jeremiah 25:11)
* "And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand" -This was the end of David's offspring earthly kingdom. No Israelite or Jew reigned over Israel until 1948 A.D. (The Maccabean revolts from 166 to 63 B.C. were plaiged with influences from outside Judah.)
* "some of the articles from the temple of God" -2 Chronicles 4 records some of these articles. Babylon did not take away all of the articles because some Levites and prophets of God hid them. Some believe they were hid at the treasury of the temple. The treasury of the temple was near Qumran, on the north western shore of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Scrolls written from the time of Daniel thru the Macabean revolts were found in the the late 1940s and early 1950s A.D. in caves near the temple treasury. They confirm hiding of some of the temple articles. One scroll was copper. It states the articles from the temple, the original tabernacle, the deed to the temple mount in Jerusalem, gold, and silver were buried there. These articles have not been dug up although some believe the scroll says they were hidden in and around Qumran.
* "carried off to temple" -As we know from references in the Mari texts as well as the Cyrus Cylinder, sacred objects, including idols and the many types of vessels used in worship, were taken hostage when a people was conquered. A way of demonstrating the power of one's own god over the gods of conquered peoples was to desecrate their sacred objects or place them in a position of submission. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary Old Testament)
* "his god" -Marduk was the chief god of Babylon. He was considered to be the son of one of the members of the most august ancient triad, Enki, the patron of Eridu. Though we often see Baal in the Bible as the principal rival of Yahweh, no deity in the first millennium had the political clout that was connected to Marduk. His renowned temple, Esagila, along with its ziggurat, Etemenanki, were the most dominant buildings in the beautiful city of Babylon. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary Old Testament)
* Assyria ruled the mideast until Babylon defeated them a few years before Judea was taken into captivity. Assyria was the empire that carried away the kingdom of Israel, brothers of the kingdom of Judah. Babylon's rule over the mideast ended when the Persian Empire defeated them in 539 B.C. The Persian Empire was larger than Assyria and Babylon's Empires. The Persian Empire was an alliance of the Medes and the Persians. Under their rule the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland seventy years after Daniel was taken captive. Daniel never returned to Judah.
* See a drawing of Babylon to the right. Reconstruction of the prospect of ancient Babylon in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, based on excavations. A solemn procession is seen making its way through the great gateway dedicated to the goddess Ishtar. As far as the eye can travel, the broad processional way bisects the vast metropolis. In the distance (right) rises the massive ziggurat, the "Tower of Babel" (Genesis 11:3-4), while more in the foreground lie the famous "Hanging Gardens" with their luxuriant palm-trees. Nearby stood the royal palace, in which later on, presumably after he had been pardoned, King Jehoiachin with his sons and personal attendants also lived. (Jeremiah 52:31-33) (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)
* Verses 1 and 2 were 605 BC. Verses 3 and 4 were when Nebuchadnezzar surrounded and defeated Jerusalem a second time. Daniel's life dramatically changed. He was brought to Babylon in exile.
The religious, political, social, and economic turmoil caused by actions beyond the control of Daniel and his teenaged friends were perhaps more traumatic than the last few months have been for me. I can imagine what it was like when most fellow exiles had different responses and opinions on what is going to happen and why things had happened.
Daniel had to have heard the prophet Jeremiah who had been preaching at the temple and sending messages that reached Judah's royal court. Daniel's response to the confusion and change involved a simple daily act, eating. He did this for 3 years.
My response has been similar. I try to keep simple routines that involve time in the Word of God, prayer, and meditation. I know that keeping constant contact with God is of vital importance. Jesus is my vine and I am his branch. He is my life. I do not know what will transpire in the immediate future, by I do know what he has promised to me if I remain in him to the end.
>2. Review God's plans, promises and blessings for his people: Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 6:5, 10-12.
* Exodus 19:5-6 "'Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."
* Deuteronomy 6:5 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."
* Deuteronomy 6:10-12 "When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you--a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant--then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."
* God had made a conditional covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai, after he led them out of Egypt. They continually broke the covenant. God did not. From God's point of view he was using the captivity to punish Israel and Judah.
* Nebuchadnezzar might have thought that he could defeat Israel so easily because their God was weak. He did not know the truth. Even though he thought like this God did not exclude him from being an instrument in bringing about his plan.
* Blessings are from God, but they don't mean that we are always right.
* Also see Leviticus 25:1-7, 26:27-35 and 2 Chronicles 36:14-21.
>Why had they not maintained God's blessing?
* They forgot the Lord their God who gave them everything. This means that they forgot to thank God and keep him first in their lives at all times. After Christians accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, after Jesus leads us out of slavery of sin and the fear of death, we need to remember him and not forget his gift. Seeing how the Lord dealt with Israel and Judah how should we react to what he has done for us?
* They became lazy and relied on themselves and their heritage rather than continuing to walk with the Lord and relying on him.
* If we do not handle God's blessing right we will be punished by God.
* Blessings from God can become snares and traps if we hold onto them.
>What did he want his people to do? (Deuteronomy 4:29; Joshua 24:13-14)
* Deuteronomy 4:29 "But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul."
* Joshua 24:13-14 "So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant. Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.'"
* Love God.
* Fear God.
* Worship God.
* Serve God.
* Obey God.
* Keep our side of the covenant. Offer our blessings back to God. Do not hold onto them. This is the difference between practical and theoretical religion.
II. Daniel's Decision of Faith (3-16)
>3. What policy did the king of Babylon establish toward the people of the occupied country of Israel?
* Daniel 1:3 "Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility"
* The first invasion the king of Babylon took select young men and only some plunder. The second and third invation he increasingly plundered the land of everything that he could get his hands on that was worthwhile. He grew more and more cruel to the Jews as they resisted Jeremiah's pleas for them to not resist Nebuchadnezzar. (Jeremiah 21:1-10, 22:24-25, 25:1-9)
* He was a smart and cunning man.
* He used people for his benefit.
* He was self centered.
* "some of the Israelites" -Israel is used to refer either to all twelve tribes or the northern kingdom after the split. Daniel did not use Judah, the southern kingdom to describe himself and those taken with him.
* "from the royal family and the nobility" -Daniel was from the royal line though from how long back was his direct ancestor a king it is not clear.
* See a jar/seal to the right. "The property of Eliakim, steward of Jehoiachin", so runs the inscription on this jar-seals which have been unearthed at Debir and Berh-Shemesh in Judah. They shed considerable light on the position of Jehoiachin in Babylon, since they prove that between 598 and 587 B.C. a man by the name of Eliakim must have been in charge of the crown lands of Jehoiachin during his Babylonian captivity. Thus it would appear that the estates of the King of Judah were left unmolested by the Babylonians. (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)
>What kind of men did he instruct his chief official to select?
* Daniel 1:4 "young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians."
* He took only the best.
* "He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians" -Including the classical literature in Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform, a complicated syllabic writing system. But the language of normal communication in multiracial Babylon was Aramaic, written in an easily learned alphabetic script. (2:4) (NIV Study Bible)
>4. How and for how long were these select young men to be trained?
* Daniel 1:5 "The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service."
* "trained for three years" -Similar to a modern day college and university training of two or four years. The normal training for a scribe was three years.
>What special benefits did they receive?
* "a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table" -See the two Babylonian clay tablets below. This does not mean that they had great privilege, but simply that they were dependants of the state.
* They received every kind of learning needed for servicing the king and country. They received the best training the king of Babylon could afford.
* As long as Babylon was the regional power it seemed that their jobs were secure.
* Daniel and his friends were eunuchs. Isaiah 39:5-7 says, "Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."
* See two Babylon clay tablets to the right. These two fragments of clay tablets which were found in Babylon, and which contain lists of rations delivered to captives there. The cuneiform text reads as follows: 10 (sila of oil) for ... Jaukin (Jehoiachin), king of Judah, 2-1/2 sila for... the sons of the king of Judah, 4 sila for eight men from Judah" ... 1-1/2 sila (of oil) for three carpenters from Arvad, 1/2 sila each. 11-1/2 for eight ditto from Babylon, 1/2 sila each, 3-1/2 sila for seven ditto, Greeks, 1/2 sila each ... 10 (sila) for Jakukinu (Jehoiachin), son of the king of Judah, 2-1/2 sila for the five sons of the king of Judah by the hand of Qanama..." The clay tablets which date from 592 B.C. prove that the king of Judah must have lived in Babylon with his sons and some retainers, since they are still on the ration strength six years after the fall of Jerusalem and the deportation. They demonstrate the historical accuracy of the biblical text. (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)
>What was the purpose of their training?
* To use them in the king's service
* He wanted to make his kingdom the best. He worked hard to help build up Babylon. See question one for more on the king's state of mind.
>5. Who were the young men selected from Judah?
* Daniel 1:6 "Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah."
* Daniel and the young men taken must have known that the Lord was punishing Judah for their sins. Since those taken were from the royal family, they definitely knew that the leaders were at fault and felt the brunt of the punishment.
* "Daniel" -Daniel means "Jehovah (God) is my judge" or "judgement of Jehovah".
* "Hananiah" Hananiah means "The Lord shows grace" or "Jehovah is gracious".
* "Mishael" -Mishael means "Who is what God is?" or "Who is what Jehovah is?".
* "Azariah" -Azaiah mean "The Lord helps" or "Jehovah has helped".
>What new names did the steward give them?
* Daniel 1:7 "The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego."
* "gave them names" -Naming or remaining someone is to exercise authority over a person, even claiming their destiny and person. The intent was for them to melt into the Babylon culture, lose their identity as an Israelite, and fall into a Babylonian sinful life.
* "Belteshazza" -Belteshazzar means "May Bel protect his life!". Bel was the Babylonian god Marduk.
* "Shadrach" -Shadrach means "Command of Aku". Aku (aka Ago) was the Samarian moon God.
* "Mishach" -Mishach means "Who is what Aku is?".
* "Abednego" -Abednego means "Servant of Nego/Nebo". Nego, Nebo, and Nabu are all the same false god.
>What does this reveal about the difficulty of being an exile--even one with privileges?
* An exile is treated as a possession, without origin and history. Most Israelites (both north and southern kingdoms) were struggling at the bottom of Babylon society, unlike Daniel and his friends. It would be possible to forget about God and one's identity in Christ Jesus. This is also possible for believers in Jesus, who as Jesus said, "Are in the world, but not of the world." (John 17)
* Joseph, son of Israel (Jacob) was brought down into Egypt in similar circumstances. He too had this threat. (Genesis 37-43) Moses also had a similar situation as Daniel. (Exodus 2:1-15)
* These young men's family are not mentioned. They were either killed in Jerusalem, or left in Judea. If the later, Daniel and his friend probably never saw their family again.
* While in this world, we will be surrounded by an often hostel world as Jesus said, "If they hated and persecuted the master, they will do the same to his followers," and "If they hated me, they will hate you also." (Matthew 10:22, 24:9; Mark 13:13; Luke 6:22, 21:17; John 15:18-19, 17:14)
>6. What did Daniel do in his helpless situation?
* Daniel 1:8 "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way."
* Daniel must have known that the king might not like it and have them punished or even killed. Still he decided by faith.
>Why did he make such a decision?
* "Defile" -According to God's laws the Israelites were to abstain from eating certain foods. However, Daniel's decision goes beyond just following the letter of the law. To be defiled meant to be broken off from God and his covenant.
* "the royal food and wine" -Israelites considered food from Nebuchadnezzar's table to be contaminated because the first portion of it was offered to idols. Likewise a portion of the wine was poured out on a pagan altar. Jewish dietary laws (kosher) beyond the Mosaic laws that formed around this time would consider most meat (if not all) and wine as improper. Ceremonially unclean animals from the Babylonians were used and were neither slaughtered nor perpared according to the regulations of the law (kosher).
* Daniel and his friends wanted to keep his identity as God's people. He demonstrated his conviction. It is not so much something in the food that defiles as much as it is the total program of assimilation. At this point the Babylonian government is exercising control over every aspect of their lives. They have little means to resist the forces of assimilation that are controlling them. They seize on one of the few areas where they can still exercise choice as an opportunity to preserve their distinct identity.
* Many things were changed in these men's lives, but through this one decision they wanted to keep their faith in the God of Israel. They decided to live by faith in their God.
* These men could have left the palace if they thought quickly or superficially. Daniel must have prayed before he made the decision to stay and to not defile himself with certain foods. These men stayed and served God where they were put at.
* Daniel only choose food and drink. He must have started wearing the clothes given to him, read the books given to him, and listened to their music.
* Daniel could have felt helpless, proud, rebellious, angry, full of doubt, fearful, and/or worthless. His faith and prayer life led him to make a decision of faith.
* Daniel made a decision right away, in the beginning, before anything else happened.
>7. How did he get permission to carry out his decision?
* Daniel 1:9-14 "Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.' Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 'Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.' So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days."
* Daniel apparently told the official the reason for his decision was so he wouldn't defile himself. The official must have understood, but how much is not clear.
* Daniel first went to the chief official who said no. Then Daniel talked to the guard.
* Daniel 1:15-16 "At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead."
* "ten" - Ten often had the symbolic significance of completeness.
* "vegetables" -Usually only a portion of the meat would have been offered to idols. Vegetables would not have been. The Mosaic law did allow eating meat, while restricting all meat offered to idols. The Hebrew word here generally refers to unprepared food, usually the seeds used for animal feed, fodder, or planting. The men would have to prepare the food themselves. The king's kitchens would not prepare it for them.
* How much of a difference would ten days make? Any real difference would have taken at least a week.
* God's blessing on the young men must have had added to any effects that merely eating vegetables would have had. Jesus taught us to clean our hearts, not only the outside of the cups. (Matthew 23:25-26; Luke 11:37-41)
>Why is it important for a person to make such a decision of faith before God? (Psalm 24:3-4; Matthew 5:8)
* Psalm 24:3-4 "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false."
* Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
* Believers in Jesus need to keep themselves pure even in the midst of the Babylon palace of corruption and sin.
* Our decisions of faith must come from a noble desire to keep pure, not from petty desires.
III. God was with Daniel (17-21)
>8. How did God help these 4 young men?
* Daniel 1:17 "To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds."
* Verse 20 states that Daniel and his friends were "ten times better." God blessed their decision of faith.
* "all kinds of literature and learning" -Daniel could have decided only to study the word of God. However, he studied more than the word of God. He even must have studied things that didn't have anything to do with God. Daniel recognized that God put him in the palace with a mission to study all kinds of things. Perhaps he reflected on Moses and Joseph's life circumstance. There is nothing wrong with learning the world that God made, even learning these things from people who don't appear to obey and love God, as long as we make a decision to keep our identities of Christ followers.
* With God's help, Daniel and his friends mastered the Babylonian literature on astrology and divination by dreams. But in the crucial tests of interpretation and prediction (Daniel 2:3-11, 4:7) all the pagan literature proved worthless. (NIV Study Bible)
* Daniel could have been slack in his studies. However, he had to have put a lot of time and effort in his studies.
* Daniel and his friends were not professional rabbis (teachers of God's word). They were lay missionaries like Apostle Paul.
* "Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds" -This gift, only given the Daniel and not his friends, seems to be a special spiritual gift. This is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit written about in the New Testament as well. (Acts 2:17)
* "visions and dreams" -The Bible makes it clear that in the last days, the days that we are in right now, young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. God often communicates to his people this way. As God told Moses, a face-to-face meeting with God would be to hard for us in our current state. Even the prophets who were servants of God were often overwhelmed when they were in his holy and powerful presence. Joseph also had this gift. (Genesis 37:5, 9, 40:8, 41:12, 42:9)
>How is this consistent with God's promises and his ways of dealing with people? (Deut. 28:1-20, 4:28-30)
* Deuteronomy 28:1-20 "If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock--the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity--in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground--in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you. The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.
However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him."
* Deuteronomy 4:28-30 "There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him."
* Daniel served 8 kings of different kingdoms (Babylon was conquered by the Persians.)
* Most kings when they take over another nation, get ride of all the officials and put there own in. However, Daniel was never taken out of service to the new king and new empire. He was never killed or deported. People must have recognized God's hand on him and wanted to use his gifts for their kingdom and rule.
>9. How did they do their orals before the king? (18-20)
* Daniel 1:18-20 "At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom."
* Daniel and his three friends had to appear before a godless notorious king who attacked their country and took them captive.
>What does this teach us about God?
* Daniel 1:21 "And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus."
* "the first year of King Cyrus" -This is most likely a reference to the first year of Cyrus reign over Babylon, which began in October 539 B.C. This would mean that Daniel's tenure of service extended over a sixty-five (65) year period. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary Old Testament)
* God blesses our decisions of faith when we make them out of a noble desire.
* God can use anyone, anywhere if they make a decision to be his people by faith.
* God can use his people even in a godless place in the most unusual circumstances.
* God ways are not always what we want or in ways that is always pleasant to us.
>About how to obtain God's blessing?
* With respect and fear of God.
* To be ready to be used for God's purposes in any and all life circumstances.
* To be ready to be used in God's will and plan no matter where he puts us and how we got there.
* Don't get carried away with life circumstances.
* Make one small decision by faith.
* Learn and grow out of a devotion to the Lord.
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