We are starting our read through Daniel. In the first six chapters each chapter stands alone as a small story and so we have to deal with the chapters as a whole so we don’t break up the narrative. In chapter one we are to notice that God gives Israel over to Nebuchadnezzar. God positively disposes the guards to Daniel and his friends. God gifts Daniel and his friends with insight that is uncommon in Babylon.
Repetition is a form of emphasis. What is God trying to emphasize? Although the outward appearance of the situation is that all hope is lost and that the god of the Babylonians has conquered the God of Israel, God is working the situation for his purposes. What are his purposes? Redemption.
There are a number of aspects to redemption that are worth looking at. Firstly, the redemptive cycle involves turning people over to the natural consequences of their sin. Too many people think it is loving to protect people from consequences. however, this spoils people and creates arrogant, entitled brats. Daniel and his friends come from a chastised nation and their perspective is all the more healthy for it. Secondly, redemption involves decisions to follow a righteous path. Daniel and his friends follow a path that refrains from eating food that probably was offered to gods. However, they do not refuse to have their names changed to names that give honour to pagan gods and they may have even been made into eunachs.
Finally, God lifts individuals who put their faith in him into positions of usefulness in his plan. God honours those who honour him, especially through a redemptive path marked with suffering.
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 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[a]and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 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.[b] 5The 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.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
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. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c]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.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 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.” 14So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17To 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.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20In 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.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
- What had happened to ruin Israel?
- What are the names of the four characters God has his hand upon?
- How does God equip those who are faithful to him?
- How does American culture shape its citizens?
- How are we to raise children in ways that would keep them faithful like Daniel?