DANIEL CHAPTER 1
Daniel and his three friends: Men of Conviction
We will make three assumptions as we study the Book of Daniel: First, the Church is going through the major part of Daniel’s 70th week (some of you call that period “the Tribulation.”) Second, the Book of Daniel will serve as an “end-times manual” for the Church. Third, we must help one another get prepared. We will plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Daniel connects the Old and New Testaments. Through Daniel, God revealed the exact date month and year of Messiah’s death (Jesus Christ) and events leading to His return. Daniel demonstrates God’s complete control and comprehension over time and nations, by giving detailed prophecies about the succession of kingdoms and rulers. Daniel foretells the eventual establishment of Messiah’s kingdom, which will overthrow the kingdoms of this world. Much of what Daniel reveals describes the awful torment Antichrist will unleash at the end of the age, also known as Daniel’s 70th week. In the book of Daniel, God is revealing to mankind His pattern for the future!
THE DEPORTATION OF JEHOIAKIM, EVIL KING OF JUDAH
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah (Jehoiakim was a wicked king, who executed a faithful prophet Urijah (Jeremiah 26:20-24), burned Jeremiah’s prophesies in the fire, ordered Jeremiah arrest (Jeremiah 36:20-26), and rejected God’s word spoken through Jeremiah.) Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon (Signaling the rise of Babylon as a new world power, he became king in 605 B.C.) came to Jerusalem and besieged it. (The book of Daniel opens in 605 B.C. and begins with the siege of Jerusalem and the capture and exile of many Jews to Babylon. The southern kingdom is composed of the two tribes Benjamin and Judah. Nebuchadnezzar first attacked the city of Jerusalem and took as captives a group of strong young men, foremost among them Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar returned to Palestine again in 598 B.C. and a third time in 586 B.C. when he destroyed the city of Jerusalem completely--leaving not one stone standing upon another, thus beginning of the times of the Gentiles. Luke 21:24 “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” The times of the gentiles began with the first beast empire of Daniel, Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar, and will conclude with Antichrist, the last leader of the beast empires.)
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 (There were more than 50 temples in the magnificent city of Babylon) and put in the treasure house of his god.
From Beth Moore’s Daniel Series: When the king came to Jerusalem, what happened? God delivered his people over to this enemy. Why? Years of disobedience. Idolatry running rampant. Sexual perversion. Child sacrifice. Does that speak to you? Has God ever said to you, stop falling into idolatry? “I have warned you through my Word, I have warned you through my spirit, and if you don’t listen to me, I will hand you over into captivity.” How could God hand his people, the people He loves, into captivity? God is the Lord and He will be respected. God is faithful to his Word even when it is bad news. Beth Moore also challenged her listeners with this: “Has the sovereign God ever said to you, I am not kidding! I am really not kidding on this issue. The enemy wants to return us to the place of our greatest despair. The enemy wants us to be afraid. The enemy wants us to focus and to go back to the false gods of our nation. And if we do this, we will find ourselves in the biggest mess of our lives.” Why did God allow this people to go into hard times? The people of God had rebelled against Him. The Book of Daniel can be divided into two parts: The value of character and integrity in the midst of a Babylonian culture, and eschatology for the church facing the end-times. Daniel is teaching us to stand true regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves.
THE TRAINING OF DANIEL
3Then the king (Nebuchadnezzar personally designed a rigorous course of education, training and diet because he is grooming them for important positions) ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility (these young men were of royal descent)-- 4young men (the best youths, teenagers ages 13-15, the cream of the crop) 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 (physically attractive, mentally quick and sharp, personable and winsome). He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
5The king assigned them (He was grooming and training them for positions of importance in the Babylon government.) a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table (this menu probably violated Mosaic dietary laws, as well as having been offered to the gods of Babylon). They were to be trained for three years (3 years of “higher education”), and after that they were to enter the king's service. (Daniel and his friends are being exposed to the education training and culture of Babylon. Daniel has chosen not to draw any lines at this point. We can learn the teaching and philosophies of Babylon, but be careful not to accept them. The Babylonian Philosophy is recorded in Isa 47:8-10 and reflects an attitude of complete self-absorption…
Isaiah 47:8-10 (The Babylonian Philosophy)
"Now then, listen, you wanton creature,
lounging in your security
and saying to yourself,
'I am, and there is none besides me.
I will never be a widow
or suffer the loss of children.'
 Both of these will overtake you
in a moment, on a single day:
loss of children and widowhood.
They will come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
and all your potent spells.
 You have trusted in your wickedness
and have said, 'No one sees me.'
Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you
when you say to yourself,
'I am, and there is none besides me.'
Babylon represents the attitude “It’s all about me.” We live in a similar culture, eaten alive by self-absorption, and we in God’s family are miserable with it, but it’s what we are taught day-in, day-out. The church must be careful to not take on this attitude. Instead, we are to be lights. We are to be filled with the Spirit. We are to change the culture by serving others and make a mark here for the kingdom of God. And if we are not doing everything we can to fight that Babylonian mentality, we will be sucked in by it. This battle is so tough, that we must be very deliberate and extremely intentional to live for God or we will not be people He can use. In like manner, during the end-times we are told that the Antichrist will try to brainwash the world against our Lord.
Daniel 7:25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.
NAMES FOR THE HEBREW TEENAGERS
6 Among these (from all kinds of nations that Nebuchadnezzar had conquered) were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7The chief official gave them new names (all were named after three Babylonian deities, Bel, Aku and Nego, in order to wean them away from the true God of Israel.): to Daniel (whose name means “Elohim is my judge”), the name Belteshazzar (which means “may Bel protect his life”. The chief god of Babylon was Marduk also known as Bel.); to Hananiah (“The Lord Yahweh is gracious”), Shadrach (which means “Aku the moon god is exalted); to Mishael (“who is what God Elohim is”), Meshach (which means, “who is what Aku is”); and to Azariah (“the Lord Yahweh is my helper”), Abednego (which means “the servant of Nebo.” Daniel and friends are now living in a totally gentile culture and Nebuchadnezzar is subtly trying to convert them away from the true God to the false gods of the gentiles and Babylon. He did not subject them to torture, but rather, he is trying to brain wash and indoctrinate them. Even at this point, Daniel has chosen not to draw any lines in the sand.)
Elohim is my judge
Bel will protect
Yahweh is gracious
Inspired of Aku
Who is what God is?
Belonging to Aku
Yahweh is my helper
Servant of Nego
DANIEL’S RESOLVE – A PIVOTAL DECISION IN HIS LIFE
8But Daniel resolved (he purposed, determined, set in his heart, he did not want to compromise his convictions) not to defile himself (not to become corrupted by the Babylonian culture) with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission (Daniel acted wisely knowing people want to be informed and showed respect for authority) not to defile himself this way (Daniel was a man of exceptional courage and conviction and was committed to remain pure. How good and godly his parents must have been as they raised him, though we know nothing of them from Scripture. Nothing negative in the Bible is ever said of Daniel or Joseph, and both were dreamers. This is a pivotal text – it’s a warning to not become carried away with a Babylonian culture!!!)
What was Daniel's resolve? Interestingly, this is the event to cause him to draw the line in the sand. The name changes and the schooling were accepted in good grace, but "Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself" (Daniel 1:8) in the matter of eating the king's food. Strange as it many seem to us, it is precisely here that Daniel and his companions drew the line. The Law of Moses contained explicit commands concerning clean and unclean foods. The gods of Babylon would be invoked at these Babylonian festivities, and Daniel could not conscientiously take part in them.
WHEN TO DRAW THE LINE?
Questions to ponder: When have you taken a Christian stand in a non-Christian setting? When have you drawn a line in order to be relevant for the kingdom of God? When have you obeyed a law to be holy regardless of the cost? How does the following verse apply to this situation?
1 Cor. 10:23 "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive.
What sacrifices have you made that reflect your dedication to the Lord? Did Daniel have it easier than us? What stops us from taking stands?
9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10but 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 (looking unhealthy) than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you." (Daniel needed to be very careful how they approached this subject. Life was a cheap commodity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was also known for his harshness! In Jer 39:5 he blinded Zedekiah after he forced him to watch his own sons murdered. We will see him throw live men into a furnace of fire. Ashpenaz was afraid he would face capital punishment and be killed if this new diet was less beneficial in any way.)
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 it a chance for 10 days): Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then 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. (Daniel was a very convincing young man. He stepped forward in faith allowing God to work in his life.)
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier (in appearance) and better nourished (fatter) than any of the young men who ate the royal food. (This must have been miraculous as God supernaturally intervened. God’s active intervention comes when we take a stand for him.)
16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. (He rejected the “choice” food in order to obey God and eat vegetables “grown from sown seed” which would include grains. We have the “choice food” today. We are over indulged, captivated by a friendly, accomodating enemy. We have choices to make. We are the “haves.” Perhaps in the end-times we, like Daniel, may have to be ready to choose less. Three years of vegetables, no wonder he lived for over 80 years!)
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel (alone, not the others) could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. (God blessed Daniel and his companions for their obedience to Him. What does this tell us about the power of personal holiness? Daniel’s body looked healthier (v15). His Spirit was in tune with God, who gave him a special ability to understand visions and interpret dreams of all kinds (v17). His mind was sharp (v20).
" 'In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
 I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
In the end times, God promises to bless his people in unique ways. If we are willing to be used, God will use us.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. (All four were promoted.) 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. (Daniel and his friends graduated at the top of their class and they even surpassed the understanding of the Babylonian wise men).
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus. (A Persian king who ruled from about 539 to 530 B.C. Daniel lived throughout the entire Babylonian captivity.)
Do you want to be a Daniel? Then you need to do some of the things Daniel did. Practice some restraint. Yes, we have liberty, but maybe we need to prepare and practice saying “no” to the world’s indulgence/the Babylonian influence.
MYSTERY BABYLON (ANOTHER KEY END-TIMES PLAYER)
Revelation 17 and 18 include some of the most profound, and difficult, prophecies in the Bible. In these chapters we are given some astounding information regarding Antichrist and another symbolic woman, a very powerful end-times city/nation called “Mystery Babylon the Great.”
Historical Babylon (Genesis 11) was a nation that was symbolized by the tower of Babel in Babylon (Gen 10:10, 11:4). Historical Babylon represented both a religious/political system that ultimately opposed God’s plan and purpose for mankind. In the end-times, there will be a similar powerful nation, much like Historical Babylon, who will ultimately oppose the purposes of God. The mystery that is being revealed is that Historical Babylon, during the end-times, will re-manifest itself as “Mystery Babylon”. Twice before in the Revelation John suddenly and without explanation introduced “Babylon the Great” into his end-times prophecy.
Rev. 14:8 - A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."
Rev. 16:19 - The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.
In Revelation 17 & 18 John gives us clues as to the identity of Babylon the Great; Mystery Babylon is symbolized by a “mystical woman” who will be guilty of committing heinous spiritual adulteries and abominations against God during Daniel’s 70th week. Her acts are identified as “adulterous” because she has broken her original relationship with God to pursue other “lovers” or idols. In the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, the Antichrist and his beast kingdom will find it necessary to temporarily align with this power-house nation while he develops his own 10-nation end-times empire and gains control of the world.
Mystery Babylon is symbolized by a “great city.” This city/nation is the most wealthy, God-forsaking nation on the face of the earth during the end times. Tragically, she did not begin this way. She was once a “gold cup in the Lord’s hand.” But over time she has become exceedingly arrogant, woefully independent of God and self-indulgent. She is so powerful, she is convinced that she will never fall and views herself as “the queen” of the world.
At some point in Daniel’s 70 the week, Mystery Babylon will be destroyed by the Antichrist, but not before God calls his saints out of this mystery nation. Her complete destruction by fire will occur in a single day.
Biblically, a mystery is a truth that is only known by divine revelation. The identity of Mystery Babylon is a mystery that needs to be solved. We will refer frequently to Jeremiah 50 and 51 which reveals helpful information concerning the identity of Prophetic Babylon and additional clues regarding this key end-times city/nation that rules over the kings of the earth. I believe Mystery Babylon is a super power nation that will exist at the time of Daniel’s 70th week and helps pave the way for Antichrist’s rise to world power.