Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 1

Outline and Background

Crisis Point - Daniel 1:1

Captive Situation - Daniel 1:2

Crucial Test - Daniel 1:3-7

Critical Choice - Daniel 1:8-13

Commendable Decision & Consequent Blessing - Daniel 1:14-20

Coincident Prophecy - Daniel 1:21

Application and Typical Prophecies

Critical Choice - Daniel 1:8-13

Nebuchadnezzar was looking to these young men for service in his palace and so was Yahweh. The king was looking on the outward appearance and God was looking at the heart. Both sovereigns wanted the finest to grace the royal court. The chosen royal youths would be without defect, handsome, intelligent, knowledgeable, quick to learn and qualified to serve. How many measured up to the king’s qualifications we are not told; only four met God’s standard of holiness. The others succumbed to logic, psychology and the temptation to conform.

Human logic would say, “Marduk, Nebuchadnezzar’s god, had won. Since Marduk is superior to Yahweh, why obey God’s commands?” Psychology would have the youths conform to the present world system: “When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians do!” However, God’s people are not to be conformed to the world; they are the salt of the earth and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16).

When tested to conform, or to not conform, the exiles had an outstanding example from their past to follow. Moses might have been brainwashed in Egypt. He was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action (Acts 7:22), but he would not be corrupted (Hebrews 11:24-26). Likewise, Daniel and his three friends chose not to be brainwashed and corrupted in Babylon.

Many secular universities and colleges are like the Babylonian school—they attempt to have their students conform to a humanistic and atheistic system of values. These values are designed to whitewash God out of the picture, and render young minds brainwashed to serve the adversary of God. The NT urges the believer to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV).

To eat the king’s fare would have the appearance of giving allegiance to the Babylonian gods, especially if the meats came from sacrificial offerings. At the same time, the youths would have been disobeying God’s Law regarding the eating of only “clean” foods (Leviticus 11) and meat without blood (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:23).

Why did the youths reject wine since only high priests and kings were not to drink wine nor strong drink (Leviticus 10:8-11; Proverbs 31:4-6)? It is noteworthy that the angel Gabriel said that John the Baptist was not to drink wine nor strong drink (Luke 1:15). There was no prohibition against such drinking for these lads. They chose the uncompromising life, which is characterized by opting for the highest, noblest, and best.

Great men have fallen to the power of strong drink. Belshazzar lost the Babylonian Empire while involved in a drunken feast. History records that Alexander the Great, in a similar vein, lost his world empire at the age of thirty-three. Daniel stands as a polemic against these two rulers in his book.

Daniel and his three friends knew that Yahweh’s prophets predicted their coming to Babylon. The youths were still under God’s rule. They would pass the crucial test of faith because they feared the LORD.

They chose to eat vegetables, probably edible seeds of leguminous plants, such as peas, beans, and lentils, instead of royal food. Wine and food affect disposition and muscle tone; however, the rapid and favorable results of abstaining were of God, not the diet!

Daniel resolved (literally, “set in his heart”) not to defile himself with the royal food and wine and his three friends agreed. The heart is the center of life according to Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Disobedience defiles the whole person, which is why Daniel says “himself” in 1:8.

Apparently, the four youths had hidden God’s Word in their heart. Faithful Jews repeated daily “the Shema” of Deuteronomy 6:4-6:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts."

Hence, one’s heart, soul, mind and strength are defiled by rebellious disobedience. To keep God’s commands is to love Him. This crucial test required a crucial decision. Fear man or fear the LORD. It called for strength and courage as well as wisdom. This chapter illustrates the key
verse of the Bible.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).

Daniel feared the LORD and in return, he received the wisdom to make his way out of this temptation. The text says, “God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel.” God led Daniel into trial but provided a way out of temptation.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a
way out so that you can stand up under it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Daniel’s request to Ashpenaz, the chief official, was courageous, polite and persistent. It displayed faith and fairness. Nevertheless, Ashpenaz feared the king. If his charges lost weight because of a change of diet or appeared pale and undernourished, he could be beheaded. He was answerable to his superior, who was in this case the hot-tempered monarch of the empire. The official feared the king, but the lads feared Yahweh. In Acts 5:29, Peter and the other apostles stated what these four knew and understood at a young age: “We must obey God rather than men!”

Daniel was young and daring, but were the odds against him? No! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone;
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known!

Daniel’s courage sets the stage for the upcoming events in his book. The Word of God is plain; one must take a positive stand; dare to stand with the few, or perhaps alone, and trust the grace and power of our faithful God—dare to be a Daniel!

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

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Experiencing Exodus

Book of James

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

Other studies at Spreading Light Bible Studies

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