Ashpenaz, the chief of Nebuchadnezzar’s officials selected
several handsome, brilliant, teenage boys from the royal
family to train for service to the king. The teenagers came
from Judah; they still were Israelites, but not for much
longer, if Nebuchadnezzar had his way. Temptations for the
youths to convert to the ways of Babylon were often subtle.
The king’s goal was clear—change their way of thinking!
Babylon stamped its mark of ownership on these young men. The
chief official gave them new names. From the time that Adam
had named the animals in Eden, the right to name had been the
mark of dominion. The change of names was the first step in
the process of making these men Babylonians. The four young
men mentioned had either the shortened form for God (el) or
Yahweh (iah) in their given Hebrew names.
is Judge or God is my Judge) changed to
god Bel favors).
HANANIAH (Beloved of Yahweh) changed
SHADRACH (Illuminated by the Sun God).
(Who is as God) changed to
MESHACH (Who is what the Moon
AZARIAH (Yahweh is my help) changed to
ABEDNEGO (Servant of Nebo/Marduk).
Their changed names
reflected that the youths now belonged to the Babylonian gods.
The king intended to obliterate any reference to the true God
of Israel and to place before the four youths a continuous
reminder of the gods of the Chaldeans. Their names were
changed, but not their character or allegiance; they would
remain faithful to Yahweh.
Placed in a different
environment, they were vulnerable to all kinds of influences
and temptations. The allurements of the world’s luxury,
prestige and power were a crucial test of their faith in
Nebuchadnezzar’s brainwashing program was to
fill the stomach with the sensual, the mind with knowledge and
understanding, and the ego with eminence. Here are echoes
of the serpent’s temptations, first to Eve in the Garden
of Eden, and later to Christ in the Judean desert.
Often the adversary’s temptations are the same; his
methods and packaging of temptation may vary. Jesus was
led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the
Devil (Matthew 4:1). God had placed Eve in a beautiful
garden and allowed the Devil to beguile her. Now Yahweh
had brought Daniel and his three friends to the
magnificent palaces of Babylon to be tempted by the
deceiver. Consider the difficulty of this test.
- The king ordered a menu that violated God’s Law;
the inexperienced youths would have to stand firm
against the most powerful adult who ever lived.
- Disobedience meant severe punishment; obedience to
the king’s orders would please everyone but God.
- Disobedience, even if not punished, could work to
their disadvantage in respect to future positions.
- The king’s menu appealed strongly to the natural
appetites of the four young men.
- There would be the temptation to reason:
God has not been good to us. Why should we be faithful
to His laws?
b. We were taught to obey those in
authority so let’s obey King Nebuchadnezzar.
Under normal circumstances, God’s Law is to be obeyed,
but we are in abnormal circumstances.
d. Mom and
Dad will never know. We’re far away from home—who
would ever know?
e. Hey! We’re only kids!
These teenagers knew what was right and good under
God’s Law and its consequences. “Anyone, then, who knows
the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins” (James
2:4). Their decision not to sin was wise in God’s eyes and
He would add to their wisdom.
tests. This is apparent from the dual meanings of the
nacah) and Greek (peirasmov
peirasmos), which are translated either “tempt” or
“test” depending on their context. When Satan tempts one
to sin, God tests that person for faith. James 1:2-12
offers insights into the dual temptation and testing of
Nebuchadnezzar was as much an
instrument of the Devil as of God. His motives were
worldly and his methods were shrewd attempts: (1) to
solicit the good will of the youths; (2) to maintain and
develop healthy bodies for his service; (3) to convert
them to his religion; and (4) to make
magnificent statesmen. The youths were to be indispensable
assets in building his new empire; and God planned to help