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

Crucial Test - Daniel 1:3-7

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.

DANIEL (God is Judge or God is my Judge) changed to
BELTESHAZZAR (The god Bel favors).

HANANIAH (Beloved of Yahweh) changed to
SHADRACH (Illuminated by the Sun God).

MISHAEL (Who is as God) changed to
MESHACH (Who is what the Moon God is).

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 Yahweh.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Disobedience meant severe punishment; obedience to the king’s orders would please everyone but God.
  3. Disobedience, even if not punished, could work to their disadvantage in respect to future positions.
  4. The king’s menu appealed strongly to the natural appetites of the four young men.
  5. There would be the temptation to reason:
    a. 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.
    c. 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.

Temptations are tests. This is apparent from the dual meanings of the Hebrew (hon
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 these youths.

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
them into magnificent statesmen. The youths were to be indispensable assets in building his new empire; and God planned to help him!

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

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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