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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the December 9 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: December 9
<< Ezek 48
Kings & Prophets

For New King James text and comment, click here.

 

Daniel 1-3     Listen Podcast

 

How'd we get here, anyway? (Daniel 1:1-7)

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.

We get our exact bearings in Daniel from the first seven verses, leaving no doubt whatsoever regarding time or place. There were three major invasions by the Babylonians of the Palestine area. The first was the one here in which Daniel was taken in 605 B.C. That invasion took place during the reign of Judah's King Jehoiakim. The second was 597 B.C. when King Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim surrendered to the Babylonians and was deported along with all the other influential people in Jerusalem/Judah; Zedekiah became the puppet king (by Babylonian appointment) of Jerusalem/Judah at that time. After Zedekiah got too big for his breeches and rebelled against the Babylonian rule, Jerusalem fell under its final siege in 587/586 B.C. and was destroyed by the Babylonians - THE END. Those last years are recorded in II Kings 24-25 (see notes).

In Jeremiah 25:11 (see notes), Jeremiah prophesied that the exiles would serve the Babylonians for 70 years. Then again in Jeremiah 29:10 (see notes) the prophet prophesied that the captivity would last 70 years. It is true that the Jews began returning to Jerusalem under Persian King Cyrus in 536/535 B.C. following the defeat of the Babylonians, 70 years after the initial captivity in 605 B.C. It is also worth noting that the temple was ravaged in 586 B.C. and rebuilt in 516 B.C. - again, 70 years. These historical fulfillments validate the prophesies of Jeremiah seventy years before.

Once in Babylon, Daniel and his friends underwent name changes. For future reference, let's take note of the Babylonian aliases of Daniel and his friends:

It is interesting that the Book of Daniel continues to refer to Daniel with his Jewish name throughout, but the Babylonian names are commonly used for the other three. There's one more point of interest regarding the Book of Daniel; it is written in two different languages. Chapters 1, 8-12 are written in Hebrew; chapters 2-7 are written in Aramaic. As a captive of the Babylonians, Daniel was fluent in both languages. And why would Daniel write this manuscript in two different languages?

Following is an excerpt from the Expositor's Bible Commentary on this issue:

A careful study of the subject matter yields fairly obvious answers: The Aramaic chapters deal with matters pertaining to the entire citizenry of the Babylonian and the Persian empires, whereas the other six chapters relate to peculiarly Jewish concerns and God’s special plans for the future of his covenant people. It would seem to follow that the Aramaic chapters (2-7) were in some sense made available to the Gentile public, since Aramaic was the lingua franca of the period of the Babylonian and Persian empires during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.

Incidentally, with regard to Aramaic, it was the common language of the Assyrian Empire and was used in both the Babylonian and Persian empires that followed as a diplomatic and commercial language. In the entire Old Testament, only Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Jeremiah 10:11; and Daniel 2:4-7:28 were written in Aramaic.

By the way, you will notice that these four boys were taken by Nebuchadnezzar because they were gifted children (verse 4). These children were to be trained for some future role in the service of Nebuchadnezzar.

Come on boys...eat up! (Daniel 1:8-21)

8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
21 And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.

Daniel and his three fellow royal captives didn't like the king's cuisine. They determined not to defile themselves with the royal food - probably food that violated Jewish-preparation guidelines and/or had been offered to pagan gods before arriving in the kings's kitchen. The servant in charge of nourishing them panicked. "If those boys get scrawny, it'll be my head," he conjectured. However, Daniel reasons with him and challenges him to a test: let us eat a vegetarian diet with water, and then compare us to your other diners in 10 days. After 10 days, they were permanently allowed to stay on their modest diet. At the end of their training, When Nebuchadnezzar inspects the royal captives, he finds Daniel and his three friends to be significantly sharper than the others - more so than even his home-grown wise guys. Furthermore, verse 17 says that "Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams."

You will notice in verses 19-21 that Daniel found favor with the Babylonian king and remained prominent in Babylon throughout the remaining Babylonian rule - over 60 years of public service (minus a short retirement under Belshazzar).

Sometimes a dream is more than a dream (Daniel 2:1-16)

1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
6 But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
7 They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.
8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
12 For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
13 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
15 He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.
16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.

Ol' Neb (aka Nebuchadnezzar) had a dream and wanted someone to interpret it. His resident wise guys (counselors/astrologers) said they'd be happy to, so...what's the dream? Not so fast! Neb conjectured that if they really could supernaturally interpret the dream, they should be able to tell him what the dream was in the first place. Hey, this Babylonian king is no chump! That way he'd know they had the power to interpret the dream. You gotta love the two choices Neb gives these would-be prophets: (1) Reveal the dream and it's interpretation, get honor and riches; (2) fail to do so, receive a horrible execution along with your houses razed to the ground (verse 5). After being told that this was an impossible task, Neb decides to have all the wise men in his kingdom killed. That's when Daniel tells his prospective executioner, "I can do it!" A bit of scheduling with the king takes place, and Daniel's set for his big debut.

Let's give credit where credit is due (Daniel 2:17-30)

17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
18 That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.
24 Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.
25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.

Daniel asks his three friends to pray with him for a revelation from God; he needs to know that dream. Bingo! God gives it to him. Verses 19-23 contain the prayer of thanksgiving from Daniel after he receives the revelation. He goes before Neb (verses 24-30) and specifically gives the one true God credit for revealing the dream.

Nebuchadnezzar's Image

Now for the dream (Daniel 2:31-45)

31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
32 This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

Now for the crucial part - revealing the dream. Daniel nails it - describes a big image of a man and a stone that crushes it (Verses 31-36). Ok, but what does it mean? Daniel tells him. Here's the dream and interpretation:

The image represents four great empires:

Nebuchadnezzar is impressed (Daniel 2:46-49)

46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.
47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
49 Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.

Nebuchadnezzar likes what he hears, and the other wise men in the kingdom are relieved as well. Daniel gets a huge promotion as Nebuchadnezzar pays his respects to the one true God. Daniel also gets his three associates promoted. All in all, it was a great dream day. From nobody to the king's right-hand man in one day - the mother of all promotions I'd say. And he did it all without forsaking the one true God - even caused Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge God. No question...a good day!

Nebuchadnezzar goes public with Daniel's image (Daniel 3:1-7)

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

Ol' Neb is so impressed with the dream and the interpretation Daniel had given concerning the image in chapter 2, he decides to have his people build a huge replica of this image; this thing is 90 feet tall! Now for the bad news: Everyone must fall down and worship it (verse 5) or be thrown into the furnace (verse 6). Neb obviously missed the point somewhere.

No way we're doing that! (Daniel 3:8-30)

8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.
14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?
15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

Great story! Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego become victims of professional jealousy by the locals - a bunch of anti-Semites. Those three are not going to bow down to the image...PERIOD! Neb looks them up and gives them another chance (verse 15) - NO WAY! They insist that their God can deliver them from Nebuchadnezzar's furnace. Enough is enough; the king is furious and commands that they be bound and the furnace be heated to seven times it's normal intensity. Hmmm. tie them up before you throw them into the fire - I wonder who thought of that!

It's into the furnace they go; the men that cast them in are killed by the heat. But then...the king sees "four men loose" in the furnace - "the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." I love verse 26, "Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire." Whoa! The ropes that bound them burned off, but their clothing remained intact - REMARKABLE! Out they come, without even the smell of smoke, but with a promotion and a decree that they can worship whomever they want with immunity. Well, not only that, but Nebuchadnezzar issues a further decree in verse 29 regarding their God, "That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill:" Hey, isn't that the exact decree issued back in 2:5 (see above)? Obviously, it was Neb's favorite. What else can you conclude? It was another good Jewish day in Babylon! If you're keeping score, that's Semites, 2; Heathen, 0.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner