Maturity Defined (2 Peter 1:3-7) By Dr. Andy Woods Open your Bibles to 2 Peter…
The Mighty Angels of Daniel 1: A Tragic Backstory
By Nathan Jones
The Light of Revelation
Vic Batista: We are starting a new Bible prophecy study series looking at God’s mighty Angel Gabriel, found so often proclaiming God’s messages in the book of Daniel. Daniel is another book in the Bible that functions much like Revelation in understanding God’s overall plan for the ages. The book of Daniel is so tied to Revelation that I often refer to it as the “Mini-book of Revelation.”
Nathan Jones: True, Daniel is like the Old Testament version of Revelation. You really should read Daniel first in order to better understand Revelation.
Vic Batista: Absolutely! And so we are about to dive into the book of Daniel so that we can gain a better understanding of the prophecies concerning the end times, especially those found in the book of Revelation. We’ll start at the beginning with Daniel 1 in order to introduce the book. Our emphasis will be to study this book from the viewpoint of God’s mighty angel who visits Daniel and proclaims God’s wonderfully amazing prophecies. The Angel Gabriel reveals the future!
Nathan Jones: The book of Daniel is indeed a great work of apocalyptic literature. The Greek word for apocalyptic is apokalupsis meaning “an unveiling, a disclosing, or a revelation.” So, even though Daniel wasn’t directly called a prophet in the book of Daniel, Jesus does call Him a prophet in Matthew 24:15. Daniel wrote down some of God’s most important revelations about the future.
It’s amazing that the book of Daniel not only contains prophecies that are of course future to us today, as they were future to him, but he shared other very detailed prophecies that were fulfilled long after Daniel, but that are still in the past for us. We can then look back on those fulfilled prophecies and marvel how they unfolded, and in such great detail. So, Daniel is truly an amazing book!
Vic Batista: So, as we read through the Word of God, I pray that the reader will become very excited about what God is planning concerning His Son Jesus and we His children. Let’s begin uncovering these wonderful prophecies!
A Tragic Backstory
Vic Batista: Before getting into the angelic aspects of the book of Daniel, let’s get some beginning backstory by reading Daniel 1:1-8 from the New King James Version.
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
Vic Batista: We start with a rather terrible background story. Daniel and his friends’ life story begins in tragedy. In the third year of the reign of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to their hometown of Jerusalem and besieged it. Daniel and his people lost the battle and were dragged off into captivity.
Nathan Jones: Yes, Daniel’s story begins not too long after 612 BC when the Assyrian Empire fell as both a nation and a major power to the Babylonians. By this point in history, the Babylonians were spending a lot of time retaking what the Assyrian Empire had once conquered itself. Assyria was the empire that crushed the Northern Kingdom of Israel and plundered most of Judah. So, here we’ve got a shift in world power at that time, and now Babylon has become the big gun.
Babylon rises on the scene just as the Prophet Habakkuk had prophesied. He’s foretold that Babylon would rise to power from being an obscure little nation to becoming the most powerful very quickly. Nebuchadnezzar was just a prince when Assyria fell, and he was sent out by his father to war against Egypt. As Nebuchadnezzar was traveling back from defeating Egypt in 605 BC, he went ahead and attacked Jerusalem. He carried off all the noblemen and the sons of the rulers, leaving Jehoiakim as the puppet king of Judah. There were actually three deportations by Nebuchadnezzar, starting in 605 BC and then later when we get to the third one where Jerusalem was final destroyed in 586 BC.
Daniel and his three friends — Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah — were also taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Daniel as the author states those taken were nobleman, so he and his three friends must have come from families of affluence in Judah. They also had to be good looking guys, both physically attractive and mentally sharp. That was a typical strategy of Nebuchadnezzar and his father, Nabopolassar. They believed that you plundered a country not only of its material wealth, but also of its human resources. You took the handsome guys who were also the leaders and brought them back to Babylon. Once firmly uprooted, the prisoners would then be given a total cultural makeover so that the captives would transform into official Babylonians, and finally placed into service.
The Kidnapped Teens
Vic Batista: Daniel and his three friends were very young men, likely mid-teens, kidnapped by a foreign country. And now their oppressors are attempting to change their culture, their identity, and everything else about them. And yet, we notice from chapter one that even at a young age Daniel and his friends purposed not to conform to the objectionable parts of the foreign, pagan, Babylonian culture. That’s a message that’s applicable to today’s youth.
Nathan Jones: Many theologians believe that Daniel was likely 16 when he was captured. So, here we have a 16-year old teenager, my own son’s age in fact, taken captive from his home and family and carted off to Babylon. Bear in mind then that for Daniel Babylon is the enemy. The Babylonian’s have destroyed his people’s home, kidnapped he and his friends, and they are being forced into become the very people they hate.
As we read through Daniel, we will see that Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar eventually develop a great friendship. The book starts with Nebuchadnezzar being the enemy of Israel. He kidnaps these young men and even strips them of their names and identities, renaming them after pagan gods. The king is trying to change who these Jews are as a people by making them eat food that would be considered defiled under Mosaic Law. Nebuchadnezzar is even trying to change their religion.
Daniel has reluctantly accepted all this transformation of who he is, but when it comes to keeping God’s laws, Daniel proclaims to the effect, “Enough is enough! I can only change so much, for I will not betray my God.” Daniel draws a metaphorical line in the sand with, “I will not defile myself with delicacies and wines that the Mosaic Law told me I should never eat.”
Vic Batista: Pastor David Hocking did an excellent job with a book he wrote called, Dare to be Daniel. He focuses on Daniel’s moral stand, even in the face of execution. Dr. Hocking makes a parallel for the Christian today, as we too often find ourselves facing a culture that pressures us into compromising our beliefs. The secular culture continually attempts to change the way we think, the way we dress, and who we are in Christ. Society pressures us to adapt to their secular culture or become ostracized.
Nathan Jones: You’re not kidding! We are currently living during a major cultural revolution as same-sex relationships, taboo just ten years ago, have become the accepted norm. You can’t turn on the TV or listen to music or go anywhere without being assaulted by this idea that it is okay to have sex with whatever gender you want. Sex defined as one man and one women within the bounds of marriage just does not matter to society anymore. It doesn’t even matter now if you identify as a male or female! This has been a major societal paradigm change, one that humanists have striven to not only force upon us to accept, but even to endorse.
What has been happening to Christians today once happened to Daniel. He has been taken from his culture. He was forced to live in a foreign culture that demanded that he and his friends conform to that culture’s immorality. Daniel is only willing to go so far, though. He has to be recognized by the name Belteshazzar, a tip of the hat to a pagan god, so he’s actually being named after a pagan god. He decides he has no choice but to will deal with that name.
But, when it comes the time to test his faith in following God’s moral law, will his faith stand? Will Daniel continue to obey the law of God, or adopt the law of man? Here we Daniel, just like Dr. Hocking’s book’s title, does indeed dare to take a stand for what is morally right. Daniel will not defile himself with what God had declared the Jew should never defile himself with.
Vic Batista: The people God uses to work His mighty deeds are people willing to take a stand for what’s right. In order to make a difference in the world, we must stand up and stand out from the rest of the masses. I find Daniel’s boldness has become a great example of encouragement for our children. His example provides hope that God can use young men and women who remain set apart for the Lord and respond to His calling.
Nathan Jones: Because Daniel and his friends are 16-18 years old or so, just young men, one would naturally assume that they are going to bow to the pressure. They must have been terrified of King Nebuchadnezzar. He was the most powerful king in the world at that time. He wiped out both the major empires of the Assyrians and the Egyptians, marching those he’d conquered away in chains from their homes. Nebuchadnezzar also had a nasty, nasty temper. If you ticked him off, you were dead! He would even find creatively painful ways to kill you.
By challenging the Babylonian system of reprogramming, Daniel must have known that by defying Nebuchadnezzar he was likely already a dead man. As a matter of fact, we will read a little bit later in chapter one how the chief of the eunuchs responds when responding to Daniel’s request. The eunuch was terrified!
Regardless of the danger, God’s children must take a stand for what is right. There had to have been a point in our relationship with God when we took a stand and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, no matter the consequences. As we live in a society today that is increasingly becoming more and more evil, Christians will have to continue to make dire choices and stand for the Bible that we believe in.
Vic Batista: How right that is! We are already seeing Christians having to make a life-or-death choices as ISIS marches through Iraq and Syria. Their goal is to wipe out both Christianity and Israel from the face of the earth. Persecution is clearly knocking at the door of the Western world as well.
I’m reminded of the Columbine shooting from many years ago, when one young girl, even at the receiving end of a bullet, did not renounce the Lord. She was looking death in the face, and still she stood up for what is right. I think Daniel and Christians like her provide great examples for all Christians today.
Nathan Jones: You probably remember the county clerk from Kentucky, Kim Davis, who refused to give out marriage licenses to homosexual couples once same-sex marriage was ruled upon by the Supreme Court. She said the reason was she could not deny her faith in God. Now, it can be debated from both sides how far should have taken her stand. Should she have just quit her job? Or, should she have followed the new law because it was her duty? She believed that she was following the law of God. Regardless of whether one believes she acted out of her moral convictions properly or not, here was a person taking a stand for morality under tremendous pressure, even under the pressure of the President himself and the Supreme Court. She took a stand for God, and that is exactly what Daniel and his friends were doing.
Vic Batista: God had a great plan for Daniel, even from an early age. Daniel would come to understand that eventually. God uses men and women of faith from all ages in the same mighty way just like we read about in the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel is fantastic for educating, encouraging, and motivating Christians to really live up to their potential in the Lord.
In the second segment of this series on the mighty angels of Daniel, we’ll explore the disciplines which helped Daniel stand strong in the face of death.