Daniel 6: Unharmed by the lions

Last time, we went from King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign to King Belshazzar’s reign to the very beginning of King Darius’ reign.  A change has taken place in that Babylon has fallen and the Medo-Persian Empire was now in charge. Daniel would face the famous den of lions – and live in victory!

Captivity Continues

Daniel 6:1-3. Daniel and his friends were really still in captivity.

This period of time was known as the Babylonian captivity, but now Babylon had fallen and the Medo-Persian empire inherited the Judean captives.

But Daniel is still included as a resident of Babylon, so when King Darius demands that all of Babylon bow and worship, he was including all of the Hebrew captives.

So Daniel was a prisoner, but he was set above the rest to govern, one of 3 governors.

An Excellent spirit

Daniel 6:3 

Daniel was distinguished “because an excellent spirit was in him.”

This is the mark of person who loves God.

You should have an excellent spirit.  When you are at work, it should be so obvious that you are different.  My Bible has some commentary and it says Daniel had a “surpassing ability to do his job” and he probably had a “commendable attitude.”

Are there ever times when you don’t have a good attitude?

Ask the LORD to give you a positive outlook on life.

Daniel was so impressive that King Darius contemplated letting him run everything.

Being Blameless when those around you want to find fault

Daniel 6:4 How many of you know that when you finally start doing something great for God, the devil starts using people around you to discourage you?   

The other governors and satraps wanted to find some fault with Daniel.  This guy is just too talented, he is making us look bad. 

But they couldn’t find fault.

The Bible tells us to be blameless.

Philippians 2:14-16  “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

Daniel is such a great example of that!  

Daniel 6:5 They plot against him.  We can only find a fault with Daniel if it relates to the law of his God.  The conspirators know that Daniel will refuse to break God’s law.  

Daniel was coming up against a whole host of demons.

These accusers had an angry, wickedly ambitious spirit about them, overly critical, jealous, compulsive, reactionary spirits.  Things of the enemy and things of the flesh.  

But Daniel’s faith was not in the things of the flesh, but rather in the truth of God’s Word.  He knew how to operate in victory.

When prayer is against the law

Daniel 6:7 King Darius’ advisors conspire against Daniel and decide to make a royal decree.

Royal decrees were handled very differently back then than they are now.

Once a royal decree was issued, it couldn’t be revoked, even by the king. The law could not be changed. Why not?  Because if the law was changeable that would be admitting that the law was imperfect.  And since they wanted everyone to obey their laws, they would essentially be saying their manmade laws were infallible.  

The royal decree stated that no one could worship anyone except King Darius for 30 days.  At least this law had an end date.  

But the king had to sign it.

Is it that he truly trusted his advisors?  That they had all the best interests of his kingdom in mind?

Or was he pressured into signing it for political reasons?

He signed the decree.   Prayer was banned! (Dan.6:9)

Why did King Darius sign it!?

Did he honestly believe he was a god?  He might’ve.  That was the culture back then just like it remains in North Korea.  These leaders want full submission including worship.

Daniel 6:10. Daniel knew King Darius signed it, but instead of confronting the king about it or cowering in fear in some cave someplace, he simply went home.

He knew only God could intervene.

He opened his windows, got down on his knees 3x/day and prayed.

The Bible says as was his custom.

Daniel didn’t let his circumstances change him.  He remained steadfast in His devotion and he had unwavering faith that “pasa lo que pasa” whatever happens happens.  It’s in God’s hands.

Nothing to hide

He not only prayed, but he prayed with his windows open.  He had nothing to hide.

But there are always the tattletales and the troublemakers.

If it were suddenly against the law here in the US to pray, would you be found guilty?

Daniel 6:11-13 Daniel has disobeyed the king’s decree.  He must be cast into the den of lions.

That Daniel.

That ________(fill in your name.)  Those children of God are at it again, praying to the God who hears. The God who saves.

Notice the accusers in verse 13 don’t call him governor.  They intentionally call him a captive from Judah.  They want to make their case that Daniel is treasonous.  He isn’t good enough for their clique.

King Darius realizes his error

Daniel 6:14 the king was mad at himself.  He realized the foolishness of having signed the law.  

He had sealed the fate – spoken death – over even his friend, Daniel whom he respected.

The king spent the whole afternoon trying to figure out how he could find a loophole in the decree so Daniel would be spared the lion’s den.

Daniel 6:15 but the accusers are back.  Hey, king, the law is the law.  Daniel’s going to be lion dinner.

Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den

Daniel 6:16-17 King Darius encourages Daniel and confesses with some faith here, that God who you serve so continually, He will deliver you.  

Daniel 6:18-20 The king didn’t eat all night.  He was fasting, he refused entertainment.  He couldn’t sleep.  And in the morning he faced his worst fear and called out to Daniel.

The king asked, “has your God been able?

Our God is Able!

Oh, let me tell you today, our God is able!  Of course, our God is able!

Daniel 6:21-23. And Daniel answered King Darius.  God sent His ministering angel to shut the mouth of the lion.

Daniel was unhurt, Hallelujah.

No injury whatsoever because Daniel believed in his God.

Servant of God, expect great things. If you believe in your God, He will deliver you.

Daniel 6:24-26   The enemies of God can expect destruction.

All of the accusers were cast into the lion den along with their wives and children and none of them survived.

Daniel 6:27-28. King Darius pronounces a new decree that God should be honored.

So what does this all mean for us now?

Does it mean we should tempt God and jump the enclosures at the zoo so we can prove that God will protect us? Absolutely not, the Bible says do not tempt the Lord thy God.

There’s a true story about that.  A guy in Taiwan

Intentionally jumped into a lion’s pen at the zoo holding his Bible and shouting at the lions that Jesus was going to save him.

Needless to say, the lions attacked him, he got severe bite wounds, and the zoo personnel had to tranquilize the lions and get him to safety.

This man put everyone danger.

Sometimes people (even Christians) get some crazy ideas and want to convince themselves or others that God told them to do something.  I had heard of another guy who did something similar in Africa. Speaking in tongues and everything and he said, if I can survive the lion’s den I will prove the power of God to everyone looking.

Make sure that you are legitimately hearing from God.  

Otherwise, Christians rightfully get a bad rap.  Y’all are crazy.  Y’all are jumping into lions dens. God doesn’t need our help in proving his power.

The serpent will not harm you Mark 16, but this is when the lion or the snake comes to you.  Don’t you go try finding it.  Don’t you go provoking the enemy.

It is entirely different if you were standing by the lion enclosure and an accident happened, and you found yourself in the midst of that den.  God could make those lions the tamest little cats around.  

So today I want to encourage you to:

  1. Be like Daniel.  Have an excellent reputation.  Go the extra mile for God.  Do something you might be uncomfortable with for the sake of the Gospel.  Pray even when the world tells you not to.  
  2. Don’t be like his accusers.  The enemy wants you on his side to cast blame, doubt, to even discourage your own self.  When those thoughts come to you that bring division, seek the Lord’s help.  The Lord will help you to develop a kind and generous spirit.  One that builds others up, and doesn’t tear them down.
  3. Have faith!  You’re going to find yourself in crazy situations you’ve never anticipated.  When you feel like your in a lion’s den with no escape and no plan, God can work His finest miracle in your life because you are powerless and hopeless without Him.  When you have no choice but to depend on your Heavenly Father, you will see that He will pull you through.


Daniel 4: Nebuchadnezzar is humbled before the True King

In the previous chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar witnessed the miracle of the 3 Judean youth unharmed despite being thrown into Babylon’s fiery furnace.

King Nebuchadnezzar now addresses everyone and decides to acknowledge God’s wondrous works:

Daniel 4:1-9

“Nebuchadnezzar the king,

To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth:

Peace be multiplied to you.

I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me.

How great are His signs,
And how mighty His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And His dominion is from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream; but they did not make known to me its interpretation. But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.” (Daniel 4:1-9, emphases added)

King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges a difference between his god and Daniel’s “Holy” God.

Verse 2: “I thought it good…” In the NIV, “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.”, (emphasis added). Daniel attributes the miraculous signs and wonders to the Most High God – hierarchically using terminology that makes the claim that his God is above all other gods.

King Nebuchadnezzar describes another dream

Daniel 4:10-12

10 “These were the visions of my head while on my bed:

I was looking, and behold,
A tree in the midst of the earth,
And its height was great.
11 The tree grew and became strong;
Its height reached to the heavens,
And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.
12 Its leaves were lovely,
Its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches,
And all flesh was fed from it.”
(Daniel 4:10-12)

Daniel 4:4 describes how Nebuchadnezzar was flourishing. This dream appears to be describing King Nebuchadnezzar’s current situation at the height of his reign – he is like a tall, strong tree that provides for the kingdom in abundance.

Daniel 4:13

A message from above:

13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven.  (Daniel 4:13)

In Deuteronomy, the Bible describes another time when holy ones came down:

He said,

“The LORD came from Sinai
    and dawned from Seir upon us;
    he shone forth from Mount Paran;
He came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
    with flaming fire at His right hand.” (Deuteronomy 33:2, ESV)

Daniel 4:14-15

The tree will be chopped down

14 He cried aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit.
Let the beasts get out from under it,
And the birds from its branches.
15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth,
Bound with a band of iron and bronze,
In the tender grass of the field.
Let it be wet with the dew of heaven,
And let him graze with the beasts
On the grass of the earth.” (Daniel 4:14-15)
, emphasis added

Verse 15 reveals and confirms that the tree does indeed represent King Nebuchadnezzar with the verse saying, let “him.”

Daniel 4:16-17

Man to Beast

Let his heart be changed from that of a man,
Let him be given the heart of a beast,
And let seven times pass over him.

‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers,
And the sentence by the word of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’
(Daniel 4:16-17)

The watchers from the heavenly court have made a very strong decree so that “the living may know that the Most High rules . . . “: King Nebuchadnezzar’s heart will be transformed from that of a man to an animal.

And 7 times will pass.

Most interpret these 7 to be a literal 7 years. 7, again, symbolizes “completion.” In the completion of time, the fullness of time.

Daniel 4:18

18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.” (Daniel 4:18)

King Nebuchadnezzar now expects Daniel to give the interpretation! He recognizes that the Spirit of the Holy God is in Daniel.

Daniel 4:19-26

Daniel did indeed receive the interpretation of the dream, but he was very startled by it:

19 “Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you.”

Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!

20 “The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, 21 whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home— 22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.

23 “And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him’; 24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: 25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.

26 “And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.

The purpose of the coming trial for King Nebuchadnezzar is for him to “come to know that Heaven rules.” King Nebuchadnezzar had a court, but the court of heaven is far superior to that of Babylon.

In Daniel 4:20, the tree is described similarly to the Tower of Babel: having height reaching to the heavens:

Genesis 11:1-4 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

King Nebuchadnezzar had the same ambitious spirit.

The tree is to be chopped down, but the stump left in tact and bound up with iron and bronze.

In Daniel 2, iron and bronze represented Rome and Greece, respectively. The Babylonian Empire would remain intertwined – rooted – and even so much as bound up – together with the empires that would follow. Rather than displaying its power and might freely, Babylon would be confined.

Daniel 4:27

27 “Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Daniel gives King Nebuchadnezzar some valuable advice: seek righteousness and mercy to break the power of sin in his life. Looking ahead to Daniel 4:29, we see that God gave King Nebuchadnezzar a full year to repent!

Daniel 4:28-33

28 “All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.”

King Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted with what modern psychologists call “boanthropy.” This is a mental disorder that causes its victim to believe he is an ox or a cow. But I think King Nebuchadnezzar had it even worse. I haven’t seen anybody have hair like eagle’s feathers and nails like claws. God allowed him to experience a pit of shame. Sometimes that’s what it takes to get us to not think so highly of ourselves. His pride as Babylon’s leader had to be stripped away.

From 1 Peter 5:5; . . . “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

We must pray for God’s mercy, that we will always remain humble no matter what position we find ourselves in whether it is in ministry or a secular job or any type of leadership.

Daniel 4:34-37

34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.”

Once the set time had been fulfilled, Nebuchadnezzar looked up to heaven and his understanding and reason was given back to him.

Notice he acknowledged Daniel’s God. Nebuchadnezzar “blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever . . . “ (Daniel 4:34). He continued on, in a prayerful manner, confessing God’s dominion and power.

Daniel 4:36 tells us that for the glory of King Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, God allowed his honor and splendor to return to him. King Nebuchadnezzar extolled and honored God as the true King.

A lesson for us today

Pride sets itself up so very quickly, and when a person has access to privilege and material possessions, it can be a challenge to remain humble.

Our King Jesus demonstrated humility, as we talked about on Palm Sunday. May the Lord help each of us to always remain humble and give God all the glory in our lives!

Daniel 3: Four in the Fire

Recap of Daniel 2: Interpretation of Dreams

Daniel was given the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream because He relied on God’s promises. He prayed together with his friends and sought God, and the interpretation of the dream was given.

Daniel, like Joseph

This week I was reminded that Pharaoh, King of Egypt, also had mysterious and troubling dreams. God used Joseph to give him the interpretation. Like Daniel in Babylon, Joseph in Egypt was given favor by the pagan king and promoted to rule alongside the Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:37-41

37 So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” (Gen.41:37-41, emphasis added)

Daniel 3:1-7

“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 

And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 

Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 

that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 

and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.” Daniel 3:1-7

King Nebuchadnezzar’s Image of Gold

Remember the statue-like image of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? (Daniel 2:32, 38)

He was the head of gold (Daniel 2:38). Babylon was extremely wealthy and prosperous.

So it is very fitting that King Nebuchadnezzar decides to build himself an image of gold.

A huge statue.

He clearly missed the point of the dream. The dream wasn’t so that he would go out and build himself a golden image, it was to alert him about the future of his kingdom and the kingdoms after him, but he fixates on the gold.

See Babylon was like Texas. Everything had to be bigger there.

An Israeli cubit was about 18″ while in Babylon a cubit was measured as about 20.”

This would make King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue the size of a 10 story building, which for ancient Babylon lacking modern construction machines, was a good size.

It was 60 by 6 cubits. Not 70 by 7. It was a mere imitation of greatness. Symbolically, the number 6 means incompletion in the Bible, sinfulness of mankind, human weakness, and the evil devil.

What was the image?

The Bible doesn’t tell us what the image actually was.

Was it a statue of one of the Babylonian deities? Or more likely: was it an image of King Nebuchadnezzar himself? Babylonian kings were worshipped as divine. Receiving a divinely-inspired dream, then, King Nebuchadnezzar may have felt very entitled to being worshipped, considering himself one amidst a pantheon of gods.

Dedication of the image

King Nebuchadnezzar decrees that all of his government officials have to come to the dedication of the idolatrous statue. What’s more, all of these people would be required to bow down and worship the gold idol when his pagan worship band starts playing.

Worship: or else . . .

The spirit of Babylon always forces a pluralistic and polytheistic agenda. Pluralism is the accepting of all religions as equally valid. Polytheism is the belief in multiple gods. Babylon claims to promote religious tolerance. We see evidence of that in their worship because the names of the instruments are actually written in Greek. The rest of this chapter is written in Aramaic, but the uniting of pagan practices and musical influences was occurring in Babylon. The empire wanted to put on a show of inclusivity and universalist worship!

But King Nebuchadnezzar’s herald (or spokesman) warned all of his colleagues: “whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” (Daniel 3:6)

So much for tolerance.

It is the spirit of the antichrist.

Daniel 3:8-18

“Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; 

11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 

15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:8-18)

Accuser of the brethren

Some of the Chaldeans (remember, this is just another name for Babylonians) decide to accuse the Jews. (Daniel 3:12). The Aramaic term there in Daniel 3:8  קְרַץ “qerets” translated as simply “charges” has a deeper connotation of “maliciously accused” and more literally, “to eat the pieces of, to devour piece by piece” (NKJV Study Bible).

So the Chaldeans came forward to maliciously accuse Daniel’s friends “to devour them a bit at a time, piece by piece.” It’s interesting that Daniel is not accused at this point, only his friends.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Here we have the same description. And recall from last week that the military commander’s name Arioch is related to the word for lion. Babylonian art was full of lion depictions that represented the king’s power and one of their goddesses. The devil is an imitator. Roaring but always lacking. We serve the Lion of the Tribe of Judah:

“But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5

200 years later, we see the same accusatory spirit of Haman in the Medo-Persian Empire:

Esther 3:6

6 “But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus—the people of Mordecai.” (Esther 3:6)

The devil is the Accuser:

Revelation 12:10

“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (Revelation 12:10)

In Daniel 3:12, Daniel’s friends are listed by name. Their accusers are trying to really make a point. An “us” vs. “them” point.

They want to remind King Nebuchadnezzar that these Jews, who serve in the government refuse to assimilate into the pagan culture.

And King Nebuchadnezzar follows the antiSemitic lead of his advisors, but to his credit, (Daniel 3:14) he does ask the Hebrews directly if the accusations are true.

Refusal to Worship Pagan Deities

Daniel 3:13 describes King Nebuchadnezzar as being in a “rage and fury!”

He addresses Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego and asks them directly: is this true? Do you not worship my golden image?

He gives them a second chance. “Next time you hear my worship team leading idol worship, make sure you fall down and worship.” He even says that would be “good!”

And then he threatens them. Worship or else you’re being thrown into an oven.

King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride becomes very glaring.

Daniel 3:15c “who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”

Back in Daniel 2:47, King Nebuchadnezzar had acknowledged that Daniel’s God is Lord of kings and able to reveal secrets. Did he forget already? Or did he not realize that Daniel’s friends also shared strong faith in the God of Israel? King Nebuchadnezzar viewed himself as a god and because our God cannot be seen with human eyes, he didn’t think there would be any intervention.

In Daniel 3:16, the three Judean young men don’t challenge Nebuchadnezzar. It kind of reads that way, like “we don’t need to answer you!” But it’s not that so much as they were admitting they had nothing to say, no answer for the king because their refusal to worship was so obvious.

A lot of people in our culture today, especially those who have grown up with a religious spirit are uncomfortable with expression in worship. They don’t want to raise their hands or they don’t want to physically bow before the Lord in prayer. But one of the very main definitions of worship used throughout the Bible is the Hebrew word “שָׁחָה” shachah, which means to “bow down, very low.” It is a physical action shown the heart’s devotion.

In the time of Babylon, it was no different. Worship, whether it was the worship of the One True God of Israel, or worship of a pagan deity, was understood as being physically prostrate before the object of worship.

So it was obvious that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were not physically bowing before anything. There was no need to defend themselves, they knew they were guilty of disobeying the king’s order.

But they demonstrated great faith.

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

For me this brings to mind Isaiah 26:3:

“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

The testimonies of believers who have gone before can really be encouraging. Daniel and his friends can really inspire us to trust in God no matter what happens and no matter the cost. Paul suffered and maintained an unwavering faith. He and Timothy wrote to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.” 2 Cor..1:8-11

The death sentence given by the world is meaningless.

1 Corinthians 15:55-58:

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

He has not forgotten about you. He knows the labor of love you do in service to Him. He sees you and He smiles. He died for you so you could live and when you face the world’s fiery furnaces and you feel under attack or afraid for your future, just remember, place your hope and trust in Him. He is your confidence and your rescuer, your mighty Savior.

Daniel 3:19-25

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 

21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”

They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”

25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

The Bible says that Nebuchadnezzar’s countenance – the expression on his face – changed. Some translate this as “his face was distorted with his fury.” He took on a spirit of rage and his whole attitude worsened (NIV).

He orders the furnace turned up to 7x hotter than normal and then has his valiant army man bind up Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and throw them into the fire.

The fiery furnace was so hot that it killed anyone near it. King Nebuchadnezzar’s men died instantly. To Nebuchadnezzar they were disposable. He makes no mention of their death. He is satisfied to oversee the three Judeans falling over in a fire, but then . . . he is completely taken aback.

3 tied up Hebrew men were cast into the fire, but now they were freely walking in the fire unharmed, and now not 3, but 4! The only thing that had burned were the ropes that had tied them up! The Septuagint translation (the Greek translation of the original Aramaic/Hebrew) actually says that King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished because he heard the men singing praises! It reminds me of Paul and Silas singing praises in the jail (Acts 16:25).

The Fourth Man in the Fire

NKJV: “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:25

The New King James and the King James translates this as the Son of God. If you have commentary notes in your Bible, you might notice that Son of God could be translated as “son of the gods.” So which is it?

In Aramaic, the generic word for “God” is singular “Elah.” The plural for “Elah” is “elahin”, which although etymologically related to the Hebrew (a related Semitic language) for God, “Elohim,” the difference is that “elahin” is used only to refer to idols.

So (unusually!) the NIV actually translates this a bit more accurately:

NIV: “He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”” Daniel 3:25


King Nebuchadnezzar wouldn’t understand a singular Son of God. We know it was Jesus. But, we have to be careful reading translations (the original manuscripts of Scripture are 100% right).

So King Nebuchadnezzar expresses in his own language and his own understanding that there is Someone, of divine origin, who has appeared in the fire. He doesn’t know how to express what he is seeing from his pagan context.

I actually think that gives the text more power, not less. King Nebuchadnezzar is astonished because he is not the supreme deity. He has to really grapple with this . . . who are these Judeans and who is with them!?

This is an example of a theophany. A theophany is an appearance of God. The king of Babylon was astonished by this, but the Bible doesn’t mention if the 3 youth even knew the 4th man (Jesus!) was there. Sometimes God will manifest in a very tangible, apparent way in our lives, but other times, He is working and we don’t even realize how close He is to our situation.

Daniel 3:26-30

“26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.

28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:26-30

The Most High God and His Messenger

In verse 26, King Nebuchadnezzar switches to “Elah,” the singular form! Here he is beginning to understand! He acknowledges that the 3 young men serve the Most High God (Elah). He is recognizing that the God of the Hebrews is greater than his Babylonian gods by singling Him out.

King Nebuchadnezzar only calls the 3 men out of the fire. The 4th man was heavenly enough in appearance, he knew not to even go there. The Chaldean advisors saw with their own eyes that the fire had no power whatsoever on them and they didn’t even smell like a fire.

Nebuchadnezzar celebrates this singular victorious God. Nebuchadnezzar sent his “Angel.” This is an accurate translation for the Aramaic מַלְאֲכֵהּ֙ (mal·’a·cheh) (Hebrew: מֲלְאָךְ malach). “Angel” can also be translated as “Messenger.” Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that a Messenger from God was in the fire.

No Other God can deliver like this

King Nebuchadnezzar realizes that no other God can deliver like this and he says no one is allowed to slander Hananiah, Mishael, nor Azariah. In keeping with his excessively brutal personality, King Nebuchadnezzar decrees that anyone who does speak against them shall be chopped up and their homes burned. This chapter ends with another promotion: the 3 Hebrew youth are once again promoted in the province of Babylon.

Faith and Obedience no matter the cost

The ordeal of Daniel’s friends remind me of Hebrews 11:32-40:

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were willing to pay the ultimate price to remain faithful and obedience to the One True God. And the LORD revealed Himself! May the LORD give us the strength to be that faithful!

Daniel 2: Dreams and a vision in the night

King Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by dreams. Explore Daniel 2 and how the LORD granted great favor to Daniel and his friends.

Recap of Daniel 1: Steadfastness in love and faith

Daniel 1 highlighted the stark contrast between the godly faith of the young captives and the Babylonian culture. King Nebuchadnezzar and his staff tried their hardest to impose their pagan, polytheistic culture upon the Hebrew youth.

While Daniel, Hannah, Mishael, and Azariah did learn the Chaldean language and did learn about the Babylonian ways, they did not internalize it. They remained steadfast in their love for and commitment to God Most High, the only True God, the God of Israel.

King Nebuchadnezzar was troubled

Daniel tells us in Daniel chapter 2 that Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by vivid dreams.

Daniel 2:1

Nebuchadnezzar’s Troubling Dreams

Daniel 2:1 identifies Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams as having happened in the second year of his reign. This would be 603BC. In the Near East, there were different customs for the counting of years. Daniel preferred a whole year system, whereas Jeremiah counted part of a year as a full year. This has led to some people concluding that the Bible has discrepancies, but it does not.

“Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him.” Daniel 2:1

King Nebuchadnezzar was troubled because he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Babylon was an enormous, prosperous empire and Nebuchadnezzar planned to keep it that way.

If we jump ahead to Daniel 2:29, we see that Daniel recognizes that the king was thinking at night when he was laying down in bed – worried about the future:

“As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this . . . ” Daniel 2:29

King Nebuchadnezzar struggled with psychological issues, and here we see signs of anxiety and insomnia that will increase throughout the book of Daniel.

Daniel 2:2

The “Wisdom” of Babylon: Magic, Astrology, & Sorcery

“Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.” Daniel 2:2

King Nebuchadnezzar brought together his arsenal: those he considered “wise” enough, and really “spiritual” enough to decipher the vivid dreams he was experiencing:

  1. Magicians – magicians are illusionists. They trick you and play the games of the dark arts. In 1877, François Lenormant, a French assyriologist, published a book titled “Chaldean Magic: Its Origin and Development.” He studied a translation of a large tablet found in Nineveh’s royal palace (modern day Iraq) which contained “28 formulas of deprectory incantations against evil spirits, the effects of sorcery, disease, and the principal misfortunes that attack people in the course of daily life.” According to the Thomas Nelson NKJV Study Bible, the word translated as “magicians” literally refers to those who “use the pen” – people who were very learned in the “sacred” writings of the Babylonians. They would write out their incantations.
  2. Astrologers – astrologers studied the stars. Did you know that the Babylonians invented the modern horoscope? Capricorn and Sagittarius . . . the Babylonians invented the 12 signs of the zodiac and relied on their interpretation of the planetary alignments and constellations to predict outcomes. Astrologers served as priests in the Babylonian religion so they used the zodiac signs to attempt to determine the will of the gods.
  3. Sorcerers – these are the witches and warlocks of Babylon. They would use satanic spells and incantations, amulets, and rituals of the dead to invoke demonic influences. They genuinely “received power from evil spirits” (NKJV Study Bible).
  4. and Chaldeans – here Chaldeans is probably referring to a select group of Chaldean advisors (who likewise would have been well-educated in the Babylonian customs

The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, insisted that the magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers present themselves before him to tell what the king had dreamed.

Those who were accustomed to creating fear through their sorcery would now be very fearful of whether or not they would be able to correctly guess and describe Nebuchadnezzar’s mystery dreams.

Nebuchadnezzar was known as a brutal king and any misstep could merit execution.

Daniel 2:3

Nebuchadnezzar’s Anxiety

“And the king said to them, “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.” Daniel 2:3

Nebuchadnezzar did not have a relationship with God that could provide peace to his troubled soul. His dreams caused him to be unsettled and anxious.

However, notice that the Bible is talking about dreams, not “terrors of the night” or “nightmares.” The dream impacted Nebuchadnezzar enough that he wanted an interpretation, but this was a God-given dream.

Nightmares come from the evil one. While what God might reveal to us may be unsettling at times, he is not the author of confusion nor of fear.

Daniel 2:4-6

Fake confidence and the king’s brutality

“Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.”Daniel 2:4-6, emphasis added

“O king, live forever” was their way of saying, “Long live the king!” The Chaldean advisors praised their earthly king in an effort to keep him appeased and at least fake some confidence.

King Nebuchadnezzar wanted relief from his distress so badly that he made a firm decision regarding the consequence should those summoned before him fail to correctly identify the dream and its interpretation: he would have them cut into pieces and their homes burned.

There was an ancient practice of dismembering bodies and so this is what the king is referring to when he says anyone who doesn’t know the dream will be chopped up. (See 1 Samuel 15:33, Daniel 3:29)

On the flip side, if the advisors could provide what the king wanted, King Nebuchadnezzar promised to reward them well.

Daniel 2:7-13

The Chaldean advisors admit their limitations

“They answered again and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that my decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.”

The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.” Daniel 2:7-13

King Nebuchadnezzar’s advisors realized the peril of their situation. They asked the king to at least reveal the dream so they could provide their interpretation.

However, King Nebuchadnezzar would make it very obvious that the sorcerers and magicians were not as powerful as perhaps they wanted him to believe. He replied to them that if they had the ability to identify his dream he would trust that they had the power to give the interpretation.

The Chaldean advisors would have been panicking at this point. They admit that no one could possibly know the dream “except the gods.”

Living up to his harsh reputation, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered all the wise men of Babylon killed. Daniel and his friends have not been mentioned in this chapter until now, but they were considered among the Chaldean wise men and were therefore about to be killed.

In another sign of King Nebuchadnezzar’s questionable mental state, his desperation causes him to fixate on wanting to kill the very people who could potentially give him his answer. He demonstrates very self-destructive behavior.

Daniel 2:14-18

Daniel & Arioch

“Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon;  he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel.

So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions,  that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” Daniel 2:14-18

Young Daniel spoke with the captain of the king’s guard, a man named Arioch.  ארי The name Arioch in both Hebrew and Aramaic indicates a meaning like “Lion-like,” an appropriate name for a military leader.

Daniel approached Arioch with “counsel” and “wisdom.” He didn’t know why the decree was so “urgent”/”harsh,” but Arioch filled him in on what was going on.

Daniel had enough favor to proceed to go directly to the king to ask him for some time to fulfill the king’s request. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah sought “mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret” and prayed that they would not be killed along with the others.

Whenever you face a challenge or need God’s direction, seek His mercies! Pray! Your very first line of attack should be as a prayer warrior!

Daniel 2:19

An Answer to Prayer

“Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” Daniel 2:19

Daniel’s leadership in prayer and consistent faithfulness to pursuing God’s will and way resulted in God granting him supernatural favor. Daniel received a vision in the night that revealed the secret dream.

Dream and Visions

Do you notice in verse 19 that the Bible says Daniel received a night vision?

Normally, visions are understood as occurring during the day, while dreams occur at night.

I believe God wants us to notice that Daniel had been awake. He was seeking God with all his might and the Lord gave him a vision.

Daniel 2:20-23

Daniel praises the God of his fathers

Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.

“I thank You and praise You,
O God of my fathers;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s demand.” Daniel 2:20-23

Praise and Prayer = Results

Daniel very naturally praised the God of His fathers.

When Daniel says, “Blessed be the Name of God forever and ever.” The construction in Aramaic could also be translated, “Let God’s Name be blessed/praised forever and ever.” It is clear that Daniel is exalting God and inviting others to do the same.

He gives reasons: because wisdom and might belong to God.

And God is the one who changes the times and seasons (times and seasons will become very important as we continue along in Daniel). God has power over the weather and the days and the times; God is ultimately King over all the kings of the earth and He removes them and raises new ones up.

God alone is Wise and All-Knowing. He gives wisdom and knowledge to those who are wise and have understanding. Notice – he “gives wisdom to the wise” and “knowledge to those who have understanding” – already. Daniel is talking about increase. Those who already have some wisdom and knowledge will receive still more, but he is not saying that God is giving wisdom to the unwise or knowledge to those lacking understanding. God has chosen to give increase to those who understand.

In Babylon, this would have been a controversial position. Daniel is making the claim that the wise in the kingdom are not wise due to their own wisdom and knowledge nor did their insights come from the Babylonian deities. God alone holds true wisdom and knowledge.

Likewise, God alone can reveal deep and secret things.

Though we cannot see in the darkness, God knows what is there and He illuminates all because Light dwells within Him. He is the Light of the world!

Daniel is thankful and acknowledges that God has given him wisdom and might (or strength). He is thankful that God answers prayer and has made known to him and his friends the king’s demand.

Daniel 2:24-27

Daniel before the king

Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.”

Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, “I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.”

The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?”

Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. 

But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these:  (Daniel 2:24-27)

Arioch the military commander must have had a pretty good relationship with Daniel. Remember, Arioch is the same man who filled in Daniel about what was happening with the killings of the Chaldean wise men.

This time Daniel filled in Arioch on some important news: Daniel told him that he knew the interpretation and asked Arioch to bring him before King Nebuchadnezzar.

Arioch responded quickly. He knew the urgency and gravity of the matter because lives were at stake. Without the interpretation, Arioch himself would have to continue to carry out the king’s orders to kill all of the wise men of Babylon. Daniel 2:25 says Arioch quickly brought Daniel before King Nebuchadnezzar.

I find it interesting that Arioch specifies here that the man who has the interpretation is one of the “captives of Judah.” It seems Arioch supports Daniel because he does not suggest that Daniel “might” know the interpretation, but rather says with certainty: “who will make known to the king the interpretation.”

King Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel (Belteshazzar) directly if he is able to describe the dream and to give the interpretation.

Daniel boldly affirms that he has this ability because of His relationship with the God of heaven. Daniel begins by reminding the king that his wise men and astrologers and magicians and soothsayers have been unable to reveal the king’s secret dream.

And then Daniel makes a faith statement. He does not believe in the polytheism of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. He declares “there is a God in heaven.”

One God.

Above all else.

 “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets. . .” Daniel 2:28a, emphasis added

Daniel proceeds to inform the King of Babylon that the God of Heaven has revealed the mystery dream. Daniel is making quite the claim: that his God – the God of the Judean captives – is indeed the Omniscient, All-Powerful God and that Daniel will serve as His spokesman for a prophetic word that will reveal what will happen in the future.

Daniel begins:

Daniel 2:29-30

The mystery revealed to save lives

“As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.” Daniel 2:29-30

The Chaldean culture was very focused on their view of “wisdom.”

So Daniel makes very clear that although he is counted among the wise, it was not because of his human wisdom that he was able to ascertain the secret dream.

God alone, All-Merciful and All-Knowing chose to reveal the dream to Daniel to spare the lives of the wise men (particularly those of Judean descent). God loves the Chaldean and the Judean: He wants all to learn of Him and trust in His ways. God also loves King Nebuchadnezzar! In His mercy, God wants King Nebuchadnezzar to understand the dream he was given and have time to repent.

Daniel 2:31-35

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in detail

“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. 

This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 

You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.  

Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found.

And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:31-35

Daniel 2:36-45

The interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream

Daniel with his friends had prayed for revelation and the interpretation together. Daniel included them in the presentation of the interpretation. The dream was a revelation about four kingdoms represented by an image comprised of four metals.

Ultimately, this is an end times revelation about world empires and the return of Christ.

36 “This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. 

37 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 

38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. 

39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours;

then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 

40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 

41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. 

42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 

43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 

44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 

45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” (Daniel 2:36-45) (emphases added)

I found an illustration that you may find helpful. I believe “bronze” is a bit more accurate than “brass,” but besides this small detail, the rest of this illustration seems accurate:

Notice that while gold would be prized as most valuable, the four materials associated with the different empires go down in value but up in strength.

The First Kingdom

It is revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar that he is the head of a series of kingdoms. King Nebuchadnezzar has achieved great wealth and fame, a “king of kings.” It is generally accepted that the first kingdom depicted by the dream is Babylon.

The Second Kingdom

Medo-Persian Empire

The next kingdom would be inferior, but still strong. This refers to the Medo-Persian empire. Persia today is known as Iran. The Medes were from Media, a city important to the Islamic people of Iran. Today, the descendants of the Medes are likely the Kurds of Iraq. The people of Media joined together with the Persians (like the image describes the two arms and chest).

King Cyrus and the gates of bronze and bars of iron

King Cyrus was the ruler of the Medo-Persian Empire.

We can find out more about him in Isaiah 45:1-4

“Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
 ‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;

I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,

That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.” (Isaiah 45:1-4)
(emphases added)

This passage reveals to us that Cyrus, a Gentile king, did not know the God of Israel yet God was using him to bless Israel. Notice the references to breaking the gates of bronze and the bars of iron – components of the future kingdoms.

The Medo-Persian Empire was conquered by Alexander the Great, a Macedonian (Greek) in 331BC.

The Third Kingdom

Grecian Empire

The third kingdom is represented by bronze. This refers to the Greek (or “Grecian”) Empire. The military of Greece may have used bronze for their armor and weaponry.

Alexander the Great

In 336BC, Alexander the Great conquered Greece and very rapidly extended the empire to the edges of the known world at that time, including the conquering of the Medo-Persian empire. The Grecian Empire extended as far south as Egypt, east to Syria and Persia, and all the way to the border of Pakistan with India. Alexander’s military might was so ferociously successful that it is said that at one point Alexander wept because he couldn’t think of any more places to conquer in his quest for world domination.

Although Greece was a strong empire, its division into warring city-states weakened it over time and Greece eventually fell to Rome in 146BC following the Macedonian wars.

The Fourth Kingdom

Roman Empire

The fourth kingdom is represented by iron. This represents Rome, the last significant world empire. The Bible describes the image in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as having two iron legs (Daniel 2:33).

The two legs could represent division, in that Rome became divided between the Eastern and Western empire (Constantinople/Byzantium vs. Rome/Mediterranean).

Rome’s influence has lasted even to our time.

Roman architecture still very much influences our own government buildings.

The concepts of having a senate, courts, and military codes of ethics, tactics, and strategies all came from Rome.

Have you ever considered the names we use for rulers and kings?

Caesar has morphed into “kaiser” in German and “czar” in Russian.

I find it to be fascinating!

Feet of iron and clay

Rome stood tall, but began to crumble just as the feet in the image show an unstable mixture of iron and clay. No other world leader has ever been as strong as the earlier kingdoms. There are several different opinions as to what exactly the feet represent. Many would agree it refers to the divided countries of Europe.

A very recent article posted by one of my favorite ministries, One for Israel, was so timely! The article is titled, “Daniel and the dream: Feet of iron and clay.” I was finishing up my study of Daniel 1 when their study of Daniel 2 popped up on my social media feed. God is good!

I was intrigued by a question raised in the article: “Could it be that the feet of iron and clay might be the Islamic colonialism that has taken so much ground, and its uneasy alliance with the cloying humanism that has overrun the west? (One for Israel, Feb.12, 2024).

The article is definitely worth your time in reading as your study this passage in Daniel 2. Check it out!


The feet of the statue image are divided into toes. The NKJV Study Bible considers the perspective that “the Roman Empire will one day be revived (v.41), will be ruled over by 10 rulers (the toes of v.42), will feud over internal problems (v.43), will witness the return of Jesus Christ (v.44) and will be destroyed by Christ at the Second Coming (v.45).”

The Stone and God’s Eternal Kingdom

While the kings of this earth vie for power and supremacy, God reveals that He will set up His Kingdom in the midst of all that chaos. The stone cut out “without hands” refers to the supernatural work of Christ and His eternal kingdom. “The stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:35c For more about uncut stones and their spiritual significance, see Joshua 8:30-31.

As the seraphim cry out in Isaiah 6:3c: “The whole earth is full of His glory!”

Daniel concludes his interpretation with God-given confidence: the dream is certain and its interpretation is sure.

Just as Daniel predicted, these empires did indeed rise and fall in the precise order given in the dream and interpretation.

Jesus came to dismantle the world’s empires and to set up the indestructible eternal Kingdom of God! (Daniel 2:44)

The Second Coming of Christ

The dream reveals that there would never be another world empire as great as Rome. Rome was the last great kingdom. There would be four empires that would rule the world (and fall) before the return of our Messiah.

This means, His return is imminent!

Daniel 2:46-49

Daniel and his friends receive a promotion

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. 47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” 

48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king. (Daniel 2:46-49)

King Nebuchadnezzar recognizes the immensity of Daniel’s interpretation. He fell on his face in wonder and confessed that the God of Daniel, Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah is the “Lord of kings.” This does not mean; however, that King Nebuchadnezzar converted – he was acknowledging the supremacy of the God of the Judeans “at least in matters of divine knowledge” (NKJV Study Bible) but he did not renounce his own deities.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar promoted Daniel to serve as the ruler (the governor!) of the whole province of Babylon and the chief administrator over all the wise men! No doubt the wise men gladly served under Daniel’s leadership because he had saved them from mass execution!

Daniel requested that King Nebuchadnezzar allow his friends to also serve in the government, which was approved. Daniel sat in the gate of the king which is another way of saying he served on the king’s royal court.

Isn’t it amazing how God had a marvelous plan to rescue and bless Daniel and his friends? No matter what you face in life, always remember: God is willing to help you and raise you up to accomplish things you never imagined. Daniel and his friends persisted in prayer and faith despite the fear and anxiety that the enemy would have been trying to impose upon them. Whenever you feel discouraged or under pressure, seek God with all your heart and He will minister to you! Be open to the power of the Holy Spirit working in your life through dreams and visions, especially in these last days!

Daniel 1: God our Governor (a verse-by-verse Bible study)

7 Adar I 5784 B”H

Background on the Book of Daniel

Daniel is a complex, but very fascinating book of the Bible.

Time periods covered by the book of Daniel

The book of Daniel covers the Babylonian captivity though the second coming of Christ our Messiah! 

Languages used in the original text of of the book of Daniel

Daniel 1 and 8-12 were originally written in Hebrew while Daniel 2-7 were written in Aramaic (which was the language of the Chaldean Babylonians.) Daniel had become so fluent in the language of the Chaldean regime that he actually wrote chapters 2-7 in their (the Babylonians’) language.

There are also actually a few Persian words in the book of Daniel (Babylon was a “satrapy”, meaning a province of the Persian empire). Additionally, some Greek language musical instrument names (indicating the origin of the instruments) are found in Daniel 3, for example.

Who wrote the book of Daniel?

Daniel 7:15 tells us in the first person that Daniel is the author. He wrote in 3rd person (Daniel 1-7:14) until that point when he switched into his 1st person account.

“I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me." Daniel 7:15 

Now for the skeptics out there who would like even further evidence that corroborates our claim of Daniel’s self-authorship, Jesus (Yeshua) Himself ascribes Daniel’s prophecies to – Daniel. (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). If Jesus accepted Daniel as the author of Daniel . . . that should be good enough for us. Scripture and even extraBiblical historical chronicles provide overwhelming evidence that Daniel was a reliable historian as well as prophetic figure.

Who was Daniel prior to Daniel Chapter 1?

In Daniel chapter 1, which we will get to in a moment, the now-experienced servant of God, Daniel, is reflecting upon his experience in being taken captive and deported to Babylon from Judah. He describes himself as one among the youths who were taken in the first wave around 597BC. Some say the date would have to be a little later, such as 587BC. In any case, it is believed to be accurate to say that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586BC.

But who was Daniel before he was taken captive?

We don’t know Daniel’s exact age when Nebuchadnezzar’s army came, but we can reasonably deduce a few of his attributes. It is likely that Daniel came from Israel’s upper class precisely because he was included in the first group of captives. Many kings in those days would conquer another king and capture the rest of their noble family and relatives. So Daniel would have had fairly prosperous and distinguished ruling class parents and he would have had opportunities available to him in Judah like attending the best schools or easily obtaining an influential job.

An analysis of the dates in the Biblical record shows that when Daniel was a child, the good, God-fearing young King Josiah would have been reigning. Daniel and his family would have been well-aware of King Josiah‘s positive reforms in restoring Solomon’s temple and the finding of the Book of the Law (2 Kings 22-23). King Josiah was the last good king who reigned in the Southern Kingdom (Judah) prior to the Babylonian takeover. During King Josiah’s reign, the people experienced revival and restoration.

After King Josiah died, Judah’s leadership returned to the idolatry and wickedness that had characterized the Southern Kingdom for so long. Like those of us who lament the ungodliness that permeates our nation today, Daniel would have observed the stark difference between living under godly leadership versus living under the corrupt and ungodly leadership of people like King Jehoiakim as he was growing up. God was preparing Daniel, ever since his youth, to be an influential leader and also important writer of the Biblical text.

World History at the time of Daniel


Not everyone realizes that Daniel actually lived at the same time as Jeremiah and Ezekiel, so he was a contemporary of these prophets. During the reign of King Josiah (Daniel, remember, was a little boy then), Jeremiah was beginning his prophetic ministry.

Jeremiah ended up fleeing with a remnant to Egypt (he started in a northern town called Mizpah and ended up going through Gaza and then down into Egypt in a place known as Tahpanhes along the Nile River.) Jeremiah never gets a break from being the prophet of lamentation and he continues prophesying that Nebuchadnezzar would reach Egypt, as well, as part of God’s judgment (Jeremiah 43:8-13).

Daniel grew up with positive spiritual influences. Besides living under King Josiah’s godly leadership, Daniel would have grown up hearing Jeremiah’s prophecies. Daniel demonstrated exceptionally strong faith in the LORD and it is fair to attribute some of that to his godly upbringing. Never underestimate the value of training up your children in the way they should go:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6


Ezekiel was taken in the second wave to Babylon where he was enlisted as a slave and preached by the rivers of Babylon:

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.  On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there."  Ezekiel 1:3

Aesop & The Greek Civilization

While all of that was going on in the Middle East, the Greek civilization was also flourishing. In Greece, a slave was gaining popularity for his storytelling abilities.

Have you ever read Aesop’s fables? Aesop was born in 600BC so he would have likely been aware of Babylon’s conquests east of the Mediterranean. Aesop’s fables (like the Tortoise and the Hare or The City Mouse and The Country Mouse) were so clever that it is said that his master finally gave him his freedom.

If you know those stories, Aesop used animals to represent people. That would have been a very wise tactic in his day. Just as in Babylon, the Greek culture had a hierarchical society, so Aesop could make societal commentary without directly offending a noble and ending up in jail.

Within the next hundred years or so, democracy was established in Athens, Greece. Then the famous philosophers like Plato and Socrates lived, so there was a lot going on in that region.

Let’s get to the Biblical text now:

Daniel 1:1

"In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it." Daniel 1:1

Daniel 1:1 records the existence of 2 different kings:

  1. Jehoiakim (king of Judah – remember, Judah was the Southern Kingdom after the North/South split over the disputes between Rehoboam and Jeroboam).
  2. King Nebuchadnezzar (king of Babylon).  Nebuchadnezzar (II) was the son of Nabopolassar, the founder of the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean empire. He was probably named after his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar I. King Nebuchadnezzar reigned from 605-562 BC: 43 years – making him the longest reigning king of Babylon. He tackled a large number of construction projects, one of the more famous being the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which you may know were considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Nebuchadnezzar II Hanging Gardens of Babylon


Jehoiakim was one of Josiah’s sons. He chose wickedness rather than following his father’s righteous example of leadership. We find information about him in the Biblical Chronicles:

2 Chronicles 36:1-8 “Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem.  Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. Now the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. Then the king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Necho took Jehoahaz his brother and carried him off to Egypt.

Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord his God. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him, and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon. 

Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.  Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. Then Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.” (emphases added)

Notice in 2 Chronicles 36:4, the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho (probably Necho II) changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim.

Hebrew names had great significance and we will talk further about this when we get to the changed names of Daniel and his friends, but a way for another nation to exert dominance would include the changing of an individual’s name.

Interestingly enough, the name “Eliakim” meant, “God (or El/Elohim) will establish or raise up.” The name “Jehoiakim” is not a large departure from that. Jehoiakim means “Jehovah/YHWH will establish or raise up.” So Pharaoh or King Necho is identifying which “God” in Necho’s opinion Eliakim will be serving.

Some scholars have deciphered that to Necho, “El/Elohim” may have been considered very powerful and may have been recognized as the true Supreme Deity whereas culturally, Necho’s polytheism accepted a “lower deity” known as “Jehovah” or “YHWH.” Necho “thought” he was diminishing Eliakim’s name, but as Christian believers we know that Elohim is YHWH and that we serve one true God.

Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin

After Jehoiakim, his son Jehoiachin reigned for three months. Jehoiachin’s name is a variation of Jehoiakim.

2 Chronicles 36:9 “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD.”

Jehoiakim’s brother, Zedekiah

The succession of poor leadership continued. After Jehoiachin’s 3 month reign, King Nebuchadnezzar made his uncle Zedekiah the king of Judah:

2 Chronicles 36:10-12 “At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar summoned him and took him to Babylon, with the costly articles from the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s brother, king over Judah and Jerusalem. Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD.”

Leaders must be responsible for their actions. Jehoiakim established a pattern that continued producing bad fruit. In 2 Chronicles, nothing is recorded regarding Jehoiakim’s manner or time of death – we are informed only that he was replaced.

Jeremiah 22:18-19 fills us in. Jehoiakim did not receive a special kingly burial:

Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:

“They shall not lament for him,
Saying, ‘Alas, my brother!’ or ‘Alas, my sister!’
They shall not lament for him,
Saying, ‘Alas, master!’ or ‘Alas, his glory!’

He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey,
Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
Jeremiah 22:18-19
(emphasis added)

Not a great legacy to leave.

But Jehoiakim had had his chance. God had sent Jeremiah to prophesy and to warn him that if he didn’t change, his kingdom would be scattered and destroyed. Similarly, we must preach to the lost the Gospel of repentance because only then can we be saved from sin and eternal destruction.

Zedekiah is the last known king of Judah. According to Josephus (the first century Jewish historian), Daniel and his friends were each related to Zedekiah’s royal family. Despite Zedekiah’s poor leadership, Daniel and others managed to remain faithful to the One True God.

Now, back to the book of Daniel!

Daniel 1:2

Daniel 1:2 reiterates what we just saw in 2 Chronicles. 

“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.” Daniel 1:2

See how Daniel 1:2 begins with “And the Lord gave. . .”?

Throughout the Book of Daniel, you will see an emphasis on God’s sovereignty and His role in the unfolding of history.

Nebuchadnezzar symbolically thought he could control the deity of the Judean Israelites. He stole the Temple’s sacred items which was a way that Near Eastern empires of that time demonstrated victory over another group. These cultures believed that by taking religious artifacts, the deity attributed to them lost its powers. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t know Who he was taking on: our God does not live in things made with human hands!

” . . . the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.” Acts 7:48

Daniel 1:3-4 

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.Daniel 1:3-4

Young, handsome Daniel of Judah with all sorts of good prospects and abilities was suddenly taken away from his home.  

I can’t help but think of the Israelis who were taken hostage into Gaza on October 7, 2023. 

That type of experience can break a person.

But Daniel‘s gifting and trust in God enabled him to grow from that experience. By seeking God’s wisdom, Daniel was able to allow his experiences to form him into a truly righteous servant of God Most High.

And if you are looking for a word of hope in this troubled time, the spirit of Babylon will not win in the end. While none of us like to hear of more judgment, death, or destruction, we may at least rest knowing that God is handling it:

“As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall,
So at Babylon the slain of all the earth shall fall.”
Jeremiah 51:49

Weaponizing Education

Nebuchadnezzar had a strategy to weaponize education. He re-trained the Judean noble youth in Babylonian customs with the idea that once they grew up, they would be very capable of governing in Babylon.

Sadly, we see similar tactics used today. Hamas and other jihadists enroll children in their terrorist training camps, Russia attacks Ukrainian schools, and our own public school system has been hijacked by secularists. If a conquering nation can control that narrative of the educational system, the weaker nation will cease to exist.

King Nebuchadnezzar thought that by selecting the youth who were fast learners, he would be able to indoctrinate them with Chaldean ideologies.

Truly, King Nebuchadnezzar underestimated just how astute Daniel and his friends really were.

Daniel 1:5-7

“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.” Daniel 1:5-7

Daniel’s name  דָּנִיֵּאל

The name  דָּנִיֵּאל Daniel is often briskly translated as “God is my Judge.” 

And that isn’t incorrect, but there is a nuance that we shouldn’t miss:  

The verb from the Hebrew word דן , means “to judge” or additionally, “to govern.”

So Daniel’s very name means “El/Elohim/God is my Governor” or “Governed by God.” “God rules over me.” “God governs.”

Daniel served as governor, but he never forgot that he himself was governed by God.

Names and Identity

Daniel 1:6 records that Daniel’s friends were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Hananiah’s name means “God is gracious.”

Mishael means “Who is what God is?”

Azariah means “The Lord has helped me.”

In the Hebrew world, a person’s name was very much associated with their identity. Even today, some of us have names that perhaps we don’t know the clear meaning of, but if someone gives us a degrading nickname or uses our name in an offensive manner, it rightly bothers us.

The ruling regime of the day did everything it could do to strip Daniel and his friends of their Judean world. Nebuchadnezzar hoped these youth would internalize the new names that the Babylonians forced upon them.

The chief eunuch began to call Daniel, Belteshazzar. This name refers to a goddess named Sarpanitu, the wife of the famed Babylonian deity, Marduk. Belteshazzar translates to “Lady Protect the King.” It has been posited that Belteshazzar appears to be a girl’s name. Gender confusion was a thing back then, too. The Babylonians wanted to offend and confuse Daniel so that he would lose his godly values and godly identity.

Hananiah became Shadrach which means “I am fearful of the God.” This is psychological warfare! Babylon wanted fear to be instilled in young Hananiah, to cause him to forget that the One True God is gracious and to cause him anxiety. The spirit of Babylon wants us to lose our faith and trust in God. If we begin to internalize fear, we will not turn to God in prayer as we should. We will either attempt to trust in ourselves or, worse yet, turn to false gods.

Mishael was renamed Meshach, meaning, ” I am of little account.” Again, Babylon sought to diminish the confidence of the Hebrew youth. The world always seeks to make people feel worthless and of no value.

Lastly, Azariah was given the name Abed-Nego meaning, “Servant of (the god) Nebo.” Babylon tried with all its might to convince Azariah that he was no longer servant of the Most High God of Israel. How often the devil tries to convince us that God has abandoned us.

When there is a situation like this, and the world wants to put something on you that isn’t yours to own, you have the power in Christ to reject that. The Babylonians could call Daniel and his friends anything they wanted to, but these faithful servants of the True God did not internalize and accept what the world was imposing upon them.

Three-year training program

Daniel and his friends were forcibly enrolled in a three year Babylonian training program. Daniel 1:5 says the end-goal of this training was that these special youth could serve in the king’s government.

Nebuchadnezzar appointed them to be given the king’s “delicacies” and the royal wine.

But here we arrive at a key memory verse:

Daniel 1:8

“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.” Daniel 1:8, emphasis added

Daniel 1:9

Favor in all seasons

“Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1:9

Always seek the favor of God. Just as we are to be ready to preach in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2), we must be ready at any time to serve God in any situation. When we have diligently prayed and fasted, He gives us the favor we need:

“You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.” Matthew 10:18

Daniel 1:10

“And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.” Daniel 1:10

Daniel was not alone in requesting to abstain from the king’s food and drink. “Your food” is plural in Hebrew. Daniel’s friends agreed with him in refusing to eat the prescribed meals.

What was the issue with the food?

The Scriptures do not tell us exactly what was on King Nebuchadnezzar’s standard menu, but we do know that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were observant Jews.

Babylon’s food would have included

  1. nonKosher/unclean/forbidden food – food not prepared according to the Torah’s regulations
  2. meat dedicated to Babylonian idols

It would have been a violation of conscience for these Hebrew youth to eat nonKosher meals.

The chief of eunuchs, while kind to Daniel, expressed concerned that he would get beheaded over this!

So Daniel turns to a steward, rather than the chief. Did you ever notice that before?

Daniel 1:11-15

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

“So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.” And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Daniel 1:11-15

Daniel trusted in God. He had the confidence that despite not eating any meat of any kind, he and his friends would be able to maintain their health and strength because God would be their portion.

Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Daniel 1:16-17

The “wisdom” of Babylon

“Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Daniel 1:16-17

Like Moses before them, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were educated in the literature of the culture they found themselves in: “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.” Acts 7:22. With God’s help, the four captive Judeans learned the Chaldean language and were educated in literature, science, and astrology: the “wisdom” of Babylon.

Daniel stood out – he could understand visions and dreams.

Being knowledgeable has its place. How valuable it is when a God-fearing, God-loving person uses their God-given gifts to acquire knowledge and to serve, even in secular roles. But even more valuable than that is a pure and contrite spirit, a Spirit-filled person who God entrusts with revelation through visions, dreams, and interpretations thereof. Daniel had this anointed combination and it granted him great favor.

Daniel 1:18-21

Results of the Interview

“Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king.  And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.” Daniel 1:18-21

The Bible says that King Nebuchadnezzar interviewed the young men. They had to prove themselves prepared to serve him, and he surely was curious to know how they were faring on their vegetarian diet.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah proved themselves worthy of the tasks ahead, for “none was found like [them].” They served before King Nebuchadnezzar and the Hebrew youths were 10 times more accurate in their wisdom and understanding than Babylon’s own magicians and astrologers.

God is our Governor!

As Daniel’s name declares, God is our Governor. He rules over all of us in fairness, righteousness, and love.

We do not have to “prove” ourselves worthy. In fact, that would never be possible.

We are formidably unworthy of all that God has done for us. He has spoken throughout history and used faithful servants like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. He has made a way for our salvation from sin and death by sending His Son, Jesus, (Yeshua) to save us.

Allow the LORD Most High to rule and reign over your life today! Be inspired by Daniel’s great favor and seek the LORD with all your heart! Have confidence and faith, that no matter where life takes you or what is set before you, God will provide, intervene, bless, and help you if you will trust in Him today.

Daniel’s 70 weeks Prophecy and the War in Israel

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The Prophet Daniel had much to say about the end times and the war in Israel has really brought some of the Biblical prophecies to light as we witness the ongoing conflict. I have received many questions regarding the Biblical timeline of the end of days, so I thought we should take a closer look at Daniel today.

End-times prophecy in Daniel 9

A key prophecy found in the book of Daniel: 70 weeks

Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.

Daniel 9:24

Daniel‘s prophecy describing the determined “seventy weeks” can be better understood as 70 “7’s.”

What is translated as “weeks” in most English Bibles is really describing groupings of 7 in Hebrew.

During the 70 “7’s, 6 important things will happen:

  1. To finish with transgression
  2. To put an end to sin
  3. To make reconciliation (atonement) for iniquity
  4. To bring in everlasting righteousness
  5. To seal up vision and prophecy
  6. To anoint the Most Holy (or the Most Holy Place)

Notice the first three are concerned with eradicating sin and transgression. The last three speak to the everlasting reign of our King.

In the Bible, 6 indicates lack of completion or total fulfillment. Therefore, we know to look more deeply, search God’s Word for more. Let’s move on to the next verse:

“Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.” Daniel 9:25

We have certainly witnessed the troublesome times of today. In this verse, we see another reference to time: “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.”

This is all a prelude to the revealing of the antichrist:

“And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.

The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;

But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.” Daniel 9:26-27

The antichrist is also known as the “little horn” of Daniel 7:

“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 

I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.” Daniel 7:7-8

Daniel 9:27 clearly informs us that the antichrist (antimessiah) will make a covenant with Israel and then betray Israel. Daniel 7:8 so aptly describes this evil charismatic figure as the epitome of pompousness.

With the war in Israel, many Bible-believing Christians are starting to wonder:

Has the antichrist already been born? Is he walking the earth today?

Only prayer and discernment will answer those questions as history continues to unfold.

But for those who believe that the coming of our King is in the very distant future, consider all that is going on right now. If Iran and even Russia get involved in the current conflict (in a greater way than they already have by supporting Hamas and even Hezbollah) the violence will escalate to a level never seen before. The people of Israel will become desperate for hope and change, and many could quickly be swept away by the lies of a false messianic figure.

The final seven years begin with the covenant.

Are you prepared for the true end of days?

This is not intended to incite fear in you, but do you realize how very close we are to the true end of the age? We are nearing the end of the Biblical timeline of history. We must be prepared! We must know the Word and hide it in our hearts, we must have a living, ongoing relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Yeshua haMashiach), and we must do everything we can to share the Gospel to as many people as we can.

There is revival happening in pockets all around the world. It is not coincidental that we see so many falling away and so many also being rescued just in time. These are all signs that the end is near and soon, so very soon, our Righteous Redeemer will come again and reign!

Time to Forgive

Don’t worry if some of this seems overwhelming. Mathematics has never been one of my strengths so these prophetic words of Scripture make me scratch my head, too!

But there’s no escaping math, and even Jesus said we have to forgive 70 x 7 times!

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

The return of Jesus Christ (Yeshua haMashiach) is imminent

The imminent return of Christ should motivate each one of us to study the signs of the times and the signs in the heavens. Each of us should be diligently praying and fasting and studying the Word of God. There are so many parallels between the different concepts presented in the Bible and I believe this passage on forgiveness is one such parallel.

Redeeming the time

We know time is short. And so for that very same reason, we must be diligent to love and to forgive so that we can make the most of our time, redeeming our time:

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

I pray that you have taken to heart the importance of knowing the Word of God and where we stand in relation to the fulfillment of significant portions of Biblical prophecy.

I am praying for you today, dear reader, and your family – that you and your household may be saved. Please leave a comment below with any prayer requests, comments, or questions!