Dr. Stephen Phinney
Daniel #02 | Taken to Babylon
“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials” (Daniel 1:8-9).
The Lord gave the king of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hands along with golden vessels of the house of the Hebrew God, which Nebuchadnezzar carried into the land of Shinar and into the house of Nebuchadnezzar’s god. He brought the vessels into the treasure house of his own temple. The king spoke unto Ashpenaz, the master of the eunuchs, telling him that he should bring certain Hebrew children from Israel, preferably those who came from their king’s seed and certainly their princes, to service in the king’s court (ref. Daniel 1:1-4).
THE CONQUESTS OF BABYLON
Out of Noah’s three sons, Ham, and his grandson Nimrod, were the ones who started the rebellious activities that surrounded the tower of Babel. The fact is that Ham hated his two brothers, particularly Shem, who received the blessing of Noah to become the nation of Israel. Not only that, but this nation would be the only nation God would honor. This single blessing became the rhyme and reason for all the battles Israel faced throughout the Old Testament. But God confused the languages of those working on the tower of Babel, and many nations sprang forth as a result—Babylon being the primary one. All these nations began to strive for world supremacy, particularly Babylon.
By the time of Daniel, the Babylonian empire had consumed the land of Assyria (Iraq today). Pharoah Neco, king of Egypt, led a massive army against Babylon and the land that Nebuchadnezzar ruled on the west bank of the Euphrates River. Since Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful young warrior and strategist, he pushed Neco back to Egypt giving Nebuchadnezzar the reputation of being the most powerful ruler in the world. The problem: Nebuchadnezzar did not return to Babylon empty-handed after the war, but he plundered the temple of Jerusalem stealing the golden vessels and kidnapping Jerusalem’s princes of royal blood along with those who were the most intellectual among the Hebrew young men, transporting them to Babylon that they might instruct the Babylonian strategists in the language and tongue of the Chaldeans, which meant another war was coming (2 Kings 24:1-4).
As history reveals, Nebuchadnezzar set out to capture Jerusalem close to the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign, and this is the point where our story beings with Daniel. However, according to Jeremiah, the full conquest of Jerusalem was not accomplished until the ninth month of the following year. Both men being correct, the conquest began in the third year and was finished in the fourth year of king Jehoiakim’s rule.
As for Nebuchadnezzar, the Hebrew people were invaluable. When the king would conquer a kingdom, he frequently kidnapped the religious purest. Nebuchadnezzar understood their commitment to their God or gods. His method madness is what made Babylon the religious capital of the world.
Furthermore, once he captured their religious leaders, he would destroy their temples – forcing the masses to look to Babylon for their religious needs. Such was the plot in conquering Jerusalem. However, in Jerusalem’s case, from that day forward the Jewish people ceased to exist as an official nation until 1948 AD.
After several years of desolation, God then called Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Through extreme conflict from the Babylonians, Nehemiah accomplished the task. Although, we need to remember that this did not put Israel on the map as an official nation, though it certainly was one of the great steps toward this.
God certainly had a plan and purpose. It was His Divine plan to make the descendants of Abraham the leading nation of the world just as it was His plan to turn His people over to Babylon to be disciplined for their disobedience. Remember back in 721 BC when God allowed the ten tribes of Israel to be captured by the king of Assyria? Then God allowed the 70-year captivity of the other two tribes shortly before Nehemiah’s rule. God used captivity to ignite His next step in setting up the Hebrew nation in both cases, and now we have the third captivity.
THE KING’S EUNUCHS
Carefully reviewing our passage, we learn that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were of royal blood—descendants of the Godly King Hezekiah. Due to their royal blood, these young men were made eunuchs (castrated) in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, and this required them to take Babylonian names. Daniel’s name, which meant “God is my Judge,” was changed to Belteshazzar, meaning, “Whom Bel favors.”
For most readers of the Word, Daniel’s name change doesn’t seem to be all that important. However, for those who understand that a name carries the leader’s mission, we recognize the change as a scheme of Satan to gradually detach Daniel from his land, Hebrew beliefs, as well as from God Himself. The hope was that this would lead Daniel to the demonic habits and practices of the Babylonians. What wasn’t accounted for, though, was the fact that changing Daniel’s name would not change his character. Since Daniel had the favor of the Lord from the day he was taken from Jerusalem, he remained faithful until his death.
THE TWIN PROPHETS
Scripture makes it clear regarding the similarities of Joseph and Daniel. They were like twins in their approach to God and their enemies—including Satan. As Joseph was sold out to Egypt, Daniel was captured by the Babylonians. Both were Hebrew, both were prisoners in a foreign land among some of the most ungodly people on the earth, both were dreamers, and both understood and made known the interpretations of dreams. Joseph and Daniel underwent severe moral testing—and both found victory. Joseph and Daniel proved to be a great blessing to the homes in which they lived, and both were promoted to positions of power, honor, and human glory because of their dedication and faithfulness to God. They were also recognized and respected for their unwavering character and overpowering abilities through God. The bottom line is the success they experienced and the blessings that were upon them were imparted to them due to their loyalty to God—the God of their fathers, the God whom both knew personally.
Daniel was captured because of his intellect, pure bloodline, and good looks. The first thing Satan attempted to do was order him to break his covenant with God—to eat the things of defilement. However, he pleaded with the king’s officer to be protected from doing this, and God gave him His favor and granted his request.
For the average youth today, such a temptation in a king’s house would be extremely appealing. It wouldn’t be much of a temptation, since man’s flesh craves the better things in life. Daniel and his three friends, though prisoners, held to their faith. Anyone who has true faith in God doesn’t set their minds on earthly things but rather on the things of the Living God.
Keep in mind that these four young men were placed in the highest positions as servants. They were privileged to sit at the king’s table, which was a life position. To sit in the king’s court permitted them to enjoy the comforts and luxuries that only a king could provide. For Daniel to be permitted to refrain from eating the king’s fine foods and drinking his refined wines, was a miracle.
The king’s goal was to have “trophies” sitting at the table, looking healthy and representing the king in all his glory. This was the big concern surrounding Daniel’s request to abstain from eating the king’s food. It was believed that these fine foods were what made you look better and healthier. Daniel wanted to prove that he could stay on God’s ordained diet, basically a vegetarian diet, and still maintain a desirable look for the king.
Daniel and his friends knew that the king’s commands were against the Hebrew God they served. Through their God-sized characters and their respect for authority, King Nebuchadnezzar found qualities in these young men that were not only rare but pleasant. As prisoners of the king’s country, they would be expected to adopt the pagan habits and beliefs, or lose the favor of Nebuchadnezzar and be put to death. But miraculously, their integrity produced the opposite. This lesson is a potent example of the power of appealing to governing authorities versus resisting through rebellion.
Remember that Nebuchadnezzar was considered the antichrist of his day who was manipulated and managed by Satan himself. However, through the years of consistent respect, God used Daniel to impact the heart of an enemy king to later become the only man the king loved and respected. Our story regarding Daniel is nothing short of a miraculous journey of how God works in the hearts of man through respect.