God Is Sovereign Above All – 2

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Scripture Text – Daniel 1

Abraham called God “the Judge of all the earth” (Genesis 18:25), and King Hezekiah prayed, “You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.” – 2 Kings 19:15. In Daniel’s day, King Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way that “the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth.” – Daniel 4:32 (NIV).

The first chapter of Daniel’s book gives ample evidence of the sovereign hand of God in the affairs of both nations and individuals.

God Gave Favor To Daniel and His Friends

Please read Daniel 1:3-16 for the background to this section.

The king’s policy was to train the best people of the conquered nations to serve in his government. He could benefit from their knowledge of their own people and could also use their skills to strengthen his own administration. There were several deportations of Jews to Babylon both before and after the fall of Jerusalem, and it appears that Daniel and his three friends were taken in 605 B.C. when they were probably fifteen or sixteen years old. The Prophet Ezekiel was sent to Babylon in 597 B.C., and in 586 B.C., the temple was destroyed.

A dedicated remnant (Daniel 1:3–4a). Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament reveals that the majority of God’s people have not always followed the Lord and kept His commandments. It has always been the “faithful remnant” within the Jewish nation that has come through the trials and judgments to maintain the divine covenant and make a new beginning. The same principle applies to the church today, for not everybody who professes faith in Jesus Christ is truly a child of God (Matthew 7:21–23). In His messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation chapters 2-3, our Lord always had a special spiritual word for “the overcomers,” the faithful remnant in each congregation who sought to obey the Lord. Daniel and his three friends were a part of the faithful Jewish remnant in Babylon, placed there by the Lord to accomplish His purposes.

These young men were superior in every way, “the brightest and the best,” prepared by God for a strategic ministry far from home. They were handsome, healthy, intelligent, and talented. They belonged to the tribe of Judah and were of royal birth. In every sense, they were the very best the Jews had to offer. A side note; because Ashpenaz is called “master of his eunuchs,” (the king’s eunuchs), some have concluded that the four Jewish boys were made eunuchs; but that is probably an erroneous conclusion. Originally, the term “eunuch” referred to a servant who had been castrated so he could serve the royal harem; but the title gradually came to be applied to any important court official. The Jewish law forbade castration (Deuteronomy 23:1), so it’s difficult to believe that these four faithful Hebrew men who resisted Babylonian customs in every other way would have submitted to it.

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A difficult trial (Daniel 1:4b–7). It was an honor to be trained as officers in the king’s palace, but it was also a trial; for these dedicated Jewish boys would have to adapt themselves to the ways and the thinking of the Babylonians. The purpose of the “course” was to transform Jews into Babylonians, and this meant not only a new land, but also new names, new customs, new ideas, and a new language. For three years, their Babylonian teachers would attempt to “brainwash” the four Jewish young men and teach them how to think and live like Babylonians.

The name Daniel means “God is my judge,” but it was changed to Belteshazzar or “Bel protect his life.” Hananiah means “the Lord shows grace,” but his new name, Shadrach, means “command of Aku” (the moon-god). Mishael means “Who is like God?” and the new name, “Meshach,” means “Who is as Aku is?” Azariah means “The Lord is my help,” but “Abednego” means “Servant of Nego.” The name of the true and living God was replaced by the names of the false gods of Babylon; but would we expect unbelievers to do anything else?

Learning a new language and even receiving new names didn’t create much of a problem, but practicing customs contrary to the Law of Moses was a great problem. The Babylonians were great builders, calculators, and military strategists, but their religion was steeped in superstition and myth. Just as Christian students in secular schools today often have to study material that contradicts what they believe, so Daniel and his friends had to master Babylonian history and science. In fact, in the final examination, they excelled all the other students, and later, God gave them opportunities to show that their Jewish faith was superior to the faith of their captives. But when their course of training required them to disobey the holy law, they had to draw the line.

Surely the king’s food was the best in the land, so why should these four Hebrew students refuse it? Because it would defile them and make them ceremonially unclean before their God. It was important to the Jews that they eat only animals approved by God and prepared in such a way that the blood was drained from the flesh, for eating blood was strictly prohibited (Leviticus 11; 17:10–16). But even more, the king’s food would first be offered to idols, and no faithful Jew would eat such defiled food. The early church faced this same problem.

To Be Continued

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Adaptation of excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Resolute, “Be” Commentary Series.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Where noted, Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV © 2011 by Biblica, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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1 Response to God Is Sovereign Above All – 2

  1. atimetoshare.me says:

    Very interesting article.

    Liked by 1 person

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