Summary: Gives some background on the book of Daniel and Babylon and how Daniel was a man who didn’t compromise his values. Covers chapter one
For 1/9/05 Sunday Evening 7 pm
SBC Philippi, Rev. Jeff Simms
Primary Purpose: To begin discussing the book of Daniel with introduction and emphasizing to be a person like Daniel who didn’t compromise on his beliefs.
Babylon: During Daniel’s day Babylon was the superpower of the known world. Babylon itself, the capital city, is a city that now lies in ruins. It was in Daniel’s day one of the great wonders of the world. It had a wall about it about 60 miles around, 300 ft high, 80 ft thick and even extended 35 ft below the ground to prevent tunneling. It had 250 towers on the walls. There was over 100 gates of brass at it’s entry points.
It was a very large city, but also a very religious city. It had over 53 temples and 180 altars to Ishtar within it. It was split, with the Euphrates river running down the middle of the city. J.Vernon McGee said about Babylon in his commentary that "Babylon was known as the fountainhead of pagan religion, the womb of heathen idols." (McGee, "The Prophet Daniel" Thru the Bible Commentary Series, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pg.39)
Daniel’s ministry span about 72 years. It begins with Daniel’s being led into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar, something that happened around 606 B.C. the same year that Nebuchadnezzar became co-ruler with his father Nebopolassar. This is mentioned in 2 Kings 24:1. By 604 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar became sole ruler of Babylon.
Later, in 597 B.C. he took King Jehoiachin, king of Judah, captive. At that same time, he also took Ezekiel captive. This is mentioned in 2 Kings 24:10-14. Still later, in 586 B.C. he burned Jerusalem to the ground and took still more captives, leaving only the poorest people of the land including Jeremiah (2 Kings 25:9).
The main reason for the multiple attacks and not destroying the city all at once is taxation. Nebuchadnezzar had a very large army and he needed funds for all of his building projects and to supply his army. Years earlier, then king Hezekiah had shown the Babylonians all of his wealth (2 Kings 20:13), so it was known that Judah was filled with gold and many treasures. Isaiah told Hezekiah after the Babylonians left that one day they would return and all of those treasures would be carried off along with his sons (2 Kings 20:17-18). So, taxation become the initial reason at least that Jerusalem wasn’t completely destroyed at first.
Daniel was of noble birth, so he was with the king and others in the royal family when he was led into captivity v.3. Daniel had already begun to demonstrate that God had blessed him with wisdom, as well as, a attractive appearance and strength. v.4. He was brought before King Nebuchadnezzar for the king wished to make some Judeans leaders subject to him that they in turn might help him subdue their people. So, the king orders them to learn the literature and language of the Chaldeans.
The Chaldeans were originally probably a Cushite tribe that was a majority in that area. Later, their tribal name is used almost interchangeably with Babylonians. They were of the educated class who had a written language. They were to undergo this formal treatment for 3 years.
The choice of food becomes a problem for Daniel who doesn’t wish to disobey the Lord and sees the king’s food as defiling himself. In Leviticus 11, the Lord outlines which foods are considered clean and unclean. The Lord includes animals that don’t have either a split hoof or chews the cud, creatures in the sea that doesn’t have fins or scales, many birds and insects as unclean for the people. There may have been more diseases in these animals and that may have been part of why they were to avoid them. The main reason though to avoid them is because the Lord said to do it.
Some have reasons that Daniel’s request for vegetables and water means that the best diet is in fact a vegetarian diet. But, this is not the emphasis of this passage. Rather than confuse the commander of the officials with lists of what is okay and not okay, Daniel seeks to exclude all possible meats that might be offensive to the Lord. This would include meat that may be clean, but had been offered to an idol.
The issue here is one of compromising. There are times when it is okay to compromise and then others when it is not. In his book “Joyful Living” Charles Allen tells this story “A boy proposed to a girl. She accepted his proposal on the condition that he would save $1,000. He got a job in another city and went off to seek his fortune. She did not hear from him in nearly a year; in fact, she was getting a bit worried. Finally he came back. She asked him, “Have you save the thousand dollars?” “No”, he replied, “I have saved only thirty-five dollars so far.” “Well,” she answered, “that’s near enough. Let’s get married.” (Allen, pg.40)