In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of lathe wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were ‘Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: ‘Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. Daniel1:1-7
I hope you have enjoyed the look at the Old Testament prophesies concerning the Messiah. By no means were all the prophesies covered. I have read that there are over 100 prophesies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament. Today I would like to turn to the Book of Daniel and look at it over the next few weeks. Daniel has always been one of my favorite Old Testament books, at first because of the many Bible stories I was told as a child that come from Daniel but later because of the prophetic aspect in the second half of the book.
Because of their disobedience to God, God allowed the Babylonians to take the Israelites into exile. This took course over about 23 years from 605 to 582 BC. The exact dates that far back are subject to interpretation. In the first half of Daniel we will see how four young princes of Israel handle being taken into exile and forced to learn a foreign culture. One of the first things that was done to the four was to have their names changed from Jewish to Babylonian names.
Daniel which means “God is my judge” was to be called Belteshazzar which means “may Bel protect his life”, Hananiah which means “Jehovah is gracious” was called Shadrach, “command of Aku (moon-god)”, Mishael which means “who is what God is?” was called Meshach “who is what Aku is?”, and Azariah which means “the Lord helps” was renamed Abednego which means “servant of Nebo (son of Bel)”. This changing of names was part of the process to indoctrinate the captives into Babylonian customs. After the three years of learning Babylonian customs they would then be sent before the king and the best would be put into service of the king.
Why go through all this trouble? These were children were of noble blood and It was a custom of the time to take the children to the conquering country. There they could be used as to keep the conquered nation under control. It also allowed the conquering nation to indoctrinate the children into the new culture. It appears they were well treated and feed. They were to receive food from the king’s table.
The first half of Daniel teaches us how to live in an ungodly culture. Unfortunately that is the predominant culture in the Western world today. The second half of the book is of interest in looking at the second coming of Christ.
Have a blessed day,