September 15, 2007
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- In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
- And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
- And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;
- Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
- And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
- Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
- Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego.
- But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
- Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
- And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
- Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
- Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
- Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
- So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
- And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.
- Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
- As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
- Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
- And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
- And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
- And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
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- And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
- Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
- And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
- Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
- The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
- But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
- They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.
- The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
- But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
- The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
- And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
- For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
- And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
- Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
- He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.
- Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
- Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
- That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
- Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
- Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
- And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
- He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
- I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.
- Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.
- Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
- The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
- Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
- But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
- As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
- But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
- Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
- This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
- His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
- Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
- Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
- This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
- Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
- And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
- And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
- And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
- And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
- And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
- And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
- And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
- Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
- Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.
- The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
- Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
- Then Daniel requested of 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.
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- Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
- Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
- Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
- Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
- That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
- And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
- Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
- Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
- They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
- Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
- And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
- There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
- Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king.
- Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?
- Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
- If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
- But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
- Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
- And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
- Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
- Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
- And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
- Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
- He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
- Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
- And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
- Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
- Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
- Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in the province of Babylon.
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Thought for the day:
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The early chapters of Daniel are filled with wonderful events that have tremendous relevance to us today. Both chapters 1 and 3 contain stories that reveal the great character of Daniel and three of his companions. In chapter 1 Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon asked for the best of the Jewish young men to be brought together to be trained for leadership within his realm. They were to be fed with the food from the king's table for a period of three years in anticipation of being observed and proved by him. Daniel and his three friends, best known by their Chaldean names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were included in this group. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not partake of the food and drink offered him from the king's table because it violated the dietary laws that God had established for His people. He went to the leader of the eunuchs and offered a challenge to him that he and his friends would look healthier after a ten day diet of vegetables than the other young men would look after eating the king's food. The challenge was accepted, and after ten days passed Daniel and his friends were healthier than the others.
The lesson here in that Daniel was a man of tremendous dedication and character. He was far from home in a foreign culture. There was really no one there to tell him what he could or could not do. He was being offered the type of food that the average Babylonian could only dream of eating, and almost all of his fellow Jews were choosing to partake of it. In addition, to eat the food would probably insure him of a position of honor within the kingdom, and rejection of the food would probably result in his banishment from this program, which would result in his having to work some menial task instead of serving in the palace. All he had to do to receive this great position was to do what everyone else was doing: disobey God. Yet Daniel refused to follow the crowd, and God blessed him in a great way because of it. It is worth noting that Daniel was able to make this decision because he "purposed in his heart" what he would do. James 1:14 tells us that lust produces sin. In other words, a man's evil actions begin in his heart. If this is true of evil deeds it should also be true of righteous ones. Daniel made a decision in his heart that he was going to follow the Lord no matter what, and when the crisis came he followed through on that decision.
Chapter 3 contains a similar story. Nebuchadnezzar had a golden statue built and demanded that everyone bow down before it when the music was played. All who disobeyed were to be cast into a furnace of fire. Of course, Daniel's friends refused to bow down, and when the king heard about it, he had them brought before him, and he asked them why they refused to obey. He even questioned whether their God was able to deliver them from the certain death that they faced. The answer of the three Hebrews is memorable,
"We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up," (16-18).
They told the king that God could protect them even in the fiery furnace, and even if God chose not to protect them, they still wouldn't bow down. The king in his rage had them cast into a fire so hot that them men carrying them were killed. The fire burned off their bonds, so that they walked around in the flames. In addition, Jesus Christ Himself came and walked with them in full view of the king. When they were brought out of the furnace they were completely unharmed, and did not even smell of smoke. When the king saw this, he promoted them, and publicly recognized the greatness of Jehovah.
When I read this second story I wonder, "Would these three men have stood strong in the face of losing their lives if they had not been willing to stand strong in the face of losing their positions?" If they had failed the easier test in chapter 1, they never would have survived the difficult test in chapter 3. We need to be sure that we first of all determine in our hearts to do right. We then must follow through, regardless of what the situation might be, for today's victories will help to bring about tomorrow's triumphs.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery