World History Revealed to a Captor King

This is one of the more lengthy chapters of Daniel, but it is also a very important one. Though this chapter deals with the dream of the king Nebuchadnezzar, it is one of historical proportions. This chapter sets the “stage” for the events which follow. The kings ego, which is most likely behind the building of the great image we will see later, the dreams which Daniel would see, and the events of the nations which would follow Babylon in world domination.

“And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.“ Daniel 2:1 (KJV)

The distress the king is having is caused by the dreams he has had. Notice, it says, “Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams” which seems to imply his dream was recurring; maybe having it on a nightly basis or may have been over and over on a singular night. This was only in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. This was an arrogant and proud king. He was ruthless. Of course, most kings of the Gentile nations were cruel and vicious tyrants.

We are about to see how the Sovereign God of the universe was in control of the dreams of men/kings, the interpretation of the dream, and its fulfillment. Whether God still speaks through dreams in this study is not an issue this study will endeavor to answer. It is important for us to realize and believe that God did speak through the dreams mentioned in the book of Daniel.

“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.” Daniel 2:2-13.

After having this dream in a recurring fashion the kings command went forth for all the “wise men”, astrologers, magicians, sorcerers, and Chaldeans speaking of Chaldeans as “astrologers”.

Now, the king ordered them to appear before him for the distinct purpose of interpreting this troubling dream. It was troubling to him. It was an encouragement and blessing to Daniel and his friends. We will see why as we come to the close of this chapter.

In times past kings, and this particular king had always told the dream and accepted the interpretation from these “wise men”. That would not be so in this case.

Not only did the king ask for the interpretation, but he asked these men to tell him the dream. There is some question as to whether the king had actually forgotten the dream or that God had put it in his heart to test the ‘wise men’. Whoever could tell him the dream he had would also be able to interpret the dream – surely. “No man can tell another what he dreamed”. That was the basic response of these ‘counselors’ (v. 10). “Only the gods could do that, and they probably won’t” was there response in verse 11. You can tell anyone your dream, and they can give their interpretation of it. It may not be accurate, but it is an interpretation.

The kings mind was set. He would only except the interpretation of the dream from only the one who could tell him his dream. It was not ‘Business as usual’. It seems that he really did not trust his ‘wise men’; especially, with this very important dream.

These men began to stall, trying to obtain more time. The king recognized what they were doing and became angry with them. He commanded that all the ‘wise men’ be killed. By this decree he also condemned Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They, evidently, had not been called upon to interpret the dream.

“The thing” of verse 5 is for ‘a word, command, discourse or subject. “The thing is gone from me”.

This could be saying, “I have given the command; it is firm”. He was speaking of the decree, that if they could not tell him the dream and its interpretation they would all die.

If this is a correct interpretation, then, the king knew the dream; he just did not want some flippant charlatans interpretation to the dream, and neither did the LORD God. This was wisdom given the king by God to weed out the false interpreters, and bring Daniel before the king – ultimately glorifying the Lord Most High.

The kings decree to kill was a satanic edict. “A man who determines not to compromise his life usually gets Satan’s attention.” (DAVID JEREMIAH from “The Handwriting On The Wall” pg. 51). Daniel certainly got his attention, and the devil wanted to kill him.

“Oh, the sin and folly of pretension. The emphasis is not to be put on Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath and cruelty, but on that which occasioned it. These sons of the colleges were trained and paid to interpret mysteries, and it is a reasonable to assume that the means whereby they could know the interpretation of a dream might also be employed to discover the dream itself. The fact is, they were frauds. The four Hebrews studied astrology to understand it, but not to believe it. Daniel 2:10 shows in one single sentence that all of the astrology and necromancy and oracles and dreams and mantic revelations of the whole pagan world for six thousand years are nothing but imbecilities and lies, and it proves that all the religions and arts and sciences and philosophies and attainments and powers of men apart from God-inspired prophets and an all-glorious Christ are nothing but emptiness and vanity as regards any true and adequate knowledge of the purpose and will of God.” (A quote by Graham Scroggie as printed in “The Handwriting On the Wall” by David Jeremiah pg. 51).

The death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is true, and will forever stand sure.

God’s Word Today 082112

“In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, ‘the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.  They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, ‘Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.’  My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.  All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, ‘We offend not,’ because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.  Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.” Jeremiah 50:4-8 (KJV)

For many years I have heard people talk about the “Ten lost tribes of Israel”.  That seems; with the above verses in mind; that there is no such thing.  God has the people of the Northern kingdom of Israel, and the Southern kingdom of Judah as one.  It would seem to me that they have been one since they returned from the Babylonian captivity.

-T.A.

God’s Word Today 081412

Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying, ‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee: Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is His name, great in counsel, and mighty in work: for Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made Thee a name, as at this day; and hast brought forth Thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror; and hast given them this land, which Thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; and they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not Thy voice, neither walked in Thy law; they have done nothing of all that Thou commandedst them to do: therefore Thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them.  Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what Thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, Thou seest it.  And Thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, ‘Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.”  Jeremiah 32:16-25 (KJV)

-T.A.

God of Purer Eyes

Habakkuk 1:12-17

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” v. 12 (KJV).

Habakkuk seems to begin to understand the immutable [unchanging] character of God. He even refers to Him as ‘mine Holy One. He realizes that God is definitely going to use these godless people, the Chaldeans to judge His own sinful people. The judgment of God, must begin at the house of God; “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Ezekiel 9:6 (KJV). NOTE: “and begin at my sanctuary”. In the New Testament Peter says something very similar, and may have had this verse in mind, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV).

The prophet realizes that God is not going to completely destroy Judah, but, he still has questions. Judah will be corrected, and made right with God through the process of cleansing of the fire.

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” v. 13 (KJV).

Habakkuk also begins to see that God is pure, and recognizes this in Him when he says, “Thou are of purer eyes than to behold evil…”. This is a correct observation by the prophet. It seems, though, that the question is still lingering in his mind. How can God use this wicked people, when He is of purer eyes than to look on iniquity, to judge the people whom He has chosen?

Is the prophet wanting God to judge the sins of Judah? That is my question. If God is of purer eyes than to look on sins of people, surely it must begin with those who are His own. Another question I must ask is, ‘If God does not judge the sins of those who are His, how can He justly judge the sins of those who are wicked?’ In all fairness He cannot. Since the Holy One [using Habakkuk’s words for God] cannot look on sin, because He is of purer eyes, than to do so, He must judge His people’s sins. Especially, when they defiantly wear His name and practice the evil of their hearts.

Maybe Habakkuk is realizing that God is going to have His way in the hearts of His people, and in the hearts of the Chaldeans, as well. It is not God’s plan to wipeout His people, but to cleanse them. However, He will judge, later, those who mistreat His people, and He will do it with vengeance. Woe be to the man, or nation who mistreats the child of God, or the people of God.

For verses 14-17 the MacArthur Study Bible note says, “Lest God had forgotten just how wicked the Chaldeans were, Habakkuk drew attention to their evil character and behavior. Life was cheap to the Chaldeans. In the face of their ruthless tactics of war, other societies were ‘like fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them.’ In light of their reputation (vv. 6-10), how could God have unleashed this ruthless force upon another helpless people?” (NKJV version pg.1319).

“And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?” vv. 14-17 KJV).

In looking at the context of verses 14-17 it seems that these, “…wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he” Habakkuk 1:13 (KJV) and, verse 15 would go together. The Babylonian/Chaldeans only see other people and nations as “fish to catch”, a prey to kill. Because they so overwhelm their prey they believe their gods are the ones to worship. This should cause us, I am sure it did the prophet Habakkuk, to realize they have brought shame to the name of GOD.

The prophet sees the people of God, though, defiled by sin, living in sin, and rebellious to God; as being the more righteous (v. 13). He sees the nations, including Judah, as being seen by them like ‘fish of the sea’, and all they [the Chaldeans] have to do is drop a hook or a net and pull them in.

Habakkuk has acknowledged in verse twelve that he realizes that the coming of the Chaldeans is the judgment of God upon an unholy people of Judah; who have forsaken the Lord their God, and worshipping empty vessels.

Sometimes it does seem that trouble just abounds, and comes to us like an enemy taking us like fish from the sea. Like the prophet, though, we can turn to our GOD and trust Him with the questions we may ask. When our faith is in Him, they are not questions of accusation, but, rather questions for faith learning and growing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Originally published January 12, ’08

God’s Answer to Habakkuk’s Questions

GOD’S ANSWER

“Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.  For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs.  They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.  Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.  They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.  And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it.  Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.” Habakkuk 1:5-11 (KJV)

The prophet has asked, ‘How long?’ He has even insinuated, possibly, that, the LORD was slack in His duties of being God – particularly Judge.

God gives Habakkuk the answer, but not one he wants to hear. For seven verses God describes to the prophet what He has in mind for the people of Judah.

Basically, God says to Habakkuk, ‘The work you are about to see is going to be beyond your belief’. Notice what God tells the prophet –

Regard – or ‘look intently at’ – this would be a pleasure to those who Judah would call the ‘heathen’;

Wonder marvelously – amazed to the point of confusion.

Really take notice of what I am about to do, what is coming to pass. Mouths will drop open in wonder. Shock will accompany the wonder.

“Though it be told you” How could anyone who knew God think that God would use an unholy people to judge His unholy people.

It seems to me, that we see God’s sovereign hand here. God had intended that His people Judah and Israel be messengers to foreign lands; messengers of His grace, mercy, and goodness; but they had not only failed in that, they had become just as sinful and lawless as the ‘heathen’.

God was going to send some of His holy servants into the very jaws of the lion, the fires of Babylon, for judgment of Judah, and inform Babylon of the one true God.

In verse six God says the Chaldeans are a “Bitter and hasty nation”. By bitter it seems they have a hatred for Judah and ‘hasty’ seems to imply swiftness without much hesitance. They would possess what was not theirs and they would do it with all speed at their beckoning. It would seem particularly speedy since God was initiating the attack.

In our day we tend not to understand how God could use people like this to judge His people. It happens when God’s people have not lived up to the standards He lays out for us, and those standards are in His Word. God is not so concerned with our happiness or health, as much as He is our holiness, and most of all His own glory. He will do whatever it takes, within the attributes of His character, to make us holy. That is what He is doing in the nation of Judah.

The Chaldeans are said to be frightening, and they would put fear in your heart according to verse seven. The New Living Translation says, “They are notorious for their cruelty. They do as they like and no one can stop them”. They would be the source of God’s judgment upon Judah, however, they would get theirs too (See Daniel 5).

In the eighth verse we find that the Chaldeans/Babylonians will come with power and speed. They are also fierce, not only in countenance, but temperment.

Verse nine, violence and conquering is what they have in their minds and heart. They thrive on blood, the blood of their enemy, and that was anyone who got in their way. When you pick up sand in your fingers all of it cannot be kept there. This is almost like a randomness in some ways, but most likely means taking captives in great numbers. Captives of Judah.

Mockery will be on their tongues and in their hearts (vv. 10-11). Captured kings and princes – leaders will be scorned and some will die.

Walls built to resist their attacks will be overthrown by mounds of dirt laid against them. Because of his victory Nebuchadnezzar will attribute his victory to his god.

How pitiful it is when God’s people do not live by God’s Spirit and His Word. We bring shame to His name and pain and reproach to our name. O, how this must have pained the heart of Habakkuk. Do you think he liked the answer? May God forgive me.

This begs the question will God refrain from judging those who turn their backs on the nation of Israel today?  Will He count guiltless those who say that God is finished with Israel?  We could also ask, If this nation called the United States of America, was truly built on Biblical, Christian/Judeao principles and values; will we be any less guilty before God, than was Israel for turning their backs on God?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Originally published January 03, 2008

DANIEL, THE EDUCATING OF THE YOUTH

“ 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; 4 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. 5 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. 6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 7 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 Abednego.“ Daniel 1:3-7 (KJV).

THE EDUCATING OF THE YOUTH – On the first campaign against Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar took hostages/captives and temple items. Youth are very impressionable to say the least.

The king wanted some youth who were attractive, intelligent, willing to learn the languages of the world. He wanted what would make his court look quite impressive.

The king asked “Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs” to pick out youth who were of noble lineage.

“The kings meat” would have been the best of the land. However, it was rich foods. It was foods forbidden by the Mosaic law. The right meats required the right kind of handling and care. The Babylonian’s probably did not take that kind of care. There are some cultures that believe eating and drinking the blood of animals that have been slain gives them the strength and spirit of that animal. That may be a partial reason why the eating of blood was forbidden in Jewish law.

These young students would be required to learn about the gods of this heathen land. Learn the culture. Learn their sciences. Learn their language. They would become the “wise men” of Babylon.

When Hitler wanted to begin a change in Germany under his rule he began with the youth. He wanted a “pure race”. He picked only the brightest, most attractive, and only of the white race. He learned the hard way that no one is perfect. No race of people is perfect. In fact he is paying for his crimes through all eternity.

The thinking here is that, if you start young enough teaching the things contrary to one’s culture, religion, and race you can win the world to your way of thinking. However, the king of Babylon was about to come face to face with the children of God. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah who were four young men fully dedicated to Jehovah-Sidkeneu [The LORD our righteousness].

Upon being chosen these men of God were given new Babylonian names. Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar; Hananiah was renamed Shadrach; Mishael was renamed Meshach; and Azariah was renamed Abednego. They had wonderful godly names and were given pagan godless names.

Daniel means “God is my judge” ……….Belteshazzar means ‘the keeper of the treasure of Baal’;

Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious” ……Shadrach means ‘command of the moon god’;

Mishael means “Who is like God” ……………… Meshech means ‘the goddess Shach’;

Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper”…………………. Abednego means ‘the fire god’.

The enemy will try to get you to forget who you are, where you came from, your heritage, and your destination, and then, laugh in your face if and when he succeeds. This enemy would find out, however, that they would not succeed with these four. What a great witness these four men have been down through the centuries and millenniums of time.