Ladies Bible Study
The Book of Daniel
Relevance for Today
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the hair salon talking with a dear saint in Christ. She mentioned she was beginning Beth Mooreís study on Daniel. A "twang" went off in my heart, an actual study of the Book of Daniel by a woman for women. Hence the beginning of another study in the Word, the Book of Daniel. Mrs. Mooreís wonderful study is based on weekly sessions and since we at the church do monthly lessons, I have studied her wonderful workbook, in addition to other commentaries and developed this series of lessons, specifically for the women here at Hope and Life Fellowship.
The Bibliography for This series of lessons includes:
Daniel Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy, by Beth Moore, LifeWay Press, 2006.
Thru the Bible Commentary Series, Daniel, by J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.
Nelson Bible Dictionary
These being the source of my study with of course the Word of God as my main inspiration.
I pray, this new series will be inspiring, fulfilling and plant seed in your heart that will grow and bear fruit to change your lives and the lives of others. Amen
At the end of each lesson, you will find a list of questions, that hopefully will be answered
Throughout that specific lesson.
Letís start with this question, Who is Daniel?
Daniel was a young Israel man taken into captivity by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzer in the year 605BC. The Book of Daniel was written during Danielís lifetime while in captivity.
We cannot start a study of Daniel without first taking a brief look at Israeli history up to this event in world history.
Turn with me please to Nehemiah chapter 9. (Due to the lack of space I will not copy the entire text, but I urge you to read this chapter as it details the events that led to the captivity of the Jewish nation.)
The Book of Nehemiah takes place after the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and the recounts the rebuilding of the wall surrounding the city. Letís look at a few key Scriptures.
1. Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. 2 Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God. 4. Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the Lord their God. 5. Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: "Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever! "Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!..
7. "You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gave him the name Abraham; 8. You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites to give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous. 9. "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red SeaÖ
13. "You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments. 14. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servantÖ
16. "But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments.
17. They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion they appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake themÖ
21. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
22. "Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, and divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23. You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possessÖ
26. "Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against them to turn them to Yourself; and they worked great provocations. 27. Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them; and in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You, You heard from heaven; and according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemiesÖ
30. Yet for many years You had patience with them, and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31. Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful.
As you can see, the Israeli people were rebellious from the beginning and despite short times of repentance and obedience, they predominately live in open rebellion to God, until they finally ended in total captivity with the destruction of both the Temple and the city of Jerusalem.
Letís now start in the Book of Daniel.
Daniel 1:1-2: In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
This is around the year 606 BC. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon made his first siege against the nation of Judah attacking the city of Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 36: 1. Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's place in Jerusalem. 2. Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3. Now the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. 4. Then the king of Egypt made his brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Necho took Jehoahaz his brother and carried him off to Egypt. 5. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord his God. 6. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him, and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon. 7. Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.
This is a direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 25:8-13: 8. "Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: `Because you have not heard My words, 9. `behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' says the Lord, `and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.
10. `Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11. `And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12.`Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the Lord; `and I will make it a perpetual desolation. 13. `So I will bring on that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied concerning all the nations.
It is a tragic time in Jewish history, but it is something we need to really examine. Total obedience to God is so important. We cannot pick and choose the things of God we wish to obey. God does not give multiple choice directions. You cannot choose to do A or B, ignoring C and D. With God it is all or nothing.
Stop here a minute and look at your life. Has there been times you have not been obedient or were in total disobedience? I know in my life there has been just such times and it affected my life and the lives of my children. But as the Scriptures above say over and over, God is faithful and merciful. If we are faithful to confess our sins and repent, He is faithful to forgive us, Amen?
This has certainly been true in my life. I messed up, but God has forgiven me and taken me to places I never in my wildest imagination could perceive. Praise God! I can certainly tell you I never ever thought I would be teaching Bible Studies, but here I am!
Before we go further, I want to take a minute and consider the man Daniel. After much reading, studying, meditation and prayer, The Lord led me in this direction.
Daniel was a man of resolution, revelation and reverence. In the coming lessons we will discover each of these qualities in him.
Daniel 1:3-4: Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles,
4. young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
It was a very common practice for a conquering nation to take captive large segments of
the population, transplant them in another locale to use as slave labor. This served several purposes. It destroyed the conquered nation, demoralized both the captives and those remaining and it prevented uprisings or rebellion.
According to some historians, Nebuchadnezzer took the best of conquered cultures back to Babylon, to be trained as wise men and to serve him personally in the palace.
Daniel and his three friends were in this number. They were intelligent, attractive, young and of royal heritage. It was very important to remove any heirs to the throne, to prevent
rebellion and claims to the throne of the conquered nation.
So we see, Nebuchadnezzer had instructed His leaders to find the best of the captives and bring them back to Babylon to serve Him. In this case devout Jews who believed in the one and true God, who had laws that kept them separated from the rest of the pagan world.
Letís stop and consider the society at that time. On one hand you have the Jewish Nation. Who even in open rebellion to God still considered themselves a separate nation, different from all the others, and on the other hand, you had the hedonistic pagan society of the time, symbolized by Nebuchadnezzer and the city of Babylon.
Stop and ask yourself how does this compare to our society today? Are we a totally hedonistic pagan society? What things do we as a society hold dear, value or worship?
Into this pagan society, we see 4 young Hebrew men, probably between the ages of 14 and 17, taken captive, ripped from the arms of their families, relentlessly driven hundreds of miles to live as slaves in a foreign nation.
One source of information I read states the march to Babylon was brutal, fast and humiliating. It has been suggested that the captives were nude some of the time. This is in direct contradiction to Godís laws.
Daniel 1:5-7: And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
Letís look at verses 6 and 7 first. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were the sons of Judah chosen to be taken to the palace. Imagine how you as a mother would feel if your child was taken by force from you home, stripped naked and marched out of the city. I know, having 2 sons, how torn I have been with all the recent military actions in the past 10-15 years and the cost to our own nation. As a mother of two fine men, I am thankful that I have never been in any kind of position to deal with the loss of my child. In the past with severe illnesses I have had to deal with much heartache, but not compared to these Hebrew mothers.
So, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are taken to Babylon for training. They are even given Chaldean names. The purpose of this training was to change these young men, to brainwash them into Babylonians inwardly and outwardly. They were to eat like a Babylonian, talk like a Babylonian and dress like a Babylonian.
Think how we as a society influence people today. Regional difference are no longer stressed, we are to all become this metropolitan person, speaking, dressing, thinking and eating alike. Enjoying a plate of grits or fired tomatoes is a thing of the past!
We are told by gay men, how to dress, wear our hair, what is "hot and sexy" and what is not. Sex is the important thing. Sex sells. Just being attractively dressed well-groomed women is not enough today. No! We must be young, thin and sexy. How sad is that?
Think of the heart of God. Do you really think being thin and sexy is what matters to Him?
I donít know about you, but when I meet my Lord face to face, I donít want one of the things He comments on is my sex appeal! I want my Lord to look at me and say "Well done good and faithful servant." Is this your heartís call today? If it is not, I urge you to look at your life. Seek God, ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas to change, get before God, and change your life today, while you still can.
As we remember form previous lessons, to the Jews, a name is important. It has a meaning. One of the first things done when the men reached the palace was their names were changed.
Daniel meaning "God is my judge" was changed to Belteshazzar meaning either "worshipper of Baal or Bel will protect." Baal and Bel being pagan godís.
Hananiah meaning "Yah has been gracious" to Shadrach meaning "inspired of Aku".
Aku obviously a pagan god.
To Mishael meaning "Who is what God is" to Meshach meaning "belonging to Aku."
And to Azariah meaning "Yah has helped" to Abednego meaning "servant of Negoí.
I think it is interesting that today whenever we teach this story we use the Chaldean names given these young Hebrew men, not their given Hebrew names. Can you imagine the heartache to these young men constantly referred to as servants of pagan godís even by name? As we will see, it did not change their heart or actions.
Daniel 1:8-21: 8. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 9. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and good will of the chief of the eunuchs. 10. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.'' 11. So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12. "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13. "Then let our countenances be examined before you, and the countenances of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.'' 14. So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. 15. And at the end of ten days their countenance appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies.
16. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18. Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
21. Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.
One of the interesting things I discovered during my research is found in the book of Isaiah.
Isaiah 39:5-8: Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the Lord of hosts:
6. `Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the Lord. 7. `And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.' ''
8. Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!'' For he said, "At least there will be peace and truth in my days.''
Isaiah was one of the prophets of God that the Jews ignored. Isaiah in this passage clearly tells Hezekiah of coming captivity. Notice the egocentric response of the king. "Hey, that is interesting but at least it wonít happen in my lifetime." What an attitude!
Many scholars believe the captivity of Daniel and his companions fulfill this prophecy. So we see them not only captive but made eunuchs as well. This theory based on the above Scripture and the fact that the person in charge of these young men was the head eunuch. Why have the head eunuch govern you if you yourself are not a eunuch. Making these young men eunuch served a definite purpose. It provided loyal docile men to serve in the court. Now as a mother of boys, I can tell you that a 14-17 year old male if full of raging hormones. They are rebellious at times and disobedient, having to prove things to themselves and not believing anything their parents tell them. Taking this into account, and adding in the anger at captivity I can see the validity of this point. Whether Daniel and his companions were eunuchs or not, we see them being brainwashed into the Babylonian way of life.
This is where we first discover Daniel as a man of resolution. Verse 8 tells us Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself. He was joined in this resolution by his companions. Eating the foods and drinking the wines was probably in direct violation of Hebrew dietary laws. Probably because it offered unclean meat and food forbidden but also because the food and wine had probably been sacrificed to idols before being served.
I want you to understand it was not distasteful food, it was food served on the Kingís table, food he ate. However, this was a direct insult to the Hebrew way of life and meant as a strong method of changing these young men into transplanted Babylonians
However again we see the provisions of the Lord.
Look at verse 9: Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and good will of the chief of the eunuchs.
Of whom does this remind us? It reminds us of Joseph, who also found favor with his captives.
God is gracious and merciful and always has a purpose for everything. We may not see or understand the purpose in the middle of our captivity, but if we trust in Him, as Daniel did, we will also have favor and come out on top. Amen? Amen.
So we see these young men, eating foods that are clean or healthy and emerging form the 10 day test period stronger, more alert and healthier than their counterparts.
This is something we need to consider. We must eat healthy and take care of the vessels God has given us. We can no longer load our bodies with junk food full of carbohydrates and fat and then expect God to heal us when we are sick. This reeks of the Hebrew rebellion in the wilderness. I urge you to look at your diet objectively. I know for me this is hard, as I love sweets and chocolate. The first of the year my husband and I went on the Daniel fast for 21 days with the corporate fast of our church and we immediately noticed a difference in how we felt and looked. God provided food for us, we need to eat healthy and wise without becoming legalistic about it. I know we can spend so much time trying to find the foods listed in the Bible, that we forget to find time to spend with the provider!
I recommend that you donít become obsessed with dieting or eating Biblically, but concentrate on what God has provided today in the way of healthy foods. Eat those, avoid junk and fast foods and God will take care of you. Amen? Amen.
I want to close with the last few verses.
Daniel 1:19-21: Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
21. Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.
Daniel was resolute and obedient and God honored that. Even in a horrible situation, Daniel and his companions prospered.
3 John 2: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
Ladies, when we put first things first, seek God, take care of our vessels, then we will prosper, even as our soul prospers. We feed ourselves spiritually and God will honor that.
Take to heart the things discussed today, look at your lives and change the areas God highlights. As you can see, The Book of Daniel is relevant for today. You too, can be a woman of resolution.
Next month we will discuss the next 2 chapters of Daniel.
Questions to Consider
7. What are their Hebrew names and what were their names changed to?
affected these young men?
10. How does this compare to our society today? How are we brainwashed?