~ Week One ~
June 9, 2020
Daniel ~ Chapter One
"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..."
Read Daniel 1:1-7
We began our 12-month journey through this Year of Divine Government in January with a 12-day journey through the Book of Ecclesiastes, learning from the wisdom of Solomon, that
If I live my life in a right relationship with God, then I will be satisfied and find purpose and meaning in life,
and then re-committing our lives to wholehearted devotion to the Lord, who alone can
Satisfy our soul's desire .
We've covered a lot of ground since then, as we've traveled through the Books of John, Habakkuk, Micah, and Ezra in our series of "IF I" journey's. And we are only halfway through this extraordinary and historic year, in which we have witnessed the closing of countries and the opening of wounds; and, although we have been forced to keep at a distance, with our mouths covered and our hands clean, our hearts have been opened to the hurting, suffering, and dying all around us, with many people now willing to risk their physical health for the healing of the nation. How fitting it is that the Lord has purposed our journey through the Book of Daniel in this season.
Our Lord has been so gracious to go ahead of us and provide these timely and perfectly prepared portions of His Word for us to feast upon in this season, so that we would keep our eyes ever-fixed upon Him, growing in wisdom and experiencing His peace, rather than despairing over the current national and world crises and losing hope. For the next twelve weeks, the Lord has invited us to once again join Him at His bountiful banqueting table to continue our season of feasting, and to learn from one of His best, brightest, and most-beloved students, Daniel, who, despite witnessing the destruction of his homeland and the deportation of himself and his friends to a pagan land, resolved not to defile himself nor dishonor the Lord, no matter the length of his sentence. He put his feet down in a foreign land, but didn't let the filthy soil attach itself to his royal soul, as he resolved to live holy unto the Lord and bring glory to his true King!
As we walk out the next half of this divinely appointed and anointed year, learning how to navigate seasons of suffering and sorrow from some of the greatest examples in the Bible, may we see our duty, in the times in which we live, to be to dedicate our lives more fully to the faithful and humble stewarding of the gifts and graces we have been given in devotion to the Word of God and in prayerful intercession for God's kingdom purposes to be fulfilled in the world. Daniel's whole life and ministry were a testimony to the sovereign rule and reign of God Most High in the lives of individuals and over the nations of the world. As we continue to grow in grace and godliness, may our lives testify as brilliantly as Daniel's did in his day, reflecting the beauty and glory of God, and bringing many to the knowledge of the one, true, living God, and even greater glory and honor to God Most High!
"Then the king instructed Ashpenaz,
the master of the eunuchs,
to bring some of the children of Israel
and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles,
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.
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."
Daniel's story begins in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, and the Lord
Jehoiakim into his hand with some of the articles of the house of God (v. 2). From the opening pages of his book,
Daniel sets the tone and theme by underscoring the sovereign rule of God over the affairs of the nations and peoples of the earth
. God raised up the Babylonians to defeat Judah; using them to chasten His covenant people, whose ungodly kings, false prophets, and faithless priests were the cause of the moral decay of the nation. Years earlier, Hezekiah, king of Judah, had arrogantly shown "the house of his treasures" to the king's ambassadors from Babylon (Isaiah 39:6-7), boasting in his wealth and might rather than in the Lord. God permitted this test of a friendly visitation to reveal the true condition of king Hezekiah's heart. While he may have recovered from his physical illness, Hezekiah's spiritual health was failing.
"There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them"
(v.2b). Isaiah announced the future captivity of Judah by telling Hezekiah that the day would come when all that was in his house would be carried away to Babylon, including some of his descendants (vv.5-7). The nation fell into spiritual decay over the next century, and in 586 B.C. Babylon besieged the holy city. Nebuchadnezzar seized all the loot and prisoners he pleased, including Daniel, but he did not destroy the city, and he left some of the vessels behind. Jeremiah had prophesied the fall of Jerusalem, even stating that part of the vessels would be left behind to prove the word of the true prophets of God over the false prophets. The false prophets said that Babylon would be defeated and the temple furnishings would be returned, so Jeremiah proposed a test to verify their words.
"But if they are prophets, and if the word of the LORD is with them, let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, do not go to Babylon"
(Jeremiah 27:18). Jerusalem fell not only because of Nebuchadnezzar's might, but because God was judging His covenant people for their disobedience and idolatry. Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon in 605 B.C. when they were 15 or 16 years old. The remainder of the temple articles were later removed when Jehoiakim surrendered; and the temple was destroyed in 586 B.C.
The Lord gave Daniel a long life and ministry. Over the next twelve weeks we will read how he faithfully served the Lord, remaining separated unto the Lord, while living an active life in the courts of the king and serving as counselor to some of the greatest monarchs, from Nebuchadnezzar to King Cyrus. During that time he was given divine opportunity by God to witness to Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Belshazzar, Cyrus, and many others in the courts of the kings. He even lived long enough to see the prophecies of Jeremiah fulfilled - his people returned to their land and the temple rebuilt. Through the remarkable lives of faithful servants like Daniel, Joseph, Esther, and Nehemiah, we see the sovereign hand of God at work as He providentially places His special servants in positions of honor in order to work out His plans for His people. The Lord overrules the kingdoms of the world through the divine placement of His chosen servants who are willing to serve humbly and obediently in the midst of difficulties, trials, and testing, while remaining faithful to the Lord. With Daniel as our example, we have little excuse, as we face our present trials in this world, for not living a life of wholehearted devotion to the Lord and prayerful intercession for His kingdom purposes to be fulfilled in our generation. Let us begin our new journey with praise as we claim the words of the apostle Paul who, like Daniel, sought the honor of God and furtherance of His kingdom above all, regardless of the cost: "
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify to the gospel of the grace of God
: Read Daniel 1:9-21
God gave victory to a pagan ruler in order to accomplish His sovereign plans to chastise His people and bring about spiritual restoration to His people and His holy land. Though carried off like one of the temple vessels, Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were members of the royal family, and were chosen by Nebuchadnezzar to serve in his court. Daniel and his friends were given a secular education, and received instruction in Chaldean literature and language, and Babylonian history and science; all of which they excelled in above all the other students. Their Hebrew names, which all had something of God, or the Lord in them, were replaced with the names of the false gods of Babylon. Their new names, new studies, and new language didn't pose much of a problem, but the line was drawn when they were required to disobey God's holy law.
"We ought to obey God rather than men"
(Acts 5:29b). Daniel's name may have been changed to Belteshezzar, but his nature would not be changed. He was an Israelite to the core, and he would not disobey the Law of His God.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies"
(v. 8a). The king's menu included food that was forbidden by the Law, that was not prepared according to the regulations of the Law (i.e. the draining of blood from the flesh), and that was dedicated to idols (Leviticus 11; 17). Daniel wholeheartedly loved the Lord and desired to please Him above all others, therefore it wasn't difficult for him to choose to obey God rather than the king; but he did so graciously. Daniel and his friends didn't threaten the guards or stage a protest; they did what every other courageous servant of God has done throughout the Scriptures when they had to defy authority to obey God, they were gentle and courteous, and didn't get anyone else in trouble. Instead of rebelling, Daniel requested that he and his friends be put on trial and be tested for ten days with vegetables to eat and water to drink. The Lord gave Daniel favor in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs. Instead of asking how he could get out of a tough situation, Daniel sought God's wisdom and strength, and was shown what he could get out of it. The results of their proactive test proved the power and presence of God in their lives and prepared them in advance for the even greater tests to come.
"And at the end of the ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who at the portion of the king's delicacies..."
"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."
Daniel may have been a captive in a foreign and pagan land, but he was as free as he had ever been in Jerusalem, and he was determined to let anything or anyone take his freedom from him; he would do what was right, no matter what the cost. He served the Great King, the Highest King, and he lived by His rule alone. He purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the world's offerings and so dishonor his God. He resolved to live separated from the world and set apart to God. Even in the most common thing he would not allow himself to be defiled. He chose to eat at the table of His King only; for God alone offers,
"Food to eat of which you do not know"
(John 4:32). Daniel's course was settled in his heart from the beginning, he would not be influenced to conform to the pattern of the world he was forced to live in; yet while he was firm in his resolve, he was also gentle in his manner. Daniel was willing to be put to the test, and to live a life of self-denial in order that God would be glorified through him in a pagan land.
"My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work"
(John 4:34). After ten days of testing his features appeared better and his flesh fatter, and he was found to be ten times better than all the other young men who fed on the kings delicacies. Daniel and his friends were transformed by the renewing of their minds, and in turn transformed the minds of the pagan rulers, bringing glory to God (Romans 12:1-2). Are we willing to be put to such a test? Would our faith be shown to be fatter and come forth as pure gold like Daniel's? Would the features of our character be proved more honest, more godly, more truthful, more holy than those who are of the world? Christians should be better...ten times better than the world! As we set out on this present course the Lord has prepared for us, let us resolve in our hearts to be like Daniel, and to not be afraid to be put to the test, but pray fervently that whatever trial we face our lives will testify to the grace and glory of God.
"Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard"
(Acts 4:19, 20).
"Do all things, without complaining and disputing,
that you may become blameless and harmless,
children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked
and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice
in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."
"Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days."
Just click or tap the You Tube image below
As we travel through the Book of Daniel
we want to focus on following the example of his faith,
but as we do, let us prayerfully consider setting aside
Tuesdays as "fast" days,
as we feast upon the goodness and grace of our Lord this summer
(consider a full day fast, a partial fast, or a Daniel fast (v.12))
Scripture Meditations for the Week:
1 Thessalonians 5:24-25
Memory Verse for the Week:
"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.
Now God had brought Daniel into the favor
and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs."
(Daniel 1:8, 9)
Read about 2020 The Year of Divine Government
A Proclamation of Prayer for the Pandemic
(with links to the YouTube ANOINTING prayers through the Psalms)
to provide peace and to encourage faith in times of crisis
when fear, doubt, and uncertainty try to rob us of our joy!
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"Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
and your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me, hear, and your soul shall live."
(Isaiah 55:2, 3a)
TESTIFY to the gospel of the grace of God
a 12-week devotional prayer and fasting journey through the Book of Daniel
copyright (c) 2020 Traci A. Alexander. All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc., and the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
"For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand or say to Him,
"What have You done?"
(Daniel 4:34b 35)