THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – MAY 6, 2020

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The refusal of Nebuchadnezzar’s officials not answering his demands was met by an even stronger announcement which had immediate consequences not only on them but now also on Daniel and his friends. In Daniel 2:12-13 we read, “Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.” (NASB)

As we have noted. To be fair, these officials didn’t refuse Nebuchadnezzar’s demands. They were unable to comply with them because they didn’t know the dream or its interpretation. Now the full weight of Babylonian law was pronounced upon them. Nebuchadnezzar isn’t just mad; he is burning with anger. By the choice of two words expressing his profound anger we see that Nebuchadnezzar lost all reasoning. That is what anger does. Anger knows no limits. It acts illogical and makes the poorest of decisions. While not condoning the anger that Nebuchadnezzar displayed I wonder if many of us have wondered why he became so enraged. Of course, we have said that he expected full cooperation from his subjects and demanded to know answers to questions he presented. He expected his “wise” men to know them all. But consider this. He had dreams that caused his sleep to flee away from him. In other words, those dreams troubled him so much he could not sleep. Could it be that he was so mad at his officials because he was secretly afraid? His deathly outbursts could have likely been because he was scared to death himself at what he had dreamt, and he was desperate to quell those fears somehow. If we consider that he didn’t understand his dreams, he didn’t know how to interpret them and now, he believes he has no one he can trust to free him of these dilemmas. His attitude, while not acceptable, is somewhat understandable. He may have been wondering what else have these so-called wise men hidden from him or lied about.

Scripture does not tell us whether his decree was to be implemented against all of the wise men of the land of Babylon or just the city itself. Given that it likely refers to the officials who generally served him on a day to day basis it is probable that the decree was more local in nature. We see a glimpse of why we could conclude it was the immediate area later when Daniel is appointed head of the province of Babylon. A province is generally an area or district of a country. Therefore, it fits well with the possibility that the order of executions of the wise men was localized. Nor are we told in Scripture whether those officials standing before Nebuchadnezzar in his court were immediately executed. This may have happened, or it may have been a general order to arrest all of the wise men and then carry out a mass public execution. Again, we must be careful as to what we conclude. Killing those in the court where they stood could certainly have occurred for the reputation of Nebuchadnezzar was that he was ruthless. However, I personally do not believe that the wise men were immediately executed because we will read later that Daniel requests Arioch [who was the captain of the king’s bodyguard who was given the order to carry out the king’s decree] not to execute the wise men. In fact, the text never confirms that any of them are executed after this request of mercy is made by Daniel. That is remarkable that Daniel had thoughts of others while everything else was going on.

Others have argued as to why Daniel wasn’t in the court when the decree of the king was ordered if he was one of the wisest identified by Nebuchadnezzar when he was examining Daniel and his friends. The logical answer to that is maybe due to Daniel only recently completing his training he had not yet been assigned his role in the court. In the eyes of the wise men of the court, he was a mere novice. It may also be that Nebuchadnezzar did not trust the establishment that was in place in terms of those who served in his court which Daniel, up to that point, did not. But again, re-read Daniel 2:2. Nebuchadnezzar called four sets of experts. The Chaldeans. Daniel was not a Chaldean but a Hebrew. The magicians, conjurers, and sorcerers. Daniel was none of these. He was wise and knew of the falsehood of these men but remained untainted by them giving total allegiance to his God.

God also evidently gave Daniel people skills and a demeanor that appealed to several important people. He was able to speak with Ashpenaz who listened to his requests as to the diet he and his friends had been set by the king. He then successfully spoke with the official who Ashpenaz appointed to provide the food for them and who agreed to the young man’s request for a specific diet that would not defile them. As we will see in our next blog he was able to reason with Arioch also, which appears to change or cancel the king’s decree.

 

Bible quotations are taken from the following versions of the Bible.

New American Standard Bible (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

 

MDR Ministries © 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – MAY 5, 2020

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There is no ambiguity in the next several verses that we will consider in today’s blog. I said that Nebuchadnezzar had no qualms in dispatching both his enemies and those who did not obey him fully. Daniel 2:5 informed us that he would tear even his own officials limb from limb if they did not make known to him his dream and its interpretation. This included making their houses a rubbish heap. In the original Hebrew/Aramaic text the word used for the expression “rubbish heap” is nevalu or nevali which are Aramaic words that appear to represent an unused root, probably meaning foul. This meaning is further expanded to likely represent a refuse heap, a dunghill or outhouse. The word nevalu can be crossed referenced with Daniel 2:5; 3:29 and Ezra 6:11. Dunghill appears to be the preferred rendering of this word across a wide range of concordances. If that is the case, then one could consider that Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t just threatening to tear down their homes but was promising to make their former homes a degraded place of refuse, whose odor would have truly been repugnant in a final decree of dishonoring them.

Now we see the proverbial carrot extended to the court officials as we read Daniel 2:6-9, “But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” The king replied, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.” (NASB)

You can almost picture the frenzied scene. Nebuchadnezzar has just scared the living daylights out of his entire entourage by his threats of death and dishonor only to suddenly play Mr. Nice Guy! Now he is offering gifts and riches and great honor. But his demeanor is short lived, as he again switches to the purpose of his demands.

Have you ever been falsely accused of something only for the accusing party or parties to insist you tell them what you did? Often this scenario has played out in many of our lives when we were children. The accuser could even have been a parent or teacher who insisted you were going to be punished if you didn’t own up to what you had done. Being falsely accused and not even aware of the situation can be terrifying because you simply didn’t know the answer to what your parent or teacher was demanding of you. But they thought you were stalling for time. This is a poor example, at best, of the dilemma these magicians, conjurers, sorcerers and Chaldeans faced. They, again, ask the king the content of the dream more urgently now. I am sure they would have almost been begging him at this point. One can imagine their confidence gone, replaced only with fear of not answering him, choking them in terror.

Now we see perhaps the real motive of why Nebuchadnezzar had set them such an impossible task. He was accusing them of lying and collusion. He is convinced that they are stalling for time because of the command he has issued. The subsequent threat has not provided any satisfactory answer, despite the rewards he had promised. He makes it apparent that there is only one decree. He believes they are being deceitful by giving him corrupt answers and thinks that they are trying to extend the time in order for him to change his mind. It may well have been proof for him that everything they had ever said was total fabrication. He knew there were times when what they predicted had not come true. He was probably at a point where he had stopped believing anything they said. It is amazing to see how God maneuvers this man against his own systems of belief.

Now we, as the onlookers to the text, see the real fear in their answer in Daniel 2:10-11, “The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.” (NASB) Finally, we see them say something truthful. They finally admit that it is impossible to tell anyone what they have dreamt unless they are given full knowledge of it first. Moreover, they are actually brave enough to tell Nebuchadnezzar no king or ruler has ever asked anything like this. They, of course, likely meant anyone within their own history but the point would equally represent any previous power. They then say something which is false but somewhat true. Let me explain. They tell Nebuchadnezzar that the only one who could declare his dream would be the gods. While they may have fully believed that, it was still false. No false god can declare the contents of a dream, nor interpret it. But they unwittingly were on the right track.

There was a God, the only true God, who could both declare the dream and its interpretation. Why? Because the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had was created, authored and placed into Nebuchadnezzar’s subconscious mind as he lay sleeping by God Himself.

But before things get better there is worse to come for these court officials who can give Nebuchadnezzar no satisfactory answer. Unbeknown to Daniel and his friends they are about to find themselves in imminent danger also.

 

Bible quotations are taken from the following versions of the Bible.

New American Standard Bible (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

 

MDR Ministries © 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – MAY 4, 2020

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As we have learned previously, the groups of experts now standing before Nebuchadnezzar had an array of experience and documents to assist them in interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. All they needed was what they asked him as recorded in Daniel 2:4, “Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” (NASB)

Many have argued that Aramaic was not used by Nebuchadnezzar and, therefore, the text is corrupted. But this is simply untrue. Nebuchadnezzar was, in fact, a Chaldean himself. You will recall in Daniel 1:3-4 we saw Nebuchadnezzar giving Ashpenaz certain orders regarding the sons of Israel. The latter part of Daniel 1:4b clearly states that it was Nebuchadnezzar who ordered Ashpenaz to “teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans”. (NASB) Now, why would Nebuchadnezzar order that if he did not know Aramaic? How was he able to fluently talk to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah and ascertain that “out of them all not one was found” like them in their understanding if he did not know Aramaic? Or how was he able to determine they were “ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm”? (see Daniel 1:19-20 – NASB)

Chaldea was a Semitic-speaking nation which existed between the 10th and 6th centuries BC, after which it and its people were absorbed and assimilated into Babylonia. It was located in the far southeastern corner of Mesopotamia and briefly came to rule Babylon. The short-lived 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty which ruled from 626 – 539 BC. (Note: the last rulers, Nabonidus and his son Belshazzar who ruled from 556 – 539 BC were of Assyrian decent). The first of the Chaldean kings was Nabopolassar who was a former obscure and unknown Chaldean chieftain. He used tactics learned from previous Chaldean leaders to take advantage of the chaos and anarchy gripping Assyria and Babylonia and seized the city of Babylon in 620 BC. After Nabopolassar died, after reigning for 21 years his son, Nebuchadnezzar, became the next Chaldean king.

The Chaldean language is known as Chaldaic and was a dialect of Aramaic. Many people within the region of the Middle East spoke this language. We know from the Bible that many people spoke Aramaic even before the time of Daniel. One example is the account of Hezekiah found in 2 Kings 18. When Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, attacked Judah in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah he sought mercy from the king of Assyria. Sennacherib sent, among others, the “Rabshakeh” which, in the Semitic Akkadian and Aramaic languages, means the “chief of the princes”. When Hezekiah was called by the Rabshakeh, Hezekiah sent Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, out to meet them. Notice the conversation in 2 Kings 18:26 which reads, “Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, “Speak now to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak with us in Judean in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” (NASB) Clearly, the Rabshakeh (an Assyrian) knew Aramaic. The Assyrians, Babylonians and Hebrews all knew the language or different forms of it. The Hebrews, in fact, wrote some of their text in Aramaic that is contained in the Talmud. This language was the official tongue of Babylon when they took Judah in captivity. Once Babylon had conquered many of the kingdoms and tribes that resided in these areas of the world, this language gained more use. These conquered peoples had to become familiar with this language since the Babylonians governed their lives. It wasn’t until the Persians conquered Babylon that it began to lose its prominence.

I merely quote the account in 2 Kings 18:26 to highlight the point that Aramaic was widely known not only to the Assyrians but now, as we read in Daniel, to the Babylonians. This was not a language, in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, that would have been foreign to him. These points should also remind you that from Daniel 2:4 through to Daniel 7:28 the text is now written in Aramaic language.

Back at the court, it should be apparent that, by their question, it was the norm for the dream to be interpreted once they knew what the contents of the dream was. Such a question could be considered normal in our day too. When a young child is woken from a bad dream often the parent immediately asks them what has happened. Or, if a spouse said they had a nightmare, their partner immediately asks what was it about? However, upon the Chaldeans asking king Nebuchadnezzar their question a problem occurs which is revealed to us in Daniel 2:5, “The king replied to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap.” (NASB) One can only imagine the terror that came upon those in the court. Suddenly they were startled by the king insisting that they tell him the dream’s content first before interpreting it. No books could help them on this command. It seemed that an impossible command was going to result in them losing their very lives.

I have the utmost respect for many theologians and scholars who have spent their lives studying God’s Word. That being said, I am not afraid to disagree with some of these academics when Scripture is not saying what some purport it is. Case in point is the popular belief in some well-known older translations of the Bible that Nebuchadnezzar forgot his dream. A careful reading of Daniel does not reveal Nebuchadnezzar forgot his dream at all. The popular belief that he did is a result of interpretation of several older translations. The translation of the King James Version and The Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible are good examples of this. In Daniel 2:5a both versions read, “The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me.” [Underline in Scripture mine]. The thing Nebuchadnezzar was referring to was of course his dream. When one consults the original text the word gone is not used at all. The Aramaic word used in this Scripture (which appears only twice in – Daniel 2:5, 8) is the word azda meaning sure, assured, or made sure. Something that is sure or assured is often rendered firm which is the word used for newer translations at our disposal.

Based on these points, it is my belief (and many others) that Nebuchadnezzar never forget his dream. I say this for several reasons.

  1. The text never says he forgot it.
  2. Had he forgotten the dream then surely the magicians, conjurers, sorcerers and Chaldeans could have simply made up the contents of his dream and he would not have known.
  3. The fact that his sleep went away from him and he was anxious and troubled suggests he knew the dream but was lacking what it meant.
  4. Nebuchadnezzar, for reasons unknown to us, may have wanted to test his dream tellers to see how genuine they were.
  5. This test would launch God’s plan by using Daniel to fulfill His purposes.

Up until the point of Nebuchadnezzar’s warning, you can imagine these experts standing smugly, ready to give their interpretations of the king’s dream. They were completely unprepared for his demands. It has been suggested, and it is a valid comment, that many of these experts were much older than Nebuchadnezzar, possibly being servants of his father before him. Being a new king he probably had a good idea whom he could trust, whom he had his doubts about or, indeed, he wanted to test all of them to see just how accurate their interpretations were. To be fair, if anyone were to say to you or me “tell me what my dream was last night and interpret it” I’m sure we would be just as clueless as those standing before Nebuchadnezzar. This points directly to my fifth point above and we will actually see Daniel confirming this later – that the only possibility of Nebuchadnezzar having his dream interpreted was by God Himself because it was God who had placed those dreams in Nebuchadnezzar’s mind as he lay sleeping in the first place.

As we will read in the forthcoming verses of Daniel chapter two, had God not acted providentially by having Daniel brought before the king, not only would he and his three friends have been put to death but all of those now standing before the court would have been also. If one thinks this was an idle threat by Nebuchadnezzar one only has to read what he did to Zedekiah in Jeremiah 52:9-11.

 

Bible quotations are taken from the following versions of the Bible.

New American Standard Bible (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

 

MDR Ministries © 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – MAY 1, 2020

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Many of us can relate how irritable and grumpy we can be if we have not had enough sleep. Often sharp words are said to loved ones or acquaintances that very often make us cringe when we realize our misgivings. In our next reading of Daniel that cannot be said of Nebuchadnezzar. He wasn’t just irritable or grumpy. He was on a war path with his own officials. Daniel 2:2-3 begins by telling us, “Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. The king said to them, “I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.” (NASB) Here is that singular term again that he had a “dream” and wanted it interpreted. How many of us have consulted a doctor or a sleep specialist to tell us what our dreams have meant?  Very few of us, if any. The indication here is that the dream was so intense and troubling that Nebuchadnezzar wanted the expertise of all of Babylon to figure it out. Let us consider who, or rather what, these so-called experts had in terms of experience that led Nebuchadnezzar to believe he could find out what the dream meant.

What is interesting is that, in the original text, the Scripture reads “sorcerers, conjurers and horoscopists”. The Hebrew word for sorcerer is kashaph. It occurs six times in the Bible and means to whisper a spell, to enchant or practice magic or a sorcerer. The Hebrew for conjurer is ashshaph and means enchanter. Often the enchanter would offer incantations to deliver a person from evil magical forces. Today, we would call that exorcising a demon. They also were involved in fortune telling via the use of astrology. Another term for the enchanter would be a conjurer or a person who performed tricks by illusions. Finally, the Hebrew name for a horoscopist was chartom meaning magician. This person involved themselves with drawing magical lines or circles. This person was also known as a diviner [a person who dealt in divination – also called a soothsayer] that described some type of occult activity. While the modern translations list magicians, conjurers and sorcerers in that order, there is no ambiguity in this versus the original text for all of the main descriptions are covered in both texts. One can do an in-depth study of the magical practices of Babylon due to the extant records the Babylonians left on clay tablets that recorded their craft. It is not the intention of this author to go into great depth as to the practices of the magic performed by these Babylonians. Nor do I recommend it. As Christians we are commanded to have no part in being involved with such things. That, in my opinion, should include not delving too long into the study of them either, for any reason or purpose.

The final group that is mentioned which, again, the original text mentions first, are the Chaldeans. These were understood to be the wisest of all the four groups called before Nebuchadnezzar. The Chaldeans were those who held the higher offices in the hierarchy of Babylon. Some scholars say they were astrologers, which they may have been. Being a member of the Chaldean group placed a person in a position of prominence and favor.

Once called by King Nebuchadnezzar, all four groups stood before him. We are not told how many or if they were only from the city of Babylon or from farther away. That is of no consequence in any event. Once everyone had been assembled, Nebuchadnezzar declared, “I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream”. Nebuchadnezzar called these so-called experts together in the hope that one of them could interpret his dream.

Babylonian antiquity recorded the dreams of individuals whom they believed could track the life pattern of the individual. These historical records contain whole volumes of manuals that the Babylonian’s recorded and studied. These records included their interpretations of dreams. So, if you were a Babylonian, you came to the right place, as far as Nebuchadnezzar was concerned.

However, when we return, there is a problem. All of the dream manuals contained dreams that the person had and were subsequently “interpreted” after the dream had been related to these so-called “experts”. That situation only worked if the person could remember and relay the dream to them. As we will learn in due course, Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten it. But had he?

 

Bible quotations are taken from the following versions of the Bible.

English Standard Version (ESV), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

New American Standard Bible (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

 

MDR Ministries © 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – APRIL 30, 2020

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The thing that seems odd is the times of the Gentiles were revealed in the dreams of a pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar. Notice it is “dreams” (not just one dream). It is easy to see why dreams were employed. Nebuchadnezzar would hardly have listened to a prophet conveying God’s decree. But why give the dreams to a pagan king? There is a significant reason that you will see in a moment but, first, a little history. Prior to Nebuchadnezzar becoming king his father, Nabopolasser, ruled. He became the first person who assembled an army capable of conquering what was then considered the world. Nabopolasser had trained his son well. Nebuchadnezzar was considered a genius. His interests and expertise encompassed education, academics, architecture, as well as being an excellent military strategist. But we are forced to ask why God would decide to reveal (via dreams) the full prophetic chronology of history from 605 BC to the establishment of the Messianic kingdom of Christ to a pagan king and a Gentile of all people? Here is the answer and you may be surprised. Israel, at the time of being conquered by Babylon, was just as bad as Babylon!! If anything, Israel was even worse than the Babylonians because they had become apostate. They knew the truth of God. To know the truth of God and then to abandon it was a far worse position to be in. At the time, the Israelites had no idea it would be temporary, but God was finished with them, at least for that moment in time. It is, at times, difficult to read how the Jews rejected God time after time again falling into gross idolatry. They had been warned, several times, and it was now no fault but their own in receiving God’s judgment. The rebuke God chose wasn’t just that it was dreams but that those dreams were given to their conqueror himself. And that the dreams were to usher in the history of the times of the Gentiles is both apt and ironic in that the prophecy is given through a Gentile, pagan, king.

As we begin our reading in Daniel chapter two we are already faced with opposing voices regarding the accuracy of the book. Daniel 2:1 reads, “Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him.” (NASB)

The argument of those who are ready to disbelieve Daniel at every chance they get is the statement that “Nebuchadnezzar had dreams” in the second year of his reign. Such opponents to Scripture argue that, based on Daniel chapter one, three years have elapsed (based on the account in Daniel 1:5 that informs us that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had three years of education in the Babylonian court). This argument, however, disintegrates because there is no argument that the three years of the young Jewish men had finished. The Babylonian reckoning of a king’s reign fell completely in line with it being the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Additionally, Daniel chapter one is written in Hebrew, whereas chapters two through seven are Aramaic. In other words, the three-year reckoning in Daniel 1:5 is based on a Jewish timeline date setting which, actually, is completely in agreement with Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. Daniel 2:1 had a Babylonian reckoning. So how is this conundrum explained? When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt at the battle of Carchemish it was the early part of 605 BC.  A few months later is when Daniel and others were deported to Babylon in the first of three deportations. Immediately upon winning the battle of Carchemish word came that Nebuchadnezzar’s father Nabopolasser, the Babylonian king, had died. One must remember that Nebuchadnezzar, at this juncture, was not the king but the crown prince and his father’s death necessitated his urgent return to Babylon to secure the throne. The Babylon timing of a king’s rule did not count the unexpired portion of the year that the previous king had died as the time of the new king. His rule was calculated from the first full year of his rule. Hence, Daniel 2:1 is accurate, based upon the Babylonian dating of a king’s rule being the start of a new full year.

Now, we see three other points of Daniel 2:1. The first point is that Nebuchadnezzar had dreams, as in the plural, more than one. This does not necessarily mean that he had different dreams but could mean he had the same recurring dream. Alternatively, as we get into the substance of the dreams, one could argue the dreams could have been made up of different parts of the same dream. I say this for several reasons. As we will see in the forthcoming verses, Nebuchadnezzar never asks for his “dreams” to be interpreted but his “dream” as in the singular. The magicians, enchanters and sorcerers, likewise, never ask the king the content of his “dreams” but of his “dream”. Finally, Daniel, by God granting him the interpretation of the dream, is brought before Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel if he can interpret the dream (singular) and Daniel rightly tells the king that only God can reveal the meaning of the dream. What is fascinating when we get to this passage of Scripture is that Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that God will reveal the dream (singular) and the visions (plural) of his head. I think that the Scriptures give us a clear understanding that Nebuchadnezzar had one dream that may have had parts over one, or several, nights and which consisted of several visions that were composed of that dream.

The second point is that Nebuchadnezzar’s spirit was troubled. Given the fact that Nebuchadnezzar was the world ruler one could wonder why something would bother him. But remember, he was a hardened military leader. One commentary claims the uprising of the city of Ashkelon and its resistance in paying allegiance to Babylon in 604 BC could have caused Nebuchadnezzar such anguish. That is hardly an argument, as Ashkelon’s rebellion resulted in its total destruction. Ashkelon is a coastal city just north of the Gaza strip which, at the time of Babylon, (according to this particular commentary) was one of the extremities of the empire of Babylon. The commentary [that I will not name] suggests that this uprising caused Nebuchadnezzar’s spirit to be troubled. I for one do not accept the comments of this commentary as an accurate interpretation of events. It is inconceivable that Nebuchadnezzar would travel to Jerusalem on more than one occasion to deport and conquer and destroy it and be troubled in spirit before traveling there. It is also (in my humble opinion) a lazy dissertation as to the real reason Nebuchadnezzar’s spirit was troubled, given that the author was aware of the contents of the dreams that caused his anxiety (as revealed by Scripture) when writing their commentary. No, what Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of was so horrifying, so alarming, that it shook him to the core. His dreams panicked him to such an extent that he forgot them. He may have had bits and pieces but the content and, more importantly, its meaning, eluded him. He likely remembered the terror and fearfulness of the dream but not its content.

This leads to the third point. His sleep left him. You may recall as a child, or even as an adult, when you have a bad dream (or what is termed a “nightmare”) you invariably do not immediately go back to sleep. A child would likely only settle down by getting into their parents’ bed. An adult would likely stay awake, possibly for hours, trying to recollect the fear of the dream or even get up and get dressed. Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams were worse than that. The ability to sleep left him completely. The lack of sleep only added to his anxiety and, as we will see next time, his anger and decision on getting to the bottom of these dreams.

 

Bible quotations are taken from the following versions of the Bible.

New American Standard Bible (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

 

MDR Ministries © 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – APRIL 29, 2020

Posted by on Apr 29, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – APRIL 29, 2020

The word “primer” has several meanings. Often it is associated with a type of paint which is applied to a surface before applying the finished or final coat of paint. Another explanation of a primer is a cap or cylinder containing a compound that responds to friction or an electrical impulse which ignites the charge in a cartridge or explosive. A primer can also be described a small introductory book on a subject or, more often, a short informative piece of writing.

While the primer meaning fits in more with the third description, I would contend that what we are about to learn from Daniel chapter two is an explosion of prophecy encapsulated in this chapter. More importantly, and pay attention to what I am about to say, – God reveals His plan and purpose for the entire history of what we know of as “The times of the Gentiles”. These words were spoken by Jesus in response to a question after He had said the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, which would eventually usher in the signs of the end times. The disciples asked Him when these things would occur (Luke 21:7) and He gave an extensive list of signs, together with several warnings. More importantly the second part of Luke 21:24b is where Jesus said, “and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (NASB)

In the second chapter of Daniel we are going to be introduced to the Gentiles powers in reference to a significant prophecy that ties into these words from Jesus. Notice that Jesus makes mention that the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled. This refers to when the times of the Gentiles we all live in today and beyond will terminate. When we reach the seventh chapter of Daniel we will see a picture of world history that has occurred and will continue to occur until the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is why Daniel is so important for a person to understand. In Daniel we are given a comprehensive history of the time of the Gentiles which ties directly into the prophecy that it would one day end.

It is important to know that the book of Daniel and, in particular, chapter two, is divided into two categories. But first, a word of warning. To gain a proper understanding of the timelines in the book of Daniel it is imperative that we hold to the book being written in the 6th century BC. To refuse to do so means that we ignore the historical dates that prove when each world power ruled.

Alternatively, if you do believe Daniel was a real person used by God beginning in 605 BC (where he is first introduced to us) then you are following the inspired Word of Scripture. This latter course is the ONLY sensible explanation of the prophecies that are contained in the book of Daniel.

Now here comes a secondary warning. If you believe the genuineness of Daniel you may be aware that belief is subdivided into two distinct classes.

The first class are those who interpret the vision in Daniel chapter two in the amillennial or post-millennial view. The second class are those (including this author) who hold to a pre-millennial perspective. While many Christians argue that it does not really matter which of the two classes a person belongs to, I have to disagree. These people also say that whatever view is held is not salvific [meaning it does not affect a person’s salvation]. While that may be considered correct it   does affect a person’s theology. These statements and claims cannot be answered quickly nor in a blog of a few pages. For both the purpose of time and also because it is what I believe to be correct, everything you will read in this blog will be from the perspective of a pre-millennial view.

The body of these individual blogs on the book of Daniel will eventually be published as a book with the intention of adding greater detail on these points and more. For now, suffice it to say, I believe that many Christians believe in the return of Christ. However, Christians are divided as to Christ’s Millennial rule. These divisions are generally described in three categories:

  1. Premillennialism sees Christ’s second advent as preceding the millennium, thereby separating the second coming from the final judgment. In this view, “Christ’s reign” will be physically on the earth.
  2. Postmillennialism sees Christ’s second coming as subsequent to the millennium and concurrent with the final judgment. In this view “Christ’s reign” (during the millennium) will be spiritual in and through the church.
  3. Amillennialism basically denies a future literal 1000-year kingdom and sees the church age metaphorically described in Rev. 20:1–6 in which “Christ’s reign” is current in and through the church.

It is on these points where I believe a person’s theology can be problematic. Ultimately, you must be like a Berean and through prayer and study ask God for His guidance in what must be an absolute and proper understanding of eschatology.

For all the above reasons Daniel chapter two is crucial for us to understand and interpret correctly.

Ask a number of people what they would say is the most important document ever produced and you will get a variety of answers. The choice is endless with such things as the Magna Carta, the Treaty of Versailles, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg Address. There are many more we could list. I sincerely doubt many, including a number of Christians, would name Daniel chapter two as being of such importance. That is a sad reflection of the ignorance of not knowing the importance of the book of Daniel. Oh, for sure, many remember Daniel in the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the furnace and being untouched by the flames. But even these are questioned as being true events by the majority. In view of knowing only the “best stories” of Daniel when most of us were children, it begs the question how many could actually recount what the second chapter of Daniel is all about?

In His divine providence, God decided what would happen, not just to Babylon but all other subsequent Gentile powers up to when the Messiah would appear and usher in His Messianic kingdom. Those living in the time of Daniel had no concept of what the plans and purposes of God were nor any knowledge that He had set the plans in motion for the eventual arrival of Christ’s kingdom rule. This, in and of itself, shows the power of God and that what He wills He will accomplish. It also shows His Grace and mercy in preserving a nation who turned their backs on Him more than once. It confirmed His promise to Abraham was, and is, trustworthy and cannot be broken. It is remarkable that Daniel is not studied more extensively in view of the future fulfillment of prophecy.

Get ready for a roller coaster ride of world history that was prophesied and how every person who has ever lived or will live will be impacted by these events.

 

Bible quotations are taken from the following versions of the Bible.

New American Standard Bible (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

 

MDR Ministries © 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – APRIL 28, 2020

Posted by on Apr 28, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on THE DAILY BLOG ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL – APRIL 28, 2020

The opening portion of our next passage of Scripture is the beginning of the three-year period in which Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are to undertake their studies. Daniel 1:17-21 tells us, “As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams. Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service. As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm. And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.” (NASB)

You could say these four young men were the summa cum laude of their class. Again, this was not of their own doing but, as the Scripture says, it was God who gave them the knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom. We are forced to acknowledge the array of disagreement amongst scholars. Some argue that this sentence if proof that the four boys indulged in the occult practices of the Chaldeans in order to gain the knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom. I would disagree with that conclusion. Nothing in this sentence indicates a practical application of the Chaldean teachings. Rather, it certainly indicates that they had a thorough understanding of the teachings but, by God’s grace, they also had discernment not to indulge in practices that would cause them to break God’s commandments.

We are told that Daniel had abilities that were reserved for him. He could understand all kinds of vision and dreams. Most commentators believe the book of Daniel was written toward the end of Daniel’s life and therefore this particular comment, as to the abilities of Daniel, should not cause us any concern. He was merely writing as a matter of fact what God enabled him to do. I state this as an obvious observation because it is not until the next chapter we see Daniel understanding any visions or dreams. Hence this statement is best understood with regard to the work God entrusted Daniel to do as a prophet of God.

It is important to understand that God had earmarked Daniel for special service. His calling to do the work of God is not dissimilar to that of young Samuel. They were both very young when God marked them for His service. It should also be noted that Daniel’s unique ability amongst all of his peers did not mean he had the ability, at that time, to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream which we read about in chapter two. It will be noted that only after Daniel earnestly prayed to God did God, not Daniel provide the interpretation of the dream. This should be a word of caution for all of us that whatever gifts God graciously provides us with, the source is Him and not us. As a result, we should not boast but give God the recognition and glory at all times.

From verse seventeen to verse eighteen we traverse the course of three years. At this point, Daniel and his three friends were probably approaching the age of nineteen or twenty. The anxiety of Ashpenaz [the commander] in presenting his charges should not be lost. Nebuchadnezzar was expecting young men who were well versed to be placed in various positions in his kingdom. Anything short of success could have meant instant death. Like a student waiting to pass that final exam, the trepidation is somewhat increased when viewed by this Scripture. They were about to be grilled by the king. One can imagine the flurry of activity by Ashpenaz and his overseers amongst all of the young men. Days before this event would arrive no doubt they themselves were testing and evaluating each young men’s knowledge in the hope that everything would go as planned.

The comment in the Scripture that “out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah” indicates that their intellect could not be matched. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar found that all four of them were “ten times better” than all of the magicians and conjurers who were in his realm. The phrase “ten times better” is more likely a reference to how the Bible references the number ten. In the Bible the number ten is signified by completeness or fullness. In this passage, it simply means that the young men’s accomplishments stood head and shoulders above anyone else. They had diligently studied everything and that resulted in a superior knowledge which, clearly, God had ordained. As a result, Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to enter into his service. What roles they specifically were assigned at that time is not mentioned but, no doubt, their appointments saw them hold important offices.

Some may think Daniel chapter one has an unusual ending as it mentions Daniel continuing his service in the court of Nebuchadnezzar until the first year of Cyrus, the king, whom we will identify later in our study. Again, there is nothing strange in this statement. It is simply presenting a time stamp of Daniel’s life in captivity that extended to the full duration of Babylon’s reign as the then world power. Daniel was one of the first to be led away into captivity and we will see that he saw the first of many Jews returning to Jerusalem, as predicted by prophecy.

 

Bible quotations are taken from the following versions of the Bible.

New American Standard Bible (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

 

MDR Ministries © 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Read More