The Controversy Begins Index

This lesson begins the chapter-by-chapter study of the book of Daniel.

Conflict seems inevitable, in fact, the conflict between good and evil is one of the central themes of Scripture. The theme of the book of Daniel, as demonstrated in the events of ancient Babylon, is this same struggle between the God of heaven and the power of evil. The book of Daniel began with Nebuchadnezzar seemingly defeating the true God, but ends with a tremendous victory for the God of heaven. Nebuchadnezzar is shown again and again that God is still in control of human events. Remember that the focal point of the book of Daniel is the time of the end. Therefore, the events, stories, conflicts and prophecies are to have an impact on us who are living in the last days.

There two issues over which controversy arises in the book of Daniel. These are the issues of worship and obedience. We will see them illustrated very clearly in the historical portions of Daniel. These same issues will reappear in the prophetic section of Daniel indicating they are to be major issues in the final conflict.

The controversy begins in Daniel with the captivity of Daniel and his friends by Nebuchadnezzar. In this first chapter we will study the amazing story of how a young man and his friends faced some very severe tests which were inflicted by a despotic ruler. We will also note the implications that these tests have for the rest of the book of Daniel. The tests described in Chapter 1 seem very mild in comparison to the much greater tests to come later in the book. But the lesson of Chapter 1 is that only those who pass minor tests will ever pass the major tests. How important, then, that we be faithful to God at all times.

ISSUES OF WORSHIP
1. Name the specific instances in the Book of Daniel where the issues of worship and obedience illustrate the great controversy theme.
  • Daniel 1:8 "But Daniel proposed in his heart the he would not defile himself..."
  • Daniel 3:10 "Thou, O King, hast made a decree, that every man...shall fall down and worship the golden image."
  • Daniel 4:25 "...till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men..."
  • Daniel 5:23 "...hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven..."
  • Daniel 6:7 "...to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions."

Throughout the historical portions of the book of Daniel we see how Daniel's obedience to God and worship of God is continually threatened. The issue is clear in the book of Daniel. Governments may try to impose legislation that inhibits or prohibits the worship of God, or demands false worship. Only those who remain true and faithful to God will be delivered.

Remember that the focal point of the book of Daniel is the end time. The prophecies of Daniel point to the last days, when these issues will arise again. People in the end time will attempt to inhibit or prohibit true worship and impose false worship. The book of Daniel tells us clearly that God will have a victorious people who will overcome all these attempts to cause them to disobey or to pervert the worship of God. The issue in the book of Daniel is worship and obedience. The issues in the last days will be worship and obedience. How important it is that each of us remains faithful to God.

2. How do the prophecies of Daniel foretell the issue of worship and obedience? Daniel 7:25 "And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Here in the prophecies we see the issue of worship illustrated in the little horn power of Daniel 7 (Lesson 10) as he speaks great words against the Most High, We see the issue of obedience illustrated...as he thinks to change the times and the laws. The book of Daniel is concerned with these vital issues.
DANIEL'S CAPTIVITY
3. What did Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, do to Jerusalem, the city of God? Daniel 1:1 "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it." This was the first time that Nebuchadnezzar came and captured Jerusalem. In 2 Kings 24:1 tells us that Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, but little to nothing is spoken of about the first time the city was besieged. Scriptures say that, "...Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years..." and that is it. From this we can draw that Jehoiakim gave up as soon as Nebuchadnezzar showed up. The later rebellions would not be treated so lightly.
4. Who allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jerusalem? Daniel 1:2 "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand..."  
5. Why did God allow Judah to be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar? Jeremiah 2:11-13 "Hath a nation changed their god, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." Through the prophet Jeremiah and other Bible prophets God had predicted the warfare of the Babylonians against Judah because they had forsaken the Lord, had ceased to worship Him, and were disobedient to the Word of God. False worship and disobedience led to Israel's captivity.
6. Who seems to be winning the conflict as the book of Daniel opens? Daniel 1:2 "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god: and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god." The book of Daniel begins with a visible defeat for God's people, but this is not the end of the story, just the beginning. Evil may appear to prosper now, but in the end God's truth will be triumph.
7. What kind of people did Nebuchadnezzar choose from among the captives of Judea to be educated in the schools of Babylon?

Daniel 1:3-4: "And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and...

  1. of the king's seed, and of the princes...
  2. Children in whom was no blemish but well favored...
  3. and skilful in all wisdom...
  4. and cunning in knowledge...
  5. and understanding science...
  6. and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace...
  7. and whom they might teach in the king's palace...
  8. and whom they might teach the learning...
  9. and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
Nebuchadnezzar want the best and the brightest of the young people of Judah, those already educated in the sciences and trained to stand in the presence of a king to be taught the learning and language of the Chaldeans.
8. How long was the educational process to last? Daniel 1:5: "And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king."  
9. Who are the four children of Judah named in Holy Scripture? Daniel 1:6 "Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:" Daniel and his three friends were very fortunate. They could have become salves. After all, they were captives in Babylon. But instead, Nebuchadnezzar treated them with great favor, offering to educate them into Babylonian society. This was not totally uncommon among ancient monarchs. Many of them would take young people like Daniel and his friends captive, re-educate them, and then send them back to their country to rule. Hopefully this would insure their loyalty to Babylon. Whether Nebuchadnezzar had this in mind for Daniel and his friends, we do not know. They obviously never went back to Jerusalem to rule, but their education paved the way for them to be accepted into the educational society of Babylon, and thereby able to exert tremendous influence upon Nebuchadnezzar.
10. What Babylonian names were given to these four youth? Daniel 1:7 "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." In an attempt to totally Babylonianize these youth they were given new names to signify their loyalty to Babylon and to the gods of Babylon. The name Daniel means "God is my judge." His Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, means "Bel protects the king's life." Bel was one of the popular gods of Babylon. The name Hananiah means "Jehovah is gracious," while the Babylonian name Shadrach refers to an allegiance to the Babylonian god Marduk. The name Mishael, meaning "who belongs to God," became Meshach, a reference to another Babylonian god. The name Azariah, meaning "Jehovah helps," was changed to Abednego, "servant of the god Nabu."
DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS ARE TESTED
11. What was to be the diet for those who were selected for this special education? Daniel 1:5 "And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king."  
12. What had God told the Israelites about drinking wine?

Proverbs 20:1 "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."

Proverbs 23:31 "Look bot thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright."

 

13. What foods had God forbidden the Israelites to eat? Leviticus 11:2-8 "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever partes the hoof, and is cloven footed, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; then are unclean to you." What a dilemma! Although they were captives, they were being treated like royalty. They could even eat the king's food, but to do so meant to be disobedient to the God of heaven. To fail to eat the king's food meant to be disobedient to the king of Babylon. Yet Daniel and his friends did not hesitate in making [their] decision.
14. What decision did Daniel and his friends make? Daniel 1:8 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." There was no question in Daniel's mind. Loyalty to God was more important than loyalty to the king. Here we see the beginning of the issue that will be illustrated again and again in the book of Daniel. God's faithful people are being brought into conflict, and the issue is obedience to God or obedience to man. Like Daniel, God's people in the end time will not hesitate to choose obedience to God over obedience to man. Daniel 1:8 is a key verse in the book. It vividly portrays why God could trust Daniel so implicitly in his experiences in ancient Babylon.
15. What did Daniel ask of the prince of the eunuchs? Daniel 1:8 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he wold not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Daniel asked for an exemption, [a request that could have resulted in his death by asking for something other than what the king had given].
16. How did the prince of the eunuchs view Daniel? Daniel 1:9 "Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs."  
17. How did the prince of the eunuchs respond to Daniel's request? Daniel 1:10 "And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king." The prince of the eunuchs was afraid of what the king might do to him if the king saw that the ones placed in his charge did not appear to be in good health.
18. What test did Daniel suggest? Daniel 1:11-13 "Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest deal with thy servants."  
19. What did Daniel and his friends request to eat during the ten day test? Daniel 1:12 "Prove thy servant, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink." Pulse is vegetables. The New International Version of the Bible says, "Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink." Daniel and his friends requested a very simple Judean diet. Daniel knew that while in Babylon he would be subjected to the fiercest tests imaginable. If he was to remain loyal to God, he must live and eat simply. He knew that if he drank the king's wine and ate the king's junk food, he would be in a drunken stupor a good share of the time. He would be in no condition to resist temptation and maintain his loyalty to God. Therefore, it was of utmost necessity that he eat simply if he was going to be loyal to God when the really big tests came. [The main thrust is that Daniel wanted his mind clear so he could remain loyal to God.]
DANIEL WINS THE TEST
20. At the end of the ten days, who appeared in better health? Daniel 1:14, 15 "So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."  
21. Because of the faithfulness of the four Hebrew children, what did God give him? Daniel 1:17 "As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams."

God's blessing was not a substitute for their hard work and study. The four Hebrew children still had to study hard and learn how to apply what they learned, thus God blessed them because of their obedience to His principles. If the four Hebrew children had not applied themselves to their studies God would not have blessed the results.

22. When the four Hebrew children took their final examination, what was their standing? Daniel 1:18-20 "Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. The four Hebrew children tested out 10x better than all the other students. Don't miss the major point, it was obedience to the God of heaven. Daniel chapter 1 sets up a major implication for the rest of Daniel's writings: if we cannot remain loyal to God when the first test comes, we will compromise on all the other tests that follow. Or to put it this way, if we cannot remain loyal to God when the test is easy, we will not be loyal when the test is difficult. Today we live in a time of prosperity, when it is relatively easy to serve God. If we cannot be obedient in this time, we will not be obedient when real troubles arrive.
23. Do you wish to be loyal and obedient to God in the time of prosperity, that you, too, might be loyal and true to God when times of difficulty come?    
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