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Daniel 1—Undefiled in Babylon

Norman McNulty

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Part 1 of 11 in Daniel Prophey Series given at Maraval, Trinidad SDA church.

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Norman McNulty

Neurologist at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System, Lawrenceburg, TN

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  • August 7, 2011
    7:00 PM
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Thank you so much, Pastor Dolly, for the invitation to be here at the Maraval Church, and I’m excited about what we are going to be doing the next 12 presentations or over the next 3 weeks as we go through the book of Daniel. Now, before we get started, I’d like to have a word of prayer, and then we’ll get right into the message for this evening, so let’s bow our heads.

 

Father in Heaven, we thank You for giving us a new week of life. We thank You for the privilege of being able to study from Your Word, and we pray for a special blessing tonight and over the next few weeks as we study these messages. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

I just want, by way of curiosity, how many of you here tonight are coming to hear a presentation on the book of Daniel for the first time? You’ve never heard a presentation on the book of Daniel. All right, very good, so there’s about five or six people. We welcome you here, and we’re glad that you’re here for these presentations, and I trust that as we go through these meetings, you’re going to learn a lot of things, and you’re going to have questions, and you’re going to want to study more.

 

Now, how many of you have studied the book of Daniel at least once in your life? Okay, many of you. How many of you feel like you’ve studied it well enough that you could be doing the presentation? Okay, I’m sure there are at least a few of you who could, certainly the pastor and some of the others here also. That gives me an idea to know what my audience is. So, what you will probably find is that some of the information, maybe some of you will find, like, “Wow, I’m not sure what that is,” but don’t get lost in the details; look at the big picture. And for those of you who have studied before, you can look at the details a little more closely, and then everyone will get something out of this, so that’s the plan for this seminar.

 

Now, this is a 12-part seminar, and we’re going to go through the book of Daniel chapter by chapter. Now, the outline is such that for the most part will be one chapter per night. The one exception will be our third presentation where we will do Daniel, chapter 3 and 4 together, and then towards the end, Daniel 11 is so complex, and there is so much information, we’re going to do it in two presentations. So, other than that, there will be one chapter per presentation with the exceptions of the ones that I mentioned.

 

Alright, so, as you can see from the slide, our title for tonight’s presentation is “Undefiled in Babylon.” Now, the book of Daniel was written by Daniel, a Hebrew captive. He was a young man taken at a young age into captivity into the city of Babylon, which would be in modern-day Iraq, from Jerusalem, which is modern-day Israel. Now, how many of you know what the name “Daniel” means? The name “Daniel” means “God Is My Judge,” so if Daniel’s name means “God Is My Judge,” what do you think the book of Daniel might possibly be about? Yes, the book of Daniel has much to say about judgment and God’s role as our Judge. So, that’s one of the things we’re going to be learning as we go through here.

 

And what you’re going to find is that the judgment scenes especially start to come up in the last half of the book, but what we’re going to see is that in the first six chapters we have a lot of stories, stories that some of us maybe have heard growing up, Daniel being taken captive, Nebuchadnezzar having his dream, the three Hebrew boys, Daniel being thrown into the lions’ den, the handwriting on the wall, but what we’re going to see as we go through the first six chapters, is that the first six chapters show us how we should live with respect to the fact that there is a judgment in Heaven. The stories in the first six chapters show us how we should live our lives with respect to the fact that there is a judgment in Heaven and that God is our Judge.

 

So, let’s open our Bibles now and turn to Daniel, chapter 1, starting in verse 1, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem and besieged it.” And verse 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,” now, Shinar is another name for Babylon, “to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.”

 

Now, what we see here is that God’s people, the people of Judah, are brought under siege and taken captive by a pagan kingdom, the Kingdom of Babylon. And you may be asking the question, “Why did God allow a pagan nation to take his chosen people the Jews into captivity?” And if you study this out carefully, if you study the history of the Old Testament, you will see that God’s people consistently resisted the warnings of the messengers that God sent, and they continue to go off into idolatry.

 

And so, finally God says, “You know what? Maybe they will listen to Me if I allow them to be taken into captivity, and when they are taken into captivity, I will be able to use some of them to be My witnesses in a foreign nation.” Because, you see, God had raised up Israel and Judah to be His witnesses to the world. They were not to hide their special truths to themselves and hide in the temple and say, “We’re the best people in the world; I’m so glad we’re not like the people out there.” They were supposed to take the truths that God had entrusted to them and share them with the world around them.

 

And interestingly, Jerusalem and Judah and the nation of Israel were strategically located at the crossroads of the world at that time. So, God had placed them there to be His witnesses, but instead of being His witnesses, they had become conformed to the nations around them, and so finally God said, “You know what? In order for you to be My witness, I’m going to allow you to be taken captive, and by doing so, My messages of truth will then be given to the leading kingdoms of this world,” so that’s what happens.

 

Now, before we go any farther in our study of Daniel, chapter 1, I want to show you in this next slide why we are studying, and I should have done this earlier in the presentation. Why do we have a prophecy seminar? Why do we study these books? Is there any special insight in the book of Daniel for our time?

 

I’m going to read, this is a book called Testimonies to Ministers, written by Ellen White. She has some interesting things to say about studying prophecy that all of us would benefit from hearing about. Here she says, “There is need of a much closer study of the word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work,” and you’re going to see as we go through these prophecies point by point, you’re going see why we should understand the prophecies in these books. She then says, “Read the book of Daniel,” and, hey, we’re here. We’re going to study the book of Daniel these next three weeks. Amen?

 

“Call up, point by point, the history of the kingdoms there represented. Behold statesmen, councils, powerful armies, and see how God wrought to abase the pride of men, and lay human glory in the dust.” Now, continuing on, “The light that Daniel received from God was given especially for these last days.” Yes, it may have been written way back in the 500s B.C., but it’s especially for our time.

 

And, “When the books of Daniel and Revelation are better understood, believers will have an entirely different religious experience.” Do you want to have an entirely different religious experience? Do you want to have such an experience with the Lord, that you are just ready to walk one step more into the Kingdom of Heaven? That’s why we’re here. We are here to study these things so that we will come closer to the Lord.

 

And she continues on, “They will be given such glimpses of the open gates of heaven that heart and mind will be impressed with the character that all must develop in order to realize the blessedness which is to be the reward of the pure in heart.” So, that’s why we study these books. We want to have an entirely different religious experience.

 

Now, here we see, going back to what we read in the first two verses, this is a picture of the city of Jerusalem. This is a representation of it being besieged by the Babylonian army around 605 B.C., and again another picture. And, as we read in the text, not only was the city besieged, but the sacred vessels of the Lord that were used for holy purposes were taken by Babylon into their land, into the house of their god. And we’re going to see that later on in the book of Daniel, specifically in chapter 5, that these vessels are used again.

 

Now, continuing on in verse 3. It says, “And the king spake unto Ashpenaz,” this is Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, “The king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.”

 

Notice what the king is doing here. The king is saying, “Look. We have taken a lot of captives from the city of Jerusalem. Now, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to find the best and the brightest from the captives so that we can educate them.” Now, notice, when you take a group of people captive, that’s obviously going to be very demoralizing to the entire group of people, right? So, then after they are demoralized in their captivity, Nebuchadnezzar says, “The next thing we’re going to do is we are going to educate their best and brightest so that they will then influence all of the others that have been taken captive.”

 

Now, that makes sense, doesn’t it? Rather than trying to educate the whole crowd, you take the best and brightest and say, “We’ll influence them, and once we get them, we’ll have all of them. They’ll say, ‘Hey, you know what? These Babylonians aren’t so bad. They’re actually treating us really nice. Let’s just get along.’”

 

And it’s interesting, they were able to determine those who have wisdom, knowledge, understanding science and those who had ability. Now, these were God’s professed people. Now, this tells us something. We as God’s professed people, those who are following God, we should do our very best to be as educated as we can be and to know as much as we can. And in this particular instance, the king of Babylon wanted to identify those who were the best and the brightest and including those who came from the king’s seed. So, here we see Daniel taken in captivity.

 

Now, something very interesting happens starting in verse 5. It says, “And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.” So, boy, the king’s being so nice to these captives. He’s like, “You know what? You might be slaves, you might be captives, but I’m going to give you a really nice favor here. You can eat my food. I’m going to give you the best food in the kingdom. We are the best kingdom in the world, and you’re going to have the best food, all that you can want. We’re going to take care of you. Just listen to what we say, and we are going to take care of you.”

 

So, you can see that the king is working to gain influence and control over the captives. Now, notice this, verse 6, “Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” Now, were Daniel and his three friends, and that’s the easiest way to describe them, Daniel and his three friends, were they the only captives that were in the story? No. If you read carefully, it say, “now among these,” so they were four of a larger group of young men, and perhaps some women, but probably mostly men. They were four of a larger group.

 

Now, there’s something very interesting. These are just a couple of pictures of Babylon, by the way. There’s something very interesting about the Hebrew names Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. We’ve already talked about how Daniel means “God Is My Judge.” Hananiah means “Jehovah Is Gracious.” Mishael means “Who Belongs to God,” and Azariah means “Jehovah Helps.” So, if you look at these four young men, they are saying, “God is my Judge. There will be a judgment someday, but I am not worried because Jehovah is gracious, I belong to Him, and He helps me.” That was their identity.

 

When you have a name, and the Hebrews gave their names very carefully, their names were given to give them an identity, and, as you know, your identity of who you are drives your mission in life. Who our name is drives our mission, and these young men, their identity drove their mission, which was to proclaim that “God is Judge, but that He is gracious, and we belong to Him, and He helps us, so that we can stand in the judgment at the end of the world.”

 

Now, Nebuchadnezzar knew that they had some special names, and he said, “You know what? We’ve got to change their names.” Notice verse 7, speaking of these four boys, “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. Now, do you realize what these four new names represented? They represented names of pagan idolatrous gods, so what do you think Nebuchadnezzar is trying to do to these young men? He’s trying to change their identity so that he can change their mission in life. He’s trying to get them to turn away from serving the true and living God to go after the pagan gods of Babylon.

 

And, you know, when you study the Bible very carefully, when you come to the book of Revelation, there’s a power at the end of the world that is also identified as Babylon, and as we will go through our study of the book of Daniel, Babylon today, we will find out who they are, they are doing their very best to try to change the names or the identity of God’s people so that God’s people will lose focus of their mission here on this earth. And yet, God wants us to remember, He is our Judge. There is a judgment in Heaven, and that He is gracious, and that He wants us to belong to Him and that He will help us.

 

And that reminds us of the verse in Hebrews 4, verses 15 and 16, that tells us that, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” And then verse 16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,” that’s where the judgment is taking place, “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” So, in the names of Daniel and his three friends is a testament to how we should be living at this time of Earth’s history. And here we see that Babylon was trying to change their identity.

 

Now, here we see that Daniel was obedient. Notice what verse 8 says. Here we see thus far that the king is saying, “Let’s take the best and brightest,” and among the best and brightest were four young men, Daniel and his three friends, and we see that the king is trying to change their identity, but notice what verse 8 says of Daniel, chapter 1, and this was our Scripture reading, “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.”

 

Now, think about this. Daniel is a Hebrew captive. He’s a slave. He is a slave to the most powerful kingdom on Earth, Babylon. So, it’s no big deal that he tells the king, “Hey, I’m not going to eat your food.” You know, Nebuchadnezzar, if you study the history, he was a mighty warrior in battle, and you know what Nebuchadnezzar could say? “Hey, I don’t have time for this. Cut his head off. You’re out. I’ll just take the guys that want to work with me.”

 

So, Daniel, at the very outset of his captivity, is making a decision of life or death, but notice he had “purposed in his heart.” Now, if you study that word carefully, it means to be set. It means that you’re not going to move. And when you study it out carefully, that means he had already made a decision in his mind before this test came that he would not compromise with the king of Babylon, that no matter what the king of Babylon did, he was not going to compromise, and if that meant that he lost his life, so be it, “God is my Judge. Nebuchadnezzar can act like he’s my judge, but God is my Judge. I place my trust in the Judge of all Heaven and Earth.” He “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.”

 

Now, why was drinking the king’s wine or eating his meat such a big deal? I mean, you know, here you are, you’re coming to Babylon, you want to witness for God, and you have this amazing opportunity. I mean, God has worked a miracle in your life. He’s opened the door, that you can sit at the king’s table and eat his food. Praise the Lord! Oh, just one little thing, you have to eat his food, and the Bible has clearly identified some of this food in the book of Leviticus, which was the time in which Daniel was living. Of course, he would know what the book of Leviticus identified as unclean. “Yeah, the Bible has identified that as food that will defile your body, but, you know, I want to reach the king, and I’m not going to be able to reach him if I don’t work with him a little bit.” Can you see how Daniel could have rationalized that?

 

Notice…I’m going to go back to Ellen White here. This is from the book Prophets and Kings, and for those of you who may have this book, there is some very wonderful commentary on this story. This is page 481 of Prophets and Kings, speaking of the four Hebrews, “At the very outset of their career there came to them a decisive test of character.” What kind of test? It was a decisive test. “It was provided that they should eat of the food and drink of the wine that came from the king’s table. In this the king thought to give them an expression of his favor and of his solicitude for their welfare.” So, he was legitimately trying to be nice to them. “But a portion having been offered to idols, the food from the king’s table was consecrated to idolatry; and one partaking of it would be regarded as offering homage to the gods of Babylon. In such homage, loyalty to Jehovah forbade Daniel and his companions to join. Even a mere pretense of eating the food or drinking the wine would be a denial of their faith. To do this would be to array themselves with heathenism and to dishonor the principles of the law of God.”

 

So, even like, “Okay, we’re not going to eat it. What we’ll do, the food will come, and we’ll just be like…,” and the king thinks they’re eating it. So, that’s as good as eating it in the mind of the king because nobody is telling him that they’re not. They’re making a pretense even though they’re not eating it, that would have been just as much as a problem. But, again, Daniel had purposed in his heart. And, again, they knew from the Ten Commandments that God had given to them that, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not bow down to them. Thou shalt not serve them.”

 

And they knew from the history of their forefathers in Israel that many of their forefathers had gone away from the worship of the true God. They had compromised, started worshiping idols, just with little things, and realized compromise starts on just a little thing, and a few years later you realize, “Boy, I used to worship God, and now I don’t even go to church anymore. What happened?” It starts with a little thing. And Daniel and his friends knew the trend, and they said, “We will not defile ourselves.”

 

Continuing on, page 482 of Prophets and Kings, “Daniel and his associates had been trained by their parents to habits of strict temperance.” Praise God for their parents! Amen? You know, the parents of Daniel and his three friends had trained them so well, by the grace of God, that when they went to a foreign land, under the tutelage of the most powerful king in the world, they wouldn’t yield. That says something about what God can do through parents who raise their children to follow Him. Now, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes you can do the very best, and children will go their own way, but by the grace of God, we strive to do our best.

 

Continuing on, “They had been taught that God would hold them accountable for their capabilities, and that they must never dwarf or enfeeble their powers. This education was to Daniel and his companions the means of their preservation amidst the demoralizing influences of the court of Babylon. Strong were the temptations surrounding them in that corrupt and luxurious court, but they remained uncontaminated. No power, no influence, could sway them from the principles they had learned in early life by a study of the word and works of God.” That reminds me of the Bible verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

 

This is another picture of the beauties of Babylon showing the temptations that Daniel surely must have faced. Now this quote summarizes what we’ve already said, so I’m going to skip over this.

 

And now we’re going to see how Daniel made his decision. “Daniel did not hesitate. The approval of God was dearer to him than the favor of the most powerful earthly potentate—dearer than life itself.” Daniel is saying, “You know what? I would rather die than lose the approval of God because I love Him so much. Not because I’m afraid of Him, not because I’m afraid that if I disobey Him, He’s going to zap me in the judgment, no. I love Him so much that His approval is dearer to me than anything else.”

 

“He determined to stand firm in his integrity, let the result be what it might,” even if he died! “He ‘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.’ And in this resolve he was supported by his three companions.”

 

“In reaching this decision, the Hebrew youth did not act presumptuously but in firm reliance upon God. They did not choose to be singular, but they would be so rather than dishonor God. Should they compromise with wrong in this instance by yielding to the pressure of circumstances, their departure from principle would weaken their sense of right and their abhorrence of wrong. The first wrong step would lead to others, until, their connection with Heaven severed, they would be swept away by temptation.”  Now, notice, they chose to be faithful rather than dishonor God, and I might just say, and we’re going to see this again when you come to the image where the three Hebrew boys are faced with a test, when you come to the lions’ den in Daniel, chapter 6, the mentality of Daniel and his friends was not, “Is this a salvational issue? Surely God won’t cause me to lose my salvation if I chose to go directly against His Word. I’ll just ask for forgiveness later, and it will be all okay.” But what they said, rather, was, “What will bring honor and glory to God’s name? If I choose to eat this food, will it honor God or dishonor God?” And we know that, because of their choice, we’re still talking about their faithfulness today.

 

Now, what about all those other best and brightest of the Hebrew captives? Notice, Daniel and his three friends were among a larger group. We never heard a word about the rest of them. The only people we’ve heard about from that group throughout history is Daniel and his three friends because they chose to be faithful to God because they loved Him so much.

 

Now, notice what they say, because they’re saying, “We don’t want to eat this food that’s going to defile us,” and they ask for a specific type of food, but notice how they did it. Starting in verse 9, it says, “Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs,” and, you know, when we are Christians, when we are following God, God does not call us to go out and say, “Hey, did you know that I’m a Christian, so I don’t eat that. That’s awful. Don’t give me that stuff.” “I don’t dress like that. Don’t you know that that’s…,” no. Daniel and his three friends came into tender, Daniel especially, came into tender love and favor with the prince of the chief of the eunuchs. Notice, Daniel was a genuine Christian. He was a nice guy. He wasn’t trying to say, “Don’t you see that I’m different? You guys are a bunch of losers. I don’t want to be like you. Don’t touch me. I’m over here, and you’re over here,” no. Daniel was unlike the other Jews who wouldn’t go out to the world and witness. No, he actually learned in his captivity, and he could have said, “You’re my captor. I’m not going to be nice to you. You took me away from my family. I’m going to show you what I think of you.”

 

And then, if he had been like that, when this issue came up, do you think that guy would have been willing to help him out? No. Because he was a genuine Christian even to his enemies, when he got into a hard spot, because he had been such a nice guy and had come into tender favor with the prince of the eunuchs, this person was more likely to listen to him now.

 

So, let’s not burn our bridges unnecessarily with people who may think differently than us, people who might eat differently than us, people who might dress differently than us. We don’t need to treat people unkindly because they might be different. We can treat them with the love of Christ, and you never know when it’s going to come back around, and that shouldn’t be our motive, but you never know when it’s going to come back around to be a blessing.

 

Continuing on in verse 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.’ 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.’”

 

So, Daniel, at this point he’s like, “Okay, great. We’re negotiating. I can do this now. He’s going to listen to my negotiating tactic, and it’s a simple negotiation. I see your point. You’re afraid that the king will kill you if we look bad, but let’s just try something. Ten days, in ten days surely nothing bad could happen in ten days if we eat the food we want. The king’s not going to wonder after ten days, ‘Hey, what’s wrong with those guys? Why are they looking so sick?’ Ten days shouldn’t be that bad, right? Just give us a ten-day trial. Work with us.”

 

And then he says in verse 13, “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.” Verse 14, “So he,” the prince of the eunuchs, “consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.” And notice what happens, verse 15, “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,” and that includes the other Hebrew captives who knew they shouldn’t be doing it, but they say, “Hey, we’ll just compromise.”

 

But Daniel and his three friends say, “Please, give us a chance,” and notice what they ate. It says they ate pulse and they drank water. Now, do you know what pulse? Fruits, grains and vegetables. So, you know what that means about Daniel? It means that he was a vegetarian, and his other friends from Judah, they decided to eat the meat of the king’s table that they knew from the Bible had been identified as being unclean.

 

Now, notice, the prince of the eunuchs, he had reason to believe, “Boy, this could be bad. If they’re just eating vegetables and fruit and bread and drinking water, they’re not going to be getting all that rich food that the king eats, and, I mean, the king, he’s the most powerful man on Earth, so if it works for him, it should work for them.” So, I mean, it was a reasonable thing for him to think that way.

 

But in reality, what we see here is that a plant-based diet actually leads to better health, and Daniel and his three friends give us a demonstration of healthy living. And as a doctor, and I work at Community Hospital, I can tell you that people who follow a plant-based diet have far less disease and illness than those who have a largely meat-based diet, and there are a lot of reasons for that, and I’m not giving a health seminar tonight, but I can tell you that those who are on a plant-based diet have far fewer health problems. And as a vegetarian myself, and I’m from the United States, coming down here to Trinidad, I can tell you in the year and a half that I’ve lived here, there is plenty of good vegetarian food on this island, plenty! I found fruits and vegetables that you can’t get in the United States that are just absolutely awesome, so don’t tell me that you can’t be a vegetarian in Trinidad because I know you can, and I’ve eaten the food, and it’s good, and I like it, so just saying, for whatever that’s worth.

 

Now, continuing on, “Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse,” or fruits and vegetables. Now, notice verse 17, and this amazing to me, and we’re getting towards the end of the chapter; we’re down to our last five verses. “As for these four children,” that would be Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”

 

“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.” Verse 20, “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them” (how many times better?) “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.”

 

So, here’s what we see. We come to the end of the story, verses 17 through 21, and we see who was it that gave these four men the wisdom that they had? It was God, but notice God blessed them because they followed the diet that He had prescribed for them in His Word. They said, “We will not defile ourselves with a portion of the king’s meat nor with the wine which he serves. We’re not going to drink that either. We are going to eat the diet that God has ordained for us as His people that will allow us to live the healthiest and best lives here on this earth.”

 

Now, notice, they were healthier physically because the prince of the eunuchs found that they were fairer and fatter in flesh. But not only were they healthier physically, when they were examined mentally, they were found to be ten times wiser. Now, I happen to be a neurologist; that’s my specialty, and I can tell you that a bad diet clogs up the brain. And if your brain’s clogged up, you’re not going to think as clearly as you would if your blood was clearer and better and healthier. And, again, a plant-based diet leads to sharper thinking. And I don’t have to explain to you in too much detail that alcoholic beverages, wine, they cloud your brain.

 

You know how it is. People who get drunk or intoxicated, they start saying things that they wouldn’t say if they were in their right mind, right? That’s what happens when you get intoxicated, and I can tell you as a neurologist, when you drink an alcoholic beverage, what happens, the part of the brain that gives you discernment (it’s the frontal lobe), it gets shut down, and it gets bypassed, and the emotional parts of your brain take over so you say things that you wouldn’t say otherwise. And I’ve been in hospitals where I’ve seen patients come in who are intoxicated.

 

I’ve never tried alcohol, but I’ve seen the effects in people who have, and it changes them dramatically. And Daniel and his three friends, say, “You know what? We’re not going to take part of what the king of Babylon is going to give us. Our bodies are the temple of God. We will not defile these temples because we, through these temples that God has given us, want to use our bodies to bring glory to God so that we can have clear-thinking minds so that when we worship Him in our minds, we know and can hear His voice.

 

Now, here’s what Ellen White says about this. Prophets and Kings, page 486, “In acquiring the wisdom of the Babylonians, Daniel and his companions were far more successful than their fellow students; but their learning did not come by chance. They obtained their knowledge by the faithful use of their powers, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” You know, God can do that for you, too? “They placed themselves in connection with the Source of all wisdom, making the knowledge of God the foundation of their education. In faith they prayed for wisdom, and they lived their prayers. They placed themselves where God could bless them. They avoided that which would weaken their powers, and improved every opportunity to become intelligent in all lines of learning. They followed the rules of life that could not fail to give them strength of intellect. They sought to acquire knowledge for one purpose—that they might honor God.”

 

Notice, the acquirement of all their knowledge was for the purpose of honoring God. It wasn’t to make themselves look good to the Babylonians. They weren’t trying to say, “See, we’re better than all the other Jewish captives. You should promote us so that we can get high positions of power in your kingdom.” No, that’s not why they did it. They did it simply to honor God.

 

“They realized that in order to stand as representatives of true religion amid the false religions of heathenism they must have clearness of intellect and must perfect a Christian character. And God Himself was their teacher. Constantly praying, conscientiously studying, keeping in touch with the Unseen, they walked with God as did Enoch.” Now, that’s interesting, Daniel and his friends walked with God as did Enoch.

 

And, you know, you come to Daniel 6, it says, “Daniel prayed to God fervently three times a day.” And that wasn’t just for the meal. That was communion with God. They walked with God as did Enoch, and you know what happened to Enoch? He was translated without seeing death. Now, these young men were not, but they showed that the experience of Enoch was not a once-in-the-world experience. It could be experienced by anyone who chooses to walk with God faithfully.

 

Now, there are some end-time applications because I want to tell you, and for those of you who have not studied the book of Daniel before, we’re going to see this. If you keep coming back, you’re going to see clearly where we are in Earth’s history. So, allow me to give some applications for people who have perhaps studied this in a little bit more depth, but the book of Daniel, as we talked about at the beginning of this presentation, the book of Daniel, the word, “Daniel” means “God Is My Judge,” so the book of Daniel is a book about judgment.

 

So, what are some of the end-time applications? We believe, through study of prophecy that we are living in the judgment hour of Earth’s history. If you keep coming, you’ll see when the judgment began in Earth’s history and how we know that. So, we believe we’re living in the judgment hour of Earth’s history, so what are the end-time applications for us?

 

Okay, Daniel, “God Is My Judge,” we believe as Seventh-day Adventists that we are living in the judgment hour. Now, notice this. Babylon tried to change the identity of the Hebrews so that they would assimilate to become Babylonians. They looked at these young men, and they said, “You may be people who are professed people of God, but we want to change you to become part of our culture, of our religion, of our way of life.” And modern Babylon is trying through a variety of means to change the identity of God’s people today as well, And I thank God that He has a church that He is using to protect and defend and develop His people for the Last Days.

 

Babylon offered its diet and its wine to the Hebrews. You know, Babylon offers its diet and wine to God’s people today as well. God has shown through the Scripture, and you can see, and we saw in the study tonight, you should be convinced by the study tonight that the simple plant-based diet of Daniel and his friends is the way to keep your mind clear so that you won’t be deceived by the Babylon at the end of the world. Your mind is clear, so you’re less prone to be deceived.

 

Now, Babylon, if you go to the book of Revelation, it talks about how it makes all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of its fornication. Babylon at the end of the world is trying to get everybody to drink its wine just as Nebuchadnezzar tried to get God’s people to drink his wine in his day. And wine is intoxicating just as all those who partook of the wine became more intoxicated, they weren’t as clear-thinking, those who partake of the wine of Babylon at the end of time will also become intoxicated. You will be less discerning in your thinking, and the wine of Babylon at the end of time relates to the way that you think. It relates to the way that you understand. It causes you to not understand truth the way that you should, which is why we understand that the wine of Babylon is false doctrine, and Babylon is trying to give us false doctrine to confuse us during the time of God’s judgment.

 

A couple more. Daniel purposed in his heart to not be defiled. What’s the application for us? God’s people will purpose or will settle into the truth because the word “purpose” means to be set. God’s last-day people will settle into the truth intellectually and spiritually so that they will not be moved. And so, here’s the point: You will know what the truth is, and it’s one thing to know it here in your head, but then, not only that, you will put it into practice in your life, and you will not be moved no matter what comes. If the modern-day Babylon comes and gives you a test so to speak that puts your life on the line, you won’t change. You will keep being faithful to God.

 

And one of the things about Daniel, as he purposed in his heart, he decided, he was settled in his mind that before any crisis or any test ever came, he was going to be faithful to God. What would have happened if he hadn’t thought about it or he was like, “I don’t really want to think about this right now,” and then the test came? Do you realize that if you put off making a decision for God, when a crisis comes, when a moment of compromise presents itself, you are more likely because of your human nature to compromise. So, God wants us to choose in our minds now to know what we are going to be facing.

 

Daniel had to know, “Boy, I’m coming from a group of people that, I’m probably in the upper class of the group that have been taken captive, I’m more educated, I come from a royal line perhaps, and so I’m going to be targeted. I’m going to be targeted, so I am choosing in my mind right now, when they target me, I will be faithful by God’s grace.” And you realize that there will be a group of people, as we study, that will be targeted at the end of time with tests that will require decisions that will be life or death decisions, and if we haven’t decided in our hearts and minds now how we are going to choose, when that moment comes, we’re going to be swept along with the current. And if we’re compromising now, we’ll compromise as we go along, so that when that test comes, we’ll get swept right out.

 

So, I hope that as you continue to come to these studies, you’re going to see what the issues are for the end time and how to follow God and what’s the way to follow God and what to avoid. So, that’s what we’re going to study as we go through here.

 

The Hebrew boys watched their diet; that was the physical. They were educated, and that was the mental. And they loved and obeyed God, that was the spiritual. They were the complete package, physical, mental and spiritual. And you realize all of us can do that. We can be to our physical best through a proper diet and exercise. We can be at our mental best by utilizing all the opportunities we can to keep our mind sharp, and I might add that Bible study is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp.

 

And they loved and obeyed God. They were spiritual men, and Ellen White actually makes the statement that this encompasses true education, the whole package. Education is not just learning how to add up numbers and to write sentences in a correct order and to spell words correctly and to get a degree. That’s important; all of that’s very important, but it’s not just that. It’s also the spiritual and the physical.

 

Daniel, notice this, in addition to their physical, mental and spiritual gifts that they had, and they were ten times wiser in their minds than all the other people in Babylon…And by the way I should add, do you realize that at the end of the world, God’s people who exercised their faculties properly will be wiser than all the world? We will be wiser than the Babylon at the end of time. And not only that, it says Daniel received the prophetic gift, and as we go through, we see that Daniel received visions. He helped Nebuchadnezzar to understand the dream of Daniel 2. In Daniel 4, he interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream again. And then in Daniel 7, he has the dream of the beast. Daniel 8 he has the dream of the sanctuary animals. And then in Daniel 10 through 12 he has the last vision of the kingdoms all the way to the end of the world.

 

So, Daniel had visions and dreams. Now, I’m not here to say that we’re going to be having prophetic dreams. Don’t go away from here saying that I said that, no. That’s not what I’m saying, but here is what I am saying. We as God’s people, if we study His Word carefully, have a special understanding of the prophetic messages for the end of the world. Daniel, because of his faithfulness in diet, on the issue of diet at the very outset of his life in Babylon, because he was faithful in diet, he was blessed with the faculties of his mind and body, and not only that, he was given the gift of prophecy.

 

Now, do you realize, have you ever thought about the fact that we would not have the book of Daniel if Daniel had compromised on the issue in chapter 1? We wouldn’t have that. God would have had to work through somebody else. Someone else He would have had to have raised up to give us this message for our time.

 

Likewise, for us, God has made it clear to us how we can have the healthiest life possible, how we can have the clearest mind possible, how we can sharpen our minds and follow Him in a spiritual sense, and as we do so, through the health message that has been entrusted to us, with clearer minds and clearer discernment, when we come to the study of Scripture, God will give us an understanding of the prophecies in the Bible so that we will be able to understand the great crisis that is coming to this world just before Jesus comes.

 

We, as God’s people, should have clear minds so that we can clearly understand and articulate to others what this message is. We should be able to understand the prophecies of Daniel, the prophecies of Revelation, and not only that, we have a gift through the writings of Ellen White, which also gives us understanding for what’s going to happen at the end of time, and it simply uplifts the Bible and shows us what the Bible is saying.

 

So, what we see in Daniel, chapter 1, is a powerful story of four Hebrew boys who understood that God is their Judge, that He is gracious, that they belong to Him, and that He will help them. And that because they love Him so much, they are not so much concerned about saving their lives for this earth. They are primarily concerned about honoring and glorifying God’s name so that His name will be glorified to the onlooking world, and perhaps universe, through the choices they make because they love Him so much.

 

And because of their faithfulness, God blessed them with physical health. They had fairer and fatter flesh. He blessed them with mental health. They were ten times wiser than the smartest guys in Babylon. And they were spiritually healthy, and Daniel had understanding in visions and dreams. And God wants to do that for His people again at this time of Earth’s history because we are living in the hour of God’s judgment.

 

God is still our Judge. Just as He was for Daniel, He is our Judge, too. And He wants to bless us with physical health if we follow the same health laws that Daniel and his three friends did. He wants to bless us with mental health if we will discipline our minds the way they did. And He will give us spiritual health and understanding of our prophetic messages for this time if we will be faithful to all that He has entrusted us with.

 

And so, this is the foundational chapter to the rest of what we are going to study in Daniel. And if you study Revelation, the same applies. We can study prophecy, God could unveil prophecy for the first time, that takes us down to the end of the world because He had some faithful boys that said, “We will be faithful no matter what,” because they had had faithful parents who educated them to love and follow God no matter what.

 

And God, at this time in Earth’s history, is looking for a few of us here, all of us here, we’re small in number compared to the whole island, but He is looking for all of us here to be like Daniel and his three friends, to be faithful, to follow Him so that He can entrust to us knowledge of prophecy so that we can share the good news of the message of the coming of Jesus in the clouds of Heaven. That, yes, there is a judgment, yes, God is our Judge, but He is gracious, that we belong to Him, and that He will help us so that when the judgment comes, we will stand and be found faithful and will be ready when Jesus comes to take us home.

 

And so, I’m looking forward to the next 11 presentations. We are going to go through some very exciting things in our next study on Daniel, chapter 2. You are not going to want to miss it, especially if you’ve never studied the book of Daniel, how God showed a pagan king all the kingdoms of this world till the very end of time. We’re going to see where in history that took place. We’re going to see what each kingdom contributed to the arc of history, and we’re going to see how it’s synthesized at the very end with modern Babylon, and we are going to see how we should be as we stand against that modern Babylon at the end of the world. So, you won’t want to miss that.

 

And Daniel, chapter 2, is the foundational chapter to understand all of the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, so you definitely will want to be here, and that’s going to be Wednesday night, I believe. So, I look forward to that.

 

So, why don’t we have…Are we going to have a closing hymn, or should I just have a closing prayer? Okay, so we will have a closing hymn at this time, and then we’ll close with prayer at this time, but praise God for the message of Daniel. And we’re just getting started, and we have a lot more good things to learn as we go. Amen.

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