..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bible Study on The Book of Daniel: Lesson 1

The Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel speaks volumes to
our contemporary situation. Daniel was
only about 15 years old when he was taken
into captivity and placed in the inner
courts of Babylon to be trained and
brainwashed into the ways of Babylon.
His uncompromised stand for God is an
example to us all.

Background: God had warned His people
through the prophets that if they did
not turn back to Him they would be
taken into captivity. They did not
repent and Judah was taken into the
Babylonian Captivity which took place
from about 605-536 B.C. The Northern
Kingdom had already fallen to the
Assyrians in 722 B .C. [Israel had
two kingdoms: the northern (Israel)
and the Southern (Judah).]

Josiah, (reigns in Judah 641-609) a good
king, is killed at the battle of Megiddo,
this is a story in itself as it seems that
he dies unnecessarily when he does not discern
or heed the voice of God speaking through a
pagan ruler! (2 Chron. 35: 20ff). Josiah
sought to rid Israel of false idols. A series
of bad kings, who are easily compromised
and overtaken by that which is not of God, come next.

Daniel’s determination to stand for God is
an amazing testimony to God’s ability
to keep a person’s heart pure and unadulterated
even if they find themselves in the most dire
circumstances. What contributed to Daniel’s
faithful stand for God?

Tumultuous, life-changing events happened to
Daniel at a most impressionable age. In the
midst of a idolatrous nation, ready to reap
God’s chastisement and go into exile, who was
it that influenced Daniel in a godly way?

Was it Josiah, the good king, who sought to
rid Judah of idolatry? Was it the voice
of one of the prophets, Jeremiah perhaps,
crying out in the streets? Was it godly
parents or an unknown someone or someones who
remained true to God and held up a standard
in the midst of idolatry? We shall not know
until that Great Day when all things are
revealed, but we can know that SOMEONE
influenced him.

Questions: Who has influenced your
spiritual life? Who has mentored you
spiritually? What affects have they had
on you and what qualities have they
imparted to you? Who we hold up as our
spiritual models will greatly mold who
we become. Of course our only true Model
is Jesus, yet He has called us to disciple
others and model Him to others. Are those
who have most affected us spiritually true
followers of Jesus?

Try and name the people you think have
most influenced your walk with the Lord
and look to see how their influence has
helped make you who you are. What godly
values and characteristics of Jesus have
they imparted to you? What message have
they left you with? Is any of it from
Babylon? Are you pleased with how it has
affected you? More importantly, is God
pleased with it? If not, perhaps you
should pray and discern more seriously the
band that you want to throw your lot in
with! Choose the most godly and the
least compromised people you know to
journey with. They will affect you in
ways that you do not know!

BABYLON (DANIEL chapter 1: 1-7)

When the Babylonians assumed power
they chose a group of young men of
Judah who they would train up to
rule in the ways of Babylon. Daniel
and three of his friends were
chosen. The friends names were
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Part
of the indoctrination process was to
give these young men a Babylonian name.
This served to tempt them to take a
new identity, to forget who they were
and what their heritage was.

Daniel’s name means “God is my Judge”,
the name that was given to him in
Babylon was Belteshazzar, which meant
“Bel protect the King, or Prince of Bel”;

Hananiah’s name means “The Lord is
Gracious”, his Babylonian name was
Shadrack, which meant Command of Aku
or Servant of Sin (a god);

Mishael’s name means “Who is like the
Lord?”, his Babylonian name was Meschach
which means “Who is like Aku?”

Azariah’s name means “The Lord is My
Helper”, his Babylonian name was
Abednego which means “servant of Nego”.

God has a name for you. His name for
you contains your godly identity. In
Revelation 2:17, God promises to give
those who overcome a white stone with
their new name written on it. Have you
ever considered what your new name
might be? God has an identity for you
that will lead you to life, that will
cause you to inherit that new name.

Babylon also has a name picked out
for you, but it will lead to death.
Which name will you identify with?
What name does Babylon want to give
you? I urge you heartily to reject
that name!

What is God’s call to me? What is
Babylon’s call to me? Daniel decided,
he determined (vs 8), that he would
serve God alone. You and I are surrounded
by Babylon. Thank God we are not held in
a captivity we cannot get out of, but
Babylon can get into us either by a slow,
unnoticed process, or because we accept
its values without even knowing it.

We have to make a conscious, deliberate
stand for God. We must know our God and
what His standards are. In what way do
you feel God calling you to make a stand?

Babylon calls us to conform to its
system in a number of ways:

1) pressure to actively conform to the
expectations of the system. Daniel was
brought into a structured system. He was
expected to obey. In what ways might you
be expected to obey the system of this
world? How will or how do you deal with it?
How will you be in the world and not of it?

2) pressure to just get used to the system.
At first we might oppose Babylon and its
ways but after time goes by we become
acclimated and fail to see how we are being
influenced. It is like the proverbial
lobster slowly being boiled to death in a
pot. We can start out well but end up

3) pressure to act to protect myself and
my family. Daniel’s family was being held
in captivity also. If he did not behave
himself, then harm could come to his family.
Our natural inclination to protect our
family and ourselves can lead to compromise.
Daniel never compromised. Would I compromise
what God asks of me in order to protect
myself or my family?

4)pressure to pridefully view ourselves
as strong and gifted . Daniel was chosen
because he met the criteria Babylon valued.
He had many fine attributes and talents.
They did not know that Daniel had an
inner strength and calling that would
not work to their advantage. The world
can try and compliment us on our strengths
so that it can use them for its own
purposes. We have to have allegiance to
God alone and use our gifts only as He
directs. Have you ever been complimented
by the world’s system and found it to
be a hook?

5)pressure to adopt man’s ways and not
God’s ways. Daniel lived 24/7 in a system
that was designed to change him into what
the Babylonian’s wanted. How does the system
we live in want us to change? How are we
tempted to adopt man’s ways and not
God’s ways?

6) pressure to be passive and not active
in our opposition to Babylon. Daniel
could have sat back and not said anything.
He could have held his faith quietly to
himself. He never did. Do we ever remain
quiet when we should speak up?

Spend some time considering these points
and thinking about the position that
Daniel was in and how uncompromised his
heart was. I believe that the message
presented in this book is a contemporary
one that speaks to our current life
situation in America.

Father, show us how we can stand for
You, uncompromised, in a world system
that opposes You. Give us strength,
wisdom and insight, just as you gave
to Daniel.

(this bible study is the first installment
of a Bible Study on the book of Daniel,
further installments are archived in
this blog under "Daniel Bible Study"
and "Bible"

No comments: