DANIEL – GOD’S WITNESS IN A HOSTILE SOCIETY
Satan’s Master Plan – Chapter 1:3-7
Daniel and three other young Hebrew men by names of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are suffering the misery of Babylonian captivity. They have been deprived of their parents and their siblings. They have been bereft of the land of their birth. They have witnessed carnage, death and destruction. They have experienced fear and uncertainty. Death is stalking them with the same poise as their own shadows in the evening shade.
While we know that the Babylonian captivity was part of God’s plan for Israel, Satan was not aware of that. God had permitted Satan to empower Nebuchadnezzar with a view to destroying Israel forever.
Therefore, Satan had a plan for these captive people. And we observe this plan being played out in the lives of these four young men. But unknown to Satan, God had a bigger purpose and ultimately it would be His sovereign plan which would triumph at the last.
These three young men were probably only teenagers. This reminds us that Satan has a purpose for the young people of the Church. Like Israel we are in Babylon. We are in the world being exposed to the evil and wickedness of a society which is dominated by the one who is called the prince of the power of the air. He has our young people in his sights. Young people within the church need to recognise that Satan is developing a master plan for them. Likewise, parents, pastors and church leaders must understand the very real dangers that our young people are exposed to in the world.
God also has a plan for the youth of the church. He has not permitted us to have our children and young people so that Satan might snatch them. We must believe that if there is to be a future for the Church then His grace will triumph over the cunning and deceit of Satan.
Let us think about the Satanic masterplan and how it unfolded in the lives of Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael.
Nebuchadnezzar in his quest for greatness was determined to cultivate his captives in such a way that they would be a benefit to his regime. He knew that among his slaves there would be some with such talent and ability which ought not be wasted.
Nebuchadnezzar is not only one of the great figures of world history. He is also a representative of a select number of people who represent the spirit of antichrist. Also included in this list are Cain, Nimrod, Pharaoh and another lesser known character whom we will meet later in the Daniel, Antiochus Epiphanes. Each one of these characters have something in common – their ambition to destroy the people of God.
This spirit of antichrist continues to operate in the world.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last time
1 John 2:18
This spirit appears at times in the forms of persecuting regimes which deprive Christians of liberty, in other circumstances it is the spirit of liberalism questioning the validity of scripture, it is also the spirit of ecumenism where Rome the false Church is united with those who claim to be Protestant, and it is seen in the secular world which threatens the distinctive identity of Christianity.
There is a Satanic inspired plot that is ongoing to destroy the witness and effectiveness of Christ’s church and top of his list of priorities is our youth.
Nebuchadnezzar had certain ideas as to the type of young men that he desired to work within his establishment.
They had to be of royal descent, “…of the king’s seed, and of the princes” (v3). Throughout the Old Testament Satan’s strategy was focused on Jerusalem and the seed of David especially. He knew the prophecies, that the Messiah would come from this royal line, therefore it was imperative that this family be exterminated. He prompted Saul to assassinate David, he sent raised up Athaliah to kill all the boys in the family and he sent the Assyrians to destroy Judah in the days of Hezekiah. In a similar way he assaults the young people of the Church because the future of the work of God is in their hands.
Nebuchadnezzar demanded the best of these young men for himself; “Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace…” (v4). He wanted the best skills that existed among the Hebrew youth for himself and the glory of his pagan and deeply ungodly empire. Satan is on the lookout for the best of our youth, he wants their talents and their knowledge for his kingdom. He wants our budding musicians to play and sing the songs of the world, he wants our future authors to write the empty and vulgar stories that fill the best seller lists, he wants our doctors to capitulate to the secular clamour for abortion and transgenderism, he wants our public speakers to address any issue but Christianity, he wants our politicians to conform to the secular mindset that drives society, he wants our scientists to tolerate the evolutionary mind set. To the youth of today I appeal – don’t let Satan have the best that God has given you. He will take you and use you and then your soul will be lost.
Nebuchadnezzar desired the best Hebrew young men of royal stock that they might be taught, “the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans”(v4).
It is believed that there were three languages in use by Babylon and these young men would be instructed in all three.
This was the language of daily life. Such was the influence of this language that it continued to dominate the east throughout the Persian, Greek and Roman periods of governance.
This was the language of historic and legal documents. The Assyrian Empire dominated the east until the conquest of Nineveh by Nebuchadnezzar. The Assyrians were an educated and sophisticated people who established a well-ordered society. They established the first libraries in world history. Therefore, the legal basis established by the Assyrians continued with the Babylonians. Therefore, law and history could only be understood in the language of Assyria.
This was the sacred tongue. Witchcraft, incantations and suchlike were performed in this tongue. As these four young menwere destined to be numbered among the wise men of Nebuchadnezzar it was important that they learn this language.
In addition to language, however, the King wanted these Hebrew slaves to discover the learning or the lore of the Babylonians. This would have involved skills that we recognise today; mathematics, science, agriculture and astronomy. It would have also included dark and satanic mysteries; pagan deities, magic, spells and astrology.
We can see the unfolding of this Satanic master plan. By the end of three years it was Nebuchadnezzar’s aim to remove the language and spirituality of Israel from these young Hebrew men and have them totally immersed in the ways of Babylon. After three years it was determined that all signs of Jewishness would be eradicated.
Satan is in the business of removing all the distinguishing signs of Christianity from God’s people generally and from our young people especially. It ought to be expected that Christians live a different lifestyle; that we have moral standards repudiating adultery, sexual activity before marriage, sodomy, same sex marriage; that we are careful with our words and not stoop to employ the cursing and blasphemies which are no so common in the world; that our musical taste is either Christian or wholesome that we do not fill our minds with the immoral lyrics of the world; that our ladies dress with modesty and not in the provocative styles that are so popular; that we are careful about what we watch on TV, what we read, what websites we visit. Satan wants us educated in perversions, in that which damages the mind, in that whih corrupts the young mind and ultimately removes all signs of Christianity from the life.
Nebuchadnezzar promised to look after the young men who were involved in this scheme:
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. (V5)
For young men who had been slaves and suffered much deprivation this was a truly great honour. Although these three years would involve much by way of study and learning the rewards were great; a daily portion of the King’s meat and wine. They would quite literally live like kings in Babylon.
Yet, even this was part of Satan’s masterplan. The message was clear; dispense with your own culture, forget your past and your identity – you will be rewarded.
This strategy is still employed by the evil one today. If he can’t persecute the church out of existence, he will offer the people of God inducements if they will but surrender their principles and follow his ways. Just as he promised Christ all the kingdoms of this world if He would but fall down and worship him so he offers us success, prosperity and popularity if we will reject the old paths.
The pressure is on nowadays calling upon Christians to conform to the liberal bias of this society. When we speak up or if we fail to compromise our principles Christians are threatened with dismissal from their employment or even convictions in court. Over the centuries of Church history there have been a constant stream of people who professed Christ but who preferred the inducements that the world offers. While the English Reformers were burned to the stake there were others who converted from Protestantism to Catholicism and back again to suit the prevailing political winds. But they were not the people who changed history. We remember those who did, who burned, who esteemed the reproach of Christ to be greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. Let us walk in their footsteps.
As the master of the eunuchs, following the direction of Nebuchadnezzar, selected the young men who would suit this purpose he gave them names. These young men had Hebrew names which were most precious. These names represented their faith and their identity:
Daniel – God is my judge
Christianity sends out a message to the world that we will one day stand before God as our judge and we are accountable to him.
Hananiah – God has favoured
Like Israel, Christians are a people highly favoured in that we are blessed with sins forgiven and are the heirs of God.
Mishael – Who is like God?
Pure Christianity is not inclusive because an exclusive message is presented, there is but one God and we can know Him only through the merits of Jesus Christ.
Azariah – God has helped
Both Israel in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament have experienced the help of God, in most miraculous ways. Indeed, the survival of both can only be explained by the direct intervention of God.
These names were revolutionary in the sense that they attacked Nebuchadnezzar’s bold ambitions to be the ruler of the world. Therefore, these names had to be erased and replaced:
Daniel was given this name meaning the keeper of Bel’s treasures. This glorified Bel, one of Babylon’s gods.
Hananiah’s new name meant the messenger of the sun, which all pagans revere.
Meaning of Shech, Mishael’s Babylonish identity was now pagan.
Azariah now simply was the servant of Nebo, another pagan god.
While these young men were gradually transformed outwardly into being courtiers in Babylon, there was one thing that even Nebuchadnezzar could not change; the inner character and spirituality, and this will be increasingly apparent as we carry these studies through.
The words of Romans 12:1-2 are a very suitable conclusion to this study:
I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service…And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.