Monday, August 18, 2014

Daniel: Part 1: vol 01 August 18, 2014

A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts:

Part I: A History of the Times...And the Setup for Coming Attractions:

Part II: Events Prophesied...Prophecies Fulfilled. 

... These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.

Wanted: Healthy, Good-Looking Lads
Daniel 1:1, 2
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. 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.

Swords flashed wildly between the nations of Egypt and Babylon, the two great military giants of the Middle East, as the latter part of the 7th Century B.C. was fast coming to a close. The fierce battles between the two superpowers were visible proof that each was determined to seize full control of their part of the world. Any observer then - or historian today - knew that a decisive battle could not be far off, a conflict in which the ultimate victor would once and for all put his opponent to flight. And that’s exactly what happened.

Nebuchadnezzar - Prince : The time was early summer in the year 605 B.C. 
The great army of Babylon, under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar - then crown prince - attacked the Egyptian forces in a place called Carchemish, and Babylonian city on the Euphrates River (see Jeremiah 46 for details). It was a thorough defeat for the Egyptians, who were forced to return to their country to lick their wounds and ponder the weakness of a failed battle strategy that had brought them to their knees. 

With unparalleled world dominance, the Babylonians now had free reign to step into the unguarded territory of Palestine. By the summer of 605 B.C. they had wrestled control of the city of Jerusalem. And this is where our story begins.

Nebuchadnezzar -  King : Upon the death of Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar.
A short time after the massive Babylonian victory, Nebuchadnezzar rushed home to be crowned king of Babylon. But he did not return to Babylon empty-handed. His saddlebags were filled with rich treasure and precious vessels - much of it taken from the holy temple in Jerusalem. His ungodly hands had pillaged from the house of God, a sort of in-your-face mockery to the Holy One, a Babylonian slap in the face of the Jewish people, their traditions, and their most high God.

An Opportunity for Compromise

Daniel - Human Treasure : Taken to Babylon
But the man who would be king did not return with merely gold, silver, and temple utensils. Among his inventory of rich booty were also human treasures - young, fit sons of Israel who were taken from their beloved homeland and brought to Babylon, exposed to a foreign religion and traditions that bore no resemblance to their beliefs. But those were the rules of war; Lose the battle, do what your captor says. Among the choicest of Jewish young men in this group now being transported to Babylon was a teenager whose name was Daniel.
Daniel 1:3-7
And 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 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, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. 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. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: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 Abed-nego.

Wise Beyond His Years

Daniel - Captive : In a strange land
Daniel now found himself a captive in a strange land, learning the language of the Chaldeans - the elite, privileged class of Babylon. Young Daniel had to accept the reality that he was now a member of a conquered people, forced to think no longer like a Jew, but like a Babylonian, with the clear demand that he give his full allegiance to Babylonian gods. This was Daniel's greatest challenge.

But in ways that even Daniel could not have understood, he was more than adequately prepared for his new life. Of royal descent, Daniel had already been trained for palace service - even at his young age. He was not overwhelmed by the pomp and circumstance, nor by the tough courses he and his friends had to take in astronomy, natural history, mythology, or astrology. Gilded thrones didn't overly impress him either - he'd seen it all before.

Nebuchadnezzar simply did not know what he had on his hands: Daniel might have looked like just another strong, able Jewish boy on the outside, but the king couldn't discern who Daniel really was on the inside - a man of God, loyal and faithful to his Creator. So unswerving was Daniel's righteousness that even in the polluted atmosphere of heathen Babylon he would find a way to make himself useful to God - something we'll observe again and again as our story unfolds.

The Times of the Gentiles

Daniel - 'Prophet' : of the "times of the Gentiles."
Now here's a point that I want to make early on because it will be critical to remember it as together we travel on this amazing, prophetic road of Final Mysteries Unsealed, Daniel is distinctly the prophet of the "times of the Gentiles." This is significant because the "times of the Gentiles" continues on through the termination of Gentile world rule.

Daniel is not only the prophet of the Gentiles, but he's also a prophet to his own people, the Jews. When Nebuchadnezzar brought the vessels unto the treasure house of his god, this was the beginning of "the times of the Gentiles," which continues until the time when Messiah returns. You may remember that Jesus said in
Luke 21:24
"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be lead away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (emphasis JVI).

This will be a recurring theme for us throughout the book. In modern English, this is what Jesus was saying: Jerusalem will always be controlled by Gentiles - except for a brief interlude - until I return. So in 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, and Gentile domination began.

From that time onward, Jerusalem would be controlled by Gentiles, with one exception - the time preceding Christ's return to set up His glorious thousand-year kingdom upon earth. The exception occurred during the miraculous victory the Jewish army experienced as they captured Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, fought June 5-10, 1967. after this military conquest, the Holy City of Jerusalem was in Jewish hands for the first time in 2,553 years.

The victory in 1967 began the countdown to Messiah's coming to rule and reign at Jerusalem (see Psalm 2:6 and Matthew 5:35). Here's why. Just before Christ appears upon the Mount of Olives to establish His glorious kingdom, all Gentile nations will gather together at the valley of Megiddo and then march to the valley of Jehoshaphat for history's final attack against Jerusalem. At this time the Gentiles temporarily retake the city.

But their victory is short-lived, because then Christ appears and destroys the Gentile armies, bringing the "times of the Gentiles" to its horrendous conclusion. Christ will then reign from Jerusalem, the capital of the world, for a thousand years (see Revelation 16:16; Joel 3:2; and Zechariah 14:2-16).

Now here's the clincher. The Gentiles cannot march against Jerusalem and take it during earth's final battle if the Jews do not control the city. The Jews must be in possession of the Holy City for such an attack. This is why the Six-Day War of 1967 was so prophetically significant - it prepared the way for the battle of Armageddon and Christ's return. In a sense, I'm giving you the end of the story first, but I think it's important for you to understand this as we see the enormous impact that the Book of Daniel has on the outcome of history.