Posts by rickbarbareblog

I am a retired Clergyman and a retired College instructor. I live in Trenton, SC in Edgefield County.

A Fearful King of Babylon Meets a Faithful Servant of God

Daniel 2:29-35

Image above is from Pinterest UK. 

Have you ever looked at a TV documentary made in the 1960s about what people thought life would be like in 2000? 

This is comical to us living after the year 2000 to view the future as children predicted it. The children were serious, but they did not understand what would really lie in the future. They heard and read of trends and what people could see in their imaginations of the future only. They are fearful of “the bomb” being dropped on them, and of so many people living on the earth they have no room to move about freely.  They projected their fears onto their conception of the future. 

Hebrews 2:14-15 records a common fear people in general have—

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He [Christ] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (ESV; Emphasis mine) 

King Nebuchadnezzar saw the future. He was frightened because he did know where he fit into that dream. Remember the stone smashed the whole statue at the end. He wondered if this destruction would take place in his lifetime or perhaps in the future. 

Daniel is shown the future by God, so God’s servants can remain faithful to Him in all situations. 

vs. 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be.

I. God wants His people to know that He is in full control of their destiny. vs. 29

This is a fantastic revelation of the future to a pagan king. He received the information in his dream, but he had to have Daniel to interpret it properly. (But I am getting ahead of the text.) Daniel had to give the King the dream before any interpretation would be heard. 

What does the text mean about “after this?” Some translations seem to project this text onto the end times of the whole world. This is not the case. In the NIV, it is rendered “things to come.” God is in full control of time and space—both seen and unseen. 

vs. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

II. Like Daniel we ought always to be careful to give God the glory for any problem solutions we receive. vs. 30

I have already in previous posts made the point that Daniel takes out time to pray about the matter before rushing into the King’s presence. Even if no one else but his three friends knew God was the Reveler of mysteries, Daniel knew. He makes it clear to all that the God came to his aid. 

See vs. 23 To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, because You have given me wisdom and power. And now You have made known to me what we have requested, for You have made known to us the dream of the king. (ESV; emphasis mine) 

Daniel gave thanks in private, but now he takes that which is private into the public court of the king. He dethrones the king in public and attributes to the God of his fathers what the king expected to have from his soothsayers. 

vs. 31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 

III. We should live humbly before God and not get caught up in political power grabs designed by men. vs. 31

I am reminded of a poem I memorized and recited in Speech class long ago. It was Recessional by Rudyard Kipling. It looks forward from the height of Empire to the dissolution of Empire because people have forgotten they rule under God’s law and at God’s pleasure. I quote the first verses only—

by Rudyard Kipling, 1897


(I omitted verse 4 on purpose since it assumes Britain is superior to all Empires before it.) 

Where we are today in the West in a similar situation to Britain at Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1896) for which Recessional was written at a later date. The Pax Americana is coming to a close even as the Pax Britania ended. 


Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Service, 22 June 1897 by Andrew Carrick Gow (public domain)

We could use much humility today as we face the dissolution of Western Civilization! The hymn, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended” was played at Britain’s handover to India in 1947 (Lord Louis Mountbatten presided). It was played also at Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 (the Prince of Wales, now King Charles III presided). 

The sun will set on our imperial rule just as it has over all empires of the past. And yet, for Christians God’s dominion is absolute. We can learn the lesson of humility the King of Babylon did not learn. 

Again, God is teaching the King of Babylon that he is under the God of Heaven’s dominion. 

Roman Triumph

Image taken from

“At a Roman triumph, the majority of the public would have their eyes glued to the victorious general at the front—one of the most coveted spots during Roman times. Only a few would notice the aide in the back, right behind the commander, whispering into his ear, ‘Remember, thou art mortal [memento mori in Latin]!'” (from

Tremper Longman reminds us, “Wisdom is not a concept to be learned; it is a relationship to enjoy.” Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t want a relationship with God in which he acknowledges the God of heaven to be over him. 

vs. 31 As you, O king, were watching, a great statue appeared. A great and dazzling statue stood before you, and its form was awesome. 32 The head of the statue was pure gold, its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, 33 its legs were iron, and its feet were part iron and part clay.

We will expand on the empires predicted in a future post. However, the traditional list is—

Statue in Daniel 2

Its Head = the Babylonian Empire
Its chest and arms = the Medo-Persian Empire
Its belly and thighs = the Greek Empire
Its legs = the Roman Empire 
Its feet and toes = the Divided Kingdoms 
The Stone = Messiah’s Kingdom 

(Image from Pinterest)

vs. 34-35 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. 

IV. Where God’s people fit in the plan of God is in God’s knowledge alone. vs. 34-35 

Nebuchadnezzar breathed a sigh of relief at this point. He was the head, and it did not perish since there were kingdoms that followed it. He read the future and assumed he was free from harm. That was all he was interested in. 

In the end, we can rest at peace knowing God’s Messiah will put all kingdoms under His sovereign sway! Habakkuk 2:14 prophesies this—

For the earth will be filled 
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord 
as the waters cover the sea.

Speaking Truth to Power

Image above is from Pinterest.

Daniel 2:25-30

This Scripture passage reminds me of a discussion at a poetry seminar I attended several years back. Dr. James Everett Kibler, Professor of English at the University of Georgia at the time, was conducting a seminar on the Poetry of William Gilmore Simms. I had lived all my early life reading South Carolina history from Mary Simms Oliphant (1891-1988) who lived on James Street in Greenville, SC and who was Simms granddaughter. (For information on Mrs. Oliphant see an article from The South Carolina Encyclopedia).   


In the course of that seminar Dr. Kibler referenced the inscription at the Oracle of Delphi in Ancient Greece. (See above an artist’s conception of the Oracle inhaling vapors from the volcanic fissure; Two Greek nobles consult with the Oracle at Delphi before setting out to establish a new colony abroad. Art by Mateusz Przeklasa.2023-01-15_14-01-21

Dr. Kibler asserted that this inscription, “Know Yourself!” was not related to self-knowledge advocated by modern psychologists. It is rather a warning for the questioner “to know his/her place.” “One is best served by studying and understanding one’s own physical and psychological strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and influences. “Know yourself” is classified as a proverb—be aware of your own limitations; know what you are capable of doing. The motto of a ballet corps was “Know thyself”; every dancer was expected to know how far she could stretch, and not hurt herself by trying to exceed her limits.” (see

Latin Know Thyself

By the way, the same aphorism occurs in The Matrix film, only it is in Latin. “Temet Nosce” is a Latin phrase translated as “Know Thyself.” This phrase was on a placard over the Oracle’s kitchen door. She became a sort of Sci-fi Pythia or a Sage to depend on for sound advice. (Image is from Pinterest.)

How does the cryptic Delphic inscription fit into Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He thought he was the one who received messages from God (sometimes through his soothsayers but sometimes without them). This dream took him down a notch or two! He had a problem playing his God-given part.

Leonard Berstein was asked which instrument was the most difficult to play in the orchestra. Without hesitating he answered, “Second Fiddle.” To use that analogy, Daniel took the chair of “first fiddle” when it came to recalling and interpreting dreams. God was the invisible conductor. Nebuchadnezzar was in the second fiddle chair and didn’t like it. Whether or not he and his descendants learned the lesson remains to be seen in the rest of the Aramaic section of Daniel.

This dream incident shows the twin themes:

1. God alone is absolutely sovereign; and
2. God alone knows and reveals mysteries.

God wants all to know that He alone has the answers to life’s mysteries. 

vs. 25 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening.

I. We must realize our message to secular folks might not be what they want to hear. vs. 25

Since those who have recently come into power are unsure if they will last, they are easily disturbed. We may think in our day that astrology, omens, etc. are passé. No, in my living memory a first lady used an astrologer to indicate when meetings ought to be scheduled and the safest times for Air Force One to take off and land. And how many people today open a website to read what their horoscope says about the day, or read their fortune cookie at dinner to get a tip about the future? Really. How many millions of people as individuals will read that horoscope as giving them direction for their life. How about the several million others who have that same astrological sign and will have that same prediction? Omne can see how inane this practice is. The horoscope is like an idol in the ancient world.

The power of any idol—molten, mental, or carved—comes into play when someone receives it as truly for them. (cf. I Corinthians 10:19-20—19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants [Greek word is with demons. (ESV emphasis mine.)


God alone knows the future and holds forth His Word as our guide. Wisdom comes from taking our place humbly before God and faithfully obeying His commandments. See Ecclesiastes 12:13-14—13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (ESV emphasis mine.)

Telling the truth from God’s viewpoint may take away our worldly success. Or, failing to say what the ruler wants us to say can be fatal.

Dr. C. Everett Koop Gadfly in Reagan’s Cabinet 

“Tension between pro-life activists and Koop heightened when in 1988 President Reagan asked Koop to800px-C._Everett_Koop,_1980s prepare a Surgeon General’s report on the effects of abortion on women’s health. With the end of his presidency in sight, he sought to affirm his pro-life values by focusing on the psychological and physical effects of abortion on women, which he thought were pronounced enough to provide a rationale for reversing the nation’s abortion laws and policies.

“Koop concluded that there was no unbiased, rigorous scientific research on the effects of abortion on women’s health that could serve as the basis for a Surgeon General’s report on the issue.

“Koop’s refusal to take a pro-life position in the debate over the health effects of abortion on women made him unsuitable in the eyes of many conservatives for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in the new administration of President George H. W. Bush, a position in which Koop had expressed interest.”  (Excerpts from Reproduction and Family Health, about Koop.

Koop did not say what “the King” wanted to hear. He ran afoul of George H. W. Bush’s incoming staff (new to the job). He was pro-life as he always had been, but he would go against clear scientific evidence, and there was no study that proved Reagan’s conclusion to be true. He said, in effect, “the King is not wearing any clothes.” He had to go.

That last word in verse 31, surely captured the King’s response to his dream—frightening. You don’t want a frightened king on the throne.

vs. 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?”

II. God can place His people in key positions, so they can give the answer to solve crises in government. vs. 26

At every point in this “court tale of contest” Daniel gives all the credit to God. I noticed in vs. 25, Arioch claimed to have played a part in the solution. He had found Daniel. Arioch knew Daniel from the time Daniel ate a plain diet and turned-out superior to those who ate fancy food from the King’s table. That is the way of the world—horn in on the matter so you can get some of the credit. Daniel was the only person in the king’s court that day without a private agenda. He wanted God to get all of the glory. 

Daniel And Companions Before Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel And Companions Before Nebuchadnezzar (public domain)

vs. 27-28 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

III. God’s wisdom spoken to power exposes charlatans as it solves problems. vs. 27-28a 

28b but …God in heaven…has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

God’s message delivered to pagan rulers (or pagan bosses in our case) may take him and his court down a few notches. So, God’s true messengers should expect a severe backlash after they tell the truth to troubled people. (e.g. Chapters 3—the fiery furnace & 6—the lions’ den.)

Next, the Dream given.

God’s Help in Deadly Circumstances

Daniel 2:24-30

Image above is from Pinterest. Nebuchadnezzar threatens his soothsayers. 

Standing between the Living and the Dead

GeorgeWishart2“[George] Wishart [from “Wise” + “Heart”] lived in a time when a plague decimated great numbers of people on the continent of Europe. As that plague drew near to one of Scotland’s cities [especially at Dundee], the people panicked and raced to call for the most godly and saintly man they knew. The man they chose was Wishart. Wishart answered the call and went outside the gates of the city. There he knelt on his knees and prayed to God to cease the plague’s onslaught. History reports that the plague spread no further! 

“After this tremendous victory, Wishart went immediately to one of the cities that had already been hit by the plague. Those who had contracted the plague huddled outside the city gates, locked out of the city, while those untouched remained inside, cringing in fear. Wishart climbed on top of the city wall and began fearlessly preaching the gospel to those who were dying [on the outside] and those who were cringing within.” (from D. James Kennedy’s Devotional Blog)

George Wishart became a great example of an intercessor—one who placed himself before God in prayer for others. 

Daniel was chosen by God to stand as an intercessor between the living and those about to die. Daniel 2:13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Some translations read as if some were already slain, but it is best to see the search for Daniel etc. as a search first for ones who had been reliable in solving difficulties in the past. 

Like Daniel from Babylon and George Wishart from Scotland,

We are called to be intercessors as we proclaim God’s message.

We do in fact stand between the living and the dead with a life-transforming message. 

Vs. 24 Therefore Daniel went into Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”

I. We could possibly gain an entrée into people’s thinking by asking non-confrontational questions.  vs. 24 (& 2:13-16)

Daniel had to take the initiative or die himself by asking Arioch to delay the slaughter until he had had the time to seek an answer to the King’s dilemma. Earlier, Daniel 2:13-16 gives us some backstory to the decree—

13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. 14 Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 He [asked of] Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. 16 And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. (ESV; emphasis mine.) 

Note how respectful Daniel was of the King and his high executioner. He doesn’t dispute the decree, but he asks a question about the timing of its execution. Daniel was wise by asking that question. Here is a possible paraphrase of the dialogue between Arioch and Daniel—”Why be in a hurry to slaughter the men? Why not delay because they’ll be just as dead tomorrow as they would be today? Give me a chance to solve the King’s dilemma.” 

I have found that I can initiate change best by asking questions of men and praying in secret to God about it. Hudson Taylor, (founder and head of China Inland Mission, now OMF) said: “It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.” 

Vs. 25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” 

II. We do not need occult practices to know what we ought to do in the future. vs. 25

Once Daniel has prayed and given thanks to God in private, he is free to go to the King of Babylon and answer his questions. 

Note carefully, Daniel’s prayer in 2:20-23.

20 Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 22 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.” (ESV; emphasis mine.)

Daniel must give God the praise for this revelation of His will for the future. The others will have to wait. The wise men may have asked, “What is Daniel doing? Doesn’t he know that the sword hangs over our heads and his? Somebody tell him to get a move on.” Daniel knows where he got the answer to the King’s dilemma. Humility and prayer prepare us to speak to others. 


First Ladies of the United States Sometimes Consulted Astrologers

“While it’s possible some Ladies [concealed] their [astrological] practices, five in particular—Jane Pierce, Mary Todd Lincoln, Edith Wilson, Florence Harding, and Nancy Reagan—held moderate-to-strong interests in the occult, according to Pat Krider, the executive director of the National First Ladies’ Library. …As to how these Ladies formed a fascination with the occult, Krider told Broadly: “People who are desperate for help, for answers, sometimes go to extreme measures.” 

Mary Lincoln Todd Lincoln lived through the deaths of two sons (one before Abe’s term, one during, and one after), and her occultMary Todd Lincoln 1 process of choice was also seances. Even the purportedly Honest husband himself attended a seance, according to historian Carl Anthony, that the Mrs. held in the White House Red Room. Apparently, she reached both her dead sons, Willie and Eddie, whose ghosts she claimed visited her in her White House bedroom.” Adapted from the July 12, 2017, article by Amanda Arnold, “The First Ladies Who Brought the Occult to the White House.”

Mary Todd Lincoln had a great many tragedies strike her. She was unstable after losing several children to various illnesses. We should not be too critical of such a tragic figure. 

I find comfort for what I do not know in Deuteronomy 29:29—The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

One commentary on Deuteronomy states the background to this verse. 

“We do not know the future, but we know who ordains it, and the moral law that governs it. We are given God’s revelation, and we can understand what we are given to understand. Moreover, as Payne observed of v. 29, ‘Its chief point is that we can see quite enough!’ It follows, therefore, that the eyes of the Israelites, and ours, “were directed not towards tomorrow’s surprises, but towards today’s responsibilities” (Rushdoony Commentary on Deuteronomy). 

Deuteronomy 29:29 is no minor warning. In seeking to know the past or the future, we must not seek it from occult means. As Jesus related in His story about Lazarus in heaven and the rich man in hades—Luke 16–

27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

We need God’s Word and the study of it in fellowship with God to decide what to do in present. The future belongs to God! In relating stories of Daniel’s life, the book of Daniel emphasizes not the supernatural as most important. A personal relationship with God is at the top of Daniel’s agenda. 

III. When we share the superior wisdom and it solves a problem, false wisdom is exposed. vs. 26 

Vs. 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked….


“Snake oil is a term used to describe deceptive marketing, health care fraud, or a scam. Similarly, “snake oil salesman” is a common expression used to describe someone who sells, promotes, or is a general proponent of some valueless or fraudulent cure, remedy, or solution. The term comes from the “snake oil” that used to be sold as a cure-all elixir for many kinds of physiological problems.” (Wikipedia; image above is in the public domain). 

Understand that the Babylonians are not converting to the faith of Israel by what the King says. (After all, they are ones who later have the three Hebrew youths thrown into the fiery furnace.) They will look on him with a resentful eye. Maybe Daniel’s recalling and interpreting of the King’s dream laid the soothsayers open as the charlatans they actually were. 

III. Our God is all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful, and He alone has the help we need! vss. 28-29

vs. 28but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 

Note he exposes the seers and soothsayers as charlatans. (The King knew it too, but he played along.) When he said, “But there is a God in heaven[!,]” Daniel contrasts where his information came from. 

As believers, we help solve problems in our society. We should not expect recognition and praise from those who follow elitist methods of problem solving—excluding God. 

Courts Cannot Acknowledge God’s Ways

Robert Harlan, who was found guilty in 1995 of raping and murdering a cocktail waitress near Denver. After Mr. Harlan’s conviction, the judge in the case—as Colorado law requires—sent the jury off to deliberate about the death penalty with an instruction to think beyond the narrow confines of the law. Each juror, the judge told the panel, must make an “individual moral assessment,” in deciding whether Mr. Harlan should live. They voted unanimously for the death penalty. It was appealed to the a higher Colorado Court. 

In a sharply divided ruling (3-to-2), Colorado’s highest court on Monday upheld a lower court’s decision throwing out the sentence of a man who was given the death penalty after jurors consulted the Bible in reaching a verdict. The Bible, the court said, constituted an improper outside influence and a reliance on what the court called a “higher authority.”

Professor Howard J. Vogel, who teaches ethics at Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and has a master’s degree in theology as well as a law degree, said, “I don’t think it’s a religious text that’s the problem here, but rather whether something is being used that trumps the law of the state.” Adapted from Narkive Newsgroup

Our wise men cannot acknowledge a higher law than the one they have written down. If they do acknowledge God as the great Lawgiver, then they must submit to Him, too. This they will not do. Neither are our political leaders going to give us or God credit for wisdom that solves a problem. 

IV. We must always acknowledge publicly God as the source of our knowledge. vs. 30

30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind. 

Daniel and his three companions have no idea about the consequences of exposing the Chaldean Soothsayers. Three go to the fire and Daniel to the lion’s den. They obeyed God and left the consequences to Him. He saved them from harm, but He may not deliver us from harm in this life. 

George Wishart that began this post, but his death came about due to people he saved from the plague betraying his location to the archbishop. I have seen the spot in St. Andrews, Scotland, where he was burned at the stake. We should not let the consequences of our actions guide our behavior. Someone may be standing nearby that will finish what we began to do. Standing by Wishart throughout his earthly ministry was John Knox. 

Soon, the next post on the dream. 

Living through Life and Death Circumstances

Daniel 2:14-16

Image above from George W. Black blog

A Personal Experience 

I don’t often refer to personal experiences in this blog, but I am about to do so. The names are changed, so that no one can identify the persons and places.

I was barely settled into a new pastorate at a church. I had expected other groups to let a sufficient time pass before inquiring about the possibility of my changing church settings. I had been in residence where I was for about two weeks and my family was preparing to go on vacation and begin work after one month had elapsed.

When I got back from vacation, my answering machine tape (yes, it was that long ago) was filled with messages from a man who had been head of an organization I had been affiliated with in the past. The messages began, “I need you to call me about taking the pastorate of such-and-such congregation.” The message was repeated several times. Later on, the messages got desperate, “I need you to call me today about taking the pastorate of this congregation!” The tone was one of urgency and then it became desperation.

When I got back, I picked up the phone and called a friend in that organization about the messages I had recently received. I explained I was on vacation and had just phoned to say I was not interested in making a move so soon after agreeing to take up the pastorate where I was. This was not the first time I was asked by this person to take over the pastorate of this particular church, and it wasn’t the last. At no time did I sense the call of God in his invitation. 

Waiting on the Lord sillouette 2There is something wrong about being asked to hurry making life-altering decisions to suit another person’s need. It can be dangerous, even. In my case I didn’t feel the pressure until I got home. Even then, I did not feel pressure to move to another church. I knew God had placed me where I was for His own reasons.

Daniel felt the pressure of his circumstances since it was a life and death matter. The King said to his diviners, “Give the dream and its interpretation or off with your head.”

Note carefully, Daniel didn’t react to the threat. He did offer a way out. How can this be? A slave from a conquered land was setting the timetable for the great Babylonian Empire.

This passage teaches us that we can safely navigate through a dangerous and ungodly culture by following God’s wisdom in His Word. This is exactly what Daniel did.

I. Hasty action may lead to loss of life, without full trust in God. vs. 14-16

14 Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. 16 And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king.

Daniel is aware of the life and death situation when he saw the chief of Nebuchadrezzar’s bodyguard coming toward his house. He said a prayer, no doubt. It wasn’t a long-drawn-out prayer. He was already “prayed-up,” like the old folks used to say. (“Prayed-up” meant he had confessed his sins up to date and was in fellowship with God.) Like Peter’s prayer when he sank into the water, “Lord, save me!” Daniel’s quick look to God was enough when he was in danger (Matthew 14:30).

Note Daniel used prudence and discretion. “The faculty which discriminates and selects what is suitable for a given occasion.” This could be paraphrased with tact or tactfully.

John Calvin says this, “Daniel’s power of acting so composedly, arose from God’s [extraordinary] gift, since terror would otherwise have seized on his mind; for we are aware that in sudden events, we become deprived of all plans, and lose our presence of mind. Since nothing of this kind was perceived in Daniel, it becomes clear that his mind was governed by God’s Spirit.”

Image above is “Colorful Splendor” by James C. Lewis.

Daniel was concerned about the haste with which the penalty of the King was being carried out. The word is in the Aramaic section of Daniel as opposed to the Hebrew section, so the normal dictionary of Hebrew BDB, is not helpful. The word can be in the range of haste or severity. In this case, it could be either or both.

Call on the Source of Wisdom First

People are accustomed to calling on special persons for prayer in an emergency. I had a friend once who saw an emergency arise in his family. His mother and father had their pastor on “speed-dial” as we would say today. The problem was their pastor wasn’t at home.

My friend said, “Hey, doesn’t our pastor say we ought to call upon God ourselves?” They agreed he was right, so they went in and knelt by their bed and asked God to help them! God did. They cut out the middleman from that time on went to God first in prayer on their own before asking for help. That doesn’t mean they never asked for help when they needed it. They never again permitted a man to take the place of God in their lives.

II. We often come into situations that are beyond our abilities to cope, so we ought to call on others to pray with and for us. vs. 17-18 

17 Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

I mentioned above the fact that no one should take God’s place in our lives. Now, I am saying we ought to ask for prayer assistance from others when we are weak and in need.

I like the fact that Daniel always refers to his friends by their Hebrew names. He has to call himself and them by their assigned Aramaic names at the King’s court. But, not at home!!!

We need the prayer support of friends now more than ever. We are living through a satanic deception that arose in the 19th Century and extends to the present, though it is a failed worldview and is in the throes of death. Dying worldviews become dangerous when they lose their grip on the masses. Chaos and anarchy become the norm.

Darwin, Freud, and Marx—The Modern Satanic Trifecta

We live in the modern house that this infernal trifecta built. European elitists (after Darwin, Marx, and Freud) set about creating a civilization without Christianity. The modern house is in shambles and about to fall in.


I have quoted this before—”The attempt to create a culture which would be European without being Christian … is now recognized as the main cause of the present crisis in European civilization.” (from Oscar Halecki, Borderlands of Western Civilization: A History of East Central Europe, p. 296). That churchmen in great numbers are a part of this revolution, this de-Christianization of the West, is an amazing as well as an ugly fact. (Sovereignty, by Rushdoony)

Science is the arbiter in disputes between religion and secular humanism.

CS LewisC.S. Lewis well said, [Prior to the Enlightenment] “The sciences long remained like a lion-cub whose gambols delighted its master in private; it had not yet tasted man’s blood. … [But] when Darwin starts monkeying with the ancestry of Man, and Freud with his soul, and [the Marxist economists] with all that is his, then indeed the lion will have got out of its cage. Its liberated presence in our midst will become one of the most important factors in everyone’s daily life. De Descriptione Temporum Inaugural Lecture at Cambridge University as Professor.

III. When God shows us the way, we can succeed without giving into the ungodly and pagan rulers in our lives. vs. 19a.

19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night.

I’ve already alluded to Geerhardus Vos’s distinction of the distinction between dreams and visions in the Old Testament. Dreams came to those who were not in a personal relationship with God or were far from walking with Him. In other words, dreams in Scripture are for those who are spiritually dead or immature. Visions come to those are mature and in close fellowship with God.

IV. We must always give God the glory for what he leads us to do. vs. 19b-23. 

Daniel doesn’t run to the King. He pauses to give God the glory for what He has revealed.

19 Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

20 Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

I do not want to break up this prayer for the sake of analysis. The words are clear in meaning and I want to pray it instead of dissecting it.

Pantacrator in National Shrine

This is an interior of the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The apse contains, as do many churches in the East, a mosaic of Jesus as Pantocrator or Pantokrator, “Ruler over all.”

24 Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”

V. We can give the solution of problems in secular society even though pagans do not recognize the God of the Bible. vs. 24

Some wise saint of God told me this, “God is never in a hurry, but He’s never late!”

Next time, we will take up the solution that Daniel gave King Nebuchadnezzar.

Seeing What is Ahead

Daniel 2:5-13

Image above “Colossus, with sword and scepter” is from Wikimedia Commons; public domain, ca 1730.

Foretelling the future in the Ancient Near East (ANE) was the job of the soothsayer or diviner. Below are several methods of soothsayers foretelling of the future.


is a form of divination by natural phenomena, especially from inspection of the entrails of animal sacrifices.

In ancient times the haruspex (diviner) interpreted the divine will by inspecting the entrails of a sacrificial animal. First the animal was ritually slaughtered. Next it was butchered, with the haruspex examining the size, shape, color, markings etc. of certain internal organs, usually the liver (hepatoscopy), but also the gall, heart and lungs. Finally, when the animal had been butchered, the meat was roasted, and all the celebrants shared a sacred meal.

Sibylline Books

The sibyls were inspired by Apollo. In a state of ecstasy, a sibyl uttered prophecies even unasked. The most famous sibyl was the Cymaean Sibyl who offered the Roman King Tarquin 9 books of prophecy, which he rejected. Eventually Tarquin bought the last 3 books of prophecy for the price of the original nine.

Source of picture and information about soothesaying etc.

Let me preface this lesson with stating what the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) with diviners was like in the Ancient Near East (ANE). Someone would come to the soothsayer with a perplexing dream or a question about the future. The soothsayer would do his interpretation using bones, books, etc. The answer might be cryptic to the seeker.

I gave an example in the last post. Here’s another example. A person comes to a sybil and asks, “Will I be wealthy?” The Sybil inhales the vapors from the volcanic fissure below her chair. She mumbles a few words. The priest listening at a crack in the wall replies cryptically to the seeker, “You will not be able to carry your money in a wheelbarrow.” The seeker thinks, “Man, I’m going to be a multi-millionaire!”  A month later he loses everything he has, including his wheelbarrow. He didn’t have anything in his possessions that he could carry by any means.

Daniel Changes Languages in 2:4

4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.”

Note that from Daniel 2:4-7:28 is in Aramaic and not in Hebrew like the rest of the book. Why? There are no reasons given in the text.

Gordon Fee observes: “The bilingual nature of the oldest extant manuscripts of Daniel testifies to the enduring importance of Hebrew for the postexilic Jewish community even as linguistically related Aramaic took over as the international, diplomatic language to become the lingua franca) of the day. The book begins and ends in Hebrew, with 2:4b-7:28 written in Aramaic.” Gordon D. Fee; Robert L. Hubbard Jr. The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible Kindle Edition

Aramaic became the universal language of the ANE. Jesus spoke it and others in Israel did too. (A dialect of Aramaic is spoken today in the Byzantine Catholic Church.) Why not write the whole book in Aramaic? I believe that Israel now knew it would be dealing with foreign empires from that time on. Israel also is told Hebrew will have a continuing significance for them.

With this background in mind, let’s listen in on Nebuchadnezzar’s encounter with his soothsayers. He turns their process from SOP to “doing it the King’s way.”

I. The realm of the future is in the hands of God. vs. 5-6

vs. 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. 6 But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore, show me the dream and its interpretation.”

“Firm” (in Aramaic = az-zawd’), has an uncertain etymology, and appears only here and Daniel 2:8. It seems to mean, “The order has been published by me (comp. Esther 7:7; Isaiah 45:23), and therefore cannot be recalled.” He didn’t forget the dream. His threat has been given and he cannot withdraw it. It’s like pharaoh in The Ten Commandments movie. He spoke and a scribe uttered, “So let it be written; so, let it be done!

Pilates wife dreamWhy did the King become so disturbed about his dream? “Ancient Babylonians strongly believed in supernatural forces, and looked for omens in the stars, dreams, and even the shapes of animal livers. Nebuchadnezzar saw his dream as a message from on high, but he could not read the message, so he called his [soothsayers] and other wise men to help him understand his vision (v. 2).”

Image to the right: “The Dream of Pilate’s Wife” (ca. 1879), by Gustave Doré. According to Matthew 27:19, While Pilate was sitting in the judgment hall, his wife sent him a message: ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him.’

They were used to an official giving them the details of the dream and then they would interpret it. Nebuchadnezzar suspected, rightly, that they had been telling him what they thought he wanted to hear.

“Let’s face it, whether it’s the Magicians of Egypt, the Disputers of Athens, or the ‘Wise Men of Babylon’. The Intelligentsia of this world haven’t the answers to their own dilemmas, much less know the Mysteries of God … History proves that.” Tony Hallo, About Face 180 Blogpost October 10, 2019 (emphasis mine).

II. Elitists never learn to depend on God and His Word for guidance. vs. 7-9

vs. 7 They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” 8 The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm— 9 if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore, tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.”

The Babylonian Wisemen are now desperate. They want the old SOP back. Give them the dream and they will interpret it.

Depiction of a Dream

Jean Lecomte du Nouÿ, “A Eunuch’s Dream,” 1874. Public Domain from Pinterest

III. God alone can impart His knowledge of the future to humans. vs. 10-11

10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods [el-aw’], whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

Isaiah 49_9-10Here they utter truth, partially, that is. God alone can interpret the dream. True! They err here: and He doesn’t dwell on earth.

They actually correct the King and his understanding of SOP among ANE soothsayers. How brazen and foolish. He is weakened to the point of not getting sleep. This would be the wrong time to tell him anything he didn’t want to hear.

IV. God can save His servants from death if chooses. vs. 12-13

12 Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.

Next time, Daniel 2:14-23.

Facing Life and Death Challenges

Daniel 2:1-13

Image above is in the public domain; digitized by Google.

In the West, we do not at present face death if we profess faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. In the rest of the world, faith in Christ is dangerous to those who confess the Christian faith. Daniel is the OT Book most persecuted believers around the world read. The NT favorite go-to book in persecution is Revelation.

YouTube clip from CBS News.

Look at the expression on the former leader’s face if you want to know what is going to happen to him. Xi is always smiles. One comment from YouTube is telling, “Chinese officials later said Hu was ill. I think they meant he will BE ill very soon.” (Emphasis by commenter.)

It is dangerous to stand in the way of a tyrant, or to disappoint him. Daniel and his three friends are in trouble in Dan. 2., and don’t know it until much later.

Daniel Chapter Two teaches us that The God of Heaven alone commands the future. 

I. Tyrants are often troubled about their office. vs. 1 

Looking at the structure of verse1-13, we see a book-end structure.

A Troubled King

vs. 1 In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. (ESV; emphasis mine)

We should realize that God could and did speak to a pagan leader about the future. A dream is bestNebuchadnezzar Tyrant with troubles vehicle suited to this kind of revelation.

“In dreaming, the consciousness of the dreamer is more or less loosened from his personality. Hence dreams were preferably used as a vehicle of revelation where the spiritual state was ill-adapted for contact with God. …Heathen persons receive revelation through this medium [Gen. 20:3; 31:24; 40:5; 41:1]. Within the chosen family, dreams were utilized likewise where the spirituality of the person was immature or at a low ebb [Gen. 28:12; 31:11; 37:5, 9].” (See Geerhardus Vos. Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments.)

God came to Nebuchadnezzar in the night because he was not spiritually awake to God. He dreamed and became troubled thinking the dream might portend his destruction.

Nebuchadnezzar had had a difficult time subduing kingdoms despite his eventual victories. He was troubled in his sleep. Leaders who do not know God tend to be insecure.

As Shakespeare points out—
“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”
Henry IV, Part II, Act III, scene 1. Everyone around a leader wants him to be easy and relaxed.

Reconciling the Date of the King’s Reign

If you are interested in the time scheme and how to harmonize with King’s reigns—(1) is the writer using a different time reckoning not count the accessional year as a full year? or (2) is the writer counting the accession year as year one?

I agree with Sinclair Ferguson: “The fact that we cannot yet answer all questions is no reason for ceasing to believe it is God’s word any more than our imperfect knowledge of the working of the human body is a reason for ceasing to breathe.” (The Preacher’s Commentary – Vol. 21: Daniel.) For the schemes harmonizing the years see the ESV Study Bible or a commentary on Daniel.

I can live with mystery. I want to be pleasantly surprised when I arrive in heaven. Like Samuel Clemmons, I am not young enough to have all the answers to life’s questions.

I am interested in the spiritual principles for Christians today in persecution by unbelievers or anti-Christian forces. We must not imitate Daniel or his three friends directly. Remember the actual circumstances of Daniel, etc., are a part of redemptive history. We must learn to act out of the general principles the text teaches. We must not imitate all details of Biblical characters.

v. 2 Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king.

The “spiritual advisors and divination team” were summoned to appear before the troubled tyrant. “Chaldean” carried a twofold meaning: (1) Chaldean could be simply an ethnic term for those who lived in the Babylonian Empire; (2) Chaldean also had a specialized meaning for those who practiced the “magical arts.”

The troubled tyrant summoned four classes of advisors:

1. The Magicians (khar-tome’), were found also in Egypt (Genesis 41:24). They are so named from cheret, a “stylus”—those who went about with the stylus, the priestly class of the temple scribes, those learned in the sacred writings and in literature.

2. The Enchanters (ash-shawf’) meaning conjurers, to breathe, to blow, to whisper; for they practiced their incantations by movements of the breath.

3. The Sorcerers (kaw-shaf’), found also in Egypt (Exodus 7:11), and, according to Isaiah 47:9, Isaiah 47:12, a powerful body in Babylon.

4. The Priestly caste of the Chaldeans (kas-dee’Keil and Delitzsch), who are named, Daniel 2:4, Daniel 2:10, and Daniel 1:4, as the most distinguished class among the Babylonian wise men. [These terms were taken from Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary on Daniel.)

There are four main categories of advisors Nebuchadnezzar summoned. The King didn’t want to slight any advisor. That Daniel and his three friends weren’t summoned may mean they were still absorbed in their studies at this point.

vs. 3 And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.”

vs. 4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.”

The King is no fool. He knows the dream has to do with his future. He will ask his advisors to do two things: (1) Recount the dream for him; and (2) interpret his dream.

This was the normal procedure. King = tells the details of his dream; and Chaldeans = interpret it for him. Ancient soothsayers would use books of written oracles to interpret a King’s dream. Nebuchadnezzar knew it was possible for soothsayers to give the King what he wanted to hear, e.g., blow sunshine up his pant legs to make him return to calm and good humor.

The Priestess Pythia in Ancient Greece 

pythia-of-the-oracle-of-delphi-186 (1)The practice of interpreting the word of Apollo entailed that the Pythia bathe in the Castalian Spring, which was followed by the sacrifice of a goat. She then descended into a special chamber called an adyton beneath the temple which was fumigated with barley meal and laurel leaves on a burning hestia. There, at the temple center, the Omphalos, she sat on a covered tripod cauldron over a deep well-like chasm. Seated in this way, enveloped by vapors while shaking bay branches, the Pythia would fall into a trance state and channel the god. In this way did the Pythia pronounce judgment and prophecy to those in attendance.

It is a Hellenic tradition that the Pythia entered her trance through the influence of volcanic fumes or hallucinogenic gases emerging from a crevice in the floor of the Castalian Spring (see the picture left for the Greek concept of oracles). Although the sanctuary lies directly above two geological fault lines and the spring near the sanctuary contains ethylene, which can provoke hallucinations, there has been no conclusive determination on whether the trance states of the Pythiai were induced through exposure or was self-induced.

One such example of an ambiguous prophecy involved a general of an army coming to the Pythia for a prediction of whether he would win the battle. She replied, “Your soldiers will carry you on the shoulders from the battlefield.”

He thought it would be a response by a victorious army to a win by their general. In fact, his dead body was carried from the battlefield after his army lost.

Image above to the left is “Priestess of Delphi” by John Collier, 1891. Public Domain image. Information and image from Material submitted by Gabriel H. Jones, published on 30 August 2013. The copyright holder has published this content under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

Next time Daniel 2:5-13

In the World but not of the World

Daniel 1:14-20

The title of this post comes from the Gospel of John. The phrase is taken from several verses in the Gospel. (1) John 15:19 — If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (2) John 17:15 — I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (3) John 17:18 — As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (ESV; emphasis mine)

How did the Hebrew youths know when to give into Babylonian customs and when to resist? They had Daniel to help them walk the razor’s edge of obedience to God and complaisance to their captors.

Daniel is a mentor and example for the other Judean teenagers. God honored Daniel by giving him favor in the eyes of the Chief of the Servants. The word “give” (Hebrew = nathan) is used in verse 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand… .” Daniel 1:9—9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs… .”

What God seems to say in the final verses of Daniel 1 is that God Himself is completely sovereign and in control, so that He can give people into their enemy’s hand to be a punisher of their sins; and at the same time, once-exiled, God can preserve His people by giving (Hebrew = nathan) them favor in the eyes of their captors.

Dr. Wm. Lane, Mentor

Bill_Lane_1Bill Lane expressed, “When God gives a gift, he wraps it in a person.” Bill Lane was God’s gift to Michael Card, but he is also now God’s gift to me through Card’s experience [in the book The Walk].”

To the left is a photo of Dr. Bill Lane (Th. D. from Harvard Divinity School from Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bill Lane was diagnosed with cancer, and eventually passed from this life to the next; but before this happened, he gave Michael Card what Card described as the “greatest compliment of his life.”

Lane had said to Michael Card, “I taught you how a Christian lives. I moved here to teach you how a Christian dies.” —adapted from a review of Card’s book The Walk.

Daniel is God’s “gift-wrapped prophet” for His people. He acts as a mentor, but he did not assume this on his own. Daniel was set apart by the special gifts and graces God gave him. I mention this because he was prepared to honor God above all.

Sinclair Ferguson says this about the four Hebrew youths—

It is not who you are or where you are that ultimately matters in the kingdom of God. It is what you are. Faithfulness, not reputation or situation, is what counts in God’s kingdom. [The Preacher’s CommentaryVol. 21: Daniel emphasis mine.]

I. God’s people undergo tests by pagans as God leads them into trial. vs.14.  

vs. 14 So [the steward] listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days.

“The sovereignty of God means there is not a random molecule loose in the universe” (R. C. Sproul in class). God controls all things. Yet He does not make anyone do evil. How does this work? God alone knows.

I wonder how often we realize some of our unpleasant experiences might be for another person’s benefit! The four Hebrew youths would know where their help came from—God Almighty. Also, the steward of their household would know it, too, although the Steward might not be willing to tell the King. The other Judeans would know this, as well.

vs. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.

II. Where God guides His people, He provides special gifts for His people to succeed. vs.17

vs. 17 As for these four youths, God gave (nathan in Hebrew) them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. ESV

Here are the gifts God gives to his servants under great distress — (1) knowledge; (2) skill in all learning; and (3) wisdom.

All of God’s servants can get these gifts if God so chooses to bestow them. Daniel is set apart from the rest by one additional gift — understanding in all visions and dreams.

New Argument from the First Amendment to Protect Religion (indirectly)

God gives people insight into the Constitution and the Judges on the Bench to permit religion in publicJay Sekulow places. ( The first case Jay Sekulow argued before the Supreme Court involved the LAX airport ban on Jews for Jesus handing out leaflets to people as they entered the airport.

Jay Sekulow’s argument began — “Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the court, local governments have important responsibilities concerning their efficient operation of airports under their control; however, the record in this case is clear — there is no justification for a sweeping ban on First Amendment activities which would subordinate cherished First Amendment freedoms.”

Jay Sekulow made what, at the time, was a unique argument in defense of religious liberties. He literally changed constitutional law. Instead of merely arguing that this ordinance violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, Jay Sekulow argued that the ordinance in fact violated the Jews for Jesus members’ free speech rights. (Board of Airport Commissioners v. Jews for Jesus, 482 U.S. 569 1987)

The Court also agreed with Jay Sekulow’s argument that “there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect.”

God gives us today our right to be heard in the public arena by a backdoor argument! This is wisdom of God that saves the day. Daniel had it and we can have access to God’s wisdom as we read His Word and pray. (

III. In trial, God makes His servants standout from the crowd. vs. 18-20

vs. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore, they stood before the king.

I like the fact that Daniel, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, uses their Hebrew names, and not those pagan names given to them by the chief ruler of the household. All glory is God’s, not pagan Kings!

They passed the test! They knew it was God’s gifts to them that enabled them to perform so ably. The reverting to their Hebrew names says to us that they were not changed in their essential character by studying Chaldean culture and literature.

vs. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.

These are good odds. Daniel and the other 3 were worth 10 times the normal Babylonian students at the end of their initial trial period.

Cyrus the Great is said, in the Bible, to have liberated the Hebrew captives in Babylon to resettle and rebuild Jerusalem, earning him an honored place in Judaism. Cyrus the Great, 559 BC-530 BC from Wikipedia

IV. God can sustain His servants down to old age even if empires fall around them. vs. 21

vs. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Verses 1 & 20 place Daniel in the exact times he lived.

He went to Babylon (by Nebuchadnezzar’s public transportation) “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah.” (ca. 606 BC)

He lived until “The first year of Cyrus (538 BC) would be nearly 70 years after the date of Daniel’s captivity (Daniel 1:1), so that he would then be quite an aged man. (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Daniel).

God sustained Daniel until the first year of Cyrus. (It doesn’t say when he died.) “This year is specified on account of its importance to the Jewish people as the year of their deliverance.” (Ellicott)

Cyrus the Persian reversed Imperial policy. Under the Babylonians, conquered people were taken out of their lands and brought to Babylon. People from other conquered land were resettled there. (This explains the Samaritan Jews in the New Testament era.) Persia left them in their own land.

Look at the following film as an Introduction to the Whole book of Daniel (9 minutes). It’s a little longer than I ordinarily put in my blogs. However, this site on YouTube has similar films on all books of the Bible.

Where God’s People Draw the Line

Image above by James Tissot at the John Rylands Library; after James Tissot
Jewish Museum New York. Public Domain

Note: Daniel is set apart from the other three in appearance.

Daniel 1:8-13

Activism is the favorite sport of the masses in our world today. People think taking to the streets and shouting slogans is the way to change things for the better. 

Is this the only way? 

Protest in Russia in 1918

Image from Smithsonian Magazine; Bolshevik 1917 revolution. public domain image

Believers need to stand back from mass protests and avoid the anarchy and vandalism. Note the advice to Titus in 2:7-10 ESV—

7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants…are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

In the Book of Daniel, we see God’s people deported from their homeland and placed in the midst of a hostile culture. As our situation parallels the Hebrew youths in Daniel, its lessons become more and more applicable. 

I Corinthians 10:11, speaking of judgments that fell on ancient Israel in the past, gives us application from those judgments—

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

God singled out the behavior of the captives for our imitation. Daniel was the one who stood out from the others. Yet, he is not the subject of the Book that bears his name. God is the subject of the book! Daniel is gone long ago, but God remains ever the same! 

“Here Daniel shows his endurance of what he could neither cast off nor escape; but meanwhile he took care that he did not depart from the fear of God, nor become a stranger to his race, but he always retains the remembrance of his origin, and remains a pure, and unspotted, and sincere worshipper of God.” (Calvin) 

Daniel and the other Hebrew youths did not take an activist attitude toward the Babylonian government. They had a more important agenda. 

Robert Louis Stevenson 

Robert_Louis_Stevenson_at_the_age_of_twenty-nineWhen the noted writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, was a boy, he was sitting in his room one night watching a lamplighter light the streetlamps below. His mother came in and asked him what he was doing. He replied: “I’m watching a man punch holes in the darkness.” (From the Word Made Flash website)

Image left is of Stevenson age 21. From Wikimedia Commons. 

The four Hebrew youths could not picket or raise a stink to change Babylon. They did bring light into darkness wherever they could. God’s people are in this world to punch holes in the darkness wherever God has placed them. Let the light of God’s word be injected into the public conversation, whether people hear or not. This is our mission. 


The Hebrew youths had accepted a lot of change in their exile. They were taken from their homeland to Babylon. They were taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. They were given new names that included the deities of Babylon, instead of references to The God of Israel as their old names did. They were assigned a portion of the King’s food from his table. They drew the line at eating some of the things from the King’s table. 

Image right from Wikimedia Commons in the public Domain. 

How they went about refusing the food is something we could learn today. 

vs. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food (Hebrew pat-bag) that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 

We dealt in the last post with the subject of food. Nothing of the King’s table was bad in and of itself. Outward credit for their success would go to the King of Babylon whether they ate the delicacies or not. I agree with Longman that one reason for the restriction of their diet was to avoid defilement. Another reason was the exiled youths would know God was behind their success. 

Banquet Table

Food for a Special Event from Pinterest

Calvin says, patbag means “to be nourished as to be intoxicated with delicacies.” The Babylonian king wanted to soften the Hebrew youths’ obstinate hearts with luxuries. Luxurious living leads to forgetting their own ways and God and embrace everything Babylonian. 

The theme of this section is—

God is behind the success of His people in times of trouble, and He alone must receive the glory for it.

I. God’s people go about their resistance to pagan authority in a wise manner. vs. 8

vs. 8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore, he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.

group-prayingMatthew 10 states—

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 

Jeremiah 29—

7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

The King’s motive for supplying rations to the youths was to capture their allegiance. The King’s wine would have been the most excellent available. The meats would have been cooked to perfection.

Daniel was given wisdom from God to lead his companions to shun the delicacies of the King’s table so they would not be tempted to live a life of ease and enjoyment. They had to be ready at the Lord’s command to stand firm in trial. They could not afford to be lured into a life influenced by Babylon. 

II. God gives His people a leader to guide them into obedience to God in a pagan society. vs. 8

LeadershipSome may ask why Daniel takes the lead in this matter. All people are on the same ground before God, yet God sets apart certain people for His service and gives them a combination of natural gifts and graces they will need to perform their service. 

Quotation on the right is from Pinterest. 

The sin of democracy is envy. People want a life like the rich live. In the end democracy can only make people equal by wealth distribution. God does make some people capable of leadership by exalting them over others. All are on level ground when it comes to equality before God. 

Abraham Kuyper on Equality and Inequality

Abraham_KuyperIf the [Reformed view] places our entire human life immediately before God, then it follows that all men or women, rich or poor, weak or strong, dull or talented, as creatures of God, and as lost sinners, have no claim whatsoever to lord over one another, and that we stand as equals before God, and consequently equal as man to man.

Hence, we cannot recognize any distinction among men, save such as has been imposed by God Himself, in that He gave one authority over the other, or enriched one with more talents than the other, in order that the man of more talents should serve the man with less, and in him serve his God. Kuyper, Abraham. Lectures on Calvinism. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition. (pp. 16-17)

I cannot relate to you adequately how this passage from Kuyper has helped me to understand how God has dealt with me in my ministerial life! When we see leaders who are graced with talents and gifts from God, we cease all striving for our own advancement and follow God’s leader. We do not try to undermine God’s leaders who are faithful to Him. They serve us as they serve God. (See the Kuyper quotation above.) 

III. God’s people can meet pagan demands in an alternative way other than compromising their faith. vs. 9-10

vs. 9 And God gave† Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So, you would endanger my head with the king.”

† Note: “gave” nathan in Hebrew, meaning to make persons objects of compassion before (in the eyes of) another. (see BDB Lexicon on BibleHub.) This is the same word used in Daniel 1:2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God.

“How did we get here?” an exiled person might ask. Daniel 1:2 says God gave us over to our enemies. Note carefully the same God that gave the Jews into Nebuchadnezzar’s hands gave Daniel favor in the eyes of his enemies. 

The youths would choose out of the delicacies what food that would not compromise their faith. The chief supervisor of the youths was not worried for their safety. He was worried about his own fate should the King notice they were weak from the food they took. In the end, he was serving himself since he would have more of the dainties to feed on. He just wanted to ensure his own position and life from danger. 

“This is a special act of God’s favor to his afflicted people, to give them any favor in the eyes of them that do afflict them.” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary) 


IV. God’s people will always come out on top when tested by following God’s instruction. vs. 11-13 

11 Then Daniel said to the steward† whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

Note that there is a two-tier leadership over the Hebrew Youths— (1) The Chief over the Imperial household eunuch in the ESV (We discussed this in an earlier post); (2) The steward placed over the Hebrew Youths. 

Rather than defying a greater authority, the Reformers urge an appeal to lessor authorities. Daniel did not go to Nebuchadnezzar directly. He appealed to the Chief over the Household and to the Steward who took care of them.  

Steward is meltsar Hebrew meaning a lesser official in charge of others. This also implies separate quarters for the Hebrews away from others. 

Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Son

Lighted LampsWe saw earlier that Robert Louis Stevenson drew a lesson from a lamplighter. Let’s end with one from Charles Haddon Spurgeon [CHS] and one of his sons. 

One day Spurgeon and one of his sons were walking home when CHS saw a lamplighter ahead of them. He was lighting the lamps along the way. After a while, the lamplighter passed from their view when he disappeared over a hill.

CHS commented to his son, “That’s the way I want to live my life. Illuminating the darkness preaching the word of God. And then, disappear over the hill to heaven.” (Skinner, Lamplighter and Son). Image from Pinterest) 

I really do believe this ought to be our mission. We are not called to a physical war. (cf. II Corinthians 10—

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds

Molding the Minds of the Brightest and Best

The picture above is titled, “Daniel and his three friends refusing the king’s food.”
1873 from The story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

Daniel 1:3-7

The Overall Theme of the Book of Daniel

At first glance, Daniel seems to be too ancient of a book to convey a message to the 21st Century readers. Not so, because people in developing countries in the 21st Century often turn to Daniel and Revelation for guidance and comfort. Tremper Longman gives us the key purpose in the book of Daniel:

“The book of Daniel was written in large measure for the express purpose of being a guide to God’s people who live in the midst of a troubled world, particularly one that is toxic to our faith.” [Longman, T. How to Read Daniel, p. 145.]

Does this sound familiar? Troubled world? We live in a hyper-troubled world! Toxic to a believer’s Faith? If we follow the desires and aims of the dominant worldview in our day, it will destroy our Faith!

Let’s trust God who is able to rescue us from pagan onslaughts in our world! God is the One who gives us hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Let’s dig into Daniel 1:3-7; 8a and see some principles believers can use as they serve in a hostile society.

Vs. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility…

I. Service to a government hostile to their faith may be required of believers. vs. 3

The use of the word “eunuch” in the Bible. The Hebrew word is saris which refers to a man in some sort of official service to a ruler, but “neutering” isn’t always a part of the office. Compare Pharaoh’s Potiphar who is a saris (eunuch; compare Genesis 39:1) and who was definitely married (Gen. 39:7ff). It is doubtful whether the term always or usually refers specifically to a [neutered male] rather than to a palace official in general.”  [see Christianity Today Wiki site.]

Compare Isaiah 39:7—”And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” So, Daniel and the youths from Judea may not necessarily have been neutered. They may have been trained to be workers at court for the Babylonian government. Daniel chapters 1-7 tell us as believers how to live faithfully in the midst of Neo-pagans and atheists. Believers can serve, but there are limits to their service as we will see later. 

Note Jeremiah 29:1; 4-7

cry-of-prophet-jeremiah-on-the-ruins-of-jerusalem-on-a-bible-subject-18701 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. … 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Image of Jeremiah mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem (Wikimedia in the Public domain).

Jeremiah sent this letter from Jerusalem to the exiles in Babylon, who had been exiled from their homeland. (1) They are not to engage in clandestine guerilla warfare against the land of the exile. (2) Neither, does he command them to confine themselves to “a Jewish ghetto.” He says they are to engage in regular activities that lead to prosperity of their new land. (We will see the limitations on believers’ service later.)


Picture of Ashpenaz making his selections from the youths of Judea.
Image is from Wikimedia and has a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license

4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

II. A pagan nation with its worldview always seeks to capture the youth for its service vs. 4.

Daniel and the Other Three Youths in Daniel—The KJV calls all four “Hebrew Children.” The Hebrew word is yeled [Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon of Hebrew]. They are “young men possibly in their early teens at the time of their deportation.” [Rushdoony, R. J. (2001) Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation.]

I don’t know about the other exiles, but these four young men were old enough to follow God in the Babylonian court. We might not be deported to another country in exile from our own country; however, we are in a similar situation.

We are “exiled at home” today if we are true Christians. The Neo-pagan worldview has overtaken the public square in our country. How did this happen? It happens still at the secular universities and colleges. I urge parents who are sending their young people to college to read Michael Kruger’s book, Surviving Religion 101. Book cover below.

Kruger book cropped

“Writing in the form of a letter to his college-age daughter, Michael Kruger’s Surviving Religion 101 takes a topical approach to examining some of the toughest questions Christian students encounter at secular universities.”

Personal Experience Teaching in a secular Community College

For more than 15 years, I taught at a Community College. I first taught transitional studies (sounds better than developmental courses).

After 5 years, I was invited to join the Humanities Faculty and teach REL-103 (similar to REL-101 Kruger addresses in his book). It was called “Comparative Religion.” No one lost his faith in my classes. I even taught one Hindu student from India. I had to help her understand Judaism and Christianity since she had no knowledge of them.

Sadly, I heard of other instructors teaching things harmful to the Christian Faith. I did not teach anything but what was in the textbook. As lead instructor of REL-103, I chose the textbook.

5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.

8a But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank… .

III. Care must be exercised in taking delicacies from the world. vs. 5

Marduk_and_petDaniel decided he did not want to defile himself (gāal) 1:8. The means of the defilement was the delicacies (path-bag) from the King’s table—of Persian origin; a dainty; portion of meat. Those who ate delicacies would be seduced into further compromises with Babylonian ways. Babylonian wine was undiluted, no doubt.

Jews are not by nature abstainers from alcohol. However, pagan feasting would lead to excess of alcohol. Jews normally diluted wine with water. The least was 4:1 water to wine. In places where water was not safe, wine helped to purify water so it would be drinkable.

Image of the chief Babylonian god, Marduk. from Wikimedia Commons; public domain.

I have already dealt with this matter of delicacies that deceive in a previous post I did on Romans 15. See the post “It’s Better not to Look Back! At least, in that Way.” So, 1st Century Jewish Christians in Rome thought they should abstain, as Daniel and his three friends had done. This makes good sense of Jewish Christians “not drinking Roman wine” in Romans 14. We remember Rome had at this stage already gotten the cryptic-name “Babylon” (cf. I Peter 5:13). Jewish Christian believers did not want to be seduced by Rome’s delicacies.

6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

Name chnages in Daniel 1

IV. Once one is drawn in by the delicacies, a change in character follows. vs. 6-7.

The Significance of a Name Change in the Bible. “All their Hebrew names had something of the God in them; but to make them forget the God of their fathers, the Guide of their youth, the heathen gave them names that savored of idolatry. It is painful to reflect how often public education tends to corrupt the principles and morals.” [Matthew Henry] (Note a public school in England is fact a private exclusive school for the elites of the land e.g. Eton, Harrow, Winchester College, Wells Cathedral School, Ampleforth (the Roman Catholic “Eton”), Westminster School, and Benenden School (all girls).

Daniel and his three friends objected to delicacies of the King. However, they did not reject the Babylonian name with reference to pagan deities, neither did they reject the Babylonian training. (I’m going out on a limb here, but I’ll bet they used their old names in private conversation with one another. And, they prayed to the God of their fathers.)

Capturing the Minds of the Brightest and Best of Young People

Daniel 1:1-4

The picture above by Arthur Hacker “By the Waters of Babylon” (1888) is in the public domain.

The picture is an imagination of Psalm 137 click on the link if you wish to read it. Wm. Faulkner used one stanza as a title for a novel, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem.”

I. Our viewpoint from earth leads us to assign a human cause to calamity. vs. 1

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

This is the first indication of Babylon fighting with Judeans. Much of the problems between nations, then and now, consist in allying oneself with nations a man thinks is the most powerful force in their area of influence. This is called realpolitik. To quote the great forger of alliances—

“America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” by Henry A. Kissinger, the great realpolitik advocate of the Nixon and Ford administrations. 


The orange area in the map above shows the Assyrian Empire at its height.  The small yellow area is Judea. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0.

Judea was in the middle of two great superpowers—(1) the Egyptians and (2) the Babylonians. The only way one could attack the other was through Jewish territory. The Judean Kings played one nation over another in an attempt to pay less tribute and to be left alone.

Psalm 20:7—Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Large numbers of horses and chariots meant security and peace in the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) world. Weak nations ally themselves to the stronger nation.

II. If we adopt God’s viewpoint in his word, we realize He rules the circumstances of His people. vs. 2

2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.

This was not the first time God had aided Judea against a stronger nation—see Isaiah 36-37. Let me quote a minimum of verses from those two chapters of Isaiah, so the reader can follow the story.

1. Assyria had attacked Judea and was poised to conquer Jerusalem.

Isaiah 36:1 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. 3 And there came out to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

2. All pagan nations trust in their own gods—metal or mental. 


Public domain picture of an Assyrian siege of a city [not to scale). (1889)

4 And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On John_Singer_Sargent_-_Study_for_ Pagan_Gods, _Boston_Public_Library_-_1937.206_-_Fogg_Museumwhat do you rest this trust of yours? 5 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? 6 Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 7 But if you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar (in the temple at Jerusalem)”?

9 How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, “Go up against this land and destroy it.”’”

Portrait of John Singer Sargent – Study for “Pagan Gods,” Boston Public Library – 1937. Public Domain from WikiMedia Commons right →

3. Hezekiah humbled himself and prayed before God, and so ought we against all who oppose our God and ourselves.

Isaiah 37:1 As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”


King Hezekiah, clothed in sackcloth, spreads open the letter before the Lord. (1873)

36 And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

Why did Judea forget this great deliverance from their foes in the past? God always meets the person or nation who cries out in desperation to Him!

General_Booth (2)A beleaguered evangelist from the Salvation Army sent a telegram to Wm. Booth.

“I have tried everything and can make no headway with the people on my mission field.”

Booth sent a terse reply, “Try tears!”

General William Booth is pictured to the right. Public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

III. Conquering powers always set out to capture the youth and press them into service against God. vss. 3-4

3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

We see this same pattern today. Our youngest children are turned from God and are taught things opposed to His Word, will, and ways. This is a “brain-drain” of titanic proportion. Our institutions of higher learning mislead the students who will be teachers. In the classroom, these newly graduated teachers mislead our children and grandchildren.

Maybe it’s time we spread the threatening letters to us before God, and pray that a similar fate not meet us as met Judea.