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Lowell Brueckner

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Four Young Hebrews in Babylon


The Book of the Prophet Daniel

“… some stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire!” Hebrews 11:33, 34

Chapter 1:1-7  Four Young Hebrews in Babylon

1.  En el año tercero del reinado de Joacim, rey de Judá, vino Nabucodonosor, rey de Babilonia, a Jerusalén y la sitió. 
2.  Y el Señor entregó en sus manos a Joacim, rey de Judá, y algunos de los utensilios de la casa de Dios; los llevó a la tierra de Sinar, a la casa de su dios, colocando los utensilios en la casa del tesoro de su dios. 
3.  Entonces el rey mandó a Aspenaz, jefe de sus oficiales, que trajera de los hijos de Israel a algunos de la familia real y de los nobles, 
4.  jóvenes en quienes no hubiera defecto alguno, de buen parecer, inteligentes en toda rama del saber, dotados de entendimiento y habilidad para discernir y que tuvieran la capacidad para servir en el palacio del rey; y le mandó que les enseñara la escritura y la lengua de los caldeos. 
5.  El rey les asignó una ración diaria de los manjares del rey y del vino que él bebía, y mandó que los educaran por tres años, al cabo de los cuales entrarían al servicio del rey. 
6.  Entre éstos estaban Daniel, Ananías, Misael y Azarías, de los hijos de Judá. 
7.  Y el jefe de los oficiales les puso nuevos nombres: a Daniel le puso Beltsasar; a Ananías, Sadrac; a Misael, Mesac; y a Azarías, Abed-nego. 

As we begin reading the first chapter of the book of Daniel, we immediately learn two things: 1) The Bible harmonizes with the actual events of human history. It accurately finds its place there and confirms all the rulers, nations, and movements, which we know to be historically true and gives the dates, in which they played their part. Babylon had an important role in the Bible and its history began in the book of Genesis. In our study, we enter the time, when this empire had reached its glory. In verse one, we read of one of the conquests of Emperor Nebuchadnezzar II, son of Nabopolassar, who destroyed the Assyrian empire and turned Babylon into the world power that it was in the time of Daniel.

2) Israel is always involved in some way with these predominant forces. Almighty God, who spoke the universe into existence, chose to be the divine King over a relatively small nation. However, these people have never been, and are not now, insignificant on the world scene. This is due, in part, to the fact that they always interacted with the highest powers on earth.

In the days, when Egyptian Pharaohs ruled the world, a young Hebrew slave, by the name of Joseph, became governor and second only to the king himself. Many years later, Egypt would make slaves of Joseph’s ethnic nation, but their God, Jehovah, would supernaturally free them and become known and feared by all people. Centuries later, Assyria rose to power and conquered ten tribes of Israel in its northern territories. Babylon defeated Assyria and invaded Judah in the south of Israel.

That brings us up to date, but Daniel will prophecy of other great nations, with which Israel will have to do in the future… Persia, Greece and Rome. Daniel will say more… he will reach into this 21st Century and tell us of the most infamous empire of all, which will dominate the earth in the last days. God, through the impotence of a small country, will reveal His power to the world. This is always His way of manifesting His glory in its brightest intensity… through human weakness.

Most of the readers will probably know that Israel was divided into two nations, early in its history… Israel to the north and Judah to the south. We already mentioned that the northern kingdom was defeated by Assyria and ceased to be a nation. That left Judah to assume solely the role of the people of God and from that time, their succession of kings continued with Hezekiah.

After a few more generations of kings serve and the Judean kingdom draws to a close, there is a bit of confusion, as to who should be king. The Jews appointed Jehoahaz, a son of Josiah, the former king, in preference to his older brother, Jehoiakim. However, the Egyptian king dethroned Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim took his place.

Tablets found in Babylon, dated  595 BC and
570 BC. It lists the rations of oil and barley
delivered by the royal storehouses to the
deposed Jehoiachin and his entourage. It
confirms the biblical account of his treatment
in 2 Kings 25:27. Jehoiachin was released
by Nebuchadnezzar’s successor in the 37th
year of his captivity (561 BC)
Jehoiakim was an idolater, who practiced child-sacrifice, and the nation followed him. He persecuted the prophets, burned the first copy of Jeremiah’s prophecies, and imprisoned him. In the darkest moment of Judah’s history, this king lived in luxury and oppressed his subjects. How typical of human depravity, to fail to respond to the Lord’s warning, but eat, drink and be merry, in the face of death! However, divine principle determines the final outcome and this is the rule, to which wise people must adhere: “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (Rev.13:10, KJV). Jehoiakim was killed in Jerusalem, his body was taken out of the city and left unburied (Jer.22:18,19,30). A few years later, his 18-year-old son, Jehoiachin, was taken into Babylonian captivity, where he remained for 37 years.

Jehoiakim was still alive, when the siege of Jerusalem began; he was bound by Nebuchadnezzar, but then killed. At this point, the 70 years of captivity, prophesied by Jeremiah, began with the first captives taken to Babylon. Daniel saw the beginning and end of those 70 years.  

Daniel knew the importance and wrote about Nebuchadnezzar taking possession of vessels from Jerusalem’s temple. The emperor was highly religious and he saw more than items, which could be added to his treasury, simply to enrich his personal fortune or that of his country. They were tokens to show that, which he took to be another victory for his god, this time over the God of Judah. He placed them in his god’s treasure house.

The chief god of Babylon was Bel or Baal. Two other important deities were Nebo, after whom Nebuchadnezzar was named and Astarte or Astaroth. In Revelation, Babylon is called “the mother of harlots” and that name speaks of its origin and influence upon the idolatry and religions of the world. It dated back to the tower of Babel and spread throughout the Middle East to Phoenicia (Tyre, Jezebel’s home, and Sidon), Chaldea, Moab, Canaan and other nations. It became the idolatrous downfall of Israel time and again. It lived on in Roman times, where Bel became Jupiter, Nebo became Mercury and Astarte became Venus. We can surmise that it exists in some form today and will live on to the end-times.

Of course, Nebuchadnezzar had no idea concerning the Lord’s discipline of His people. Had he known that, he would have seen, beyond the way things appeared, that he had nothing, for which to give glory to his god. God’s sovereign hand was over the entire situation: “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God.”

Nebuchadnezzar ordered his chief eunuch, Ashpenaz, to round up young men from the royal family of David’s descent and others of the nobility. He obviously wanted them to serve in some capacity in his government, but we don’t know specifically what service he had in mind. It seemed to include spiritual and religious positions. We will be able to study the high and eternal purposes that God intended.

The emperor was looking for noble bloodlines and training, youth without handicaps or physical defects, handsome, highly intelligent boys, mentally alert and schooled in logic and common sense. The greatest resource of any nation is its people and in Jewish young people, he surely found far more than he had expected. Jews thought that Daniel was a descendant of King Hezekiah.  

The young men were put into a three-year program, in which they were taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Their names were changed and Daniel’s new name was a derivative of the Babylonian god. The name of Daniel, Judge of God, was changed to Belteshazzar, Prince of Bel. Hananiah, Whom Jehovah Has Graciously Given, was called Shadrach, Young Friend of the King. Mishael Who is What God Is?, became Meshach, A Little Sheep and finally, Azariah, Whom Jehovah Helps, was changed to Abednego, A Servant of Nego or Nebo, the god that the Romans called Mercury. They even were supposed to accustom themselves to a new Chaldean diet.

I do not have to stretch the facts at all to show that Nebuchadnezzar’s methods were the same that are used to manipulate people in our times. I have seen some of these tactics, even in missionary work, in which converts were almost forced to conform to a missionary’s prejudices, thinking, style of music, choice of instruments and order of service. A Native American lady, that I knew, went to live in a missionary boarding school, years ago as a little girl. The students were forced to speak only English and were physically punished, whenever they were heard speaking their native tongue. Our son, Steve, living in Alaska, told of Eskimo people, subjected to similar treatment by missionaries only a generation ago.

Before Daniel and his companions could be of any value to Nebuchadnezzar, they must go through the Babylonian system of deprograming and reprograming… in simple terms, they had to be brainwashed and retaught Babylonian ways and culture. The Nazis and Communists also concentrated on the youth, ignoring adults. Let me sternly warn Christian parents that the world system everywhere is astutely targeting our youth, and behind it is the diabolical power of hell! There are teachers and professors in the world’s education systems, who are hell-bent on indoctrinating Christian young people to accept its mentality.

From the world’s point-of-view, these four teenagers were offered the privilege of a lifetime. In its day, Babylon possessed the best literature and language study that the world had to offer. They were enrolled with a full scholarship at the highest level in the “University of Babylon”. Their minds were cultured and sharpened at the hands of the world’s greatest educators. They were also offered the very best cuisine available, fit for a king. In fact, it was the same that was served to the king himself. The wine was the finest and the lifestyle was luxurious. At the end of that period, they could look forward to serving in an important official position.

Those who are in this earth’s learning institutions and universities should be well-grounded in God’s ways and maintain constant vigilance through the Word of God. It is imperative that they not be careless or minimize the danger!  Tremendous worldly, psychological pressure is put on Christian young people in these places. Many lose their faith and others testify of their faith being brought to the edge of the abyss. None of these four Hebrew boys, nor their parents, would have chosen this fate. From the Lord’s standpoint, they were not in Babylon to learn a trade or further a career.  God, in His sovereign plan, put them there for eternal purposes. Because this was so, He gave them the strength, not only to exist, but to stand triumphantly and influence others, rather than being influenced by them. He will do the same today for those that He calls into similar situations.


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