But If Not

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up (Daniel 3:16-18 KJV).

Notice the “but if not!”

After King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image for all those in Babylon to worship; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to participate in that vain religious service (verses 8-12). Nebuchadnezzar, although very angry, gives them another chance to worship. He tells them that if they refuse to bow before his image, he will throw them into a burning fiery furnace. Taunting them, he says, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (verse 15). They refuse again (today’s Scripture).

It is fascinating that these three young men did not worry about the matter. They told Nebuchadnezzar that if their God wanted to deliver them, He would. But—and here is the really neat part—they said that even if God would not deliver them, they would still not worship Nebuchadnezzar’s image! Here is confidence in morals, men with strong convictions, not afraid to risk their lives for upholding the truth of the God of the Bible.

Nebuchadnezzar commands his officers to heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual (verse 19). He will mercilessly exterminate these three young Jewish men for rejecting his religion. Tied up, they are thrown down alive into the flames. Nebuchadnezzar sees an amazing sight. There are four men, walking around unharmed! That fourth man “is like the Son of God” (verse 25). Nebuchadnezzar finally sees the truth—the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the “most high God” (verse 26).

Their God has indeed delivered them from Nebuchadnezzar’s weak hands. Those three young men escape totally unscathed, having “[through faith]… [q]uenched the violence of fire” (Hebrews 11:34). The lesson? God will be faithful in preserving Israel forever, no matter how violent and extreme her persecutions!

Daniel’s Culpability

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king (Daniel 2:46-49 KJV).

Scripture always tells the truth about its characters, even faults. What was Daniel’s sin?

When a heathen worshipped the Apostle Peter, Acts chapter 10 says: “[25] And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. [26] But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.The Apostle John worshipped an angel in Revelation chapter 22: “[8] And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. [9] Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”

When pagans worshipped Apostles Barnabas and Paul, they objected in Acts chapter 14: “[13] Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. [14] Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, [15] And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God….”

After pagan Nebuchadnezzar had his mysterious dream, Daniel, by the power of the one true God, recovered and interpreted it. Nebuchadnezzar worshipped Daniel. Scripture never says Daniel protested!

Daniel, His Friends, and Separation #6

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

Every Sunday School child knows about Daniel and his three companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Unfortunately, today, few adults practice what these precious children knew!

The idolatrous system that continually ensnared the nation Israel throughout the “Old Testament” is still with us. Ultimately, beyond our day, it will purge Israel of all unbelievers. Numerous “Old Testament” historical narratives, including today’s Scripture, preview what Israel will experience in the last days. Daniel’s Record will be very profitable to the circumcision (Jewish) saints during Daniel’s 70th Week—or “the seven-year Tribulation.” During that period after our Dispensation of Grace, Israel’s believing remnant is urged to follow Daniel’s example—remain separate from the Antichrist’s false religious system. Those believers in Christ will see themselves pictured in Daniel chapter 1, as well as his other writings (chapters 3 and 6, for example—separating from Satan’s evil system and suffering for it at the hands of wicked men).

Bible Books Hebrews through Revelation delineate the various aspects of Israel bearing the end-times scenario. For example, we see the suffering Jewish saints being encouraged in the Book of 1 Peter. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:21)—the whole Book highlights the stark differences between Jewish saints and Jewish unbelievers. The Revelation underscores Antichrist’s rise and fall, Jesus Christ returning to deliver Israel into her earthly kingdom (exactly like the miraculous deliverances of believing Jews throughout the Book of Daniel).

Complimenting Daniel’s pattern, the Apostle John wrote to Israel in light of the destruction of Antichrist’s political-religious systems: “[4] And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. [5] For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5). God will undoubtedly judge that evil world system, so, brethren, let us remember to also keep separate from it!

Daniel, His Friends, and Separation #5

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

Every Sunday School child knows about Daniel and his three companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Unfortunately, today, few adults practice what these precious children knew!

Rather than “cause trouble” by holding to and defending specific doctrines, many “Christian” people today have chosen to allow anything and everything in their local assemblies. It is said in ecumenical circles, “Doctrine will always divide us. We need to quit focusing on doctrine and just ‘fellowship’ around ‘Jesus Christ.’” Despite good intentions, they are so woefully ignorant of a common Bible theme. From Genesis chapter 3 (Satan and Eve’s perversion of God’s words) until the final chapter of the Revelation (a warning not to add to or take away from the divine words), doctrine is of utmost importance in the mind of Almighty God. Sitting between these two “bookends” are Daniel and his three friends—sound doctrine caused them to believe separation from error was tantamount to serving JEHOVAH God.

Paul the Apostle exhorted us in 2 Corinthians chapter 6: “[14] Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? [16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. [18] And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

The evil religious system that Satan tried to utilize to defile Daniel and his friends exists even today, and future Israel needs to be warned….

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Daniel, His Friends, and Separation #4

Monday, May 1, 2017

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

Every Sunday School child knows about Daniel and his three companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Unfortunately, today, few adults practice what these precious children knew!

In refusing to partake of the pagan ways, Daniel and his friends, by faith, have established a good testimony in Babylon. JEHOVAH God can use them for His purposes even in the midst of rank heathenism! Verse 17 tells us: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”

Verse 18 occurs three years after the opening verses of Daniel: “[18] Now at the end of the days [or three years, verse 5] that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. [19] And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. [20] And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”

Whether Nebuchadnezzar ever learned about Daniel and his friends’ special diet, we do not know because the Bible never says. Nevertheless, the King of Babylon recognized that they were somehow special. He used them in his government. They had a supernatural power on their side that his religious leaders never even came close to matching. It would be years later, but Nebuchadnezzar would come to realize, looking with spiritual eyes, that these four Hebrew men served the one true God, “the King of Heaven” (Daniel 4:37).

Daniel chapter 1 closes: “And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus” (verse 21)—Daniel served some 70 years in these pagan Gentile courts! His three friends went on in their own separation (see chapter 3). Let us see what lessons they can teach us….

Special-edition Bible Q&A #375: “Does Scripture teach a flat Earth or a spherical Earth?” (A 37-page PDF to be read in your leisure.)

Daniel, His Friends, and Separation #3

Sunday, April 30, 2017

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

Every Sunday School child knows about Daniel and his three companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Unfortunately, today, few adults practice what these precious children knew!

Verses 11-16 continue: “[11] Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, [12] Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. [13] Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. [14] So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. [15] And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. [16] Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.”

The prince of the eunuchs, verse 11 says, appointed Melzar to supervise Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (notice their Hebrew names). Daniel, the spokesman of the group, “beseeches”/begs/asks (not demands or violently protests, remember!) if they can be given vegetables to eat and water to drink instead of the king’s meat and wine (verses 11,12). This routine, Daniel suggests, is to continue for 10 days, after which Melzar can see how the four boys compare to those following the king’s defiled diet (verses 13,14). After the trial, Melzar sees that Daniel and his three friends are actually healthier looking and appear more nourished than those eating and drinking according to Nebuchadnezzar’s specifications (verse 15). Melzar decides to allow Daniel and his three companions to eat their special diet for the three years (verse 16).

Let us see what happens when King Nebuchadnezzar meets these four Hebrew children, who will now probably be young adults….

Daniel, His Friends, and Separation #2

Saturday, April 29, 2017

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

Every Sunday School child knows about Daniel and his three companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Unfortunately, today, few adults practice what these precious children knew!

During the first invasion of the Babylonians into Judaea and Jerusalem, circa 606 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar ordered one of his servants to gather some of the best, learned Jewish children living in Judah. These kids, probably in their early to mid-teens, were to be trained and fed for three years, before being promoted in Nebuchadnezzar’s court.

Today’s Scripture says: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Notice how Daniel did not pick a fight, throw a tantrum, shout, or make demands. Instead, he “requested” (as in asked politely) that he and his three companions be exempt from following pagan ways. They, good Law-keeping Jews, obey the kosher food rules in Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14. Furthermore, they do not eat or drink things offered to idols. Moreover, in such Gentile lands, blood may not have been drained from animal flesh—the Mosaic Law forbad Israel from consuming blood (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16).

Daniel chapter 1 continues: “[9] Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. [10] And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.” The prince of the eunuchs is worried. If he allows Daniel and his friends to have a special diet, and it harms them, Nebuchadnezzar will be wroth—probably issuing a death sentence for them all!

Let us see what happens….