Verse 1: Babylon Attacks Jerusalem
The book of Daniel begins with an attack against Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. History records three assaults by the Babylonians against the city. This first assault occurred in 605 BC, while the last two occurred in 597 BC and 586 BC.
We will discover that ancient Babylon figures prominently in the book of Daniel. As such, we want to pay special attention to this ancient empire. Why? Because history will repeat itself. As ancient Babylon forced people to worship a golden image (See Daniel chapter three), a symbolical Babylon will force the world to worship the image of the beast in these last days. (See Revelation chapter thirteen)
In fact, Revelation uses the name Babylon to represent the enemy of God’s people in the end of time.
“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Revelation 14:8
When we study the book of Revelation, we will discover that the fourteenth chapter of Revelation is about earth’s final events. This is well accepted by Bible scholars. But who is represented by this “great city” Babylon that has “fallen, is fallen”?
The Bible is clear that ancient Babylon would never rise again.
The Bible says, “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldee’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. . . Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues. . . . And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and a hissing, without an inhabitant.” Isaiah 13:19, 20; Jeremiah 50:13; 51:37
The great city of Babylon began to decline through the centuries. But it would lie in complete ruins by the time of Trajan (AD 98-117). Wild animals now occupy the surroundings of this ancient city.
Therefore, these end time prophecies concerning “Babylon” must be used symbolically to represent another mighty power. Let us consider a few more references to this end-time symbolic Babylon:
“Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters [representing “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” Revelation 17:15]: . . . . And upon her forehead [the great whore’s forehead] was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” Revelation 17:1, 5, 6.
The seventeenth chapter of Revelation describes events in the end of time. The chapter is particularly about the judgment of “the great whore,” also known as “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” What do we learn from this description?
She is “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS,” meaning that she must have daughters. Therefore, she is not alone in making the world “drunk with the wine of her fornication [or false doctrines].” Revelation 17:2. Tragically, her false doctrines are like wine that deadens our reasoning abilities. Her false doctrines are keeping people from being able to see the truth.
Did you notice that she was also described as persecuting God’s true church? She was “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” We will cover this more fully when we study the book of Revelation. But I wanted us to notice the parallel between ancient Babylon and symbolic Babylon. Both are described as warring against the truth and against God’s people. We will find many more parallels between both ancient and symbolic Babylon, but I wanted to bring this to our attention early, that we might be looking for these parallels.
There is something else we want to definitely consider, namely, the contrast between Babylon, the enemy of God’s people, and God’s faithful servants, as depicted in the lives of Daniel and his three Hebrew friends.
What else can we quickly learn about this symbolic end-time Babylon?
“And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 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. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:2-5
A “strong voice” is not synonymous with a “loud voice.” A “loud voice” is for everyone to hear the message of truth. A “strong voice” is the voice of urgency. It is calling people to make an immediate decision.
Some of God’s people are in symbolic Babylon, for God says, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive of her plagues.” Apparently, symbolic Babylon is going to do something very satanic in the end of time. She has been sinning all along, but in the end, “her sins have reached unto heaven.”
By staying in symbolic Babylon, you become a partaker of her sins. As such, you will receive of “her plagues.” This is why the “strong voice” says, “Come out.” Obviously, we will need to do some very serious prayer and study when we come to these prophecies. But for now, I simply wanted to establish that in the time of Daniel there was ancient Babylon, and in our time, there is symbolic Babylon—the enemy of God’s people.
What do we know about the Babylonian assaults against Jerusalem?
During these assaults, many atrocities were committed. The prophet Ezekiel reported that people had their noses and ears cut off, while others were raped and died by the sword. See Ezekiel 23:25, 26. The prophet Jeremiah also reported that the faces of the elders were disfigured. See Lamentations 5:10–12. The prophet Isaiah reported that many of the sons of Israel were castrated and made eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. See Isaiah 39:7.
After having witnessed and experienced these terrible atrocities at the hands of the Babylonians, many of the sons of Israel were taken captive and tied neck-to-neck and forced to walk a six-month journey to Babylon. See Isaiah 52:2.
The Hebrew people remained captive in Babylon for seventy years as predicted by Jeremiah the prophet. See 2 Chronicles 36:21. During these seventy years, the Hebrew people were to learn patience and dependence upon God before they returned to Jerusalem.
Verse 2: The Temple Vessels Taken
The Babylonians stole the holy vessels in God’s temple, then they took them back to Babylon and placed them in the temple of their own gods. This was to demonstrate their belief that their gods were more powerful than the God of the Hebrews.
Verses 3–7: The Chief of Israel’s Youth Captured
In hopes of preventing any future uprisings, the Babylonians took the chief of the children of Israel. They captured the sons and daughters of the royal line and the elite families. By severing Israel’s brightest from their roots, they hoped to turn them into loyal citizens of Babylon.
To speed up the process of indoctrination, the Babylonians gave these Hebrew youth Babylonian names. It was thought that if the youth would speak in the Babylonian language and have Babylonian names they would forget their Hebrew heritage and religion.
What did these names mean?
Daniel “God is my judge”
Belteshazzar “Keeper of Bel’s treasure”
Hananiah “Yah has been gracious”
Shadrach “Illumined by the sun”
Mishael “He who is like God”
Meshach “One who is like Shach”
Azariah “Yahweh helps”
Abed-nego “Servant of [the god] Nabu”
Verses 5, 8–16: The Importance of Temperance
When Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, arrived in Babylon, they were immediately tested on the subject of temperance. Alcoholic beverages and unclean meats, such as pork, were placed before them. However, these items were forbidden by God. What should they do? Should they give in because they were captives, or should they maintain their fidelity to God and leave the results with Him?
They chose to remain true to God in every circumstance and trial. They refused to partake of the king’s wine and unclean meats. They reasoned that any compromise here would weaken their resolve and that they would lessen their ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and between truth and error.
The subject of temperance is not unique to the book of Daniel. In the New Testament, we find that:
• temperance is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23)
• temperance was a requirement to be an elder of the church (Titus 1:7, 8)
• temperance is part of Peter’s steps to spiritual maturity (2 Peter 1:5-7)
• our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)
• and that we should glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Additional Thoughts on Temperance
Everything associate with God is perfect because God is perfect. He who is absolute in power is also absolute in love and wisdom.
When God created our world, we find that everything was “very good.” Genesis 1:31
We find that God’s law is holy, just, and good. See Romans 7:12
Since everything God does is good, holy, and just, then temperance must be God’s way of leading us to do only those things that are good, holy, and just.
When God created man, He created Him in His image. Man had moral strength. He had a nature that only wanted to do that which was good, holy, and just. And since all that God does is perfect, His plan must be about bring man into that original perfection.
We find in Genesis 2:17, that there was a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God forbade Adam and Eve from partaking of this tree because He did not want them to have any evil in their life. God’s plan was only that man would desire and know goodness, holiness, and justice.
But when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit they lost that moral strength, their characters were marred, and they now had a fallen nature with a bent towards that which is evil.
We find in Genesis 3:1, that the serpent, Satan, lured Eve to the tree of good and evil and deceived her to partake of its fruit. This is Satan’s plan for all of us. He wants us to have a mixture of good and evil. He wants our theology to be a mixture of truth and error. He wants are diets to be a mixture of good food and health-destroying food. He wants us to express kind words and hateful words. Rarely does the devil lead someone to do only that which is evil. His power to deceive is to mix good and evil, truth and error, and healthy food with unhealthy food.
Ellen G. White wrote, “Satan himself was educated in the heavenly courts, and he has a knowledge of good as well as evil. He mingles the precious with the vile, and this is what gives him power to deceive.” Testimonies to the Church, Volume 8, page 306
But God had a remedy. According to Genesis 3:15, He would put enmity between us and sin, between that which is good from that which is evil, and between that which is health-promoting and that which is health-destroying.
temperance, God separates the good from evil in our life. This is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God molds us into the perfect image of Jesus Christ.
Jesus lived a sinless life where He did no evil; He never sinned, not even by a thought.
The Greek word for temperance found in both Galatians 5:22, 23 and 2 Peter 1:4-10, is “egrate.” This word suggests a return to self-control. In other words, we are no longer living a life out of control. We now have the life of Christ, which is a life of doing good, not evil.
In Latin, the word for temperance comes from the word “tempus,” meaning time or to divide. It depicts a work of separation. Hence, temperance is God’s way of separating the good from the evil in our life. By delivering us from evil, we able are to live a Spirit-controlled life in doing good.
Verses 17–21: God Honors Their Decision
As a result of their faithfulness to God, the Lord honored them with wisdom and understanding. At the end of the three years of training, the king found Daniel and his three friends ten times better than all the other wise men in his court.
It is important to note that throughout the life of Daniel and his close associates, we never hear them complain and murmur. They were men who trusted in the promises of God. They could not be bought or sold no matter how trying the circumstance.
Let us consider some of the things that made Daniel and his friends strong in the Lord:
First, they remembered the promises and deliverances of God.
Each day this week write down an experience whereby God has delivered you from some trying circumstance. You may write down some precious promises that gave you strength and courage in time of need. Take time to write them down and bring them to the Lord with thankfulness and praise.
Second, Daniel and his friends were much prayer and communion with God.
Choose a specific time to commune with God.
Select a place to meet with God.
What will you study this week to become more like Jesus?
Third, Daniel’s parents knew that the Babylonians would come, after all, it was prophesied. They took time to prepare their children for that most trying event. What things will you do to prepare yourself and loved ones for last day events? Here are some ideas:
Look for opportunities to share your faith in Christ.
Create an environment of holiness in the home. Here are some ideas:
Express many kind words and deeds
Share in character building activities
Help make the home environment clean
Listen to sacred music
Maintain associations with those who also love Jesus
Fourth, they prayed for others.
Make a list of people you meet every day, once a week, or once a month. Write down their name and begin to pray for them. Be prepared to share your faith in God, to share with them words of encouragement, and to perform some act of kindness.