Finding Your Courage to Stand In the Last Days

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel who was one of the Hebrews carried away captive in the exile of the people of God. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first three chapters of this prophetic book. THE DREAM, THE STATUE & THE FURNACE! When you come to the prophetic book of Daniel you will find a book that has long astounded and confounded countless students and scholars of the Scripture alike. As you take the time to read through this prophetic book you will find that it is essentially broken into two distinct sections with the first section being biographical and historical, and the second section being largely prophetic. You cannot read the words which are found within this prophetic book and not encounter a powerful glimpse of what it was like in the land of the Chaldeans after the house of Judah was carried away captive by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. In fact, there are shades of what captivity and exile would have been like for the house of Judah in the prophetic book of Jeremiah with perhaps the most notable reference between found in the twenty-ninth chapter when Jeremiah writes a letter to the captives and exiles in the land of the Chaldeans and instructs them to build houses and live in them, to plant vineyards and to partake of the fruit thereof, and to give in marriage and have children that they might be increased in the midst of the land and not decreased. Moreover, Jeremiah would also instruct the captives and exiles to pray for and seek the peace, the welfare and well-being of the Chaldeans, the land in which they were forced to live and dwell in, as well as the city of that capital empire. In their seeking the welfare, the peace and well-being of Babylon the LORD promised through His servant Jeremiah that all would go well with those who were living as captives and exiles in the midst of that strange and foreign land. The prophetic book of Jeremiah is essentially a prophetic book that begins with the warning of impending judgment, calamity, devastation, destruction and wrath, and continues to actually see the fulfillment of that which had been prophesied for more than two decades. Over roughly three decades Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah would prophesy of impending judgment and wrath, and he would even live to witness the house of Judah being carried away captive by the Chaldeans, and would even witness the breaking through of the wall of Jerusalem, the burning of the walls and gates, and the ultimate destruction of the Temple of the LORD.

We know that Jeremiah was essentially a prophet who both called the people of God to turn and return unto Him once more, as well as warn of impending judgment, wrath, devastation and destruction, and yet Jeremiah would never physically see the land of the Chaldeans. He would, however, see the land of Egypt, as the remnant and residue of the house of Judah which had remained in the land after the captivity would journey down into the land of Egypt out of fear because of the sword of the king of Babylon. Although Jeremiah would live to see the Babylonian invasion of the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem, and yet not see the land of the Chaldeans and the exile and captivity thereof, this would not be the case of Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi. In fact, if you take the time to read the prophetic book of Ezekiel you will find a priest who was carried away captive from the land of Judah—perhaps with all the other prominent ones who were carried away captive at the first—and who while sitting among the captives in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar would see the heavens opened before him, would witness and behold visions of God, and would experience the hand of the LORD and the Spirit of the LORD being upon him. Ezekiel saw and was very much aware of the captivity and exile of the land of the Chaldeans, as he would live and dwell in the midst of that land, as well as with the captives and exiles who were forced to dwell in the midst of that land. Ezekiel the son of Buzi would be forced to live and dwell in the land of the Chaldeans, and it would be there in the midst of that captivity and exile he would be raised up as a watchman unto the house of Israel which was there in the midst of the captivity. It would be through the prophetic narrative of Ezekiel we would get a greater glimpse of what life was like living as captives and exiles in the land of the Chaldeans after the house of Judah had been carried away captive out of the land of their ancestors and fathers.

When you come to the prophetic book of Daniel you will find a book that describes the life of at least four others who were carried away captive out of the land of Judah, and who were brought into the land of the Chaldeans to live in captivity and exile until the appointed time came for the LORD to visit His people and open up their graves that He might raise them up to life once more, return them unto their land, and restored them in the midst of it. Daniel, as well as others mentioned in this book—namely, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah—were of those who were initially carried away captive out of the land of Judah, and were brought into the land of the Chaldeans where they would be forced to live as captives and exiles. In fact, if you read the opening two verses of the first chapter of this prophetic book you will find a description of that captivity, and how Nebuchadnezzar had entered into the land of Judah and carried away captive many in that first wave of captivity. Beginning with the first verse of the first chapter you will read the following words: “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the LORD gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of is god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god” (Daniel 1:1-2). It is with these words we encounter and come face to face—not only with Nebuchadnezzar entering the land of Judah and besieging the city of Jerusalem, but also taking Jehoiakim king of Judah into captivity into Shinar in the land of the Chaldeans, as well as taking a part of the vessels of the house of God, which he would bring to the house of his god, and to the treasure house of his god. The first two verses of the prophetic book of Daniel present us with the timing of the events that would take place—at least an introduction to how Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael—would come to dwell in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans. It is in the opening verses of this prophetic book we encounter Nebuchadnezzar invading the land of Judah during the days of Jehoiakim, carrying away Jehoiakim as captive into the land of the Chaldeans, as well as carrying away part of the treasures of the house of God which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.

As you continue reading in the prophetic book of Daniel you will encounter Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon giving very specific instruction unto Asphenaz the master of his eunuchs that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes. That which the king of Babylon was looking was very specific, for Scripture reveals how he was looking for “children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:3-4). What we learn in the opening verses of the prophetic book of Daniel is that the king of Babylon sought out the wisest among the children of Israel, and those who had knowledge and understanding that he might have them serve before him in his court and his palace. Upon continuing to read the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel we find that the king appointed unto all those who had been chosen a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank, and would do so for a period of three years, in order that at the end of the three years they might stand before the king and be evaluated. It is here where we are introduced to just four of the children of Israel who were carried away out of the land of Judah and brought into the land of the Chaldeans, and come to understand their Hebrew names—namely, Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. It’s worth noting that when Daniel and his three Hebrew companions were brought into the presence of the king of Babylon they were given new names—names that were not Hebrew in origin, but rather Chaldean in origin, and names which were born in the land of Shinar and in Babylon itself. We learn that unto Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar, unto Hananiah was given the name Shadrach, and unto Mishael was given the name Meshach, and unto Azariah was given the name Abed-nego.

Within the first seven verses of the first chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel we find Daniel and his three Hebrew companions being brought into the king’s service, and given a provision from the king’s own meat and wine that he might nourish them for a full three years. At the end of those three years they—together with all the others who were enlisted into the king’s service—would be brought into the presence of the king that he might evaluate them and their condition. We learn that unto Daniel and his three Hebrew companions were given new names—names not Hebrew in origin, but rather names that were Chaldean in origin. By the time we come to the end of the seventh verse of the first chapter we know and understand concerning Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael that they were chosen from among the children of Israel to be appointed unto the king’s service, that they might serve before him all their days in captivity and exile. Moreover, we can deduce from reading the opening verses of this first chapter that Daniel and his three Hebrew companions were such as were without blemish, who were well favoured, who were skillful in all wisdom, who were cunning in knowledge, who had understanding in science, and had the ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and might be taught the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. There was something Asphenaz chief of the king’s eunuchs saw in these four Hebrews from among the children of Israel that would cause him to enlist them into the service of the king that they might stand and serve before the king. What we find, however, is that although Daniel had been chosen to be prepared to stand before the king in the king’s service, he would find great difficulty in the diet and portion of the king which had been appointed unto those who had been chosen to serve before the king in his palace. Upon beginning to read with and from the eighth verse of the first and opening chapter we find it written that “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” (Daniel 1:8). Because Daniel had purposed within his heart not to defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine, he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Scripture goes on to reveal how God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of eunuchs, yet the prince of eunuchs initially balking at Daniel’s request for fear of the king of Babylon who had appointed unto them their meat and their drink. This prince of the eunuchs would not witness the king looking upon them and seeing their faces worse than the children which had been chosen together with them.

Continuing on in this first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel we find Daniel speaking unto Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over himself, Hananiah, Azariah and MIshael, and inviting him to prove them ten days. Within and during those ten days they would be given nothing but pulse to eat, and water to drink. At the end of those ten days they were to be evaluated as their countenances were to be looked upon, as well as the countenance of the children which ate of the portion of the king’s meat. Scripture reveals how this Melzar consented and complied with Danie’s request, and proved them these ten days Daniel requested. What we find and read within this first chapter is that at the end of the ten days the countenances of Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were carefully considered and compared against all those of the children who ate of the king’s meat, and drank of the king’s wine, and their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. As a direct result of this examination Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine which they should drink, and gave them pulse to drink. This is actually quite interesting when you think about and consider it, for it seems to suggest that for the rest of their days living in the land of the Chaldeans, Daniel and his three Hebrew companions would not partake of any of the king’s meat, nor any of the king’s wine, and would drink only water, and would consume only pulse. How absolutely remarkable and astounding it is to think about and consider the fact that one single act of courage, boldness and bravery on the part of Daniel would not only alter their diet, but would also begin to set them apart within the province of Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans. It would be this opening decision within the heart of Daniel that would begin setting in motion that which would being the process of the elevation and exaltation of Daniel and his three Hebrew companions in the midst of the king’s service, for Scripture goes on to reveal something very specific in the final verses of the first chapter. If you take the time to read the final verses of the first chapter of this prophetic book you will find the response of God toward Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael because they refused to defile themselves with the king’s meat, and the king’s wine. Consider if you will the following words which are found in verses seventeen through twenty-one of this opening chapter:

“As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the princes of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 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. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. And Daniel continued even unto the first year of the king of Babylon” (Daniel 1:17-21).

THE REWARD OF COURAGE! THE REWARD OF HOLINESS! THE REWARD OF BRAVERY! Before continuing on in the second and third chapters of this prophetic book, I find it absolutely and incredibly astounding to think about and consider the fact that Scripture reveals how Daniel purposed within his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine. What’s more, is that in addition to Daniel purposing that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine, Daniel invited that one who was appointed over himself, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael to test them ten days and compare their countenance to that of all the others who were chosen for the king’s service and who partook of the portion of the king’s meat and of the king’s wine. It’s worth noting that Daniel purposed within his heart that he would not defile himself with that which came from the king’s table, and requested something very specific that would bring honor and glory unto the LORD his God, and as much as Daniel requested of Melzar to test them for ten days, Daniel was also putting the LORD God to the test. Although Melzar, nor the prince of the eunuchs, nor anyone else would be able to discern that the LORD honored Daniel’s faithfulness in being unwilling to defile himself with the king’s wine and meat, we must understand and recognize that Daniel was inviting the LORD of hosts to show up there in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans. Daniel purposed within his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine, and he invited the LORD of hosts to show up on their behalf, and that the LORD might honor his faithfulness, as well as His conviction. Daniel purposed within his heart that he might not partake of the king’s meat, nor the king’s wine, and what we must recognize and understand is that this was a matter of personal conviction. Oh, it was most likely true that many of the others who were chosen to train and prepare for the king’s service had no issue and saw absolutely nothing wrong with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine, yet Daniel purposed within his heart that he would not defile himself in the land of the Chaldeans—even with that which came from the king’s own table.

There is a powerful truth that is found within this opening chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel—namely, the willingness within the hearts and minds of the servants of God not to defile themselves with that would dishonor and displease the LORD of hosts. For all intents and purposes Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were living and serving in a secular environment, and among the Gentiles and heathen, and it would be there in that place they would purpose not to defile themselves with that which they knew would be unholy in the sight of the living God. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that which took place in this passage of Scripture, for it serves as a powerful question and invitation whether or not we as men and women are willing to purpose within our own hearts that we might not defile ourselves with the things of this world. What makes this even more intriguing and powerful when you think about it is when you consider the fact that Daniel and his three Hebrew companions were training and preparing for the service of the king, and their decision not to partake of the king’s meat and of the king’s wine might very well have had an adverse effect. Scripture doesn’t reveal whether or not Daniel knew the outcome at the end of those ten days, and even if the outcome after those ten days had been something different than what is recorded in Scripture, we still encounter the awesome truth and reality that Daniel purposed within his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine. What’s more, is that not only did Daniel purpose within his heart that he might not partake of the king’s meat and the king’s wine, but he actually used wisdom, grace and tact when approaching the subject. It’s true Daniel could have flat out refused to partake of the king’s wine and of the king’s meat, and could have continued with an attitude of rebellion before, towards and against the king. It is true that Daniel could have purposed within his heart that he might not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine, and he could have chosen a path and route that did not include humility and submission before and unto the king. What is so absolutely remarkable about the way Daniel handled and approached this subject is that even though he could not in good conscience defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine, he approached the subject with full humility and submission before those who were given charge and authority over him.

RESISTING WITH HUMILITY! RESISTING WITH SUBMISSION! I sit here today thinking about and considering the narrative of Daniel purposing within his heart that he might not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the king’s wine, and I find myself coming face to face with the fact that even though he had purposed and resolved within his heart that he might not defile himself with the provision of the king, he exercised great humility and submission before those who were given charge and authority over him. There were a number of different ways Daniel could have taken and approached this subject, and yet Daniel proceeded graciously, humbly, and with full submission before and unto that one who was given authority and charge over him. Daniel presented the one who was given charge over himself, as well as Hananiah, Azariah and MIshael with an option to test them. The prince of the eunuchs feared his lord and king, and what the king would and could do unto him if the portion of the king’s meat and of the king’s wine were taken away and removed from Daniel and his three Hebrew companions, and Daniel respected that fear and concern. Moreover, not only did Daniel respect that fear and concern, but even in his purposing not to defile himself with the king’s meat, nor the king’s wine, he humbled himself before and submitted himself to those who were given charge and authority over them. Even though Daniel would take a courageous stand concerning that which was provided before and unto him from the king’s table, he would not do so arrogantly, nor would he do so pridefully, nor would he do so with rebellion in his heart. That which Daniel would do was exercise tact, wisdom, knowledge and discernment, and would humble himself before that one who had been given charge and authority over him.

What makes this narrative so absolutely wonderful and incredible is when you think about and consider the fact that there in the land of the Chaldeans—there in the midst of captivity and exile—Daniel had purposed within his heart that he would not defile himself with that which came from the king’s table. The underlying question we must ask ourselves when reading the words found in this chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel is whether or not we are men and women of the same conviction. Are we men and women who have purposed and who do purpose within our hearts that we cannot and will not defile ourselves with the things of this world. Through the example and witness of Daniel in the land of the Chaldeans we encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that he was one who was willing to take a stand there in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans and not defile himself with that which would be given unto all those who were appointed into and for the king’s service. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that Daniel was one who had been appointed unto the king’s service, and even in the midst of that role and position he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the portion of the king’s wine. Daniel and his three Hebrew friends and companions would purpose and determine within their hearts that they would honor and glorify the living God—even with something which might seem and appear as trivial as eating meat from the king’s provision, and drinking wine from the king’s provision. Please don’t miss the incredible significance and importance of what is found in this chapter, for it is a powerful call and invitation to us as the servants of the most High God to not only purpose within our hearts that we not defile ourselves with the things of this world, but would also be those who walk in humility and submission to those who have been given charge and authority over us in this life. Daniel purposed within his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat and with the king’s wine, and yet the beauty of this narrative goes beyond simply what he purposed within his heart, and extends into the realm of how Daniel spoke with, and how Daniel interacted with those who had been given charge over him. Daniel would do more than simply purpose within his heart that he would not defile himself, but he would also exercise wisdom, grace and tact, and would submit and humble himself before Melzar who had been given charge over him.

IN YOUR REFUSING TO DEFILE YOURSELF, YOU SET YOURSELF APART! IN REFUSING TO DEFILE YOURSELF, THE LORD SETS YOU APART! IN REFUSING TO DEFILE YOURSELF THE LORD ELEVATES YOU! As you read the final words which are found within the opening chapter of this prophetic book you will find what could most readily described as the LORD’s response to the commitment of Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael, and their refusal to defile themselves with the portion of the king. Not only did the LORD honor them by having the portion of the king’s meat and wine removed, and not only did the LORD honor them by making their countenance fairer and better than all those who partook of the king’s portion, but we also find that God gave these four Hebrews knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom. Moreover, Daniel would have understanding in all visions and dreams, and there would be none in all the king’s service likened unto Daniel and his three Hebrew companions. In all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of these four Hebrews he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers which were in his realm. It’s important for us to recognize and understand this, for it is what we find in the final verses of the first chapter that sets the stage for what we see in the second chapter. In the final verses of the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book we find Daniel being given understanding in all visions and dreams—and not only do we find Daniel being given understanding in all visions an dreams, but we also find it written that Daniel and his three Hebrew companions were found ten times better than all the astrologers and magicians which were in the king’s service. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for what would merely be a description and statement in the final verses of the opening chapter would actually be put on full display in the next chapter. It is in the next chapter we actually see this statement being put on full display with a very specific dream Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had.

When you approach the second chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel you will find that in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon he dreamed a dream—a dream which so troubled his spirit and caused his sleep to depart from him. Scripture reveals how the king of Babylon gave the command to call all the magicians, all the astrologers, all the sorcerers, and all the Chaldeans, in order that at least one of them might show the king his dream. All those who were called and summoned came before the king, and the king declared unto them that he had dreamed a dream, and his spirit was troubled to know the dream. All those who were called into the presence of the king would speak to him in Syriack, and asked the king to tell them the dream which he had dreamed, and they would provide him with the interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar would respond to those who had been called and summoned into his presence by declaring how the thing had gone from him, and if they would not make known unto him the dream, with the interpretation thereof, they would be cut in pieces, and their houses would be made a dunghill. If, however, they showed unto the king the dream, and the interpretation thereof, they would receive from him gifts and rewards and great honor. Those who had been called into the company and presence of the king persisted in asking the king to show unto them the dream, and they would provide him with the interpretation. At this the king became outraged and furious, and he would respond by declaring unto them that he knew for certainty that they would gain time, because they knew the thing was gone from him. If those who had been called into the company of the king would and could not make known unto him the dream, there was but one decree for them, as they had prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before him, till the time be changed. Even after these words spoken by the king, the Chaldeans responded unto the king and declared that there was not a man upon the earth that would be able to show the king’s matter, nor was their any king, lord, nor ruler that had ever asked such a thing of any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. The Chaldeans would continue by declaring that there was none who could show this matter unto the king except the gods—and their dwelling was not with flesh. Upon hearing this the king’s wrath was all the more incited and became all the more fierce that he commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. Therefore the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain, and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

Within the second chapter of this prophetic book we find both a dream and a decree setting the stage of Daniel to emerge on to the scene and to not only provide Nebuchadnezzar with the dream, but also with the interpretation of the dream. If you begin reading with and from the fourteenth verse of this chapter you will that Daniel answered and responded with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard and asked why the king’s decree was so fierce and so urgent. Arioch would make the matter known unto Daniel, and Daniel would respond by desiring of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show the king both the dream which he dreamed, as well as the interpretation. Scripture reveals how Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, hos companions, that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret in order that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. In the nineteenth verse we read how the secret was revealed unto Daniel in a night vision—not only the dream, but also the interpretation as well. How absolutely tremendous and powerful it is to think about and consider this awesome reality of a decree made by the king of Babylon that all the wise men of Babylon—including Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael—would be destroyed because of his wrath, rage and fury. Scripture reveals how Daniel would respond with counsel and wisdom before Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, and would secure time for the God of his fathers to grant unto him mercies that he might not only show unto the king the dream which he dreamed, but also that he might provide the interpretation thereof. It is in the nineteenth verse of this chapter that we find the LORD responding to the cry, the prayer and the petition of Daniel and his three companions by revealing unto him the secret in a night vision. What I so love about this revelation given unto Daniel is his response to the secret that was shown and given unto Daniel, for Daniel would bless the living and eternal God who alone possesses all wisdom, all knowledge, and all understanding. Consider if you will the following words which are found in verses twenty-through twenty-three of this second chapter:

“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: and he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: he revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou has now made known unto us the king’s matter” (Daniel 2:20-23).

Daniel’s response to the LORD showing unto him the meaning of the dream is actually quite telling, for his response before and unto the LORD not only speaks of and declares how the LORD changes times and seasons, but also how the LORD removes and sets up kings. This response is absolutely astounding when you consider the interpretation of the dream which the king dreamed, for his dream would concerning the setting up and the fall of kingdoms and empires upon the earth. Daniel would reveal unto Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon that he was the head of gold, and that his would be the first kingdom and empire that would be present upon the earth. With that being said, however, the kingdom of Babylon would not last, as there would be another kingdom and empire that would emerge after it—one that was inferior to that of Babylon. After that second kingdom and empire would emerge there would be a third kingdom which would rise upon the face of the earth and would bear rule over all the earth. Even after these first three kingdoms and empires would be present within and upon the earth there would be a fourth kingdom which would be as strong as iron—a kingdom which would break in pieces and bruise anything and everything in its path. Essentially and ultimately Daniel would reveal the matter unto the king, and how the LORD showed the king what He was going to do in the midst of the earth—namely, how He was going to raise up three additional kingdoms and empires within and upon the face of the earth. That which the king of Babylon had dreamed upon his bed was a vision and revelation of the setting up and the fall of kingdoms and empires, as the LORD would cause three more kingdoms and empires to rise up in the midst of the earth. Even with that being said, however, we find that within this dream and vision which the king of Babylon dreamed there was another kingdom—a kingdom that was not made of human hands—which the LORD God of heaven would set up, and one which would never be destroyed. This kingdom would not be left to other people, but it would break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and empires which the king saw, and would stand forever. Moreover, Daniel would go on to declare that as much as the king saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay and the silver, and the gold, so the great God had made known to the king what would come to pass hereafter.

What I find so absolutely captivating about the prophetic book of Daniel is how each chapter seems to provide an introduction and set up the next and following one. It is in the first chapter where we find it written concerning Daniel how the LORD had given him understanding in all visions and dreams, and in the very next chapter we find the king of Babylon having a dream which he dreamed during the night, yet which he could neither remember, nor which he knew and understood the interpretation of. The dream, as well as its interpretation would be shown unto Daniel, and he would enter into the presence of the king and both reveal the dream, as well as provide the meaning of the dream. The dream which the king dreamed upon his bed was a dream and vision of kingdoms and empires, as the LORD would show and reveal unto the king how He would raise up and establish three more additional kingdoms and empires within and upon the earth. What’s more, is essentially the dream which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed was a statement and declaration—not only that the LORD would set up three other kingdoms and empires upon the earth, but also that the Babylonian kingdom and empire had an expiration date, and was not destined to last forever. Despite the fact that the king of Babylon might very well have thought that the kingdom and empire of Babylon would indeed last for ever, and would rule over the entire earth, the LORD would decree that it would eventually and ultimately find its demise in the midst of the earth. THE KINGDOM OF BABYLON WOULD NOT LAST FOR EVER! THE KINGDOM OF BABYLON HAD AN EXPIRATION DATE! THE KINGDOMS OF THE EARTH ARE SUBJECT TO A HIGHER KINGDOM! What’s more than this, is that not only did the dream which Nebuchadnezzar dream reveal the setting up and establishing of earthly kingdoms and empires, but it would also reveal a kingdom which would be stronger, greater, and mightier than them all. As surely as the king of Babylon would see an image of earthly kingdoms and empires that would rise up and emerge upon the face of the earth, so also would he see a vision of a kingdom that was not made up of any previous earthly kingdoms, and a kingdom which would be far greater and far stronger than any earthly kingdom.

The image of the statute which Nebuchadnezzar saw is actually quite interesting and telling when you think about it, for the fact that these kingdoms and empires made up one single image and one single statue would indicate that each subsequent kingdom and empire would be directly linked and connected to the previous one, and how they were essentially a composite of the former kingdom which was before them. The kingdom of Babylon would lead to the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. The kingdom of the Medes and Persians would lead to the kingdom of the Greeks. The kingdom of the Greeks would lead to the kingdom of the Romans. These kingdoms and empires would be intrinsically linked and connected to each other, and the fourth and final kingdom would essentially be a composite of each of the previous three kingdoms, as it would absorb that which would go before it. The kingdom which the living and eternal God would set up, however, would not have any connection to any earthly kingdoms, nor would it be a composite of any of these kingdoms and empires that was present upon the face of the earth. Each kingdom and empire that would be present upon the earth would have within it the previous kingdom and empire(s) that would go before it, however, there would be one kingdom that would not have any of these earthly kingdoms and empires, and which would strike all these empires together as one. As surely as all these kingdoms and empires would make up one single statue and one single image, so also would these kingdoms and empires fall and be consumed as one. When this stone which was cut out from the mountain would strike the statue at its feet, it would cause the entire statute to collapse and crumble, and all the materials of which it was made—the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron and the clay—would be mixed together in their destruction, as they would become the like chaff which the wind would blow away. With the destruction of all these kingdoms would emerge a kingdom made without human hands—a kingdom which would come from heaven and would completely and utterly destroy the kingdoms and empires of the earth.

It’s absolutely necessary that we understand the dream which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed—and not only the dream which he dreamed, but also the image that was found within the dream, and the material that made up the head of that image—for it would set up the events that are found in the third chapter. What’s more, is that not only did the dream with its image and materials help set up the events which would take place in the next chapter, but so also would the final verses of the second chapter. If and as you read verses forty-six through forty-nine of the second chapter you will find the following words which were written concerning Daniel and his three Hebrew companions: “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 Abed-nego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king” (Daniel 2:46-49). As if the dream which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed wasn’t enough to set up the events which took place in the third chapter, so also would the appointment of Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael in the final verses of the second chapter. It would be the image which Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream, the gold which made up the head of the image, as well as the appointment of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego that would help set the stage for what we find in the third chapter, for it is in the third chapter we find the king setting up an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof was six cubits. It would be this image of gold which the king of Babylon would set up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. What’s more, is that you will find that not only did Nebuchadnezzar set up this image of gold in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon, but he also commanded and instructed that at the time they heard the sound of the cornet, the flute, the harp, the sackbut, the psaltery, the dulcimer, and all kinds of music, they would fall down and worship the golden image which had been set up.

THE IMAGE! THE GOLD! THE DEMAND FOR WORSHIP! As I sit here today and consider how Nebuchadnezzar had set up this image of gold in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon, I cannot help but think about the fact that this image which was set up most likely resembled the image which he had seen in his dream. In the second chapter of this prophetic book we find that the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw was made up of a head of gold, his breast and arms of silver, his belly and thighs of brass, his legs of iron, and his feet made up of iron and clay, however, in the third chapter we find the king of Babylon setting up an image in the plain of Dura made up entirely of gold. In all reality, I can’t help but see this image—and not only the image, but the material it was made up of—as an act of defiance before and against the dream and the interpretation of the dream he had. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Nebuchadnezzar’s forming and making this image of gold, as well as his demand that all who heard the sound of music should bow down and worship this image was an act of defiance in the face of the dream he had received, which Daniel not only revealed, but also provided the interpretation thereof. What’s more, is that I would dare say that the demand for all who heard the sound of music to worship this image was an act of pride and arrogance before the God of heaven and earth, and beautifully sets up the resistance and rebellion of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. It is within this chapter where we find Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego—three high ranking officials within the government of Babylon and within the province of Babylon—refusing to bow down and worship this image made of gold. What’s more, is that you will find Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego not only refusing to bow down and worship the image made of gold, but even when they were summoned into the presence of the king, they declared unto the king himself that they would not bow down and worship this image made of gold.

If there is one thing I absolutely love about the narrative of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in this third chapter, it’s that they dared to defy and resist the image made of gold—and not only the image made of gold, but also the demand to bow down before and worship this image of gold. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it was like for Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to watch as countless others before and all around them bowed down and worshipped this image of gold, and yet they chose to stand. When all others would kneel, and when all others would bow before this image made of gold, these three Hebrews would choose and determine within their hearts that they would kneel and bow before the God of heaven, and Him alone. They were undoubtedly very much aware of the decree of the king that all who heard the sound of music should bow down and worship this image of gold wherever they were, and yet they deliberately and intentionally chose not to worship this image made up of gold. They knew that their refusing to bow down and worship the image of gold was not only defiance of the decree of the king, but also defiance of the king himself, and yet they still chose not to bow down and worship this image of gold. Scripture is unclear what the motive, the desire and the intention of Nebuchadnezzar was concerning this image of gold, as well as the demand to bow down and worship it, however, we can be absolutely certain that it was both an act of defiance before the LORD, as well as a statement of pride. Perhaps he was calling men and women to worship the gold from which the image was made up of, or perhaps he was calling men and women to worship what the image represented. Scripture is unclear what this image represented, and whether or not this image depicted and represented Nebuchadnezzar himself, or whether it resembled the image which he had seen in his dream. What we can be sure of is that this image was a representation of the kingdom and empire of Babylon—and not only the kingdom and empire of Babylon, but also of Nebuchadnezzar himself. Undoubtedly this image was a powerful statement and representation of the kingdom and empire of Babylon, and of Nebuchadnezzar himself, and the call and demand to worship the image was a call to worship this kingdom, this empire, and the king itself.

I have written in times past how I believe that what we find within this passage of Scripture is a powerful depiction of the end times and Last Days, for if you turn and direct your attention to the final book of the New Testament, you will find that the false prophet would set up an image of the beast in the midst of the earth, and would demand that all men should worship this image of the beast. What’s more, is that in the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Thessalonians you will find that the man of lawlessness will set himself up as god in the midst of the Temple and holy place, and would demand that men and women worship him as such. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for I am convinced that the actions of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego are a powerful picture of what is going to be required of the servants of the living God in the day when worship of that which is evil, and worship of that which is not God is demanded and required in the midst of the earth. Scripture makes it very clear that there is coming a day when an image is going to be set up in the midst of the earth—an image of the beast who is the antichrist, and the man of sin, and the lawless one—and how the false prophet is going to demand that men and women worship this image. Anyone who does not worship this image faces certain and imminent death, and will be cut off from the face of the earth. IN all reality, I sit here today and I can’t help but think about the awesome and undeniable fact that we as the servants of God need to make up within our hearts and minds right now whether or not we are going to be those who will bow down and worship that which is not God, or whether or not we are going to be those who refuse to bow down and worship anything and anyone who is not the one true and living God. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego knew that the fiery furnace awaited any who refused to bow down and worship this image of gold, and yet they deliberately and intentionally chose not to worship and bow down before this image of gold. Oh that we would recognize and understand this, for we as the saints and servants of God need to purpose and determine within our hearts whether or not we are going to bow down and worship that which is not God, or whether we are going to be those who worship and serve the living and eternal God alone.

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely remarkable that not only did Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refuse to bow down and worship this image of gold before being summoned into the presence of the king, but even when they stood before the king and were given the chance and opportunity to worship and bow down before this image of gold, they declared unto the king without hesitation, without reservation and without fear that they would not worship, nor would they bow down before this image of gold. Of course we know and understand that Nebuchadnezzar ordered the fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than normal, and had these three Hebrews bound and cast alive into the midst of it. What’s so incredibly powerful is when you think about and consider the fact that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego—although they had been bound and cast alive into the midst of the fiery furnace—not only found themselves loosed in the midst of the furnace, but they also walked in the midst of the fire, and did so with one whose appearance was likened unto the Son of man. How absolutely and incredibly powerful it is to think about and consider the awesome incredible reality that these three Hebrews refused to bow down before and worship this image made up of gold, and they did so knowing the penalty of such refusal and resistance meant death by being cast alive into the midst of the fiery furnace. We must recognize and understand that which takes places within this chapter, for one of the signs of the end times—and not only a sign of the end times, but also of the antichrist himself—is a demand to worship that which is not God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for in the last days we can fully expect a full out assault on the worship of the true and living God, as the spirit of the antichrist can and will call men and women to abandon their worship of the living God, and call and demand that they worship that which is not God. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are going to be men and women who are going to abandon our worship of the one true and living God and give in to worshipping that which is not God, or whether or not we are going to be men and women of conviction and refuse to bow down and worship anything that is not the one true and living God. Are we going to be men and women of conviction and commitment, or are we going to be men and women of fear and compromise as we allow ourselves to be consumed in worship of that which is not the one true and living God. Are we going to be men and women who have the same courage, the same commitment, the same bravery, and the same resolve as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, or are we going to be those who are overcome with fear, terror and dread as we allow ourselves to be consumed with the false worship of this age—a worship that attempts to draw and call us away from that which is of the one true and living God.

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