Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

OT Tuesday: Daniel, a Meandering Introduction

In 722 BC the ten northern tribes of Israel had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians leaving only the south of Israel, Judah, free. In 606 BC King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia invaded and conquered Judah and took all the vessels from the temple, he deported the healthiest of the Jews back to Babylonia to be slaves. Judah was left a vassal state, her king Jehoiakim was killed thrown off the walls of the palace, his son Jeconiah succeeded him but only lasted a few months followed by Zedekiah, who was just  a figurehead in reality. Meanwhile Egyptian pharaoh Hophra wanted to protect his eastern borders from Babylonian attack entered into a treaty with Zedekiah and sent Egyptian troops to Jerusalem. 

King Nebuchadnezzar II found out that his vassal state, Judah, had signed a treaty with his enemy, Egypt, and dispatched troops to Jerusalem. The Babylonian troops lay siege to Jerusalem for eighteen months, and eventually broke into the city destroying everything including the Egyptian troops. The temple was destroyed, the city walls torn down, the city was ransacked and burned, and King Zedekiah was hunted down like a dog. Zedekiah and his family was eventually captured and dragged off to the Babylonian encampment at Riblah. There Zedekiah watched his sons and other Jewish princes be slain, and to insure that this was the last sight Zedekiah would ever see, Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah's eyes gouged out then allowed Zedekiah to live.

Here is one of those great historical twists that I just love; the fellow that helped start this whole thing, Pharaoh Hophra, was dethroned in Egypt. His loss at Jerusalem and other losses in Libya against Dorian Greek armies caused his general Amasis to rise up and declare himself Pharaoh. Hophra fled Egypt and sought refuge, then in 567 BC returned to Egypt at the head of a foreign army trying to regain his throne. The army he lead was Babylonian supplied by his old nemesis Nebuchadnezzar, unfortunately for Hophra he was killed in the battle that followed.  What does all this have to do with Daniel? Not much, it's just kinda cool. As for Daniel...

Daniel was born into a time where Israel was in decline and just about ready to bottom out. In fact Daniel was long gone by the time Zedekiah was watching his sons die. For her failures God was turning Israel over to those that would conquer her. God's reasons were not a secret, the ancient Jews knew what God demanded of them and chose to turn their back on His demands. First and foremost was "Thou shall have no other gods before Me." The ancient Jews worshiped many things, sometimes even God Himself, but quite often they were worshiping the sun, the moon, the stars, and other invented gods of the surrounding people.

Another huge failing was how Israel turned her back on the word of God. Not all Hebrews rejected God, but plenty did. Believers were in the minority and were always oppressed and persecuted by those who practiced false religions. The hypocrites and leaders of the false religions not only hated the messengers of God, the prophets, but worse, they hated God's word itself. Hebrews describes how the prophets were treated at this time:
36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy),wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:36-38)
If that's not enough, they failed the land too. Leviticus 25:1-7 God tells the Jews that every 7 years the land is to take a sabbath too:
1 The Lord then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord. 3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, 4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5 Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. 6 All of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. 7 Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.
For 490 years the Jews never gave their land the sabbatical break as demanded by God, so God gave the land the sabbatical break, so for the next 70 years all of Israel would be captive to Babylon and no one would be left to work the land as outlined in 2 Chronicles 36:21. God was going to teach Israel a lesson it would never (hopefully) forget. 

In 606 BC Nebuchadnezzar I invaded Judah and pillaged Jerusalem taking numerous high ranking people back to Babylon. Daniel was born into the royal family, handsome and smart, so at the age of 16 he was dragged back to Babylon to learn Babylonian literature and language along with his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

The reason why they were taken was to act as interpreters and liaisons to the Jewish people in Nebuchadnezzar's court. This was a position of some merit so the holders of that position were rewarded with special favors, one of which was to be given the same food as the royal court received to eat. Here was Daniel's first point of contention and here's where Daniel showed his love and trust in God.

But that's for next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment