The Book of Daniel (Matt Corbitt)
Ezekiel made reference to Daniel three different times in his own book, praising Daniel for his righteousness and wisdom (Bullock 1986, 279). The book of Daniel provides excellent insight into the interworking of the Babylonian empire and ancient Chaldean culture (Walvoord 1971, 31). From its onset, the book of Daniel compels its readers to believe that God is both concerned and present to aid those who serve Him.
Education: Then and Today
Daniel was a well versed, highly educated writer. He was trained from childhood in the ways of royal courts (Walvoord 1971, 34). As a result, Daniel knew both Greek and aristocratic Aramaic and incorporated these languages and dialects into his work. In 2 Timothy 2:15, the Bible encourages believers to study and learn, specifically in the scriptures. Daniel clearly understood this concept and studied not only the scripture, but also a broad range of subjects, and thereby accrued knowledge and wisdom above and beyond his contemporaries. Apostolic believers and especially leaders are mandated not only to know the scriptures, but also to be 'worldly wise'. The way Daniel balanced divine and carnal knowledge should be a standard whereby the oneness Pentecostal movement judges itself today.
Furthermore, as Moses in Egypt, Daniel learned the wisdom of the Chaldeans without accepting the false wisdom intertwined in the culture (Walvoord 1971, 41). Daniel had the ability to tell the difference and sift between the good and the bad presented to him by his new surroundings. Daniels unique education both qualified and allowed him to fill a position that no one else in his generation could. Two things show the omnipotence and omniscience of God: first, God began to shape Daniel’s education and life at a young age. Second, God gave Daniel the wisdom to be able to discern truth from foolishness when being educated by the Chaldeans. Daniel’s wisdom was known throughout the Babylonian empire and was especially recognized in the Palestinian Community (Bullock 1986, 280).
The food that was served to Daniel in the first chapter could, at the very least, be considered "rich food". The provisions given to those destined to attend the king were lavish and considered "delicacies"(Walvoord 1971, 35). Daniel and his three friends were the only Hebrews to abstain from the king's meat. All of the brethren that journeyed with them from Palestine succumbed to the enticements and pleasures of Babylon without protest.
The temptation to give in to the culture is often overwhelming. Isolation or being removed from the culture that nourishes one’s beliefs amplifies these temptations. It is far easier to abstain from meat given to idols when there is no idolatry; it is quite another to abstain when the savory scent is before you. This is why it is integral for a strong church culture to provide shelter for the weak among believers. Of all their brethren, four men were able to resist the king's meat.
Names and Titles
Names and titles are of little consequence in the measurement of character. This was demonstrated by the name changing that occurred while the Hebrew children were in Babylon. New, pagan names were thrust upon them- yet, although their names were changed, they stayed truth to the Hebrew faith (Walvoord 1971, 37). People are often greatly affected by names and titles, thinking these things carry far more weight then they actually do.
A title is hollow if the man who holds it is hollow. A name is hollow if the name does not match what is on the inside. The internal force of the Hebrew children was great enough to counterbalance whatever was thrown at them from the outside. This integral superiority is an ideal that every apostolic should strive for. Integral superiority is not a false pride, but a full assurance of one’s identity in relation to God. It is a revelation of self. With this concept clearly understood, the pressure from the outside hasn't the ability to dent the individual. This 'presence of mind' is exactly what Jesus gathered in the wilderness and demonstrated boldly in the garden of Gethsemane.
Diet and Nutrition
Modern science is just now catching up with the teachings of Daniel: and not without a great struggle. Since the 1950's American dietitians have prescribed a low fat/ high carbohydrate diet for weight loss. This prescription for weight loss runs contrary to the Bible. Daniel and the Hebrew boys ate a high carbohydrate diet and gained weight and had a fuller color than their competition. The 'pulse' they ate was not simply beans and peas, but it was all manner of the fruit of the ground. These foods were typically not offered to idols and therefore would have complied with the Hebraic dietary laws (Walvoord 1971, 40).
The prophetic meanings of Daniel 1 are perhaps the most subdued of the first six chapters. Yet, this chapter is the harbinger and foundation for the rest. Chapter 1 shows that God is intimately involved with those that serve Him, looking out for their best while positioning them to accomplish His will (AST 2015, Week 2, 41). Without this understanding, the rest of the book could be readily dismissed. In a sense, Daniel was using chapter 1 to persuade and instruct the reader that God is deeply concerned with the affairs of man.
It is by this foundation that Daniel connects Israel's history with that of both tragic failure and incredible restoration. The prophecies that come after chapter 1 find their strength in its narrative. The first chapter of Daniel could be described as the apologetic work of the book.
Daniel was a man wise beyond his years and peers, possessing not only wisdom but knowledge. In addition, Daniel possessed an excellent spirit and exhibited exceptional personal character. Blessed and inspired by God, he wrote a book that continues to hold rich meaning and depth thousands of years later. By careful examination and reflection it is possible to glean great knowledge and wisdom from the design of his writings to the insights of his prose. Following in the footsteps of Daniel is a high goal and one that apostolic believers should continually strive to achieve today. Daniel’s character brought a response from God- a response of personal concern. From the time of Daniel until today, God is still concerned and present to aid those who serve Him as Daniel did: in the world, but not of the world.
AST. Selected Reading. Sacramento: AST, 2015.
Bullock, C. Hassell.1986. An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. Chicago: Moody Bible Institute.
Walvoord, John F. 1971. Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation. Chicago: Moody Bible Institute.