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with Rick Henson
Daniel 1:3-5, 8-10, 12-15, 17-19
Good news, bad news! Actually it’s all bad news. The Babylonians defeated the nation of Judah and chose their best and brightest young adults to be taken to Babylon as slaves. This occurred in 609 BC when Nebuchadnezzar defeated King Jehoikim of Judah. Imagine being one of those considered bright enough and smart enough to become slaves in a foreign country and culture. Would you feel complimented or defeated? If you were left behind, would you be glad to be rejected or would you be ashamed? Would it be good news if you were taken or left behind? Neither.
You’ve heard of some of those who were taken captive. Daniel 1:6 reads, “Now among these were... Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,” (KJV). The name Daniel meant “God is my judge.” The Babylonians, however, changed his name to Belteshazzar which meant “Bel’s Prince.” Bel was a Babylonian god. Hananiah meant “Beloved of The Lord,” though he was renamed Shadrach, which meant, “illumined by the Sun- god.” Mishael meant “Who is like God,” though he was renamed Meshach,” which was the name of a goddess like Venus. Finally, Azariah meant “The Lord is my help.” His name was changed to Abednego, which meant “The servant of Nego,” another false god.
I challenge you to learn the three Hebrew names in honor of their meanings, or Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, though they are better known by their Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. “Beloved of the Lord,” “The Lord is my help,” and “Who is like God?” is far better than the Babylonian meaning.
Though these four Hebrew boys had no choice about serving the Babylonians, they had a choice about keeping their character even though their names were changed to reflect the Babylonian religion. Immediately they took a stand for what they believed and what they had been taught. Daniel 1:8 reads, “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,” (KJV).
God had caused Daniel to find favor in the eyes of the one administrating the Kings wishes, so Daniel proposed a test to him. For ten days Daniel and the other three Hebrews would obey the Hebrew dietary guidelines, and they would then be compared with the rest eating the Kings diet. The outcome was amazing. Daniel 1:14-15 reveals, “So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. 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,” (KJV).
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah prospered in their new positions. God gave them favor with everyone in leadership positions and even eventually with King Nebuchadnezzar himself. The Babylonians changed their names but could not change their character.
You may work, go to school, or live around people who do not know or serve your Lord. You may not have a choice about your surroundings, coworker, or family members, but you always have a choice about who you are and how you will serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself prayed for you concerning this in John 17:14-15, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil,” (KJV). He did not ask the Lord to take you out of your situation but instead to use you there.
We can learn from these Hebrew boys who were taken from their homes and made slaves. They were previously slaves to the Lord and continued to serve Him in their new situation. Romans 12:2 teaches, “And be not conformed to this world,” (KJV). This word conformed comes from the Greek word from which our word schematic is derived. In other words, don’t let the world’s plan guide your life. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah followed God’s pattern in a much worse situation and The Lord blessed them. Be faithful to God and see what He can do through you.
Henson is pastor of Oakdale Church, Brandon.