Friday, March 22, 2013

DANIEL

CODY F MILLER

My brother and I have been studying the book of Daniel and it is a fascinating book; earlier this year I listened to a many part study on Daniel led by Dr Charles Swindall or Rev Chuck to his friends and fans. I was intrigued, and misery loves company, so I invited my brother to study with me. I found some really simple study guides on Amazon.com and we started to read. I believe that in doing this study, the Lord is preparing our heart’s to receive further light and knowledge.
At this point we are still in Chapter 1, and we have been pondering over just “who” Daniel was. He seems to be a type of person I have previously studied in the scriptures who seem to just “appear” in a record. The unique thing about Daniel is that he appears to be an orphan in that there is no traditional genealogy concerning him except an oblique prophecy in 2 Kings. 

Daniels life was prophesied by Isaiah to King Hezekiah, a distant relative. This prophecy was not like a patriarchal blessing; at first glance it would seem like a curse. When the scrolls of Isaiah were read in the synagogue, can you imagine a young Daniel hearing these words and applying them to himself?  What would you do? Could you run from this fate?
2 KINGS 20:16-18
16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: 
17 Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord.
18 And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

(Just a note, the definition of eunuchs in this verse points to “presiding official” and not a castrated male. And for the sake of argument, of which there are many, the scripture will point out physical requirements required for this position)

Daniel is a descendant of King Hezekiah, who was of the House of Judah; a descendant of David, he was probably a prince.What type of person was Hezekiah?
2 Kings 18:1-3
1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, King of Judah, began to reign.
2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi, the daughter of Zechariah.
3 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. 
Daniel was taken prisoner during the reign of King Jehoiakim 
Daniel 1:1-2
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. 
2 Kings 25:8-9
8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.
9 He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. 
(Note there are two records of the same event, one from the Hebrew perspective and the other from the Chaldean view)

So who was Daniel? From these few scripture, we know that Daniel was a royal member of the house of Judah; he probably descended from a priestly order; maybe the Levites. One of his kinsmen was the Levite Priest Zechariah. This fact alone may be a clue as to why Daniel was loyal to Heavenly Father when so many of the people of Israel and Judah had apostatized. He may have spent his days working in the Temple; he may have been a scribe. He was well educated in all things, before he was enslaved. He probably had “goodly parents”.    
Now among these, there were four of the family of Zedekiah, of most excellent dispositions, one of whom was called Daniel; another was called Ananias, and another Misael and the fourth Azarias  Josephus Antiquities 10.10.1 
MY STORY: 
My husband and I recently renewed our Temple Recommends. I know there are a variety of reactions to this event, ranging from finding out at the last minute you have arrived at the Temple for the next to last session (with a hand full of family names no less) and you are kindly denied entrance because it has expired. Or if you are like me, I like to get the process on a month before expiration, because I know that no good deed goes unpunished. (I will spare you of the various opportunities for phone tag and email tag with the various “Secretaries” of Bishops and Stake presidents) There is an opposition to all things.

This is our second renewal and therein lays a wealth of meaning. When my husband and I were scheduled to receive our own endowments and sealing, we in our ignorance of the breadth of the occasion (we are converts God bless us) almost didn't make it to the Temple on time. We were so overwhelmed by what was before us, we almost cancelled.

So two questions always stand out to me during the recommend interview; the first concerns our adherence to the “Word of Wisdom” and the other question concerns any given support to any group whose doctrine is counter or against the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints. (In so many words) I always answer no, but I have wondered about this “counter doctrine”.  I have only recently considered the “language” of these questions. As usual I always take the opportunity to ask “Why?” What is the origin for our adherence and obedience to the Vow of Chastity; to the word of Wisdom? Why is paying our tithes important. Why? Does it matter if I treat others the way I would ideally like to be treated? Why? (These questions and others were patiently answered by my Bishop).

Deuteronomy 12:26; 28
26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and to unto the place which the Lord shall choose;
28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee and with thy children after thee forever, and when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Daniel 1:5
5 And the king (Nebuchadnezzar) appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.
After Daniel and his companions had been assimilated into the courts of King Nebuchadnezzar, there was an indoctrinating process: The King gave them new names; the names that Daniel and his companions were given represented the “false gods” of the Chaldean's. The second act was to change their diet. What’s so bad about a diet change? There are many arguments, one is that Daniel and his companions wanted to adhere to the dietary laws of the Jews, maybe there were many food items that were not ritually clean, such as pork, etc. 
Deuteronomy 18:9 When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God gives thee, thou shall not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
BUT: (except, with the exclusion of)
Daniel 1:8  But Daniel (who) purposed in his heart that he (absolutely) would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Why the fuss over food and drink? I did some research, and it should seem obvious. King Nebuchadnezzar was a very bad man, a heathen and so forth. The Chaldean's worshiped many gods, but not the TRUE GOD.

Idol worship involves a lot of smoke and mirrors, and wine, food and song. Nebuchadnezzar was considered a consort of the gods, meaning he was the official living representative of all of the gold statutes. In turn he would appoint members of his court as attendants, giving a “face” as it were to all the lesser gods and their activities. So the King and his attendants would represent these false gods in their false temple worship which included food offerings, drink offering, and types of human sacrifices whether real or ritual; it was sex, drugs and rock and roll. But, it was not so much the food and drink but the “false doctrine or indoctrination” that accompanied it.

Daniel 1:6-7
6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah
7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave them names; he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
How could Daniel “defile” himself with food and drink? Now turn this question to us, in our adherence to the counsel given in Doctrine and Covenants 89, commonly known as “Word of Wisdom”. Does food from "idols" find it's way in our diets?
Acts 15:20 But that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality
2 Corinthians 6:15-17
15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever
16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them, and walk among them, I will be their God and they shall be my people
17 Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you.
How did Daniel know this? Daniel obviously did what was right in the sight of the Lord. Let’s break down the first part of Daniel 1:8
The first word is “But” and the best definition to fit this word renders “except, with exclusion”. But Daniel purposed”, the word purpose refers to taking a stand or making a commitment or covenant. So Daniel set himself apart from the activities that were directed at him, he and his friends decided to control the degree of action that was being leveled against them.

Daniel 1:8 But (set apart) Daniel (remembered his covenants made to God) purposed (maintained his stand to remember those covenants and obey God’s commands) in his heart that he would not defile (disobey, apostatize, transgress) his mind and body and spirit with the Kings false doctrines.

Daniel was a brave man, he obviously trusted in the Lord with his life and the life of his friends. He had to weigh the consequences of his actions. He talked to his companions and reminded them of their covenants and told them of his plan. In doing this he was laying down his life for his belief in God and the lives of his friend. No greater love is this that a man lay down his life for his friends. If the Eunuchs heart had been hardened against him and his friends, it would have been instant death.
Mosiah:18:9 (in part)…and to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.
When my husband and I were investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we were taught by Missionary’s the information of all of the covenants we would be required to make, especially me since I was the one preparing for baptism. I remember the discussion concerning abstaining from drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking tobacco and any other alternative substance and lastly abstaining from drinking coffee and tea. I could not comprehend why drinking coffee or tea was such a big deal, and my husband and I rationalized that “surely there was a loophole". It’s that old snake in the garden again saying to us: It's not a "real commandment" so you can choose which points to obey".  So we did our best and went cold turkey and we sure missed our Starbucks. My husband is a truck driver, so it was really hard for him. We stumbled a lot. But after some health issues we decided to take a hard look at how we obeyed our covenants. We realized that we were not trusting in our Heavenly Father to the extent that we did not know the underlying commandments that backed up these covenants . We prayed together, and we started to review in depth the covenants we have made, it is an ongoing process. But blessings do happen, my husband has stopped drinking coffee and he is able to stay awake and alert while driving at night and another benefit is that he is able to sleep better, lose a few pounds, his heart beats in its natural rhythm.
Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-20
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their naval and marrow in their bones.
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I the Lord give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen
So what can we learn from Daniel? The first point is humility. I look a Daniels example; he doesn't seem like a person who was a "super hero". He was probably a nervous wreck in that situation as anyone would be, but he seemed to calm himself and assure himself with the knowledge that he was not alone. "God was with him", as He wants to be with us at all times. I am always amazed at the communication that existed with these prophets of old and Heavenly Father, there was a constant closeness for want of better words.

A neighbor invited me and my husband to dinner once and as she was pondering over what to offer us to drink; soda, milk, water? She offered us some sparkling wine, we politely declined and asked for water. I think this agitated her, because she asked us how we could live such a dull life; no smoking or drinking or "having fun". Wow, we must have touched a nerve, so we did our best to explain why we choose to live this life. Needless to say, she didn't want to hear it, and she stated that she couldn't belong to a religion that "controlled what she ate or drank". Can you find the "false doctrine" in that statement? Does Heavenly Father want to "control" what we do in our lives or does he allow us to make informed choices, fully aware of the consequences of either. He offers us this, even as he offered it to Adam & Eve.
Moses 3:16-17
16 And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat.
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it, nevertheless, thou may choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eat there of thou shalt surely die.
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