Wednesday, May 14, 2014

21. Daniel 1:3-4 Young Exiles

Time:  605 BC
Place:  Babylon
People:  Daniel and his 3 friends; King Nebuchadnezzar; Ashphenaz

Daniel 1:3-4

Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

This first group taken to Babylon were those in the kingly line descended from David. It is possible that Daniel had royal blood in him.  This was prophesied a hundred years ago by Isaiah to Hezekiah in Isaiah 39:1-8.

1.  The requirements for this 1st group of exiles:
  • youths
  • no blemish, ie. no physical defects
  • well favored
  • good looking
  • skilfull in all wisdom and knowledge, ie. the top of their class
  • competent to stand in the king's court

King Nebuchadnezzar was selective and chose the cream of the crop from Jerusalem to go for 3 years of training in the hope that they can serve him in his kingly court in Babylon.  These were children of captivity.  The anguish and grief of the youth separated from their homeland must have been indescribable.  They were not going for a 3 year holiday. It could be a permanent separation from their family and homeland forever. 

2.  Learn a new language - they were to learn the language of the Chaldeans and their literature.

"Chaldeans" is a term used interchangeably with "Babylonians".   As the Babylonian Empire grew, the Chaldean science and astrology dominated the Babylonian Empire. The Chaldeans had a powerful language in that day. They comprised of two dialects of Sumerian and Kassite which is similar to the Hittite language.

This was not easy at all for these young people. They had to begin all over again in a new school of Chaldean learning in this new environment.

As we study the Daniel Chapter 1, bear in mind that these young people did not have parents or pastors around to guide them in their growing up teen age years now.  They could be the most rebellious and unhappy teens to complain about their situation in a pagan world.  While they were well protected at home in Jerusalem with spiritual nurturing and guidance from spiritual elders, they are now put in an environment that is spiritually hostile to the Most High God, Yahweh.

Do you remember what it was like in your teens?
Or perhaps you are in your teens now, tell us what it is like growing up in this world?

When I grew up in my teens, I asked myself these searching questions:
  • Who am I?
  • What am I doing here?
  • Who is God?
  • What does God want me to do?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Why is life so tough as a teens?
  • How do I make friends?
  • Why do I want to be popular?
  • How do I make the most of my life for God?
  • What is God's will in my life and how do I participate?
The answers to these questions did not come right away. I went through long years of searching and questioning to finally experiencing God, letting go of my will and let God's will be done in my life.

There was a small book that had made a profound impact on me as a growing up teenager.  The book is called  "Bloom where you are planted." 

Often times, our ideals and thoughts carry us to faraway places and lands thinking that we are "better off" with "better education", "better opportunities", "better family background", "better friends", "better this" and "better that" etc.  It is all 'romantic' thinking.

I have long discovered that the 'better place" to be is to be content to 'bloom where God plants us' wherever and whenever. This is where God's will is manifested.

Daniel and his friends are embarking on this spiritual journey of 'blooming where God plants them' in Babylon.  Is Babylon a "better place" to grown up?  Is it going to be an easy road?  

We shall see that the road to eternal life is truly 'narrow' and 'hard'.  And Daniel proved faithful all the way through to the end when he was thrown into the 'lion's den' for his uncompromising faith to Yahweh God at an old age in his 80's.   

How urgent it is for us to study Daniel and follow his steps to love God with all our hearts to the end of our days.  "Bloom where you are planted by God."


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