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RDean Daniel Lesson 2
The Fifth Cycle of Discipline – Daniel 1:1-3
We continue our study of the book of Daniel. Last time we looked at Daniel as one of the three key believers in the Old Testament who demonstrated by his life how to handle the extreme adversity and calamity that came his way. We saw he was linked in the passage in Ezekiel with Job and Noah, two Gentile believers from the Old Testament, two men who had overcome or lived through incredible personal catastrophes, but despite the opposition they received to their own spiritual life and stand for the Word of God, they stood fast and applied it consistently. Now as we look at Daniel in terms of just an outline and structure of the book, there are three basic sections. I'm going to expand on this outline as we go through but just to start with, just so you have a basic understanding of this scope, it really breaks down according to the language, the original language in which it was written. Unlike nearly every other Old Testament book, Daniel is not written all in Hebrew. A large section of Daniel is written in Aramaic.
The first section of Daniel covers the first chapter, Daniel's personal history and it gives us the entry of Daniel into Gentile politics. Daniel's entry into Gentile politics, 1:1-21. The second division is the history of the Gentiles, the history of the Gentile nations, and there we are told about Daniel in Gentile politics. Daniel in Gentile politics, 2:1-7:28. The third division, Daniel 1:8-21, explains the future of Israel and Israel's relationship to Gentile politics. The first chapter is written in Hebrew; Daniel 2-7:28 is written in Aramaic, and then the last section, Daniel 8-12, is written in Hebrew. This makes sense because it is that center section, from 2:1 to 7:28 deals with Gentile nations so it's written in the language that was the lingua franca of the day for both the Babylonian and subsequent Persian Empires written in Aramaic.
2 Chronicles 36:15 gives us the divine commentary on the fall of Israel in the 6th century BC. There we read, "And the LORD," that is Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, "the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers," these would be the prophets, the Old Testament prophets, specifically in this context it would be relating the message of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and many of the Minor Prophets, the pre-exilic Minor Prophets who constantly warn Israel that if they did not stop their disobedience to God and their idolatry that God would bring the judgments of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 on the nation. "And the LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers," this is the continuous extension of the grace of God; grace always precedes judgment. God is not a harsh God of judgment, He is a God of love, He's a God of grace. Again and again He gave them opportunities to turn back to Him and that's what the text goes on to say, "because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place." The word for compassion there is the Hebrew word chesed, which refers to His faithful loyal love. He continuously dealt with them in grace, giving them opportunity again and again to turn back.
But instead, 2 Chronicles 36:15, "but they continuously mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy." They were rebellious until they reached that point of no return, when God knew that in order to excise this cancer of disobedience and idolatry from the nation harsh steps were taken.
Extension by analogy, by application, this relates to the whole process of sanctification in the believer's life. God is continuously working in our lives to remove certain sins, to mature us and if we don't get the lesson then God lowers the boom in divine discipline. So we see in the process of sanctification in the nation the crisis had reached such a point that it could no longer proceed unless God took some drastic, drastic measures. One lesson that we learn in Daniel is that God uses prepared believers and that God's grace is sufficient to protect the believer no matter how horrible the circumstances might be, no matter how extreme the pressure might be to give up your faith in God and to abdicate your faith and your trust in the Lord.
Before we can understand everything that's going on in Daniel we have to have an understanding of the background. Let's look at the overall structure of the Old Testament. You have the first five books of the Old Testament, the Law or Torah, meaning instruction. That was given in 1440 BC at Sinai. Then there's the historical books that were given and that begins with the period of Joshua, Judges, and the united monarchy, and then in 931 BC the northern kingdom executed a revolt against Solomon's son, Rehoboam, in the south. So that divided the nation into two nations; Israel in the north which went out under divine discipline when the Assyrians destroyed them in 722 BC and then the southern kingdom of Judah lasted until 586 BC when, in the third invasion of the land by Nebuchadnezzar, the walls were breached, the temple was destroyed, and large numbers of people were deported into Babylon. And that ended the pre-exilic nation of Judah. The prophets of that time that preceded the exile and warned of it were Isaiah, Jeremiah who lived into the exile and ended up being taken to Egypt; Ezekiel, who went into Babylon, and Daniel who was deported as a young man of about 14 or 15 was taken into Babylon.
We have to review why God did this. This goes back to the cycles of discipline that God warned the nation that they would go through, different levels of discipline that God would take the nation through if they were disobedient to the Mosaic Law. We define the cycles of discipline as five incremental divine judgments which God warned would come upon Israel if they disobeyed the Mosaic Covenant and rejected Him. Each successive stage of their spiritual rebellion, they apostasy, would result in an increased and intensified level of divine discipline on the nation.
These cycles of discipline are in a technical sense for Israel only. I want to make that point; it's for Israel only. Remember this is part of Leviticus 26 which is part of the Mosaic Law, it's in Deuteronomy 28 which is the restatement of the Mosaic Law; Deuteronomy itself means "second law," deuteros—second, nomos—law, it is the second law. It is for Israel, it is not for the Gentile nations. There are patterns or similarities to these five judgments that you can point out or see in Gentile nations through history, but technically speaking the five cycles of discipline are only for Israel as a covenant nation. Only Israel was answerable to the Mosaic Covenant, no other nation in history is, therefore the cycles of discipline do not apply to other nations. They may relate in some broad sense, you can see certain historical trends but they do not relate specifically because the Mosaic Law was only for Israel.
The first cycle of discipline included loss of health, a decline in agricultural prosperity which is serious when you are an agricultural nation dependent upon agricultural fertility for prosperity. It would include terror, a fear, fear would encompass the nation; death in combat, they would lose battles, there would be subsequent loss of personal freedoms due to negative volition to doctrine which would see an increase of tyranny in the land.
The second cycle of discipline intensified that, you would go from an economic downturn to recession and depression; there would be an increase of personal and individual divine discipline for continued negative volition, despite the first warning. This is found in Leviticus 26:18-20.
The third cycle of discipline included violence and a breakdown of law and order. Anarchy would begin to rule, people would lose authority orientation and there would be a breakdown of law an order, a rise in criminality, and then there would be the disintegration of cities, what we would see today in terms of urban blight. Leviticus 26:21-22.
The fourth cycle of discipline would see a military conquest of the nation and/or foreign occupation. There would be a scarcity of food and in Leviticus it suggests that the food supply would be reduced to one-tenth of its normal supply and there would be a separation of families. This is exactly what took place in 605 BC, that's when the fourth cycle began in Israel in the time of Daniel. In 605, when Nebuchadnezzar first came, the southern kingdom came under military occupation, they became a vassal state to Babylon, the food supply began to be reduced, especially as the cycle intensified into the period of 590 to the early 580s and there was a separation of families. When hostages were taken, Daniel and the others were taken to Babylon, families were separated. This is Leviticus 26:23-26.
The culmination of the cycles is the fifth cycle of discipline when there would be a violent destruction of the nation through military conquest because of their national rejection of Biblical principles. You can see parallels to this among Gentile nations but specifically these applied only to the nation Israel. So that is the background of what's taking place in Daniel; the nation is going into the fourth cycle of discipline, there is no turning back to God, no Biblical repentance, which means to change your mind, change your behavior from disobedience and rejection of doctrine to obedience to doctrine. The fifth cycle came in 586 BC when the armies of Babylon destroyed Israel.
To continue with the background we have to understand what's happening with the monarchy at the end of this period. These names may be unfamiliar to you; for the most part it's hard to remember how they go together and to remember all these details so we'll go over it again and again. If we don't understand the historical context of Daniel then we don't always understand what is going on in the book.
Josiah was the last good king in the southern kingdom. His reign was from 640-609 BC. He was killed at the battle of Megiddo when he tried to intercept the armies of Pharaoh Neco, Pharaoh Neco II coming up from Egypt was trying to reach a battle area up on the Euphrates at Carchemish. It sat astride a major trade route and there the Assyrians were going to do battle with the Babylonians. Up to this point the Egyptians had had a good relationship with Assyria, they had been in close alliance with them and they wanted to, through their alliance, do away with this rising power of Babylon to protect them. Well, Josiah was aligned with Babylon because Judah needed protection from this military threat of Egypt on their southern flank, and so Josiah went out to try to do a blocking maneuver to keep Pharaoh Neco from joining up with the Assyrians at Carchemish. God, through the prophets, warned him not to do that but he did it anyway and he was killed in 609 BC at the battle of Megiddo. When he died he was succeeded by his third son, Jehoahaz.
Jehoahaz only reigned for three months in 609 BC. He's also known as Shallum, in 1 Chronicles 3:15. The youngest of the sons was Zedekiah, who really becomes the last king of Israel, but Jehoahaz is placed on the throne for only three months and then he is removed; he is a puppet of Pharaoh Neco and Neco didn't like his policies because he wanted to revolt so Pharaoh Neco took him off the throne and took him as a hostage down to Egypt.
He was succeeded by Jehoiakim; always remember these two, you have Jehoiakim and he's succeeded by Jehoiachin, his son. Notice the "m" always precedes the "n" in the English alphabet so that's how you can keep them straight; Jehoiakim comes before Jehoiachin. Jehoiakim reigns for approximately for eleven years, it gets into his twelfth year; Jehoiakim is an evil king, he continues the decline into idolatry and he doesn't do anything spiritually for the nation. He is placed on the throne by Pharaoh Neco and he is given the name Jehoiakim, instead of his birth name, Eliakim, by Pharaoh Neco. That's always a process of trying to control somebody, is to give them a name. So Jehoiakim is placed on the throne by Pharaoh Neco but after the battle of Carchemish in 609, when Nebuchadnezzar comes down and defeats the Egyptians finally in 605 Jehoiakim shifts his loyalty. This is like modern politics, he's aligned to Egypt to begin with because he's put on the throne by Neco, but then he revolts against Neco and he aligns himself with Nebuchadnezzar; he's playing power politics, he wants to be aligned with whomever is going to benefit him the most.
Finally, in 597, because he is making noises of revolt against Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar has to bring his army back into Judah; Jehoiakim mysteriously dies, there are different reports, whether he dies or whether he's taken back into Babylon, he basically disappears from history at that point. Jehoiachin assumes the throne during the siege, he's 18 years of age and he only last three months. So it's easy to remember, you have Jehoahaz for three months; Jehoiakim for eleven years, Jehoiachin for three months, and then Zedekiah for eleven years. And Zedekiah is Jehoiachin's uncle, he is the brother, the youngest brother of Jehoiakim and he is the last king in the southern kingdom. So that gives us the panorama of the kings of Judah and gives us the background of Israel's decline into apostasy during their fading years.
At this same time, what happens outside of Israel…we have to understand the Judean background, the Jewish background and then we have to understand the Chaldean or Babylonian background. This chart gives you a fairly decent time frame. In 625 BC, during the reign of Josiah in Judah, the Assyrian Empire has been in decline, but one of their generals, we don't know much about him, his name is Nabopolassar, ethnically he was a Chaldean, not a Babylonian but a Chaldean, there's a difference. Ethnically he was a Chaldean, he served in the Assyrian army and apparently he rose from the ranks to become a general. In one of his writings, his autobiography, he called himself a son of nobody. So he wasn't part of the aristocracy, he had no background, no formal education; he hadn't gone through any of their military schools. He apparently just rose from the ranks and he led a revolt. He perceived the weakness in the Assyrians so he got his troops that were native Chaldeans and he led a revolt against Assyria and established Babylon as his capital.
This is the rise of what is called the Neo-Babylonian Empire or the Chaldean Empire. The best term is really the Chaldean Empire; their capital was Babylon but the leaders were not Babylonians. The Babylonians were a different ethnic race. So he aligns himself with Cyaxares the Mede and they begin to eat away at the power of the Assyrians until finally by 612 they destroy the Assyrian power block by destroying Nineveh. This was put off, if you remember, by Jonah's warning to Nineveh, they repented and the destruction of Nineveh was put off for 200 years, and finally Nineveh is destroyed in 612 and the Assyrian Empire is just teetering, they're barely standing. Then in 609 the Assyrians are defeated by Nabopolassar at the first battle of Carchemish.
Here's a map showing where these places are situated on a map. Egypt is on the lower left, Judah is along the coast of the Mediterranean, Jerusalem is here, and over here you have Babylon, the capital of the Chaldean Empire or the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Nineveh lies up on the Tigris River to the north of Babylon; this is in what is still modern Iraq. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Over here on the Euphrates River is Carchemish. Carchemish was on the trade routes. The Babylonians needed to control the trade routes because like any great empire, they were into deficit spending, sounds kind of like a modern touch, they're into deficit spending and they needed to control trade so they wouldn't have a trade deficit and they had to conquer the Assyrians. So they conquered the Assyrians, ceased the trade routes, and then in 609 BC they defeated the Assyrians here, and then there's a second battle in 605 when once again they defeat the Egyptians under Pharaoh Neco; that breaks the back of Egypt's power base at this time and it is at that battle that is headed by Nebuchadnezzar; Nebuchadnezzar heads south in hot pursuit of the Egyptians, they're in retreat, and as he comes down through Judah he comes near Jerusalem, his spies see the city, bring back a good report, he sends part of his troops on to make sure the Egyptian army makes it back to Egypt and then he heads to Jerusalem where he assaults the city.
It is at that time, in 605 BC, that he takes the first group of captives. One thing to remember, there are three deportations; the first is in 605 when Daniel and Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, were taken out; you know them better as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, when they are taken out and taken in that first captivity to Babylon. The second deportation takes place in 597 BC and that takes place when Nebuchadnezzar comes back a second time because of the rebelliousness of Jehoiakim, and at that time he takes Jehoiachin off the throne, puts Zedekiah on the throne and he takes another group of hostages back to Babylon and that includes Ezekiel. That's in 597 and it's about four years before Ezekiel begins his prophetic ministry. Then the third deportation took place in 586 when the nation went out under divine discipline.
That gives us a background; the Judean background, when you have a decline in the spirituality, the rebelliousness of the nation, the refusal to obey the Mosaic Law and they have gone completely into idolatry and then in the international scene you have the decline of Assyria, the defeat of Egypt, both nations are wiped out as military power bases in both battles of Carchemish, and then Babylon is on the ascendancy under Nabopolassar. Now what happened in 605 with that second battle of Carchemish, when Nebuchadnezzar was outside the walls of Jerusalem, he received word that his father, Nabopolassar had died. Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son but he had two or three younger brothers who wanted to seize the throne so he immediately had to break off the siege of Jerusalem and head back to Babylon to secure the throne.
Now that brings us up to Daniel 1:1, now we can understand what is going on in the text. We read: "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it." In the third year; now this contradicts the fact that over in Jeremiah he calls it the fourth year but that's because they used different calendar systems. Daniel is writing using the Judean calendar system, so that the year begins in September and ends in September. When Jeremiah wrote he is writing and using the Babylonian calendar system which began in March and ended in March. When Nebuchadnezzar invaded the land it's in early summer, it's June and July, so it's already shifted according to the Babylonian calendar, it's past march so you're into the fourth year. But according to the Judean calendar you haven't gotten to September yet so you're not into the fourth year yet; it won't shift on the Judean calendar until September. So there's not a contradiction between these two books; one is using one calendar system, the other is using another calendar system. "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it."
Daniel 1:2, "And the Lord gave" notice, despite the fact that there is international chaos, despite the rise of the nation, despite the power of the Chaldean army, it is not Nebuchadnezzar's brilliance, it is not his military might, it is not his military skill that defeats Judah. Sennacherib had the same military skills, the same military might when he invaded the land, in fact he destroyed the northern kingdom, but when he stood outside the gates, when his army of 185,000 was outside the gates of Jerusalem, when Hezekiah was king, and Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, it was during that night the angel of the Lord came down and killed everybody except Sennacherib and a few of his advisors in that army. They were wiped out by the Lord. So the issue isn't natural ability, the issue is relationship to the Lord, and at that earlier stage God defeated the armies of the Assyrians and protected Jerusalem.
So God is in control, He is presented here at the very beginning of Daniel as the sovereign God who controls history. Jesus Christ controls history and nothing takes place in history outside of His control. Now Daniel understands this, that's why Daniel is going to be calm in the crisis and why Daniel is going to relax and trust God in the crisis, is because he understands the prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah, he knows what God's plan is. In fact, there's a specific prophecy that focuses on Daniel himself, and because Daniel knows those prophecies and those promises he relaxes, uses the faith rest drill, trusts the Lord, mixes faith with those promises and is relaxed in the crisis.
So we see in Daniel 1:2 "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim," it is God who is in control, it may look chaotic to man but God is controlling the events. "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god." I want you to notice a couple of things here. When Daniel writes he first calls neb in verse 1 the "king of Babylon," that is not what it says in the Hebrew. In the Hebrew it uses the word "Babel," the "king of Babel" is mentioned in verse 1 and in verse 2 it says that these vessels from the temple were taken "to the land of Shinar." This terminology is important: Babel is used in Genesis 10:10 and in Genesis 11:9 and Shinar is also used in Genesis 10:10 and Genesis 11:2 and if we are going to understand the broader theological significance of this we must go back and look at Genesis 10 and understand the significance of Babel, because it is Babel and Babylon that become the polar opposite of Jerusalem. Jerusalem represents God's invasion into human history and the kingdom of God; Babel and Babylon represent the kingdom of man, and all that man is doing against God.
In Genesis 10:11 we read, "From that land he went forth," it's talking about Nimrod, "From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah," and then it goes on to list some other cities. Nimrod is the first king over a kingdom that the Bible records, he is the first king of a kingdom recorded in Biblical history. And this kingdom that he reigns over represents the kingdom of man. When it says that he went forth from a land, he went forth from one land into Assyria and there he built Nineveh. But what did he do first? We have to go back to Genesis 11:8-10, "Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was a might one on the earth.  He was a mighty hunter," literally in the Hebrew it's against the Lord, he set himself up against the Lord, "He was a mighty hunter against the LORD, therefore it is said, Like Nimrod a mighty hunter…" it became proverbial because of his antagonism to God. He is leading man in a revolt against God,  "And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
So it is in Babel that he begins his kingdom. This is the first kingdom mentioned in Biblical history and the kingdom of Nimrod, the kingdom of Babel, represents the kingdom of man. This is crucial to understand in Daniel, is the antipathy between the kingdom of man versus the kingdom of God. The kingdom of man is everything that man is trying to do in independence of God. The thought form of the kingdom of man is paganism, human viewpoint. Babylon represents the kingdom of man and from this point on, throughout Scripture on into Revelation we will see that Babel represents paganism, it represents human viewpoint thinking, it represents the best, the highest, the greatest of human intellect and culture and it represents the apex of human power against God. Babylon is the most powerful expression of human autonomy in history. It is against everything that God is trying to do in human history and it always represents the opposite of divine viewpoint. The roots of anti-Christianity, biblically speaking, begin at Babylon, with this attempt to form a one-world government.
The details about this kingdom are explained further in Genesis 11:2-4. We're told, "And it came about as they journeyed east," that is as man left the ark and began to expand over the earth, rather than expanding over all the earth as God had commanded, they localized in cities, and we're told that "it came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  And they said to one another, Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly. And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.  And they said, Come, let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we b scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."
Now the tower of Babel was an act of antagonism to God and it was built to act as an insurance policy against any future judgments of God in human history. Josephus reports that Nimrod convinced people, if we can trust the extra-Biblical history from Josephus, he tells us that Nimrod convinced people that if they could erect this big tower (he's on a big building plan like a lot of churches are) that reaches unto heaven, that it will protect them from God's interference in human history and so God will not judge them any more through an event like the world-wide flood. Notice they've rejected God's promise that He wouldn't destroy the human race by a flood again but they are acting in independence.
You see, this is one of the essential characteristics of the kingdom of man, is that the kingdom of man wants to avoid any entanglements with God, so they try to exclude God from everything, take God out of the market place of ideas so that God does not have any involvement with mankind. Man wants to be able to do whatever he wants to do and not have to worry about any kind of divine judgment in human history. Mankind is always looking for some kind of system, some kind of power system that will inoculate him from the intrusion of God in the decisions of every day life, in ethics, politics and the every day affairs of man. Man wants to do whatever they want to do without the threat of divine retribution.
Genesis 11:5 states, "And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.  And the LORD said, Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language," so up to this point every human being spoke the same language, from Adam to the flood and after the flood everybody spoke the same language. So you have a homogenous society; what causes division, and subsequently the result of this is ethnic division, is that God separates out the languages; this is the establishment of the fifth divine institution which is known as national distinctions.
So in Genesis 11:7 God says, "let Us," a veiled reference to the Trinity, "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Now what happens here is one of the most profound events in all of human history. From this point on the human race is fragmented; no two people can get together and communicate and understand one another in precisely the same sense. No two people can get together and conspire against God and understand each other's agenda in precisely the same way. There's always going to be communication problems from this time on. This will prevent Satan from achieving his goal of world unification. This is halted and Satan will not be able to come close to that again until the Tribulation period with the one-world government of the antichrist. That does not come about till that time, and probably through the use of computers, we're seeing international communication through computer languages that avoid the problems of the breakdown of human languages.
Now Satan's goal is a one-world government, whether it's substantiated as a league of nations or the United Nations or whatever it is, that is just another instance of man trying to assert his autonomy, the kingdom of man trying to assert itself against God and that man through his kingdoms can bring security and peace to human history apart from God. So what we see in history is again and again fragmented Babel; it's fragmented because of the introduction of languages, but again and again fragmented Babel tries to rise from the ashes and tries to assert itself and reestablish its authority in human history. So let's look at the doctrine of the kingdom of man and see what its characteristics are.
The doctrine of the kingdom of man, five points on the characteristics of the kingdom of man. The first point: there is a promise from the kingdom of man; men always try to reestablish the kingdom of Babel. Every major political leader, whether you're talking about Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Caesar or you come up into more modern times with Napoleon and Adolph Hitler, every major political leader in human history has tried to reestablish the kingdom of man and to bring the entire world under one governmental system. Why? Because man wants to control his destiny independent from God; he wants to set up a society and all the structures in society, from education, politics, economics, law, he wants to set everything up completely free from divine interference. And what we see in this is the seed of the Biblical critique of human culture, that man tries to continuously establish his social structures, his intellectual, his political existence independent from God and free from the authority of His Word, but God is not going to allow that to happen and it continuously fails.
The second point deals with the formation of the kingdom of man. It's always by conquest. This relates to what we just studied on the doctrine of tyranny; it's always done against the will of the masses, the people are viewed as pawns and the power brokers, the authority structures, the kings, the Pharaohs would usurp power from the people and destroy their freedom, so that everything comes back and feeds their power base. The pattern for this was set by Nimrod; it's not based on volunteerism but it is compelled through force. Nimrod compels the people to build the Ziggurat at Babel. So the formation of the kingdom of man is always characterized by the use of force, deception, lies, power politics, Machiavellian techniques, all of this goes along with and characterizes the human viewpoint kingdom of man. It always results in the enslavement of the individual and the deification of the state because it is the state government (by state I mean a nation) or national government that sees itself as the divine substitute. The nation tries to bring security to the people.
We had a great example of, I don't know how many of you are aware of this, that everybody in the country is upset because there are people who drive around talking on their cell phones and not paying attention to their driving, and there ought to be a law, people shouldn't be focusing on something as distracting as talking on the telephone; I think that it's legitimate for government to pass a law that you should not talk on the telephone while you're driving. But what has happened in out state of Connecticut, they're gone a step further. The state government here wants to control people, give them security, the more pagan a society it becomes, it doesn't understand death any more so the goal is to provide ultimate security and protect people from dying because after all, if there's no heaven and no hell then we have to keep people alive as long as possible. So the government tries to protect people from the horrible threat of death. So I understand we have a new law that not only makes it illegal to talk on a cell phone but they decided let's go one better, you can't eat food in your car, you can't drink in your car, you can't pet your pet in the car, you have to keep both hands on the steering wheel, it's the legislation of responsibility in order to protect people from themselves. So welcome to the People's Republic of Connecticut. All of this relates to the power politics that the kingdom of man seeks to assert because they want to control everything because they've excluded God from the picture.
Third, ethics: in the realm of ethics, ethics are always subjective and relative in the kingdom of man; the state determines what is right and wrong on various principles. It may be on the principle of the majority is always right; if the majority of the people think it's okay to burn the flag then it's okay to burn the flag. If the majority of people think it's okay to cut off your left leg then it's okay to cut off your leg. The majority rules, the majority sets the laws. Or in a tyrannical government the dictatorship, or the king, is the one who determines law; law does not have an independent or absolute existence.
Fourth, the nature of the kingdom of man is to always expand; it seeks to control, it seeks to dominate. The state always wants to expand its power and that is always at the expense of the individual people.
The fifth characteristic of the kingdom of man in reference to leadership: the leadership may be well-trained, it may be brilliant, it may be genius mentality, such as in the case of Alexander the Great of Julius Caesar or Napoleon or many other great captains of history, it may be skillful leadership, it may be wise leadership but they all have one thing in common, the pride that led to Satan's fall, they are all motivated by power lust and arrogance, the idea that man can be the ultimate source of his own security. And this is often rationalized for all kinds of reasons; we'll do it for the good of society, it will make everything better, we will bring about perfect society, we'll bring about a secure future so everyone can retire at 65 and not have to worry about anything any more. These are always the policies of the kingdom of man; it always goes along with some sort of… also government control of the economic sphere, and whenever any one thinks that they can dominate economics that's the height of arrogance and tyranny. To control all of the vast multitude of details that take place in any market environment, to even think that you can do that is the height of arrogance. You have to be omniscient to be able to control all those details. That is why unless there is a full free market economy eventually it's going to fall apart when men begin to try to manipulate it, thinking that somehow they're great enough, their intellect is vast enough be able to control all of the market forces.
Now when Daniel and the others are taken to Babylon, they are faced with an awesome sight. This is a map of the city of Babylon, this is the great wall along here, that Nebuchadnezzar built on the outer wall, and there's a moat here around the city proper itself, and surrounding that is another wall that goes all the way around the city. And notice, there's the old bed of the Euphrates that goes right through the center of town, and it is just to the north of the river where you find the center of Babylon and the palace of Nebuchadnezzar. If you were to go into Babylon and you were to look at it as Daniel and these other captives saw it, you would be overwhelmed with its grandeur. The walls of Babylon were 85 feet high and every 65 feet there were towers around is eleven mile circumference. The top was 65 feet wide, wide enough for four chariots abreast to be driven around the walls of Babylon.
The Euphrates flowed under the walls and gates were shut diverting its flow during times of war. The waters of the Euphrates also filled up the moat that surrounded the walls. There were seven gates going into the city, the Gate of Ishtar and the moon god Sin were on the north; on the west the Gate of Marduk, the Gate of Ninurta, goddess of hunting and warfare on the south, Ruash, Enlil, Shamash, Adad on the east, so every time you entered the city you were forced to think about the gods of Babylon. The gates were made of blue enameled brick, and lions were painted on them and every six feet you have these great lions posted along the main boulevards. The center street which runs down through the center of town was paved in bricks and every brick had the name of Nebuchadnezzar imprinted upon it. At the palace of Nebuchadnezzar the walls were 135 feet thick, 85 feet high and impregnable, and impregnable, and once again on every brick for the first 24 feet into the walls you had his name imprinted.
This just gives you some idea of how large this city was and how impressive it was to, let's say, the country captives from Jerusalem. They would be overwhelmed with the might. So Daniel, therefore, was faced with the power, the awesome power of the kingdom of men. It would seem overwhelming. This is the expression of the kingdom of man in one of its most extreme forms and powerful forms in all of human history.
This reminds of what I taught last week of why Daniel is included in the wisdom section of the Old Testament books. Remember the Hebrew Old Testament was divided into Torah, Kethubim, and Nabiim. The Torah is the instruction, the Kethubim is the writings, and the Nabiim were the prophets. The first section was the Torah which gave the basic instructions, the first five books of Moses; that was followed by the Nabiim, the prophets who added to the basic instruction of the Torah, and followed by the wisdom books of the Kethubim. The liberals came along and their basic assumption is that these were added to chronologically and the reason Daniel was included in the Kethubim, the wisdom books, was because it was too late to be included in the prophets, that section of the canon had already been closed. But they are false in that, we saw that the organization was not based on when it was written but on its subject matter, that the wisdom books were to demonstrate the application of doctrine. If you think about Song of Solomon, its doctrine applied to love, sex and marriage; Proverbs is talking about the application of doctrine in all kinds of areas of life, it's the instruction of a father to his children; the Psalms is the application of wisdom to music and worship. So the wisdom books primarily focused on the application of doctrine and Daniel focuses on how the believer, surrounded by a hostile pagan environment, is to wisely apply doctrine.
The liberal always wants to late date Daniel; date it around 160 BC because that does away with any predictive element. The liberal operates on a controlling presupposition that God cannot communicate into human history, and since he believes God can't communicate in human history Daniel can't have been written as predictive prophecy because that's impossible. We think well, how absurd can you be that you're so subjective. This is a statement from a recent commentary on Daniel. Here the author, W. S. Counter, states:
"We need to assume the division as a whole is a prophecy after the fact. Why? Because human beings are unable accurately to predict the future events centuries in advance, and to say that Daniel could do so, even on the basis of a symbolic revelation though [can't understand words] by God and interpreted by angel, is to fly in the face of the" notice, "certainties of human nature." You see, he's so convinced that God can't speak to man that despite the evidence, despite all the evidence that Daniel's written in 586 to 536 BC, that can't be, because that would be predictive prophecy. But this is what controls liberal theology.
Daniel is written before the fact and it shows how a believer can be successful, live successful, in human history, so next time we'll come back and see how Daniel and the others handle the oppressive nature of the kingdom of man as Nebuchadnezzar attempts to brainwash them and to force them into the mold of human viewpoint thinking.