Daniel 1 … Consider His Unchanging Purposes

Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. (1:7).

The book of Daniel. Before we begin, some background may be helpful.

From the NIV Study Bible:

“The book is made up primarily of historical narrative (found mainly in chs. 1-6) and apocalyptic (“revelatory”) material (found mainly in chs. 7-12). The latter may be described as symbolic, visionary, prophetic literature, usually composed during oppressive conditions and being chiefly eschatological [pertaining to the study of end times] in theological content. Apocalyptic literature is primarily a literature of encouragement to the people of God…

Judah was carried off to Babylonia because she disobeyed God’s word regarding covenant-keeping, the sabbath years and idolatry… The first deportation (605 B.C.) included Daniel, and the second (597 B.C.) included Ezekiel. A third deportation took place in 586, when the Babylonians destroyed the city of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple.”

So while the second half of this book is sure to contain plenty that will leave us scratching our heads, as the people of God who seek to see Him increase, even in passages that may prove complex and challenging to follow, we can still expect that we will be encouraged and equipped as we hear from His God-Breathed Word.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work, (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In Biblical times, it was a common practice for kings who had conquered a territory to change the names of men that were taken into their service; names marked a person’s purpose.

The Lord had changed names of some He had called into His service, beginning with Abraham. Abram, meaning “Exalted Father,” was changed to Abraham, meaning “father of many.”

“No longer shall your name be called Abram,
But your name shall be Abraham;
For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations,”
(Genesis 17:5).

And Jacob, meaning “he grasps the heel (figuratively he deceives),” was changed to Israel, meaning “struggles with God.”

He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28).

There are other examples in Scripture of the practice of changing names by sovereign rulers.

Then Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, as his wife. And Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt, (Genesis 41:45).

Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim… (2 Kings 23:34).

Then the king of Babylon made his uncle Mattaniah king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah, (2 Kings 24:17).

And today we meet four youths whose names were changed to reflect Nebuchadnezzar’s purposes.

(Definitions of names are taken from the NIV Study Bible)

Daniel (God is (my) Judge”) to Belteshazzar: Probably means in Babylonian “Bel (ie,. Marduk), protect his life!”

Hananiah (The LORD shows grace”) to Shadrach: Probably means “command of Aku” (Sumerian moon-good).”

Mishael (“Who is what God is?”) to Meshach: Probably means “Who is what Aku is?”

Azariah (The LORD helps”) to Abed-nego: Probably means “servant of Nego/Nebo (ie., Nabul).”

But God’s Purposes are Unchanging; and while Nebuchadnezzar would secure great military successes, and even overthrow God’s city, Jerusalem, he would not thwart God’s Unchanging Purposes. For Nebuchadnezzar’s conquests would be by the Hand of Almighty God to accomplish His Purposes; and it would only be a matter of His appointed time until this great king of Babylon would also fall.

Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals of the field to serve him. All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant,” (Jeremiah 27:6-7).

And through four young, faithful men who refused to defile themselves by partaking of food and wine (that had most probably been offered in worship to the pagan gods of Babylon), God would prove His Unchanging Purposes.

Consider His Unchanging Purposes

From the beginning of time to the end, from the first book of His God-Breathed Word to the last, His Purposes are Unchanging.

  • His Unchanging Purpose: He is Judge Forever. (Daniel: God is (my) Judge.”)
    • But God is the Judge;
      He puts down one and exalts another, (Psalm 75:7).
    • “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead,” (Acts 17:30-31).
    • Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds, (Revelation 20:11-12).
  • His Unchanging Purpose: He demonstrates His Grace. (Hananiah: The LORD shows grace.”)
    • Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
      And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
      For the Lord is a God of justice;
      How blessed are all those who long for Him, (Isaiah 30:18).
    • For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast, (Ephesians 2:8-9).
    • The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen, (Revelation 22:21).
  • His Unchanging Purpose: He Is Unequaled. (Mishael: “Who is what God is?”)
    • “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord?
      Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
      Awesome in praises, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).
    •  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16).
    • When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades, (Revelation 1:17).
  • His Unchanging Purpose: He is our Helper. (Azariah:The LORD helps.”)
    • I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
      From where shall my help come?
      My help comes from the Lord,
      Who made heaven and earth,
      (Psalm 121:1-2).
    • “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you,” (John 14:26).
    • …for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,
      “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
      What will man do to me?”
      (Hebrews 13:5-6).

How do we respond to His Unchanging Purposes?

It is so essential to build our lives on the Truth of His Unchanging Purposes. For while people and circumstances may seem to be calling the shots, we can rest in our Sovereign God Whose Purposes are Unchanging.

He is Judge, and that will never change. And the Bible teaches that all will be judged. Those who believe His Son for eternal life will be saved through Him. But those who do not believe will be judged according to his or her works.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” (John 3:16-18).

But believers will also be judged before the judgment seat of Christ; not for salvation, for Christ has guaranteed our salvation when we place our faith in Him. But believers will be judged on how we have used the gifts and life He gave us. Oh, let us respond to His Unchanging Purpose, that we would live only to please Our Savior, Who is our Judge.

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad, (2 Corinthians 5:10).

And how can we truly live to please Him? We are to live according to His Unchanging Purpose of Grace that enables us to commit our lives to Him as instruments of righteousness. Oh, that we would be mastered by His Grace so that sin would not reign in our hearts or lives.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace, (Romans 6:12-14).

Oh, the privilege we have to serve Him, for He alone is Worthy; for what God is great like our God? May we never miss any opportunity to praise Him and give Him glory for His Unchanging Person; for He is Worthy and able to accomplish His Unchanging Purposes for all of eternity.

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created,” (Revelation 4:11).

But really, how do we become the believer whose life ambition is to always please Him, who always depends on His grace, and always presents our body as instruments of righteousness. Let’s be honest. It just sounds downright impossible.

I heard a sermon recently from a guest pastor, and his final point was listed up on the screen: “The Christian life is not difficult.” I copied the quote in my notebook, but questioned the veracity of his statement. And then he said again, “The Christian life is not difficult,” with his added caveat, “it’s impossible.” Aha, of course. The Christian life is impossible… for us; but not for Him.

And His Unchanging Purpose is that He alone is our Helper. But His Help is not in giving us a hand. His Help is in giving us His Spirit to live His life in us. His Help is Jesus living His life through us so that we can walk in His Unchanging Purposes for our life. His Help is the rich and mysterious reality that has been revealed in our Savior, which is Christ in us; He is our Help and our only hope of living a life that brings Him glory.

that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, (Colossians 1:26-27).

The Lord will always accomplish His Unchanging Purposes for us; for  He has told us that exactly as He has planned, it will happen.

The LORD of Hosts has sworn: As I have purposed, so it will be; as I have planned it, so it will happen, (Isaiah 14:24).

But the truth is, we fall, we fail, and we can feel like it’s all so hopelessly impossible. In those times, let us be honest, like David, the man after His own heart. And as we ask Him to not give up on us, to not abandon His work in us, and to live His life through us, let us choose to trust Him as we remind ourselves of His eternal love that will never fluctuate and will always fulfill His Unchanging Purposes for us.

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.
LORD, Your love is eternal;
do not abandon the work of Your hands,
(Psalm 138:8 HCSB).

Let’s Grow Together!

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