"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
The Prophecy of Daniel
Lesson Number 2
By Given O. Blakely
THERE ARE DEMANDING REQUIREMENTS
“4a Children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science . . . ” The requirements set forth by the king were most demanding. Not only was a proper lineage required, personal abilities, achievements, and appearance were essential. Keep in mind, these are the requirements within which four notable young men will rise to prominence. Those who meet extraordinary requirements are extraordinary individuals.
Keep the unusual circumstances in mind. This was a time of Divine chastening. The children of Judah had been captured, taken from their homeland, and housed in heathen surroundings. Yet, the conditions that are to be found in them indicate they were not living in despair, had not given up, and were still mentally and spiritually active. It is one thing to flourish under ideal circumstances. It is quite another to maintain comely qualities during times of great oppression and isolation from the things one loves and values. It is not unusual for professed believers to lose all of their comeliness during trials and afflictions. But you will find no such degeneration in the four Hebrew children.
Faith Always Triumphs
The book of Daniel confirms that faith always triumphs. It can keep the soul in a foreign land, maintain a hold on God, and stand the test of time. Numerous examples of this are found in Scripture, and we do well to ponder them.
Noah in a degenerate world.
Abraham among heathen peoples.
Joseph in Egypt.
Israel in Egyptian bondage.
Moses in Egypt.
Jeremiah in a pit.
Ezekiel in Babylon.
Paul in a Roman prison.
The people of God will be tempted to imagine faith can only function during pleasing circumstances. Thus some professed believers are greatly cast down by their seeming misfortunes. They wonder why such things have happened to them, and begin to struggle with fear and doubt. However, the notion that ideal conditions are the only realm where blessing is sure, is not a true postulate. This whim is an enemy to both mind and soul. Faith is not changed by circumstance, but has in it the power to change the circumstances.
You will find no such attitudes among the believers revealed in this book. There is not a syllable of cynicism or pessimism credited to the four Hebrew captives. They maintained their faith, a good countenance, and strong assurance – even when they were young and captives in Babylon. The king was not looking for captives huddled in corners of despair, and he did not find such children in Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Let me underscore that the king was looking for extraordinary “children.” The word translated “children” means “a lad, boy, or young child.” STRONG This is not the same word translated “children of Israel.” In that expression, “children” refers to the general offspring of someone, without regard to their age. In our text, the word “children” emphasizes tender age prior to adulthood. This is the word used to describe Isaac before he was “weaned” (Gen 21:8). It is the word used to describe Jacob’s very young children who were “tender” (Gen 33:13). It is even the word used to describe baby Moses when he was providentially found by Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex 2:6). To get our bearings, the parallel Greek word (Te,knon, tenon) is used to describe Jesus when He was twelve years old (Lk 2:48).
Nebuchadnezzar has commissioned a search to be made among very young boys. While we do not know their exact age, some have estimated them to between fifteen and eighteen. That seems to be on the high end. I prefer the view others espouse, who see them as being between thirteen and fifteen. I do not want you to be distracted by these considerations. Perhaps they will assist us to see how unusually God works – among the young, a class of people so sorely neglected by the contemporary church.
The king, therefore, is looking for young and tender youth who can be molded to his seeming advantage. He is intending to shape them to the Babylonian pattern. Behind the scenes, however, the Lord is manipulating the situation to elevate certain of his people to places of prominence. In this case, they are very young people. Let every young person take heart as we uncover the working of the Lord among tender youth.
“Children in whom was no blemish.” Other versions read “no defect,” NASB and “without any physical defect.” NIV They had to be of sound body. I am careful to approach this matter knowing that physical appearance is not the basis upon which Divine choices are always made. There are, however, certain occasions in which they were pivotal. I understand these to be incidents of moral and spiritual tutelage that point to higher truths. Allow me to illustrate this point.
The sacrifices under the Law had to be “without blemish” (Ex 12:5; 29:1; Lev 1:3; 6:6). There was a time when God severely upbraided Israel for ignoring this qualification. They offered animals to God that had defects, and were judged because of it. “And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts . . . ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD” (Mal 1:8,13). Thus God taught the people of the necessity of offering the best to the Lord, not things that had been rejected for normal purposes.
Those who served God in the office of the priest could not have physical defects. Those, for example, who approached “the bread of God,” serving in the capacity of a priest, had to be free from physical defects. “Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, or a man that is brokenfooted, or broken handed, or crookbacked, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; no man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. Only he shall not go in unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them” (Lev 21:17-23).
This served as an example of the coming “holy priesthood” that would be realized in Christ Jesus (1 Pet 2:5).
It appears to me that God would not allow Daniel and the three Hebrew children to be His emissaries in Babylon, while failing to measure to the qualifications of His servants under the covenant to which they were subject.
“ . . . but well favored . . . ” Other versions read “good-looking,” NKJV “handsome,” NIV “of good appearance,” WEBSTER “of goodly countenance,” DARBY and “beautiful in appearance” SEPTUAGINT The idea behind the expression “well favored” is that God Himself had blessed the lads with a comely appearance. A pleasing appearance is given by God.
There are other people in Scripture who are said to be “well favored,” or blessed of God with a beautiful appearance.
The daughters of men (Gen 6:2).
Sarai (Gen 12:11,14).
Rebekah (Gen 24:16).
Rachel (Gen 29:17).
Joseph (Gen 39:6).
Saul (1 Sam 9:2).
David (1 Sam 16:12).
Abigail (1 Sam 25:3).
Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:2).
Absalom (2 Sam 14:25).
Tamar (2 Sam 14:27).
Abishag (1 Kings 1:3-4).
Adonijah (1 Kings 1:6).
Esther (Esth 2:7).
The daughters of Job (Job 42:15).
Those familiar with Scripture will recognize that beauty was the downfall of some people (Absalom), while others were exploited because of their appearance (Bathsheba). The point to be seen is that those with a comely appearance are to see it as a gift from God. As with all gifts, this is to be used for the honor and glory of God. It is not to be allowed to neutralize ones affection for and devotion to the Lord.
Thus far we see the king is looking for young men with a sound body, and with a handsome and undistracting appearance.%%detect_both%%
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).