By Ed Corley
The Prophet Daniel spent most of his life in the ancient city of Babylon when it was capital of the Chaldeans, the people who took Israel captive in the fifth century B.C. That Babylon lost its power but the Book of Revelation devotes more than two chapters to the judgment of a latter day system also called Babylon. By the end, every nation shall have come under the influence of its sorcery and its sin will become so ripe it will demand God's judgment. We must understand what Babylon is and how it operates, in order to withstand its imposing demands. We, who follow the Lamb of God, might well become caught in its trap. Thus, we will find ourselves swallowed up in the hour of its judgment.
We first learn of Babylon in Genesis 10 where we find the roll call of the nations founded by the descendants of Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. In 10:6-8 it becomes clear what is in the spiritual foundation of this system. It took its beginning in the line of Ham's grandson Nimrod. It will eventually become the open enemy of God and of His purposes in the earth.
The wording of the King James Version at this point is weak, but insight into the Original and other ancient texts proves otherwise.
The name Nimrod means "Come, Let us Rebel!" Mighty one is from the Hebrew gibor, the same word that described the giants who predated the Flood and who made its judgment mandatory. See Genesis 6:4. The spirits that impelled the giants before the flood came forth again in this man Nimrod to revive their rebellion against the Lord. The Targum of Jonathan, an ancient interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures, says, "From the foundation of the world none was ever found like Nimrod, powerful in hunting, and in rebellions against the Lord." Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, says Nimrod persuaded mankind to ascribe their happiness to his own excellency, not to God. Nimrod changed things into a tyranny, weaning men from the fear of God by making them rely on his power, instead.
The Jerusalem Targum says that Nimrod was powerful in hunting and in wickedness before the Lord, for he was a hunter of the sons of men. He told them, "Depart from the judgment of the Lord and adhere to the judgment of Nimrod!"
The translators of this passage into the Greek Septuagint interpreted before the LORD to mean "in defiance of the LORD." They saw that Nimrod had raised himself up to stand in the place of God. Through him Satan fixed the office of the anti-Christ in the earth. It has always been occupied--at times with men who rose to prominence like Nebuchadnezzar; Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler, and others. This caused some to declare before time that the anti- Christ of the final days had come upon the scene, only to have that one pass away leaving the office ready for the arrival of another defiant one. The office still awaits the arrival of the final one-perhaps he is on the scene now.
Babel meant "The Gate of God." The Hebrew word translated Babel in Genesis is translated Babylon elsewhere in the Old Testament. Including the Greek New Testament, the
name occurs in the Bible 288 times.
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name... (4) Note the go to again. We find it three times as the move against God gains impetus. The strong words let us build us and let us make us are an indication this was an act of self-determination. Literally, they said, "Let us build for ourselves" and "Let us make for ourselves."
Their aim was to build a city with a tower and to make a name--all for themselves. A city bespeaks a realm of government with its distinct rule. The words a tower whose top may reach unto heaven need some explanation. The words may reach are not in the Hebrew original. Literally it is "a tower and its top with the heavens." In all probability, this means with the signs of the Zodiac on the top of it. This occult practice came early into Babylon's culture and has remained only to gain worldwide use in these latter days.
Whereas Babel's intended meaning to the builders was "The Gate of God," the judgment of the Lord confounded this and brought its meaning to "Confusion." Their determination to make a name for themselves and their use of the occult led to confusion. Through the ages many have come on the scene with this same determination. All who follow them will be confused and ultimately brought to ruin--perhaps even those who have embraced the names of good religious movements and denominations.
The Spirit of God is calling us to let Him search out every way of operation and every name we have received that may be grievous to Him. The recent dealings of His Spirit in our own lives have required us to have done with anything that confuses or restrains His work.
BABYLON REACHED ITS ZENITH as an open world power in the time of Daniel. In Daniel 1:1,2 we take particular note that it was into the land of Shinar the captives were brought, the place of Nimrod's beginning. The anti-God spirit that ruled him was continuing there. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
There is an account in 1:6,7 of Babylon's determination to corrupt certain of the children of Israel. The prince of the eunuchs determined to impose the character and spirit of Babylon on Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. He gave unto them Babylonian names all of which were related to the occult. Names were important to the ancients. Often prophetic, they helped mold the person's character. To Daniel, whose name meant "God Is My Judge," the eunuch gave the name Belteshazzar which meant "O Baal, Protect His Life." To Hananiah, "Jehovah Is Gracious," he gave the name Shadrach, "Under the Command of Aku," the Babylonian moon god. To Mishael, "Who Is Like God?" he gave the name Meshach, "Who Is Like Aku?" To Azariah, "Helped by Jehovah," he gave the name Abednego, "Servant of Nego," a sun god to whom the Babylonians gave worship.
In spite of the devilish imposition upon them, however, these men became overcomers. In them is a key to our own overcoming. See this: Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. --1:8a. Purposed is from the same Hebrew word we find in the previous verse translated gave. This word is soom. It means "to put, lay, or impose upon." The prince of the eunuchs laid, or imposed, upon those young men the character and nature of Babylon. But Daniel laid something else in his heart, the place of his inner response. He laid it there that he would not defile himself--an act of spiritual determination and dedication. He gave over his will to the Lord--completely--so he could remain faithful to Him in every respect.
That he would not eat Babylon's meat or drink their wine was spiritually significant. Heathen nations not only ate unclean beasts, which were forbidden by the Jewish law, but even the clean animals that were eaten were first offered as victims to their gods. Part of their wine also was poured out as a libation on their altars. For Daniel, to partake would mean open defiance of his Lord. As he and his friends maintained their commitment to the Lord, they prospered physically, mentally, emotionally, and their wills were made strong to withstand Babylon's further demands. In all matters of wisdom and understanding they were found ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers of Babylon's realm-verse 20.
When Nebuchadnezzar commanded Daniel's companions to worship his golden image, or be thrown into the midst of a burning fiery
furnace, their answer was firm. We are not careful to answer thee
in this matter--3:16. This meant they had no need to search
for an answer. Their ready response was: If it be so, our God whom
we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver US out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be
it known unto thee, 0 king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship
the golden image which thou hast set up--17,18. They had purposed in their hearts not to defile themselves.
We first find the words in 1:3,4 as they describe the innate mental and spiritual qualities of the men Babylon sought to corrupt. That devilish system thought it could take these qualities and make them useful for its anti-God purposes. And the king spake unto... the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel.. in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science.. whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
The terms skilful in all wisdom, cunning in knowledge, and understanding science do more than describe intellectual proficiency. They describe gifts that come from God. While there are some who seem naturally endowed with them, they can find release also in others who desire them. I know this; even we who find ourselves lacking in mental and spiritual skill can make request of God that He enhance in us these abilities. Those who give these gifts over to Babylon will find its corruption will defile them. Thus, we give them over to the Holy Spirit instead.
Skilful in all wisdom is from the Hebrew "maschilim in all chokmah." Maschilim is the plural form of maschil a word that has taken our attention for years. It is from the root word sachal which means "to search diligently and prudently for understanding and wisdom." It describes the light that comes to those who search for truth in God's Word. In one form or another the words related to sachal occur throughout Daniel thirteen times. It will do you well to seek them out. Note in 8:25 it is a quality the anti-Christ himself will seek to exploit. We give the words in each passage as translated in the King James Version. Daniel 1:4--skilful; 1:17--skill; :11,12,14--understanding; 8:25--policy (here with reference to the anti-Christ); 9:13--understand; 9:2--to give thee skill; 9:25--understand; 11:3--they that understand; 11:35--them of understanding; 12:3--they that be wise; 12:1--the wise.
Twelve times in Daniel this word has reference to God's people; one time to anti-Christ. How much more powerful is the understanding God releases in His people than the way of thinking imposed by the anti-Christ! The trait of spirit to which sachal points will be a mark of character in those who endure to the end. They will be people who have diligently and prudently sought for the truth revealed in God's Word. They will share in the Government of Christ.
The word coupled in 1:4 with sachal is chokmah. It means "skilful in technical work, wise in administration, cunning in learning, as well as prudent and ethical in affairs with others." In some form, this word occurs through Daniel in nine verses, always translated wisdom. It is always a perfect "gift of the Holy Spirit." See Daniel: 1:4, 17, 20; 2:20, 21, 23, 30; 5:11, 14. What wisdom He releases in those who diligently seek His Truth! This is another mark of those who will share in Christ's Kingdom.
The next term, cunning in knowledge, introduces us to a word that occurs (as I can count it) 31 times in Daniel. Literally these words in 1:4 mean "knowing knowledge." Both cunning and knowledge are from the Hebrew vadag which means "to know, or perceive, or discern." While this word is significant throughout Daniel, its most powerful statement is in 11:32. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he (the anti-Christ) corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
This is knowing God; it is not knowledge about God. It is actually knowing Him, intimately, as the loving Heavenly Father He is. The Lord Jesus knew Him like this and opened the way for us to know Him this way too.
There are two things about the people that do know their God--they shall be strong and they shall do exploits. They shall be strong is from the Hebrew hazak and means "to take hold of a situation with strength." Gabriel used this word when he came to Daniel in 10:19 and said, Be strong. Daniel was an elderly man, nearly ninety years old, who had been fasting three weeks. The visit from the archangel alone was enough to cause his strength to go. So, on three accounts--being an old man who had not eaten now visited by an archangel--he had reason to remain weak. Yet, at Gabriel's word, he became strong.
We note the context of Daniel 11:32. The anti-Christ, whom Daniel called a vile person, has become vehement in his determination to wipe out all who are in covenant with God. Through the vile treatment he inflicts, some grow weary in their faith and forsake the holy covenant. With flatteries, "smooth political talk," he sets up dialogue with them with the intention of thoroughly corrupting them. But in this same time there are others who remain faithful to their God. While the vile person determines these will no longer continue functioning in life, mysteriously to him, they take on strength and live out of a source unknown to any except those that do know their God.
The King James Version brought in a word for this verse that was not
in the Original. . . the people that do know their God shall be
strong, and do (exploits). The verse should end simply with do. It is from the Hebrew word gahsah which means "to work,
to make, to produce, to acquire, to accomplish, to perform, to function."
In all the efforts of the anti-Christ to stop them, here is a people who
carry on and on with life, while every natural resource for them has come
to its end. Their secret is they do know their God. This
is another mark of a person in Christ's Kingdom.
WE MIGHT MISS this next term from Daniel 1:4, understanding science, were it not for the fact that it introduces us to one of the most powerful words in all of Daniel. Science is from the same root as the previous word yadag, "to know." We might well translate it "knowledge." But the word translated understanding is the one that grasps our attention. It is from the Hebrew bin, a powerful word that occurs over twenty times in the prophetic section of Daniel. We find it in company with our former word sachal. Whereas sachal means to gain understanding through diligent search, bin in Daniel points to a yet higher form of understanding. It means "to gain understanding" through direct impartation from the Lord.
Those given to a diligent pursuit of truth equip themselves to receive an understanding born of the Holy Spirit. We note this in Daniel 9:2 where the word bin becomes understood. In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Daniel was diligent to search the Scriptures. So, understanding born of the Holy Spirit, and necessary for Israel's deliverance, came to him.
We find the word bin again in Dan 10:14. Now
I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people
in the latter days. Here a heavenly visitor, most probably Gabriel, gave Daniel understanding that could only come from God. We don't
have room to see all the passages where this powerful word occurs, but
we can consider one more near the end of the Book. In this verse the two
words, sachal and bin, occur together.
They confirm that those who give themselves to purity and to searching
out the truth of God's Word will come to a place of understanding in the
darkest hour the world has ever known. See this--Many shall
be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly:
and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand--12:10.
The wicked who do not understand are those who have given themselves
to the restless activity of their fallen nature. They are like those early
builders of the tower of Babel. Here the wise is from the
word sachal. They are those given to a diligent search
for truth. The words shall understand are from bin. Thus, unto the wise is released an understanding of what is actually happening--and the ability to think straight and to
know God in a time of chaos. This is another mark of those in Christ's
What I found is similar to what we found recently in Mark 7:20-23. There Jesus laid out what defiles a person. Those defilements He laid out are the same that defile BABYLON THE GREAT. They are the dialogues and arguments that go on inside our hearts. They are the things written on the walls of our temples though not always admitted in practice--adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. Jesus said these things--simply within the heart of a person--defile the person whether they be committed or not.
Recently in ministry the Lord has impressed us to simply explain the list from Jesus and ask the believers who need help to respond. Conviction falls. What takes place is no less than astounding. Nothing on the list is left out as confession is made. Do we imagine we can escape who harbor in our hearts the same things that demanded Babylon's judgment--even though we hide within the confines of a church?
We've been taken with Revelations 18:4--And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. Whatever else it may mean, coming out of Babylon means relinquishing every grievous thing in our heart that confuses the work of the Holy Spirit--everything that displeases Him. Then we can purpose in our hearts not to defile ourselves, and in a time of chaos and impossibility we can understand, know our God, and do...and do, and do.
Coming in Part Two in our Daniel series:
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