11-The Mystery of Childhood

Children in the Bible

Part 11: Daniel and his friends

1 Captives on way to Jerusalem -also dore-jordan-580x333

Daniel, along with other captive children, had been walking all day long in the heat of the desert, and they were all getting very tired, hungry and thirsty. Most, like Daniel, were hurting inside because each step they’d walked took them further and further away from their dear families back in Jerusalem. Even now, they felt that surely it had to be a bad dream and that they’d all wake up and find themselves back with their families in Jerusalem. Alas, nothing changed.
2 Jeremiah preaching

How could this have happened? Over and over Daniel and his young friends kept asking each other that same question, yet how well they remembered the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah who’d pleaded, often with tears, as he warned the people in Jerusalem to change their ways because God was not happy with the way they’d turned away from Him to serve idols. But the people all around laughed and tried to hurt him and even kill him.

Since they refused to listen and change their ways, God let them be conquered by another nation called Babylon. But before that happened the Babylonians had come to Jerusalem and had taken young boys from their families as captives. Now the poor boys wondered what might happen to them.

It took a long time for the captives to walk the five hundred miles from Jerusalem to Babylon, and Oh! How their feet ached as they marched on and on with their eyes looking down.

3 babylon City

When they neared the great city of Babylon, Daniel and his friends blinked and rubbed their eyes while wondering if they were seeing straight. What a magnificent city it was with big streets, high tower and beautiful gardens.

4 Gate of Babylon

As they came close they found themselves approaching a high wall that  stood like a an enormous Gate with high walls that towered far above them. How little they felt when they looked up at it. These walls were decorated with colored bricks to make them look as if mean lions were really roaring down at them.

5 Hanging Gardens

Once inside the city their eyes caught a glimpse of a mountain-like palace with hanging plants and flowers that waved in the wind. What a strange place they thought, and what was going to happen to them now?

Afraid as they were, they bit their lips and determined that they would remain faithful to their God, no matter what. Later, when their names were changed to Babylonian names, they knew that they were supposed to forget their family and friends back home, and especially their God. Instead they made up their minds that they would never do that.

6 Boys refuse food

Soon the young boys found that Babylon was a comfortable place to live in, and that they were actually favored by being taught by the best teachers in all the land. These teachers, in turn,  soon found out that the young fellows before them were exceptionally clever, even in hard subjects like math and science. When it came to food, Daniel and his friends could tell that it was very different from the kind that their parents had always given them. Here they could tell that the fancy food served on golden platters was far too much and not at all healthy for them. Besides that, their own laws from back home forbade such foods. So they decided they would not eat it. But when their teachers and helpers saw what they were doing, they were not pleased because the king had ordered their food. “You’ll get us in trouble if the king finds you unhealthy and he’ll blame us,” they said.

“Please,” Daniel said, “Just let us try and you’ll see how healthy we’ll be.”

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Besides the food, they saw drinks with alcohol mixed in, and remembered that their parents had never let them have strong drinks because they too, were not good for them as they made their minds become blurry. So Daniel and his friends asked if they could drink water or juice instead.

Their teachers were afraid to disobey the king’s orders, but finally they agreed to let them have the kind of food and drinks they wanted, until the time when they would meet the king. If he was pleased with them, they would continue giving them the food they wanted. But if they were groggy, slow to think and move, they would have to eat what the King had ordered for them.

8 Boys report to King

So what happened then? Their teachers and the King Nebuchadnezzar himself found that these foreign students were sharp in their studies and were far more healthy than all the others.

As time went on, the boys from Jerusalem grew up and did their work so well that they got some of the best jobs in the city. Daniel especially kept rising higher and higher in the government of Babylon and was able to help his friends to find good jobs too.

9 Enemies

Alas, as time went on, and Daniel was getting old, some of the Babylonians that had perhaps studied with them, or had important jobs too, were jealous of him and they decided to try to find a way to get him in trouble and even killed. So they thought and thought, and finally one day they realized that 10 Daniel_Praying_1343-857Daniel was praying three times a day, before his window that faced Jerusalem, just as he’d done all along.

“I have an idea one of the scheming fellows said. We all know that our king is proud and thinks of himself as a god, so why don’t we suggest to the king that if anyone prays to another god other than the king himself, should be thrown into the lion’s den?

11 King's Advisors-answer-2nd-time-for-D2-blog-post

His buddies agreed that it was an excellent idea, and so they went to the king and made their suggestion.

The king smiled and nodded his head. He liked to think of himself as important, and even as a god. So what do you think he said? “Of course, what a good idea. I will make a decree or order that will be signed by my name.”

So the decree was made, and what do you think Daniel did? He continued just like always to pray before his window that faced Jerusalem, and the watching tricksters saw him.

So they went to the king and told him what Daniel was doing. The king was sad when he heard that, because he liked and appreciated Daniel very much, but he couldn’t change the decree. So, as the sun was setting, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.

12 Daniel LionsDen

13 King can't sleep

That night the king couldn’t eat or sleep because he was worried about Daniel. Very early the next morning he got up and went to the lion’s den and called to Daniel saying, “Daniel, are you there? Has your God protected you?”

14 Daniel lions_den_1

Daniel answered, “My God sent his angel, O King,  and He shut the lion’s mouth.”

The king immediately ordered that Daniel be brought up, and that the evil men who had tried to get rid of him were punished by being thrown into the lion’s den in the place of Daniel.

Later Daniel had many wonderful dreams when God told him about his plans for the future of the world and about His Kingdom. Daniel carefully wrote down all he saw and heard in his dreams. His writing of them is now in a book of the Bible that is called, “The Book of Daniel.”

We are thankful for Daniel because he was a good example for us all, and because he wrote many things that help us to understand how great and wonderful God is.

 

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