Daniel: Part 2 – The Progressive Maturation of a Believer in the End Times from Immaturity to Full Stature and a Redeemed Body
Dan 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
If you know much at all about Old Testament history, you know that the Hebrew people, the ones chosen by God through whom the Messiah would eventually come, were idolaters at heart. They would worship God for relatively brief periods of time but it would not be long before they would be bowing down to some false god just as the heathens around them did. God raised up prophets to warn them over and over again of what would happen if they did not return to their worship of him. There would be brief returns when people got scared but true love for God and purity of heart were hard to find.
Daniel was a young man, maybe even a teenager, when God’s hand of judgment finally fell upon the southern kingdom of Judah and the people were taken captive to Babylon under the rulership of king Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was one of those taken captive.
This is the historical account but underneath it is a spiritual explanation of how we are taken captive spiritually. To be more explicit, we see here that our spiritual mind is taken captive by our natural mind with Daniel signifying our spiritual mind and Nebuchadnezzar our natural mind.
According to the early church fathers—men like Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Origen and others, men in Scripture can signify certain minds or the understanding and intellect.
When we first accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our spiritual mind is awakened to the things of God, but it is not able to take dominion over our life because our natural ways of thinking and believing are still in place.
Over the course of our lifetime, we gradually mature spiritually and the natural mind has less and less influence in our life. You could also say it becomes smaller. This occurs as we face trials and temptations which build our faith and weaken our natural mind as we respond according to God’s will as revealed in his Word. In this way we die to our love of self and love of the world such that our spiritual mind is strengthened and Christ is formed in us.
As we look at the meaning of the name Nebuchadnezzar, we see some characteristics of our natural mind actually depicted there. Nebuchadnezzar means “Nebo, defend the boundary.” Nebo was the name of a scribe of the mythical gods. It was his job to record everything about the law. Our natural mind does this. It remembers everything that happens and forms laws accordingly. You may be thinking that your mind doesn’t recall everything, but remember we have a conscious mind and a subconscious mind that we can’t really access at will. It is all recorded in there somewhere.
“Touch a hot stove and you’ll get burned!”
“Be careful what you say or Dad will get angry and yell at you! “ Etc.
A lot of these “laws” our natural mind “records” are not true at all but we believe them. There is a blending of truths and false beliefs that all make for “mixture” and “confusion.” This leads us to the actual meaning of the word “Babylon” which is “mixture” and “confusion.” Amazing how all this fits together!
Along with these laws we set up boundaries in our mind for self-protection. These boundaries are like walls we hide behind so no one can know who we really are. If they know who we really are, we reason, they won’t like us or they might say something hurtful, so we’ll just stay behind our walls and not let anyone in. Of course, this kind of thinking and acting prevents our developing meaningful relationships with other people. It also hinders our ability to have a close relationship with Jesus Christ.
Nebuchadnezzar ruled over the Babylonian empire between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from 605 to 562 BC. His main city was named Babylon and it was surrounded by walls. It was necessary to have walls, boundaries, for protection from invading armies. So again we can see how perfectly the meaning of the name Nebuchadnezzar as “Nebo, defend the boundary” and his city Babylon as being surrounded by walls provides us with a perfect type for our natural mind.
The spiritual mind, revealed in the young man Daniel, is not like this. It knows Jesus and has formed a close relationship with him over time which has strengthened it and filled it with love and wisdom. This has been the result of meeting the tribulations and temptations of life according to obedience to Christ and his Word. We will see this in detail as we continue our study of the book of Daniel.
For now, let’s look at the significance of the other words in this first verse of Daniel 1 followed by my interpretation.
- Nebuchadnezzar is the natural, upright mind in us, not spiritual, yet respecting truth, and to a considerable degree, following it. It protects itself from hurt by dissociating and putting up walls. This causes confusion. Babylon (804 in Strong’s) means “confusion.”
- Three – number of divine completeness or perfection. Taking the things of Christ and making them real and solid in our experience. (Number in Scripture by Bullinger)
- Jehoiakim – Strong’s Concordance gives meaning as “Jehovah will raise.”
- Judah – the true self (based on my other studies. See article on Dissociation and the Dysfunctional Patriarchal Families on this site.)
- Jerusalem – our spirit (based on other studies)
- Besieged – 6696 to cramp, confine
It is time for God’s people to enter into divine completeness and perfection (in the third year). God is going to begin to raise them up into a new dimension in Him (the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah). The state of God’s people at this time is that the natural mind (Nebuchadnezzar) has ruled over (king of) the spiritual part of the person (Judah and Jerusalem) causing the spiritual part to be confined and cramped (besieged).
In most Christians the natural mind keeps us looking at life from a natural perspective rather than a spiritual one. Our natural side is stronger than our spiritual side keeping our spiritual side confined. As we face the challenges of everyday life, it is helpful if we stop to consider whether we are thinking according to our natural mind or listening to God via our spiritual mind. This will help us make faithful responses according to the will of God.