THE VENERABLE AND HOLY PROPHETS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

THE VENERABLE AND HOLY PROPHETS OF
THE OLD TESTAMENT

A prophet is one who proclaims the will of God and/or who
foretells the future, especially the incarnation and coming and Divine
Mission of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, through the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The Venerable and holy Prophets were God’s αγγελιοφόροι (messengers) who revealed and proclaimed His will before the Nativity of Jesus Christ while declaring the coming of the promised Messiah. The Hebrew word for "prophet" means "God’s spokesman." Deuteronomy 18:15-19 foreshadows Christ as the promised Prophet. The Lord speaks to Moses: "I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and I will put My word in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all I command Him" (v. 18). The words, "like you" and "from among their brethren" speak of the pre-incarnate Logos/Word taking on human nature to become the promised Prophet, Priest, and King. We have a Prophet Who is the Truth, a Priest Whose eternal offerings are accepted by the Father and received by us, and a King Who will rule and reign forever over His Kingdom.
The gift of prophecy in the life of the Church is a constant state in the believer which confirms the Eternal Truth of Christ’s words.

DANIEL THE HOLY PROPHET

Daniel, the holy Prophet, whose name in Hebrew means "God is my Judge" or "God is judging," was a scion of the house of David and of the royal tribe of Juda. Josephus states that he was of the line of Zedekiah. Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, tells us that his father’s name was Sabaan, and that he was born in Upper Bethoron, not far from Jerusalem. As an infant, he was taken captive from Judaea to Babylon.

Daniel, together with his three Jerusalemite friends, the brothers Ananias (Hananiah), Azarias (Azariah), and Misael (Mishael), was taken captive. Their names in Hebrew have the following meanings: Ananias, "The Lord is gracious", Misael, "Who is what the Lord is?"; Azarias, "The Lord helps." These three youths were of the royal seed of the line of Ezekias (Hezekiah). Their mother’s name was Kallinike. What did these youths do, forlorn as they were, begin captives, strangers, and slaves of those who commanded them to eat the forbidden meats.

Daniel "entreated the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself with the king’s table, nor with the wine of his drink. Now God had brought Daniel into favor and compassion with the chief of the eunuchs. "Thereupon,’ continues Saint John Chrysostom, "they approached the eunuchs who possessed the necessary authority and persuaded him by their arguments."

Thus, their steadfast adherence to their Faith was blessed by God. Though they partook of only pulse and water, yet their bodily appearance proved comelier than that of those youths who ate meat. Daniel continued to abstain from pleasant food and withered his flesh. He was in favor with the Most High, and by the grace of God was still a handsome man. The Prophet is usually depicted in holy icons as a beardless youth in the costume of the Persian court. Although he appears somewhat gaunt from fasting, yet he had a strong and well-proportioned frame. His wavy brown hair was cut slightly below his ears. His sober, sincere, and reflective countenance bespeaks a young man of self-possession and discipline. He was an individual of high morals and principles. He was not one to equivocate or compromise the truth before the mighty of this world. He is a model of wisdom and a genuine example of a just man persecuted by men, but free in God.

In iconography, Daniel may be observed in scenes from his life. He is shown taking an active part in defending the honor or Righteous Susanna; he is seen standing among the lions, or he is seen in the den with the Prophet Abbakoum, depicted off on the side, with an Angel taking hold of the latter by the hair, as he conveys food to Daniel. Prophet Abbakoum brings him bread, whih Saint Hyppolitos and others interpret as eucharistic prefiguration. In some Psalters, the Prophet’s vision of the Great Mountain (Daniel 2:34-35) is added.

According to The Great Synaxaristes, Prophet Daniel reposed in peace. According to the Lord, as it is written of Daniel: "Go thou, and rest; for there are yet days and seasons to the fulfillment of the end; and thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days" [Daniel 12:13]. Daniel’s holy relics and tomb were preserved at the church of Saint Romanos in Constantinople, which was visited by pilgrims. With regard to his three companions, they may have eitehr reposed in peace or suffered martyrdom. The Great Synaxaristes (in Greek), together with Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, who refers to Saint Kyril of Alexandria, record that Daniel and the three youths lived to a great old age in Babylon. After king Nebuchdnezzar, Attikos, who was troublesome ruler, arose. The three brothers, under examination, censured him for his impiety. Attikos ordered the severing of Righteous Misael’s head, which Righteous Azarias received when spreading his outer robe that was secured by a brooch. The king then commanded the severing of Righteous Azarias’ head, which was received by the divine Ananias. Thereafter they struck off his head. It is said that after the honorable heads of the three brothers were severed, they were miraculously re-attached to their bodies. And Angel of the Lord then took up their sacred relics and translated them to Mount Gebal, in Judaea, laying them to rest under a rock. With the passage of 400 years, they arose together with the other righteous ones, and then reposed again. Bishop Nikolai adds that at the time of our Savior’s three-day burial, the three brothers appeared to many, and then fell asleep (cf. Matthew 27:52-53).

Epilogue

When comparing the life, struggles, and sufferings of Christ with those of Prophet Daniel and the Three Children, Saint Aphrahat makes some very interings comparisons. "Daniel also was persecuted as Jesus was persecuted. Daniel was persecuted by the Chaldeans, the congregtion of heathen men; Jesus also was persecuted by the Jews, the congregation of wicked men. Daniel the Chaldeans accused; and Jesus the Jews accused before the governor. Daniel they cast into the pit of lions, and he was delivered and came up out of its midst uninjured; and Jesus they sent down into the pit of the abode of the dead, and He ascended, and dath had not dominion over Him. Concerning Daniel, they expected that when he had fallen into the pit he would not come up again; and concerning Jesus, they said: ‘The one falling asleep shall not rise again, shall he?" (Psalm 40:8). From attempting to harm Daniel the mouth of the ravenous and destructive lions was closed; and the mouth of death, though ravenous and destructive of living forms, harmed not Jesus. They sealed the pit of Daniel, and guarded it with diligence; and the grave of Jesus did they guard with diligence, as they said, "Command therefore tha tthe tomb he made secure until the third day" (Matthew 27:64)…

(Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)

__________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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