From Daniel 1-3
Exiled to Babylon in 605 B.C., Daniel was one of several young men chosen to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. When Persia conquered Babylon in 539, Daniel was again given a position of power. He remained faithful to God in both of these hostile environments. From the interpretation of dreams, to the familiar stories of the fiery furnace, the lions’ den, and the handwriting on the wall, to the prophetic visions, the recurrent theme is God’s sovereignty over human affairs. In the historical sections (chs. 1–6) God supernaturally rescued Daniel and his friends. The rest of the book consists of visions of future judgment and deliverance by the Messiah. Some of Daniel’s prophetic themes are echoed in the New Testament, especially in Revelation. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The book of Daniel describes the period of time when Judah was in exile. They are in Babylon under foreign rule. The book is title after Daniel. A Jewish youth which the Babylonians sought to subvert to the Babylonian way of life.
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. (Dan 1.1-2)
Jerusalem has been defeated and the people taken into exile for their sins. The temple itself has been plundered and burned.
It is specifically noted the ‘vessels of the house of God’ are taken into the house of Nebuchadnezzar. This may imply to the Babylonians the God of Israel has been defeated by the gods of Babylon.
When God’s people have been defeated and their places of worship destroyed. Does this imply the LORD is not sovereign over all?
3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. (Dan 1.3-4)
The king of Babylon commands his servants to bring all the beautiful people to stand in his palace. He wants to ‘teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans’ (Babylonians).
He wants to impose his will on them. To make them Babylonians. To show his way of life is better. To show his gods are better.
Obviously God’s people would not be happy with this. They are under foreign rule. They may be forced to do things they are commanded not to do. Believe things other than what the LORD their God has taught them.
5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.
6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. (Dan 1.5-7)
The beautiful people are given the kings food and drink. They are given a degree level of education in Babylonian culture. They are given new names and identities.
Would they be recognised as Jews after all this conditioning?
The book of Daniel has been written to encourage the Jews in their current situation affirming that God is sovereign over all, is still with and protects his people.
The stories that follow in Daniel show that God is indeed sovereign over all despite the current situation of his people.
The gospel story begins with God’s people still under foreign rule.
2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Lk 2.1-11)
Despite being under foreign rule, to God’s people a saviour and king is born. The gospel like Daniel shows God is sovereign. Jesus will win some significant victories. But his kingdom is different than what was expected.
Whatever our current situation is, be encouraged that God is sovereign and works in this lives of his people for his glory.
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