GETTING TE MESSAGE/The Lord is with His people in trials
We will be looking at the book of Daniel through the summer, Lord willing. This week we are looking at Daniel 1:1-2. In verse one we read, “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.”
The year is 605 BC. It is the beginning of the downfall of Jerusalem. Babylon will destroy the temple and city of Jerusalem in 586. It is a terrible thing to have a great military power around your city. In the siege of 605, Babylon took away the king of Judah, Jehoiakim, some treasure, and some members of noble families. Daniel was one of those taken.
The first thing we should learn is that what happened was the fulfillment of the word of God. The Lord had warned Israel through prophet after prophet that following the gods of the pagan nations would result in judgment. In Deuteronomy 31, Moses warned Israel that if they turned to other gods the Lord would forsake them and hide His face from them.
The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah repeatedly but was threatened and mistreated. Nevertheless he kept proclaiming God’s word. God is faithful to His word; His threats of judgment are not idle threats. God’s patience ended and judgment came.
All that is in the world is condemned to die. So it is an unspeakable blessing to know what is truth and where it may be found. The people of Israel had the word of God proclaimed to them. Most of them had no benefit from it. How soon did the days pass and they found out God that will make good His word. Don’t let your salvation be an afterthought. Make it your main business. The years will pass, and then what will the things of this world come to?
You can examine yourself along these lines. Is your view of the world, your own life, and God derived from His word, the Scriptures, or from your own desires and thoughts? What you will see in Daniel is a man who believed God’s word in all circumstances. He conformed his thoughts and ways to God, not Babylon. Daniel was pure in heart (not double-minded) toward the Lord. The Lord was his portion in Jerusalem, and the Lord continued to be his portion when he was taken away to Babylon.
In verse 2, we read that the “Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand.” Judah’s fall to Nebuchadnezzar was not just the inevitable result of Babylon’s great military power. It was the Lord who was sovereign over this event. The book of Daniel asserts and confirms the sovereign control of the true God over the kingdoms of the earth.
The name Daniel means “God is judge.” In God’s agenda the mighty empires of the world come and go, and they will be superseded by the kingdom of God, which will never be destroyed. This is a word of comfort to God’s people. Daniel may be a slave in Babylon for the present, but he and the faithful people of Judah still belonged to the enduring kingdom of God.
In verse 2, we are told Daniel and the other captives were taken to “the land of Shinar.” In Genesis 11, Shinar is where the city of Babel was built. Babel was an attempt by mankind to join together to resist God. This folly is from sin. We can’t live independent of God. Your errand in life should be to make sure of an eternity with Christ.
Babylon in the book of Revelation represents man trying to live apart from God. A move toward globalism by the world of men is an ungodly move. It is the business of anti-christ, to elevate the economic, political, industrial, and all interests of man above God. The denial of God’s transcendence and sovereignty over man leads to all manner of evil.
Nevertheless, when Daniel was taken to Babylon, he did good in the city. He was careful not to compromise his faith in the Lord, but he was helpful to many in the city and ended up being in a high position under the king. Servants of God should endeavor to be servants of men too.
Daniel in Babylon is an example to Christians of how to live in the world. Christians are to do good to people in the world and use their talents to the glory of God, while they hold to the truth of the Scriptures. If the Lord puts you in troubles, he will be near to your side in them.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.