After reading and re-reading the book of Daniel and thinking about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and their lives, I am awestruck by the relevance this book in God’s Word has for us today.
Daniel’s life and the God he served were in direct conflict with the government and rulers he found his life subject to.
Babylon was an idolatrous nation, not only having one but many gods. Marduk was the national god along with seven other idol gods, which were based on mythology. For decades God’s prophets had warned Judah that their idolatry, immorality, and injustice would lead to the nation’s fall and ruin, and that is exactly what happened.
Warren Wiersbe put it this way: “God would rather have His people living in shameful captivity in a pagan land than living like pagans in the Holy Land and disgracing His Name.” Wow!
At first glance, the fall of Jerusalem looked like a triumph of pagan gods over the one true God. As history has proven over and over again, God’s sovereignty in the affairs of men and nations holds firm. A.T. Pierson put it this way: “History is God’s story.”
God’s own people chose ungodly kings and civic leaders, and they believed false prophets and followed the advice and direction of faithless priests. This led to their moral decay and ultimate destruction. Sound familiar?
The book of Lamentations was written by Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet,” after the fall of Judah. We find Jeremiah warning God’s people that judgment was coming because they had left their first love. He warned them again and again that they needed to come back to the one true God. They persisted in living life their own way without any regard for God and His judgment. So Judah fell, and God’s people were exiled.
“The Lord gave full vent to his wrath; he poured out his hot anger, and he kindled a fire in Zion that consumed its foundations. The kings of the earth did not believe, not any of the inhabitants of the world, that foe or enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem. This was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed in the midst of her the blood of the righteous.” (Lamentations 4:11-13)
Jeremiah himself writes concerning the prophets:
“My heart is broken within me; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the Lord and because of His holy words. For the land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land mourns, and pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right. Both prophet and priest are godly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:9-11)
God is not caught off guard by our sin, rejection of His truth and disobedience. Our God is wisdom personified, all powerful, all knowing, and He can permit men and women to make personal choices and still accomplish His purposes in the world. When He isn’t permitted to rule, He will overrule. His will shall ultimately be done and His Name glorified.
Then a voice came from the throne saying:
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
You who fear Him,
Both small and great!
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like peals of thunder, shouting:
Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!” (Revelation 19:6-7)
Our God will always have the last word! We do not serve a haphazard, willy-nilly God. He has a plan and is in total control of the affairs of man and this world.
Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12)
When God exiled four young men into Babylon, He had a plan; He had a purpose that only Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could fulfill. That purpose spanned six different kingdoms, four kings, a fiery furnace, a lion’s den, visions and the interpretation of dreams. They were outnumbered, out-weighed and rejected, yet resolute in their obedience and love for their God.
They knew that “To live outside of God’s will would put them in danger; but to live in His will would make them dangerous for their God.” (Erwin McManus)
Questions? Who or what holds your obedience, love and resolute? What determines your purpose and unwavering loyalty?
“God doesn’t work on our timetable. He has a plan that He will execute perfectly and for the highest, greatest good of all, and for His ultimate glory.” (Charles Swindoll)
(To be continued)
Excerpts from Life Application Bible and NIV Study Bible.
Kathy Niswender is the wife of our pastor.