in the third year of the reign of jehoiakim king of judah, nebuchadnezzar king of babylon came to jerusalem and besieged it. 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. [daniel 1:1-2]
these first passages set the stage for the book of daniel, as the book opens we are told that members of the royal family and nobility of judah are taken captive into babylon by nebuchadnezzar–this marks the beginning of the exilic period starting in about 597 BC. daniel and his companions are among the israelites who are exiled.
an overarching theme of the book–and of our lives is found in verse 2:
“and the Lord gave jehoiakim king of judah into his hand…”
it is the Lord who gives and takes away-God is never surprised at a sudden turn of events, he is sovereign over all. in all the troubles that daniel and his companions will face, the proclamation of God’s providence and sovereignty will be on his lips, and God’s sovereignty will even be acknowledged by the conquering king, nebuchadnezzar because of daniel’s reliance on God:
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “what have you done? [daniel 4:34b, 35]
another theme is that of the clash between worldly ‘god’ and the true God and creator of the universe–nebuchadnezzar captures treasure that is meant for the temple of God and brings it into the presence of his own created, lifeless, idol god.
daniel will have to make a choice over and over–will he worship god or God? this decision we must make daily, will we steal glory meant for our King and give it to the god of this world? this is no trivial choice, it is a battle against the flesh, the old man, a humanly impossible task, but we have Jesus Christ living in us!
i have been crucified with Christ. it is no longer i who live, but Christ who lives in me. and the life I now live in the flesh i live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [galatians 2:20]
as you pray today, plead that God would give you the desire and ability through the Holy Spirit to not bend the knee to the world’s gods, but to Jesus Christ, the one true King!