“Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand….” Daniel 1:1b,2
I’ve been going through the book of Daniel, which reveals a great deal about God and the way He works. The Lord accomplishes much with one stroke: in bringing judgment on Israel and sending them into captivity, He brought the Word of Life to a king and then to an entire empire.
Chapter four is clearly King Nebuchadnezzar’s personal testimony sent out to his whole expansive kingdom and beyond, urging others to believe: “To the peoples, nations and men of every language who live in all the world…It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me….Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven because everything he does is right and all his ways are just” (Dan. 4:1,2,37).
Look at how God accomplished this. He had, among the captives taken to Babylon, four young men who were fully submitted to Him. They very obviously knew the character of God and trusted Him to do what was right no matter what the consequences were for them—even though they had been captured, marched as prisoners to a foreign land and were forced into situations they hadn’t chosen. When three of them faced the fiery furnace they replied, “Our God is able to save us….But even if he does not…we will not serve your gods…” (Dan. 3:18). They did not complain, gripe or feel sorry for themselves—we can tell this because they were respectful and gracious in their interactions with those in authority.
And what means did God provide so they could be a witness? Crises: life threatening, impossibly difficult crises. In each one Daniel and his friends trusted God, offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and saw God answer in spectacular ways, displaying His glory before many.
What does this say to us? How do we respond to crises? Do we know the character of God well enough to trust Him in the impossible, to turn to Him in prayer rather than to frantic action? Are we willing to be thrust onto the stage of witness where only God’s power can save us, seeing the unseen as reality? Or are we those who live in the natural: complainers, whiners, self-pitying victims, seeking to escape what is uncomfortable, unwilling to see how we are called to play important roles in the grand scheme of God?
One of God’s purposes in giving us the book of Daniel is to give us a sense of how He is moving history to a conclusion. He is able to weave into His plan even the myriad sinful actions of human beings done against His will, moving things inexorably towards the culmination of His goal.
Now when we see crises in our own lives, in the church or in international events we need to remember that we can trust God to use both the good and evil of man for His purposes. A fresh read through the first 6 chapters of Daniel does wonders for re-calibrating our thinking on God’s working in our everyday lives.
Prayer: “Lord, help me to grow in the knowledge of your character. Help me to respond in faith to the small every day crises and the big ones in my life with the sacrifice of thanksgiving so I may be a witness for you, opening the way to others for belief and growth. Amen.” –From the book “Edified!”