Jump Start # 2636
Daniel 1:3 “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles.”
Our verse today begins one of the darkest periods in Judah’s history. It looks as if the lights were turned out, the doors were locked and the presence of God was gone. In many ways, it seemed as if God was abandoning these people. It looks like they were on their own.
The unfaithfulness, indifference and neglect of Judah’s spiritual life had caught up with them. Sin always will. We may feel that we have the world by the tail, but that ugly head always finds a way to bite us and bring about the darkest of consequences. For a long, long time God had warned the nation. King after king had taken the nation deeper and deeper into idolatry. Once in a while, a good king would appear. He’d remove idols and try to steer the ship back in the right direction. But, that king would die and with him died that legacy and mark of goodness. Prophet after prophet was ignored. God’s patience ran out. God sent for the Babylonians and they came with thundering might. The walls came down. The temple was robbed and burned. Thousands were carried away into captivity. Many were killed. The beloved ark of the covenant was taken. And, for seventy years the nation sat in Babylon. Many would die there. Others would be born who had never known Jerusalem.
Now, some thoughts for us:
First, when it looks like God has turned His back, He really hasn’t. Judah did. Judah was walking another direction. Throughout this first chapter of Daniel, the finger of God is seen everywhere.
- It was God who gave Judah into the Babylonian hands (v. 2)
- It was God who granted Daniel favor before the officials (v. 9)
- It was God who gave Daniel and his three friends knowledge and intelligence (v. 17)
- It was God who kept Daniel alive during the invasion and attacks
Sometimes it’s hard to see God. That can be a faith issue on our part. Sometimes we may not be looking in the right direction. Our expectations of what ought to happen may not line up with what God has planned. In the midst of a terrible storm, when the disciples believed that they might die, Jesus was there. He is always there. The ease of things in your life may not always be a blessing. And, the struggles you face are not an indication that God is angry with you, upset with you or is punishing you.
Second, Daniel, for his young age, stands our remarkably as a person of conviction, courage and deep faith. His mind was made up that he would not eat the king’s food. When, the contemporary Ezekiel was pulling three examples of righteous people, he used Job, Noah and Daniel. Job and Noah were long ago. They belonged back in the first pages of the Bible. But Daniel was current. He was still alive. He was among them. Daniel was taken into captivity even though he was not an idolater. What the nation was doing to be punished, Daniel was not. Good people, righteous people, innocent people often get caught up with the punishment that falls to others. In Joshua’s days, Achan was killed for the gold he stole from Jericho. With the execution of Achan, also came the execution of his children. I doubt his daughters fought in battle. They were caught up in the consequences of his sin.
Daniel was righteous, yet Daniel was taken captive.
Third, Daniel never gave up on God. His righteousness, his prayers, his faith remained strong. He didn’t complain. He didn’t blame God. He didn’t say, “why am I here? I didn’t do anything wrong.” God had a mission for Daniel and it was in the palaces of Babylon. Daniel was an example then and he remains an example to us today. At Daniel’s young age, there was not much he could do to turn the direction of Judah. That was in the hands of the kings. But what Daniel could do, was be faithful and dedicated to God.
Is this not a great lesson for us? There is not much you and I can do to turn the direction of this country. We don’t get to make policy. We are not included in high level discussions. But what we can do is be faithful and true to God. We can be an example.
Finally, Judah had long ignored the warnings of God. The word of the Lord was presented to them on many, many occasions. They ignored it. They went on doing what they wanted to do. Isaiah, 150 years before, warned them. And, now, before us, are two thousand year old warnings about the coming of the Lord. The voice of preachers are ignored. People do what they want to do. And, the thundering chariots of Heaven will come rushing in some day. Most who are alive at that time will be shocked, surprised and not ready. They ought to be ready, but they won’t be. Just like Judah was unprepared, so will the world be when Jesus comes.
There are so many windows and mirrors in the prophetic books to our days. Be a Daniel. Be different. Be transformed in your heart. Be certain in your faith. Be hopeful in your prayers. Be sure in your walk.