Daniel 1 - 4
So it’s come to this: exile. After decades of second chances and continued disobedience, the Israelites finally get what’s been coming to them. The entire trajectory of God’s chosen people was always towards hope and reunion with God- Abraham out of the land of Ur, the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Joshua leading his people into the promised land. But now, the Israelites experience a severance with the LORD that harkens back to the first exile in human history from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). What we learn from both these instances is that a continued pattern of desires to usurp God as king results in being driven away from His presence.
And so we continue our story through the perspective of Daniel and his friends exiled into Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Ironically, the majority of the book of Daniel encompasses a Jewish narrative of faithfulness and obedience to God even in the midst of a hostile environment. Through their unwavering resolve, Daniel and friends withstand physical defilement from the king’s food and are promoted into his court (Ch. 1). Daniel is given the ultimate insight and wisdom into both prophesying and interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and thus promoted more (Ch. 2). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego receive their promotion from their respective faithfulness and subsequent deliverance from the fiery furnace (Ch. 3). These stories culminate to the middle of this section of the book with Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation and restoration (Ch. 4).
In all of these occasions, one common theme runs through them all: God’s sovereignty. Chapter 1 sets the tone for the rest of the book by mentioning God’s active hand in all of these events: “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand (1:2)… And God gave Daniel favor and compassion (1:9)… God gave them learning and skill (1:17)…”. Even in the midst of exile, God has reminded His people that He is not far from them. The LORD is still at work for the fulfillment of His promises, and we even see Him extend grace towards the Gentiles. Nebuchadnezzar’s restoration shows that God’s mercy is not limited to those who bear the external sign of the covenant community but to those who have genuine repentant hearts.
Reflect & Connect
The reality of exile would have been devastating and disorienting for the Israelites in this point of history. The felt experience of being driven out of Judah would have felt like the harshest of judgments that God could have administered. And yet, the book of Daniel exhibits hope in places that was least expected. The biblical category of exile is a prevalent one for us as modern Christians. How do our perspectives changes when we begin to think and live as though our citizenship is not of this world? What areas in our lives do we long to be called back to the place where we actually belong? Where do we “prefer exile” in the ways that we’ve established earthly comforts and securities?
1 Peter 1:13-25
- Rev. Nameun Cho
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This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.