Stories from the Old Testament for coping with 2023 

Daniel – part 2 (part 1, March 17)

Seven years into his reign, Nebuchadnezzar 11 had become the most powerful man in the world. He didn’t tolerate opposition or threats by other empires like Egypt, and he certainly didn’t take kindly to the king of the Jews refusing to pay the tribute owed to him from his victory over Judah in 597 BC. 

But he was also God’s “servant,” Jeremiah 25:9. God used this powerful man to punish the Jews for refusing to heed Jeremiah’s warnings to them to stop “serving and worshipping other gods,” verse 6. So in 587 BC Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Judah, and took the Jews into captivity in Babylon for “seventy years,” verse 12. By this time Daniel had already been in Babylon for 18 years, and was probably in his early thirties. 

A lot had happened to him in that 18 years. Nebuchadnezzar had established a three year training school for the brightest and best “to enter the king’s service,” Daniel 1:3-6, including Daniel and others in the royal family of Israel.  

But God had a purpose for him too. He gave Daniel “knowledge and understanding of all kinds,” verse 17, so that at the end of his three year training course he and his three Jewish compatriots came top of the class – and “ten times better” than all the others too, according to Nebuchadnezzar (verse 20). So God is using both the king and Daniel, and like two lines on a graph they’re about to converge to provide an amazing story for us as our world now becomes more and more like Babylon

The similarity takes shape in chapter 2, in the dictatorial manner of the king, who has a troubling dream and demands an interpretation from his astrologers, or else he’ll “cut them in pieces and have their homes turned into rubble,” Daniel 2:5. It reminds me of similar dictators during the pandemic who demanded vaccination or else face loss of privileges, loss of contact with family, loss of jobs, careers, education, unemployment insurance, reputation, bank accounts, and even loss of medical care.  

And just like Nebuchadnezzars’s threat, people’s lives in our “Babylon” were cut to shreds and businesses were turned to rubble. But under that kind of threat to his own life and career (verse 13), what did Daniel do? Did he curl up in fear, march in protest, run for his life, leave the country, demand his constitutional rights, hire a lawyer, or – or what?….(part 3, March 31)          

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