I’ve been pouring over the words of the prophet Daniel again lately.
As part of my calling of God, I prepare and deliver sermons. Of late I have been preparing myself to do a series of sermons on the book of Daniel. I feel a little like J.B. Phillips says he felt as he began translating the New Testament from Greek to English. He said he felt as if he had grabbed hold of a live electric wire while working on an old house.
Although there is some debate about it, I take the view that the book of Daniel dates back to the 6th century B.C. That’s pretty ancient. But as I’ve laid hold of the text again recently, I’ve discovered there is a current still running through that old story that gets my heart racing and my pulse quickened.
Daniel didn’t let his circumstances determine the level of his faith. He was one of several young Jews who were whisked from their Jerusalem glory days to a far away place where pagan gods were worshipped and Jehovah was an unknown.
If you are familiar with the story you already know that God’s people had fallen into a long period of disobedience and rejection of His ways. The Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles begins with the thrilling story of the building of Solomon’s temple. It was a magnificent structure featuring gold plated everything and ceremonies and worship rituals designed to make one’s heart pulsate with the undeniable presence of God. The temple was located in the walled city of Jerusalem and was undeniably the holiest of holy places. But by the end of the book of Chronicles we are reading a different story. Kings went bad, priests sold out to corruption, and Jehovah’s ways were forgotten.
During that dark time, a Babylonian conqueror named Nebuchadnezzar besieged the Holy City and took off some of the brightest and handsomest of the Jews. Daniel was one of those “best of the best”.
In subsequent efforts the Babylonians took even more hostages and destroyed the temple and stripped the place of the gold candlesticks and the other temple treasures. 2 Chronicles 36: 15-19 tells in a few verses the sad and dark truth:
15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.
The outstanding thing about Daniel is that he kept his faith in Jehovah even though the physical representations of Jerusalem were destroyed. What I find so admirable is that his faith was not tied to the circumstantial or the temporal. Daniel’s faith is in Jehovah God.
To truly appreciate the story I invite you to read the book of 2 Chronicles and then read Daniel. He is one of those people who gets it. That is, he understands that God dwells in a temple not made by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1) Daniel is in Babylon but his heart is with God. He refuses to compromise. He refuses to accept that the presence of God was ever limited to the “holy of holies” or only to be found between the wings of the angels atop the ark of the covenant. He understood the role these things played in the great scheme of God.
He got it.
I’m starting to get it.
Don’t take my word for it. Take Daniel’s. Read it and reap