Daniel was getting old and he had lived his role in God’s Story well. He had served alongside several kings through his many years in Babylon. His life had been full of visions, dreams, interpretations, and a visit to a den of lions. He rallied God’s people in prayer. He stood up for good and for God. He purposed early on to be faithful to God, and God blessed him.
Cyrus, king of Persia, is now in charge and he decreed that the Israelites, now called Jews, could return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and re-establish the desolate post-war land. We hear from Daniel one last time, a series of challenging end-time prophesies which include an interesting statement: And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days! I will not pretend to know what that means, but Daniel was blessed and received a final promise of rest and an allotted inheritance.
He was a good man and lived a good life. Thank You God for Daniel and for his life that continues to inspire. May we make resolutions about things that really matter and then be faithful to keep them our whole lives through. Help us to remember that life is not over until it is over, and then for those who love You, life really begins! Amen.
Daniel 12:12 NLT
An interesting thing happened to King Nebuchadnezzar near the end of his reign. He had another dream. It was a very scary dream and when he called for Daniel’s interpretation, he chose not to heed Daniel’s warning. So about a year later, as the king was proudly boasting about his own majesty, the nightmare came true. He descended into madness and became like a wild animal. King Nebuchadnezzar stayed this way until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms.
When he yielded to God he came to his senses and said, “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation…” The insanity was temporary and his mind was changed, and joyfully he honored God and wanted everyone to know the greatness of the Most High.
King Nebuchadnezzar had spent most of his life oppressing God’s people and then he himself became a true believer. In a way he had a conversion much like Saul to Paul in the New Testament, but this man had lived many years earlier. God’s power and His grace are still alive and active in our days. I pray we live fully embracing our role in His Story.
Daniel 4:34 ESV
As you have probably guessed by now, this was not a peaceful time in history. Battles raged and on-going struggles for power shaped each reign as kings were killed and new ones were set up. God continued to send prophets to warn unfaithful people but they continued to do what seemed right in their own eyes – neglect God.
Back in Babylon, jealous leaders in King Nebuchadnezzar’s regime made arrangements for Daniel’s friends to be thrown in a fiery furnace. When the three men were not burned, King Nebuchadnezzar, who liked Daniel, rejoiced, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!”
Nebuchadnezzar went on to say that only the God of Daniel and his friends could rescue like this, and if others did not follow Him, they would be cut to pieces and their houses burned down. He was not exactly the father of friendship evangelism. It may have taken many years for King Nebuchadnezzar to fully understand God’s love and power and to trust in Him alone. We will see later in his life how his pride eclipsed his loyalty to God.
Although this part of God’s Story mainly reveals the failure of His people as a nation to see how they had been blessed so that they could be a blessing, I love the glimpse we get of God’s love for individuals as well. Nebuchadnezzar is an encouraging example as I look at my own life (I have never been a political leader but I do struggle at times with control) and God shows how He is the One who is ultimately in control of it all. This portion of Daniel’s story also encourages us to keep on praying for belief and trust in God to come to those we love. Do others know of our allegiance to the King? There is no blessing in being a secret saint, but with a clear conscience we need to do what we do so that others can be blessed, and then everyone will give glory to our Father in Heaven. Can it be said of us, “Blessed be the God of…”?
Daniel 3:28b NKJV
King Nebuchadnezzar, as we will find out, is an interesting character in God’s Story. At first glimpse we might stereotype him as the bad guy for he powerfully ruled an enemy kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the smart and handsome young men of Judah’s royal family be taken captive and trained to serve in his palace in Babylon. Daniel was one of the Southern Kingdom’s elite and he was selected for this role. Early on he resolved not to defile himself in this new environment and instead remain faithful to God.
Daniel was given an opportunity to declare the power, wisdom and goodness of God when he volunteered to interpret a disturbing dream that bothered King Nebuchadnezzar. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.” Daniel did not take the credit himself but gave credit where credit was due: to God.
What we resolve to do, or not to do, says so much about us. Living faithfully in that steadfast resolve builds character, and God uses people of character to communicate to others that they too can know God and grow in His good character. That is the way He does it; don’t we need human examples of godly living? Healthy teaching coupled with learners who desire to mature, is like seeds falling on suitable soil; growth will happen.
During the end our last year of living in Thailand, Russell taught the book of Daniel at our house church. Each Tuesday the ladies of our church gathered to discuss the lesson and study more verses from Daniel. We prayed together and helped each other with individual applications. Like Daniel, we wanted to live out our resolves. Because I knew the year before us would be filled with lots of transition and lots of uncertainty, my resolve was to live presently and thankfully each day. To make this resolve more concrete, I chose to take at least one photo a day and then journal why I was thankful. God gave Daniel the ability to interpret dreams for the king. He gave me peace and gratitude as I lived trusting in Him with resolve through a very unresolved year.
Daniel 2:19-20 ESV