The Book of Daniel is full of amazing stories that Sunday School teachers all over the world are grateful for. Everyone is familiar with the time Daniel stood up for his beliefs and got to spend the night with some lions, or when his three friends refused to bow to an idol and were tossed into a furnace for their efforts. The best part of these stories is that God delivers them miraculously both times.
When I was recently rereading Daniel, I was struck by the narrative that opens Chapter Two. Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, are now established as wise men in Babylon. Jerusalem has fallen and they are living in exile. They have been removed from their families and give roles as advisors to the slightly manic King Nebuchadnezzar. The context of their lives is beyond distressing. (Read Jeremiah or Ezekiel to get a full picture of the devastation to the Israelites of the weight of their exile.) Yet, they are not seen to be in distress, but rather, continue in their faithfulness to God.
Chapter Two opens with Nebuchadnezzar having a nightmare so severe that he cannot sleep, and so he calls upon his astrologers and magicians to not only interpret his dream, but to tell him what he dreamt. Naturally, they are unable to do so, which only enrages the king further. (There are threats of limb tearing and houses being turned into rubble!) As a result of their failure, one of the king’s guards turns up at Daniel’s house to execute him and his friends. We are told that Daniel handles the situation with “wisdom and discretion” (v14). His response is to seek his godly friends and together unite in prayer, seeking the answer from God himself (v 17-18). And God answers Daniel’s prayer (v19).
What I love the most about this account, is Daniel’s response.
20 He said,
“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.
22 He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
though he is surrounded by light.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
and revealed to us what the king demanded.” (NLT)
I believe that there is so much encouragement we can draw from Daniel’s declaration.
God has all wisdom and power. He doesn’t have some wisdom, or some power, He is not limited! He created the heavens and the earth. There is nothing beyond His capacity.
He controls the course of world events. There is also nothing happening in this world that is a surprise to God. He is in control. When we look at the events of the world, particularly over the last 12 months, it is easy to think that things are out of control. But God has not lost control of the world. Daniel and his friends lived through a time when their nation was taken into captivity, their spiritual home destroyed, their traditional means of worship removed, their culture was under threat and yet Daniel was able to declare that God was in control of the course of world events. So, we should probably breathe out too!
He removes kings and sets up other kings. As we look at the leaders of the world, we can become distressed, perplexed or even angry at those in leadership. Daniel and his friends were in the service of a genuinely unstable king, who was ready to murder all of his advisors because they could not tell him what he had dreamt. But Daniel understood that God ultimately had control of this kingship, and he could remove him if he chose to. This truth is shown in the interrupted rule of Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar (Daniel 5).
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. Proverbs challenges all to seek out wisdom, James 1:5 confirms that God will not withhold it from those who ask. The Church should be seeking the wisdom of God daily, to bring truth and light into their lives.
He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what is hidden in the darkness even though he is surrounded by light. God knows what is going on in the world. Even what is hidden in the darkness. Psalm 139 highlights that there is no part of our lives that is hidden from God. The godly and the ungodly are visible to Him.
Daniel closes his prayer by thanking and praising God, acknowledging Him as his source. What a powerful place of peace Daniel was able to find himself in, when he sought out godly counsel from others, positioning himself and his friends to pray and seek an answer from God.
I pray that as you move towards the end of this year, you seek counsel from the wise and find your answers in God. He is in control. God’s got this – just ask Him!
GOD'S GOT THIS
Written by, Pastor Netta Collins