June 10, 2020
I’ve spent the last few months studying the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Most people are familiar with the story of Daniel being tossed into the lion’s den as a death sentence, only to be saved by God. That’s really just a minor episode in the story of Daniel, who was a Jewish man living in Babylon during the exile. The exile was a period of 70 years where the nation of Israel was decimated by the Babylonian empire. The majority of the population was carted off as captives to serve in Babylon when Daniel was a young man. He was pressed into government service. The book spans his early teenage years to his 80s, detailing major events in his life of service. The cool thing about the book of Daniel is that it has a reoccurring message and theme. In every story, the underlying message is simple: God is in control. God chooses leaders. God determines which nations are dominant. God sets the course of men’s lives. This was a really big deal to the Jewish readers of the the time, who would be trying to figure out how it was possible that God allowed their nation to be destroyed and the people relocated into slavery. For those folks, the book declares boldly that God has a plan, and He is in control. This was a message of comfort and encouragement to a defeated and hopeless people. Daniel even predicts Jewish return to their independence as a nation, which eventually happened. I found this study to be comforting as well. The whole reason I started teaching the book was because we needed to find new ways to serve our members despite the limitations of the Covid-19 lockdown. Teaching the book worked well with the Zoom app, and we were able to meet while following the expectations. The cool thing was that the book spoke to the situation we were facing. Businesses were closing, people were losing their jobs, people were getting sick and dying, and the news declared nothing but negatives every day. Now we face times of anger at police brutality, riots, violence, anger, and a new type of brokenness is catching our attention. All the while, the book of Daniel reminds us that God is in control. Regardless of what June brings, God hasn’t left things to chance. He is not closing His eyes and ears to our worries and prayers. The hard part in facing these times is trusting Him. Really, that is the hard part for Daniel in the book. He and his friends faced uncertainty over and over. In one of the more dramatic moments in the book, we see 3 of Daniel’s friends facing execution in a brick kiln if they did not show loyalty to the king by worshiping an idol. They answered simply: God will deliver us, and if He doesn’t, we will still be obedient to Him. This is the attitude believers should carry as they face these uncertain times. God has got it. He is in control. I will trust Him.