Daniel 1 & 2: God, from loser to victor
The next few entries are all from a talk I gave recently on Daniel 1 and 2. My mum commented afterwards that she's never heard those two chapters put together in a sermon, but I think they go together neatly if you see it as the story of God in Babylon, rather than the story of Daniel in Babylon!
God is a loser. At least, that’s how it looks in the first two verses of Daniel chapter 1.
The tiny little nation of Judah was besieged and under threat from Babylon, the biggest international superpower of the time. The Babylonians were fierce, ruthless and terrifying. It looked like they would just eat God’s people for breakfast and spit out their trophies.
And in fact, in verse two, some of their trophies are things from the temple. The great God of the Israelites, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses, the living God, according to his people – it was his temple that was desecrated, despoiled and devastated..
Yes, to everyone looking on, to the world and the nations nearby, Israel and Judah’s God looks like a loser. He is defeated. He is vanquished. The might of the Babylonians has it all over him.
It’s not a good start for God in the book of Daniel. Or is it?
Have a look more closely in verse two. There are several characters here: the babylonian king - Nebuchadnezzar, the Judean King - Jehoiakim and God.
In this second verse, we see what the book of Daniel is all about: the Lord. "The Lord delivered Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hands."
He starts out, painted as a loser to the outside world. But have a look at the end of chapter 2. In verse 47, the very king who desecrated the temple and stole God’s things, the king who vanquished Israel’s God and made him appear small and ridiculous to the world is saying these incredible words:
"Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries.”
How did this happen? How did God go from defeat to triumph? From ridicule to renown? There are two things to see, and we'll explore them in the next few blogs. One, he did it by using his people. Two, he did it by revelation.