In Exile: But God - 27 July 2020
By Louise Gevers
“God is wise and powerful! Praise him for ever and ever. He controls the times and the seasons; he makes and unmakes kings; it is he who gives wisdom and understanding. He reveals things that are deep and secret; he knows what is hidden in darkness, and he himself is surrounded by light.
Perhaps it’s not unusual for Believers to sometimes feel that they, like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, are strangers in a strange land. Wherever, and however, God’s people are called to serve and honour Him amongst those who do not, He is their top priority. This is not a good recipe for a problem-free life, but when God, in His unfailing love is honoured above all else, He can be trusted to help His people in all circumstances.
These young men had been taken from Judah into exile by Nebuchadnezzar, given Babylonian names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and were given instruction to serve in his court. It could be said that they were very well treated and given the finest food, and education, possible, in a foreign country, but it must also be recognised that they had been forcibly removed and outwardly stripped of their identity, and belief system, to serve the conquering king. But God was with them in each situation.
God gave Daniel favour with the official in charge of them who exempted them from having to eat the food offered to Babylonians idols. Being allowed to choose to eat only vegetables enabled them to honour God, and strengthened ties with their homeland, also reassuring them that He was with them. He then gave them “knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning” (Daniel 1:17) that when they were tested by the king, “he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” (Daniel 1:20) Not that this favoured evaluation seemed to help when trouble arose when they were sentenced to death along with Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men who couldn’t fulfil his impossible demand.
Again God came to the rescue of Daniel and his friends: Nebuchadnezzar extended the execution time to give Daniel the chance to tell him his dream and interpret it, and save them from being, “cut … into pieces”, and their houses from being, “turned into piles of rubble.” (Daniel 2:5) Don’t we sometimes feel we face seemingly impossible challenges in our world, like the one Nebuchanezzar created for them? They may not necessarily be new issues, but they may be made more conspicuous through the new situations caused by the coronavirus. Be encouraged! God is God.
Daniel sets the example of praying together in faith for all time. Summoning his friends, fellow Hebrews, he, “urge(s) them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” (Daniel 2:18)
God hears and comes through for them.
Prayer: Lord God, How mighty You are, far above anything our finite minds could imagine. Thank you that You love us and deliver Your people who trust You and turn to You in all circumstances. Amen