Read Daniel 7
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Jesus said, ‘I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” (Mark 14:62 NLT)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 100: Daniel. Wow! We’ve just hit the 100 devotion mark in this devotion series. It’s hard to believe how quickly that time flew. With that said, I can think of no better prophet to discuss in the 100th devotion than Daniel. While the book of Daniel is technically not considered a “prophetic text” like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc., Daniel himself was a prophet who started life as an aristocrat and grew up in Jerusalem; however, when Jerusalem fell to Babylon, Daniel was among those who were taken back to Babylon to live in exile.
The book of Daniel is an apocalyptic narrative, written sometime after the Babylonian Exile, that tells of Daniel’s time in Babylon. Let me unpack that sentence a bit. First, an apocalypse is the announcing of a revelation or revealing of knowledge. Thus, an apocalyptic narrative is a written account of the revelation or revealing of knowledge. In the case of Daniel, it is the revealing of Israel’s redemption from exile and the establishment of God’s rule on earth as it is in heaven.
Again, Daniel was not considered to be a prophet by ancient Jews; however, there is no doubt that the eponymous book is prophetic. While in Babylon, Daniel and his friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) were chosen for their intellect to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar II. While they did show loyalty to the king, Daniel and his three friends also displayed tremendous zeal for their God. For instance, they refused to eat any meats because the animals were sacrificed to the Babylonian gods and to the king. To eat such meat would defile them and be a sin against God Almighty.
Thus, Daniel and his friends ate a strictly vegan diet. Concerned that they would get weak and die, the king ordered that they eat all the food and wine that was given to them and not just the vegetables. They refused and told the guard that if their diet made them weak after 10 days they would eat the meat. Of course, after 10 days Daniel and his friends were not only surviving, but were thriving. Being a vegan myself, I can attest to that.
Daniel also became known as an interpreter of the king’s dreams. Nebuchadnezzar II had a series of bad dreams and none of his Babylonian prophets could tell him what they meant. Yet Daniel, a Jew, was able to tell the king not only what he dreamed, but what the dreams meant. The dreams were of a giant statue that is smashed by a stone from heaven and of a great tree of which a heavenly figure declares will be destroyed. Both dreams, according to Daniel, show Babylon as the current world power that will be destroyed by other world powers yet to come; however, in the end God’s kingdom will conquer them all.
Eventually, the first part of that prophecy came to pass and Babylon was conquered by the Medes and Persians. Darius the Mede becomes the ruler and grew fond of Daniel. This, of course, sparked bitter envy in the hearts of some of Darius’ officials, who tricked the king into making a royal decree that no one may pray to anyone, divine or human, for a month. The only one who could be prayed to was King Darius himself. They told the king this was to test his subjects for their loyalty.
Filled with zeal for his God, Daniel prayed anyway. When he was caught, he was thrown into the lion’s den. The king was troubled by this for he loved and admired Daniel; however, he could not go against his own royal decree. Once morning came and Daniel was seen to be unharmed by the lions, the king had the advisors thrown in and they were subsequently eaten by the lions.
Daniel did continue to have apocalyptic visions of a time when God’s Messiah would come and set up heaven, God’s kingdom, on earth. This heavenly ruler was identified as “one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13). This prophetic dream contained a horrific beast, but the beast was conquered by the heavenly warrior that was to come and establish God’s kingdom. Both visions were symbolic of God’s conquering of the wicked nations that had tried to conquer God’s people. In other words, while nations put themsevles above God, the fail to thwart God’s plan of redemption in the world.
One day, the “One like a Son of Man” would show up on the scene and bring God’s redemption to a world that, once again, would try to stop God. Jesus Christ would not be stopped. There is much for us to learn from Daniel. In a time where where the wickedness of the world, its empires, and its leaders is at an all-time high, we are being called to stand up and speak out against the dreams and visions of this world. God desires for us to be God’s mouthpiece, speaking truth to power and making straight the pathway of the Lord.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Christ is Lord of all and should never take the backseat to our world leaders or their politics.
Lord, spark in me the desire to speak truth to power and represent your Truth in all I say or do. Amen.