This Sunday we are beginning a new journey in the Book of Daniel. This book was written to comfort God's people in times of trouble and was given at a time when God’s people were suffering in exile. Therefore, Daniel is a book that should encourage Christians even in the face of suffering persecution for their faith.
Commentator Jim Boice said, “The great and most important theme of Daniel is that there is but one God, who is Jehovah, and that he is sovereign over the events of history.” In His sovereignty, God is faithful to keep his covenant promises. Here he has kept his promise to apply the covenant stipulations resulting in the exile of his people. In other words, they received the negative side of the covenant promises. It is precisely because his people did not keep the covenant that they are exiled! Let that sink in! Yet God graciously sustains his people while in captivity showing his sovereign covenant faithfulness. And furthermore, in an ultimate show of grace some years later, God sends his son into the world to seek and save the lost showing his covenant faithfulness because Jesus alone was able to walk in the covenantal statutes and perfectly please his Father. This points us to the gospel! Knowing that God is utterly sovereign over the events of history gives us hope that his people will one day be restored in glorification. All this for His glory and our good.
This week the Book of Daniel opens with a declaration, "1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah," thus giving us the year of 605 B.C. This was the first year of the deportation from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. In this first wave of deportations, the brightest and best of the Hebrews were taken in order to become trained and assimilated into king Nebuchadnezzar's service. Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among them. We're more familiar with these three being called Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego, but these were their Babylonian names. Daniel was called Belteshazzar. Why would they be given Babylonian names? We shall see why their name change was significant!
This book is very hopeful and exciting because it reminds us that God the Sovereign over all people, places, and times. See you Sunday for more on this!