Daniel’s Captivity in Babylon
Open Your Bible
Daniel 1:1-7, 2 Kings 24:10-17, Psalm 137:1-6
Last week my husband called to say goodbye to his 93-year-old grandmother. Her body is showing signs of fatigue, and her doctors have said she doesn’t have much time left. More than that, she can just sense it somehow.
He relayed the conversation to me afterward—how he told her would miss her, and how she said she loved him and called him “Doo-bug,” the name she gave him when he was a baby. I listened, the familiar ache in my chest of knowing that our time here is temporary, no matter how we like to pretend it isn’t. What must it feel like to know the transition to heaven is near—to look back over nearly a century of celebration and sorrow, wars and babies, grandchildren and church potlucks and conversations on the front porch? What does success look like from that vantage point? What does it mean to live a faithful life?
In the book of Daniel, we get an overview of one man’s life. This true story begins with God’s people, including young Daniel, being taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon (Daniel 1:2). Part of the king’s strategy was to take some of the most beautiful, wise, and noble into his own home and indoctrinate them in the ways of the Chaldeans. The Babylonians’ desire was to change everything about Daniel, from his name to the god he worships.
The book recounts Daniel’s roughly seventy years in exile. He will be a prophet, an interpreter of dreams, and a prisoner. He will fast, worship, and pray to the God of Israel under threat of his life. He will survive a den of hungry lions by Yahweh’s power and presence, and prophesy the glory of God’s eternal kingdom. And while we know Daniel was not perfect—he was human, a sinner in need of grace—we will get glimpses over these twelve chapters of what it looks like to live a faithful life in exile.
We, too, are exiles in this world, longing for the day when we will live at home in the presence of Christ our King. We are citizens of heaven, but we take up residence here for a time, called to represent God’s image on every stretch of the journey. As we wrestle with what it looks like to live a faithful life, we look past Daniel to the perfection of Jesus Christ. He is our example and our advocate, our just judge and righteous ruler.
To say this year has been disorienting is an understatement. But regardless of our times, our culture, or our circumstances, our God’s faithfulness endures and His character does not change (Hebrews 13:8). He is more than able to be our anchor in times like these. If we will turn to Him and choose His ways, He will help us to remain faithful in this life, looking forward to the day when we will no longer feel the exile of this world because we will be with Him in His eternal kingdom.
Long live the King.