What does it say?
Nebuchadnezzar tells his own remarkable story of an encounter with God that transforms his life (Dan 4). What is so astounding about this is that he is the most powerful man of his generation. He has another dream that Daniel interprets. The immensely proud Nebuchadnezzar is humbled by a temporary insanity reducing him to live as an animal. This is not an unknown condition, and several catalogued mental illnesses are possibilities. Daniel’s interpretation of the dream plays out exactly; the king’s sanity is restored and he gives glory to the God of Daniel.
Nabonidus followed his father Nebuchadnezzar and later retired to Arabia leaving his son Belshazzar as co-regent. Daniel is now in his 80’s. Persian troops have the city under siege, and Belshazzar holds this great feast as an act of pride and defiance (Dan 5). A mysterious hand writes on the wall and Daniel interprets this to mean that the fall of Babylon is imminent. That very night the Persians divert the flow of the Euphrates River, enter the city though the dry river bank and conquer it.
Another event toward the end of his life (Dan 6), Daniel’s enemies trap him by taking advantage of his disciplined and uncompromised faith. For the Medes and Persians law trumps the king and Darius is obligated to put Daniel in the lion’s den. History and archaeology verify many details of Daniel, but scholars disagree about the historical identity of Darius, though there are strong options.
What does it mean?
God uses his people to bless the nation, despite Israel being removed from the land for sin. Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony is powerful (4:1-3; 34-37). Darius gives similar testimony to conclude chapter six (6:25-28). Notice the universality in the announcements of both kings. They speak to all peoples, nations and languages in all the earth. These two “pagan” kings fully participate in God’s mission!
The people of Israel in Daniel’s day, however, have forgotten their mission. Though these pagan kings are proclaiming the “good news” of the one true God, they come to this understanding as God uses a handful of Jews like Daniel and his three friends. Never underestimate what God can do through a few committed believers.
How will I respond?
What part should my life play in announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ to peoples, nations and languages throughout the earth? Specifically, what is one activity or action step I can take this week to contribute in a positive way to what has been God’s mission from the beginning?