Before Ezekiel and his countrymen were carried into captivity, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar sent an army to Jerusalem, took their most sacred national treasures, and carried the king and the best and brightest of the Jewish empire as hostages to Babylon.
The captives had to wonder: “Where is God? Has the God of Israel met His match in the Babylonian empire?
Among those captives were princes named Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Their story – and especially that of Daniel, is recounted in the book, Daniel.
The historical section of Daniel covers the period from 605 B.C. to 536 B.C. and appeared as a literary document after Judah’s captivity, during the days when God’s people were beginning to return to Jerusalem. The book has but one point: Despite Israel’s national shame and weakness, God, their God, was still God. No matter how it seemed at times, He still ruled over the kingdoms of men and “gives them to anyone He wishes” (4:17).
Proof of God’s sovereignty is offered in the first chapter of the book as the author sets the stage for the main characters and places the reader in their world. These characters, though enslaved in a foreign country, rise inexplicably to positions of power – solely because God wills it (Daniel 1). In the second section, even the Kings of Babylon and Persia come to understand that Israel’s God is sovereign even over them (chapters 2 – 7). In the final section of the book (chapters 8-12), Daniel receives visions for the future that illustrate the same thing. Years after Daniel’s death and the circulation of this book, God’s people, in reading Daniel, would take comfort in knowing that no matter how difficult the road, God was still taking care of them and would deliver them. Their assurance of the future rested on the demonstrations of God in their past.
Daniel remains important. Even though God’s people are no longer defined at all by nationality or ethnicity, our God still rules over the nations and gives them to whomever He wishes, even the lowliest of men. Even though the nations of the world, as nations of the world, have neither promise nor hope from God, they ignore Him and His will at their own peril.
We, however, regardless of nationality, as followers of Jesus, are the People of God. No matter who holds public office, God sits on the throne. Our allegiance is solely to Him, and our hope rests in Him exclusively who rules sovereign over the kingdoms of men.