During the third year of King Jehoiakim's reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and placed them in the treasure-house of his god. Daniel 1:1-2
When the coronavirus came upon us last year, our lives quickly shifted dramatically. Our schedules and routines changed, and life as we knew it became quite different. On a larger scale, many people throughout Scripture knew what it was like to have their life suddenly upended and uprooted; one of those people was Daniel. In studying Daniel's story, we find that even when life feels out of control and suddenly shifts and changes dramatically, God is still in control.
Daniel 1 tells the story of Daniel, and three other young men, whose lives were turned upside down in an instant. When they were young men, the Babylonians took over Jerusalem and Judah. In this take-over, the king of Babylon ordered for young Jewish men to be taken captive and brought to Babylon to serve in his palace. Daniel and three other young men, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were all taken to Babylon. These men were ripped away from everything they knew. They were torn away from their family and their friends. They were taken from their culture. The Babylonians even went so far as to change their names. Daniel was called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meshach, and Azariah was called Abednego. These name changes were given to remind these men that they were no longer in Judah. They were in Babylon now. Suddenly, their entire lives had changed.
While the situation Daniel and his friends had faced was difficult and dark, there was still hope. You see, God was working still. Verse 2 of Daniel 1 tells us that the Lord had allowed these things to happen. He was working behind the scenes. Jerusalem and Judah were going to learn to trust God and not worship false gods. For Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we find throughout the book of Daniel, they were going to have an opportunity to make His name known throughout Babylon. For them, all hope was not lost. God was working still.
Maybe you can relate to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's story. Sure, you were not taken from your home and brought to a new land to work in the king's palace, but you most certainly know what it feels like to have your life suddenly upended and changed. Let me encourage you, my friend. God is still working in your life and your story. He can take even the most challenging, most difficult circumstances and use them for good.
My friend, when life brings curveballs, when we are thrown into new places in our lives that we would not have chosen, we can find encouragement from Daniel's story. God is working. He is with us. And He can take even the worst situations and change them for good.
Read Daniel 1:1-7 (NLT)
Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar’s Court
During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and placed them in the treasure-house of his god.
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.” The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.