In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah… Daniel is introduced as one of the young men carried to Shinar – or Mesopotamia – by Nebuchadnezzar, in 605 B.C. He is joined by three others who achieve high status in Babylon; we know them best by their Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The first chapter is devoted to two attributes of these four young men: their faithfulness to the Most High God, and their recognition for wisdom and understanding.
The second chapter moves forward just two years – Nebuchadnezzar was crown prince when he besieged Jerusalem and returned to Babylon when his father died to assume the throne. Daniel’s ability to interpret dreams, which is alluded to in the first chapter, is at the center of this story. The king is distressed – he wants answers about his dream from someone who knows what he’s talking about. Listen to the interplay between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel and remember another king and Hebrew interpreter from many years ago.
The final chapter today takes place at an indeterminate time in the future. The image that Nebuchadnezzar commissions here is 90 feet tall and 90 feet wide, overlaid, as were many ancient idols, with gold. There is no mention of whose image was borne – it might have been the king’s; it might have been one of their gods; it makes no difference to the author. What is significant is that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to kneel.
Through the first two chapters the LORD has maintained the faithful and provided wisdom as required. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego recognize that nothing is promised them: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Our verse for this week is 2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Daniel 1 through 3. Now let’s read it!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.