OK, today I especially loved the “coincidence” that we went from reading about the exile from Jerusalem to Babylon and then followed Daniel into the Babylonian king’s court. How cool was that? That doesn’t happen often when we’re reading alphabetically. Anyway, I feel I need to pull more on Daniel’s story today than on Josiah and Jehoahaz.
Daniel had just been sitting around in Jerusalem, minding his own business, doing his own thing when out of the blue he finds himself exiled to Babylon. Once in Babylon he is told that he has been chosen to “stand in the king’s palace” where he will learn “the literature and language of the Chaldeans”. Intimidating, but exciting none the less. Hey, it’s not slave work right? But then there’s something else. Mealtime rolls around and Daniel sits down to the table, his stomach rumbling and his mouth is watering from the smells that are coming from the palace kitchen. He was probably thinking, “This hasn’t been nearly as bad of a day as I had expected.” I can only imagine how crestfallen he felt when they brought in the trays filled with food that he couldn’t eat. Like a sweet-toothed diabetic in a candy factory, he couldn’t eat a thing. Then he probably thought, “I’m going to starve. I’ll be the smartest dead guy around.” The pressure to eat that steaming food before him had to have been incredible. Yet he stood firm in his faith and refused to eat it.
Sometimes in life God plants us into situations where we are forced to make a choice, his ways or the world’s, God’s food or the Babylonian king’s. We’re placed at a fork in the road where whichever path we choose will change life dramatically and neither really looks to be that fun. But we can’t stand at the fork forever; we have to choose one or the other. The pressure to take the World’s way is incredible, yet the eternal resentment of not taking God’s way is equally unbearable. But there is hope. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 tells us,
“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Do you remember in yesterday’s reading when the king of Assyria (Sennacherib) had been attacking Judah and “sent his servants to Jerusalem to Hezekiah king of Judah and to all the people of Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, “Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem?'” (2 Chronicles 32:9-10) The Enemy of Judah was attacking the cities of Judah and putting intense pressure on the people. Yet they were enduring it and that infuriated Sennacherib causing him to turn his cause of frustration into a taunt. “On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege?” I talked about it yesterday and how there is always SOMETHING we are trusting in to save us, whether it’s money, medicine, doctors, or God. But of all these options, and the many more that I didn’t take the time to list, which of them is able to help you endure the siege? Which of them is able to help you withstand the pressure of the World to eat the king’s food? Which of them is able to help you locate the trap door hidden within every single temptation of life?
Only God can be our source of salvation from the siege. Jesus is our shield and refuge, our shelter in times of trouble and in times of glee. Only the power of His Holy Spirit can hold us up in our human weakness.