Faithful in exile
Daniel’s situation was shocking – how could God allow his land to be conquered, his people exiled, his temple defiled?
But what is more shocking than the defeat of God’s people, is the way God called Daniel to live in Babylon, and gave him gifts far beyond his training, so he could work to the benefit of God’s enemies.
Let that sink in for a minute. We tend to look down on collaborators, and praise resistance fighters – and yet Daniel was a collaborator par excellence; he even ended up as one of their chief officials!
So the question for Daniel and his fellow exiles was this: ‘How can we live in an alien and hostile culture, without selling out?’
Daniel did that by constantly acknowledging God and giving him the glory, not allowing himself to be assimilated, refusing to engage in idolatry, and by praying every day, never forgetting his home, or his God.
The dreams – disturbing as they are – reveal and lift the veil on normally hidden spiritual realities. They both warn and encourage God’s people, that worldly kingdoms ‘are God’s will for now, but not forever’ (Dale Ralph Davis, The Message of Daniel, p48). The Ancient of Days is sovereign (even though it might feel like he isn’t), and one day the Son of Man will usher in God’s perfect and everlasting rule.
Until then, with Daniel, we are called to serve God faithfully and patiently in exile. Can we do that without selling out?