A Bigger View of God Through the Book of Daniel (Hidden Gems Series)

July 25, 2022

How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? Israelites exiled to Babylon lamented over this question in Psalm 137, and it’s a question I find myself asking in these storm-tossed times, living in a culture that is increasingly distant from Christian principles. This fall I joined a community Bible study that focused on the book of Daniel, which helped me answer this question.

When my kids were little, there was a Bible song that dared them “to be a Daniel.” The lyrics to this song came to mind during my study of this book, and it seems to me that this song exalts Daniel and his virtues more than it magnifies God’s presence and activity during Daniel’s earthly exile in Babylon. What captivated me most reading this Old Testament book? It wasn’t Daniel. In studying the book of Daniel, what captivated me most was the immensity, the sovereignty, and the unstoppable power of God.

As I’ve grown as a Christian, I yearn for a bigger view of God. Through my study of Daniel, I increasingly see that God’s immensity is not expanding, but my vision of him is changing. In other words, as I study the Word, God does not change, but I do: through the power of the Holy Spirit, my vision of God’s magnitude aligns more closely to who God was, is, and always will be. I see this growth in Daniel himself. Daniel discovered that the expansion of his faith was directly connected to his growth in knowing and trusting God, the object of his faith.

Throughout this book, Daniel’s view of God expands through hard circumstances, fervent prayer, heavenly visitations, and fulfillment of prophetic visions. Daniel witnesses a profusion of God’s attributes in Babylon: God’s providence through sustaining his strength on a diet of vegetables, God’s omnipotence in giving Daniel night visions to decipher the king’s dreams, God’s immanence by protecting Daniel in the furnace and the lion’s den, God’s omniscience illuminating Daniel’s prophetic understanding, God’s omnibenevolence to keep Daniel’s fervent faith to his later years. Through Daniel’s experiences, I see that God is true to his promise: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4). 

Although Daniel remained in exile in Babylon all of his days, he was ultimately rescued from his earthly captivity by the work of Jesus, the one who held the keys to his ultimate freedom. Knowing this, standing upon the promises of God, my eyes lift from earthly circumstances as I look more fully into the wonderful face of God. My expanded vision of God eclipses earthy sorrows and disillusionments. Seeing Daniel trust God, I can hold two things simultaneously: life is hard and God is immense, sovereign, and unstoppable. In this knowledge I join Daniel in exalting and praising God, steadied in the understanding that God “reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness” (Daniel 2:22).

As believers, how can we keep singing? Another song, Johnny’s Cash’s “Fourth Man in the Fire,” comes to mind and more closely captures the focus of Daniel, emphasizing that through Jesus, the exiles in Babylon “wouldn’t bend, they wouldn’t bow, they wouldn’t burn!” Yes, that fourth man, Jesus, rescues me, and by his grace, through an expanded view of God’s preeminence, I can join the ancients in singing the Lord’s song as a sojourner in this foreign, earthly land. Let’s dare, like Daniel, to grow in our vision of God, friends. Celebrate the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!

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