Why God’s sovereignty mattered to Daniel, and why it should matter to you
written by A C
Lately, the buzz in the media has been centered around certain political figures jostling to become the next President of the United States. And as the drama of state primaries makes its crescendo towards November, the outlook already seems extremely bleak. In what is shaping up to be a finale of choosing between the lesser of two evils, this year’s election process is leaving many of us justifiably apprehensive about who #45 will be and what kind of era they will usher in. What should we make of the presidential hopefuls, and how should we think through the inevitable political change that looms upon our nation’s horizon?
As it turns out, nothing is new under the sun. Scandalous governance at the national level is not unique to our day and age, but rather a reiteration of what has happened before. Consider the story of Daniel, for example.
Following the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Daniel, a young Jew, was led into exile and began braving three consecutive tenures of pagan kings–Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius. Life suddenly became very difficult for the man seeking to honor God. Government-mandated dietary regulations (Dan 1:5, 8), idol worship (Dan 3:4-6), persecution (Dan 3:8-15), oppression of the poor (Dan 4:27), sacrilege (Dan 5:22-23), and infringement upon religious freedom (Dan 6:7-9) became societal norms. Add on top of that regal heads who were despotic (Dan 2:5), violent (Dan 2:12-13), debaucherous (Dan 5:1-4), and proud (Dan 5:18-23), and life during Daniel’s time could not seem to get any more suffocating.
Yet those familiar with Daniel’s story know that triumph overcomes trial. The driving motif of the book of Daniel is why the reader comes away brimming with optimism rather than despair. It is articulated not only by Daniel but also by the collective refrain of even the most pagan of kings: The Lord, the God of Israel, is sovereign over all human affairs whether good or bad.
“…and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever, for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan 4:34-35)
No matter how egregious the rule of man may be, the mighty hand of God is actively working behind it all. God is sovereign over all things including politics. You know this. But have you considered that Daniel knew this too? In fact he lived in light of this precious truth, and we can be helped by his example as we strive to do the same. Here are a few lessons from his life to consider as we head into election season this year:
“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” (Dan 6:10)
Daniel did not enter into hermit mode when the circumstances were against him because he knew that God was in control. His prayerful thanksgivings were rooted in this reality. No human dictate could change Daniel’s resolve to be righteous because he cared much more about what God thought. Daniel could have prayed secretly to avoid the scrutiny of his opponents, but did not even make that a point of compromise in his devotion to God. In fact, his zeal to serve God unapologetically was well-known to others (Dan 6:16, 20). And so should it be with us as well. May we point men to God as we persevere in righteous living (Dan 6:5), and may we always unabashedly choose to follow God’s agenda rather than that of men (Acts 5:29).