Who is God?

That's what it's all about.

Daniel 1:1–2

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.

It's not about who is king; it’s about who is God.

Nebuchadnezzar conquers Judah and what does he do? Carries off the temple treasures.

Of course. Why not? They’re valuable. Many of the pieces are made of gold. Even the ones that aren’t gold are beautiful and precious.

But does Nebuchadnezzar do this to get these nice things for himself? Does he melt anything down for the gold? No, he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.

What a waste, right?

No—because it’s about who is God.

This is what the Israelites get wrong, over and over, throughout the Old Testament. They fight and die over who is king.

But that’s not what matters to the LORD and his prophets. Notice the similarity with how Jeremiah counseled king Zedekiah to surrender his throne.

Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you surely surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then your soul shall live; this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. But if you do not surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans; they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.’ ” — Jeremiah 38:17–18

Zedekiah didn’t take Jeremiah’s advice, and great suffering ensued, but the nation did okay in the long run. Who is king doesn’t matter that much.

This “it’s about who is God” theme will dominate the whole book of Daniel.

It’s good that Nebuchadnezzar starts off by making this about who is God. At least he’s got that part right.

But he doesn’t know that he’s outgunned.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.