Today’s Bible reading* includes three somewhat familiar stories for those of us who have been around church for a while. It’s a tale of three kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius.
In Daniel Chapter Four, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and asked Daniel to interpret it as he had done previously. Daniel tells the king that he would be humiliated, lose his mind, and be restored once he realized God’s sovereignty. God did just that.
In Daniel Chapter Five, Nebuchadnezzar had been replaced by King Belshazzar. During a feast, Belshazzar called for the gold and silver utensils that had been stolen from the Temple; the king, his wives, concubines, and advisors drank from the holy vessels and praised their pagan gods. Suddenly the king saw a hand appear and write on a wall. Belshazzar learned that Daniel could interpret such visions. Daniel translated the words and reminded Belshazzar what had happened to his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar because he had exalted himself against God. Daniel said that he too, would be replaced because he didn’t humble himself before God.
In Daniel Chapter Six, King Belshazzar has been replaced by Darius the Mede. Darius’ advisors were jealous of Daniel and concocted a plan to entrap Daniel and have him removed from his high position. They then reported to Darius that Daniel was violating his orders by worshiping God, rather than Darius. Per the king’s edict, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. The next morning, Darius went to check on Daniel and learned that he was unharmed. Darius removed Daniel from the den and the advisors and their families were thrown into the den and were killed.
Learning from his predecessors, Darius acknowledged God without having to be humiliated. As a result, Daniel prospered under Darius and his successor, Cyrus the Persian.
As we’ve seen before, God always makes good on His Word. He will always bring glory to Himself, even among pagan rulers, as we saw in today’s tale of three kings. In today’s readings, we see kings who realized that they weren’t the ones in charge; God is.
Believers are commanded to submit to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1. Believers are also commanded to pray for those in authority over us. (1 Timothy 2:2) We can’t forget the historical context of Paul’s letters to the Romans and Timothy. He was writing during the ascent of Nero as Emperor of Rome. Nero was a wicked emperor who persecuted Christians. Paul was well aware of what he was saying when telling First Century Believers to pray for those in authority.
The last time I checked, Christians aren’t being persecuted like First Century Believers were, especially in the United States. If Paul told his readers to submit to and pray for those in authority, how much easier is it for us than his readers.
Let today’s readings remind us to pray for those whom God has placed in authority over us. (Daniel 2:21)
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: