Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility — young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. Daniel 1:3-4 (NIV).
The common language of Babylon was Aramaic; the common language spoken in Judea in the time of Christ was Aramaic. Coincidence? It’s one way in which those in Christ’s time would have related to this story. I don’t believe there are any coincidences.
It’s no coincidence that events would line up in Babylon the way they did. God had been patient with His chosen people for 1500 years. He had provided for them as they rose from the family of Abraham. He had guided Abraham’s descendants into, then out of, Egypt. He provided the land of Canaan, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ and guided the people there Through the judges, God formed Israel into a nation, then gave them kings to rule and to build His temple home.
All through this, God warned His people that there would be consequences if they turned from Him. The invasions of Israel by Assyria and Babylon didn’t happen all of a sudden. There were centuries of internal strife and moral rot that made Israel, then Judah, vulnerable to invasion. Yet God patiently taught, patiently provided, patiently sent prophets to herald both foreboding disaster and coming salvation.
Daniel and his people didn’t end up in Babylon by chance. No, it was the outcome of millions of choices that culminated in God delivering His judgment on His people through the weapons of occupation. It wasn’t a coincidence.
Thus, when the king sent for men of good standing from the Judaites, it was God who had moved all the chess pieces into place so that His prophet, Daniel, could serve His purposes by serving an enemy king. He would do this through faithfully voicing God’s words to desperate ears; He would do this by causing miracles to occur in a palace of pagan overlords.
And it started with the Babylonians teaching their captives the common language of this foreign land. The students would learn Sumerian and Mesopotamian histories, and would learn how to speak in new ways to serve a hostile ruler. In doing so, they began working for the Jews’ eventual return home. In a larger way, God was organizing the framework through which He would witness more of His messianic plan of salvation.
There are no coincidences.
For further reading: Genesis 39:6, 2 Kings 20:18, Ezra 4:7, Isaiah 39:7, Daniel 1:6
Father and God, You arrange all of human history to serve Your holy purposes. Thank You for doing this in my life.
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