At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus. Daniel 1:18-21 (NIV).
For Daniel and his friends, this was the moment of truth. Their faith and training had brought them to the king, who found them brilliant, wise, and superb.
Before going further, let’s talk about Nebuchadnezzar. He was no ordinary king. He was the greatest of the Babylonian era. He was one of the most renowned rulers in all of antiquity. Even without the account of Daniel, thanks to archaeology, we would know and respect Nebuchadnezzar anyway. According to Wikipedia, he lived from 634 to 562 BC, and reigned for over 40 of those years. Though not a tall or imposing man, King Nebuchadnezzar ruled one of the largest armies in history. He’s responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem (including the Second Temple). Nebuchadnezzar led the armies that finally defeated Babylon’s arch-enemy Assyria, which (at the time) was allied with Egypt (whom he also defeated). He built the city of Babylon into the most powerful city on the planet (outside ancient China). Nebuchadnezzar also likely built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful man, a vain man, and he understood that the known world of his day knew and feared his name. Think of him as the Stalin of Babylon. To be summoned by Nebuchadnezzar would be to walk into the presence of a man who thought of himself as a god, and who knew of, but didn’t fear, the living God of the Israelites.
Knowing all that makes it all the more amazing, and divinely miraculous, that Daniel and his three friends would become successful, even powerful, in the kingdom of this ancient titan. What would Nebuchadnezzar have thought of these four Jews, and the God they served? Until he questioned them, he probably wouldn’t have given them much thought. He had delegated the preparation of them as arch-servants to another, and he trusted that man to do is job well…or else.
All that was about to change. The moment of truth had arrived. After all, even accomplished, powerful kings sometimes have bad dreams.
For further reading: Genesis 41:46, Daniel 2:1
Lord, thank You that we still know of and can learn from the vanity of Nebuchadnezzar. Thank You that You were at work there in Babylon, about to bring Yourself glory and honor through both Daniel and pagan enemies.
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