Here ends the part of the book of Daniel documenting the history of the Babylonian exile and God’s mercy throughout it. It’s the history of God’s handiwork.
Part of that history is grounding us in facts that can also be verified independent of the Bible. The Darius mentioned in chapter 6 was likely “Darius the Mede:” a general or relation of Cyrus II of Persia. There was later a “Darius the Great,” who was likely Cyrus II’s son in law. The common reference to both of these Darius’ was Cyrus the II, also known as “Cyrus the Great.” This man created the Persian empire, which, during his lifetime, conquered every other empire in the Mediterranean, extending its influence into Europe and Asia. Until the rise of Greece, the empire of Cyrus the Persian was the greatest empire known to the ancient world.
And Daniel, blessed by God, prospered through this. Could it be that Darius and Cyrus prospered because of Daniel? You be the judge. According to Wikipedia, Cyrus was the greatest innovator of antiquity in the areas of government, administration, human rights, and the governing of conquered lands. The restoration of the Temple and Jerusalem happened during the Persian empire: something that couldn’t have happened without divine blessing. Cyrus II was even referred to as an anointed one: the only non-Jewish person who was ever given that title.
It’s pretty inconceivable that the enlightened emperor of Persia would have found himself uniquely blessed except for the ministry and influence of the former slave from Judea. Where Darius’ and Cyrus’ territory was blessed with prosperity through Daniel’s administration, so were the people of that region as well as others in the Persian empire. God’s handiwork? You betcha.
God uses who He chooses to use to be the vessels through which He will bless the world. Don’t walk away from this today without thinking He still does the same thing in our so-called modern age. Indeed, some of the most improbable people of our lifetimes have worked and lived in ways that blessed many others far beyond their inner circles. This handiwork of the Lord seems clearly in evidence even now.
The rest of Daniel is fantastical. After today’s verse, the rest of the book will be prophecy, everything from predictions about the end of the world to commentary on how we should live our lives in reverence. As we read it, just remember that all of this was written at a time when the idea of religious freedom and even modernistic government first took root in the world. Those, too, were the handiwork of God through the eyes and words of Daniel.
For further reading: 2 Chronicles 36:22, Daniel 7:1
Lord God, thank You for the words of this book. Teach my heart from them.
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