Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, worshipped Daniel, and commanded that a grain-offering and incense be offered to him. The king said to Daniel, ‘Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery!’ Then the king promoted Daniel, gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.
What happens when Church and State clash, when power and truth collide, when empires are confronted by the Living God? What happens when service to country is at odds with conscience? The Book of Daniel speaks of these tensions and conflicts which echo down the centuries into our own times.
Though written centuries later, the Book’s setting is in the time of exile in Babylon, following the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem. Daniel and his three companions are promoted in the king’s service and are trained in the Babylonian language, culture and customs. Yet for all the pressure to conform and to forget the faith of the exiles, they hold onto their Jewish faith and practice. The time comes when Daniel, with all his old and new found wisdom, offers to interpret the dreams that have been troubling the king. He makes clear (like Joseph did before Pharaoh) that the interpretation belongs not to him, but to God.
With the troubling dream interpreted, the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar recognises that he stands before a power and reality greater than himself. He bows before the Jewish exile – the tables are turned and God, ‘the revealer of mysteries’ is worshipped. The presence of the God who creates and saves is glimpsed.
We long for distorted power to be confronted in our world today. We long for those who worship themselves to recognise the one who alone is worth worshipping. How may this be happening in our times? How might we be part of that subversive movement?
God of gods, Power over all power be present in our world today and give us eyes to glimpse you in unexpected places, minds to grapple with your mysteries, hearts to be lifted in worship and lives turned upside down by your love and truth.
The Rev’d Terry Hinks, minister of Trinity, High Wycombe and Cores End URC.