Excellence in Exile, Part 3: Divine Wisdom for Struggling Neighbors (Daniel 2:1-30)
While in Babylon, Daniel and his three friends walk the same tightrope every believer has to walk today in a fallen world—avoiding isolation on the one hand, and avoiding assimilation on the other. They did it well. In fact, in Daniel 2 these remarkable Jewish teens continue living out the command God previously gave the exiles—to live for the good of a bad city (Jeremiah 29:4-7). They did this by serving their unbelieving neighbors and helping them flourish.
In many ways, Daniel 2 gives us a collision between the wisdom of this word and the wisdom of God. Nebuchadnezzar is the portrait of a man who faces life with worldly wisdom. Daniel, however, is the portrait of a person who faces life with godly wisdom. Quite significantly, this collision is not a fistfight. It’s not a heated debate. It’s not a military battle. It’s a ministry. Specifically, Daniel has a ministry to a man in crisis. And in that ministry to his royal neighbor, the wisdom of God is displayed. The lesson for us today is instructive: God’s faithful people can help connect faithless people to God.
Nebuchadnezzar’s problems are not unlike our neighbors’ problems today. For example, some of our neighbors may be consumed with worry, anxiety, and insecurity (v. 1). Some may seek professional help for their deepest troubles (vv. 2-4). Some may become suspicious of the world’s best experts (vv. 5-9). Some may hear the world’s experts admit their own limitations (vv. 10-11). Some may grow increasingly insecure and perhaps even violent (vv. 12-13).
Daniel’s ministry to the king is anchored in his knowledge of who God is. Indeed, he has a lofty view of Yahweh, which is helpful to God’s people today when we seek to help our neighbors who are in crisis. Specifically:
Because God is gracious, his people can approach a neighbor’s crisis with wisdom and tact (vv. 14-15).
Because God is missional, his people can view a neighbor’s crisis with a sense of divine purpose (v. 16).
Because God is all-knowing, his people can take a neighbor’s crisis to him in prayer (17-19a).
Because God is sovereign, his people can praise him in the midst of any crisis (vv. 19b-23).
Because God is revealing, his people can offer wisdom for a neighbor’s crisis when needed (vv. 24-28a).
Because God is good, his people can serve neighbors in crisis even if they believe differently (vv. 28b-30).
By the time Nebuchadnezzar leaves the stage in the book of Daniel, he comes to recognize that Yahweh is the Most High God of the universe. May that likewise be the result of our ministry to the people around us today.