Daniel

The Book of Daniel gives us an example of what it meant for God’s people to live in exile in Babylon. Daniel and his friends worked willingly for a government whom the prophets had made clear was under the judgement of God for its evil deeds. When ordered to do something that was against God’s command, they refused to obey, but otherwise continued to respect the government’s authority (1:8-20; 3:8-12; 6:12-13). When punished wrongly, they did not rebel or fight back. Instead, they trusted God’s providence – that he would save them – or not! – according to his will (3:16-18). Their only form of ‘attack’ against their Babylonian and Persian rulers was to proclaim God’s judgement against them (4:24-27; 5:18-28). But it was God himself who enacted the judgement (4:29-33;5:30-31). The apocalyptic visions of the second half of the book give the theological foundations for this behaviour. The visions show bestial nations raging across the earth, persecuting God’s holy ones (c.f. 7:21; 8:11-14, 24; 11:30-33). But God is seated on his throne; he will end these nations and establish his kingdom (7:9-14; 12:1-3). Some scholars suggest that the Book of Daniel was finally redacted in the 2nd century, during the Selucid persecution. Even if this is so, this reinforces rather than undermines the themes of Daniel, by showing that they are true in any example of persecution.

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