God Grants Sovereignty

God gave the kingdom of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, but He also equipped Daniel and his companions for service in the court of Babylon

In its opening paragraph, the book of Daniel labels Babylon the “land of Shinar,” a verbal link to the “tower of Babel” incident. The Neo-Babylonian Empire has an ancient pedigree, and like his ancient forbears, Nebuchadnezzar determined to unite all men under one language and one government so all men might render homage to his great golden image.

Unwittingly, Nebuchadnezzar was working to reverse the judgment of Yahweh against “Shinar” by gathering all nations under his rule. Representatives from conquered peoples were taken to Babylon where they were to be educated in the Chaldean “language” and wisdom, including Daniel and his three companions.

Despite the efforts and intentions of the king, events moved according to God’s plan. He is sovereign and rules over the kingdoms of this age, including the mighty Neo-Babylonian Empire.

In fact, it was Yahweh who “gave” Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian throne and the conquest of the kingdom of Judah.
  • (Daniel 1:1-2) – “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon to Jerusalem and laid siege against it; and the Lord gave into his hand Jehoiakim king of Judah and a part of the vessels of the house of God, and he brought them into the land of Shinar into the house of his gods, and the vessels he brought into the treasure-house of his gods.”


The God of Israel is active in the affairs of all nations, and He “GAVE” the kingdom of Judah into the Babylonian king’s “hand.” Moreover, in doing so, He also placed the four powerless Jewish captives in positions within the imperial court in Mesopotamia to achieve His redemptive plans for Israel and the nations.

The first verse sets the stage - In the “third year of the reign of Jehoiakim” - about the year 605 B.C. The career of Daniel continues from this point until the “first year of King Cyrus” when the “kingdom of the Medes and Persians” will overthrow Babylon, also according to Yahweh’s decree. But this is more than a chronological marker, for it establishes the commencement of the seventy-year captivity of the Jewish nation, an important milestone in the book of Daniel – (Daniel 9:1-2).

In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem after defeating Egypt at the Battle of Carchemish, and at that time he removed the “vessels” from the Temple and selected men from the Judean royal house to be educated in Babylon for service in his government.

With the conquest of Jerusalem, the political independence of Judah ceased. The city and Temple were ransacked, and the upper echelons of Judean society were sent to Mesopotamia. Thus, Daniel found himself a powerless exile working in the civil service of the Empire.

From the human perspective, this was disastrous, nonetheless, it was in accord with the purposes of Yahweh. The Hebrew verb rendered “GAVE” or nathan is applied several times in the chapter whenever Yahweh arranges events. Precisely why God “GAVE” Judah over to this fate is not stated in the immediate chapter.

In fact, this becomes a key theme reiterated several times in Daniel, that God gives political power to whoever He pleases. For example:
  • Blessed be the name of God forever and ever; for wisdom and might are his. He changes the times and the seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to them that have understanding” – (Daniel 2:20-21).
  • The Most-High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever he will and sets up over it the lowest of men” - (Daniel 4:17).

The Babylonian ruler removed the vessels to the land of “Shinar,” and like the “Tower of Babel” incident, he attempted to unite all people under one language, religion, and culture. However, the “Most-High God” used the situation instead to accomplish His purposes.


As was his custom, Nebuchadnezzar planned to educate the Jewish exiles in the wisdom, literature, and language of the “Chaldeans” so they would be equipped to serve him in his government.

On their arrival in Babylon, the “king appointed the exiles a daily provision of his food and of the wine that he drank to nourish them three years.” This was a great honor, one not to be rejected without suffering serious consequences.

But Daniel was concerned that partaking of the royal provisions would impinge on his ritual purity, and most probably, the issue was eating food offered to (Babylonian) idols.

In Babylonian rituals, food consumed in the royal court was offered first to the Babylonian gods in their sanctuaries before being served at the royal table.

But God “GAVE” Daniel favor before the “prince of the eunuchs,” who then granted his request to abstain from the royal provisions for ten days. His positive response to Daniel was due to the intervention of Yahweh - it was God who “GAVE” Daniel “kindness and compassion in the sight of the prince of the eunuchs.”

Furthermore, God also “GAVE” the exiles “knowledge and prudence in all learning and wisdom,” and He also gave Daniel “understanding in all visions and dreams,” which, through the prophet, became the primary means by which God announced and influenced the direction of empires - (Daniel 1:9-16).

Nebuchadnezzar examined the youths and found they excelled in “every matter of wisdom and understanding… And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.”

That is, until 538 B.C.  This establishes the length of his career - from the third year of King Jehoiakim to the first year of Cyrus the Great – 605 to 538 B.C.


In Revelation, the story of Daniel’s “test” is alluded to in its letters to Pergamos, Thyatira, and Smyrna. In the cities of Asia, believers were being encouraged by false teachers to “eat meat offered to idols.”

Doing so would compromise the faith and testimony of the Asian churches. However, refusing to participate in the idolatrous practices of their society would expose them to persecution - (“The Devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days”).

In the passage from Revelation, the Greek verb rendered “try” is the same one used in the Septuagint version of Daniel, and the verbal link is deliberate. Daniel’s exemplary example is the model for perseverance to the “seven churches of Asia” - (Daniel 1:12-14, Revelation 2:8-10).

Like Daniel, John found himself sent into exile on the isle of Patmos for the “testimony of Jesus.” And there, he became a “fellow participant in the tribulation and the kingdom and the perseverance in Jesus” with the beleaguered and marginalized congregations of Asia.

And like Daniel, God used John to “prophesy to nations and kings,” pronouncing their rise and fall, and in the end, the victory of the kingdom of God and the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ over the Cosmos - (Revelation 1:9, 10:11).


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