There is always a catch. At least in our consumerist culture. Any good deal is struck with the goal of benefiting one or both parties. The best negotiators are those who are able to benefit themselves, while benefiting those who do business with them.
When we meet the God of the Bible, we find that his deals are not so cut and dry. The covenant that God’s people entered was one of endless grace, forgiveness, and mercy if they only remained faithful to keeping Torah. However, when given the opportunity to grow in wealth, prestige, and influence the kings of Israel that descended from David quickly showed what was their top priority.
They wanted a better deal. And the kings and cultures of the ancient near east were ready to trade, fundraise, raise armies, and enter into alliances with an Israel that looked more similar to them and less familiar to Yahweh.
This deal was enticing because influence is always appealing. Humans have been climbing ladders of social hierarchy since the dawn of time. The same jockeying that takes place in corporate board meetings has taken place in every circle of power of human history. We desire to grow in status, significance, and security – and so we grasp at power whenever it’s hinted at.
But Daniel stands out in contrast to all of this because he’s aware that power is fleeting. He has observed the Babylonian kings his whole adult life. He’s seen the flippancy, the inconsistency, the pettiness, and even the insanity of kings such as Nebuchadnezzar. And now he is about to witness the end of not just a dynasty, but an entire kingdom!
King Belshazzar offers Daniel the third highest ranking in his entire kingdom (Dan. 5:16) and yet Daniel remains unimpressed (Dan. 5:17). He knows that he serves a greater king, with a greater kingdom, and an eternal mission to restore everything to its rightful sovereign: Yahweh.
The tricky thing with God is that faithfulness does not always equal an increase in earthly influence. Where we may slave and toil away in faithfulness to what God would want of us, we find that we remain in the same miserable and mundane positions, circumstances, or seasons. But let us remember: that the kingdom that never fades is invading the earth! His reign is secure and increasing all around us – and even while we lack things we think will give us satisfaction, we possess Him, the one for whom there is no comparison.
We can be like Daniel: unimpressed with the earthly influence that the world promises and instead content to the faithful mission that God entrusts with us, in the times in which he places us. The payout, both here and for eternity, is far greater than the power that is here today and gone tomorrow.
Pastor of Young Adults