The Arc de Triomphe

| 14 October 2020

It is generally thought that there is a time gap of about 50 years between Daniel 4:37 and Daniel 5:1, and that Daniel is now around 80. So a question I have is, “What’s Daniel doing as he lives out his 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s in Babylon?” The answer may surprise you.

If you have your Bible, and I hope you do, take a look at Daniel 5:11-12, for it is here that we find out! For the past half-century, Daniel has continued to oversee the magicians, enchanters/conjurers, Chaldeans, and astrologers/diviners. In other words, he has been getting up and going to work every day.

First, even though King Nebuchadnezzar has made Daniel the ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:48), King Belshazzar – who is King Nebuchadnezzar’s son, no less – has no idea who he is. How can this be? Well, it can be if Daniel’s main concern is doing a good job at his job rather than making sure everyone knows he’s doing a good job at his job. Actions always speak louder than words, and I have heard (mostly as my wife shares with me her experiences in the corporate world) of many people who can talk a good game but never get anything done. Daniel was just the opposite – he got stuff done and let his work speak for itself. (And speak for itself it does, because the queen-mother still knows who he is.) Furthermore, Daniel seems to have maintained his conviction that God knew what he was doing, even if the king didn’t, and that this was okay. Knowing who knows what we do with our lives, and being okay with who might not know, is a constant issue for us, isn’t it?

Second, I want to focus on the remarkable tension Daniel must feel as a follower of Yahweh who is put in charge of magicians, enchanters and astrologers. How does this even work? I don’t know, but with God’s help and guidance, Daniel made a go of it for over 50 years! I bet he got an awesome watch on his 50th anniversary.

One thing I see in Daniel’s life is an “arc de triomphe” where he is able to serve – both for a long time, as well as successfully and faithfully – in a work environment that is morally and spiritually challenging, to say the least. And how does he manage to do that? Daniel 6:10 gives us one clue!

Today, whether you’re struggling with the idea that maybe the right people don’t know what you’re doing with your moments and your days (and you wonder what to do about that), or with how to live as a faithful Christian in a difficult work (or otherwise) situation, I’d encourage you to devote yourself to prayer, asking God to guide you toward your own arc of triumph!

Scott Smith
Pastor of Discipleship Ministries