Hope for the Future
It is impossible for us to imagine the emotional rollercoaster endured by young Daniel and his three friends. They had lived all of their lives in one of the most spiritual times in the history of the Jews. In the six decades before they were born, king Manasseh and king Amon, had brought idols into Solomon’s glorious temple. Yet Daniel grew up knowing only of the temple worship which Josiah had restored. For the two decades before they were taken Babylon, the worship of God had been restored—they knew nothing of idolatrous worship. If you marvel at Daniel’s faith, remember that the world in which he lived was a world where the Jews faithfully served God.
Three years after Josiah’s death, Daniel was taken by Nebuchadnezzar to serve him in Babylon. That “rollercoaster of faith” descended into a pagan world saturated with immorality. After Daniel and his friends arrived in Babylon, idol worship began to flourish once again because of the new kings, sons of Josiah. Nebuchadnezzar would soon make two more assaults against Israel and finally destroy the holy city. Jeremiah was in Jerusalem and watched as Jerusalem was filled with false prophets. They prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would return the holy temple vessels taken from the temple and be defeated by the Jews. These prophets were courageously confronted by Jeremiah for twenty-three years (Jer. 25:3). The world in which Daniel had been reared no longer existed. Sin had returned to Judah and God had sent the sword, famine and pestilence to try to get the Jews to see His judgment and return to Him.
Jeremiah sent a letter to those Jews who had already been taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. It specifically told them they would be in Babylon for seventy years, but then the prophet told them of God’s promise. “I know the thoughts I have toward you…to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). Two chapters later, God said, “There is hope in your future…that your children shall come back to their own border” (31:17).
How could there possibly be hope? The temple was destroyed, the city was leveled and the only physical connection Daniel could have with Jerusalem was to go to his window and pray in the direction of the ruins of the temple. How could there be hope when Nebuchadnezzar demanded all those in Babylon worship his golden idol. (Remember the fiery furnace?)
There was no physical evidence there would ever be a return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. How could there be hope when they were in a hopeless situation? The answer is simple. God promised them a future and God cannot lie. Are you on a “rollercoaster of faith”? Has your world collapsed around you? Have hope, for God cannot lie about your future!