He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.Daniel 4:35
A little known fact about me is that I have a Master’s degree in history. I was enthralled with WWII history growing up. I used to pour through old photo and map books that my grandpa gave me. The invasion plans, strategies, and especially the personal stories of the front-line soldiers intrigued me.
One thing that was always obvious in those books was who invaded who. It was clear from the maps with the big arrows which country invaded the others. It was obvious when Germany invaded France, for example. It was obvious when the allies invaded Nazi-occupied France on D-Day.
But as I’ve studied the book of Daniel again the past few weeks with a guy I meet with, a question that’s kept popping up in my mind has been, “who really invaded who here?”
In the book of Daniel, God sends Babylon to judge the people of Israel for their idolatry, evil, and disobedience. Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar, invades Judah, destroys the temple, and carries many off into captivity, or exile.
So the answer to the question “who invaded who?” seems obvious. Daniel 1:1, even says, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” So Babylon invaded Judah. Simple, right?
But I read verse 2 of chapter 1, which says, “the Lord gave Jeohiakim king of Judah into [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand.” And I read about the amazing miracles and signs God did through his people in Babylon during the exile, like the fiery furnace and the lion’s den. And then I read these calls to worship God coming from foreign kings after they witnessed these miracles. For example, King Nebuchadnezzar saying “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just.” (4:37) Or King Darius decreeing that “in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” (6:26)
I read these things and I again ask, who really invaded who here?
While it may have seemed to the people of Israel that God had retreated at Babylon’s invasion, God was actually the one using the exile to both discipline his people and invade a foreign empire with his power and glory.
There are times in our lives when it feels like the enemy is getting the upper hand. Struggles, often those of our own making, can overwhelm us with despair. It can seem like God is retreating in the face of the invading forces of darkness in our lives. But even when it seems like all hope is lost, we have a God who doesn’t retreat. Instead, he invades our lives with his power and glory in ways and at times we never would have planned or expected.
We see this most plainly at the cross of Jesus Christ. When Christ was crucified, it seemed like darkness had won. It seemed like all hope was lost. The disciples fled and mourned as the promised king was killed. But then three days later Jesus rose from the grave, our sins were paid for, the way to the Father was established, and all hope was restored. When it seemed like the enemy’s invasion had won, Jesus was actually invading our darkness with light.
So though the enemy may attack, know that God is able to use your struggles to invade your life with his power and glory instead. Turn to him. Trust him. And surrender. There’s no force on Earth powerful enough to resist an invasion from the King of heaven.