A child of war whose prophecies came true
Published 3:18 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Watching the children of Ukraine. Seeing their young lives torn apart by war.
You may remember the video of the four-year-old boy, weeping bitterly as he walked alone from war-torn Ukraine to the Polish border. It was a heart wrenching moment, taken by Reuters and shared by CNN on Twitter on March 2.
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Days later, an eleven-year-old traveled alone by train for over 600 miles to the Slovakian border with just his passport, a plastic bag of belongings, and a phone number written on his hand. That emotional story was posted by the Slovak Embassy in the UK on Facebook on March 7.
What many don’t realize is that Daniel in the Bible was also a child of war.
Some 600 years before the birth of Christ, the Babylonians captured Jerusalem. They seized children from royal and noble families, taking them back to serve the king in his palace. Daniel was among them.
The Babylonians invaded Jerusalem two more times, destroying the city in 586 B.C., slaughtering many of the residents.
Daniel may have never known what happened to his family, just as the Ukraine children may never know what happened to theirs.
But Daniel doesn’t write about his sorrow. You’d hardly know anything bad had happened when you open his book of the Bible. Instead, he tells how he made the best of things—first at the king’s palace and then when he rose to power by interpreting dreams.
It’s later in the book that Daniel says he’s terrified. God began to show the child of war that more war was coming.
In fact, the book of Daniel is amazing because of the accuracy of those prophecies. Long before the Persians and Medes conquered Babylon, long before the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great, Daniel saw it happening in a dream and visions.
Nor was any of that obscure. A prominent angel explained it to Daniel in very clear terms.
The prophecy was so devastating that Daniel said he was sick for days. Knowing the future can be overwhelming, especially when it’s war.
Daniel not only survived when the Persians conquered the land where he’d lived for over 60 years, he thrived. Daniel became the most powerful figure under King Darius, the Mede. He also prospered under the Persian King, Cyrus.
It’s incredible. But there’s more.
You remember how Daniel is famous for ending up in a lion’s den. That actually happened because Daniel did so well with the Medes. It was brought on by the jealousy of those beneath him. Even though Bible stories like to portray Daniel as young and fearless, he was an old man with those lions, at least 75.
Those are the events in Daniel’s book, but are there more? Does Daniel:
See the Son of Man coming on clouds to the Ancient of Days;
See the angel Gabriel, who brings Daniel a message;
Learn that the Greeks will conquer the Persians;
All of the above; or
Numbers 2 and 3?
Look at the answers closely and lock in your final choice.
Daniel had a dream of four great beasts and then a vision of a ram and a goat. The angel Gabriel only appears in two books of Scripture—Gabriel gives a message to an old priest and the virgin Mary in the first chapter of Luke; Gabriel also explains Daniel’s vision.
Gabriel says, “As for the ram that you saw with two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the goat is the king of Greece.”
That’s very specific, long before those wars occurred.
But Daniel also learns of the promise of Jesus. He sees the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days. The answer above is number 4.
Daniel describes that vision:
“With the clouds of heavens there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom … that shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14
The promise of the Bible is that God will prevail. Jesus can never be destroyed.
Yes, we’ll remember these Ukrainian children — many orphaned and maimed by war. We’ll know that they’ll certainly carry scars.
But Daniel, also a child of war, became a survivor and a prophet.
God tells Daniel, “You are greatly loved.” (Daniel 9:23; 10:11, 19)
Pray that God will extend such mercy to the young victims of Ukraine.
The Rev. Mathews (BA, MDiv, JD) is a faith columnist, seminary graduate, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at Hello@RAMathews.com.
Copyright ©2022 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.