I’ve been in Rochester, Minnesota all week teaching on the book of Daniel. I’ve been blessed immeasurably by the people here at Victory Baptist Church. And I don’t take it for granted that it is a rare joy to be able to stop and immerse oneself in a book of the Bible for a whole week. Since Sunday I have lived and breathed Daniel.
Having reached the end of the historical section of Daniel (a phrase I use loosely since much of the rest of the book, though considered to be prophecy, has already taken place in history), I think we can confidently affirm that while Daniel lived a blessed life, it would be absolutely incorrect to say that Daniel lived an easy life. Taken away from his home as a young teenager he was separated from family and friends and marched some 900 miles to a distant land. Upon arrival he was chosen to be trained and serve in the court of the king only to discover that he could not in good conscience eat the food provided. Soon after, he was awoken in the middle of the night by the king’s chief executioner who had come to “tear him limb from limb.” At 80, in a city surrounded by a ruthless enemy, he was called by another king who didn’t even bother to disguise his contempt for him to read the writing on the wall and proclaim judgment on Babylon. And then, pushing 90, having been once again appointed the court of the ruler of the known world, he was cast into a den of lions for the crime of prayer.
Daniel had been sent to Babylon at a time when God’s glory was in danger. God’s people had been defeated by a pagan nation. In that day that meant that their God had been defeated by the gods of Babylon. God raised up Daniel to show that He was still on His throne. Because of Daniel’s faithfulness (and that of his three friends) 2 different pagan rulers issued 4 separate decrees proclaiming the God of Daniel. By the time Daniel died the glory of God had been declared to the nations in every direction. And then, through Daniel’s prophecies, God declared the whole history of the world all, the way to the Kingdom of the Messiah. Can you imagine the joy of being used like that for the glory of God?
At the end of chapter 6 as he is hoisted out of the lion’s den we read: “no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” This could serve as summary of Daniel’s life. Do not think that Daniel was a spiritual super man. Like Elijah he was a man with a nature like ours. Do not think that Daniel had an easy life. From a young age he endured great suffering. But through it all Daniel was faithful. He was faithful where God had him whether marching into exile or studying in the Babylonian University system. He spoke wisdom, truth and sometimes even judgment to three pagan kings all the while maintaining his habit of praying three times a day.
What does it mean to be a Daniel? It means faithfully obeying God in every circumstance. It means speaking the truth in love to those God has put in your life. It means fearing God more than man. It means that, in the words of Peter, you “keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:12)