Scripture gives us a few "snapshots" of Daniel’s life. We learn, that as a young man, Daniel was taken prisoner by the Babylonian army when Jerusalem was captured. He remained faithful to God even when it meant risking his life.
We discover that already in the first snapshot we have of Daniel: “But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief official for permission to eat other things instead” (Daniel 1.8). Later Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2), and then he interprets writing on the wall for King Belshazzar (Daniel 5).
But what Daniel is best known for is his night in the lion’s den. Read about it in Daniel 6. Daniel, who’s been shown favor by the king, is the target of the other leaders who convince the king to enact a law to forbid anyone from praying to anyone other than the king for 30 days. These leaders knew this would be the only way for them to entrap Daniel! Well, Daniel breaks the law and spends a night with lions.
From this story, we learn at least three lessons that challenge us.
Be committed to God no matter what!
No matter what society, culture, friends, laws say, be committed to God!
“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God." (Jesus, Luke 9.62)
Of course, our society is a bit different from Daniel’s and many others around the world. We live in a nominal society, so we are not tested in quite the same ways Daniel and others were/are. It makes me think about something Jesus said to church of Laodicea: "… you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth! Don’t be lukewarm; choose sides!
Incidentally, Elijah once sensed the same thing, when he challenged the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel: "How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!"
Be willing to take risks!
"Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared." (Eddie Rickenbacker)
I like that. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s being afraid, but doing what needs to be done anyway! I think of David going against Goliath and Peter getting out of the boat in the midst of a dangerous storm.
"Test fast. Fail fast. Adjust fast." (Tom Peters)
Of course, living a bold life will bring lots of enemies out of the woodwork. It certainly did for Daniel. The important question, however, is, are you being faithful with what god has entrusted you with?
“If my life is fruitless, it doesn’t matter who praises me, and if my life is fruitful, it doesn’t matter who criticizes me.” (John Bunyan)
"Living as Christ desires but simultaneously playing it safe is
impossible. Faith presumes risk. What risks are you taking?" (Jean
Let God be your “operating system”!
A computer is driven by an operating system. What about you? What’s your operating system? What (or Who) is driving your heart, soul, mind? God was clearly Daniel’s operating system!
"Daniel’s faith in his God had kept him from being harmed." (Daniel 6.23)
Questions for Prayer and Reflection
- What’s guiding your life – God’s Word/God’s Spirit, “common sense,” culture/society?
- How faithful are you following Christ? In what ways do you need to grow?
- In what areas do you need to be more courageous?
- What risks is God leading you to take? What’s holding you back?
“We do not need more knowledge, we need more character!” (Calvin Coolidge)