It is the name for a book dedicated to describing the exiles in Babylon and how Gods people lived out their lives in a pagan culture. The first six books are about what happened to Daniel in his day. It alerts us to a special calling, a special focus on God and a life that altered history. There was a cause and effect in Daniels life – he earnestly sought God and God supernaturally delivered him. The second part of Daniel is dedicated to the prophetic revelations he had for the King and ultimately how those revelations explain eternity and things to come.
Daniels’ name means “God is my judge”.
Judgement runs rampant in the USA today. We judge politicians, presidents, women and men, voters and anyone within our reach. It seems a little odd when actors who merely act out lines given to them by others, come out with huge opinions on anything happening in the government. I don’t understand how reading lines for a Charmin commercial makes one proficient in foreign policy or vetting a Supreme Court justice. Instead of pastors and psychologists and scientists voicing their research or concerns, we have people that merely read lines telling us what is the preferred way to live. Daniel had studied every discipline possible, every religion and political persuasion of his day possible, yet still stayed true to the One True God.
Imagine with me for a moment what it would feel like to be torn from your family and placed in a home where they believed opposite of how you believed. What would it be like to stop hearing scripture and start chanting occultic phrases? What if your school changed and you were immersed in the doctrines of the land? Would you resist or accept the teaching? Daniels wisdom shows that his parents had prepared him well as he gracefully navigated his new circumstances. What a tactful diplomat he had become and just in time! What would it feel like to radically change your drinking and eating habits, how you exercise, what clothes you wear? When I discussed this with my children they said, “it’s similar to going from private to public school, a new neighborhood in a different zip code.” We discussed different traditions, styles and how religion impacts that. They could identify with Daniel more than I realized. Change is something that takes place when you step out in faith and can uproot quite a bit in your life. Sometimes these changes shake your body, your faith, and your beliefs. What shook loose in Daniels life, allowed him to focus on that which was rooted and grounded in him – his faith.
Not to pry into your life or business, but what would God have to shake loose for instability to fall to the ground? When all is stripped away will God find a heart of worship? What would need to spin out of control for you to start letting God direct your steps? What would need to get taken or lost for you to reconnect with that which is eternal?
After reading Daniel, my husband, a former submarine sailor showed us videos of submarines preparing to go to sea. Everything must be secured or it will come loose when they get underway. Securing things before the journey makes for smooth sailing. A good sailor prepares for the journey by tying up loose ends. Prepare, secure, submerge … dive, dive, dive!
There is a shaking coming for our country, or so some say. We are not promised tomorrow so there may be a shaking coming in our health, churches and family. Which of these are God initiated, enemy initiated or part of an ultimate plan? Many times in scripture God states that He caused these things to occur – until all that remains is Him, us and some doggone grit to last until the next day. God promises throughout Daniel that He is with us IN our trials. God promises to give us joy and rest IN our dilemmas. God promises to walk into crisis with us and stay …until His will is complete.
Our family postured our hearts to follow Jesus Christ with renewed passion about 3 years ago. It has been an adventure ever since. What was left behind was a bit of apathy, some depression, a rut or two and a whole lot of comfort. What has been taken up is a sense of purpose, focus on Heavenly things, and a core commitment to stay together as a family. We attempt to posture our hearts to seek and obey the Living God. (Right here, I’ll raise a hallelujah! Practicing, not perfect.) All this was taking place while we were taking excess to the thrift store, digging ditches for the small cloud in the sky and making shifts of priorities to follow God’s heart). I think that was a pretty good exchange. People’s opinions did not alter the outcome. God remains this September — Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent – my guess is that HE will remain the same in each month thereafter as well and yes beyond.
Daniel had to be circumspect and tactful while serving four different kings. (Proverbs 21:1) HIs wisdom did not come from Maxwell or Harvard but a regimen of prayer. This man had a daily habit of praying three times a day. Stronger than vitamins or meals for sure. Hmm? We can’t ignore that when calculating his success.
Daniel had to learn a new language (Aramaic) and multiple leader’s preferences and customs. IN the midst of those fiery trials, he kept up his dietary promise. Break that down further – what Daniel ate was IMPORTANT enough to schedule and plan ahead because it would affect how he lived out his life. Food and faithfulness to pray took precedence over pleasure. Well, that just sounds legalistic sister Renae. Sure, tell that to the kings he served and see if they give a royal scepter what you think or how that played out theologically for Daniels lunch. Exiles don’t get to live wild and loose while they are being persecuted or trained. (Today, sojourners are preparing for their final destination).
Daniel knew he would have to exchange discipline in devotion for results in order to deter dying before dessert. He calculated his obedience and what was required of him to stay true to the One True God. We can’t understand the need for such discipline in our pampered culture but if the day comes when we have to– will we stand or surrender? These folks didn’t just disagree through social media, they gutted their enemies and made people eat their intestines. Will we stand or surrender and how will what we do TODAY impact that? Will we be able to think clearly, live disciplined lives and continue to carry out Gods purposes?
I believe that God paid the cost for Daniel, because he counted the cost for God. Because Daniel showed up to seek God, God showed up to rescue Daniel. Extraordinary loyalty to the Lord produced dynamic deliverance for Daniel.
You know the stories in this book – dreams, lions, fiery furnace and handwriting on the wall. Daniel is the best action figure for kids and adults. The difference between him and Marvel characters? Daniel was REAL and did REAL things. See Daniel 2:20-22. What do all of those stories have in common?
God did not leave His boy hanging, He showed up to rescue him and his friends. In each instance, God appears and shows Himself STRONG. God has a great track record! In each circumstance God was an on time God, displaying His glory and power for Daniel and all those around him to see the greatness of his God. Feed your spirit and listen to He’s an on time God by Dotty Peoples and Deliverance by Zac Williams.
Rehearse your “what if” muscle for a moment. Picture that royal court full of wise men too full of sugary cake to stay awake and seek God. The next morning they can’t discern anything but chocolate. The Guillotine drops – heads roll. Now picture those big ol lions lickin their whiskers. Had God waited another ten minutes – CHOMP! Ever had Daniel Angel rings (extra crispy onion rings)? Everything is crispy on the outside and deep fried but inside – cool and clear. Picture that cremation ready furnace and the coolest guy in the universe doing the Orange Justice. Had the Angel not shown up; they would have been crispy critters – just like the guys who put them in there! Picture the calligraphy on the wall being written after everyone drank their fill of wine – they might have seen different words and no one perceive the message. Note it was sober guy who helps them out. I know of some current stories like Daniel that are quite remarkable. Hanging out with friends like Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah has its benefits. Unsinged and unhinged, they stood firm, declaring Gods’ praise. God still speaks, God still moves, God still delivers.
God doesn’t promise we won’t be shaken but He does promise He will keep us still. God doesn’t promise we won’t go through change but that He will love us still. God doesn’t promise any trials but that He will keep us in the middle of His will. Daniel shows us his passion, God shows us His perseverance.
Our church is just entering in to a month of studying this book and the moral courage of Daniel. Like him we want to be devoted, disciplined and determined. Also like him, we want to be delivered! What if every boy and girl was steadfast in their faith, immovable in their doctrine and committed in their lives? What a difference in our homes, schools, churches and nation that would make!
Take note of what God wants to shake in your life, what He wants to change to make you more like Him. Map it out and remove every hindrance, distraction or circumstance that would keep you from fully obeying His plan for your life. I don’t think these stories were born out of apathetic or regular living. I think they came out of being devoted to God and the struggles of staying strong to His name. When we live counter culture, there is bound to be anger, resentment and retribution. Even in this, God will be present. Even in this, God will MOVE.
Daniel and his friends gave God an out – if He doesn’t show up we will still trust and obey. Hebrews 11 which had not been written yet talks about God vindicating and blessing people in Heaven. Daniel was not looking for reward but had committed to obedience. That is remarkable, sold out, heated, passionate faith. Faith that looks for genuine sincerity and veracity – not the western brand that is just looking for cheap reward or sloppy grace. The faith comes through trial and testing, being proved.
My prayer for us and for you this month – understand Daniel and the God he served. Then go and live likewise. Remember, whether you do this or whether you don’t, the lions will still be growling and licking their whiskers….