I want to talk to you about Daniel in the Old Testament — a young man who refused limitations, roadblocks, stop signs, discouraging reports, and threats, but, instead, kept believing and seeking God.
What do we know about Daniel? Daniel and his friends were taken as captives from their homeland of Israel to serve Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. As a captive, and now a eunuch, Daniel had lost his freedom, his family, his culture, his native language, and even his name. But of all that was taken from him, there was something that couldn’t be taken, and that was his faith.
The name “Daniel” means God is my judge. But his very powerful Hebrew name was changed to “Belteshazzar,” which means Bel [a Babylonian god] protects my life.
Daniel and his three friends’ names were all changed to assimilate them into the Babylonian world. The captors were intent on making these young men forget about their God and cherished homeland and to serve the gods of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar wanted Daniel and his friends to conform to his kingdom, his ways, and his worldly mindset.
Do you feel these pressures to conform right now? It’s possible that you do. Negative influences are around us all the time. We see them in movies, the news, advertisements, and on the Internet and social media. The pressure to conform to this worldly system is even being placed on our young children. The world is trying to convince us to forget our roots, our convictions, our salvation, and our God and to take on its ungodly ways of thinking and believing.
We can gain a lot of encouragement from Daniel’s life and his convictions. In Daniel 1:8, it says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
This verse is talking about resisting certain foods and drink, but out of this commitment and conviction of his heart came great boldness. Daniel was so bold that he went before the chief attendant who had been appointed over Daniel. He said to him, in essence, “We really don’t want to eat your food. Could you please feed us differently for ten days so we can show you how much healthier we are with our own kinds of food?”
Can you even imagine the boldness it took to ask for this kind of special treatment? That boldness came from a powerful place of commitment to God.
As we continue with Daniel’s journey, we see other attributes about his character that will help us in our own journey of putting God, His Word, and His will first before the will and opinions of others. So let’s look at those traits in the following story in the life of Daniel.
One night the king had a disturbing dream but didn’t remember or discern the dream or how to interpret it. He sent for his wise men, the Chaldeans, and said to them, “Tell me this dream I had and its interpretation. If you don’t, I will have you chopped to pieces and your houses burned to the ground” (see Daniel 2:5).
The wise men, with all their magic and sorcery, couldn’t answer the king, so the king ordered that all the wise men in the kingdom be killed, and Daniel and his friends were included in this group! But Daniel continued to walk in boldness and devoted dependence on God.
So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then with counsel and wisdom, Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, ‘Why is the decree from the king so urgent?’ Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel.
So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:13-18).
We see that when the king’s guard came to kill Daniel, instead of Daniel meeting this executioner with fear and trembling, the Bible says Daniel met him “with counsel and wisdom.”
So what was Daniel’s counsel and wisdom?
- He asked questions (vv. 15,16).
- He communicated the facts (v. 17).
- He went to his friends, and they sought God together (v. 18).
- Daniel faced the problem and didn’t run!
And what was the result of Daniel using counsel and wisdom? “Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So, Daniel blessed the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:19).
My friend, great pressure was placed on Daniel and his friends that night. And we don’t know how many nights they were given to receive the answer to the king’s dream. This night could have been the night before the execution! Great pressure surrounded them. Other wise men had already been killed.
Daniel and his friends had been given so many limitations. They’d already lost their freedom, their language, their culture, and even their names. But these great limitations pressing upon them did not stop them from seeking God and receiving His mercies.
This amazing story ends with God giving the dream and the interpretation to Daniel, which saved all the remaining wise men from being killed. The king declared, “…Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret” (Daniel 2:47). Verse 48 continues, “Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon.”
What characteristics can we see from this young man who refused limitations?
- Daniel purposed in his heart to honor God and not defile himself with “the king’s meat.”
- Out of that commitment came great boldness.
- Out of his conviction to not defile himself, he refused to fear and instead moved in wisdom and counsel.
- He humbled himself to obey, seek, and exalt God over all else, no matter what.
Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). The God Daniel humbled himself before and sought for His mercy is the same God you and I humble ourselves before to seek His mercy. He has not changed. And the same power that was available to Daniel is available to us through the Holy Spirit living inside us.
A lot was pressing on Daniel to conform to the world system much like it is today for you and me. How should we respond? The answer is found in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Refuse to be conformed to this worldly system. We need to be bold and humble ourselves before God and seek God and His mercies like Daniel did. And just like He did for Daniel, God will lift us up!
Thank you for spending this time with me. I believe this letter is very pertinent to the times we’re living in, and I hope you found some encouragement in your heart from my words. If you need prayer, please let us know. Just call us at 1-800-742-5593 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will carry your needs to God’s throne to see His answers and His mercy in your situation. And if God has done something special for you, please let us know so we can rejoice with you!