DANIEL’S DECISIONS IN A DISTANT DISTRICT

A young man of Judah by the name of Daniel, along with many of his fellow countrymen, was taken into captivity by the Babylonian army in about B.C. 606. For its own purposes, the government of Babylon chose Daniel and other select young Jewish men to be trained in the language and ways of the Babylonians.

In the course of time, Daniel was elevated to a high position in the Babylonian Empire (Daniel 2:48,49). Seventy years after the Babylonians took him captive, the Medo-Persians came into power. What about Daniel? By God’s providence, he was granted a high position in the Medo-Perian Empire also (Daniel 6:1-3). Along the way, from the days of his youth up until his latter days on earth, Daniel made a lot of commendable decisions. Let us take a look.

As we contemplate the Bible’s record of Daniel’s life, let us not forget the man’s conditions. He was not living in an environment dominated by Jewish culture. He was living in a distant district, far away from Jerusalem and the temple, nowhere close to the beloved homeland of the proud Jewish people.

Chapter 1 – When the king of Babylon appointed certain foods and wine for the young Hebrew trainees to consume, Daniel decided not to take those items into his body: “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” (Daniel 1:8). Daniel recognized that the items designated by the king would make him spiritually defiled in the sight of his God. For that reason, he refused to consume them. Not only that, he courageously communicated his conviction to the chief of the eunuchs. When you and I face a strong pull to participate in something that will offend the God of heaven, we should remember Daniel’s conviction, courage, and communication. The young man understood that right is right and wrong is wrong, and it does not matter where we are located.

Chapter 2 – When Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty monarch of Babylon, had a dream, the Lord God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel, who in turn told Nebuchadnezzar what the dream meant. In the process, Daniel decided to praise and glorify God. The Bible says that after God revealed the king’s dream to the prophet, he “blessed the God of heaven” and prayed, “I thank You and praise You” (Daniel 2:19,23). When he stood before the king to explain the dream, Daniel gave the credit to God, saying, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets . . .” (Daniel 2:28). Daniel understood that the wisdom, power, and glory were God’s, not his.

He viewed himself as a blessed person, an instrument in God’s hands. Let us learn from Daniel’s humility, sense of perspective, and readiness to give credit to the mighty, merciful Creator of the universe.

Chapter 4 – After Nebuchadnezzar had a second dream, Daniel again was summoned to explain it. When he had finished explaining the king’s dream, Daniel decided to rebuke the ruthless ruler, telling him: “. . . break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor” (4:27). What courage! Nebuchadnezzar was well- known for disposing of those folks who “crossed” him. As a servant and messenger of Jehovah, Daniel’s goal was not to please men. He was concerned about what the king needed to hear, not what he desired to hear. We, too, must avoid being ear-ticklers and men-pleasers.

Chapter 5 – Later, when Belshazzar was on the throne in Babylon, he saw the fingers of a man’s hand writing on a wall. When he called for Daniel to explain the meaning of what was written, the ruler pledged to give Daniel material blessings and make him third ruler in the kingdom. Hear Daniel’s response: “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation” (5:17). Daniel chose not to make the accumulation of material stuff his top priority. He would do what was right in God’s eyes, and it had nothing to do with receiving material compensation. Are we listening?

Chapter 6 – When he was serving in the Medo- Persian government, Daniel was recognized, even by his adversaries, as a man of faithful character (6:3). His devotion to God led to a new law forbidding anyone to petition a human or god during a thirty-day period (petitioning the king was the lone exception). What did Daniel do? He continued to do what was normal for him – he prayed to the God of heaven three times each day (6:10). No human law would prevent Daniel from doing what was right. As a punishment for Daniel’s disregard of the special decree, the king had Daniel tossed in with lions. But do not miss what the king admitted about Daniel: he referred to him as “servant of the living God” and said he served God continually (6:20). Whether he was with friend or foe, Daniel decided to be a faithful servant of God. You and I need to have such devotion.

Daniel was an elderly man, perhaps 85-90 years old, when he was cast into the lions’ den. The man obviously did not seek “early retirement” from God’s service. He chose to serve God as long as he still had the breath of life within him. What about us?

— Roger D. Campbell

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