DARE TO BE A DANIEL

Determined to Please God

Daniel 1

8/22/04

Jerry A Collins

SCC

 

*               What kind of character is needed to live out our convictions?

*               What kind of commitment is necessary to live our convictions?

*               What kind of circumstances require living our convictions?

 

There are moments of truth in our lives when our true ambitions come to the surface and are tested and revealed in the circumstances we find ourselves facing. When we are forced to either assert our convictions or compromise them. To stand up for what we believe is right or cave into the prevailing wisdom surrounding us. There is no doubt that God wants to shape men and women into people of character and conviction. We are more concerned about our circumstancesGod is more interested in our character. Daniel teaches us that it is possible to become people of rock solid biblical character and live our convictions when conflicting circumstances may make it difficult to do so. What about this man Daniel? (1) As a teenager he was taken captive to Babylon as part of King Nebs captivity of the Jews. (2) Seems he never married and never returned to his native land, Judah. (3) Physically attractive, intelligent, educated, wise (1:4). (4) Contemporary of another prophet, Ezekiel who said Daniel righteous 14:14 & wise 28:3. But while Ezekiel lived among Jewish people in Babylon, Daniel recruited to serve the king. (5) He served at least 3 kings and was promoted over his contemporaries. He saw fall of Babylon & rise of Medo-Persia empire. (6) He was man of prayer and student of the scripture 9:2-3. But he also had skill in all lit and wisdom 1:17. (7) He wrote book bears his name 12:4; Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14 using 2 languages: Hebrew and Aramaic. The book demonstrates it is possible to live consistently for God in midst of a godless society ruled by pagans. It is possible because God is in control:

1:2 God gave jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand

1:9 God granted Daniel favor and compassion in site of commander

1:17 God gave them knowledge and intelligence in all lit and wisdom

While Daniel is making his decisions God is orchestrating situations consistent with those decisions to accomplish His plan for these times in Daniels life. What about the times of Daniel? (1) Babylon hatred of Egypt and both competing empires on either end of fertile crescent shaped middle east. (2) Neb brot his army and defeated Egypt in 605bc. Expanding territories eventually attacked Jerusalem taking Daniel and others to Babylon 2 kgs 24:1. (3) Neb retuned in 597bc because of jehoiachins rebellion taking 10000 captive including Ezekiel, 2 kgs 24:8-16. (4) Neb returned again in 588bc, besieged Jerusalem for nearly 18 mos captured Zedekiah destroyed temple in 586 killed most of remaining Jews 2 Kgs 25:8-12. (5) for 70 yrs jews remained in captivity seeing many cultural changes before a series of returns took place (6) In sense Daniel is 2 books in one. Weaved into unfolding story of his life is the revelation of a fantastic prophecy fulfilled after his lifetime and much still in the future.

BACKGROUD: King Hezekiah one of few good kings in Judah. About 80 yrs before showed the ambassador from Babylon the treasures of his nation exposing its wealth and by this encouraging an eventual attack from that country. The kings response: I am tired of fightingat least I wont have to face it in my lifetime. Now Daniels generation must do so. Interesting that Hezekiah given opportunity to labor long15 more yearsbecame weary and quit before finishing. But Daniel determines 80+ yrs later to do so in even more difficult circumstancesliving with the consequences of Hezekiahs sin. How did he do it?

1. WE CAN EXPECT TO BE CONFRONTED WITH SIN OF SINFUL SOCIETY 1-7

1-2 Along with jehoichin, Neb took many vessels of house of God back to Babylon (the ones Hezekiah had shown 80+ yrs earlier) put them in houses of his own gods.

3-4 Ordered chief to bring some royal membersyouth with nod effects to convert them to Babylonian ways and gods, i.e. to make Babylonians out of them. We need to understand that we are living in an ungodly society. Spiritually, times are bad today like Daniels then. Our world is a dirty place to live in. Cannot help living in it without getting defiled in some way from it. Sometimes the pressure mounts to conform.

5-7 They tried to convert then with 4 things: (1) to think like the world (education in literature of our world) (2) to speak like the world (language of the world Babylonian) (3) to eat & drink like the world (customs of our world) (4) to identify with the world (by changing their names. In each case their names contained a name for God of Israel but changed to contain name of a Babylonian god. Yet, God gave them knowledge of the worlds wisdom vs 17. Its important to understand the way our ungodly society thinks and actually understand it better than they do10 times better vs 20. Can apply biblical truth more relevantly. Times are bad. Temple destroyed. Vessels used for foreign gods, Names changed to honor these. Yet in middle of this a story of most godly men.

2.OUR CONVICTION BASED ON BIBLE MUST BE APPLIED IN OUR OWN GENERATION 8-21 8 BUT DANIEL says it all. In sense this is theme of book. Daniel made up mind not to defile himself with kings food. A difficult decision to make. Why? (1) The king had ordered the menu. (2) To disobey mite punishfiery furnace. (3) To refuse the food would spoil opportunity for advancement in govt at close of training period. (4) Quality of food been very attractive. (5) The 4 were long way from home. (6) Natural to argue since God not protected from captivity not have to be careful obeying Him. But Daniel determined food would defile him. Maybe not allowed by Mosaic law. Or had been dedicated to idols before they ate it. It was against Daniels personal convictions. A characteristic of his life was strong personal convictions that disciplined his life by his own choice (but he did not hold others to same disciplinethats legalism). Same with his prayer life 6:10 where he has habit of praying on knees 3 times a day toward Jerusalem. None of that commanded in Law and he was willing to stand up for those convictions personally. Daniel not a rebel. Was not making demands. He asked for, made request of, permission to continue.

9 God honored his self-discipline in site of officials. Again God is orchestrating his purposes consistent with the decisions Daniel is making. We can never figure out Gods plans. Our job is to make decisions based on our understanding of Bible and Gods job to take these decisions and weave them together into the working out of His purposes. We should never try and figure out Gods plan, what it is He is doing.

10-13 Here commander fears losing his head. Why? Because he assumed kings food better then Daniels vege diet. Most people assume what accepted by general society is true. Society used to believe smoking fashionable and harmless, that eating lots of red meat good for you, that no seatbelts necessary. On larger scale, that world was flat, or that life spontaneously comes from non-life. Daniel does not get his convictions from what others believe! He says test us. In all his dealings with his pagan world he never asks them to have blind faith or mysticism. Daniel proves everything. Everyone being vege not a biblical virtue. Point is not that everyone eat only veges. Daniel had a diet that was stricter than Mosaic law.

14-17 The test worked 14-16. Daniel and his 3 friends were in the world but not of the world but that did not mean that they did not learn the wisdom and ways of the world. They were not ignorant of their pagan world. Yet they were godly in the midst of their knowledge of the ungodly. So secret to godly character was not in avoiding knowledge of world. The problem is not in knowing the world, It is in knowing that the world is wrong. Not becoming like it. Daniel was also given special ability to understand visions & dreams important for later book. (1) Personally order your life around scripture while understanding godless society which you live (Mt 10:17; Jn 17:15). (2) Be both biblical & relevant. Easier be relevant if dont try to be biblical. Easier to be biblical if dont try to be relevant. Mature one is both. The impact of Daniels righteousness was its relevance. (3) Learn from past and know future. Aware & focus on our origin and our destiny. But the purpose of this perspective is to impact our own generation with the purpose of God Acts 13:22.