Daniel 7 Cs - Commitment, Culture, Conduct, Concept, Company, Commission, Circumstances

 

Daniel 7 Cs - Commitment, Culture, Conduct, Concept, Company, Commission, Circumstances

 

The Bible operates with an economy of words, telling us just what God has to say to us—nothing more, nothing less. But sometimes, we'd love a bit more information! When we get to heaven, we'll meet Daniel's parents. Nothing is said about them in Scripture, but he must have had a father and/or mother who helped establish his relationship with God in his earliest days.

 

We pick up Daniel's story as a teenager, and from our first glimpse we see a passionate soul who was fully committed. He reminds us of Jesus, who knew at age twelve the importance of being about His Father's business, and who grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

 

Don't you long for the same kind of personal character and sterling quality? I do. At its core, it's a matter of being totally committed to God.

 

Daniel was committed as a teenager. Christian parents rightly worry when their teens leave home to enroll in a university or enter the military. Will their faith hold firm? Will they stand for Christ or yield to the allurements of the world?

 

I wonder how Daniel's mother felt when she learned he'd been seized and taken to the pagan city of Babylon. But Daniel had more going for him than against him. He had three friends whose commitment to the Lord was as strong as his. He had the favor of God on his life. And his own internal moral compass always pointed upward. In one of the clearest verses about moral character in the Bible, we read, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself" (Daniel 1:8).

 

Daniel was committed as an adult. When summoned before King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel carefully, but unhesitatingly, told him, "Therefore, 0 king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity" (Daniel 4:27).

 

Daniel's devotion to God grew stronger with age, and he remained committed to God as an older man. Many of the events in his book took place when Daniel was elderly. He was in semi-retirement at the time of Belshazzar's feast. He was summoned before the king, where, in front of hundreds of powerful guests, Through kings and kingdoms, from childhood to old age, through thick and thin, Daniel remained faithful.

 

He told him, "Belshazzar, lyou] have not humbled your heart .... You have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven .... You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting" (Daniel 5:22-27). That night, the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persians. The new Persian king, Darius, appointed Daniel, despite his age, to oversee the kingdom. This led to the famous plot against Daniel, which landed him in the lions' den. I'm always moved when I read the verse that says, "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days" (Daniel 6:10). I'm also impressed with the content of his prayer in Daniel 9, as he pled for the restoration of Jerusalem based on the prophecies of Jeremiah. I don't have time to delve into that prayer, but it's almost unequalled in the Bible.

 

in terms of Daniel's humility, his earnestness, his confession of sin, and his pleading of God's promises. That prayer resulted in the most specific framework of biblical prophecy we have in the Old Testament-Daniel's vision of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:22-27). Through kings and kingdoms, from childhood to old age, through thick and thin, Daniel remained faithful. His enemies could bring no charges or accusations against him "because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him" (Daniel 6:4). In so many ways, our lives are easier to live when we are faithful to God. Some people think it's hard to be a Christian, but the truth is-it's exciting. When you decide to follow Christ, that commitment establishes your moral code, lets you view life providentially, reduces your perplexity, increases your joy, and gives you the growing wisdom to live an influential life.

 

DANIEL'S WORLD: CULTURE

 

In spite of the spiritual corruption of Israel as a whole, Daniel and his friends were faithful covenant keepers.

 

Those of us who have been involved in stage plays, either as an actor or an audience member, know the importance of the word backdrop. The backdrop "sets the stage." When the opening curtain rises, we immediately know where we are: a Western farm scene if the play is Oklahoma! or a Southeast Asian royal palace if we're watching The King and I.

 

Backdrops help when studying books and characters of the Bible, too. Remember, the Bible's original readers were people who knew the backdrop and the context of what they were reading. There was no need to provide the backstory to the original readers; the authors just dove right in with only the barest historical markers to orient the reader. Like Daniel 1:1: "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it." That was the backdrop, but it was enough. The original readers would have said, "Got it"—and the story would begin in verse 2.

 

But today, we need a broader backdrop. If we are going to appreciate the life of Daniel and his three friends, we need to know more about Daniel's world. Only by understanding the radical culture shock they went through by being uprooted from their God-centered lives in Jerusalem and dropped into the pagan, idol-oriented context of Babylon, can we gain a full appreciation for their conduct, character, and commitment.

 

If we are going to appreciate the life of Daniel and his three friends, we need to know more about Daniel's world.

 

From 722-586 B.C., God judged the ten northern tribes of Israel and the two southern tribes of Judah for three primary reasons: failure to keep covenant with God, failure to honor the Sabbath-year rests for the land, and idolatry God used Assyria to judge the ten northern tribes, culminating in their exile to Assyria in 722 B.C.

 

A century later, Babylon had replaced Assyria as the ruling nation in Mesopotamia and became God's instrument of judgment against Judah and Jerusalem. There were three waves of judgment and deportation of Jews to Babylon. The first deportation was in 605 B.C. which included Daniel and his friends (and the treasures of the Jerusalem temple); the second was in 597 B.C. which included the prophet Ezekiel; the last was in 586 B.C. when Jerusalem and the temple were totally destroyed and left in ruins. That's how and why Daniel and his friends found themselves in Babylon.

 

In spite of the spiritual corruption of Israel as a whole, Daniel and his friends were faithful covenant keepers. They were young, well-educated, with courtier backgrounds—we know this because of how they stood out in Babylon as young men with potential in the political life of Babylon. They were all quickly chosen for a three-year training program of royal and political life in Babylon (Daniel 1:3-7).

 

So, what was their new home like? Babylon was the capital of a vast empire that had been inhabited for many centuries by successive powers. When Daniel arrived in 605 B.C., the city was at the height of its splendor under Nebuchadnezzar. The city was gigantic with massive walls and gates, gorgeous, many times the size of Jerusalem, home to numerous temples, and the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens. It was probably the richest, most elaborate city in the world at the time.

 

Spiritually, the probable meaning of Babylon itself—"gate of god"—says a lot. Daniel and his friends were transplanted from a monotheistic culture into a polytheistic system that worshiped many idol-gods—including the king himself. Babylonians gave credit for the founding of their city to the god Marduk, contrary to the biblical record (Genesis 10:10). Morals and ethics were man-made and allowed for brutality and death toward those who defied the king—as Daniel and his friends would ultimately find out.

 

Four young men, raised with a code of righteous ethics and covenant loyalty, were asked by God to represent Him in a carnal, corrupt, and chaotic culture. And they did! More than 2,500 years later, we are being asked by God to do the same. Our world is different from Daniel's in space and time, but alike in so many ways. Keep reading to discover how we can be as faithful in our world as Daniel was in his         

 

DANIEL'S CONDUCT

 

The most important thing about challenges is our response to them. We can't always control the circumstances, but we can let the Holy Spirit shape our reactions to them. Want an example? Study the prophet Daniel! He faced one dilemma after another, yet nothing negative is said of him in Scripture. He served God steadily from his teen years to his last days.

 

Daniel wasn't prone to panic. I'm sure he knew the fear we experience when troubles hit, but he had the ability to turn his problems into prayers, whereas we often yield to hysteria.

 

Daniel's demeanor was calm and reassuring, and he knew how to speak with tact. He was instinctively a diplomat. Daniel 1:9 says, "Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs." Had Daniel been filled with anger, rage, and bitterness over his misfortunes, it's hard to imagine him finding favor with his captors. Somehow God gave him the ability to trust in His divine plan. In his dealings with that megalomaniac, Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was always respectful, though truthful. It's not always easy to remal calm in the face of a difficult person, but Daniel was seldom ruffled.

 

Imagine facing a crisis with Daniel in the same room with you. His very presence would be reassuring. Well, you don't have him in the room. But you do have Jesus—and He, too, was confident and collected, whatever the occasion. Take Daniel as your model and Jesus as your mentor.

 

Daniel's attitude also presents powerful life lessons for us. When Nebuchadnezzar came to him after a troubling dream, Daniel showed true compassion toward him. Nebuchadnezzar's armies had kidnapped and abused Daniel, forcing him into palace service. Yet years later when the king dreamed of going insane—a nightmare that came true—Daniel "was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him." He finally said, "My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!" (Daniel 4:19)

 

Daniel's attitudes were formed, not by his fears but by his faith; not by bitterness but by his belief in God's detailed providence. Being a man of prayer and Scripture, Daniel interpreted the unfolding events from a heavenly perspective, which kept his attitude compassionate and resilient.

 

Who doesn't want that kind of attitude? Our emotions are hard to manage, but we can choose our attitudes. And when we adopt godly attitudes, our feelings will eventually fall into line.

 

Daniel's words also conveyed God's message to the world. In Daniel 2:23, he prayed, "I thank You and praise You, 0 God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might." And then, "Daniel went to Arioch and said thus to him" (verse 24). His words flowed from his wisdom, and his wisdom flowed from his walk with God.

 

Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). The ability to speak on every occasion with godly wisdom depends on our walk with the Lord and our growing understanding of His Word, His will, and His ways.

 

Daniel's compliance also demonstrates his wisdom and usefulness to the Lord. He knew when to take a stand, and he knew when to yield on certain matters. He refused to eat the king's food in chapter 1, and he ignored the king's edict about prayer in chapter 6. But he served the kings of Babylon and Persia, interpreted their dreams, expounded the handwriting on the wall, and managed their empires with skill and competence. Life is a balancing act, and, like Daniel, we must learn to work with the world around us without compromising our faith.

 

Finally, Daniel's actions spoke volumes. Daniel 10:2 says, "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks." As he fasted and prayed, God gave him a great vision of future conflicts and consummations, which are some of the most valuable portions of predictive prophecy today. Daniel shows us that our public persona flows from our private piety. How we walk before others in public is based on walking with God in private.

 

Like Daniel, we're God's representatives in a hostile world, and our conduct speaks loud and clear. Ask God for the ability to respond—not react—to the circumstances of life. We need Daniels in today's world—and we need to be like Daniel. Even more, we need to be like Jesus—modeling Him in our demeanor, attitude, words, compliance, and actions.

 

DANIEL’S CONCEPT

 

That's the language of commitment. Daniel arrived in Babylon resolute about his moral convictions and his biblical standards.

 

What's your most basic resolution in life? We live in a compromised age—one in which most people float along with the current wherever it leads them. But Jesus said, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). It's all right to be counter-cultural in this present world. Purpose in your heart, make up your mind, determine, and resolve to live in victory over the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Claim the victory of Christ!

 

If some bad habit is tightening its grip on you, claim Daniel 1:8 and trust Daniel's God to help you.

 

Daniel's concept of God shaped his view of everything else.

 

Pursue a Study of Prophecy

 

Daniel also teaches us the importance of being lifelong students of prophetic Scripture. Daniel didn't have the entire Bible as we do, but he had some of the Old Testament writings, including those of the prophet Jeremiah.

 

Daniel 9:2-3 says, "In the first year of his [Darius'] reign, I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes."

 

Oh, the lessons here! Daniel diligently studied God's Word. I can see him hovering over it late at night in his upstairs suite, pouring over every word by lamplight. Look at him rising in the morning for extra time to study as the light streamed through the windows. As he read Jeremiah 25 and 29, he saw God's promise and decided to claim it. The promises of God are scattered throughout the Bible for God's people to discover and claim.

 

The promise that gripped Daniel was for the restoration of Jerusalem after seventy years of exile, and Daniel's prayers about this led to their fulfillment and to the further revelation about Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27), in which we're given the very date for the Messiah's first coming and the outline for His second coming.

 

Daniel was ready for the next phase of God's plan for this planet. He demonstrated the practicality of studying God's Word, finding His promises, watching for His return, and praying, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20)

 

We need to study his book the way he studied Jeremiah's writings.

 

Engage in Systematic Prayer

 

We could devote an entire issue of this magazine to Daniel's prayer life. There are earnest prayers recorded for us word for word in his twelve chapters—prayers that shaped history, upset Satan, and moved the hand of God. But the most basic verse on this subject is Daniel 6:10: "And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days."

 

I suppose Daniel rose in the morning and had his devotions. Perhaps in the hot climate of Babylon, they had a version of a siesta at noon, during which Daniel returned to his apartment and prayed again. Before bedtime, he again visited his place of prayer and met with the Lord as night fell across the land.

 

Here are my takeaways: Every believer needs a regular, earnest, daily time of prayer—alone with God. It should be a habit, and the sooner it's established the better. We should consider it a lifelong habit, for Daniel maintained his devotional disciplines from his early days to his old age. Do you have such a time and place for prayer?

 

Celebrate the Sovereignty of God

 

Finally, though Daniel was surrounded by the trappings of royal power, pomp, and circumstance, he wasn't very impressed with any of it because he kept his eyes on the King of kings. The very theme of his book is how the Most High rules in the affairs of men. Daniel's concept of God shaped his view of everything else, and he exclaimed, "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons, He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise; and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him" (Daniel 2:20-22).

 

Daniel teaches us to take political changes in stride. Rulers come and go, and kings rise and fall, but, as Daniel 4:26 says, "Heaven rules." This doesn't mean we ignore politics. Daniel didn't. He was right in the middle of the Babylonian and Persian governments. But he kept his balance because he knew his God was sovereign—controlling events, guiding history, and moving the times toward their ultimate consummation.

 

Those who possess these Daniel-like qualities cannot avoid being world changers.

 

Now, wouldn't you like to add this man to your list of mentors? We're living in days like those of Daniel—when politics are turbulent, the leaders are egocentric, and the times are reaching their fulfillment. May God give us a solid spiritual foundation from our earliest possible days, a determined heart for Him, a hunger for His Word and for His promises about tomorrow, a habit of daily prayer, and a grasp of His absolute sovereign power.

 

Those who possess these Daniel-like qualities cannot avoid being world changers.

 

Whatever we do, let's not miss the excitement of living in our days as Daniel lived in his. Our world is on the brink of disaster, but we can take our stand on the Bible. Our world is dangerous, but that's just when it most needs a Daniel

 

 DANIEL'S COMPANY

 

0ne hot summer day, a dutiful father was helping his young twenty-something daughter move her possessions from one apartment to another. After a couple hours of climbing stairs, wrestling mattresses, and loading boxes into a rental truck, the father turned to his daughter as he wiped his perspiring brow: "Where are your 968 Facebook friends when you need them most?"

 

That particular social media platform helped to expand the meaning of friend in our modern world. Language changes as time passes. But in Daniel's day, he and his three friends and fellow captives—Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (we know them by the names given them in Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego)—were friends in the biblical sense.

 

The word friend in the Old Testament was used broadly—from mere acquaintances to the relationship between man and God. In its most intimate uses, it suggested a covenant bond like that between Moses and God (Exodus 33:11), Abraham and God (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23), David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:1-4), and between Jesus and His disciples (John 15:12-15). These friendships were all-in, all or nothing, life or death. They manifested the central theme of covenant friendship: loyalty.

 

We know nothing of Daniel's relationship with his three friends prior to the Babylonian exile. But it stands to reason that they knew each other in Jerusalem, probably part of the same class of young men who were destined for official positions in the government of King Jehoiakim. They likely stayed close to one another when they arrived in Babylon. It's pure speculation, of course, but given their loyalty to God and to one another throughout the events that ensued in Babylon, perhaps they had formed a covenant pact with one another: one for all and all for God! There is no sign in the book of Daniel that they ever wavered in their loyalty to one another. Courage is contagious.

 

Daniel is mentioned by himself many times in the book he wrote, but the names of his three friends are never mentioned individually: fifteen times it is "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego." They never seem to have been separated physically any more than they were separated spiritually. Perhaps they were all familiar with the words of King Solomon: "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). One might think that no relationship could be closer than that of blood-brothers, but Solomon knew better. Not even a razor blade could be inserted between spirit-brothers bound together in loyal love.

 

We can learn from the character traits and actions of Daniel and his three friends. As Solomon wrote, "The righteous should choose his friends carefully" (Proverbs 12:26). Here are three ways Daniel and his friends encouraged one another in Babylon—and how we can support our covenant friends today.

 

Creatively. When Daniel and his friends were put into a royal boot camp in Babylon, they didn't outright rebel against eating the Babylonian diet. Daniel came up with a creative plan to remain loyal to God and attractive to King Nebuchadnezzar at the same time. All four of them agreed to the plan and it was a success. Four heads were better than one (Daniel 1:8-20). Solutions and ideas come more easily when values and priorities are shared and embraced.

 

Constancy. When King

 

Nebuchadnezzar levied an impossible task on his counselors—describing not only his dream but its interpretation—Daniel turned to his three friends for help (Daniel 2:17-18). He asked them to join him in praying to God for mercy. Constancy is a synonym for loyalty. Friends will do for you whatever is needed (1 Samuel 20:4).

 

Courage. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were threatened with death in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3) and Daniel was threatened with being eaten by lions (Daniel 6), there was no hint of fear on their part. I don't doubt they discussed the possibility of death prior to these events and decided, "We will trust God and each other, come what may." Courage is contagious.

 

To be world changers in their chaotic world, Daniel and his friends drew strength from each other. To be world changers today, we must do the same. Make sure you are part of a group of creative, constant, and courageous friends.

 

0ver decades of pastoral ministry, I have often been asked, "How do I know God's will for my life?" "What is God's purpose for my life?" "What is my commission from God?"

 

I often answer with a question of my own: "What are you doing in your life right now?" And that usually is answered by "college student," "mom and wife," "ministry worker," "a job," or whatever they are currently doing.

 

"There's your answer. That is God's will for you today—to be faithful in all things. As for tomorrow and beyond, I find that God reveals His future will as we are faithful to Him in what we're doing today—and as we need to know more."

 

Daniel is a good example, one we can learn from as we seek to be world changers for Christ. We think of Daniel as a prophet in the Old Testament, and he was. But there is no indication that God called Daniel to be a prophet before he arrived in Babylon as a captive of Nebuchadnezzar. Some prophets were designated by God as such (Exodus 7:1; Jeremiah 1:5), but not Daniel. He never refers to himself as a prophet in his book; the only references to prophets in the book of Daniel are to others like Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2) and "[God's] servants the prophets" (Daniel 9:6, 10).

 

So how did Daniel get to be a prophet? How did he know this was God's call on his life? Almost by accident—and I use that term respectfully. It seems that the more faithful Daniel was in his daily life, the more God gifted him with the ability to display God's power and glory by speaking prophetically. And there is the lesson for us. As we are faithful in little things, God gives us more grace to serve Him in larger things (Matthew 25:21, 23).

 

What is God's purpose for my life?

 

To know about the greatness and glory of God as much as the ancient world did.

 

But things got serious quickly.

 

Daniel's prophetic ministry started small, the result of a practical need to avoid defilement. When he asked the king's officers to let him and his friends eat only vegetables for ten days, he knew God would honor their faithfulness and give them a good result. It was a ten-day, faith-based prophecy that came true (Daniel 1). So an unplanned, spontaneous act of faith on his part was his first prophetic venture.

 

The world today needs Daniel 2, when the king threatened to kill his counselors unless they told him his dream and its interpretation, Daniel simply asked God for wisdom so as to spare his life and the lives of the Babylonian wise men. The revelation God gave him turned out to be significantly prophetic: The progression of four kingdoms that would be replaced by God's kingdom—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Nebuchadnezzar didn't live long enough to see that centuries-long prophecy come true, but we, from hindsight, know it did.

 

Then there was the amazing prophecy of the Seventy Weeks: 69 weeks of years (483 years) after which the Messiah would come, followed by the seventieth week which is yet to come—the seven years of the Great Tribulation (Daniel 9). The 69 weeks happened right on schedule, meaning the seventieth week will as well.

 

Daniel was a world changer who simply set out to be as faithful in Babylon as he had been in Jerusalem. And God used him to foretell and forth tell His will to the world. That's how Daniel discovered his commission, and it is how we can discover ours as well.

 

DANIEL'S CIRCUMSTANCES

 

We don't know Daniel's exact age—let's say he was fourteen—when Babylonian soldiers burst into his home or grabbed him near Jerusalem's temple, shackled him, and marched him hundreds of miles to the metropolis of Babylon. We don't know if he ever saw his family again, but we do know something of the world he entered as he neared Nebuchadnezzar's incredible city in 605 B.C.

 

Historian Will Durant describes Babylon in The Story of Civilization. He wrote, "No one looking at the site of ancient Babylon today would suspect that these hot and dreary wastes along the Euphrates were once the rich and powerful capital of a civilization that almost created astronomy, added richly to the progress of medicine, established the science of language, prepared the first great codes of law, [and] taught the Greeks the rudiments of mathematics, physics and philosophy."'

 

In its day, Babylon was the jeweled oasis of the world, surrounded by 56 miles of walls so broad that two four-horse chariots could pass each other while being driven around the top of them. The walls were also studded with eight magnificent gates. The Euphrates River ran through the center of the city, colonnaded by towering palms. Massive buildings made of brick were enameled with tiles of brilliant colors. Thousands of bricks were stamped with the words "Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon ... am I." You can even see some of them today in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, where part of the excavated Ishtar Gate now stands.

 

Historians tell us Babylon was perhaps the first city in history to reach a population of two hundred thousand.

 

Under the Lord's providence, Daniel used these difficult circumstances to establish a testimony, a ministry, and a career.

 

Daniel undoubtedly heard the sounds of hammering and chiseling as he limped into town, for Nebuchadnezzar was always adding more buildings. He created the Etemenanki ziggurat, his version of the Tower of Babel, and he may have created the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon (though some scholars claim the Hanging Gardens were actually in Nineveh).

 

Nebuchadnezzar's own palace was the most magnificent residence the world had seen to that point. Interestingly, Saddam Hussein tried to recreate a similar palace for himself and today brave tourists can tour its vacant rooms.

 

Somewhere among the ruins of today's Babylon—in modern Iraq about fifty to sixty miles south of Baghdad—was a royal building to which the teenage Daniel and his friends were taken. The language, customs, gods, culture, and demands must have been threatening and hard to navigate.

 

If we feel dizzy trying to maintain our Christian lives in today's culture, imagine the challenges faced by these young men. And yet, God allowed Daniel to come there. Indeed, the Lord appointed the way, obscure and onerous as it was. The authorities tried to take away Daniel's Jewish name (Daniel means "God is my Judge") and give him the pagan name of Belteshazzar, meaning "Bel is the keeper of secrets" or "Ba'al's Prince." That gambit failed because to this day the prophet is known as Daniel.

 

The Babylonians also ordered Daniel to forsake his Jewish diet, but that's where he drew the line. He purposed in his heart to never be defiled by Babylonian customs. He prayed, studied the Scriptures, and took his stand for God.

 

Under the Lord's providence, Daniel used these difficult circumstances to establish a testimony, a ministry, and a career. He rose to a position of power and became the ultimate statesman—trying to minister to the multitudes and satisfy the kings even as political rivals planned intrigues to entrap and destroy him.

 

Try to conceive all of this. God has given us information about many things in the Bible and He created us with an imagination. An element of serious Bible study is painting mental pictures of what we're reading in the inspired Word as we put ourselves into the sandals of the biblical characters.

 

Daniel's circumstances, which seemed so ominous, were actually ordained.

 

Picture a fourteen-year-old boy. Think of that magnificent city of palm trees and paganism. Ponder Daniel's heart and mind as he drew near to God and sought divine direction. Realize God was in it all, paving the way for him to have a long ministry, history-bending influence, and a written record that fascinates us today and prepares us for what's ahead.

 

Daniel's circumstances, which seemed so ominous, were actually ordained.

 

So are yours. Don't despair over the situations you face. Think of Daniel and his times and resolve to use your own circumstances as world-changing opportunities.

 

Remember, our times are in His hands