Daniel is one of my favorite characters of the Bible!
Though we know he wasn’t perfect, he was one of the few that didn’t royally mess up in life. He was faithful and loyal to both God and his boss at the same time.
Through our studies of Jeremiah, who never stopped interceding for the his people and Ezekiel, who was obedient even though his life took a totally wild turn, we’ve learned about these priests-turned- prophets and how they effectively ministered to the people of Israel.
Daniel’s story , however, is completely different. As you probably know, he spent his whole life in captivity serving….yes, even ministering to….. the Kings of Babylon.
In other words, he spent his whole life serving his enemies.
Yet, as we study this Hero of the Faith, we discover that his calling, his experiences with God, and his suffering and persecution were all still ordained by the Lord to ultimately benefit the people of Israel as well as all of history.
Daniel’s calling was very different from the other 2 prophets we’ve studied. Daniel never heard the voice of God inviting him into ministry or saw a weighty vision (at least not as a young man) from God calling him into a specific mission.
No, Daniel, a young, wealthy, educated prince of Judah found himself smack in the middle of Babylon, the seat of King Nebuchadnezzar’s empire. Along with his 3 friends, they found themselves in a precarious situation. After proving themselves reliable for sticking to their Judean diet (Dan 1:8-15), they found favor with their prison captors. Because of this initial favor, they found themselves scraping for the interpretation of a kingly dream they had never even seen (Dan 2). If they didn’t come up with the goods, they were as good as dead.
They only thing they knew to do was to call upon Yahweh. It was time for a serious prayer meeting (Dan 2:17-23).
As young, well-to-do princes of Judah, they were given the best of the best in a proper Jewish education. They were taught all the right things to do, the right things to say, and the right way to live. As young men being swept away from the safety of a simple, idyllic Judean lifestyle to the opulent opportunities of the Babylonian Empire, they had a choice to make. Were they going to follow in the footsteps of their forefathers even if it meant death? Or, would they forsake their wholesome upbringing to assume a big city life trying to save their own necks?
In their desperate time of need, they didn’t forsake their upbringing. In fact, they defaulted to it and had no other option than to depend on the God of their ancestors. In these early days of their captivity, they not only had knew about the faithfulness and power of God, they had experienced it for themselves.
Walking into the throne room of King Neb, full of confidence in the omniscience of Jehovah and not in himself, Daniel revealed the mystery of the king’s dream as well as interpreted its meaning. Pretty impressive.
But, Daniel didn’t stop there. He took the fearless opportunity to give all the credit to God as the source of the dream and its interpretation rather than taking any credit for himself. Because King Neb was so blown away by Daniel’s abilities, Daniel found himself in a significant position of leadership.
No, Daniel wasn’t given a formal invitation into ministry. Instead, through Daniel’s integrity and faithfulness, God divinely placed Daniel into a position of influence and authority which would mightily influence the entire empire!
Daniels’ experience with God-
Interpreting that dream for King Neb was the first of many dreams that Daniel would receive over the years. Many years later, in Daniel ch 5, he was called upon by King Belshazzar (King Neb’s grandson) to interpret the infamous “writing on the wall”. The queen mother had called upon Daniel because it seemed the current king wasn’t aware that Daniel even existed. It seemed as if Daniel had been cast aside to the shadows after the reign of King Neb.
It makes me wonder….if Daniel wasn’t in the service of the current king, what had he been doing?
It clicked for me when I read a few chapters over in Dan. ch 7-8, “in the first year of King Belshazzar’s reign”. When the bratty grandson became king, he didn’t follow in grandpa’s footsteps nor learn from Neb’s years as a grass-eating madman out in the field. As a result Daniel was cast aside and had a lot of time to himself. So, we read in ch 7-8 what Daniel was doing during during those quiet years not in the king’s service.
Daniel received visions….and the occasional visit from Gabriel, the angel.
God used this seemingly non-productive time in Daniel’s life to communicate some pretty wild and amazing ideas. So much so, that Daniel was left upset, disturbed, and even put himself to bed at times. God entrusted to Daniel secrets he could barely comprehend or understand, yet God knew Daniel could handle such weighty topics since He had been revealing dreams and secrets to him since those early captive days.
Even though Daniel was going through a period of “down time” in the king’s service, God was furthering His Sovereign Agenda by revealing pieces of the future’s history and having it recorded by Daniel for us to eventually contemplate and explore. Similar to Ezekiel’s visions in splendor and glory, however, Daniel’s visions described kingdoms and events that will lead up to Ezekiel’s New Temple. Where Ezekiel received visions of Israel’s final role in eternity with hope that all things will be made new, Daniel received visions of how the dark and bloody timeline would unfold.
No, Daniel’s skills weren’t being wasted. God was putting him to good use until that selfish king needed to get out of a jam. God entrusted Daniel with such overwhelming experiences because Daniel had a proven track record of integrity and faithfulness.
During all that time Daniel wasn’t being utilized by the king, God was using him for purposes on a much larger scale to record prophecy of future events. Then, the writing on the wall incident occurred and Daniel found himself, once again, in the prime position to serve the king.
King Belshazzar soon found out, however, his time was over. When the ineffective king finally saw “the writing on the wall’, Daniel found himself in the service of yet another king…..King Darius.
The story doesn’t stop there. Daniel still has more obstacles to face. Will he continue serving kings who’ve stolen his life from his Judean existence? Will he continue to exhibit integrity and faithfulness?
Join me in Part 2 as we discuss the rest of the story. In the meantime, sign up for the Heroes of the Faith email mini course. You’ll get a study guide to help you reflect on the ministry of some OT Prophets. You might even discover how you are more like them than you ever thought possible! Sign up here!
See you in Part 2