Saturday, July 20, 2013

Daniel Did It Different

There are many things that marked Daniel as being different from most of those around him. He was indeed remarkable in that sense, and we continue to hold him in regard today. Our children have been taught in Sunday School and adults through sermons and books have been encouraged in some way to, “Dare to be a Daniel.” Sure, Daniel had a lot going for him as a human. He was good in appearance, intelligent, and wise leading to him being in a select group to be trained to serve in the courts of a foreign king. And right off the bat, early in his selection, we learn that Daniel was going to do things differently. I would encourage reading all of Daniel, chapter 1, but have only included some of the verses in order to briefly paint this early encounter of distinction.

Daniel 1:3-6,8-9,11-12,5,17-19 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. … (8-9) But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, … (11-12) But Daniel said to the overseer … “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. … (15) At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. … (17-19) As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams. Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service.

Scripture records that Daniel continued to grow in stature, and as he grew others were left behind who became jealous. In their jealousy they sought to have Daniel and his three friends destroyed, and of course from this we get the well-known accounts of the three, no four, men in the fiery furnace and Daniel himself in the lions’ den. It is what led to the lions’ den that it the focus of today.

It was well known among those around Daniel that he was a devout man, who worshiped His God, refusing to bow his knee to any other, and committed to praying to His God on a consistent and even predictable basis. His detractors used his faithfulness in prayer to set a trap, such that a king who loved Daniel would have his hand forced to be the one to order him thrown into a den of lions. Daniel 6:4-11 records the setting of the trap and it being tripped.

Daniel 6:4-11 Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.” Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: “King Darius, live forever! All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction. Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God.

If you don’t know what happened next, go to the book of Daniel and continue reading. The point for today is that while Daniel was without fault in his service and his respect of those in authority, it was also known which lines he would cross and which he wouldn’t. Scripture records his unquestionable integrity in dealing with others. It also details his and his friends’ willingness to suffer the consequences for not compromising their faith in God in order to satisfy others. Daniel was indeed different, and he was different in the most admirable of ways. Even those who did not know his God knew this and it had an impact on their lives as a result.

Today Sarah writes about not being afraid to do things different from others; following the path that God has uniquely designed for us. Daniel demonstrates this for us, and He demonstrates how important His time with God was in finding direction for that path. When he knelt in front of his open windows just as he had done privately, he did so knowing that there might be consequences. But he did not let the fear of those consequences or the power of any individual pressure him to do this differently.

Daniel did not fit the mold, and he stands today as an example of God’s miraculous direction and provision for His children when they follow after Him with their whole heart.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (7/20)

Seek My face, and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know, because I designed you to desire Me. Do not feel guilty about taking time to be still in My Presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image, and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness: longing for your true home in heaven.

Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5

…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe. Philippians 2:15

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