heart of a disciple: Daniel

THE HEART OF A DISCIPLE: DANIEL – A candle in the dark.

Hello there!! It’s been a pleasure having you these past few weeks on this journey. We hope our last few blog posts have been a blessing to you. Don’t forget to like, share and leave your comments and suggestions below. As we bring down the curtain on the “Heart of the disciple” series we want to go back to the Old Testament and put the spotlight on the prophet DANIEL.

Daniel in Christendom is regarded as one of the four great prophets of the Old Testament. Aspects of his life story and prophecies are recorded for us in the book of Daniel. Interestingly he is not once spoken of as a prophet in the entire Old Testament. The prophet Ezekiel who happened to be a contemporary of his, mentions him as a pattern of righteousness and wisdom. (See Ezekiel 14:14-20). Daniel, whose name means God is my judge, was born into an unidentified family of Judean nobility around the reign of Josiah probably around 621 BC. When Daniel was about 17 years, his home nation of Judah was besieged and eventually taken captive by the Babylonian empire under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar. This was in fulfillment of prophecies of impending judgement given by the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah.  In the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign over his newly conquered state, he commanded his chief eunuch to bring some of the young people of the royal line and of the noble families in Israel to be trained for service under the king’s command. Daniel was  among the select, youthful hostages of this deportation. For three years, this young man, taken from his family, his home and his nation was thrust into the heart of the Babylonian empire to be trained in the wisdom of the Babylonians. It was in this period of training that Daniel began to stand out. The King had ordered that the trainee exiles  be fed with the food from his table. At first glance, this looks and sounds like a promotion. Think about it. Food from the King’s Table!! Daniel however refused this offer and chose rather to feed on less palatable meals. But what would make this young man take such a stand which obviously had dire consequences?  For in refusing the king’s food he was defying the king’s direct order. An action that could cost him his life.

As a young Jewish lad, Daniel remembered his training from the Torah (The first five books of our Bible) and how God had commanded the nation of Israel not to eat foods offered to idols and not to partake of certain meals which would render them ceremonially unclean to stand before God. This was the grounds on which Daniel refused the meals. It wasn’t just about food. In refusing the meals Daniel was taking a stand for God. He was staying true to his jewish faith. He would not allow the pains and uncertainties of exile, influence him to go against the commandments of God.  As Daniel took this stand, there were three other hebrew boys in the group that  immediately joined him. Daniel’s courageous effort emboldened them to take a stand as well. For them he became a candle in the dark in the far away land of Babylon. He lit up a fire in them that would eventually equip these three to face the fierce fires of Nebucadnezzer and come out triumphant ( see Daniel Chapter 3). After the three years of their training Daniel and his three companions were rewarded by God for their faithfulness. King Nebuchadnezzar found them ten times better than all their contemporaries. He kept Daniel to serve him in his court and set up the three others as local rulers in the kingdom.

Fifty three years on, Babylon experienced a hostile takeover. The once conquering kingdom had now been conquered. King Cyrus supreme ruler of the Persian kingdom had completely seized power over all of Asia ( Palestine and India). He gained control over Babylon during the reign of Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar. King Cyrus then appointed Darius to rule in his stead in his newly acquired province of Babylon. Darius to bring order to the domain under his command appointed 120 local rulers known as satraps. He then appointed three administrators who would oversee the work of these leaders. Daniel, who had served diligently and faithfully during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzer and his son Belshazzar was appointed as one of the three administrators by Darius. Daniel’s faithfulness and diligence in service won him the King’s favor who decided to appoint him the head of the three administrators. This move would mean that Daniel would now be the second in command in all of Babylon. This news however did not sit well with the other administrators and satraps who began hatching plans for Daniel’s downfall.

The problem however was that Daniel was a man of diligence and integrity. He was neither careless nor was he corrupt. The one thing they could however count on was Daniel’s faithfulness to his God.

They lured Darius into issuing an edict that would punish anyone who would pray or make any petition to a god or man in the next 30 days with death by lions. For Darius this sounded like a way of consolidating his power in the realm but unbeknownst to him he had just signed an edict that would mean the death of his beloved administrator. When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went into his chamber as his general custom was and opened his windows to Jerusalem towards the temple to pray. Daniel’s disobedience of the king’s command was not him being obstinate but once again he was taking a stand for God. He was staying true to his Jewish conviction of having no other God besides Yahweh. Daniel, now 70 was facing yet another test of his faith. The plan of the envious administrators had worked to perfection. Darius though heartbroken could do nothing to overturn the edict. In the custom of the Medes and Persians royal edicts and decrees could not be overturned. It looked as though Daniel’s story was now over.

Daniel was thrown into the den of lions but much to the Kings surprise the lions would not harm him. The King realizing that Daniel’s God had rewarded his faithfulness by preserving his life immediately ordered Daniel’s release. He then wrote another edict urging all the inhabitants of his domain to worship and tremble before the God of Daniel; The true and living God. Here again Daniel stands as a candle in the dark, lighting the path of this heathen King to faith in Yahweh.

Daniel epitomizes the command of Jesus to us his disciples.  We are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth ( Matthew 5:13-14). We are to be the light for fellow believers who are weak in faith and on the verge of compromise. We must shine the more brighter to light the path of this unbelieving world to the cross of Jesus. He is a timeless example of separation from impurity, courage against compromise and consistency in faith. Throughout the course of his life, he lived out the meaning of his name and always allowed God to be his judge. It is my prayer for each and every reader of this post that we would have the strength of character like Daniel to be CANDLES IN THE DARK. God bless you.

(P.S: want to find out what happened to Daniel’s conspirators? Read Daniel Chapter 6)

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