“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself . . ..” – Daniel 1:8a
There’s so much conflict in the world right now. It seems like the world is being torn apart. It seems like our nation is being torn apart. Light and darkness, right and wrong, truth and falsehood are grappling in the public square. We hear a lot of people shouting. “Open the borders!” “Build the wall! “You can’t call immigrants ‘animals’!” “You can if they are animals like MS13 who hack people to death!” People are taking sides: “Socialism!” “Communism!” “Capitalism!” “The Russians influenced the election; its illegitimate!” “Stop the witch hunt! There’s no Russian influence. The previous administration abused their power, spied on and used criminal dirty tricks to undermine a duly elected president!” “Lock her up!” “Lock him up!” “Lock them all up!” And, in the midst of the brawl each side is declaring, “God is on our side!” (Maybe that’s an improvement to recent times when it seemed most politicians didn’t want anything at all to do with “God” for fear of offending atheists or bringing down the wrath of the ACLU. ) And just yesterday a local loudmouth politician has thrown more fuel on the fire by encouraging people on her side to public ridicule and shame not only elected politicians, but anyone, including regular citizens, associated with opposing views. It’s getting messy. It’s getting violent. The social fabric is unraveling. Where do we fit into all this? What should we do? I want to strongly suggest you dare to be a Daniel.
“For God is not the Author of confusion but of peace, . . ..” (1 Corinthians 14:33a). All of this chaos and confusion, “fake news” and falsehood, all of this shouting people down and shutting them off, all of this vulgarity and violence, it is not of God. The LORD through the prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). “Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). These times seem to be upon us. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be loves of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Oh boy does this ever describe our day! These are contentious times. What are we to do? Where do we fit in all of this? Why are we still here? Should we simply “turn away!” from such people? Should we “turn away,” run to our “safe spaces,” shut and lock the doors, board up the windows, find a cave or bomb shelter, and live off our supply of emergency MREs? (i.e. Meals Ready to Eat). I want to suggest a different option. I want to suggest you dare to be a Daniel.
Daniel lived during a very discouraging time in the history of Israel. His life spanned the entire 70-year Babylonian captivity. During this time many of the Israelites likely felt betrayed by God and confused by His workings. The captives may have thought, “How could God allow this to happen? Was it His will for us to experience this pain? Or worse yet, was He not powerful enough to prevent it?!” They had forgotten their part in their plight. You reap what you sow (e.g. Galatians 6:7-9). The fallen situation Israel now experienced confirmed the messages of the prophets sent to them by God. Their captivity was due to their disobedience and rejection of God. Once in captivity the truthfulness of the prophetic messages of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel to this effect was undeniable (Isaiah 1-12; Jeremiah 1-45; Ezekiel 3-24). Their sinful ways had led to a lamentable situation of captivity (Lamentations). But now that they were plunged smack dab in the middle of a foreign, very fallen, very unholy environment, what were they to do? Should they just assimilate and make the best of it? Should they set aside their identity as God’s people? How were they to get by? How were they to go on?
God is my Judge. “Daniel” means God is my Judge. The meaning of His name is significant. The book of Daniel is a book inspired by God to encourage His people. The book of Daniel is designed to put courage into God’s people who were in captivity. It is designed to do the same for us today. Though God’s people experience life shaking shattering events, their hope needs to remain in God. Though the enemy seems to be in control on the surface and in the world, God’s people should always remember that in reality God was and is the One in control of all things. We need to remember God is my Judge. God is the Judge of individuals as well as empires. God is the Judge of all. God is in control.
The word “judge” goes against the toleration mantra being echoed so vociferously today. But when the world is falling apart morally and spiritually the way it is today and believers more often than not find themselves in the minority, it’s comforting to know God is our Judge. God is watching over us. The truth is, God is a Judge not only over believers, but also over unbelievers and the powers of the world. God reigns as the Supreme Judge of all the earth. He is listening; He is looking; and He makes determinations that affect us every day. He has a plan. And we are part of that plan.
God is a Sovereign Judge. In the very first book of the Bible, God is portrayed as the Judge of all the earth when it states:
- Genesis 18:25 – “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
This verse of course comes from the response of Abraham to God when Abraham is informed that God intends to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness. Abraham addresses God as, “the Judge of all the earth.” God is justified in His decisions regarding righteousness and justice because He is the Judge of all the earth. This truth is proclaimed and confirmed throughout the Old Testament (e.g. Psalm 50:6; 67:4; 96:10 and 13). In the New Testament we learn that Jesus is the Judge of the world so asserting His deity and sovereign authority (e.g. John 5:22-27; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
The prophet Daniel expresses the idea of God as the Judge and Supreme Sovereign with the following inspired words:
- Daniel 2:20-22,44 – “Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His.21 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. 22 He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.44 “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
The judgeship of God as Sovereign Ruler of the Universe is the main theme of Daniel and his inspired book. As we see His hand at work in the world, (sometimes literally! – Daniel 5), we see Him as the Judge of all the earth. And to know that God is overseeing the world and all its events and even our own circumstances, that He is even watching over me, that, that is a great comfort and encouragement regardless of how hopeless our situation may be. And that is a message that needs to be proclaimed and lived out. We need to dare to be a Daniel.
Dare to be a Daniel and deal with the world. The ministry of Daniel spanned the entire Babylonian captivity during which he served as a prophet and government official (Daniel 1:1-2). Daniel’s ministry continued when the Babylonians were defeated by the Medo-Persians and lasted until at least the third year of the Medo-Persian king Cyrus in 536 B.C. (Daniel 10:1). Both of these ruling powers were polytheistic (i.e. they believed in more than one god.) The book of Daniel is about dealing with the world. The worldly forces are at first the Babylonian Empire and later in the book the Medo-Persian empire. Daniel and his friends are taken captive and thrust into this captivating environment. They don’t want to be there but they are. That’s just the way I feel on most days. How about you?
How would Daniel and his friends respond to their new surroundings? How would their surroundings or captors respond to them? Would Daniel go with the flow of the world and conform to it? Would he forget his God and adopt the “god” of the new world in which he lived? What would the world do to get him to adopt their ways, their belief system? What about you? How do you handle the world? Or, how does the world try to handle you? Does the world influence you, or do you influence the world around you? Is God your Judge? If He is, how does that affect the way you live in the world?” These are important questions for us to consider. I want to again encourage you to dare to be a Daniel.
Conformity – Satan’s strategy. Satan uses the world to try and squeeze people into his mold. He knows God’s plan for humanity is to conform them to the likeness of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29). Satan seeks to counterfeit that plan by seeking to mold people in his image. He uses the world to do that. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised in the opening chapter of the book of Daniel when early on Daniel and his friends are challenged to conform to the ways of Babylon.
Daniel 1:3-7 – “Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles,4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.”
King Nebuchadnezzar instructed “Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs” to assemble a group of impressive young people to serve in government positions. Ashpenaz was built like a horse. Well, at least his name means “nose of a horse.”  But Ashpenaz corralled select youth to go through a three-year training program (1:5). These youth would have to be repatriated, indoctrinated, reprogrammed in the ways of Babylon. This repatriation would begin by trying to dull their spiritual senses and by changing their identity to fit the mold of the world power.
The food or “king’s delicacies” were probably meats and other food that had been first offered to the Babylonian gods. To eat this food would be seen by some to be the participation in and worship of the pagan Babylonian god (1:5). In providing these delicacies, the Babylonians were subtly causing a compromising situation that was the foot in the door for them to get the youth to move from the “God” of their youth to the gods of Babylon. Satan always starts with subtlety. He approaches us with a smile and a seemingly innocent temptation to compromise. But if we give in at first, if we allow his toe into the door way, it never stops there. Satan the serpent slithers his way through when we open the door to his ways even a crack.
The effort to assimilate these youth into the Babylonian world system involved changing their identity by getting them to associate with the world system of Babylon. This was done by changing their names. Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comment on this in his study notes:
The names of the young Hebrew princes were changed to pagan Babylonian names. Daniel means “God is Judge,” but his name was changed to Belteshazzar, which means “Bel’s Prince.” Hananiah means “Beloved of the Lord,” but his name was changed to Shadrach, which means “Illumined by the Sun” Mishael means “Who is as God?” but his name was changed to Meshach, which means “Who is like Shach?” (Shach was a pagan god). Azariah means “The Lord is my help,” but his name was changed to Abednego, which means “The Servant of Nego” (Nego was another pagan god).
The “god” of this world. Who is behind this strategy to conform people to the ways of the world? The Bible says it is Satan. Satan seeks to enslave people by getting them to conform to the world. The Bible states:
- 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,4 whose minds the god of this age [ Greek – aion, also translated “world”] has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
- Ephesians 2:1-3 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world [Greek – kosmos], according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
- Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
- 1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”
- Revelation 12:9 – “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Why do people spend their lives working for their families rather than spending quality time with their families? Why do people reject the time proven truthful and inspired word of God for the whimsical time disproven trendy ways of the world? The above portions of scripture explain why. It is because Satan is the influence behind world systems.
No compromise – God’s response to Satan’s strategy. What the Babylonians attempted to do is not unlike what happens throughout history and even today. The forces that be are always trying to assimilate the best resources of the world to support their cause. The world is always trying to squeeze people into its mold so it can further it’s purposes. The enemy is after our youth. Our educational systems have been converted from places where our youth are educated to places where they are indoctrinated by state and worldly godless secularism. Schools are not educating, they are indoctrinating! And there should be no doubt that wherever “God” and His word are downgraded, discouraged, and presented as old dark ways, the slithery serpent is at work. Since Satan is the “god of this world,” to be conformed to the world is to be a tool in Satan’s hand.
No conformity. No compromise. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are introduced as “sons of Judah” (1:6). These young men represent the godly in captivity. How would they respond to this compromising situation? It tells us:
Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
Daniel had a heart to remain wholly holy and devoted to God. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would do nothing, even in his captivity, that would defile himself. The test for them would be, “What will I be when I’m outside of my safe spiritual environment?” They were removed from their homeland where God was LORD. They were removed from the Temple, that great national symbol and place where the shekinah glowed. What would they be, how would they act, when the props of the Holy Presence and the supports of their safe spiritual environment were removed?
Have you sent your child off to school? Have your teenager off to college? That will test your faith. That will test their faith. All the preparatory spiritual training and discipleship is tested when you send your kids off to school. Young people, you experiencing your first breath of independence, leaving home and going away to school, you will have your faith tested. Will you calmly comply to your professor’s atheist assertions? Will you stand like a Daniel or succumb like a Demas? (e.g. 2 Timothy 4:10). Will you cave to your friend’s carnality or will you be courageous like Daniel and his friends? Sadly, many times, young people indulge their flesh. Young people misuse their freedoms. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Will you resist temptation? Will you take a stand for God’s truth? Will you dare to be a Daniel? I pray you will!
And you who are older, do you sneak a peek at porn? Do you flirt with someone at the office or elsewhere? Do you skim off the top of your companies’ profits? Do you sheepishly remain silent when your peers spout perversions or political propaganda? Do you fit in to the demonic dialogue of the day or do you shine His light to His glory? (Matthew 5:13-16).
You may think no one know or that no one is looking, but God knows! God is watching! “For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps” (Job 34:21). “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Daniel had a strong faith. Daniel believed he lived in the sight of God. Daniel knew that God knows and therefore he would not compromise his faith in any way. That is the test of true faith; do you live it out when no one is watching except God? Daniels faith was such that no matter where he was or who was with him, he would not compromise with the world. Daniel purposed in his heart to remain true to God. Would you dare to be a Daniel?
The food and wine offered to Daniel and his friends by the Babylonians had likely first been offered to the Babylonian idols. To partake of this knowingly would be abominable and defiling. “Daniel purposed in his heart,” that he wouldn’t do such a thing. Daniel had a heart relationship with God Almighty. Just like Joseph (Genesis 37), he knew that to indulge his flesh would be to sin against God. Daniel therefore purposed in his heart that he wouldn’t compromise with the world. This was an act of faith that he would trust God to work out. The battle begins in our heart. It is in the heart that the battle is won or lost. In the heart of Daniel, he knew for certain that God is my Judge. Daniel answered first and foremost to God. God was his primary and all-consuming concern. Who or what is your primary all-consuming concern? Are you daring to be a Daniel?
The Bible is clear on what the response of the believer is to be toward the world. There is always going to be tension and conflict between the believer and the world. In fact, if there is not, the believer should ask themselves, “Why do I get along so good in the world? Am I fitting into the world? Have I been fit into the mold of the world and don’t even know it? Jesus said His followers would be hated by the world just as He had been. He said:
- John 15:19 – “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
- John 17:14-17 – “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.15 “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.16 “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
Elsewhere in the New Testament we read:
- James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
- 1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Don’t compromise with the world. If you are getting along just fine with the world, perhaps you have been fit into its mold. If so, you need to present yourself to God for repair. Take a stand, dare to be a Daniel!
Don’t let the world shape you. Probably one of the most relevant verses in regards to the believer and the world is found in the book of Romans which states:
- Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“And do not be conformed to this world.” Many have sought to do God’s work with worldly methods. Someone has said, “When the Church feels it must become like the world to win the world, we have not won the world, the world has won us!” William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was quoted as saying, “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.” Psalm 119:89 states, “Forever O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” If that is the case, why then do so many in the Church cast aside God’s word for the everchanging superficial shallow secular trendy traps of the day? There is little if any lasting fruit produced when you rely on that which doesn’t last. Lasting fruit comes from relying on that which is “settled in heaven.” Spend your time, on your knees, Bible opened, seeking through the Spirit how to apply it in relevant ways. Go deeper into God’s word not deeper into the world. Dare to be a Daniel.
God does not endorse conformity with the world no matter the intent. God calls believers to be separate and distinct, holy, so that what God accomplishes will be clear for all to see, that God accomplished it, and not diluted and fogged up by compromising cross-signals of carnal worldly ways.
Know Who you are working for and Who is working with you. But how was it that Daniel was able to not compromise? Indeed, Daniel is one of the few Biblical characters about which nothing bad about him is ever recorded in the Bible. How’d he do that?
Daniel 1:9 – “Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.”
“Now God had brought Daniel into favor and goodwill,” the word says. Daniel knew that while he was in a foreign land under foreign worldly masters, that nothing could change Who he really worked for or lived for. He worked and lived for God. Daniel knew that God was at work behind the scenes. Daniel was able to dare to live the way he did because he served a BIG God. He really did dare to believe that God was real and that God makes a difference. He trusted in God to have his back. Who are you trusting in? Who has your back?
That is a message for all those confronted by the world and for those upon whom the world has taken aim to cause them to compromise. Daniel did not compromise because he relied on God. And God was faithful to honor and work through his faithful servant Daniel. Because Daniel purposed in his heart to remain true to God, God was freed to act on Daniel’s behalf. Daniel knew who he worked for; he worked for God and took orders from this Boss first and foremost.
The New Testament tells us that it is important for believers to know Who they work for. The believer works for God. God is the One who works out the circumstances and consequences for obeying Him. We are called to serve God in all things. We are to live for His glory. The Bible states:
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
- Colossians 3:17,23 – “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. . . 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,”
If we are not to conform to the world, and God is our Judge, our Boss, what do we do in the world? How does that play out? What does it mean to dare to be a Daniel?
Confronting the world. The passage continues:
Daniel 1:10-13 – “And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”11 So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.13 “Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.”
Have a heart like God’s that cares for the lost in the world. When Daniel told Ashpenaz that he and his three friends didn’t want to defile themselves with the king’s delicacies it sent a shiver up the spine of the chief of the eunuchs. He must have thought, “Daniel doesn’t know the king like I know him. The king is volatile and could easily react by having all our heads. And he might include mine!” But Daniel would not compromise. Daniel knew that God would be faithful. And he knew that this circumstance of God showing His faithfulness would minister to Ashpenaz as well as to others in the royal court, the king himself. Daniel knew there was a lesson to be learned, a testimony to flow from this testing.
And here we see a vital principle in what it means to be a Daniel. Daniel did not shrink back in fear. He did not back down from a temptation that was really a confrontation concerning faith and truth. Were his convictions true, reliable? By remaining completely true to God in this fallen pagan environment would glorify God. He would not isolate himself from this lost world. Daniel had a heart like God’s; a heart to glorify God; but also, a heart for the lost in this world. Daniel didn’t see himself so much as a captive, but as a godly infiltrator. Daniel would infiltrate and be an influence for God in this world. That is what it means to be a Daniel.
God loves the lost in this world and has a desire that they would be liberated from the sin that enslaves them. Daniel put himself and his three friends in a position to be a light to this dark part of the world, to be a witness. This is the testimony of the New Testament in regards to the world, which states:
- John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
- 1 Timothy 2:3-4 – “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
- 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
- 1 John 4:13-14 – “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.”
What about you, do you have a heart for the lost in this world like that of Daniel, like that of God? Do you flee and isolate yourself from the world or do you infiltrate and influence for the glory of God? Are you a Daniel?
Notice Daniel was not arrogant or outright oppositional in his nonconformity. Rather Daniel was graceful, gentle and compassionate. Daniel exhibits meekness in that he is a picture of strength under control. This man of God, whose heart belonged to God, had a heart for the people, the lost people of this world. The Babylonian world system had tried to influence him, but instead, he would now influence the system or at least one member of it.
The book of Ezekiel depicts the prophet as called to be a “watchman” to warn people of coming judgment (Ezekiel 3). Paul in the New Testament states believers are referred to as “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). The apostle Peter instructs believers to be ready to witness and to do so in gentleness. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” (1 Peter 3:15-16). Jude too calls believers to contend for the faith when he writes: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3).
A faithful witness willing to be tested. Daniel was an ambassador of God in this dark part of the world and he contended for the faith with grace and compassion. His life shows us that we are not to isolate ourselves or be taken out of the world. While we are here we are to be God’s ambassadors and influence the lost in the world. What about you, are you interested in influencing your part of the world for God?
“Please test your servants,” in other words, “See if what I believe isn’t better than what you believe” is what Daniel was saying. By asking Ashpenaz to test them, Daniel was really confidently creating a situation where the ways of God would be put to the test. Daniel was creating an opportunity for God to reveal Himself to these worldly captors. This was a real step of faith for Daniel and his three friends as well. It wasn’t a presumptuous testing of God sch as the devil tempted Jesus to do (e.g. Matthew 4:4-7). We know Daniel was a prayer warrior (e.g. Daniel 6 and 9). What Daniel does here is what God led him to do. By asking Ashpenaz to put them to the test, Daniel and his three friends were stepping out in faith and trusting in God. This was a God-ordained testing.
Really, what being a Daniel involves is following the lead of the Spirit to step up, stand up, and let God use us for His glory. We want to step up or take a stand in a way that God gets the glory, not us. When we follow Daniel’s footsteps and do that, great things happen. The Bible is filled with examples of those who acted in a way that extended their faith and said to the world, “Put up or shut up.” Moses faced pharaoh in faith (Exodus 1-12); Joshua marched against Jericho in faith (Joshua 1; 6); Gideon faced 30,000 Midianites with 300 men in faith (Judges 6-7); David faced Goliath in faith (1 Samuel 17); Elijah faced nearly 500 false pagan prophets in faith (1 Kings 18); and on and on we see God use those who are willing to step out in faith to be a witness for Him and be used by Him. What about you, are you a faithful witness for Him in your part of the world now? Are you willing to dare to stand up and be a Daniel?
Daniel said, “Then let our appearance be examined before you” (1:13). He made himself and his friends accessible. He said, “Look at the way we live and see if what we say is not true.” Daniel did not hide his light under a bushel basket, but he exposed himself to public scrutiny in an effort to give God glory. That is what Jesus instructed His disciples to do when He said:
- Matthew 5:13-16 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
What about you, have you so isolated and removed yourself from the world that no one can see your light? That’s not what Daniel did. Daniel never ran and hid. Jesus said very clearly that He did not want believers to be removed from the world but to remain in the world so they could influence it and share the gospel (John 17). Is your light shining or is it covered up? When was the last time you told an unsaved family member or coworker, “Please test me and see if what I say God has done in me isn’t true?”
Conquering the world. Daniel’s prompting from the Lord proved true. It states:
Daniel 1:14-21 – “So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.16 Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.18 Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.19 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king.20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.21 Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.”
God honored and used the faithful witness of Daniel and his three friends. Not only that, but it states that “God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (1:17). God took their initial step of faith and built on it so that as we continue in the book of Daniel we see these four used in even greater ways by God. God equipped them with the skills and talents needed to influence the world around them.
The New Testament elaborates on the means by which we can conquer the world. Ultimate and certain victory comes through the cross of Christ and keeping His cross between you and the world. As the world tries to tempt you to conformity, just keep putting the temptations at the foot of the cross by faith and live in the power provided by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says this is the way to conquer and overcome the world.
- John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
- Romans 8:37-39 – “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Galatians 6:14 – “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Just as Daniel and his three friends were found to be “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all the realm,” our faithful witness will be used by God to show the superiority of a relationship with Him through faith in Christ. When we live in Christ in this world, the world will come to us to seek our “secret” with which we live victoriously in the world. When was the last time someone came up to you and said, “What makes you so different? Where do you get that peace? How come you are so settled and sure of yourself? How come your life seems to be in order?” When you live with God as your Judge, the door will open to be used by God. This is what happens when you dare to be a Daniel.
Remember, all that Daniel and his friends are able to do in the world, was accomplished by relying on God’s resources. This is conveyed by the words, “God gave them.” God equips ordinary people to do extraordinary things for Him. In the New Testament God provides us with power to serve Him through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1 and 2). He provides spiritual gifting to serve (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4). He provides armor to protect us and weapons for us to use offensively and defensively (Ephesians 6:10-18). God doesn’t just call us to impact the world around us and then leave us hanging to fend for ourselves. God calls and equips us. God enables and empowers us to minister in His name by His Holy Spirit. He did this for Daniel and his friends in the captivity. He did it for the early followers of Jesus. He did it for other saints throughout history. He will do it for us today too. He will do it for those who dare to be a Daniel.
History is filled with people of God willing to take a stand like Daniel did, who God mightily used to reach this world. The Apostles, Church Fathers, people like Wesley and Whitefield, Edwards and Asbury, Carey and Carmichael, Moody, Torrey, Taylor, Graham, Smith. There have been many, thankfully, who were willing to dare to be a Daniel. And the world is better for it. And the Great Commission has been furthered because of it.
Unfortunately, there have been periods in history when the Church has gotten off course. There have been times when people in the Church have failed to see the need and plan of God to stand like Daniel. Instead, there have been times when the Church has been reduced to an instrument to enrich a few at the expense of the many. There have been times when the Church has lost sight of Who God is. During those times it has taken a person willing to dare to be a Daniel to make the difference and be used by God to reconcile the Church back on track.
In 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea the doctrinal question of “Who is Christ?” was addressed by the Church. Arius from Alexandria. A very charismatic and persuasive speaker held that Jesus was an ideal man but inferior to God and not eternal (this is the doctrinal root of Jehovah’s Witnesses today.) Those who held that Jesus was fully Man as well as fully God were led by Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. The Council spent two months debating and finally deciding that Jesus was fully God and fully Man and this was put into the Nicaean Creed.
But this was a hotly contested theological battle. Arius was cunning. He would make up catchy jingles and rhymes and then pollute the minds of the masses with his heresy. Arius was a good salesman. Satan is a good salesman. The tide was turned by the eloquent and effective teaching of a faithful young man by the name of Athanasius.
While the Arians were defeated in Biblical and theological debate, they continued to hold political strength and made life for this young stalwart Daniel-like man of God Athanasius very hard. At one point a friend of Athanasius said to him, “Athanasius, you have the whole world against you!” Athanasius’ response was “Athanasius contra mundum!” Which is translated, “Athanasius against the world!” Athanasius was willing to take a stand. He was willing to stand alone if need be. And because of that God used him to proclaim the glorious truth of the nature of Jesus as God. Athanasius was willing to stand against the world as he lived in the sight of God.  Athanasius knew God was his Judge and if God was on his side nothing else mattered. Athanasius dared to be a Daniel.
In the 16th century Martin Luther was another man of God called by God to take a stand this time against corruption in the Church. At one point he had to stand, alone. Martin Luther was a man of the Bible. As he studied the book of Romans the Spirit opened his heart to understand that “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). This truth went against the teaching of the Roman Catholic church which taught the use of works as a basis of human righteousness. The Roman Catholic Church further created indulgences whereby forgiveness could be purchased with money. A person could actually purchase absolution for their sins ahead of time. You could pay ahead of time to indulge your sinful lusts. Such a system was used to enrich the church. This repulsed Luther. Eventually he was moved in his spirit to post 95 Theses or statements regarding the abuses of the church. Luther posted them on the door of his church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31st, 1517. Martin was severely persecuted as a result. Luther was called on the carpet at the Diet or council of Worms in 1521 and commanded by church officials to recant his 95 Theses. Standing alone before the assembly of church leaders, he responded:
“It is impossible for me to recant unless I am proved to be in the wrong by the testimony of Scripture or by evident reasoning; I cannot trust either the decisions of Councils or of Popes, for it is plain that they have not only erred but have contradicted each other. My conscience is bound to the Word of God, and it is neither safe nor honest to act against one’s conscience. Here I stand. God help me. Amen!”
When further challenged Luther is also quoted to have said, “One with God is a majority.” For these two men of God, and for Daniel and his three friends, God was their Judge. God greatly used those who were willing to take a stand in faith and trust in Him.
We are never truly “alone.” God is always with us. As I close this teaching, there may be some reading this who have yet to receive Jesus as Savior. I want to dare to be a Daniel to you. God doesn’t desire any to perish. He desires that all would repent. He wants you and me to spend eternity with Him. And today is the day of salvation! (Hebrews 3). If you have not received Jesus as Savior and Lord, I am here, daring to tell you, TODAY IS YOUR DAY! You are not guaranteed any additional time to receive Jesus as your Savior. Right now, may be your last chance. God has been very patient with you. But God’s patience does not go on forever. A time will come when there will be no more opportunity for you to receive Jesus as Savior. You will be lost in your sins, condemned because of your sins, and justly sentenced to an eternity of torment because of your sins.
The message of God to you today is “delay no longer!” (Revelation 10:6). Do not presume on the patience of God. Do not procrastinate away your God given opportunity to be forgiven your sins. Now is the right time for you to accept Jesus as your Savior. Now is the time to be forgiven your sins and receive the regenerating eternal life offered by God’s grace through the work of the Holy Spirit.
How can a person come to God and receive eternal life? The Good News is that entering into a relationship with God is as simple as ABC. First Admit your sin. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). And we all have sinned and fall short of what it takes to enter heaven (Romans 3). If we acknowledge and admit our sin before God and turn from them to Him, we’re headed in the right direction. We come to Him on His terms not our terms. We come humbly before God who is Awesome and Holy.
The next thing to do is Believe on Jesus and Jesus alone, not your efforts or works. Trust in Jesus and His redeeming death on the cross. The wages or consequences of our sin is death, but God offers us salvation from our sins freely through Jesus’ death on the cross (Romans 6:23). We are saved from our sins because of His work not our work. To believe, trust, or put our faith in Jesus as Savior is not a “work,” it is God’s grace working in us (Ephesians 2:8-9). God has a just basis to forgive our sins because of Jesus justifying work on the cross on our behalf. Jesus paid our death penalty on the cross for us. He’s the only One qualified to do that. Jesus took our sins on Himself on the cross and when we trust in Him and His work, He offers us His righteousness to be put to our account (cf. Isaiah 53; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God did this for us in Christ because He loves us. God is Love with a capitol “L” (e.g. John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:8 and 16).
Lastly, Confession is involved. We confess our sins to God and receive His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). But we also confess Jesus to those around us; we tell others about Jesus. We dare to be a Daniel. This is not a work that leads to salvation. This is a fruit or evidence that salvation has genuinely taken place in us. The Bible states, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). Look up these verses and pray over them. “So, then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Get into God’s word and let Him contact you more and more. Contact me through the comments section of my blog if you have any further questions.
I encourage you to dare to be a Daniel. The words of Paul come to mind, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me. And that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” Yes. “Amen!” How about you, are you willing to dare to be a Daniel? Are you willing to infiltrate this world and influence it for the glory of God? Are you willing to say “no compromise!” Are you willing to confront this world? Are you willing to present God your ordinary life so He can do something extraordinary with it? Are you willing to dare to be a Daniel?
 ACLU – American Civil liberties Union – a liberal institution which supports removing the influence of “God” in our nation.
Jerome H. Smith, editor, The new treasury of scripture knowledge [computer file], electronic edition of the revised edition of The treasury of scripture knowledge, Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1992 by Jerome H. Smith.
 Chuck Smith, Word for Today, Study Guide – The book of Daniel, (The Word for Today, P.O. Box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA 92626) p. 1.
 Marvin L. Galbreath, 20 Centuries of Christianity, Light and Life Press: Winona Lake, IN., 1970, p. 16
 Marvin L. Galbreath, 20 Centuries of Christianity, (Light and Life Press: Winona Lake, Indiana, 1970) pgs. 30-31