Daniel was a prophet during a time when God’s people were living in captivity. He served under two world empires, The Babylonian and Medo-Persian. His life is a testimony about how to live in enemy territory or territory that is contrary to God.
We live in enemy territory. We live in a world that is contrary to God. Our particular part of the world is particularly opposed to God. More and more we see people rejecting God. We see more and more people choose atheism and secularism over the living God and a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ. We live in a world and a country which is being torn apart by competing political views, is being deluded by fake news, and being corrupted by the immorality and perversity of godless world views. We live in an environment that is not unlike that which Daniel lived in.
Matthew 5:13–16 (NKJV) – 13 “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.
Jesus calls His disciples to infiltrate and influence. (John 15:19; cf. also 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:9-10; Romans 12:2; James 1:27). Daniel is a great biographical example of living a life of infiltration and influencing for the glory of God. Granted, his was a forced infiltration due to a captivity. Sometimes that’s the way God works. Sometimes God puts us in situations we don’t like. But regardless of our environment, our mindset should be to serve as God’s infiltrators to influence others for His glory.
We are to be in the world but not of the world. Jesus said:
John 17:15–17 (NKJV) – 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.
These words were part of Jesus High Priestly Prayer the night before He was to go to the cross to pay our redemption price and atone for our sins. Last such words are usually weightier, more profound, the essence of what one soon to depart wants to emphasize. Jesus didn’t pray to take us out of the world. He didn’t pray that we isolate ourselves from the world. He didn’t pray that we hide in a cave. He didn’t call us to obscurity. No, He calls us to live in this world, and for the Father to keep us from the evil one; to protect us from enemy attacks. Jesus calls us to live “just as I,” or just as He lived in the world. He called us to be sanctified “by Your truth. Your word is truth.” To be “sanctified” is to be set apart for God’s use; it’s to be available and useable to God. To be sanctified is to be on call for God. It’s to stand at attention ready for your Leaders commands and then to obediently carry them out no matter what. We are to be truth agents – ambassadors of God’s truth (e.g. 2 and 3 John). we are to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), we are to have nothing to do with falsehood and dark practices of this world but to expose them with God’s truth (e.g. Ephesians 5:11). That is what we are called to. Daniel lived by that same calling.
And being a truth agent is a big part of what it means to be conformed t the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29), follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21) and walk as He walked (1 John 2:6). When Jesus was being grilled by Pontius Pilate and asked Who He was, His answer was something we sometimes forget. We readily understand that Jesus came to serve and seek and save the lost (Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10). But Jesus’ response to Pontius Pilate spoke of declaring God’s truth as being central to His purpose:
- John 18:37 (NKJV) – 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is the way to heaven, the embodiment of truth, and the way to eternal life. Jesus came proclaiming truth and living truth out for us to see and follow. Being like Jesus involves living out and proclaiming His truth.
The book of Daniel was inspired by God and passed on to His people to encourage them. It was also given to God’s people to guide them, to challenge them, to dare them to be a Daniel. What does it mean to “Dare to be a Daniel”? What was Daniel like? What did he do? What does being a Daniel look like? We need to answer that question before we can decide whether or not we will dare to be a Daniel.
To dare to be a Daniel can be broken down into eleven things.
First, to dare to be a Daniel means to purpose in your heart to not defile yourself with the things of this world that are contrary to God – Daniel 1:8. This was the first thing Daniel did upon arriving in Babylon. It states:
Daniel 1:8 (NKJV) – 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.
This is the first thing we should do when we find ourselves in a worldly situation or environment. We should begin with a commitment to holiness. We need to start with a commitment to stay true to God. We need to accept our life purpose from God; to live for Him.
The psalmist tells us the secret to purity when he writes:
Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) – Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
Daniel continued well and finished well to a great extent because he started well. He purposed in his heart from the beginning that he would not allow himself to compromise or be defiled and polluted by the worldly ungodly environment in which he lived.
Second, to dare to be a Daniel means to be willing to be tested – Daniel 1:12-13 and 20. Daniel was willing to be an instrument by which others could test and see that God’s way is the best way. Daniel invited others to test him:
Daniel 1:12–13 (NKJV) – 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.”
And God honored his step of faith:
Daniel 1:20 (NKJV) – 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.
Without a test there can be no testimony. A faith untested cannot be trusted. If you’re going to dare to be a Daniel, you’re going to need to be willing to be tested.
Third, to dare to be a Daniel means to be enabled by God and to trust in His enabling – Daniel 1:17. Daniel was not a superhero. He was not superhuman. Daniel was who he was and was able to do what he did because God enabled him. It states:
Daniel 1:17 (NKJV) – 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.
We are God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10). God is working in us (Philippians 2:13). We are who we are by God’s grace (1 Cor. 15:10). We need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit if we are to act on behalf of God (Acts 1:4-5, 8; Luke 11:13; Acts 2 and onward). We can only dare to be a Daniel and follow that course if we are enabled by God. We need to seek God’s enabling. If we are to take advantage of God’s opportunities, we must experience His enabling.
Fourth, to dare to be a Daniel means to respond to problems with prayer – Daniel 2:14-19a. Daniel was confronted with an impossible task. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that perplexed and frightened him. He needed an interpretation. But being the Trumpian leader of his day, he demanded the magicians and wisemen of his court that he had been paying so well, to earn their money. He demanded they tell him what the dream was rather than merely respond to the King’s description of the dream. If they couldn’t do so, they would be executed. Impossible? Seemed so. But when Daniel found out about it he responded to the problem with prayer.
Daniel 2:14–19 (NKJV) – 14 Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon; 15 he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel. 16 So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. 17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
Daniel was known for his prayer life (Daniel 6:4-11). The first thing Daniel did when faced with a problem was pray. That’s what we will need to do to if we are to dare to be a Daniel.
Fifth, to dare to be a Daniel means to praise God for answered prayer; to have a thankful heart – Daniel 2:19b – 23. Daniel did not get so caught in God’s answer or the victory that he forgot to praise and thank God. Daniel was not like nine lepers who were healed by Jesus and then forgot to give God thanks. Daniel was like the one healed leper who returned to thank Jesus for his healing (Luke 17:11-19). Daniel praised God for answer to his prayer:
Daniel 2:19–23 (NKJV)
19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20 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.
23 “I thank You and praise You,
O God of my fathers;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”
To be a Daniel is a privilege, an honor, a blessing. If we are to dare to be a Daniel, we should cultivate a heart of thanks toward God.
Sixth, to dare to be a Daniel means to testify to the sovereignty of God – Daniel 2:28 and 44. Daniel testified to the glory of God. He pointed people to God’s sovereignty and His Holy nature. When Daniel spoke of God, he conveyed the superiority and supremacy of God to those he spoke to:
Daniel 2:28 (NKJV) – 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these:
Daniel 2:44 (NKJV) – 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.
He gave God credit and did not take credit for what God did through him. Daniel was humble and therefore useable to God. Daniel served Almighty God and therefore, when he shared God with others that Almighty nature of God came through.
Seventh, to dare to be a Daniel means to share with others what God reveals to you – Daniel 2:29. Daniel did not shy away from sharing God’s message with someone who was in a powerful position.
Daniel 2:29 (NKJV) – 29 As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be.
Daniel was never intimidated by earthly position. He was not a respecter of people or their positions. Daniel was not disrespectful to people, but his highest respect was reserved for God. alone. When you dare to be a Daniel you are not swayed by peer pressure of pander to people, you serve the Living God; you serve the Lord Jesus (e.g. Galatians 1:10).
Eighth, to dare to be a Daniel means to be willing to serve and represent God publicly – Daniel 2:47-48. Daniel’s willingness to be used by God led to being used in a public position. It states:
Daniel 2:47–48 (NKJV) – 47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon.
When you serve God faithfully in small things, He may choose to use you in more public areas (e.g. Luke 16:10-12; 19:17). To dare to be a Daniel means to be willing to serve God in public. But public ministry is prepared for in obscurity. The issue is a willingness to serve the Lord wherever He desires to use you. Serve in faith wherever and whenever He calls you to serve.
Ninth, to dare to be a Daniel means to include other believers in opportunities God provides – Daniel 2:49 and Daniel 3. Daniel did not hog the spotlight. He involved others and delegated authority to them:
Daniel 2:49 (NKJV) – 49 Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
Daniel got his three friends involved in serving. And those three friends later were involved in one of the most incredible manifestations of the LORD in the entire Bible, the Fiery oven incident of Daniel 3.
Tenth, to dare to be a Daniel means to consistently obey God no matter what – no compromise – We see this with Daniel’s three friends who when threatened with a fiery execution boldly told King Nebuchadnezzar:
Daniel 3:17–18 (NKJV) – 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
They were obedient to God regardless of the consequence. That’s what it means to dare to be a Daniel. And when they trusted God and obeyed Him no matter what, God was faithful to show up. That “Son of God” that joined them in the fiery furnace was a theophany, a Christophany, IT WAS JESUS! (Daniel 3:25). Jesus shows up when we obey in faith.
Daniel served consistently regardless of changes in power or who is in office. He was just as faithful and obedient under the Medo-Persian King Darius as he had been under the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5).
And Daniel was consistent and obedient even when he got older. He was an aged man when thrown into the lion’s den (Daniel 6).
Eleventh, to dare to be a Daniel means to leave a legacy of godly influence that continues once you are gone – Daniel 7-12. Daniel was “greatly beloved” by God. And God gave Daniel a legacy to pass on. It states:
Daniel 10:10–14 (NKJV) – 10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
Daniel’s legacy of prophecy lives on even to our day! (Daniel 12). When you dare to be a Daniel you will receive spiritual insight that others aren’t privy to. When you dare to be a Daniel, when you step out in faith to serve and obey God no matter what, God honors that. God gives insight, understanding, and blesses with a lasting legacy when you dare to be a Daniel.
So, will you dare to be a Daniel? Will you:
- Purpose in your heart to not defile yourself with the things of this world that are contrary to God – Daniel 1:8
- Be willing to be tested – Daniel 1:12-13 and 20. To be an instrument by which others can test and see that God’s way is the best way.
- Be enabled by God and trust in His enabling – Daniel 1:17.
- Respond to problems with prayer – Daniel 2:14-19a.
- Praise God for answered prayer; to have a thankful heart – Daniel 2:19b – 23.
- Testify to the sovereignty of God – Daniel 2:28 and 44.
- Share with others what God reveals to you – Daniel 2:29.
- Be willing to serve and represent God publicly – Daniel 2:47-48.
- Include other believers in opportunities God provides – Daniel 2:49 and Daniel 3.
- Obey God no matter what – no compromise –
- Leave a legacy of godly influence that continues once you are gone – Daniel 7-12.
Will you dare to be a Daniel?