DANIEL AS AN EXAMPLE
by Jeffrey Hagan
The book of Daniel gives us highlights from his life from youth to old age. Three of these lessons are from Daniel’s youth showing that a good start is important to a good finish. There is one lesson from Daniel’s friends, also young men, and another lesson from his old age.
Lesson 1: Don't compromise your faith.
Daniel 1:8, "But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself."
It's clear from this verse that Daniel had already established patterns in his life that were aligned with the word of God. He was faithful to God's law and wouldn't compromise even on seemingly small things like his diet. He knew that compromising in small things can easily lead to compromising in bigger and more important things.
We too, as followers of Christ, can't afford to compromise. We need to be trying to be more like Christ each and every day. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we will fail, but we must try.
Lesson 2: Trust God.
Daniel 1:11-13, "Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 'Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.'”
At this point Daniel was not in a position to make demands. He committed to not compromise, but he knew he had to go about it with tact. He showed respect to the steward who was responsible for his food. He gave him a way out. But Daniel trusted God and knew he would allow him to follow through without compromising. He took a stand and trusted God with the outcome.
We need to trust God. When he gives us direction, he has already made a way for us to faithfully continue down his path with the results he has in mind.
Lesson 3: Be wise and tactful.
Daniel chapter 2.
This chapter gives us the account of Nebuchadnezzar's dramatic and disturbing dream. But there's a problem for him, he can't remember it. He desperately wants to know what the dream was and what it means. He gathers the magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers in the land demanding they tell him the dream and interpret it. As expected they are unable to do so and he then commanded that all wise men of the land be executed. This command included Daniel.
When Daniel heard about this he carefully and tactfully asked for time. He was allowed some time and he sought out his friends to pray with him over the situation. God answered his prayer and revealed the interpretation to Daniel and Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar. The result? Daniel was promoted instead of executed.
Lesson 4: Devote yourself to God.
Daniel 3:16-18, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
The king set up an idol of gold and demanded the people bow down and worship it. If they didn't, they would be burned to death. Daniel's friends refused to bow down, they would not worship anyone but the Lord even with the threat of a torturous death. They exercised incredible faith and devotion to the Lord.
Lesson 5: Be a person of integrity.
When Daniel was an old man things had changed a lot. There was a new ruler, Darius, who had conquered and taken over the kingdom. Incredibly, Daniel survived and even continued in his duties running the affairs of the government.
He conducted himself with integrity and diligence, so much so that the other authorities were jealous of his success, recognition and began to despise him. You see, as long as Daniel had authority they couldn't keep continuing in their corrupt ways. So they deceitfully approached Darius and convinced him to prohibit prayer and petition to anyone but him.
However, Daniel was not deterred from seeking God. He was found praying and was handed over to Darius so the punishment could be carried out by throwing him in with the lions. Darius did not want to do so, but when push came to shove he ended up giving in. But we know what happened. God closed the mouth of the lion and Daniel was saved.