Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dedication, Dreams and Daniel

I cannot wait to meet Daniel...and I don't mean the current "James Bond".  I want to sit next to a cozy fire, with a "cuppa" in my hand and listen to the stories of a man (whom at the time was merely a boy) who lived a life of visions, dreams and experienced God's power and wisdom first-hand. I have questions and my skin literally tingles when I think of his hands-on accounts and answers he would give. Recently, I came across an epitaph of this amazing boy/man "Daniel served more than seventy years with unblemished integrity in the corrupt corridors of power of both the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires."  Wow!  Who wouldn't want that on their gravestone??

A few thoughts from the book that bears his name, located about two-thirds into the Old Testament...

Daniel was among the captives carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon by the conquering king Nebuchadnezzar.  This king chose young men from the royal family of the Israelites to be trained and serve him - young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand and qualified to serve in the king's palace (Chpt. 1 verse 4).  Hmmm..."we" are in a royal family....we are the "children of the king"...we have been purchased by His blood and redeemed....we are now co-heirs with Christ.  I think we are the ones who should be being chosen to serve in places that ask for men & women with those qualities.  The world is looking for answers and "we" should be the ones who have those answers.  And it needs to be said, I am not talking about the "physical" or even the "education"  that the world "sees", but the inward character that has the strength and integrity to live out those answers before the world. 

After Daniel and others are conscripted into this group, they were given the king's chosen food and drink and trained for three years before being presented to the king.  Daniel resolved (purposed and determined with his heart) not to defile himself in this way with the food. Now, my understanding is Daniel (and his friends) were mere teenagers when taken into captivity.  Boys.  And the whole reason the Israelites were allowed by God to be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar was because of their disobedience and rebellion. So I read this to say Daniel must have been a part of a family that still obeyed the laws of their God and followed with a diligent heart. (Kudos to his mom and dad!) He was primed to have that obedient heart to continue to follow God in this foreign and pagan land.  So for a mere BOY to be "chosen" for the king's program and know he would eventually be living in the set aside that pride and "excitement" as a young man being "chosen"...what possibilities for him  - to know his future was in this land and with this king and no way out, why not fit in and "be somebody" ....and he still chose to follow His!...that is one steadfast-in-his-faith kind of boy!  That is integrity of the highest sort!

And if you read on further in the chapter, you will see how God rewarded his obedience by setting him (and his friends who joined him) apart from all the other lads.  Oh yes, obedience to our God brings rewards (maybe not always immediately, but He never forgets our plays out at various points in our lives for sure!).  God gave Daniel and his friends knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.  Daniel obeyed and...God gave.....God gave....

Lastly, I want to mention something incredible in Daniel's character from Chapter two...when no one could interpret the king's dream or even the king's crazy request of asking someone to "tell him his dream" before even interpreting it.  The king ordered "all the wise men" to be executed because no one could comply. I think that was "a bit" reactionary and rather stupid...all the wise men??  Who would advise him then?? Not a really smart decision...  When the commander of the king's guard comes to get Daniel and his friends to execute them, Daniel speaks to the guard with "wisdom and tact".  He asks to be able to go the king to interpret.  In a nutshell, Daniel's friends intercede for mercy, Daniel praises God for His wisdom and power, and goes before the king.  Before going to the king, however, he tells the man who is to execute all the wise men, do not execute any of them.  Daniel isn't using the opportunity to plead for his life, or even the life of his friends.  He pleads for the life of "all the wise men".  When we are in a position of influence, do we use that influence for us, for our loved ones, or to influence ALL those around us. Daniel saw the bigger picture and not just out to save his own skin or to get ahead.  That is what being in a position of influence is all about when it comes to God's kingdom - serving Him and others.

And finally, when King Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel if he can tell him what he saw in his dream and interpret it, Daniel answers with humility.  He says no wise man - not even the wisest - can do this.  But there is a GOD IN HEAVEN who can.  Daniel again, does not promote himself, he humbles himself and says "it is not me, BUT GOD".  I don't see anywhere in the life of this boy and later on the man, where he exalts himself.  His very life, character and words point back to the God he serves.  

Daniel is promoted to higher status within the Babylonian kingdom; he requests his friends to be overseers as well.  They remain in the royal court to influence for the KING they serve.....and read on further into the book of Daniel to see the power and faithfulness of God in the lives of Daniel and these young men who were obedient in circumstances we cannot even imagine being subjected to.

Will our lives be remembered with unblemished integrity serving year after year in this life wherever He puts us?  Oh, I hope and pray so!  

Oh yes, I want to sit with this man one day and hear his stories...and perhaps have a few of my own to share with him :)


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