I recently read through the book of Daniel in one reading, and I came away from this experience with an acute awareness of the involvement of God and the spirit world in the affairs of world leaders and world history. The view I have in reading the text is from far above the action. The modern-day satellite view of earth is amazing for two reasons.
One, it is from so many miles above the earth that the ‘big-picture’ view is unbelievable. Many of the mega-cities, countries, continents, oceans and mountain ranges are in view all at the same time! Second, the capabilities of satellites to focus their view to the point of reading a license plate on a car is beyond my ability to understand. How can a lens so far away be so precise? Wow! As I read Daniel’s life and experiences with his faith, a foreign culture and political involvement, I think a ‘big-picture’ and ‘GPS-specific’ view are both given.
The context of Daniel’s life was the history of his people Israel (1:1), the superpower kingdoms of Babylon (2:1, 5:1, 7:1, 8:1) and the Medes & Persians (5:30-31, 9:1, 10:1, 11:1), the future of his people Israel and coming kingdoms (8-12). Maybe this passage expresses the future aspects of Daniel’s prophecies as precisely as any. “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” (9:24 NIV emphasis added) The panoramic view of history is astounding in Daniel. With much of what’s presented having been fulfilled since Daniel’s time and before the present age, this gives the unfulfilled sections even more credibility! The path of Daniel’s life was guided by his individual decisions, personal character and God’s involvement.
Early in Daniel’s life he found himself in the midst of a war! Having been taken captive and placed in a group of young men for training to be placed in Nebuchadnezzar’s court, Daniel found himself in a crisis of decision. Would it be best to follow the training of the Babylonians with or without regard for his own culture and his God? He chose to live his life in the context of Babylon’s culture, politics and religion without losing sight of who he was and who was the God of his people. (1:8)
As Daniel made decisions early on in his life, he was building a character within himself that became the firm foundation upon which he stood when courage was needed. Another way of saying this may be that he was becoming the person he needed to be to do what he eventually did and experience God in a way few men have ever done. Daniel’s lifestyle was such that his enemies were not able to find anything to use against him with King Darius. So, they said “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” (6:5) The person Daniel became gave God the man He was able to use in world events within the kingdoms of the Babylonians, Medes and Persians.
Whether it was interpreting the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, the handwriting on the wall before Belshazzar, the lions den of Darius or his own dreams and visions from God, Daniel was a man whose lifetime was characterized by the supernatural power of the God of Israel. Daniel started by putting God to the test when he first interpreted a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, but God typically worked supernaturally through Daniel as a result of his prayer life and study of the Scriptures. (9)
As I think of these things and look to apply them to myself, I am very much in awe of Daniel, who he was and what God did in and through him. I in no way see myself as a modern-day Daniel; however, I do see this man as a shining light to all believers today. I see at least a few things for me to apply to my life today.
1. Decide who I want to be and make daily decisions that ‘kind’ of person would make.
2. Focus on me and my walk with the Lord regardless of what anyone else does.
3. See the ‘big picture’ of my life and time on earth as the Scriptures have revealed it.
4. Trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding.
May we all follow the example of this Israeli prisoner of war in Iran!