July 9, 2009

A lesson in character for us all...

“He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” Daniel 2:21-22 (HCSB)

Though Daniel was of royal descent, he, like so many, was a Jewish captive in Babylon. In his youth, Daniel was chosen to serve in the king's court and after receiving the education suitable to this position, he began to serve the Babylonian court. The life within this court was awash with pagan beliefs and believers. In the midst of this ungodly environment, we find a man who walked with God. When it would have been easier to follow the crowd, Daniel instead decided to follow his convictions.

The first several chapters of Daniel contain some of the most famous stories found in the Old Testament. Many will remember fondly the childhood stories of the fiery furnace, prohibited prayer, and the lion’s den. However, tucked between these celebrated accounts we see a glimpse of that which allowed Daniel to distinguish himself through each of these trials, his constant trust in the Lord.

In the second chapter of Daniel, we find the King, Nebuchadnezzar, ordering the death of all court appointed mediums, diviner-priests, and Babylonian wise men because of their inability to recount and interpret the King’s dream. The words of the best and brightest among the Babylonians reveal lack of true wisdom. They stated, “No one earth can make known what the King requests. (v.10a)” Little did they know that among them was one whose faith lay not in his own wisdom but in the one who knows all. After a time of prayer, God gave Daniel a vision which provided the desired information. These particular verses are Daniel’s response to God. These are the loving praises of Daniel to His Lord.

Here Daniel calls attention to particular character traits of God by illustrating them in the twenty-first and twenty-second verses of second Daniel. We first see the evidence of the all-powerfulness of God ( also see: Ec 3:1 Ac 1:7 1Th 5:1; Job 12:18; Ps 75:6-7; Jer 27:5; 1Ki 3:9-12; Jas 1:5). He has the ability to control human events and the destiny of nations. All that has happened since before creation into eternity is proper under the authority of God. Furthermore, God’s divine character is demonstrated in His wisdom ( also see: Job 12:22; Eph 1:17, 18; Ps 139:11-12; Heb 4:13; Jas 1:17). He alone is the source of wisdom and He alone can impart all true wisdom and knowledge. He and no one else is acquainted with what is unknown and hidden. After this time of personal praise and worship, Daniel beautifully illustrates his devotion when he says to the king “…there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries…” (v. 28a)

Nebuchadnezzar conquered lands and empires but could not understand his own dream. In the eyes of the world, he was mighty, but in the scheme of things, he was just a pawn in the hands of a Grandmaster in Chess. However, within his own court was a young man whose devotion to the one-and-only God gave him insight that even the mighty king of the Babylonians could not acquire. These few short verses and the words of Daniel remind us yet again of God’s worthiness and our dependency on Him alone. We, like Daniel must always remember that our God is omnipotent. It is our total dependency on Him and His character that will allow us to stand firm the presence of worldly greatness and to stand apart from that which is part of this fallen world. Thanks be to God for the life of Daniel and his magnificent prayer of praise which beautifully illustrated the principle that a heart for the Almighty is better than a powerful throne.