Lessons from Daniel – Part 2
For the past couple of months, I have been studying the book of Daniel. In last month’s blog, ‘Lessons from Daniel Part 1’ the focus was on the power of prayer and how Daniel, the man and prophet was a great example of a powerful and effective pray-er. I also referenced the book from Anne Graham Lotz ‘The Daniel Prayer-Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations’ and recommended it to you.
For those who read my blogs regularly, you will recognise the name Warren W Wiersbe, my favourite Bible commentator, who I often quote and reference. This blog will be no exception. I have been inspired by Daniel’s life as outlined for us in his book in the Bible and have read this book along with the help of Wiersbe’s work. There is SO MUCH to learn from Daniel and apply to our lives that there may be a number of ‘Lessons from Daniel’ each month for a while.
I have titled this blog Transformer or Conformer? by way of a challenge to my readers. While I am in no way suggesting that Daniel was an ancient day Optimus Prime or Bumble bee robot/alien superhero, I am drawing a small line of comparison between the Transformers characters ability to fight for a cause despite fierce opposition and God’s desire for us to be resolved to fight for God’s cause and go in His direction because of our convictions. Like the Transformer robots, Daniel was an alien in a foreign land. The Bible also reminds us we are the same.
“For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for our Saviour.”(Phil. 3:20)
“..They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Heb. 11:16)
I have written before about the need for Christ’s followers to be set apart and different from the world. Just as I am attempting to “be holy as He is Holy”, so each Christian must desire the same. Daniel is a wonderful role model to us for how to “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.” From chapter 1, it was obvious that Daniel and his three friends obtained favour from the Lord. They were a part of God’s remnant. As there was in Daniel’s day, so it is today that God has reserved a remnant of His faithful followers. It is a sobering fact that not everyone who professes faith in Jesus is truly a child of God. ( See Matt. 7:21-23 and the messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3)
Daniel and his three friends were subject to, by way of intense’training’, a transformation process by their captors. While learning the language and ways of the Babylonians didn’t create too much of a problem, the practice of ways contrary to their own faith was. Whenever their course of training required them to disobey God’s ways or disregard His laws, they drew a line in the sand.
Can we say the same? Do we find ourselves compromising and thereby ‘conforming’ to the ways of the world to fit in, to keep ‘safe’ or to protect or own self interests? Do we struggle to have the courage to stand on our own convictions? Are we ones who say..”Mine is a private faith, not to be shared in the open square.” “I don’t wish to offend anyone.” “I won’t rock the boat.”
Romans 12 :1-2 makes it very clear. ‘Conformers’ are people whose lives are controlled by pressure from without, but ‘transformers’ are people whose lives are controlled by power from within.
Daniel and his friends were ‘transformers’. Instead of being changed by their captors and their surroundings, they did the changing. God used them to transform the minds of powerful rulers and to bring great glory to His name in a pagan land.
Wiersbe says that way to be a transformer is to give yourself wholly to the Lord. A heart that loves and trusts the Lord will naturally obey the Lord and seek to please Him in all things. He also points out that Daniel and his friends were gracious toward those in authority.
There are other examples in scripture where ‘ transformers’ were courageous and needed to defy authority in order to obey God but always did so wisely and gently. (Hebrew midwives, Apostles, Jesus)
“If it is possible, as far as depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”(Rom. 12:18)
In each case, God gave them success. These ‘transformers’ saw the challenges before them as opportunities to prove God and glorify His name.
We need to ask God for the courage of Daniel and his friends when facing trials and difficulties, the wisdom to understand, the strength to carry out His will and the faith to trust Him whatever the outcome.
Not only did God give favour to these ‘transformers’, He also gave them ability and success.
‘If you want to make a living. you get training; and if you want to make a life, you add education. But if you want to have a ministry for God, you must have divine gifts and divine help. Training and education are very important, but they are not substitutes for the ability and wisdom that only God can give.’ (Wiersbe)
We need to be both fervent in our study of God’s Word AND fervent in our prayer life. But as Daniel and his three friends showed us, we can also study what is going on in the world around us , using that ‘knowledge’ to reach others with God’s truth. By Daniel and his friends being knowledgeable of the Babylonian ways, they showed the superiority of God’s wisdom when interpreting dreams and visions. They surpassed the others who were a part of the training program by their hard work coupled with their desire to honour the Lord in every way. For us today, there’s no reason why we cannot desire to excel in any field God has placed us in and bring a spirit of excellence to everything we put our hand to, so long as our motive is to glorify the Lord.
God gave favour, ability and success to these ancient day ‘transformers’ and He also gave Daniel a long life and ministry.
While not every faithful servant of the Lord is granted long life, God chose Daniel to experience one. He had the opportunity to witness to and serve four kings; Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Belshazzar and Cyrus. However long the Lord has ordained for us to live we must desire to say as Jesus did.. “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do.’ (John 17:4) and as the psalmist said“Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12)
God worked in Daniel’s life in such a way that his ministry as a high official in the court of the king of Babylon influenced many. His writings which formed the book of the Bible in his name were a great comfort to his own people showing that God is always at work and in control, overrules any earthly king in order for His plans to succeed and that He never leaves or forsakes His own. For us today, Daniel’s resoluteness to go in God’s direction regardless of the difficulties or opposition is an example for us to follow.
Like Daniel, you may be in a place of responsibility. Just as the Lord worked in and through Daniel, He can also do for you. He promises He “will complete the work” and will “equip you in the work He has assigned for you”. Each believer has a choice to be a transformer or a conformer.
As you study more of Daniel’s life, you will find it’s not always easy to live as a ‘transformer’ but the results of a life lived in this way will definitely be worth the effort.
Let’s strive to be ‘transformers’ today.