Summary: Sermon examines Daniel's life from childhood to old age, taking lesson on his source of courage and consecration to the Lord.
I want to talk with you a few minutes this morning about a man named Daniel.
First, come with me to his childhood days.
Daniel was born into a princely family; he was in the linage of the great King David. I’m sure he grew up hearing stories about his great ancestor David. It was a godly heritage. As a young boy, Daniel grew up in the wake of a major revival. We read about it in 2Chron. 34. Josiah was king of Judah when Daniel was born. In the 8th year of Josiah’s reign 2Chron. 34:3 says he began to seek the God of his father (ancestor) David. Think about that phrase concerning Josiah’s life: he began to seek God.
Do you remember in your own life when you began to seek God? Wasn’t it a precious experience? When times get hard in my life, I like to think back upon the Friday night that I met the Lord. Somehow that helps me put it all in perspective: The sweet forgiveness of sin, the peace that came, the sense of love and acceptance.
When King Josiah began to seek God, good things followed. He had the altars of the false god, Baal, destroyed. He tore down the other idols in the land. There was a great cleansing from evil throughout Judah (the southern kingdom). This is important to know—because it helps us to understand the foundations of Daniel’s upbringing—factors that influenced his thinking and character and prepared him for the tests he would face.
After purging Judah of idolatry, Josiah had the ruble removed from the temple and restored worship of the Lord there. In that process they found the Book of the Law (Covenant) buried under the debris. They dug it out and began reading it in the house of the Lord. It’s hard for me to imagine, the nation that God delivered out of Egypt, the nation by Moses, Joshua, and later King David—getting so far from God that the land was filled with idolatry. The temple of God was filled with debris, and they didn’t even know where their Bible was. That was the condition of that nation before King Josiah ushered in revival.
This great turning back to God under Josiah also resulted in the nation keeping the Passover which was their act of faith looking forward to the cross. When you and I celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are looking back in time to the cross and celebrating Jesus’ sacrifice for sin. Although they had limited understanding of what they were doing, when Israel in the OT kept the Passover they were looking forward in time to the cross. It was an act of faith and obedience on their part. Josiah was killed in battle in about 610 B.C. 2Chron. 35:25 says that Jeremiah mourned the death of Josiah. Judah then came under the rule of an evil king (Jehoiakim) for the next few years until Nebuchadnezzar invaded the land and took Daniel back with him as a captive.
So here is the timing: King Josiah led a great revival that profoundly affected Daneil’s parents and Daniel as a young child. Josiah died in about 610 B.C. and a few years later in about 604 B.C. Daniel’s was taken to Babylon. So God had prepared this young man for the challenges ahead through the influence of that revival and then the great Prophet Jeremiah .
II. Now Daniel is a young man probably in his teens.
Suddenly his world is rocked: Babylonian soldiers march into his home town killing and pillaging. They defiantly tromp into the Holy Temple and and take the consecrated vessels to dedicate them to Nebachadnezzar’s pagan god. They also select some of the most promising young men and take them back with them as captives. One of those young men is Daniel. Follow with me as we read Daniel 1:1-8).
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. 3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego. 8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”