Summary: Daniel was a young man who determined early in life to please God.
Daniel and his three friends were among hundreds of young people who were kidnapped by the enemy nation of Babylon. They were taken from their homes in Israel to a foreign land somewhere between 800 and 1500 miles from home. The kidnappers were instructed by Nebuchadnezzer, king of Babylon to choose only the best looking and the smartest young people from Israel. These would be fed in the king’s palace and educated in the ways of Babylon. They would be required to learn the language of Babylon. The king’s plan was to use them in the palace to carry out important tasks for his government.
Out of the hundreds of teens that were kidnapped, four of them stand out as being really dedicated to God.
They were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. These four boys were given the names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
We will focus especially on Daniel.
I. His Character
Nothing is known of Daniel’s parents except what can be seen in the life of Daniel. He was evidently trained well as a child to love and obey God and to be courteous and respectful of authority.
II. His Temptations
When the young men arrived in Babylon, the first thing that happened to them was that their names were changed to Babylonian names. These names had meanings which gave honor to the false idols fo Babylon. There was really nothing they could do about the name change. Notice however, that no matter what you called Daniel and his three friends, they were still the men of character that they had always been. The change in name did not affect their love for God. No matter what people call you, God has the grace to enable you to take a stand and be all that He wants you to be.
The next thing that happened to them was that they were assigned a diet that consisted of meat offered to idols and food that in general was considered sinful for Israelites to eat. Nothing is said about the hundreds of other young people. Evidently they ate this unclean food. Daniel and his three friends were now the ones in question. Would they eat the food God said not to eat? Would they go along with popular opinion? If they refused the king’s food, they could lose their lives. If the man in charge of their diet did not give them the king’s food, he could lose his life. There was so much to lose by not obeying the orders of the king. They would be looked at as narrow-minded bigots if they stated that there were certain kinds of food that were wrong for them to eat.
III. His Purpose
Daniel 1:8 says, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” Daniel was determined that no matter what the results of his decision, he would obey God. It made no difference to him if people laughed. It did not matter to him if he was looked at as narrow-minded. He did not care if the man in charge of the diet did not appreciate him. His one determination, his one purpose was to please God. Nothing else mattered. He knew that obeying God could bring him trouble with the Babylonians, but he had already settled it in his heart--not the day they offered him his food, not the day they changed his name, not the day he was kidnapped, but somewhere way back before all of this happened--he had determined that no matter what life would bring, he would obey God.
He and his friends therefore requested that they be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. After ten days of this diet, they were much healthier and better looking than all the other captives. So this became their regular diet.
IV. His Reward
Daniel and his friends were blessed by God with much wisdom and understanding. They became the king’s favorite servants. Daniel was given the ability from God to interpret the meaning of dreams. All through his life God blessed him. He was later thrown in a den of lions from which God rescued him. God gave Daniel visions of the future. Daniel was able to prophesy of things to come, many of which prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. The point is that because Daniel was willing to obey God, God was able to use him to be a blessing to others and to be a faithful servant of God. What higher calling could there be than to be a servant of God?