Summary: Old Testament Challenge: Daniel and the Lions
Years ago Chuck Swindoll wrote these words: "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on Life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, or say or do. Attitude is more important than appearances, giftedness, or skill. Attitude will make or break a company --- a church --- a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude that we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude --- I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it." Daniel was a young man when he was taken as a prisoner of war. Imagine four Hebrew boys, teenagers, being snatched from their homes in Jerusalem and moved to faraway Babylon. All four of the boys taken were princes and not accustomed to the kind of treatment they received as prisoners.
As classic of a statement as that is I would say there is something greater than attitude. At the heart and soul of our life lies our character. Character is that foundation and basis for every decision we make.
Today we are going to spend a day in the life of a man named Daniel. This Old Testament figure has a compelling story and is one of my favorite role models in the entire Bible.
Daniel and his three friends were intentionally exposed to the Babylonian culture in an attempt to turn them away from the Jewish faith. Time after time in the book of Daniel we find them put to the test in form or another. They were given new homes, new names and even new diets.
In the case of Daniel’s three friends they refused to bow the knee to an image of the king and were tossed into a fiery furnace. You can find this story in Daniel 3.
“Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.” Daniel 3:19-23 NLT
The Babylonians could change Daniel’s home, textbooks, menu’s and names but they could not change his heart. Daniel and his three friends purposed in their hearts that they would obey God’s word and they refused to conform to the world around them.
By the time you get to chapter 6, Daniel is around 80 years old. We are going to walk through one day in his life. Although Daniel was a foreigner and not in his home country his integrity and character had secured places of leadership and prominence in the government of the kings in Babylon. In Daniel 6, at 80 years of age we find him in the position of prime minister to a king by the name of Darius. There were 124 persons involved in leadership of the kingdom under the king. There were 3 presidents and Daniel was not only one of the three but he was the leader of the three. Needless to say this caused some problems. Let’s take a brief look at a day in Daniel’s life.
1. Devotions at dawn
It should be noted that Daniel started his day with devotion and prayer to God.
He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” Daniel 6:10d NLT
Daniel was living in a precarious land and he was in a dangerous position. The foundation of his life was based on his connection with God. When Jesus was on this earth he admonished his disciples to “watch and pray.” Prayer was not an incidental thing in Daniel’s life; it was the most essential thing. He had a special place for prayer and a special time for prayer and I believe he talked with God all day long.
As your pastor and the person who most often gives you biblical instruction, I need to encourage you yet again to start your day with prayer to God. Build into your day a time alone with God where you can speak to Him but more importantly you can be still enough and focused enough to hear from Him.