Summary: Daniel was a man of great integrity and character. He and his friends chose to stand with God even in a hostile land.
A man in the old west was being tried for stealing a horse. Stealing a horse was a hanging offense.
It so happened that a man who had always tried to get the best of anyone in any situation had his horse stolen and the case was brought to trial. Now this man had never tried to do good for anyone but himself, so the man didn't have a single friend in the entire town.
The case was tried and turned over to the jury. The evidence against the man who stole the horse was pretty strong. After thirty minutes the jury returned. The judge asked for the verdict and the foreman replied
"We find the defendant not guilty if he will return the horse" a burst of laughter filled the courtroom.
The judge told the jury the verdict was not acceptable and that they would have to deliberate again and reach an acceptable verdict.
None on the jury had a particular liking for the man who had his horse stolen in fact many of them had been taken by him at one time or another.
So after about an hour they came back and the judge asked for the verdict. The courtroom was totally silent to the point you could have hear a pin drop. Then the jury foreman read the verdict
"We find the defendant not guilty and he can keep the horse!"
2. Daniel's Blameless Character
13 "Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, 14 even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 14.13-14
3. Babylonian Captivity [Map
a. Started as early as 605 BCE
b. Fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE
c. 70 years (Daniel knew)
10 "For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29.10-11
4. Consider Lessons from Daniel -- the Man and the Book
I. Daniel Displayed Devotion to God
A. Seen in His Name
1. Daniel = God is My Judge
2. His name stays with him; the other three are known by Babylonian names
* But King Nebuchadnezzar gave Daniel the name "Belteshazzar," which means "May Bel protect his life." Bel was one of the Babylonian gods.
* And Daniel's three friends suffered similarly. "Hananiah" means "God is gracious," but his name was changed to Shadrach, which means "Aku is exalted." Again, Aku was one of the Babylonian gods.
* Mishael means "Who is what God is?" But his name was changed to Meshach -- "Who is what Aku is?"
* And Azariah means "God is my helper"; his name was changed to "Abednego," or "Servant of Nebo." Bet you can't guess who Nebo was.
3. Live up to name
[Episode on The Waltons -- John Boy is going off to college and his dad could not bring himself to say good-bye. Everyone had said good-bye and had given John Boy advice. Finally at the end of the show, JB is getting on the train and his father walks over to him and said one phrase, "John Boy, remember who you are."
B. Seen in the Food Issues -- Daniel 1
1. Clean vs. Unclean
2. Not always told why ("precepts" in Isaiah 28) -- test of obedience
3. Health (10 day trial)
4. Meat sacrificed to idols -- issue in NT times -- 1 Corinthians 10.28
C. Seen in the Battle of the Gods (idolatry) -- Daniel 3
Some time ago, a house fire was reported in the Middle East. What was unusual was that the owner of the house fled the house only to return to retrieve his valuable ivory household idol. The man died in the flames. The headlines read, "Man Dies Trying to Save His god." (Jesus died to save his people)
1. Nebuchadnezzar's 90' idol and decree
10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image;11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 3.10-11
2. Refusal of the young men
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up." 3.16-18