Summary: This sermon looks at Daniel as a model for living in the world but not compromising to the world.
The New Year is Aglow with Opportunities
Romans 5:1-8 (Message)
As we enter the 21st Century in America we are faced with many challenges and opportunities. As a Christian we are rowing upstream against a society that is basically anti-Christian. Many things about the future are both exciting and fearful. No matter what we face in the unpredictable 2000, as cultural, political and spiritual changes approach us at mach speed, few of us will experience the intense, painful opportunities that a man named Daniel faced. Though this story is 2,500 years old, the message is as contemporary as today’s headlines. In every crisis and trauma Daniel faced he found opportunity and God used him for good in the world.
During the month of January we are focusing on the life and times of Daniel. Daniel serves as an excellent model for us as we embark on the adventure of living in the new millennium.
What do we know about Daniel?
Daniel was born into a wealthy family. He was part of the elite of his day. Daniel was a "Renaissance man" of his day. He was valedictorian of his class. He worked hard and studied hard. Chapter one of Daniel says that Daniel had encylopedic knowledge of many things in the world: scientifically, socially, spiritually and politically.
Daniel was a well-rounded young man. He not only was smart he was healthy and physically fit. He not only was a teacher’s dream he was a coach’s dream.
Daniel had a high social standing. He was a relative of the king of Judah, raised with all the privileges and status of royalty: wealth, power and education. He probably hob-knobbed with kings and dignitaries throughout the Eastern Mediterranean world. He enjoyed a host of servants. With all his wealth and charm Daniel was every mother-in-law’s dream.
Yet with his privileges Daniel was not proud or arrogant. He was a young man of character. He was not lazy or self-indulgent. He was absolutely committed to God and refused to compromise himself in any area.
Daniel was a young man with a future. He would have been voted the most likely to succeed in his class.
But Daniel was caught in a world system and culture that forgot God. God repeatedly sent prophets to war the people of Israel but they continued to rebel and live in sin. In 605BC God allowed the superpower of that day, Nebuchadnezaar and his Babylonian armies to attack Jerusalem and take over the city.
Before returning to Babylon, Nebuchadnezar set up a puppet government in Jerusalem and as an insurance policy against further rebellion he took members of the royal family back to Babylon as captives. Daniel was one of the youngest hostages selected. Nebuchadnezzar’s plans called for Daniel and his friends to be rigorously trained and indoctrinated for three years. Then at the age of 17 they would enter the King’s service.
For a moment put yourself in Daniel’s sandals. This wasn’t the game plan he had planned for his life. In a short period of time his life was turned upside down. From a carefree teenagers to a servant of a foreign king. He was taken from family and would never see his homeland again. He would never worship in the temple in Jerusalem or see his family again. He lost his spiritual mentors and taken to a land where God was mocked. He was taken 800 miles to a new home on the Euphrates River.
Daniel faced adversity with a true Christian character. I’m sure he had some doubts and concerns. He may have asked, "Why did this happen to me?"
Did God bring judgment on Daniel because of some sin he or his parents committed? Probably not! Daniel and his family were godly people.
Daniel was caught in a culture that forgot God. When a nation forgets God, everyone suffers the righteous along with the unrighteous.
Even in adversity things can work for good to all that love the Lord. The Apostle Paul could say in Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose."
Joseph could say to his brothers that sold him to an Egyptian official. "What you meant for evil God meant for good to save your lives and the lives of our people."
At the time Daniel probably didn’t see the hand at God at work as he traveled the 800 miles walking, riding a horse or in a wagon. But God’s ultimate plan was for Daniel to influence the highest leaders of power in the ancient world. That meant relocation. God was at work behind the scenes preparing a young man that was yielded to Him to play a key role in the preservation and restoration of His people.