Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19, Daniel the Prophet

Daniel the Prophet
By Dan White

Daniel, a great prophet of the Old Testament, was born long long ago. He was taken from Jerusalem by king Nebuchadnezzar along with Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah who became Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednedo; but that’s another story. When taken to Babylon, which was Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, Daniel was renamed to Belteshazzar. Daniel and his friends were chosen because they were handsome, intelligent, and insightful, the best of the best if you will.

 King Nebuchadnezzar required Daniel’s charges to feed him the lavish meats and wines of their country that they would be healthy and fit to be educated for three years before they entered into the service of the king. Being a radical man of God Daniel convinced the guards to allow him to eat vegetables and drink water according to his beliefs and that he would be just as healthy and fit as the rest of the men. He was just as healthy as the rest of the young men and after three years of studying he was place in the service of the king.

 After some time the king had a dream which none of his advisors or magicians could interpret making the king furious enough to condemn all wise men and such to death. Daniel stepped up and interpreted the dream, earning him favor in the eyes of the king and acquiring control of an entire providence. Daniel was known most for his trip to the lions den for not worshiping the king (Darius) according to his law. Daniel refused to bow and worship the king but would rather travel home and pray to the one true God. This caused an uproar among other men of the king’s court, who had the king throw him into a den of hungry lions where God held their mouths shut. Daniel also had many visions from the lord that foretold the future and even saw the end of days.

Our cannon of scripture even differs from the protestant cannon because it includes two short stories that establish Daniel as an upright and just man. The first is a situation where God spoke to Daniel putting him a position of an investigator and judge. The second is a story where Daniel disproved a Babylonian god. Daniel must have led quite a life, a life we should try to emulate.

Daniel, a young man taken from his home and put into slavery kept his moral beliefs under the toughest of conditions. We live in a time that is not largely unlike the ancient city of Babylon, where intelligence and false gods came before God. Much as Daniel understood his call to live in a way that was upright and just before the Lord so, too are we called to stand up to the societal norms and live according to his will. Daniel’s devotion to the Lord and use of his God given intelligence shows us that God has given us everything we are; if we would only acknowledge it we would see that He only desires great things for us.

Daniel was so in love with the Lord that God chose to show him the meanings of visions; directions on how to proceed that gained him favor on earth making him the king’s right hand man. By not succumbing to the king’s law and worshipping him, Daniel demonstrates the radical love we need to have for God. He shows us that in the midst of trying times, when the world is denouncing God, we need to demonstrate courage to kneel and pray. Even when the ones around us say that it’s not the right thing to do. Daniel did this and then had the faith to know that God would protect him. 

It doesn’t end there either; our sacred scripture contains the visions and writings of Daniel. One of these visions tells of the end of days; it speaks of the hope we have in the resurrection when we will be “like stars forever” (Dan 12:3). Even in the Old testament God was showing the hope of everlasting hope, a life with Him forever. Daniel is a great example for us today: we need to be a light in a dark place, the world doesn’t always consider God to be the creator, our maker, and our guide. Daniel did, as should we. Daniel represents a faithful man who knows no matter what that God will take care of him. We need to live our lives in a way that demonstrates that faith, giving God credit for all our gifts and talents and giving them back to him by using them for the advancement of his kingdom.

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