The Book of Daniel has been on my mind over the past few weeks, and it has really got me thinking about the youth of this nation – most specifically the county and community in which we live. Daniel was a spiritual rebel so to speak…as were his friends – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known to many of you as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego).
Their story is key to the lives of many today…especially youth in today’s world…but a message we can all take to heart in our lives. Daniel and his friends were teenagers…they were youth struggling to face the battles that the world wanted to throw at them…they struggled in a land where it seemed that the Government wanted nothing to do with the God that they had been raised to serve – sound familiar?
There are a few things we see in the life of Daniel that we can take courage in knowing and applying to our lives. First – A group of four teens were able to change the mind of a King who wanted control over every aspect of the lives of his subjects. The King wanted to make them do exactly what he wanted done…right down to their meals. The “Government” thought they knew better on what would be healthy, what would be good for the people…what would be proper in terms of acceptance.
This is something each of us as Christians are going through today in a world where acceptance is being preached on every street corner…does it mean we aren’t tolerant? By no means! What it does mean is that we should do as Daniel and his friends…stand up for our beliefs. Daniel went to the King’s men and simply asked for permission to do what the Lord would have him to do…and he started small…with the diet. The King thought he knew what the people should eat, he told them what was good for them; but Daniel knew different and simply asked for the opportunity to go against the flow, to show the power of God. After 10 days, he and his friends were healthier, they were in better shape…basically they only wanted to present proof that God would work in their lives – God took care of the rest.
Second – Daniel shared his knowledge. The King was having dreams…and his men couldn’t explain what they meant…but Daniel could. Daniel was given wisdom from God to discern the meaning of the King’s dreams…dreams that the King’s ‘magic’ couldn’t touch.
Each of us has been called daily to share our knowledge with a world searching for answers. It might not be dreams, but there are questions that only our knowledge of God and His ways can answer. There are answers to situations that the unchurched, non-believer goes through in which they can’t explain…and their way of answering – to turn to drugs and alcohol. They don’t find answers, they just forget for a while…and when it comes back up…it hits them harder the second and third time around; which at that point they have more than just the original problem to worry about.
Share what you know in everyday situations…whether in word, or in action…prove to the world the existence of our God…don’t be afraid to share the love of Christ with anyone you come in contact with.
Third – Dare to be different. It goes along with the other two, but we must dare to be different than the world around us. Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it – that is how we end up holding ourselves back from the blessings that God has for us. Being different is what helps us to get through the tough times with a little extra help; help that the world doesn’t have – The Holy Spirit.
Being different is ok…contrary to popular worldly belief…being different is what sets a Christian apart from those around them. Lives may look similar, but the difference is the heart. Look inside your heart and trust in the Lord for deliverance from anything the world will throw at you…and I mean ANYTHING!
This brings us to the final and probably the greatest example from the lives of Daniel and his friends that will guide us in our steps…Deliverance. Look at where being different got them…in trouble with those around them. Does that mean we should use caution? No…they didn’t, and because of their steadfastness in faith, they were delivered from certain death. We can avoid death in one of two ways: One – avoid controversy. We can do as many of the Israelites did and cower behind the fear that the world will throw us to the lions, or throw us in the fire…or Two – dive in and hold on.
Daniel and his friends opted for the second of the two…it wasn’t easy, because death was the promised outcome…but God is stronger than the world would like you to believe. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood firm…and faced the fiery furnace. They were thrown in, they were given no chance…but when the fire was at its hottest…they were not alone. Because of their willingness to stand strong they had company from “the Son of God”(Daniel 3:25).
What happens next is something that would happen if we would all stand firm…conversion. King Nebuchadnezzer’s life was changed because these 3 teens were willing to stand for their God. He declared that anyone who did something against the God of these three would face death…because he realized the power of God for those who believe in him.
Daniel accomplished the same when he was thrown into the lion’s den…his faith caused the taming of the lions so much so that it made a difference when they opened the pit. The King had not wanted to throw Daniel in, but he did because of pressure…not unlike pressures we feel daily in this world; but the result…another decree declaring the power of God.
Let’s change the world…youth can do it…and so can adults. We are all children of the same God Daniel served. Let’s turn the world on its ear and evoke the same response as that found in Daniel 6:26-27:
“For he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
— Daniel 6:26-27 (ESV)