As we continue to look at Daniel's life, we see that God put Daniel in some tough situations and never apologized for doing so. We never read of the Lord telling Daniel, David, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, or the Apostle Paul, "Sir, I am so sorry for what I am about to put you through. It is going to difficult and I considered many others, even interviewed a few, but I had no choice to select you for the suffering and pain ahead of you." No, it is a privilege to serve the Lord in New York City, Beijing, Jerusalem, or Babylon, and God knows what He must put us through to obtain the results He wants.
This week, let's begin to look at the insight continued to receive in Babylon. Early in the book, Daniel received interpretations to the king's dreams. In the last half of the book, Daniel receives special insight into the Lord's plan not for Babylon but beyond Babylon leading up to the time of Christ. Here are some things to consider as we begin in chapter 7:
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. . . “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things . . ." (Daniel 7: 1, 15-16).
THE LESSONS FOR US
- God began to show Daniel things in the first year of Belshazzar, the king made famous for the writing on the wall in Daniel 5. Daniel was demoted when this king rose to power, so God had put Daniel on the shelf, so to speak, so he would time to seek and hear. The application for inmates is clear in this instance, but the lesson is the same for all of us. Before we can begin something new, we often have to end something else and wait for the new season to begin. That is seldom easy.
- Daniel did not trust his memory, so he recorded what he saw, which probably occurred at night. We must be ready for God to speak to us and take seriously what He says. Writing it down certainly helps. Do you journal? If not, you have experienced the problem with taking mental notes--the ink fades so quickly. I urged inmates and I urge you to keep a journal so you can go back and track the progress of your growth and insight into the things of God.
- Daniel was troubled by what he saw, but didn't stop pressing into the Lord. He sought the Lord for the meaning and Lord was only too ready to fulfill Daniel's request. Knowledge is having the information on a particular subject; wisdom is knowing what to do with the knowledge. God gave Daniel wisdom so Daniel not only knew what the Lord was doing but also what Daniel was to do with what he saw: He was to write it down and publish it.
- As we read through Daniel 7, we learn that Daniel saw four beasts representing four kingdoms starting with Babylon and leading up to the fourth, most ferocious beast, which symbolized the Roman Empire. Any kingdom or empire that does not serve the Lord becomes a beast, vicious and bloodthirsty. There is no hope for man in politics but Daniel did see the hope and breakthrough for mankind.
- The hope Daniel saw was the "son of man":
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14, emphasis added).
THE REWARD FOR DANIEL
What was Daniel's reward for what he endured in Babylon? Daniel, like Abraham (see John 8:56-59), saw the day of the Lord! God pulled back the curtains of time and showed Daniel that many strong kingdoms would arise, similar to the one he experienced in Babylon, but God was in control and was going to send one, the "son of man," to strip those kingdoms of their power and authority. It is of note that Jesus' favorite label or name for Himself was the Son of Man, indicating that He (Jesus) was the one who was going to subdue the kingdoms as promised in Daniel's vision.
God did not reveal anything to Daniel about his personal situation or how long he would suffer. God took Daniel higher to see God's purpose in the centuries to come. I urged prisoners to use their time behind bars to seek the Lord, not for their own comfort or insight into their limited world, but for the purpose of God beyond them so they could pray, teach, and write about God's plan in the earth, not in their prison! One discipleship group I led actually write a book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Inmates. They were truly Daniel's brothers following his example, and they succeeded in their Babylon as Daniel did in his.
Now it's your turn not just to survive in your health, economic, career, ministry, prison, or relational Babylon but to thrive there. That will only happen when you move beyond the selfish, limited boundaries of your own world to the limitless expanse of God's purpose for His world. Are you up to the task? I hope you are, but remember, your reward is not personal comfort but God's presence in sumptuous portions. Have a blessed week!
A THANKSGIVING OFFERING: I tell the Lord almost every day, "I owe You, Lord. I am grateful for your blessings and am committed to do Your will--no matter where or what it is." This is a picture of the recent graduation at the Dr. Stanko Academy in Nairobi where I have done work for many years, establishing a strong relationship.
In this season in the U.S. when we give thanks, someone has generously offered a $500 matching gift for the work of my ministry. Every dollar you give now becomes $2. Let's give thanks together as we remember my work among the poor. Thank you! Your gift this Thanksgiving season will help me continue my work In Kenya and in other places. If we are friends on Facebook, you can give to that fundraiser. Otherwise you can give on my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.