Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery. (Daniel 2:17-18b)
In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer confronts us with this premise: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” There’s no greater example of this than the young Hebrew, Daniel, who was taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar and carried to Babylon to serve the king.
Daniel had a lot of things to be proud of. He is described as one of a group of youths who were good-looking, highly intelligent, endowed with understanding and discernment, with a keen ability to learn. I’m sure he was sought after by many families looking to arrange a good marriage for their daughters! Babylon had other ideas. They desired to take the God-given talents and giftedness of these young men and mold them into the pagan culture for their own use. Their plan was simple – a three-year course of indoctrination through education in the literature, language and customs of Babylon.
This plan had two possible outcomes, much like the current college education system of western civilization. They could survive the intentional (re)programming of their values and beliefs and remain faithful to the biblical truth they had been taught from childhood, or their faith would be dismantled, and they would become, for all intents and purposes, children of Babylon. The latter was the desire of the king’s heart, and he spared no expense or missed any detail in their training, even down to the food they ate, as he instructed them to be given the rich meats and wines of Babylon.
What came into Daniel’s mind when he thought about God would be the deciding factor during his life. If you have read his stories, you already know he is a shining example of a faith that was grounded in a right view of God.
Daniel’s faith was tested and proven genuine many times. As his story unfolds, we see three foundational beliefs that testified to a correct understanding of God’s character and nature.
God’s provision sustains me.
The first challenge to Daniel’s faith was a physical one. He had grown up following the strict dietary requirements God had given to the Jewish people. Certain things were unclean, and food had to be prepared under strict rules. From the first meal offered, Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food (Daniel 1:8). Wisely, he did not stage a sit-in protest and refuse to eat. He knew God’s diet was better for his body, and that God’s provision would sustain him, so he respectfully asked the officials for a ten-day trial period during which he and his friends would eat what God had prescribed. Not only were they satisfied and well-fed, but their appearance was also better than the youths who ate the king’s food.
God’s knowledge informs me.
Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream disturbed him greatly, so he called on his wise men to interpret. Whether he had forgotten the dream or was simply testing the validity of his wise men’s professed abilities, he demands they not only interpret the dream, but recount the details of it without his help. Of course, they can’t. Frustrated, the king indignantly demands all the wise men to be killed. When Daniel hears the news, he does not panic. He respectfully asks the king for a bit of time, and immediately calls his friends to pray to the God of heaven concerning the mystery. Daniel knows if the answer is to be revealed, it will be by divine knowledge, not his. God is faithful to answer his prayers, and when he speaks to the king, Daniel reminds him, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king … however, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries (Daniel 2:27-28a). The knowledge of God is greater, and by faith, Daniel staked his life on that belief.
God’s presence protects me.
Both Daniel and his friends experienced the protective power of God’s presence. When faced with a choice to worship Nebuchadnezzar or worship the God in heaven, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose certain death over compromise, but God’s presence appeared with them in the fiery furnace. Years later, having been promoted over his peers under Darius’ rule, Daniel found himself in a quandary. He could remain faithful to his spiritual walk and continue seeking God’s presence in prayer as was his daily custom, trusting God’s protection. Or, he could hide in fear of man and withdraw in secret, hiding his relationship with God in deference to a pagan king. Every child knows the story – God shut the lions’ mouths and Darius learned there is a God in heaven – the living and enduring God whose kingdom will not be destroyed and whose dominion will be forever(Daniel 6:26).
What comes into your mind when you think about God? Anything other than a right view – His true nature and character as revealed in the Word of God – is idolatry and is not the kind of faith that will sustain you when you face your lions. Give me a faith like Daniel’s. Let me rely on God’s provision, trusting His ways are good and right. Let me seek knowledge from Him alone, and cast aside any idea, concept, or belief that raises itself up against the knowledge of God. Let me seek God’s presence daily regardless of the cost to my life, trusting that He will protect me and see me safely home. There is a God in heaven, and He is the only God worthy of our faith.
Daniel 2:19b-20 – Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.”