‘Pre-eminence, Purpose, Purity & Prophecy’ is an apt summary of the book.
Pre-eminence because the book shows time and again that it is God who rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan 4:17 / 4:25 / 4:32). It is He who orders the steps of a good man (Psalm 37:23), indeed, “Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24). This was the basis of Daniel’s life, a confident assurance that whatever happened on the outside, however desperate things seemed to be, God was still on the throne, the One who is the same, yesterday, today, (Hebrews 13:8).
Purpose for two reasons:
Firstly because this book underlines the fact that God has a purpose for all that happens in our lives (HIS creation), as Daniel and his friends show – who would have thought that these teenagers who were dragged away in shackles would be the ones to bring the most powerful nation to its knees? Paul reminds us: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28).
Secondly, purpose because “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Dan 1:8).
NOTE: This text in Daniel 1:8 infers that Daniel was also a eunuch.
In this context the ‘purpose’ referred to is a determined conscious decision that is made in the heart “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:21). Daniel’s treasure was to do the will of God regardless of what others thought or said, as we will see in chapter 6: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, [that everyone should worship king Darius alone or be thrown to the lions] he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” (Dan 6:10). Oh for men and women who purpose in their hearts to serve God. In the New Testament Paul purposed in his heart to preach the gospel: “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24 NKJV) “…woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16), as a result of this purpose of heart we read: “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2). For these people, serving God was a way of life, not just a ‘Sunday thing’. The challenge for us as we go through this book is: are we really living lives worthy of our calling? (Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12).
- Purity. Because of Daniel’s purpose of heart there was a beautiful purity about Daniel (as there was with Joseph). It is so easy for us to get tainted by the world and our surroundings, but when we do, it can so quickly escalate out of control. Chuck Smith sums it up clearly and concisely, “The flesh is never satisfied”. Chuck Missler comments that the more you feed a desire, the more you need to feed that desire; if you give into drink, you will need more drink to be satisfied, but then that will not be enough. If you take drugs, you will soon need more drugs to feed your habit; but that will not be enough. If you lust after the flesh, you will find yourself wanting more and more. If you gossip, one little story is never enough. Sin will always take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. If you have a tin of pure white paint, how many drops of black paint would it take to stop it being pure white? And so it is with our lives. Daniel never gave in; and twice in the book of Ezekiel God points to Daniel as an example of what a righteous man should be like. (Ezekiel 14:14 /20). May God put us through His crucible to remove the dross so that, like pure gold, we become reflections of His glory.
Next week: Article #3 of our Daniel study