Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 23 November 21:
Daniel 5:17 — “Then Daniel answered and said before the king, ‘Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another.’”
In our previous readings in Daniel, we learned of his amazing character which earned him the special trust and confidence of the king. Daniel was not only excellent in all things, but he also carefully guarded his purity, even with the smallest things. In every way, Daniel gave all honor, praise, and glory to God who had blessed him with special abilities. Daniel’s faithful witness impacted an entire nation, the most influential nation on the planet at that time.
Today’s readings from Daniel include two very famous stories: the Writing on the Wall and the Lion’s Den. One of the many important lessons from these stories is the need to avoid becoming unequally yoked and entangled with ungodly people and in the systems of the world. Notice Daniel, having been previously appointed by Nebuchadnezzar as “ruler over the whole province of Babylon… chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon, [and] chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers (Daniel 2:48, 5:11),” was not found at the palace enjoying the privilege and prestige of his position; in fact, the new king Belshazzar apparently hadn’t even heard of him.
Daniel could have “had it all” yet he would have none of it. King Belshazzar offered Daniel the position of “third highest ruler in the kingdom.” Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have such an important position? But Daniel replied, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else.” His response is very similar to the response Abraham gave the king of Sodom: “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich’ (Genesis 14:21-23).” Daniel’s response also resembles Jesus’ response to Satan in the desert when he reminds Satan that His purpose is to glorify the Father and serve the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdoms of man — “You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.” (Matthew 4:10) Conversely, we read of God’s anger with Jehoshaphat for not only supporting the wicked king Ahab but also for going into business with his son King Ahaziah (1 Kings 22:1-40; 2 Chron 18-19).
Too often we compromise our holiness for worldly success and pursuit of the American dream. If we were in Daniel or Jehoshaphat’s shoes, we might be tempted to say, “God could really use my great success,” or “I could use this position and wealth to better spread the Word.” But what is the price paid in integrity and holiness to gain and maintain prominent position?
Despite Daniel’s desire to remain set apart, Darius was intent on placing Daniel “over the whole kingdom.” Daniel didn’t seek a political position, but once in office, his fidelity to God was tested greater than ever before, and in his fidelity, he impacted the whole nation for God’s glory: “Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: ‘Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.” (Daniel 6:25, 26) Note that reconciliation between Daniel and the king was achieved only when the king submitted to God’s authority, not by Daniel conceding or compromising his holiness.
- 2 Corinthians 6:14 — “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
Why you do the things you do? What motivates you? On what are your goals and ambitions based? On what are your personal relationships based? Do you live for God’s glory or for self-interest? Daniel lived for God. When an ordinance was made making worshipping God a crime punishable by death, Daniel boldly and publicly worshipped God even more fervently – he would have rather died horrifically than to fail to worship His God. Though it would have been a simple thing for Daniel to worship in private, Daniel refused to deny God the glory due Him through the life of one of His faithful servants. He refused, even as a captive of the most ruthless king on the planet, to put his light of faith under a bowl regardless the cost. Oh, that we would be so committed and faithful! How many times have we been motivated to compromise or conceal our faith due to greed, fear, ambition, anger, jealously, and other worldly passions rather than being motivated by love, awe, reverence, and joy for God to boldly live out and proclaim a life in Christ regardless the temporal cost? Continue to pray for the type of courageous faithfulness displayed by Daniel, and step out obediently in the faith you already have that your faith may grow – “And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.'” (Luke 17:6)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 November 21: Pray that God will give you to courage to remain holy and bold as a faithful ambassador for Christ where God has placed you. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)