Friday, July 2, 2010

To Live is Christ — dare to be a Daniel

Yesterday’s Canada Day celebrations seemed to show more patriotism than ever before. Maybe this is because we are realizing how fortunate we are to live here. While this is not “heaven,” it is one of the most favorable countries in the world. We have a stable government and relative prosperity. We are not in bondage nor do we need to fear our political leaders.

This was not so for Daniel, a prophet of the Old Testament. He was one of the thousands of Israelites who had been taken captive by Babylon and exported to live in that foreign land. While they were not abused, they were in bondage under powerful and power-hungry kings.

Part of his story reveals that Daniel was the only one in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar who could save the lives of all of the king’s “wise men.” This king demanded that they interpret his dream, but he would not tell them its content. When word came to Daniel, he asked the king for time, enlisted the prayers of his friends, and experienced a vision in the night where God revealed the dream and its meaning to him. Instead of rushing to the king, his priority was praise and thanksgiving. 

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand. (Daniel 2:20–23)
Daniel’s praise is directly related to God’s revelation. He is thanking God for showing him the dream and its meaning, but also for the power of God revealed by the content of the interpretation. That is, the dream was about the kings and kingdoms that would come after Nebuchadnezzar. In this prayer, Daniel acknowledged that God is in charge of politics.

This would come as a real shock, even an insult to many modern politicians. To many average folks, their posturing and maneuvering for power is comical at best, and distressing. I’m dismayed at the sandbox level of “me first” that goes on at local and national levels. Running a country cannot be easy, but that task should be the focus, not their petty competitions.

Yet despite the annoyance I sometimes feel about politicians and politics, Daniel offers an example to me. He knew who was ultimately in charge. God does not show up at the polls, but He removes some from office and raises up others. He also controls how long each is in leadership.

Throughout his life, the three kings who held him in their control discovered the power of God because Daniel would not back down or compromise. With this attitude, Daniel’s safety became an issue because of the lesser governors and leaders. As for the kings, they were powerful yet all three quaked in their royal boots when God showed Himself wise and mighty through Daniel’s life and actions. But their men didn’t respond that way. Instead, they hated Daniel and his friends and tried to destroy them.

Daniel remained true to God, no matter the cost and no matter the attempts to kill him and his friends. They declared that they would remain true to God even if He didn’t save them. As a result, their enemies wound up being eaten by lions or burned in the furnace instead.

My country is a democracy with relative freedom. Should God decide to change the political times and seasons here, my prayer is that I would be like Daniel and remember that God knows what He is doing. He takes care of all who trust in Him and deals with those who do not. My responsibility is to recognize the wisdom and power of God and make that known when given the opportunity.


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