DANIEL - A MAN OF VISION
- Zac Poonen
One of the keywords in the Book of Daniel is "vision". God needs men of vision. That word occurs about 30 times in this book. I also want you to see two phrases that describe Daniel's attitude to God and to man. The first phrase is "The Lord gave" (Daniel 1:2) - referring to Nebuchadnezzar's capture of Jerusalem. Daniel saw the Lord as the One Who gave Nebuchadnezzar victory over Jerusalem, to teach the Jews a lesson. So, Daniel's attitude towards God was one of faith in God's absolute sovereignty over all matters on the earth. The second phrase is "Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself"(Daniel 1:8). Daniel's attitude towards man was one of "No compromise whatsoever". These are the two attitudes that we must have too, in times of persecution. Even if a heathen king who doesn't know God is in control of a country, let us remember that it is the Lord who has given him that position. It is the Lord Who allows someone to win an election or a war and to rule a country. Nebuchadnezzar did not know God, but God still controlled him. The rulers of our country also may not know God. But if God has people like Daniel in our land, He can accomplish His purposes there. And when we are tempted to compromise, or invited to compromise or when we see other Christians around us compromising, that is when we must stand unflinchingly for the Lord and refuse to bend even slightly. We must refuse to defile our conscience with any sin. If we have fallen somewhere, we must confess our sin immediately, have it cleansed in Christ's blood, apologise to the people concerned where necessary and set things right. But we will not compromise at any cost. We will not seek to please any man. We will not seek to please any Nebuchadnezzar or any of his authorities. We will submit to them if they rule our country, but we will not compromise our convictions even if we have to lose our lives. After Daniel made up his mind to keep himself undefiled, his first test came in relation to food. The first test that came to Adam and Eve was also in relation to food. And the first test that came to Jesus in the wilderness was in relation to food too. What will your attitude be to tasty food, if that involves compromise of God's principles? Esau lost his birthright because of food. Isaac lost his spiritual vision because of his love for the tasty food that Esau could bring him. But Daniel's attitude was, "God has said in His Word that this type of food must not be eaten and so I will not eat it." Daniel had studied the Scriptures as a young man and he knew that the law of Moses forbade the eating of certain meats and that the book of Proverbs forbade the drinking of alcoholic wine. He decided to obey God, whatever it may cost him. In the beginning he had to stand alone, while all the other Jews compromised. But when Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah saw one young man taking a stand for God, they got the courage to join him (Daniel 1:11). If Daniel had not taken a stand for the Lord, we might never have heard about Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. I find that there are three types of people among God's children: First, the compromisers who seek what is good for them and have no principles. There are millions of such people in Christendom today. Then there is a second group like Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who don't have the courage to take a stand on their own, but who are willing to take a stand if they see someone else who is willing to take a stand for the Lord. That is a much smaller number. Then there is the third group of people like Daniel, who will take a stand for the Lord, even if no-one else takes a stand. This group is very much smaller. There may be just one person here and another person there, in this category. This division is somewhat like the outer court, the holy place and the most holy place in the tabernacle. I believe that there are a number of people like Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who want to take a stand for God, for a pure testimony for the Lord in their locality, but who don't have the courage to stand on their own. They are looking for a Daniel to be their leader. And when a Daniel comes into that village or that town, then these Christians will come and join him. But if a Daniel never comes to their place, these people will live and die without ever being a testimony for the Lord. So the great need in our country is for Daniels. God is looking for Daniels who will determine in their heart never to defile themselves. And when these Daniels take a stand for the Lord, they will automatically draw the Hananiahs, the Mishaels and the Azariahs to them. I have seen this happen in many places. God looks for a Daniel first. If He cannot find a Daniel, then nothing will happen. God is looking for men who will not seek their own, who are not interested in anything for themselves and who are willing to lose their lives for Him if necessary. Daniel was only 17 years old. Even today, God can choose a 17-year old youth and make him a prophet and empower him to take a stand for Him. The other three men may have been older than Daniel. But they submitted to him, because they recognised him as a God-appointed leader. Daniel also had faith. He told the king's overseer, "You can test us for ten days. We will have only vegetables and water. And we believe that we'll be physically better off than these other Jews who are eating the rich food." God is looking for people who will boldly confess their faith, and not keep their light hidden underneath a bed. At the end of ten days, just as Daniel had said, they all looked healthier and stronger than the others (Daniel 1:11-15). This self- denial in a simple matter like food prepared them for the greater tests of the fiery furnace and the den of lions later on. Here we see how God gave them supernatural health for their body. Later, we read how God gave them supernatural intelligence for their mind. He gave these four young an unusual aptitude for learning literature and science. God gave Daniel supernatural understanding in his spirit too, to understand the meaning of visions and dreams. So we see God enabling them supernaturally in body, soul and spirit. We also need to learn to trust God to give us health for our body, intelligence for our mind and spiritual vision and understanding of his ways by the Holy Spirit.