I have enjoyed studying Daniel this last week and can honestly say I know him better now than a week ago. I always loved the stories of Daniel, him and his companions refusing wine and rich foods for a simpler diet is inspiring, especially as I age and have a hard time saying no to that piece of cheesecake. (Who am I kidding, I have a hard time saying no to a second and maybe third piece of cheesecake.)
The dream with that statue and the gold head and silver arms. The amazing way the lord revealed it to Daniel at the moment when he and all the wise men were about to get it. And that doesn’t even mention the cool interpretation that walks us through history.
Who can help but be in ahh at the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as courageously say, Our Lord will deliver us, “but if not.” The image of them sitting in a fiery furnace, an angel of the Lord protecting them. And then the follow up when Daniel also refuses to bow down to anyone but the true God and is thrown in the Lion’s den. Oh, and I left out the writing on the wall. In the first six chapters we have five amazing stories.
But somehow this time I read it I thought of something different and that is not the times that Daniel defies the kings but how he so constantly was a faithful and kind servant to these horrid men. In fact, the larger story of Daniel seems to be much less about the defiance of Kings as much as a long life of servitude to them.
Think a little about the situation. When Nebuchadnezzar first attacked Jerusalem, he took Daniel as a slave. This was before the final sacking of that city. Meaning that many were left back at Jerusalem, including the great prophet, Jeremiah. But what did taking Daniel mean? He was torn from his family never to see them again. It is likely that his family was killed or also taken captive, perhaps to farm for Babylon like the prophet Ezikiel. He was put into servitude, where he would remain for the rest of his life. Scholars believe he was also likely castrated. So how does Daniel treat that man that has removed him from his family, friends and homeland? Who made him a slave, and who castrated him? With nothing but kindness, respect and friendship. He is honest with him, even at times warning him of the need to repent so he can remain in power (see Chapter 4).
In a few days we will vote. I love our democracy. I love that we have freedom of speech. I love that we have the opportunity to seek out who we feel will serve us the best. Yet, I am more and more distressed with the vile way we treat those who sit in public office. (And I am probably as guilty as anyone.) I wonder how Daniel would look on how we treat our President. I can see him saying, “Wait, this is the man that was voted for by the people through your system of government and you ridicule him, throw vulgarity at him and half the country does everything they can to make his time in office a failure so they can win it the next time. And what has he done to deserve this? Tried to pass laws you don’t agree with?” I don’t think he would be very impressed with how our country treated both Trump and Biden. Those who believe that Trump is a horrible man, he is a far better leader than Nebuchadnezzar was. Those who feel Biden is a senile old fool, Daniel stood by Nebuchadnezzar through total insanity.
I am not saying we should think Biden or Trump are the greatest men or we should worship them. Daniel after all refused to worship the kings he served. But we should respect them, treat them with honor and once the people elect them do all we can to make their time in office as successful as possible. We should like Daniel, be honest, and stand by our principles. But we can do that with love and kindness. When Daniel stood up to kings, he did it in a way that afterwards they had increased not decreased love for him. Would the same be true for how you treat the leaders on the other side of the aisle?
That is my commitment, to be more like Daniel. I will vote for the men and women who I feel will serve our country best, but whoever the people choose I will support and do what I can to make their time in office as positive as possible, whether it be Oz or Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Walker or Warnack in Georgia, or Lee of Mcmullin in Utah, or Trump, Biden or anyone else in 2024.