Throughout the Bible we see that God has His own ways of watching over His own when they remain faithful to His Word and obedient to His will. It was of course God who brought Daniel into “favor and goodwill” with his captors (Daniel 1:9). It is a comfort to know in the midst of a crumbling culture that the Lord has the remote control in His hand. God also imparted to Daniel “knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom” (v. 17). At the end of this initial three years, the time came for Daniel to take his oral exams. He flew through them at the head of the class. Preparing intellectually to address ideas and behaviors contrary to our faith is a requirement for living in our own Babylonian culture. Like Daniel, we no longer live in Jerusalem ourselves. In our Babylonian world, we are to tolerate heretical ideas and unbiblical behavior. Our culture seems to have an increasing disdain for anything related to the religious liberties we have cherished for 250 years. It is crucial for us, like Daniel, to live uncompromising lives; not to quit, not to give out… to be persistent in a culture where our cherished values stand in stark contrast to what it proclaims.
Daniel was indeed persistent. We read that “Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus” (Daniel 1:21), and that covered a time span of seventy years. Throughout all those decades, Daniel never gave in… never gave up… and never gave out. When Cyrus decreed that the Jews could return to their holy city of Jerusalem, Daniel had a part in that. When Nehemiah went back to lead the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem, Daniel had a part in that. When Ezra went back and reestablished respect for the Word of God, Daniel had a part in that. And five hundred years later, when the wise men followed the star making their way to Bethlehem from the East, if you examine it closely, Daniel’s witness to their forefathers had a part in that. Those Magi knew about a coming Messiah because their ancestors had heard through the uncompromising life of a young Hebrew captive by the name of Daniel.
Yes, “Daniel continued.” And God gave him favor and enlarged his sphere of influence. The apostle Paul noted that each of us has been assigned a specific sphere of influence. He said we should “boast only with regard to the area of influence God [has] assigned to us,” and he prayed that “our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged” (2 Corinthians 10:13, 15 ESV). Etymologically, our English word influence comes from a compound of two Latin words that are translated in and flow. The word picture describes a crystal clear and mighty river that runs deep and wide. Its rapid current powerfully flows and circumvents any and all obstacles in its way. It is fed by numerous smaller creeks, streams, and tributaries that arrive at this river, virtually empty themselves into it, and are caught up in its flow. Having influence means that you live your life in such a deep and vibrant manner that those who come into contact with you become caught up in your flow that reflects and leads them to God’s flow. This should serve as a tremendous encouragement to any and all of us seeking to address a twenty-first-century Babylonian culture in our own Western world. Yes, “Daniel continued,” and an entire culture eventually got caught up in his flow. May we follow in Daniel’s footsteps and impact our culture for the Lord.
Content drawn from The Daniel Code: Living Out Truth in a Culture That Is Losing Its Way.