Making a "Daniel Impact"
Recently I was reading through the book of Ezekiel and noticed a section of scripture that really caught my attention. In Chapter 14, God is speaking to Ezekiel about the certainty of His upcoming judgement and that there is nothing the leaders can do to reverse it. In the middle of this judgement declaration, God also makes a very powerful and impressive statement. In verse 14, He states "Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were there, their righteousness would save no one but themselves, says the Sovereign Lord" (NLT). God then goes on to say the same thing again in verse 20. Many times, when reading Ezekiel we tend to just glaze over it and not always catch the details, but this time was different for me. Here is why.
Daniel was alive and serving the King of Babylon at the time of this prophesy. Daniel had already made a profound impact on Nebuchadnezzar and had already been promoted to a powerful position in the kingdom. At this point in history, Noah and Job were "legends" for the people of Israel and an inspiration to everyone in regards to their relationship with God. Thousands of years have passed since their time of walking with God on the earth and yet, in these 2 statements, God connects Daniel with them. Think about the profound impact that must have had on Daniel, Ezekiel, and the exiles from Judah. Here is a living man, whose righteousness was equated with that of Noah and Job. Think about that for a moment! What must have gone through Daniel's mind as he heard this?
Around the same we see Daniel do something very incredible after Nebuchadnezzar has a horrible dream and is unable to understand it. In Daniel Chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar is giving praise to God when he has a series of visions in a dream. He calls forth his magicians, enchanters, and astrologers in hopes that they could help him understand the meaning of the visions. Of course, none of them could give him a response, so he calls in Daniel in and shares the dream. Daniel responds in a very profound way in verse 19. "Upon hearing this, Daniel was overcome for a time, frightened by the meaning of the dream." Later in the same verse Daniel tells the king, "I wish the events foreshadowed in this dream would happen to your enemies, my lord, and not to you!"
Think about this for a moment. Daniel was still just a few years removed from having been taken with the exiles and forced into the service of the king of Babylon. I imagine he had many reasons to dislike this pagan king, yet in the moment that he receives the understanding for a dream that prophesied the king's destruction, he expresses empathy for the king and honored him. I think many of us today would have celebrated what Daniel knew, but because Daniel did not, he was able to have yet another deep impact on Nebuchadnezzar. Later in verse 37, after everything finished taking place as Daniel had said, we see the king giving praise and honor to the King of Heaven.
Fast forward now to the reign of King Darius. Daniel is much older now, but his reputation continued to have such a profound impact on the nation of Babylon, that the new king made plans to place him over the entire empire (Daniel 6:3). Because of the jealousy of the other administrators, they were able to get King Darius to sign a decree that no one can pray to any person or god, except to the king for 30 days. Daniel learns of this and in verse 10, immediately opens his window towards Jerusalem and prays to God. When news reached the king that Daniel would need to be thrown into the lion's den, verse 14 records that he was deeply troubled and wanted to save Daniel. Then in verse 19, after Daniel has been thrown into the lion's den, the bible records that "the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting..." The next morning, the king gets up early and runs out to the lion's den and shouts "Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?"
Do you see the impact Daniel was able to have on the kings of Babylon? Was Daniel any different than any of us? On the surface, I do not see him any different than the rest of us. He was a normal guy who loved God and was forced to serve in a kingdom where he did not share the same values. How many of us are in similar situations now where we do not agree with the values of the circles of influence that God has placed us in? Daniel was unique in that he did not let the surrounding circumstance affect his relationship with the Father nor how he was going to represent the Kingdom of God. He did not let the surrounding circumstances affect his decisions to love, honor, and serve those God had placed around him. He certainly could have, in fact, I do not think anyone would have blamed him for having responded negatively to his situation.
So in closing, I challenge you with this question. What impact is God calling you to have right now with the circles of influence you find yourself in now? Who is that "king" that you can love, honor, and serve right now? Maybe it is your boss, a co-worker, a family member, or someone on your ministry leadership team. Whoever it is, I encourage you to let God fill you with love, empathy, and compassion for that person so that you can have that "Daniel Impact" on them as Daniel did in Babylon.