by David Wise
Even the great men found within the pages of the sacred text are not able to escape the fact that their sins and failings have been recorded for future generations. The portraits of their lives are not false images crafted to hide the blemishes and spots. They are rather brutally honest portrayals that reveal their heroism, faith, and love for God, while, at the same time, not forgetting to mention the sins that needed to be confessed and forsaken. Moses’ temper, David’s adultery, Peter’s cowardice, Noah’s drunkenness, and Abraham’s “white lies” are not hidden from the view of even the most casual reader. In fact, there are very few heroes of the faith who figure prominently in the word of God that do not have anything negative placed to their account.
At numerous points in his life, he was faced with situations that could have easily resulted in death because of his unswerving loyalty to Jehovah. Whether it was in his teenage years when he purposed in his heart not to defile himself or when, as a very old man, he decided to practice “civil disobedience” and seek the God of his fathers as he had always done, Daniel was never far from laying down his life for the cause of truth. What makes this all the more amazing is that he was a man of tremendous power and influence who lived such a pure life in the midst of a heathen court and heathen kings that, when they weren’t threatening him with death, were showering him with praise and privileges. The fact that he wasn’t corrupted by his office shows that Daniel learned the lesson of the “open window” long before he was arrested for praying near it.
If the Babylonians had not descended to such a level of moral and military weakness, we would probably never have had the opportunity to know of the lion’s den that proved to be the final scene of greatness in an extraordinary life. The Persian’s conquest ended Daniel’s plans for a peaceful retirement and the chance to relax in his remaining years. He had been put on the political shelf by the infantile Belshazzar and was only summoned as a last resort.
That night, a political upheaval took place; Belshazzar went to his reward; the Persians were the new champions of the world; and Daniel was called out of retirement and placed at the right hand of Darius the Persian monarch. A man who seeks for positions of honor and power is restless until he attains such a spot. Once accustomed to that level of authority, this type of man is even more restless in his attempts to maintain his position of prominence. Daniel was not driven by ambition or a thirst for power. He craved intimacy with God rather than authority over men.
As a young man, Daniel learned the secret of the “crucified life” and was dead to everything but the will of God. While many initially enter into an experience of being crucified with Christ, there is an art to maintaining such a relationship. In using New Testament language to describe the spiritual experience of an Old Testament character, it is clear that Daniel did have his own “Pentecost” where his heart was made pure and single. In addition to this, he also learned to seek his God on a daily basis so that, when the trials of life came, his decision had already been made.
The habits of a strong devotional life are not formed overnight. There is much trial and error and much learning in the school of God. One must learn that we go to prayer not because we necessarily “feel” like praying, but because it is one of our duties as a Christian and it will strengthen us in our conflict with the enemy of our souls. After prayer has begun, there is the point where the feelings “kick in” and prayer becomes a delight. However, our loving Heavenly Father knows what we need and He will supply the blessings when necessary.
We do not know how Daniel learned the fine art of a strong and disciplined prayer life. Was there a godly grandmother who set an example for him that he never forgot? Did he have an older brother that mentored him in the things of God? The Scriptures are silent on these matters; but one thing is clear, Daniel, at some point in his life, purposed in his heart that he would be a man of prayer.
The cares that came upon him because of his enormous responsibilities never caused him to waver from his soldier-like devotion to his set times of prayer. The open window, with sneaky and ambitious politicians lurking around on the outside, straining to hear the earnest supplications offered to the Triune God, was also a silent witness to the multitude of prayers that had gone forth with no one else present but Daniel himself. By the time of this last and greatest trial of his life, Daniel was too much of a “Methodist” in his seeking after God to be deterred from his daily trysts with the Almighty.
One of the reasons Daniel faced so much opposition was that his sense of justice interfered with the organized corruption that was a way of life in the government of that day and, unfortunately, is still an albatross around the neck of even the most elevated form of government in our day. When the other high-ranking officials recognized that Daniel was not for sale and could not be brought around to their way of thinking, the decision was made that he had to be taken out of the way.
A man with his intelligence and sense of discernment must have realized that trouble was brewing. Yet, in the midst of it all, he maintained an excellent spirit. There was no call for vengeance. There was no attempt to “get them” before they struck at him. There was not even an angry speech to the king about corrupt politicians. Instead, Daniel retreated to his chamber and called upon the God of his fathers as he had done so many times before. Though he sensed the incredible injustice of the whole affair, he had learned to do his very best and then leave things in the hands of the One who “doeth all things well”. In the midst of our pagan society where iniquity is promoted at every turn, we would do well to follow his example of righteous living and confidence in the justice of Almighty God.
The followers of the Lord are admonished in the Holy Scriptures to be “strong and of good courage.” There is no room for cowardice in the army of the Lord when grace has been promised to make even the most feeble and weak among us a testimony of God’s enabling power. The word of God has much to say about the consequences of not allowing the grace of God to have absolute sway in eradicating our man-fearing spirit. However, there is a type of boldness that borders on harshness and seems a close cousin to prideful boasting. This breed of boldness is not the recommended type. Young converts who are “on fire for God” learn the hard way sometimes that the Christian life is a balance of various spiritual virtues and that one must not dominate over the rest in a sanctified soul.
The testimony of a life lived solely for the glory of God in the midst of high-level corruption and pride speaks to us today.
The testimony of a life lived solely for the glory of God in the midst of high-level corruption and pride speaks to us today. If it was possible in Daniel’s time, surely we Christians can shine as beacons of light in this evil generation. The open window did not cause Daniel to be arrested. Rather, it stands as a symbol of one man’s intense desire to love God with “a pure heart fervently” in even the darkest of circumstances.