Daniel 1:5-7 – The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
Imagine four teenage Christian boys being abducted, trafficked as slaves, and forced to endure incredible torture that included castration, followed by the overwhelming temptation to deny their God by adopting a new identity complete with new names, new religion, new culture, new nationality, and a new language.
How would most teenage boys fare if they were taken from a rural religious life and put to work at a massive casino in Vegas?
This is the fate of Daniel and his friends. In the amazing book of Daniel that recounts some sixty-nine years of his life, Daniel and his friends remain devoted to God when there is every reason to assume their faith would be destroyed. The characters in Daniel fit into the following three categories:
3 Kinds of People in Daniel
- Godly – the godly Spirit-filled believers, starting with Daniel and his friends, were tempted with everything from comfort to food, drink, riches, and power. Loyalty to God would bring them pain. Loyalty to the world system of Babylon would bring them pleasure. They chose God and pain over the pleasures of temptation.
- Godless – these are the unbelieving tempting masses of people in Babylon who, like most folks in our own day, do not know the Lord or share any longing to live under His reign as the King over their lives.
- Ungodly Believer – these are always the most confusing folks as they claim to be a believer but live like a Babylonian. It was the 490 years of this kind of behavior that caused God to permit the toppling of the nation of Israel as justice and judgment. These kinds of people would today be called lukewarm backsliders. The problem is, it’s hard to know if they are believers or not and they confuse people as unbelievers don’t see anything different about their lives.
Often, it is the age of youth that is given as an excuse for folly and rebellion. In our day, we expect people in their teens and twenties to leave their parents’ home, go off to a secular university, and deny God for a season. Daniel and his friends did exactly the opposite. There is no indication of generational rebellion, which give us great hope and courage that, when we are young, we do not need to be godless, and parents do not have to accept the false prophecy that children will automatically deny God at some point in their development.
What were you like in comparison to Daniel in your teens and twenties? Who do you know that reminds you of Daniel’s courage and character?
In addition to this introduction to and overview of Daniel, you can find the corresponding sermons, daily devotions, men’s ministry resources, and hundreds of additional sermons and Bible teaching resources for free at markdriscoll.org or on the Mark Driscoll Ministries app.
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