Lessons from the Life of Daniel

If anybody understood politics and the rise and fall of administrations, it was Daniel. His initial experiences were with Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians from 605-561 B.C. You probably know the story. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and Daniel interpreted it. Daniel and his three friends got promoted, but next there was a plot against them. Daniel’s three friends were thrown into a blazing furnace. They were supernaturally delivered and even Nebuchadnezzar praised the God of the Hebrews. Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, assumed the throne and threw a big party. The finger of God miraculously appeared and wrote on the wall. Daniel interpreted the words. The message predicted Belshazzar’s demise, which brought Darius the Mede to the throne. Shortly after this we find Daniel in the lion’s den. Daniel’s deliverance in the lion’s den caused Darius to honor God. The story continues ...

Ups and downs. Successes and failures. But a pattern emerges: God’s chosen are in trouble, God supernaturally moves in the life of the King, the King honors God, God’s chosen are spared, people around the King are jealous, God’s chosen are in trouble once more and it starts again.

It is in Daniel, chapter 9 that we gain tremendous insight into the character of Daniel and how he handles the roller coaster of political leadership. Here are a few aspects of Daniel’s life that act as examples to us:

He was a man of faith: “Then I set my face to the Lord God to make my request by prayer and supplication with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” (Dan 9: 3) Daniel was not a young man at this point and with all the ups and downs, he was still full of faith. He remained willing to fight for God’s purposes to be brought to earth. He easily could have given up many times before, but yet he expectantly interceded for his people. Daniel knew that at any point the King could receive a vision, a message, or writing “could appear” on the wall.

He carried a burden for the sins of his people: “… we have sinned and committed
iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.” (Dan 9:5) Even though Daniel himself walked uprightly with God, his heart was pained that his fellow Jews did not. To the American mind this seems preposterous, but it is a great lesson for us—to accept a greater responsibility through prayer and discipleship for how fellow believers walk with God.

He understood the connection between faith and reality: “… the Lord has kept the disaster in mind and brought it upon us …” (Dan 9:14, 16) In Daniel’s mind there was an obvious connection between disasters and people’s sins. To him it appears that God, though long suffering, is not a God who will forever permit people to behave the way they desire. As with individuals, God has the ability to corporately guide a nation’s actions by the retributions and calamities He permits them to experience. After national disasters it is suddenly acceptable to say “our thoughts and prayers are with you.” The rest of the time there are ongoing efforts to eliminate public prayer.

We can learn much from Daniel. We have seen many political ups and downs in recent days. While the present seems particularly dark, we must remain people of expectant faith. With “fasting, sackcloth and ashes,” we must continue to intercede for our country. At any point God’s finger could write on the wall of the Oval Office and deliver words that could transform many things in short order. We also must surrender our self-centered individuality in order to carry a burden for the righteousness of all the followers of Christ. We need to be pained at the things that pain God’s heart.
Dave Kubal serves as President / CEO of Intercessors for America