Right? Or Righteous?
As we look into Daniel’s residency in Babylon, we find him mired in a culture that has the dubious distinction of being known as one of history’s most decadent. It was in this context that Daniel—”God is my judge”—proved his faith. Despite the rebelliousness and moral decline of his own people, Daniel remained steadfast.
After the reigns of David and his son, Solomon, the people of Israel split into two kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom comprised ten tribes and the Southern Kingdom included Judah and the tribe of Benjamin (Daniel’s tribe). The Northern Kingdom began worshipping idols. Despite God’s repeated warnings through His prophets, the people ignored God and continued on their path to destruction. Finally, God sent Assyria to take them captive. The kingdom was destroyed.
Even with the northern tribes’ example, the people of the Southern Kingdom did not learn. Ignoring their own prophets, they slid into idol worship, too. That’s when God sent Babylon to capture them. The “nation” of Israel was no more.
But God always preserves a remnant for Himself and it was Daniel’s part to exemplify that remnant. Through all the times of his captivity, he never caved to pressure or threat. Instead, he trusted God and left himself in God’s hands. Was God trustworthy? Indeed!
Daniel was probably a teenager when he was taken to Babylon, perhaps sixteen years of age. He lived the next seventy years of his life in a pagan culture that shifted through the reigns of four different emperors. Each emperor saw himself as a god, but Daniel’s faith never wavered. His God was always God.
Why was it so important for Daniel to be respectful yet uncompromising? God granted Daniel great influence with the Babylonian emperors because of his steadfast faith. He saw friends subjected to the torture of the fiery furnace and was himself tossed into the lion’s den. But through it all, Daniel was faithful to God and God was faithful to Daniel (and his faithful friends). In the end, his influence allowed Israel to return from their captivity.
In today’s culture, there is great pressure to tolerate everything. But the American language continues to evolve, changing definitions to accommodate Satan’s agenda. Making words mean something different is one way to change society, and today tolerate actually means embrace.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Daniel had the key: respect and resolution. He did not disrespect anyone, yet he was resolute in his faith toward God. He didn’t have social media to present a scathing judgment against those who didn’t believe as he did, but he also didn’t compromise God’s standards so that he would be received by those with whom he differed. In fact, it was because of his uncompromising behavior that he gained influence with those in power. Even when plots were hatched against him and his very life was threatened, Daniel continued to trust and glorify God. When God came through for him—and He always did—the powers that were had no choice but to recognize His God.
Influence. Today it is defined to mean the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. Tomorrow it may be hijacked to mean something completely different. What will always be true is that godly character in the midst of a perverse generation will effect a profound change.
Be the change.