Even those with little or no knowledge of God’s Word can tell you who Daniel was—he was the guy who the lions didn’t eat. Sadly, this is about as much as most Christians can tell you about Daniel. He was cast into a den of lions (some even know why) and “God did shut the lions’ mouths so they could not harm him.”
However, there is much more to the man Daniel than this one isolated, though miraculous, incident in his life. Consider his many “ups and downs.” As a very young man, he was carried away as a captive under the rule of the Babylonian empire. Then he was given the unique privilege of joining an elite group to be trained for governmental positions. Yet he jeopardized this privilege through an act of what man might call “insubordination.” (God calls it “believing!”)
This led not to demotion or execution, but to Daniel and his companions being singled out for favor. Soon after, he became chief among the king’s advisors. Yet when that king’s reign had ended, Daniel and his contributions to the empire were quickly forgotten. For many, this might be the time to begin writing your memoirs. However, Babylon was conquered by the Persians, and by the final years of his life, Daniel was once again elevated, this time to a position second only to the king.
But, more importantly, what of Daniel’s spiritual life? The incidents recorded in the book of Daniel should be sufficient to illustrate to us that he was a faithful man. In addition, the entire second half of the book is devoted to the visions he received from God—as a young man, as an older man, and even as an aged man.
Some might say, “Daniel did not faint.” This would be true. Some might say, “Daniel endured.” This would also be true. But God’s Word says of Daniel, “Daniel prospered” (Daniel 6:28).
In his wonderful book, Prosperity and Financial Giving, Mike Clark defines prosperity as “being helped on our way.” He further states:
Prosperity is not a matter of simple formulas or steps to success, but it is in the context of a relationship with God. It is having Him help us on our way so that we can successfully live for him in this world.1
Oh, Christian! If this was possible for Daniel, an Israelite, what then of we who have direct access to Him, we whom He calls sons and daughters? We, who are a living part of “the purpose of the ages?” Consider the following:
II Corinthians 4:1, 2
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
II Corinthians 4:16, 17
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
These verses speak of not fainting, yes. But they speak of more. They speak of doing something rather than fainting. We see so many who burn brightly for a season and then faint along the way that perhaps some Christians feel the simple fact of not fainting is an achievement. We seem to think that simply enduring until Christ returns is the best we can expect out of this Christian life. We even convey this attitude in teaching and in song.
But beyond simply enduring, we can live in such a way that, though the outer man may be perishing, the inner man is renewed daily, that our very existence is a manifestation of the truth to all men and women. And God’s Word teaches us not only that we can, but that we should. This is not merely enduring; this is prospering.
This Christian life was never meant to be a brief burst of enthusiasm followed by decades of nostalgia. Like Daniel, we can continue to grow, continue to be fruitful, continue to play a part in the purpose of the ages, continue to prosper, up until our very last breath.
Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;
To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
As Mike Clark so clearly pointed out, such a life would be impossible were it not for God’s help. But we do have His help, abundantly. He has given us His Word, whereby we can know Him, know our Lord, and know all that is ours in this life. He has given us the spirit, whereby we can function, reign, and prosper in two realms. He has given us the church, the Body of Christ, where all members are equipped and commissioned to build each other up, in love.
And He has given us a hope. Hebrews 11 contains a great list of “believing heroes” from the Old Testament, many of whom, like Daniel, did not just believe greatly, but continued believing, faithfully, for a lifetime. Why?
Hebrews 11:13–16 (New International Version, 1984 Edition)
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.
If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
These men and women had a hope. They had something bigger than themselves, something eternal, to look to. Their hope was big enough to draw them through this life. Even in the bleakest of circumstances they recognized that though the results of their faithfulness might never be evident in this life, that faithfulness would one day be rewarded, by the only One whose opinion really matters.
Daniel 12:2, 3
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
We are part of something much bigger than this brief journey in the flesh. We are part of something eternal. Yet we have only these few short years to play our part in God’s great plan and to garner rewards that will last forever. The degree to which we do so is not limited by circumstances, nor is it diminished with age. It is determined by our choice.
Let us not faint. Let us not settle for merely enduring. Let us walk with God, and thereby prosper in this life.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
1 Mike Clark, Prosperity and Financial Giving, (First Edition, Scriptural Study Groups, 2010), 37.