COURAGE & CHARACTER


Two films that have captured my imagination in the last few years have been “Braveheart” and “Gladiator”. Both these movies capture the heart of men that dared to defy empires by their sheer courage. As one watches these sweeping epics, their majestic scenery and their stories of intrigue, tragedy and triumph, I am often impressed by one thing that captivates my spirit. The bravery of these men. Even though they are fictional characters, the story-lines in these stories have been consistently an inspiration to me and have also been to a generation of young men throughout the world.

The Bible has its own share of courageous men and women. From people who defied empires and withstood the onslaught of evil, to the ones who in a moment made the right choice that changed the course of history. Some were warriors, others were prophets and some just used their God given abilities and their devotion to God in making their statement to their generation.

Daniel was one of those men who used his God given wisdom to enlighten a king and his kingdom. Specifically, I wish to concentrate on some key things that are seen in chapters 1 & 2 of the narrative which show the courage and character of this young Hebrew. In chapter 1 we are introduced to a number of the young men from the aristocracy and nobility of Israel that had been brought to Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem. They were all gifted with abilities that could be put to use in the Babylonian kingdom. In verse 6 we are introduced to Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  These three are more commonly known to us by their Babylonian names which are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In verse 8 we are given the first glimpse into Daniel’s resolve to honor God. Coming from a life of privilege and wealth, Daniel and his friends could have been bitter towards their captors as well as towards God, but their faith and desire to obey God is clearly seen in their decisions. He respectfully approached the official in charge and in verses 8-15 the request to eat only vegetables rather then the royal food and wine is tested. The thing that surprises me is the confidence and the courage that such a young man displayed in the light of what was at stake (no pun intended). In verse 12, he confidently says that if after ten days the vegetarian diet that he and his friends requested would not work, the official had right to punish them accordingly. The outcome was favorable to them and God was honored. Such courage and confidence showed a depth of character that was far beyond his years.

           Daniel’s abilities were much more than skills in learning the Babylonian culture, language and all kinds of knowledge understanding. He had an ability to interpret dreams and see visions. As many kings of those days they relied on wise men, enchanters and magicians as stated in verse 20 but Daniel and his friends wisdom and understanding superseded them all.

In chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him. As usual he brought in the astrologers, enchanters and magicians that he relied upon for wisdom. The king was very keen on getting the right answer and decided that they needed to tell him the dream instead of them hearing what it was and attempting to interpret it. The wise men were unable to do this and ultimately the king ordered them to be executed. When Daniel received this information he requested from the official in charge an audience with the king in which requested some time. He did not ask for the dream to be told to him but rather he would tell the king; which is exactly what the king required. Daniel returned to his friends in chapter 2 and verse 17 & 18 to request they would join him in asking the God of Heaven for mercy in this situation. The result of failure would be that all the wise men of Babylon including themselves would be killed. During his sleep that night, Daniel received the answer in a dream. The character of Daniel is seen again as he does not go immediately to the king but rather pauses to give the credit to God. His praise in verses 19-23 display the reliance and trust he had in the Lord God of Israel. From verse 24 on we see Daniel interpreting the dream for the king and saving the lives of his friends and all the “wise men” of Babylon. Later on in Daniel, some of these men that he probably saved tried to have him executed by the king as he was thrown into a den of lions.

What we see in Daniel is courage and character; an ability to stand up for his faith in the face of possible death and fierce opposition. The result for him was a promotion to a high position in the province of Babylon. For his obedience, for his courage, lives were saved and God’s name was glorified. Daniel did not lift a sword or go to a battlefield, he used what God gave him. Courage and Character are not always found in bravery but sometimes can be displayed by wisdom and intelligence. Do you dare to be a Daniel? Why not decide to be a Daniel.

 

By: Pastor David Jones