I’m taking a class on Daniel right now, and the more time I spend reading about Daniel and working on assignments, the more impressed I am with Daniel. He is really awesome. He is brilliant, disciplined, wise, good-looking, competent, diplomatic and hard working. He has to adjust to a foreign culture when he taken far away from his people and his homeland as a youth—which I can relate to in certain respects.
He gets along with all of the major figures, which span cultures and empires. He is one of the top officials in both the Babylonian and Media-Persian empires—that is kind of like Hitler invading France and then deciding to keep the top French MPs, because they do such an amazing job…and really, like some of these leaders, take Belshazzar, do not sound like nice guys. These are brutal, power-hungry pagan leaders, and yet Daniel still treats them with respect and does his job. He finds a way to deliver devastating messages—you, O king, are about to go crazy and live like an cow, or sir, your kingdom isn’t up to snuff and is actually being invaded as we speak—with dignity yet without compromising his message. And Daniel clearly commands respect, and is taken seriously in each story recorded for us.
Can you imagine working for Nebuchadnezzar? Let’s try. He was so egotistical and conceited that he set up a 90 foot statue, like 9 stories tall, presumably in his honor, and held a mandatory staff retreat to worship it (with the alternative being a fiery death). When he felt his staff were not performing up to standard, on coming up with his own dream, mind you, he decided an appropriate response would be to rip their legs and arms off and then bulldoze their houses. You know it’s bad when your boss goes so insane that he is described as living like an animal eating grass, with his nails as long as bird’s claws.
Next time you complain about your boss…think about that. Makes Michael Scott seem more reasonable. Yet Daniel not only worked for this man, but worked well, treated him with respect, warned him of the error of his ways, and even led him to recognize the power and authority of God. Daniel’s career spans seven decades (from 605 to at least 536 B.C.), and during that time, we are only told of a few episodes, which combined only cover a matter of weeks. Probably all the rest of the time was fairly monotonous ‘desk’ work, but whatever it was it didn’t make into the biblical account. When Daniel was still in his teens or early 20s, he was appointed ruler of the whole province of Babylon (and this is the ‘Babylonian’ empire—so that was the important part) and in charge of all the wise men—most of whom were probably quite a bit older. And Daniel seems to have been remarkably consistent, and even when he was around 80 or 85 he was the top and most distinguished of only three ‘presidents’ overseeing 120 lower officials. He was the same age, somewhere in his 80s, when he was still praying towards Jerusalem three times a day—the city he hadn’t seen in 65 years—and then cast into the den of lions.
We know that Jerusalem was rebuilt, that the temple was rebuilt, and some of those taken into exile returned. The nation continued, albeit a shadow of its former self, and the Messiah did indeed come, several hundred years later, but Daniel didn’t get to see all of that. He had to believe and rely on the accuracy of the visions shown him, despite living during Israel’s very darkest hour, when all the blessings had been reversed (and the curses were applied), indeed in the command center and headquarters of Israel’s worst enemy, working for the very people that destroyed his home, sacked and looted the temple, the dwelling place in Israel of the Lord Almighty, ruined his nation, and kidnapped him. And we think working in politics is bad.
Since I’ve been at NEGST, I’ve thought a lot about politics, which is something I’ve been interested in for a long time. Quite a significant amount of my time and energy has gone into student council, and I really loved the negotiations, strategy planning, and policy formation. My junior year of high school, I went to the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington D.C., and we participated in drafting model amendments to political resolutions. I remember my roommate my freshman year of college asking why I wasn’t a political science major, since I discussed politics all the time (it was an election year…). Maybe someday down the line I might consider doing something in that realm…I’m not sure, but if I ever do, I want to be like Daniel.