A. The prophetic book of Daniel was written for our time. Its prophecies have more meaning to the present generation.
1. The angel Gabriel told Daniel specifically, "Seal the book, until the time of the end" (Dan. 12:4).
2. The biblical prophet Daniel describes in vivid details the world events that are now occurring. His predictions, covering 2,500 years of history, clearly describe the world events since his time (600 years before Christ) until our time.
B. Today we'll study Daniel's story and the special way God guided his life. We'll see our own story in the life of this son of God, and we'll learn how he attained spiritual strength to be victorious. God wants you and me to be victorious.
1. Far from home, in a foreign land, subject to pressures caused by mental manipulation, Daniel triumphed. He triumphed over the enemy's temptations. You can also triumph!
C. Daniel, chapter 1, introduces the theme of the entire book: A great conflict between good and evil. He shows God's divine power in an uncommon manner. God is never surprised. He is never caught unprepared. His plans triumph even in situations that seem to be completely unfavorable.
I. FAR FROM HOME
A. The first verse in Daniel starts with a great conflict in the Middle East. Two nations were involved: on one side, Babylon; on the other side, Judah.
1. In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, fiercely attacked Jerusalem. These two cities represented two lifestyles, two ideologies, two philosophies.
2. Babylon was the center of the rebellion against the true God. It represented apostasy and a false religious system basedon the worship of idols in opposition to God's law.
3. Jerusalem, the city of Daniel, represents loyalty, faithfulness, and fidelity. It represented worship and obedience to the true God.
B. In the first verse of the book of Daniel, this conflict between the forces of good and evil is introduced—the great conflict between good and evil that started in Heaven (Rev. 12:7-9) and continues on Earth.
1. Just like Daniel and his friends, we live inside this same great conflict between good and evil.
C. Captive hostages Something very sad happened: Some people in Jerusalem were taken hostage to Babylon. There was nothing more cruel to a person than to have his/her freedom taken away.
1. Daniel was a teenager when he was taken as a slave. He was sent far from home, far from his family, to a foreign country in all senses. The food was different, the language was different, .the habits, the religion—everything was different.
2. He felt lost in that situation. He must have been afraid and he probably cried, missing the loved ones at home.
3. Sin has also separated us from God. Like Daniel, we live in a world that is not our home. Satan kept us hostage. Sin has enslaved people and taken from them one of the most beautiful things God had given them: freedom.
D. The Hebrew young men whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into captivity were special (read Dan. 1:3, 4): noble young men, without blemish, skillful in all wisdom.
1.Nebuchadnezzar had made provisions to change their identities (read Dan. 1:6, 7). The king intended to change their characters and personalities.
2. Nebuchadnezzar began a selective process of "brain washing," changing the names of the Hebrew young man to names that represented Babylonian pagan gods. Thus, he wished to destroy their previous identities.
II. CLOSE TO GOD
A. Daniel made a decision that changed the course of his life. (Read Dan. 1:8).
1. The word "resolve" means "to determine" or "to decide." The power that reigns inside our minds is our will. When we choose to do what's right, God gives us moral power so we may choose between good and evil.
2. The Holy Spirit guides us to make the best choices and, when we decide, He gives us power to accomplish it.
B. Even far from home, Daniel remained close to God. He decided that it didn't matter what happened to him—he would be with God. This made the difference in the life of Daniel and will make a difference in your life also.
1. Daniel chose not to get contaminated. (See Dan. 1:12).
2. Daniel's faith led him to reason that God would honor his choice. He knew God would never disappoint him.
C. Miraculous results happened:
1. Physical results (Dan. 1:15)—Their appearance was better.
2. Mental results (Dan. 1:17)—God gave them learning and skill in all letters and wisdom.
3. Political results (Dan. 1:19, 20)—They stood before the king.
4. They were found ten times wiser than everyone else
Daniel's faithfulness to God brought him blessings. When we make the right decisions, when we do what's right because it is right, we may also expect abundant spiritual blessings from a loving heavenly Father.
Contributed by the South American Division Ministerial Association