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A View from the Altar / Daniel: Self-promoter not
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Daniel: Self-promoter not

Michelangelo's Daniel

By any standard, Daniel was a remarkable man of historic stature.  Clearly a man of powerful intellect, he surpassed all the official wise men of Babylon.  God also equipped him with supernatural gifts, revealing dreams as Joseph had done, and later receiving revelation directly from the Lord’s emissaries.  In the secular realm, his rule over the capital province of Babylon and, late in life, governorship over the entire Medo-Persian empire place him in the tiny class of the most influential people in history.  He stood at the right hand of power in two of the empires that ruled most of the known world.

It’s important to understand that this happened to Daniel by divine appointment, not by dint of his personal ambition.   There is not the slightest hint that Daniel ever sought out greatness.   He received a first class Chaldean education by enemy coercion, not by his own ambition.  His first youthful display of meekness and courage was forced upon him; he did not seek it like Steppenwolf lookin’ for adventure.  He did not hang around at Nebuchadnezzar’s court with a gaggle of the king’s lickspittle advisers competing for influence.

God made this man.  The man did not make himself (Ps 100:3).

And so Daniel sought nothing for himself.  He did not dive willingly into Babylon’s shark tank to show us how it’s done.  He went there only because the strange workings of Providence moved him like a checker, hopping over obstacles by the omniscience of the Master.  A self-motivated man could never have become a Daniel.  A man seeking to work himself into a position of power would have eaten the king’s food and explained it as a justifiable necessity thrust upon him against his will.  A self-seeking man would have prayed in secret rather than opening his windows toward Jerusalem.  A shrewd politician would have spoken a bit less reproachfully to the drunken King Belshazzar.  Once promoted, a man seeking personal glory in Babylon would not have promoted three God-fearing but uncredentialed Hebrews as his lieutenants, but would instead have selected rising stars from among Babylon’s prestigious families to be in his orbit.  In smart politics, you help only those who can help you.

Any rational man who had the slightest thought of advancement in the Babylonian system could not have made the decisions Daniel made, could not have said the words Daniel said, could not have done the works of Daniel.  He lived for his God, grasped at nothing for himself, and arrived at his destination by the appointment of the Almighty.  Our Savior said that the one who wishes to be great in God’s kingdom must be a servant, and those who abandon their own lives for the sake of His kingdom will find them.  Daniel is an embodiment of this Christian precept.

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