My group has starting looking at Daniel - a pretty incredible man......
Daniel was probably born in the midst of a national revival. King Josiah had worked hard on radically changing the religious landscape of Israel. Josiah rebuilt the temple, tore down idols that his father and grandfather and the nation had worshiped, celebrated the Passover like it had not been celebrated in a while and generally was passionately attempting to obey the law of God. God was pleased with his actions.
Then the bottom fell out. Egypt attacked and conquered Israel (they were kind of provoked by Josiah) and made them pay tribute to them. Josiah died and his son became king - for three months. The new king did not follow God, but instead worship idols. After three years, Nebuchadnezzar pushed Egypt back to its borders and overran Israel. After a siege, Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and deported the best and brightest of the nation - including Daniel and his friends.
I wonder what Daniel was thinking as he was being taken to Babylon. He was never going to see his mom or dad, his brother ans sisters, his homeland again. Was he grieving over the loss of life as he knew it or worrying about what his life in a strange country would be like; under the thumb of a conqueror. What would you be thinking or feeling? I probably would be asking "why God? Why did you allow Babylon to capture us? We were obedient to you. Josiah sought you with all his heart; he cleansed the land; WE worshiped you. Why have you abandoned us? This just isn't fair; we worship you and you reward us like this?"
Well......that is not what Daniel did. He responded in faith and obedience to God. Daniel 1:8 records that he "resolved in his heart" to not violate directions from God. He resolved not to eat the provisions of the king. We are not told why, but we do know that whatever it was, it would "defile" him (was it pork or some other forbidden meat?????). He did not abandon his faith in God even after being deported. He did not give up on God, even in the midst of outwardly seemingly horrible circumstances. He RESOLVED to live an obedient life, believing that it was the path to blessing: even when there was proof to the contrary.
Now there is a challenge!!! Live a life of obedience to God, even when everything around you is telling you that it is not worth it. I guess you could say that what Daniel did DEFINES faith - obeying even when you don't think or feel that it is going to be worth it.
Because I know the rest of the story, I know that Daniel lived in the place of blessing. I need to follow Daniel and live in the place of obedience, in the place of blessing.