Sometimes I am jealous of Bible characters. For instance, in Daniel
9, Daniel had been praying and the angel, Gabriel, appears
to him and talks to him about his prayers. In addition to that, in
9:23; 10:11, 19, Gabriel called Daniel a ďman greatly
loved.Ē At times, I wish I could have a personal encounter with
God, Jesus or one of the angels to let me know exactly how I stand
in Godís eyes. I would like to know if I am a man greatly loved
or not. The reality, however, is I do not have to have a personal
encounter. I can know how God feels about me based on what is
revealed in scripture. I can examine a man like Daniel. If I
compare at all to him, I know I too am greatly loved. If I donít
compare, then I have some work to do. Therefore, if we want to be
greatly loved by God, we need to examine Danielís life and see
how ours compares.
This is not unconditional love offered to all, but a
statement of Godís desire for Daniel.
The first problem these verses pose for us is knowing that
God loves everyone unconditionally because He is love (I
John 4:7-8). How can the text say Daniel is greatly loved
as if he is set apart because of something about him? The reason
is the word translated ďloveĒ here is not the one for our
common concept of Godís love.
The Hebrew word most related to our common concept of
Godís love is íahab
(Strongís H157). For instance, consider Deuteronomy
4:37. Another form is íahabah
(Strongís H160). See Deuteronomy
The Hebrew word used in Daniel
9:23; 10:11, 19 is chemdah
(Strongís H2532). Consider a few other usages of this word. I
Samuel 9:20, in which it is translated ďdesirable.Ē II
Chronicles 20:25, in which it is translated
106:24, in which it is translated ďpleasant.Ē
Therefore, we learn, this passage is not about an
expression of the unconditional love God has for all mankind which
caused Him to offer His Son as a sacrifice to save us all. Rather,
it is an expression that Daniel is pleasant and precious to God.
God desires Daniel. This is a statement of Godís acceptance of
Daniel based upon Danielís life and action.
Do you see then what this passage demonstrates? Yes,
Godís love is unconditional. He loves us all no matter what we
have done and sacrificed His Son for us all because of that love.
However, He does not view everyone as pleasant, precious and
desirable. He does not accept everyone. God loves us all with that
unconditional love, but He only blesses with salvation those who
submit to His will and become desirable. This is why we need to
examine Danielís life. Why was he pleasant, precious and
desirable to God?
Chapter 1óDaniel was willing to stand out in order to
We know the story. In Daniel
1, Daniel had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and
carted thousands of miles away from his home. His name was changed
and he did nothing. He was enrolled in Babylonian education and he
let that slide. However, when it came lunch time, they wanted him
to eat food that was unlawful. He refused (Daniel
His refusal was dangerous for him and even for the eunuch
who had shown him so much kindness (vs.
10). However, Daniel and his three friends insisted.
Daniel developed a ten day test and the eunuch agreed (vss.
12-13). We already know how the story ended. Daniel and
his three friends looked better than all the other captives who
ate the food (vs.
What always catches my attention is all the other captives
who didnít take Danielís stand. Here was Daniel, far from
home, in a strange place, with strange customs. Everyone else was
just going along with the new regime. Four men stood alone against
everyone else. Despite the danger of rebelling against their new
rulerÖ Despite the influence of everyone else who feared rocking
the boat, Daniel and his three friends stood out in order to obey
If we want to be precious, pleasant and desirable to God,
we must be willing to stand out and be different. We must be
willing to obey God no matter what anyone else is doing or what
anyone else threatens. Romans
12:2 says we are not to be like the world, but be
transformed. We are to be different.
Chapter 2óDaniel relied on and confessed God.
2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream he wanted interpreted. Yet
none of his wise men could do so. Finally, in his anger,
Nebuchadnezzar decreed all these wise men should be executed (Daniel
2:12). Daniel did not act out of fear. He did not act
rashly in panic. Rather, he boldly faced the king asking
permission to extend his life for a time and then allow him to
come back with the dream and its interpretation (vss.
Daniel did not return to his house and fret over what they
would do. He did not try to plan an escape so he and his three
friends could get away. Instead, he told his friends to seek mercy
from God (vss.
17-18). Daniel and his friends relied on God to save them,
not on themselves. They did not rely on guesswork or trickery but
on Godís mercy.
Further, when Daniel knew the dream and its interpretation
and came into the kingís presence, when he had every opportunity
to act as though he was somehow special, instead, he told the king
exactly why he knew the dream. He told the king about his God and
how his God had revealed the dream (vss.
None of us has anyone breathing down our necks threatening
to kill us. However, all of us have worries about life. If we want
to be pleasant, precious and desirable to God, we must rely on
6:31-33 says we should not be worried about what we will
eat, drink or wear. Instead we should seek first Godís kingdom
and His righteousness and rely on God to take care of us. Further,
if we want to be pleasant, precious and desirable to God, we must
confess Him before others. Matthew
10:32-33 says Jesus will only confess us before His Father
if we confess Him to others. We need to tell others what God has
done and acknowledge Him in all our ways, especially regarding
Chapter 4óDaniel did not withhold the truth or Godís
4, Nebuchadnezzar had another dream. Once again, none of
the wise men could interpret it. However, Daniel, by the grace of
God, could. Once again, Daniel relied on God. Once again, Daniel
confessed and gave God the glory. However, the important point in
this story is how this dream differed from the first. In the dream
2, Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom were the head of gold.
They were the greatest of kings and kingdoms. It was all good news
about Nebuchadnezzar. This dream was a rebuke and a prophecy of
Nebuchadnezzarís coming punishment. He was proud and had not
acknowledged the working of God. For seven periods of time (we do
not know if this was days, months, seasons, years or a figurative
reference to the fullness of time), Nebuchadnezzar would be as an
animal, roaming the countryside, grazing on the grass.
Specifically notice Danielís response in Daniel
4:19. Daniel didnít like this portent. He certainly
didnít want it to be about Nebuchadnezzar. I think Daniel would
have preferred to say nothing. He would have preferred to gloss
over the whole dream and move on. He didnít want to be the one
to tell Nebuchadnezzar what was coming. Nevertheless, he did (Daniel
4:20-26). Further, he offered a warning showing how
Nebuchadnezzar could avoid the punishment (Daniel
I donít know about you, but I feel this way all the time.
I have friends and family and I donít want to be the one to tell
them of their coming punishments. I donít want to be the one who
rocks the boat and says everything is not alright. I donít want
to be the one to let them know they are in danger of being lost.
Think about how that could negatively impact my relationship with
them. However, if we want to be precious, pleasant and desirable
to God, then we have to be willing to share the truth. We have to
warn others. We have to let them know what God says about their
future. In II
Corinthians 5:11, Paul said we must persuade others
because we know the fear of the Lord. No doubt, we do not have to
be mean and malevolent about this. We do not have to be harsh and
hateful about it. Consider Danielís words. He was tactful and
gentle about it. He was not happy to let Nebuchadnezzar know of
his coming punishment. Yet he did it anyway.
Chapter 5óDaniel chose Godís reward over manís.
5, Nebuchadnezzarís grandson, Belshazzar, was king. In
the midst of a hedonistic party desecrating the utensils of the
Jerusalem temple, a hand appeared and wrote four words on the
wallóMene, Mene, Tekel,
Upharsin. No one could explain the meaning of the words. Once
again, Daniel was called upon to interpret the cryptic message of
However, take special note of Daniel
5:7, 16. Belshazzar offered the highest reward of men to
whoever would interpret this message. Yet, Daniel was not
interested in the rewards offered by men. In Daniel
5:17, he told Belshazzar to keep his gifts and reward
someone else. Daniel was a man of faith. He did not seek material
goods. He sought to obey his God. He was far more concerned about
the rewards of God than the rewards of men.
There is a second aspect to this. Daniel did not view
serving God as a means to material wealth. He was not trying to
keep one foot in heaven and one foot on earth. He would not
interpret the signs for pay. He would interpret the words because
that was the obedient and God honoring thing to do. Yes, I know he
did receive the reward anyway. The point is he did not offer this
interpretation for material prosperity. He did it to honor God.
According to Matthew
6:19-21, we are taught to value the heavenly things that
cannot be destroyed. All of manís rewards fade and wear away. In
6:1, Jesus explained if we are doing our good deeds to be
seen and rewarded by men, God will not reward us. Yes, like
Daniel, when we serve God, we may receive honor and material
blessings from men. However, if that is our goal, we are not
serving God. As Paul said in Colossians
3:2, we must keep our mind set on things above not on the
things below. If we want to be precious, pleasant and desirable to
God, we need to be more interested in Godís rewards than
Chapter 6óDaniel was trustworthy and loyal, both to men
6, the other officials in Dariusís court became jealous.
Daniel stood above them all and he was being honored by Darius for
that. So, the other officials decided to bring Daniel down. At
first, they tried to bring about a scandal (Daniel
6:4). However, they could find no grounds for complaint
against him. They could not find an error where Daniel
purposefully did something wrong. They couldnít even find where
Daniel had been negligent. They wanted to have some kind of legal
proceeding against him, but they simply couldnít. Daniel was
loyal to his boss. He was loyal to his job. He was trustworthy in
his relationships. He was the ideal employee.
However, it didnít stop there. The other officials knew
only one way they could bring Daniel down. Make praying to anyone
other than Darius illegal for an entire month. What I find most
amazing is they knew Daniel would get in trouble. Even Danielís
enemies knew he was so devoted to his God that he would pray to
Jehovah anyway. The text says when Daniel knew about the decree (vs.10),
he prayed anyway. Daniel was loyal to his God. He was a
trustworthy servant who could be expected to obey God above men,
no matter what.
If we want to be pleasant, precious and desirable to God,
we have to be trustworthy and loyal to men and to God. We need to
be people who do all our work as if it is for the Lord, just as
Paul commanded servants to do in Ephesians
6:5-7. Further, we need to be absolutely loyal and
trustworthy to God. No matter what men threaten, we must be
willing to stand up and serve the Lord as the apostles did in Acts
No doubt, Daniel was unconditionally loved by God as are
all men. However, Daniel was precious to God. He was pleasant to
God. He was a man God desired. Therefore, he was a man greatly
loved by God. One of the greatest compliments I believe I have
ever heard is found in Hebrews
11:16. It speaks of the people of faith and says,
ďTherefore God is not ashamed to be called their GodĒ (ESV).
That is what Gabriel was saying about Daniel. God was not ashamed
to be called Danielís God. I want to hear that same compliment
some day. I donít have to have an epiphany with Gabriel. I
simply need to examine men like Daniel and live like them. How do
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