THE GOD OF DANIEL: THE MOST HIGH
Daniel Chapters 1-12
Key Verse: 4:17
“The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.”
We are living in the information age. We are bombarded every day with bits and pieces of news about many different topics. Furthermore, we live in a multi-cultural society in which tolerance of others is necessary and highly valued. In this social milieu it is easy to be confused about who we are. When we don’t know who we are, we cannot know what our life direction and purpose should be. At the root, this is an “identity crisis.” How can we find our identity? First of all, we need to know who God is. Calvin, in his book, “Institutes of the Christian Religion” said, “The knowledge of God and that of ourselves are connected…Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.” In the book of Daniel, we find the man Daniel, who was faced the task of keeping his identity in the land of Babylon. Babylon was the world power nation of the times and known to be a melting pot which assimilated many different cultures and religions. In that respect it is very similar to our nation and our generation. Yet Daniel was not assimilated into that culture. Rather, he found his own identity in God and became a world changer. Through the study of Daniel, let’s come to know who God is, who we are, so that we may be world changers in our times.
First, Daniel’s resolution of faith (Chapter 1)
Daniel chapter 1, verses 1 and 2 describe the times in which Daniel was taken captive and deported to Babylon. At this time the Babylonian Empire had defeated the Assyrian Empire and become the emergent superpower. Jehoiakim king of Judah didn’t understand the tide of these times and went to Egypt for aid, rebelling against Babylon. Because of this king Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem in 605 B.C., at which time Daniel and his three friends were captured and deported (2Ki 24:1). This was the first Babylonian exile. By 586 B.C. during Zedekiah’s reign, the Southern kingdom of Judah had completely collapsed after the second and third exiles (2Ki 24:8-20; 2Ki 25:1-7). God had handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar because of their sins of idolatry (1:3; 2Ch 36:14-17). When he was a young man, Daniel’s nation had met with national crisis. The holy city Jerusalem was ruined and the articles of the temple taken to Babylon and kept as treasure in the temple of idols. The unthinkable had happened. It was a great shock to the Jews who believed that the temple could save them from enemies, despite their immorality and corruption. The Jews might have complained against God and doubted his power, love and even his existence.
At the same time Daniel was taken up in this national crisis, he faced a crisis of identity. Daniel was forced to leave his country, family, and friends to go to a foreign land. However, Nebuchadnezzar was a wise conqueror and chose the best and brightest, and took them to be trained for future service to the Babylonian Empire. As a first measure he gave them Babylonian names. Daniel (whose name means “God is my Judge”) was named ‘Belteshezzar’, meaning “Beltis protect the king!” Daniel’s three friends’ names relating to God were replaced with names relating to Babylonian gods. On top of this they were made to study the language and literature of the Babylonians (or Chaldeans); for three years even their diet was to be food and wine chosen by the king from his own table. These measures were designed to dispirit and assimilate them as Babylonians. From a human standpoint, this was a great, exclusive privilege. Though brought in as captives, they met no whip, hard labor, or discrimination. Instead they were chosen scholars in the royal court who could eat gourmet delicacies of the palace and study the literature and science of an advanced superpower. Later they could have lucrative careers and bright futures as secretaries and members of the king’s personal cabinet and committees. They could have worldly power, fame, and wealth, obtain beautiful wives, buy luxury cars and mansions, and enjoy the good life in a highly developed nation.
But in this lies a great danger. The special privileges would erode their identity as God’s chosen people, and they could easily lose their faith. Keeping our faith is much more difficult in times of prosperity than in times of persecution. An empty stomach humbles us and makes us face the reality of life so that we may seek God earnestly. But a full stomach makes us easily become proud and corrupt, and forget about God. Most smart people in this situation would become opportunistic, and compromise, and their selfish tendencies would blind them spiritually. From the outset, Daniel faced the identity crisis, “do I live as a man of God, or as a man of Babylon?” There seemed to be no indisputable reason for Daniel to live as a man of God. He could easily have believed it was foolish to live by faith when God had abandoned him and his people. He should have thought it was wise to acclimate himself to Babylonian life. In this national crisis and identity crisis, what did Daniel do?
Let’s read verse 8. “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” In those times, the king’s food and wine were associated with idols so that eating them would weigh on Daniel’s conscience. But from the start of his life in a pagan culture Daniel resolved not to defile himself. He could have made no such resolve and lived by fitting in. Rather by resolving himself, he met with much suffering. He could have done this by keeping the Sabbath or wearing special clothing, such as a yarmulke. These would have been highly visible and could have offended others. Instead he chose to refuse the royal food and eat only vegetables. Refusing food from the king’s table was a dangerous matter. To refuse the king’s favor brought his allegiance into question, and all his privileges, not to mention his life, might have been taken away. His colleagues would desert him, and life would be hard. Yet Daniel resolved not to defile himself no matter what the cost, even if it meant his life. He resolved to live by faith with a clear identity as a man of God. This resolution was not difficult to keep or so large in scope. It was a small decision, something he could keep.
Daniel’s resolution seems insignificant. However, in God’s eye’s his decision was huge. God accepted it and raised him up as a man of God. It became the seedpod that God could use. God blessed Daniel’s faith and caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel and his friends, and at the end of ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food (9-16). And in every matter of wisdom and understanding the king found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom, and Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds (17-20). Daniel’s resolution wasn’t much, but it greatly influenced his life from that point on. With this resolution he won over his circumstance, over himself, and over his generation. With this decision, his faith took root like a seed planted in the soil. (Picture 1)
Second, Daniel’s Courage of faith and Coworkers of faith (Chapters 2-3)
Chapter 2 tells us how Daniel overcame a crisis of imminent death that he, his friends, and all of the Babylonian wise men faced. In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. He was so troubled that he couldn’t recall all of his dream. So he called in the magicians, enchanters, and sorcerers and was going to tell them his dream and get an interpretation. Immediately the astrologers answered that if the king told them his dream, they would interpret it. But the king was stubborn and suspicious of them and wouldn’t tell them the dream. The astrologers were taken aback and said, “No one can reveal it to the king except the gods.” The king was furious and ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. This decree meant the death of Daniel and his friends as well. What did Daniel do in the face of this crisis?
Daniel must have been gripped with the fear of death when he heard this decree. But Daniel overcame fear by faith. When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” (14-15) At his humility and tactful words, the toughened commander, far from arresting him, explained everything. Daniel then asked for audience with the king. In this situation, condemnation had been decreed, and it seemed impossible to cool the king’s furious anger. Still, Daniel went to meet the king by faith. Daniel had the courage of faith. He asked for a little time that he might interpret the king’s dream. How could Daniel have made such a rash promise? It was because he believed that God would certainly help him. He also urged his friends to plead for mercy from the God of heaven (2:17-18). He overcame fear by faith and turned the hopeless crisis situation around with prayer.
Daniel didn’t pray alone in the face of imminent death. Though Daniel had strong personal faith, he sought his coworkers of faith and requested that they pray. Daniel had coworkers to whom he could open his heart, and with whom he could pray in times of crisis. In chapter 3 we see that they also had the courage of faith, uncompromising in the face of imminent death. They had clear identity as men of God. God became the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and rescued them from the blazing furnace so that not a hair of their heads was singed.
If we want to live a victorious life in this world, we need coworkers of faith of the same heart and mind. Surveying leaders who have finished well, we see that they all had coworkers of faith who worked alongside them and helped. The Christian life is not done alone but together—without co-workers of faith, we cannot be victorious. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tell us the importance of co-working: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Our coworkers of faith may be shepherds above us, younger believers below us, and colleagues beside us—they come in many shapes and sizes. But coworkers of faith do not just appear—we must make them. We should regard them as most precious spiritual blessings and work to cultivate our relationships with them. Becoming coworkers of faith requires sincerity and faithfulness between us. It requires us to trust and depend on one another in God. If one party cannot depend on or trust the other, and they become unfaithful to the other, they cannot develop a co-worker relationship. If we want to become true coworkers, we have to trust, respect, and value each other. We must deeply care for and pray for each other. We should be ready to sacrifice anything for the coworker’s need, and be willing to serve them.
Who is the God whom Daniel believed and prayed to? In the text, ‘God of heaven’ appears five times (2:18,19,28,37,44). What does this tell us about God? The God of heaven transcends all creation as the Creator God above. He rules the universe as the absolute Sovereign God. The God of heaven knows all things and can do all things, and is present everywhere. The God of heaven is the true God among gods. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus addressed God as “Our Father in heaven” (Mt 6:9). The God of heaven hears our prayers and helps us. He walks with us in times of trouble, comforts us, and speaks to us. Daniel believed and prayed to this God. God accepted Daniel’s prayer, and revealed to him the mystery in a vision. Through this experience, Daniel’s faith laid roots and budded, growing like a tree. (Picture 2)
Third, Daniel’s Courage for the Truth and Shepherd’s Heart (Chapters 4-5)
In Chapters 4 and 5 Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream and king Belshazzar’s dream (4:19-27, 5:17-28). Monarchs in those times were cruel and ruthless. King Nebuchadnezzar was so terrible that when the wise men couldn’t describe the king’s dream, he was going to have them cut into pieces and their houses turned into piles of rubble. Those who stood before him were paralyzed and couldn’t speak. Yet Daniel’s interpretation was not positive, but a message warning of death and judgment. Should he interpret it as it is? Or should he interpret as he thought appropriate to the situation? This was the decision crisis he faced. The question of how he should interpret was entirely up to his freedom of choice. He could speak the truth, or words of compromise. Speaking the truth would bring hatred and death; compromising would assuage the king’s temper, and bring him favor, riches, and honor. But Daniel spoke the truth as it was and did not compromise. He didn’t adapt truth to the situation but adapted the situation to truth. Daniel had true courage for the truth.
Daniel also had a shepherd’s heart for king Nebuchadnezzar and king Belshazzar. When Daniel stood before them to interpret their dreams, he was first a shepherd to his sheep, rather than a subject to his king. Because he pitied their souls and had a shepherd’s heart for them he spoke the clear message, “Renounce your sins by doing what is right” (4:27). Because he believed God’s righteous judgment, he could boldly deliver the message of judgment without compromise.
How could Daniel deliver messages of judgment to kings? It was because he knew who God was. Who then was the God Daniel believed? In chapters 4 and 5 the words ‘the Most High’ are repeated eight times (4:2,17,24,25,32,34; 5:18,21) and in chapter 7 five times (7:18,22,252,27), for a total of 13 times. He believed that God is Sovereign and rules everything according to his will. He could speak the truth boldly because he believed that God ruled his life, the king’s life, and his nation’s fate. Through this, Daniel’s faith matured and spread its roots deeper. (Picture 3)
In between chapters 4 and 5 is a period of at least 23 years. Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C. and Babylonian history was rife with murder, conspiracy, and civil conflicts and factions; in 539 B.C., King Belshazzar’s third year, Babylon fell to the joint forces of the Medes and Persians. For 23 years Daniel lived without a job, forgotten. He had to live a lonely life in a foreign country. Going from official position to no work would make it easy for him to lose his mind, fall into depression, and lose his spirit.
Most people meet with two or three crises in their lifetimes. These may come as disease, a tragic accident, losing a job, or bankruptcy. They may come through conflicts with those we love—our spouses and children. Crisis may come to those doing the work of God, because of mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion. Or we may be tempted to give in to financial stress, or lustful desires. When such crises come, we seem to be trapped in a dark and endless tunnel. Anxiety and fear takes hold, and we wonder what will become of our lives and our futures. But just such crises become golden opportunities to meet God very personally. Crises show us that we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it—they show us who we really are before God. Crises can render us useless. Or, they can send us into a world of God’s spiritual truth. Which direction we take depends on our attitude toward God. When we go through crises, we can doubt God’s love, fall into disbelief, and stray from God. Or through them we can come to realize God’s high-level love, and come to depend on Him and grow closer to Him. It would have been easy for Daniel, during 23 years of isolation, to fall into loneliness, sorrow, despair, resignation and depression. But after 23 years Daniel was still just as full of spirit as before. (Picture 4) Even in his old age his mind was alert, and he had so distinguished himself among the other satraps and administrators. How could Daniel have overcome loneliness and kept up his spirit? It was because he deeply loved God, loved God’s Word, and struggled to pray and walk with God. We see this in chapter 6.
Fourth, Daniel’s Prayer Life (Chapter 6)
In chapter 6, Daniel met the greatest crisis of his life. Daniel had become an old man. The Babylonian Empire had fallen to the Mede and Persian Empire. And during this time Daniel’s faith grew deeper. His faith had grown into a giant tree with deep roots during the challenges of life in a pagan culture. At this point, Daniel faced the crisis of death and crisis of faith: would he keep his faith and lose his life in the lion’s den, or compromise his faith and save his life? These crises would test whether his faith could be kept no matter the circumstances.
At this time the Babylonian Empire had fallen and Darius the Mede had gained power. Darius had appointed 120 satraps throughout the kingdom, and divided it into provinces that he might rule it more effectively. He also raised three administrators over the satraps, among whom Daniel was the highest. With the shift in power, Daniel could have lost everything. But Daniel was instead appointed to the highest position in the kingdom. Why? It was because he was a man of morality, honesty, and had God-given, exceptional administration abilities. Daniel advanced in years, but his heart never grew old. He was so brilliant with the knowledge and understanding God had given him that the other two young administrators didn’t compare. Daniel was full of God’s Holy Spirit and so his spirit overflowed. And this was the Daniel King Darius loved. In their envy, the satraps and administrators conspired to remove Daniel. They tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but were unsuccessful. There is a saying: that no matter who you hit, dust will fly. But no matter how they hit Daniel, no dust fell. Daniel was trustworthy, and neither corrupt nor negligent. It’s easy for us to claim we’re doing the work of God and neglect our duties in the world. But Daniel was trustworthy in every affair and so faithful to a fault. This was because he did not work selfishly or work to please people, but worked for the glory of God and worked faithfully before God. He was loyal and faithful, responsible and just. These qualities came from his reverent faith in God.
The satraps and administrators finally decided to find a basis for charges against Daniel having to do with the law of his God. They had seen how Daniel would pray to his God three times a day without fail. So they conspired to ruin him with a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man during the next thirty day period would be thrown into the lion’s den. They were using the king to put a prohibitory decree in writing that could not be changed, by the regulations of Mede and Persian law. Darius, meanwhile, was delighted that he would be worshipped. He needed to bolster his image and power, since he had only recently taken the throne. He was thrilled that his subjects wanted to set him high on the throne. So he fell into his advisors’ trap and put the decree in writing. At this, what did Daniel do?
Let’s read verse 10. “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” The phrase, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published” tells us that Daniel knew that the written royal decree could not be repealed. He also knew that the decree was aimed at him. He knew his enemies’ plot. He knew well the consequence of violating this decree. Knowing all this, what could he do? He could go to the king and argue that the decree was invalid because the king himself hadn’t written it; rather it was made by his jealous enemies. Or, because the decree was only in effect 30 days, he could pray secretly in a back room, just like the Scriptures encourage. He could have requested leave to another country. In short, if Daniel really wanted to escape this decree, he could have. By making a compromise, he could have saved himself. But he could no longer be called a man of faith. And this was what his enemies wanted. Truly, Daniel faced both a crisis of death, and a crisis of faith.
If Daniel violated the decree, what would happen? First, his position as administrator would be forfeit. An administrator in those times carried unsurpassed power and authority. Daniel knew it was his position that gave his friends positions as governors and his people honor and protection in Babylon. For the sake of his people alone, Daniel could not lose his position as administrator. In spite of this, Daniel prayed just as he had done before. Daniel valued his faith more than his power. If Daniel violated the royal decree, he would lose his precious life. Nevertheless, he prayed just as he had done before. Daniel valued his faith more than his life.
How could Daniel overcome this crisis situation? Look at verse 10 again: “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Here we learn some characteristics of prayer from Daniel. First of all, prayer is submission to God. This is why he got down on his knees before God. Prayer is not just talking to God. The basic attitude of prayer is to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over my life and all things. Though Jesus wanted to avoid the cup of suffering, he submitted himself to God, saying, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Lk 22:41-42). Secondly, prayer is done persistently, faithfully and steadily in all circumstance. The words, ‘just as he had done before’ tell us about this. Israel had lost national sovereignty and the people were exiles because of their sins. The temple had been devastated, and after three deportations all the young and strong had been taken to Babylon, where they lost their dignity and pride as the chosen people of God. In this hopeless situation, prayer might seem to make no difference. But even in this situation, Daniel prayed continually and relied on God’s mercy and compassion. He didn’t pray just one or two days. From his capture as a young man until his eighties he had steadily prayed—about 70 years. This is impossible without faith. Daniel believed in the Almighty God. He believed in the Most High God who is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes. He believed in the Most High God and prayed, not allowing himself to be discouraged. Why did Daniel pray three times a day? It was to maintain his spiritual life. He loved prayer and regarded it as his most precious lifeline. As his life was in danger, he had to pray without stopping. This is because the spiritual life is more important than natural life.
Thirdly, prayer includes thanksgiving. Verse 10b says, “…he prayed giving thanks to his God.” Here we are surprised at Daniel’s great faith. He had such faith in God that he gave thanks in all circumstances. In his present circumstances he should have nothing to be thankful for. Far from giving thanks, he should have complained about the problems he faced when he walked by faith. Amazingly, Daniel gave thanks to God. Daniel believed in his God. In the text, ‘my God’ is repeated many times (10b,16,20,22,23,26). Daniel loved his God wholeheartedly and depended on him completely. Daniel knew well the God whom he trusted. Because of this he could give thanks in all circumstances (1Th 5:18). Through prayer, Daniel overcame himself, his surroundings, and his times, to live victoriously.
The God of Daniel is the Living God. Daniel’s enemies wanted to swallow him up like hungry lions, but even in the lion’s den God protected him, and it was Daniel’s enemies who became lion fodder. This was because Daniel trusted his God. God takes responsibility for and protects those who trust him, and leads them. Through this, Daniel’s tree of faith sent roots deeper, and bore much fruit. Many could find rest in its shade. (Picture 5)
Fifth, Daniel’s Vision (Chapters 7-8, 10-12)
Chapters 7 and 8, and 10-12 tell us about Daniel’s visions. Chapter 7 deals with Daniel’s vision in the first year of King Belshazzar, and chapter 8 the vision he had in Belshazzar’s third year. During that time Daniel was vulnerable to depression because he was unemployed and estranged from public office. Yet it was then that he saw a great vision. (Chapter 7 tells us God’s revelation of the fate of ten worldly kingdoms and the coming of one like the son of man who will judge the kingdoms and give an eternal kingdom to the saints—the final victorious outcome. Chapter 8 is a vision of the small horn, and its increase, a description of the antichrist, and demonstrates that no matter how powerful the antichrist becomes, he will be defeated in the end. Chapters 10-12 are a vision seen in the third year of king Cyrus of Persia. In chapter 10 Daniel had a vision of the glorious appearance of a man, and chapter 11 deals with the close of world history when earthly kingdoms will rise and fall, Christ will come again, and God’s kingdom will be established forever. Chapter 12 concludes the revelation telling us that the last day will come. In the last day, people will be divided into those who wake to everlasting life, and those who wake to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever.) The vision is mainly about the future coming of the Jesus the Son of Man and his rule of the eternal kingdom of God.
Looking at Daniel with human eyes, he was an 80 plus year-old prisoner of war. Since he was taken captive as a young man, most of his life had been spent in a foreign land in loneliness and sadness; he should have groaned with remorse. But Daniel was full of spirit like a young man. He lived in a world full of trouble, but he transcended the world and tasted the joy of the spiritual world. In those times most people were caught up in day to day life, their heads in the ground, unable to see an inch in front of them; Daniel the man of God was different. He looked to God in hopeless situations and loved God the most. When he loved God, God loved him the most and esteemed him highly (9:23; 10:11,19). God gave him spiritual discernment to understand world history, and deep spiritual insight into the world of God’s mysteries. God gave him a taste of the joy of heaven, that can’t be found anywhere in the world.
Sixth, Daniel’s Personal Bible Study (Chapter 9)
In chapter 9, in the events of Darius’ first year, Daniel was selected as chief administrator and he became extremely busy. It was during this time, through the study of Jeremiah, he understood that after 70 years Israel would be liberated and that this day was coming. So Daniel fasted and interceded in prayer for his people. Here we learn what Daniel did in all circumstances, without ceasing. He studied the Bible and prayed. What Daniel came to understand from the Scriptures in Jeremiah didn’t just come to him one day as he leafed through his Bible. He came to understand it after lifelong, regular Bible study, through which inspiration came from above. Daniel could make his resolution of faith as a young man, facing national and identity crises because his Bible study had laid a foundation of faith. The secret of how Daniel could overcome loneliness and unemployment for 23 years and live a spirit-filled life is also his faithful Bible study and prayer. As the work piled up for the number one administrator of the greatest empire on earth, he still made time for personal Bible study. Daniel studied in his early years, and studied even more in his later years. Daniel’s prayer life and personal Bible study were the most important things he did, no matter the circumstances. He didn’t study out of duty, but put his whole heart into it and studied passionately. He meditated on the word of God until God revealed it to him like a morning star rising in his heart. He loved God’s word and contemplated it day and night. Then the power of worldly anxiety, worry, fear, sadness, and any darkness that weighed on his soul was broken and he was filled with heavenly glory. When he studied the Bible, he was a like tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither (Ps 1:2-3). Whatever he did prospered.
When we look at Daniel’s life thus far, we see that he overcame crises with prayer, and total dependence on God. Crises come in various ways and forms. Crises reveal who we really are. No matter how strong our faith in good times, if we fall in times of crisis, we can’t grow in faith. But if we overcome crises by faith we can mature and grow. Therefore crises are opportunities to develop personally, as well as for us to experience who God is. Daniel’s crises didn’t make him useless; rather they stimulated his faith to grow and send down deeper roots. His faith grew deeper roots and grew to be a great tree bearing much fruit. The reason his faith could grow and develop into such a gigantic tree was because its soil consisted of prayer life and regular personal Bible study. His Bible study and prayer were not visible to others, but they became the power source through which he overcame adversity and lived a victorious life.
Conclusion: The God of Daniel
The book of Daniel is not a biography of Daniel, or a prophecy of the end times, but a book about the God of Daniel. It is easy to think only about Daniel when we study this book. That only troubles us because we think Daniel is Daniel and I’m me—I have nothing in common with Daniel! We have to think not of Daniel but more of the God of Daniel. Daniel could become Daniel because of his God. God became the God of Daniel who revealed himself though Daniel.
A. W. Tozer says, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I have found that what I think about God, my image of God, influences everything that I think and do. Who then was the God Daniel experienced? In chapter 1 when Daniel made his resolution of faith, God gave him knowledge and understanding (1:9,17). In chapter 2 God showed himself to be the God of heaven, who reveals deep and hidden things (2:19,22,28,44,47). In chapter 3 God showed himself the God of Daniel’s three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (3:28,29). In chapters 4,5, and 7 we find “Lord of heaven” (5:23) and especially “the Most High God” (4:2,17,24,25,32,34; 5:18,21; 7:18, 22, 252, 27). In chapter 6 “his God” (6:10), “your God whom you serve continually” (6:16,20), “my God” (6:22), “his God” (6:23), “the God of Daniel” (6:26), “the living God” (6:26), and “he endures forever” (6:26) appear. In chapter 7 “Ancient of Days” (7:13,22) appears, and in chapters 8 and 9 we see “a holy one” (8:132), “the most holy” (9:24), “the Lord God” (9:3,15), and “our God” (9:10,14,17) appear. Among them, “Most High God” is repeated most. In short, the God of Daniel is the “Most High God.” The theme of Daniel is that the Most High God rules everything as he wishes, including the lives of individuals, nations, and world history. Daniel believed and depended on this Most High God.
As we live in modern Babylonian-like culture, from time to time we wonder who we are, and what we’re doing. We easily wander about because we have no identity. We worry about how to raise our disciples and how to rear our children. When the early church was scattered and suffered from identity crisis, the Apostle Peter told them clearly who they were and what they had to do: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1Pe 2:9). Regardless of where we are or what we have done, we are God’s children. We must have a clear identity as God’s children. We need to struggle to meet “my God” in every event and situation that comes as the Most High God whom I serve and believe and depend upon. We must believe that God is sovereign in our lives, and in this world, and all the history of the world, ruling everything according to his will. We must serve him as a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Then our faith can mature and grow into great trees with roots deep in the ground, through all of life’s situations and events, and we can shine like stars for ever and ever. We praise the God of Daniel—my God.