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Lessons From Daniel

-Clyde Kilough, Church President

As I write, President-elect Barack Obama, soon to be the most powerful man on earth, is in the process of naming his staff of advisers.

Around 2,600 years ago, in one of history's greatest empires, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon interviewed and appointed a brilliant young Jewish captive to be on his staff. An extraordinary, life-threatening event soon thrust Daniel onto a meteoric rise to power that even the slickest political schemer could never have contrived, resulting in the king making him "ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men" (Daniel 2:48).

Daniel had what could only be called a phenomenal career, surviving everything from a murder conspiracy to several administrations spanning two different empires! He foretold, and survived, one of the most stunning topplings of any government in history-the Persian takeover of Babylon. And incredibly, instead of having him killed or imprisoned, the Persian rulers retained his services!

Daniel advised the kings well, because he knew he was simply the servant of a much higher king-God Almighty! His legacy, therefore, is not found in the politics and policies of the human rulers he served, but in the prophecies and plans of the God whose word he delivered.

Anyone familiar with Daniel only because of his legendary brush with death in the lion's den has missed the most important parts of his story. The account of God delivering him is remarkable indeed, but the prophecies of God delivered through Daniel for us today are truly life-and-death matters!

His writings are partly history and partly prophecy, and we'd do well to learn from both. The prophetic sections are crucial, because they are the headlines of the future. And, yes, it's "good news/bad news."

The good news in Daniel is really good-it's the central prophetic message found throughout the Bible! As Daniel explained it to Nebuchadnezzar while interpreting his troublesome dream, the emerging world-ruling powers through history eventually culminate when "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44). He later added, "The saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever" (Daniel 7:18).

But the bad news is, well, really bad. The world will find itself in an end-time "lions' den" of power-hungry nations bent on war and wickedness, culminating in a terrible time of great trouble "such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time" (Daniel 12:1).

Daniel interpreted for Belshazzar, the last Babylonian king, the "handwriting on the wall." Are any leaders today wise enough to see the similar prophetic signs of the times? Are any willing to humbly seek God's advice and bravely lead their people according to His will?

Will any modern leader like Persia's Darius the Mede arise and, with similar reverence, decree "that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel" (Daniel 6:26)?

Maybe someday we'll see a leader likewise heed Daniel's advice to Nebuchadnezzar to "break off your sins by being righteous . . . Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity" (Daniel 4:27).

Would that we could see another godly adviser like Daniel in government today! In the absence of such a one, though, God has preserved His Word, for anyone who will listen. God told Daniel that at the end "the wise shall understand" (Daniel 12:9-10). You can be among those! GN


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