One school sports lesson we played a game of football with ‘reverse captains’, where the two people who were most often chosen last had to pick the teams. So I made my way to the front of the class, head full of questions: “Who do I consider the best player here?”; “Of those who are left, who has attributes that I want on my team?”; “Do I pick someone to prevent the other captain from choosing them?”; “Do I pick my friends, or play to win?”
Because of his unwavering love for his God, his steadfast loyalty to the principles of God’s Law and his integrity in acting in accordance with them in every situation, God was pleased with him and revealed himself to him in dreams and visions.
Daniel was a man specially chosen, but the criteria he was being matched to were somewhat different, as he had to be:
- of the royal family or of the nobility;
- a youth;
- without blemish, of good appearance;
- skillful in all wisdom;
- endowed with knowledge, understanding learning;
- competent to stand in the king’s palace. (Dan. 1:3-6)
Later on, in Daniel 1:18-21, we see that the most important criteria were not those of the young men’s appearances or nobility, but the later ones of wisdom and understanding, in which Daniel and his friends impressed the king greatly.
Beroean’s criteria for choosing Daniel for a character to study were different again. There are few biblical characters that we get to see in ‘ordinary’ settings: many were kings or prophets or had some other exceptional role that makes them noteworthy enough to make it into the Bible.
In contrast, we find Daniel in recognisable, ordinary, settings – in his education, then graduating and working in the civil service. But Daniel was also extraordinary, having a remarkably successful career across multiple administrations in Babylon, even remaining there when the regime change was a violent one. He achieved this prominence as a cultural outsider observing foreign customs, demonstrating just how valuable his skills were.
Yet even through all this, he remained a humble man and so angels addressed him as one ‘greatly loved’ by God (Dan. 10:11). Because of his unwavering love for his God, his steadfast loyalty to the principles of God’s Law and his integrity in acting in accordance with them in every situation, God was pleased with him and revealed himself to him in dreams and visions.
We too, as those saved by Christ Jesus, have been specially chosen and must live accordingly: ‘put on then, as God’s chosen ones…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience’ (Col. 3:12). The other thing we are told to put on is ‘the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator’ (Col. 3:10). In this coming series of Beroean, we will consider the manner in which Daniel lived out these characteristics of compassion, humility and knowledge of God in these recognisable, ‘ordinary’, scenarios. And then let’s put them into practice ourselves so that we, being ordinary, may know the extraordinary joy of what it means to be greatly loved by our God.