‘To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.’—Daniel 1:17, 20
Read Daniel 1:1-21
Throughout history, children and young people have been instrumental in launching social movements against injustice. Young people were pivotal in the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., the end of apartheid in South Africa, the student protests in Tiananmen Square and the Freedom Rides here in Australia. Young people across the world have spoken up for centuries when they see that something is not right. With youth, comes a clarity about right and wrong that can become muddied as we age.
Young And Principled
Daniel, growing up under a foreign and oppressive regime but having found favour with those in power, had every opportunity to choose a ‘safe’ path for his own life. He could have ‘towed the party line’, kept a low profile and lived his life in comfort. But even as a young man, in his late teens/early twenties, Daniel chose faithfulness to God’s commands.
The king was looking for recruits from the Israelites to become disciples of Babylon. They’d be trained in Babylonian language and literature, ready to serve the king however he required. Daniel could have sidled up to power and gained personal wealth and fame. But he chose the God of Israel. And God was faithful. To him and his friends God gave supernatural wisdom and knowledge so that they stood out to the king above their peers.
A Courageous Life
We know, if we read on in Daniel’s story, that this is not the last time he required courage to stand up for what he believed. And it’s not the last time God showed himself faithful. Daniel aligned himself with God’s kingdom even when it stood in opposition to the kingdom of this world.
Daniel’s story assures all of us that when we speak out on behalf of the oppressed and marginalised, we are aligning ourselves with God’s values of peace, and justice for all.
Pointing To The Promise
Daniel’s commitment to God’s decrees and the favour that came from his faithfulness and integrity demonstrate that, even in exile, God was faithful to Israel. Daniel maintained hope and knew that one day, God’s promised kingdom would come, and his people would be redeemed. His story reminds us that no matter how the rulers of the time behave, our hope is in Jesus and in his kingdom that endures through persecution and injustice.
- Why were Daniel and his friends taken into the king’s palace?
- How did Daniel stay faithful to God’s commands, and not yield to the unjust laws of the lands?
- How do today’s young people challenge you to face injustice?
God of history, we look to you in the face of global injustice and oppression. We thank you for courageous young people who choose to stay faithful to your kingdom values. Help us stand alongside them and pursue your justice for all. Amen.