My daily reading recently was in the book of Daniel and something there struck me about him: “Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank” (Dan 1:8a – HCSB). Daniel was a very young man. Some commentators suggest he was no more than 14 years old when he was taken to Babylon and made this decision. What background did Daniel have that he would at such a young age make such a decision? Assuming Daniel was still a teenager, he would have been born in during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah. It would have been a day and age of perceived external holiness, where the king was all for following Yahweh and did all he can to promote that. However, the people and the nobles were still pagan under the thin veneer of Yahwism foisted upon them by their loyalty for their king.
So, who was it that actually affected Daniel? Who was it that imbued in him such a love for the true God that he served the One his life long, beginning at a tender age up into his eighties? Was it his parents or his religious teachers? Might he have spent time with Jeremiah or Josiah himself?
Regardless, we know that God placed someone in Daniel’s path that encouraged him to become an ardent follower of Yahweh. So then comes the question? Am I being such an influence in the lives of those around me? Am I aiming to raise up Daniels in this next generation? Am I praying for and actively seeking out young people and older people whom God may turn into a modern-day Daniel who will move and shake the world? Are you? That is something that everyone who loves God can do, whether a simple farmer or a highly-educated doctor. (And it’s often the simple farmers who are much more effective at this than the doctors.)