Do you remember the first day your child left for school, or you dropped them off at childcare? They were on your mind constantly. It didn’t get any easier when, years later, they left home for college or the military. Still, you worried. You wondered what they were doing. Were they safe? Were they happy or sad? Were they standing up to the lies and temptations confronting them? Were they staying true to Christ?
The parents of Daniel in the Bible had the same concerns. But, instead of waving goodbyes to Daniel heading off to college or the military, their last image of their young teenage son was of him in chains, being led away as a captive of the Babylonian army. I’m sure they wondered whether he’d survive the long march to Babylon. And if he did survive, would he continue to follow God in that pagan city? We know from the book of Daniel that, with God’s help, Daniel did survive and became one of the most influential men of his time.
Daniel is described as being handsome and extraordinarily smart. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, selected him and three of his friends to undertake a rigorous course of study of Babylon’s language and literature for three years. Once completed, those who passed the king’s personal interview were added as advisors in his administration.
Think of the emotional and spiritual pressures facing this young teenager. He was living hundreds of miles from home, exposed to an education system promoting subjects such as sorcery, magic, and astrology, and surrounded by a culture that did not encourage worship of God. With all these pressures, how would he do?
Like Daniel’s parents, many Christian parents worry about the future of their kids when they send them off to college. For many of these teenagers, it’s their first taste of complete independence from mom and dad. They will face temptations of alcohol, drugs, and sex. In addition, their teen will likely face anti-Christian professors who openly mock God and promote evolution. Some Christian young people try to live in both worlds, experimenting with these new temptations while still trying to maintain their faith. Usually the world wins out and they give up their faith. No wonder it is a worrisome time for Christian parents.
From Daniel, we learn the importance of three things:
One, Daniel made his personal choice to follow God BEFORE he was captured and confronted by temptations. Young people also need to make a clear choice for themselves that they will follow God no matter what, and let Him determine what is right and wrong. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Two, we see the importance of being part of a community of believers. Daniel and three friends, who also had been taken captive, encouraged one another to stay true to God as they faced the pagan culture around them. It is imperative that young people going off to college or the military quickly find others who are also devoted to the Lord.
Three, the boys mastered their curriculum, but they did not allow those subjects to affect their worldview. I’m NOT saying that students should never challenge their teachers. NOR am I saying that Christian valedictorians should bow to the state and not mention the Lord. Perhaps if Daniel lived in a free country like America, he would have spoken out more. However, as you read of the years following in various administrations, he was very vocal about God. Wisdom knows when to be outspoken and when to be quiet.
After the 3-year attempt to indoctrinate them, their interview with the king went very well. “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 1:20) God used Daniel and his friends as His witnesses to the king because they remained true to Him.
God will likewise use our children if they will choose to acknowledge Him as Lord of their lives. Let’s pray to that end.