I am two weeks into Beth Moore’s twelve week Bible study on Daniel. So far, it is absolutely spectacular!
Maybe it is the history teacher in me, but I am loving the amount of historical information that she includes regarding the Babylonian and Israelite nations. One of the historical facts that has struck me this week was that most historians believe that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) were likely 15 years old when they were taken from Israel and placed in King Nebuchadnezzer’s palace to be trained in the Babylonian ways. Only 15 years old! I had always pictured them being men at this point, but due to the relevance of why they were there (Nebuchadnezzer wanted to indoctrinate them at a young age to make them loyal to the Babylonian crown), it makes sense that they were that young.
That lead me to thinking- would I have been as brave or as resolute in my convictions at my present age of 29, much less 15? I would like to think I would be, but it does make me sit and wonder. If I want to be a Daniel, how do I cultivate my personal integrity in every situation at all times, regardless of my mental, emotional, or physical state? These is a question I continue to mull over in my head.
I also got to thinking about what type of parents must have raised these young men, that at 15 they would be courageous and so mindful of God’s ways that they would dare stand up to the ruler who just conquered their nation? I can’t help but think that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s parents must have been people who modeled the need for integrity in a fallen world, who stood for God’s ways even when it was unpopular, and who taught their sons what Scripture says beyond just the feel good stories of Moses parting the Red Sea or Noah’s ark.
“Teenagers” or the concept of adolescence is actually a pretty new phenomenon and mostly found in Western cultures. In previous generations children went directly to being considered adults without a middle stopping ground of being a “tween” or “teen”. We expect our teens to mess up, to be irresponsible or uninterested in spiritual matters. That wasn’t so for Daniel’s or his friends’ parents. They expected their sons to know who they were, where they came from, who God was and is, and how to live to please God. And please God they did- tremendously! I want my boys to be young men and adults who will please God. Nothing makes me worry more than thinking of those Christian kids who I taught at a Christian school, raised in Christian homes, who are no longer living for God. As I continue to muddle through this study, I want to soak up even more of how to be wise in raising my boys so that they will be Daniels in the midst of a Babylonian world that hyper-focuses on youth, money and intelligence. And prayer…lots of prayer.