R. Loren Sandford
Adapted from a chapter in
The Prophetic Church: Wielding the Power to Change the World
I Peter 2:9 teaches that we have been called as a people to be a royal priesthood dedicated to proclaiming the wonders of God. This means every believer is called to be a “pastor”. God makes a pastor responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of those under his or her care and influence. If, therefore, we as a people have been called as priests (pastors) then each of us bears responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of those among whom we have been deployed, no matter what sphere of life we inhabit. Both Daniel and Joseph serve as models on the same pattern of development, but in this article I will address only Daniel.
Four stages of anointing in Daniel
In Daniel’s day, Israel had been destroyed by Babylon and the people had been deported to live in exile under a foreign and godless government. Cut off from his homeland, therefore, and trapped in a place of foreign language and customs, Daniel could easily have assumed the role of a persecuted minority and acted in weakness and bitterness. Instead he chose a path of honor and servanthood that led to a significant prophetic impact on a foreign king, his government and an entire nation.
Stage one: Captivity and/or persecution
The first stage of the Daniel–Joseph anointing is captivity and/or persecution. While Daniel was yet a young man the Babylonian king began a policy of systematic suppression of both his faith and his identity. For Daniel this took the form of an assault on his culture and his heritage as a Jewish man dedicated to obedience to God.
Daniel 1:3-4, “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.” Daniel found himself conscripted into a program in which it became fundamentally illegal to live as a Jew. But he possessed wisdom, spiritual gifts and essential knowledge of which the king would later desire to avail himself.
As the training began, “The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego” (Daniel 1:5-7). Intending to erase their Jewish identity and mold them as servants of the governmental system of the empire, the king deprived them even of their Jewish names and sought to immerse them in the culture and religion of the Chaldeans.
Verse 8, “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” Jews practiced dietary laws handed down in the Torah, but now the king ordered Daniel and his friends to compromise those laws. The issue was never about food, but rather religion and loyalty to the one true God.
Daniel therefore stood his ground, appealed for an exemption and proved that abiding by the law of God produces a better result. The anointing, power and position in which he would later walk depended on how he responded to persecution.
Stage two: Servant heart and gifting
Stage two of the Daniel-Joseph anointing is development of a servant heart, even toward his governmental oppressor, together with the spiritual gifting to make the servant heart effective. The time came when the king had a dream that neither he nor his wisest counselors could interpret. Furious, the king ordered the execution of all his wise men for their failure. Had he not chosen to assert himself in the king’s service, Daniel would have been among the slain.
Verses 2:13-16 begin the story, “So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them. Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; he said to Arioch, the king’s commander, ‘For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?’ Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter.” Daniel then requested that the king would give him time in order that he might declare the interpretation.
Daniel and his friends immediately turned to prayer – not prayer against the king, but prayer for favor that they would be able to serve the king and interpret the dream. When the pressure of persecution comes to bear through whatever authority structure you must live under, never simply surrender. Pray, not for judgement, but for revelation and wisdom that you might demonstrate the power of your God for the good of those who do not yet know Him. In response to their fervent prayers, verse 19 says that God revealed the dream to Daniel in a night vision. He shared it with the king and delivered himself and the king’s men from death.
Today Christians are increasingly thrust into positions in which we are told to suppress our Christian identity and compromise our moral commitments. This constitutes captivity because each of us must work in order to support ourselves and because we cannot escape this world in which we live. It is persecution because it threatens economic or other forms of harm just for living out our identity in the Lord.
In response to this kind of threat Daniel stood his ground and turned to the wisdom God had given him. He used his prophetic gift of dream interpretation to serve the king and so gained favor.
When he came to the king with the answer to the riddle of the dream, notice that Daniel clearly stated where his answers came from. Never did he compromise his identity as a believer or surrender his obligation to let others know that the God he served was the source of his wisdom. Daniel 2:27, “Daniel answered before the king and said, ‘As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.’”
Stage three: Favor and position
Daniel 2:46-49 reads, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. The king answered Daniel and said, ‘Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.’ Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.”
Stage four: Release and exaltation
Following Daniel’s deliverance from the lion’s den, the king made a proclamation, Daniel 6:26-27, “’I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.’ So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (Daniel 6:26-27). Daniel won not only his own life, but also honor and glory for the God he served. Granted favor and position, he remained a chief advisor through the reign of three kings, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius and Cyrus.
This is the way of the Christian in a hostile world, even in a world more hostile than ours. This is how believers succeed and advance in life. More importantly, this is how believers rise to exert influence over governments and ungodly authorities. We can opt to compromise and remain insignificant. We can become vocal critics, spewing harshness, condemnation and judgment, or we can decide to become servants, even to unrighteous kings, employing all our wisdom and spiritual gifts while declaring who we are and whom we serve. Choose the latter and we will ultimately see ourselves favored, sought after and finally released into higher position.