In “Expectation Breakers: Don’t Live by Man’s Expectations,” we discovered that ONLY God can satisfy in a world where expectations made and unfulfilled are normal. Now, we will look at Daniel, who appeared as one thing according to man’s expectations, but was able to do much more, and go higher, because God chose him. Because God knew the perfect expectations to place upon him.
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”—Matthew 19:26 (NKJV)
“Looking straight into their eyes, Jesus replied, ‘Humanly speaking, no one, because no one can save himself. But what seems impossible to you is never impossible to God!’”—Matthew 19:26 (TPT)
Daniel was one of the last generations to live under the rule of a Jewish king. Yet, he himself was still a youth when all that changed. The king of Babylon took the Israelites captive and among them was Daniel, who went from a life where serving the Lord was acceptable—even if not as common as it ought to have been—to one where his choice to serve God was no longer easy, or safe.
When Daniel arrived as a captive in Babylon, the expectations of man surely were not high. He was not a Babylonian by birth, his behaviors and God were different, he was not truly free as he had once been, and despite quite possibly being of wealthy, perhaps even kingly decent in Judah… Daniel, and those with him, no longer held prominence, other than that which the Babylonian king might bestow.
“Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature…”—Daniel 1:3-4
Yet, what man saw and expected of Daniel, and what God and even Daniel saw and expected, varied greatly… even from his first days in Babylon.
Upon being selected as one of the Jewish youth to serve in the king’s palace after a completion of training, Daniel was taken to a certain area where they—and others from other lands—were cared for and taught. Yet, the food given to eat was not in line with what God had told His people to eat… so Daniel, and three of his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—better known by the Babylonian names given them, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego—refused. Now, this refusal could have caused them to be killed, but Daniel and his friends found favor with those in charge of them, and upon proving that they would in no way appear less pleasing than those who ate the king’s food, Daniel and his friends were able to obey God’s ordinances.
“…Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine… Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.
“So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.’ So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
“And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.”—Daniel 1:8-9, 11-15
All this disrupted the expectations of those around them. They did not behave, eat, or pray like Babylonians, and yet, somehow, through it all, God gave them favor and health beyond all the others. However, this was only the beginning…
When the king examined Daniel and his friends at the end of their training, they were found to be TEN TIMES better than ALL of the magicians and astrologers—the wise men—of Babylon in both wisdom and understanding. Yet, this was a small thing in the grand scheme of what God would do through them…
Daniel would come to save not only his own life, but the lives of his friends, and ALL of King Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men, through prayer and his God-given gift of dream interpretation…
When the king would tell no one his dream, yet required an interpretation, Daniel interceded and was granted both the dream itself and the interpretation of it. Upon revealing these to the king, great favor was poured out upon Daniel, which he in turn poured out upon his friends.
“The king answered Daniel, and said, ‘Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.’ Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.”—Daniel 2:47-49
Now all of this, while indeed a great honor, was not the end of Daniel’s journey as an Expectation Breaker. Daniel would continue to serve Nebuchadnezzar, as would his friends—who were cast into a fiery furnace by the king but were saved by their God. Daniel would also interpret another dream God gave to Nebuchadnezzar and ultimately witness the king’s humility and declaration to all the earth, his belief in the Most High God of signs and wonders (see Daniel 4).
Still, in all stages of his captivity, Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar well—never placing any earthly king over God—and was honored over and over again, not merely by this one king, but by many from Babylon, Media, and Persia.
Daniel would, throughout his life, live only for God, and because of that, he was favored and blessed by God. Even when those around Daniel tricked his friend and ruler, Darius, into throwing him into the lion’s den, God intervened. He sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions and allowed the king to send those who had tried to do Daniel harm into the lion’s den themselves.
“…Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.”—Daniel 6:23
In addition to these things God blessed Daniel with dreams and visions… many of which have only begun to come to pass. He saw angels, listened to the voice of God, and is remembered to this day as a man who followed wholly after God.
Was Daniel perfect? No, for ALL sin and ALL fall short of the glory of God—the three-in-one. (See Romans 3 and 1 Timothy 2:5.) Yet, Daniel did his utmost to serve God. He broke the expectations of men and earthly kings again and again, surviving and thriving when he, a captive of the Babylonians, should have been struggling.
In all things Daniel excelled because God was with Him and he was with God… and that is why he is remembered. Because, aside from providing us with prophecies that are relevant to this day, Daniel did not listen to the expectations of man. He did not even listen to the expectations that he himself likely had for his position in a foreign land. Instead, he allowed God’s expectations and views to reign supreme.
He allowed God to work through him.
It is here that we should take a leaf from Daniel’s book and implement it into our own. That God is perfect, that His expectations are perfect, and that we ought to, in everything we do, allow God to work through us... To break the expectations of man!
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…”—Philippians 1:6