The story of Daniel is familiar to
many of us who have heard it from young. But as we grow older, we begin to appreciate
this story in the light of our experiences, and our respect for Daniel grows.
We see that he was openly faithful and upheld his Jewish faith, despite being
in a Gentile land. This can be seen in Daniel 6:1–4:
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one
hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three
governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them,
so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself
above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and
the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and
satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but
they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any
error or fault found in him.
Daniel was one of three governors
who oversaw 120 satraps, and was eventually promoted above his fellow
governors. He became the second most powerful person in the kingdom, answerable
only to the king. But despite this privileged position, Daniel did not hide his
Jewish identity. In fact, it was because of his faithfulness to God that King
Darius willingly placed Daniel to take charge of the entire kingdom.
From the start of his exile in
Babylon, Daniel was open about his faith. When he was first brought to the
court of Nebuchadnezzar, he told the chief of the eunuchs that he was a Jew and
hence would not defile himself with the king’s food (Dan 1:8). Later, when he was
summoned to interpret the king’s dream, Daniel gave all glory and honor to God
(Dan 2). And when he was called before the last Babylonian king, Belshazzar,
Daniel again declared the sovereignty of the Most High God (Dan 5:18). The
Persian king, Darius, understood Daniel’s faith in God. When Daniel was cast
into the lion’s den, Darius encouraged him with the words: “Your God, whom you
serve continually, He will deliver you” (Dan 6:16). Time and again, Daniel
declared his faith in the one true God to everyone around him.
As children of God—living, working
or studying in society—the question for us today is: Are we as open about our
faith as Daniel was?
WHAT IS AN OPEN FAITH?
A Faith that Matches Actions
There can be many reasons why we are
not so bold in declaring our faith. It could be our conduct that is holding us
back. We realize that our behavior is not becoming of a Christian, and if we
reveal our identity, we will bring God’s name into disrepute.
In life, there will always be unpleasant
people around. They may avoid hard work or responsibility. They may gossip, or
only offer negative or snide remarks. Or they may be selfish and self-serving,
caring only for their own success. At work or at school, we hope to avoid these
types of people. But have we considered whether we fall under such categories?
What kind of reputation do we have amongst our colleagues or fellow students?
Daniel was in a foreign land
serving Gentile rulers, and this was not by choice. But it was clear to all
that he had an excellent spirit in him (Dan 1:3). Daniel did not let his
behavior contradict his identity. If we are to be openly faithful, we must also
align our actions with our identity as Christians.
A Faith that Does Not Change with Circumstance
No matter how his circumstances
changed, Daniel remained true to God. Daniel served under different kings,
during a period where power passed from one empire to the next, and yet his
conduct was exemplary throughout. His reputation for having an excellent spirit
If we stay at a workplace long
enough, we will see how a change in management can affect the staff. Employees may
use underhand tactics and compromise their values to try to curry favor with
the incoming boss and to secure their position under the new regime. As
Christians, would we do the same?
Nebuchadnezzar was a proud king,
while Belshazzar was foolish. Darius, on the other hand, greatly favored Daniel
from the start. But under these three kings, Daniel did not alter his behavior
in order to garner favor; he remained openly faithful to God. And it goes
without saying that his faithfulness continued under the reign of the final
king he served, Cyrus the Persian (Dan 6:28).
A Faith that Has Integrity
Daniel held a powerful position as
governor, reporting directly to the king. We know how power can corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yet, this did not happen to Daniel. Those
in positions of authority must make tough decisions, sometimes having to choose
an outcome that is for the greater good. This delicate balancing act can easily
lead to corruption, where the powerful elite take advantage of their privilege
and reap the benefits, while the majority suffer.
Though Daniel wielded great power,
he remained faithful to God and to his office, and no fault could be found in
him (Dan 6:1–5). Neither did he take advantage of his privileged position when
others plotted against him and he faced the threat of execution for practicing
his religion (Dan 6:1–16). It would have been easier, and more politically
savvy, for Daniel to hide his faith and act as one of the Gentiles, but he did
not do so. Today, we may not face such direct life-threatening pressure to
conform to society. Yet do we have the integrity to declare our faith openly,
and manifest the actions of a Christian?
A Faith that Is Resilient Against Attack
Another reason why we find it
difficult to be open about our faith is that we fear it will be used against
us. This also happened to Daniel:
So the governors and satraps sought to find some
charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or
fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.
Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless
we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” (Dan 6:4–5)
Daniel was upright in all he did,
so his enemies had no choice but to use his religion against him. These
governors and satraps convinced the king to sign a decree that, for a period of
thirty days, anyone who petitioned a god or man, apart from the king, would be
cast into the lion’s den (Dan 6:6–9). How did Daniel respond to such an underhand
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was
signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward
Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave
thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Then these men
assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. (Dan
Daniel’s strategy against attack
was, counter-intuitively, to be defiantly open in his worship of God, praying
to Him for strength.
We may never face such a dilemma,
but how would we react if we did? Perhaps we would decide to worship God in our
heart and in spirit, and just pray silently. Perhaps we would justify our
actions, saying that God will understand; after all, our lives would be at risk
if we continue to openly worship Him. Moreover, is this not what Jesus meant
when He said that we should be as wise as serpents? Was it wise for Daniel to
disobey the king’s decree, being fully aware of the consequences? Why, then,
did Daniel do as he did?
Daniel probably realized that, no
matter what he did to protect himself, his enemies would not stop until they
had entrapped him. This decree was targeted at him alone; what was to stop them
from devising yet more treacherous plots? They could arrange for another
decree, declaring that the nation could only eat pork―which was forbidden
by Mosaic Law―for thirty days. To avoid this cat-and-mouse chase, Daniel
openly faced the challenge and trusted in God. He continued practicing his
faith for all to see, in spite of the consequences.
A Faith that Leads Others to Know God
It may be that having a faith puts
us at a disadvantage, or that we face prejudice and intimidation because of it.
But from Daniel’s example, we see that it is better to openly declare our
faith. While some will use our faith as a reason to attack us, others will see
our righteousness and may be led to know God.
King Darius, who had carelessly
signed the decree, was distraught when he realized that Daniel would be
punished. He was “greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel
to deliver him” (Dan 6:14b). When he was informed that it was not possible to
retract the decree, he tried to comfort Daniel: “Your God, whom you serve
continually, He will deliver you” (Dan 6:16b). While Daniel was in the lion’s
den, Darius could not sleep; he spent the night fasting. So worried was he that
early next morning, he hurried to the den, to see if Daniel had been spared
It is clear that Daniel’s
religious openness had made an impact on the king; Darius twice declared the
power and mercy of the living God (Dan 6:16, 20). Though he did not have
complete faith in these declarations, he could clearly witness God’s power in
Today, if we do not declare our
faith in God, then others will not have the opportunity to see the power of
God. Surely, such a positive outcome outweighs any disadvantage we may face
when we are honest about our faith.
For Daniel, the positive effects
did not end there. God’s name was glorified amongst all the Gentiles.
Then King Darius wrote:
To all peoples, nations, and languages that
dwell in all the earth:
Peace be multiplied to you.
I make a decree that in every dominion of my
kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
For He is the living God,
And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be
And His dominion shall endure to the end.
He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the
By this proclamation, citizens throughout
the Empire of Persia and Mede came to know the living God. This was a result of
Daniel’s open faith and worship of the Lord.
Let us return to the question: Are
we as open about our faith in God as Daniel was? In the New Testament, Jesus
“You are the light of the world. A city that is
set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a
basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify
your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:14–16)
As Christians in the world, we
cannot hide our identity. We are the light of this world and, just as no one
would put a lamp under a basket, we must not hide our light. The light that we should
shine before men is our good works and our Christian conduct, so that men may see and glorify our Father in heaven. This is what
As we mature and experience the
realities of living as a Christian, we can appreciate what Daniel went through,
and the integrity with which he practiced his faith. Can we continue to carry
out God’s will and openly manifest our faith no matter how our circumstances
change? Do we have the strength to remain openly faithful when it does not
appear to benefit us, or when much is at stake? Daniel did so, and was
delivered by God. God’s deliverance may not come in the way we hope, or even in
this lifetime. But let us maintain an open and obedient faith in God, knowing
that His salvation goes beyond this physical life.