God is in control: Daniel Study (Part 1)

We live in a world that doesn't care what God wants. Our nation, and the world as a whole, are living lives further and further from the way God intended. As Christians, we should be committed to following Jesus in every aspect of our lives. Honestly, in the United States, we still have it pretty easy as Christians compared to other places in the world. However, we're not very good at remaining faithful when put in tough situations.

Throughout 2024, we're going to look at two very different Jews, but they both faced life threatening situations because of their faith in God – Daniel and Esther. These are two very good examples of people who placed their complete trust in God in seemingly impossible situations and saw God's mighty hand at work. My hope through diving deeper into the books of Daniel and Esther is that we can use their stories as both conviction and encouragement for our own walks with God.

Before I jump into the first chapter of Daniel, I want you to think about this question: Do you think it's possible for believers to thrive in our world today, considering how our culture hates God? I believe you can! We're going to take a look at Daniel's life for an example of this.

This first part of Daniel explains how he and his three friends were taken into exile. Daniel had plenty of reasons to be afraid – his people were taken into captivity, his name and identity were changed, he was made to serve a king who did not believe in God, etc. – but he knew God was in control. In verse 2, it actually says, "the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his [Nebuchadnezzar] hand". The Lord warned His people in Leviticus 26 that He would send them into captivity if they didn't obey him. Therefore, this shouldn't be a surprise after they disobeyed God several times.

At the end of this section, we see that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah all had their names changed. The reason for the name change was to show that Nebuchadnezzar had complete authority over them. This is what their Hebrew names meant:

  • Daniel = "God is my judge"
  • Hananiah = "Yahweh is gracious"
  • Azariah = "Yahweh is my helper"
  • Mishael = "Who is like the Lord?"

Their names were changed to reflect the gods of the Babylonians.

Prime Video: VeggieTales: Rack, Shack & Benny

[Side note: Anytime I read through Daniel, I think of the VeggieTales episode and will always think of their names as Rack, Shack, and Benny.... and the giant chocolate bunny. Anyone else the same way or is it just my family? If you haven't seen it, you can actually watch this episode on YouTube!]

Even through the exile and Nebuchadnezzar trying to assimilate them into Babylonian culture, Daniel and his friends resisted because they wanted to stand firm in their faith in God. Daniel chose to keep the food laws that were a part of his faith, rather than obey the court's official diet. This made me think of John 17:14-16 which says:

"I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world."

Daniel and his friends were striving to be in the world but not of the world. The same should be true of Christians today in a culture that has mostly turned away from God. Another important thing to note from this section is that although Daniel went against the king’s desires, he did so respectfully because of the king’s authority. Because of Daniel's faithfulness to God shown here with the diet, God gave Daniel favor with his overseer. His overseer tested them with the food Daniel requested for 10 days. In the end, they were healthier than the other men who were on the king's diet. Just as Daniel respected his authority, we must do the same when we deal with non-Christian authority figures who want us to do something which goes against the Bible.

Not only did God reward Daniel and his friends with the favor of their overseer, he also gave them great understanding and skills; this made them more valuable to the king. Daniel's gift was specifically understanding visions and dreams (which we will see helps Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2). Daniel and his friends were the wisest in the kingdom. They used their God-given gifts to help serve under the Babylonian rule.

Just as God had given Daniel and his friends gifts, God has given us all different gifts. How can we use our God-given gifts to serve others in a worldly environment that might "hate" God?

Sometimes it can be difficult to stand firm in our faith when it goes against the world's way. We must patiently endure and confidently trust God when we're in these situations.

"Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised." - Hebrews 10:35-36

Through this first chapter of Daniel, we see that God is always in control. Are there areas in your life that you tend to try and control? I challenge you to start surrendering these areas to God and see what change happens when you do this.

Cornerstone Impact Update

Last year, we wrapped up our Biblical Approach to Finances series. If you missed it, I recommend checking out the full series! You can find all the posts in the series here:

Biblical Finance - SEM Trader’s Blog

We're especially excited about our new series for 2024: Objections of BRI. Through this series, we will be talking about some of the common objections people give us with Biblically Responsible Investing and our Cornerstone Portfolios. We will talk about an objection each month and the rebuttal or how we respond when we receive these objections. We hope that through this series it'll help our readers either become less skeptical of BRI or help give advisors ideas of how to talk to their clients about BRI.

Make sure you're subscribed to our blog to get notified when the first post is live or follow us on any of our social media platforms!


Have you checked out Eventide's podcast, Invest by Design? While they haven't posted any new episodes recently, there are some good ones to listen to on there from last year if you haven't already listened to them. You can find their podcast Apple, Spotify, and YouTube.

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Eventide's Director of Education, Shaun Morgan, along with Rob West were on an episode on Faith and Finance Live. In this episode they discussed a fourth source of alpha that Christian investors may want to consider. You can listed to the full episode here.

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We have free Cornerstone shirts (design above) available to order. There are also limited sizes of our previous designs/colors available (see the order form below).

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West Point, VA
Courtney is SEM's Marketing Manager. She joined SEM full-time in 2016. Outside of SEM, Courtney enjoys hiking with her golden retriever, Mya and volunteering at LifePointe Christian Church.