Should Certain Christians Be Far Better Than Everyone Else Is in Their Realm of Expertise?

November 28, 2014

Daniel 1 recounts the fascinating account of what Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah experienced after they were forcibly taken into captivity in Babylon. Every time that I read this passage, I am struck by how the passage ends by relating the incredible superiority of these four youth—“In all matters of wisdom and understanding, that [King Nebuchadnezzar] inquired of them,  he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm” (Dan. 1:20)!

Unlike all my previous reading of this passage, this time I discovered that even their tenfold superiority is highlighted in a striking way in the passage. Moreover, I found myself thinking all the more about the current ramifications of this highlighting of their superiority.

A Remarkable Emphasis in Scripture on the Superiority of Certain Believers

Several features of Daniel 1 combine to provide us with a passage that emphasizes highly the superiority of four young believers. Noting them reveals that the Holy Spirit has emphasized that reality in a remarkable way.

Their Uncommon Excellence Prior to Being Taken Captive

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among a group of uncommonly distinguished youth:

Dan 1:4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

Beyond being physically attractive, they all were highly intelligent and capable young men who had an aptitude for learning what was necessary to “stand before the king” (Dan. 1:5).

Their Distinctive Excellence in Their First Three Years of Captivity

Unlike their peers, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were so highly devoted to their God that they remained true to Him in the face of great spiritual adversity that they faced in their first three years of captivity (Dan. 1:5-16). God uniquely favored them (Dan. 1:9) so that they did not defile themselves during this time, as all the others did, and after their initial period of facing a difficult spiritual challenge, they all were “fairer and fatter in flesh” than all their peers were (Dan. 1:15).

Moreover, God gave them “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Dan. 1:17). These four men were thus divinely enabled to excel in everything that they were taught at this time, and Daniel was given unique ability that the other three were not.

The Extraordinary Extent of Their Superiority after Three Years of Captivity

At the end of the first three years of the captivity, the king found these men to be uniquely excellent (Dan. 1:18-20). In fact, he found them to be ten times better than everyone else was:

Dan 1:20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

Furthermore, through noting the sevenfold repetition of the word all in Daniel 1:15-20 in statements referring to the distinctive excellence of Daniel and his three friends, we learn that the Holy Spirit has underscored their tenfold superiority all the more:

Dan 1:15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.

Dan 1:17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

Dan 1:19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.

Dan 1:20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

The various features of this passage that we have looked clearly bring out a remarkable emphasis on their superiority.

Points to Ponder

One wonders what specifically the full extent of their excellence entailed for them to have been ten times better in every matter of wisdom and understanding than all of Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men in all of his vast kingdom! In addition, based on this passage, should certain Christians today be far better than anyone else is in their realm of expertise?

I hope to explore this matter further in a future post. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you what you think about this subject.

Rajesh

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