When Daniel shows up in Babylon he’s sixteen and a stranger in a strange land. During his young life he had seen Judah in its worst of times. As early as he could remember he’d heard stories of God’s impending judgment coming to Judah. The threat of the Babylonians had been very real for the last several years and now they had sieged Jerusalem, fettered the king, and taken many precious articles from the temple of God. Not to mention they had taken Daniel and many of his friends, young people of the aristocracy of Judah, captive to Babylon. The nightmare had become reality.
When we consider Daniel’s life we gain insight into how God raises up a prophet. There is a process of qualification that goes along with this office. The process is owned by God. He’s the only one who chooses how to establish a prophet. Here are a few of the details we can glean from Daniel’s life on how God calls and equips a prophet:
1) The Preparation – For Daniel the preparation was twofold: 1) He was educated as a young man in the Scriptures and therefore by sixteen he had a life governed by the Word of God and rooted in fasting and prayer. 2) His life experiences were filled with huge challenges. Experiencing war and captivity amidst a declining culture was extremely difficult. God chose the crucible of persecution as the proper preparation ground for Daniel. I believe these preparations are common soil from which God’s gifts bloom. A life saturated in the Word, fasting and prayer, fertilized with sufferings, produces a harvest of heavenly activity.
2) The Platform – By his platform, I’m specifically talking about the sphere of influence he receives, his position of authority. God is the one who chooses how broad He wants a ministry’s impact to be. No man can choose His own level of influence, that is up to God alone. John the Baptist said it clearly, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him by heaven (John 3:27).” Daniel did not work to attain his platform. God set him in front of the ruler of the known world to let His glory be known to the nations.
3) The Process – When God establishes a prophet, there’s no guess work. He makes it evident to everyone. Too often I see young people(and older people, if I’m being honest) who have a prophetic gifting, doing everything they can to be recognized as a prophet. When God wants to establish a prophetic voice, I promise you, self promotion is unnecessary. Consider it, in under 5 years of Daniel being in Babylon, God sets up the perfect circumstance and then makes it unquestionably clear to Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel is a prophet by giving Daniel Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation, something none of the other wise men of Babylon could do. Daniel’s revelation to Nebuchadnezzar was not subjective in anyway and impossible to fake.
I’m concerned with a lot of the fantasy and self promotion I see in charismatic churches around the prophetic. I think Daniel’s example gives us some clear indicators how a prophetic person is prepared and confirmed in their gifting. Through prayer and fasting, a depth in the word, and the crucible of suffering God prepares a vessel. From there He chooses the process and platform He desires for the individual. We can learn much from Daniel’s example in how to recognize and steward prophetic voices.