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Daniel and the End Time
Luke 16:10; Daniel 1, 2; 3:1-6; Revelation 13:11-15; Daniel 3:13-18; John 3:7; Daniel 4, 6
April 14, 2018

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for girls’ education and the world’s youngest Nobel laureate, returned to Pakistan last week in her first visit since an attack by Taliban militants in 2012. Malala, now 20 and studying at Oxford, met with Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi. “I still can’t believe that it’s actually happening,” she said in an emotional speech at the prime minister’s office. “I am just 20 years old, but I have seen a lot in life,” she continued, recalling how she grew up in the picturesque Swat region only to watch it slide into terrorism. “I never wanted to leave my country.”

She visited her childhood home in the Swat Valley where the Taliban attacked her, and inaugurated a large school for girls built by the Malala Fund for girls’ education. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Pakistan’s information minister, called Malala’s visit a “big moment for Pakistan. She had the guts to stand up against militants, and her coming back to Pakistan is symbolic that we are winning our fight against extremism.”

Taliban militants shot Malala and two other schoolgirls. They specifically targeted her. Though only 15, she actively advocated for education for girls. She defied militant leaders who banned such schooling in areas they controlled. One of the gunmen shouted, “Who is Malala?” as he boarded her school bus. All three girls survived, but a bullet grazed Malala’s brain. British doctors spent months rebuilding her skull, and she soon returned to her advocacy work. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Despite that, some Pakistanis on the far right harshly criticized her. Security during her visit in Pakistan was heavy from the start, when she and her family arrived at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in the dark of the early morning. [1]

It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in the face of violence and possible death. This week’s lesson explores the life and ministry of Daniel, who repeatedly faced danger as he faithfully proclaimed God’s messages. From sticking to a Biblical diet, to giving the straight truth to kings, to staring down ferocious lions, we consider Daniel one of the most faithful Bible characters. We even sing, “Dare to be a Daniel”—he is an example of fidelity in the face of persecution. As we prepare for the end times, we too may face similar challenges.

Daniel’s examples of faithfulness follow a progression. It seems like a small thing to make wise dietary choices, but we build a life of faithfulness little by little in those small decisions. Standing for principle in minor matters helped Daniel stand before a very threatening king Nebuchadnezzar to present God’s messages later on. By the time Daniel faced the lions, he had already seen God regularly preserve him through numerous challenges. This lesson shows us how we can dare to be a Daniel.

~ cb

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/world/asia/malala-yousafzai-pakistan.html