Daniel Chapter 6:1-18 Daniel Sermon #7 March 20, 2016
Sermon Series: “The Lord is King”
Title: “Dare to Be a Daniel”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Intro: What would you do if President Obama signed an executive order stating that no one was allowed to pray publically to the God of the Bible for the next 30 days? Or that you were not allowed to read your Bible for the next month? Or that couples were forbidden to pray together or have family devotions together for the next 30 days… and the penalty for these activities would be 30 days in jail and a $10,000 fine. What would you do? How might those executive orders impact you?
Let’s see what we can learn from Daniel.
Here’s the situation in Daniel 6: The Medo-Persian Empire was the largest kingdom ever to have appeared so far, and therefore it is no surprise that there was rampant corruption in the kingdom, with so many territories to administer. Now the king did not want to “suffer loss” through much of the nation’s wealth being siphoned off, by bribes and stealing, so he appointed honest men of integrity to oversee the kingdom. He even planned on setting Daniel over the whole kingdom. (The story of the Christian Lebanese photographer we knew in Egypt, who worked for one of the royal families of Saudi Arabia. They trusted only him, not each other, with their money, when they went on trips.)
But when Darius wanted to put Daniel (a foreigner) in charge of his whole kingdom (v. 4), the other administrators were not happy. Likely they were jealous of his success, they were resentful of his integrity (for it would be hard to get bribes under his watch), and they were intolerant of his faith. So they looked for some dirt on Daniel, in order to discredit him. But they couldn’t find any! They were unable to find even one scrap of dirt or wrongdoing against him, so they decided that they would use his faith against him. And it is in the context of this unjust suffering that we see how God’s grace made Daniel an example to follow.
Daniel distinguished himself in three main ways:
- Daniel was faithful and trustworthy (vv. 3-4)
Daniel had been serving the government for some 60 years now. 60 years, and yet they couldn’t find any wrongdoing on his part! Instead they found that he both was above any corruption and that he had not failed in any of his duties. He was without error or fault. Furthermore we read in v. 3 that Daniel had an excellent spirit or exceptional qualities about him.
We might wonder “What made Daniel such a faithful and trustworthy person?” I think the answer is found in a passage such as Psalm 1, which talks about success and blessing coming from mediating on God’s Word all the time. That is, I believe that Daniel mediated on God’s Word day and night, and therefore he prospered and was successful. He centered his thinking on God’s Word and became like a fruitful tree, bearing fruit in all seasons. Daniel was faithful and trustworthy because he made God’s priorities and God’s Word central to all he did.
I think of Billy Graham, who has been faithful for some 70 years of ministry, and no one has been able to find fault with him, even though his enemies have tried to discredit him and slander him. One reason for his success has been his faithfulness to God and God’s Word.
2. Daniel was governed by Biblical convictions (vv. 5, 10b, 13)
We might say that Daniel was “biblically predictable.” The king knew that Daniel “continually served the Lord” (vv. 16, 20). Even his enemies knew his habits and practices, because he had developed the disciplines of grace over the decades of his life. So they knew that he prayed three times a day, facing Jerusalem, and that’s how they sought to nail him.
Now, having your life ruled by godly convictions is a good thing, right? But wait a minute: couldn’t we say the same thing about the Pharisees? We could. So what’s the difference between the Pharisees and Daniel?
One contrast was that Daniel was willing to lose everything for His love of God and his service of the Lord, while the Pharisees would not die to themselves.
Another difference was that Daniel’s structured and disciplined habits flowed from a heart that loved God and sought His glory, while the Pharisees loved themselves and their own glory.
Therefore we must be careful not to confuse regular religious practices and habits (such as fasting, praying, reading our Bibles, etc.) with a true love and a heart-felt obedience to the Lord.
Illustration: Think of Tevya and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof: Tevya wants to know from his wife: “Do you love me?” She says, “What a silly question! For 25 years, I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked your cow… why talk about love right now?” Yet Tevya still wants to know: “But do you love me?” That is, was it just your duty, or did you do those things out of a heart of love?”
We could ask ourselves the same thing about our biblical habits: “Do I love the Lord God? Do I love the Lord Jesus Christ?” Is that why I do these things? O Lord, give us hearts that love you, because you first loved us.
Now let’s go back to Daniel’s refusal to compromise on his biblical convictions. He could have easily thought to himself, “I’ll just take the next 30 days off from praying as I usually do.” Or “I’ll just close the shutters when I pray, so no one will see me.” But no. Daniel would not be cowered or backed into submission. He would stand firm in His faith, out of his love for the Lord.
My friends, we are creatures of habit, either for good and for God’s glory, or for evil and for self-glory. And Daniel had been practicing this habit of prayer for some 60-70 years! Yes, it was this habit of regular, disciplined prayer that “got him in trouble” but this unjust suffering is what God loves to work with, for His glory, and to demonstrate His mighty arm!
He knew that he had to obey God, rather than men, if they conflicted.
So, are you governed by Biblical convictions, from a heart that loves God? Ask Him to pour such love into your heart.
3. Daniel oriented his prayers toward the Lord’s Promises (v. 10a)
We read in v. 10 that Daniel opened his window toward Jerusalem. Why was that, now that Jerusalem lay in ruins and the Lord’s temple had been destroyed? We read in 1 Kings 8:46-51, at the dedication of the temple, that when God’s people sin and they are sent into exile, if they repent and “pray to You and turn to the land and the temple area” then God will hear them and restore them to the land. So Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem in accordance with the promises of God’s Word, believing that God would hear him and have mercy once again. For Daniel, it was more than a ritual direction; it was an orientation of his faith in God.
When Muslims pray, they orient themselves toward Mecca. Some Christians orient themselves to a crucifix or a statue when they pray. But Daniel sets the example here, as he prays in accordance with God’s promises; he orients his prayer life toward the promises of the Lord.
So let me ask you: “Where does the compass needle of your prayer life point to?”
One way of growing in this area is by praying the Scriptures back to God. That is, read a few verses, think about what they mean, and what they mean to you, and then use God’s own Words to pray them back to the Lord.
Now….Daniel’s example could be an encouragement, as a man to imitate, to be inspired by…
Or… his example could be a discouragement, as someone way beyond what we might attain to.
Let me suggest that it should be both an encouragement for us to follow, by God’s grace, and at the same time, a discouragement for us, as being out of our league!
You see, we need look to Daniel’s God more than to Daniel For ultimately, we need to see in Daniel the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. What do I mean? Well, let’s take the same positive points about Daniel (from above) and see how they look on Jesus:
Jesus was the only person who was absolutely faithful, trustworthy, and above reproach, He alone was the only perfectly righteous man.
He not only meditated on God’s Word; He was the Word of God incarnate!
Jesus Christ was unique in being completely governed by Biblical convictions. He always did the will of the Father. His food was to do the will of His Father. (John 4:34)
And Jesus’s prayers and His face was oriented to going to Jerusalem, to the cross, and nothing could deter Him from that goal. Luke 9:51 “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Isaiah 50:7 “Therefore I have set my face like flint.”
So yes, we are exhorted to “dare to be a Daniel,” but the truth is we feel more like Jonah running away from the Lord’s command, or like Peter denying Christ, than a Daniel who is ready to face the lions for the Lord!
Therefore we need to look to Jesus… if we want to be a Daniel!
We need to remember that Jesus went into the lion’s den in our place; He went into the fiery furnace, both with us and for us. And as the only One who was perfectly faithful, trustworthy, obedient, and submissive to the Father’s will, it is in Him, not ourselves, that we are saved, rescued, forgiven and restored.
And looking ahead to the rest of the story, and the Lord’s deliverance of Daniel, we see a picture of God’s great love and authority, in Christ, delivering us from the guilt and power of sin and death.
Yes, dare to be a Daniel…. The Holy Spirit will give you and courage you need.
But dare to trust Jesus as your Lord, Savior, Joy and Treasure. He will never fail.
“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking stand.”
It is only as you dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name, that He will give you the power and the courage to defy any unbiblical order, no matter what the cost. By standing on Christ the Rock, you will dare to be a Daniel!