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From Babylon to Bethlehem, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
December 6, 2022 12:00 am

From Babylon to Bethlehem, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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December 6, 2022 12:00 am

In this message, Stephen shows us the source of Daniel’s effectiveness in the midst of a land that defied His God and his people.


Now before we notice what Daniel said, think with me for a moment what he could have said. He could have given the king a stinging lecture. What do you mean, is my God able?

Don't you know my God is able, and haven't you learned by now that I am one of his prophets? He could have acted really brave. King, there's been nothing to fear at all. I've had a great night's sleep.

You don't look like you've slept at all yourself. He could have acted with revenge. His first words could have been, where are those officials? As Daniel was interacting with the king, he always served that king well. But he was always careful to make sure he reflected God well. Serving and representing God was his top priority.

He had plenty of opportunities to seek revenge, display arrogance, and prove that he was right. Instead, he spoke kindly and with wisdom. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, we're going to learn more about how Daniel represented God in the kingdom of Babylon and Persia. Stephen Davey has a message for you today called, From Babylon to Bethlehem.

He started it last time, so after a little bit of review, he'll conclude that message right now. John Phillips, that delightful British expositor I enjoy reading, who's now with the Lord, recorded in his commentary on Daniel a personal story. It's a few paragraphs.

Let me read it to you. He says this, I was struggling during World War II. He writes, I found myself in a crisis. I'd just been drafted into the British army. I found myself sitting on a train, alone, except for a friend who had also been drafted.

Like myself, he was a professing Christian. It was dark, cold, and a blustery night. As the train rattled down the tracks and roared through the tunnels, I did some thinking. And after a while, I said to my friend, hey Fred, this time tomorrow, we're going to be in a big barrack room somewhere in Bradford, and what are you going to do when it comes time to go to bed? Are you going to say your prayer in bed or down by your bunk on your knees? He did not hesitate responding to me.

Well, in bed, of course. I retired to my corner and thought some more. I'd made a profession of faith at the age of 10.

I had been drilled in all the basics of the Christian life. I knew, however, that I had no vibrant testimony. I thought back over my high school days, all the way up to my last few years in banking, I had been a compromiser. I had managed to jog along, showing one face to my friends at school and my colleagues at the bank, and quite another face to my parents and my Christian friends. And I realized there in that drafty, noisy train that what I had was a secondhand faith, the kind of faith that Lot had who compromised with his world. I needed the faith of Abraham and Daniel.

By this time, Fred was sound asleep. I pulled my coat collar up and shrank down into my coat for warmth, and there I prayed, Lord, I'm not proud of my Christian life. I don't even know if I'm a Christian. But here now, I want to settle it, and I purpose in my heart to let you be the Lord of my life. I'm going to show that by kneeling by my bunk in that barracks tomorrow night, and with your help, I'm going to be a genuine Christian from now on.

Have you made that statement? It's a time to make it again. Daniel went into his room and effectively said, even though I may lose my life, I'm going to kneel. Why? Because I've always knelt.

Not because that's the posture that only God observes, but that's how I've done it. I'm going to make supplication to God. Why? Because I've always done that.

I'm going to give thanks to God. Why? Because I've always done it. And I'm going to open my windows. Why?

Because I've always done it. In other words, I'm not going to compromise or change now that pressure's on in my life. And as far as he knew, his life would soon be over. The trap has sprung. Look at verse 11. Then these men came by agreement. Literally, again, they thronged into Daniel's room and found him making petition and supplication before his God.

And just to review or overview, they go running with glee to the king. We've caught him. This time he will not get away. Daniel, up in his room, probably prayed a little longer than usual, I would imagine, and maybe his last time. And it's not his last time because he is disobedient to God, but because he is obedient to God. He's about to face the greatest test of his life, not because he is faithless, but because he is faithful. James Montgomery Boyce wrote what Daniel believed. He practiced openly.

No retreat, no backing off, no privatizing convictions. He knelt in the sight of Babylon. Oh, how we need more Daniels who will open their windows and honor God before a watching world no matter what.

Man, is that good. Maybe it's time for you to open your windows to your watching world. Verse 14. As soon as the king heard this statement, all these tattletales, you know, they're there standing around in mass, immediately is deeply distressed, set his mind on delivering Daniel.

And even until sunset, he kept exerting himself to rescue him. In other words, there's got to be a loophole somewhere in here. Besides, the king knew he'd been purposefully deceived by these men in order to eliminate their honest competition. The only honest guy he knew he could trust, he knew he had been tricked by them.

There's got to be a way out. Verse 15. Then these men, at the end of the day, came by agreement to the king. There's that same phrase again. They came thronging. Why? Because they're cowards.

That's why. Daniel stands alone and these guys cannot move without being a part of the herd. How much like the world that blindly follows the crowd, how much like the Christian we should be, like Daniel who is standing alone. Notice here, they said, recognize O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed.

There's no loophole. Daniel has to be thrown to lions. In my research, I came across one liberal scholar who said these weren't real lions. This wasn't a real lion's den. This is simply poetic language and that this circle of political colleagues, this is a metaphor, they've turned into lions and they are eager to devour Daniel. Daniel would have been happy for a little poetry right now.

This is not poetry. These are real lions with real teeth. This is a real den and Daniel's dead. Archaeologists have uncovered near Eastern lion's dens or caverns.

And I want to kind of rewrite in your minds what might be a Sunday school picture with the real thing and I'll try to describe it. They're dug deeply into the ground and they're actually open. There's no roof.

It can be seen from above. Steps lead down one side to an opening where a boulder can be rolled over that opening and back in which they can deposit some criminal or some poor man or woman who will die which they probably did with Daniel or they can throw people over the top or the edge which they will do with the officials later. The lion's dens were dug in this Middle Eastern fashion in a square manner having a partition wall built down the center which divides the den or divided the den in half. At the base of that partition wall was an iron gate hinged that could be swung up and open and down by a rope attached and held by those above. In this manner they could throw food into one side of the den and get all the lions through that gate, close the gate, come down and deposit some criminal, someone to be executed or maybe even clean. Then once they cover that doorway they go up the stairs and they can raise that gate and the lions can come in and kill that unfortunate victim who has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

All day long the king is trying to get Daniel out of certain death. He's furious with his officials. He's angry at himself. He should have looked at the fine print. He should have scanned the crowd more carefully.

He knew he had been duped. We're not told what he tried all day long. Maybe he thought, well, I know I'll overfeed the lions so that when Daniel gets thrown in there they're not hungry. Maybe he thought that he'd cover Daniel from head to toe with armor, just kind of carry him down and prop him up against the wall and hope it holds.

No. All of those attempts would have been obviously seen as an undermining of his own decree. He can't do anything.

There's no loophole. The truth is only a miracle can save Daniel now. And you're saying, Stephen, you know, we know, you know, we've seen, we know the story.

He gets out, the angel comes down, everything's great. No, look, I've got 15 minutes or more, okay? So just slow down. Emphasis on more, okay? The very fact that we know the end of this story, I fear, stuns our powers of observation and our imagination.

So let's slow it down a bit. Verse 16, the king gave orders and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lion's den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, while he's down there in that half section, the king from above speaks, your God whom you constantly serve will himself deliver you. Now evidently Darius accompanies him to the den. And Darius, did you notice, is the one who declares the statement of faith for Daniel.

You know, kind of an optimistic hope. He knew this was the only hope. He had records of the past.

He knew of the delivery of Daniel's three friends. He's stating the truth. Your God, did you notice, he does not say, whom you just began serving when you found out you were going to die. No.

Your God whom you constantly serve will himself deliver you. In other words, that's the only way it works. But would you notice that Daniel does not say a word in return. He doesn't say anything. He doesn't say, well, amen.

That's right, king. That's exactly what's going to happen. I'm believing in miracles down here. God will come through for sure.

I'm declaring my victory even now as we speak. He says nothing. Why? Perhaps it's because Daniel doesn't think he's going to get out alive. Not because God can't, but because God might not. You see, Daniel wasn't going to make promises that God didn't plan to keep. Which would be a great thing for Christians to do today. Stop putting words in God's mouth. God will deliver Daniel, but he might choose to deliver him through death. And this 85 year old man is willing to trust his God either way. So remain silent.

And I believe because he's a real man. He's feeling just like you would feel, or I would feel at this particular moment, fearing the end of his life. How brave are you? When's the last time you were afraid? I can always tell how brave I am by how I respond with noises in the night.

And evidently I'm not growing in bravery. I can remember when our children were small. We'd recently moved into our first home. We'd rented a little house for about five years. Finally moved into our first home. Every house has its noises.

That's what we tell ourselves to make us feel better. But we were asleep. It was around twelve, one o'clock in the morning when a bang and a thump was heard. I woke up. I looked over at Marsha and her eyes were wide open too.

And she looked at me with that look that said, I heard something. We just kind of lay there and stopped breathing, listened. About 15 minutes later, about the time you figure, okay, it was just some random house noise or maybe a branch falling on the roof. We were surrounded by pines. We could go back to sleep and then suddenly boom, thump.

Same sound. I got out of bed and walked over and stood at the bedroom door listening, just barely breathing. My wife said, why did you go upstairs and look around? It sounds like it's coming from the boys' closet. That's the scariest place on the planet right now, the boys' closet upstairs. In fact, the boys were not here.

They were in Atlanta, little toddlers at the time, twin toddlers and with their grandparents. So there's nobody up there. And it's dark. I said, okay, but I want you to walk out with me to the living room and stand at the foot of the stairs while I go up there. And she said, are you serious? I said, I am not going to go die up there.

Nobody knows. You stand there. So we crept down the hallway and into the dark living room. She stood at the base of the stairs and I walked up the stairs into that open loft which was dark and I made my way through it to the boys' bedroom and I felt inside for the switch pitch black and found the switch and nobody was in there. And I got up enough nerve to open the closet door, the walk-in closet there and nothing was in there. And all that was left now was to go into their little bathroom and on the side of their bathroom was a little door that led directly into the attic. That's where monsters live. I opened that door and I reached in to try to find that string to pull that light bulb on just expecting at any moment to have my hand seized.

I found it, turned it on, nobody was there. I lost two years of my life for nothing. I guess it was pine cones.

I have no idea. Some of you have real stories of really fearful things happening. Some of you have risked your lives. Some of you have come close to losing your lives. When was the last time you were afraid? Was Daniel frightened? Have you ever been close to a lion? I have been on an African preserve in a jeep and those lions walked by me and you can hear through those windows that are rolled up. They're purring.

It just tingles right here. Their shoulders as high as the window. Did he drop to his knees? Did he face that iron gate that would soon be lifted or did he have his back to it? Did he wonder how long it would take if it would hurt and for how long he could hear the gate opening.

He braced for the rush. He had heard the roaring as those lions jockeyed to be the first through the gate and suddenly strangely the den grew quiet. He may have felt the nuzzle of a nose, the brush of a lion against his gown. He opened his eyes perhaps at that moment seeing an angel wrapping something as it were around the mouths of these lions or just commanding them to keep their mouths closed.

An angel. Don't skip over the fact that God could have miraculously put those lions to sleep. God could have miraculously shut their mouths without any assistance of an angel. God could have turned those lions into playful cats who wanted to do nothing more than play fetch with Daniel, though cats don't play fetch. Cats don't play anything. I digress.

I'm sorry here. But isn't it interesting that Daniel is not only delivered but that God gave him some company at the most terrifying moment of his life and perhaps in this 85 year old man's life the most lonely time of his life. At dawn the king, as you know, rushes from his royal bedchamber and runs all the way to the den shouting, Daniel, verse 20, servant of the living God is your God whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions.

All those dirty rats are following the king down the corridor. Daniel spoke, verse 21, king live forever. And I'm sure the king thought, wow, wow, what a shock.

He's alive. Now before we notice what Daniel said, think with me for a moment what he could have said. He could have given the king a stinging lecture. What do you mean is my God able? Don't you know my God is able?

Haven't you learned by now that I am one of his prophets? He could have acted really brave. King, there's been nothing to fear at all. I've had a great night's sleep. You don't look like you've slept at all yourself.

He could have acted nonchalant. King, this is no problem. In fact, I've gotten to know all these lions. There's puddles and there's cuddles and I've named this one princess. I ought to come down here more often.

This has been good for my devotional life. He could have acted with revenge. His first words could have been, where are those officials who trapped you, O king?

None of that. In fact, I read just a few days ago about, this is more like it, about a truck driver who was eating his food in a truck stop. He was small, short. His meal was interrupted when three bikers pulled up, big rough guys. They walked in and ordered their food, sat at the counter, then they spotted the little guy and began to tease him because he was so small. They treated him like a little boy. They tousled his hair and eventually took his plate of food and threw it away. He quietly said nothing, just paid for his food and left. Three bikers laughed and said to the waitress, he isn't much of a man, is he?

She peered out the window and said, no, he isn't much of a truck driver either. He just backed over three motorcycles. Yeah, we like that.

Get him back. That'll teach him. Well, Daniel never calls for that. The king will take care of that because they deceive the king.

They'll leave no survivor. There's humility in Daniel's response, which would be another word, humility. What he could have said was a lot of different things, but what he did say in verse 22 was this. My God sent his angel and shut the lion's mouths and they've not harmed me.

I'm innocent before him and also toward you, O king, I've committed no crime. Just the facts. No bragging rights, no chip on his shoulder.

If there's ever a reason to be even more bitter, it's now. Here's another word, one more that comes to mind in this demonstration of a wise man's life. It's the word legacy. Daniel's legacy is found in the lives of two kings who will declare their faith in God, their testimony of faith in the true living God.

It happens here. It happened with Nebuchadnezzar and now Darius in verse 26 for the God of Daniel is the living God enduring forever and his kingdom is one which will not be destroyed and his dominion will be forever. Daniel will live long enough to influence Cyrus and Cyrus will issue one of four decrees that allow the people to go home again.

There will be three more after Cyrus's. In fact, Daniel prophesied a staggering prophecy in chapter nine that at the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, that when that effectively begins, 483 years later Messiah, Daniel says, the prince will come. That famous decree is issued by Artaxerxes Longamanus to a man by the name of Nehemiah who goes and rebuilds Jerusalem. That's 445 B.C.

when that decree is signed and 483 years later. In fact, Bible scholars can pinpoint it to the very day Jesus Christ on an unbroken cult rides into Jerusalem and the crowd chants Hosanna. The son of David has come.

The prince is here. Staggering prophecy. Daniel also in chapter nine says, But that Messiah prince will be cut off. That is, he'll be killed suddenly. The Messiah killed?

Yes. Isaiah 53 fills in some of the blanks. He'll die for the sins of those wayward sheep who've gone astray. Daniel's legacy and prophecies will continue to be studied for generations until the Magi, the wise men, the Magoi, their name, the Magi wise men, that he once was master over, that he once taught. By the way, they were not part of the officials who sought to end his life.

They're not there. They revered this man. Centuries later, the gospel opens with that account that the Magi arrived from the land of the rising, the land of the East, Persia.

They come in with a question. Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? In other words, Daniel, the master of the Magi, prophesied that about this time we should be looking for the prince. We believe because of the star, I believe translated shining the kind of glory of God has led us. It's disappeared right now, so would you tell us where he's been born?

We're sure you would know. For we've come to worship him. They're already believers.

He's Magi from the East. They're ready to worship the prince. Matthew records that they're directed to Bethlehem. You would think that all of the Jewish leaders would rush along with them, but none of them show up. And they find Mary and Jesus, not in a stable, but in an oikea, in a house. Jesus is at least a year old by the time they arrive.

Matthew calls him a child, a pidea, and a toddler. And they kneel before him and worship him and present him their gifts. And who are they? They're king makers. You can't mount the throne of Persia without their blessing. You must be appointed in that coronation by the Magi they have come to announce they are effectively crowning the prince who is the heir to the throne of David. And from whom did they learn to anticipate the prince? From a wise man named Daniel whose legacy spans the testaments old and new. A man who demonstrated for his 75 plus years in these kingdoms these elements of personality and integrity and consistency and humility and he left a legacy. Now you might be tempted to think that Daniel had it made. As we've studied his biography, it seems that every king who comes along promotes him.

Was it that bad? Listen, Daniel was never allowed by God to return home. He never went back to the place toward which he prayed three times a day.

He was never allowed by God to return with the people with the issuing of those decrees. God's answer was always the same to him. Daniel, I want you to stay here in the courts of Babylon and Persia and not only provide a model of wisdom but deliver the truth of a coming Messiah and even beyond as we learned to a coming kingdom where Jesus Christ will reign and by the way it will include every one of us here who have in their hearts crowned him prince, Lord, Messiah.

Is he yours today? I'm glad you joined us here on Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen is the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina. There's information about our ministry on our website Be sure and visit that site often. I also encourage you to download our app to your phone. Once you do, you can listen to each day's broadcast as well as listen to the complete archive of Stephen's teaching. You can search for sermons by topic or by book of the Bible. In other words, you can take this ministry wherever you go. You'll find the Wisdom International app in the app store for your device. On our next broadcast, we begin a series to help focus your heart on Christmas. Join us here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-06 00:55:57 / 2022-12-06 01:05:49 / 10

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