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Trusting God in the Lion’s Den

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2021 4:00 am

Trusting God in the Lion’s Den

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 15, 2021 4:00 am

When we learn about Daniel’s lifelong integrity, we may aspire to become more like him. But is that the reason Scripture records his story? Join us on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg shifts the spotlight off Daniel and points it to God, where it belongs.



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When we read in the Old Testament about the exceptional integrity that characterized the life of Daniel, we often aspire to become more like him. But that's not the primary reason Daniel's story is recorded in Scripture.

Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg reminds us to shift the spotlight off of Daniel and to point it back where it belongs. As some 70 years have now elapsed in the passage of the chapters that we've read, the temptation for these exiles would be for them simply to give up any thought of Jerusalem, perhaps even to give up any real thought of allegiance to the God of their forefathers. They knew that not only had Jerusalem been raised, but the temple had been destroyed.

And so if you like, all the emblems of the reality of God's power and presence had been eradicated in that place. And it is now in this Medo-Persian kingdom that Daniel is confronted by the reality of another king and the malevolence of those who were his friends. The opening verses of the chapter simply make clear to us the logistics, if you like, of Darius's approach to his kingdom.

He employs a political structure that allows him to ensure that all of the revenue and the support that should be coming his way comes his way. And the 120 are then responsible to the three, and he has purposed in his heart to make sure that one out of the three will actually become, if you like, the prime minister or the president. And so it is that Daniel, who many years before had been snatched from the security of his home, is now a much older man, and here he is.

He had served with Belshazzar, he had served with Nebuchadnezzar, and now Darius. And it is in that context that we discover that Daniel runs right through the tape, that the conviction that had marked his early years has not waned with the passage of time. And that, I think, is the great encouragement of Daniel. You'll notice that he became distinguished amongst his peers.

That's what we're told in verse three. He just stood out. He was a good fellow. He was obviously an exceptional character.

In fact, that's what the text tells us, doesn't it? That even though his friends were envious of him, as we will see, they really could find no basis for any kind of complaint, because of the quality of his life. He was, if you like, a man of stability in a world that was shaky, a man of purity in a world that was dirty, a man of integrity in a world that was shady. There was no gap between his public and his private life.

He didn't cheat at work and he didn't cheat at home. He shined his shoes, he showed up on time, and he was generally a decent soldier. There's a tremendous amount to be said for that, isn't there? But it was in the everyday routine of life, in the fulfillment of his responsibilities, that the quality and character of the man was revealed. And it is on account of that that we're told that although he was distinguished among his peers, he was envied by them and he was opposed. It was his integrity that was the occasion of their jealousy.

You know, there's nothing worse than a really punctual member of your team if you always come in late. He was respectful, he was kindly, he was honest, and so on. And so the folks who want to try and discredit him realize very quickly that they're not going to be able to do it on the basis of these things. And so from verses 6 to 9, we have the record of them persuading this king to issue an edict, which would be relatively short. It was for thirty days, you will notice, in verse 7. In other words, it was going to be short enough for them to cope with, and yet long enough for them to have time to trap Daniel, and thus successfully preventing him from rising to the position of influence that the king had planned.

And it's the usual kind of thing. They go in in numbers, they go in with the safety of their companions, and they announce the fact that everybody agrees with this. If the king had been paying attention, he would have realized that Daniel's name was missing from the list. And they tell him that this is really the best plan that they have come up with.

And to make sure that the law will not be revoked. And so, therefore, King Darius signed the document and injunction. And the laws were changed, the penalties were determined, the trap was set, and it was set in such a way that these, quote, honorable men would not ultimately be found guilty of what happened to Daniel. Now there was no basis for their spite or for their hatred. It wasn't that Daniel had trampled on them or been unkind to them. They could probably have tolerated that or identified with it. What they couldn't handle was his unswerving commitment to this God of his.

This unshakable conviction that was a core conviction for him, that God was the living God, that God was an everlasting God. Now it wasn't that these men were irreligious and Daniel was religious. They were religious. People say that to us all the time, don't they?

Well, actually, they don't. They say, well, I'm not really a religious person, but I am a spiritual person. And in my spiritual realm, I'm able to tolerate all these different things, and I just don't understand what's wrong with you, why you're such a fanatic about this Jesus stuff. You see, this was what the problem was for these men. It would have been okay if Daniel said, I've got a little religious interest over here. It goes back a long time to a different place, and I'm just practicing it on my own, and I don't want you to interfere with me, and I won't interfere with you.

We can all get together quite happily. But that wasn't the case. They couldn't handle the fact that when they saw Daniel get down on his knees and turn his face towards Jerusalem, he wasn't simply going through some kind of external religious exercises. He was declaring the fact that his conviction was that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the final truth, and left no space for believing that all these other religions were equally valid.

That was the thing they couldn't understand. No, you see, Daniel was executing his religious convictions in an environment now where the law of the land and the law of God were in direct conflict with one another. Direct conflict. And when that direct conflict comes, then we're going to find out who is committed to the law of God, to the word of God, and who is prepared to compromise and roll over. And it remains the challenge of our day. Pluralism ultimately will only accept other pluralists.

Pluralism cannot handle this. And that's why I think Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount says, Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you, because of me. Now, some of us have people insulting us because of us, because we're poor characters. Jesus is not talking about that. He says, when people persecute you because of me. In other words, because you are so committed to following me that you will not go there, that you will not do that, that you will not bow down, that you will not capitulate, to declare that he alone is the way, the truth, and the life, that there is salvation in no one else, because there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved, to declare that marriage is the very creation of God himself and cannot be redefined by man.

Look out. Daniel was framed. They defeated him. They plotted against him, not because he was a bad fellow, but because he stood for truth. He loved what God loved, and he lived out that love. He was a forerunner of he who was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

So this distinguished man in his career, envied and opposed by his peers, declares his unwavering discipline even in light of the injunction. Verse 10 and following, you know the story that Daniel, when the document had been signed, went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open towards Jerusalem. If Daniel's commitment had been spasmodic, there would never have been a basis for what then happened. If his prayer life, if you like, had been bursts of enthusiasm followed by periods of chronic inertia, then their plot would not really have worked, would it?

They said, Just go. Basically, there's three times in the day you'll catch him at it. He does it all the time. He always faces in the same direction.

I don't know why he does that. We destroyed Jerusalem. There's no temple, but he keeps pointing in that direction. It's as if he believes that God will come and restore this. That's exactly what he believed. And so, they found him, giving thanks to God, verse 10, as he had done previously.

They don't read into this story that he just became a kind of freedom fighter in response to a bad law. Well, I'll go and pray. They said, I can't pray, so now I'll pray.

No. When he said, You'll only pray to this, he said, Well, I always pray, but it sure won't be to that, and I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. And they caught him, verse 12. And they caught the king, one of the exiles from Judah.

See the disparaging thing again? One of the exiles from Judah. Are you kidding me? This is Daniel. He's not just one of the exiles from Judah.

He's going to be the prime minister of this place. That's why you're doing what you're doing. He served his adopted country with great consistency. And this Daniel, they said, pays no attention to you, O king. Well, that wasn't true. But he doesn't actually obey the injunction you have signed. But he makes his petition three times a day. Wow.

This is so very wonderful, isn't it? The race for Daniel in following after God was a cross-country run that lasted for all of his life. Daniel is, I think, in passing, an illustration of the priority of forming holy habits. It was his unswerving witness which made it possible for him to be caught. And as loyal as he'd been to these various empires in serving them, nobody could be in any doubt about his loyalty to the kingdom of God. He looked towards Jerusalem, where he believed the truth was found, and where he believed men and women from every nation would look for their salvation. It's very possible, then, to launch into a big peace on the cultivating of our prayer life, which makes most of us feel really, really uncomfortable, if we're honest.

No, I don't want to do that. I want to move more quickly to make sure that the hero in this story is God, not Daniel. I think when I've preached this on previous occasions, Daniel definitely comes out on top. And we all finish singing, Dare to be a Daniel, and dare say, I'm going to be Daniel. They're Daniel. All the little Daniel's all going out through the place, and we're all Daniel, Daniel, Daniel.

No, and Daniel would have come in and said, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's Daniel, servant of the living God, the living God. God lives, says Daniel. That's what you need to know.

I just trusted him, and he looked after me. I want to tell you about the living God. That's actually what's so striking, isn't it? Because Darius, the Medo-Persian king, essentially ends singing, to God be the glory.

There ain't things he has done. That's how the chapter ends. It's fantastic. Did you hear Darius? He was singing.

To God be the glory. He was not. Yes, he was.

Some are not. He's got caught up with that living God of Daniel. Yeah, but I thought he dumped Daniel. Well, he did dump Daniel. He didn't want to, but he did. He put him in there. Verse 14, then the king, when he heard these words, that's the words of the opponents of Daniel, was much distressed.

This is different, isn't it? Nebuchadnezzar was furious. This fellow was distressed, and he set his mind to deliver Daniel, and he labored until the sun went down to rescue him. If I can find a way out for this, there's got to be some way that we can get some lawyers in here. They'll get this fixed. I know it's an injunction, but injunction minus two plus one, and we got seven votes over there, nine there, 43 satraps.

We can probably fix this, and then eventually there's nothing I can do except execute this irreversible decree. But of course, we're told that there was a lot of sleeplessness, and the king was not sleeping. He spent the night fasting, and then at break of day, verse 19, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.

And as he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish, because remember, this was not something that he wanted to happen. And the king declared to Daniel, oh Daniel, notice, servant of the living God, has your God whom you serve continually been able to deliver you from the lions? And he says, yes he has, and here I am.

I have trusted God. God has honored his word, and I have reason to rejoice before you. And as a result of that, King Darius then does one of these big letters, sends it out to all the peoples and nations and languages that dwell in all the earth. And he wants the people to tremble in fear before the God of Daniel, because he's the living God enduring forever, his kingdom will never be destroyed, and so on, all the way right to the very end.

Well, let me end in this way, because we're familiar with all of this, aren't we? I think of all the chapters, probably this chapter more than any of the others, confronts us with what will one day be a challenge for us. It seems almost inevitable, because Daniel had to choose between loyalty to Yahweh and obedience to a sinful government, a government that was commanding him to engage in something and tolerate something that he wouldn't tolerate.

All the years before, when he had refused the food, he had established his course, and now in the latter stages of his life, he wasn't going to deviate. He was trapped, but he was the servant of the living God. And in many ways, Daniel serves as a great foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus himself. And let me just identify this for us, to make the point, ultimately, that the book of the Bible is a book about Jesus. Daniel, amongst the presidents and the satraps, was conspired against, in the same way that the chief priests and the elders of the Jews conspired against Jesus.

The political friends of Daniel could find no basis for the charge, nor could they who opposed Jesus. He was found guilty of transgressions in the law of the Medes and the Persians. Jesus has transgressed the law of the Jews.

We have a law, they said. Darius tried unsuccessfully to intervene on behalf of Daniel. Pilate made a poor attempt to intervene on behalf of Jesus. Daniel trusted in God.

Jesus said, Not my will but yours be done. Daniel descended into the pit. Jesus' body was laid in the tomb. Daniel was found alive early the next morning. Jesus rose triumphantly on that glorious Easter morning. Daniel was saved from certain death, but rose again only to die later. God raised Jesus from the dead, and all was to live forever. And Daniel, in this incident, provides hope to the exiles of his day. And Jesus provides hope to we who are the exiles in our day.

Our God is the living God who is able to deliver from death those who put their trust in him. And the story of Daniel, I think, is here for us primarily for two reasons. One, so that the exiles would be encouraged to remain, like Daniel, faithful to God's law. So that the conflict between the law of the land and the law of God, they must submit to the law of God. And, loved ones, that is going to come somewhere along the line.

It's almost inevitable. And read the opening chapters of Acts. Judge for yourselves. They said whether it is right for us to submit to you or to submit to God. And they brought them in and they gave them a beating and they commanded no more to proclaim the name of Jesus. And they went out and proclaimed Jesus.

Well, remember Jesus said, not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, but he or she who does the will of my Father in heaven. So the story in Daniel is then, in part, to encourage those who, like Daniel, were confronted by the opposition of a secular world to remain true to the instruction of God. And secondly, to learn, like Daniel, to trust God, to trust God.

Francis Ridley Havergal wrote some great songs. I think none better than the one that begins, Like a river glorious is God's perfect peace. With that wonderful stanza, every joy or trial falleth from above, Traced upon our dial by the Son of love, We may trust him wholly. W-h-o-l-l-y. We may trust him wholly.

That's all for us to do. And they who trust him wholly find him wholly true. Go back and read chapter 6. Daniel says, God rescued me because I trusted him. Direct relationship. Those who trust him wholly find him wholly true.

Are you putting your whole weight on this? This morning, as I saw again the beauty of the day, my mind went to another song by another of our friends. Not that Francis was my friend, but I would have had her as a friend if I'd been around. But to little Fernando Ortega. And we look out and see this scene. You remember his song? When the morning falls on the farthest hill, I will sing his name. I will praise him still. And when dark trials come and my heart is filled with the weight of doubt, I will praise him still. For the Lord, our God, he is strong to save.

From the arms of death, from the deepest grave. And he gave us life in his perfect will. And by his good grace, I will praise him still. Stories like the one we've heard today, the story of Daniel in the lion's den, are in the Bible to point us to God, our great deliverer. That's the focus from today's lesson on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. From the promised land to the lion's den, Daniel's life was one of extremes. And yet his faith and his prayer life remained consistent regardless of his circumstances. The reason is because he relied on God. He trusted in God's promises and he lived according to God's instructions. To find out more about Daniel's God, you'll want to request a copy of Alistair's brand-new book titled Brave by Faith, God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World. In this book, you'll discover how God is the same today as he was in Daniel's time. We believe Brave by Faith is an essential for every Christian household. Today is the last day we're mentioning it on this program, so request your copy now when you donate to Truth for Life. You'll find the book on the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate, or you can call to request it 888-588-7884.

I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for joining us. Listen tomorrow as we launch a new series in Ephesians 6 titled Strength for the Battle. You'll learn what every believer can expect to face in spiritual warfare and how God equips us with the armor we need. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-04 08:00:17 / 2023-11-04 08:08:41 / 8

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