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Five Words on Daniel (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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June 15, 2024 4:00 am

Five Words on Daniel (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 15, 2024 4:00 am

Daniel’s loyalty and integrity won the king’s favor but ignited his fellow officials’ jealousy. His disciplined prayer life inspired a plot to eliminate him—but ultimately became the key to his deliverance. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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You're familiar with the story of Daniel in the Old Testament. Daniel's loyalty and integrity won the king's favor, but also ignited the jealousy of his fellow officials. Daniel's disciplined, prayerful lifestyle became the focus of their plot to eliminate him. And today on Truth for Life weekend, we'll learn how his consistent faith was also the instrument of his deliverance. Alistair Begg is teaching from Daniel chapter 6. He was distinguished, he was despised, he was disciplined. Actually, this characteristic of Daniel's life was the foundation of their plot. They knew that they could count on one thing in Daniel, and that is that he would be absolutely consistent. Some of our Christian lives are like human cannonballs, you know, a great surge of energy.

We come flying out the end of the thing and fall in a net and lie there for days on end. Well, that wasn't Daniel. He was like a Rolls-Royce engine on a 747.

Once they cranked him up, he just kept going and going and going and going. And so his friends said, We'll get him on the basis of his consistency. So they show up at his house. If your Bible is open, you'll see it there in verse 11. They went as a group.

They went as a group to his house. See this safety in numbers thing? You can all imagine them going, No, you go in first. You go in first. No, no, you go first. It was your idea.

You go first. Bunch of creeps. These men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. They weren't surprised. They knew they would. So they shoot off back to the king.

Okay, saw him, been there, done that. Back to the king. And they spoke to him about his royal decree. Presumably, he was issuing decrees all over the place. And so they said, You know, we want to remind you of your royal decree. Which one?

The one, you know, that we thought up for you a few days ago, where you were going to shut everything down for thirty days. And eventually he said, Oh, yeah, yeah, I'm with you, I've got that. And having caught Daniel, now they catch the king. They get his verbal concurrence with his written edict, and then they inform him—they drop the bomb—they say, By the way, you know, you said that anybody who wasn't doing this would be thrown in the lion's den. The king says, Yeah, you're dead right. The decree stands. You can imagine him just kind of waking up to it in accordance with the laws of the Medes and the Persians which cannot be repealed.

You can just see them going, This is gorgeous. Watch him. He would just bring him in, you know, like a tarpon in the Florida Keys.

We're just pulling the baby in. And then they drop it on him. Then they said to the king, Hey, Daniel. Daniel, who's one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree. In fact, he still prays three times a day.

He's not paying attention to you. That wasn't true. I wonder if any of us have the impression that Daniel's activity in prayer was some kind of reactionism to the king's edict.

In other words, he became a sort of political insurrectionist as a result of what had suddenly come down from the equivalent of Washington, D.C. Was it a display of defiance? After all, it would be one thing for him to pray briefly, to pray quietly, but with the windows open and three times a day. That's something special, don't you think?

Well, actually, that perception is absolutely false. And most of the little books, the little Bible books with a picture of Daniel praying, are completely bogus, if you'll pardon me. Because most of them, at least the ones that I had as a wee boy, had him praying in front of a big-picture window. You know, like it was the end of the high street, and everybody was going up and down, and Daniel was kind of like doing his thing for all the public as they passed by.

No. The history and architecture of the time points to the fact that Daniel's house would have been as other houses, and the windows were not at ground level. The windows were up high. And not only were they up high, but they were small.

And the reason they were small and up high was to protect from the heat and from the robbers. Therefore, the picture is not so much of Daniel posturing in public as it is of the evil hearts of these characters who invade his legitimate privacy and prise him out of his routine activity. You notice very carefully that for Daniel, when the crisis hit, it did not create his disciplined lifestyle. It revealed it. When crisis hits a marriage, it reveals the strength of the marriage.

Or otherwise, when crisis hits a school, it reveals the character and caliber of the leadership of the school or the student body, whatever it might be. It reveals what is there. Oh yes, it has an impact. Yes, it does create certain things.

But the first thing it does is it shows up what's there. And when the crisis hit, it showed up where Daniel was. He had made prayer such a habit in his life that probably the very momentum of the custom of praying itself would have been enough for him to stay faithful, with or without a sense of inspiration. You understand what I'm saying? That he was so committed to praying disciplined prayer in this way that he prayed whether he felt like it or whether he didn't feel like it. See, most of us begin our plans on the basis of a feeling in our tummy, you know.

Well, I really feel I ought to do this. And we do it as long as we feel we ought to do it, and then when we don't feel we ought to do it, we close it down for a while. That has nothing to do with discipline. And why didn't you pray at the prayer meeting? Well, I didn't feel like praying at the prayer meeting. For goodness' sake, what is prayer?

A glandular condition or something? Jesus said, Man ought always to pray and not to faint. That's good enough for me. It's a prayer meeting. Pray. We didn't all come together to sit in silence, for goodness' sake.

We ought to have done that and unhooked our telephones and laid them down on our bedside tables and laid on our beds in total silence. The discipline of his life. Probably there were times when he felt like praying and other times when he didn't feel like praying. There were times when he got a great surge out of it, and there were other times when, frankly, he got nothing out of it. There were times when he left feeling really blessed, and there were other times when he left feeling really flat. But he didn't care. He prayed, because he prayed, because he prayed.

That's discipline. In fact, in relationship to the edict that had come down, he could probably by this time have rationalized the fact that he'd stored up such a phenomenal credit on the strength of all the things that he'd done for God that God would let him off for thirty days. Don't you think you and I would have rationalized a little bit like that? Isn't that what you do when you go on vacation? Well, I don't think I need to go to church this Sunday. After all, I've been going to church for the last fifty-one Sundays.

Who cares? Since when was that a New Testament question? Or he could have said, you know, I've got a sneaking suspicion that I'm soon going to be home out of here.

It would be a dreadful thing to get my head chopped off or eaten up by lions just when I'm about to go home and see some of my old friends and my old cousins and my own family. And he could have said to himself, you know, I think the Lord, he won't mind if I shut it down just for a little while after, you know, thirty days goes past very quickly. Especially at my age, he says, you know, seventy-five or eighty years, and I've been praying up a storm for years, Lord. You know, never even entered his head, apparently. He just was straight at it the same way as ever. Bam! You know, bam, bam! Praying! Have you ever been in the company of somebody like that?

The kind of involuntary reaction of their life is prayer. I've got a little friend called T.S. Mooney. I may have told you about him before. He's living in heaven for the last little while. He was a bachelor all of his days. He taught a boy's Bible class for fifty years of his life.

He was a banker. The boy's Bible class that he taught was in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. I asked him one day, I said, What's your plan and purpose with these boys? He answered instantaneously, My plan for the Bible class has always been to give every boy a Bible in his hand, a Savior in his heart, and a purpose in his life. Straight out. Every boy that came to his class, he prayed for.

Always. By the time I met him, he was in his seventies, and when I went to his apartment in Londonderry, it was like a rogue's gallery. There were photographs all around the walls. There were judges from the High Court in London. There were famous surgeons. There were schoolteachers. There were mechanics.

There were plumbers. There were all kinds of people all around. And who were they? They were his boys.

And I counted it an amazing thing as an apostle, one untimely born, to be added to the list and to get my face in the rogue's gallery. And he used to write to me and say, I remember you daily at the best place. And I believed him. I met a young man the other day. He said to me, I pray for you every Tuesday.

And I believed him. Whose ministry is being held up on the strength of our disciplined commitment to prayer? We can do more than pray after we've prayed, but we can do more than pray until we've prayed.

If our prayer is meager, it's because we regard it as something supplemental rather than as something fundamental. And for this guy, Daniel, it was fundamental. It was like breathing. It was like putting on his sandals.

It was like drinking Diet Coke, whatever it was, you know. He was absolutely committed to it. Incidentally, T.S. Mooney died a few years ago. The housekeeper found him in the morning, fully dressed and kneeling over his bed. He had gone into the presence of Jesus on his knees.

She called for two young men, one a headmaster, another young man who had grown up through his Bible class. And they came to the house, and they lifted T.S. Mooney's body off the floor. And as they prised him back from the bed, they pulled up the little black book that he used to keep alongside his Bible that was wrapped in a rubber band.

And they looked down to find their names amongst the list of many names. It was morning. It was time to pray. And he was praying.

Loved ones, the door is wide open for that kind of consistent commitment. If you are prepared as a young man or a young woman tonight to say, Whatever he takes me, whatever I do, whatever I'm going to become, I know I can be that. And so it was that Daniel displayed his discipline in his prayer. Now, there's two words left.

You know that. So let me just give you the two remaining words. The first word was he was distinguished by his quality and his integrity.

The second word was that he was despised. The third word, which I've just dealt with, I've forgotten. And the fourth word—what was it?

Discipline. And the fourth word was he was dumped. That's why you should never feel bad if you've forgotten, you know.

I fall asleep reading my notes on Saturday evenings, and so I'm never surprised when people fall asleep listening to my notes on Sunday mornings. The fourth word is he was dumped. Dumped.

Okay? Verse 16. So the king gave the order, they brought Daniel, and they threw him in the lion's den.

The king was trapped. By his own poor piece of legislation. Verse 14 tells us he was greatly distressed, that he was determined to rescue Daniel, that he made every effort until sundown to save him. He tried to introduce another bill, you know.

He tried to put together enough people in the Congress who would vote to overturn his edict, and they all held absolutely true. No way! We've got old Daniel this time. Daniel's going down. Bye-bye, Daniel.

We are gonna dump him once and for all. And the fact of the matter is that Daniel would not be here in chapter 6 were it not for the commitment that he declared in chapter 1 with his passion for purity. He would not be here at the age of seventy and eighty were it not for the persistence that he'd shown through his middle years. Daniel's life was, in the phrase I used the other evening, a long obedience in the same direction, and so he was dumped. Verse 16 actually says that they threw him into the lion's den. The architecture of the time and the little bit of historical and archaeological research reveals that in these kind of structures there was a ramp for the animals and a hole for the victim. It causes me to say that every putrefying culture will take more concern of its animals than it will of its human beings.

And we are living in such a culture. The decision from a human perspective in dumping him was irreversible. A stone was brought placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed it with his own signet ring and the rings of his nobles so that Daniel's situation might not be changed.

In other words, it was a joint deal. They wanted to make sure the king didn't bail out, and he was stuck with the fact that they were determined not to. And the evening passes with nobody eating. Verse 18, the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without entertainment being brought to him, and he could not sleep. He wasn't eating. The lions weren't eating. Daniel wasn't eating.

Nobody was eating. And as soon as dawn came, at the first light of dawn, you can imagine him just waiting, pulling the blinds and going, I gotta get down there. The king got up and hurried to the lion's den. And when he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, because he didn't know what he was gonna find.

It brings me to my last word. Daniel was delivered. He calls out in a strangulated voice. Can you imagine him shouting? Because he doesn't… I mean, he doesn't expect he's getting any answer, right? Daniel!

That's not strangulated enough. I'm not gonna mimic it. He shouts into the darkness. And you imagine Daniel going, yeah? It's like, hey, chill out, king.

No problem. Verse 21, Daniel said, Hey king, live forever. My God sent his angel.

He shut the mouths of the lions. They haven't hurt me. Reason I was found innocent in his sight.

Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king. See, that's a passion for purity. That's consistency. That's integrity. You can't say that unless you have lived that.

Neither can I. The reason that the angels came and shut the mouths of the lions was because I was absolutely innocent. It was a trumped-up charge. I frankly have never done anything wrong before you, O king. And the king was overjoyed, and he gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den.

You see the difference now? He gets dumped in. He gets lifted out. You know, it's very hard not to read these verses and have your mind shoot forward in biblical history, is it not? To see a foreshadowing year of Calvary? Another one on trumped-up charges? Another one despised and rejected by those to whom he had done no wrong? Another one who was left behind a sealed den?

Another one who had a stone rolled in front of the entranceway to prevent his exit? And then, in the first light of dawn, the discovery made, he is alive? And here in Daniel 6, there is a foreshadowing of that day when the lion will lie down with the lamb and will eat straw like an ox. An inbreaking, as it were, of the kingdom that is yet to come in anticipation of the day when the king comes to reign. And suddenly Darius' eyes are opened as a result of this encounter, and he issues another decree. He calls for the worship of Daniel's god.

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, the nations, and the men of every language throughout the land. He says, Listen, Daniel's god lives. Daniel's god reigns. Daniel's god rescues. Daniel's god performs signs and wonders. Small wonder in verse 28 that we read that Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Why? Because he was the embodiment of a man with a passion for purity. Empires come and go, kings rise and fall, fashions and lifestyles change, but God's truth never changes. It was in an event like this, many years ago, at a different college, but a similar context, that one young man, on the strength of this kind of exhortation and encouragement, went back to his room, took his journal, opened it, wrote down the date of the day—tautology—wrote down the date, and penned, He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. And Elliot said, That is going to be my life. You say to yourself, Well, I'm not Elliot. He wasn't Jim Elliot then. You know what I mean? Well, he was Jim Elliot, but he wasn't, you know, like Jim Elliot. You know what I mean? He was just Jim. His last name happened to be Elliot.

And now we know him, because in the privacy of his life, he made this kind of commitment. I want to encourage you young folks tonight to make sure, like in cross-country running, don't get with a crowd that hangs around at the back. And there will be a crowd like that, there is in every school.

Don't hang around with those people. You've run about 150 yards, and they start to say things like, Well, we don't really need to do this. They start to say things like, Well, you know, there's no need to be fanatical about this.

And eventually, they just get further and further and further behind, and then they criticize the people who are running hard out in front. Look at him. Look at her. Who does she think she is? Let me tell you something.

Run out and run hard. Oh, you say, But I'm not much. I'm just me. No one knows. Listen, God knows.

Canon Farrar, in an earlier generation, wrote these words in his journal. I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do I ought to do, and what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do. If this was Scotland, we would finish with the chorus.

But I've looked in your book, and it's not there. This is how it goes. Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm. And dare to make it known.

And for you ladies, let's just change it ever so slightly. Dare to be a Danielle. For, if truth were told, the pages of twentieth-century missionary biography have more testimonies to this kind of caliber in the lives of young women than ever in the lives of young men. So, although he was a Daniel, why don't you, then, be a Daniel? You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life Weekend.

He'll return shortly to close today's program. Here at Truth for Life, it's our desire to see as many people as possible accessing Alistair's Bible teaching without cost. And we get letters from people all around the world who tell us that they've come to depend on Truth for Life's daily teaching. We have the privilege of hearing from missionaries and pastors, students, even prisoners.

And though many of them are not in a position to donate, they write to express their deep gratitude to their fellow listeners who make this ministry possible. We are so encouraged to hear how God is using Truth for Life even behind prison walls. So, let me take a moment and say thank you if you are one of our truth partners. If you'd like to find out more about becoming a truth partner, visit slash truth partner.

And while you're on our website, check out the book we've been recommending. It's called The Faith Builder Catechism. It's a weekly devotional that focuses on teaching the basics of Christianity to preteens.

And it follows a fun video game theme to encourage kids to unplug from screen time and get some scripture time instead. This is the final weekend we'll be featuring this devotional. If you'd like to find out more about The Faith Builder Catechism, visit our website I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for joining us this weekend. For those who are celebrating Father's Day, all of us at Truth for Life wish you a very happy weekend. Next weekend, we'll hear about Caleb in the Old Testament who pressed on in faith even at an advanced age when many of us prefer to press into a recliner. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-15 06:10:43 / 2024-06-15 06:19:42 / 9

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