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From Babylon to Bethlehem, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
December 5, 2022 12:00 am

From Babylon to Bethlehem, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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December 5, 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.

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He wasn't being promoted because he knew how to hobnob with all of the politically well-connected and the wealthy, the hoi polloi. The most attractive thing about his life and your life and mine will never be the nameplate at the office, the salary and benefit package. What you drove to church in this morning and what kind of house you're going to go home to.

None of that. The greatest attraction to Christianity is a Christian who seems to be glad he is. Would you like to be influential? Would you like to leave a legacy that transcends your lifetime? Daniel was extremely influential in the courts of Babylon and Persia, but it wasn't his power that made him an effective witness for God. It was his love for God and his commitment to be faithful.

As a result, his influence was felt for generations. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen continues through his series on the life of Daniel, a series he's calling the first wise man. Today he begins the last message in that series and he's calling today's message from Babylon to Bethlehem. I fear that the average Christian is under the impression that the older you grow in Christ, the easier the battle becomes. That the closer you live to God, the easier your walk becomes. That the more openly you live for Christ, the more God will reward you with respect from others around you.

We're under the impression, I fear, that God rewards faithfulness with smooth sailing and peaceful times. If there's one detailed account in the Bible that shatters all of those myths, it's the life of Daniel. Now by the time we reach the climax of his faithful testimony, he's in his mid-80s.

As you know, he has spent most of his life in a foreign country, a defeated country is when he came from. More than likely he witnessed the death of his parents some 70 years earlier. His life never went from a difficult to easy.

His life never moved from dangerous to peaceful. Nearly every time we have seen Daniel, his life is in jeopardy. Chapter 6 ends the narrative section or the biographical section of the book of Daniel and with that our study will end as well. We looked at some of that prophecy from this man's life in chapters 2 and chapter 7 in our last session. We're going to end our study primarily focusing on the life of this man. Before the dust settles in chapter 6, the biography of Daniel comes to a close. His lifestyle of wisdom will be etched into those kingdoms and certainly into our hearts and our minds as well.

At least that would be our prayer. It's been said before that knowledge is knowing the right answer and wisdom is having the right attitude. Knowledge is the ability to repeat back the truth. Wisdom is being able to live out of the truth. As I studied this chapter and it may be a familiar one to you if you've known the Lord for any length of time, as I looked at it again with fresh eyes and open heart, five words lift off the page of this man's biography that we'll use as an outline. These are five ingredients, demonstrations, attributes of genuine wisdom.

The first word is personality. Look at verse 1. It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom that they wouldn't be in charge of the whole kingdom and over them three commissioners of whom Daniel was one, that these satraps might be accountable to them and that the king might not suffer loss.

It's a biblical way of saying so he won't lose his shirt. Darius is more than likely one of Cyrus' vice regions. We know from history that his name was Ugbaru, chosen by Cyrus to reign as king in his stead, in this capital city that is. The name Darius is simply an honorary title like Pharaoh of the Egyptian world or Caesar of the Roman world.

Darius, in fact, the word dara from the Persian language simply means king. And this particular man will reign in this capital city under the rule of Cyrus. In fact, the last verse of chapter 5, just a few lines up, tells us that he received the kingdom, which means it wasn't his in effect. It was Cyrus' who commissions him to reign until reign for about 14 years. Verse 3. Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom because of it effectively.

Now mark that phrase. He was possessing an extraordinary spirit. You could translate that an excellent attitude. Simply put, he had a great attitude. And that marked him, by the way, and those around him. Wisdom is being demonstrated through his personable spirit. The thing that made Daniel stand out to this man, Darius, was not the fact that he was an administrative genius, not the fact that he's a great leader, he had just the right amount of charisma so that he was likeable but not untouchable. He wasn't being promoted because he knew how to hobnob with all of the politically well-connected and the wealthy, the hoi polloi. The most attractive thing about his life and your life and mine will never be the nameplate at the office, the salary and benefit package, what you drove to church in this morning and what kind of house you're going to go home to.

None of that. The greatest attraction to Christianity is a Christian who seems to be glad he is. Motivated and driven by the joy of the Lord which happens to be, it really is their strength. We happen to contact a potential speaker for our summer series that's coming up. A nationally known figure is known as a Christian. His agent said we never could get past his agent. The agent said there's just no way around the $75,000 fee, and by the way, we would have to charter a private jet and it had to be a certain size. $75,000 to come and share his testimony.

Pastor Burgrath said he would give his testimony for half that amount and we could skip the whole plane thing. Here's Daniel, he's third in the kingdom before and now he's just known that he's down to earth. Everybody knows he's marked by this spirit, this winsome personality. You already know the end of the story. Hang with me. Think through some things with me as if you're seeing it for the first time.

Don't overlook the obvious. At age 85, Daniel should have been the least personable man in the kingdom. By now he should be ill-spirited, bitter, angry. He's there in the kingdom serving one more pagan in the long list and he's there only because he was taken as a teenager from his home in his early teens when Nebuchadnezzar crushed Jerusalem. Jewish tradition long held and early church fathers that Daniel had been indeed subjected to castration as a young teenager. Chapter one implies as much he's put under the care of the eunuch leader.

We do know he remained unmarried his entire life. He's been forced to endure blasphemy after blasphemy by the men around him. His political colleagues are idolatrous.

They're conniving, competing pagan men. He's watched empires grow and then collapse and now at the end of his years of faithful service he's been sort of shuttled aside and forgotten only to be called out of retirement to interpret the handwriting on the wall that one more kingdom will fall before he can make an exit after interpreting that message. He, though he doesn't want it, is effectively promoted to prime minister. The conquering empire that comes in that evening immediately drafts him as one of the three leaders overseeing a collection of political leaders who will have him soon thrown to the lions so that they can get on with padding their pockets. If there's anybody in the kingdom with the right to be a bitter old man, to be anything but winsome, to have anything other than an extraordinary spirit, it is this elderly man, this eighty-five year old bachelor who'd lived nearly his entire life in a country that ignored his God and used his people. Listen, if you were God in charge of writing this man's biography wouldn't you think to yourself by now, you know, it's time to just sort of allow Daniel to phase out of this life of political pressure.

It's time to let him grow a little vegetable garden or maybe sit on the porch of some cottage overlooking the Euphrates. It's time for Daniel, perhaps even better, to come up here with me. This faithful servant, it's time to gather him to his full reward.

But God is writing the biography, not you and me. And in the mind of God, which needs to just stun us a little bit here, if you can believe it, in the mind of God it is now the time to test his heart and to test his life to a limit it has never been tested before. Now he's ready for the greatest test of all.

It's time for wisdom to shine through like never before. There's another word that comes to mind, it's the word integrity. When you think of Daniel you automatically think of integrity, don't you? When the news leaks out that the king is going to promote Daniel over all the rest of them, notice what happens in verse four, then the commissioners and satraps begin trying to find, you ought to note that word, find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs, but they could find, there it is again, no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption in as much as he was faithful. That verb for find there informs us of the tenacity of these officials searching for something against Daniel, some ground of accusation. Sort of like when a candidate in our country or even the countries represented here in a democratic culture runs for office, the rivals begin the process of turning over every stone, we've got to find some bugs somewhere.

We've got to find some worms. I mean surely this Jewish bachelor, he has some dirt hiding somewhere. I mean he's lived in Babylon and when did Babylon do as the Babylonians, right?

Shouldn't be too hard, we've got 70 years to sift through, we'll find it. So they lived in this culture effectively started trailing Daniel, they hacked into his computer, they checked all his mail, they tracked his credit card expenses, got to be something. Would you notice they're inspecting his public life from top to bottom, the text reads, look again, they're trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs. That is they're going all the way back to when he was about 19 years of age, inducted into that post, government post under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and then all the way through to the reign of Belshazzar and listen it's government affairs they're looking at, they could care less, they couldn't care less about checking into his Old Testament Bible reading plan. They're not interested in his religion, they couldn't care less about his prayer life, at least not at this point. And they wrap up their search, we don't know how long it took, but they gather in some back room somewhere to deliver all their results and every one of them are scratching their heads no doubt with a measure of amazement, this guy is clean, we can't find anything. Notice the last part of verse 4, and no negligence or corruption was found, note here the shift, in him. They've gone from public to private, I mean a man can seem to be a man of integrity in public and not so in private. A man can appear to sound honest in public but be devious in private, so they've searched both.

D.O. Moody once said that character is what a man was like in the dark. Wouldn't it be great to be a little more like Daniel?

I mean how long would somebody have to tell us if we're finding a bug or two under some rock hidden away? If we want to live in 2013 like Daniel, confess what you need to confess. Get right with God where you need to get right with God. Come clean. You won't lose respect, you'll regain it. You won't forfeit fellowship with God, you will refresh it.

Come clean. The question is did Daniel know the investigation was taking place? Probably. So what do these guys do now? Verse 5, and these men said we will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it, there's the word again, find it against him with regard to the law of his God. In other words, we got to figure out a way to use his walk with his God against him.

And they brilliantly come up with a plan. Notice the devious little plan in verse 6. Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows, Darius live forever, all the commissioners of the kingdom, all the prefects and all the dirty little rats, I mean the satraps, we've all consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any God or man beside you O king, for 30 days shall be cast into the lion's den. Here's the plan, O king, we're going to make you the God of the month. And the king thinks that's a pretty cool idea.

Nobody can ask their God anything they've got to ask you for whatever they want. And if they pray to any God but you, they get eaten by the lions. Now the king and all of his humility like that idea and he didn't notice one missing person in this group. And that's probably because the word for agreement, they came in agreement. You could actually translate that they came in a throng. They came in mass. They came as a group. In other words they packed in the king's courtroom with so many people that he would be less likely to notice there's one guy missing and it worked. He didn't know it. Let me give you another descriptive word for wisdom.

Personality, integrity, and now thirdly consistency. Look at verse 9. Therefore King Darius signed the document that is the injunction.

Now follow this, look at verse 10. Now when Daniel knew, when he knew that the document was signed, he entered his house. Now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem. And he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day praying, that is supplicating, and giving thanks before his God as he had been doing previously. Now you need to understand that he's fulfilling what Solomon had said earlier that if the people are ever in a distant land and they repent and pray toward the city of God, pray toward the temple of God, God will hear. He's praying that statement as his prayer request.

Daniel already knows from the prophecy of Jeremiah that the captivity will only last 70 years and he knows time is nearing its end but he's praying that God will keep that prophetic word. That's his supplication. May these people repent.

And by the way they came into Babylon and they are polytheistic and idolatrous and when they leave Babylon they are monotheistic from that day to this day. He's praying for his people three times a day. Did you notice this decree from the king is not going to change one thing? And I couldn't help but wonder, what does it take to get my prayer life stopped? How about you? What does it take to get your prayer life started?

Just did neither. Daniel could have had a, you know, he could have decided to have a month of silent praying. Right? Maybe, you know, not so obvious. Or maybe he could have prayed at night. It doesn't have to be at 9 noon and 3. Maybe go for a noisy cart ride every day and have some prayer time. You know, pull his hood up and nobody would notice. Maybe just 30 days of, you know, of silent devotion. Or maybe skip it at all. Why not?

For 75 years he has consistently prayed to God in this manner. What would 30 days hurt? Just 30 days. And he didn't have to open his windows either. Keep him closed now.

Nobody needs to hear. Besides, it's between you and God. He could have avoided what he knew as a trap. But you see, this was the pattern of Daniel's life.

And Daniel refuses to change his pattern even in the presence of pressure to the point of death. 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. 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'd 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. John Phillips writes, I still remember that first day in the army. We got there, we arrived, we were hauled here, there and everywhere. We were given shots and issued boots. We were offered tasteless army food and documents to sign.

We were soldiers. And then bedtime came. I did what I decided to do. I put my Bible on my bed and I knelt down by my bunk and nothing happened. Nobody noticed.

Nobody cared. I don't know whether or what I really prayed. I vaguely remember counting up to 50 and saying, amen. But that was all right with God. I'm sure for starters, I had made my statement. I had purposed in my heart I was going to live for God. Have you made that statement?

Is it 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 up 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 Boice 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. The king who had great affection and esteem for Daniel is now backed into a corner.

The law requires that Daniel be thrown into a den of lions. What happens next is going to have to wait until next time because we're out of time for today. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart, the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. We'd really enjoy hearing from you. Please take a few moments and drop us a note. Our mailing address is Wisdom International, PO Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. If you prefer communicating electronically, our email address is info at wisdomonline.org. You're not going to want to miss the conclusion to today's lesson. So join us next time right here on Wisdom for the Heart. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-05 09:51:43 / 2022-12-05 10:01:07 / 9

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