Stephen Caswell © 1999
Putting Faith to the Test
Robert Chesebrough believed in his product. He's the fellow who invented Vaseline, a petroleum jelly refined from rod wax, the ooze that forms on shafts of oil rigs. He so believed in the healing properties of his product that he became his own guinea pig. He burned himself with acid and flame; he cut and scratched himself so often and so deeply that he bore the scars of his tests the rest of his life. But he proved his product worked. People had only to look at his wounds, now healed, to see the value of his work--and the extent of his belief. -- Ralph Walker In the same way four young Hebrews proved their faith in God in the midst of very difficult trials.
Last Sunday morning we saw how Shadrach Meshach and Abed-Nego withstood an incredible test upon their faith. They refused to worship or serve the king's gods. These men demonstrated great courage and faith in God. The stand they took put their lives on the line. Their defense before the king is one that we can all learn from. If it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not be it known O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up. The king learnt through experience that God's rule is supreme. He is sovereign. Today we see Daniel confronted with a similar test. He was asked to change his worship and devotion from God to man. At this stage Daniel was an elderly man, probably about 82 or 83 years old. Yet his faith had not weakened over the years. We will see four points today.
I. Daniel's Preference
II. Daniel's Peril
III. Daniel's Preservation
IV. Darius' Proclamation
I. Daniel's Preference
Daniel 6:1-4 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.
The 122 administrators didn't want Daniel, a Jew, ruling over them. So they examined him out to find if he had been stealing from the king. They closely examined his work in the kingdom and found him to be faultless. The word fault means corrupt. Daniel was faultless, what a wonderful testimony. There was no negative quality in Daniel's service.
King Darius replaced the Babylonian rule of Belshazzar. He reorganized the government and appointed administrators over the kingdom. 120 satraps or officials were given authority to govern regions on behalf of the king. Darius set three governors over all these. Because Daniel was such an able administrator Darius thought of appointing him prime minister. We are told that he distinguished himself above the rest. The word distinguish means to be preferred, be reliable, to be pre-eminent, to be briliant. He had an excellent spirit in him. This was because God was with him and He enabled Daniel to govern wisely. Verse 4 tells us that he was faithful in all his duties. He could be counted on to do his tasks well. These are all positive qualities.
Faithfulness, Tiny Sacrifices -- Darryl Bell,
Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of consecration. "To give my life for Christ appears glorious," he said. "To pour myself out for others ... to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom--I'll do it. I'm ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory. "We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table--'Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all.' "But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid's troubles instead of saying, ' Go away.' Go to a committee meeting. Give up a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. "Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it's much harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul."
Daniel totally obeyed the Lord. Every day in the big things and the little things he was faithful. Do you have that kind of testimony at work? Can your boss count on you to be honest? Is your life faultless? Or is there corruption in your work habits? Do dishonesty or laziness weaken your witness? Daniel was a faithful servant. He relied on God's Spirit. Christians are called out of the world to be ambassadors for the King of Kings. Are you serving Him well? Are you endeavoring to be faithful and faultless? Are you relying on the Holy Spirit's power?
Because Daniel was faithful and faultless he was preferred by the king. But this lead to:
II. Daniel's Peril
a. The Conspiracy Against Daniel
Daniel 6:5-9 Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! “All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.
The satraps didn't quit when they found Daniel to be faithful and without fault. They weren't going to allow this Jew to rule over them. He was already showing them up, imagine what would happen if he became prime minister? So they decided to trap him with regards to his faith. They knew that Daniel served the Lord and would have nothing to do with idolatry. Daniel's faith was known throughout Babylon. He was a man of principle. The plan was to get the king to introduce a new law that required Daniel to compromise his faith. They knew he wouldn't do this. But how could they get the king to pass this law? By appealing to his pride.
The governors and satraps united before the king and asked him to pass the law. They suggested that all prayers be offered to the king for one month. No doubt the king was flattered. He thought that this would unite his newly acquired kingdom. He would be given recognition throughout the empire. It seemed like a good law since all the governors, administrators, satraps and counselors had agreed on it, hadn't they? All except Daniel that is! So the king fell for it! In doing this, the king was putting himself in the place of God. And his pride prevented Darius from seeing the wickedness of the proposed law. The king was not God. Men should not pray to him.
b. The Consistency Of Daniel
Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Well the law was passed and Daniel found out about it. What would he do? He couldn't bring his requests to the king as the law insisted. Daniel knew that the king couldn't help him since he was only mortal. To pray to the king was idolatry. And he would have no part of it. But if Daniel prayed to the Lord he could lose his life. Maybe he should stop praying for a month or pray secretly at night. But Daniel wouldn't do that. He wasn't ashamed of his Lord. He didn't try to hide his faith by praying at night. Daniel did what he had always done, he prayed to God three times a day. This shows that Daniel was a committed servant of God. Even though he was busy with the king's business he took time to pray. He continued to seek God's help as he had done in the past. Daniel treasured his times of prayer with God. He wouldn't give them up for anyone!
Daniel's prayers consisted of thanksgiving or praise and supplication which means to ask for mercy. Daniel didn't blame God for this new law. He praised God and gave thanks to Him. He asked for God's grace, mercy and wisdom in the situation. This is a good example for us to follow. When trials come our way we should immediately bring them to the Lord. Trials should be times of proving God's grace in greater measure. Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it. -- Winston Churchill, He opened his window and prayed toward Jerusalem. Why? Solomon requested this from God at the temple's dedication. 2 Chronicles 6:36-39
" When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near; “yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness’;
“and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been carried captive, and pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and toward the temple which I have built for Your name: “then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. Daniel was concerned about his people, Israel. They were on his heart and that is why he prayed facing Jerusalem. Daniel prayed for his people. He prayed that God might forgive them and restore them to their home land. He prayed according to God's will.
c. The Condemnation Of Daniel
Daniel 6:11-18 Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: So they answered and said before the king, " That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
The governors and satraps found Daniel praying to his God. Then they accused him before the king. They sprung the trap that they had set for Daniel. When the king heard these words he was upset with himself. He realized that the governors and satraps had used him to get rid of his best administrator. He saw the jealousy and cunning behind their plan. They showed their envy by referring to him as one of the captives from Judah even though this event took place more than 60 years earlier. They resented this Jew ruling over them. Therefore the king tried to find a loop hole in the law. But the law of the Medes and the Persians cannot be changed. So after working all day to free him Darius found that he was bound by his own law.
The governors and satraps returned to remind him of the law. Reluctantly Darius had Daniel cast into the lions den. But the king knew that Daniel's God was real and he encouraged Daniel. He said to him that the God whom he served continually would deliver him. He expressed faith in Daniel's God. He also showed his concern for Daniel and his desire that he be delivered from this peril. The king didn't eat all night. He refused to be entertained and couldn't sleep. All of these things prove that King Darius held Daniel in very high esteem.
The Danger Of Denial
We usually think that denying Christ is an outright act, like Peter's disavowal of Jesus in John 18. But Reginald Heber pointed out that we can deny him in more subtle ways. We deny our Lord whenever we remain silent when we should speak up for our faith. Daniel would not do this. He would not deny his Lord by praying to the king, abstaining from prayer or praying in secret. He remained faithful in the this large trial even as he had through all the smaller trials he had gone through.
Daniel wasn't aware of the conspiracy being plotted against himself. He was going about his business as normal. Often when Christians work faithfully non Christians get upset. This is because they are shown up for their own faults. We don't have to know what people scheme against us. Daniel didn't! Just remain faithful to the Lord. Daniel didn't compromise one bit when this new law was passed. Do you stand firm when you are pressured to conform? Do you stand up for Christ at work? Do you pray before meals when you are dinning out? Or are you frightened about what others will think? Often it is the little things that people notice. On these matters of conscience we must choose beforehand to please God rather than men.
Daniel's life was in peril, but God Himself provided:
III. Daniel's Preservation
Daniel 6:19-23 Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” Then the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.
The king came to the lion's den early in the morning to see if Daniel was alive. He asked with sorrow in his voice Daniel, has your God whom you serve been able to deliver you? Daniel respectfully replied that God had sent His Angel to protect him from the lions. Daniel records two reasons why God delivered Him. Because he was faultless and faithful.
We observed these qualities at the start of the chapter. Verse 22 says that God found Daniel to be innocent. The law that he broke was an unjust law cunningly decreed to kill a righteous man. The fault lay with the governors and satraps who conspired to shed innocent blood. Daniel said that he had done nothing wrong before the king either. Daniel was faultless before God and man. These were the same qualities that moved the king to appoint Daniel to be his prime minister.
The second reason God delivered Daniel was because he was faithful. Verse 23 says that he believed in His God. The lions couldn't touch him because Daniel believed in Almighty God. Hebrews 11:32-33 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
The apostle Paul proved this in all of his trials. 2 Timothy 4:16-18 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
Daniel trusted the Lord to deliver him. God knew that he was innocent. Is your life one that is faultless and faithful? Can God deliver you from trials because of these two points? Do you trust the Lord to help you in trials? Until our faith has been tested it can't be trusted.
IV. Darius' Proclamation
a. Punished Daniel's Enemies
Daniel 6:24 And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions—them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.
The old saying what goes around comes around. God triumphed over Daniel's enemies. The very punishment intended for Daniel was executed upon the schemers. Throughout Scripture we find cases where God returns people's wickedness upon their own heads. Wicked people become ensnared by their own traps. The king had no reservations about casting these deceitful men into the lions den. The lions didn't wait for them to reach the bottom of the den. This proves they were hungry and makes Daniel's deliverance all the more miraculous.
b. Praised Daniel's God
Daniel 6:25-27 Then King Darius wrote: To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
King Darius issued a decree that all men must tremble before the God of Daniel. Because He alone is the living God. Unlike the idols of Babylon and its vain kings, the Lord truly rules over all. The king acknowledged that God's deliverance of Daniel proved His sovereignty over all. Ironically the story began with a vain king being made the center of worship and finishes with the same man commanding all men to be afraid and shake with fear before the true God. Darius had come to respect the living God. All because Daniel honored the Lord above all else.
c. Promoted Daniel
Daniel 6:28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel prospered under the reigns of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. No doubt he was given the position of prime minister after all of this. And I am sure that men respected Daniel after all of this and never tried such actions again. They knew that God had saved Daniel!
Daniel's integrity glorified God in a pagan society. The king punished the satraps and governors for their scheming. God can overrule evil plans when His people remain faithful. And Daniel's stature was enhanced as he was promoted by the king. Will you determine in your heart to always please God? Will you dare to be like Daniel? Today we have seen:
I. Daniel's Preference
a. Faithful - The king thought of promoting Daniel because he drew on God's wisdom. Do you rely on the Lord? Are you distinguished by His Spirit? Are you faithful at work?
b. Faultless - What sort of testimony do you have at work? Are you faultless or corrupt?
II. Daniel's Peril
a. Conspiracy Against Daniel - Evil men scheme against God's people. But don't compromise.
b. Consistency Of Daniel - Are you consistent in your walk with God? How often do you pray? Do you treasure your quiet time with the Lord above all else?
c. The Condemnation Of Daniel - The governors and rulers trapped Daniel. But God knows all and He watches over His own.
III. Daniel's Preservation
a. Faithful - Daniel was delivered because he believed that God could. Do you trust the Lord? Do you believe He can help you through your all of your trials?
b. Faultless - the second reason Daniel was delivered was because he was faultless. Are you? Do you live above the world's standard? Do you seek to please God always?
IV. Darius' Proclamation
a. Punished Daniel's Enemies - Darius gave God's judgment. We should trust God to do this.
b. Praised Daniel's God - Daniel's courage lead the king to praise the Lord. Do people praise the Lord because of your witness? Do they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven?
c. Promoted Daniel - The Lord caused Daniel to prosper under four kings. He can help you in your employment too! Will you be faithful to God no matter what?