Living Amidst Hostility. Daniel

Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas

 INTRODUCTION:

God has called us out of darkness into His light. Many times the world around is in absolute contradiction to our faith and beliefs. We find corruption, injustice, evil everywhere and we as believers have 2 ways to approach it: Either stand for godly principles or live like one of them. Remember, it’s only when a believer stands for the principles of God that God can bless him and let others be blessed through him.

How to live in a hostile world based on the life of Daniel.

Daniel is a very interesting person in the OT. Daniel literally means – God is my judge. He grew up in Jerusalem and came from a godly family.

As Daniel grew up, the society around him was hostile to the things of God. The famous preacher of that day was Prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah was mistreated. He was put into prison. The scripture which he had penned were destroyed by the king. That is the day in which Daniel grew up, a day of hostility toward the things of God.

Daniel grew up when things were very difficult in Jerusalem – Bad politics, difficult economy. His country was ruled by Egypt and they placed King Jehoiakim as king over Judah. King Jehoiakim was not a good ruler. He built a brand new palace for himself and was exorbitant in his expenditure of funds. So he abused the place that God had given him.

When Daniel was about college age, he was forcefully taken away from his house. It happened like this: The day came when Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon conquered Judah. Many of the people of Jerusalem were killed. Many of the brightest and the best of the young people were taken captive. Daniel was one of those. I can imagine Daniel’s heartbreak as he made that journey to Babylon. We do not know if his parents had been killed in that military operation or he had just been severed by force from his family. But how his heart must have been? He must have been lonely and homesick for his city of Jerusalem.

Have you found yourself in such a situation, far from your comfort, away from your loved ones? Sometimes God leads his children like that. Example: Moses, Joseph, David etc. Remember God knows what is best for his people and moves them in His time.

Now Daniel is in a pagan land. Nebuchadnezzar is not a believer in God. It is a land with a lot of pressures to do wrong. There must have been all kinds of questions in his mind: Why a bad childhood? Why am I captive? What happened to my parents? No freedom to worship God.

When Daniel was first brought to Babylon he was tested. The king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat and wine. Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank. Daniel took a stand for right. He would not drink the king’s wine and eat his meat. But Daniel approached the king’s assistants in a very respectful manner and God honoured Daniel. Then, Daniel was given great honour especially after he was able to tell Nebuchadnezzar about his dream.

Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed by Daniel’s interpretation and so disappointed with all of his wise men (leaders) that he put Daniel in a great place of responsibility. When Daniel was made the ruler over Babylon he asked Nebuchadnezzar to give him 3 specific men to assist him. They were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who ruled the province of Babylon and Daniel the chief administrator sat in the gate of the king. So Daniel probably carried out a higher responsibility in the king’s office closet to the king.

Now King Nebuchadnezzar built a great idol and demanded that all the people worship the idol when the music started, and if they would not they would be cast into that fiery furnace.

Daniel was sitting in the king’s gate ready to receive those who came to visit the king. Soon the word came that there were 3 of these Hebrews: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who would not bow down. King Nebuchadnezzar was a man who was given to great changes of temperament. He went into a rage when he heard that news. He sent word back that they were to play the music again and these 3 Hebrew boys were to bow down, and if they would not they were to be cast into the fiery furnace.

Can you put yourself in Daniel’s place? These were his friends, his chief assistants. They had been put in that place of responsibility at Daniel’s request to Nebuchadnezzar and now they were about to die. How Daniel’s heart must have stirred within him. I can imagine that Daniel was praying in his heart, “Oh! God be merciful to my 3 countrymen, save them if you will.”

Have you had that cry from your heart from time to time in life? Undoubtedly most of us had when we do not know what to do about a situation. Ironically, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the idol again the second time.

Daniel 3:19-20 19Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.

Daniel 3:25-26 25 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” 26Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” Child of God, if you stand for the principles of God and end up all alone, remember God is with you and he will rescue you. I do not know what your furnace is today. Maybe you are all alone from your house in faith or at your workplace, but God is with you.

Coming back to Daniel, he was caught himself working with Nebuchadnezzar who was given to swift changes of mood and flying into terrible rages. Oh! How difficult!

In Chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar had another dream and Daniel interpreted the dream again. The dream was fulfilled and King Nebuchadnezzar was rejected by the people just like what Daniel interpreted. Daniel 4:33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

Now the king lost his throne and became insane. There he remembered Daniel and his God. Because of the life and testimony of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar called upon the Almighty God. Daniel 4:34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

Now, God reinstated Nebuchadnezzar as king of Babylon just as Daniel had interpreted. Daniel 4:36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a second chance. Our God is a God of second chance. Amen!

Well Nebuchadnezzar finally died in 562 BC. He was succeeded on the throne of Babylon by his son, Amel-Marduk. Amel-Marduk ruled a bit until he was murdered by his brother-in-law who then took the throne. Keep your eyes on Daniel. Daniel lost his place of power and authority. Finally the king who was the last king of Babylon came to the throne. He took all his wealth, retired and let his son rule while he enjoyed his retirement. His son’s name was Belshazzar. Now that brings you back to the Book of Daniel.

Listen, Daniel had been the chief assistant to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was now dead and the kingdom was succeeded by 4 wicked kings. Daniel was sidelined, without job, and chased after. We do not know where he was exactly, how he was managing to stay safe. Oh! It was tough time for Daniel.

Do you find yourself in such a time now? Maybe you lost your job, did active ministry but you are quiet for some time now. You have no idea about the future. Listen, these are the most precious moments of your life. I exhort you, God has not abandoned you. These are times to pick up jewels from God’s presence. A greater future is awaiting you. Amen!

During those years God gave Daniel a series of visions. We have those recorded for us in Daniel 7-12. The vision speaks of the two coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The wise men knew the Book of Daniel and they knew when Jesus was born. Daniel also penned a great detail about the second coming of Christ.

So while Daniel was set aside and living in danger of his life after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, God was still using him. He was without work, he was in hiding but he was close to God and penned great prophesies of the scripture.

Now, Belshazzar was having a drunken party and he was blaspheming, putting himself in the place of God. As Belshazzar did so, fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall. Belshazzar did not know what the writing was. He could not understand or translate it. His wise men could not understand it either. This was the hand of God, the finger of God. Then the queen came into the party and she told Belshazzar, “There is a man in the kingdom. He served Nebuchadnezzar and he could tell the meaning of dreams.” So here is Daniel who has been out of favour, perhaps in danger of his life, now all of a sudden is back in the palace. Can you see God’s faithfulness towards Daniel?

Hallelujah! I prophesy in Jesus name God opening doors for some believers here. Some of you are going to get calls these days because this is God’s appointed time for you. Take God’s word, things are going to change suddenly because God is at work.

Daniel sees the writing on the wall and he courteously tells the king, “Your days are numbered, tonight the kingdom is going to be taken from you.” Sure enough that night Darius the Mede came in and Belshazzar lost his kingdom.

Now, the word apparently got to Darius that Daniel had known the secret news of his attack. So Darius met Daniel and was so impressed that he gave Daniel a place of great responsibility in his kingdom. Daniel 6:3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Daniel was second to the king in the land.

Soon, others were jealous and checked Daniel’s life carefully. They wanted to find some way to destroy him and could not find anything. Daniel 6:5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So they got Darius to pass a law that if anyone worshiped any God except Darius for the next 30 days, that person will be thrown into the lion’s den. They knew Daniel prayed every day. Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

As soon as Daniel prayed, they reported back to the king. The King had great respect for Daniel and wanted to save him, but these wicked men reminded him that according to the law no decree of the king can be changed. So Darius with great heartbreak put Daniel in the lion’s den and the den was sealed. You know the story. The next morning early the king was there and he called up to Daniel. Daniel answered him because God had spared him.

The king immediately issued a law. Daniel 6:26-27 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.

Listen, if we stand for the word of God, the law of the land can change. There no law, no rule, no man that can come in between God’s plan for you. Do you believe that? Listen, when Daniel stood for the word of God he prospered. Daniel 6:28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

I have some very quickly observations taken from the life of Daniel:

1. SERVE WHERE GOD PUT YOU.

Daniel must have had some questions in his mind when he was working in various positions. There was corruption, idol worship, injustice, serving a heathen boss. When that kind of situation comes in life, when the situations are against understand, “God has put me here, I am the instrument of change, now I need to serve by doing what he God put before me.” So, serve where God put you. Never quit for the sake of a problem.

2. KEEP AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT.

Daniel 6:3 Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him.

Daniel was serving a heathen king but he did not grumble and complain and was never negative any day. He had an excellent spirit within him. Daniel served many masters in his life and helped them succeed, but he did so enthusiastically with a smile on his face. He had an excellent spirit in him. Not Daniel had an excellent spirit before the authorities; he also had an excellent spirit before God.

There is no place for a child of God to be always complaining and negative about everything. No matter what is happening in your life keep an excellent spirit.

3. BE FAITHFUL.

Daniel 6:4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Daniel was trustworthy. Daniel was faithful which means he was never negligent. As you serve God in the place where he has put you in a hostile environment be faithful. Do a good job of your service. Give more than what you are actually paid. God will honour such people.

4. DO RIGHT.

Daniel 6:4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Daniel did not do work just for the sake of it, everything that he did was perfect and without mistake or fault. He was never corrupt. Daniel’s life was audited by the various bureaus; they could find no law breaking, no mistake. This was a man who always did right.

5. KEEP YOUR CHRISTIAN IDENTITY.

As you go about doing your work always keep your Christian identity. Make it a point that you tell your boss and colleagues when you get an opportunity that you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Daniel 6:5 Then said these men, we shall not find any occasion against this Daniel (These are Daniel’s enemies), except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. Daniel was a believer and all the people around him knew it. He did not try to hide his identity as one of God’s people. He kept his testimony, his Christian identity in a foreign land.

6. PRAY.

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Daniel Prayed. That was his habit everyday of his life. Do you need wisdom and help in your work, life, living in a hostile world? Pray. Ask God to help you. Do not just try to figure it out all by yourself. If you pray to God, he will take care of all your worries and circumstances.

7. TRUST GOD.

When the king put Daniel to the lion’s den he was broken-hearted: Daniel 6:16 Now the king said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The king did not know God but he knew Daniel and he knew that Daniel trusted God. That night the king did not eat nor sleep. Early in the morning he hurried to the lion’s den.

Daniel 6:19-22 19At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lion’s den. 20When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions? 21Daniel answered, “May the king live forever!” 22My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.

Daniel trusted God so much so that the king knew that and the king had at least half a hope that Daniel’s God would save him. If the king trusted Daniel’s God, how much Daniel trusted God.

CONCLUSION:

So my dear friend, you and I live in a day of darkness and idol worship. It is a hostile world around us but it is a day of opportunity. If God’s people serve God where God has put us, like Daniel we can lead many to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the process God will prosper us. Amen!


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