God is the supreme hero of this book from Genesis to Revelation. God is the hero of every narrative in this book no matter how little He is mentioned. This book is first and foremost about the power and supremacy and goodness and mercy and love and holiness and infinite glory of our Triune God. He is above all.
Having said that, it is also about human responsibility—mortal men and women, boys and girls who seek to live a life pleasing to their God. We ought not to minimize what God has achieved through their lives, their choices and their sacrifices.
We are setting the life of Daniel before us and are looking for instruction and inspiration to live a more god-saturated/intoxicated and god-glorifying Christian life.
This morning we considered his humility and I hope we were challenged and inspired to walk more humbly with our God. Tonight we take up two other qualities. First, he was an unimpeachable servant. Second, he was a man of indefatigable and irretractable public allegiance to his God.
He was an unimpeachable servant.
…the administrators and satraps (of Darius’ kingdom) tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 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.” Daniel 6:4-5
- Corrupt — guilty of dishonest practices, bribery, embezzlement, dishonest gain. Conotes sins of commission, doing something that ought not be done.
- Negligent — failure to exercise the care that would normally be expected. Conotes sins of omission, not doing something that ought to be done, laziness, doesn’t keep his word, doesn’t get back to you, doesn’t follow through, squanders resources, time, money, opportunities.
He was a man of indefatigable and irretractable public allegiance to God. Indefatigable: tireless allegiance even in his eighties. Irretractable: he has taken his stand and will not retreat. Public: his private religion affected his public conduct – ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you…’ Darius to Daniel, Daniel 6:16; ‘…has your God whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you…’ Daniel 6:20
……at a tender age, in an unfriendly environment and even in the face of certain death.
- ….at a tender age ‘young men’ Daniel 1:4, ‘youths’ Daniel 1:13-17 approx.. He resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. “Thoughts for Young men”—J.C. Ryle
“…remember that it is possible to be a young man and yet to serve God. I have heard it said, ‘You are requiring impossibilities in expecting so much religion from young people. Youth is no time for seriousness. Our desires are strong, and it was never intended that we should keep them under control, as you wish us to do. God meant us to enjoy ourselves. There will be time enough for religion later on.’ And this kind of talk is only too much encouraged by the world. The world is only too ready to wink at youthful sins. The world appears to take it for granted that young men must “sow their wild oats.” The world seems to take it for granted young people must be irreligious, and that it is not possible for them to follow Christ.
Young man, I will ask you this simple question. Where will you find anything of all this in the Word of God? Where is the chapter or verse in the Bible which will support this talking and reasoning of the world?
I know well there are many difficulties in a young man’s way, I admit it fully, but many a young man has overcome them up to now, and so may you. Daniel was a young man when he began to serve God in Babylon. He was surrounded by temptations of every kind. He had few with him, and many against him. Yet Daniel’s life was so blameless and consistent, that even his enemies could find no fault in him, except “concerning the law of his God’ (Dan. 6:5). And he is not a solitary case. There is a cloud of witnesses whom I could name. Time would fail me, if I were to tell you of young Isaac, young Joseph, young Joshua, young Samuel, young David, young Solomon, young Obadiah, young Josiah, and young Timothy. These were not angels, but men, with hearts naturally like your own. They too had obstacles to contend with, lusts to mortify, trials to endure, hard places to fill, just like you. But young as they were, they all found it possible to serve God. Will they not all rise in judgment and condemn you, if you persist in saying it cannot be done?”
No one could convince Daniel that he was too young to start taking his faith seriously. Daniel resolved not to defile himself at a tender age. Edwards wrote these resolutions when he was 19 and 20.
- Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as(not only to speak) if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s …
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified …”. Lordship – I belong to Jesus. Is this a settled matter between you and your God?
- Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before. A week by week determination not to stagnate, linger, tarry, but make progress.
- Resolved, to study the scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. Little scripture reflection/meditation/reading = little growth. Much scripture reflection/meditation /reading = much growth.
- Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. Does my thinking/speaking/acting demonstrate that I am counting on heaven as my eternal destiny? Is the happiness of heaven a motivating force in my life? Do hell torments kindle urgency in my evangelism? Daniel resolved not to defile himself at a tender age.
- Resolved, never to give over, or in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be. This is what I hear Edward saying: The devil may win round 1 and I win round 2. The world may win round 3 and I win round 4 and even if my corruptions win rounds 5-14, by the grace of God, I am coming out for round 15 still believing I’ve got a knock out punch left in me.
- Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of. I’m going to lay up treasure in heaven. I’m not going to let a day go by where I do not make an eternal investment. Surely, Lord, you are giving me an opportunity today to put something (small or large) in my heavenly bank account where it will draw interest. He was a man of indefatigable open allegiance to God. He resolved not to defile himself at a tender age.
- He was a man of indefatigable and irretractable open allegiance to God….in an unfriendly environment.
Not in Zion, the City of God, where the Temple was a continual visual reminder of the One True God, where a morning and evening sacrifice was still lingering, where you could still hear three calls to prayer per day, where some semblance of a Sabbath Day was observed; now there in Babylon the Great—the city of arrogant man—independent of the One True God.
Just as Sodom and Gomorrah came to mean “moral degradation, particularly sexual perversions” and Corinth was synonymous with “sexual promiscuity” so Babylon personified as a whore “chief rebel and cause of all defiance to the Kingdom of God” “…Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” Rev. 14:8; “Babylon the Great, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth.” Rev. 17:5; a figure of speech for the city that persecutes the faithful, 1 Peter 5:13. At best it was indifferent; at worst it was openly hostile.
The Babylonians disrupted his life!
- Captured him, chained him, marched him 900 miles to a foreign land, foreign surroundings (was he separated from his family?)
- Forced him to speak in a foreign language, Aramaic, Hebrew would now be a secondary language.
- Trained him to serve the enemy king who held Daniel’s life in his hand.
- Even changed his name from Daniel, “God is my Judge”, to Belteshazzar, “Bel protect his life”. Hananiah, “The Lord Shows Grace”, to Shadrach, “Command of Aku moon god”; Mishael, “Who is What God is?”, to Meshach, “who is what Aku is”; Azariah, “The Lord Helps”, to Abednego, “servant of Nego”. An attempt to re-program and re-wire; renamed—we have lordship/authority over you now, you’re our servant. Their new names would bespeak a new loyalty.
“You can change my surroundings, language, you can force me to serve your king, you can even change my name, but you cannot change my first allegiance. By the grace of God, I will prove to be irretractable on this point even in the face of certain death.”
- He was a man of indefatigable and irretractable open allegiance to God…in the face of certain death.
“…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.” Daniel 6:10. I can’t tell you how much those last six words inspire me; the life threatening decree did not alter a thing in Daniel’s practice.
- He did not acquiesce and rationalize “It’s just for thirty days. Surely the Lord will understand. Lord, I’m advancing in years. I can avoid some persecution—it’s just a trap these others are envious of my position. It’s just for thirty days. I’ll leave off praying to Yahweh and pay lip service to Darius.”
- He did not flee. “I can no longer live under these circumstances. I will flee by night and no one will stop and ask me questions. I am one of the king’s chief men. They will think I’m doing the king’s business in a far off province and I’ll just keep going. I will not have to compromise my faith.”
- He did not go underground. “I will find a more secret place of prayer/worship. Surely there’s nothing dishonorable about that!”
He did not acquiesce, flee or go underground but did “just as he had done before.” “I’m going to go back to my room. I’m going to open my windows that face Jerusalem the Golden. I’m going to fall on my face and I’m going to worship the God of heaven—just as I have from my earliest recollections and if I perish, I perish.”
Where do you get such courage of conviction, that indefatigable and irretractable open allegiance that so willingly kisses your life in this world goodbye? When Daniel was a mere youth—a teen—he resolved not to defile himself.
You see, “The son had become the father of the man!” The choices he made while young, the habits he had formed determined the quality of manhood he would enjoy and determined the caliber of Christian he would be. ‘What young men will be, in all probability depends upon what they are now. Youth is the seed-time of full age. By the shoot we judge of the tree, by the blossoms we judge of the fruit, by the spring we judge of the harvest, by the morning we judge of the day, and by the character of the young man, we may generally judge what he will be when he grows up. Young man, do not be deceived. Do not think you can willfully serve yourself and your pleasures in the beginning of life, and then go and serve God with ease at the end.’
‘Why do I say all this? I say it because of the force of habit. I say it because experience tells me that people’s hearts are seldom changed if they are not changed when young. Seldom indeed are men converted when they are old. Habits have long roots. (Sin once allowed to nestle in your bosom, will not be turned out at your bidding. Custom becomes second nature, and its chains are three fold cords not easily broken.) Habits are like stones rolling down hill, the further they roll; the faster and more uncontrollable is their course. Habits, like trees, are strengthened by age. A boy may bend an oak, when it is a sapling, a hundred men cannot root it up, when it is a full-grown tree. So it is with habits: the older they are the stronger they grow, the longer they have held possession of the soul, the harder they will be to cast out.’ The son is the father of the man.
Daniel’s life is meant to challenge, instruct, rebuke and inspire us:
- To be the most humble men and women, boys and girls that we can possibly be.
- To serve our King with unimpeachable character.
- To be Christian’s of indefatigable and irretractable public allegiance to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.