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DANIEL, GOD'S MAN IN THE FIELD (PART II)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
9 JULY 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Philippians 4:6-7, 13
Preparation Verse: (Matthew 6:25)
25. “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?”
Last week, as we began this excursion into the life of Daniel, we looked at the individual's and the nation's relationship with God.
Our own relationship with God determines our salvation, and that of our nation determines our protection.
This is an important thing to remember; for no matter how godly we may be, if we live in a nation that has turned against God, all that we have will be destroyed with that nation, and we will only have our life as booty.
Daniel lived in Israel, a nation that had turned away from God; thus the protection of God was removed from Israel.
Because they didn't repent, Israel and Judah were taken into captivity.
But because Daniel knew the Lord, and desired to serve Him with all his heart, God's protection remained upon him, and he was preserved in captivity in Babylon.
And because he made his stand on even the simple things, such as food, he and his friends received the blessings of the Lord.
This still holds true today.
If we seek the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and might, we will also receive the blessings of the Lord.
Now let's pick up our look into the life and times of Daniel where we left off last week, 1:17 –
17. And as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.
So often I hear people saying, "I could never learn to do that" or "I'm too old to learn something new" or "That's too complicated."
And when I hear such things, I just shudder inside and try to encourage them to just try, and then I add the most important ingredient: that they should seek God and ask for His help. But for the most part, they just give up.
Daniel and his friends didn't give up. They sought the Lord, and He not only helped them, He added blessing upon blessing.
Daniel knew that he couldn't accomplish all that was expected of him by himself, but with God's help he could do it; thus he would be of great use to the Lord.
What about you and me?
Are we striving to do all that God wants us to do?
Or are you giving up because you feel it's too difficult?
Just in case you are doubting, remember what Paul tells us about himself, regardless of what circumstance he found himself in (Philippians 4:13):
13. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
So can you, and so can I.
And so did Daniel and his friends.
18. Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar.
19. And the king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they entered the king's personal service.
This same opportunity was open to every one of the youths that were taken into captivity; but with the exception of Daniel and his friends, they all went along with the ways of the world.
If we would only learn to separate ourselves from the ways of the world and seek the ways of God in everything we do, then we also would live in the blessing of the Lord.
This really is a relatively simple thing to do.
If we look at the creation intent of God where every animal and human lived in peace and ate a plant food diet, and look to the heavenly will of God, where there is no pain, mourning or death, then we can easily see the basic and peaceful ways we should live.
By comparison, the ways of the world are filled with pain, suffering, and death.
And as we saw Daniel and his friends do, they could begin to live in God's heavenly will with what they put on their plates.
The difference between the godly and the ungodly, or those who are just sloppy in their faith, is startling; and king Nebuchadnezzar discovered this in these youths. He may not have totally understood, but he saw the difference.
20. And as for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.
21. And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.
Daniel was among the first of the captives taken to Babylon, and he lived to see the end of the captivity which was decreed in the first year of Cyrus the king; and he even lived beyond that time.
Daniel was truly blessed of the Lord, and so can each one of us, if we truly seek the Lord and truly desire to serve Him.
Back in verse 17 we are told that Daniel was also blessed with the understanding of all kinds of visions and dreams, and as we begin chapter 2, we see the reason.
In this dream, as we shall see, there is a prophetic message.
Before actually beginning the dream account, we should take note of the time sequence that is described in 2:1, as some may not understand, or even think that the Bible is contradicting itself.
The method of dating the reign of the kings by the Babylonians was not to
count the unexpired term of the previous king as being the first year of the new
king; thus the dream would have taken place after the three year training period
of these youths.
1. Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him.
I suppose that most of us have had dreams that disturbed us, and even dreams that seemed to repeat themselves or be sequential. As a result, we thought a great deal about them; and so it was with Nebuchadnezzar.
2. Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans, to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king.
The king is reacting like people of the world.
Only shortly before, he had found that Daniel and his friends had ten times more wisdom than those he had just called to explain his dream.
Don’t we also take most of our problems to others before we take them to God?
But the king’s response was worldly and given in stubbornness of mind.
3. And the king said to them, "I had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream."
When we are anxious, we do not think clearly, for we are not at peace.
So when we get like this, we are to remember to do as Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7:
6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Nebuchadnezzar didn't do this, and his frustration must have shown to those gathered about him.
4. Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: "O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation."
5. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, "The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be made a rubbish heap.
6. "But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation."
How would you like to be faced with this dilemma?
Also keep in mind that God may by temporarily blinding the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar from seeking the answer from Daniel.
How would you react in such a situation?
Would it be as the Chaldeans?
7. They answered a second time and said, "Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation."
They have to rely on their own ability and their mystic arts. They couldn't know what the king had dreamed.
8. The king answered and said, "I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm,
9. that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation."
No matter how much the world says that there is no God, and no matter how much they say that everything happened from some mysterious thing, there is always the doubt; for man is created with the ability to know God.
Nebuchadnezzar had doubts about the ability of all of the so-called wise men in his court; yet he still called upon them.
He seemed to know that there was something special about these particular dreams, and he wanted to make sure that these men wouldn't take the easy way out but would truly have the correct answer, if in fact they could arrive at an answer at all.
And these men seemed to recognize this fact as well.
10. The Chaldeans answered the king and said, "There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean.
11. "Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh."
Even these fakers recognized the truth.
They knew that they were each faking the things that they did; thus they expected the same to be true of everyone else.
They even recognized that the gods that they had before them, that they had made, were worthless; for they could not give the answer.
The answer could only come from a truly higher power.
Only our one true God could give the answer.
12. Because of this the king became indignant and very furious, and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
13. So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
Daniel and his friends do not seem to have been around when the king called for the interpretation of his dreams; nevertheless, because they were also classified as wise men they were under the same sentence of death.
Had the Lord taken His protection off these young men?
Quite the contrary!
He had given an opportunity for His power to be shown to the king and to all those in the court.
Daniel was God's man in the field, and he was being called upon again to show that he was truly God's man, for God would work through him to show the Chaldeans that there is only one God.
Each and every one of us, who has come to know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, has been called upon from time to time to make a stand for God.
What did we do?'
What will we do the next time?
And what did Daniel do?
14. Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king's bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon;
15. he answered and said to Arioch, the king's commander, "For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?" Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter.
As we can see, God's protection was still upon him, for the commander did not kill him, and Daniel approached him with such wisdom that he was able to see the king.
16. So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king.
The others could not get any additional time, but Daniel did. All things are possible when we go with the Lord and in His name.
And the king obviously granted his request, for he left the king's presence in safety.
Then what did Daniel do?
17. Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter,
18. in order that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
Daniel didn't run home all upset and worried, and cry to his friends about all their problems.
He simply told them of the situation and requested that they pray with him and seek God's intervention.
He did not request their wisdom and suggestions.
Remember this the next time you have a problem.
If we pray in God's will, He will most assuredly answer us.
19. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven;
Don't just take God's answer for granted. He deserves our thanks and praise.
In fact we should be continuously thanking Him and praising Him as part of our prayer request, as well as after we receive God's answer.
20. Daniel answered and said,
"Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
21. "And it is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men,
And knowledge to men of understanding.
22. "It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him.
23. "To Thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,
For Thou hast given me wisdom and power;
Even now Thou hast made known to me what we requested of Thee,
For Thou hast made known to us the king's matter."
There is no doubt.
Daniel knew that God had given him the correct answer.
He took none of the glory for himself, but gave God the credit for everything.
Daniel was a man of prayer, and he did his best to live a godly life; thus God blessed him.
And thus he was God's man in the field.
The same is true for each and every one of us, if we will truly seek God in everything we do.
Next week we will hear of the dream and its interpretation, and we will see even more of the blessings bestowed on Daniel and his friends because they continued to seek God.
But we don't have to wait until next week to see God's blessings.
If we seek Him in our lives for everything, we too will have our own blessings, and they might even begin to occur right now.