Retold: Jonah and the Whale
Retold: Daniel and the Lions' Den
Retold: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Retold: David and Goliath
Retold: The Ten Commandments
Retold: Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
Retold: Ruth and Naomi
Retold: The Good Samaritan
What’s one way you can live like Daniel—with an “extraordinary spirit"—today? Who can you serve and share the love of Christ with?
Have you heard the story of Daniel and the lions’ den? Did you know that Daniel is not the hero of the story? As we continue our series, Retold, Todd Wagner teaches through Daniel 6, showing us how Christians are to live like Daniel today.
Ways in which Daniel typified Christ the ultimate servant of the living God (Isaiah 52:13-53:12):
We are in the middle of a series called Retold. In this series, we are telling you true stories from history. This particular week we are synced up with our children's ministry, as we have been, as they teach this week, if we were gathered together, about Daniel and the lions' den. It's in Daniel 6. Now let me just say this to you.
If you have smaller children, we encourage you to use the Watermark Kids Kit and to walk your kids with creative activities through the Scripture there. Then come back and learn what we have for you here, because we think that it's going to make you a better parent and a better teacher. You're going to see from the text today that when you are an individual who does not fear the God of Daniel, that it has tremendous implications for your family.
So I just want to read the story, and then I'm going to let you know that we're not here to focus on Daniel. Daniel was not the hero. I don't want you to be impressed with Daniel. I want to impress upon you that which was embedded in Daniel's heart that made him the hero of the land that he lived in.
So let's read Daniel 6 together, and then we're going to dive in. Here we go. "It seemed good to Darius…" I have to set this up by saying there's a pivot in Daniel from Daniel 5 to Daniel 6. The pivot it this: the empire that had devastated Israel is Babylon. They had come and wiped out, starting at about 606 BC and took about 20 years to 586 BC, all the Jews who were taken captive or killed.
The Jews who were still alive, for the most part, had been taken captive and had been living in Babylon. Babylon was an arrogant, godless nation. We know that Belshazzar had thought for sure with his 100-feet-high walls that were 80 feet thick that there was no way that the Medes and Persians who were conquering much of the known land at the time would ever be able to get inside Babylon.
He was throwing a wild party in Daniel, chapter 5, and God appears with a flaming hand that basically wrote words up there on the wall to Belshazzar and all his guests that said, "Hey, you've been weighed in the scales and found wanting." Judgment came that night to Belshazzar. The Medes and the Persians are now ruling over all that had previously been captive to Babylon and over what was the greatest and most powerful nation in the world at the time, which was the Babylonians.
But now the Medes and the Persians were in charge. So there's a new leader. But you're going to find out even though Nebuchadnezzar is gone, even though Belshazzar is gone, now that Cyrus and Darius, is how he is called right here in Daniel, chapter 6… That's probably a title, like caesar is a name or king is a name or pharaoh is a name.
Darius is probably the name of the leader of the Medes and the Persians, whose name was Cyrus. He was there. That's who Daniel was interacting with. Here's what I want you to see as we get going. Nations rise and fall. Isaiah 40 says that they are meaningless. "All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless."
Throughout time, God says in Acts 17:26, in a verse that's relevant for us both to our day and also with this text "…and He made from one man…" Which we've talked about recently. "…every nation of mankind…" One blood. "…to live on all the face of the earth…" Watch this. "…having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation…"
We're finding between Daniel 5 and Daniel 6 that the time of Babylon had moved on. The Medes and Persians were now in power, but what was to be maintained throughout all generations and throughout every nation was faithfulness. You're going to meet Daniel. Daniel, you just need to know, is probably 80 or 90 years old. He is still revered. He is still respected. He was a leader to Nebuchadnezzar. He was a leader to Belshazzar, and now he is about to be a leader to the king of the Persians. So here we go. That is a great legacy for us, to follow in his steps.
"It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps _ [local leaders] over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom, and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these [local leaders] _ might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners _ [the three] _ and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit…"
I wish I had time, and we're going to be more sensitive to time during this season when we're online, to just really talk about what that word means. It means when everybody else was done, Daniel had more. Daniel had the ability to do what ordinary men couldn't do. You're going to find out why Daniel had that ability. There's going to be tremendous application for us. But he had a supernatural spirit, an extraordinary spirit, about him. "…and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom." He was not going to be well-loved because of that, because men were going to be jealous. You're going to see that in verse 4.
"Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said, 'We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.'"
The only fault they could find in Daniel was that he took his faith really seriously, he was uncompromising, and he was separate from other men because he didn't do what other men would do because he had this extraordinary spirit inside of him. It's what believers should all have. Every single one of us should be holy.
That doesn't mean we're pulling back this way from individuals. It means that we live amongst individuals in a way that everybody can see we're not just playing religious games. We are individuals who live in relationship with the living God. It sets us apart. He says this.
"Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: 'King Darius, live forever!'" They came with flattery. "All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions' den."
"We're going to make you a god for 30 days. No one can pray to anybody but you. No one can worship anybody but you." Now making a man a god is a bad idea. When you tell somebody they can be a god for 30 days, it's pretty evident that you're not a god, specifically the God who rules forever and ever. Nonetheless, this wasn't about their affection for Cyrus, Darius, the king. It was about their disdain for Daniel and their desire for power. So it says they said this.
"All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps…" All but one, Daniel. "…the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions' den. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked."
There was a bit more of a democracy in the Medo-Persian Empire. When a decree was made, so they wouldn't make hasty laws, when laws went into effect, they said, "You be very careful you make a law because we're going to live by it." So Cyrus, honoring the wishes of the collective, went along with this, especially because the wish of the collective appealed to his pride.
"Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction. Now when Daniel 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…" Notice he didn't do this all of a sudden, but it was something he was already doing. He continued.
This is why he had an extraordinary spirit. We'll hit this point hard in just a moment, but Daniel didn't just go out all of a sudden in some protest of prayer, "Because I can't pray to God because you said I couldn't." Daniel just kept doing what he was doing. It's what made him Daniel for decades and made him useful to the people. It says,
"…praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king's injunction, 'Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions' den?'
The king replied, 'The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.' Then they answered and spoke before the king, 'Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day.' Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him."
Because he knew that Daniel was a good man. He had heard about Daniel's reputation before he conquered Babylon, and he had seen it. Now we're several years into Darius' reign. We already know that Darius, the king, Cyrus, probably through the leadership of Daniel had given a decree already that the Jews could return back home.
Ezra had already started to take some Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the people. Later Zerubbabel would go back and rebuild the temple. Then Haggai would come and try and encourage the folks to persevere in this particular time. Daniel remained in Babylon under the Medo-Persians. He had already had great influence.
So a couple of years into it, Darius had seen all that Daniel was doing that was good. He didn't want his friend thrown into a pit. Let me just make a quick observation here. Because I'm going to get to this in just a moment. This is a guy who didn't want to see Daniel get thrown into the lions' den, just like Pilate didn't want to see Jesus go to a cross.
But Darius, or Cyrus, and Pilate, even though they lamented what they had to do, they didn't do anything about it more than lament. They loved their power and their prestige and their position more than they loved what was right and good and true. So Pilate turned over Jesus, and you're going to see that Darius lets Daniel go to the lions' den even though he didn't want to.
Just a quick little aside right here. Many people, rightly, are lamenting the injustices that have been happening in our society specifically related to race and systems that have long oppressed certain peoples. It's not enough just to lament. Lamenting is important. It's appropriate to not want to see injustice happen, but if all we do is lament and we don't become people of action, we're exactly what the Bible says in 1 John 3:16-18. He says if you're coming along and you see a brother who is in need and you just pray for them, God says that's no help at all.
That's why we should love, not just with word or with tongue, but also with deed and in truth. First John 3:17 says, specifically, "But whoever has the world's goods…" That good might just mean certain positions and privileges and powers. "…and sees his brother in need…" They don't have those positions, privileges, and powers. "…and closes his heart against him…" Because if you actually go to advocate for them, it's going to cost you your position, privileges, and powers. "…how does the love of God abide in him?"
The love of God did not abide in Darius, or he wouldn't have thrown Daniel in the lions' den. It did not abide in Pilate, or he wouldn't have sent Jesus to the cross. It does not abide in us if all we do is say, "Well, I'm not for that action." You're called to act, not just lament, but to be a person of action. Now watch. So it says that "…he was deeply distressed…" He wanted to deliver Daniel, but he didn't do anything about it.
Verse 15: "Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, '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.'" "If you do this thing, it's going to cost you." "Then the king gave orders…" Because he didn't want to do anything that cost him.
"…and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions' den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, 'Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.' A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel. Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him." Why? Because the sleep of the wicked is never peaceful.
"Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions' den. When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?' Then Daniel spoke to the king, 'O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.'
Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives…"
This is the note I meant a little bit earlier. When you are a godless individual, your rebellion is often imputed down through generations. It's often your way of indifference to God. Your lust for self and power affects families and children. Your relative sloth and your, maybe just, ritualistic obedience, which is really disobedience, always affects those under your leadership.
Now it is not true that children of believers automatically become believers. It's also not true that children of nonbelievers and of just nominative Christians, Christians in name only, won't become devoted followers of Christ, but you are putting a burden on your family. In this particular case, when evil is ascribed, or when they follow in your paths and they imitate you, it's going to lead to their own end and destruction.
Children typically imitate their parents first until the grace of God interrupts. If that's your plan as a dad, that, "God's grace is going to interrupt my indifference, my apathy, my lack of attentiveness, my lack of concern for spiritual things, my lack of evangelism, my lack of Bible study, meditation, and devotional-leading, my lack of extraordinary spirit, but God's grace will interrupt and save my kids," I just wouldn't count on it. I just wouldn't count on it. But watch this.
"The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions' den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones." Completely eradicated, destroyed. Any memory of them is gone.
"Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: 'May your peace abound!'" Here's how peace abounds. "'I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever.
He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.' So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian." Now look, a couple of quick comments right here. We are in an election year. You're going to hear this election, which you heard in 2016, "This is the most important election in our lifetime."
I will just tell you that every election is important. Every election matters, but do you know what really matters? What really matters is that our nation is made up of Daniels, not that it's led by a Republican or a Democrat. When we are in a land that is governed by the people and the government should exist for the people and it should be made up of the people, who the people are really matter.
We get the kind of leadership we deserve. In America, the reason that we are struggling is because we don't have Daniels, not because we have Cyrusses or Belshazzars or Nebuchadnezzars. Our job is to be the kind of men and women that we're reading about here in Daniel 6.
It doesn't matter if there is a shift in power. It doesn't even matter if we go from being Babylonian to Persian, American to one-world government. That's coming one day. Read your Bible at the end, which if we had time, I would read it to you. What matters is that in every system, you maintain faithfulness and an extraordinary spirit and you don't put your hope in Belshazzar, and you don't put your hope in Darius.
Now listen, you should want a righteous king and you should do everything you can. The way you get righteous kings, especially in America the way that we're established, is to be living missionally the way that Daniel did so that in a democratic republic the satraps and the commissioners are going to not put up with godless living and godless laws.
I would just encourage you with this. You should do everything you can to make sure you inform yourself as you vote this coming November. But remember that no matter what happens in November, it doesn't affect, Daniel, your ability to create a blessing. What's going to endure forever is not the United States of America.
What's going to endure forever is the God of Daniel. He is the one whose kingdom will not come to an end. That is why when Daniel prayed, he prayed with his heart toward Jerusalem. "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." We set our mind not on the White House but on the great white throne judgment.
We want to be individuals who are faithfully doing what we can to have God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven and, therefore, elections matter. You don't want individuals in that office who don't care about groups of people in the womb or out of the womb. You can't vote for individuals and endorse kings who don't love every single person God creates.
A great challenge is before us to be Daniels, to set our hearts on the coming kingdom, and to serve the one that we're in right now with that hope like Daniel did. Now let me just say this. This is not a story I want you today to walk away from and be impressed with Daniel. I want you to be impressed in your heart with what impressed on Daniel's heart that made him a blessing to kings in Babylon and in Medo-Persia and will make you a blessing today.
So I want you to understand this. Every story ultimately points to God as the hero. The reason Daniel was amazing was because he reflected God. Sometimes people come to me and they go, "Todd, God used you to change my life." Or, "You changed my life," is what they'll say. First of all, I'll just always be tender in that moment and thank them, but I don't ever change anybody's life.
Daniel didn't change Babylon; God did. He was willing to use Daniel. Sometimes by the grace of God when I decrease and Christ increases in me, God uses me. I'm praying that he'll use me today in your life as you look at the story in Daniel 6, and I want you to see who the hero is. The hero is not Daniel.
He wasn't like one of the mighty men of David who jumped into a pit in the midst of winter and killed a lion with his bare hands. That's in your Bible. Daniel didn't shut the lions' mouths in the den because he was some young stud. No, he was 80 or 90 years old. Daniel loved God, and God chose to do something with Daniel in this moment that became a story of great renown.
Guess what? Everything about Daniel points to the God of great renown. So we just read Daniel 6. I want you to listen to just what I did as I went through and made some observations about what I saw in Daniel 6. This is a story about one who is called the servant of the living God. If you read Isaiah, and this is the last time I'll say it, I'm going to keep reading it through and you guys are smart enough to figure out what's going on here.
The servant of the living God is the title of the Messiah in the book of Isaiah. So Daniel 6, the story about one who is called the servant of the living God, one who is hated by those whose deeds he exposed. It's a story about someone whose enemy could find nothing to criticize of him but his holiness, and he was hated for it.
Daniel 6 is a story about someone who, because of his holiness, he was conspired against by leaders who wanted their power. As a result of that, they wanted him to go to a horrible death. Daniel 6 is a story about someone whose enemies manipulated a sovereign ruler who didn't want to put him to death. Because this leader loved himself and power more than truth, he was coerced to send him away to death.
Daniel 6 is the story about a man who, in the face of betrayal and oppression, continued to pray and live faithfully. It's a story about a man who did not offer one word in self-defense. It's a story about a man who cried out to God for deliverance and a different outcome and said, "If there's another way, let this happen, but not my will, your will be done." Even though he cried to God, he was thrown to death anyway.
It's a story about a guy who was placed in a cave of death with a rock over it and a king's seal on it. It's a story about a man whose friends were devoted to him and mourned his death, a man whose grieving friends rose early in the morning to see if he was in his tomb, a man who was found alive among the place where there should be death.
It's a story about one who was always a godly man who was raised from death because he was faithful, a man who was saved by the covenant faithfulness of God, a man who was declared with power to be in right relationship with God and innocent of the charges against him, a man who was coming from the grave, who when he came from the grave saw his enemies crushed, and he instituted a kingdom.
Daniel 6 is a story about a man whose enemies are judged and crushed to the uttermost until no evidence of their existence or their power remains. Daniel 6 is the story about a man whose kingdom is established in righteousness and whose dominion is forever. It's the story about a man who, through his rule, peace abounds because others come to recognize the God he represents.
It's a story about a man who seeks the personal welfare of others and does the work of good to those who seek him. It's a story about the resurrection of the servant of the Lord. In his final claim to righteousness and right to rule is established through his deliverance from death. It's a story about one who all who know him and follow his ways experience shalom or peace and that are blessed and will prosper to the end, live successfully.
What's Daniel 6 about? Not Daniel. It all points to another one who would shut the mouth of a roaring lion seeking to devour all of us. He has had his way with all of us. Daniel was not a god and righteous in the beginning, but he served a God who was so righteous that he would go to a cross and give his life for imperfect men like Daniel.
Daniel loved a God of covenant faithfulness, who sought an unfaithful people and gave his word that he would redeem their life from the pit if they would just turn from their wicked ways and humble themselves and cry out to him. That's exactly what God wants you to do. So I don't want you to be impressed with Daniel. I want you to be impressed with the one who Daniel entrusted himself to.
Daniel is a type. He is just a picture of the one who Matthew 12 says is the stronger one who goes into the strong man's house and shuts his mouth and drives him out. That's what Jesus did for us. So I'm going to give you 10 or 11 points that I get from Daniel 6 so that you can have an extraordinary life whoever rules in November and so that you can be a person who brings others to a place of peace and a coming blessing.
Now what I would love to do, and I'll do it a few times on some of these shorter verses, but I'm going to give you some places to go read. We always put sermon notes together and have every point that we made, every illustration, everything that I observe about Daniel that typifies Christ. All those things will be listed there for you, as will these points that I want you to see. Let me just walk you through some truths that I get for you and me as we do what Daniel did.
First, people of God are meant to be a means of grace, a source of peace, and a blessing to a land. In their teens, in their 20s, in their 30s, in their 40s, in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. When you decide you're going to be a son of the law, when you decide that you're going to live holy lives and distinguish yourselves in Jerusalem, when a marauding force comes in, they're going to see you something different where they go, "Preserve that one. Let's take him and put him at the king's table. Let's train him in the ways of our land and teach him our languages. Let's take that distinguished youth and see if he can help us as we try and live lives of peace and prosperity."
That's what the people of God are supposed to be. Philippians 2:14-15 says, "Do all things without grumbling or disputing…" Including living under an oppressor. "…so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of _ [Babylon] _ a crooked and perverse generation…" In the midst of post-Christian America, there should be Daniels and Danielles who are faithful. "…among whom you appear as lights in the world…" That's our call. That's what Daniel was to be in Babylon. That's what you and I are supposed to be today.
Secondly, the people of God are not just meant to be a blessing. We are meant to create a divide in the land because of the holiness of our faith. Do you get that? See, one of the problems, one of the reasons America has drifted to this cesspool of morality and indifference to racism and to individuals who once they're in our country are sometimes hated because they're not from our country or because they're not yet out of the womb are seen as indifferent and potentially expensive interrupting our lifestyle.
Whatever it might be, Christians have just gone along with no-fault divorce and with pro-choice mentalities and with Jim Crow laws. Christians are the reason that we abolished slavery, but Christians were also the individuals who were distorting their Bibles to continue slavery and they continued Jim Crow laws and racist activities in the South.
Christians are the ones now embracing the Black Lives Matter movement, which is not the idea that black lives matter and white lives matter and red lives matter and listening to black people are saying, "It doesn't look like black lives matter today," but are embracing the Black Lives Matter movement which is destructive to the nuclear family and will not bring blessing to our land.
They just kind of go along with it because they want to look "woke." Well, I say to you, "Awake O sleeper and pursue righteousness." Christians are to be a blessing and a means of grace and a source of peace, but we're also to create a divide in the land because our holiness and our faith will not let us just go along to get along.
That's what Darius did. That's what Pilate did. It's what way too many Christians are doing today without thinking. Watch this. If you think I'm being too harsh right here, listen to what Jesus says in Luke, chapter 12, verse 49-53. He says, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!"
"I have to go and I have to be the one who lets myself be given to the lion, but I'll take my life back up again." Watch this. "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother…"
Church against church. Denomination against denomination. Compromised pastor against faithful pastor.Our job is to, as much as we are able, to be at peace with all men, but mark my word. Peace is not always ours to experience. Because when you live extraordinary lives, ordinary lives don't much like the conviction you bring to them.
Let me just stick this in here so I don't miss it. You probably don't know this guy. This guy's name is August Landmesser. Here's a picture of him in roughly 1936. August was in love with Irma Eckler. Here's a picture of Irma. Irma and he married in the mid-30s, and they were pregnant with their first child, or maybe their second, when on September 15, 1935, something called the Nuremberg racist laws came into being.
They said, "If three of your four grandparents were born into a religious family, whether you're religious or not, you are considered part of that race." So Irma was a Jewess. Whether she knew it or not and whether August cared or not is not part of the story. I know he found out she was because she was labeled as such and as a result of that, he was told he could not stay married to her.
I think she was pregnant with their second child at the time. He tried to flee to Denmark. They caught him at the border and imprisoned him. The Nazis had said to him, "Hey, we're not going to kill you this time. We're going to put you in jail because you're with that Jew girl. We're going to teach you a lesson. You're not going to see her anymore."
Then they let him out and he went to work in a shipyard. It was the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. The Führer came to that particular shipyard to christen a ship they had just built. When he came, he gave a speech. Everybody saluted the Führer when he came. Take a look at this picture.
Now you might've seen that picture before, and I'll show you a picture inside of this of August Landmesser. Right there he is. Now let me just tell you about August. What happened after this is, they got him again and they imprisoned him another time. Then they put him in indentured war, and he died in Croatia. His wife was sent to a termination camp at Ravensbrück and died.
He divided himself from Nazi Germany. He didn't go along with everybody else. There was a picture this week of Sam Coonrod in San Francisco. He said because of his Christian faith, "Listen, I think all lives matter. I think black lives matter, but if you want me to endorse the movement Black Lives Matter, I can't do it."
Christians are to be a blessing. Part of the way you're a blessing is you stand up against wrong and evil. You don't just lament at racism. You do something about it. Now we're going to gather here in a little bit, and we're going to do actually a night of lament, of just prayer, of grieving. It's important that you hear stories of individuals in our body who have suffered.
We don't want just to grieve. We want you to act. So you'll be hearing more about that. It'll probably be a couple of weeks from today, but we'll let you know the specific detail coming up where we're going to have kind of a raise the mark and we're going to pray ourselves to action. We're going to grieve the sin of indifference and the sin of inactivity.
We're not going to raise our hands to the Führer of going along with a movement that is opposed to the nuclear family and opposed to Democratic ideas that bring blessing. But we're going to move and we're going to live with an extraordinary spirit. People of God are meant to create a divide in the land because of their holiness and faith.
Thirdly, our faith is always personal, but never private. We should be known as the sun by day and the stars by night. We can't be individuals who just hide. I mean, this is Matthew 5, really. We have to maintain our saltiness. That's what makes us a blessing and that's what makes us somebody who will be a clear divide that we don't live like ordinary, sinful men who just go along to get along and maintain our power and status quo, but we live righteous lives.
We stand against all the evil that is in our land, like Wilberforce did, like Spurgeon did, like Rosa Parks did. We act. But watch this. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill…" You don't just say, "I have my own little private faith," right? No. It's personal, but it's never private. "…nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket…"
You don't just do good for good's sake. You do good in the name of Jesus. "…but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all…" The darkness hates the light, and you're not surprised by it, but people who are stuck in darkness love the light. If they'll follow it, it'll lead to blessing.
Fourthly, the source of our holiness and our goodness as the people of God is constant communion with the Father. We see that in Daniel, right? Daniel wasn't good. Daniel depended upon a good God, and he trusted in him. Jesus, in John 15, verses 4 and 5 said just as much to us. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
The source of our goodness is our devotion daily and continually. Our prayer without ceasing, our extraordinary spirit doesn't just come from prayers in the morning and at noon and in the evening. It comes from a constant abiding with Jesus and with one another who spur each other on and tell us not to grow weary in doing good. That's why we're gathered together this morning.
Fifthly, we should be the best of citizens when able and defiant when necessary. When we're asked to compromise, we say, "No." We're going be the first to shut down and the last to shut up. I'm not going to read it to you because it's too long, but Acts, chapter 4, verses 13-20. You see that Peter who says, "…we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard."
We ought to be the best of citizens when we can, but when they say, "You salute fascism. You go along with what doesn't hurt you." You go, "No!" "You don't sing to your God. You don't praise your God." You say, "No. We're going to gather and we're going to praise our God." I'm not talking about meeting on Sundays necessarily. I'm talking about being about the Lord's business.
Sixthly, there will always be a remnant, and the remnant will always be tested. There was a remnant in Babylon. There's one in Medo-Persia. There was a remnant in Jerusalem when it fell. There was a remnant in Israel when it fell. There is a remnant in America today. Our job is to increase that remnant and to be about it, but that remnant is going to be tested.
This is 1 Peter, chapter 4:12-19. "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…" The remnant is always tested. You just want to be a person who finds your strength in the promise of God and be about it.
Seventhly, there will be another daywhen a man will be exalted like Darius was and you will be asked to take his name as authoritative, you will be asked to take his mark, and you will be asked to bow before him. Read Revelation 16, 17, and 18. The mark is mentioned, I think, in Revelation 14, but read 16, 17, and 18, specifically.
There is going to be a man that the whole world will be told, "You worship him. You bow before him. You can't do commerce. You can't do industry. You can't eat unless you acknowledge him as God." You prepare yourself to not salute that man, and you prepare yourself to be thrown to the lions. That's not going to happen unless you know what Daniel knew, what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew.
Eighthly, God knows where his people are and he is able to defend them. Let me just read this verse right here. Paul knew how much he had to suffer for the Lord's sake. Paul was an individual who, at the end of his life, said this. Paul drew strength from the same story that I'm about to tell you right here.
Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:16-18, "At my first defense…" "I was all alone." Kind of like Daniel was all alone. "…no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them." Paul said, "They don't have the faith I have. They don't know what I know." Do you know what Daniel knew? Do you love the God of Daniel so you can stand faithful?
"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…" Just like he did with Daniel. "…so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear…" Then he says, "…and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth." What do you think Paul was thinking about there, late in his life? The same thing you have to be thinking about. The same thing Richard Wurmbrand was thinking about when he was tortured in communist Romania.
Ninthly, the deliverance of God does not mean that the mouths of lions will always be shut. You just need to know that. God shut the mouths of lions for Daniel. He shut the mouths of lions for Paul, but Daniel eventually died. The roaring lion who seeks us because of our sin won in a small way until the resurrection. Paul was eventually beheaded.
Let me just read to you briefly Hebrews, chapter 11. Read verses 32-40, but I'm going to read you 37 and following, where it says, "They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised…" In that shortfall. "…because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect." The idea here is not everybody who is thrown in lions' den escapes the lions, but everybody who dies in Christ is raised again. The deliverance of God does not mean the mouths of the lions will be shut.
Tenthly, the faithful among God's people are faithful to the end. First John 2:19 says "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us." Daniel was faithful to the end. Paul was faithful to the end. True Christians are faithful to the end.
Now let me just tell you. Not because they're great, but because God preserves them. Philippians 1:6 says "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Eleventhly, the one who hates the servant of the Lord will be crushed and devoured from memory forever. This is a sobering text. Second Thessalonians 1:9 says, "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…" So we should not delight in those who are thrown with the lion into the eternal pit forever. It's why my last point is this. I think it's the twelfth one. It's a beautiful dozen out of Daniel 6.
Lastly, people who have received the grace that Daniel received and Paul received and Todd Wagner received pray for their enemies, and they warn their enemies of the wrath that is to come. Proverbs 24:17-18 says, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the LORD will see it and be displeased, and turn His anger away from him."
The Lord takes no delight in the death of the wicked. I don't think Daniel took any delight in the satraps or the commissioners who were thrown into the lions' den and were devoured, because they didn't just die in a lions' den. They moved to eternal destruction where they will never be remembered again, except they'll give glory to God in their judgment as they suffer forever.
That is why we pray for our enemies. It's why we share our faith. It's why we declare the goodness of God. As we keep our minds focused on the Jerusalem that is to come and pray continually, we pray for those who don't know the goodness of the God who we trust in even if we're thrown into furnaces and lions' dens.
I've been reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, which if you've not ever read that book, I commend you to pick it up. It's a short 500-page read, at least in the size print that I'm reading. It's so funny because Southern propaganda tried to make Uncle Tom out to be a house negro, a boy who just went along to get along because he lived well in the master's house.
Let me just tell you, that is a distortion of Harriet Beecher Stowe's character Tom. If anybody ever called me Uncle Tom, I would say that is one of the kindest things you've ever said to me. Uncle Tom is as much a Christ figure as Daniel is in Daniel 6. The brother didn't make a mistake in any of the pages.
There's a scene when Tom is being sold off his plantation away from his wife and his children. They have just heard about it. They are angry and Tom's family is saying, "'Sich'll be burnt up forever, and no mistake; won't ther?' said Andy. 'I'd be glad to see it, I'll be boun',' said little Jake." Tom walks in when he hears them all longing for the day of ultimate judgment.
He says, "'Chil'en!' he said, 'I'm afeard you don't know what ye're sayin'. Forever is a dre'ful word, chil'en; it's awful to think on 't. You oughtenter wish that ar to any human crittur.'" Then Tom goes on to say, "'Pray for them that 'spitefully use you, the good book says,' 'Pray for 'em!' said Aunt Chloe; 'Lor, it's too tough! I can't pray for 'em.'" Then he says, "'…you oughter thank God that you an't like him, Chloe. I'm sure I'd rather be sold, ten thousand times over [for a fleeting moment than I would to be found separate from the true master and king]."
Christian, you're meant to be a blessing. You are meant to bring division. You are mean to be a remnant. You are meant to suffer. You are meant to be fed to lions, sometimes delivered, sometimes not. You're meant to be an evangelist for those who don't know the God of Daniel and of Paul and of all true believers.
So you don't salute to fascism this week. You don't put your hope in Babylon, Persia, or America. But you be a Daniel or a Danielle and you pray for those who are going to be damned forever if they don't know the servant of the Lord. Let's go, church.
Father, I pray that we would be trusting in you, the good God, in the goodness of God, and that we would be individuals who know that whatever falls us on this earth, it is a momentary light affliction. We would rather suffer 10,000 injustices on this earth than not receive the blessing of your judgment and justice poured out on Christ on the cross and acknowledge our sin that put him there.
So Father, as we sing this song again about your goodness, I pray that it would create in us an extraordinary spirit that would make us useful to our master. I pray we would serve faithfully through this tour of duty on this plantation that is earth as servants of our true king, praying for all who are unjust, evangelizing, and having an extraordinary spirit like Tom, like Paul, like Daniel, like Jesus.
We thank you that we can be confident that you who began this good work in us will bring it about to completion until the day of Christ Jesus because your goodness is always running after us. So we walk in that right now, Father. May your goodness overtake us and be seen in us so we can bring blessing to our land. In Jesus' name, amen.