Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Logos since 31 July 2017 . Dare to be a Daniel in South Africa

. Dare to be a Daniel in South Africa

DARE TO BE A DANIEL IN SOUTH AFRICA

Introduction

A few weeks ago, I preached a sermon entitled “The state of the nation address by God”. In it we saw that it is more important to know how God feels about the state of affairs of a nation than what it is for us to express how we feel. Our concerns are not necessary God’s primary concern, and we are not the centre of the universe. It is more important to hear God on the matter than for us to call on God regarding the state of our nation. Also, we saw that we are required to adjust our lifestyles and to start obeying God in all matters. Together we looked at various Old Testament texts in which God addresses the state of the nation Israel in which we find lessons for us.

Last week we looked at our “Survival Kit for life in South Africa”. We have no guarantees for the future, and no promises of restoration, even when we desire restoration. Sure, we need revival, but what if revival does not come. Paul in addressing the church in Thessalonica told the believers not to be shaken by their circumstances, but to realise that whether things are going well or very bad, to the extent that we actually desire the Lord’s speedy return, we have anchors to hold on to. We are loved by God, we are chosen by God, we are saved by God, we are sanctified by God’s Spirit and we are kept by His Word. When believers hold on to those truths we will not be shaken.

This morning I want to preach one more sermon regarding life in South Africa. This time I want to look at the life of Daniel in Babylon. Judah in spite of their crying before the Lord ended in captivity in Babylon. And here we see the story of the life of one man facing the challenges life throws at you while in captivity. Daniel was exiled to Babylon in 605 b.c., Daniel was one of several young men chosen to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. When Persia conquered Babylon in 539, Daniel was again given a position of power. He remained faithful to God in both of these hostile environments. From the interpretation of dreams, to the familiar stories of the fiery furnace, the lions’ den, and the handwriting on the wall, to the prophetic visions, the recurrent theme is God’s sovereignty over human affairs. In the historical sections (chs. 1–6) God supernaturally rescued Daniel and his friends. The rest of the book consists of visions of future judgment and deliverance by the Messiah.

But how does his story relate to us today? I was prompted in my heart to preach this, after listening to Alastair Begg on the topic.

 

Daniel 6 (ESV) 1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three presidents, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” 6 Then these presidents and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction. 10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” 14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.” 16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him. 19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces. 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Daniel, is maybe one of the best examples of a Spiritual Giant. By the time we get to chapter 6 which we have read, many years have elapsed since chapter 1 where we read that he and many other young men were brought to captivity from Jerusalem. Daniel is now somewhere around his 70’s. He is no longer the young man that we read about in chapter 1. He has seen much in Babylon and under the Persians, and he has experienced much. Daniel adapted to this country, as we can see in the way he has become involved in the politics of the nation. Here we see a child of God in government making a difference despite government. Daniel was like a reed that would not be shaken, and remained consistent even in the changes of government. No matter which nation ruled, no matter which King ruled, God’s rule over Daniel’s life was unaltered. Daniel is no longer young but still faces the temptations with the zeal of the Lord. Young people often think that temptation is their portion and older people are not tempted. The older people here today will know that this is not true. Alastair Begg, summarized this chapter before us with a few words starting with the letter D. I will join him in that without following him like a slave.

 

1. Daniel was distinguished.

 

3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

 

Oh, how we need men and woman like this in our churches, in society and in government.

 

Now in Babylon they had 120 satraps who were responsible over the whole Kingdom. And according to verse 2 there were 3 administrators or presidents who were to ensure that the King suffers no loss either due to corruption or bad management or some other reason. Daniel was one of them. Why was he distinguished? Verse 3 says because there was ‘an excellent spirit in him.” This is not referring to the Holy Spirit, but it is regarding the work of God in his life. He was a gifted man who was used to interpret dreams but he was also a man of wisdom, integrity, discernment, commitment, uprightness, straightforwardness. His yes was yes, his no was no, he did not bow to group pressure, he was not manipulated, not even by the King. Read the first few chapters and it is all there. He modelled the requirements for children of God which we saw in the sermon on ‘God’s state of the nation address’.

 

So, Daniel was distinguished by the quality of his life and he was distinguished by the integrity of his life. Verse 4 should be your and my dream for ourselves. The satraps were trying to point fingers at Daniel but look: “…they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.” Wow, what a man!! Think about it. The kind of positions Daniel held were positions where you would be exposed to all kinds of dishonesty. Look at what is happening on government levels starting with our own president. He is a man with 783 charges against him and counting. At the same time, he claims to be a Christian and on May 6, 2007 Jacob Zuma was ordained as an honorary pastor at a meeting of independent charismatic churches in Durban. Daniel had no charges against him, he was neither negligent or corrupt. He never ever went over 20 km per hour on his chariot. No charges, none, not even a parking ticket. There was no gap between his public image and his private morality. He was the embodiment of what we saw a few weeks ago in Micah 6:8 (ESV) 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” He was the embodiment of Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV)13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” He was marked by stability in a world that was shaky, he was marked by purity in a world that was dirty. No wonder that he was at the top of the list of the King’s choice to be set over the whole kingdom. Now everybody should love a man like this, shouldn’t they? Sadly, not true.

2. He was despised.

One of the greatest cancers in society is jealousy. You even see it in the ministry. Daniel was a super model to be mimicked, yet you read in the last part of verse 3 and the first part of verse 4: “And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom,” Jealousy is an ugly thing. How often do we battle to appreciate and celebrate the success of others? We will find all ways to try and bring them down and to discredit them. It always amazed me in the ministry where pastors will be silent about other pastors, but when God starts using them and they are successful, they will find every possible way to tarnish their character and integrity. Let me just say that this is different from exposing clear error in doctrine and ungodly methodology in the church of Christ. There are successful false prophets and teachers who have found access to the homes of our members, and we will warn against them as their teaching is destructive.

Daniel made enemies, not because he was wrong, but because he was upright. So, these satraps tried to find reasons to discredit him with regards to his conduct in the kingdom, but they could not, because he was Godly, he was above reproach. Don’t miss this. It says something about just being ‘good’. His work ethic was an indication of his walk with God. He was not the kind of guy who had a lifestyle on the Sabbath and a different lifestyle in the week.

So, they could not catch him out in his work in the Kingdom so let’s keep digging.5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” So, we see them coming up with a decree in verses 6-9 in which all men must make petition only to King Darius for 30 days. This should be long enough to catch Daniel out. This law according to the laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed. This sends King Darius on an ego trip and he signs the law into place. The trap was set and the rat Daniel would fall for their bait and they would accomplish their evil plan. Due to their jealousy, they were full of spite and hatred.

Now, let’s be honest. What was their problem with Daniel. Was it in the physical realm? Surely, they should have boasted in a president like him. Their problem was that they could not handle his unswerving commitment to God. They could not stand the fact that he loved his God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength as he was taught from his childhood based on Deuteronomy 6. Friends, listen, there is one thing we must understand. Like Daniel you can be in a foreign land, you may be under a foreign King, you may be under foreign law, you may be in an unjust society, you may live under corruption, but like Daniel, there is one thing they can never change of us, and that is our commitment to God. These men had no problem with religion, they had a religion filled with gods. Their problem with Daniel was that he only believed in one God, God the father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that all other religions were dead end streets.

We have the same problem in our society. People become more and more irritable with you when you proclaim that there is no name given under heaven or earth by which a man will be saved, but the name of Jesus. You will be hated for your association with Him. They are happy with Jesus being the way the truth and the life, but they are not happy with the part that says, “no man comes to the Father, but by me.”

3. He was disciplined.

This very fact that he was disciplined and consistent was what his opponents were going to use against him. 10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God.

Aha, they have caught Daniel. He was not making petition to King Darius, but he was making petition to his God.  So, now they have caught Daniel, all they had to do now is to catch the King, and we see them approaching him in the next verses.

So, in verse 12 – 13: 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

In the ESV there is a little word missing. In the NIV we read: “He still prays three times a day."

The NAS says: “but keeps making his petition three times a day." However, you see it in verse 10: “He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” That is a very important word. Daniel did not simply call on God due to the decree of the king, he did not only call on God because of the drought, he did not only call on God due to the farm murders, he did not only call on God due to the crisis in the land. For Daniel God was not a spare wheel as He is for so many believers. Daniel adjusted nothing, he simply did what he always did. If you want an answer for South Africa, oh how we need Christians whose lives are based on steady consistency, instead of reacting to circumstances. Why is it that in Zimbabwe the churches were full when the shop shelves were empty, and when the shop shelves were full the churches were empty? Should we not be consistent in worship. Should our prayers not be 24/7. Should we not always be praying about the issues in government, in our land. Should we not always be humbling ourselves before God. One thing we can learn from Daniel is that he formed holy habits. There is nothing wrong with habits, and we don’t do it because it makes us always feel good, or because of emotion. We do it because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our commitment to the glory of God.

 

Daniel also did not use the decree as an opportunity for a month off from God. He was consistent 24/7. Is that us? The crisis did not produce his character, but the crisis revealed his character.

 

4. He was discarded/ Rejected.

 

How, the King wished that he did not make the decree, but according to the law of the Medes and Persians Daniel had to be dealt with, he had to be disciplined, he had to be discarded. He had to become breakfast for the lions.  16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” They then closed it with a stone with the seal of the king and the seal of the Lords on it, so that nobody could release him. Oh, to have been a lion in Daniel’s Den on that day. If only they could speak.

 

How safe is a den of lions? They would make mincemeat of Daniel. He would last a few minutes. This was death penalty. However, down in the den, there was no eating taking place, as the mouths of the lions were shut, and up in the palace there was no eating either as the king was fasting.

 

5. He was delivered.

 

19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

 

Friends, I want you to realize here that there are principles that overshadow the miracle of the lions’ mouths being shut. When God’s people live in a way that glorifies God, even those who serve foreign gods will take note. What a testimony to a man’s conduct when a foreign king will proclaim that Daniel’s God is the real and the living God. Again, we see this keyword. “Has your God whom you serve continually?”

Is God not saying something to us through this story as Christians living in South Africa and for us as members of Logos. Sure, God can deliver us, but God is not manipulated by emotional responses to our circumstance. He delivered Daniel, in this context, because he was found blameless before God and before the King. Daniel was blameless, in his life before God and his life in society. He stuck to his Holy Habits, come hell or high water. He did not rush to prayer in crisis, he did not worship based on emotion and self-fulfilment. He served God continually, and God delivered him.

By the way, the lions got their breakfast as those who accused Daniel with their families were thrown in the lion’s den and before they reached the ground they were devoured.

Then we see a glorious ending as the king writes another decree. 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”

The result, when a nation truly humbles themselves before God, is not primary having our needs taken care of. It is not primary having our problems solved. It is not primary getting rid of that which is threatening us. The king without realising it is quoting part of Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV) which we read earlier: 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Revival is when God again becomes God in our lives, and we return to living right before Him.

The king decrees: “26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.”

Such a proclamation. Because of one man who lived uncompromisingly upright in society for many years, at the age of app. 70 to hear the king’s decree. Serve Daniel’s God, because He lives, He reigns, He endures and He rescues.

And then we see a spin off for Daniel.28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”

You see friend, what God requires is for men and women to live right, to honour God and to be uncompromising in their holy habits. Men and women who do not just run to God when the troubles come, but who walk and live faithfully before Him 24/7, no matter the threat. And God in due time, when the day of evil comes, will deliver us and turn what Satan intended for harm, to that which will glorify God and work for our good. If there ever was an Old Testament chaacter who was Christlike, it was Daniel. They had to concoct charges against him, as they could not point a finger at him. He did not rise from the dead like Jesus but was thrown in a hole and the hole was sealed with a stone, and the poor lions in Daniel's Den had no taste of him, because God was with him, why? Because all the years Daniel was with God. Let’s dare to be Daniels in South Africa, by the grace of God, to the glory of God and for the extension of the Kingdom of God.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 7 May 2017