Sermon delivered September 14, 1996

By Pastor Donald J. Gettys

Daniel in a Catch 22 Situation

(Daniel 6)

Let's go to the best known story of the Old Testament, the story of Daniel in the Lions Den. One day when Daniel was about 85 years old he was working as usual in his office in Babylon. He had worked all through the administration of Nebuchadnezzar. He had worked through the administration of Belshazzar. And then after a terrible invasion the gold gave way to a baser metal, silver, as the Medes and Persians took over.

Darius restructured the government. Now Darius the Mede was an innovative man. And this became one of the most democratic republics in the ancient world because he set it up in such a way that it had 120 governors representing various areas of the kingdom. Now, Daniel was one out of 120. That's what you call a "moral minority." Daniel was out-numbered. But are you really out-numbered with God on your side? Darius liked Daniel's excellent spirit and leadership. He was appointed one of just three vice- presidents under himself. During this time Daniel displayed such fine strength, spirit and integrity that Darius was considering making Daniel the number on person under himself.

Look at Daniel 6 about this elderly statesman. Look at verse 3: "Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom." Second, only to himself.

Now why would that happen? I think it happened because of Daniel's loyalty to God. That promotion stemmed from his special relationship with the heavenly Father. I believe that we need to sense in our own lives that as we do well with God, we're going to do well in this world. Maybe not financially, maybe not in some ways that you're thinking of "well", but we're going to do better with God on our side. Very few great men finish well. Have you ever noticed that? Daniel was an exception. In Psalm 92 there's an excellent statement that applies to Daniel. Verse 12: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon." verse 14: "They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green."

Daniel was not your typical 85 year octogenarian. He had a spring in his step, a keen perception and wise judgement. Young-at-heart-Daniel was highly valued to the entire empire. Eighty five years old and here he's at the head. He had lived almost 70 years in a foreign land against his will. Yet he flourished where he was planted. Rather than complain about the misfortunes of being a captive and having to live in a foreign country, he made the best out of his circumstances. He was not a negative person. He looked on the bright side of life. He came out at the top, like cream always does. So should we. If tragedy has struck you, that cannot be changed. A hornet stung me the other day. I couldn't change it. But I want to tell you, I got some extra rest that I needed. There is always something good in what happens to us. Or at least something good can come out of it. But you, like Daniel, can still be a bright shining star for God. You can still taste the sweetness of success, even if you're a hostage.

You would think that most of the great tests would happen at the beginning of life. But in both Daniel's and Jesus cases, their greatest test came toward the end of their days. They both faced death. They both had terrible trials at the end.

Notice verse 4. The other leaders quickly got jealous. When they opened his closet to find a skeleton the more they dug the more evidence they uncovered that showed Daniel was a man of integrity, a man of quality and great honor. Verse 4 says: "the administrators and satraps 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 (That's quite a statement.), because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent."

An admirable man, he was hated because he was successful. You know, dogs do not bark at a parked rusted out car. It is the mover and the shaker that gets chased by the dogs. Somebody that's going somewhere and the dogs are behind him in a pack. Daniel's enemies were upset at him because he was God's person of that hour.

Daniel's enemies spied on his every move. Like news starved reporters they watched him as a vulture watches a wounded animal. They were ready to pounce on anything they could find. They went through every document with a fine toothed comb. Every memo, every word was scrutinized, every action. They probably tapped his phone, if he had a phone. It seems impossible that any human being could be in an oval office and yet not one little flaw could be found in his work. He had never taken a bribe. He was incorruptible, honest, admirable, punctual, and flawless. I tell you we need leaders like that in our church. We need leaders like that in this nation.

Daniel 6:5: "Finally these men said, 'We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God."

Now, Religious Persecution is the worst breed of revenge. These evil heathen politicians, like the pharisees of Jesus day, homed in on his religion. That's the only way they could pin him down. Probably late one night, after much deliberation, they concocted a terrible idea. You know, Daniel was guilty just about the same way Jesus was guilty. Guilty of disobedience to Caesar.

In Daniel 6:6-- "So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: 'O king Darius, live forever!" The original Hebrew indicates the idea that they rushed into the throne room, uninvited, like a noisy excited mob. Came into the throne room and said they had a bright idea just for Darius.. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE GOD FOR A MONTH??!!" And Darius said, "I kind of like that idea. I'd sort of like to be God."

You have just won the grand popularity contest sweepstakes. We want you to be the god of the world for 30 days! We have unanimously decided you "should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays (notice how inclusive this is.) to any god or man during the next 30 days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lion's den!"-vs 7. Not too many loopholes in that are there?

The death decree suspended all religious liberty for one month. Daniel's first obligation was to God. That's ours as well. Your first obligation is not to your employer, not even to your family. Your first obligation is to God, Himself. No ruler has jurisdiction over religious freedom. No government should squelch our right to pray. Daniel knew the law had been signed. He sensed that the purpose of the other two conspirators was to eliminate competition. I believe Daniel also knew these evil men had pulled a good one over on Darius.

30 DAYS WITHOUT PRAYER! Why Not? Could you do it? 30 days without prayer? Imagine 30 days without sight. I could ask you to shut your for 30 days, but you wouldn't do it. I don't even like when a person asks me to shut my eyes during a service like this unless it's for prayer. I'll shut my eyes for God. Imagine 30 days without hearing. Imagine 30 days without your best friend. Daniel couldn't stand it. But why not go without prayer for 30 days? The law would be kept and Darius would not have to kill his loyal friend.

Daniel was in a Catch 22 situation. If he prayed he would face a terrible death. If he put his religion on hold he would lose eternity. For 2/3rds of a century Daniel had prayed towards Jerusalem and longed for the time when he could go back home. For almost 70 years he had prayed facing Jerusalem. He wanted to go home. That's where his heart was. His study of Jeremiah 25 and 29 told him that time was near. At Daniel's age it would be senseless now to lose his life and not participate in the homecoming he had anticipated all his life. He couldn't go home if he became lion food.

WHY NOT SHUT THE SHUTTERS? That would be fair, wouldn't it? Where in the Bible does it say you have to pray with the windows open? In fact, in the New Testament it says we need to go into our closet and pray. Why didn't Daniel do that? He could have done that. No one would have known he was praying. Where did he do his praying? He did it at home. Just shut the door and they'll never know you're praying. Not Daniel! Does prayer have to be public? Do we have to stand up and be counted. Yes, we do! Silent secret prayer would save his life.

Daniel could have stayed at his desk and prayed silently. You can pray with your eyes open. But Daniel knew that it was time to stand up for God! This old world needs modern Daniels! Men and women willing to stand up and be counted. Willing to face ferocious beasts rather than skip prayer. Far too many today try to be Christians in secret, at home the radio or TV is their church. Let's stand up and be counted. Let's get involved. When the nominating committee calls, say, "Yes." Do something for God.

What would Daniel do if company came over for the weekend? Non Sabbath keepers. Would he skip church that day? I don't believe that Daniel would temporarily suspend his religion for anybody. Some folks today say: I had company come last Sabbath therefore I could not go to church. Not Daniel! We need modern Daniel's!

Look at DANIEL 6:10 "Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before." No change. I love Daniel, don't you? A great man. There is not record of indecision on Daniel's part. There was no great mental debate. God is first, period. That's the way it is with Daniel.

Daniel's big picture window was wide open! He just got right out in front of it and like normal, he prayed toward Jerusalem to his God. No attempt to cover up. Old Daniel KNELT in prayer! If you're 85, did you ever try to get down on your knees. One of our members this morning said that when he got down on his knees, working this week, he couldn't get up. Three times a day, Daniel was on his knees. At 85 years old, he knelt before the Lord. I think we need to kneel before God every chance we get. Psalm 95:6-- "Come.. let us kneel before the Lord..." Let us kneel down before our Maker. It is often difficult to kneel when you get to be 85. Hard to get down and harder still to get up. But prayer will lift you up.

Daniel felt it was more dangerous NOT to pray to God as his custom was than to go into a den of hungry lions. It didn't matter, the lions were the least concern to him. God was important.

    Notice key factors of successful prayer according to Daniel:
  1. - FAITH. "toward Jerusalem"-- he expects deliverance. In all true prayer you must have Faith. That's the first item on the agenda if successful prayer. You must have faith. Daniel prayed with expectation.
  2. - WORSHIP. Prayed and GAVE THANKS to God. He worshipped God. When you get on your knees instead of just saying, "Give me, give me, ... bless me, bless that, also praise God. Thank God. Express your appreciation for the wonderful things He has done for you.
  3. - HUMILITY. He was in a kneeling position. He was a humble man. I believe God answers the humble prayers of His people.
  4. - REGULARITY. He prayed three times a day. One version says, "As he did from childhood. Not like he had for the last few days, but all his life. He was not going to change now. Lions or no lions, Daniel was putting God first. Three times a day. Many of God's saints have prayed three times a day. Look at Psalm 55:16,17. This is the experience of David. "I call to God and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress and He hears my voice. You can read in Acts 3:1, the apostles, they prayed three times a day. It's been a habit of many holy people to pray three times a day. Now you might say, "I pray three times a day: Breakfast, and lunch, and supper. I'm sure Daniel did that as well. He's not counting that as his three times. He got down on his knees three times a day and poured out his heart to the Lord. We need to do that. If you figure that Daniel prayed that way for 70 years, three times a day, that's seventy five thousand prayers that Daniel prayed, just in those three alone. Let alone his prayer just before going to bed and when he first woke up he gave his heart to God. I do that. Every morning when I get up I give my heart to God because I love Him. The Muslims pray five times a day. They shut down their TV stations and everything. They lock up their businesses and go pray. Surely we can pray more. We aught to be a people of prayer.
  5. - PETITION. Asked and kept on asking his God.
  6. - THANKSGIVING. Not just asking but praising God.
  7. - CONSISTENCY. As he did aforetime, his habit. We need a consistent prayer life. Not just on again, off again, but consistent prayer as he did aforetime. It was his habit to pray.

We need more modern Daniels today.

Now we don't have time to get Daniel in and out of the lion's den today. I prepared this sermon yesterday, and it ended up to be almost two sermons. We're going to make two sermons out of it. So you will hear about Daniel in the lion's den in October. We'll get Daniel in and out of the lion's den than. I want you to know that Daniel was probably the most Christ-like person in the Old Testament. There's also Joseph. I want to meet those people when I get to heaven. People of prayer, people of sterling quality, people who love God. That's the kind of people each of us can be. God want you to be like a Daniel. Can you dare to be a Daniel?

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