Lessons on Living from Daniel
When we think of Daniel, we usually think of his prophetic messages but there is another lesson we can glean from this book and it is this: how we can live a holy, separated lives of integrity in a pagan world.
Daniel as a young man was dragged from his home in Jerusalem and taken away to Babylon. It was nothing like his hometown. They had a megalomaniac for a king with an ego as big as all outdoors who wanted to be a god. He built a huge statue of himself for all to worship and another made a decree that no one could pray to any other god but himself (can we do it, YES WE CAN!).
And while the king desired to be a god, there were many gods that the people did worship, including:
- An or Anu – the god of Heaven
- Enlil – The god of the air and storms. He normally was portrayed in human form, but also appears as a snake to the human eye
- Enki – The god of water and the fertile earth
- Ki – The mother-goddess representing the earth
- Ashur – Main god of Assyria (sky god)
- Ninlil or Nillina – The goddess of air (possibly the south wind) and wife of Enlil
- Inanna – The goddess of love and war
- Ea – The god of Wisdom
- Marduk – Originally Ea’s son and god of light. He was the main god of Babylon and the sender of the Babylonian king
- Nanna – The god of the moon
- Utu or Shamash – The god of the sun, as well as god of justice
- Ninurta – a solar deity.
All of these gods had their own rules of worship and sacrifice and this is the world Daniel found himself in and we may think “that was then and we are so much more sophisticated now, we would never make statues and bow down to them or sacrifice to them! We are in the 21st century now man!” But the similarities between ancient Babylon and modern day America is alarming to say the least.
Besides having an megalomaniac President who wants to replace God with government as the source of all our needs. We worship the earth under the guise of Greenpeace, PETA, environmentalism, or global warming to name a few. We worship man whether we call it being a workaholic and bowing down to the graven image of the almighty dollar or sacrificing the innocent on the altar of convenience and calling it “freedom of choice.” Yes we are living in a nation that is becoming more and more pagan and we can glean from the life of Daniel a few thoughts on how to a Holy Life in a Pagan World.
Make a Choice Not to Sin
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (Daniel 1:8)
British prime minister Herbert Asquith once spent a weekend at the Waddesdon estate of the 19th-century Rothschild family. One day, as Asquith was being waited on at teatime by the butler, the following conversation ensued:
“Tea, coffee, or a peach from off the wall, sir?”
“Tea, please,” answered Asquith.
“China, India, or Ceylon, sir?” asked the butler.
“Lemon, milk, or cream, sir?”
“Milk, please,” replied Asquith.
“Jersey, Hereford, or Shorthorn, sir?” asked the butler.
He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determine the end. -H.E. Fosdick.
Make a Choice to Do Right
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:14-18)
- Godliness, having the promise of both worlds, the fear of God, and the keeping of His commandments, will generally bring happiness and prosperity and success; but “if not,” still to fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man.
- Let us look at the school in which men are trained to such Godlike vigor, courage, as this (Dan_1:1-16). They began young and in little things to learn the lesson which it was God’s will that they should practice in great things.
- You may be thinking I am not so young. You cannot teach old dog new tricks. That would be true if I were teaching a dog and trying to teach him tricks. You are men created in the image of the living God and we are learning the truths of the Word of God. With God ALL things are possible.
Do Not Stop Doing Right Things in a Right Way
Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. (Daniel 6:3-5)
- What a testimony! Such integrity! They were watching and could find NOTHING. Can that be said of us? Do we retain our integrity in good times and bad? Can our enemies laugh at God due to our lack of integrity and ethics? We need to remember even when we think nobody is watching there is still one watching.
Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. (Daniel 6:6-8)
- The only way was to get the king to sign a decree making it illegal to pray. Playing on the king’s ego they made the king the object of what belonged to God alone and did it in such a way the king was bound to do it.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:10)
- Daniel knew that the writing was signed which threatened him with death if he did his duty. It is well that we should all know it. There is no wisdom in telling even the youngest amongst us that his path will be a smooth one. It is a law that altered not, which declares the contrary; a law more sure than any ordinance of Medes and Persians, for it rests on the unchanging qualities of human nature. As long as men are what they are, so long will they find it hard to be righteous, both from the fault of others and from their own.
- “Daniel prayed and give thanks to his God as he did aforetime.” It was not any unusual show of devotion; he did neither more nor less than he was used to do; three times in every day did he open his house towards Jerusalem and call upon God. The two things together are the secret of a holy life. Daniel did not let the decree cause him to shy away nor did him to tempt the Lord God by putting on a display of piety that he did not really have.
We must make a choice to do right and not do wrong. When we do this yes we will be blessed of God as Daniel was but we will also face opposition from those in authority and those who are our piers.
God did bless Daniel and the others, who did not defile themselves with the king’s meat, but the three were not spared the fire and Jesus was with them. God did not spare Daniel from the lion’s den, but sent His Angel to keep him safe. God did not promise us smooth sailing just that he would be with us in the storms of life and God will get the glory for what happens. Holiness, integrity is not accidental, it is a result of the choices we make.
“When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song,” tenor Luciano Pavarotti relates. “He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, ‘Shall I be a teacher or a singer?’
“‘Luciano,’ my father replied, ‘if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.’
“I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book–whatever we choose–we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that’s the key. Choose one chair.”
What choice will we make today?
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (Deuteronomy 30:19)
The first step in choosing life is choosing life in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. If you are not saved, why not? What in hell could you want?
If we are saved, we need to choose a life of integrity, following Jesus and what He tells us is right to do.
With apologies I cannot upload the audio for tonight’s sermon, the file was corrupt. I pray you are blessed with the outline. -PT