Daniel – The Way of Exile

Today’s post is a link to a video by the Bible Project on the Way of Exile. In this video is a fantastic point about the decision Daniel and his 3 friends made while living in a Babylonian culture. We today are still living in a Babylonian culture.

The Bible Project – The Way of the Exile

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:13-16)

Daniel – They, their children, and their wives

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. 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.
(Daniel 6:23-24)

Today’s passage from Daniel is a sobering reminder of the consequences of our actions as men and how it affects our children and our wives.

These men had “maliciously accused Daniel.” They wanted him out of the way and even if that meant he was killed, the ends justified the means. Because of their hatred for Daniel, they even went to great lengths to manipulate the king into making a law that would be adverse to Daniel’s faith. They set the king up and used him like a pawn so they could dispense with Daniel. Once the king was wise to all of this, he was full of righteous wrath and threw every one of these men and their families into the den of lions.

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
(Proverbs 26:27)

It is a serious warning for us today that our envy, pride, anger, lust and hatred can wreak serious havoc on our families. That was a horrible day for all of those families. Imagine how awful the sight would have been to see those wives and little kids being thrown into the very mouths of lions. And this was all because hubby/daddy had a malicious heart that craved power.

I got a Christmas card in the mail this week. It made me so sad for that family. Here is another woman now without her husband having Christmas pictures taken with her kids. Where’s daddy? He’s not there anymore because other things/ladies took his heart away from them.

Take your role seriously, guys. Where you lead as men will either take your family to green pastures or to the lion’s den. It’s your choice.

Daniel – The Sovereignty of God

The theme of the book of Daniel is clearly that God rules…PERIOD. I encourage you to take a scan through the book of Daniel, or even just read through the book. Whether or not you can understand all the visions and symbols, one thing is plain in every single chapter of this book – God is on the throne, and He always will be.

He rules the future. God knew that Babylon would be followed by Persia which would be followed by Greece and then followed by Rome. Daniel, through God’s inspiration, foretold of the time of Israel’s return from captivity, the coming of the Messiah, and when Rome would destroy Jerusalem and persecute Christians.

He rules the kingdoms of men, and puts on the throne whomever He wishes. Babylon existed for a purpose and for a season, and then God moved them out of the way to bring in Persia as He continued to accomplished His divine plan.

He rules the spiritual realm. Look at how much is said about angels and the spiritual realm in this book. God is sovereign over the unseen domain, too.

He rules nature. 3 men are thrown into a super-heated furnace and come out not even smelling like smoke. An arrogant king is turned into a grass-eating beast for a time and then returned to human form. Daniel is thrown into a lion’s den, and God shut their mouths.

He rules over the hearts of men. Daniel’s heart was well known to God, as well as the hearts of King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar. In fact, God put visions in each one of their heads so that later He could tell them what they dreamed and what it meant!

He rules from everlasting to everlasting. In Daniel 7, He is called the “Ancient of Days.” His kingdom is one that will reign forever. Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome are gone, and the same will be true of the U.S. one day. But God’s kingdom is forever and ever!

By the way, all these qualities of God in Daniel…it sure sounds a lot like Jesus in the New Testament, doesn’t it?

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.”
(Daniel 2:20-22)

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,
(Daniel 2:44)

How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.
(Daniel 4:3)

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 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. 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.”
(Daniel 6:25-27)

And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’
(Daniel 7:27)

Daniel – His boldness in prayer

Today we will look at the boldness of Daniel in prayer. We again take our minds to the prayer of Daniel in the 9th chapter.

“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
(Daniel 9:16-19)

He trusted in the mercy of God. Daniel knew that they could not make a plea to God based upon their own righteousness, but all Israel would have to fall upon the mercy of God. This is something Daniel was confident in, that God would be merciful.

Daniel stood on God’s promises. Because he knew the promises of God, and because he knew the God who keeps His promises, Daniel felt very confident to call upon God to act upon those promises.

He was very bold in asking God to:

  • Let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem.
  • Listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy.
  • For your own sake, make your face shine upon YOUR sanctuary, which is desolate.
  • Incline your ear and hear.
  • Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by YOUR name.
  • O Lord, hear!
  • O Lord, forgive!
  • O Lord, pay attention and act!
  • Delay not, for your own sake!

Men, that is the same boldness that God wants us to have when we come to His throne in prayer. Trust in God’s mercy. Stand on His promises. Call upon Him with boldness and confidence that grows out of an understanding of God’s unfailing mercy.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16)

…in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
(Ephesians 3:12)

Daniel – His humility in prayer

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God,
(Daniel 9:20)

I encourage you to read Daniel 9 this morning and meditate upon Daniel’s prayer. Daniel, at the end of the 70 year captivity, turned to God in prayer and fasting with pleas for God’s mercy. There is so much to be said here from Daniel 9, and more articles will follow, but today I want to focus on the humility of Daniel in prayer.

As you look over Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9, take notice of a few things:

Daniel confessed HIS sin, not just the sins of the nation of Israel. He took ownership of his own rebellion against God. Whatever Daniel was like before he went into captivity, we don’t know, but it sure seems like Daniel had his own part in the sins that caused Israel to go into captivity. Maybe being taken into captivity sobered him up and straightened him out.

In his prayer, Daniel said “we” and “us,” not “I” and “they.” If you listen to good leaders talk, they use we and us much more than “I, Me, Mine.” This was a collective problem and Daniel could not distance himself from it.

Look at the understanding Daniel had of the whole situation. He knew the Scriptures. Moses told them what to do, and said that if they didn’t do it the people would go into captivity (1400’s BC). Several hundred years afterward, Solomon prayed/prophesied that when Israel went into captivity and recognized their sins, that they will pray toward Jerusalem and God will hear, forgive and bring them home (1 Kings 8, 900’s BC). Centuries later, Jeremiah added that they would go into captivity for 70 years, and that they will not come home a day sooner (Jeremiah 29:10, 600’s BC). Daniel was very discerning and knew that these things were written in the Scriptures. He knew the commands that he and the others had broken. It is plain he was aware of the consequences of their unfaithfulness. He also had come to learn and understand of the unfailing love and mercy of God for His people. But he also knew that Israel would not be going home until those 70 years were completed (538-536 BC). Once that time had come, Daniel began praying with all his might for God to act upon His promise. That wisdom and discernment does not come without first having humility.

May we all have the humble heart of Daniel. A heart like Daniel is one that looks in the mirror first before pointing fingers of blame. We will look at God’s word for guidance and light, even when it sheds light and the truth gets ugly. Daniel’s humble heart allowed him to see the ugly in his own life, but he also could see the outreached arm of God ready to forgive and take him back.

Daniel – While I was speaking and praying

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
(Daniel 9:20-23)

This passage is so encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you. Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 is just simply incredible. It is full of humility, love for God and a clear understanding of both God’s word and the history of God’s people. He made all the connections between God’s unfailing love and Israel’s unfaithfulness, but Daniel did not leave himself out of the mix, either. We’ll look at another time at the prayer of Daniel in chapter 9. But what I want to focus on is God answering this prayer.

God did not waste a second in responding to Daniel’s prayer did he? Go back and look over the passage and take note of a few things:

  • While I was still speaking – Daniel was in the middle of the prayer when Gabriel appeared. God didn’t say, “Well, let’s see how he finishes this prayer and then we will decide.”
  • Came to me in swift flight – Awesome…just awesome. I wish I knew more about angels, but it would probably scare me to death. Gabriel flew…and it took time to get to Daniel. Can’t say I understand that, but regardless, God sent Gabriel and told him to hurry to get to Daniel. “Daniel needs you, Gabriel.” That is our God, and in Hebrews 1:14, we are told that angels are ministering to Christians today. They come in swift flight to take care of God’s people today.
  • At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out – Jesus tells us that God already knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). We still have to ask, though! But when we begin to reach out to God, that very instant God is running to us! It is like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The son had a prepared speech and was on his way home to give it to his father. The father ran to him and didn’t let him finish his prepared speech. That is our God, that is our loving Father. The moment Daniel prayed for mercy from God, God sent the word out through heaven and Gabriel rushed to Daniel’s side.

Passages like this help me see God in such a tender and loving light. He greatly loved Daniel and he greatly loves us.

Daniel – My Reason Returned to Me

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
(Daniel 4:34-37)

Isn’t it fascinating that God allowed Nebuchadnezzar’s writings to be part of Scripture. Daniel 4 is the personal record of King Nebuchadnezzar and how he was humbled before Almighty God. Because of his arrogance, he was reduced to a dumb beast eating grass for seven periods of time. At the end of that period of time, his “reason returned to him.” He gave glory and honor to God instead of to himself.

I wander if ole King Neb knew his reasoning was gone during that time of eating grass in the pasture. A lot of times we don’t know that our reasoning is flawed, but when we actually begin to use reason we realize how poor our thinking process was before. There are tons of folks in our culture who think they have a lot of brains and are the smartest people on the block. Yet, their reasoning is so upside down and perverted. And they point fingers our way to criticize the Christian’s foundation for reasoning, saying we are leaning on a crutch of blind faith.

Paul was accused of being “insane” or “mad,” but in reality he was the one speaking words of truth and reason (Acts 26:24-25). Because his foundation was squarely on God and His word, Paul’s thoughts were sound and his conclusions were valid. When we leave God and take the glory and honor for ourselves, our reasoning is turned into madness (Romans 1:18-32; Ephesians 4:17-24). This is the story of our culture and of any culture that walks away from God. When we are lifted up in our own pride, our thoughts lead ourselves and others into total darkness and destruction.

However, when we humble ourselves before God, our thinking becomes clear and enlightened. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, Proverbs teaches us (Proverbs 1:5). When your mind is set on God’s word, it doesn’t make you less intelligent. Being a believer in God doesn’t make you backward and stupid, it makes you the smartest guy in the room (don’t go around saying that, though).

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
(Psalm 119:98-100)

The apostle Paul was very concerned about the brethren in Colossae and Laodicea because they were being cheated by man’s philosophy. Here are two final passages for your encouragement. Man’s reasoning may seem smart at first, but when you come to the light of God’s word, your reasoning will return to you.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
(Colossians 2:1-4)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
(Colossians 2:6-8)

Daniel – No ground for complaint

Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials 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. 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.”
(Daniel 6:3-5)

Isn’t this just like today? Somebody gets a promotion and everybody else wants to knock the guy off the ladder! The king of Babylon wanted to set Daniel over the whole kingdom…it doesn’t seem like there could be a higher position except for the king himself. Daniel was increasing in favor with the king, and the other officials were envious, to the point that they wanted to destroy him. You know if they put half as much effort into their jobs as they did trying to destroy Daniel, they might have been promoted, too!

In their attempt to bring Daniel down, they looked into everything to see where they could find a fault with him. He has to be doing wrong somewhere, and we are going to find it. But what happened? They couldn’t find anything!

The Bible tells us that Daniel had “an excellent spirit.” It also says in this passage that he was “faithful, and that no error or fault was found in him.” This does not mean that Daniel never sinned, but we can see that the life of Daniel properly defines the word “blameless.”

Men, we are living in a culture much like that of Daniel’s day, and those around us are always watching us. This is nothing new. When good people are seeking to follow God, and they are moving up in the world, you can count on others seeking to find some dirt on you.

They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!”
(Psalm 35:21)

For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!”
(Psalm 38:16)

Have you ever been in a situation at work, where maybe the wrong word slipped out of your mouth or you displayed a poor attitude? Sometimes those in the world will pounce on that momentary weakness to show how you are just as bad as everyone else, or that you are a hypocrite. Not everyone is that way, thankfully. Even heathens can show grace at times! But again, you will experience many times where the people around you are just waiting for you to mess up so they can say, “Aha, got you!” Daniel lived in that world, just like we do.

That is what makes it all the more important that we seek to live a blameless life, a life above reproach. We know how others are going to respond, so we should be even more careful to watch what we say and do in the midst of non-believers.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:14-16)

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
(1 Peter 2:12)

Daniel – As He Had Done Previously

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.
(Daniel 6:10)

What would you do if a law was signed in the U.S. saying that you could not pray to any god except the king for 30 days? What if the consequences were being thrown into a den of lions? Would we do what Daniel did?

I can imagine what might go through the mind of a person in such a situation. Well, it’s only 30 days, God will understand. He wants us to live a quiet, peaceable life and mind our own business. Maybe I can pray in my head and no one will know. A den of lions…that’s scary, stuff. I’ll just take a low profile for 30 days and ride out the storm.

On the other hand, Daniel wasn’t in your face rebellious, either. What I mean by that is that some Christians seem to be looking for a political fight and are trying to take it to the opposition any chance they get. Daniel didn’t do that. What did the text say? Daniel just did what he always did! He prayed three times a day.

Daniel was Daniel, and his prayers to his God weren’t hindered by changes in the culture, by his geographical location, by laws, or by any demands or pressures of life. Like Timothy was encouraged to be, Daniel was the same “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).

“What he had done previously,” says quite a bit to us. If our manner of life is not one that can be characterized by consistent prayer and devotion, then let’s take a lesson from the life of Daniel. Because Daniel was consistent in his prayer and relationship with God, he could deal with any change, law, pressure, etc. in the turbulent world around him.

Daniel – Though You Knew All This

And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,
(Daniel 5:22)

This article was posted earlier this year, and I decided to re-post it with several additional observations.

Do you remember the account of the writing on the wall in Daniel 5? The King of Babylon at that time was Belshazzar and he and his court decided to have a drunken party and use the vessels from Solomon’s temple to hold their beverages. They toasted and praised their gods while holding items from God’s house. The King is rattled to his core with a vision of a man’s hand writing strange words on a wall. Daniel is brought into interpret the message.

While explaining the meaning of the writing on wall, Daniel gave King Belshazzar a history lesson about King Nebuchadnezzar. For us it is only a matter of turning a page back and reading Daniel chapter 4, but this event of Nebuchadnezzar being humbled before God had happened many years before. A great king of Babylon was lifted up with pride against the Almighty God, and he was severely humbled before God.

The thing is, according to Daniel, this was not private knowledge. King Belshazzar was fully aware of what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Knowledge of historical facts was not enough was it? King Belshazzar knew the right information, but failed to learn from it. He did not humble himself before God.

Take a look at the first chapter of Daniel and notice something. Where did King Nebuchadnezzar place the articles of Solomon’s temple (God’s house)? In the houses of his gods…in the “treasury of his god.”

And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.
(Dan 1:2)

That tells you where King Nebuchadnezzar ranked the God of Israel. He saw the God of Israel as just another god that was subservient to his own gods. Through his reign, however, he learned otherwise as he came to know the real God of all the earth. Again, as Daniel stated to the later king Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s journey of faith was not unknown to Belshazzar. He just failed to learn, accept and apply the lessons of his predecessors.

There are real answers in history, we can truly help change our course in life by looking back in the past. You can look at the course of people’s lives and see the good choices they made and solutions they came up with to solve problems, and you can examine their thought process to see how that can help you today. You can also look at how individuals, organizations, and nations spiraled down into a world of hurt because of a sequence of one bad choice after another. Learn from it. Learn from your own past too! We do not have to repeat history like King Belshazzar did. He was given all the tools and opportunity and information he needed to completely alter his course. But he chose to reject the knowledge given to him, and he ended up repeating history.

This is the lesson of Ezekiel 18. A son can see the wickedness of his father and make a deliberate choice not to follow that same path. That son can charter his own course with God.

“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise…he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he…did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
(Ezekiel 18:14-20)

This is what God expects of each of us, and it is what God expected of King Belshazzar. When you are driving on the interstate, you eventually have to get off the exit to “arrive” at the destination. Some folks keep studying and learning, but never “arrive” at the truth. Paul said there were those who were …always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). Belshazzar wasn’t lacking for information, he was lacking the application of it.