I. A righteous person is a good testimony (1-5)
Daniel is now probably a little over 80 years old. He served in a high position in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. Then he served in a high position in Belshazzar’s kingdom. Both of these were Baylonian kings. Last week you learned about the overthrow of Babylon. Persia almost miraculously conquered this powerful capital in one night. It would be expected that the new foreign king would bring in his own officials and get rid of the previous administration. And yet Darius chose to have Daniel be one of three rulers he set over the entire kingdom. Why would he do this? Evidently, Daniel had a very good reputation. He was known as a person full of integrity. He was known as a wise, faithful, and loyal leader. The king wanted to find rulers who would protect his interests that he “might not suffer loss” (verse 2.) Daniel fit the bill. And thus he served as a top official in at least three adminstrations spanning 6 decades. Daniel was a good employee with a good testimony.
Are you a good employee like Daniel was? Do you have integrity like he did? Do you faithfully serve your boss’ interests? Like Daniel did, we work for bosses who are often not believers. We work for companies that do not honor God. How can we serve God while still being a good employee?
From a worldly perspective (your bosses’ perspective), a Christian employee has both some negative and positive sides. The negative is that the Christian employee will not blindly obey everything, even sinful things he his asked to do. The Christian accountant should not be willing to change the numbers. The Christian salesman should not be willing to exaggerate how good the product is. The employee who loves Jesus most may not be a slave of his work and work as much overtime as others. If your boss only sees the negative side, you will not last long in your job. But there is a positive side too. An employee who follows Jesus should be trustworthy. That means he will be honest to his boss and company. Just as he will not cheat the customer, he will not cheat the company either. This is why Daniel kept being promoted. While other officials served their own interests and selfishly pursued personal gain, Daniel would not be corrupted and would be honest to his superiors. Have any of you ever seen the movie “Flywheel?” It is made by the same people who produced “Fireproof” “Courageous” and “Prayer room.” Briefly share the story of the employee who was promoted because of his trustworthiness. Does your boss only see the negative side of your belief? You should be showing him the positive side. A follower of Jesus makes a good employee. Is it promised that like Daniel you too will be promoted? No. It is not. And yet if you are a good employee and work hard and behave with integrity, it is very likely that you will be successful. Proverbs 22:29- The one skilled in his work will serve before kings.
So we know that Daniel publicly was a good and faithful employee with a good testimony. What about his private life? We see a powerful statement about Daniel’s character in verses 4-5. These people tried every method for finding out Daniel’s secrets. Surely they spied on him and followed him. They investigated him. They would have done things like checking his projects and paperwork. Asking questions of his co-workers, examining his house and possessions. Throughout history political adversaries are very good at bringing out the secret sins of their opponents. We have an idiom in English, “everyone has a skeleton in their closet.” It means that everyone is hiding something they don’t want others to know about them. But Daniel was not. Although they tried as hard as they could, they could find nothing even remotely shady in Daniel’s personal or professional life. In fact, the only thing they could find to accuse him about, is that he was too zealous for serving God! Wow! Isn’t that amazing? Daniel had a shining testimony. It wasn’t an act. It wasn’t faked. He wasn’t one person at the office and another person at home. He wasn’t one person at church and another person in front of his friends. He wasn’t one person on Sunday and another person on the rest of the week. Daniel was the real deal. This is who he was. He was a righteous person who lived like it no matter where he was or who was watching.
I want you to put yourself in Daniel’s place for a moment. Imagine that a team of detectives investigates your life. Their goal is to dig out your secret sins. They want to expose you. They want to prove that you are a different person during the week than on Sundays. So othey dig in to every aspect of your lives. What will they find? If they were to check your credit card bills and banking account history, what will they find you spend money on? What will they find out about your truthfulness in paying taxes? If they were to look in your internet browsing history, what would they see there? If they were to check out what kind of movies you watch, music you listen to, or books you read when no one else is around, what would they discover? If they were to observe how you treated your family members and recorded a video of it, would you want to play it here? If they had the ability to go even deeper, and record the thoughts you think when you are all alone, would you feel comfortable to play those in front of all of us? So what would the final report be? Think for a moment about what you would be most afraid of them finding. Brothers and sisters, if you could think of anything, then today take it the Lord. Repent. God can help you be righteous. God can help you have a testimony as pure and blameless as Daniel’s. I don’t know about you, but I want to be like Daniel! I would want to pass an investigation like he did. I would want for people who are looking to accuse me to say, “We can find no corruption in Jason. His only problem is he is too zealous for serving God.” (Can add other people’s names here.) A person of integrity and righteousness can live with no fear of being caught.
Read Titus 2:8.
II. A righteous person will face opposition (4-9)
In 1 Peter 5:8 we learn that the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Do you know who Satan wants to devour the most? He wants to devour believers who have good testimonies. A good testimony for the Lord is a powerful tool to draw others to himself. A believer with a good testimony is like a lighthouse bringing ships in through a storm to a safe harbor. Satan wants to put out the light. His first method is often to tempt believers and get them to fall away. We saw this back in Daniel 1 when Daniel and his friends were tempted by the unlawful food. When that doesn’t work, his next method is often to get rid of the person to extinguish their light.
Notice in this passage that all of these other officals are united against Daniel. Together they go the king and request a new law, a law forbidding prayer to anyone except for him for 30 days. There were a total of 120 satraps and 3 adminstrators. 122 of them stand against Daniel. Not one speaks up in his defense. Not one disagrees with their plan. These are career politicians. Many of them surely hate each other’s guts. They are all jockeying for position. Each one wants to move higher up the chain. Make no mistake. They are not friends, not in normal circumstances. And yet here they are all united. This is the work of the enemy. A believer with a strong testimony will attract opposition from many sides. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12)
Did you know that persecution is promised? If you live for God, you will be opposed. A lot of believers like to claim God’s promises. Did you ever claim the promise of persecution? It may not be our favorite one, but it is there to prepare us so that we will be ready when that moment comes. If we are not prepared and are caught by surprise we might not have the resolve or perseverance to face that persecution and endure. Much of the battle takes place before the actual moment of persecution. This opposition may come from different sources. It could be a parent who is opposed to the gospel. It could be co-workers who are out to get you. It could be hostile people who argue with you in the group when you try to share the gospel. Know that if you live a godly life for the Lord, you will be opposed. And if you never face this, then it is possible you are too much like the world.
Discussion Question: How can you prepare ahead to face persecution?
From these verses we also learn two things which we should not do:
A. We should not use flatterly and manipulation to achieve what we want like these officials did. Also we should not let ourselves be manipulated by flattery.
B. We should not make promises without thinking through it very carefully.
III. A righteous person boldly stands on his convictions (10-16)
Look with me at verse 10. What does Daniel do when he hears about the decree? The same thing he always does! Daniel does not change at all. He doesn’t compromise his faith. He doesn’t hide. Remember when I preached on Daniel 1 I told you that you always have a choice? No one can make you sin. Turn to your neighbor and say, “You have a choice.” Now say, “No one can make you sin.” Do you believe that? The story of Daniel proves it is true. Once again it looks like Daniel had no choice. Before he was a young teenager standing up against the most powerful king in the world. Now he is an old frail man once again standing up against the most powerful king in the world. Most people his age would just want to live out the rest of their days in peace. I don’t believe Daniel did this with the goal to make a statement. It wasn’t done in anger or pride. He did it because it was who he was. He wouldn’t and couldn’t change his very nature. He had been praying like this way for decades. So for him to do it again was the most normal and natural thing in the world.
Daniel could have justified changing his routine, just for this thirty days. After all, a person can pray anywhere, right? A person can pray with his eyes open. A person can pray with the door shut. Daniel could have simply gone to bed and shut his eyes and prayed silently before sleeping. No one could have possibly known. No one could have accused him. He could have avoided the wrath of the king. He could have avoided the accusations of the other officials. He could have kept his job and ability to infuence people in the future. And it would have been so easy to do that. He was very smart. He certainly knew he could have done these things, but he still prayed in front of an open window facing Jerusalem. But Daniel was a man of conviction. See James 4:17.
It is clear Daniel believed this was the right response. But why? I have some thoughts, but I am going to leave this question for you to think about.
Discussion Question: Would it have been right for Daniel to change his routine and pray secretly for 30 days until the decree expired? Why or why not?
We can three things about Daniel from his actions here:
A. He was bold. He did this in front of an open window without letting fear of the consequences stop him.
B. He had faith. Every time in the past he took a leap of faith, God had caught him. He had lived his entire life up to this point with faith in God, trusting that God would take care of him. And each time God did. Thus his faith grew stronger and stronger. He knew that God was more powerful than any earthly kings. And he knew that God would be with him again. For you too, when you take a leap of faith, God will show Himself faithful and your faith will be increased for the next time.
C. He had conviction. Daniel had a clear sense of right and wrong. He didn’t let the fads or opinions of the day sway him. But he stood straight and firm, unflinching because he knew he was standing on the truth.
Application: Are you a person of conviction? We need to carefully study the Scriptures and build up a foundation of principles which we will stand on no matter what. Many of these convictions will be very different from the world’s opinions. They will be tested and opposed. But a conviction is a strong belief in your heart that you should not compromise no matter what others say. Jesus also showed great conviction. Luke 9:51. Jesus set His face steadfastly to Jerusalem. He had a mission and set His path forward to accomplish it. Later Peter would discourage him from this mission and Jesus would rebuke him.
I was blessed with parents who had strong convictions and taught me to have the same. Share example of building a fence and Mom being a homemaker.
I would encourage you too to be a person of conviction. First be clear in your mind about right and wrong. And then stand firm on the truth no matter what opposition you face. And be aware that like for Daniel, it could be your testimony on the line. Your actions right or wrong will reflect back on to God and you can either honor Him or dishonor Him through your willingness to stand up for your convictions.
Standing on those convictions is not an easy path. We see that Daniel was accused. And though the king realized he was tricked and did not want to have Daniel killed, accordng to the law he had no chocie.
IV. A righteous person is never abandoned by God (17-25)
Daniel was forsaken by the king who felt he had no choice, but to follow the law and have Daniel thrown to the lions. But this passage shows us that He was never abandoned by God. These were lions which were purposefully starved in order to make them as ravenous as possible. Yet they didn’t open their mouths to kill Daniel. He says in verse 22 that God sent his angel to “shut the mouth of the lions.” Daniel does not sound the least surprised. And why should he be? God is in the business of doing miracles. He miraculously caused Daniel and his friends to look healthier after only ten days in chapter 1. He miraculously gave Daniel the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar’s two dreams in chapter 2 and 4. He miraculously delivered Daniel’s friends from the fiery furnace in chapter 3. And he miraculously wrote on the wall and prophesied the downfall of the Babylonian kingdom in chapter 5. What are a few lions to God?
Some pictures portray the lion’s den as a pretty little place with light streaming in and Daniel pleasantly conversing with the lions or using them as a pillow. I don’t think the lion’s den was such a pleasant place. It was meant to be a place of torture and death. It was likely dark. Filled with bones of killed prisoners. Rank and disgusting. It was designed to be frightening. The text describes a stone rolled over and placed on the top. So likely there were no windows either. The scene makes us recall the words of David hundreds of years before in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Brothers and sisters, just as God did not abandon Daniel to the lions He will not abandon you either. God is still doing miracles. He still intervenes on the behalf of His people. No matter what dark valley you need to go through, God is there with you. No matter how lonely and abandoned you feel, God will never leave you or forsake you. No matter who stops loving you, God will never stop loving you.
V. A righteous person makes a difference for the Lord (26-28)
What is the result of Daniel’s stand and good testimony? It greatly effects King Darius. First he has all fo the treacherous and manipulating officials killed. Certainly it was good for the kingdom to get these officials out of leadership who so opposed God. He also had their families killed. Note on biblical interpretation. Recording it is not an endorsement. The Mosaic law specifically forbid children being punished for their parents’ sins and vice-versa.
But Darius goes much farther than this.
Only days before this king had proudly declared himself to be a god. He demanded prayer from his subjects and forbid prayer to anyone or anything else. And yet now he does a complete 180 degree turn. Now he commands his subjects to fear and revere the “God of Daniel.” He proclaims that Daniel’s God is the “living God” and that His kingdom will last forever, unlike his own kingdom which he knew was temporary. He ascribes miracles to God. Not only was the king himself convinced of this. But he issues a decree proclaiming this for circulation through the whole kingdom.
Because of one man’s conviction and refusal to compromise, a beacon of light is shown for the entire kingdom to see. How many lives were touched and changed because of Daniels’ firm faith? It’s almost countless. Not only were many lives changed then, lives are still being changed now almost 2600 years later. Many scholars believe that the Magi who go to visit Jesus were familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures and Yahweh largely because of Daniel’s influence in the Persian kingdom.
When you make a stand for God, it will also make a difference. Firstly, it will help you to grow in your own spiritual journey. Beyond that, it will be a light to the people around you. Small actions of obedience to God can make a great difference in His kingdom.
Some scientists believe in the so-called butterfly effect. This refers to the idea that the tiny amount of wind caused by the flapping wings can change the weather patterns far away. It is the same idea in that a small pebble can cause ripples which expand far away from the original source. Our lives are something like that butterfly or like that pebble. When you live for God, your actions affect others. You make a positive difference for God every time