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Dare To Be A Daniel: Then and Now

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He said that he remembered, when he was but a boy, the head of the establishment said to him one day, “Say that I am out,” and he replied, “Please, Sir, I could not say that, for it would not be true.” Of course the master was very angry and told him that he must not bring his scruples there, or he would never get on in life–but he never asked him to tell a lie again–and when somebody was needed to act as confidential clerk, that young fellow was selected and, knowing him to be one who would be faithful and true, his master took the opportunity to promote him! And he put implicit confidence in him from that hour. Sometimes you will find that to be out and out for the right will be the making of you. I would not urge integrity upon you from such a motive, but, since the devil will tell you that it will be the ruin of you, I will urge you to stand fast to the right, to speak the truth at all times, to be straightforward, for you will find that honesty is the best policy. Any man who speaks the truth will find it the best thing in the long run! To lie, to stray from the truth, to stall, to try to hold with the hare and run with the hounds involves you in a world of difficulty and trouble! Be straight as Daniel was. The Lord help you to be so! The next thing, dear friends, is that we must prove that the old faith produces much love of our fellow-men. You know that, nowadays, the watchword is, “the enthusiasm of humanity.” It is a curious thing that those churches that have such a wonderful “enthusiasm of humanity” speak of us as if we were always talking of God and forgetting men. Well, well; which of these new-fangled churches has an orphanage? It is very fine to talk about Christian socialism, and what you are going to do for the poor; but what have you done? Much of it is just chatter, chatter, and nothing else. But the godly, who feel that God is all, are, after all, those who care most for men; and those who believe most firmly that the unbelieving sinner will be lost are the men who are most anxious to have him saved. Those who believe that there is no salvation but by the precious blood are determined that Christ shall see of the travail of his soul. Those who believe that salvation is all of grace from first to last are moved to preach it with heart and soul wherever they have the opportunity. And, when God makes up his last account, it shall be found, I trust, that the best lovers of men have been those who were first of all the best lovers of God. By your help, by your kindness, by your benevolence, prove it, so that, when they come to look at you who have eaten nothing but pulse, and who have drunk water, they may find that after all you appear fairer and f I cannot go into the question of individuals, but I can imagine someone here, tonight, who is in a position where he is asked to do what it is not right for him to do. But he says, “I shall be fired if I refuse to do it! I know others do it and I must do it.” My dear young fellow, allow me to put before you, Daniel, who purposed in his heart that he would not eat the king’s meat. I talked, the other day, with a gentleman who was the trustee for one of the wealthiest men in England, and who now is trustee of the money that the same gentleman has left to all his children. Those children have grown up and have come to years of maturity, but they still make him the trustee, paying him for looking after all their money, which is an immense amount. I was asking him how it was that he gained the confidence of the family so that they put him in such a position where all that they have is under his care and discretion. And, besides this, we have, nowadays, the temptation to general laxity. People do, even Christian people do, what Christian people should not do. And they excuse themselves by quoting the example of other Christians, or by saying, “We are not so precise as our fathers were.” Has God changed? Is there not a text that says, “The Lord your God is a jealous God”? Does He permit His people to sin and take pleasure in it? And are we to forget that precept, “Be you holy, for I am holy”? Is there to be no separation from the world? And is it no longer true that, “If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”? Is there no such text as this, “Come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”? I pray you, Brothers and Sisters, now, if never before, tie everything up as tightly as you can! The storm is now so heavy that you need to go with close-reefed sails. Oh, for a Daniel’s declaration that you will not defile yourself with the portion of the king’s meat, or with the wine which he drank! The story of Daniel takes place during those dark days of exile, and it comes as a welcome light in the darkness of defeat. It’s the thrilling account of how a few faithful individuals were blessed and honored by God in the midst of a situation that seemed hopeless. The life of Daniel contains some powerful lessons for us today - especially lessons for Christians who are faced with the temptation to compromise their faith.

I could continue long at this point, but I have given you the general principle which you can work out for yourselves. Christians have meat to eat of which the world knows not. We have our re-creation–that is the way to pronounce recreation–re-creation. We go to our Creator and He makes us anew. We have our nights of holy mirth. We have our days of delight. There is a King, a portion of whose meat we rejoice to eat, and of whose wine we delight to drink. But as to questionable things, things of the world, and all that tends towards departure from the living God, we say that, by His Grace, we determine not to defile ourselves with them! So Daniel and his three companions denied themselves luxuries, which, perhaps, they enjoyed as much as anybody else, so as by no means to defile themselves with anything which had been associated with the Babylonian idols. If you will be out and out for God, you must expect self-denial and you will have to habituate yourself to it. Be ready for a bad name; be willing to be called a bigot; be prepared for loss of friendships; be prepared for anything so long as you can stand fast by Him who bought you with His precious blood. He that should run the gauntlet of earth and Hell for a thousand years, and yet hold fast his integrity, would be a gainer by all that he lost–he would gain an increase of eternal joy by all he suffered. Therefore, I charge you, seek for the Daniel spirit. If there is any time when the farmer should think, it is surely in the early stages of the plowing and the sowing. If he does not think, then, it will be of small use for him to think afterwards. Now, first, look at Daniel’s temptations. In his case, the temptation was very specious. He was told to eat the portion of food that, every day, came from the king’s table. Could he need any better? And he was commanded to drink the measure of wine, generally the best in the world, that was sent from the king’s table. He might have fared like a prince! Could he have any objection to that? He had no objection except this–that it would defile him. Do you understand what he meant by that? There were certain foods used by the Babylonians, such as the flesh of swine, the flesh of the hare and of certain fish, that were unclean, and when these came from the king’s table, if Daniel ate them, he would be breaking the Law of Moses as given in the Book of Leviticus, and thus he would be defiled. Remember that the food which was allowed to Israel was to be killed in a certain way. The blood must be effectually drained from the flesh, for he that ate the blood defiled himself thereby. Purpose in your heart to not defile yourself with the things of this world that are contrary to God – Daniel 1:8Fourth, to dare to be a Daniel means to respond to problems with prayer – Daniel 2:14-19a. Daniel was confronted with an impossible task. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that perplexed and frightened him. He needed an interpretation. But being the Trumpian leader of his day, he demanded the magicians and wisemen of his court that he had been paying so well, to earn their money. He demanded they tell him what the dream was rather than merely respond to the King’s description of the dream. If they couldn’t do so, they would be executed. Impossible? Seemed so. But when Daniel found out about it he responded to the problem with prayer.

The book of Daniel was inspired by God and passed on to His people to encourage them. It was also given to God’s people to guide them, to challenge them, to dare them to be a Daniel. What does it mean to “Dare to be a Daniel”? What was Daniel like? What did he do? What does being a Daniel look like? We need to answer that question before we can decide whether or not we will dare to be a Daniel. Life isn’t about having it together when everything is rosy – but how you deal with it when things aren’t working right -- when we’re in foreign territory. Daniel 1:8 Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way. Fifth, to dare to be a Daniel means to praise God for answered prayer; to have a thankful heart – Daniel 2:19b – 23. Daniel did not get so caught in God’s answer or the victory that he forgot to praise and thank God. Daniel was not like nine lepers who were healed by Jesus and then forgot to give God thanks. Daniel was like the one healed leper who returned to thank Jesus for his healing (Luke 17:11-19). Daniel praised God for answer to his prayer:

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Daniel served consistently regardless of changes in power or who is in office. He was just as faithful and obedient under the Medo-Persian King Darius as he had been under the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5). New Testament texts citing positive examples from the Old Testament include Romans 4 (Abraham and David); James 2:21-26 (Abraham and Rahab); 5:13-18 (Elijah); 1 Peter 3:5-6 (Sarah). New Testament texts citing negative examples from the Old Testament include Romans 9-11 (Israel); 2 Cor 11:3 (Eve); Hebrews 3:7-4:13 (Israel); 12:15-17 (Esau); 2 Peter 2:6 (Sodom and Gomorrah); 2:15 (Balam). In two future posts I will be turning to the Old Testament to see how we can apply the principles described above to texts that are not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament. Of course there will be changes. Any new situation requires adjustments. You may have always had a "sheltered" environment. Your horizons will be broadened. Daniel's certainly were. Your lifestyle will change a bit, because God expects you to relate to the culture in which He places you. But wherever you find yourself, God expects you to remain faithful to Him - in your spoken life, in your work life, in your social life. Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

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