Daniel – An Overcoming Faith
August 29, 2021

Daniel – An Overcoming Faith

In God’s Hall of Faith, or Hebrews chapter 11, we’re introduced to individuals who through faith did great things. Some of them are listed by name and then by faith what they accomplished, like Abraham and Moses who we looked at. Others are just listed out by name, like we looked at with King David. But then there are those whose work are listed, but not their name.

And one of these we’ll be looking at today where it says they stopped the mouths of lions (Hebrews 11:33), which is no one less the prophet Daniel, and if I could, we’re going to be looking at our need to Dare to Be A Daniel.

In an old hymn by Philip Bliss, the refrain says,
“Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.”

Faith literally means “to give up, surrender, or commit.” Faith is having complete confidence in God to lead and guide us. Faith, therefore, is the key to life, both physical and spiritual. And God’s word tells us that we are not only saved by faith, but we are to live by faith as well.

Therefore, it’s vital that we understand biblical faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And so, faith is about having a total belief in the reality of something that we cannot see, hear, or feel with our natural senses.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Paul in Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” That is, faith comes from hearing God’s word spoken directly into our hearts.

But then in James 2:17 it says, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

What can we then surmise from these verses? Basically, while we may not understand everything there is about God, we believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek after Him through His word. But if such a search is not accompanied by faith, then it really isn’t the faith that pleases God, nor is it a faith that can move mountains.

Someone said, “Faith in God is a response to God’s Word that moves God to act.”

Faith, therefore, isn’t agreeing with your mind saying, “Yes, that is true,” and “God exists.” Many professing Christians believe mentally that the Bible is the Word of God and that there is a god, but it doesn’t change the way they live. The Apostle James went on to says that even demons have that kind of faith. They know and believe that God exists, but they tremble in fear (James 2:19).

Introduction

What we’re introduced to in the Book of Daniel is a continuing warfare between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan or, as the Book of Daniel puts it, the struggle between Jerusalem and Babylon.

Jerusalem is the city of God, the headquarters, if you would, of God’s Kingdom on earth. And Jerusalem stands directly against Babylon, the capital city of the realm of darkness. The struggle between these two cities represents the age-old struggle between good and evil.

And, what we see at the end, in the book of Revelation, are the same two cities diametrically opposed to each other, but Babylon the Great will be overthrown, and the new Jerusalem will descend from heaven and continue forever.

Now, the time of Daniel was severely trying to the faith of the average Hebrew. Babylon had conquered Judah and Jerusalem. And so, questions arose in the people’s hearts regarding the power of God. Were the gods of Babylon stronger than the God of Israel?

And what we see in the life of Daniel is that he overcame the challenges to his faith and succeeded where so many others failed. Daniel succeeded not merely because he was talented and driven, but rather he succeeded because he was a man of faith in God.

What I’d like to do is to look at three specific faith challenges Daniel faced and see not only what he did, but the outcome.

God Will Guide

Now, no one could ever accuse Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, of not being smart. He used a very clever tactic; he gives these Hebrew youth an important role in the royal palace. They receive a model upbringing and a very high standard of schooling. They are taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans.

While the Chaldeans were Semitic tribes living in the southern end of Babylon, and the term came to apply and describe all of Babylon. But the Babylonians reserved the term to describe priests who specialized in astronomy and mathematics, or the sciences that originated in Babylon.

And so, these Jewish youth were taught the Babylonian philosophy of life, their world view, as well as their view of God, man, sin, redemption, values, and morals, which were in direct opposition to what they were being taught back home. Basically, Nebuchadnezzar was trying to remake these Jewish young men in the Babylonian way.

And it’s a method that is being used today. Several years back a report came out that stated that 75% of all kids raised in Christian homes and who attend secular universities reject their faith by the end of the first year.

Now, just as a side note: I read just the other day a 2020 survey.
• Among U.S. born-again Christians between age 18 and 39, more than 60% say there’s more than one way to salvation.
• And within this last decade belief in the core doctrines of the Christian faith fell from 47% to 25%.

Now, going back to what is happening with our youth in our nation’s universities, we see this same thing played out in the youth that were brought to Babylon from Jerusalem in the first wave, and that is, only Daniel and his three friends kept the faith.

This is specifically seen when Daniel and his friends were given food to eat that would go directly against God’s word. The meats they were being served were in direct violation with the Law of Moses, that is, the type of animal served or their preparation. But what also made them unacceptable was that these animals were first sacrificed to the Babylonian gods.

And so, instead of eating meat and all the delicacies of the kings table, Daniel and his friends vegged out.

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8 NJKV)

To “purpose in his heart,” meant Daniel was obligating himself to follow God’s word and ways, and not the way of the Babylonians.

Now, think about this for a moment. He’d be eating gourmet food every day. Who’d turn down filet mignon or prime rib, and a succulent if not decadent slice of chocolate cake or New York cheesecake.

To turn these down could have easily cost him his life, not to mention the life of his three friends and the chief eunuch. Where did such courage come from?

It seems that Daniel was born and was raised during the reign of Josiah, during one of Judah’s most prominent revivals. And as a young man he was taught God’s word, and saw God move in mighty ways, but he also saw the devastation that happened when Josiah’s son and grandson didn’t follow in the ways of God, which led to his and Judah’s captivity.

Now, whenever we hear the words of the song, “Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known,” we tend to think of Daniel in the lion’s den (and we’ll get there in our study). And we think what great faith Daniel had to stand firm on his belief in God at the risk of his own life.

But daring to stand alone is what Daniel did in the dining room of the king’s palace. It is said that the devil is more dangerous at mealtime than in the lions’ dens of this world.

And I firmly believe this, that if Daniel had not been faithful at the king’s table, he would never have been faithful and survived in the lion’s den. And I believe this is at the heart of what Jesus said. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10a NKJV)

And so, by faith, Daniel stood firm, and God guided him in the way he should go and what he would say.

David said to the chief eunuch, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” (Daniel 1:12-13 NKJV)

Now, that is wisdom personified. And of these four young men it says, “God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” (Daniel 1:17 NKJV)

But even more, when the king examined them, it says that he found them ten times better than all the wise men in the land (Daniel 1:20).

God has a perfect divine plan and destiny set up for our lives, and He will guide us on this journey every step of the way.

Solomon tells us that, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NKJV)

What this means is that while we’re planning things out, God will be the one who ultimately directs the way in which we will go, and thus we’ll end up where He wants us to be.

Let me give you a couple of verses to see just how God guides us in and through our faith in Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)

“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.’” (Isaiah 48:17 NKJV)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalm 32:8 NKJV)

“The Lord will guide you continually …” (Isaiah 58:11 NKJV)

These verses reveal is that God will continually be our guide, as He personally watches each step we take, along with teaching us the right way to go.

God Will Reveal

God sent to Nebuchadnezzar dreams, or as some would say, “living nightmares,” that he could not either remember, or interpret, and he would wake up in a cold sweat unable to sleep.

So, he called for the wisest men in Babylon, the Chaldeans, those who were trained in the sciences of that day. And he said, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.” (Daniel 2:3 NIV)

But whether he remembered the dream or not has been greatly debated, but it would seem that he did, and demanded that they tell him the dream and the interpretation, and if they were wrong, or failed to do so, then they would be toast. But if they could, they would receive great rewards.

Now, these wise men said something very wise, but also very stupid.

“There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter… It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” (Daniel 2:10-11 NKJV)

The wise part is that they recognized that there are some things that only God knows, and that all wisdom belongs to and comes from Him, and is “on loan” to those He gives it to. Psalm 44:21 says that only God knows the secrets of the heart. And in Proverbs, Solomon said, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6 NKJV)

The stupid part is that they just made the king angry and “very furious,” and he gave the command to kill all the wise men of Babylon.

Now, Daniel and his three friends were a part of the wise men’s club, and while they weren’t there at the time, the command to kill them was given. And so, Daniel asked the captain of the king’s army why the command was so urgent, and he was told. So, he requested some time so that he could find out the dream and its interpretation from God.

And so, instead of taking that time to go on the lamb, off to prayer they went because they had faith in God, that He was the revealer of all wisdom, and that this was right in God’s wheelhouse.

This is something well known to the Apostle Paul when he faced great perils, even death.

“We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10 NKJV)

And so it was that God delivered both the dream and its interpretation to Daniel that very night. It says, “Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” (Daniel 2:19 NKJV)

Then Daniel praised God saying, “He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:22 NKJV)

And so, standing before the king Daniel asked, “Hey were those other wise guys able to tell the king his dream and its interpretation.” You can just hear him kind of rubbing it in.

But then he said, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.’ (Daniel 2:28a NKJV)

That is what faith does. It releases the blessing of God. Faith brings answers to prayer. “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22).

And while there is so much more to share on this point, let’s get to our last point.

God Will Protect

This is a marvelous illustration of the help that God gives to His people in times of trial and testing. And what we will notice is the quiet trust that Daniel had in God!

Daniel held a very high office in the court of King Darius in Babylon. He was the Prime Minister, and at this time he was between 80 and 90 years old. He was known by everyone for his piety and for his faith in God, and as a consequence he had many enemies.

In the royal court of Darius there were presidents and princes and other officials who were determined to bring Daniel down.

The basic story is this: King Darius had such confidence in Daniel that he was ready to make Daniel second only to himself. Many were therefore jealous of Daniel and jealousy led to a plot to get rid of him.

Daniel never strived for the limelight. He was a faithful follower of God, and his faithfulness was well known for 60 years under two separate godless administrations. Throughout this time Daniel remained in a position of power. He distinguished himself above the other politicians and wise men because he handled his life and affairs faithfully.

But such faithfulness has its distractors, that is, those who oppose someone like Daniel because they reveal their unfaithfulness. And so, they would meet secretly in out-of-the-way restaurants and hotels trying to find a way to indict him on corruption charges. They hired private investigators and probably involved the Persian FBI and IRS to check into Daniel’s past. They followed every lead and read every memo. They left no stone unturned and even with all their manipulations they turned up nothing.

They found no skeletons in his closet, no misappropriation of funds, no office scandal, and no work-related incidents. They found no vested interest in the Persian Savings and Loan, or any secret dealings with foreign nations or labor unions. They found no smoking gun, no other woman, and no secret bank account. Nothing!

“So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.” (Daniel 6:4 NKJV)

The only thing they found was his faithfulness in serving God. So, they found a way to use that faithfulness against him by finagling the king to sign a decree making it illegal for Daniel to pray to God.

“We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.’ (Daniel 6:5 NKJV)

So, these politicians came before the king, and said “Establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. (Daniel 6:6-7 NKJV)

And so, the decree was signed, sealed, and delivered, but Daniel obeyed the Lord rather than man.

Nothing was going to stop Daniel from faithfully carrying out his spiritual life. Upon hearing the decree, he went home, and as was his custom, that which he faithfully did every day, he opened his window and prayed. Nothing was going to keep Daniel from his time with God, not even the sentence of death.

Daniel acted on the basis of his deep faith and genuine commitment to God. We see such faith, commitment, and dependence on the part of King David when He said, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56: 3-4 NKJV)

Had Daniel been weak in the faith he would have given up his worship of God, his habit of prayer he kept throughout all his years, and he would have found some excuse for not obeying God during this time. But by faith he remained loyal in the hour of testing.

Let me just say that faith cannot be “turned on” in an emergency unless there is a reservoir of faith to draw from. With Daniel, faith was a principle of his life.

You see, Daniel had always been open about his faith, and had exhibited his faith for the last half a century plus. And for Daniel, his faithful testimony for the Lord was far more important than his life.

We see this testimony of faith with what King Darius said prior to Daniel being lowered in the lion’s den. He said, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” (Daniel 6:16 NKJV)

And it was this same testimony that seemed to filter down to the Apostle Paul.

He said that Alexander the coppersmith did him great harm, and that everyone abandoned him, but then he said, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:17 NKJV)

In the end God rewarded Daniel and Paul for their faith, and at the same time, brought judgment upon those who wrongly accused them.

Some of us are experiencing our own lion’s den, that is, we’re in a tight spot with people coming against us, and we’re in a state of despair and depression, as that old roaring lion, Satan, is threatening to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).

What can we do? – fret, fume, struggle and complain? Instead let’s Dare to be a Daniel and do what Daniel did – place his trust and faith in God.

The power that delivered Daniel was God’s power. When Daniel was in the lion’s den someone else was in there with him, and that is an angel from God.

When it comes to having God’s protection, we must remember that we live in a fallen world and God works in ways that we do not understand. Sometimes God’s protection comes in the form of peace and strength in the middle of the trial, while at other times it comes as an ending because He sees something more on the horizon that we cannot see.

In the end, we are not promised a life free from difficulty. Jesus even told His followers, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

Conclusion

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are promised a new life in which nothing can separate us from His love.

The Apostle Paul said, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)

I love what Paul said to the Corinthian church.

“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:5-6 NKJV)

And so, by faith we can know like Daniel that God is our Guide, Revealer, and Protector. So, we can therefore Dare to be Daniels. Because as the Apostle Paul said, “If God be for us, who can be against us.” (Romans 8:31)









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