The Battleground Of Truth
An Examination Of The Book Of Daniel
The book of Daniel is particularly suited to be a battleground between faith and unbelief; it was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whosoever readeth, let him understand)” (Matthew 24v15).
The reference by our Lord Jesus Christ is surely an indication as to what He Himself thought of Daniel and his writings. In many generations we discover there have been men and women of the class to which the prophet Daniel belongs, men of integrity and uprightness. For example, in the antediluvian period we read of a man named Enoch who ‘walked with God and was not, for God took him’ like Daniel, he prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord. In what is called the patriarchal period there was a man called Abraham known as ‘the friend of God,’ with whom the Lord spoke in an amazing manner. In the days of the law there was a man called David, eventually becoming King of Israel, of him it was said, he was ‘a man after God’s own heart,’ and although David failed and fouled up many times the Psalms reveal to us he was a man of like character to the previous two. You might say, they and many, many others you could mention lived in a totally different era from us, these were days when God dealt directly with people, these were days of great miracles, these were days so different to our day, men seemed to be of such godly character, for them, it was just the way of things, God lifted out some individuals and made them special, it just could not and would not happen like that today, God does not work like that anymore, many have tried to get that close to God and it just does not work in this twenty-first century. Well, let me remind you, the child of God through the gospel has privileges, which were unknown to the greatest believers in past dispensations; for even John the Baptist, of whom it was said that none born of woman was greater than he, is said also to be less than the least in the kingdom of heaven. With the greater light we possess today, with the powerful indwelling of the Holy Spirit, instead of being inferior to people like Enoch, Abraham, David or Daniel, we ought to be able to excel all of these. May I remind you further, that in the New Testament dispensation there was a man named John who, although very different to Daniel in many ways, was what C. H. Spurgeon called the Daniel of the Evangelists (Sermons on the book of Daniel by C.H. Spurgeon The Kelvedon Edition Page No.164). So if there was one John produced under the power of the Gospel of the grace of God then why not many? But more to the point, why can we not be counted amongst such? The power of the Spirit of God is not limited, the dew from heaven is plentiful, because that power rested on men like Daniel and John does not mean it should never happen in the age in which we live, we may have such power today and under its influence we may bud and blossom mightily for God, as did some of a past age. I mean, we are wonderfully saved and our salvation involves all three persons of the Godhead. You cannot be saved apart from the Father’s electing grace, the Son’s loving sacrifice, and the Spirit’s ministry of conviction and regeneration. It is not simply enough to say, “I believe in God.” What God? Unless it is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3v1), there can be no salvation. And it’s this Trinitarian aspect of our salvation which helps us to understand better the wonderful mystery and majesty of our salvation. Many people get somewhat confused or maybe even a little frightened when they hear about such things as election and predestination but if we can grasp the wonder of its meaning then we can surely see the possibility of being, as were many of the saints of a bygone age, mighty for God. You see, as far as the Father was concerned, I was saved when He chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1v4); but I knew nothing at all about any of that the night I was saved! It was a hidden part of God’s wonderful eternal plan. As far as God the Son is concerned, I was saved when He died for me on that old rugged cross at Calvary. He died for the sins of the whole world, yet the whole world is not now nor will they be in the future, saved. This is of course where the Holy Spirit enters the scene; as far as the Spirit is concerned I was saved on September 8 1967 at a gospel meeting in my hometown in Northern Ireland when Pastor William Weir preached a sermon on faith. It was then, in a way I personally did not understand; yet the Holy Spirit applied the Word of God to my heart, bringing deep concern and even conviction, which I in simple faith believed, and God saved me. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10v17). From this time forward we are set in an amazing position in Christ Jesus, from this time forward God has plans for us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29v11). Now, that means we were a people greatly loved of the Triune God, we were set on the very same level playing field as men like Daniel of old. The angel of the Lord appeared unto Daniel and touched him, “And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright; for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken the word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (Daniel 10v10-12). You see, when we take time, as Christians, to search out and speak with the Lord, that exercise brings us into a closer proximity to our God, He in turn reaches out to us and seeing us as people of integrity and uprightness is then able to use us as vessels unto honour in the house of the Lord. “And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not, peace be unto thee; be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, let my Lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me” (Daniel 10v19). When we seek the Lord with all our hearts and speak often with Him that we might know His will then he will hear us when we call and respond to us in the most remarkable of ways. So yes, we can, Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm, and dare to make it known. Like Daniel we are greatly loved by God and that love can make us people of godly character.
The love of God brought about Holiness in Daniel’s life. It is obvious that from his youth Daniel was being the man of God that a close and holy relationship with God perfects. It seems right from his being taken captivity he was known by his friends as a man who always stood up for God. He was carried captive into Babylon amazingly at the same time the holy vessels were taken from the Temple of Jerusalem, dare I say it, and was Daniel one of the holy vessels? For indeed he was a vessel unto honour and fit for the Master’s use and he and the golden vessels belonging to the house of the Lord were in captivity together, yet still under the divine care of God so that they would not be profaned to unholy use. Not one of us can over-estimate the blessed privilege of being brought to God in childhood or youth, if we could but fully understand the wonder of being saved early in life, saved from the power of sin, saved from the pollution of sin and even saved from the practice of sin, what a richer and deeper blessing our salvation would be to us.
The love of God brought separation in Daniel’s life. He was separated from his godly background, from his house of praise and worship; from every good and godly influence known to him, and from those to whom he could turn for daily help and encouragement. Everything was done that could be done to make the young Daniel forget his God and all that he had learned and had come to understand as the standards God had given by which he should live. Even his name was changed to a Babylonian name in order to have the young Hebrew feel more at one with his pagan surroundings. Daniel’s own name meant God is my judge “Dan” means “Judge” “El” means “God”. This was a wonderful truth by which it would seem Daniel had lived all of his young life and if his captors could cause him to forget this way of life they really would have won the day. No matter where they looked, they were made so very aware of a life style of idolatry, lawlessness and filth which without their continued thoughts of a Holy God could have led them in the wrong spiritual direction altogether. Something, which very sadly happens continually amongst our precious young people today, they take off for a job or university somewhere far away from all the influence of home, Christian friends and Church life and suddenly they have thrown themselves into the ways of those around them and are engaging in a life style which would never have entered their heads while at home, leaving them vulnerable to the wiles of the devil, the wickedness of this world, and the whims of the flesh, Oh how we need to conduct a warfare on their behalf before the throne of Grace and God and the best way to do that is to ensure we have trained up our children in the ways of the Lord. “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22v6). When it comes to living away from home and all that has a powerful influence upon him, Daniel, we discover is well able to stand up for his great and Holy God and display to all and sundry he is indeed a man of integrity and uprightness.
The love of God brought trust in Daniel’s life. On at least two occasions he was called upon to stand out in the crowd and nail his colours firmly to the mast. Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed yet another dream. Daniel had once before interpreted a dream for the king so he was the natural candidate to stand before the king again and interpret this dream also, but on hearing the king’s dream and discovering on this occasion the interpretation of it must have brought goose bumps to Daniel’s flesh. How on earth would Daniel reveal the truth obtained in the interpretation of this dream? Remember, the king had only to lift a finger, give a glance in the wrong direction, nod his head at the axe man, and Daniel was gone forever through some form or other of execution, heads could easily roll at a whim. Yet, its absolutely wonderful to watch, Daniel without hesitation, enters into the king’s presence and tells him quite plainly and seemingly without fear that in a certain time the king would become insane and that his hair would grow like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws, and that he would be driven out from his grand palace, family and friends, to live like a wild animal in a field. I mean, in the days in which we live it would seem one can say almost anything to anyone without the slightest fear. This is surely; if ever there was one, the day of free speech, the day of liberty in which we may say what we will, believe what we like and do what we must and not one will interfere with that freedom. Not so back in Daniel’s day! It needed some kind of backbone and grit-like courage to say what Daniel had to say to the king, but say it he would, regardless of the outcome, such was his absolute trust in his great God.
The love of God brought prosperity in Daniel’s life. I believe it’s true to say, God does not have favourites, but I do believe it is equally true to say, God does have intimates. Surely, Daniel was one of those intimates. He was a very young man indeed when he had to stand before Nebuchadnezzar and tell him the interpretation of this particular dream. Some of the scholars reckon he was still a teenager And already he was in a very high ranking position in his land of captivity which of course, says a great deal about him. Even Ezekiel, when speaking to the king of Tyre, elevated Daniel to comparison states when he said, “ Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee” (Ezekiel 28v3). Now, for any young man risen to those dizzy heights at such an early age, it might surely have gone to his head and brought a sense of self importance and pride with his position. Not so Daniel, his power, position and prosperity, he had ever attributed to his great God and in fact when we look at the number of years he occupied the leadership to which Nebuchadnezzar had elevated him, even through Belshazzar’s reign and into the period when the Medes and Persians ruled, never once do we see Daniel in any one way display an arrogance of leadership, there was always something about the man which displayed a God-like character and this even at a time of great prosperity.
The love of God brought strength in Daniel’s life. Trial would come for Daniel in times ahead and what times of testing there would be. Some of those with whom Daniel worked closest detested him deeply, they continually endeavoured to find some thing against him and then report him to a higher authority. They actually had a law passed that no one was to pray, other than to ask the king a petition for forty days. It certainly was not Daniel’s desire to disobey the king, but when those decrees went against the teaching of his great God, well, Daniel knew where he stood and would not be moved. It was his daily practice to pray three times before an open window facing the land for which he still had a great love and he would pray to none other but to his mighty God, he did not try to hide the fact of his praying but as was his habit he continued in prayer. The result was of course; Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, which meant certain death. Well, we all know the outcome, Darius the king could not sleep and when he could stand it no longer he ran out to the lion’s den into which Daniel had been thrown to certain death, and asked a most telling question “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” (Daniel 6v20b) Surely, all who saw and heard that result must have known Daniel was a man truly loved of God, giving him amazing strength and courage.
The love of God brought devotion in Daniel’s life. On a daily basis Daniel’s life witnessed a devotion to his great and Holy God that was very telling. His exercise of prayer three times each day was not on the style of the Pharisees, where he felt of necessity he must publicly pray to show the world at large that he was a godly man. Daniel’s persistence in prayer wonderfully marks out for us a great truth that I guess most of us have sensed at some time or other in life, that is if we don’t make time for daily prayer we will never find time for daily prayer. Three times a day, whatever else may happen, whatever else should be accomplished, whatever other duties called for his attention, to get through all of that, he must take time alone with God that wisdom and guidance would be his from the one who was all wisdom and understanding. Yes, there were other special times as well, three weeks over one special situation he prayed and waited, the house top witnessed regular times when he would seek out God in constant devotions, but his special place for meeting with God, I believe, was by the lonely willows of the brook. It was there he cried and wrestled with his great God and certainly, it was because of this; God manifested Himself to Daniel in the most wonderful of ways. Do you recall the words of Jesus? “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14v21). It’s interesting, that word “manifest” means “make myself known”, that of course is always God’s desire for His people, He makes Himself known to us in the most intimate of ways. Is it any wonder Daniel was so devoted to his God?
The love of God brought consistency in Daniel’s life. It would seem to me that Daniel was as close to God as it was possible to be, and that this closeness was brought about by a consistency in his relationship with God, which was as near perfect as it’s possible for any child of God to be. Have you ever wondered where Daniel was when his three friends were thrown into the fiery furnace? I most certainly have, that is until I began to realize, not once does Daniel mention the matter or try to give an explanation to placate the doubter like me or answer dubious questions that may arise. Had I been writing this book I might well have wanted to clear myself and make known my whereabouts even just to set the record straight, not Daniel! You see, he is so forgetful of himself he does not sense a need to vindicate his behaviour or try to avert the cryptic comment, he simply leaves the matter in the hands of his great and mighty God. People can think as they please, his consistency of life will speak for itself, no hypocrisy here, no duplicity with this man, he knows without a doubt there is a day coming when he must give an account to He who knows all things exactly as they are, nothing covered up nothing hidden, what a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms. Here indeed is a man of God with a mindset on God and come what may or what must it will be hard to find a flaw in this character. There were occasions when Daniel might have fallen hard and been excused for it because of the most difficult of circumstances but again and again because he was a man who worked hard at walking with God in the light of His Word, God continually lights up his way and keeps him from stumbling and falling. Look at this man, listen to this man, and learn from this man. He is a statesman with great responsibility for the smooth running of the nation, yet not one of the accusations thrown against him stuck. Here is a man so full of grace and truth, so full of wisdom and piety, not even the best Satan could throw against him would cause him to fail, falter or fall. We may well wonder in our hearts, is it possible to be of the character or calibre of a man like Daniel? Let me assure you, as we study this amazing book called Daniel, we will surely discover it is possible; but such a life can only come about through prayer and fasting. Let me conclude this introduction with this very powerful illustration.
Character is distilled out of our daily confrontation with temptation, out of our regular response to the call of duty. It is formed as we learn to cherish principles and to submit to self-discipline. Character is the sum total of all the little decisions, the small deeds, the daily reactions to the choices that confront us. Character is not obtained instantly. We have to mould and hammer and forge ourselves into character. It is a distant goal to which there is no shortcut (Sidney Greenberg).
Permit me also to add a postscript to this conclusion. I once heard Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe preach in Belfast, Northern Ireland; in making this comment he stirred my thoughts. “In my sermon preparation I have milked many cows but have always endeavoured to churn my own butter.” Likewise, I have used the bullets of others but have always endeavoured to use my own gun with which to shoot those bullets, yet as the years go by I sometimes find myself wondering where one preacher, teacher or writer begins and I end or where I begin and others end, such is my attention to what they have said or written, so please forgive me if I use material that seems to come from me when all the while I may have gleaned it from another. I will always try not to let such things happen but I trust I will have your understanding if and when it does occur. One thing though, which is becoming more and more important to me as I study this book of Daniel, is that the power of this same mighty and holy God abides not only with us as it did with Daniel and his friends but abides within us. Beloved, with such a mighty force living on the inside of us what a mighty power for God we should be. We serve a dynamite God, let us at all costs avoid living firecracker lives.
Chapter 01: The Dedication Of The Boys!
Chapter 02: The Dream Of The King!
Chapter 03: The Determination Of The Three!
Chapter 04: The Deterioration Of The Ruler!
Chapter 05: The Discernment Of This Daniel!
Chapter 06: The Decree Of This Darius!
Chapter 07: The Deciphering Of This Vision!
Chapter 08: The Defiance Of This King!
Chapter 09: The Dependence Of This Prophet!
Chapter 10: The Departure From The Pattern!
Chapter 11: The Despot Of This Rebellion!
Chapter 12: The Delights of This Reward!