Daniel 018: The Principles of Prayer

Daniel 018: The Principles of Prayer
Daniel 6:1-11 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 2, 2017 • Daniel


Andy Woods                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH                                                                                                                                                                                       Lesson 18, The Principles of Prayer, Daniel 6:1-11                                                                                                                                                           April 2, 2017

Let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the book of Daniel, Daniel 6 as we get thrown into the  lion’s den this morning.  This is a very well-known story, Daniel in the lion’s den; most people, if they have no exposure to the Bible at least know a little bit about this, but it’s a tremendous record of the faithfulness of God and how to trust God in the midst of difficulty.  We’re going to try to make it through verse 11 today and the title of our message is The Principles of Prayer.  How do you pray when you’re under pressure?  Anybody under pressure today?  Daniel 6 is very instructive to us.

Of course, Daniel, as we know, has been raised up by God to comfort the nation during a difficult time; during the 70 year captivity Daniel is not only explaining the time period that the nation is in prophetically, he’s actually serving as a role model.  How do you live for God in the devil’s world?  You might be a visual learner so you might not like outlines the way I presented them so one of the easiest ways to remember the different chapters of the book of Daniel is just to associate a picture with each chapter.  As a matter of fact, my mom, I was complaining about a test that I was taking, I think it was maybe fourth grade, something like that, where I had to memorize things, and she said well just associate some kind of picture or visual with each thing you have to learn, and kind of string them together.  And I did that and you know what?  I aced the test.  And you know what?  I kept acing tests and I went all the way through a PhD program because of that one little thing my mom taught me.  Isn’t that amazing, the power of a mom over her son?  And it’s not even Mother’s Day!

But chapter 2 you can remember that, the giant statue.  Chapter 3, you might remember fire, that’s when Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego are thrown into the fiery furnace.  Chapter 4, you might think of a tree being cut down, that’s the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar.  Chapter 5, which is something we covered last week, we concluded covering it last week, you might remember the handwriting on the wall.  And then of course chapter 6 is Daniel in the lion’s den.  You might not know every single thing about those chapters but you basically know where the different things happened in the book of Daniel just by something as simple as a visual memory.

Chapters 1-7 is the historical section (that we are still in) of the book.  Chapter 1 is sort of the setting of the book; the nation of Israel is in captivity.  And then you move into chapters 2-7 and as I’ve tried to explain chapters 2-7 is chiastically structured, meaning the themes in chapter 2 are recapitulated in chapter 7; you read chapter 7 you say wait a minute, I read that before in chapter 2.  The events of chapter 6, you say wait a minute, didn’t something similar happen back in chapter 3?  The answer is yes.  Just like the events in chapter 5, the revelation to a Gentile king sort of is like what happened in chapter 4.  Having moved out of chapter 2 into chapter 3, into chapter 4, down into chapter 5, now we find ourselves in chapter 6.  So we are gradually working our way out of this chiastic structure.

What has happened is earthshaking in the sense that Babylon has fallen.  That happened at the end of chapter 5; that’s what the handwriting on the wall was all about.  Babylon has fallen and been replaced by Persia as Darius the Mede now moves into center stage and God begins to extend grace to Darius the Mede. It’s interesting how God is working overtime, feverishly to reach people that have really no knowledge of Yahweh, the Torah, the Old Testament, what we call the Old Testament, or the Hebrew people.  God uses this time of distress to reach these individuals.

And you might be going through kind of a time of distress in your life.  The question is not are you going through a time of distress but what is God doing through your time of distress?  He might be using that time of distress to reach people through you that would never be reached any other way.  It’s a different way to look at times of difficulty which is what the nation of Israel was under.

Chapters 1-5, Babylon was in power; Babylon is gone, Persia has come.  As we move into chapter 6 it’s the Persian Empire that’s now in place that conquered the Babylonian Empire in a single night and Darius, of Medo-Persia, as we mentioned before, now moves into center stage.  As I’ve tried to explain, we can chronologically document when the events of chapter 5 took place; 539 B.C.   We believe that the events of chapter 6 took place in close chronological proximity to the events of chapter 5 which indicates that in chapter 5 Daniel was in his late 80’s… I said that wrong, his early 80’s, we don’t want to make him too old here.  And as the events of chapter 6 unfold he is now also in his early 80’s, perhaps, we don’t know for sure, the age 83 as some might argue.  And Daniel is no longer a teenager as he was in the initial chapters of the book; he’s no longer a 19 or a 20 year old.  He’s no longer even a 45 or a 50 year old.  But in chapter 5 and in chapter 6 the man is in his very early 80’s.  He’s had a lifetime of seeing the faithfulness of God, how God continued to be faithful to the nation of Israel all of those years that the nation of Israel was outside of their comfort zone and their land.

Here is an outline off chapter 6, which obviously we won’t get through all today.  I hope you like the letter P, The Position of Daniel (1-3), The Plot Against Daniel (4-9), The Prayer of Daniel (10-11), The Prosecution of Daniel (12-15). The Presentation of Daniel into the Lion’s Den (16-17); The Protection of Daniel, which is the climax of the chapter, (18-23).   And then finally after all has been said and done what has really been said and done?  We have, finally at the end of the chapter The Product, the end result of what God was trying to show along, verses 24-28.

Usually when we get around this time of the year, as we get ready to celebrate Palm Sunday next week, Easter, or better said Resurrection Sunday the following week I typically leave the verse by verse teaching and do a special message on the resurrection.  I don’t think I’m going to have to do that this year because so much of what happens in chapter 6, Daniel being sealed in a tomb, thought as good as dead, and then miraculously comes out, is reminiscent of what the New Testament says concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ so I’ll be able to make some easy points of analogy without switching subjects.  So my plan, unless I get some kind of vision from God telling me to do otherwise is to just continue marching through Daniel 6 next Sunday and the following Sunday, of course using this as a platform to talk also about the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We serve not a dead Savior but a living Savior, a Savior that has not lost control of your life, He has not lost control of this universe but He is a God who interrupts our lives and performs, as we’ll see in chapter 6, signs and wonders; that’s the God we serve.

Notice, first of all, the position of Daniel.  Notice, if you will, Daniel 6:1, “It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom,” Darius has overthrown Babylon in a single night and he does what new bosses have a tendency to do, to reorganize.  He takes the existing Babylonian Empire, now that it is in subjugation to him, and he starts to organize it according to 120 of a group of people called satraps; satraps—we might put them this way, would be the low man on the totem pole, because as we move into verse 2 we get more insight into this organizational structure.

It says, “and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss.”  So let’s take these 120 satraps and let’s divide them into three groups of 40, and over each group of 40 let’s put a commissioner, or we might call them an upper level manager over the lower level managers, and Daniel is going to be one of those three commissioners.  So it is interesting that the organizational structure is given to us early on in the chapter; this is not some tall tale, there are actually facts and information that went into this; this is actual history that we’re reading.

We move down into verse 3 where Daniel begins to distinguish himself. Verse 3 says, “Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps” why? “because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.”  Everybody recognizes that there’s something unique about Daniel.  Daniel was not a grumpy old man, as to put it that way, but he was a man on fire for the things of God.  He was a man in his 80’s that was just as strong for God as he was as a mere teenager.  And Daniel, consequently, no longer is just one of the commissioners, he begins to rise through the ranks and the Spirit of God is so evident in his life that Darius actually has the goal to make Daniel the second in command over the entire Medo-Persian Empire.

Why did Daniel begin to rise through the ranks?  It says it right here, he possessed an excellent spirit.  Isn’t it interesting that the Holy Spirit in a person’s life can be recognizable even by unbelievers, pagans.  Genesis 39:2-4, of Joseph, puts it this way:  “The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.  [3] Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.  [4] So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.”

Joseph, like Daniel, was special not because of their abilities in and of themselves but because these were men that were guided, directed, energized and empowered by God.  May I say to you that the same Holy Spirit in these men is the same Holy Spirit inside of you, that wants to give you excellence in your craft, excellence in your profession, a skillset that’s even recognizable by unsaved people.

1 John 4:4 says, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world,” in other words, Daniel, Joseph, they have no lock or monopoly on God; the same Holy Spirit in them is permanently resident in you and He wants to direct you, He wants to guide you and empower you.

Just a quick question: when people look at your life what are they actually seeing?  Do they see a replica of the sovereignty of God, the power of God, the glory of God or are they seeing something different because we have quenched the Spirit here, quenched the Spirit there, pushed Him out, pursued our own will.  And many times we are reflecting a refracted image of everything that God can and will do when we become obedient to the Holy Spirit and begin the walk of faith.

It’s interesting to me that the faithfulness of God has no limits.  Daniel might have thought to himself well, God was faithful to me all those years in Babylon but now it’s different; we’ve got a different President in the White House, I’ve got a different retirement plan, I’ve got a different job, I live in a different city, I live in a different house.

Is the same God that was with me in the past somehow going to stop being with me now?  In other words, we think that somehow God in the past was faithful but now circumstances have changed politically; is God really the same?  Many people reach a point of retirement and they think well, you know, God was faithful to me all those years but now it’s different, I’m on a limited income, and does the faithfulness of God still apply.  May I say to you that the faithfulness of God was applicable in Daniel’s life as a 15 year old, as a 17 year old, as a 20 year old, as a 50 year old, and now here he is in his early 80’s and the exact same character of God in totally different circum­stances, in a totally different political empire, God keeps coming through for Daniel over and over and over again.

May I just say to you that God does the same for you. Why is that?  Because Malachi 3:6 says, “For I, the LORD, do not change…” My character is the same when you’re young, My character is the same when you’re old.  My character is the same when the Babylonians are in control; My character is the same when the Persians are in control.

Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and” what? “forever.”  David, in the Psalms says this: “I have been young and now I am old,” kind of like Daniel, Daniel was young and now he is old, and yet what did David say after all of that time?  “I have been young and now I am old, and yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or His seed begging for bread.”  Why is that?”  [Psalm 37:25]  Why is that?  Because the character of God never changes.  We change, life changes, circumstances change, predicaments change, careers change, economies change, the course of nations changes, but God never changes.  Isn’t that great!  And so the God that was with you in the past, to somehow say God is not going to be with me now would be to criticize one of God’s attributes which is His immutability, which simply means His changelessness.

In fact, God was so evident in Daniel’s life that Darius, an unsaved man, looked at Daniel and said you know, I ought to put the whole empire under this man’s custody and under this man’s jurisdic­tion.  Daniel is moving up, as we might say.  But watch out, the time to be on your guard is not during a time of adversity because during times of adversity we have a tendency to depend upon God.  The time to be on your guard is when things start going well from the human point of view; there’s more money in the bank account, there’s more of a lucrative future, you get a bigger house, (hopefully minus the payments), career options are better, life is better, relationships are better.  And thank God for those seasons in our lives.  And may I just say to you that’s the time to be on guard because it’s the time of ease that we have a tendency to forget God, forget first principles.

When was Joseph tempted to commit adultery, or immorality I should say, with Pharaoh’s wife?  After Pharaoh had put Joseph in charge of everything, that’s when the temptation came.  When was David tempted to commit adultery and then murder?  After an entire string of victories going all the way through 2 Samuel chapters 1-10.  David is on top of the world; he’s made Jerusalem the official empire of the nation of Israel; everything is going well.  And yet that’s when the temptation came, right there in 2 Samuel 11.

When was Jesus brought into the wilderness by the devil himself to be tested three times as Matthew 4 and Luke 4 records it?  After Jesus had been filled with the Spirit, had this phenomenal experience with the Lord, after the heavens had opened and a voice said, “This is My Son with whom I am well pleased.”  What a euphoria that must have been.  And then right afterwards comes the three temptations at the hands of Satan.

When were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego tested to the point where they were thrown into the fiery furnace, back during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar?  After they had been promoted.  We studied their promotion at the end of Daniel 2.  What is being said here is watch out, that’s where the devil starts to work, that’s where the problems start to arise.

And look at what the devil is doing here with Daniel in the midst of his success.  We have now a plot against Daniel which is described in verses 4-9.  Look at verse 4, “Then the commissioners and the satraps,” now who are they?  These are the people who Daniel was promoted over.  “… the commissioners and the satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to affairs, but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.”  Those that Daniel was promoted over start to hatch a plot against Daniel.  What’s the motivation?  It’s the good old “j” word, jealousy.

[Daniel 6:4-9, “Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. [5] Then these men said, ‘We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.’ [6] Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: ‘King Darius, live forever!  [7] All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den. [8] ‘Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.’  [9] Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.”]

The problem with promotion is that means there’s other people that aren’t being promoted and you are.  Human nature is such that that doesn’t sit well with people and they try to find some way to bring you down.  This is exactly what happened with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego back in chapter 3.  And so if people can’t find something blatantly wrong with your life they go on what lawyers call “a fishing expedition” trying to find the proverbial skeleton in the closet; it’s got to be in there somewhere.  And they start to look into Daniel’s life, they start to look at his record of service and they can find, number 1, nothing that he did related to corruption (this is the is the sin of commission).

And it also talks, in verse 4, about they couldn’t find anything wrong that he had done related to negligence or carelessness, which is the sin of omission.  And the reason there was no commission or omission in Daniel’s life is because Daniel was a man described here in verse 4 as faithful.  What does “faithful” mean exactly?  It means consistent, your lifestyle is consistent, there’s not a lot of discrepancy between your proclamation and your practice.  You live the things that you say you believe.  And one of the fruit of the Spirit that the Holy Spirit is seeking to replicate in the life of the child of God, when we study the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, is faithfulness, consistency.  [Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”]

Paul, when he is writing to Timothy over in 2 Timothy 2: around verse 2 says Timothy, you need to surround yourself with faithful men that you can teach and can teach others.   [2 Timothy 2:2, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”]

God, many times, is not looking for talent in people; He’s looking for a character trait called faithfulness, consistency.  So many times in Christianity we don’t exhibit faithfulness; we pray when there’s some kind of euphoria over us but the rest of the time many times we don’t want to be bothered.  Many times Christian won’t do something, in terms of a ministry, unless they have some kind of emotion first.  The fact of the matter is we don’t respond to emotions as Christians; we behave our way into good emotions.  Isn’t it interesting when we simply do what we’re supposed to do that the good feelings and emotions many times follow.  But many people are looking for some kind of vision, some kind of emotion, some kind of euphoria, some kind of emotional high, and God the whole time is looking at our lives and saying you know what I’d like to see out of you is a little bit of consistency.  Rather than praying when you feel like it come to Me daily and pray.  Rather than giving when you feel like it give to Me consistently.  Rather than church attendance when it’s convenient and nothing else is going be consistent in that practice of church attendance or any other issue that we could speak of.

It’s amazing to me how people, Christians in particular, will be faithful to God in secular employ­ment, they don’t leave early, they don’t show up late, they’re faithful on the job, but somehow when it comes to God’s church we get very sloppy, haphazard, careless, negligent and God is seeking to develop this character trait of faithfulness in our lives.

You know, it’s hard, even in a church our size it’s hard to recruit people for ministries.  The reason for the difficulty is once you take on the task of ministry you have to be involved in that ministry; it’s your ministry, if that ministry is not going to succeed or go forward it probably has to do with the fact that the person running the ministry is not consistent in what God has called them to do.  You can’t have a church, you can’t have a ministry if faithfulness is not part of a person’s character.  And Daniel had faithfulness; that’s why there is no negligence, a sin of omission or corruption in his past, the sin of commission.

Keep in mind here that Daniel had been in government service for 70 years; that’s a long track record, surely there’s something we can find in this man’s job performance.  And they could find nothing!  And people say well they didn’t have anything to look through.  The Persians had just destroyed the Babylonians.  Remember the history I gave you last time, how the Persians overthrew the Babylonians and the Babylonians didn’t even realize they had been captured; there was no cataclysm, there was no war, there was no destruction.  Beyond that Cyrus went out of his way to make sure that none of the Babylonian deities were injured or hampered because he himself was a polytheist.  He went out of his way to make sure nothing was broken.  And so the fact of the matter is when the Persians came to power there was a whole paper trail at their disposal.  And it was quite a paper trail based on what we know about documents, like the Babylonian Chronicle, where the Babylonians faithfully documented history.  And so all of this track record, all of this paper trail was available for the Persians to look through, and they looked through a man’s life for 70 years and he comes out squeaky clean, he’s spotless.

You know, the book of Colossians, chapter 3 and verse 23 says this: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”  There used to be a day in this country where we believed in something called the Protestant work ethic, where a Christian’s life was obvious just based on how they conducted themselves in their craft, in their business, in their dealings.  Christians stood out; Christians were different!  And I’ve had the same bad experience as you’ve had, where you hire a Christian to do a job for you, perhaps plumbing or something like that, or around the house, and the standard of the Christians many times is just like that of the world, sometimes it’s below the world.  So I quit using the Christian yellow pages because I was discouraged; I thought Christians would be different.  And many times they’re not; many times they’re very lethargic, lackadaisical, lazy, cutting corners, just like anybody else.

The Protestant work ethic… why have a Protestant work ethic?  Because your job is your pulpit.  I’m a professor in a college; you know how you get your professor to recognize that you’re different?  Not because you’re raising your hand and shooting your mouth off all the time in class but because every test you get an A+, that’ll get your professor’s attention.  Every quiz—A+!  Reading assignments done perfectly!  That, then becomes your platform by which you can share Jesus.  But let me tell you something; if that lifestyle is not there no one wants to hear about your Jesus.  There has to be a lifestyle that backs up the claims of Christianity, the Protestant work ethic.  This is what we see exhibited in Daniel; a 70 year track record, no problems in this man’s life.

Think if people looked into your life, your expense reports, vacation requests, tax filings, hours that you say you have reported to work, all of your social media, all of your Facebook posts, wow!  That hits home, doesn’t it?  I don’t know if I want someone looking in my life for 70 years.  And  yet Daniel’s character was of such a quality that they could find nothing in terms of commission or omission after seventy years of service.  Can they say that about you?  Can they say that about me?

And you move into verse 5 and Daniel is paid here a magnificent compliment.  Sometimes your best compliments come from your enemies.  Look at verse 5, it says, “Then these men said, ‘We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.”  I can’t find anything wrong with what this man is doing, if we’re going to get him in a wrong we’ve got to pit him against his God.  Could that be said of us?  The only way this person is ever going to do anything wrong is if we pass some kind of law getting him to violate the laws of his God because I can’t find anything wrong with his life.  His character is consistent.  This is all there as a role model for how the children of Israel are to live during this difficult time of the times of the Gentiles.  How do you live?  You make yourself excellent to such a degree that your own accusers can find nothing wrong with you and in so doing, in their vain attempt to find something wrong with you they seek to pit you against God Himself.  What a compliment and what a que, if  you will, regarding how to live.

This compliment leads to a request, verse 6, “Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: ‘King Darius, live forever!”  Verse 7, “All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den.”  Verse 8, “‘Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.’”  Verse 9, “Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.”

Here’s what we know about Daniel, having looked through his whole record: the man is a man of prayer, the man prays all the time.  So what we’re going to do, since we can’t find anything wrong with his life let’s get a law passed that says you can’t pray publicly.  Once that law is passed Daniel will inevitably pray, because that’s who Daniel is, and we will get him, finally, take this man down.

Why is it that people, when you begin to move ahead with God are always trying to pull you backwards?  Why is that?  Why is it that people in your secular employment try to get you to compromise.  Why is it that even your own family members, God forbid, even in your own church it can get like this, trying to pull you back because your advancement in God creates a standard; they don’t want the standard.  If there’s a standard out there then they have something to compare their own lives to.  So the name of the game in the world system, the name of the game amongst even some very carnal Christians is to pull back the person that’s moving ahead in God.

And I just share that with you because as you aggressively move forward in your fellowship with God there are going to be forces that won’t like it.  That is part of the cost of discipleship.  What? Are you too good for us?  Why don’t you come out drinking with us like you used to?  Why don’t you laugh at the dirty jokes?  Are you special?  Are you different?  Are you better than  us?  The reason they say that is there’s a standard there.  So what they’re trying to do is to put out the light; you put out the light by creating the temptation of compromise. If people are maligning you, trying to put out the light, trying to get you to compromise, if there’s some kind of concerted effort going on you ought to take that as a compliment; they wouldn’t be trying to put out the light if there wasn’t a light to put out.  See that?  See, many times in Christianity we just go right on through our Christian life and no one tries to get us to compromise or change at all.  Do you know why?  Because our life is a light as it should be, that God wants it to be.

Now there is an interesting reference here, according to verse 8, so the Law “may not be changed according to the law of the Medes and the Persians which may not be revoked.”  [Daniel 6:8, “Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.”]

The book of Esther, written about 60 years later, also during the Persian time period, two times, Esther 1:19 and Esther 8:8 also makes this reference to Persian law.  Once Persian law came into force the king couldn’t revoke it, the people in authority couldn’t revoke, the law was as good as immutable and unchangeable.  Esther 1:19 says, “…let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media so that it cannot be repealed….”  Esther 8:8 says, “…so that it may not be revoked.”  [Esther 1:19, “If it pleases the king, let a royal edict be issued by him and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media so that it cannot be repealed, that Vashti may no longer come into the presence of King Ahasuerus, and let the king give her royal position to another who is more worthy than she.”   Esther 8:8, “Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.”]

So these critics of Daniel are playing Darius for the fool; they passed a law, even if you feel bad about it, Darius, you won’t be able to change it according to Persian law and its customs, and this man, Daniel, will finally be off our radar screen.  So they get it passed, and you know what Daniel does?  He prays anyway.

Now that’s interesting because I thought the Bible says we ought to respect the laws of the land and submit to government, and we should.  The Old Testament teaches that God Himself instituted human government.  The New Testament, many verses, Romans 13:1-7 being the most prominent tells us to submit to the laws of the land.

[Romans 13:1-7, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. [2] Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. [3] or rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; [4] for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. [5] Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. [6] For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. [7] Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”]

But what happens when the laws of the land contradict the laws of God?  What do you do then?  Peter said “we must obey God rather than” who? “man,” Acts 5:29.  [Acts 5:29, “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”]  In fact, Daniel 3, that’s exactly what Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego did; civil disobedience, Daniel 3, civil disobedience Daniel 6, they are the opposite edges of the chiasm as we’ve talked about, bringing up the same themes.

Daniel 3, the government says to do something that God said don’t do, worship a graven image.  Daniel 6, the government is saying not to something that God says to do, which is to pray.

Well, I’m glad we live in America, we don’t have to deal with that stuff.  You’re talking, pastor, like we’re in some kind of communist or Islamic country.  This issue of civil disobedience is getting closer and closer and closer; do we all recognize this, that Christians today… at no other time in my life can I recall this, are being put under the threat of legal force to go against their conscience.  This happened, I’ve used these examples before, Jack Phillips in the state of Colorado who didn’t want to use his bakery for a same sex wedding, the court says you’re going to do it whether you like it or not.  Same exact thing happened in Oregon with Aaron and Melissa Kline; the exact same thing happened recently in the state of Washington with a woman named Barronelle Stutzman who simply did not want to use her creativity as a florist and the owner of a flower shop to subsidize a same sex wedding.  In fact, she recommended multiple florists that this same sex individual could have received flowers from, it doesn’t matter, you will comply, you will submit to the dictates of the state whether you like it or not and if you don’t do it we’re going to put you under the threat of duress or coercion, in fact, we’re going to destroy your life, we’re going to destroy your business, we’re going to destroy your livelihood.

This is not some communist country I’m talking about, this is not some Islamic country I’m talking about, this is the United States of America.  Daniel 6 is jumping right off the pages into our time period by giving us guidance on how to respond.  And so consequently the lesson of chapter 3 and chapter 6 tells us that the door opens at that point for civil disobedience.

You know this Supreme Court, the State Supreme Court in the State of Washington recently that ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, do you realize that the court ruled against her 9 to 0?  Unanimously?  Now I’m trained in law, I’ve heard a lot of dissenting opinions.  Dissenting opinions is when judges say we disagree on this ground and this ground.   You don’t even have a dissenting opinion in this case; it’s just an ironclad rubber stamp and there it is, right here in the United States of America where a woman has to decide… by the way, she’s not exactly a terrorist, she’s a 70+ year old grandmother, not exactly what I would call a menace to society.  And there it is, right here in the United States.   You decide, are you going to obey God or are you going to obey the state?  Wow!  So what do you do?

Daniel 3, Daniel 6, Acts 5, you obey God, if the following principles are adhered to.  Number 1, there has to be a clear conflict between the laws of man and the laws of God.  Number 2, there has to be an exhausting of all created legal remedies, in other words, civil disobedience is never a first resort, it’s a last resort.  Number 3, you’ve got to be willing to pay the consequences when you disobey.  Number 4, even while you disobey you still maintain respect for the civil authorities.  Was these criteria met here?

Is there a clear conflict between the laws of man and the laws of God?  Yes there is.  I’ll show you in a minute.  Number 2, was this a last resort?  Yes it was.  Number 3, was Daniel  willing to pay the consequences?  Yes he was, as were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.   Number 4, Did Daniel become disrespectful or rude to government agents?  No he did not; down in verse 22 he continues to refer to Darius in the most respectful of terms, calling him “O king,” recognizing that he was in an office, that God put him there, and yet he was abusing his authority.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego did the exact same thing, continuing to refer to Nebuchadnezzar as         “O King,” respectfully.

So what do you do when you find yourself in conflict?  You’re saying I know what to do, I hit the panic button.  That’s what your flesh does.  Daniel doesn’t hit the panic button.  What does Daniel do?  He starts to pray.  Is that what you do when the pressure comes?  Is prayer your first option or your last option?

Look, if you will, at verses 10-11, “Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed,” he knew what had just happened, he knew he had been set up.   “Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks” did  you catch that, “praying and giving thanks,” he’s about ready to be thrown into the lion’s den, “praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. [11] Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God.”

What does Daniel do in an impossible situation as an infirm 80 year old?  He goes to God in prayer; he goes directly to the source of power in the universe—God Himself!  And in the process we learn tremendous principles about prayer.  That’s why I’ve entitled this message Principles of  Prayer so everything I’ve said thus far is introduction, now we’re getting to the sermon.

Very quickly seven principles of prayer.  Number 1, the principle of Priority.  He knew the documented sign and immediately he prayed; prayer was a priority in this man’s life, something he did first, not last.  Number 2, there is the principle of obedience and faith, what does it say here, he prayed with his windows open to what?  Jerusalem.  Why would he do that?  Do you know why he did that?  Because God told him to do it all the way back in the time of Solomon.  1 Kings 8:44, this would be about 400 years or so earlier, Solomon said this: “When your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way You shall send them, and they pray to the LORD toward the city which You have chosen….”  1 Kings 8:48-49 says this, “ [48] … and pray to You toward their land which You have given to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name.”

Now I don’t think this is a command necessarily for the church age believer, if you want to pray towards Jerusalem go for it, I don’t think it’s required but it was required for a pre-church age Hebrew.  God said you’re going to go into captivity and when you go into captivity I want you to keep praying for Jerusalem and towards Jerusalem.  Daniel is obeying that command.  And that’s why I like to call this the principle of obedience.

1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”  Why is it that so many times our own prayers don’t get any higher than the ceiling; they’re never answered?  Because we don’t follow the principle of obedience; we pray in ways and we pray for things that are not in the will of God.  You’ll notice that the prayer life of Daniel was Scripturally informed; the better you know the Scripture the better you know the will of God.  The better you know the will of God the better you know how to pray.  I also see in this the principle of faith because Jerusalem had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.  The temple had been toppled, and the fact that Daniel was willing to face Jerusalem as he prayed showed faith that God was not finished with Jerusalem.  From the human point it looked like God was finished with Jerusalem but not from the prophetic point of view.

James 1:6-8 says, “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. [7] For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, [8] being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  Daniel had confidence in God.  He had confidence in God’s plan for the city of Jerusalem, even though it was in an ash heap when he prayed this prayer.

Also here we see the principle of consistency.  A lot of times we pray when it’s convenient, we pray when we have an emotional euphoria, but how did Daniel pray?  Three times a day as he had done previously.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without” what? “ceasing.”  That’s like breathing; prayer for the Christian should be as natural as breathing.  As you’re constantly, throughout the day communicating with the Lord.

You know Jesus was a man of prayer.  Matthew 14:23 says, “After He had sent the crowds away,” isn’t that interesting, Jesus sent crowds away; Jesus needed some alone time.  “After He had sent the crowds away He went up on the mountain by Himself to” do what?  Check out his Facebook postings?  No, “to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.”  He wasn’t even with the inner circle any more.  Jesus needed time away from people to pray to God the Father.  Now He was God in human flesh and He needed that time.

How is it that we deceive ourselves into somehow thinking that we don’t need that time of intimacy and solitude and quietness before the Lord.  Jesus told the disciples many times, “come apart and be with Me for a while.  [Mark 6:31, “And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)”]  Let me tell you something; if you won’t come apart you will come apart.   You are not designed to work, work, work, work, work, work, work like the Energizer Bunny.  You need time of rejuvenation with the Lord.

We see also the principle of humility.  What was His body posture here?  He was kneeling, a sign of dependency, a sign that He needed a touch from God’s grace.  You know, one of the things that really worries me is we have become so comfortable with the grace of God (and I praise the Lord for His grace) we’ve forgotten His holiness.  I see these T-shirts that some of the youth wear, and I even wore some of those in my youth, it wasn’t that long ago, it says, “God’s rad, He’s my dad.”  Well, I get it, He’s my Father, I’m intimate with Him, and have I gotten so comfortable with that aspect of His nature that I’ve lost awe or reverence or what Moses was told by God, “take off your sandals, you’re on holy ground.”  [Exodus 3:5, “Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”’]  You find here Daniel didn’t lose sight of that.

And then he was  a man of thanksgiving.  How do you thank God when you’re about ready to be thrown into the lion’s den?  I don’t understand that.  But rather than pleading and begging and crying and moaning and complaining there he is, this 80 year old  in a life altering circumstance giving thanks to God.  Wow!   God protect me from becoming a grouchy old man, or a grouchy young man, or a grouchy middle aged man.  Make my heart overflow with thanksgiving, regardless of the circumstances that I am facing.

He was also to complete this list petitioning God.  What is a petition?  It’s a legal term, you’re making a request.   Look at the balance in this, not just petitioning, but thanking; not just thanking but kneeling.  And the whole list comes together in this seasoned mature saint.  Are you a person of thanksgiving in your prayer life.  Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests” that’s your petitions, “be made known to God.”  Has anxiety gripped your life over something?  Have you gone to the Lord in prayer over it?  And beyond that are you thanking the Lord for the circumstances you’re in, knowing that those circumstances have been orchestrated by God Himself?

The final principle is supplication,  you’ll notice the word “supplication” there at the end of verse 11, supplication simply means supply.  God, I have this need, I need a supply.  God, I’m short of finances, I need a supply.  God, I’m short of physical strength, I need a supply.  God, I’m short of relational grace, I’m becoming impatient with people.  I know that never happens to you guys.  I need a supply.  I need You to help me.

People say well gee, Andy, we sure enjoy your preaching.  Let me tell you something, there isn’t a day that goes by when I come into this church to teach in any fashion where I don’t plead with God, beg with God to help me.  If you don’t believe me just ask my wife; she sees me before and the basket case that I am, I’ve got to stand up in front of people and communicate eternal things with the week I’ve had, the mood that I’m in?  I need You to help me!  I need a supply!  I need a reservoir!   And isn’t it interesting the faithfulness of God over and over and over again when we come to Him with that spirit.  How to live for God in a pagan society, how to pray to God in the midst of crisis.  A tremendous lesson from the book of Daniel and we’ll continue on next week as we move into the prosecution of Daniel, the  presentation of Daniel into the lion’s den and finally the protection of Daniel.  Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful for this book written so long ago, yet it speaks to our lives with such authority.  I pray You’ll be with us as we walk out through different crises and difficulties this week; we’re relying upon You by way of grace, trusting Your touch and Your empowerment.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.