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John316Marshall.com » Daniel

Introduction

Posted in Daniel

DANIEL 1:6-8a
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Introduction
The first 5 verses of Daniel reveal the tragic devastation sin can leave in its wake. Israel paid a high cost for sinning against God. The result was disaster.

Due to sin, Israel lost prosperity, peace, freedom, and the right to choose a leader. To Babylon, Israel forfeited her best minds and most capable youths.

People tend to downplay the seriousness of sin. Some deny it exists. Yet it is no coincidence the deeds the Bible calls sin are actions that cause ultimate misery in a society: murder, adultery, divorce, absentee fathers, stealing, etc. Sin, whether acknowledged as such or not, produces sadness. It yields momentary pleasure, but quickly leads to heartaches that grind on and on and on.

As a youth, righteous Daniel experienced the ugly under-belly of sin. He had to see the downfall of his country, the degradation of his king, plus endure the horrors of invasion, siege, and exile.

Leaving Israel would test Daniel’s mettle. Nebuchadnezzar knew that it would be easier to brainwash the Hebrew youths, to seduce them spiritually, away from home, friends, mother’s voice, father’s eye.

Young people, be careful when you leave home. It grieves me to know most of our teens will cast away their faith when they leave home to go to college, marry, or take a job. Leaving the nest is a time when many stray from God, but Daniel had come to know God so intimately that even as a teen he had only one desire ( to please God. He had internalized faith. Even away from family and temple, Daniel served God.

Too often our teens tie faith to a particular youth group, staff member, pastor, local church. If faith is not internalized, when the familiar external trappings of religion are removed, too little internal spiritual fortitude is left behind to stay the course.

Teens, internalize faith. Have daily private time, regularly read the Bible, talk to God, romance Jesus. Seek to know Him intimately, personally, one on one. Have a significant walk with Him that requires no one else to make it happen.

Daniel 1:6-7 “Among them, from the descendants of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief official gave them different names: to Daniel, he gave the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.”

These youths were mere slaves, hostages, trophies of conquest, impersonal cogs in the machinery of helping Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to build Babylon, a world-class city, one worthy of his empire.

To convince these youths they were no longer their own, Nebuchadnezzar changed their names, names which reminded them of God, family, country.

The King wanted them to feel like nobodies. This is one of Satan’s subtle weapons. He wants us believers to think we are nothing special. This mindset can result in sin, because a huge deterrent to sin is to be ever aware we are special to God, and that what we do leaves everlasting impressions on those around us.

What we do matters. Waiters and waitresses truly are turned off to God’s cause by church people who give small tips on Sundays. Our profanity does have everlasting impact . . . on others. Our anger and meanness do drive people away from God. Satan makes sure people watch how we act, especially if we sin.

Daniel never fell into this trap of seeing his actions as unimportant. Remembering what he did mattered, he remained firm, did right, and as a result pleased God and positively influenced others. He could have easily said “I’m nobody special,” but a believer never has the luxury of getting lost in the crowd.

We are not merely a cog, we matter to God and others. Remember this as Daniel did. Avoid sin. Committing sin is never a minor matter. Holiness is serious business. We will answer to God for what we did or did not do for Him.

Daniel 1:8a “Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank.”

The king’s food, dedicated to pagan idols, was ceremonially unclean. Daniel’s refusal to partake teaches us three vital lessons about him.

First, Daniel loved God more than he loved sin. Knowing sin would break God’s heart, Daniel avoided it. Daniel feared sin more than he feared anything else in Babylon. “Let a fiery furnace burn my body, let lions eat my body, let my body be forsaken to die in a desert, but don’t let my body be tainted with sin.”

The commonest food would suffice if free from ceremonial pollution. Wealth, power, prestige, success, and acceptance were nothing compared to making God happy. Daniel knew no action was too small for God to notice, no sin too little to hurt God. And God had been hurt enough by the sins of Israel.

Indeed Magazine (2-21-06) recently dealt with how, in an era of casual love, a parting of the ways in marriage is often no big deal. Chris Tiegreen wrote, “Uncommitted hearts don’t break very easily. God’s heart doesn’t work that way. . . . God’s pain is agonizing.” God’s heart “loves passionately, it wounds deeply,” is profoundly hurt when we sin. Thus Ambrose, in one of my life quotes, said, “If I were standing on a wall between Hell and sin, I would leap into Hell rather than into sin.” Daniel loved God more than he loved sin. Do we?

Second, Daniel loved God more than he loved human applause. Pagans knew nothing of a God who required holiness. To them this kind of behavior would be foolish. The steward helped Daniel but made no pretense of understanding him. To Daniel, social pressure was nothing. God was everything.

Daniel was not ashamed to be identified with an unpopular minority. The Hebrews were reduced to being dregs of the earth. YHWH looked defeated, the law appeared to be crumbling, the Temple was polluted, the nation enslaved, but Daniel stayed loyal. He chose to remain identified with God’s people.

Mordecai, in a later era of the Exile, was pressed by the King’s servants, “Why won’t you obey the King and bow to Haman?” His reply, “I am a Jew” (Esther 3:4) showed Mordecai was not ashamed of God’s people.

Jesus walked into the Jordan River to be baptized. By doing so He identified Himself with an unpopular group, the John-the-Baptist crowd.

Elijah opposed pagan prophets on Carmel. He thought he was the last one standing for God. He stood true anyway and planned to go out in a blaze of glory.

Do people we work with know we love Jesus? Do they know we are devoted to living our life obedient to the Bible? Do they know we pray? Do we pray for them? Do we stand out from the crowd, or is a scorecard needed to tell the players apart? If we are God’s, let’s be marked as such. Daniel loved God more than he loved human applause. Do we?

Third, Daniel loved God more than he loved himself. His natural inclination would be to indulge, to prefer the King’s dainties. It would be logical to soften the rigor of captivity by self-gratification.

Daniel chose vegetables and water not because he liked them, but because he loved God more than he loved himself. We err if we think Daniel had no feelings. We sometimes think the heroes of God in the Bible had no desire other than to do the will of God. This is not true. Having feelings and natural desires like anyone else, they hurt.

Joseph eventually saw God’s good in his trip to Egypt, but when he was 17 his brothers saw his anguish of soul, his distress when he pleaded with them. Abram couldn’t totally leave his family overnight. The pain was too much. He stopped at Haran for years. Paul didn’t want to be stoned to the point of death at Lystra. It hurt! Pain! He was so ravaged that his enemies thought he was dead, but Paul went to the next town, expecting to suffer the same fate again.

With Daniel, serving God was not a matter of deciding “What will I gain from it? How can I avoid discomfort?” To him it was a matter of principle. He chose not the easiest path, but the right path. He tenaciously clung to doing right, regardless of the pain, his feelings, or his comforts. They could change his name but not his nature. He might burn but never turn. He could die but not deny. He loved God more than he loved himself. Do we?

Everyone knew where Daniel stood. In the depth of being where one really lives, Daniel decided not to compromise. We should do the same for Jesus. We must “remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart” (Acts 11:23b).

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“He asked permission from the chief official not to defile himself. God had granted Daniel favor and compassion from the chief official.”

Posted in Daniel

DANIEL 1:8b-9
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Daniel 1:8b-9 (Holman) “He asked permission from the chief official not to defile himself. God had granted Daniel favor and compassion from the chief official.”

The most powerful factor in Daniel’s life was not King Nebuchadnezzar, but God. God wrote Daniel’s name in His book of life long before the king changed his name. The Lord was in control of Daniel’s affairs. Needing a leader of influence to protect His people, God chose Daniel, and protected him.

To achieve His purposes in our lives, God protects us, and superintends our affairs. To help Daniel, God used officials in Nebuchadnezzar’s own court. When baby Moses was floating down the river, God used Pharaoh’s daughter to save him. To deliver Joseph, God used Pharaoh’s chief butler. When Paul and Silas needed their wounds nursed, God saved the jailer and had him do it.

God is Sovereign. He rules in the affairs of people, and watches over His children in love. His eye never leaves His people. “Anyone who touches you touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

God protects us. He also empowers us. We can accomplish nothing worthwhile without Him. God has to provide all the power we require to be successful in holiness. Jesus verified this when He commissioned the disciples.

John 20:21-22 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus outwardly breathed on His disciples to picture His inwardly giving them the Holy Spirit to empower them. Knowing the disciples would fail alone, He gave to them power they would require. The mission is His. The power is His.

Unless we let Jesus breathe His power into us regularly, we cannot be effective servants for Him. But if we habitually become lungs into which God exhales, the oxygen of His power will routinely flow to every fiber of our being.

Jesus wants to regularly breathe into us the mightiest power people have ever known. It is a power which has proven its potency in many spheres.

The in-breathing power Jesus gives us is strong enough to spark physical life. “Breathed” is the same term used in the Septuagint for God’s original giving of life to man. God “breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7b). As my son took his first gasp of air at birth, our Christian doctor said, “Learn a lesson, Preacher. Your son’s breath did not come from inside himself. He took it from the atmosphere, from God’s air.” This is the power Jesus gives us to live in victory for Him.

The in-breathing power Jesus gives us is potent enough to trigger resurrection life. “Breathed” in our text is the same verb God used at the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:9). The Lord said, “Breath, come from the four winds, and breathe into these slain so that they may live!” The result of God’s in-breathing power was resurrection, life from death. “They came to life and stood on their feet.” This is the power Jesus gives us for holy living.

The in-breathing power Jesus gives us is strong enough to produce the only perfect book ever written, the Bible. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB). This is the power Jesus gives us to live for Him.

The in-breathing power Jesus gives us is potent enough to bring people salvation. Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born of the Spirit to enter the Kingdom (John 3:5). We are so depraved that, without the Holy Spirit wooing us, we would not want Jesus, we would perish in the very shadow of the cross.

But once God in-breathes, spiritual life is given to us. This life-giving power Jesus provides us at salvation is offered to us on an ongoing basis to make victorious Christian living possible.

This is the power we must regularly receive to live holy lives. We share Erwin Hatch’s prayer, which was inspired by the words of Jesus in our text:

Breathe on me, Breath of God, Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love, And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, Till I am wholly thine,

Till all this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine.

God’s in-breathing power is the fire we need. Missionary Amy Carmichael asked God, “Give me . . . the passion that will burn like fire . . . Make my Thy fuel, Flame of God.” The Salvation Army motto, “Blood and Fire,” conveys the needed message. God’s in-breathing power, due to the blood of Christ, cleanses us. The same in-breathing power, dispensing to us the Holy Spirit, empowers us.

One biographer said Charles G. Finney’s preaching success was due to his being armed by the reality of regeneration (blood) and anointed with an accolade of fire. McCheyne said it this way, “Christ for us is all our righteousness before a holy God (blood); Christ in us is all our strength in an ungodly world (fire).”

Our desire for more power must never diminish. Jesus’ word, “receive,” literally means “take.” Taking is as conscious an act of the will as is giving.

A hand stretched out to give is frustrated unless another hand is stretched out to receive. If God’s power were automatic, we would take it for granted. By having to ask, to take, we are constantly reminded where the power comes from.

Our need is constant. Strangers in a pagan land, citizens of a foreign world, creatures of heaven’s land, we are forced to live out of our element, like a land animal having to delve into ocean depths. Before we try anything for God, be a wise “deep-sea-diver.” Before we try to worship, serve, or go, “take the breath” we need. We achieve little without repeatedly drawing from heaven’s air tank.

Our lungs never cease feeling the need to breathe earth’s air. May a corresponding desire for Heaven’s air never abate in our spirit. The first is no more essential to our physical well-being than the latter is to our spiritual good.

We believers consciously “took” Jesus at our conversion. May we constantly be doing the same with the Holy Spirit’s power every moment of life.

Dr. James Gray, former president of Moody Bible Institute, said we need to ponder to Whom our physical bodies are to be given for use. It’s not to the Father, who remains on the throne, nor to the Son, who has His own physical body, but to the Holy Spirit, who comes to labor on earth without a body. The Spirit could have donned a body, as Jesus did, but chose not to. We believers are granted the unspeakable privilege and indescribable honor of presenting our bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be His dwelling place, His instrument of activity on Earth.

We accomplish this successful embodiment for the Holy Spirit by staying focused on Jesus, the One who does the in-breathing. The Holy Spirit ever diverts attention from Himself, pointing us to Jesus. When we come to “take” Holy Spirit power, we come to Jesus to get it.

The deepest essence of our faith is romancing Jesus. Jesus three times quizzed Peter, “Do you love Me?” (John 21). This issue had to be settled. Our ultimate requirement is keeping our hearts focused on, and white hot for, Jesus.

Fifty days after our text, on the Day of Pentecost, “Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying” (Acts 2:2). When the wind began to blow, someone may have said, “Listen, I think I hear Jesus.” Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter preached later that day about Jesus. Amen! Keep everything focused on the Son who bled and died that we might be saved and live in victory.

Two years after I surrendered to preach and began to preach, God called me to preach. I was in Pastor Loren Robinson’s study at First Baptist Church, Chaffee MO, going over sermon notes for the evening message in a youth revival. While in prayer, I heard the organist, a cousin of my future wife, playing as a prelude, “Holy Spirit, Breathe On Me.” I began singing the song’s chorus as a prayer.

Breathe on me, breathe on me, Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse ev’ry part, Holy Spirit, breathe on me.

While I was singing this prayer, God called me to preach. The call endured. I wish the spirit of contrition and surrender I experienced in the Pastor’s study had also remained constant.

Let’s learn to pray the prayer often, and ask God to make it stick. May a spirit of contrition and surrender never diminish within us.

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