The Just Shall Live by Faith!
O Lord God, my dear heavenly Father, I pray that You would send Your Holy Spirit to bless me this day as I worship. Move me to entrust myself entirely to Your care, especially in view of the many things in life which cause me needless fear and worry. Instruct me concerning Your abiding presence. Permit me to experience Your saving power. Help me to rejoice in Your amazing love. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The sufferings of this present world do not compare to the glory which will be ours in heaven in view of our faith. As we endure suffering we can rest assured that the Spirit of God will be with us to help us, and that God will work out all things, both good and bad, for our blessing.
Jesus spent His time during His ministry helping others. He healed the sick, cast out demons from those possessed, and proclaimed the good news of God’s kingdom wherever He went!
Text: Daniel 6:10-23
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: “Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.” So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed. Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicianswere brought before him. Also his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.
In Christ Jesus, who is worthy of your trust, dear fellow redeemed:
The story contained in our text is one of the greatest historical narratives of the Bible. It is certainly among my favorites, and I would imagine that it may well be among yours. As I reread it after choosing it for our sermon text, I was struck by its last phrase: “because he believed in his God.” It seemed to be the key to the entire account. Everything that happened in this story occurred because of Daniel’s faith. Everything good that occurred was orchestrated by the object of Daniel’s faith—our Savior God! As I considered the implications of that phrase and the importance of Daniel’s faith and the God in whom he had faith, my mind turned to one of the greatest doctrinal statements of the Old Testament. It was written by Habakkuk—a younger contemporary of Daniel: “The just shall live by his faith” (2:4). The apostle Paul used that statement as the theme of his Epistle to the Romans. It applies to our lives as Christians in no fewer than three ways. First, the just—those who have been declared righteous by God through the redemptive work of Jesus—are given new spiritual life as they are brought to faith in the gospel. They live by faith! Second, the just live by faith in that their lives are guided by faith—everything they say and do is a fruit of faith. Finally, the just shall live by faith forever in God’s presence in heaven. Yes, THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH! Let us consider this tremendous truth in connection with the incident contained within our text. We will see that faith led Daniel to fear God more than men, faith caused a division among men about God, and faith revealed God is greater than men (and beasts)!
THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH! Daniel’s life was a testimony to that truth. Throughout his life Daniel believed in the one, true God of the Bible. He was faithful to his God from early on. He was a believer as a teenager when he was taken into captivity to Babylon, where he was prepared for government service in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. He remained faithful to his Savior God, even when the vast majority of the other Jewish young men chose to compromise their faith. God blessed him because of this. He was enabled by the God in whom he placed his faith to interpret dreams no one else could interpret. In view of his wisdom and faithfulness he rose through the ranks of the civil servants in the Chaldean Empire until he reached the very top. He served every king of that empire and then surprisingly continued to serve the kings of the Medo-Persians when they succeeded the Chaldeans. He was over 80 years old when he was named one of the three supervisory governors over the Persian Empire. In view of his faithfulness, King Darius even had plans to elevate him to a position of supreme responsibility over the entire empire.
Daniel’s peers became envious of his abilities and good fortune. They were determined to find some way to undermine his credibility and destroy him. However, try as they might, they were unable to find any fault in him. The only thing they noted, which might provide them opportunity, was Daniel’s devotion to God—the God whom Daniel openly confessed and to whom he prayed regularly each day. Those peers concocted a plan by which to trick Darius into executing the very man he planned to promote. They appeared before Darius and appealed to his vanity, suggesting that he create a law stating that no one could pray to any god apart from him for a period of thirty days. Darius, flattered beyond measured, authorized the law, and Daniel’s peers waited for an opportunity to catch Daniel in the act of private prayer, so that they might publicly denounce him.
Daniel became aware of the new law, but faith led Daniel to fear God more than men! God wants us to obey the laws of our government, but when those laws conflict with the will of God, we must be faithful to God. Daniel, who throughout his life had prayed three times each day to God, continued to do so. He feared, that is respected, God more than anyone else—even should he have to die. He went to his room, opened his windows towards Jerusalem as usual, knelt on the floor, and poured out his heart to God. Daniel’s jealous peers had gathered and were waiting. When they were sure Daniel was praying, they apparently barged in, had him arrested, and hauled him off to be denounced before the king.
My dear friends, we are fortunate to live in a country where our freedom of religion and religious practice is guaranteed. We do not have to fear being arrested as we pray and exercise our religious rights. However, that may not always be so. Issues have already arisen and are continuing to arise with regard to mandates within the new federal health care laws. Many thoughtful religious scholars and political leaders are concerned that we are entering a period of our country’s history in which our religious freedoms may well be in jeopardy. Let us, therefore, remember: THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH! We must fear God more than any men!
Daniel did and we see, secondly, that Daniel’s faith caused a division among men about God! An interesting situation arose when Daniel was brought before Darius by his jealous peers. They, of course, did not believe in the one, true God. They viewed Daniel’s faith as simply a good way to get rid of him. Darius, on the other hand, appears to have taken a great interest in the God of Daniel. He knew about Daniel’s faithfulness to the LORD God of Israel and understood that this faith motivated Daniel’s entire life and moved him to such faithfulness. Consequently, we are told that he “set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.” When he ultimately failed to find a way, he sadly gave the command to cast Daniel into the lions’ den, but as he did so he cried out: “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Daniel’s faith truly caused a division among these men regarding their views of God.
We should not be surprised. Jesus would later say: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household’” (Mt. 10:34-36). If our religious faith at times separates family ties, should it surprise us if unbelievers living around us divide either in opposition to or support of the truths we share? Of course not! This is as it has always been. We need not be afraid, but rather simply be prepared, as the apostle Peter urges us: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15 – NIV). Yes, THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH! Daniel’s faith caused a division among men about God!
Finally, we see that Daniel’s faith revealed God is greater than men (and beasts)! It must have been an interesting night in Babylon after the stone had been rolled over the lions’ den and the king’s seal affixed. We might guess that Daniel’s peers went home to celebrate with great satisfaction the success of their plot. Darius’ servants were no doubt completely on edge. He refused food. He rejected their attempts to introduce soothing music. Darius simply could not sleep and in his anxiety no doubt paced throughout the night. Early in the morning, Darius arose and literally ran to the lions’ den. He ordered it unsealed and opened. He cried out, hope against hope, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Out of the gloom Daniel’s voice rang up: “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” Darius, relieved beyond belief, ordered Daniel removed from the den and restored to safety…all “because he (Daniel) believed in his God!”
While our text ends with those words, the original account continues. The men responsible for this situation together with their families—men who had celebrated their success of their scheme, were now arrested themselves and cast into the den to be overpowered, and their bones broken, the text tells us, “before they ever came to the bottom of the den” (Dan. 6:24). Darius then made a decree in which he stated that men everywhere should “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,” and then he explained why: “For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions” (Dan. 6:26-27).
Can there be any question that our God is greater than any man or group of men, as well as any beast? We cannot know whether the toughest lion in the lot slept with his head on Daniel’s lap as Sally Lloyd-Jones suggests, but we do know that God’s angel kept watch and closed those hungry mouths. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we remember what God did that day for His believing child, Daniel. Do we in faith “tremble and fear” (stand in holy awe) of the One who can accomplish anything, and whose kingdom will endure forever? I hope so, for you see THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH! So shall it ever be! Amen.
Pastor Paul D. Nolting
Soli Gloria Deo!