PRINCIPLES OF PRESERVATION IN DIFFICULT TIMES
No. 8b, RIGHTEOUS LIVING—DANIEL’S EXAMPLE!
We continue to discover the kind of righteousness Daniel exemplified that delivered him from judgment.
6. Daniel refused gifts of bribery.
Daniel 5:17 says, “Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.” Daniel did not allow himself to be influenced by the rewards of any man, not even from the king, no matter how tempting. He was offered to be clothed with scarlet, a chain of gold about his neck, and to be the third ruler in the kingdom (Daniel 5:16). How would we respond to such a tempting opportunity to become rich and famous? Daniel did not allow rewards to influence him or to weaken the interpretation of the writing on the wall.
On the other hand, Balaam “loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15). He wanted to receive the handsome reward offered to him if he cursed the children of Israel. Read Numbers, chapters 22-24. Although Balaam ended up only prophesying what God told Him, he still hoped for the reward. But Balaam’s love of the reward cost him his life (Numbers 31:8). Tradition states that he advised Balak to invite the children of Israel to an idolatrous feast.
Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, learned a severe lesson for receiving gifts (2 Kings 5:27). God did not want a reward for His act of mercy in healing Naaman of his leprosy and Elisha knew that God did not want him to take a reward either. On the other hand, Gehazi lusted after the reward, lied about his master, deceived Elisha and ended up with the curse of leprosy on his body as “white as snow” and on his descendants forever (2 Kings 5:26-27).
Achan brought a curse, not only on himself, but his entire family, by coveting after rewards that God did not want him to have. The whole nation of Israel remained in defeat until his sin of covetousness was dealt with (Joshua 7:1-26).
Jesus said to His disciples, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
7. Daniel was faultless in every area of his life.
Daniel 6:5 says, “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom: but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.”
What an amazing testimony of practical righteousness. You can guarantee they searched diligently to see if he had abused his privileges, spoken negatively of the king, disobeyed any command, been dishonest in accounting, lied in any way, accepted bribes or acted immorally. They would have searched the records and ordered spies to check on him. Despite the thorough check, they could not point the finger at anything! There was no error or fault found in him.
Daniel was a man of the highest integrity. Would to God this was the example of our leaders today. Instead, people accept the fact that bribes, abuse of privileges and falsifying the books are normal politics. Lying and compromising truth are accepted as standard procedure. You just have to be clever enough to get away with it and that’s all that is required to be successful. However, when God’s judgments fall, it is only the Daniels that are guaranteed escape! As I write this article, judgments are beginning to fall. That’s why we need to take a good look at Daniel who was singled out in Ezekiel 14:12-20 as one of the three men who would escape the judgment.
Revelation 17:14 says, “They that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” God is calling for men who will be faithful and faultless like Daniel.
8. Daniel committed himself to prayer.
Daniel 6:10 says, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
Praying was the key to Daniel’s righteousness. Daniel was faithful, without fault and a man of the highest integrity because He depended upon God to make him the man that God called him to be. Daniel’s payers made a demand on God’s righteousness to flow through him. Without prayer, Daniel would not have had the mighty impact upon these heathen nations and kings. Instead, he would have been as weak as other men who rarely call on God.
Prayer was not an occasional thing with Daniel. Prayer was not something he did only when he was in trouble. Praying once a day would make Daniel feel he was backsliding. Even twice a day was too slack for Daniel. He prayed three times a day without fail. How ashamed and challenged this 21st century prayerless church should feel over our week, haphazard commitment to prayer. Even a once-a-day prayer time would make a difference. What about three times?
Daniel would not deny his customary commitment to prayer. This commitment was obviously established in his life at a very early age for he was still a young man when the life-threatening test came. I’m sure Daniel had parents who encouraged and trained him to value this great ministry. Daniel 6:5 says, “Then said these men, we shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” There was no law from God telling them to pray and give thanks three times per day. However, because Daniel was so committed to praying on his knees three times every day, they must have thought it was a law from God.
Daniel 9:21 says, “While I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening offering.” The law of the morning and evening sacrifice, coupled with prayer, was a well established practice in Israel (Exodus 29:39; 30:7-8; Luke 1:10 and Acts 3:1). Elijah rebuilt the broken down altar and called on the name of the Lord at the time of the evening sacrifice and the fire of the Lord fell (1 Kings 18:38). Ezra interceded for his people at the time of the evening sacrifice (Ezra 9:5).
According to tradition, the Jews prayed three times per day: 9 00 am morning sacrifice, 12.00 noon (tradition only) and 3.00 pm evening sacrifice. This exercise in prayer was primarily the duty of the priests, but was often exercised by the devout followers of Jehovah. The priests were obligated by law but the people were privileged to join in by the exercise of their own will. David mentions that he prayed three times a day in Psalm 55:17. Daniel would have been familiar with this Scripture.
Daniel did not view this ministry of praying three times per day as a burdensome duty but as a life-giving principle. How easy it is for us to cave in and give up on prayer-- a sore throat or a feeling of tiredness, but not Daniel. Not even the threat of hungry lions tearing him apart and ripping him to shreds stopped him from praying. I’m sure our lukewarm 21st century church would have found a compromise to get around the lion’s den! They would suggest, I’m sure our God of grace would surely understand if we took a few weeks off praying until this whole thing blows over. Or: There is no need to get down on our knees to pray. Perhaps we should pray secretly in our hearts only. What wimps we are when it comes to praying compared to Daniel. No wonder the church has such little impact upon our present evil world compared to Daniel’s impact upon his evil world!
9. Daniel served God continually.
Daniel 6:16 says, “The king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” (Verse 20). Daniel’s service to God was not half-hearted, spasmodic or dependent upon favorable circumstances. He was faithful to the king, but when it came down to it and the king got in the road of his loyalty to God, his devotion to the King of kings and Lord of lords came first! The king became aware that Daniel’s allegiance to his kingdom was secondary to his allegiance to God and he admired him for it.
10. Daniel impacted the nation.
Daniel’s righteousness and unwavering commitment to prayer brought about an amazing edict from the powerful heathen king.
Daniel 6:25-28 says, “Then King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and this dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
Does our 21st century Christianity have such an impact upon the rulers of our present world? If not, why not? The truth is certain that the God of Daniel has not changed. But where are the Daniels of God?
Revelation 19:8 says, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Daniel executed righteous acts as well as having righteous faith. Many translations interpret “righteousness” as “righteous acts.”
Colin is the husband of Nancy Campbell, Editor of Above Rubies www.aboverubies.org
Colin can be contacted at 615 948 5958 for speaking engagements.
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