#2 (THE "COURAGE" SERIES)
"THE COURAGE TO PERSEVERE LIKE DANIEL!"
TEXT: Daniel 6:1-28
INTRO: The biggest challenge for most people is not the knowledge of right and wrong but the courage to do what is right! It is not easy doing what is right, especially when other people pressure us to do what is wrong – but the sweet reward of doing what is right can have powerful effects in our own life and in the lives of others.
ILLUS: Peter Cartwright was a 19th century circuit riding Methodist preacher, he was known as a man who never compromised with what was right. One Sunday morning when he was to preach he was told that President Andrew Jackson was in the congregation, so he was warned not to say anything out of line. When Cartwright stood to preach he said, "I UNDERSTAND THAT ANDREW JACKSON IS HERE. I HAVE BEEN REQUESTED TO BE GUARDED IN MY REMARKS. ANDREW JACKSON WILL GO TO HELL IF HE DOESN'T REPENT!" The congregation was shocked and wondered how the President would respond. After the service President Jackson shook hands with Peter Cartwright and said, "SIR, IF I HAD A REGIMENT OF MEN LIKE YOU I COULD WHIP THE WORLD." Peter Cartwright had the courage to do what was right! – Source Unknown
The old virtue of perseverance to do what is right is a needed quality in the Christian life today, there is much pressure to give in to the world's standards to do what is wrong, we need the courage to persevere in doing what is right.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to persevere in doing right no matter the pressures that come against us! The rewards for those who do are many, God's name is honored and many times we are also!
A. Character 6:1-5, 10
1. A new king had arisen on the throne, Darius the Mede; this was now the 3rd king Daniel had served under.
2. Daniel was quite old at this point, perhaps as old as 80 or even 90 something!
a. He had served the first king around the age of 15 or so.
b. As an old man he had established certain practices in his life that were not negotiable: honesty, hard work, prayer, and a holy lifestyle!
c. Daniel had persevered through several administrations already, always with courage and strength to do the right things!
3. In fact, with a new administration coming to power the king was looking for a few men he could trust his entire kingdom to, he was looking for men who had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to excellence ... such was the man Daniel!
a. The king chose 120 satraps to rule, with 3 presidents over them all, the new king was in the process of choosing one of those 3 presidents to rule over the entire kingdom and one of the lots was falling to Daniel.
b. This caused jealousy among the others so that they planned Daniel’s death!
4. Daniel's private life matched his public life, he was the same in both arenas, this was the kind of man the king could trust with everything.
a. Note the list of things spoken here about Daniel
(1. “Daniel distinguished himself among the others...”
(2. Daniel did so by “…his exceptional qualities…”
(3. “his conduct of government…” was without any faults!
(4. “…they could find no corruption in him...”
(5. “he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”
(6. He prayed “3 times a day, giving thanks to God” as a regular practice, not just his practice under pressure!
b. Imagine a government with men like this!
5. The other presidents were jealous and hatched a plan to have Daniel killed, their private life and public life were very different, they appeared publicly to care a great deal about the king and his governing but privately they were just out to get everything they could for themselves!
B. Corrupt! 6:6-9
1. How different were these other men, they hatched a sure fire plan for getting Daniel in trouble.
a. The plan was simple, brown nose the new king by making him the object of worship by the people, thus making the king feel good toward them.
b. Then make it against the law for 30 days to pray to any other god other than the king, this seemed reasonable to the king after all it wasn't an extreme measure, after 30 days everyone would be free again to worship who they saw fit ... certainly anyone could agree to such a small time factor like this!
c. The penalty however would be the lion's den and thus certain death!
2. It is ironic that the success of these evil men’s plan would depend on the consistency of Daniel’s prayer life!
a. I wonder how many Christians today would have been found guilty during these 30 days.
b. They knew that Daniel was a godly man who persevered in prayer and that he was courageous enough to break the new law, he would never give up praying to his God for 30 days!
3. These guys came off looking great to the king, they appeared to have the king's interests at heart and the people of the nation, but they were out to hurt the king and Daniel -- appearances aren't always what is real!
4. The stage was set, either Daniel caved in under pressure or he certainly would face death, did he have the courage to persevere?
II. PERSONAL PRESSURES RESISTED! 6:11-18
A. Consistent! 6:10-11
1. As soon as Daniel learns of the plan he is faced with a decision, do I obey the law of the king or the law of God?
a. Daniel had spent a lifetime obeying God's laws. When they conflicted with the king's like when he was a young man he managed to find a compromise with the king's laws that enabled him to still obey God's law without compromise: (such as the eating meat from the king's table when he was young -- he asked to obey God's laws and if his health suffered then he would obey the king's laws, of course he was healthier and so he didn't have to conform to man's laws, he won!)
b. Daniel was not the kind of man who went backwards, he had spent a long life in obedience to God and now he wouldn't back up!!
2. This would take great courage to move forward, but going backwards wasn't in his vocabulary, it was impossible for him!
ILLUS: THE NATION
3. Daniel could have reasoned: "well, maybe if I continue to pray I could do it without opening my windows toward Jerusalem and then nobody would know except God" -- but to him this would have meant giving up the hope and dream of faith that Jerusalem would again be rebuilt, it would have been like giving up publicly his faith ... this wouldn't be!
a. It is interesting to read about these evil men so many times the phrase "they went as a group." 6:6,11,15, and implied in .
b. Corrupt people tend to stick together and do things together!
c. They encourage each other in their corruption, there really is something to the phrase, “you become like those who hang around with.”
4. They of course are not disappointed, Daniel is as faithful as ever to pray, and they are all waiting in the bushes to witness it!
a. They counted on his faithfulness and his perseverance to do what was right!
b. How many Christians today would have been convicted?
5. Daniel could have come up with several good excuses not to pray openly:
a. “Well, it is just for 30 days, what would it hurt for that short period of time to not pray openly?”
b. "I have to think of how much good I've done to date, is it really worth losing all that influence for just a 30 day time period."
c. "God put me here, after all we are suppose to obey the laws of the land."
d. "I'm sure God will understand if I don't pray publicly, I'll just do it quietly."
e. "If I pray then I won't be able to help others later."
6. Daniel resists the temptation to give in or compromise, he has the COURAGE TO PERSEVERE!
B. Compromise? 6:12-18
1. Now everything begins to happen, he is brought up on charges of breaking the king's new law, a law that cannot be compromised for any reason!
a. This was the nature of the laws of the Medes and Persians!
b. No law could be repealed once it was made; this helped them to not make laws without careful consideration first.
c. The king who really liked Daniel was stuck! There could be no compromise; he has to carry out the sentence of death on Daniel!
2. The king was so distressed that he “made every effort until sundown to save him.” He was “determined to rescue Daniel…”
a. The sentence had to be carried out the same day by law! He waited until the last minute however to carry it out hoping for a way out!
b. The king was stuck, he now realized how conniving his other presidents were and how noble Daniel had been, and his loss was going to be great! Daniel was even more valuable to him now knowing how honest he had been, this is the kind of man you want to serve you as a new king!
c. It was no use, there was no way out of the law ... Daniel would have to be thrown to the lions!
3. Daniel holds his dignity and courage to the very end, there is no begging for his life here, he is prepared to persevere to the bitter end, to trust in His God and not quit now or relax his standards!
ILLUS: ON MARCH 6, 1987 EAMON COGHLAN, THE IRISH WORLD RECORD HOLDER AT 1500 METERS WAS RUNNING IN A QUALIFYING HEAT AT THE WORLD INDOOR TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS IN INDIANAPOLIS. WITH JUST 2½ LEFT, HE WAS TRIPPED AND HE FELL ... BUT HE GOT UP AND WITH GREAT EFFORT MANAGED TO CATCH THE LEADERS. WITH ONLY 20 YARDS LEFT IN THE RACE, HE WAS IN 3RD PLACE, GOOD ENOUGH TO QUALIFY FOR THE FINALS, ONLY THE TOP 3 COULD. HE TURNED TOWARD THE INSIDE TO SEE IF ANYONE WAS COMING UP ON HIM AND SEEING NO ONE HE RELAXED HIS PACE JUST A BIT SO HE WOULDN'T BE TOO TIRED AFTER COMING IN 3RD PLACE; HOWEVER, HE DIDN'T NOTICE ON THE OUTSIDE TRACK ANOTHER RUNNER THAT MANAGED TO PASS HIM A YARD BEFORE THE FINISH LINE SINCE HE RELAXED HIS PACE THOSE LAST 20 YARDS ... IT COST HIM 3RD PLACE -- HE FINISHED 4TH AND THUS MISSED BEING IN THE FINALS! AFTER ALL THAT EFFORT AND RECOVERY FROM A FALL, RELAXING THAT LAST 20 YARDS COST HIM HIS GOAL! DON’T BE TEMPTED TO QUIT AT THE END -- NO MATTER THE ODDS AGAINST YOU, PERSEVERE TO THE END! – Source Unknown
4. The king finally gives the order, but at the last minute possible! Daniel is thrown to the lions but not without the king’s offer of a prayer for Daniel!
a. He prays that Daniel's God will deliver him somehow!
b. Like another story we know very well, a large stone was rolled over the entrance and sealed with signet rings to ensure no help for Daniel to escape.
5. The king has the rough night sleeping, NOT DANIEL!
a. The king spent the night without eating, without entertainment, without sleep!
b. Daniel spent the night without being eaten, with angelic entertainment, with peaceful rest!
III. PERSEVERANCE’S PRIZE RECOGNIZED! 6:19-28
A. Conqueror! 6:19-23
1. As soon as sunup occurred the king runs down to the lion’s den to check things out, he calls to Daniel hoping against hope for a miracle!
2. To his utter amazement he gets a response: "0 King, live forever! My God has sent His angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, 0 King."
a. What a testimony to be able to give, to say you haven't done any wrong to the king!
b. Notice too how the king viewed Daniel's service to God in 6:20b. “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continuously, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
c. Daniel's perseverance with courage will now bring to light the nature of the true God and the nature of someone who truly serves God!
d. This will set the true God apart from false gods, and will set a standard for what a true servant of God is like, qualities that any king would love to have under his control and serving him!
3. Daniel's example demonstrated the power of God before a pagan world, there is no God like Daniel’s God!
ILLUS: LIKE ONE OF OUR ASSEMBLY OF
GOD MISSIONARIES IN THE 1920'S NAMED LEONARD
4. The king was overjoyed!! Immediately he had Daniel lifted out of the den!
a. It is added here that no wound was even found on Daniel!
b. The king witnessed the power of the real God!
c. The king witnessed the power of a real believer!!! Do people today???
d. Daniel had brought to the attention of a new administration the presence and power of the real God! Each new generation needs to see the real thing!
B. Cleansing! 6:24
1. Knowing now what this king knew about his other presidents he did not want to keep them, would you want to keep them?
a. The king has them thrown to the fate they planned for Daniel, even their families are thrown in with them! This law of including the families was intended to make men think before they committed a crime knowing their family would suffer also, only the most selfish of men would do something wrong and endanger their own family, thus this reveals the real hearts of these selfish men!
b. Before they reached the floor of the den they were killed by the lions, remember, the lions hadn't eaten for a couple of days with Daniel around!
c. This also proves the nature of the miracle, Daniel's delivery couldn't be explained away by well fed lions that simply weren't hungry, or that they had been fed the day Daniel was thrown in so they wouldn't be hungry!
d. Had they been fed the day before they would not have been this hungry now! It was clearly a miracle of God!
2. The kingdom was cleansed from wickedness in high places! Their sins caught up with them even as Daniel’s righteousness caught up with him!
C. Conviction! 6:25-28
1. The conviction of Daniel now becomes the king's conviction, he orders an edict that all people must fear the living God of Daniel, and he proclaims and testifies on behalf of the miracle Daniel's God did!
a. He tells the nature of God throughout this pagan empire!
b. This is a God that performs signs and wonders!
c. He is the living God!
2. God's name is honored in the land and in some new hearts!
3. All this because Daniel had the courage to persevere!
4. The conviction of the Holy Spirit was felt all across the Medo-Persian Empire because of the faith of an old man who had the courage to persevere in his faith!
a. We must learn to persevere, to not give up; there is much at stake in living consistently for the Lord.
b. It might be a long time, but some day your faith and courage to persevere will bare much fruit!
c. Daniel too is honored here, but more importantly to him, God was honored!
5. Never underestimate the power of persevering for the Lord, do it with courage and watch over your entire lifetime what God will do with it!
CONCLUSION: Daniel was very old when he was thrown to the lion's den, yet he still had the courage to persevere in faith. It would have been easy to compromise ... all he had to do was not pray publicly for a few weeks, but he persevered and did what was right, consistent with his whole life's witness. Because he had the courage to persevere God's name was broadcast throughout a pagan nation!