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THE MAN WHO KEPT THE FAITH
Intro: “Max Lucado tells of an extraordinary professional baseball pitcher who performed very few extraordinary feats.
• Though a veteran of 21 seasons, in only one did he win more than twenty games.
• He never pitched a no-hitter and only once in his career did he lead the league in any category. That was in 1980, when he led the National League with a 2.21 earned run average.
• Yet on June 21, 1986, pitcher Don Sutton rubbed shoulders with the true legends of baseball pitchers when he became only the 30th pitcher in baseball to win 300 games.
His own analysis of his success is worth noting. ‘I am a grinder and a mechanic. I never considered myself flamboyant or exceptional. But all my life I’ve found a way to get the job done.’ And get it done he did.
Through two decades, six presidential terms, four trades to other teams, he consistently did what pitchers are paid to do: win. With tunnel vision, he spent 21 seasons redefining greatness, yet most of you never heard of his name.
In September 1986, Inside Sports Magazine called him the ‘family sedan’ of baseball’s men on the mound. He certainly boasted none of the Ferrari style of the last thirty game winner, Denny McClain, who rose to stardom but faded quickly. He boasted none of the Mercedes sparkle of a Sandy Koufax, but after their types were parked in museums or junk piles, Don Sutton was still on the mound ‘getting the job done.’”
There are many Ferraris, Mercedes and Porsches in the Bible. People like Paul, David, Moses, and others, who speed across the pages of the Bible accomplishing great things for the glory of God. But Daniel is like the trusty “family sedans.”
• The first time we meet Daniel is when he is a young teen age boy who has been taken captive to Babylon. Even then, he is faithfully serving the Lord and taking his stand for that which is right.
• We meet him again a few years later in chapter 2, when as a young man he is called upon to interpret a dream to king Nebuchadnezzar. Again, we see Daniel simply serving the Lord and being faithful.
• He shows up again in chapter 4 as a middle aged man who again is called upon to interpret a dream for the troubled king. Once again, Daniel is found simply rolling along, being faithful.
• There he is again in chapter 5, standing for God and being faithful.
• In the text before us today, Daniel again rolls into view. Here, he is a man in his 80’s. He has been in Babylon for about 70 years. Yet, he has not veered from the course he started on as a young man. He is still faithfully serving the God Who saved him by his grace.
Daniel never made a big splash in Babylon. Though he was continually being promoted through the ranks of government, arriving at the position of Prime Minister, the Jews were still in captivity in Babylon. The new king, the king in this chapter Darius, who is probably also known as Cyrus, allows the Jews to return to Israel to rebuild their Temple, yet most of the exiles choose to stay in Babylon, having adapted to the customs and lifestyle of Babylon.
After all those years of being influenced by God’s people, Babylon is unchanged. The rulers have changed, but they are still idolatrous, cruel and wicked. There have been no great revivals in Babylon while Daniel was there. It seems that few are really impressed with Daniel and with his walk for the Lord.
It seems that all his faithfulness to God did was to draw the jealousy of his peers, the hatred of the ungodly, a plot against his life, and a death sentence in a lion’s den. But, through it all, Daniel rolled on. He remained faithful in spite of the changes going on around him.
Daniel was a faithful man, yet he found himself in a terrible cellar. In this passage, Daniel is cast into a lion’s den. He is sentenced to die for doing nothing more than being faithful to his God. While Daniel faced a terrible sentence, he held fast to what made him a great man. Daniel kept the faith!
Let’s look at this familiar passage again today and talk about The Man Who Kept The Faith. I want to show you that it is possible to be faithful in spite of what others around you are doing. Notice the details of Daniels life that teach us about this great man of faith._
I. V. 1-9 DANIEL’S CHARACTER
A. V. 1-3 Daniel’s Position - Darius appointed 120 princes to rule over his kingdom. These men helped insure that Darius and his kingdom were protected from theft, tax evasion, and military revolts. Apparently, these men ruled over a specific province of the kingdom. Over these 120 men were three men who ruled with Darius as vice-regents. Over the all was Daniel, who answered directly to the king.
What is so amazing here is the fact that Daniel is a slave. He was brought to Babylon as a young man, enslaved, taken from his home and his people, and trained in the ways of the Babylonian court. He has been faithful to God, and God has blessed Daniel’s faithfulness, causing Daniel to find favor with every pagan king he served. After 70 years of faithful service, this former slave has become Prime Minister of the most powerful government in the world.
God always honors faithful service. He may never promote you in the eyes of men, but He sees everything you do for Him. He keeps perfect records, and one day, you will be rewarded accordingly. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be,” Rev. 22:12. Even now, there is a something about serving the Lord and being faithful to Him that thrills the soul. “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart,” Psa. 40:8.
B. V. 4-9 Daniel’s Problem - The other rulers of the kingdom were jealous of Daniel and sought to destroy him. After all, he was a Hebrew, and a slave, and they were Babylonians. They shouldn’t have to bow to the likes of Daniel. So, they played to the vanity of the king. Verses 6-9 tell us that they devised a plan to get Darius to make a law that no one could pray to any God or even make a request of any person for 30 days. The king liked the sound of that. It was place him at the center of everyone’s thoughts for a whole month. If you stop to think about it, the law was utterly absurd, v. 7. Yet, Darius signed it because it fed his pride and stroked his ego.
Daniel’s problem was that he was faithful to the Lord, and the unbelievers around him hated him for it. That despised him because he was different, he was honest and he was real. Daniel was everything they could not be, and they could not stand him because of it. Thus, they devised a plan to get rid of him.
You might as well know that if you are going to live for the Lord, some people around you are not going to like it. Those who do not know the Lord will always look for ways to attack those who are faithful to Him.
• That is how Jesus said it would be. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household,” Matt. 10:34–36.
• Paul also warned us that persecution would follow the faithful. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Tim. 3:12.
Let them do what they will. Let them hate us, fight us, and try to silence us. But, regardless of what they do, let us determine in our hearts that we will do like Daniel and remain faithful!
C. V. 3, 4-5 Daniel’s Purity - The Bible tells us that Darius promoted Daniel because he possessed “an excellent spirit.” The word “excellent” means “preeminent.” Daniel has a spirit in him that set him apart from everyone else around him. Beyond that, when the other presidents of the kingdom wanted to find some deficiency in Daniel that they might attack, they could find nothing wrong in his life at all, v. 4. There were no skeletons in his closet. There was nothing hidden in his life. He was an open book. Daniel was faithful and faultless. That was his testimony among the lost. They could find nothing wrong in his life.
Wouldn’t it be a blessing if that were true of our government leaders now? Consider, for instance the 100th Congress that met in Washington, D.C. From January 3, 1987 to January 3, 1989. Here is a small sampling of the purity of that governing body.
• 29 arrested for spousal abuse
• 7 convicted of fraud
• 19 arrested for writing bad checks
• 117 bankrupted two or more businesses
• 14 arrested on drug charges
• 8 arrested on shoplifting charges
• 21 with lawsuits against them
• 84 charged with driving while intoxicated.
• Is it any wonder that America is in the shape it’s in?
When they could find no sin or secrets in his life that they could exploit, verse 5 tells us that the only recourse they had was to try and find some way to use his faithfulness to God against him. They knew that Daniel was a man of prayer, so they moved Darius to outlaw prayer for 30 days. They knew that Daniel would pray anyway. They saw that as their opportunity to have Daniel executed. That was what they were counting on, and they were not disappointed.
Before we move on, let’s pause to ask ourselves this question: what is hidden in your life?
• If every secret were brought into the open, safe their things there that would make you ashamed?
• Are there things there that would embarrass you or your family?
• Are there things there that would bring dishonor upon the church, the Gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Heavenly Father?
If there are hidden sins, thoughts, and problem in the heart, they need to be brought out before the Lord and dealt with His way. His way is through confession and repentance, Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9. When we do it His way, the sin if forgiven, the heart is cleansed and the shame is taken away.
If we do not handle our sins His way, we can be sure that He has a way of exposing our sins.
• “…and be sure your sin will find you out,” Num. 32:23.
• “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known,” Luke 12:2.
How much better it is for us to bring our hidden secrets and expose them to Him than it is for Him to expose us before others. If you have hidden things in your life, the best time to deal with them is now,. The best way to deal with them is honestly. God already knows about it anyway. He just wants you to come to the place where you are willing to confess your sins, and deal with them His way!
I. Daniel’s Character
II. V. 10-11 DANIEL’S CHOICES
When the king signed the decree, Daniel was faced with a choice. Should he remain faithful to the Lord, or should he bow to the vanity of the king?
Watching Daniel face this crisis in his life, you get the impression that it was not a crisis at all for him. Daniel simply did what he had always done; he remained faithful to the Lord. Notice how Daniel faced the challenge before him, and the choices he made.
• He chose Obedience to God over Opportunities in the world - Daniel did not open his windows to draw attention to himself as he prayed. The windows were already opened. All Daniel did was bow down before the Lord and pray. It was the Lord’s will for Daniel to be faithful, and that’s what he did. He bowed toward Jerusalem because God promised to hear the prayers of the exiles who faced toward His house when they prayed, 1 Kings 8:46-52. He did not close the windows to hide what he was doing because he was not ashamed of his faith or of his God.
• He chose Faithfulness to God over the Favor of the king - For Daniel, the decree of Darius changed nothing. He simply went before the Lord and prayed and gave thanks three times a days “as he did aforetime.” He remained faithful in spite of the will of a human king.
• He chose Devotion to God over the Decree of the king - The decree was only for 30 days. For many, they could have simply not prayed for that period of time. Not Daniel. His faith in the Lord would not allow him to be anything less than what the Lord wanted him to be, even for a mere 30 days.
• He chose Bowing before God to Bowing before his enemies - The desire of Daniel’s enemies was to bring him down, v. 4. I would imagine that they would have left him alone if Daniel would have adopted the ways and religion of Babylon. But, Daniel refused to bow to their will. He chose instead to remain faithful to his God.
• He chose a Faithful testimony over Fleeting treasures - For Daniel, prayer was far more important than popularity. He would rather be found faithful that enjoy the power, popularity and wealth that could have been his if he compromised.
• He chose Commitment over Compromise - Consider for a moment the excuses Daniel could have made for not praying. He was 80 years old. I am sure that he was tired. He was the Prime Minister of Babylon. He was busy. Yet, Daniel did not make excuses, he remainder faithful to the Lord and did what he knew was right.
• He chose Faithfulness over Freedom - Daniel was willing to give up his position, his wealth, and his power, but he was not willing to give up his commitment to the Lord
• He chose Love over Life - He was willing to sacrifice his life because he lived his Lord more than he loved himself.
• He chose Character over Comfort - Daniel was willing to die a horrible death in a lion’s den, but he would not sacrifice his character.
Daniel was determined to stand for that which was right simply because it was right. He was determined to stand for the Lord regardless of the consequences. Daniel was determined to remain faithful whatever the cost, and for Daniel, the cost would be very high.
The church would be a vastly different place today if church members had the same kind of commitment to the things of God that Daniel had. We allow everything in the world to come between us and our faithfulness to the Lord.
Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, Sunday evening worship, Wednesday evening worship, youth meeting, revival meeting, etc., have all become optional activities for the modern church member.
Most Christians do not pray like they should. They do not read their Bibles daily. They do not witness. Many are willing to sacrifice their testimonies, and their commitment to the Lord on the altar of convenience, pleasure and worldly ambition.
Would to God the Lord would raise up some Daniels in our day. Would to God that He would gives us some men and women who would settle for nothing less than absolute obedience to the will of God for their lives. The fact is, we give up and we give in far too easy. If our enemies came after us like they came after Daniel, I fear we would give in to their whims, and I fear they would find mush to attack in our lives.
Where are the faithful Christians who would rather die than dishonor their Lord? Where are the dedicated, committed believers who are determined to be faithful unto death? If you were face with Daniel’s dilemma, what would you do?
I. Daniel’s Character
II. Daniel’s Choices
III. V. 12-17 DANIEL’S CHALLENGE
A. V. 12-15 He Faced A Personal Accusation - When Daniel’s enemies saw him praying before the Lord, they took their accusation to the king. They accused Daniel and demanded that the king honor the law of the land. His enemies were right, Daniel was guilty of breaking their foolish law. Even the king recognized how foolish he had been. He regretted signing the law and labored all day to find a loophole to deliver Daniel from death. But none could be found.
The fact is, Daniel broke the law of the king. But Daniel did not break the Law of the Lord. Daniel did what the Lord commanded, even when it contradicted what the government demanded. We might face that same dilemma in the future. Romans 13 teaches us to obey the rulers of the land and their laws, but when their laws contradict God’s law, we must do what God says, regardless of the consequences.
B. V. 16-17 He Faced A Powerful Attack - So, Daniel was taken and cast into the lion’s den. Everyone was certain that Daniel was a dead man. No one entered the lion’s den and came through it unscathed! The lions did not care if their victim was a preacher or a pagan, they ate anyone who was thrown into their midst. These lions were bred for this task. They were kept half-starved so they would attack and kill anyone who was thrown into their den. In the eyes of everyone, Daniel was a dead man. Verse 16 indicates that the king at least had confidence in Daniel and in Daniel’s God. He believed that the God Daniel served would take care of Daniel.
We should live the kind of lives that touch the people who live around us. Whether it is a pagan king, or just our neighbor, our faith should ring true and point them to the Lord. Whether they believe in our Lord or not, they should know that we do, and they should be able to see His hand working in our lives.
I. Daniel’s Character
II. Daniel’s Choices
III. Daniel’s Challenge
IV. V. 18-28 DANIEL’S CONQUEST
A. V. 18-20 Darius And His Fears - When Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den, Darius returns to his palace. There, surrounded by his wealth, his servants and his finery, he passes the night in fear. No doubt he is consumed with guilt over his own foolishness. No doubt he is angry at the intrigue of those who concocted this plan to destroy Daniel. He wrestles with sleep until dawn, then he races to the lion’s den to check on Daniel. With a voice trembling with fear, he calls out to Daniel, hoping against hope that Daniel has managed to survive the night.
B. V. 21-23 Daniel And His Faith - Daniel answers the king and relates the glorious news that God has intervened in his life. God sent His angel. The angel shut the mouths of the lions and they did not attack him, Daniel attributes God’s gracious protection to the fact that he was an innocent man. Daniel is immediately taken up out of the lion’s den and examined. An incredible, seemingly impossible miracle has taken place. Daniel, with the supernatural help of God has survived the lion’s den.
C. V. 24 Daniel And His Foes - The men who falsely accused Daniel, along with their entires families, are taken and thrown into the lion’s den. They are not spared. Before they ever reach the bottom of the pit, the lions attack and kill those who dared stand against the men of God.
D. V. 25-28 Daniel And His Future - King Darius is overwhelmed by what has taken place here. He makes a decree that exalts the Lord God Almighty. He commands everyone in hide kingdom to bow before the mighty God of Daniel. He declares God to be the living God; a God of power and glory; possessing an eternal kingdom. This chapter ends with Daniel being exalted even higher in the kingdom.
The moral of Daniel’s story is this: God honors faithfulness. Because Daniel remained faithful to God, even to the point of death, God was with him and delivered him from his enemies, from the decrees of the king, and from the power of the lions. Daniel succeeded because Daniel was faithful to the Lord. Because he was faithful, God gave him victory over the decree, the den of lions, Darius, the dark, his detractors and even over Daniel himself.
We may never face a den of lions. We may never face a burring fiery furnace like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. But, we might face some of the trials other saints of God have been called on to endure. We might face times of sickness, sorrow, distress, persecution, death, and hardship. Through it all, the Lord simply demands that we be faithful.
• He has promised us that He will never leave us alone for even a moment, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20.
• He has promised us grace sufficient for every step we take, 2 Cor. 12:9.
• He has promised to guide every step we take, Psa. 37:23.
• He has promised to meet every need we have in life, Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25-34.
• He has promised to hear us and help us when we call on His name, Jer. 33:3; Phil. 4:6-7.
There is so much more that He has promised to do for us, just because He loves us and because we are His people. All He asks us to be is be faithful. There is one sentence every child of God wants to hear the Lord say to us at the end of the way. That sentence is: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” Matt. 25:21. That sentence appears in a parable called The Parable Of The Talents. In that parable, three servants are given a task to accomplish. Two of those servants accomplish the task they are given and they hear their master say, “Well done.” The third fails to accomplish the task and that servant is dealt with harshly. He loses his reward and he loses the favor of his master.
I want to hear the Lord say, “Well done.” The only was I will hear Him say that to me there is if I am faithful to Him here. Listen to what He will say again: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” Matt. 25:21. In that verses, the favor of the Master is the reward for being faithful. Faithfulness is important. The Bible says, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful,” 1 Cor. 4:2.
There are some things I can’t do.
• I can’t give large amounts of money to the Lord’s work.
• I can’t sing and preach like some people can.
• I can’t say that I have left everything to serve the Lord.
• I can’t say that I have given my life for His sake.
But, there is one thing I can do.
• I can be found faithful.
• I can be faithful to the Lord Who redeemed me from sin.
• I can be faithful to do the task to which He has called me.
• I can be faithful to pray. I can be faithful to read his Word.
• I can be faithful to witness. I can be faithful to attend His house.
• I can be faithful to love Him.
• I can be faithful to the things that matter in my life, my wife, my family, and my friends.
• I can’t be some things, but I can be faithful!
God didn’t call me to be a Ferrari, a Porsche, or a Mercedes. He didn’t call me to be a Formula 1 race car. He called me to be a “family sedan”; safe, reliable, and steady. He called me to be faithful; to start when He turns the key; to just get the job done day in and day out. He called me to be faithful!
Conc: Daniel was faithful. Like the “family sedan” he was reliable. That word, the word “reliable” is an interesting word. It is a compound word. “Liable” means “responsible.” “Re” means “over and over again.” We are to be “responsible over and over again.” We are to be “reliable.”
Because Daniel was “reliable” King Darius, who is also called King Cyrus in the Bible, was saved by grace and given new life in the Lord, Isa. 45:1-3. King Nebuchadnezzar was also saved because of the faithful witness of Daniel and his friends. There were no great revivals in Babylon, but two kings were saved, and that made a difference. Daniel made a difference because he was faithful!
If your faithfulness touches even one life, it has been worth being found “reliable.” If you children grow up to be faithful “family sedans” in the next generation, your faithfulness has been repaid many times over. If another saint is challenged by your “reliability” and becomes more faithful to the Lord, your faithfulness has been worth it all.
• Thank you for being faithful to come to church.
• Thank you for giving to the Lord’s work.
• Thank you for praying for God’s people.
• Thank you for sharing the Gospel with sinners.
• Thank you for coming to Monday night prayer meeting.
• Thank you for coming to Wednesday night service.
• Thank you for coming to Sunday School.
• Thank you for coming to Sisters in Faith.
• Thank you for bringing your children to youth meetings.
• Thank you Bobby and Ricky for faithfully leading our singing.
• Thank you Adene, Theresa, Phil and Jenny for playing these instruments.
• Thank you Brent and Becky for cleaning these buildings.
• Thank you Deacons for looking after the flock.
• Thank you Sunday School teachers for the lessons you prepare and teach.
• Thank you nursery workers for taking care of the children so others can hear the preaching.
• Thank you senior saints for your ministry of prayer.
• Thank you to those who come to prayer rooms.
We need to examine our hearts right now.
• Can you honestly say that you are faithful to the Lord, to His will, and to His work?
• Is there room for improvement?
• Are you ready today to become a Daniel and be faithful to the Lord even to death?
• Are you saved?
• Wouldn’t you like to come to Jesus today for salvation?_
1 Adapted from: Stortz, R., & Hughes, R. K. (2004). Daniel : The triumph of God's kingdom. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.