Surviving and Thriving in Babylon (Daniel 6 and 9)

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EXAMINE surviving and thriving in babylon_logo

As hanging wires carry electricity, prayer is the carrier of God’s power. John Wesley said, “God does nothing on earth except in answer to prayer.” His point was that God is always at work answering the prayers of His people. Likewise, the people of God must pray if we want to see a move of God in our life and land. Prayer is priority for surviving & thriving in Babylon (STB).

To STB, we must have a distinguished life (Daniel 6:1-5)

King Darius the Mede wasted no time establishing his kingdom rule, setting up satraps (Persian govt officials). Out of the 120 officials, 3 were selected as presidents of whom Daniel was 1. However, Daniel’s promotion was unsatisfactory to the other officials. The reason was because Daniel was a Jew and worshiped God.

Daniel distinguished himself in both attitude and ability to serve the previous Babylonian King Neb. Distinguishment is obtained through a redeemed perspective & a resolved obedience to God.

  • à redeemed perspective
    • accepts discipline – Daniel was in this circumstance bc of Judah’s failure to obey God.
    • perspective helps to prioritize problems (limited hills to die on)
    • perspective helps to endure adversity
    • perspective expands view of God (see many references to Daniel’s relationship to God)

Daniel 1:17, 20 “God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams… [they were] ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all [King Neb’s] kingdom.”

Daniel 2:11, 28 “no one can show [meaning of dreams] to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with the flesh… [Daniel says] but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries…”

Daniel 5:11 “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and  understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Neb, your father – your father the king – made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”

Daniel 5:14 “I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.”

Daniel 6:3 “Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.”

Daniel 9:23 “O Daniel, you are greatly loved”

  • à resolved obedience
    • obedience is observable
      • Dan 6:5 the officials could find no fault but knew his obedience to God
        • integrity over political impurity
        • prayer life
          • Note: praying may not be visible (Mat 6:3) but observable evidence is having a redeemed perspective.
        • obedience to God is not optional
          • Dan 6:7 “establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction”
        • obedience to God can be costly
          • Dan 6:7 “whoever [defies] shall be cast into the den of lions”
        • obedience to God often occurs in adversity
          • Dan 6:9 “Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.”
          • We pray to align human circumstances – especially ungodly – to God’s purposes.
            • à Christians are not in a cultural war but a spiritual battle. Pray!

To STB, we must have a disciplined life (Daniel 6:6-13).

Daniel responded to the governmental hostility with spiritual discipline, he “prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (6:10). Daniel was a man of distinguished character because he had disciplined practices. He prayed regularly, three times each day.

Discipline is routine with relevance. When a person maintains a habit that is discipline. However, habits become routine when they are performed aimlessly and mindlessly. Routines are relevant when they have an aimed purpose and discovered delight.

à Start your day with God

Psalm 5:3 “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”

Psalm 55:17 “evening, morning and at noon will I pray and cry aloud; and he will hear my voice.”

– – – > Praise: without praise to God, life is like plagiarism[1] 

– – – > Petition: asking and inviting God’s intervention

– external for others

– internal for self

“God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst.” – George Whitefield

– – – > Participation: listening to God’s Word and Spirit

– examine the OT / exhaust the Psalms / engage Jesus / employ the NT

à Sustain your days & circumstances in prayer

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.”

Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

à Safeguard your life with prayers of personal repentance

Daniel 9:4-19

v.16, 18-19 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us… for we do not present our please before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear and forgive.”

To STB, we must have a defiant life (Daniel 6:14-28).          [defying worldiness]

Daniel’s defiance was in relation to his moral values not general customs. While Daniel was guilty of praying he was not guilty of pride. Daniel was a distinguished leader among two ungodly governments – Babylon and Medo-Persians. His actions were not prideful or stubborn disobedience but rather the practice of courage and moral conviction.

Defiance is usually viewed negatively but can be positive if understood as civil disobedience. Daniel was willing to pick his battles: not rebelling with his pagan renaming (Dan 1:7) but rebelling to worship or pray to another who is not God (Dan 3:13-18; 6:10-24).

One can consider other examples in Scripture: midwives who spared the sons of Israel (Ex 1:17), Peter & John kept proclaiming the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18-20, 5:27-29). Further, Paul (Rom 13:1-7) says Christians are subject to government authorities and Peter commanded honor[2] to the emperor (1Peter 2:13, 17).

So, when should a Christian be defiant to exercise civil disobedience?

  • Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail
    One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
    Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
  • Citizens do not obey laws without also obeying logic and morality.[3]
    • If gov ordered citizens to eliminate all elderly, sick and diseased it may be logical to enhance economy but it would be immoral to humanity.
    • If gov ordered citizens to only wear purple, it may not be immoral but it would be illogical.
    • Society operates on basis of law, logic, and ethics. Societies that have neglected all three basis of operations have collapsed.
      • Ralph Waldo Emerson “Good men must not obey the laws too well.”
      • “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
      • Christianity takes courage to live counter-culturally.

Some examples:

As Daniel served Babylon with distinguished character, Christians should serve sinners in our culture. Yet, when human made, cultural laws conflict with God’s moral law there should be resistance.

  • occupations with SSM
  • alliances of business or finances with abortion
  • protesting outside government sponsored organizations that promote racist symbols[4]

APPLY/THINK

King Darius, like King Neb, was an evil king with an ungodly government. They made unjust laws and unfair decisions yet Daniel was unwavering in faith. Daniel was discriminated against and sentenced to death by lions. Yet, God delivered Daniel.

What’s the point? If we obey God, will we always prosper and be protected? No (cf. Daniel 3:17-18).

Daniel points us to God’s redemptive promise in Jesus.

  • As Daniel was innocent yet sentenced to death, so too was Jesus.
  • Daniel faced the lions den without a scratch, but Jesus was scarred & crucified.
  • Daniel survived the lions and we too survive sin and satan the roaring lion prowling to devour us through the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
    • à Prayer is possible.
    • à Prayer is priority.
      • Jesus said “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13).

Sailboats / Field goal kickers like to kick with the wind rather than against it, in order to gain momentum. Likewise, Christians gain momentum in the Christian life when they combine their actions with prayer; and more, when they pray utilizing the promises of God fro

[1] idea from Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, p.196.

[2]  Peter uses same command of honor to others as to the emperor – therefore making point that the emperor is just another human – not God, as the Romans tried to insist.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Examples_of_civil_disobedience

[4] Recent example of the confederate flag flying outside SC govt buildings. Individual persons have this right as well as Christians. Yet, for the sake of not offending Christians of different ethnicities we should be willing to lay down our rights; promote a higher kingdom!

One comment

  1. Thank you, Dave, for the post. For more on Wesley and Whitefield, please visit the website for the book series, The Asbury Triptych Series at http://www.francisasburytriptych.com. The opening book in the series, Black Country, details the movement in England before Francis Asbury departs England for the American colonies in 1771. Black Country features Wesley and Whitefield and their influence on a young Francis Asbury. Again, thank you for the post.

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