January 16, 2012
Daniel 6:4 – 9
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.
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
Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live forever,
All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
In actions that demonstrated the depth of their anti-Semitism, the Gentile administrators compelled to work with Daniel were determined to find a way to put this man down once and for all. How could they tolerate the presence of a Jew in such a high position-one greater than their own? That was the rub. So they pulled Daniel’s file. I can just see them scouring the official records looking for just one act of impropriety, for some minute administrative error.
Perhaps they’d find that some unaccounted for, under-the-table money had changed hands. Perhaps Daniel had been derelict in his duties earlier on, but no one had caught the mistake. They searched to the point of exhaustion, only to end their quest unsuccessfully. As much as they hated to admit it, Daniel was apparently as good as everyone said he was.
The only thing they could find wrong with him was that he served God. What a marvelous indictment, and would it. not be wonderful if our detractors were to say the same thing about you and me? But it will only be said about us as we remain people of the Book who live on our knees in devoted worship to our heavenly Father. It’s what Luke says as he reminds us of the words of Jesus,
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).
That’s our choice: We can either pray or faint. It’s either one or the other, and Daniel never stopped praying. Because of this, his fellow administrators figured they’d finally discovered the smoking gun they were looking for, and that’s when their treachery began. Today we might call it “bootlicking”-cozying up to someone from whom we might want a favor or some special arrangement. This is what Daniel’s “friends” did by going to Darius with their newly-hatched scheme to catch Daniel in the act of praying. It’s important to realize that it was not just a few who plotted against Daniel.
Remember, there were 120 princes and three presidents-the first of whom was Daniel. That means there were 122 government servants under the Medes and the Persians who had turned against Daniel. The vote was 122 to 1. How could any politician survive those odds? And it all started with a vile, dirty little sin called jealousy. You might say, Well, I don’t go out and get drunk; I don’t commit adultery; I don’t steal; I have never murdered a person… but if your heart is filled with envy, that not-so-small sin will remove you from the presence of God eternally unless repentance occurs. Galatians 5:19-21 reads,
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
God’s Word is constantly reminding us to check out our hearts, and find out if we are envious of the position, wealth, or appearance of others. Daniel didn’t compare himself with the Smiths and the Joneses of his day, and neither should we. Daniel had higher goals, and his message to us is that if we are to truly know God, we, too, must have goals and objectives that reflect our love for the Savior. Meanwhile, Daniel’s enemies got their way as they pushed through a decree that promised a den filled with lions for those who worshipped any god other than the king. What a fool-proof idea.
Finally, they would get this Jew who had been elevated to such a lofty position of leadership. Yes, a den of lions. That would surely do it. Not even a praying Daniel could extricate himself from those hungry beasts. Something else: They reminded the king that when a decree is signed, it is an irrevocable law of the Medes and the Persians. The king knew this, but because of the pressure of virtually his entire administrative staff, he complied with their wishes, signing the document on the spot.
Daniel 6:10 – 15
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.
Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.
Then thy came near and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of and God or man within thirty days, save of thee 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 altereth not.
Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, not the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.
Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore 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 assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
These verses are a mini-treatise of what true friendship is all about, even though it may seem to be expressed in a context we might not expect. Here is a powerful king, Darius, who has signed a decree under considerable duress, now only to be made aware that his friend, counselor, and confidant, Daniel, has been “caught in the act” of praying to the God of the Hebrews. I’ve seen some Christians “scratch their eyebrows” as they bowed their heads and intoned a quick prayer in a restaurant, hoping that no one would see them praying before eating their food. Not Daniel. No secretive scratching of Jewish eyebrows for this saint of God.
Daniel knew the decree had been signed, and that his life was on the line. Yet, he continued to pray three times a day, as was the Jewish custom, and not just pray, but pray before an open window! He wanted everyone to know what he was doing and to whom he gave his allegiance as he bowed his head humbly toward Jerusalem, not toward, the headquarters of the Medes and the Persians.
Matthew 10:32-33 reminds us that,
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
It was true in Daniel’s day, and it is true in ours. God doesn’t put much stock in would-be believers who quietly “scratch their eyebrows” for fear of being caught in the act of praying.
Later, Jesus added,
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
While the first six chapters of Daniel are more historical and devotional, do not forget that the essential content of Daniel- seen more graphically in the last six chapters-is about the return of Messiah, the coming again of Christ, a moment in time when Jesus will remind us that if we have been ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us. It cuts both ways.
The crown hangs forever heavy on the head of any ruler, and this night the head of Darius was heavy indeed. He realized he’d been tricked by his own staff just so they could get their man. The problem was that their man was also Darius’s man- but for completely different reasons. Darius loved Daniel. It didn’t matter that Daniel was a Jew in exile, that he was well up in years, or that he continued to worship the God of Father Abraham. Daniel was his friend, and Darius loved him.
But now his friend was about to be thrown into a den of lions-and it was all his fault. Love-real love-seeks to overrule even the strictest, most binding decree. But, in this case, not even Darius’s friendship with Daniel would be enough to save the day or the man. He had signed the proclamation. He had bowed to the pressure of putting himself in a position to be worshipped. Now, he would pay the consequence by losing his dear friend.
That evening, the kingly head tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Darius wished he could undo his terrible decree, but it was a law that could not be altered. An eighty-five-year-old saint and friend was about to be devoured by hungry lions, and that’s all Darius could think about throughout the long, painful night.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
PEACE IN A TROUBLED WORLD
In the light of all that is going on in our world today it may sound strange to hear that you can have peace in a troubled world. In our beloved country everyday we have :
- 10 teens commit suicide
- 135,000 teens bring a gun to school
- 7,742 teens become sexually active
- 2,705 teen girls get pregnant
- 1,106 teen girls have abortions
- 623 teens get a sexually transmitted disease
- 211 teens are arrested for drug abuse
- 437 teens are arrested for drinking or drunk driving
- 1,512 teens drop out of school
- 1,629 teens are in adult jails
As shocking as this is, it is not only a national dilemma, but also a global plague. Jesus knew this situation would engulf the globe prior to His return by prophesying that “iniquity would abound” but He added “Let not your heart be troubled“. What did He mean by this reassuring statement of comfort?
I want to let you in on the greatest truth I know. Everything I can say about real peace is centered in this fact. Without it, none of us can ever be genuinely at rest.
This truth has transformed millions of people throughout the history of the world. It has made derelicts into saints, hypocrites into godly men and women, and sinners into children of God. It is the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Throughout this study, we have touched on some priceless spiritual verities that have a direct bearing on how to deal with the issues of life that can cause us to feel baffled, bewildered-perhaps even befuddled. In fact, we might say that achieving genuine satisfaction is completely a spiritual issue. To me, satisfaction is the normal state of a healthy soul. A person who neglects his spiritual needs cut himself off from the possibility of knowing real and lasting peace and fulfillment.
The greatest spiritual truth of all is what God has done to redeem us from our sin. By giving His Son to die in our place, God has paid the price of our sin and is able to save us from the bondage and dissatisfaction that comes with it.
Let me clearly say that I am not speaking of religion. Many people who are religious know nothing about salvation. Religion is of human origin, and it almost always requires that we do something. Gods salvation, however, is entirely His work on our behalf. It requires absolutely nothing, since God has already accomplished all that is necessary. Our part is to simply accept it by faith.
A personal commitment
I have been privileged to conduct two wonderful interviews with the Reverend Peter Marshall. He is the co-author (with David Manuel) of two marvelous historical accounts of Gods plan for America and divine intervention in the founding of our nation-The Light and the Glory and From Sea to Shining Sea. Peter grew up in a marvelous Christian family. His father, the late Dr. Peter Marshall, was for many years chaplain of the United States Senate, and his mother, the late Catherine Marshall, is known and loved by millions for her many wonderful books.
I asked Peter what impact his distinguished parents had on his coming to Christ. He explained that they had made clear to him from his youth just what it means to be a Christian. As a result, he never took Christianity for granted, and he never assumed that just because his parents were well-known Christian leaders, he was automatically a Christian as well.
In fact, Peter told me it was not until he was 21 years of age that he felt he had really committed his life to the Lord. Although he had grown up surrounded by Christian teaching and in his head knew it was true, he had not yielded his heart in making a personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
“I graduated from college, and I was lost,” he told me. “I had no idea who I was or why I was here. I thought I was going into the foreign service, the United States Diplomatic Corps, but the Lord shut that door and it didnt work out. So I had nothing. No plans. No goals. Nothing.
“Then I went to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes conference in Colorado in the summer of 1961 and heard Don Moomaw speak. I gave my life to the Lord as a result of that encounter. Two weeks later I was in seminary, and in 1965 I was ordained to the gospel ministry. “
God took Peter Marshalls aimless life and gave him direction. And, as I interviewed him, Peter expressed his concern and burden that many people do not understand what Christianity really is.
“Christianity is not just running around trying to do great things for God,” he said. “We must understand that we need Jesus Christ because we are sinful human beings-weak and needy. In my pride, I had a hard time accepting this.”
I believe one of the reasons so many people-so many religious people-are dissatisfied is that they perceive religion as something we do for God. But true peace begins when we accept what God has done for us! The Bible says, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).
You see, if salvation were something we could earn for ourselves, it would only contribute to our pride, for when we earned salvation, we would have much about which to brag and boast. Thus, what Peter Marshall says is absolutely correct-all of us are needy sinners-there is none righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10,23). Yes, all of us fall short of Gods standards, and if we are to receive salvation from our sins, we must receive it as a gift, not as a meritorious award for service.
What sin does to us
Some may have difficulty accepting the fact that all of us are sinners. We all know people who are good, moral, honest, generous, thoughtful human beings. Surely they are not sinners in the same way hardened criminals are sinners-are they?
From Gods perspective, the answer is “yes.” Because His standard is absolute holiness-one hundred percent perfection-the issue is not how many sins we commit or what kind of sins we commit, but if we have sinned at all. And Scripture is clear that none of us can honestly say we have never sinned.
In the presence of absolute holiness, even the smallest sin is as offensive and out of place as the darkest, most heinous act of evil one can imagine. Because God is so completely holy and uncompromisingly righteous, He cannot permit sin to exist in His presence. And the only just penalty for sin is death-For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
But just as God is holy, righteous, and just, Scripture also informs us that He is a God of mercy and love. Because of His great love for us, He does not wish to condemn us without mercy. Since in His righteousness He cannot simply overlook sin, He found a way that He could make us righteous without compromising His own holiness. However, it cost Him the sacrifice of His Son!
Perhaps the most familiar verse in all of Scripture is John 3:16-For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That verse, more than any other, has opened peoples eyes to the truth of Gods salvation and the way to real satisfaction.
What this all means is that you do not have to earn Gods approval. You do not have to work to make yourself righteous. You do not have to become deserving of Gods grace. All the work has been done by God himself, and He offers His grace freely to those who will receive it by faith!
Nothing gives a greater sense of personal worth than the truth that God loves us so much that He gave His Son to pay the price for our sins. And nothing on earth brings more complete satisfaction than the confidence of knowing you are secure in Gods salvation.
May I ask you some important personal questions? What are you counting on to make yourself acceptable to God? If you were to stand before Him and give an account of your life, what could you point to that might make you acceptable to Him? Would it be your own works of righteousness? I hope not, because Isaiah 64:6 says, all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. God cannot accept works of righteousness from unrighteous people. Would you point to your heritage? Scripture is clear that salvation is not anyones birthright. In fact, Jesus said, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).
The only thing any of us can point to that makes us acceptable to God is the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. We must simply trust Him with childlike faith and receive His gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Jack & Rexella,
I love your program. I look so forward to hearing from you every week.
Thank you for all of your studies for I know that you are truly of God and teach only from the Holy Bible. Thank you for standing up for the Bible and for our Lord no matter what. I do feel we are in the last days and that 2012 is going to bring many changes for the world, due to my study of prophesy and my listening to you as well as some other prophetic ministers that teach only from the Bible. God Bless you both and I look forward to listening to you each week more than you will ever know. God Bless!
Yours in Christ,
I have just finished reading my very first edition of your newsletter. I do not know what to say other than “thank you” so very much.
Thank you also for your ministry. I have followed it for around 25 years. Much has changed in 25 years but your ministry has not. It is still true to the word of God, morality, honesty, and uplifting in every way. See, you never know who is watching, or who you are being compared with. In this case you are being compared with your self’s, you and Rexella. You have both passed fully.
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Rampant addictions; a sign of the times? Now you’ll understand how God’s Word previews the bondage of alcoholism and drugs, tobacco, pornography, gambling, and more that we see all around us today as a sign of the soon return of the Savior and the approaching Tribulation.
In this insightful video, Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe also reveal hope for you or a loved one who is struggling with a life-controlling addiction, through the power of Jesus Christ. Learn about the biblical perspective on substance abuse – the roots of addiction – how to overcome addictions as notorious as alcoholism or as overlooked as gossip, lying or cursing.