Daniel in the Lion's Den

As we enter Daniel 6, we will see what happens to a man that is faithful to the Lord. Those who are faithful to God’s statutes are blessed. Those who are obedient to God’s commands are blessed. Those who willfully sacrifice their wills for God’s will in their life are blessed. Those who allow God's dominion over their life are blessed. What we perpetually see, is that God is restoring humanity back to himself. 

We now jump ahead to when Daniel is about 80 years old. And we meet this new King named Darius, who is also King Cyrus of Persia. The reasons why he has different names, is because kings would assume different names in different regions. But this story, is a story about a man who was truly after God's heart! We will see four particular truths that stem from this text.

Read: Daniel 6

“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God. Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement[a] to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction. 10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” 14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.” 16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared[b] to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him. 19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces. 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” 

 

Understand: Four Truths from the Daniel 6

  1. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (Vv.1-5) 
  2. Adversity is a bridge to a deeper and more intimate relationship with God. (Vv. 6-15)
  3. The Lord has dominion over all things, and He will deliver you from your adversaries. (Vv. 16-24) 
  4. Recognize, that you are an instrument in the Redeemer’s Hands. (Vv. 25-28) 

Think: Application of the Four Truths from Daniel 6

1. Humbly approach the Lord, daily. 

  • Daniel never promoted himself. Rather, he just rested in the Lord’s control. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” Well, what is his will? To deny ourselves, take up the cross. His word is a lamp for our feet, and a light on our path, and He is asking us to follow him. Practice the spiritual disciplines; meditate on His word and truths, read and listen to the Word, pray, worship, spread the word, serve him, be disciplined in the use of your time, fasting, journaling, devote yourself to learning."

2. Be confident in who God has called you to be. 

  • Satan loves to tell us over and over again, that we are not worthy of God’s affection and love. But God said we are worthy enough for his affection. Ephesians 2:4-9 declares, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

3. Spend time praising the Holy Spirit. 

  • Donald S. Whitney explains, “All who come to God trusting in the person and work of Jesus to make them right with God are given the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit causes all those in whom He resides to have new holy hungers they didn’t have before. They hunger, for example, for the Holy Word of God— the Bible—that they used to find boring or irrelevant. They have new holy longings, such as the longing to live in a body without sin and to have a mind no longer tempted by sin. They yearn to live in a holy and perfect world with holy and perfect people, and to see at last the One the angels perpetually praise as ‘holy, holy, holy.” 

Evaluate: 

  • Am I allowing myself to be an instrument in the Redeemer’s Hands? 
  • Do I humbly approach the Lord Daily? If not, what is blocking me from doing so? 
  • Do I walk confidently in who God has called me to be? Are my desires matching His? 
  • Am I providing room for the Holy Spirit’s conviction and guidance? 
  • How might I strive toward Christlikeness as a result of Daniel 6?

Pray: Psalm 2

“Why do the nations rage[a] and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill. I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.9You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” 

Great Restorer, thank you, for the truths that you speak to us through the life of Daniel. Thank you, for your provision and your guidance over my life. Lord you have dominion over all things, and I lift your name up, because you are worthy of all praise. I take refuge in you, 0 Lord, and you deliver me from my adversaries. Thank you, for that gracious provision. Holy Spirit, guide me and direct me in the midst of my trials and tribulations, so that I may cling to your Truth and not the finite words of this world. 

Penned by Tim Goodwin (Associate Pastor, Farmingdale)

 

Strength in the Face of Persecution

This week, we continued our series in the Book of Daniel (Counter-Culture), and explored the courage of three Hebrew men; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar bound them and his soldiers threw these men into the fire, because they would not fall down and worship the golden statue he had created. This statue stood 90 feet in the air and had a width of 9 feet. Ultimately, Nebby was playing God, because he thought his power and name was matchless. Even though Nebby had declared God as the God of the gods, he was not following after the Lord. As a result, he elevated his status above the Lord’s, asking people to get their fill from him. But, why? Becuase, Nebby didn’t create a clean division between God and the gods. It wasn’t enough for him to just give mere lip service to God for being in control all things, as he did in chapter two. Rather, God is asking us for our full love and devotion. 

 

What we quickly realize, is that giving God our full love and devotion can be difficult, when we have to interact with the deception and sickness that is Satan himself. Satan, the great deceiver who has been banished from eternal life with God (Genesis), is a predator looking to devour his prey. And you can see some of his finest work here in the life of Nebby. You see, Satan is convincing Nebby the same thing that he did Eve in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:4-5 says, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! ‘For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” You see, when we begin to feel like it is by our power that we can solve our deep inner needs, we have allowed Satan dominion over our heart. That is exactly what Satan is doing here with Nebby. As a result, others fearfully followed after Nebby’s idol, because they were looking to be filled. But not, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Let’s take a look at their courage. 

 

Read:  Daniel 3: 1-30 (ESV)

1. King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits[a] and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages,5 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” 7 Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8. Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9 They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.[c] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[e] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Understand: Four Truths from Daniel 3

  1. Satan is proactively working against God’s Truths (Vv. 1-7)
  2. The World will react with hostility to our faithful decisions (Vv. 8-15)
  3. Christians must be decisively courageous in the midst of adversity (Vv. 16-23)
  4. God’s people can be confident in the Lord’s dominion over all things (Vv. 24-30)

Think: 

  1. Does God deserve your unending devotion?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Donald S. Whitney explains, "It’s crucial-crucial-to understand that it’s not our pursuit of holiness that qualifies us to see the Lord. Rather, we are qualified to see the Lord by the Lord, not by good things we do."                                                                                                     
  2. How might you be able to seek the Holy Spirit's guidance, as you seek the Lord this week?     '                                                                                                                                                  Witney explains, “All who come to God trusting in the person and work of Jesus to make them right with God are given the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit causes all those in whom He resides to have new holy hungers they didn’t have before. They hunger, for example, for the Holy Word of God— the Bible—that they used to find boring or irrelevant. They have new holy longings, such as the longing to live in a body without sin and to have a mind no longer tempted by sin. They yearn to live in a holy and perfect world with holy and perfect people, and to see at last the One the angels perpetually praise as ‘holy, holy, holy.”

Discuss: 

Challenge yourself to sit down with at least one person this week to discuss the Four Truths from Daniel 3

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, thank you, that you are victorious of Satan. Thank you, that you have dominion over all of the heavens and the earth. Lord you deserve my unending devotion, because you first loved me. I give you my heart and my soul, because I know that it is only in you that I find true satisfaction. 

Psalms 96:1-7

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.”

Outside Resources: 

Penned by Tim Goodwin (Associate Pastor, Farmingdale)

The Authenticity of Scripture

Our final installment of our teaching series, Coffee Talk, led us head-first into the authenticity of the Word of God. Culture questions Scripture so diligently, because many think it is a book with serious contradictions, fallacies, cultural irrelevances, misinterpretations, and etc. While there are most certainly valid aspects within modern criticism, there are also some serious issues with the criticism(s). Many modern critics go on the extreme, and say that even just an error in the Scripture deteriorates its authenticity. I concede, that there are errors in man’s translations of the ancient manuscripts, but translation error does not argue against the sufficiency and authenticity of the Scripture. Of course, there is also a level of faith that believers have in the preservation of Scripture, and we just have to deal with that.  If you are a skeptic, I implore you to read the Bible openly for all that it is worth, and then make your decision. 

At the end of the day, I believe that the Holy Spirit is the divine author of all Scripture. It is the Holy Spirit who has actively preserved the Holy Scriptures to this day, and He will continue to do so. It is also true, that if indeed the Scripture becomes authoritative in your life, you will never be the same. You see, at Crossroads Church, we believe that the Word of God was, is, and always will be authentic and sufficient for the day. And, we desire to see people seek that truth out for themselves. 

Read:  2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

Understand: 

There is a logical connection between the authority of God’s spoken word and God’s written word. Christians claim that the Bible is indeed God’s written word, and that it carries out the same weight and authority as His spoken word. It is true that the Bible has been passed down from century to century, however, Biblical scholars believe that the accuracy of the Scriptures has been strongly preserved faithfully throughout time by various scribes. Lee Strobel explains, “The Bible is intended to bring us to faith in God and help us to live our lives to the fullest.” Of course, there are portions of the Bible that feel extremely difficult to interpret, but we believe whole heartedly that the Holy Spirit is living and active, as he helps believers interpret the spoken and written Word of God. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Our efforts in getting to know the Lord in an intimate way are never in vain. At the end of the day, we all have deep inner needs, that at their roots, a deep longing for a greater intimacy with our Creator is revealed. The good news, is that our Author and Creator is revealed through His Word. 

2 Timothy 3:14-17 declares, that our Father who designed us, also wrote the manual for living a life of true satisfaction and fulfillment. Lee Strobel said, “Millions of believers can attest to the transforming power of God’s authoritative written Word in their lives.” The Lord has called us to a greater intimacy with Him, and a key way to attain that greater intimacy, is from diving deep into the Scriptures breathed out by God. 

Think: 

  • Do I listen to the critics, or do I evaluate the Word of God for myself? 
  • Am I proactively seeking truth, or just listening to world-views? 
  • Do I see the Holy Spirit as an active part of my personal interpretation of the Bible? 
  • Am I truly seeking the Lord through His Word? 

Discuss: 

Challenge yourself to sit down with at least one person to discuss the authenticity of the Scripture. 

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, thank you, that you first loved me. I lay my needs at your feet and ask that you fill me with your wisdom to face the circumstances of the day. I pray that you would fill me with a desire to seek you and your truths, because your word is upright and your work is done in faithfulness. 

Psalms 33:4-9

For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

Outside Resources: 

 

Penned By: Tim Goodwin (Associate Pastor, Farmingdale)

Mercy

My wife and I were sitting in a community group when someone asked the dreaded question, “Define mercy?” Everyone kind of looked around and you could tell that everyone was embarrassed that they didn’t have an answer to this question. I felt extremely uncomfortable, because honestly I had never truly defined mercy. Trying to bring clarity, I said, “Mercy is just something we know.” Looking back, that was the worst answer I could have possibly given. After that question was posed, I was determined to learn how to correctly define it. I spent copious amounts of time trying to define this word that I had felt on various occasions.

One way that we all feel mercy is through forgiveness. We need the Lord’s gracious mercy continuously, but do we really understand what it truly means to be extended mercy? The good news, is that Malachi 3:6-12 helps us form a clear view of this beautiful concept.  

Read: Malachi 3:6-12 (ESV)

"6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts." 

Understand: The Israelites rejected the mercy of God time and time again. They were constantly finding themselves in unrighteous situations. Twenty-First Century Christians are no different than the Israelites. It is often times easy to question the Lord when we do not see or feel Him working and moving. However, we must remember that the Lord does not change. God is consistently working even when we do not feel it. We are in need of God’s mercy, because we cannot be in tune with the Lord without it. 

Think:

·      What is mercy to you?

·      In what ways have you seen or felt mercy?

·      Now, think of a time where you showed mercy to someone else.

·      What did it take to be merciful in these situations?

Discuss: Bring these thoughts and ideas to at least two others (spouse, friend, co-worker, etc.) throughout the week.

Pray: Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for they goodness’ sake, O Lord.[1] Lord I pray that you would present me with opportunities today to spread your tender mercies and your loving kindnesses.

Click Here to Listen to Mercy by Shane and Shane

[1] Psalm 25:6-7

Penned By: Tim Goodwin (Farmingdale Associate Pastor)