Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Sermon Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/Sermons/zz20110213.htm
THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Daniel: Hope And Direction In A Troublesome World
G. God's Path For Blessing Amid Governmental Deterioration
Introduction: (To show the need . . . )
Application: May we (1) heed Scripture to trust in Christ as Savior, John 3:16; Acts 17:30-31. (2) Then, may we live as (a) trustworthy citizens who are (b) not corrupt (c) or negligent (1 Peter 2:13-17; Daniel 6:4 NIV), but (3) obey Scripture over the government when they differ! (4) God will bless us in enabling us to fulfill His assignments for us even in an era of deteriorating governments!
A common concern voiced even by many believers today is the fear that their government is deteriorating to such an extent that the welfare of individual citizens is at significant risk:
(1) The League of Women Voters' web site (lwv.org) has expressed concern over the National Popular Vote Compact that is supported by several states. ("Opposition to the National Popular Vote Compact") This movement seeks to get enough states to legislate for a direct popular vote in the presidential election, effectively sidestepping the electoral college of the U. S. Constitution. The LWV fears this will produce threats to individual liberties such as a shift in campaign focus from the battleground states to areas of large population concentrations that will disenfranchise voters in less densely populated areas.
(2) Jonathan Turley's article, "How the health care bill became a Ford Pinto' law" (USA TODAY, February 7, 2011, p. 9A) last Monday observed that the Obama administration's health care bill was so forcefully "rammed through a divided Congress with diminishing public support" that congressional leaders failed to include a "severability clause'" designed to protect the bulk of the bill were part of it struck down by the courts! Thus, when Federal Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida recently decided a lawsuit by 26 states brought against the health care bill, he could rule that the entire bill was unconstitutional!
The author of this article, Jonathan Turley, is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, so his complaint about Congress' poor workmanship on this bill certifies the concern many voters have that there is a deterioration of adequate governing in Congress that can only threaten individual liberties!
(3) This is a concern on the world scene, too: another article on the same page of the paper (Ibid., "A Mideast target: Christians") noted how shifts in governments throughout the Middle East are leading to more and more persecution of Christians in Muslim countries, with little to no objections by even the United States government.
Thus, we ask, "How may I see God bless me amid the deterioration in governmental effectiveness?!"
Need: "How may I see God bless me amid governmental decline?!"
- The Daniel 2 dream predicting the Gentile empires from Daniel to Christ's reign notes a DETERIORATION in the GOVERNMENT of these empires as they shift from the gold down to the iron and clay!
- Daniel 6:1-28 then EXEMPLIFIES how the GODLY STILL ENJOY GOD'S BLESSING in such GOVERNMENTAL DECLINE:
- When Medo-Persia, the "silver" empire of less value than Babylon's "gold" (Dan. 2:32, 39a), replaced Babylon's rule, it put its king under the law where Babylon's king had been above it, Daniel 5:18-19; 6:8. (Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, p. 1348)
- Thus, what could never occur under Babylonian rule occurred in Medo-Persia: some evil officials manipulated their king into making a law to cast Daniel to the lions against the king's will, Daniel 6:1-17:
- King Darius rewarded Daniel's personal qualities and work by promoting him above all of his other officials, Daniel 6:1-3.
- Daniel was a Hebrew captive, making the other officials jealous of his rise (Dan. 6:4a, 13), so they tried to discredit Daniel's character to the king, but without success: Daniel was trustworthy, not corruptible and not negligent in his official role, Daniel 6:4b NIV.
- Thus, knowing Daniel would always heed God, these officials plotted to force him to choose to obey Scripture in violation of a king's edict, one the king himself could not override, Daniel 6:5-9:
- By appealing to his ego, the officials lured Darius to make a law that his subjects for 30 days were to ask him and no other god or man a petition or be thrown into the lion's den, Daniel 6:5-7.
- They suggested the decree be made that even the king could not reverse in Medo-Persia (Daniel 6:8), and the king fell for the trap and made the decree, Daniel 6:9!
- When Daniel heard of the decree, he kept obeying God, Dan. 6:10:
- Scripture directed that if Hebrews like Daniel were captured, they were to pray to God's temple, confessing their sins in asking God to be restored to their land, 1 Kings 8:33-34.
- Daniel made this petition three times a day in accord with Psalm 55:16-17, Daniel 6:10; Ibid., Bible Know. Com., O. T.
- Thus, when he knew of the decree, Daniel chose to heed Scripture OVER the contrasting Medo-Persian law!
- The evil officials then reported Daniel's violation of the edict to the king, and Darius was upset that he had let himself be cornered into condemning his favorite official to the lions, Daniel 6:11-14a! He worked for the rest of the day in trying to keep Daniel out of the lions den, but, due to the Medo-Persian order where he was under the law, the king could not overturn his own edict, Dan. 6:14b-15.
- Thus, Darius had Daniel thrown into the lion's den, and the den was sealed by Darius himself (Daniel 6:16a, 17), with this king expressing hope that Daniel's God would save him, Daniel 6:16b.
- However, God overruled in this deteriorated governmental situation so that Daniel was spared and could keep fulfilling God's assignment:
- Having spent a sleepless night, the king came to the den early the next day and lamentably cried into the den for Daniel, wondering if his God had been able to deliver him from the lions, Dan. 6:18-20.
- Daniel replied that God had shut the lions' mouths since he had been innocent in obeying God's Word, and he had never done wrong to the king , remaining thus trustworthy, not corrupt nor negligent, Daniel 6:21-22 with Daniel 6:4 NIV; cf. 1 Peter 2:17.
- Overjoyed, Darius ordered Daniel taken out of the den, and was found to be unharmed even from his fall into the den due to his faith in God, Daniel 6:23! This was remarkable in view of the fact that Daniel was eighty-five years old at the time, Ibid., p. 1323!
- Darius then judged Daniel's foes to be cast with their families into the den, an effort to quench all opposition to Daniel, Daniel 6:24a. Before these foes of Daniel even reached the bottom of the den, their bodies were totally crushed by the hungry lions, Daniel 6:24b.
- After this, Darius made a decree that all people in his realm were to revere Daniel's God as the Eternal Ruler over all Who performed great signs and wonders in heaven and on earth (Daniel 6:25-27).
- Daniel thus prospered in the Medo-Persian empire, Daniel 6:28!
Conclusion: (To illustrate the message . . . )
Jason Mandryk's work, Operation World (2010) provides an excellent illustration of God's provision for believers when a nation's government is in a state of unedifying decline.
The book is a report on the spiritual status of nations around the world, offering a directive on how to pray for them. One nation in particular, that of Iran, is experiencing great stress on individual liberties as the government continues to decline in quality: since the country became an Islamic Republic after the Shah of Iran was deposed, joblessness has now risen to 28%, corruption and political and religious "belligerence" keep many foreign investors at bay, and great unrest foments beneath the surface as Muslim leader "hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad" suppresses many opponents. (Ibid., p. 464)
However, amid all of this trouble, the nation of Iran is "exceptionally open to the gospel" of Christ: "There is a great hunger for the good news and for authentic spirituality." (Ibid., p. 465)
This has produced a vast mission field. "From only 500 Muslim-background believers in 1979, conservative estimates now suggest over 100,000 MBBs (Muslim-background believers) in Iran, a number rapidly increasing. Some, more optimistic, place this number as high as a million . . . In a country able to apply the death sentence for apostasy (from Islam), this underground church multiplication is a remarkable move of the Holy Spirit." (Ibid., parentheses ours)
Of particular note, Mandryk's book claims that some of the "Persian-speaking Jews . . . descendants of those exiled to Babylon 2,700 years ago" like Daniel in the Babylonian Captivity, though pressured and harassed, "have become active, witnessing Christians." Think of it! From the era of Babylon's head of gold predicted in Daniel 2 to Medo-Persia's chest and arms of silver then on to Greece's bronze trunk and next to Rome's iron legs and feet, and to the nations today affected by Rome's format, these Hebrews have been preserved to be effective for God TODAY!
May we honor the secular rule over us as citizens who are trustworthy and not corruptible or negligent, but put God's Word above the secular government when they differ, trusting God to enable us to do His will even in an era of declining governments!