Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders : Daniel – Young and Old, but Uncompromised | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday February 11, 2018
Daniel – Young and Old, but Uncompromised
Another great man of God from the Old Testament is Daniel. It is best to know the historical background to find relevance in this topic.
Historical Background of Daniel (612 BC to 536 BC – 76 Years)
Some of the key dates to remember as we take this topic further:
- In 612 BC, Nebuchadnezzar captured the capital of Assyria called Nineveh. Assyrians ruled the world from 846 BC. Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, came to throne in Babylon and he rebelled against the Assyrians in 625 BC. Nebuchadnezzar was a General who led the Babylonian army against the Assyrians, and he defeated them in the year 612 BC. You would have heard of the battle of Cal Kamesh, Pharaoh Necho was ruling Egypt. The Babylonians fought against the Egyptians. Nebuchadnezzar defeated them and chased them out to Judah and at Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar came to know that his father Nabopolassar died in Babylon. He rushed to Babylon to take the throne under his control.
- During that time, in 605 BC, the first group of Jewish captives were taken along with Daniel and his friends to Babylon.
- The second remnants of Jews were taken to captivity in the year 597 BC. Jehoiachin, the king of Judah also known as Jeconiah, followed the reign of his father Jehoiakim. He had ruled the nation for just three months and Nebuchadnezzar took him. 10,000 Jewish people were taken in Babylon under the second captivity. In the first captivity Daniel was taken, and in the second captivity, prophet Ezekiel was taken as a captive to Babylon.
- In 586 BC the temple of God was brought down and was destroyed completely. Zedekiah was installed as a king in Jerusalem. He was very weak and not a very stable king. 11 years later, Jerusalem was completely destroyed and totally wiped away by the Babylonian forces.
- The third group of people were taken into Babylon as captives, but Jeremiah was left alone in the nation. 70 years later, in 536 BC, the Babylonians fell and the first remnant of the children of God returned to Jerusalem. God put that thought in the mind of Cyrus the king of Persia who sent the first group of remnants of the children of God back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel.
Daniel lived through much of this time, when children of Israel were taken into captivity in Babylon, Daniel lived through all the Babylonian captivity from the year 605 to 534 BC. From 70 long years Daniel was living in Babylon and he was the first among the captives. Daniel’s contemporaries, that lived at that time along with him, were Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Jeremiah had prophesied about the exile/ captivity that was about to come upon the people of God. Ezekiel was taken as part of the second deportation and he was ministering to the Jewish people outside Babylon near the Chebar River.
Who is Daniel?
Apart from the book of Daniel, not much is known of him. His descendants are from one of the tribes of Judah, a prominent family at the time of Judah. The Bible says that Daniel was both royal and he had a noble birth. He was such a man who was very peculiar, and he was chosen by God at a time such as that. At a very early age, probably in his teens, Daniel was taken as a captive to Babylon. The main reason why he was taken captive among the first group of captives was because he was very brilliant. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to train Daniel, along with a couple of youths, all about the Babylonian culture. This was because he knew that they would pick it up very easily. He wanted to bring the cultural change among God’s people in an ungodly way, and he found that Daniel was a good candidate.
Authorship & the Scope of the book of Daniel
The book of Daniel is an amazing book that we have in the Word of God. The book of Daniel identifies Daniel as its author, we read that in Daniel 9:2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem and Daniel 10:2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.
- Critics always argue and they say that the book of Daniel is not written by Daniel.
- They date the authorship of the book to 2nd century BC but whereas Daniel lived between 7th and the 6th century BC.
- It was a great blow for the critics when Jesus spoke about Daniel in Matthew 24:15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place”(whoever reads, let him understand) and Jesus confirmed that Daniel was the author of the book of Daniel.
The book of Daniel was likely to be written between 540 and 530 BC. The first recorded date in the book of Daniel chapter 1 verse 1 (In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.) is 605 BC. The last recorded in the book of Daniel is the third year of King Cyrus as recorded in Chapter 10, verse 1 – which took place in 536 BC. So, it is from 530 BC to 536 BC. The scope of the book of Daniel involves 69 long years between these two dates.
- Therefore, we can conclude that the book of Daniel covers two separate gentile kingdoms (Babylonian Kingdom and the Medo-Persian Kingdom) and four gentile administrations (Babylonian administration of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, Medo-Persian administration of King Darius and King Cyrus).
Interesting and familiar stories of the Bible are recorded in the book of Daniel
This is very interesting just to see some of the familiar stories of the book of Daniel and associate those instances with the age of Daniel.
- Daniel was taken to Babylon at the age of 15.
- He was standing before King Nebuchadnezzar and interpreting the dream, Daniel was 17 years old.
- Daniel’s three friends were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – they were cast into the fiery furnace, at that time Daniel was between 19 and 20 years old.
- Daniel was interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream – the huge tree, he was at the age of 40-50.
- Daniel’s vision about the four beasts, ram and the goat – he was somewhere at his mid-60’s.
- Daniel was 80 years old when he spoke the prophecy.
- During Belshazzar’s feast, Daniel was interpreting the handwriting on the wall, he was 80 years old.
- When Daniel spoke about the end time prophecies, Daniel was somewhere in the mid 80’s.
- When Daniel was thrown into the Lion’s den – he was 83 years old.
- Now it is believed that Daniel died somewhere between 535 BC and 530 BC, approximately at the age of 86.
Theme of the Book
The book of Daniel has a very lofty view of the Sovereignty of God Almighty – the one who is in authority. Some of the key scriptures that define the key theme of the book of Daniel.
Daniel 2:28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.
Daniel 2:47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”
Daniel 4:32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”
These three scriptures tell us that God Almighty is in control and Daniel could reveal that very clearly as he spoke about the sovereignty of God.
If we ask Daniel, what are you trying to teach us?
He will look at us and say, As a man of God, I lived through the ruling of four kingdoms.
- The rule of Belshazzar,
- The rule of Nebuchadnezzar,
- The rule of Darius the Mede, and
- The rule of Cyrus the Persians for 16 long years.
I have seen kingdoms rise and fall and I want to tell you through it all, there is one constant factor that we can never deny. He is our God in heaven who rules the kingdom of man and He is in charge. Daniel saw this in his own eyes. Daniel is trying to teach us that the kingdom of this world is going to pass away, all the kingdoms we have seen have passed away. The current kingdom, the current ruler-ship and authority we see are going to pass away. Daniel says that there is one thing – “Kingdom of this world is passing away, kingdom of heaven is coming to pass, one thing I know is the most high ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will“.
Daniel came to Babylon at the age of 16, and he stayed all through the captivity for 70 long years until he died at the age of 86. He had seen four dynasties as he was brought to a very high level over the course of the years.
Nebuchadnezzar saw with his own eyes what God was doing in his kingdom. Daniel saw in his own eyes what God was doing in the life of Nebuchadnezzar. Have you seen what God is working in somebody else’s life? Have you seen somebody going through a terrible time and when you pray for them you see that God is doing something in that person’s life? Daniel saw the way God was working in the life of Nebuchadnezzar. He was such a cruel and wicked king. We can say that he was a combination of Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Bonaparte. In Daniel 5:19 – he says if he wants to bring somebody down, he will bring them down, if he wants to raise somebody up, he will raise them up, if I want to kill someone, I will kill. That is wickedness that was seen in the life of Nebuchadnezzar and God kept His hand on this man. God started working in his life. When we read about Nebuchadnezzar the next time, we see him in the field on his hands and his knees in the field eating grass like an ox, living like an animal. God straightened him out. Daniel saw this in his own eyes.
Belshazzar – Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. Nebuchadnezzar’s problem was pride, when he looked at the garden of Babylon, he pridefully exclaimed about how he built it. But Belshazzar’s problem was presumption or assumption or opinion. In Daniel 5:23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. He assumed that he himself is God. The only other person who assumed himself to be God was Lucifer. Belshazzar lifted him up above the throne of God. One-night God is there to touch his life. God sent a hand, a miraculous hand appeared on the wall as Belshazzar was in the party. God’s hand started writing on the wall. Daniel was brought into the party because nobody could interpret the meaning of the writing. Daniel said the meaning, he told – your death is at the doorstep. The Bible says on the same night, Belshazzar was slain. Daniel saw this in his own eyes. He saw one kingdom rise and another kingdom fall, but Daniel stood like a pillar in the midst of the blowing sands to see the great work of God and to testify. The God of heaven rules the kingdom of man. The Bible says that Daniel continued even though the kingdom fell. He was there in the Babylonian kingdom and also in the Medo-Persian kingdom.
The message is that there is a God in heaven and he ruled, and He still rules, and He will to continue to rule forever and ever. One day He will come back. As Daniel stood firm, we as children of God should stand firm. At times it appears that he is going to throw us into the fiery furnace or the Lion’s den. But Daniel is standing firm as a testimony to see the kingdoms fall and rise. He comes to a conclusion that the kingdom of God is going to remain forever.
Qualities of this great Leader who lived through the Kingdom of Men
1. Bible accounts Daniel being found with an extraordinary or excellent spirit.
Daniel 6:1-3 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; 2 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.
The number one quality of leadership is an excellent spirit – this was an obvious attribute in the life of Daniel – an extraordinary spirit.
- The spirit with which he or she operates is one of the greatest attributes behind the leader.
- It is driving force behind a leader.
- The spirit with which we speak, move and carry out the work of God.
This spirit was noticed was King Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar, King Cyrus and King Darius.
- The spirit that made Daniel exceptional among the captives,
- The spirit that revealed secrets to Daniel,
- The spirit provided boldness to Daniel,
- The spirit that caused Daniel to interpret dreams and visions,
- The spirit that made him focus on God’s plan for his life,
- A spirit that even influenced his friends who jumped into the fiery furnace.
As a leader, one must have this driving extraordinary spirit to see success in our lives.
Where did that extraordinary and excellent spirit come from in the life of Daniel? I believe it must be a choice given to Daniel, either to be led by the spirit or to be led by the flesh. I believe that was an option in front of him. Daniel decided to be led by the spirit and now the King is witnessing saying that I see an extraordinary excellent spirit within you. Galatians 5:16 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
The human spirit is weak, and it gets discouraged easily. Always complaining and gets depressed, the human spirit takes all the burden upon itself, complains and points fingers at others. But Daniel was not of that spirit; if he had that spirit, nobody would have wanted him, and they would not have any clue what he was doing. But Daniel was able to stand in front of the kings and was pointing them out to God and telling them – you see a God in heaven who rules the kingdom of men.
Our human spirit is weak and fragile, but there is another spirit that is the spirit of God. The spirit of God is a spirit that renews our minds, that quickens our inner man and that gives courage, motivation and provides focus in our life. Let us examine ourselves and see what kind of spirit is in us at this moment? We are talking about the human spirit and the Holy Spirit – not the evil spirits. What kind of spirit is in us today?
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Do you have that power in you or do you get discouraged very easily? Do you have that zeal within you – no matter what comes Lord, I will still move forward. Daniel was possessing that spirit within him, which was pushing him and driving him in spite of all the setbacks. The human spirit is one that seeks vengeance. But the spirit of God is a loving spirit in a sound mind. Today the major problem we see, especially among our teens, is losing their mind. They don’t need medication, they need the spirit of God, they do not operate in the right spirit. The human spirit is already weak, and they are overpowered by the evil spirits. They need the spirit of God to have a sound mind.
Daniel was a man of God who had an extraordinary spirit. We need that spirit to continue to live for God. The days are not going to be easy, there are challenges that we are facing in our lives, families, communities. We need the driving spirit within us and that can come only from the spirit of God.
2. The second characteristic of a great leader is an uncompromised lifestyle.
Great leaders do not compromise their principles and commitments of life with their surroundings. It was Daniel’s custom to pray three times a day. Daniel continued that practice even after knowing that it is against the law, we read that in Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Daniel knew that it is against the law, yet he did not compromise his lifestyle for leadership.
- Today leaders bend their values to satisfy the law of the land, we see that if people do not compromise probably, they cannot be good to people.
- At times as children of God, even we are willing to compromise our values, because we think that if we don’t compromise, we cannot save somebody from sin. We need wisdom.
- But Daniel was not willing to compromise his prayer life.
- Daniel could have said, “Okay, from now onwards, I will pray in my mind”. How many of us say that – I don’t have time to kneel down and pray but I will pray in my mind or I will pray while driving to work. Daniel could have very well said that because he knew that it is against the law to kneel down and pray three times to the God of heaven, but Daniel did not say that. Sometimes we say that God knows my situation, He knows how busy I am. The pastor doesn’t know, my wife doesn’t know, but God knows why I couldn’t pray. But Daniel was not compromising, he did not think that can pray in his mind – but he continued to pray the same way he used to pray.
- He was keeping his life at the risk of even getting killed, he did not want to compromise his values to the pattern of the world.
Great leaders stand to what they believe, and they don’t compromise to please others.
- We are all called as leaders, we are all called to lead and as a leader we need to know where to draw the line and where scriptures draw the line. That is where we should be able to draw the line.
- If the truth of God’s word opposes a pattern of the world or world’s wisdom on certain matters, we need to make sure we align ourselves to the Word of God.
- At times we ask questions, we don’t need to get confused. The moment the word of God says, we are expected to obey.
- Sometimes we have questions – can I friends with non-Christians? Can I participate in the pagan festival if my friend was a non-Christian if he/she is inviting me? The answer is yes and no.
– This is important, I will say yes you can participate if you know where scripture draws a line concerning paganism.
– I will say no don’t participate in the pagan festivals, do not go with your friend if we do not know what the scripture says about that situation. At times when we walk into that place, we may end up compromising our Christian values in front of non-Christians.
So, it is very important to know where the scripture draws a line. Daniel knew where the scripture draws a line. Great leaders have an uncompromising lifestyle.
3. He had unashamed boldness.
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Daniel wanted to abstain himself from the delicacies – from the food pattern of the king. Daniel wanted to keep himself away. He could have done a couple of things,
- He could have got the food, the wine and the meat and then he could have thrown the food outside and somehow, he could have sneaked the food from the kitchen.
- The other way, he could have spoken to the kitchen staff and informed them – I cannot eat this food, I need some other food. There are different possibilities.
- But recall that Daniel sought the permission of the commander and he said, I don’t want that food, I don’t want to defile myself with that food. An unashamed boldness, he was respectful and at the same time he was unbending.
He was not bending, he just wanted to remind himself, that shows the unashamed boldness.
- Leaders exhibit boldness in their commitments and in their decisions.
- Leaders wanted their voice to be heard on what they believe. This is important, we are living in a time such a this, where leadership is failing to do this. Leaders make their voice very bold so that what they believe is heard by the people and the authorities.
- Leaders want others to know the moral boundaries of their life.
- Leaders make sure others know their limits based on their value system. Everything is made known to others.
Today when we lead it is important that we have that boldness within us.
4. Courage to tell the Truth
- Daniel had great courage to tell the truth to those kings face to face.
- On many occasions we find God using Daniel in a very special way.
- He was sent to the king most of the time to tell about their end, to tell about their death. Daniel was not hiding himself away from telling the truth.
- Remember that Daniel was taken as a captive, a part of the first batch of exiles to Babylon.
- God lifted him up because he had an extraordinary spirit within him and here is one example where Daniel had the great courage to tell the truth.
Daniel 5:22-23 “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.
The scripture is very clear, when we serve and go behind ungodly things, when we go behind the gods, the schemes and the systems of this world – this is what God speaks to us:
Daniel 5:24 Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.
Daniel was right there and he had a great courage to tell the truth to Belshazzar.
Daniel 5:30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.
The destruction came upon Belshazzar that very night, but God sent Daniel to courageously tell the two great leaders. They don’t really look at the consequences, but they obey God. We need that boldness to share the gospel. We all have ungodly friends, Hindu friends and people of other religions. We have been waiting and waiting – how long will we be waiting? God wants us to take that courage and tell them about the God of heaven. God is a jealous God and He wants Himself to be known to the people living around us.
5. Focused to do what God appointed him to do
Daniel was focused to do what God appointed him to do, he was not distracted by anything. Today the main problem of believers who are walking away from God is the distraction. The things that we see in this world, church and the workplace distract our mind easily. When we come to church Sunday morning, that is the exact time all the problems, and complains will come one after the other. Your mind is distracted, you are not coming and sitting in this place to listen to God. Daniel was not distracted; he was focused on what God wanted him to do. Remember at the age of 17 Daniel was standing before Nebuchadnezzar, the Bible says, Nebuchadnezzar the great king fell down to his knees and worshiped Daniel. He was only 17. When he interpreted the dream, Nebuchadnezzar thought he is God.
Daniel 2:46-49 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. 47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
At the age of 17 God lifted him up, but he remained focused. Daniel could have gone behind the elevation that God has given in his life, but Daniel knew his purpose and why God raised him up to this level. This was Daniel’s lifestyle. No matter who appreciates, no matter who praises him, he was focused on the call of God. Daniel was at the age of 80 was interpreting the handwriting that appeared on the wall at the palace of Belshazzar. Even at the age of 80, Daniel denied that honor that the king wanted to give.
Daniel 5:17 Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
The leader is always focused on what God wanted him to do. When the handwriting was interpreted.
Daniel 5:22-29 “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. 24 Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. 25 “And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27 TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Daniel remained focused on the call of God. Daniel’s call could not be removed from his life by the offerings of this world. God has called each one of us and the world is so capable of showing so many things in front of us – all the wealth of this world and the ruler of this world is expecting us to bow down before him. The same way Jesus was tempted, now Daniel is tempted here. But Daniel remained on the call of God. We cannot be a leader if you think about and boast about the honor people give to us.
John 5:41 I do not receive honor from men. Sometimes not receiving honor becomes rude, receive the honor but give it back to God. Tell him, glory belongs to God, not by lips but from the heart.
Great leaders remain focused on the call of God. We cannot be a leader if we set our minds on the things of this earth. True leaders don’t have any hold on this earth.
Paul says in Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above and not on the things of the Earth. We cannot be great leaders in God’s kingdom if we have a love of money. Very dangerous. Money is needed, but love of money is not good. That includes our wealth, our car, our house, our bank balance, everything. Love of money is dangerous.
1 Timothy 6:10 For love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Great leaders cannot go behind money, we need money for the work of God. We need the minimum money to survive, we don’t need more than that. Daniel stood well above all these things, all the honor, all the wealth, position and he was raised as a great leader in all the four different kingdoms. But he remained focused on the call of God.
God speaks to us and God tells you this is why I called you and this is the reason I called you to walk with you. Can you learn from Daniel, can you learn from Paul who considered everything rubbish to gain the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
- Leaders have an Extraordinary Spirit
- Leaders have an Uncompromised Lifestyle
- Leaders have an Unashamed boldness
- Leaders are Courageous to tell the Truth
- Leaders remain Focused on what God appointed him to do