Current Message‎ > ‎

Sunday, July 7, 2019

posted Jul 7, 2019, 8:31 PM by Site Administrator

THREE TIMES A DAY HE PRAYED, JUST AS HE HAD DONE BEFORE

 

Daniel 6:1-28

Key Verse 6:10

 

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

 

First, “Three times a day,... just as he had done before” (1-10). Look at verses 1 and 2. It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. Darius was found to be a well prepared ruler for the vast empire. He organized his empire very well – diving the entire empire into 120 states, assigning 120 governors, and making them accountable to three prime ministers. Daniel was one of the three administrators. The common practice in those days was that once a kingdom was conquered, then, the first thing the conquerors did was to annihilate all the royal members and high ranking officers of the previous kingdom so that there might be no possibility for revolt. But amazingly, when Darius became a new king of the Medes and Persian Empire, he didn't kill Daniel; instead, he hired him to the prime minister's position. How was it possible? Had he been political by becoming either a Republican or Democrat, then, as soon as another government came to power, he would have been removed. Daniel was not political, even if he was a politician. Had he been a patriot to the nation Israel, for Israel was his own country, or had he been a patriot to the Babylonian government, for the Babylonian Empire had shown him great favor, certainly the new government would have killed him; but he was not a patriot to any nation. He didn't seek any isms or any kingdom's particular idea; but he was sincere in his worldly occupation as a politician doing his duties and responsibilities faithfully, while giving his heart to God alone and pursuing him. Simply, he gave to Caesar what was Caesar’s, and gave to God what was God’s. At that time, everyone could see that he was not a threat to them; people could see that Daniel would never stab them on the back; he was truly reliable and trustworthy.

 

We live among the unbelieving people in the world; we have to get a job among the unbelieving people. Often, we wonder how we must conduct ourselves among them as believers. Some Christians are rude to the people in the world, or despise those who have authority over them, saying that human authority does not mean anything or saying that they only obey God. But Daniel's example shows us how we can overcome the world and even give good influence to the people of the world by being good, by being faithful. We must not seek isms or thoughts such as human rights or social justice or democrats’ idea or republicans' idea. We must remember that when there was a slavery system in Israel, God did not try to correct it, but worked around it; when there was great injustice for the believers in Rome, God was with them and helped them endure such injustice for about 300 years. Instead of seeking isms or thoughts or human rights, Christians must seek God alone in the given situation, being faithful to those who have authority over them, entrusting all things in God's hands. We must overcome evil by doing good. In this way, we can grow up as trustworthy and influential people in the world, no threat to anyone

 

Now Daniel was in his eightieth. But in the eyes of the king Darius, Daniel was so valuable and reliable for his experience and knowledge, his wisdom and insight. So, he made him one of the three administrators over 120 satraps. Then, sure thing, Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. In all things, Daniel stood out so clearly. But at this, the other administrators and the satraps were jealous of him that they tried to find basis for chargesagainst him in his conduct of government affairs; they checked out his bank account to see if any suspicious activity was there; they checked out his family members and relatives' job matters; they checked out his personal life after work; but they were unable to find anything wrong with him. Years ago, there was a news article. One person sent an email to many government officers, saying that he knew their faults and asked them to send him money through wire – he didn't specify what problem they had; then, these officers quickly sent him money without asking him anything. That's the story of ordinary people. But about Daniel, they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. What a great man he was! He was faultless and matchless. Even they themselves acknowledged his exceptional cleanness as a politician, saying, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” They knew what kind of person he was – how innocent, how excellent, how trustworthy and how devout Daniel was – completely harmless. They should have considered it as a great privilege and honor that they were given a chance to work with such a great man; but they were blinded by their jealousy. So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and suggested him a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to the king should be thrown into the lions’ den. So without knowing what's going on, King Darius put the decree in writing. At the king's command, the decree was published and posted throughout the EmpireIt was now an unchangeable law in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians. This decree was aiming on Daniel. How did he respond? Look at verse 10. Let's read this verse together:

 

10Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 

 

Daniel prayed just as he had done before. As a high governmental officer, he knew what it meant that the king's decree had been published – unchangeable and absolute law. He could have changed his prayer style; maybe, he simply could have closed the windows so that no one would notice him praying. Or simply, he could have prayed in the basement; or in his prayer, he would just talk to God in his mind, without having any prayer posture; or simply, he could have asked God for an excuse for the next thirty days. If he did just one of these many possible options, he would not have any trouble with this decree. But, Daniel did not do that. Instead, three times a day, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. He kept his prayer time as a matter of life and death; he would die rather than changing or skipping his personal time with God in prayer; to him, his time with God was more important and valuable than all things in the world, even his life. Indeed, he sought God with all his heart, as a matter of life and death; when his attitude toward his prayer time was so absolute like this, it was no wonder that he enjoyed such intimacy with God; his prayer life was so wondrous. Also, this was the secret how he could keep his prayer time with God despite his hectic and demanding schedule.  

 

In our relationship with God, absoluteness is everything. When we have absoluteness toward Him, we grow as spiritual people; when you are absolute toward God, you are absolute toward all things that are related to God – you are absolute toward God's word; you are absolute toward prayer; you are absolute toward God's people; you are absolute toward God's schedules such as Sunday worship or Friday Meeting or Bible study time, and greatness comes from taking absoluteness toward God. Absoluteness is an expression of true humility; it is an expression of your loyalty to God; it is an expression of your commitment to God; surely, in God, absoluteness is everything. But in this Post-Modern generation, in which people deny anything that is absolute, people take everything relatively, I mean, in their convenience, and even Christians have lost absoluteness toward God; as a result, they show a kind of an allergic reaction to the word, “absoluteness,” considering it restriction of their human freedom. As a result, they never make real commitment to God and they never grow up; this relativism is based on human pride. Again, in our life of faith, absoluteness is everything. The book of Daniel talks about this continually – how Daniel and his friends became great when they took absoluteness toward God, even at the risk of their own life. We studied about how Noah became great through absoluteness toward God's command; we studied about how Abraham became a source of blessing through his absoluteness toward God; we know how many other servants of God have becomegreat through their absoluteness toward God – their absolute obedience to God's will, their absolute surrender to God’s will. When you have absoluteness toward God, you become reliable and you grow up in Jesus.

 

Verse 10 describes Daniel's prayer life very well. In his prayer struggle, Daniel had certain principles and kept them with absoluteness. The first one is, “three times a day.” This expression means that he set aside three segments of time each day for prayer and kept them absolutely. He didn't pray whenever he felt like doing it; he didn't pray at random; he didn't pray whenever the situation allowed; instead, he set times – maybe, 5 o'clock in the morning, 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and 10 o'clock in the evening, each 30 minutes or one hour – he offered these times to God first. How is it to keep 3 prayer times a day? It’s really hard. Even keeping one prayer time a day requires complete commitment to it. Let’s say your prayer time is 9-10 pm or 10-11 pm. In order to keep this prayer time absolutely, you have to arrange all other things around it. What about your homework or papers? You have to do it before the prayer time. What about your finals next day morning? You have to study in advance so that your prayer time may not be bothered. In this way, when you want to keep your prayer time absolutely once a day, you cannot procrastinate anything or lazy at all; instead, you have to use every flying minute effectively and diligently. Then, what about keeping 3 prayer times a day? It means that basically, you live for those 3 prayer times, and all other things are just the duties and responsibilities you take care of each day. Daniel lived that kind of life. Sometimes, in order to keep his prayer times, he had to excuse himself from the government officers’ meeting; sometimes, he could not attend special family dinner meeting. As a result, he was misunderstood and even isolated. But he continued this struggle. Indeed, Daniel sought God wholeheartedly. The expression, “just as he had done before” shows that he had been keeping his prayer times for so long, maybe, many months, or many years. I am sure that if anyone seeks God this way for months or years, that person must enjoy wonderful fellowship with God in his or her prayer. No wonder that God gave him such divine and prophetic visions to Daniel as we see in this book, showing Him His plan for the whole world. All these visions are like Daniel’s prayer diary. Do you want to enjoy wonderful and divine fellowship with God in prayer? Then, seek Him wholeheartedly just in the same way Daniel did.

 

 The expression, “the windows opened to Jerusalem,” shows how much he yearned the city of God, Jerusalem. He always had his prayer struggle in this room upstairs, whose windows opened to Jerusalem. So, his prayer time was the time when he set aside all other things, and remembered his true home, Jerusalem, the symbolic of the kingdom of God. He was very successful in the world – maybe, prime minister of the superpower nations almost lifelong. But his hope was not in his success, but in God's kingdom. Three prayer times were the times when he renewed his hope in the kingdom of God. We live in the world and there are so many things that attract us; how easy it is to be tempted by success of this world – just you have good grades, then, suddenly all kinds of rosy dreams for success in the world develops in your heart – what silly creatures we are! Prayer times in God's temple, prayer times when we are open toward God is the time when our hope in the kingdom of God isrenewed in us. 

 

The expression, “he got down on his knees and prayed,” shows his prayer posture and his humility before God. Everyone knelt down before Daniel, but he didn't think of himself too highly; instead, he knew who he was – a servant of God. So, he knelt down before God. Another expression, “giving thanks to his God,” shows us his main prayer topic. In his prayer, one thing he always did was to give thanks to God. His own country was destroyed by the Babylonian Empire about 60 years ago; so many people were killed mercilessly, and the rest of them were deported to a foreign land. It seemed that he should be full of sorrows, saying, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; we wept remembering Zion.” Or it seemed that he should complain to God, saying, “Why?” But he didn't do that; instead, he gave thanks to God. When his own country was destroyed, so many of his people were killed, and his own people were living in exile. In that situation, Daniel thanked God. Despite such challenging and troublesome situation, he trusted in God who was sovereign, and believed in God's goodness. He thanked God. Many people think that they can give thanks to God, when things go well or when there are blessings of God in their life. But that's not true. Thanksgiving does not come from good conditions, but it comes from having right relationship with God. When you are in the beautiful relationship with God, your heart is full of thanksgiving and thereby, you can give thanks to God in all circumstances. God declares, “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me...” (Ps 50:23)  

 

Daniel lived as a high government official almost lifelong; luxury and convenience was within his reach. But he didn't melt with money or success in Babylon, but kept his faith in God and lived as a God-worshiper. The environment was really challenging, but Daniel overcame all of them and grew to be an influential servant of God. And today's passage shows us his secret of victory and success as a God worshiper – it was his absolute prayer life – three times a day, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before. As we live as Jesus' disciples in the world, there are a lot of pressures, challenges, and temptations; pressure from our professors, the burden of security and paying the bills and the temptation of flesh and money. So many people have lost their faith in God and live as just nominal Christians actually, as dead fish, no fragrance of Jesus, but bad smell of corruption and worldliness and death; indeed, America is a melting pot. How can we keep our integrity before God and live according to God's plan and purpose continually? How can we rise above all these challenges and grow to be powerful and influential servants of God? Daniel's prayer life, his personal, but absolute prayer life can be our secret too. When we keep our prayer times absolutely, they will be like a spiritual bulletproof shield for us, and with our prayer struggle, we can pass through this world as holy pilgrims. 

 

Second, “His dominion will never end” (11-28). Look at verse 11. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. They caught Daniel in the act of prayer. In this passage, we see one expression repeated continually. In verse 6, “So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king,...” In verse 11, “Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying,...” In verse 15, “Then the men went as a group to the king and said,...” “Went as a group,...” Actually, it is scary to go to the king and try to deceive him to issue a decree; it is really scary to try to find faults with the prime minister or accuse him; no one would do it on his own. But when they got together, they devised such an evil, believing in manpower. This is how those who do not have personal faith in God behave – they rely on manpower. All kinds of evil come from them. Have nothing to do with them. On the contrary, Daniel was alone; he didn't rely on manpower, because he had God on his side; through prayer, he was with God.

 

Look at verse 12. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?” The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” They described Daniel as a disgustingly rebellious person, defying the king's decree. At this, the king could have been angry at him. But that's not the case. Instead, when the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; now he knew what's going on – why these officials had come to him and suggested him to issue such a decree – they wanted to trap Daniel and kill him, even by deceiving the king himself. The king never wanted to kill Daniel; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him – maybe, he reminded them of how faithful Daniel was; he told them that Daniel had no evil intention to go against him; he told them that they must accept Daniel as a servant of God. Until sundown, the king tried to rescue Daniel. Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, “Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.” Even though he was the king, he was really trapped. So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. It is really good to be recognized and honored by king like this. If Daniel tried to earn the king's heart for himself by doing what the king wanted, he would never have this kind of complete trust. But when Daniel loved God and pursued him only, everyone could see what kind of person he was – a servant of God, and thereby, they trusted him completely. Daniel became very important and valuable to the king.

 

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” What was Daniel's response? Let's read verses 21 and 22 together:

 

21Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! 22My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” 

 

Daniel was thrown into the lion's den, but God had already arranged the lions there so that Daniel would not get hurt; he fell on the lions like a feather; no lion growled at him; instead, they bowed down to him and circled around him so that he might not be so cold there. Daniel petted them, saying, “You lions are so cute.” While the king could not sleep all night long, Daniel slept well. When the king called to him, Daniel, completely refreshed, answered in a powerful Baritone voice, “O king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel was proved innocent. And now the king was angry at those wicked officials who had tricked him and tried to kill Daniel. The king wanted them to prove themselves with the lions too. At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. 

 

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.” Now thanks to Daniel's absolute faith and struggle to seek God alone, even this unbelieving king was blessed to witness the glory of God. So, he issued a decree that in every part of his kingdom, people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. At first, it seemed that, compared to the vast Empire, what Daniel did – praying three times a day absolutely - seemed not so big; it was just his personal prayer struggle. But when he kept his prayer time absolutely as the matter of life and death, God came to have a chance to reveal his glory to the world through it, and now God's name was exalted highly in that unbelieving Empire. Our personal struggles before God such as keeping prayer time absolutely, or Bible reading time absolutely, or writing one testimony a week absolutely, or keeping the Sunday worship service time absolutely, look not so glamorous; it is just our personal struggle. But when we keep them absolutely as the matter of life and death, eventually, because of our struggle and decision, conflicting situations rise, and through our absoluteness, God comes to have a chance to intervene into the situation and reveal his glory. Surely, those who seek God with all their hearts come to find him in their life, experiencing God's glory, and God reveals Himself to the world through them – His Power, His Wisdom and His Person. Our absoluteness toward God becomes a channel through which God can reveal his glory to the world. God is looking for those people who seek him with all their hearts. God’s eyes range throughout the earth to strengthen whose hearts are fully committed to him.

 

Look at verses 26b and 27. Let's read these verses together, starting from, “For he is the living God,...”:

 

“For he is the living God

and he endures forever;

his kingdom will not be destroyed,

his dominion will never end. 

27He rescues and he saves;

he performs signs and wonders

in the heavens and on the earth.

He has rescued Daniel

from the power of the lions.” 

 

Through this event, Darius' eyes were opened to see who the God of Daniel was. He says, “For he is the living God.” It was obvious to him that God was not just a vague concept or someone far away, but the living God who was working now; not just in the document or myth or stories, but the one who was living and doing things for his servants. In verse 27, he says, “He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.” He describes God as someone so powerful and at the same time, so active and dynamic in the lives of his servants. To him, believing in God or worshiping God meant to jump into the life together with such active, dynamic and powerful God. That was Darius’ understanding of God. What is your understanding of God? Is it “He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth”? Our understanding of God, our faith in God must be practical like this, and such faith comes from experiencing God very personally in our life of faith. And such an experience with God comes when we seek Him with all our heart, when we take real absoluteness toward Him. At that time, our life of faith comes with a lot of glorious and miraculous stories and our Christian life becomes so abundant. Entrust everything, literally everything in God's hands and pursue Him with all your heart. Those who put their trust in God will not be put to shame. 

 

He also says, “his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.” No one taught him about God's eternal kingdom, but by seeing how God had rescued Daniel from the lions, he could see that God was almighty and that his kingdom would never be destroyed. God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom. This is one key theme that is repeated in the book of Daniel. Daniel himself mentioned about it in chapter 1. Then, Nebuchadnezzar talked about it, even two times. Now, king Darius talks about it. This is what the book of Daniel talks about. Nebuchadnezzar and Darius were kings; they had seen how kingdom rose and waned. As kings, it was their dream to establish an eternal kingdom. But they could not do it; just like other kingdoms that had risen, but gone long ago, their own kingdoms also would be gone. Then, they found the answer – God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom. They were amazed and praised about it. 

 

This is the message God gives us through the book of Daniel – God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom. It is all people’s dream that their kingdom, their country may be the eternal kingdom. That’s why they want their countries to be more powerful, developing better weapons; that’s why they want their countries to be more respected in the world. All people have the desire for eternal kingdom. But the problem is that no kingdom in the world can be the answer to their desire. But now, through the book of Daniel, God shows us that His kingdom is an eternal kingdom – the answer to all our desire. God wants us to put our hope in his kingdom and live as the citizens of this kingdom. And Daniel’s own example shows us what it means to live as the citizens of this kingdom – even after his own country was destroyed, how he could serve various kings in the Babylonian Empire, in the Medo-Persian Empire, and in the Persian Empire. Let’s pray that we may live as the citizens of the eternal kingdom, God’s kingdom.

 

Verse 28 is the conclusion of Daniel's life of faith. SoDaniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. May all of us enjoy this kind of great prosperity by seeking God absolutely. May God grant us great victory over the world through our personal struggle of faith. May God establish many powerful men and women of prayer like Daniel among us.

 

One Word:Three Times A Day, Just As He Had Done Before

Comments