Monday, August 29, 2016

Are You Part of the Body?

Introduction
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:1-5)

Context
-During August 10-13, Collin attended the Reformed Youth Services 2016 Logos Young Adult Conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin. During that time, Reformed young adults from a variety of Reformed denominations gathered for a time of Bible teaching and fellowship on the campus of the Green Lake Conference Center. Rev. Greg Lubbers, pastor of Covenant URC in Byron Center, Michigan, was the keynote speaker, leading the conference on the theme, Are You Part of the Body? The three main passages in this study appeared in three keynote addresses by Reverend Lubbers.
-Collin also led six small group sessions during the conference, and material from those small group sessions also appears in this study.

Ephesians 1
“In Him”—Are You United with Christ?
-Ephesians 1 opens by stating that Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, is writing to all those in Ephesus who are saints in Christ Jesus and faithful to their Lord. He extends greetings to them
-The question, “Are you part of the body?” does not begin with us—it begins with God.
-In Ephesians 1:3-6, Paul reveals how it was that God planned our salvation that we should be part of the body of Christ. First, He predestined us in love (v. 5), because God has always set about to redeem a particular people for His own glory. In the Old Testament, God chose Israel out of all the nations of the earth to be His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:7-8) because of His special love He set upon them—just as He did with us (v. 4-5).
-God did not chose us to be part of the body of Christ before the moment of our salvation, or before the moment of our birth, or before the moment of our parents, or any such time. God chose us to be part of the body of Christ before the first verse in the Bible in Genesis 1:1 (v. 4).
-In Ephesians 1:7-10, we learn that God planned salvation for His particular people to be accomplished in only one way in one Person for all time: redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the heartbeat of the Gospel message (Ephesians 2:13).
-In Ephesians 1:11-12, we learn that we have been given an inheritance, which Jesus also teaches has been prepared for us by our heavenly father before the world began (Matthew 25:34).
-Not only has God accomplished particular redemption for a particular people, God has sealed us for all time to be His chosen people to display His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 reveals how we come to know that God has chosen us. The inward call of salvation always produces the outward call of salvation: our responding to the proclaimed message of the Gospel by believing in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord. Paul’s entire life as an apostle centered on this principle: those called by God respond to God by the preaching of the Gospel (Romans 10:14-17).
-When we become part of the body, we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and develop a deep love for all the saints. As we grow in Christ, the Holy Spirit will give us wisdom and illumination to understand our great and magnificent hope in Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Ephesians 1:15-22 makes it clear that the church is the body of Christ, and that Christ is the head of the body.

Ephesians 4:1-16
“Building Up the Body”—Are You United with Fellow Believers?
-Paul identifies himself in Ephesians 4:1 as a prisoner of the Lord, as he writes to Ephesus while he is in Roman prison in A.D. 61-62. He also wrote Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon during his stay in his first imprisonment before his eventual release.
-He calls us to walk worth with several characteristics that unite us with fellow believers. We are called to be humble with each other and gentle with each other, as well as patient and forbearing with one another. We should be eager to be unified in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2 makes this clear.
-Ephesians 4:4-6 teaches that there is only one body—the church. There is only one spirit—the Holy Spirit. There is only one Lord—the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one faith---the Christian faith. There is only one baptism—water baptism that identifies us as having died and risen with Christ. There is only one God and Father of all—the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
-Through this, we have all received grace from God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:7-11 that Christ gave gifts to men when He ascended back to heaven, and His gifts are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers to the church in order to equip every Christian for ministry and build up the body of Christ.
-When we are united in Christ and united with each other, Ephesians 4:12-14 identifies signs of spiritual maturity in believers. When we work together in ministering with one another in the body of Christ and become more greatly united together in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God so we become spiritual adults in Christ Jesus. When we are childlike in our understanding of Christ, we are tossed to and fro on different winds of doctrine, rather than having theological moorings in the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
-Paul exhorts us to speak the truth in love and grow up in every way into Christ Jesus our head. Ephesians 4:15-16 states that as the head, Christ controls the body and is supreme over it. Every member, when it is working properly, enables the body to grow so that it builds itself up in love with one another.

1 Corinthians 12
“Members of One Another”—Do You Know Your Spiritual Gifts?
-Paul writes to the Corinthian church before his imprisonment, and he is concerned with bringing the struggling Corinthians to greater maturity. Paul wrote multiple letters to this church, but only two of them are part of the New Testament canon. In his letter, he addresses various issues, such as pride, immaturity, foolishness, and sexual immorality taking place within the Corinthian congregation. 
-In 1 Corinthians 12:1, Paul writes to the Corinthians in order to instruct them about spiritual gifts. In the congregation, many had become proud of their “showy” gifts that publicized their spirituality, and Paul gently sets about to correct this. He reminds them in 1 Corinthians 12:2-3 that when they were pagans, they were led astray to worship idols. Now, however, he reminds them that no one with the Spirit of God can curse the Lord Jesus or fail to acknowledge His lordship. 
-The apostle reminds us that while there are many different, diverse gifts in the body of Christ, there is only one Spirit who dispenses the gifts as He wisely chooses. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 identifies many numerous spiritual gifts, which some commentators believe is exhaustive and others believe is not exhaustive. Nevertheless, the gifts identified here are wisdom, knowledge, faith (endurance in hard times, not saving faith), healing, miracle-workers, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation.
-1 Corinthians 12:12-26 now analogically argues against false views of being part of the body of Christ. First, verses 15-18 makes it clear that all Christians are part of the body, whether or not they think they are. Second, verse 21 declares that no Christians are dispensable in the body of Christ. Thirdly, verses 2-25 declares that while there are weaker and stronger parts of the body of Christ, they are all valuable for the good of the church.
-Paul concludes his teaching in this chapter by reminding us that we are the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:27-31. Not all are one category, but all categories together build up and edify the body of Christ.


Conclusion
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12)

Recording
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Handout
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rescue from the Lion's Mouth

Introduction
But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion!” (Psalm 22:19-21a)

Daniel 6:19-24

Context
-In Daniel 6, Daniel is a very old man in his early- to mid-eighties. He has seen the rise and fall of major world empires: the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the fall of the Egyptian Empire, the fall of the Israelite Empire, and the rise and fall of the Babylonian Empire. Now, he is living as an aged man in the rise of the new Medo-Persian Empire, led by their great ruler King Cyrus of Persia. This is all according to God’s sovereign plan for the nations, as Daniel revealed as a young man in Daniel 2.
-In Daniel 6, the aged statesman so distinguishes himself among his peers that King Darius promotes him to the level of president underneath the king. In this capacity, Daniel’s task is to ensure that the 120 satraps underneath him do not commit fraud. So excellent is he in his duties that the king thinks to promote him even higher, which causes Daniel’s colleagues to become bitterly jealous of Daniel. Devising a plot to have Daniel put to death, they trick King Darius into signing an edict that states that anyone who prays to any man or god for 30 days will be cast into the lion’s den, unless they pray to King Darius. When Darius discovers this plot, he is deeply distressed. Having no legal remedy to rescue Daniel from the fate of the law, however, he has him cast into the den of lions.
-As Christians, God calls us to serve Him no matter our age. Moses served the Lord as the greatest Old Testament Prophet after he was 80 years old. The apostle Paul ministered up until the day he died in his late 60s. The apostle John continued to faithfully serve the Lord and edify the churches through his teaching and writing up until his 90s.
-Not only does God call us to serve Him regardless of our age, He also calls us to be ready to suffer regardless of our age. Serving the King of heaven will bring suffering from those who serve the prince of darkness—but in that suffering is the opportunity for God to display His glory through His mighty power.

Verse 19
Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.

-In verse 18, Scripture says that “then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.”
-“Then, at break of day, the king arose” (
בֵּאדַיִן מַלְכָּא בִּשְׁפַּרְפָּרָא יְקוּם בְּנָגְהָא). This means that the king rose up at sunrise.
-He “went in haste to the den of lions” (
וּבְהִתְבְּהָלָה לְגֻבָּא דִי־אַרְיָוָתָא אֲזַל׃). He hurries towards what must certainly be Daniel’s tomb.
-In similar fashion, Peter and John ran hastily to the tomb of the Lord Jesus early in the morning, wondering why the tomb was empty (John 20:1-4).
-The king moves hastily because he genuinely cares for the elderly Daniel. Throughout Daniel’s life, God has providentially guided the hearts of those around Daniel to be compassionate towards him (Daniel 1:9) in answer to King Solomon’s prayer over 450 years before (1 Kings 8:50).

Verse 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?”

-As he nears the site of Daniel’s inevitable death, the king becomes very distraught. “As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish”
(
וּכְמִקְרְבֵהּ לְגֻבָּא לְדָנִיֵּאל בְּקָל עֲצִיב זְעִק).
-A “tone of anguish” (
בְּקָל עֲצִיב) indicates bitter distress and deep anguish.
-There are many moments in redemptive history. When Abraham sacrifices Isaac and has the knife poised above Isaac to slay his son, it appears all hope is lost (Genesis 22:10). When Egypt pursues the Israelites and has them trapped at the shore of the Red Sea, it appears that God’s people will be slaughtered (Exodus 14:10-12) When David faces Goliath, it appears that the giant will destroy the young shepherd-boy and Philistia will conquer Israel (1 Samuel 17:41-44). When the mighty Assyrian Empire lays siege to Jerusalem, it appears that King Hezekiah and his people will be destroyed (Isaiah 36:1-5).
-Not only do we see many hopeless moments in the biblical narratives, we also have experienced many hopeless moments in our lives as well. Constant criticism, social ostracism, financial hardship, solitude, loss of relationships, and death of loved ones can produce feelings of deep despair and agonizing hopelessness.
-“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?’”
-The king acknowledges Daniel as the “servant of the living God” (
עֲבֵד אֱלָהָא חַיָּא).
-Our identity while living in this world is ultimately that of being servants of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:5-6).
-Throughout the New Testament, the apostles constantly identified themselves as the slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 22:14; James 1:1; Philippians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 4:1).
-Daniel did not serve merely any god, and neither do we. We are servants of the “living God”
(
אֱלָהָא חַיָּא).
-Throughout the Scriptures, the Lord is designated as the “living God” in contrast to the gods which have no life in them at all (Deuteronomy 5:26; Joshua 3:10).
-The Living God is King over all the earth—no man can claim that title (Jeremiah 10:10).
-We serve a Lord who is no longer dead, but is in fact alive and seated at the right hand of God the Father (Revelation 1:17-18).
-King Darius recognizes that Daniel serves God continually, and such should be our testimony to the world as well (Colossians 3:17).
-The question throughout all time is, can God deliver you? Ultimately, the question is, can God deliver you from death? King Darius asks Daniel, “has God…been able to deliver you from the lions?”

Verse 21
Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!”

-In the moment of silence between verse 20 and verse 21, God’s power is in question and the life of Daniel is in question. Then, almost as if a voice from the dead broke forth, Daniel speaks. “Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!”
(
אֱדַיִן דָּנִיֵּאל עִם־מַלְכָּא מַלִּל מַלְכָּא לְעָלְמִין חֱיִי׃)
-In this moment, Daniel reveals that he is still alive and that God has indeed delivered him from a horrible death.
-God demonstrated Himself more powerful than the Egyptians who sought to slaughter His people on the shores of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-18; 26-31).
-God demonstrated Himself more powerful than the mighty Assyrian Empire which sought to destroy the city of David (Isaiah 37:33-38).
-God alone is powerful enough to deliver His chosen ones from death itself (Psalm 56:13; Psalm 116:6).
-The Lord alone can grab those going down into the pit of death and bring them back up to the land of the living (Psalm 30:3).
-The Lord alone can rescue innocent Christians from their oppressors and persecutors (Jeremiah 20:13).
-In this moment, God has demonstrated Himself more powerful than the evil hearts of Daniel’s enemies and more powerful than a den of lions. God truly is more powerful than any enemy we may ever face (1 Chronicles 29:11).
-Jesus Christ, God incarnate, has promised us that He is more powerful than any enemy we will ever face (John 16:33) and that He has conquered the greatest enemy of all—death itself (Romans 8:34-39).

Verse 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.”
-Now, Daniel explains to King Darius how the living God has supernaturally delivered him from death. “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths”
(
אֱלָהִי שְׁלַח מַלְאֲכֵהּ וּסֲגַר פֻּם אַרְיָוָתָא). The apostle Paul quotes this when he refers to the Lord’s preservation in his own life, which indicates that he most likely viewed Daniel as a role model for faithful proclamation of God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:17).
-Throughout redemptive history, God sent His angels to deliver His people from death. He did so at the Red Sea crossing (Exodus 14:19-20)
-God sent His angel to deliver the kingdom of Judah from the empire of Assyria during the Jerusalem siege (Isaiah 37:36).
-God sent His angel to deliver the apostle Peter from prison and what would have been death (Acts 12:6-11).
-Finally, God sent His angels to announce that the Son of God had conquered death by rising again (Luke 24:1-5).
-Daniel declares that the lions “have not harmed me” (
וְלָא חַבְּלוּנִי).
-Decades earlier, God had so delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the burning fiery furnace that no hairs on their heads were singed and even the smell of smoke did not cling to their clothes (Daniel 3:26-27).
-God can deliver to the uttermost and can completely save His people from death (Hebrews 7:25).
-The Lord saves Daniel here “because I was found blameless before him”
(
דִּי קָדָמוֹהִי זָכוּ הִשְׁתְּכַחַת לִי).
-To be “blameless” (
זָכוּ֙) before God means here to be innocent of unfaithfulness before God, which Daniel was (Daniel 6:10). Blamelessness does not mean sinlessness, but rather it means innocence of wrongdoing.
-The apostle Paul exhorts Christians to walk blamelessly and innocently before God in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation (Philippians 2:14-16).
-Also, God vindicates His prophet Daniel by saving him from death, for Daniel says, “and also before you, O king, I have done no harm”
(
וְאַף קָדָמַיִךְ̇ מַלְכָּא חֲבוּלָה לָא עַבְדֵת׃)
-Those who falsely accused Daniel realized that their accusations were completely false (Daniel 6:4).
-God vindicates His servants and shows them to be innocent of false charges against them (Psalm 9:4), because He is the righteous Judge (Psalm 50:6), which is Daniel’s very identity (“God is my Judge”).


Verse 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.

-At hearing of God’s powerful and miraculous deliverance of Daniel, “then the king was exceedingly glad” (
בֵּאדַיִן מַלְכָּא שַׂגִּיא טְאֵב עֲלוֹהִי).
-God’s deliverance brings great joy (Psalm 35:27; Psalm 40:16)
-He “commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den” (
וּלְדָנִיֵּאל אֲמַר לְהַנְסָקָה מִן־גֻּבָּא וְהֻסַּק דָּנִיֵּאל מִן־גֻּבָּא).
-The public display of God’s deliverance is that “no kind of harm was found on him”
(
וְכָל־חֲבָל לָא־הִשְׁתְּכַח בֵּהּ).
-When God delivers His people, there is no doubt as to who delivered His people—God delivered His people (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).
-No harm befalls Daniel “because he had trusted in his God” (
דִּי הֵימִן בֵּאלָהֵהּ׃).
-Daniel’s trust in God is greater than his fear of death. We too can have this same trust, for we know that our risen Lord will deliver us from death (Philippians 3:20-21).
-Trust in God will give us certain hope in the Lord in the midst of hardship (1 Timothy 4:10)
-Trust in God will give us strength in the Lord in the midst of persecution (Isaiah 40:28-31).


Verse 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 into pieces.

-Now the Lord will work justice upon the wicked men who sought to have Daniel put to death. “And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions”.
-God hates those who falsely accuse others of wrongdoing (Proverbs 6:16-17).
-In Scripture, it is constantly taught that those who seek to destroy others will in fact destroy themselves in the process (Psalm 35:7-8; Psalm 141:9-10).
-Not only do these men destroy themselves, they destroy their families in the process—“they, their children, and their wives” (
אִנּוּן בְּנֵיהוֹן וּנְשֵׁיהוֹן).
-This echoes when the rebellion against Moses ended in the lives of the accusers and their families being lost (Numbers 16:25-33).
-“And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces”.
-God’s judgment upon the wicked is as thorough and final as His deliverance for His people (Psalm 96:13; Acts 17:13).
-One day, the greatest accuser of God’s people will be forever thrown down (Revelation 12:10) and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
-At the return of the Lord Jesus, all the saints will rejoice at God’s complete deliverance for His people and His complete justice upon His enemies (Revelation 19:4-5).

Conclusion
But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:17-18)

Handout
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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Standing Firm on Bent Knees

Introduction
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39)

Daniel 6:10-18

Context

-In Daniel’s life, he now certainly does not expect to live many years longer. He is in his early 80s, and he has seen drastic changes in the world throughout his life. As a young man, he saw the fall of the house of David ruling in the nation of Judah. As a middle-aged man, he lived for decades under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar, faithfully working in his high-ranking position as president over the province of Babylon and president over the wise men. However, Daniel continued to be a rigorously strong believer in the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and for decades he saw nothing but paganism and idolatry around him. Now that he is an aged man, he has seen the downfall of Babylon, just as he prophesied as a young man. He is now working yet again in political office, serving as one of three presidents over the Medo-Persian Empire under King Darius.
-Daniel, however, is hated for his integrity and his identity. He is entirely faithful in his career and to the king, with not any corruption or scandal to be found in his work whatsoever. Yet he is also one of the Jews—God’s chosen people, who are always hated by those who are not God’s people. Now, he faces a life-and-death choice: pray to Darius alone for 30 days and live, or pray to God and die by being torn apart by hungry lions in a pit.

Daniel’s Prayer
(v. 10)
10When 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.

Verse 10

-In verses 4-9, the two other presidents and members of the 120 satraps plotted against Daniel not merely to remove him from political office, but to remove him from the land of the living. Daniel had no knowledge whatsoever of this sinister plot against his life. However, as soon as the king issued the edict, Daniel knew.
-“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house”
(
וְדָנִיֵּאל כְּדִי יְדַע דִּי־רְשִׁים כְּתָבָא עַל לְבַיְתֵהּ).
-In Daniel 2:17, Daniel went to his house to inform his three friends that the king had ordered all the wise men of Babylon executed. Here, however, Daniel is alone and his friends are long since dead.
-He went to his place of living “where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem” (
וְכַוִּין פְּתִיחָן לֵהּ בְּעִלִּיתֵהּ נֶגֶד יְרוּשְׁלֶם). This statement reveals Daniel’s lifelong faith and hope in God.
-Since the time of King Solomon, God’s temple had been in Jerusalem, and faithful Jews looked in the direction of the temple when they prayed, particularly those in the exile (1 Kings 8:44-48).
-Daniel had not laid eyes on his beloved city for approximately 70 years. Indeed, he would later die in the land of exile and never would see the city of God in his lifetime. Yet he looked toward Jerusalem not for nostalgia, but because of his hope in God’s promises.
-God had promised His people that the Messiah would come to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 33:15-28).
-God had promised His people that He would one day redeem Israel out of their sins and provide salvation for his people in Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:1-4; Zechariah 13:1).
-God had promised His people that He would restore them to their promised land when the Messiah came (Jeremiah 23:5-8).
-Even though the temple had for decades been destroyed, God had promised His people that one day the temple would be rebuilt and that the Lord would reign in the city of David (Isaiah 24:23; Zechariah 14:8-9).
-This was not a private faith, but a public one, for these windows opened on the second floor of Daniel’s house, not on the first floor where they could be obscured and where Daniel could not see far at all towards Jerusalem.
-Daniel now deliberately disobeys a civil law that would merit the death penalty. “He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed”
(
וְזִמְנִין תְּלָתָה בְיוֹמָא הוּא בָּרֵךְ עַל־בִּרְכוֹהִי וּמְצַלֵּא).
-Believers are called to always obey God, even if that at times means disobeying the laws and commands of sinful men (Acts 5:29)
-Strong believers are those who are committed to prayer to the Lord (Ephesians 6:18; Mark 11:24). Daniel has already been shown to be a man of prayer, and one of his prayers will later be written in this book (Daniel 9:1-19).
-“There may be times when the law of the land and the law of God come into conflict. Corrie ten Boom broke the law of Germany when she hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II, but she would have broken a higher law had she not tried to prevent the murder of innocents. Today Christians are being called upon to make difficult ethical choices. As the world becomes more and more secular (and sinful), believers will increasingly find themselves taking stands that are unpopular and positions that may even violate the law of the land.[1]
­
-Daniel is not only offering supplications to God, but specifically thanksgiving—he is remaining joyful and thankful even though he knows he is going to die a brutal and horrible death (Romans 12:12). Scripture says that he “gave thanks before his God” (וּמוֹדֵא קֳדָם אֱלָהֵהּ).
-Daniel prayed three times a day towards Jerusalem “as he had done previously”
(
כָּל־קֳבֵל דִּי־הֲוָא עָבֵד מִן־קַדְמַת דְּנָה׃). Godly character demonstrated in times of suffering is developed—it does not spring from an empty vacuum. (James 1:2-4).
-God calls us simply to be faithful on a daily basis—He does not call us to change the world or have great power or prestige or privilege, but simply to be faithful in reflecting Jesus Christ and growing in Christ on a day-by-day basis (1 John 5:3-5).


Daniel’s Persecutors
(v. 11-15)
11Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12Then 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.” 13Then 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.” 14Then 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. 15Then 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.”
Verse 11

-However, Daniel’s enemies predicted that he would respond in such a fashion. The phrase “Then these men came by agreement” (
אֱדַיִן גֻּבְרַיָּא אִלֵּךְ הַרְגִּשׁוּ) indicates that they continue to plot together to have Daniel put to death.
-They “found Daniel making petition and plea before his God”
(
וְהַשְׁכַּחוּ לְדָנִיֵּאל בָּעֵא וּמִתְחַנַּן קֳדָם אֱלָהֵהּ׃). This would not be very difficult to do, since Daniel prayed on his knees behind open windows on the second floor of his house. Daniel could have simply closed his shutters, but he does not do so here.
-Jesus encourages us that we do not need to be afraid and that we ultimately have nothing to fear in this world (John 14:27; John 16:33).
-By way of warning, little compromises because of fear of man lead to bigger compromises in character (Proverbs 29:25).
Verse 12
-Now the men plotting against Daniel’s life go to the king to have him confirm the decree that already has been made public. “Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, ‘O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man within thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?”
-The penalty of defying this edict is severe. African lions can grow as large as 6.5 feet (2 meters) long and weigh up to 420lbs (190 kilograms). They can leap as far as 36 feet and run up to 50 mph (80 kph). One swipe from the paw of a lion can sever a human head from its torso, and while their bite is not particularly strong compared to other wild animals their size (650lbs per square inch), their habit is to bite the neck of their victim. When cast into a den of lions, no human being would stand a chance.
-The king assures them that he has indeed ratified the edict. “The king answered and said, ‘The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked’”.
Verse 13
-Having now gotten the king to admit that he had signed the decree into law, they now spring their death trap for Daniel. “Then they answered and said before the king, ‘Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king”.
-They purposefully ignore Daniel’s identity as a president over Medo-Persia and instead refer to him as “one of the exiles from Judah” (
מִן־בְּנֵי גָלוּתָא דִּי יְהוּד).
-Daniel had been exiled in 605 B.C., which is approximately 70 years ago. It is highly unlikely that any of these men were alive at that time, as even King Darius is approximately 20 years younger than Daniel (Daniel 5:61)
-None of these men were part of the Babylonian Empire except Daniel—Daniel was captured as a young man 70 years before in a previous empire. Nevertheless, they smear his reputation in the same manner that King Belshazzar did at Daniel’s first appearance before him (Daniel 5:13).
-Christians, in spite of what positions they may hold, still are always exiles in this world—nothing will change that (1 Peter 2:11).
-They now attempt to lie about Daniel’s loyalty to the throne, for they say that Daniel “pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed”
(
לָא־שָׂם עֲלַיִךְ מַלְכָּא טְעֵם וְעַל־אֱסָרָא דִּי רְשַׁמְתָּ).
-King Darius promoted Daniel precisely because Daniel attentively served him and his moral character (Daniel 6:1-2).
-They do not accuse Daniel of any political corruption, but of religious insubordination. They say he doesn’t adhere to the edict, “but makes his petition three times a day”
(
וְזִמְנִין תְּלָתָה בְּיוֹמָא בָּעֵא בָּעוּתֵהּ׃)
-Followers of Jesus Christ should only be guilty in the eyes of pagan governments for one thing: acknowledging the Lordship of Christ in their actions, not political insurrection (1 Peter 3:17).
Verse 14
-They may have hoped Darius to become enraged; indeed, King Nebuchadnezzar had often become enraged when men failed to heed his words (Daniel 3:13-20).
-The king responds much differently than they had hoped. “The king, when he heard these words, was much distressed” (
אֱדַיִן מַלְכָּא כְּדִי מִלְּתָא שְׁמַע שַׂגִּיא בְּאֵשׁ עֲלוֹהִי).
-“Distressed” (
בְּאֵ֣שׁ) means “sorrow came upon him”. Darius is stricken with remorse that he passed the edict, for he greatly appreciates Daniel.
-So much is King Darius grieved that he “set his mind to deliver Daniel”
(
דָּנִיֵּאל שָׂם בָּל לְשֵׁיזָבוּתֵהּ). If any human being in Medo-Persia can deliver Daniel, it is King Darius.
-Unlike King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, who created law (Daniel 3:4-5) and reversed laws as he saw fit (Daniel 3:29), King Darius of Medo-Persia is underneath the law. Therefore, he legally “labored till the sun went down to rescue him”
(
מֶעָלֵי שִׁמְשָׁא הֲוָא מִשְׁתַּדַּר לְהַצָּלוּתֵהּ׃).
Verse 15
-It appears that the sentence had to be carried out before the next day, as “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.”
-They already stated this to the king initially (Daniel 6:7) and Darius himself had affirmed this before he knew that Daniel is the target of their schemes (Daniel 6:12).
-We should never ultimately place our trust in any political official to save us from calamity, as they ultimately may not be able to do so (Psalm 20:7).


Daniel’s Peril
(v. 16-18)
16Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17And 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. 18Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
Verse 16

-“Then the king commanded” (
בֵּאדַיִן מַלְכָּא אֲמַר) that the sentence be carried forth according to the new law he had signed.
-“Daniel was brought forth and cast into the den of lions”
(וְהַיְתִיו לְדָנִיֵּאל וּרְמוֹ לְגֻבָּא דִּי אַרְיָוָתָא).
-It now appears that God is entirely absent from this situation. Sometimes in suffering, it appears as though God does not hear us (Habakkuk 1:2) nor is He near us (Psalm 10:1).
-Sometimes in suffering, it appears that the wicked triumph (Jeremiah 12:1; Job 21:7).
-At the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, it appeared that all the forces of Hell had completely overcome God (Mark 15:12-15).
-Just before Daniel was cast down into the pit, “the king declared to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!’”
-Daniel is still living in such a way so that men know exactly which God he serves. All believers should live such that all men everywhere know us to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:16).
-Darius hopes that the God of Israel can deliver Daniel, but whether God will deliver Daniel remains to be seen.
Verse 17
-“And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den”
(
וְהֵיתָיִת אֶבֶן חֲדָה וְשֻׂמַת עַל־פֻּם גֻּבָּא). This ensures that Daniel could not escape by someone coming to rescue him.
-Not only is a stone laid over the mouth of the den, “the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel”.
-A “signet” would be a royal ring or seal with a raised seal that was used to stamp onto soft surfaces such as wax or clay.
-“
Soft clay was attached to the chains draped over the stone, and the king and his nobles made their personal marks (seals) by pressing their rings into the clay. After the clay hardened, the chains could not be removed without breaking the seals. Surely no one would attempt to remove the chain containing the names of the king and some of his highest officials. Daniel was now in the den, and all possibility of escape was cut off.[2]
-Since now “nothing might be changed concerning Daniel” (לָא־תִשְׁנֵא צְבוּ בְּדָנִיֵּאל׃), all human hope is lost. Daniel is most assuredly dead, and no force on earth can now bring him back from the den of lions that must certainly become his tomb.
-In the same way, the Lord Jesus was put into an empty tomb where the Romans rolled a large stone over the entrance and sealed it to ensure no one could physically or legally remove His body (Matthew 27:65-66).
Verse 18
-King Darius now is seized with anxiety. “Then the king went to his palace, and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him”.
-Fasting in the ancient world often was associated with fervent prayer, particularly in times of great sorrow (Nehemiah 1:4), so it is possible that King Darius is praying to Daniel’s God to deliver him from the den of lions.
-Unlike King Darius, we are not those without hope even with the inevitably of death, because we have hope in a Lord who rose from the dead and walked out of a tomb blocked by a stone with a Roman seal (Luke 24:4-6)
-Because of our hope in the resurrection from the dead, we can be faithful even unto death just as Daniel is here (Revelation 12:11).


Conclusion
“I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:9-11)

Handout
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzLnbvsX8ZvgcS12NndiRHNmOG8/view?usp=sharing

Recording
Download the Study Here



[1] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, p. 183). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[2] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, pp. 185–186). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Jealousy, Conspiracy, and Integrity

Introduction
Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4)

Daniel 6:1-9

Context

-When Daniel was captured and exiled to Babylon in 605 B.C., he was a young man approximately 16-17 years old. Throughout the decades, he would primarily serve under the greatest king of that era: King Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar ruled for 45 years, but at his death, the Babylonian Empire did not see another king arise with the same power and majesty as Nebuchadnezzar. For 25 years, different factions vied for control of the throne. King Nabonidus and his son King Belshazzar ruled the kingdom of Babylon as the last two kings of the empire, before God overthrew the Babylonian Empire in one night.
-Throughout the decades, Daniel served as the president of the court scribes and magicians under the Babylonian kings. Now, in 539 B.C., Daniel is in his early 80s. He has just witnessed the fall of the government and the crumbling of the empire that he lived and served in for approximately 70 years. Questions now arise: will Daniel survive? What purpose does his life now have, since the political effects of his 6 decades of political service are now null and void? Will he be killed by the Medes and Persians, since he was a high-ranking political figure in Babylon?
-In Daniel 6, Daniel will now face the supreme test of his life. This will be his “fiery furnace” experience that his friends Azariah, Mishael, and Hananiah experienced approximately 45 years ago.

Verse 1
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom;
-In Daniel 5:30-31, the Babylonian king was slain and the Babylonian Empire fell. With the loss of an empire means the loss of government structures and the replacement of existing structures with foreign governments. Therefore, since Darius the Mede received the kingdom, he now must set about to establish Medo-Persian government over the former Babylonian Empire.
-“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps”
(
שְׁפַר קֳדָם דָּרְיָוֶשׁ וַהֲקִים עַל־מַלְכוּתָא לַאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא מְאָה וְעֶשְׂרִין).
-The government structure back in the Babylonian era was different than that now instituted (Daniel 3:2). Yet at the same time, it was not so radically different as to be unrecognizable from existing governments around them.
-“Satraps” (
אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפַּן) means “protector of the kingdom”. Satraps were a common government office in this era, for they appear previously in Babylon (Daniel 3:2) and later on in the Greek Empire.
-The Aramaic text gives the number “120” (
וְעֶשְׂרִין). The Septuagint increased the number to 127 to make it harmonize with Esther 1:1, but this was an unnecessary. Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews thought each president in verse 2 was over 120 satraps, so he multiplied the number to 360 satraps.
-“The number 120 is to be retained, in opposition to both these uncritical attempts to enlarge it, although no other authorities mention so large a number of satrapies or provinces in the Medo-Persian empire at the time of its first organization under Darius-Cyaxares and Cyrus, and although according to both Herodotus and Xenophon their number seems to have been considerably smaller at that period. The former of these authors mentions no definite organization of satrapies by Cyrus whatever, and remarks of Darius Hystaspis that he founded in all only twenty of such provinces for the whole empire (iii. 89); the latter notices satraps under Cyrus as well, but mentions only nine, eight of whom were appointed for Asia Minor and one for Arabia—from which it might be concluded that the aggregate number of such officials did not much exceed twenty, and perhaps, did not even reach that number (Cyrop. vii. 4, 2; viii. 6). The statements of these Greek historians do not, however, compel us to doubt the accuracy of Daniel’s report, or to reduce the number from 120 to 20; for various indications lead to the conclusion that the number and boundaries of the satrapies varied exceedingly in different periods of the Persian empire.[1]
-King Darius intends here for these 120 satraps “to be throughout the whole kingdom”
(
דִּי לֶהֱוֹן בְּכָל־מַלְכוּתָא׃).
-The Medo-Persian Empire, represented by the chest and arms of silver in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:32; 2:39), would become much larger and rule much more land than Babylonia did. At its largest extent, it controlled 2.9 million square miles (7.5 million square kilometers). The Medo-Persian Empire ruled parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, spanning three continents.
-Historical estimates place 50 million people living in the Medo-Persian Empire, which accounted for approximately 44% of the population of the globe at the time.
-These satraps would govern throughout the empire in order to ensure peace, order, and the king’s interests were maintained in the different people groups and regions throughout the very-large empire.


Verse 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.
-Over these 120 satraps, Darius places “over them three high officials”
(
וְעֵלָּא מִנְּהוֹן סָרְכִין תְּלָתָא). This would be a triumvirate of “presidents” or high-ranking officials second only to the kings.
-Whether these presidents oversaw separate jurisdictions of satraps is unknown. Amazingly, however, the elderly Daniel is one of these— “Daniel was one” (
דָנִיֵּאל חַד־מִנְּהוֹן).
-Daniel had been promoted as a young man by Nebuchadnezzar to be the provincial president of Babylon and the president over the Babylonian wise men (Daniel 2:48).
-King Belshazzar promoted Daniel to the third-highest ruler of the Babylonian Empire the night the Babylonian Empire fell (Daniel 5:29).
-The Medo-Persian Empire viewed the Jews much more favorably than Babylon did—King Cyrus actually freed them from exile so they could return to their homes. The Medo-Persian Empire historically exhibited far more clemency than empires previous to them. They did not seek to divide or exile people. Whereas the Assyrians deported nations to live in foreign regions, and Babylon deported them to their capital city, the Medo-Persian Empire let the nations under their rule live in their regions in peace.
-However, Daniel is both preserved and promoted to this position in Babylon because God is protecting His chosen prophet and His servant to proclaim the message of God’s reign and rule and the promise of the coming Messiah.
-God has promised that He will never leave us and that we have no reason to fear anything that we may encounter (Deuteronomy 31:6).
-Daniel has experienced persecution repeatedly in his life, yet God has been faithful to uphold him through it all (Psalm 34:19; Psalm 138:7).
-Daniel, together with the other two presidents, would be the ones
“to whom these satraps should give account, that the king might suffer no loss”
(דִּי־לֶהֱוֹן אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא אִלֵּין יָהֲבִין לְהוֹן טַעְמָא וּמַלְכָּא לָא־לֶהֱוֵא נָזִק׃).
-Daniel and the other two presidents would ensure that corruption did not occur at the lower levels of government. This reveals that the satraps handled the empire’s revenues, and the king desires that the kingdom not lose any revenue or taxes.

Verse 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.
-Just as had happened with Daniel as a young man in Babylon, so now the same thing happens with Daniel as an old man. “Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps” (אֱדַיִן דָּנִיֵּאל דְּנָה הֲוָא מִתְנַצַּח עַל־סָרְכַיָּא וַאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא).
-Daniel is a very gifted man throughout his life. He has tremendous intelligence, insight, knowledge, and wisdom (Daniel 1:17-21).
-However, Daniel is not brilliant merely due to his own hard work. God blessed his efforts throughout his life because Daniel is a faithful, godly man (Daniel 2:23).
-Throughout the 2.9 million square mile, 50,000,000 population empire, there is none like Daniel. Daniel is superior than any other man in the entire kingdom, “because an excellent spirit was in him” (
רוּחַ יַתִּירָא).
-Even the pagans recognized that Daniel had an excellent spirit in him (Daniel 5:11-12).
-If we are to be truly successful in God’s eyes, we are called to be faithful and to be Christians of personal integrity (Proverbs 21:3; Job 27:4-6).
-Because Daniel is highly skilled in his work and a man of remarkable integrity and character, “the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom”
(
וּמַלְכָּא עֲשִׁית לַהֲקָמוּתֵהּ עַל־כָּל־מַלְכוּתָא׃).
-In this manner, we see yet again how Daniel is a new Joseph—Joseph is put in an identical position for the same reasons under Pharaoh 1,500 years earlier (Genesis 41:37-45). In this way, Daniel will now rule over everyone except the king himself.

Verse 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.
-In Daniel 3, the Chaldeans sought to destroy Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they had been promoted over the Babylonians (Daniel 2:49; Daniel 3:8).
-Now, decades later, unbelievers are still trying to attack Daniel. “Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom.” This conspiracy against Daniel begins not with one person, but with the entire class of his peers and “employees” seeking to overthrow him.
-In recent years, major political scandals have shaken the American public. The discovery of President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal caused many to question the character of the presidential office. President Bill Clinton’s perjury before a court brought about his impeachment from the House of Representatives before it was denied by the Senate. Newt Gingrich resigned in 1998 from the House of Representatives due to having an affair with an intern. He would have multiple affairs throughout his life. John Edwards, a democratic senator from North Carolina, ran for President in 2008, but undercut his campaign when he admitted to having an extramarital affair while his wife was undergoing cancer treatment. Rod Blagojevich, the former Democratic governor of Illinois, was charged with 17 criminal charges for corruption on June 27, 2011 and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
-However, “they could find no ground for complain or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him”.
-Scripture exhorts Christians to be faithful, for our faithfulness to our Lord is our defense against charges of misconduct or accusations of poor character (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12).
-Daniel worked with a spirit of excellence in all his capacities in his political career in not one, but two pagan empires. Paul calls us to work with excellence and integrity because we are ultimately serving our Master Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).
-We should conduct our work in the world so that no error or fault can be found in our integrity or our careers, because we seek to honor our Lord with the lives that we live (1 Corinthians 10:31).


Verse 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.”
-Unable to find any grounds for scandal in Daniel’s performance of his duties, the satraps and two presidents realize they must seek to overthrow Daniel another way. They say, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God”
(
דִּי לָא נְהַשְׁכַּח לְדָנִיֵּאל דְּנָה כָּל־עִלָּא לָהֵן הַשְׁכַּחְנָה עֲלוֹהִי בְּדָת אֱלָהֵהּ׃).
-The godly Christian seeks to walk in God’s ways in obedience to God’s Word (Psalm 119:17, 57, 67, 88).
-The secular establishment understands that direct conflicts exist between the laws of God and the laws of men that directly contradict God. The way to persecute faithful Christians is to put them in situations where they must either obey God or obey men (Acts 4:1-22).
-Christians in the early church were persecuted and martyred because they could not confess
Καισερ Κυριος (“Caesar is Lord”) but instead confessed that
Ιησούς Χριστός είναι Κύριος (“Jesus Christ is Lord”). Polycarp, the disciple of the apostle John and the elder at Smyrna, was burned at the stake as an old man because he confessed Jesus Christ to be Lord.
-Daniel is a man who lives underneath the authority of Scripture, as God exercises His authority through His Word (Deuteronomy 12:28).
-The recent United States Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges that made homosexual civil unions a legal definition of marriage is an example of a human law that stands in direct contradiction to God’s Law, and faithful Christians must obey God rather than obeying men with regards to issuing marriage licenses, recognizing marriages, supporting marriages, attending marriage ceremonies, and recognizing marriages as legitimate.
-Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego adopted this approach when King Nebuchadnezzar commanded them to bow down before the golden image (Daniel 3:16-18).
-These pagans recognize that Daniel is indeed a man of God. Every Christian should live life in such a way so that all men and women might know that they are followers of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:14-16).
-“We therefore see how we, by these means, are urged to the cultivation of integrity, since we cannot be more secure than when fortified by a good conscience, as Peter in his first epistle exhorts us to the same purpose, (3:16.) Now, whatever we may fear, and whatever events await us, even if we become subject to a hundred deaths, we ought never to decline from the pure worship of God, since Daniel did not hesitate to submit to death and enter the lion’s den, because he openly professed the worship of Israel’s God.[2]

Verse 6
Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever!

-Having conspired together, these officials now seek to put their dark plot into action. “Then these officials and satraps came by agreement to the king”.
-Daniel is hated because he is a Jew, because he is a former ruling official in the empire of Medo-Persia’s enemies, and because he is faithful to his God.
-Jesus promised us that the world will conspire against us because it ultimately hates Him (Matthew 10:22; John 15:18-25).
-These men are not forced, but come together “by agreement” (
רגשׁ).
-God’s servants have always been targeted throughout history. King David was frequently targeted by his enemies (Psalm 102:8). The apostle Paul was almost killed due to a sinister plot (Acts 23:12-15). Our Lord Jesus was handed over to the Romans by the Jewish chief priests because the Jewish religious authorities envied Him (Matthew 17:18).
-Jealousy and envy are very powerful forces for destruction (James 3:16).
-They first greet the king in the customary greeting of the day. “O King Darius, live forever!”
(
דָּרְיָוֶשׁ מַלְכָּא לְעָלְמִין חֱיִי׃).

Verse 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.
-Now that they have the ear of King Darius, they proceed to lie to the king to accomplish what they desire. They declare firstly that “all the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed”
(
אִתְיָעַטוּ כֹּל סָרְכֵי מַלְכוּתָא סִגְנַיָּא וַאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא הַדָּבְרַיָּא וּפַחֲוָתָא) about the matter at hand. Daniel is entirely unaware of this plot and most certainly would not be in agreement with it. The “prefects” (סְגַן), “counselors” (הַדָּֽבְרַיָּ֣א), and “governors” (פַחֲוָתָ֔א) were absent in the plotting in verse 4.
-They deceive the king into thinking that they have the best interests of his throne at heart. They say, “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”.
-The Lord hates liars and conspirators who seek to harm His children (Proverbs 6:16-19).
-Scripture declares that God hates liars and deceivers, but loves those who are faithful to Him (Proverbs 12:22).
-Those who lie to accomplish their hidden purposes are children of their father the devil (John 8:44).
-Liars shall have no part in the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21:8).
-They intend to trap Daniel by condemning him to death in “the den of lions” (
לְגֹב אַרְיָוָתָא׃). The Persians commonly used this method of execution, and a horrible death indeed it was.
-It would appear strange for Darius to agree to this, as there are many gods worshipped in the new Medo-Persian Empire. Yet there are reasons that this decree would be politically useful. Prays to any god” is clear enough, but what is the meaning of “prays to any … man?” Since the requests are religious, Charles is incorrect in understanding this command to forbid the citizen from making “a single request of any of his neighbours.” Rather it seems to allude to the priests through whom petitions were mediated to the gods. Thus Darius was to be the only priestly mediator during this period.48 In his role as mediator, prayers to the gods were to be offered through him rather than the priests. Such a law might have been allowed for political reasons, and Darius may also have permitted a decree of this kind as a test of loyalty to his new government. Archer states: “The suggested mode of compelling every subject in the former Babylonian domain to acknowledge the authority of Persia seemed a statesmanlike measure that would contribute to the unification of the Middle and Near East.” Thus Darius was not proclaiming himself to be a god but during this thirty-day period was acting as mediator for the gods of all the nations subject to him.[3]

Verse 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.”
-They now urge the king to establish their injunction. “Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed.”
-American law can be overturned; the laws lower courts enforce can be overturned by higher courts. The United States Constitution can be “changed” by being amended according to Article
5: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress.”
-In Medo-Persian government, the laws the king enacts are supreme, but the king is not supreme over the law— “according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked” (כְּדָת־מָדַי וּפָרַס דִּי־לָא תֶעְדֵּא׃).
-King Darius cannot overturn laws that he has just made once he signs the legal documents.
“C. Moore has challenged Daniel’s statement concerning the irrevocability of the Persian law, but there is evidence to support the book’s accuracy at this point. Lacocque relates: “Diodorus of Sicily (XVII, 30), in fact, reports the case of a man put to death under Darius III (336–330) even though he was known to be perfectly innocent. ‘(Darius III) immediately repented and blamed himself for having committed such a great error, but it was impossible to have undone what had been done by royal authority.’ ”[4]
-In the book of Esther, a serious dilemma occurred when King Artaxerxes authorized Haman to kill the Jews—he could not overturn his edict according to Persian law (Esther 8).


Verse 9

Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
-Scripture now says, “Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction”
(
כָּל־קֳבֵל דְּנָה מַלְכָּא דָּרְיָוֶשׁ רְשַׁם כְּתָבָא וֶאֱסָרָא׃) In doing this, he now unwittingly signs Daniel’s death sentence.
-It would appear surprising that King Darius would acquiesce to such a request, but this was not actually an uncommon practice for the Medes to observe.
The command (or interdict) to pray during one month only to the king was in this instance specially aimed at Daniel, the pious worshipper of Jehovah, for the purpose of entrapping him; but it was suggested by a national religious custom of older date among the Medes, by which Divine honors were rendered to the king. Herodotus, i. 199, refers to this custom, when he remarks that Deioces had introduced the περὶ ἑαυτὸν σεμνύειν for himself and his successors, by removing his person from the observation of his subjects, in order to persuade them that he was ἑτεροῖος (cf. also Xenophon, Cyrop., i. 3, 18). The existence of this custom among the Medes is further substantiated by the fact that the Persians, who were intimately related to the Medes, observed it, as did several others of the Oriental nations of antiquity (e.g., the Egyptians and Ethiopians, according to Diodor., Sicul., 1:90; 3:3, 5)—the former from the peculiar religious reason that they considered the king as the “offspring of the gods” (ἔκγονος θεῶν) and the image of Ormuzd, and even addressed him directly as θεός[5]
-As faithful believers, we need to live such lives of integrity that if we suffer, we suffer because we reflect the character and honor the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unbelievers will conspire out of jealousy and hatred against us, but we are called to act faithfully and walk honorably in our life and conduct before all men by submitting to the authority of Scripture. So did our Lord Jesus.

Conclusion
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:14-17)

Handout
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Recording
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[1] Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Zöckler, O., & Strong, J. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Daniel (p. 139). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
[2] Calvin, J., & Myers, T. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Daniel (Vol. 1, p. 353). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
[3] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, pp. 180–181). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[4] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, pp. 181–182). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[5] Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Zöckler, O., & Strong, J. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Daniel (p. 141). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.