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Daniel’s Character Reveals God’s Glory (6:1-28)

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Introduction

Message 6 | | December 31, 2017

Introduction

Preface in lieu of character study. This morning we will be looking at Daniel and taking note of some of his marvelous character qualities. Anytime I study characters, I am cautious of a few things.
First, be like Christ, not Daniel per say. I don’t ever want to pull our focus away from striving to be like Christ. We are simply using Daniel as an example of someone who was successful in following God, and we can learn from his positive example.
Second, don’t be discouraged by Daniel’s extraordinary gifting. God made you to be who you are. He uniquely gifted you for his specific purpose. He doesn’t want you to be anyone else. Be yourself, but don’t ever allow that sentiment to keep you from striving more and more for Christlikeness.
And finally, I need to acknowledge the tendency we have to two extremes. The first extreme is when we place the development of our holiness entirely into our own hands and in so doing fail to realize that it is primarily a work of God. The second extreme is when we place our spiritual development entirely into the hands of God, so much so that we don’t personally work towards holiness at all. We just assume that God is going to do the work in his time.[1] I make this following statement with great deal of caution . . . we must strive for holiness as if it were dependent upon our own effort, while always knowing and resting in the fact that any holiness or spiritual development that occurs is entirely a work of God. Let me connect this to our study of Daniel. We may be tempted to observe all the wonderful qualities of Daniel and purpose to place them all in our lives. After all, it is the New Year. We need to make some New Year’s resolutions. We’re going to see that Daniel consistently prayed three times a day. If we were to error in either of these two extremes, we would either error by attempting, in our own effort, to start this prayer habit in our own strength and in about 4 days feel like a miserable wretch for failing or feel like we’re more spiritual than everyone as we succeed. The other extreme would leave us waiting to pray until we feel a particular desire. We’d be left just waiting for God to plant within us a desire and motivation to pray three times a day.
Instead, what we need to do is to observe Daniel’s life. Take note of some of the positive character qualities that he exhibits. Plan to pursue a couple realistic changes in our life and habits and then pray fervently that God will empower our efforts to be successful. When God blesses us with growth, we then immediately display gratitude for his gracious work.
Context of Daniel. This chapter seems to occur shortly after the events of chapter 5. There is no indication in the chapter that there was a lengthy period of time between the two chapters. Daniel has been in Babylon for nearly 70 years and is likely between 80 to 83 years old.
We live in a day and age when integrity seems to be little cherished. Someone who highly values integrity or uprightness is often viewed as a prude, religious zealot, spiritual elitist, or puritanical – and none of those are meant as a positive quality. And yet it is those same qualities of integrity and uprightness that are so lacking in the world and so cherished by believers. This is no different than during Daniel’s time. Many people did not appreciate Daniel’s character and integrity. As we consider the storyline of , we will see how the greatness of God is revealed through the consistent and godly character of Daniel.
We will accomplish this by (1) assessing Daniel’s extraordinary character, and (2) observing the effects of Daniel’s character on those around him.

Daniel had an excellent spirit.

Excellent Spirit. Daniel is characterized, in chapter 6, as having an excellent spirit in him. “This Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him” ( ESV). There are two other similar usages in chapter 5. In 5:12, Daniel is considered to have “an excellent spirit” and in 5:14 he is characterized as having “light and understanding and excellent wisdom.” [2] This word, for excellent, is used in a number of other places with some variance in meaning. In chapter two, in regards to the image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, “You saw, O king . . . This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening” (). As well in , in regards to the burning fiery furnace, “the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated . . .” Let me point you to one additional usage. Following Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years of insanity, God returned to him his past glory, and he says, “My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me” ().
This word is used to intensify the nature of something. Daniel didn’t only have average character. It was intense. The fire wasn’t just hot, as any fire would be. It was overheated. Nebuchadnezzar was already great, but after his stint with insanity, he was even greater.
Excellent Spirit. In , Nebuchadnezzar refers to Daniel as the one “in whom is the spirit of the holy gods” and again in 4:18, “for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.” It is this same extraordinary spirit that is mentioned by the queen in chapter 5, when she reminds Belshazzar of the man who can interpret the words for him. She reminds him of how her husband[3] placed Daniel in a position of great authority because he had “an excellent spirit” (). It was this same extraordinary spirit that led Darius to promote Daniel to a place of esteemed leadership.
The word that is translated ‘spirit’ can be translated as smell, wind, or breath. Consider the following scenarios: (1) Someone has bad breath or an unpleasant body odor. What does this do for you? Do we not often avoid close contact with such people? We try not to let them speak directly at us, or we joke about them not lifting their hands in the air. In essence their smell is a repellant. (2) In contrast, consider someone that wears a costly intoxicating perfume or cologne. The smell is present before they are and the smell lingers after they have left. Their presence changes the atmosphere of the room in a positive way. You find yourself wanting them to be around.
This is maybe a simplified line of thought, but let me ask. What do you smell like? I know that may be an odd question. The question is not meant to have you consider your physical smell but instead your spiritual scent. Consider yourself in light of the two above scenarios. When people see you or think of you, do they think of you having extraordinary character and as a result are drawn to be around you? Or, do they see a character or personality that is wrought with bitterness, anger, sinful habits, pride, selfishness, etc? Do people avoid you because you smell bad?
Godly character may, at times, be repulsive. Some of you may think people may avoid you because you strive to live for the Lord. This may as well be true. In our passage we can see that Daniel’s character was both a repellant and a positive draw. The other leaders hated Daniel due to what his extraordinary spirit produced, and Cyrus (as well as Nebuchadnezzar) had great respect and admiration for Daniel due to his extraordinary spirit.
What did Darius notice about Daniel? What was the extraordinary spirit? Darius saw either the direct work of the Spirit in Daniel’s life or what we have come to label “the fruit of the Spirit” (). The fruit of the Spirit is really the character of Christ being revealed in us as we grow.
The fruit is a product not the goal. We often want to make the fruit of the Spirit the goal we strive after in our Christian life. We desire to be loving and gentle and good, so we set those as goals and work at being loving and gentle and good. Instead of focusing on the fruit (or making the fruit the goal), we ought to strive to have a relationship with Christ. Christ-likeness ought to be the goal. When that goal is realized, the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ will be produced.
ESV).
John 15:4–5 ESV
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Instead of training you how to be loving, I want to encourage you to know Christ. If you come to know Christ, you will be loving, but not only loving; for you will produce all of the parts of the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ It is important that as the fruit of the Spirit is produced in us that we do not become boastful. You cannot boast in the fruit produced in you because no one bears fruit apart from Christ in them.
Instead of training you how to be loving, I want to encourage you to know Christ. If you come to know Christ, you will be loving, but not only loving; for you will produce all of the parts of the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ It is important that as the fruit of the Spirit is produced in us that we do not become boastful. You cannot boast in the fruit produced in you because no one bears fruit apart from Christ in them.

Daniel was faithful.

We find three concepts in this chapter that fully detail Daniel’s faithfulness. We find two of them at the end of verse 4 where Daniel is said to be (1) faithful and, (2) have no error or fault found in him. The third concept is that of consistency and is found in verses 16 and 20. So then, this aspect of Daniel’s character is wrapped up in that he is faithful, blameless, and consistent.
Faithful. In considering a couple of different Hebrew lexicons, we can find that this idea of faithful carries with it the idea of being reliable and trustworthy. [4] If you are faithful, people can place their confidence in you. This can work itself out in a myriad of ways. As to your speech, when you say something, people can trust that it is true and that you will follow through with whatever it is you promised to do. As to your work, when you are given a task or when you commit to a task, others can rest assured that the task will be done and will be done in an acceptable and timely manner. Of course it is as well true that when you say you are going to do something and you don’t follow through, you will be considered untrustworthy or unreliable. People will not be able to depend on you or have confidence that you’ll accomplish what you promised.
Blameless. In this context, the idea of faithfulness is surrounded by the idea of being without fault or without error. “they could find no ground for complaint or any fault . . . no error or fault was found in him. . . . We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel” ( ESV).
Without fault or without error. While this is not the word used elsewhere to refer to blameless, it is the same concept. Daniel was blameless. The Greek word for blameless is used throughout the New Testament and carries the idea of not stumbling or jarring against anything, void of offense, having a clear conscience, without guilt, or without defect. This word has single handedly caused me to nearly step out of ministry on a number of different occasions. In , the qualifications for an elder are offered, and the one that I find the most overwhelming (don’t get me wrong, they all seem overwhelming at times) is what the KJV refers to as “blameless.” Most of the modern translations use “above reproach.” An elder is to be blameless or above reproach. He is to be “without guilt, faultless, without defect.” [5] “Who can fit that requirement?” I often think rather despairingly.
Before you think you get a pass on “blameless” because you’re not an elder. Consider the following passages. God desires that all of his disciples are found to be blameless.
ESV).
Ephesians 1:4 ESV
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
Ephesians 5:27 ESV
so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
ESV).
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ( ESV).
Philippians 1:9–11 ESV
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
ESV).
ESV).
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, ( ESV).
Philippians 2:14–15 ESV
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
I would assume that any believer, who is aware of his flesh, might be overwhelmed by the expectation and desire that we are to be found blameless. I don’t want to too quickly relieve you of that pressure. I want you to feel the full weight of striving to be blameless. In one sense, I don’t want to lighten that reality. We ought to feel an appropriate, Holy Spirit motivated desire to live lives that are characterized by faithfulness and godly character. If we are untrustworthy, consistently dishonest, and immoral we ought to find no solace but instead strong conviction. God does still hate sin. Yes, he loves his children, but he still doesn’t take lightly their sin. We ought to be terrified if we are living in unrepentant sin.
I would assume that any believer, who is aware of his flesh, might be overwhelmed by the expectation and desire that we are to be found blameless. I don’t want to too quickly relieve you of that pressure. I want you to feel the full weight of striving to be blameless. In one sense, I don’t want to lighten that reality. We ought to feel an appropriate, Holy Spirit motivated desire to live lives that are characterized by faithfulness and godly character. If we are untrustworthy, consistently dishonest, and immoral we ought to find no solace but instead strong conviction. God does still hate sin. Yes, he loves his children, but he still doesn’t take lightly their sin. We ought to be terrified if we are living in unrepentant sin.
On the other hand, I do desire that you find great comfort in Christ. In another sense, you will never be truly blameless until you see Christ. On any given day, you can point to my words, thoughts, or actions that are sinful. And on each of those days, you would often be right. You could accuse me of sinning and it would be true. It is at this point that I take great comfort in the fact that my blamelessness is only and ever objectively found in my position in Christ. I am in Christ and Christ is blameless.
Consistent. The third concept under Daniel’s faithfulness is that he was consistent. Of course inherent in faithfulness is consistency, but note how twice, Darius declares to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you” (,). I love how Darius considers Daniel as always serving God. Some of us at times may feel that the only thing we are consistent at is being inconsistent. We are aware of our weaknesses and failures and might feel anything but consistent in our walk with Christ. Daniel was characterized as someone who was constantly and consistently serving his God.
What might consistency look like in our lives? What must be a reality in someone’s life for them to be constantly serving God? Consider the following: a constant awareness of one’s need for dependence on Christ, consistent in prayer, not dependent on their own strength and ability.

Daniel habitually prayed.

So as the story proceeds we learn that the other rulers couldn’t find any fault in Daniel, so they decided that they had to figure something out in regards to his worship of God. This they found easily. Daniel consistently prayed three times a day, so they used this against him. They manipulated the King into signing an ordinance demanding everyone to pray to Darius alone. If anyone was caught praying to another god, they would be thrown into the lions den. Of course, because Daniel was faithful, “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” ( ESV).
There are a couple simple lessons to learn in Daniel’s example. First, and most obvious, is that we are to be consistently praying. Let’s take this lesson a bit further. There is value in having set times for prayer. If you’re like me, you’ve probably rationalized at some point not having established and extended periods of prayer in your life because we believe that we are to constantly be in a state of prayer. Maybe you appreciate one believer’s statement about prayer in that he never prayed for more than half an hour but never went more than half an hour without praying.[6] There is some truth in this. Afterall, Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” ( ESV). He similarly states in Ephesians, pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” ( ESV). So then, we should be in a constant state of prayer, but we ought not conclude that implies that we shouldn’t have set times of prayer as well. Daniel offers us a beautiful example of that very practice. Daniel was so committed to this practice that he knowingly offered up his life rather than quit his consistent time of prayer. One of my seminary professors wisely stated, “What can be done at any time and in any manner is apt to be done at no time and in no manner.”[7]

Daniel deflected all glory to God.

Not only did people see the character of Daniel, but they as well acknowledged the greatness of his God due to his character. It would have been easy for Daniel to receive and accept the accolades that came with all that he had done, but it is clear in every instance that Daniel deflects all praise to God.
This type of response is not unfamiliar to Daniel. Recall Nebuchadnezzar’s response to Daniel’s interpretation of his dream in chapter 2.
ESV).
Daniel 2:27–28 ESV
Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these:
Shadrach Meshach and Abednego’s deliverance from the fiery furnace in chapter 3 and Nebuchadnezzar’s own experience with humility in chapter 4. In each instance Nebuchadnezzar praises God for the display of His power.
Shadrach Meshach and Abednego’s deliverance from the fiery furnace in chapter 3 and Nebuchadnezzar’s own experience with humility in chapter 4. In each instance Nebuchadnezzar praises God for the display of His power.
Daniel 3:28 ESV
Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.
ESV).
Do people see a consistent testimony in you? Do they know that your consistent testimony is based upon your devotion to God, and not just a set of standards or morality you endorse? Do they see the greatness of God at work in your life? Do you communicate that it is God that works in you and not your own strength and ability?
Do people see a consistent testimony in you? Do they know that your consistent testimony is based upon your devotion to God, and not just a set of standards or morality you endorse? Do they see the greatness of God at work in your life? Do you communicate that it is God that works in you and not your own strength and ability?
[1] An example of this might be when someone just waits for God to take a certain temptation or addictive behavior away from them. They have the mindset that they really can’t defeat any particular sin until God magically takes the desire away from them. This overlooks the clear scripture passages that directly command against such behaviors. Also, we can tend to blame God for our sin when we continue sinning. “Well, God could have taken that away and he didn’t.” This can be more subtly observed when people say something along the lines of, “why did God not remove that temptation from me?”
[2] After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong (). Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying ()
[2] After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong (). Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying ()
[3] This does assume that the queen was Nebuchadnezzar’s wife and not Nabonidus’ wife. We mentioned last week that it was more likely Belshazzar’s grandmother because his mother would likely have been with Nabonidus. This is entirely speculative though.
[3] This does assume that the queen was Nebuchadnezzar’s wife and not Nabonidus’ wife. We mentioned last week that it was more likely Belshazzar’s grandmother because his mother would likely have been with Nabonidus. This is entirely speculative though.
[4] (ʾăman) trust, believe in. Used only in the Haphel. The passive participle means “trustworthy.” R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 990.
[4] “אֲמַן (ʾăman) trust, believe in. Used only in the Haphel. The passive participle means “trustworthy.” R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 990.
“2 Palm,Syr to entrust with . . . 1 Syr to be believed, 2 Syr to be confirmed, 3 Syr to be reliable” Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, Targum Lexicon (Hebrew Union College, 2004).
“2 Palm,Syr to entrust with . . . 1 Syr to be believed, 2 Syr to be confirmed, 3 Syr to be reliable” Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, Targum Lexicon (Hebrew Union College, 2004).
[5] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 46.
[5] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 46.
[6] I thought Spurgeon was the one who said this, and you can find some people online citing him as the source, but I couldn’t find the original source of this quote. There are a lot of people that reference this quote or something similar, but no one footnoted where they got it from. There seems to be more evidence that the quote is not from Spurgeon but instead Smith Wigglesworth and he used half an hour instead of 5 minutes. There were quite a few books that quoted him, but once again I couldn’t find their source either.
[6] I thought Spurgeon was the one who said this, and you can find some people online citing him as the source, but I couldn’t find the original source of this quote. There are a lot of people that reference this quote or something similar, but no one footnoted where they got it from. There seems to be more evidence that the quote is not from Spurgeon but instead Smith Wigglesworth and he used half an hour instead of 5 minutes. There were quite a few books that quoted him, but once again I couldn’t find their source either.
[7] Dr. Gordon Lovik. Seminary notes. Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, Lansdale, PA.
[7] Dr. Gordon Lovik. Seminary notes. Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, Lansdale, PA.
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