Harold Bennett - Daniel and His Three Friends - Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia - 1955

Daniel 1:l-5. I have enjoyed reading the book of Daniel . There are some statements made in this book that I wouldn't want to venture a guess about, as to what they might mean or when they might take place, but there are some things we do understand from the book of Daniel.

I wondered what the subject of the book was. The subject of the book of Daniel is the same subject Jesus preached about and the apostles preached about. It is the Kingdom we read about in Daniel 4:3, the same subject we read of in Luke 1:33, "of His Kingdom there shall be no end," the same Kingdom we read of in Hebrews 12:28. "a Kingdom which cannot be moved." It is the same Kingdom we read of in Revelations 11:15, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord." The subject of the book of Daniel is the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God. This book has a good effect on me when I read it. It is an encouraging book. The setting of the book of Daniel is in the land of Babylon. Babylon is like a black thread running through the Bible. There is a crimson thread that runs through the Bible from beginning to end that speaks of the blood of Jesus, but there is also a black thread running through the scriptures from beginning to end that speaks about Babylon.

Natural Babylon was a kingdom that existed 2,500 years ago. King Nebuchadnezzar was the king of it. He was ruthless and powerful and whom he would he set up and whom he put down. The city of Babylon was one of the mightiest cities in that day. It had walls 300 feet high, 80 feet thick, and 60 miles square. It had enough food in it for 20 years' siege, had one of the 7 wonders of the world in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. They thought it was invincible, mighty and magnificent. It began with the tower of Babylon, which means confusion. God is not the author of confusion. Babylon was man taking his own way, it is the might and power of this world, men trying to get to heaven by their own means. So, through the Old Testament we read of natural Babylon, the enemy of God's people. The fads, fashions, and learning all came out of Babylon.

In New Testament times, we read of Babylon (Ephesians 6:12), "For we wrestle...against principalities, against powers...against spiritual wickedness in high places." That is what we wrestle against, this "spiritual wickedness in high places." In Revelations 18:2, we read "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen" and will be "like a great millstone" that was "cast into the sea." (Verse 21) Babylon, that dealt in "gold, and silver, ... and slaves and the souls of men" (Verse 12-13). Babylon is what the enemy of God's people consisted of in the days of Daniel and the bright spot in the Book of Daniel is the fact that there were four boys, four children of God that made history when they stood true to God against the mightiest kingdom that ever existed and God was on their side as they stood true to Him. They had the power of God at their disposal and they were able to stand firm in their faith.

Sometimes, we are overwhelmed with the thought: "What can I do?" "How can I serve God when there is so much against serving God in this world?" But those boys stood by Him and He stood by them. They proved the truth of this verse, 11 Corinthians 10:4. Those boys proved they had weapons that weren't natural ones, God gave them to them and they were able to stand fast in the face of all that was against them as they were down there in Babylon. The time came when Babylon besieged God's people and carried many away captive, starting with the King. Some were not captives, but were among them, it is possible to be among captives, but not be a captive ourselves.

The king wanted some that would stand and serve him. He wanted the best, so he chose (Verse 4) some that had brains and beauty to serve him. We are thankful that when God chooses people to serve Him, He is not picking out those who have brains and beauty to serve Him. God chooses men and women with an honest and willing heart. The king wanted the boys so they would be a credit to his court and kingdom. When God chooses people to serve Him, He chooses those with a willing and honest heart and always gets the best. When we take the gospel to a community, in one place, someone said to us: "I can see you are going to get the best people out of this community." One person made her choice and she was the best in that community.

I am thankful that among the people of God are some who occupy high positions in the world, professors and doctors. We know some like that, but God didn't choose them because of their qualifications and I am thankful that when we are in their homes, they aren't talking about their jobs and accomplishments in this world; they are talking about the missions and what is going on in the family of God. They are humble people. The gospel has something to offer to the most unlikely, to the humble people. The king wanted some who would add to the beauty of it. Some of these marks are still found in God's people.

"Of the king's seed." God wants people who are born of a noble seed. One time, Prince Charles didn't want to do what his tutor asked him. He said, "I am the son of a king!" His tutor replied, "If you are the son of a king, behave like it!" God wants people who are the son of a King to behave like it. "His seed remaineth in him." God's people have a royal seed, they are born of royal seed,
they cannot do certain things. Joseph, tempted by Potiphar's wife, he said, "I cannot do that." There was a seed in him. God's people are born of that noble, royal seed. He wanted children in whom there was "no blemish." They were everything they claimed to be. You couldn't point to anything wrong in their lives they weren't willing to deal with, not claiming to be something they aren't.

God gives His children a wonderful wisdom that is worth more than the colleges and universities give. Stephen, making his defence before the council, they "couldn't resist the wisdom by which he spake." We have an elder in one of the cities in Oregon, a humble man. One day, a neighbour came knocking on his door. The lady came in, so distressed, because she had learnt that her husband was seeing another woman. That humble, simple elder listened to her and advised her. We marvelled at the advice he gave her, a lady he hardly knew. "Skilful in wisdom, cunning in knowledge," knowledge comes by experience. A graveside service where they asked one of our elders to pray, a number of strangers were there and he prayed humbly and simply. One of the strangers there said, "That man who prayed, he knows the Lord." That is cunning in knowledge, that is a real credit to His Kingdom.

"Understand science," science is what nature teaches us, but revelation is what God teaches us. You dig out of nature what it has to say, by libraries and laboratories, but revelation, what God has to teach, is gotten in the closet, by communion with God. The real science is understanding the secrets of God, not the secrets of nature. "Such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace." He wanted those who could stand fast and true and serve him. One of our friends, in the bank where she worked, one day they came to her and wanted her to cut her hair and dress differently. She quit that job. A colleague came and told her, "If you had given in, we would have been disappointed in you." That was a real credit to the Kingdom. The King of eternity wants people who will add to the beauty and splendor of His everlasting Kingdom and He still finds those with these qualifications.

The king of Babylon had a purpose. He wanted to take those Hebrew boys and make Babylonians out of them. He wanted to teach them the tongue of the Chaldeans, change their language, diet and names. The world wants to take you and me and make worldlings out of us. They want to change our language so that we talk the language of the world. If we don't talk the language of the world, we are misunderstood. God's people are wanting to learn the language of heaven so they are comfortable in heaven.

He wanted to change their diet, the diet of Babylon, that is usually junk food. 1 Timonthy 6:3, wholesome words of Jesus, we are learning to love and feed on heaven's food for our souls. Sometimes, when we were children, my mother didn't want us to eat sweets and candies, because it took away our appetite for good food.

He wanted to change their names. He gave them new names: Daniel's name which means "God is my judge" was changed to Belteshazzar: "Bel's favourite;" Hananiah which means "God is gracious" was changed to Shadrach, meaning "Friend of the king;" Mishael which means "Who is like God" was changed, to Meshach meaning "The lamp;" Azariah which means "God helps" was changed to Abednego meaning "Servant of Nebo" which is a god. The world wants to take God out of our name. The purpose of this world is just to make worldlings out of you and me and then we remember that God has a purpose. Ephesians 3:11, we read of that great eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus. Romans 12:2, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed." Conform means to be made like and transform means to be made different. God's purpose is to make you and me different from this world so that we resemble Jesus, that great eternal pattern He had for us. One day, when the Lord returns, we are going to hate any resemblance we have to Babylon and we are going to cherish every resemblance we have to God's Son and the extent to which our purpose is in line with God's purpose.

Then we read about Daniel's purpose. (Job 33) Sometimes, God has to withdraw man from his purpose. (verse 17-18) Sometimes, experiences come, and calamities, and they are all there because God is wanting to withdraw man from his purpose. He wants your purpose and mine to be in line with His eternal purpose. A life that doesn't have a purpose is a wasted life. If you don't know the purpose of a car or a stove, then it's wasted. A life that doesn't have a purpose is a wasted life. A chain is no stronger than its weakest link. A life is no stronger than its purpose. Our service to God won't be any stronger than its purpose. People and businesses fail, and not because they don't have ability, but because they don't have a strong enough purpose. Our purpose will carry us through in this coming year. Daniel's purpose, he had boundary lines, he would go so far and no further. He had a purpose that was strong and true.

One ship sails east and another sails west by the self same breeze that blows. It's the set of the sail and not the gale that determines the way each goes. Ships can sail in every wind and they can sail east and west by the same wind. In this coming year, it's not going to be which direction opposition comes from or how the winds blow that determines our success in the way of God, but it's going to be determined by our purpose. Here, we hear some wonderful seed thoughts, some wonderful messages that reach our hearts and they create a desire in us and it's wonderful to have right desires created, a purpose goes beyond some good desires we might have. Daniel had the purpose that he would not defile himself with the king's meat.

Verse 10-15, pulse was a starvation diet, a slave's diet. The prince of the eunuchs thought, "Those 4 boys will be on a starvation diet." The world thinks that God's people will starve, on a starvation diet, because they don't do what they do or go where they go. When I was in school, I had a room mate who lived for the weekends. He would ask me to go where he went on weekends. On about the third weekend, he said, "You don't do what I do, but I can see you are very happy." The prince of the eunuchs saw those boys were, on the contrary, enriched by it, spiritually speaking. The world looks on God's people and they see that God's people aren't deprived of anything because they are true to God and don't need what this world needs in its diet.

In the area where we labour, so often the children of the friends are the best students in the class; our young couples have marriages that are stable and happy. They don't need what the world needs in their diet. I think about old people. We have old people who are content and at peace and who are a real help where they live. It proves God's people don't need what the world needs in its diet, and they are far better off for it.

Verse 18-19, that is what God's people are living for, "the end of days" when they stand before the King. To be approved of God they have learned the language of heaven, they have learned to love heaven's food and that is what they feast upon. Daniel and his companions found the approval of the King.

I heard a story of a little girl who found she had a terminal disease. She said, "You've taught me how to cook and how to sew, but never how to die."

Daniel 2, the king dreamt a dream and forgot it. He said, "You tellest the dream." He flew into a rage and made a decree that the wise men of Babylon should be slain. Daniel 2:16, Daniel asked the king for some time. Often that is the best thing we can do, just ask for a little time. The enemy of our soul would like to press us into making decisions and taking steps, but there is nothing wrong with asking for a little time. It is often good to give these things a little time.

Verse 17-18, he prayed with them. Wonderful when we have companions we can pray with and talk about the things of God with.

Verse 19, Daniel and his friends got a vision in the night. Proverbs 29:18, it would likewise be true: where there is vision, the people are saved. "Blessed are your eyes for they see." Daniel and his companions saw the worth whileness of living for the God of Heaven, in the darkness of Babylon, they were given vision in the night that enabled them to see the worth whileness of putting their best into the things of God. We have a man where we are who is blind, he often tells people to be careful of their eyes. God's people depend on vision. Eli, his eyes waxed dim. The word of the Lord was rare, there was no vision. God's people see because they are childlike.

Matthew 11:25, if the childlike spirit vanishes, then our vision vanishes. The church at Laodicea was told to "anoint thine eyes with eye salve that thou mayest see." Our eyes are being anointed with eye salve so that we have vision in the darkness of this world. If there are messages that put a greater seal on our purpose, it is like anointing our eyes with eye salve. It is hard to have a purpose if you don't have vision.

Daniel went into the king and told the king, "The image you saw in your dream was...(Verse 31-35)...Thou art this head of gold." (Verse 38). Around 500 BC, the Medes and Persians arose like the "arms and breast of silver," cheaper, and overthrew the "head of gold." A couple of hundred years later, like "the belly and thighs of brass," the Greeks overthrew the Medes and Persians and down the image to the "legs of iron" then a couple of hundred years later the Romans arose and overthrew the Greeks and as they went down the image it became poorer and cheaper and more degraded until finally there was a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, that was God's Son. No human planning, no conception of man, God setting up His Kingdom, the Kingdom that will fill the whole earth. That image is also like spiritual Babylon, like false religion like this world. The head was of gold. Religion has some features today that are wonderful. The heads are such great thinkers, the pageantry and pomp, but then you go down the image a little further to the arms of silver, like redemption. Some things are taught in the world you can't find much fault with except it has feet of clay, can't walk; belly of brass: judgment, the opinions of men. Down a little further, legs of iron: human authority and the organization that humans can devise that is strong, just founded upon feet of clay that can't help you and me to walk and live His teaching. That stone cut out of the mountain smote the image at his feet and it became like chaff. Verse 44, it fills our whole life and
there is nothing else worth putting effort into. Before Jesus comes the second time, it will be just like that image, things in this world will get more corrupt, just as they did before Jesus came the first time and God will send His Son like that stone cut out of the mountain without hands and every kingdom of this world will be brought to nothing and carried away like chaff on the summer
threshing floor, a Kingdom that will never be given into men's hands.

Daniel and his friends had a vision and could see the final triumph of the Kingdom of God. They could see what was worth putting their time and effort into, and that it was worth remaining true. "'I am purposed naught shall hinder, God shall have my very best." They were determined that naught should hinder and that God would have their very best. I am purposed that is what I am going to
do, so we are thankful for the everlasting Kingdom God has made you and me part of. Our purpose and vision can be such that naught shall hinder.