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WHY IS WORK DIFFICULT ? (Vol 05) - ENEMIES MAKE WORK DIFFICULT – PART 2 - DANIEL

Sunday English Service - 01 OCT 17

Transcript

01Oct17

Genesis Chapter 3 verse 14 and 15: So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle,and more than every beast of the field.On your belly you shall go. And you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman: and between your seed and her seed. And he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel."

- We have been studying about work and I told you in the beginning itself that we are going to do it in three parts: the first part will be about "Why work?" - We gave some biblical reasons as to why we should work. Then the second portion is something we started a few weeks ago. And that is titled: "Why work is difficult" - That is the question that I think is in the minds of a lot of people today - "Why work is so difficult". So we started giving the reasons as to why work is difficult. And first of all I shared with you that work is difficult because sin makes work a toil: work is from God, work is good. Work was there even before the fall. It is not a curse. Work is something positive and good. But toil is the curse that came after the fall. So God gave work but sin brought the toil in work. That is why work is difficult. But even though the toil has made things difficult, there is another factor that is working in our lives as we trust in God: and that is the factor called "Blessing". What does blessing do? Blessing makes the toil easy. The curse has made work a toil but blessing turns it around and makes it easy for us. And even from the book of Genesis itself you read about this blessing and the power about this blessing. To the people of Israel, the descendants of Abraham - to whom God promised blessings. And Abraham's blessing is popular. Moses said to them that God shall command a blessing upon all the work of your hand.

Why blessing is commanded upon the work of the hands? Because curse is working, and curse is going to do everything to hinder work, and everything to make that work a toil. So God commands a blessing - that means God, by commanding a blessing is commanding supernatural wisdom and strength and ability to work in that situation - to make things easier. The toil now becomes easy through the blessing. So we should not just only think about how the world is now cursed and everything is difficult now: we should also have the right perspective: to think about the blessing of Abraham that is upon us. And Jesus died to bring that blessing on us. And because of that, the toil in this world becomes easier because the blessing turns it around for us.

The second reason I said to you is this: that death makes work meaningless and that is why work is hard. When you do something and it is meaningless to you then you don't feel like working - motivation is gone. Just imagine what work would have been like before death came. The bible says, sin came and through sin death came: and death came upon all men. So before sin came, and through it death came, just imagine what life would have been like. If you live today, knowing that you will never die, you would show a lot more interest in your work. Lot more interest in how you earn and how you do things. Lot more interest in your profession because it is something that is going to be there forever: you are going to enjoy the benefits of the fruits of it forever.
The thing that makes us lose heart and makes work difficult and takes away the motivation from it is the fact of death. You think that death will come and it will come any time. And therefore what is the use? You tried so hard, work so hard. After all you are going to die. And a lot of Christians have got that very well: "We are all going to die. So nothing is meaningful. For what do we work so hard? Why do we have to build a house? Why do we have to put away money for the future? Why do we have to do all these? Who is going to enjoy all these? Am going to be gone anytime" - that is the way they think.

And the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes laments about it literally, and that's been the lament of a lot of Christian people. They say what is the use, all is vanity - meaningless: is the meaning of vanity: that is how one translation puts it. But I showed you that life is not totally meaningless for us. We live a meaningful life. We realize why we are here: we realize that death is there - death has come and death is there for every man, but still we die, we know that we are here to live for God, to do the work that God has given into our hands to do: there is a purpose in life and that the work that we do is meaningful to us because the bible says that when we die our works go with us. It is not like you die and you leave everything and you can't take anything: that is what makes everything meaningless, pointless: takes away the motivation.

The bible tells us: Blessed are they that die in Christ, they shall cease from their labours and enter into rest, their works do follow them. - very precious words. Their works follow them. So when we leave this earth and go after death, our works go with us. Certainly, we can't take our money, our house, our car or whatever we have - as possessions,our gold and silver, we can't take: but we can take what we do - the good works that we do with all the resources that God has given to our hands. Yeah, whatever God has given to us is meaningful because there is something that God wants us to do. When we do the good works that God wants us to do: and use the resources that we have in our hands in that way, then those works follow us all the way to heaven and stay with us throughout eternity because the returns or the rewards for the work follow us all throughout eternity. So work is very meaningful for a Christian. It is not like we are going around like some Christians: "Oh vanity, vanity. All is vanity". No, a true Christian should not say that.

Christianity is about finding meaning: finding Christ is finding meaning. If Christ is your Lord then that means you are living a very meaningful life - that is what Christianity is all about. So don't call everything a vanity. It is not - yeah death is there but that doesn't make everything meaningless: there is life after death. There is an eternity with God after death. There are rewards for our works that are done here. So there is full of meaning that makes us motivated - that gives motivation to work and do our best while we are here.

The third reason is the one we began last week, and I want to continue this week. And the third reason is that enemies - the enemy factor. That is why I read these verses in Chapter 3 of Genesis, verse 14 and 15. After the fall, God comes in and speaks to the woman, the man and the serpent, in fact, to the serpent first. And when He speaks to the serpent He says this: because you have done this you are cursed more than all cattle, more than every beast of the field. And your belly you shall go and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. This is the curse that comes upon the serpent because it has become the instrument of the devil.

Now verse 15, is all important verse in the scriptures - the first promise of the coming Messiah: but in that promise there is so much more than just the coming Messiah. That is the ultimate end of that promise, but in that promise there is a lot more that sees the fulfillment of these things right after the promise is made - the fulfillment comes through. Verse 15 says: I will put enmity, God says, between you and the woman: and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. - So the enmity between you and the woman, he says, between your seed and her seed: between the serpent's seed and the woman's seed. The ultimate end of that promise is that Jesus will come into the world, as a child born of the woman's seed without any help of a man: but the promise is about how the entire human race now goes into two different streams. One is called "The seed of the woman", the other is called, "The seed of the serpent". The seed of the serpent is the wicked side of the human race: the seed of the woman is the godly seed - the godly people. You see in fourth chapter itself - the next chapter itself: that is coming to pass, where Cain is the seed of the serpent, and Abel is the seed of the woman or the godly seed. And then goes on to say it - the godly seed that proceeds on to various people and then Abraham and so on, the seed continues through the people of Israel, and through that to Jesus, and through Jesus, all of us.

So I want to continue that because the first time I talked about how the enemies make work difficult - because the seed of the serpent is there in the world: they are always against the people of God, against the progress of the people of God - the success of the people of God. Therefore they always work against God's people - there is opposition, persecution and so on in this world by the seed of the serpent upon the seed of the woman or the godly seed. And that is why we got so many problems in our work today. It is illustrated in the bible through various stories. One is the story of Joseph: and we went through it last week. And today I want to go through the story of Daniel. These stories are so valuable because these are stories about people who lived in a foreign land under a culture that is not godly, among a people that are basically very wicked: no godly values are there. And among those people, these men end up living. And as they live they find the great opposition and persecution, and jealousy coming against them - trying to stop them, hinder them, their progress and growth. They are there as...in a foreign lands as slaves literally. But from that slavery, from the lowly position, they rise to the highest positions in that nation - in that foreign nation that they find themselves in: to the highest positions: in greatest favours with the rulers there, so that they literally are a terror to others there. And how that happens is a marvelous story and that is a lesson for all of us.

The stories are written here: the story of Joseph, the story of Daniel, Nehemiah and all that - It's written for that purpose, to teach us that we are also like that - we live in a world which is different: it's culture different, the people are different, there is no justice there: there is no righteousness there: often times it is not a godly society many times. We find ourselves in a very difficult place, but yet, the bible is trying to teach us that we can live in that place and still succeed among such people - we can still do well among those people. That is why the bible is written. So the bible is not a history book, it is not just trying to tell the story or the history about the people of Israel or something like that. No, it is not a history book. It should not be treated like that. It is a spiritual book, trying to teach us spiritual lessons, life lessons. How to live our life, trusting in God, depending on God. That's the whole aim of these stories - that's the purpose. Edification is the purpose, not a historical account. To bring edification to the people, to build up the people in faith, to give hope in the time of trouble: that is why these things are written. So the book of Daniel is written for that purpose.

Now some of you or maybe new to Christianity and the bible: and some of those people may not have read the book of Daniel yet, and for you this would be an amazing story to hear and draw the lessons from. I am going to read some long passages from there if you don't mind for the sake of people that have never read the book of Daniel, and this may be the only time they are hearing it or the first time they are hearing it. So I want to really introduce them to it. If you come here to church you will visit all the 66 books, one time or the other. There is the whole bible and full of truth, and we will go to it, and draw the truth from it.

So, I am going to read long passages: if you are familiar with it and you say I have been a fourth generation Christian and I have heard it so many times, in Sunday school - Daniel story: I know Daniel story. For you I have got some News: This is not the same Daniel story you heard in Sunday school. This is Daniel story that has to do with your work: very rich in application. You think about it in a different way. I will tell the story in a different way today, so that you will see it in a different way: so don't lose interest - listen. Because this is a story rich with truth, that we can bring into our life: and apply and see results today.

Turn with me to Daniel chapter 1. One of the things that we see here is these people - Daniel and his three friends. You know: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They are known by their Babylonian name more - these three people. And Daniel - Daniel is known by his Hebrew name more. Belteshazzar is his Babylonian name. So Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - these people are part of the group that were taken as captives to Babylon. Now when the captors took them - they were very smart people. The Babylonians, they figured no use carrying worthless people over there: people that you don't really need, you got to take care of them and what they contribute to society will be very little. So when they took captives they paid attention to who they were taking: they took some of the best in the land - the very educated, very smart, very skilled people, that were there in the land: they were taken as captives to Babylon. And they were given placements there in Babylon, to work there: and placed in various positions. Some of them were placed in very high positions of power in the country: because they were very skilled and very educated. So they are taking captives but at the same time, deriving a lot of benefit through that because they brought some of the best minds in Israel as captives.

So Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were such gifted people - quite skilled in whatever they were doing. They were great administrators, and so on: and they were given training for three years there - in the nation's language and culture, and so on - after they went there. And they were inducted into the service of the government there. So they held very high positions. Now when they got on their jobs and started doing their jobs - naturally they would be friction there because they are outsiders, they are foreigners, and they were slaves basically. They didn't come by choice, looking for jobs - they were brought in as slaves. So people looked down upon them, and all of a sudden the people that looked down upon them saw them going up: and going up in position and power. So there was a lot of friction, there was a lot of jealousy - people wanted to kill them, get rid of them and so on. So a lot of laws were enacted and framed just to target this minority group - these slaves that have come in: that are gifted and talented, that are rising in positions of power in the country. Laws, you will see deliberately targeting them: just purposely framing laws so that it can be a snare to these people. So they can accuse them of something and frame them, and kill them. They just want to find some reason - that is why it is done.

So theyare living in a very difficult place: people wanted to literally kill them because they don't like them: but the government likes them because they want them to contribute to their society - they want their skills, they want their talents, they want their abilities. So, on one side they are wanted, the other side they want to destroy them - this is the way it was. So in their work they find great difficulties: it is all related to work. Daniel story is full of what happens in the work place.

So in the work, they try to create all kinds of difficulties. The first difficulty they experience is that they had to be part of a group that was a special group that was working as consultants to the king, on various matters. Therefore they stayed very close to the king, and the food, and the provisions were made by the king. They were supposed to eat the provisions that are sent by the king. And Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego belonged to that group of these special people that were provided food, the best food. Because they wanted these people to be healthy and well kept, and well maintained, so that they can advise the government and they can work in their important roles in the government and so on. So they had to eat the food that was given by the king. And there was a problem with that because the people of Israel were given certain commandments - food regulations under Moses, and you know those food regulations.

And some of you may not know why the food regulations were there. See they were very particular about what kind of food they ate - even today, they Jews are like that. The main reason I would say the food regulations were given to them by God is this: that God wanted a separate identity for them. He did not want them to live in the world and be assimilated and become like all others so that who don't know who Abraham's children were and who the others were. God wanted a clear line of demarcation. God wanted to put a circle around them and make them very special and mark them literally before the world so that anybody that looks just in a few minutes will understand this guy is a Jew. So lots of points of differences are there: the Jews are totally different from the rest of the world - in their customs, in their practices, even in their eating habits God made the difference. That is why the food laws were given basically to keep them as a distinctly different people from the rest of the world, and the peoples of the world. They are Jewish people - they are Abraham's children, the covenant people. So God put covenant marks - His covenant marks on them in every way.

So the food regulations were to keep them and give them a distinctive difference among the people of the world. But not only that, they were some spiritual meaning in some of those food laws also. It had health purposes also in mind, but it also had spiritual reasons. For example, God says, "Do not eat blood". Why? Because the bible teaches about blood - that life is in the blood, and later on it teaches about how through the shedding of the blood is the remission of sins. Later on you have the teaching about the blood of Jesus and so on. So if you are eating blood, how will you respect the power of the blood and the redeeming value of the blood and so on. And the fact that life is in the blood: that life is given in order that life may be received by people. Jesus gave is life by shedding his blood so that we may receive life. All these things cannot be taught effectively if blood is disrespected in that way. That is why God said, "Do not eat the blood".

Other societies were used to eating blood. So there are some spiritual reasons also. There are many things that can be said about it, but I don't want to go into it. But food regulations caused the first problem. I just want to show you step by step in four or five instances how they brought their Jewishness and their belief in God, their faith in Christbrought them problems in the work place, friction was created.They didn't create the friction. They were just different people, but those people because of their jealousy and because they did not like them coming up in power, wanted to find some way to kill them and destroy them: they created a lot of problems. And I want to show you step by step how they handled it and how they overcame it because it is a lesson for all of us. And that is the purpose for writing the book of Daniel - our edification, so that we can learn from it.

So let me read to you from Daniel Chapter 1 - the first passage I am going to read to you is from verse 8 where they face this food regulation problem. Says, But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank. - See now they are supposed to eat the king's food that is provided for them/allotted to them, but Daniel purposed in his heart that he won't do it, and defile himself with it. See it has to do with God saying no to these foods and they are saying, "You must eat these foods". So he does not want to be defiled by these things. Therefore he requested of the chief of the Eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the Eunuchs. And the chief of the Eunuchs said to Daniel - You see,once you determine in your heart and purpose in your heart to live for God, you will see that God comes into the pictures and begins to aid you and to help you. But you must determine first. You must determine that in the midst of a society that does not honor God, that does not care about God, that does not have the same values as you have, you are going to carry on with the values that you have, and live for God and be faithful to God. When you determine in purpose in your heart, then God helps you and makes it possible for you. So God gives him favor with the guy that is in charge of the food business. So and the chief of Eunuch said to Daniel: and I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.



- The kings were crazy in those days. If they said, "Feed these people and the king saw the people and said, "Why is he not looking well, you have not been feeding him well. Come over here" And he will cut of his head. That is the way they dealt with their employees in those days - cutting off their heads. So this guy says, "What if the king finds one day that you are not looking good, as good as the others of you age, he will cut my head" So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the Eunuchs has set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah- those three names are names of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: their names were changed later on to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - their original names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.

Now regarding names, one thing: even Daniel's name was changed. They names were changed to names which had something to do with their gods in Babylon. Can you imagine that? These are people of God going there - Abraham's children, and their names are changed to reflect something about their gods in Babylon - these pagan gods. And they took on those names, and they had to live with those names because that is a different country: they are slaves, they had no option, they just have to take on the name. They could change their name, but they could not change their heart. I want you to take note of that - people can change everything about you, but they cannot change your heart. Heart is not such an easy thing to change, they changed their name to reflect something about their gods, but they did not become like their gods. They had their God in their mind/in their heart - they were strong in the Lord.

So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuch had said over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishel and Azariah: Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies: and as you see fit, so deal with your servants. - He says try it for 10 days - 10 days let's eat what we want to eat, you give the king's food to the other fellows: compare us 10 days later - see how we look, compared to them. Then let our appearance be examined before you - the appearance of the young men, who eat the portion of the king's delicacies and as you see fit, so deal with your servant. So he consulted with them in this matter and tested them 10 days, and at the end of the 10 days, their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies, they looked better. For all those who wonder whether God can make you look better, here is the verse: that God can indeed make you look better - give you a fine look, literally. So then it says: Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. - Now by the way, it is not teaching vegetarianism. There are so many other places where God says: kill and eat.

So, don't take these verses and just build your own doctrines on it: that here the bible says the dhall is better than chicken curry or something like that - that is not what this verse is teaching. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewedthem, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore they served before the king. - They were the best, in other words. These four were the best, so there were none found like these four - for they were exceptionally good and talented. They served directly under the king and in all matters of wisdom and understanding, of which the king examined them, he found them 10 times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. Just imagine the king was consulting magicians and astrologers: and here these men were men of God, they were getting a revelation from God - God was showing them everything. Those days magicians and astrologers were big thing. And they all looked like fools in front of these fellows - these fellows got their information from God. They could tell exactly what is going to happen, what God wants to tell and so on.

So, anytime the king consulted with these men, he found them 10 times better than others: thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus. So wonderful story. See how they handled the food problem - how nicely they talk and negotiate, and so on, and ease the friction a little bit. They go and talk to the person in-charge, reason with him, negotiate with him - very kindly and nicely. Telling him, "You test us. See for the 10 days, nothing wrong will happen to you. We will be fine. Just give us the food that we want to eat. We want to serve the king. Everything else is fine. Just let us eat our food. Just whatever we want we will eat. Don't let us defile ourselves." So they reasoned with the authorities and got their way and God is helping them all along. And they were better than anyone in that realm in the whole of Babylon and that whole empire - they were better than all others in skill and wisdom and understanding - any matter that the king consulted with them, they were 10 times better than the others. What a certificate.

Now just imagine: if in your profession, you are better than most others out there. The question of whether you are a Christian or what caste you are, or what this and that - all those things will not come into picture at all. Suppose your child is doing bad in mathematics and you want tuition for the child and they say: "Here is a man who can give you some tuition and everybody that learns under him gets 100 out of 100"- such a good teacher. You won't be asking whether he is a Christian or not. "I don't want my child to go to a Christian house" "I don't want my child to learn under a Christian" or "I don't want my child to learn under a man that belongs to this particular caste" or something like that. You will forget everything: because the skill, the talent and the ability puts you high above all others, you know. All those other things are forgotten. The fact that these fellows were slaves were forgotten. They considered them like dirt - but that was forgotten: because these guys' talents and abilities, and skill and wisdom, and understanding were needed for the nation building - for Babylonians, it was needed. They didn't care that these people were slaves. Later on you read that they made them in-charge of the whole of Babylon - they entire region of Babylon, Daniel and his men were made leaders or were made as authorities, and Daniel was number three in power in the whole empire. That is how high they rose in power.



So I say to you that you and I as Christian people living in these days - in a similar situation many times: the challenges are similar. We must believe God to endow us with wisdom and understanding, and skills in such a way that we become better in our skills. And our service,and our work becomes so valuable to everybody, that nobody can stop us from rising to the very top, in whatever fields that we are in - we must believe like that. Instead I find a lot of Christians talking about how we are a small minority and everybody is oppressing us, nobody is giving us any chance and so on. Well if you talk about that you can keep on talking: there is no end to it. That problem is not going to be solved. The way to look at it is - to look at who you are in Christ - that you have the blessing of Abraham. And what the blessing means? The blessing means that you are given divine ability - that ability puts you over, it makes you successful: just like it made Joseph successful. It makes you noted, it makes you recognized in the field of your endeavor: your services are needed. You gifts and talents are needed. You are respected because of what you can do for the society. Living under difficult people, in a difficult nation, under ungodly, unjust government: that is what the Babylonians were. But these people were excelling. Nobody could stop their progress. God's favour was upon them. These men were purposing to live for God. Living in that society, they were not discouraged. They purposed in their hearts - the bible says. They purposed in their hearts that they will not defile themselves with that food: that they will eat what they want to eat, that God has given to them - they purposed in their heart.

So one of the things that we have to do is purpose our heart to live for God, and be the best in everything that we do, and do our work with all the integrity and sincerity, and expertise that we can do it with and be respected for those gifts and talents and abilities in the society. Now if you go to the Second Chapter, the story is even more interesting. In the Second Chapter the king has a dream. Now in those days, interpreters of dreams had a very special place in the king's court: because when God wanted to say something He often times revealed it through dreams - and the fellows didn't know what the meaning of the dream was. So they had all kinds of interpreters: they didn't know whom to believe I guess. Why so many interpreters of dreams in king's courts? They had a whole bunch of them - interpreters. Why so many? Because they didn't believe one - they wanted to check with the other one, get the second opinion, and the third opinion and so on - whether this interpretation is true or not? So this king also had a lot of interpreters, wise men, and among those wise men was Daniel. So the king has a dream and it disturbs him, and he says: "Call all the wise men. I want to know the meaning of this dream". So he called them but the problem is this: This time this dream seems to be so important to him - he doesn't want to tell the dream. He wants them to tell what he dreamed. Now that is very difficult, isn't it?. Now, this is no joke, because these kings are so crazy that if you can't tell what he dreamed, he will cut your head off.

So he says, I am not going to tell the dream for you to interpret because I know you guys make up your own stories when you interpret. As long as you have the dream, then you can build on that and tell me all kinds of things about what this means and so on - that is what these guys do: a lot of them. They say, "What is your dream?" And you tell the dream, and they can...just like these parrot astrologers. Have you seen them? The parrot astrologers? They will just look at you and just talk stories. And you will say, "My God, unbelievable! They guy just told me what I wanted". He will take one card and there will be onlyso much in the card and he would be saying pages and pages: just by studying you - they are good readers of personalities and faces. They know what you are all about. And you sit there and listen - thinking that this guy has mighty revelation flowing forth. So these guys obviously were good at that - that is why the king didn't want to tell the dream. He said, "You give the dream and the interpretation". And nobody could tell that. And the king got irritated: "See, that means you guys have been fooling me all this time that God is giving you a revelation and all that. If He is giving you revelation, why can't He give you the dream also? Why can't He tell you what I dreamed of? And then give the interpretation. So you guys have no revelations about anything." So he ordered for all these wise men to be killed.

So in the country, people were going out to kill all the wise men. Can you believe this? For nothing. Just because they couldn't tell what the king dreamed. I bet they were all praying that the king doesn't dream anymore dreams. And as they were going and killing everybody, Daniel is one of them that is targeted. And let me read to you from verse 13, Second Chapter (2nd Chapter verse 13): So the decree went out, and that they began killing the wise men: and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. - Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It looks like to me that all these decrees concerning killing wise men and all of that, comes from some consultants - the local guys who want to find some reason to kill Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So when the decree was put out, immediately they want to find these four guys: "Let's kill them first before we get to anybody" They want to frame laws and create laws just to nail these guys: looking for ways and means to do this. So they say, "Alright the king has now said that everybody that can't tell what the dream is, and can't give interpretation has to die. So let us find Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We want to kill them really, using this opportunity." Then look at this, verse 14: Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon: he answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree from the king so urgent? Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel. So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time: that he might tell the king the interpretation. - So he asked for some time, so that I give you the interpretation: just give me some time.

Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions. - in other words, he goes and tells Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego the decision to go ahead and take the challenge and interpret the king's dream - not only interpret but to give the dream: and give the interpretation of the dream. That they might seek mercies from the God. - He is telling them so that they may go and pray from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven, and so on. So they go and pray: most amazing thing happens - Daniel is given the details of the dreams that the king had dreamed. God is given him the dream that that man had dreamt in secret. God says, "This is the dream that he had, and this is the interpretation of it" And then Daniel comes and explains the dream. You find that in 24 onwards - don't want to read it. But what I want to say is this: In life threatening situation, in an impossible situation, literally, how can you know another man's dream? Interpretation is a lot more easier. To know what the man dreamed is very difficult, and impossible almost unless God reveals it to you. They take on the challenge, they decide to do it plus they pray and seek God.

Now look at this: it has to do with their work. That is their jobs. In their job they are given this challenge and they are seeking the face of God. They are telling their friends, "Come on, let's pray. We are going to take this as a challenge, and pray and accomplish this" What a way to approach your job. A lot of people don't think about praying to God when it comes to their job. They pray for everything else: they pray for the whole world - they pray for Africa, America and everywhere: but when it comes to their job they think God doesn't have anything to do with their job, their business or anything. They think God is not business minded. God doesn't have anything to do with this business: better not to take all this business affairs and business problems to God - because God is not interested. I say to you today: God is very much interested in seeing you succeed in the midst of this world: in the society that you live in. It is very important that you succeed. God wants you to succeed - for His glory. God is not interesting in oppressing you and putting you down and making you a loser. God wants you to succeed: because when you succeed, glory goes to God. You see every time they succeed, the king himself says: "Your God is a true God. There is only one God that is a true God - that is your God" - the king says. They never said anything like that. They just do what God has told them and the kings open their mouths and they utter these words, and giving glory to God.

So, God wants you to succeed. So one of the things that we really have to learn from Daniel story is that we can take these matters to God: we can take the challenges of our jobs - the impossible challenge of our jobs that are presented to us, things that nobody else can do - by God's grace when they are put upon us and placed upon us, and when we don't even know what to do, we can go and pray.

There was one man that was an inventor of a lot of things: He was agricultural scientist. He was an African-American living in America in the days of - just after the days of slavery. So there was racism and all kinds of problems in those days: and these people were not esteemed very high in that society. This man studied to be a scientist. He never even went to school. He just learned to read from some white people who had some slaves. That lady had taught him to read when he was little: and when he grew up he applied to a college. Most of the colleges rejected him, and then finally ended up going to a college and studied science, and he became an agricultural scientist. He became theinventor of some 300 different products or something. And very famous - everybody tried to oppress him. His story is like Daniel story: everybody tried to put him and keep him as low as possible. He will go and join somewhere as a professor and others would leave, because he has been taken as professor. That is how they would insult him: but he rose to the very top and he mentored a lot of staff using agricultural products. And they interviewed him once and asked him: "How did you do it - how did you come up with these many inventions? He said, "When I go into my lab I pray and ask God. And it is like a curtain that opens before me. And God simply just pours ideas into my head. Just gives me ideas - it's like opening a curtain and letting me into some secrets. All kinds of ideas come into my mind, and that is why I came up with this many inventions", he said. Here is a man who is at the very bottom of life, in a society where he finds it very difficult to come up to the top - comes up anywhere really, leave alone the top: and he comes to the very top by God's grace because he just prays and looks to God, and trusts in God. Everybody is against him - nobody wants him in any kind of place of importance. Nobody wants him even as a teacher, as a professor - nobody wants: but he prays to God, and nobody could reject him later on in life because he became so good. Nobody could ever...at the end of his life they were happy to have him: they were proud to have him. If they had him everybody was applying to that college - to learn from under him. That is how his fortunes changed. Trusting in God, having faith in God - he prayed about his business, he prayed about his research, he prayed about whatever he was doing. The impossible things became possible, he says. "By prayer I would pray and the curtain would open. And God will let me in on secret things, and show wonderful things", he says.

You think God has changed now? He doesn't open any curtains anymore, showing anything anymore: He keeps everything in secret to Himself? No! Not many people are asking, not many people are seeking: not many people are asking God to help them in their works so that they can succeed in their work and bring glory to God. Not many people are taking on the challenges when they are presented to Him as an opportunity. Hello, everybody is awefully silent today. They are not ready to take on, they are not yet ready to say: "But the grace of God, I am going to try it, I am going to pray, I am going to go at it: I am going to give it a try" If God will help me, I will do it for the glory of God. That approaches is not there. Most people have adapted to another lifestyle now: The less work, the more salary, better. They say, "Don't give all that work to me. I don't know anything about that". One fellow told me, "That's not my calling. Nothing, just some office work" He said, "That is not my calling" Anybody can do that work, but that is not my calling in life. I said, "Take a walk then. This is not my calling to have you".

Here is a man who is an example of this -he takes on the challenge, and he tells his friends, "You pray, and you help me. Let's pray, let God reveal to us". And God does reveal to him. And at the end of chapter 2, he goes to the king and interprets the dream and everything. At the end of chapter 2, you find that great position has been given to him. Verse 47 says: The king answered Daniel, and said, Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret. See, then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts: and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king. - He was a consultant right with the king - right there. He was over all the wise men of the nation: and his three assistants - his friends had been made in charge of the whole realm of Babylon by his recommendation.

And look at what the king says. He says: "Your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings and a revealer of secrets" - brings glory to God. The third chapter gets even more interesting - that is the chapter where you have the scene of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into fire. Third chapter begins like this: Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. (Sixty cubits is about 90 feet, height was 60 cubits and width 6 cubits. 90 feet tall statue he makes) He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. - Now some kings don't have anything better to do. So he thinks about "What can I do?" So he hears all these things about some guy who made a statue this big: and 50 feet tall, and 40 feet tall, and all that. It's over here and there, and these guys consultants - these wise fools, that are around him give him all the ideas about you know how this fellow has this statue, and that fellow has built this one and he says how can I built a 10 feet more. I will one 60 feet more. So he built one 60 feet high. Not only did he build it, the story later on goes that he invited every leader, every official in all of his realm to come to the dedication of the statue. And they all come to the dedication, and there the announcement is made. Now I can see a grand scheme here. See, some guys are working as consultants - trying to work against these guys: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They are always scheming to snare them and trap them, and kill them somehow. So they probably told the king, "Let's build a big statue: and let's call for a big dedication: let everyone come". In that dedication these guys instigate the king to make the announcement saying that "If anyone does not bow before this statue as the music is played,....if you don't bow, then you are finished - you will thrown into fire and be killed." And certainly this was targeted for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: these fellows in mind. Purposely tailor-made law for them. Because who would not bow to it. The king has made it: certainly all the Babylonians would be willing to bow to it.

You know, a lot of Babylonians will need to bow because their king has told them: and am sure all the Babylonians were like all the rest of the world - they would bow to anything, if you just tell: they don't care what they bow to. They would have bowed anyway. Only people that would not bow are the people that have the Ten Commandments that says, "You shall have no other gods", "You shall make no images" - their law specifically says that they can have no other gods and make no other images and worship them. These people would not bow to any image that you made. So it is tailor-made to trap them and kill them. And they make it and dedicate it: and they announce it. And said, "As the music is played, everybody bow". And these fellows didn't bow and they make report to the king. They say these three fellows are there: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. "They are not respecting you", they say. The kings like that, you know. "Oh, he doesn't respect me: I built the 90 feet stuff, and he doesn't respect me" - he didn't do that. They said: "Yes" So they said, "Bring them along, throw them in the fire." The king first asked them, "Did you say that? Did you say that you will not do?" And they said, "Yeah! We don't need to answer you regarding this", they say. "Really, you know the answer". "Our God is able to save us", they said. "But even if He doesn't save us we will not be serving these statues that you have made" they said. And they were thrown into the fire and the fire is heated even 7 times more than normally. And the guys that throw them ingot killed. It was so hot.

And the guys that were thrown in, survived. They looked in and these fellows were there, alive. And lo and behold, there was a fourth man, right in the middle. Along with these three, there was a fourth man, who looked like the son of God himself. He is the son of God, Jesus Christ present with them. He said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" The one who said it in the most dangerous point in their life: at the time when they were risking their whole lives, and they found themselves thrown in the fire. He has given them the promise, but now, personally he comes there: appears there before them and is there, present with them in this most difficult times. God understands that this is tough thing to take. So He comes and is there as the fourth man with them. And the king is astonished: he tells them to come out. Again they have learned a lesson that they can't kill these guys. All these problems come in their work because of their position - because of the work, because of their success, because of their knowledge and the wisdom, and the expertise that these guys have. Because they are succeeding big time in their work, these other group is oppressing them. They pulled out and again God of these people has shown to be wonderful through God. And look at verse 26. Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke saying: "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here." - So you can tell this guy has been listening to some consultants only: he knows better. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came from the midst of the fire. Not even the hair in their head was singed nor were their garments affected, it says: nor of the smell of fire on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke saying, verse 28: Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God. - See, they knew what the law said, they knew that these guys won't worship: they knew that they would only follow their law and so on. Then he says, Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap: because there is no other God who can deliver like this. - Completely the law changes - everything changes. Total victory is gained. When you read stories like this, it just enables you to stand for God, and take your stand for God, and trust in God to mighty things and great things for you.

Many times you feel like small in a big world that seems like everything is against you and set against you,but when read stories like this you realize that when God is on your side you are not a minority, you are a majority. All these fellows are trying very hard, scheming up things, wasting their time - trying to do this and that. They probably build that 90 feet stuff, just for the fellows, you know, to get them into trouble: and all a waste - a waste of time, and energy and money, and everything.

Next in Chapter 4 also: See, Chapter 3 we saw how that they did not bow to idolatry, and stood strong and took their position and trusted in God to deliver them. And Chapter 4 is interesting also: in Chapter 4, they had gotten Nebuchadnezzar second dream, and again he wants the dream to be interpreted. And again Daniel is called, again Daniel ends up interpreting the dream of the king. This is a terrible dream. Now if you read the dream you wouldn't want to go before the king and tell him the interpretation. The king dreamed about a tree - that was a big tree: has a lot of nice leaves and fruit. There was food for all kinds of animals, and everything there - for all living things there was food there, it says. And all of a sudden a voice said loudly: "Cut down this tree" Just leave the stump - cut down everything: all the leaves, all the fruits, everything - cut it off. And the king was bewildered. He just didn't know what this whole dream meant. And then Daniel comes in and he gives the dream. He says, "The tree you saw (verse 20 - chapter 4 verse 20) which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home, it is you, O king. - The tree is you, he says: who have grown and become strong: for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field: let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him. - And this is the interpretation, O King. Look at the interpretation: you won't want to stand there and say this to the king. Look at the interpretation, he says - This is the decree of the Most High God, which has come upon my lord, the king. They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be will be beast of the field: and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. Inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.

He says, you have sinned, and you need to learn a lesson. You are going to be cut down to size, just like a tree is cut down. Your kingdom is going to be cut down: you are going to be dethroned, literally. You are going to lose your throne and be living among the animals and eat grass like the cow - he is telling the king. That is what God is telling me. Until seven times are passed, until you begin to learn that heaven only rules, God only placed you there as a king.

And then verse 27 is the most solemn words: Look how he speaks the truth in love. I don't think these are very easy things to say to a king in those days because they will cut your head off for everything. And look at him, he says: Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you: break off your sins by being righteous and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity. - He says, king, I hope you have a change of mind. You repent, you change. Please accept my advice, he says. What is the advice? Break off your sins by being righteous - do righteousness, stop sinning, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Stop being a very mean, bad man. Show mercy to the poor, he says: perhaps their maybe a lengthening of your prosperity.

Now, we have seen all the wonderful things that God did for Daniel as he interprets the dream - gives the dream and the interpretation and so on: we have seen already. And here he gives the interpretation, but look at the boldness that God gives to speak to his king in this way, and speaks the truth in love. In this world, that is very needed for Christians. As we live in this world and work in this world, we need to learn the art of speaking the truth in love. Amen

We are not here to condemn people: we are not here to just throw curses on people. We are not here to say, "Oh, you going to eat grass like a cow and live among the animals" No, no - speaking the truth in love. He is really concerned about the king and his welfare. Even though he is living in a foreign land - he is living and serving the oppressor. The king who has taken him as captive: even though he is a slave in that land, serving the oppressor, he realizes that this king has been good to him in some ways: and that there can be a change of heart, and he is full of compassion for the king, and for the country. He says, "Please repent. Stop being bad - do good to the poor, stop sinning like this. Do righteousness so that there will be a lengthening of your prosperity: so that you may be well for a long time more, he says. He is truly concerned about the king and his welfare. No matter how much they did against him, he is concerned about the king and his welfare.

Then finally we come to Chapter 6. In Chapter 6 you have the story of Daniel being thrown into the lion's den. Even that thing was framed just to get Daniel into trouble. Now this guy has a habit of praying and he prays three times a day - facing Jerusalem, he prays. So these guys take notice of that, and they can't find any mistake in his work. They can't find anything wrong - they can't find any accusation like he took money from this person or this and that, nothing like that. He is a man of integrity - he is a faithful guy, he is a good guy. And he did his work very well: you can't find any fault in it. So they are looking and looking: could not find any fault with it. Have you noticed, the only place where they could find some way to frame him is concerning his religious beliefs, with these people: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they targeted them by building a statue and making them to bow before it. Now for Daniel they couldn't find any fault with him - only fault they can find is that he is worshipping some other God. He is praying to some other God - that is a big mistake in that place. How can you pray to some other god? So they told the king: "Time for another game now for them. Let's come up with another law", they said. For thirty days - just for thirty days, we will have a law that says, no man can ever pray to another god or another man - make any kind of petition to any other god or any man, other the king himself: for thirty days only. Because they know, in 30 days they can surely nail him. For some people you can have it for even 90 days, you will never catch them making that mistake of praying. For this guy they said 30 days we will find him praying, we will bring him. So they made the law just for 30 days - nobody can pray to any other god, any other man - only to the king, they can pray. But that didn't stop Daniel from praying: this law didn't stop him from praying. He went into his room, didn't want any trouble.

He went into his room as usual and he started praying. He did not say, "I am praying. I am putting in the newspaper an advertisement today". No, no - he didn't want any trouble. He went into his room and prayed. He faced Jerusalem and he started praying. Three times a day he prayed - and they found him praying. They must have been hanging around him there to watch him, you know, to watch whether he is praying or not. He went into the upper room. Somehow they spied on him and saw that he was praying. They reported to the king: "This man is not respecting you, your law, he is praying. We have to throw him in the lion's den as the king had decreed. So when the king said something he cannot take it back: so he says, "Ok". And the king doesn't want to because he knows how greater a guy Daniel is. He feels bad for it, but they throw him. And the whole night after they throw him in the lion's den, the king is fasting and losing sleep - as if he is in the lion's den. And Daniel is sleeping, and having a good time. The next morning the king meets him and says, "What happened to you?" He says, "No, nothing - no problem. God has tied the lion's mouths" he says. How many of you know even today, God is in the business of tying up lion's mouths. Everything that is set against you to swallow you, to destroy you and to do away with you - the Lord is in the business of tying its mouth.

God is on our side. You got to live with that consciousness. That is what I like with these four people: because they believed that God is there for them: that they are not alone. They are not just a little minority somewhere - that they don't need to fear. When they come down to it they can stand for the laws of God, stand for the principles that God has given to them and the values that God has given, and live by God's word and obey God. They want to serve the country, they want to be good to them - they are serving the country, they are contributing tremendously to the country with their gifts and abilities, and talents. They are framed, time and again: again and again they are targeted, and framed and brought into trouble, but every time, God is with them.

And I say to you today, and to me, and to everyone that is here: and listening to me from faraway lands and from faraway places that God is with you and with me, just like He was with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Our world, maybe in some way similar - though not that bad, God is with us. Our God has not changed: He is the same yesterday, today and forever. So don't ever open your mouth and say, "I am afraid". Don't ever open your mouth and say, "You can't do much here". No! You can: you are made to make a difference in this world - by your very presence, by your work, by your gifts and talents that God has given to you, you can make a big difference in this world. And God is with you, as you do it. As you purpose to live for God, God will honor everything that you put your hand to do. Amen

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