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When Society Grows Dark - Daniel 6

Taught on | Keywords: bold, boldness, cancel culture, compromise, conviction, corrupt, darkness, deliver, deliverance, faithful, government, impacted, indispensable, inevitable, influence, Judeo-Christian, lion’s den, perfect, permissive, persecution, possible, pray, prescriptive, protect, society, spiritual, state, steadfast, trust, unmistakable, will

Every culture ebbs and flows as it marches toward extinction. The great Roman Empire, the Mayan civilization, Bronze Age Greece—every complex society in history has eventually collapsed. Daniel was in the midst of the great Babylonian Empire (also extinct today). As a godly and faithful man, he experienced the darkness of an oppressive government. When the foundation of society crumbles, where do you go for solid footing and how should you respond?

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When Society Grows Dark
Daniel 6
Skip Heitzig
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Every culture ebbs and flows as it marches toward extinction. The great Roman Empire, the Mayan civilization, Bronze Age Greece—every complex society in history has eventually collapsed. Daniel was in the midst of the great Babylonian Empire (also extinct today). As a godly and faithful man, he experienced the darkness of an oppressive government. When the foundation of society crumbles, where do you go for solid footing and how should you respond?
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Darkroom

Darkroom

Analog photography is anything but instant. Film negatives must be carefully processed through the developer, stop bath, and fix chemical washes under a safelight in the darkroom. Like fine art photography, God develops us through hardship—in the dark rooms of life. He exposes the negative images of suffering and fixes them on the print of our lives to showcase His presence. In this teaching series, Skip Heitzig demonstrates how God develops some of His greatest portraits and masterpieces in the dark rooms of life.

Outline

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  1. Persecution Is Inevitable (vv. 5, 10-11)

  2. Trust Is Essential (vv. 16-18)

  3. Deliverance Is Possible (vv. 19-24)

  4. Influence Is Unmistakable (vv. 25-28)

Keywords: bold, boldness, cancel culture, compromise, conviction, corrupt, darkness, deliver, deliverance, faithful, government, impacted, indispensable, inevitable, influence, Judeo-Christian, lion’s den, perfect, permissive, persecution, possible, pray, prescriptive, protect, society, spiritual, state, steadfast, trust, unmistakable, will

Study Guide

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Connect Group Guide: February 6, 2022
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: “When Society Grows Dark”
Text: Daniel 6

Main Point
Every culture ebbs and flows as it marches toward extinction. The great Roman Empire, the Mayan civilization, Bronze Age Greece—every complex society in history has eventually collapsed. Daniel was in the midst of the great Babylonian Empire (also extinct today). As a godly and faithful man, he experienced the darkness of an oppressive government. When the foundation of society crumbles, where do you go for solid footing and how should you respond?

“All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” —Matthew 18:15

Talk about It
  1. Discuss how Daniel, being godly, was able to soar above those in authority who threatened the godly. Share how you have engaged with people, when you’re the only one following Jesus in the room.
  2. Discuss the differences in how the world views boldness and how God calls us to boldness. The world tries to cram agendas down our throats. How should you and I be bold? What are you doing now that you must not compromise; what should you be doing that you cannot afford to neglect?
  3. Knowing that God may either deliver you here or in the presence of God, and being aware that Satan studies how we react to lingering disease, the death of a child, the loss of employment, etc., what will it take for you quit following and trusting Jesus? Is He worth suffering for?
“It doesn’t take lot of people to make a difference, it just takes the right kind.” —Pastor Skip

Make It Practical
  • Consider the key words Darius uses regarding Daniel’s God in Daniel 6:25-28: living, steadfast, kingdom not destroyed, dominion shall endure, delivers and rescues, signs and wonders, etc.
  • Be a shining light. Read Matthew 10:22, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and 2 Timothy 3:12-17.
  • Stay faithful. Stay engaged. Be bold. Read 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Pray
Lord, teach us to exert a wholesome, gracious, and bold influence on those with whom we come in contact, diffusing in every look and gesture the sweet savor of Christ, and shedding in every act the genial light caught from His face. May the world around us experience the richness of Your gospel because we are living in it today.

Cross references: Psalm 11:3; Matthew 10:16-22; Mark 13:13; Acts 12:6; Romans 8:28; 13:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 John 5:19; 2 Timothy 3:12-17

Transcript

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When Society Grows Dark - Daniel 6 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Welcome to Calvary Church, with Skip Heitzig. We're so glad you joined us for Dark Room. In this teaching series, Pastor Skip shows how God often develops his children through hardship, the dark times in life. Here's Pastor Skip.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Would you turn in your Bibles this morning, please, to the book of Daniel, Daniel, chapter 6. A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of being in the White House. And I was taken up to the second floor and shown the Lincoln bedroom. I'd always wanted to see that.

The Lincoln bedroom, interestingly, Abraham Lincoln never slept in it. But it's named after him, because that, at one time, was Abraham Lincoln's personal office and a cabinet room, where he would meet with staff. In the corner of the Lincoln bedroom is a desk. It was the desk of President Abraham Lincoln, the desk upon which he wrote some of the most incredible speeches and documents and signed his name.

And on top of that desk in the Lincoln bedroom is the fifth and final draft of the Gettysburg Address. It is the only one that is dated and signed by President Lincoln. And it sits atop that desk in the Lincoln bedroom.

I stood there. What a privilege that was. And my eyes fell on that classic section of the Gettysburg Address that says, "that these dead have not died in vain-- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." We've heard those lines before. They're immortalized in our history.

But did you know that those phrases, the government of the people, by the people, for the people, were not phrases that Lincoln himself thought up. But he heard those in a sermon, a sermon preached by a minister named Thomas Parker. He loved him so much, he thought, I'm going to put that in my speech.

And so it is in the Gettysburg Address, a government of the people, by the people, for the people. But what happens when the government is no longer for the people? What happens when the government is indeed opposed to the good of the people? Well, that is precisely the situation that the prophet Daniel finds himself in, in chapter 6 of this book. And as I was reading through this section of scripture this week, I thought of something I remember hearing.

I'm old enough to remember when President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. In his famous speech in 1981, he said, government is not the solution to the problem. Government is the problem. And in Daniel's case, government was indeed the problem.

Before we even get into chapter 6, let me remind you of something King David said in Psalm 11. He asked the question. He said, when the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

When the foundations are destroyed, that means pillars of state. When the structure that was put in place to protect those who are upright, when that is being undermined, then what? What recourse do the righteous have?

Well, we're in a series called Dark Room. And we have stated in every one of these messages how this works. It's all about how God takes the negatives and turns them into positives, how he takes his children and puts them in dark situations, takes the negative situations, the negative issues and problems, and develops them into a positive outcome.

And we noted in our very first study, when we looked at Joseph, we mentioned that the entire Bible is, in effect, a dark room. It is the story told and told again and again and again of people who suffer affliction, but God uses that affliction for something great. And so all of these stories, whether it's Joseph or Moses or David or now Daniel, they're all telling the same story and all revealing the same truth that can be summed up by a single verse of scripture.

Romans 8:28-- "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." Today we look at Daniel, Daniel the prophet. And Daniel's situation is unique. Because the darkness that he experienced was a direct result of the government that he served under. In fact, it was darkness that was created by the government.

One of my favorite little stories is about three men who were arguing about whose profession was the oldest. And the doctor spoke up first. He was a surgeon. He said, I think mine is the oldest profession in history, because the Bible says that Eve was made by God carving a rib from Adam. That would make my profession, the surgeon, the oldest in history.

Well, sitting next to him was an engineer, who said, yeah, but go back a little bit further. The Bible says, in six days, the Earth was created out of chaos. That's the job of an engineer. But next to him was a politician, who said, ah, but who created the darkness?

[LAUGHTER]

Well, he's got a point. And to that end, I want to deliver this message. The New Testament gives us a couple of different center points that describe the relationship of the believer to the government. One is found in Romans, chapter 13, and the other parallel passage is First Peter, chapter 2. There are other examples and other verses, but those two, believers have always looked toward to form, what is our relationship with the government?

Daniel, chapter 6 happens to be an example of what to do when the government turns against the believer. Now, let me just further set the background, by saying, a Christian's relationship to its government has always been important throughout Church History. And I would say, believers have always struggled with finding the balance. And that is simply because believers have found themselves under all sorts of different kinds of governments-- from totalitarian regimes, where you have tyrants and despots and dictators, to more freer societies like ours, a republic, a democracy.

Historically, the church has fared much better in the United States than in many other cultures and many other countries for one simple fact. And that is our country has been greatly influenced by the Christian gospel. Daniel did not have that luxury. Daniel was in a very oppressive form of government, a dictatorship, under the King of Babylon, named Nebuchadnezzar.

That government has passed. There's a new kid on the block. That is the Medo-Persian empire, by the time we get to chapter 6. We're about to read this chapter.

But let me just say that I can foresee a day coming in our country and our culture and our society, when scenes like the one played out in Daniel, chapter 6, will happen here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In fact, I would say they are happening here.

So let me remind you of a truth that C S Lewis brilliantly captured. He said, human beings live forever, but the state is only temporary. And he said, it's this quality of having everlasting life that makes the individual more important than the state.

That's a good place to begin. And as we begin-- and it is a lengthy chapter. We're going to read a chunk of it, but not all of it. I want to show you in this chapter five truths to keep in mind as we face an ever-darkening society.

And the first is that persecution is inevitable. Persecution is inevitable. Verse 1-- "It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.

So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful, nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, we shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God." Daniel was a godly man living a godly life in an ungodly culture.

And you all know the truth. You know what that means. When you have a godly person living a godly life in an ungodly culture, you know what the Bible says in 2 Timothy. It says, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, shall suffer persecution.

Now, Daniel is about to experience that persecution. The king mentioned here is a king by the name of Darius. Nebuchadnezzar's government has passed off the scene. The Medo-Persian empire has taken over.

It was not unusual, when one nation overthrew another nation, to use existing talent. And so he used some of the government positions from the previous administration, Nebuchadnezzar's administration. And Daniel was one of them. And he brings Daniel into this structure.

Now, we're told, in the verses that I just read, that there were 120 satraps. And what is a satrap? Is that like a mousetrap? No, it's very different. A satrap would be the equivalent of a state governor. There were 120 state governors. It was a large realm.

And then over those 120 state governors were three rulers that had more cabinet positions that would answer to the king. Daniel was one of those. But the other 2 governors and 120 satraps get together, and they want to get Daniel out.

So here's what I want you to notice. The persecution, in this case, came from the government, came from government officials. Verse 6 continues the story. "So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said to him, King Darius, live forever. All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal stationary and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for 30 days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.

Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which does not alter. Therefore King Darius signed the written decree." Now, when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. Now let's stop there.

All of this happened, it seems, in one day. It seems that they petition the king in the morning, had him sign it in the morning. They then watch Daniel pray in the morning and at noon. He would have prayed at night. But then he was arrested and sentenced by evening.

And I say that, because according to Medo-Persian tradition and law, cases were settled on the same day and, executions took place on the same day that the court case was heard-- very different than modern courtroom, where the thing lingers on for months and years. Justice was swift. And probably, Daniel, by the end of that day, was thrown in the lion's den.

So here's a godly man in the crosshairs of powerful government officials. That's important to make note of. I'm going to quote something to you that you've heard. But the guy who said it was a historian and a politician named Lord Acton. He said, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That's what we are seeing being played out. These are people in position with power, and they are exerting their power against the godly.

We live in a very interesting period in our history, I would say, as far as a nation, unlike any other period that we have had so far over the last two years. And we are being told, interestingly, by our government what is the greatest threat to humanity or to our country. We are being told, for example, that it is systematic racism, which does not exist.

We are being told that it is global warming, or it is White supremacy. When actually, one of the greatest threats is the government. And what I mean by that is the government has come to a place where it is not fulfilling its God-given role any longer. It's getting to that place.

What is the role? The role, according to Romans 13, is to restrain evil and reward good. That's the God-given role of government, to restrain evil and reward good. It's like, you guys got one job. Restrain evil. Reward good. Just do that.

Romans, chapter 13, verse 3 and 4, in the New Living Translation-- "For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right. They frighten those who are doing wrong. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong."

But not always-- that's what God called them to do. That is the role of government, but it didn't always work that way. Because the one who wrote those words was a guy by the name of Paul the apostle, a man who was in violation of government probably more than any other person in the New Testament, a man who was thrown in prison by the government, a man who was incarcerated by the government, eventually beheaded by a government mandate.

Two years ago, our churches were shut down by mandate. While our churches were being shut down around this country, strip clubs could remain open. Bars could remain open. Because the government said, those are essential businesses.

Now, that is a failure on the role of the government. And when it comes to that test, they get a big F on that test. Government has failed. The reasons for this failure are spiritual reasons. Because the government is run by people, and people are sinners.

And sinners with power are dangerous, because they often will threaten the godly, whether it is Pharaoh, under Joseph's rule; or Nebuchadnezzar; or Darius, with Daniel; or Pontius Pilate; or Caesar Nero. Or fill in the blank. A person with power can be very dangerous.

So here's what you have in government. You have a human system made up of evil people trying to control evil. Good luck with that. First John, chapter 5, verse 19, says, "We are of God, dear children, but we know that the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." That's Satan.

So now we get a broader understanding. We have Satan, the ruler of this world, the prince of this world, who operates the system. So that even the best of governments are bound for failure. And of all the governments in the world, I would say that ours is probably one of the best ever form of governments. But all governments, because people are involved, sinners are involved, are bound for failure.

And the Bible predicts it's going to get worse. Right? You know that. You've read Revelation, chapter 13. The final human government on earth emerges, and it is so stripped of any godly influence, that the description of the leader can only be called a beast. A beast rises out of the sea, and it says he has 7 heads and 10 horns.

That is, you have a government official who has so consolidated power, and he uses that power against any godly influence that is left. For it says, on his head is a blasphemous name. So that's where history is moving. That's human government. It's the same story, whether it's Old Testament, New Testament, modern times, America, overseas. It's the same story told over and over again.

So in Daniel, chapter 6, in verse 7, there is a law that has passed. The law says, stop praying for 30 days to any god except the king. Now, the king, I don't know, he goes, I kind of like that. They can pray to me. That's good. He goes for it. He goes along with it. But the law says, stop praying.

A few chapters previous to this, Daniel, chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar is the king at the time. And a law was passed then that affected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. That was, stop worshiping.

In the book of Acts, later on, there's a law passed in Jerusalem that tells the early church, stop preaching. So you have basically, the same set-up. You have a government saying, stop praying, stop worshipping, stop preaching.

Two years ago, we were told, stop meeting. And we were told, stop singing. And they finally said, OK, you can meet, but you can't sing. Can't sing? Might as well tell a Christian not to breathe. No singing, no meeting, no hugging-- but you can stay home and lock down, two weeks to slow the spread.

Did you see the study this week released by John Hopkins University? They released a study that said, all of the lockdowns did absolutely nothing to reduce COVID death, nothing, nada. And they said-- and I quote-- "lockdowns should be rejected out of hand."

Amen.

So I'm going to take that advice.

[APPLAUSE]
What was two weeks to slow the spread became two years to control your life. So we are starting to see government persecuting believers, using COVID as a stock. That was sort of an excuse. But you got to know that they're continuing an agenda.

Now, you've got to understand what their target is. Their target is you. Their sights are set on you, the church. They want to cancel church. They want to cancel truth. They want to cancel scripture, just like they canceled the lives of millions of babies in the womb since 1973. That's the government that did that. That's law.

And they do this by telling us it's for our good. It's for the common good. We're doing this for you. It's for health reasons. It's for human rights.

I remind you of what the British Prime Minister in the 1700s or 1800s-- his name was William Pitt-- said-- he wrote this-- "Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. Get people afraid, and they'll do whatever you want. A fearful society will always comply. Panicking people will believe anything."

The last two years have been a pandemic of fear more than anything. So persecution is inevitable. And because that is true, boldness is indispensable. That's the second truth that I want to show you. Boldness is indispensable.

Let's see what Daniel does. Verse 10-- "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since the early days. Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God."

Did Daniel stop praying when the government said, stop praying? No, he opened his windows and said, come and hear my prayer. Come and see my prayer. He defied that mandate.

Now, he had options. He could have said, look, it's 30 days. I can lay low for 30 days. Religion is a private matter. I don't have to be so public about it.

He opened the windows, probably prayed in Hebrew out loud so they would know he is praying to his God. But I want you to understand something. Because some of you are going, all right, I like this. How much you want to--

Understand his motivation. His motivation isn't out of spite. He's not trying to rub their face in it or be ostentatious. It says in verse 10, as was his custom since the early days. In other words, Daniel does what Daniel has always done.

And any government mandate is not going to change what Daniel has always done. He's always been faithful to God. He's always prayed to God three times a day. So there's an edict, so I'm going to open my window so they know it's me. Boldness is indispensable.

See, if Daniel would have stopped praying, those officials might have thought, aha, it worked. We can control Daniel. And that would have ruined his testimony before the king and before those workers.

So for Daniel, nothing can be done to stop his prayer. And I can only believe that Daniel's overriding thought is this. It's better to die for a conviction than to live with a compromise. It's better to die for a conviction, than to live with a compromise. So he opened his windows boldly, and he prayed like he had always prayed.

Now, our Lord Jesus gave us many wonderful promises and some promises that we wouldn't consider so wonderful. But they're promises nonetheless. For example, Jesus said in Matthew 10, "Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves." I don't really see that underlined much in many Bibles.

You think, what kind of a shepherd would send his sheep with a bunch of wolves, one who wants to get his sheep eaten up? No, one who wants to see wolves converted. "Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves."

You know, it's funny. I'll talk to people who say, well, wouldn't it be great to live during that New Testament era and during the time of Jesus? Eh. Listen to this promise. "Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogue. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. Brother will deliver a brother to death and a father of his child. And children will rise up against parents, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake."

There's a promise of Jesus. You're going to be persecuted by the religious establishment. You're going to be persecuted by the government. You're going to be persecuted by the secular world and by your family. Get used to it.

So because persecution is inevitable, boldness is indispensable. Daniel is bold. Takes us to a third truth that we face during darkening times, and that is, trust is essential. Trust is essential.

I'm going to Skip a few verses and take you down to verse 16. So they come before the king. They have him sign this. The king finds out it's Daniel. "So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.

And the stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed." Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. And also his sleep went from him."

There's no description of Daniel's response here or reaction. We don't know what Daniel said. It sounds like he said nothing, that he didn't say, God, how could you? I have been serving you-- by the way, Daniel was about 86 years of age in this chapter. He had served the lord of Babylon for over 70 years. Maybe he thought, God, I think you owe me one. I've been faithful for 70 years. I'm protesting this.

In fact, as I read it, Daniel was silent, I would even say resigned, resigned to this. Remember, Daniel knew the document was signed. And knowing the document was signed, he opened his windows, which means he knew what the punishment would be, which means he knew they would arrest him and throw him in the lion's den. But he seems resigned to that fact.

He prayed like he always prayed and probably went with them quietly, believing that the lion's den was for him, the will of God, the will of God. I read through this chapter. And every time I read this chapter, I think of another man who was 86 years of age, who was arrested for his faith. His name was Polycarp.

Polycarp was a bishop of Smyrna in 156 AD. He was arrested and burned at the stake for his faith in Christ. And as they tied up this old man at the stake, the soldiers begged him to deny Christ, to recant, and just deny Christ, and you'll be spared. Your life will be spared.

And he refused to do it. And the soldier said, if you don't, the fire is going to be hot. And Polycarp said something to him like, it's not going to be half as hot as what you're going to experience when you die.

His final words were these. Polycarp said, 86 years I have served Him, and He has never wronged me once. How shall I blaspheme my King, who saved me? So here's a guy willing to go to the death, like Daniel, because he trusted.

I have a question. What would it take to make you quit following Christ? Is there a threshold? Is there an imaginary line where you would say, I'm going to follow Jesus and be faithful, but if this happens or that happens, like if I lose my job, or there's a lingering disease, or the death of a child or a spouse, maybe that would make me turn against him?

Job had all those things happen to him-- lost his kids, lost his profession, lost everything. And he said this. Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him. He can take my life. He's taken everything else. He can take my life. I'm still going to trust Him.

Trust is essential. And I read that of Daniel here. Daniel is trusting in the Lord. In fact, it says as much down in verse 23. It says at the end, "because he trusted in his God, or he believed in his God." So persecution is inevitable. Boldness is indispensable. And trust is essential.

Let me give you a fourth truth. Deliverance is possible. Now, don't get too excited about this. Because though God can and often does deliver, he doesn't always deliver. But let's see an example of that.

Verse 19, "Then the king rose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?"

Frankly, it's a little late to be asking that question. But OK, he asks that. Because if he gets an answer, then it's, yes, God did. If He didn't, then I guess He didn't. There's no answer.

"Then Daniel said to the king, O king, live forever!" Classy. "My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouth, so they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him. And also, O king, I have done no wrong before you. And the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed"-- or trusted-- "in his God."

Now, as I'm reading the text, it sounds to me like the king had a pretty bad night, like he had insomnia. He couldn't sleep. He's tossing and turning. He's wondering and worried about Daniel.

No word about Daniel tossing and turning, I'm guessing Daniel had a good night's sleep with the lions. Woke up in the morning-- [YAWNS] O king, live forever. What's up? Had a good night's sleep. And God delivered Daniel.

And I love reading stories of God's deliverance. Sometimes he does miraculously deliver people out of things like this. I read a story, or I heard a story, from Paul Harvey some years ago. I really love this story.

There's a church in Nebraska called the West Side Baptist Church. And it's a story of their choir. Every Wednesday night, at 7:30, at the West Side Baptist Church, is choir practice at 7:30 on the nose. But on one particular Wednesday night, all of the choir members were late.

Now, typically, though it starts at 7:30, the choir usually gets there about 7:00, gets set up so they begin at 7:30 sharp. But on this particular Wednesday, everybody was late. And they all had good reasons for it.

The pianist, she took a nap in the afternoon, slept a little too late. One young man in school had trouble with his homework, so he was delayed. Another couple had problems with the car, couldn't get it started. All 18 choir members didn't show up, so that at 7:30, nobody was in the choir loft. First time it ever happened, they said.

What had happened on that particular Wednesday night is there had been a gas leak in the furnace room. And at exactly 7:30 PM, the church exploded, went up in flames. And get this. The furnace room was directly underneath the choir loft. Choir loft would have been ground zero. Nobody was there. Everybody was spared.

I love reading those things. But it doesn't always happen that way. Isaiah believed in God. Isaiah trusted in God. They took him and sawed him in two. Peter loved God, trusted God. He was crucified upside down. Paul believed in God and trusted in God. They put his head on a chopping block and beheaded him.

And Daniel was facing a potential situation where he could get eaten by lions. God did deliver him, but either way, he would have been delivered. You understand that.

For the Christian, we should never fear death. Listen, of all people who should be bold and fearless, it's us, y'all. Because Paul said, for me to live is Christ and to die is what?

Gain.

Gain. So if lions would have eaten Daniel, he would have been delivered. If his life was spared, he would have been delivered. Deliverance is possible.

Let me close on this, fifth and final truth-- influence is unmistakable. Now, let's finish out this chapter. Look at verse 25. After Daniel gets delivered and the king sees it, it says, "Then King Darius wrote-- to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth, peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom, men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.

For he is the living God, and steadfast forever. His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders." This is a pagan king writing this. "In heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian."

That sounds like it was written by King David, not King Darius. But he wrote it. This secular man was deeply impacted and influenced by the life and testimony of the prophet Daniel.

Now, understand Daniel was just one guy, one dude, one man. But he influenced Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar-- both kings of Babylon, now Darius, Medo-Persian king, and I mentioned Cyrus. Four kings he impacted, two empires, four kings, one man.

And here's what I want you to know. It doesn't take a lot of people to make a difference. It just takes the right people, just the right people, just a few people like him. When God puts the right people in the right place at the right time, and those people are bold in their God and trust their God, this is the result, whether it's with Daniel or Joseph or Moses or David-- same result.

So let me encourage you during this time, when the darkness is closing in culturally in our world, in our country. Let me encourage you to stay bold. Stay engaged. Stay faithful. Persevere. 1 Corinthians 15-- "Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." it's not in vain. Stay at it.

Stay engaged. Stay bold, loving, courteous-- O king, live forever, not "you chump, you threw me down here." O king, live forever-- gracious, loving. He was a statesman, but bold and unrelenting.

I hope you're committed to that. But just know it's not going to be easy. Because you're shining a light in a world that doesn't like that light and prefers its darkness. And that darkness is getting worse.

In fact, you should know this. The darkness is coming more than ever before. It'll be a moral darkness that is aided and abetted by the government.

2 Timothy, chapter 3-- "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2 Thessalonians-- "the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one"-- that is, the Antichrist, the beast-- "will be revealed." And again, the words of our Lord Jesus-- "You will be hated by all for my name sake, but he who endures to the end will be saved."

Now, a word to those of you who work in the government-- first of all, I want to say, thank you. Thank you for that. I do. I thank you for being in a very, very difficult position.

[APPLAUSE]

And know this. I can't speak for all of us, but I can speak for most of us and say, we pray for you every week. I pray specifically for those in authority over me, no matter what party they're a part of. You are being prayed for.

But let me just say, if you are, be careful. And remember your role. I heard a sermon this week that stoked my memory of a group in Scotland called the Covenanters. The Covenanters were a group of believers who covenanted together against the authority of the government in England that was running the church. It's a state-run church, and the Scottish Covenanters, an amazing group of people, resisted that government control of the church.

One of them-- several of them, but one of them was jailed. His name was Andrew Melville. He was jailed in the Tower of London, because he confronted King James-- yes, the King James of the King James Bible.

And when he was released, he made this statement to the king. He said, "there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland. There is King James, the head of the Commonwealth, and there is King Jesus, the head of the church, whose subject King James is and of whose kingdom, he is not the head, nor a lord, but only a member." Bam. Just remember your role, especially if you think, I am in control.

So where does that leave us as the church? Simply here-- boldly, lovingly, graciously, trusting, persevering, and being gracious to our government, but saying, if it comes to it, we must obey God rather than men.

[APPLAUSE]

I want to throw something up on the screen. I have always loved this slogan. This is the slogan of an African-American church in Kansas City. Look at this. "Wake up, sing up, preach up, pray up, and pay up, but never give up or let up or back up or shut up until the cause of Christ in this church and in this world is built up."

Amen.

[APPLAUSE]

Give me more of that. Father, thank you for the opportunity we have in a dark culture, a dark world, that you have said as much would happen, has happened. Thank you that we live in the times in which we live, that we live in the part of the country and the world in which we do. And we are here for such a time as this to shine your light, to be bold ambassadors, to shine the light in the midst of a dark world with love, with grace, but always with truth, never holding back, always giving our first allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of Lords. We are your servants, in Jesus' name. Amen.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Thank you so much for joining us for this message from Calvary Church, with Skip Heitzig. We would love to know how this message impacted you. Share your story with us. Email mystory@calvarynm.church. And if you'd like to support this Bible teaching ministry with a financial gift, visit calvarynm.church/give.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/16/2022
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Welcome to the Darkroom
Genesis 39:20-23
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Just as photographs were once developed in a darkroom, so God develops our lives through dark and difficult times. A photographer works to make a beautiful picture come to life in the dim light of that environment, and God develops us in the gloomiest of circumstances. He’s done it for years and He’s done it with great success. God’s best workers have emerged from the darkest moments to make the greatest impact. Joseph was one of them. Pockmarked by early hardship in life, Joseph eventually got thrown into a dark dungeon. But that’s just the beginning of his story!
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1/23/2022
completed
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Choosing to "Go Dark"
Hebrews 11:23-29
Skip Heitzig
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Though dark circumstances are everyone’s lot, no one deliberately chooses a gloomy experience. Why opt for pain when you can have pleasure? Why pick suffering when you can have solace? But Moses did exactly that. Moses was a man who made the deliberate choice to suffer. He picked the darkroom! Why he did that, how he did that, and what became of that choice are the basis for his story and his fame. We remember Moses because of his personal choice to “go dark.”
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1/30/2022
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The Darkness of a Broken Family
1 Samuel 24
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
One of the darkest rooms anyone can enter is dealing with a broken family. To be part of a family that is fragmented and malfunctioning feels bleak and miserable. The by-products of being in such a family are feeling unwanted, unloved, and isolated. But did you know that many people in Scripture came from such families, including David? The good news is that God is in the business of fixing broken things, including broken families. David’s darkroom of family difficulty is what we consider here.
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2/27/2022
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Facing Darkness with Grace
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
How do you face dark times? Notice I didn’t ask how should you face dark times, but rather how do you? Pain and suffering are universal, but for the Christian, they are valuable and even beneficial. Today we take a look at the apostle Paul’s own personal experience. He had a very positive episode followed by a very negative one. It rattled him at first, but eventually he learned a lesson that lifted him to a place where he could face the darkness with confidence and grace.
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3/6/2022
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Confronting the Prince of Darkness
Luke 4:1-13
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
As we have seen in this series, some of the Bible’s greatest heroes had darkroom experiences. They were developed by those painful experiences and used by God to impact their world. Today we examine Jesus Himself, the Light of the World (see John 8:12), facing off with the Prince of Darkness (see Ephesians 6:12). Five adjectives describe this confrontation, giving us insight into both the nature of temptation and the resolve of Jesus to follow His Father’s plan for saving the world.
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There are 5 additional messages in this series.
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