Summary: An exposition of Daniel 2:1-23 regarding how Daniel faced the trial of death.
INTEGRITY TESTED BY THE SWORD
Series: Against the Grain
Limestone Baptist Church, Bedford, IN
Rev. Michael Wilhite
February 17, 2008 at 10:30am
· Times of crisis will come upon us in this life. Many of you know about this quite well. This past year has brought trials to many of us at Limestone. The big question in our Christian walk is not whether trials will come our way, but how we will react during those trials.
· We are guaranteed that trials will come our way as Christians. In fact, Jesus Himself told us that we shouldn’t be surprised when people persecute us, because they persecuted Him.
· Paul tells us in Romans 5:3 that we are actually to glory in our trials. Now that is a concept that we don’t like to think about, isn’t it? I mean, who really wants to find joy in going thru a tight spot in life? But that’s what Paul tells us we are to do.
· Romans 5:3 goes on to tell us the reason why we are to glory in our trials. Trials bring about perseverance, it tells us. And perseverance brings about proven character. Not character that we just say we have. Character that has been proven. It’s been tested, tried and found to be true character.
· I would argue that God allows trials come our way for one reason. What is that reason, you ask? Because God wants us to grow in our Christian walk with Him.
· It’s nice to be on the mountaintop. That’s where everybody wants to be, isn’t it? I mean, who really wants to be in the valley? But it’s in the valley that you grow closer to the Lord. When you are on the mountaintop, you have the danger of becoming prideful and thinking you don’t have to rely on God anymore. But in the valley, you are forced into reliance upon Christ to get you through it.
· Now when trials come our way, I think there are two basic ways people react to it. Some will react to it by blaming God and saying things like, “well, God could have stopped this, but He didn’t. He must not love me.” And then they’ll just turn away from Him and maybe even abandon their faith and become apostate – denying He even exists. And certainly we saw a lot of people doing that after Sept. 11, 2001, didn’t we?
· On the other hand, rather than letting trials push you away from God, the other option is allowing those trials to draw you closer to God. God allows things to come upon us to test our character. It’s thru those trials that we grow in our walk. We don’t learn much on the mountaintop. It’s in the valley that we draw closer to God if we’ll let Him work on us. That’s why the Bible calls it proven character in Romans 5.
· James 1:2-3 go on to tell us that we are to:
2 Consider it joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
· Not only are we to glory in our trials, we are to be joyful about them. That’s not something that is easy to do. We have to keep trying each and every time we go through something.
· But, the Bible does give us a pretty good model to follow. For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the life of Daniel and his three friends, Hannaiah, Mishael and Azariah. We’ve seen how they were taken into captivity in Bablyon and how they showed integrity in chapter one by standing up for the truth and refusing to back down from it.
· And because of their firm stand, God rewarded them greatly. At the end of chapter one, we saw that they were the only ones out of the 75 or so that were taken who went into service for the king.
· Now, we come to chapter two and we are coming to a story that, quite frankly, scares the heck out of some people. This is the first of a series of visions about the future and the end of the world that Daniel is going to receive in this book. Now, next week we’ll look in detail at the prophecy, but for today we are going to look at the background information and draw some great principles out of this text about how to live a life of integrity when things aren’t going your way in life.
· We’ll see three things in specific today: the plight, the petition and the praise. First, the plight. The plight.
1 In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him.