Summary: The sermon opens a study of Daniel and shows how Daniel and his friends stood strong in their faith through the worst of times.
Standing strong in difficult times
Have you heard the story of the HMS Resolute? The HMS resolute was a vessel in Royal British vessel rigged for Arctic exploration. In August of 1853 the HMS Resolute got caught in the Arctic ice. After staying the Winter in the Arctic, the Captain of the HMS Resolute ordered the ship to be abandoned and led his crew across the ice to find one of the other ships in their exploration.
In September of 1855 the ship was found drifting in the David Straight by a whaling ship from Groton CT. The Captain re-rigged the spars and sails, and arrived at New London, Connecticut on 24 December 1855. In 1856, the HMS Resolute made her trip back to England, but it was not the last time she would see American soil. The Resolute served in the British Royal Navy until 1879 when she was decommissioned and broken up. But that’s not the end of her story.
In 1880 a desk was made from her timbers and presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes as a gift for rescuing the vessel. It has come to be known as the resolute desk and has served many presidents in the oval office.
But that still not the end of the story. In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown presented President Barack Obama the framed commission of the HMS Resolute made from timber from another British vessel. And now you know the rest of the story.
But what does the HMS Resolute stand for? It stands for the ability to stand firm in difficult time. The Resolute lives on and give all a reminder of the ability to outlive current circumstances.
It is not anything new to most people when I say, that times are tough. We are living in difficult times. People are finding their jobs are being "re-structured", which I think is a new way of saying, "we are going to have to lay off people, cut back hours and freeze pay.” At the same time, basic living expenses like milk, eggs, meat, etc. are not getting any cheaper. People are seeing their houses shrink in value or even worse they are not able to afford the mortgage. And don’t get me started about my 401K, or lack thereof recently.
We are living in difficult time, but it is not the first time people have fallen on hard times. I hear a lot of comparisons between the great depression and the current economical climate. But I want to go a bit further back than that. I want to take us on a trip way back to c. 605 BC. Back to a time where difficult is defined as being conquered by the greatest empire at the time, being hauled off as a teenager to a new country, and being enlisted in the greatest re-programming campaign the world had ever seen. These young men had to deal with all this difficulty, yet they were able to stay strong in their faith and even lead the pagan leaders of the day to recognize the greatness of their God. That is "Standing Strong in Difficult Times".
Dan 1:1-4 - In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
For many years God sent prophets to the backsliding Kings of Judah. Men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel called the Kings back to a right relationship with God. But they did not listen to God’s pleas for repentance, instead they continued in their rebellious ways. Instead of God’s blessings, they incurred His judgments.
In Judah’s 389 year history it had 20 kings. You can count on one hand the Kings that stayed true to God. The following are a few Kings that seem to illustrate a common theme of rebellious behavior leading Judah away from God.
-Abijah - 1 Kings 15:3, And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father.