Daniel 1:17-21 - The Results of Taking a Stand

Steve Viars February 13, 1999 Daniel 1:17-21

- Wouldn’t you like to know how it will all turn out?
- We’ve been studying the last several weeks about taking a stand for God.....
- it might be a stand you need to take personally...where there has been some sort of thought or behavior you’ve been involved in that has not been pleasing to God....
- and you know its time to take a stand on that matter....to take a step a step of growth in that area.....
- wouldn’t it be nice, though, to know how things would turn out if you took that step.


- for others, its taking a stand publicly in some way....
- you might say that too often you blend in with the world around you.....
- and when you really should have spoken up for what was right....you didn’t.....
- or when you really should have stood out.....you didn’t....
- or when you really should have said....I can’t do that anymore, or I can’t say that anymore.....when the time came......you didn’t take a stand.....
- but next time....you’re determined to do better....wouldn’t it be nice to know how things will turn out when you do?

- do you know that that’s one of the reasons so much of the Bible is given to us in narrative form?
- in other words, God has conveyed much of his truth through life stories.....so we can fly over a person’s entire life....and see it start to finish.
- Why is that?......why isn’t it just a set of principles.....why so many stories?

- Paul answers that question in I Corinthians 10 when he says, “Now these things happened to them as examples, and they are written for our instruction....”
- He said in Romans 15:4 - “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

- in other words, God gave us stories to help us see “how things would turn out”.
- for people who chose to obey God, look what happened in their lives....
- for people who chose not to obey God, look what happened in theirs....

- This morning, we want to look at a passage of Scripture that shows how things turned out.
- We left a group of four teenage boys who had taken a stand for God.
- they had been deported from Jerusalem to Babylon by a wicked king named Nebuchanezzar.
- Nebuchanezzar changed their names, he enrolled them in Babylonian schools, they were cut off from their Jewish heritage, and they were allowed to eat from the king’s table.

- it was on that last point that these young men took their stand.
- even though Nebuchadnezzar was known for being cruel and ruthless....and taking the stand they did risked at least loss of promotion and more likely would result in their deaths....
- these young men asked permission to not eat from the kings table, but instead to eat vegetables and drink water.

- of course the reason they took a stand on this particular issue was because to do otherwise would have been a violation of God’s Word.
- eating the food for them would have been disobeying the OT dietary laws...it would have been a violation of the Scriptures.

- the man in charge of their care allowed the young men to have this special diet, and 10 days later, they looked more healthy than the ones that had eaten from the king’s table.
- now, the question is....how will it all turn out?
- they’ve taken their stand.....the short term results seem to be surprisingly good....but what about the long term?
- with that question in mind, please open your Bible to Daniel 1:17.

- This morning we’re studying the Results of Taking a Stand.
- if you’re new to studying the Scriptures, you’ll find a Table of Contents in the front of your Bible which will tell you the page number where the book of Daniel can be found.
- please don’t be embarrassed about not being able to find your way around the Bible too well yet.
- we’re all just learning, but it very important that we see that the ideas we’re studying this morning are not simply the opinions of human beings....but they are truly the Word of God.

- read Daniel 1:17-21
- this morning, we’re looking for three results of taking a stand for God.

I. Wisdom


- this text makes it clear that one thing that happened to these young men as a result of the stand they took is that God chose to bless them with the gift of wisdom.
- all through this book, we’re going to see Daniel and his three friends being used of God in mighty ways.
- they were what we call today, “wise beyond their years.”
- they stood out because of the way they handled life.

- this text is teaching us that God blessed them with wisdom in part because of the stand they were willing to take for Him.
- if verses 8-16 had not happened, verses 17-21 would not have happened.
- these young men were supernaturally blessed because of the stand they took for God....He gave them wisdom.

- now, I think we need to ask a question at this point of the discussion.....thinking about God blessing people with wisdom.....
- honestly, how attractive is that to you?
- how much value do you place on possessing / growing in the wisdom of God?
- and please don't give that the automatic, expected answer....
- as you think about the way you live, your priorities, what’s important to you, what’s worth sacrificing for, what you strive after.....
- how much value do you place on possessing / growing in the wisdom of God?

- see, I’m asking -- if there’s a relationship between receiving God’s wisdom, and taking a stand for Him.....then your willingness to take a stand is directly related to the value you place on receiving God’s wisdom.
- so I repeat the question --- how much value do you place on possessing / growing in the wisdom of God?
- see many of God’s children have placed a higher value on other things...so when the time comes to take a stand, they fall.

- the Lord wants us to see that when these young men took the stand they took, they were rewarded with supernatural wisdom.
- now, what I’d like us to do at this point is leave the book of Daniel, and think about what several other places in the Bible tell us about wisdom.
- words like wise, wisdom, wisely, and wisehearted make up a very important study in God’s word.
- I’d like us to think about wisdom from the perspective of its source, it means, its extent, its value, and its blessing.
- are you ready to turn to some other places in the Bible?

- look if you would please at Proverbs 2:6.
1) Its Source
- if we want to be wise, we have to decide first of all, where are we going to try to get our wisdom?
- what source are we going to seek?

- READ Proverbs 2:6

- now, some other verses that go along with this idea.....

- Psalm 111:10 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.
- Colossians 2:3 - [speaking of Jesus Christ] in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

- now, when you put all of this together, the message is clear --- Wisdom comes from God.
- and every human being has to decide....Am I going to look to the Lord for my understanding of life...or am I going to look to some other source.

- the implication to our friends back in the book of Daniel is obvious.
- the stand they were taking wouldn’t make sense to anyone else unless they were viewing life from God’s point of view.
- why take a stand that might cost you popularity --- because wisdom that comes from God tells me to.
- why take a stand that might cost you a promotion --- because wisdom that comes from God tells me that the promotion isn’t the most important thing.
- why honor God when you’re so far away from home? --- because God’s wisdom tells me that He is everywhere, and I want to please Him even if the folks back home would never find out that I didn’t.
- why honor God when He’s let this great trial come upon you? ---- because His wisdom teaches me that he can use these trials for my good if I’ll let Him.
- your source of wisdom will have a profound effect on your willingness to take a stand.

- the Bible also speaks to us about the means of wisdom.
- please turn back to Deuteronomy 4:1.
2) Its Means.
- God is not going to give us wisdom in a vacuum.
- He uses definite means to get this job done.

- READ Deuteronomy 4:1-6

- the means that God uses to help His children become wise is His Word.
- of course we could multiply verses on this topic all day, but another great one is II Timothy 3:14 - and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

- that’s a great compliment to Timothy’s mother and grandmother who are mentioned earlier in the book --- God uses His Word to help us become wise.
- we know that was true for Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego because that’s how they decided what they would take a stand for and what they wouldn’t.....
- a lot of what the Babylonians did to them they let go by.....but it was when they would have to violate the Word of God that they knew they had to take a stand.

- friend, I want to ask you this morning, are you seeking to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures?
- are you taking advantage of the source of wisdom God has made available to you?
- [could fuss about declining percentage of attendance on evening services, here and everywhere else].

- the Bible also speaks to us about the extent of wisdom.
- would you please look over at Exodus 31:3
- this is a very intriguing passage, and one that I believe can be very helpful to what we’re talking about....
3) Its extent.
- this verse is talking about the craftsmen that were involved in building the temple.
- read Exodus 31:3-5

- this passage teaches us that wisdom is not simply a matter of teaching, of public speaking....God’s wisdom can be on display in the smallest details of life.
- the way a person cooks a meal can be a demonstration of godly wisdom....
- the way a person fixes a car can be a demonstration of godly wisdom....
- that’s one of the great truths that flowed out of the Reformation....its not just that God cares about the work done by leaders in the church....God cares about every persons work -- and when its done right ---- the craftsman can be just as pleasing to God as the churchman.

- and Daniel and his three friends had to understand that concept because they were willing to take their stand in an area that some would consider to be small and inconsequential.

- so the Bible talks about the source of wisdom, and the means of wisdom, and the extent of wisdom....
- it also speaks of....4) Its value.
- please turn to Proverbs 8:11.
- there are many, many verses like this in God’s Word.
- please think about Daniel and his friends and ask yourself if this was their view of godly wisdom.
- Read Proverbs 8:11.

- friend, do you value wisdom that way?
- Proverbs 23:23 tells us - Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

- It was a very difficult thing for Daniel and his three friends to take the stand they took....but I believe at the end of chapter one they would have all said --- it was worth it.
- look what we received in return.....look how God blessed us.....
- we bought truth and we would not sell it, we gained wisdom and instruction and understanding.

- would you turn over to Ephesians 1 to see one last emphasis in God’s Word regarding wisdom?
- we’ve talked about its source, its means, its extent, and its value.....
- in the NT, there’s a special emphasis on 5) Its Blessing.

- Ephesians 1:7-8 - In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight

Ephesians 1:17 - that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Ephesians 3:10 - in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

- now, what’s the big picture?
- Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego took a courageous stand.
- and one of the results was wisdom.
- God blessed them for the stand they took.....and He’ll do that for you.

- when you take a stand personally against an area of sin in your life....and say --- I’m not going to keep doing that --- I’m going to put it off and replace it with what’s right....guess what’s happening as you’re taking those steps.....you’re growing in wisdom.

- and when you take a stand publicly for God ---- I’m not going to keep talking that way, I’m going to be different....I’m not going to keep participating in that activity...I’m going to be different.....
- the next time that topic comes up, I’m going to stand up for what God’s Word says.....whatever the nature of the stand might be....
- as you are willing to stand....guess what’s happening......as you’re taking those steps, you’re growing in wisdom....God will bless you just like he blessed these men 2500 years ago.
- and the real question is --- Do you value wisdom enough to take the stands necessary to get it?
- now let’s go back to Daniel chapter 1.
- what else happened when these teenagers stood up for God....
- they received wisdom....they also received.....


II. Stature.


- the text says that when their training was all over, and they were presented to the king, these four youths stood out.
- their was something different about them.
- verse 19 says that as the king talked to them, not one was found to be like these four.
- in fact, verse 20 says that the king found them 10 times better than all the magicians and other wise men who were in his kingdom.

- in other words, God can put his product on the market yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

- now you know that when we talk about stature, we’re not talking about gaining personal fame.
- but we are talking about living in a way that brings glory to the God of heaven because you’re willing to be different, you’re willing to stand out in the crowd.

- do you remember, that’s exactly what happened to our Lord.
- The Scripture tells us in Luke 2:52 - And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

- and as a result, people were regularly astonished by his lifestyle and his words.
- would you please turn to one example of that in the NT, Matthew 13:54.

- the response of the people to Christ’s ministry shows how this principle we’re developing was true in His life.

- Matthew 13:54 - And coming to His home town He began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said, "Where did this man  get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers?  "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

- there’s a lot we could say about these verses, but notice that this took place in Jesus’ home town----remember that the Scripture tells us that the hardest place for a person to minister is in his home town.....
- and these people looked at our Lord and said.....isn’t this just a carpenter’s Son.....doesn’t he have just regular parents, and brothers, and sisters.....

- and I realize you could say, “But PV, He was the Son of God....”
- and I would say back to you, if you know Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are a child of God......
- and as you are willing to take a stand for Him at the appropriate time and in the appropriate ways.....
- like these four Hebrew teenagers, and like the Lord Jesus Christ.....
- one of the results of you taking a stand will be stature....
- you will stand out from the crowd and you will have special opportunities to bring glory to the Father.

- Dave and Jan Smith were members of our church for many years....
- Dave works for Staleys and is managing a plant for them in France.....

- I remember one day at Men of Faith, Dave was talking about managing employees and he said, you know, it doesn’t take much to stand out as an employee.

- if you use biblical principles to communicate with others, and about others, you’re going to stand out.
- if you have biblical principles of morality....you’re going to stand out.
- if you have a biblical work ethic....you’re going to stand out.
- if you control your emotions with biblical truth....you’re going to stand out.
- God will give you a platform for ministry for Him if you’re willing to be different...if you’re willing to take a stand.

- and the obvious question is --- Friend, are you?
- are you willing to take a stand?
- are you seeing the same result as the four Hebrew children saw?

- cf. article about Jeff Kessler [get his permission].
- note how biblical the answers sounded, and the article sounded.

- so was the stand that the Hebrew children took a difficult one?.....absolutely.
- but were the results worth it?....they certainly were.

- now there’s one last result I’d like us to think about this morning, and its found in that obscure detail in verse 21.
- and I’m so glad that our congregation loves biblical history...and wouldn’t want me to ever pass up an opportunity to comment on an element of biblical history.
- the third result is.....


III. Longevity.

 

- verse 21 says --- And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.

- I realize when we read that, most of us say, so?

- but when the original readers would have heard this, this would have stood in awe.
- because Cyrus was not the king of Babylon.
- Cyrus was the king of Persia.....

- Persia was the next great world empire, that toppled Babylon......
- the point is, this is a summary verse for the whole book......
- Daniel starting serving as a teenager.......and he would serve under a variety of Babylonian kings who kept coming and going, and coming and going......

- and finally when Israel’s captivity was over [which lasted how long] ... 70 years....
- God raised up Cyrus and the country of Persia to conquer Babylon, and allow Israel to return to her land.

- the point is --- Daniel was not a flash in the pan.
- you read the early part of this chapter, and see what he and his friends did, and say.....
- they’ve just committed political suicide.....
- they’re done.....

- listen, one of God’s children isn’t done, until God says he’s done.
- you can throw him in a lion’s den, and if God says he’s not done, he’s not done.

- you can throw them in a fiery furnace, and if God says they’re not done, they’re not done.

- God blessed these men with wisdom, and with stature, and with longevity.

- might say --- is that an absolute promise?
- yes, and no.
- no and yes?

- its not an absolute promise that if you take a stand for God you will live a long life physically.
- let‘s face it --- some folks have taken a stand for God and they’ve been killed.
- some folks have taken a stand for God, and been fired.
- some have taken a stand for God and been cut....

- we’re not necessarily talking about a long physical life, or a long career.....

- but believers don't think about longevity in simply those terms....
 

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video