Daniel 2:1-30 - How to Face Trials with Dignity an

Steve Viars February 20, 1999 Daniel 2:1-30

- This morning I’d like to begin our time together by asking you a question.
- If God gives you a trial, and you handle it well....does that mean your future is guaranteed to be trial free?
- in other words...let’s say the Lord brings something into your life that is very difficult....
- but you take the right stand ---- you respond appropriately.....
- and God blesses you for the stand you took ---- does that now mean that you can expect as part of God’s blessing that the next period of time will be trouble free?
- is that the way it works?
- is that the way it should work?

- let me try to illustrate that....
- My dad and I have a friend that we go fishing with named Jack Cannon....
- For most of his career, Jack worked for the Ratheon Corporation, which you may remember was involved in the manufacture of the Patriot Missiles used in the Gulf War.
- Ratheon came to Jack and said --- we need some employees who would be willing to take a tough assignment.....
- we need some people to take a two year stint in Saudia Arabia....
- you’ll be far away from home....
- you’ll be separated from your family....
- there’s not a lot of good places to go fishing, since its dessert.....
- but if you’re willing to take that tough assignment.....you’ll be on easy street when you come back.....

- you’ll have your pick of jobs when you come back to the states.....
- we’ll offer you early retirement.....
- we’ll sweeten your retirement benefits significantly.....
- in other words, put up with the trouble now, and we’ll make things trouble free when you get back.
- and he said, the offer was so good that he couldn’t refuse, and its worked out well.

- now, my question is ..... Is following Jesus Christ like working for the Ratheon Corporation?
- if you handle one trial well ..... if you take a right stand in one particular area well, does that mean that the following days are guaranteed to be trouble free?
- and let’s push it one step further...would it be in your best interest that the following days be trouble free?
- and what ideas would you use to make that determination?

- now, you might say -- PV, is there some reason why you are raising this issue?
- but of course.
- last week we finished studying chapter one of the book of Daniel.
- and we’ve learned that this young teenage boy faced a great trial.
- Its 605 BC, and King Nebuchanezzar of Babylon has come to Jerusalem, and taken some of the choice young people of Israel, along with some of the choice articles of the Jewish temple....and deported them (taken them) back to Babylon.

- so Daniel and his friends have been given new names, they’ve been enrolled in Babylonian schools, they were cut off from their Jewish heritage, and they were asked to eat from the king’s table.

- on that last issue they took a stand....they asked if they would be allowed to eat vegetables and water because the other items were a violation of the Word of God.
- Amazingly, the commander agreed....and God blessed the experiment so that at the end of the ten day experiment...they looked more healthy and robust than the others that had been eating from the King’s own table.
- so the bottom line is --- they took a stand and God watched over them.
- we saw last week....that God continued to bless these young men.....
- in three ways especially......
1) He gave them wisdom.....
- they were given knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom, the Scripture says.
2) God also gave them stature, or influence.....
- when the king tested them, these young men stood out above all the rest....in fact the king found them ten times better than all the other wise men in his kingdom....
3) God also blessed them with longevity...because at least in the case of Daniel, chapter 1 ends by telling us that Daniel served through the lives of several Babylonian kings all the way to the reign of Cyrus of Persia, some 70 years later.

- but the question before the house is ---- what happens next?
- is serving God, and taking a difficult stand for Him like working for the Ratheon Corporation?
- should we expect to open the pages of chapter 2 and find words like “and they all lived happily ever after”.....”they handled their trial faithfully, and there weren’t any more to face”?

- is that what we should expect to read?.....and if not ----- what principles can we learn that will help us face the difficulties of life today?
- with that in mind, if you haven’t already, would you please open your Bible to Daniel chap. 2?
- Daniel is located in OT.....after the big books of Psalms and Proverbs, you have Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiates, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel...
- This morning we’re talking about How to Handle Trials with Dignity and Grace.
- Read Daniel 2:1-13

- In these verses, we find four principles to help us face trials with dignity and grace.

I.  Remember That Taking A Right Stand One Day Does Not Mean You Won’t Face Significant Trial the Next.


- Remember that this book was written as a unit, without the chapter and verse divisions....which come in very handy when we’re trying to find our place....but they can be a hindrance to understanding the flow of thought.
- Daniel wanted his original Jewish readers to hear his story, and draw principles that would help them understood what it means to live for God.
- and one of those key principles is.... Taking A Right Stand One Day Does Not Mean You Won’t Face Significant Trial the Next.
- in other words, being a follower of Jesus Christ is not like working for the Ratheon Corporation.
- and that of course leads to a very important question -- Should it be?
- would it be in our best interest if the blessing for handling a trial properly was a period of time afterward that was trial free?
- now, that question automatically leads to another question....and that is, how do you define what’s in our best interest?

- thank you for asking that question!
- how do you define that?
- what is in your best interest as a believer in Jesus Christ?
- is it that your life will be insulated from trouble?
- is that why you came to Christ?.....because it would make your life easier in the short term?

- I hope not.....because ease and trial free living is not what’s in our best interest......if the goal of our life is to bring honor and glory to God.
- if the goal of our life is to be regularly and systematically molded into the image of Jesus Christ.

- because the bottom line is, accomplishing those purposes is often best done in the crucible of trial.
- and that’s one of the major lessons that every follower of Jesus Christ has to comes to terms with.....fundamentally speaking.....this is not about me, it is about Him.
- I am not living for my pleasure, I am living for His glory ---- Can you say that this morning?
- With John the Baptist, we must say -- He must increase and I must decrease.

- I am not the one who’s on center stage with the goal of bringing as much glory and enjoyment to myself......the God of heaven and earth is on center stage and the purpose of my existence is to bring glory to Him.

- now, if that’s the case....then why might it be in your best interest to be face a trial like Daniel did in chapter one, and then turn around and face another one in chapter 2?
- there’s a lot of possible answers......
1) One is, so that you can in turn comfort someone else.....II Corinthians 1 says that God comforts his children...why?.....so that they may comfort others with the same comfort with which they were comforted.

- think about this --- let’s say that we were able to look into the future and know that two years from now God is going to bring someone in your life who is really going to be hurting, and who does not even know Jesus Christ personally.....
- and you will be in a perfect position to minister to that human being....and share the good news of Jesus with that person.....and be used of God to provide comfort and blessing and change the direction of their life.....
- but there’s a kicker....[and you probably know where this is going].....in order to best prepared to minister to that person two years from now.....you need to go through some hard times now.....
- is it in your best interest to go through those hard times....it sure is....it sure is.

2) God may allow a trial into your life to help you identify a way you need to grow.
- when the heat goes up, it amazing how the cracks become apparent.
- have you ever noticed that.....
- I didn’t realize I had an anger problem until......
- I didn’t know I struggled with those kinds of thoughts until.....
- I didn’t know I was weak in that area until.....
- God may be allowing trial in your life right now because He’s trying to help you see some things.....do you have your spiritual glasses on?

3) God may simply be allowing this trial because you have a better opportunity to display His glory and grace.
- before this chapter is over, Daniel will be able to testify to the marvelous character of God in ways he would have never dreamed of [no pun intended] had it not been for the dream and Nebuchanezzar’s response.

- see, Taking A Right Stand One Day Does Not Mean You Won’t Face Significant Trial the Next.
- a couple of other things I’d like to ask you to notice quickly about trials before we move on to the second point.
1) did you notice the unreasonableness of unbelievers?
- Nebuchanezzar’s demand is not a particularly reasonable one.
- here’s this man who’s supposed to be in charge, but the truth is, he’s out of control.

- and I realize that the trial that some who will be here today are facing involves unreasonable demands being placed upon you by others.
- some of you have a boss like Nebuchanezzar....
- or are living with a spouse like Nebuchadnezzar.....
- or have a professor like Nebuchanezzar....

- now, before you enjoy that thought too much....remember this....one of the reasons Daniel was able to handle this trial the way he did was that he saw the hand of God allowing this wicked king to do the things he did.
- Nebuchanezzar’s out of control behavior provided the perfect backdrop for the power of God working in the life of one of His children to be on display.
- but the text is certainly emphasizing how unreasonable unbelievers can be.

2) The text also emphasizes the impotence of those who don't know God.
- verses 10-11 are a summary statement describing the powerlessness of the supposed wise men of Babylon.
- and Nebuchanezzar had suspected that all along....that they had no true supernatural powers.....
- and in one fell swoop he proved the truth of his suspicion.

- Graham Scroggie, a Bible teacher from a previous generation wrote:
- see quote on Jeremiah p. 51.

- and Daniel and his friends were about to pay a price in part because of the fraud and deception of those who didn’t know God.....people who had held themselves up as being wise when in fact they were not.

- the overall point here is --- Taking A Right Stand One Day Does Not Mean You Won’t Face Significant Trial the Next.
- and the question each of us needs to ask is ---- Have I come to a place in my spiritual life where that truth makes sense to me --- not just in the abstract of a church service, but in the nitty gritty of everyday life?
- does my response to trial show that I too recognize the hand of God in trial, even when unreasonable Nebuchanezzar-like people are involved?
- [could make a gospel appeal here]

- now, for the second principle, we need to read a little further in the text - READ 2:14-16.

- the second principle to help us face trials properly is:


II. Concentrate on Your Response to the Trial, not the Trial Itself.


- as we read these verses, what stands out in the text?
- the respectful way Daniel treats those involved.
- in NT terminology, we would say that he is walking in the spirit....
- he is filled with the spirit....
- he is evidencing the spirit’s fruit of self-control.

- Daniel’s the one who was dragged to this country against his will...
- he’s the one who’s being forced to serve King Nebuchadnezzar.....

- you would think that he would be the one who’s out of control....
- the one who’s worrying, fretting, fussing, and losing sleep....

- Daniel gets the word that he’s going to be killed in verse 13 for something that he had absolutely nothing to do with....
- and in verse 14 he is replying to Arioch with discretion and discernment.
- he asks Arioch a reasonable question in verse 15, and sits down and has a discussion with the man who’s there to kill him.
- then in verse 16 he goes into the king and calmly requests more time.
- see, the point is, Daniel is not focusing on doing Nebuchanezzar’s job, or doing Arioch’s job, OR DOING GOD’S JOB....
- which frees him up to focus on his response to what’s happening.

- and you see that all the way through the text.....
- we’re going to read in a few minutes how when God tells him the interpretation of the dream and he goes to speak to the king, Daniel is sure to ask, not just that his life be spared.....
- he asks the king to spare the lives of all the wise men of Babylon who had just proven themselves to be frauds.
- but Daniel’s response to the human beings in this trial is incredibly gracious and wise.
- even in verse 30, when Daniel begins to tell the king the interpretation, he is sure to say to Nebuchanezzar......
- now, God didn’t do this for me, Nebuchanezzar, he did it for you.....
- God is being gracious to you....

- you read those words and you say.....how could Daniel respond to this trial this way?
- what a perfect time to get a little revenge......
- what a perfect time to gloat.....
- what a perfect time to pad his own pockets.....
- Daniel‘s was able to respond properly because he left the other details up to God and appropriate people.....
- I’m not going to focus on what Nebuchanezzar’s supposed to....
- I’m not going to focus on what Arioch is supposed to do....
- I’m not going to focus on what God is supposed to do.....
- I’m going to focus on what......I’m supposed to do.

- cf. cartoon about wife wanting to drive the car.....
- I wonder how often God makes a similar statement when he thinks of us?

- we were never designed to drive the car....
- we were never designed to run the show....
- and ever time we start to focus on what everyone else in the equation should be doing, invariably it leads to our failing to focus on, and acting on what we’re supposed to be doing.

- there’s an obvious question that flows out of this, isn’t there?
- are you this gracious to others during a time of trial?
- are you this self-controlled when things aren’t going your way?

- Can I ask you to turn over to the NT book of Hebrews for a moment?
- Hebrews 12:4.

- here’s a great passage that speaks about how God wants trials to affect His children, and what will result in our lives if we let trials have their perfecting work.
- read Hebrews 12:4-13

- now, there’s a lot of important things in that passage, but I’d like you to especially notice what’s said in verse 11.....
- all discipline for the moments seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
- doesn’t the last phrase in that verse aptly describe Daniel and what we’re reading about his response?......”the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

- of course each of us needs to ask ourselves.....in the way I typically respond to trials, does that phrase aptly describe me?....in the way I think, and the way I speak, and the way I walk, and the tone of voice I use.....would those observing call to mind the words, “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

- now, let’s go back to our verses in Daniel and see what happens next....READ Daniel 2:17-24.
- the third principle that flows out of this text is....


III. Use Trials to Strengthen Your Prayer Life.


- What we read in verse 17 is not particularly surprising.
- we would expect Daniel, when he gets the news to go and share it with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
- but what’s especially important to note is the way verse 18 explains what happened.
- Daniel informed his friends so they might.....?

- so they might have a pity party?
- so they could plan how they could kill Arioch before he killed them?
- so they could complain about how God has let them down?
- so they could go out on the town and have a fling before they lost their lives?
- so they could blame their problems on their parents?
- so they order a double-batch of psychotrophic drugs?

- no, he told them so they could pray.
- and its interesting how God is described in verse 18.
- so they could pray to the God of heaven.

- things were not out of control.
- this was no time to question the stand they had taken in chapter 1....
- this was no doubt for doubt and unbelief.....
- this was no time for fretting and worry....
- this was no time for anger or remorse.....
- this was time to pray.

- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.....Prov. 3:5-6

- Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee - Isa. 26:3

- Men ought always to pray and not to faint - Luke 18:1

- In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God... - I Thes. 5:18

- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. - Phil. 4:6

- Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you - Luke 6:28.

- But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed - Luke 5:16.

- Daniel handled trials properly because he allowed trials to strengthen his prayer life.
- Can I ask you, what about you?

- when you talk to others about the tough things you’re facing, is it for the purpose of asking them to pray?
- some folks share their troubles with others in the form of gossip.....
- others in the form of complaining.....
- others to vent, or unload, or criticize, or embitter....

- Daniel informed his friends to ask them to pray.

- Friend, if were to evaluate your prayer life during times of trial, what conclusions would we draw?

- sometimes I wonder if as American Christians, we have so insulated ourselves that we don't much need to pray.
- some of us take very few ministry risks......
- we seldom put ourselves in positions where we need the help and enablement of God.
- do you?
- some folks here this morning could say...I have been working so hard at overcoming sinful anger, and I’ve been praying about it, and praying about it......I don't want to stay in the same place spiritually and I’ve been fervently asking God to help me.
- others would say...I haven’t prayed about an area of spiritual growth all week because I haven’t really been working at growing.

- someone else could say...I have been praying so hard about this person that I’m talking to about Christ.....
- and I’m asking God for wisdom...and asking Him to help me seize opportunities....and asking Him to help me have boldness.....
- I’ve been praying a lot about evangelism this week.....

- others would have to say.....I haven’t prayed about evangelism at all this week, because I’m not trying to win anyone to Christ.

- see, some of us seldom put ourselves in situations where we’re taking ministry risks.....therefore in our minds there’s seldom any need for prayer.
- the words of this text prove that Daniel was a man of prayer.

- that might be an action point for many of us.....
- to commit to God that we are going to wake up a little earlier, or go to bed a little later, or change something about the schedule.....in order to be more faithful about praying for the trials we’re facing.....
- to cry out to the Lord for help, strength, wisdom, and enablement.
- perhaps you need to make that commitment with your spouse, or with a friend.

- perhaps many would say, when it comes to disciplined prayer, I need to be a lot more like Daniel.

- now, there’s one last section we’d like to address this morning --- READ 2:24-30.
- the fourth principle is.....


IV. Use Victory in Trials to Bring Praise to God.


- Daniel could used this situation to get about anything he wanted.
- there was little if anything Nebuchadnezzar would have withheld from him after this event.
- in our day, we says that he was in a very strong bargaining position.

- but Daniel didn’t fail to remember where he got his wisdom.
- he didn’t fail to remember where he got his strength.
- and after the victory---he was certain to give glory to God.

- what a beautiful testimony in verse 28......there is a God in heaven.

- Don’t you want your life to shout that message?
- Don’t you want your lips to proclaim those truths?

- let’s never be satisfied for simply doing right --- let’s be sure to point others to the source of our strength whenever we do right.

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