I have a habit in preparing for these messages – a habit which you might classify a “bad habit.” I have the habit of rereading the chapter under consideration – from the beginning. Even though our previous message may have ended with verse 13 or verse 16, just to keep my mind in the context, I begin reading with verse 1 once again. But as all good Bible students know, with every reading of God’s Word, subjects will be found which hadn’t been considered before. As a result, it will sometimes seem that we are flopping back and forth in our study of the chapter. Our series from this chapter may be worse than some of the earlier periods in our study. But if it is of any consolation, I will not be preaching all the things which I have found. For example, we could say more about the words of verse 2 – “because an excellent spirit was in him” – but we have probably dealt with that subject enough all ready.

The other day as I was reading, I was struck with the statement of verse 5 – “Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” “Against the law of his God.” As we have pointed out several times, Daniel’s enemies felt that the only way that they could condemn him was to force him to choose between obedience to the law of Darius and obedience to the law of God. And they knew full well that Daniel would choose Jehovah. So if they crafted a new law sufficiently well, they could trap their quarry and feed him to the lions.

As I thought about their statement – “against the law of his God,” it occurred to me that they were judging God’s law as well as forcing Daniel into making a judgment. It was their judgment that the Law of Jehovah was not worth the stone upon which it was first written. They, personally, cared absolutely nothing about God’s law except as it might be used against Daniel. Correct me if I am wrong, but if Daniel obeyed God, and they could condemn him to die for that obedience, they were also condemning the law which he obeyed.

That thought led me to several others, which I’d like to share with you this morning. I hope that you agree with me that these are not just abstract ideas – without any purpose or practicality. Part of the problem with today’s world is that the law of God is under constant attack. Satan hates the Word of God and the Law of God, as much as he hates Jehovah Himself. And he has made sure that man, in general, lives in disregard or hatred towards the precepts of the law. Unfortunately, Satan has a very worthy ally in this, because the natural depravity of man hates, rejects, and ignores the law of God. Once again, what we are studying from 2,500 years ago, is as current as Facebook, Wii and the 4G network.

Pray that I will be able express this as clearly as I see it.

His enemies intended to trap Daniel concerning the law of his God.
At this point, I’m falling into an area where I don’t have a great deal of information, so bear with me. (And if you choose to disagree with me, that will be fine, and it shouldn’t make a great deal of difference with our conclusion.) Daniel kept the law of God in much the same way that Christians today are supposed to keep the law. Under the Mosaic law, where was the place that Israel was to bring the sin offering and the burnt offering? They were forbidden to have their personal high places, personal altars and personal priests. They were to bring their lambs to the altar which God had established and approved. They were first to come to the Tabernacle and then later to the Temple. What happened to those men who tried to burn incense to the Lord, but who took their fire from the kitchen stove or the household fireplace? They were condemned by God. Where did Hannah and Elkanah go to bring their thanksgiving offering for the birth of young Samuel? Where did Mary later go to offer her turtle dove for cleansing?

If I had to guess, I would say that Daniel did not have fire off the altar when he was brought from Jerusalem. And as we read through Daniel, Chronicles, Esther, Nehemiah or any of the other books which speak about the Babylonian captivity, we aren’t told that priests arrived later with fire from God’s altar. Even if they had, I’m not sure that some of those foreign kings would have permitted the Jews to worship according to the dictates of the ceremonial law anyway. Did Daniel keep the spirit of the Passover and the Day of the Atonement? Absolutely. But to what degree, and what exactly did he do to keep the feasts and ceremonies? I can’t say. Did he build a little booth in the Fall and go out to live in a tabernacle, as Moses commanded? Do we?

Despite not being able to keep the intricate principles of the ceremonial law, there was no doubt about the fact that Daniel still kept the law. Notice that there is no reference to the “laws” of his God (plural) , but only to the “law.” Might we interpret this to mean that he kept the general principles – even though some of the exact precepts were beyond his ability?

Twice in this chapter, it was the testimony of King Darius that Daniel “served God continually.” And apparently his service was according to the law of his God or it wouldn’t have been accepted. So what sort of things did his service entail, in this land where it was probably forbidden to offer blood sacrifices to Jehovah? We know that part of his service involved loving, prayerful fellowship with his Saviour. He prayed morning, noon and night, day after day without fail. And if the Persians passed a law forbidding it, he was not going to stop praying. Not only did he bring his petitions before the throne of grace, but he brought back word of his appreciation. “He kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” During these sweet hours of prayer and praise, he was busy “making supplication before his God.” Praise, prayer and fellowship with God should be considered a very pleasant part of our “service” to God. But actually, isn’t it hard to call prayer a “service”? “Service” is the duty of a servant – a responsibility which may not be pleasant. Prayer shouldn’t be considered merely a duty or a responsibility – but a joy.

Several times I’ve suggested that Daniel was promoted to high positions under the Babylonian and Persian kings because he was the best man for the job. And I’ve also suggested that he was the best man for the job, because he behaved like a saint of God. “They could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.” Why was there no error or fault found in him? Because six days he labored and did all his work – according to the fourth commandment. When he went to work in the morning, he went to work in the morning. He was punctual, diligent, faithful and honest. And speaking about honesty, he obeyed the 8th, 9th and 10th commandments – “Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

Not only did Daniel keep the Ten Commandments, he kept all those precepts which we call the “Moral Law.” And he served the Lord by doing whatever he could to bring glory to the God who loved and saved him. He served God by properly serving his employer. What did Jehovah say about grumbling and murmuring? He condemned it in Israel years before, so I’m thinking that Daniel refused to complain about his life. What did the Lord teach us about worry? He condemned it and pointed out its uselessness, so Daniel fought against the tendency to worry. On the other hand, he lived in hope – expecting Israel’s deliverance and the coming of the Messiah. When given the opportunity he spoke positively of the One he knew to be the true and living God. As I’ve said before, I think that he probably organized Bible studies to help his brethren, and for those Babylonians and Medes who would be willing to learn eternal truth.

Within my limited knowledge of the situation, I would say that Daniel served the Lord in much the same way God expects you and me to serve Him today. And I would say that his relationship to the law was not much different than ours ought to be. He had his limited observance of the Passover, and we have ours. He had his Atonement, and we have ours. His relationship to the Ten Commandments was not much different than our own.

Now having said all that, I must come back to my original message.

Daniel’s enemies were judging God’s law and Daniel’s relationship to this law.
And Christ Jesus’ enemies are still judging God’s laws. For simplicity’s sake, we can equate the law of God with the Word of God, because the world handles them in exactly the same way. For example, it is obvious that these men considered the law of the Persians was more important than the law of God. If man’s law forbade praying, it doesn’t matter if God’s law commands it, the law of the Medes and the Persians supercedes God. That was a judgment which those people laid against the law of God and the Word of God.

And isn’t it still the attitude that the world has today? If corrupted science says that the Grand Canyon was carved over millions of years, then millions of years it was, even though the Bible (God’s law) shows that it took less than a year. God’s Word says the Lord created the universe – including outer space – in a matter of moments, but man has judged what God has said about that and rejected it, even though there isn’t a shred of evidence to disprove the Lord. Is capital punishment a part of ceremonial law, or does it lay more deeply in the eternal moral law of God? Since God ordained and commanded the execution of murderers long before Moses gave the ceremonial law, I’d have to say that it is more significant than laws against eating snakes and clams. In fact the Lord clearly tied this subject to His very heart. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The lack of proper punishment for murderers and rapists, is an example of man’s judgment upon the law of God. Why is half the commercial world is open for business seven days a week? It’s because the world has deemed that God’s law is no relevant in modern society – a judgment call. Why do 90% of the people of this world take the Name of the Lord in vain? Because they have judged that the third commandment of God’s law is no longer applicable. On and on we could go with point after point. God’s Word and God’s law has been judged by the unbelieving world, and for the most part, condemned it.

Daniel’s enemies judged the law of Daniel’s God and relegated it into some sort of religious novelty. It may have been important to the Jews at some point, but it was no longer relevant in “modern” society. And when they proposed their new law, they made sure that it was one of the permanent variety. When they had arrested Daniel for praying, they came rushing into the palace with their charges. “Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.” Eventually, when Darius couldn’t extricate Daniel from this dilemma which he had caused, he had the man of God cast into the lion’s den and sealed the door with the royal signet, “that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.” Six or eight hours later, the Lord demonstrated what he thought about the Persians’ judgment. There was a seal on the stone door of the den, but Jehovah broke that seal and delivered Daniel. There was a divine decree that Daniel would live, and it was the Lord’s decree which was unchangeable – not man’s.

Man has constantly been judging God’s law and condemning it. The Lord told Adam that he could eat of any tree in the Garden except for one special tree. The man and his woman judged that God’s law was too restrictive, so they chose to break it. Eve felt that the law forbidding the eating of that one fruit was inhibiting her personal growth. She was tempted to think that by eating that fruit, she would become like God, knowing good and evil. She wanted to be like God, so she weighed the law in her unbalanced scale and found it wanting. Her son Cain, judged and then decided that God’s rules about worship were too restrictive, so he deliberately disregarded the blood sacrifice. The first family spent time judging God’s law and rejected it, and first families ever since have been doing the same.

But the Lord has proven the futility of judging Him and His law.
The Lord has proven the fatality of judging His law. Into the lion’s den poor, old Daniel was tossed. Apparently those lions were not trained to accept the presence of men in their cage. In fact, they may have been kept at the point of starvation, or at least kept from food for the previous few days, under the expectation of a fine Jewish meal. His enemies expected those lions to make short work of Daniel, in a very gory and painful way. Darius carried a vague hope that Daniel would be delivered, but it was a hope against hope.

And yet, as you know, the Lord and His law really was more important, stronger, and it was victorious over the “unalterable” laws of the Persians. The “unalterable” law of the Medes and Persians was as “unalterable” as the Titanic was “unsinkable.” “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.” This was not the first occasion of this sort of thing, and it was not the last. Joseph’s situation in the Egyptian jail was not exactly the same thing, but it bears some similarities. In fact all of Israel’s incarceration in Egypt was much the same. But the law of man, could not trump the law and command of Jehovah. A classic example would be that of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail. The lions had beaten them bloody, and locked them in the stocks. They had been accused of breaking the laws of Rome, and the laws of Roman economics. But what are the laws of man when compared to the laws of God? Paul and Silas had broken no true law, as Daniel had broken no true law. And God reached down, shook the city, shattered the prison and released His servants unharmed.

Something else about the power of God’s law over all other laws can be seen here. The Creator has given to nature a certain number of laws. It’s not that “nature” is a living thing – that it has a will – that it makes choices – that it can ordain laws. But at the outset God granted powers to what we call “nature.” I’m referring to the law of gravity, as I often do. I’m referring to the law of physics which generally says that as things freeze, they condense and get heavier than they had been as liquids. I’m referring to the law which says that living species can bear children only of their own species. Shall we say that it is a law that cows eat grass, grain and other kinds of plants? It appears to be a law that dogs and cats eat different kinds of foods, and if hunger drives them to eat the others’ meal, they might get sick. And it is a law that lions are carnivores – that they eat meat. One of the miracles of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ will be that lions will eat straw like an ox. The laws that God has granted to nature, God can suspend, change, reverse or withdraw. When Daniel was pushed into the lion’s cage, it was expected that he would be killed and eaten. But Jehovah is as sovereign over the hearts of lions as He is over the hearts of kings and sinners. Friday, grand-daughter Sahalie asked me to read her little picture book about the Bible. In it there is a picture of Daniel in the lion’s den. The book’s illustrator depicted Daniel as fast asleep with a pair of contented, smiling lions lounging all over him as if they were household tabby cats. I can’t say what Daniel’s lions looked like or acted like, but it wasn’t the way that lions ordinarily looked and behaved. And the reason? Because God is sovereign over the laws of even nature.

WHAT has the sovereign God decided IS the law, and what is the PURPOSE of that law?
Even though man may draft and pass law after law, and the Christian should conscientiously do his best to obey those laws, the only laws which bear eternal significance are those which God wrote and inscribed in the Word of God. The laws which have most important meaning are those moral laws which define sin. The Ten Commandments are a good place to start, but there are others. “One of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” We could go beyond these, but there isn’t much reason to do so.

The point of law is not only to give us guidance for our lives, but to prove that we have come short of the standards of the Lord. “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” – Romans 3:20. And God’s law has determined that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Furthermore, “the wages of sin is death” – referring to eternal death and separation from the Lord. This means that God’s law is directly related to whether or not you spend eternity in hell.

Ah, but salvation from that sin is not through the law. The law is only the schoolmaster who teaches us that we need a Saviour – a Deliverer. The Saviour is none other than the Son of God, who died on the cross. Christ Jesus met the true law, the unalterable law of God, and willingly took upon himself the penalty that the law demanded against the sins of those whom He intended to save. Then Christ died under that law, bearing those sins and freeing those sinners from God’s law.

Sinners, like Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel, who were brought by the Holy Spirit to the point of humbling themselves before the God of the law, and who willingly trusted the Divine Saviour, proved themselves to have been delivered from the curse of the Law. This is still our responsibility today. The work of the law is still the same. Do you recognize that you are a divine law-breaker – a sinner? Then repent before God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from your sins.