"Windows Open Toward Jerusalem" (continued)
The Futility of Earthly Endeavor
I like to compare Darius with Daniel. Darius was supposed to be the king, but Daniel was the man reigning in spirit. What a bad time Darius had! and that does not express to us the bad time that evil people have, but the bad time that the well-intentioned man has, who is concerned for the interests of the Lord without really knowing the Lord. It was to Darius' credit that he was so moved and terribly anxious. You notice what he says: this shows the different attitude: Darius, when he had been tricked into this experience, "was sore displeased, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him." That is a good enough, reasonable enough, sincere enough exercise. "He set his heart on Daniel to deliver him." And what happened? "He labored till the going down of the sun to rescue him," but all his labor did not make the slightest difference to the lions' den; nor did it make the slightest difference to the Divine deliverance when it came. You can imagine those men who were the means of bringing Daniel into the lions' den. How they enjoyed the problem, the dilemma in which Darius was! He labored, but they out-witted him; he tried in vain to think how he could outwit them and express his power, and they laughed at him. And the devil laughs at us when we are in the position that Darius was in. And, while the Lord did not laugh at him - I am sure the Lord appreciated the good that lay behind it all - He would have said to Darius, Don't trouble, you are wasting your time, I can manage without you.
Then the night came and the matter seemed irrevocable. What a night the king had, the restlessness, the bitterness, the disappointment! Bring him food - he doesn't want food; music? - he cannot listen to music; sleep? - he cannot sleep. What a night! While Daniel, down among the lions, was having a nice, peaceful, quiet night! Which things are a parable. Daniel or Darius? I am afraid I am often Darius. Darius was a man of the earth, Daniel was a man of heaven. When you are a man of the earth and when you face Divine things as here on earth, that is the kind of condition you work yourself into. Darius was frantic, strained to breaking point. He wanted to deliver the Lord's interests and he labored and he fought and then he broke his heart because he felt all the Lord's interests were in the lions' den. He tried to meet the enemies of the Lord's interests on their own level. They plotted - he tried to counter-plot; they had exercised their power - he sought the means for overruling with his power; he was wrestling with flesh and blood, and he was losing and he was suffering. "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood" (Ephesians 6:12). When Daniel knew that the decree was signed, he did not set his heart to deliver Daniel. He did not labor till the going down of the sun to try and find a way out. Daniel went on looking to Jerusalem, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding kept his heart and mind. But Darius, with the best of intentions, was struggling and striving and trying to do something to help the Lord, and he only succeeded in working himself into a state of restlessness and strain that are beyond description.
What is the secret? Surely it is as I have said - Darius was concerned for Daniel, for the human side, for the servant of the Lord - a very good concern in his case, because quite unselfish - but it did not help. Daniel was not concerned for the servant of the Lord, he was concerned for the interests of the Lord, for the heavenly revelation, and the result was that he as kept in perfect peace while Darius was worked up into a fever and a fret.
Well now, let the Lord apply the message and the lesson to each of our hearts. How does it work out with us? Are we on earthly ground or on heavenly?
The devil's Seeming Triumph
The devil seems rather to be limited in his ability to foresee the deliverances of God. He thinks - and indeed it looks as if he is right - that he can engineer situations in which there are only two alternatives: it was so with the three young men, it was so with Daniel, and in His time it was so with our blessed Lord. Two alternatives face the servant of God. Either he must relinquish the vision or he must be destroyed; and having, like some diabolical chess player, engineered a situation from which there are only two possible moves, satan stands back. In either case, he is triumphant. If those three young men will avoid the fiery furnace at the expense of denying the Lord, the devil does not mind their going free - they have denied the Lord, the spiritual interest is marred. Daniel can, if he will, save himself from the lions' den, he can close his windows, he can relinquish that utter position of abandonment to the heavenly revelation; he can - and alas many do - avoid the lions' den. It can be done, and satan has triumphed either way; and that is the diabolical ingenuity of it. It is a cleft-stick. Either we must relinquish that utter position concerning that which the Lord has shown us, or satan will break us, he will finish our usefulness, he will mar our lives. So we have to sit down with the two alternatives.
(continued with # 9 - (God's Counter By Resurrection)