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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer

Unmoved and Undismayed

Daniel 6:10

There is something tremendously impressive about a man who is beset and attacked from every side, apparently overwhelmed, and who yet maintains a quiet, dignified persistence of faith and goes on with his God, unmoved and undismayed.

Daniel's troubles sprang from the fact that he had been marked out for advancement. "The king thought to set him over the whole realm" (verse 3). There were two presidents equal with him as well as many satraps under him. All these reacted violently to the decision about his promotion, so violently that they plotted to destroy him. At first they had a great deal of success. It seemed unlikely, or indeed impossible, that Daniel  could ever obtain the supremacy planned for him. Yet he did! The evil scheme failed. The servant of God was delivered and placed over the kingdom. The means by which he was advanced must have seemed very strange. Yet they are in full harmony with all that the Word teaches us about spiritual progress. Especially is Daniel's experience in accord with what is shown in the case of the Lord Jesus, that the way to the throne is by death and resurrection.

"As He Did Aforetime"

The lions den was a kind of grave. Daniel was not spared the grave; he had to go right down into it. Since, however, he was God's man and kept true to his God, he lost nothing and gained everything by that descent. His rivals went down into the same grace, and they stayed there. By the end of the chapter we find no more mention of presidents and satraps. They could not stand the test of the grave. Daniel, on the contrary, was given his place over the whole realm, not by any effort or planning of his, but simply by his maintained position of faith in God. The lesson is for us. We, too, in His amazing grace, have been marked out for advancement, chosen for the throne. This explains for us, as well as for Daniel, the peculiar bitterness of the conflict in which we are often involved. There are great issues in view; we need to know how to behave in the midst of it all, and what is the secret which will enable the Lord to fulfill His purpose in our case as He did in Daniel's.

We find that he came through wholly and solely on spiritual grounds. His own wisdom, his earthly authority, his influence among men, his experience, his friends - all these counted for nothing. As he was hurried away and thrown into the den, he must have been a picture of complete helplessness. There was nothing he could say, and nothing he could do. He did not try to wrestle with the lions; it would have been useless if he had. In a spiritual conflict - and ours is that - nothing but spiritual strength is of any use. For all his apparent helplessness, Daniel had a standing with God. The key to his emergence from the conflict in such complete triumph is found in our verse about his praying, and particularly in the last words, "as he did aforetime."

He was steadfast in his faith. Yet it would not be enough to think of his having faith in a merely general way, or being a man who habitually prayed for all sorts of things. We can only understand the nature of his steadfastness if we realize that he was keeping true to a definite and God-given vision. He had understood the purpose of God with regard to His people. Moreover, he had adjusted his whole life to that vision, as the open window and the "three times a day" prayer-watch show. He knew what God wished and intended, and had given himself wholeheartedly for its fulfillment. Day in and day out, fair days and foul, he kept himself in God's direction and  stood for God's will. No wonder that human jealously and spite were used by satan in a determined effort to silence him! But he could not be silenced. He could not be made to close his windows. "Aforetime" he had persisted in his faith vigil; now that trouble was pending he refused to be turned aside from his set course with God. He had a spiritual 'routine,' a holy habit, a steady heart-purpose. When this brought him into the cross-currents of conflict, and the writing was signed against him, he seemed to take no notice at all, but calmly continued in his watch with the Lord - "as he did aforetime."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

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