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Daniel’s Bold Witness

INTRODUCTION

My dear friends in Christ, you are learning this week of convention that God wills and calls you to be courageous young people, spiritually strong and brave and confident in the face of danger. And you are learning what this means and how to be this by looking at aspects of the life of the godly man Daniel.

There are many important parallels between the life of Daniel and your own. Daniel had to live as a stranger in a strange land. As a Jewish captive in Babylon, he was a believer in a hostile environ­ment. And he came to Babylon as a young man, so that his faith was challenged and tested at a young age. The nature of his life called for courage and he showed it.

This is the nature of your life too. You are covenant youth in the Babylon of this world; you are strangers in a strange land. You stand as the friends of God among people who are enemies of God and who hate you and are determined to destroy you. Because of this, there are countless challenges to your faith and Christian walk, so that the nature of your life and the times in which you live demand that you too be courageous. “Dare to be a Daniel” is more than a Sunday school song; it is God’s call to you. It is a motto to live by, a theme for your entire life.

Last night you learned one of the secrets of Daniel’s courage in Babylon, he was a man of prayer. Pastor Mahtani showed us how prayer was such an important part of Daniel’s life and how in this way he gained strength to stand strong and firm in the midst of his testings. From that you learned what you must be doing if you are to become strong and remain brave in this life of constant testings. You must stay close to your God and be in constant contact with Him, so as to draw from Him the grace you need in this dangerous world.

This evening we are going to consider another prominent aspect of Daniel’s life, his bold witness. Daniel gave a powerful witness in the wicked land of Babylon, a witness to God, a witness to Christ, a witness to God’s grace as it had saved him, a witness to the church and kingdom of God. No matter where you turn in the book of Daniel you find this man of God testifying to and of his Lord. He did this not only by words, but he also demonstrated this in deeds. And his witness was bold; it was for­ward and open. Daniel did not hide his faith and his God; he put them out for all to see. He made his witness before an unbelieving and hateful world; before mighty kings, leaders of the world-powers of that day, knowing full well that it would cost him. He was bold; that was his courage too.

Tonight I want to show you that this bold witness is what you as courageous youth must also have and show. There is a stanza in the song “Dare to be a Daniel” which goes: “Dare to have a pur­pose firm! Dare to make it known!” That is what we will see in Daniel, and what we will learn to do by the grace of God. I call your attention to: “DANIEL’S BOLD WITNESS.”

 

HOW HE DEMONSTRATED A BOLD WITNESS

When we speak of witnessing, we usually put it in the realm of evangelism. We speak, for example, of “personal witnessing.” But that tends to restrict our idea of what it means to witness. We think it is only a special activity, something we do at certain times. But I want you to think broadly when we speak of witnessing tonight. I want you to see that witnessing is a way of life for the Christian, not a special activity. It is something we must always be doing.

Witnessing has to do with testifying to the truth of something based on what you’ve seen or heard or experienced. It has a legal connotation. A witness in court has to give testimony based on the evidence he’s seen or heard or experienced. Think of all the witnesses who have been involved in the O. J. Simpson trial and the variety of testimony they have had to give. The important thing in such

witnessing is that one testifies to the truth; he has to witness concerning what he truly knows has happened. A false witness who lies (perjury) is a great evil and a serious offence.

The Bible tells us that in a spiritual sense God’s people are His witnesses. “Ye are my witnesses” Jehovah said to His O.T. people in Isaiah 43:10. Don’t let the cult of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” take that beautiful name away from you. As Christians who have the truth of His Word, you are the Lord’s true witnesses, not they. They are the devil’s false witnesses. That we are the Lord’s witnesses means that, as we live in this world, we must view ourselves as being constantly in court. We are at all times called by God to take the witness stand and testify on His behalf. We must defend Him and His cause before men. And that means that we must tell the truth; our witness concerning God in this world must be true.

That true witness is found, first of all, in God’s Word. We testify to and of God based on what we’ve heard and seen from God’s own revelation in His Word. This whole book of truth is the basis of your testimony and the content of your witness. And secondly, that truth is found in your own heart as a saved sinner, because that is where God’s grace has worked to teach you the truth of His Word and make you know it and believe it personally. As saved, covenant young people, you can testify of the truth because you have and have experienced God’s truth in your own hearts and lives!

This testimony you give both by your talk and by your walk; by your lip as well as by your life. That’s why we say you are always giving it. Whatever you do, wherever you go, you are giving a witness to and of God, as a professing Christian. And that witness is either true or false. You are either speaking and living the truth according to God’s Word and grace, or you are speaking and living the lie contrary to God’s Word and grace. Daniel gave a true witness in the land of Babylon, and that is a powerful example for you.

Let’s look at some of the specific examples of his bold witness, so that we may learn from it and gain courage to have it. We don’t have to go far in the book of Daniel because already in chapter 1 we have an illustration of his bold witness. Daniel was confronted right away with a temptation, to eat the king’s dainties, his meat and wine. And notice what he did. First, he purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. That’s courage enough. But then second, he went right to the prince of the eunuchs and made his bold request: “. . . Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself,” v. 8. He didn’t hide his opposition to this; he didn’t make up some excuse. No, he openly told the man his position. He witnessed of His God and His way of holiness in a land of unho­liness! He had a purpose firm and he dared to make it known!

That’s the witness you must have and give in this tempting Babylon you live in; Daniel is our example in courage and boldness. How many times are we not faced with defiling sins? How many of the world’s “dainties” are not set before you day after day, that you may “eat” and be corrupted?! You know what they are: the world’s fashions and music and movies, with its message of sexual pleasure and material pleasure. You know the defiling sins you confront when you are on your dates, both in terms of where you will spend your time and how you will end the evening. What testimony are you giving in these matters? Are you witnessing of God and His grace? Are you telling the truth according to His Word and His work in your hearts, or are you declaring the lie according to the devil and your own sinful nature? Dare to be a Daniel, and let this be the bold testimony of your heart and mouth, “I will not defile myself with Babylon’s sins!”

A second example of Daniel’s bold witness is found in the accounts of his interpretation of the two dreams of Nebuchadnezzar and of the handwriting on the wall during the feast of Belshazzar. As Daniel served in Nebuchadnezzar’s court as one of his wise counsellors, he was challenged by the dreams of this king. Without going into all the details, notice what Daniel did when the first dream concerning the image Nebuchadnezzar saw was revealed to him (chap. 2). He asked to be brought to the king and when he appeared before him, he boldly told him how it was that he knew the dream, “The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days,” vss. 27, 28. Then he testified boldly by telling the dream and its interpretation, v. 37ff (you may read this). Openly before this mighty ruler Daniel showed God and His sovereignty, Christ and His kingdom.

We find the same thing in chapter 4 with the second dream of Nebuchadnezzar, vss. 19ff (that of the great tree cut down). The interpretation of this dream was a hard thing to tell the king, but Daniel boldly testified to the truth. God is the sovereign King and Nebuchadnezzar must be humbled before Him to know that He rules!

And again, we find this courageous witness of Daniel in the interpretation of the handwriting on the wall during Belshazzar’s feast, chap. 5:17ff. (You may look this up.) Notice how Daniel plainly witnesses of God and how he rebukes this wicked man for his sin. It was a bold witness! In all of these cases he did not change and compromise God’s Word, but bravely spoke the truth.

In this respect also Daniel is an important and necessary example for us. God has revealed His truth and kingdom to us too, not by dreams but in His infallible Word, the Bible. He has made clear to us that He is the sovereign God Who rules in the nations of men. He has revealed that Christ is at His right hand and that He is soon coming to perfect His kingdom. He has told us that He is absolutely sovereign in salvation. He has made Himself Lord of our lives. What are we doing with this revelation? Is it our bold witness to tell the world this, and other Christians who question this? Are our mouths open, or shut? Are we openly telling all, or hiding the harder parts of the truth? Do our lives show plainly that we humbly yield to the sovereign control of God? Dare to be a Daniel and make known the truth that the Lord reigns!

Thirdly, Daniel witnessed boldly in one more way, during the reign of Darius, chapter 6. It was in the matter of prayer. He was put to the test again, this time with regard to his prayer practices, his devotional life. A law was made against his faith and practice. But boldly he went and did as he always did, testifying to His God and to His grace in his heart: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime,” v. 10. He would not change his godly habits, hide his faith, compromise his stand, though he knew it would bring him suffering. And notice his testimony afterward, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me . . . ,” v. 22. What a faith! v. 23. What a bold testimony!

Daniel’s example in this respect too calls us to a bold witness. God has given us the great privi­lege and duty of prayer. Out of love for God and gratitude to Him, out of longing for His fellowship, out of sheer need of Him and His grace, we ought to be in holy conversation with Him daily. And we don’t have to worry about the lions’ den, at least not yet. We have freedom to call upon God, privately and publicly. How is the witness of your life in the matter of devotion to God? Do people at school and work know you as a devoted Christian? Have they seen or heard you in prayer to your God? Or are you a best kept secret? Do you shrink lest others think you odd, pious? Are you willing to die for this witness? Keep in mind that the N.T. word for “witness” is literally “martyr!” Dare to be a Daniel! Dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known! Dare to stand alone, if need be!

 

HOW HE OBTAINED AND MAINTAINED A BOLD WITNESS

But how did Daniel get to be so bold? How did he maintain this witness while being tested and challenged over and over? What the book of Daniel reveals concerning this is also instructive for us.

Let’s begin by being sure we know this was not something Daniel had of himself. His witness was not anything natural in him. The strength and boldness of his testimony didn’t come from some hu­man tap within himself; his courage to testify of the truth wasn’t obtained by human resolve and endeavor. Daniel knew that well. And we must understand that too. We don’t have and reveal this kind of testimony of ourselves. According to our human nature we are all spiritual “chickens,” afraid and ashamed to speak of God and His Son.

This bold witness was the fruit of God’s grace and saving faith in Daniel. God gave it to him and enabled him to be bold and brave in using it. Daniel was a believer, and he put his trust in the Lord for his strength to be a faithful witness of the truth by his lip and life. It is and must be the same with us.

But now, we know that God uses means to give us this strength and courage, and as His people use these means, they gain this strength and maintain this courage. That’s the way it was with Daniel. Let’s see how.

First, to be a bold witness you have to have a solid foundation. To be able to witness to the truth you have to know the truth, and that means a good training in it. Daniel had a good, covenantal edu­cation when he was a young man in Israel. He was trained in God’s Word and in God’s ways. And he embraced this training in the truth with a believing heart. That served him well when he got to Babylon and had to attend school there. And he continued to grow in that knowledge through the Word in Babylon. He revealed himself as a man of the Word, both in special revelations and in written form, cf. chap. 9:2. He had a heart to understand, a teachable spirit, cf. 10:12. That was the basis of his courage (courage comes from the French and Latin words for ‘heart’).

You have been given a good foundation too— your own educational training in the covenant, in home, church, school. If you have received that spiritually by faith, you are equipped to be God’s witnesses in Babylon. Have you? Do you really know and believe God’s truth? Are you standing strong in knowledge and conviction? Now, what are you doing with this spiritual training? Are you using it to be strong and brave in your witness in this world? Are you still seeking to grow in it? Are you hungry for the Word and do you use it daily to gain a stronger and bolder witness? (cf. Daniel 10:19 and 11:32).

Secondly, Daniel obtained and maintained his bold witness through the means of prayer. He was a man of faith, and faith is trust in God. He knew that he depended on the Lord for his knowledge and wisdom, for his strength to testify boldly, and therefore, he took his need to God in regular prayer. Three times a day was his habit. He lived close to his God; that was the secret of his bold witness.

Let me assure you that prayer is the second key to your obtaining and maintaining a strong and brave witness. Do we fully realize our dependence on God? Are we trying to live by ourselves? How is our prayer life? The strength of our witness is directly proportional to our prayer life. I believe you will agree with me that we need a greater devotion to God; we need to be diligent in seeking His help and strength. Private prayer leads to open witness. Use the means Daniel did, and you will be bold in your testimony!

Thirdly and finally, Daniel obtained and maintained his bold witness by being a sin-conscious man who repented of his sin and who committed himself to walk in a holy way. Nothing weakens and ultimately kills a Christian’s witness faster than sin. If we are not conscious of it, if we are not avoiding it, if we are not repenting of it, it will put an end to our testimony to the truth. No matter how much we witness by our talk, if we do not deal with sin and put it away in our lives, our witness will die, and the world will mock.

Daniel knew this, and lived accordingly. Immediately when he got to Babylon he took a stand to be a holy man, to reject sin, whatever would defile him. That made him strong for the rest of the tests; that preserved his witness. So too in chap. 9 we find him confessing his sin, cf. vss. 3ff.

How about us? Do we have a concern to be holy? Have you resolved to fight sin and not let it rule you? Are you resisting anything that will weaken your witness? Are we sin-conscious? Do you confess your sin and turn from it? This is the way to have a strong and bold witness.

 

HOW HE RECEIVED GOD’S WITNESS FOR HIS BOLD WITNESS

I want to close with a serious note that will also encourage you. That is that God has a witness concerning us too, a witness concerning our witness. He is our Judge and He gives a testimony regard­ing our life and walk in this world. He witnesses the truth based on what He has seen in our lives. He witnesses everything, remember. If we have testified well of Him, He gives us a good testimony. But if we have not, then He testifies against us. Hebrews 11 speaks of this witness of God concerning His people. It tells us that Abel and Enoch and the other fathers of faith had a “good report” from God because of their faithful witness to and of Him in their lives.

Daniel understood this, for his name means “God is my judge.” And as one of the heroes of faith who testified boldly of his Lord, he received a good report. God testified well of him and gave him his reward, eternal life. That’s what he is now enjoying in the presence of his God.

What would God say of your witness tonight? How would He judge you? What testimony would He give? A good report? Or a bad one? What will be your reward, heaven or hell? I want you to hold that in your mind and on your heart. Witnessing of God is serious. But that must not put you in fear in a bad sense. Knowing this, let godly fear call you and encourage you to faithfulness in your witness. “Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to have a purpose firm. Dare to make it known.” The church today needs such young people.

 

Rev. Terpstra is pastor of the South Holland Protestant Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois.