THE CHARACTER OF SET-APART LIVING DURING EXILE - Daniel 6:1-16

Shabbat Shalom, praise be unto יהוה our Elohim who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. We are His chosen, royal and set-apart ones – a people for a possession – praise יהוה, aměn!

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 2: 11-16 “Beloved ones, I appeal to you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts which battle against the life, 12 having your behaviour among the gentiles good so that when they speak against you as evil-doers, let them, by observing your good works, esteem Elohim in a day of visitation. 13 Be subject to every institution of man because of the Master, whether to the sovereign as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of doers of evil, and a praise for those who do good. 15 Because such is the desire of Elohim, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, 16 as free, yet not using your freedom as a cloak for evil, but as servants of Elohim.

Living as pilgrims and sojourners – doing ‘good’ – the desire of Elohim as servants of Elohim – living set-apart and pleasing unto Elohim so that even when the world calls you wicked for your obedience, it will result in Elohim being esteemed by all when He comes again! I love this passage of Scripture – we are called out, we are chosen and we are His possession – we are His!!! And we ought to live like it, even while we are in exile as we are not yet in the Land He has promised us! Tonight I would like to look at what this means in a message called, “The Character of Set-Apart living during Exile”. One of the pictures or themes of this week’s Torah portion in Bemiḏbar/Numbers 16-18 which we will be going through in the morning is that of the recognition of those whom יהוה has called and submission to His authority! This was not according to man’s standards but according to whom יהוה had called, elected and chosen. Aharon’s rod was the one that budded – his rod produced fruit while others didn’t and this is a picture for us today that our lives as chosen, royal and set-apart unto יהוה ought to be bearing the fruit of righteousness – the very fruit of set-apart living during our sojourning or exile. And an excellent handbook for us on how to live and maintain this set-apart life while in exile is Dani’ěl, as his life and character pictures for us great lessons for us to follow in carrying and displaying the character of set-apart living. Please turn with me to Dani’ěl/Daniel 6:1-16 (Read)

As we look at the world around us today it is plain to see that in almost every sphere, whether it is in politics, religion, medicine, education, the arts, sport or even family life, there is indeed and integrity crisis. The once long accepted ethical codes of conduct are quickly being disregarded and has given way to simple short term pragmatics of ambition, profit margins and pleasure – in other words – morality and integrity has been at large thrown out of the window and replaced with the pursuit of self and selfish gain, no matter the consequences of ones actions. What even makes it more shocking is that mere fact that this very lack of integrity we see today no longer shocks anyone and instead it sadly is in fact rather gaining popularity as a means of living – contrary to the words we find in Scripture! Business deals are riddled with corruption and many relationships are poisoned with compromise in varying degrees, and in a ‘dog eats dog’ society the main priority for most is to look out for self as the seeming key to surviving today!

 

Integrity is described as a firm adherence to a code of moral or artistic values, speaking of being incorruptible, complete, honest and undivided. In facing an integrity test – the majority today would certainly fail – how about you?

This chapter we have just read can be a mirror for us as we look intently in to the Word in order to reveal how we look as we are exposed to the life and character of Dani’ěl. In this chapter Dani’ěl is around 80 years of age – this was the 3rd king under whom he had served faithfully, and so for many it may in itself be an eye opener that he was in fact about 80 years old when thrown in to the lions – he was not a little boy as the world has erroneously portrayed in its attempt at diminishing the validity of the Truth of the word of Elohim into mere fables or ‘nice stories’ – no these are real events of real people and are recorded for us as warnings and instructions on how we too are to live set-apart amidst a corrupt and wicked generation! Although we will not be looking at the lion incident tonight, we will be looking are looking at the events that led to him being thrown in with the lions – events that truly mark the great integrity and character of a man chosen by Elohim and one who was well equipped to endure to the end. 3 critical qualities that we see in his life – qualities that as we look into the mirror of this passage ought to be in our lives today – qualities that Dani’ěl had that kept him strong and of good faith when thrown to the lions.

יהושע tells us in:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 10:16 “See, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

He goes on to say that men will deliver you up to the authorities and that we should not fear what we should say for the Spirit will equip us, brother will deliver up brother and we will be hated by all for His Name’s sake – but those who endure to the end shall be saved! Well we certainly see this happening more and more today – brother against brother – being hated for His Name’s sake – and what will come in the days ahead is the mark of worship – will we keep Sabbath or ‘Sun-day’ observance and those who keep the Sabbath and do not adhere to the soon to be enforced ‘sun-day’ laws of worship will be delivered up for persecution. Now how ought we to be equipped in our sojourning in order to face and handle these days? This is where the life of Dani’ěl is a great mirror for us to measure up to as we walk in Messiah.

And for us to look in the mirror of the Word let us see 3 great qualities or character traits that Dani’ěl had, and as we look at these, this can in effect be an integrity test for each of us:

1 – PERSONAL INTEGRITY (6:4a)

They could find no occasion or corruption in him

His fellow governors and viceroys did not like Dani’ěl - he was too clean for them. They tried all they could to find fault with his conduct of government affairs – looking for some occasion where they could find a mistake or flaw and they were unable and this frustrated them! Today it is the same as you get those who are constantly trying to find fault with others – perhaps it is a way to steer the focus of their own faults! Imagine, for a moment, coming under this kind of scrutiny – having your life come under the microscope and laid bare for all to see!!! This is worse than the Paparazzi! Let me ask you right now – “If some serious questions arose about your life and your character was being ruthlessly challenged, how would you hold up?”  Would you be nervous and anxious as to what may be exposed? Would there be some evidence that you may just like to burn or destroy? Imagine being dissected by one and all in their attempt to find some flaw.

Well the test of personal integrity is how you handle yourself in your daily life, at work, at home, at play – every area of your life. Dani’ěl did not divide up his life so to speak and live differently in one area and another way in another – he did not wear different hats or divide what is commonly called today secular and sacred – NO – he lived out his whole life fully in obedience unto יהוה and in every area of his life he worked unto and devoted himself unto יהוה – giving the highest regard for excellence as he served the King above all kings and this is simply the reason that they could find no corruption in him. Let me make it very clear – when you live as Dani’ěl lived and you take a firm stand of integrity, that is in living in firm adherence to the instructions/Torah of Elohim in every area of your life – then know that you will face opposition:

Timotiyos Bet/2 Timothy 3:12 “And indeed, all those wishing to live reverently in Messiah יהושע, shall be persecuted.

Taking a stand of personal integrity in Messiah will result in opposition and trouble from your co-workers, colleagues, family and friends – especially if they are lazy and lack integrity in the Word. They will naturally become envious of you and jealous of you and may even plot harm against you!

Let me ask you straight up – Are you a man or woman of integrity like Dani’ěl? His name gives a great key to his adherence to living right according to the Torah of Elohim – ‘El is my Judge’ or ‘My Judge is El’ – Daniel knew who he had to give an account to and lived accordingly and did not take lightly the instructions of Elohim!

Do you live out your life in giving your all – giving your 100% best unto יהוה no matter where you find yourself – no matter what the circumstances might be? Or do the circumstances you find yourself in determine your attempted level of obedience? Personal integrity is key to walking out reverently in Messiah in our sojourning right here right now.

Looking in the mirror of the Word and seeing the life of Dani’ěl – how do you look? Is there some adjustment needed? For each one must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling!

How did Dani’ěl live out his personal integrity? – Character number 2:

2 – STEADFAST FAITHFULNESS (6:4b)

Because he was steadfast, and no negligence or corruption was found in him.

Whatever, and I mean whatever Dani’ěl did he did faithfully – even at 80 years old as he never tried to cut any corners!!! He didn’t try to learn some ‘tricks of the trade’ in order to overlook or override that which is required! He was ‘steadfast’ and there was no ‘negligence’ or ‘corruption’ in him! Looking at these traits helps us see and understand just how personal integrity in the Living Elohim is lived out fully:

A – Steadfast – Hebrew word אֲמַן ’aman (Strong’s H540) and is written in the causative action which means it is actively present and consistent. The Word means to be trustworthy/ faithful/ loyal/ reliable/ dependable so as not to fail and willing to carry on to completion/ to be true/established/firm and confident

And there was NO:

B – Negligence – Hebrew Word שָׁלוּ  shaluw  (Strong’s H7690) and means: rejection in terms of to understand but respond inappropriately/ failure to do something expected and proper/ implies carelessness in duty

C – Corruption – Hebrew Word שְׁחַת  shâchath  (Strong’s H7844) means: corrupt/ be lying/be untrue and falsified/ morally corrupt and wicked.

Steadfast – and no negligence or corruption was found in Him!

WOW – that is a great description of Dani’ěl – a real steadfast man!

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 20:6 “Most men proclaim each his own kindness, But who finds a trustworthy man?

Dani’ěl did not need to proclaim his own kindness – his life of reverent obedience declared it in his trustworthiness! The answer typically to that proverb is ‘rarely do you find a trustworthy man’! But Dani’ěl was one – a ‘rare breed’ if you will. Rarely will you find people who actually will do what they say or follow through on what they commit to or one who ‘hangs in’ and does not give up when the going gets tough – may this room here tonight be an assembly of ‘rare’ ones – called out, chosen and set-apart ones, aměn!

Are you trustworthy or steadfast in Messiah? Can people count on what you say? Can they count on you getting the job done that is required of you? As you ‘rub shoulders’ daily with the world around you and come across multitudes of corrupted people, people you may even work with or know personally and interact with – how do you live? Do you remain trustworthy unto Elohim – are you faithful to your Maker and Saviour? Can you be counted upon in getting the job that is required of you done to the esteem and praise of יהוה? Or do you find yourself easily influenced by corruption and compromise and end up only giving half-hearted efforts in order to merely scrape by? Being steadfast in our daily walk in Messiah is critical and vital. Dani’ěl remained steadfast amidst the opposition and persecution. How about you?

What do you do when people begin to ridicule you about your Torah walk – your life of obedience unto Messiah? What happens when you are ridiculed and mocked and challenged about keeping Shabbat and that you no longer watch the rugby or attend those party braais? What do you do when you are mocked and laughed at because you do not eat that which is not classed as food – things you may previously have indulged in but now is an abomination to you – like pork, crayfish to name a couple – what do you do – do you shy away or give in – or do you remain steadfast and trustworthy with His Word now living in you?

What about when people laugh at your tzitzit – when they see these ‘threads’ hanging off your clothes and ask questions in a derogatory manner – what do you do? Do you answer them with boldness or do you try to hide and avoid any forms of confrontation? These are just some basic examples that may not bother any of us – although I am sure at first they may have, yet walking steadfast in integrity according to the Word one only becomes stronger and more courageous.

Compromise in the life of a believer is not an option!!! Dani’ěl’s accusers could not find fault with him and so they devised a plan in order to trap him by making a law that is contrary to his flawless life of steadfast faith. A decree was issued declaring that for 30 days no one was allowed to petition or pray to any ‘mighty one’ or any other man other than king Dareyawesh (Darius). Anyone found to be petitioning any other would be thrown into the den of lions.

What does Dani’ěl do? He remains steadfast to יהוה and continues to pray and make petitions daily – not to Dareyawesh but unto יהוה – just as the men expected Dani’ěl to do. What is important to realise here is that Dani’ěl didn’t try to go into hiding – he remained steadfast and did what he always had done and his whole life reflected whom he worshipped and served! The men sought a way of finding something in the Torah of the Elohim of Dani’ěl that would interfere with the agenda of the Babylonian culture and tried to use his obedience unto יהוה against him. Dani’ěl remained steadfast!

The third character trait we see here in his life is:

3 – AUTHENTIC SPIIRTUALITY (6:10)

As he had done before

His prayer life was consistent – he did not only pray when there was a need or a crisis or when there was panic! In fact He did not panic; for His trust was in יהוה the Living Elohim. As he had always done he went up to his room, got down on his knees and prayed and gave thanks to יהוה – as he had always done – business as usual! Dani’ěl was not flaunting his prayer life – he simply did as he always did – this is a powerful lesson for us – not to get side-tracked by the enemies agendas but rather do as we always do in our life of obedient worship. This is authentic spirituality – this is real spirit filled living – the spirit of excellence was on him. The word in verse 3 for excellence is יַתִּיר yǎt∙tîr (Strong’s H3493) and means exceptional, outstanding, pre-eminent and extraordinary. It can also carry the connotation of ‘shining or visible from afar’. Dani’ěl walked by the Spirit and not the flesh and it was abundantly obvious and his prayer life reflected this very excellent spirit that was in him. Dani’ěl knew the decree and that did not cause him to panic, he knew that he would possibly be handed over to the king for persecution – and that would be another opportunity to witness for Elohim!

How is your prayer life? What does it take for you to get on your knees - a tragedy or a crisis or even a physical lack? Dani’ěl’s prayer life was habitual – that is it was a part of his daily life – a good habit. Prayer is vital for us and we too would do well to have a good habit of daily prayer and quiet time no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

How many times when asking someone how they are do you find attached to their response the addition of, “…I am trusting Elohim for breakthrough in…”? Although it is a great confession as we are to trust Him totally but how about just giving him esteem and thanks – it is not all about you!!! It is about the esteem of His Name – yes present your petitions but with thanks – be thankful and filled with great awe for the One who has called you out and set you apart for a possession – you are His ‘segullah’ H5459 סְגֻלָּה – His treasured possession: (Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 14:2) – give Him thanks that we are His, aměn!

Many today will even have the lame excuse that they just do not have the time to pray and quite frankly that is a whole lot of rubbish!!! Dani’ěl was one of the top government officials of an entire nation yet he made it his priority to make the necessary time for prayer without neglecting his duties as they could find no fault in him! Too many today want to use work and rough schedules as a excuse to their lack of authentic living according to the spirit while others will too even at times try to use their fake spirituality as an excuse for their lack of performance at work by blaming their lack of performance on ‘spiritual matters!!!

For far too many today prayer is simply not a priority and it is very clear that the evidence of this is seen in the lives of those who struggle to remain steadfast, faithful and committed. What is also sad to see is the seeming repetition of recited prayers – that is a rhyming off of lines as prescribed prayers devised and constructed by man that are simple learnt by recital without the actual application of one’s heart and mind interacting with יהוה. This is often done as a means to feel good about having done one’s prayers as a means of their religious duty yet the relationship with יהוה evidently becomes cold and loveless and so they rarely get to extract issues of the heart and accredit true thankfulness and praise unto יהוה.

יהושע taught us how to pray – he did not give us a recital to memorise and recite in a parrot fashion – He gave us a clear guide and instruction on the manner of how we ought to pray.

Let me ask you at this point – when your life gets busier and busier – does your prayer life and quiet time decrease? Don’t let it but rather let your prayer and reading of Scripture increase as your daily life demands more of you – as pressure increases around you, increase your prayer and reading time or for some of you just continue to do as you always have done – although I am sure that most of us would admit that prayer and quiet time could most certainly increase – and believe me you will need it!!!

יהוה has called us, set us apart, chosen us to live in Him and He has called us to a life of integrity. Dani’ěl is a great example for us to learn from – a man who was committed to walking upright in the integrity of the Living Word even when the world’s systems tried to find fault with him.

Do not compromise your walk and confession of faith in any way – let the character of set-apart living be evident and bud in your life as you sojourn here as foreigners as we await our King’s return!

As we reflect on these accounts as recorded in Dani’ěl’s life may we be encourage to stand firm as what it comes down to is our worship. Will we remain steadfast in our worship or not. Through this great example and mirror of His Word let us realise that as we walk in Messiah in this world we will face trouble but we are to take courage for He has overcome the world and so let us be about our Father’s business and let His character be shaped in us unto completion in Him.

It is all about choice – Dani’ěl had a choice or rather often was faced with many choices and he continued to make the right choice. We have the choice to walk in obedience to His Torah which is life or in lawlessness which results in death.

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 30:11-20 “For this command which I am commanding you today, it is not too hard for you, nor is it far off. 12 “It is not in the heavens, to say, ‘Who shall ascend into the heavens for us, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, so that we do it?’ 13 “Nor is it beyond the sea, to say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, so that we do it?’ 14 “For the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart – to do it. 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, 16 in that I am commanding you today to love יהוה your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and יהוה your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 “But if your heart turns away, and you do not obey, and shall be drawn away, and shall bow down to other mighty ones and serve them, 18 “I have declared to you today that you shall certainly perish, you shall not prolong your days in the land which you are passing over the Yardĕn to enter and possess. 19 “I have called the heavens and the earth as witnesses today against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore you shall choose life, so that you live, both you and your seed, 20 to love יהוה your Elohim, to obey His voice, and to cling to Him – for He is your life and the length of your days – to dwell in the land which יהוה swore to your fathers, to Aḇraham, to Yitsḥaq, and to Yaʽaqoḇ, to give them.

Walking in Torah – walking in Messiah the Living Torah leads to life – walking outside of Him and in rebellion leads to death.

Dani’ěl chose life and he lived!!! He chose:

1 - Discipline over disorder – maintained a steadfast commitment amidst the temptations to quit and follow the ‘disorder’ of man’s temporary rules for self gain – Man’s riles may come and go and change at intervals to suit self gain but the Word of Elohim remains forever.

2 – Love over ‘lust’ – Love is obedience to Elohim’s commands as opposed to the world’s portrayal of ‘living it up’ by chasing after the lust of the flesh

3 – Character over comfort – Character is built through endurance and perseverance through trials as opposed to the world’s comfort of fitting in or keeping up with the joneses.

Is the true character of set-apart living evident in your life?

Let me read again the words of Kěpha/Peter

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 2: 11-16 “Beloved ones, I appeal to you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts which battle against the life, 12 having your behaviour among the gentiles good so that when they speak against you as evil-doers, let them, by observing your good works, esteem Elohim in a day of visitation. 13 Be subject to every institution of man because of the Master, whether to the sovereign as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of doers of evil, and a praise for those who do good. 15 Because such is the desire of Elohim, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, 16 as free, yet not using your freedom as a cloak for evil, but as servants of Elohim.

Rise up and be the Dani’ěl’s of today – the remnant few that will remain steadfast to walking in integrity revealing a true authentic life of walking according to the Spirit; as His excellent Spirit in within you.

Perhaps your life is full of old skeletons in the closet – give it over to יהושע and confess your sin/lawlessness to Him and as His Word promises - He is faithful to cleanse you from all unrighteousness – His Blood cleanses us from all sin and allows us to stand up and be counted worthy to serve Him as Dani’ěl did. There may be some tough times ahead – some ‘lion’s dens’ that we may have to face – and the key to being able to face anything is having the character of set-apart living being evident here and now. As the mirror of His Word is before you tonight – how do you look – do not walk away and forget what you look like – look intently into His Word that we may reflect Him in every way as His Word teaches us,

Aměn!

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