The Review and Herald

177/1902

February 8, 1881

The Life of Daniel an Illustration of True Sanctification

EGW

Text: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23. RH February 8, 1881, par. 1

Belshazzar was acquainted with the dealings of God with Nebuchadnezzar, but this knowledge had no effect upon his own course. He blindly clung to the worship of idols, and gave himself up to sensual indulgence. It was not long before reverses came. He had been defeated in battle by Cyrus, and for two years had been besieged in the city of Babylon. Within that seemingly impregnable fortress, with its massive walls and its gates of brass, protected by the river Euphrates, and supplied with provisions for a twenty years’ siege, the voluptuous monarch felt secure, and passed his time in mirth and revelry. RH February 8, 1881, par. 2

One night he made a great feast to a thousand of his lords. All the attractions that wealth and royal power could command, combined to give splendor to the scene. Everything that could administer to the lusts of the flesh was there. Princes and statesmen drank wine like water, and reveled under its maddening influence. The king had commanded to bring to that sacrilegious feast the golden and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple at Jerusalem, and which had been consecrated to the service of God, and employed by holy men in his worship. These were now to be used by the wicked revelers. RH February 8, 1881, par. 3

While they were that night in the midst of idolatrous mirth, the king's countenance suddenly pales, and he seems paralyzed with terror; for lo! a bloodless hand is tracing mystic characters on the wall over against him. The revelers discern the curious and, to them, unintelligible writing. The exciting merriment dies away, and a painful silence falls upon the throng. The king's thoughts troubled him, “the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.” Trembling with alarm, he “cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed in scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” But these men are no more able to interpret the mystic characters traced by the hand of an angel of God than they were to interpret the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. RH February 8, 1881, par. 4

The terror of the king increases. He is conscious that this writing is a rebuke of his impious feast, and yet he cannot tell its exact import. The queen then reminds him that there is a man in his kingdom “in whom is the spirit of the holy gods,” and that in the days of his father, “light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods was found in him;” whom his father “made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 5

Then is Daniel brought before the king without delay, and the monarch promises him great rewards if he will interpret the writing. Daniel looks upon that wicked throng bearing evidence of intemperate feasting and revelry. He stands before them in the quiet dignity of a servant of the most high God, not to speak words of flattery, as was the custom of the professedly wise men of the kingdom, but to speak the truth of God. Sternly disclaiming all desire for rewards or honor, he says, “Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 6

Daniel then proceeds to speak of the Lord's dealings with Nebuchadnezzar,—the dominion and glory bestowed upon him, the divine judgment for his pride, and his subsequent acknowledgment of the power and mercy of the God of Israel; and then in the most direct and emphatic words he rebukes the great wickedness of the impious king,—“And thou, his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of Heaven.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 7

Daniel then gave the interpretation of the mystic writing: “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.” “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” “Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” That very night the words of the prophet were fulfilled. The city was occupied, the king slain, and the kingdom taken, by the Medes and Persians. RH February 8, 1881, par. 8

Darius now took possession of the throne of Babylon, and at once proceeded to re-organize the government. He “set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three presidents; of whom Daniel was first.” And “Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” The honors bestowed upon Daniel excited the jealousy of the leading men of the kingdom. The presidents and princes sought to find occasion against him concerning the kingdom. “But they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 9

What a lesson is here presented for all Christians. The keen eyes of jealousy were fixed upon Daniel day after day; their watchings were sharpened by hatred; yet not a word or act of his life could they make appear wrong. And still he made no claim to sanctification; but he did that which was infinitely better,—he lived a holy, sanctified life. The true test of sanctification is the daily deportment. RH February 8, 1881, par. 10

The more blameless the life of Daniel, the greater was the hatred excited against him by his enemies. They were filled with madness, because they could find nothing in his moral character or in the discharge of his duties, upon which to base a complaint against him. “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.” Three times a day, Daniel prayed to the God of Heaven. This was the only accusation that could be brought against him. RH February 8, 1881, par. 11

A scheme is now devised to accomplish his destruction. His enemies assembled at the palace, and asked the king to pass a decree, that no person in the whole realm should ask anything of either God or man, except of Darius the king, for the space of thirty days, and that any violation of this edict should be punished by casting the offender into the den of lions. The king knew nothing of the hatred of these men toward Daniel, and did not suppose that the decree would in any way injure him. Through flattery they made the monarch believe it would be greatly to his honor to pass such a decree. With a smile of Satanic triumph upon their faces, these men come forth from the presence of the king; and rejoice together, over the trap which they have laid for the servant of God. RH February 8, 1881, par. 12

The decree goes forth from the king. Daniel is aware of all that has been done. He is acquainted with the purpose of his enemies to ruin him. But he does not change his course in a single particular. With calmness he goes about his accustomed duties, and at the hour of prayer he goes to his chamber, and with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he offers his petitions to the God of Heaven. By his course of action, he takes the position that no king or prince has the right to come between him and his God, and tell him to whom he should or should not pray. Noble man of principle! he stands before the world today a praiseworthy example of Christian boldness and fidelity. He turns to God with all his heart, although he knows that death is the penalty for his devotion. RH February 8, 1881, par. 13

His adversaries watch him an entire day. Three times he has repaired to his chamber, and three times the voice of earnest intercession has been heard. The next morning the complaint is made to the king that Daniel, one of the captives of Judah, has set at defiance his decree. When the monarch heard these words, his eyes were at once opened to see the snare that had been set. He is sorely displeased with himself for having passed such a decree, and labors till the going down of the sun to devise some plan by which Daniel may be delivered. But the prophet's enemies had anticipated this, and they came before the king with these words: “Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, that no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. RH February 8, 1881, par. 14

“Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” A stone is laid upon the mouth of the den, and sealed with the royal seal. “Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him; and his sleep went from him.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 15

Early in the morning the monarch hastened to the den of lions, and cried, “Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” The voice of the prophet is heard in reply, “O king, live forever. 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. RH February 8, 1881, par. 16

“Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.” Thus was the servant of God delivered. And the snare which his enemies had laid for his destruction proved to be their own ruin. At the command of the king they were cast into the den, and instantly devoured by the wild beasts. RH February 8, 1881, par. 17

As the time approached for the close of the seventy years’ captivity, Daniel's mind became greatly exercised upon the prophecies of Jeremiah. He saw that the time was at hand when God would give his chosen people another trial; and with fasting, humiliation, and prayer, he importuned the God of Heaven in behalf of Israel, in these words: “O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments’; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments; neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 18

Notice these words. Daniel does not proclaim his own fidelity before the Lord. Instead of claiming to be pure and holy, he identifies himself with the really sinful of Israel. The wisdom which God imparted to him was as far superior to the wisdom of the wise men of the world as the light of the sun shining in the heavens at noonday is brighter than the feeblest star. Yet ponder the prayer from the lips of this man so highly favored of Heaven. With deep humiliation, with tears, and with rending of heart, he pleads for himself and for his people. He lays his soul open before God, confessing his own vileness, and acknowledging the Lord's greatness and majesty. What earnestness and fervor characterize his supplications! He is coming nearer and nearer to God. The hand of faith is reached upward to grasp the never-failing promises of the Most High. His soul is wrestling in agony. And he has the evidence that his prayer is heard. He feels that victory is his. If we as a people would pray as Daniel prayed, and wrestle as he wrestled, humbling our souls before God, we should realize as marked answers to our petitions as were granted to Daniel. Hear how he presses his case at the court of Heaven: RH February 8, 1881, par. 19

“O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name; for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God; for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. And whilst I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, ... even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 20

As Daniel's prayer is going forth, the angel Gabriel comes sweeping down from the heavenly courts, to tell him that his petitions are heard and answered. This mighty angel has been commissioned to give him skill and understanding,—to open before him the mysteries of future ages. Thus, while earnestly seeking to know and understand the truth, Daniel was brought into communion with Heaven's delegated messenger. RH February 8, 1881, par. 21

The man of God was praying, not for a flight of happy feeling, but for a knowledge of the divine will. And he desired this knowledge, not merely for himself, but for his people. His great burden was for Israel, who were not, in the strictest sense, keeping the law of God. He acknowledges that all their misfortunes have come upon them in consequence of their transgressions of that holy law. He says, “We have sinned, we have done wickedly.... Because for our sins and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.” They had lost their peculiar, holy character as God's chosen people. “Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate.” Daniel's heart turns with intense longing to the desolate sanctuary of God. He knows that its prosperity can be restored only as Israel shall repent of their transgressions of God's law, and become humble, and faithful, and obedient. RH February 8, 1881, par. 22

In answer to his petition, Daniel received not only the light and truth which he and his people most needed, but a view of the great events of the future, even to the advent of the world's Redeemer. Those who claim to be sanctified, while they have no desire to search the Scriptures, or to wrestle with God in prayer for a clearer understanding of Bible truth, know not what true sanctification is. RH February 8, 1881, par. 23

All who believe with the heart the word of God will hunger and thirst for a knowledge of his will. God is the author of truth. He enlightens the darkened understanding, and gives to the human mind power to grasp and comprehend the truths which he has revealed. RH February 8, 1881, par. 24

Daniel talked with God. Heaven was opened before him. But the high honors granted him were the result of humiliation and earnest seeking. He did not think, as do many at the present day, that it is no matter what we believe, if we are only honest, and love Jesus. True love for Jesus will lead to the most close and earnest inquiry as to what is truth. Christ prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth. He who is too indolent to make anxious, prayerful search for truth, will be left to receive errors which shall prove the ruin of his soul. RH February 8, 1881, par. 25

At the time of Gabriel's visit, the prophet Daniel was unable to receive further instruction; but a few years afterward, desiring to know more of subjects not yet fully explained, he again set himself to seek light and wisdom from God. “In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all.... Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz. His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 26

No less a personage than the Son of God appeared to Daniel. This description is similar to that given by John when Christ was revealed to him upon the Isle of Patmos. Our Lord now comes with another heavenly messenger to teach Daniel what would take place in the latter days. This knowledge was given to Daniel and recorded by inspiration for us upon whom the ends of the world are come. RH February 8, 1881, par. 27

The great truths revealed by the world's Redeemer are for those who search for truth as for hid treasures. Daniel was an aged man. His life had been passed amid the fascinations of a heathen court, his mind cumbered with the affairs of a great empire; yet he turns aside from all these to afflict his soul before God, and seek a knowledge of the purposes of the Most High. And in response to his supplications, light from the heavenly courts was communicated for those who should live in the latter days. With what earnestness, then, should we seek God, that he may open our understanding to comprehend the truths brought to us from Heaven. RH February 8, 1881, par. 28

“And I Daniel alone saw the vision; for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.... And there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” Such will be the experience of every one who is truly sanctified. The clearer their views of the greatness, glory, and perfection of Christ, the more vividly will they see their own weakness and imperfection. They will have no disposition to claim a sinless character; that which has appeared right and comely in themselves will, in contrast with Christ's purity and glory, appear only as unworthy and corruptible. It is when men are separated from God, when they have very indistinct views of Christ, that they say, “I am sinless; I am sanctified.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 29

Gabriel then appeared to the prophet, and thus addressed him; “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright; for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” RH February 8, 1881, par. 30

What great honor was shown to Daniel by the Majesty of Heaven! He comforts his trembling servant, and assures him that his prayer was heard in Heaven, and that in answer to that fervent petition, the angel Gabriel was sent to affect the heart of the Persian king. The monarch had resisted the impressions of the Spirit of God during the three weeks while Daniel was fasting and praying, but Heaven's Prince, the archangel, Michael, was sent to turn the heart of the stubborn king to take some decided action to answer the prayer of Daniel. RH February 8, 1881, par. 31

“And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips.... And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee; be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.” So great was the divine glory revealed to Daniel that he could not endure the sight. Then the messenger of Heaven veiled the brightness of his presence and appeared to the prophet as “one like the similitude of the sons of men.” By his divine power he strengthened this man of integrity and of faith, to hear the message sent to him from God. RH February 8, 1881, par. 32

Daniel was a devoted servant of the Most High. His long life was filled up with noble deeds of service for his Master. His purity of character, and unwavering fidelity, are equaled only by his humility of heart and his contrition before God. We repeat, The life of Daniel is an inspired illustration of true sanctification. RH February 8, 1881, par. 33