Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel? . . . and Luther? . . . and Me?
Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel? . . . and Luther? . . . and Me?
Text: Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23
538 B.C. A man is alone in his upper room. He’s kneeling. Humbly he implores his God to give him strength and courage. Dutifully he thanks his God for countless blessings. The man’s name is Daniel. Daniel is a Jew living in exile in the land of Persia (formerly Babylon). Daniel is so distinguished among his peers though that Persian king Darius planned to make him second in command over the entire Persian Empire. This didn’t sit well with the Persian leaders.
So they concocted a plan to schmooze king Darius and convince him to make it a law that no one in the land could pray to any god or man except him. Unwittingly, Darius signed the dotted line. Now Daniel knelt in his upper room praying as he always did, yet this time he did so with his future in doubt and his life on the line.
2,059 years later. 1521 A.D. Another man is alone in his upper room. He’s kneeling. Humbly he implores his God to give him strength and courage. Dutifully he thanks his God for countless blessings. The man’s name is Martin—Martin Luther. Martin Luther is a German living in Germany which was part of the Holy Roman Empire—the empire ruled by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Luther was also living in the midst of the equally powerful empire of the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Leo X.
Four years earlier on October 31, 1517 Luther stirred the pot by nailing 95 Theses on the church doors of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany that pointed out all the aberrations of the church that needed immediate change. Now Luther was on trial in the city of Wörms. He had a decision to make. Either he recanted all of his writings and his teachings, or else he would be branded a heretic and up for execution. Luther knelt in this upper room praying as he always did, yet this time he did so with his future in doubt and his life on the line.
491 years later. 2012 A.D. Men and women are alone in their rooms. They’re kneeling. Humbly they implore their God to give them strength and courage. Dutifully they thank God for countless blessings. These men and women are Christians. They are you and me. They live secretly in China and Pakistan. They live carefully in Europe and Africa. They live cautiously in the United States of America.
In some countries today the potential for death and execution are extreme and real. In our country, the threat is subtle yet growing. Pending legislative law and the coming election, churches and schools might be required by law to provide health coverage for things like abortion contrary to our faith. If that becomes law, what will they do when we obey God instead of men? Will they revoke our religious rights? Will they revoke our non-profit status? Will they force us to disband from public worship?
Marriage that is not between husband and wife is being approved in many states. Pending legislative law and the coming election, that might become universally illegal. What will they do if I (and many others) refuse to marry two homosexuals? Will they revoke my clergy status? Will they revoke my authority to legally marry people? What if we refuse a homosexual from attending our school? Will they shut our school down then? It almost happened once in California already.
And from those points—if it gets that far—when would it ever stop? So now we kneel in our rooms and pray. We pray just as we always do, yet this time Christians around the world do so with their futures in doubt and their lives on the line.
What are we to do? Maybe we can start in history. What have our forefathers done? What did Daniel do? What did Luther do?
Daniel knew that the consequences for continuing his daily routine were harsh. He wouldn’t just be made fun of. He wouldn’t just be hated. He wouldn’t just lose his life. He would be tossed into a giant pit filled with ferocious lions and die a horrific death.
But Daniel refused to deny the true God. He refused to stop worshiping the true God. And he didn’t just whisper a quick prayer under his breath once and hope that God made it go away. He prayed consistently and regularly and without ceasing—three times a day like he always did. Not only did he pray and surely as for strength, but he even took time to thank God amidst this persecution and trouble.
What did Luther do? Luther knew the consequences for continuing his preaching and teaching were also harsh. The most powerful men on the planet were demanding him to stop. He wouldn’t just be made fun of. He would just be hated. He wouldn’t just be banished. He wouldn’t even just lose his life. It was likely that he could be burned at the stake like many reformers just before him.
But Luther refused to deny the true God. He refused to stop preaching the truth of God’s Word. Having found comfort the night before from the words of Psalm 46 about God our Mighty Fortress, the next day he stood before this panel of powerful accusers and said: “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”
So what are you going to do? What are you going to say? When things get worse—because they will eventually (be it now or generations down the road)—what will you say? Will you refuse to deny the true God? Will you refuse to stop worshiping? Will you refuse to stop preaching the Word of God? Even if you might lose your good reputation? Or your job? Or your life?
Better yet, what have you said? You’ve already had smaller, similar opportunities in life. What did you say when your kids or your family strayed from doing what pleases God? What did you say to the foul-mouthed coworker or foul-mouthed fan sitting behind you at the game? What did you say to the person sitting next to you on the airplane? What did you say to your neighbor who you know doesn’t believe in the Lord? How many have you boldly invited to worship? How many doors have boldly knocked on canvassing and sharing information? How many conversations will you start up with strangers at the Kids Carnival to tell our guests why we are putting on such an awesome event?
We worry so much about what might happen in our world or our country, especially with the coming election. But what about the opportunities to be bold confessors of the Word of God that we have already missed or that we are missing right now? It’s not quite as easy as we think, being like Daniel or like Luther or other bold believers of the past.
Perhaps what we should do then is not look to Daniel or Luther for our strength, but instead follow their example in looking to the Lord for strength. Daniel experienced an incredible miracle. But it wasn’t because he was such an incredible person or such an incredible lion-wrangler. It was because God was so incredible. “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.” “And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”
Luther experienced an incredible turn of events as well. His friend kidnapped him and stashed him in hiding for three years at Wartburg Castle. Meanwhile, because Emperor Charles V was occupied with the Turks (the Muslims), he didn’t have time to go after Luther and squash the Reformation. But it wasn’t because Luther was such an incredible person or such an incredible preacher or teacher. It was because God was so incredible. You just sang what Luther wrote: With might of ours can naught be done; soon were our loss effected. But for us fights the valiant one whom God himself elected. You ask, “Who is this?” Jesus Christ it is, the almighty Lord. And there’s no other God; he holds the field forever.
This is what our incredible God does. He delivers his people. Look at the greatest example of that. Look at the cross. Far worse than being held captive by a king or being doomed to a den of lions, far worse than being an banished outlaw and in danger of burning at the stake—for worse than all these worldly dangers is peril of being captive to sin and thrown into the fiery pit of hell forever. That is real danger. And that is what all sinners deserve.
So in the same way, far greater than God delivering from the lions den and far greater God than delivering from the Holy Roman Emperor is God delivering us from sin and death. As incredible as it is that God could shut the mouths of a pride of lions, and as incredible as it is that God worked all of history so that a Reformation could take place, so it is even more incredible that God could shut the mouth of that prowling lion Satan and crush his head while erasing the sins of the entire world.
Why is it that Daniel refused to stop praying and worshiping and continually gave thanks? Why is it that Luther refused to recant and stood for the truth of God’s Word and the good news of salvation by God’s grace and not by human works? These men, and many others, knew what their God had done for them. They knew the greatest display of power and love of all time—God saving his people from their sin.
You heard the old spiritual a few minutes ago: Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel? On Reformation Day we could ask a similar question: Didn’t my Lord deliver Martin Luther? But we could remind ourselves of God’s great power with this third question: Didn’t my Lord deliver me?
He did! He delivered me from death and the devil. He delivered me from sin and hell. He will deliver me from this sinful world and into life everlasting.
That is where we find hope! That is where we find courage! That is where we find strength! Why were Daniel and Martin Luther unafraid of persecution and even death? Because they knew they would be in heaven forever!
There are so many uncertainties and dangers in this world today. All around the world people are being killed for their faith right now. With potential laws in America’s future and the uncertainty of this coming election and future elections, there are a lot of things to be concerned about in our country too. It is certainly possible that being a Christian could be dangerous in the United States in the not too distant future.
But come what may. God can never be defeated. God’s kingdom will never fail. God’s Word will always stand. So on this day we sing with great pride:
The Word they still shall let remain, nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain with his good gifts and Spirit.
And do what they will—hate, steal, hurt or kill—
Though all may be gone, our victory is won; The kingdom’s ours forever.
Posted on November 6, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Catholic, Church, Daniel, Daniel 6, Daniel and the Lions Den, Darius, Deliver, Deliverance, Den, Execution, Germany, Luther, Lutheran, Martin Luther, Martyr, Persecution, Persia, Persian, Reformation, Roman Catholic Church, Sermons, Wittenberg. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.