July 10, 2015
By Daniel chapter 6, Daniel had become an older man who had served God faithfully throughout his life, and his character was known to the King Darius. Alistair Begg walks us through the story of Daniel in the den of lions, a story marked by a great trust in a faithful God who is able to deliver from death those who trust in Him. As Daniel’s story provided encouragement to the exiles then, so does the Gospel of Jesus provide hope to the exiles here in this fallen world.
Sermon Transcript: Print
Daniel chapter 6:
“It pleased Darius”—who’s also known as Cyrus in some places—“it pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three [presidents], of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other [presidents] and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the [presidents] and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.’”
And so, if you’re familiar with the story, they come to the king, and they have a suggestion for him that he should create an ordinance that for a period of thirty days nobody would pray to anyone except to him, the king. And they urge him to establish this as an “injunction … according to the law of the Medes and the Persians,” to sign it, so that it would be an irrevocable fact. Once that has taken place, they then go and discover Daniel continuing to do what he had always done—namely, to pray to the God of heaven, thereby putting himself in direct contravention of the law of the land because he was in submission to the law of God. They then come and tell the king, “You created a decree, didn’t you?” He said, “Yes.” “You know that it is irrevocable?” He said, “Yes.” They said, “Well, we actually have found Daniel in violation of it.”
And in verse 14: “Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then [the] men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, ‘Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.’
“Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!’ And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
“Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, ‘O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?’ Then Daniel said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.’ Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
“Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: ‘Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.’
“So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
Father, we acknowledge this morning that you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of succeeding generations, the God of differing personalities. And we pray for your help in this study now, that in all things Christ may be magnified. In his name we pray. Amen.
Well, the challenge in coming to chapter 6 in all of these narratives is, of course, the challenge of familiarity, and many of us have been familiar with this for a very long time. And so, in light of that, we have prayed and asked God to help us.
Some seventy years have now elapsed in the passage of the chapters that we’ve read. The temptation for these exiles would be for them simply to give up any thought of Jerusalem, perhaps even to give up any real thought of allegiance to the God of their forefathers—perhaps for them to simply fit in with the flow, to join the group, to say, “After all, Jerusalem seems like a dream to me now.” They knew that not only had Jerusalem been razed, but the temple had been destroyed, and so, if you like, all the emblems of the reality of God’s power and presence had been eradicated in that place. If they were tempted in that way, just when they had begun to think that perhaps it was all over, then they read of this amazing event that we considered last time in chapter 5, whereby the Babylonian Empire had been brought to an end. And just when they might have anticipated that it was going to be the everlasting kingdom, it had crumbled, and another had been set in place.
And it is now in this Medo-Persian kingdom that Daniel is confronted by the reality of another king and the malevolence of those who were his friends. The opening verses of the chapter simply make clear to us the logistics, if you like, of Darius’s approach to his kingdom. He employs a political structure that allows him to ensure that all of the revenue and the support that should be coming his way comes his way. And the 120 are then responsible to the three, and he has purposed in his heart to make sure that one out of the three will actually become, if you like, the prime minister or the president.
And so it is that Daniel, who many years before had been snatched from the security of his home, is now a much older man, and here he is, his accent by this time probably indistinguishable from those around him. His family would have inevitably blended into society in many ways. His loyalty to his adopted country was not in doubt. He had been absolutely consistent over time. He had served with Belshazzar, he had served with Nebuchadnezzar, and now Darius. And it is in that context that we discover that Daniel runs right through the tape—that the conviction that had marked his early years has not waned with the passage of time.
I think we spend a tremendous amount of time making sure that our young people don’t falter, which, of course, it is important to do. But what I’ve been discovering is that the temptation to compromise and to capitulate is just as strong, or even stronger, the older you get. It’s quite staggering to realize. I used to think by the time you got into your sixties, most of that stuff was all in the past. But no, I’m discovering that some of the greater tests of my life are now—that my teenage years and my early twenties were a walk in the park compared to this. We’ve made it through our middle years, but now we have to see if we’re going to make it through the final fifty meters. Many of us have less in front of us than we have behind us, and that’s the challenge. And that, I think, is the great encouragement of Daniel.
You’ll notice that he “became distinguished” amongst his peers. That’s what we told in verse 3. He just stood out. He was a good fellow. He was obviously an exceptional character. In fact, that’s what the text tells us, doesn’t it? That even though his friends were envious of him, as we will see, they really could find no basis for any kind of complaint because of the quality of his life. He had shown over time that he had the capacity for facing difficulties, he had come up trumps in explaining dreams, he had an uncanny wisdom that meant that he was sought out, and he was a man of integrity.
There’s a lot to be said for that, isn’t there? He was, if you like, a man of stability in a world that was shaky, a man of purity in a world that was dirty, a man of integrity in a world that was shady. There was no gap between his public and his private life. He didn’t cheat at work, and he didn’t cheat at home. He shined his shoes, he showed up on time, and he was generally a decent soldier.
There’s a tremendous amount to be said for that, isn’t there? People often ask me—in fact, I had a meeting not so long ago; somebody wanted to meet with me and have coffee. He wanted to find out how he could basically become good at the spiritual side of his life rather than the secular side of his life. And I said, “I’m not sure I understand this distinction. You only have one life. It is a spiritual life—lived in a secular environment, perhaps.” But it was in the everyday routine of life, in the fulfillment of his responsibilities, that the quality and character of the man was revealed.
And it is on account of that that we’re told that although he was distinguished among his peers, he was envied by them and he was opposed. It was his integrity that was the occasion of their jealousy. You know, there’s nothing worse than a really punctual member of your team if you always come in late. He was respectful, he was kindly, he was honest, and so on. And so the folks who want to try and discredit him realize very quickly that they’re not going to be able to do it on the basis of these things.
And so, from verses 6 to 9 we have the record of them persuading this king to issue an edict which would be relatively short; it was for thirty days, you will notice in verse 7: “that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days…” In other words, it was going to be short enough for them to cope with and yet long enough for them to have time to trap Daniel, thus successfully preventing him from rising to the position of influence that the king had planned.
Now, that’s the usual kind of thing: they go in in numbers, they go in with the safety of their companions, and they announce the fact that everybody agrees with this—if the king had been paying attention, he would have realized that Daniel’s name was missing from the list—and they tell him that this is really the best plan that they have come up with and to make sure that the law will not be revoked. And so, “therefore, King Darius signed the document and injunction.” You can imagine them just putting a whole bunch of correspondence before him, like a chairman or a CEO of a large corporation, or somebody who is responsible for all kinds of things, and they say, “Just sign it. Just sign it. We’ll be okay. Just go ahead and sign it.” And off he goes, and he signs it. And the laws were changed, the penalties were determined, the trap was set, and it was set in such a way that these “honorable men” would not ultimately be found guilty of what happened to Daniel.
Now, there was no basis for their spite or for their hatred. It wasn’t that Daniel had trampled on them or been unkind to them. They could probably have tolerated that or identified with it. What they couldn’t handle was his unswerving commitment to this God of his, this unshakeable conviction that was a core conviction for him that God was the living God, that God was an everlasting God.
Now, it wasn’t that these men were irreligious and Daniel was religious. They were religious. People say that to us all the time, don’t they? Well, actually they don’t. They say, “Well, I’m not really a religious person, but I am a spiritual person. And in my spiritual realm I’m able to tolerate all these different things, and I just don’t understand what’s wrong with you, why you’re such a fanatic about this Jesus stuff.” You see, this was what the problem was for these men. It would have been okay if Daniel said, “You know, I’ve got a little religious interest over here. It goes back a long time to a different place, and I’m just practicing it on my own, and I don’t want you to interfere with me, and I won’t interfere with you. We can all get together quite happily.” But that wasn’t the case. They couldn’t handle the fact that when they saw Daniel get down on his knees and turn his face towards Jerusalem, he wasn’t simply going through some kind of external religious exercises. He was declaring the fact that his conviction was that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the final truth and left no space for believing that all these other religions were equally valid. That was the thing they couldn’t stand.
The same true in the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was perfectly happy to include Christianity in the pantheon of the gods. What it could not cope with was the conviction that Jesus Christ reigned supreme over all pretending gods. “For that,” they said, “we will send you to the lions, or we will cover you in tar, and we will stick you in the ground headfirst and set fire to you if you’re prepared to hold to that conviction.” And of course, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
No, you see, Daniel was executing his religious convictions in an environment now where the law of the land and the law of God were in direct conflict with one another. Direct conflict. And when that direct conflict comes, then we’re going to find out who is committed to the law of God, to the Word of God, and who is prepared to compromise and roll over. And it remains the challenge of our day.
Pluralism ultimately will only accept other pluralists. Pluralism cannot handle this. That’s why I think Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Now, some of us have people insulting us because of us—because we’re poor characters. Jesus is not talking about that. He says, “when people persecute you because of me.” In other words, “because you are so committed to following me that you will not go there, that you will not do that, that you will not bow down, that you will not capitulate”—to declare that he alone is the way, the truth, and the life, that “there is salvation in no one else, [because] there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” to declare that marriage is the very creation of God himself and cannot be redefined by man. Look out!
Daniel was framed. They hated him. They plotted against him, not because he was a bad fellow but because he stood for truth. He loved what God loved, and he lived out that love. He was a forerunner of he who was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”
So, this distinguished man in his career, envied and opposed by his peers, declares his unwavering discipline even in light of the injunction. Verse 10 and following—you know the story: that Daniel, when “the document had been signed, … went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward[s] Jerusalem.” If Daniel’s commitment had been spasmodic, there would never have been a basis for what then happened. If his prayer life, if you like, had been bursts of enthusiasm followed by periods of chronic inertia, then their plot would not really have worked, would it? They would have had to go to his house, like, every two or three days: “Was he praying?”
“No, he hasn’t been praying for about a week.”
“Oh well, we’ll try next Thursday. I think he prays on Thursdays.”
On Thursday: “No, he went to the grocery story.”
“Oh well, we’ll try again.”
No! They said, “Just go… Basically, there’s three times in the day you’ll catch him at it. He does it all the time. He always faces in the same direction. I don’t know why he does that. We destroyed Jerusalem. There’s no temple, but he keeps pointing in that direction. It’s as if he believes that God will come and restore this!” That’s exactly what he believed!
And so they found him giving thanks to God, verse 10, “as he had done previously.” Now, don’t read into the story that he just became a kind of freedom fighter in response to a bad law: “Well, I’ll go and pray. They said I can’t pray, so now I’ll pray.” No. When he said, “You’ll only pray to this,” he said, “Well, I always pray, but it sure won’t be to that, and I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”
And they caught him. Verse 12. And they caught the king: “One of the exiles from Judah…” See the disparaging thing again? “One of the exiles from Judah.” Are you kidding me? This is Daniel. He’s not just one of the exiles from Judah. He’s going to be the prime minister of this place! That’s why you’re doing what you’re doing. He’d served his adopted country with great consistency. And this Daniel, they said, “pays no attention to you, O king.” Well, that wasn’t true. “But he doesn’t actually obey the injunction you have signed, but he makes his petition three times a day.” Well, this is so very wonderful, isn’t it? The race for Daniel, in following after God, was a cross-country run that lasted for all of his life.
Daniel is, I think, in passing, an illustration of the priority of forming holy habits. It was his unswerving witness which made it possible for him to be caught. And as loyal as he’d been to these various empires in serving them, nobody could be in any doubt about his loyalty to the kingdom of God. He looked towards Jerusalem, where he believed the truth was found and where he believed men and women from every nation would look for their salvation.
It’s very possible, then, to launch into a big piece on the cultivating of our prayer life, which makes most of us feel really, really uncomfortable, if we’re honest. And so we all go out just like, “Oh, I’m going to have to go and pray for about twenty-seven hours.” It’s a bit like when somebody talks to you about diet, and then you go, “Well, I won’t eat for five years. I’m going to stop doing that.” It never, never, never, never works. It never works. Let’s be honest. If you look into yourself, what do you find? You find disappointment, don’t you? If you ask, “Do I pray enough? No. Have I witnessed as I should? No. Do I love people the way I’m supposed to? No.” How’s it going? “Not very well.” Well, what’s your confidence? Where is your righteousness found? “My righteousness is found in Christ. My security is found in Christ. He loved me as a sinner. He loves me as a sinner.”
No, I don’t want to do that. I want to move more quickly, to make sure that the hero in this story is God, not Daniel. I think when I’ve preached this on previous occasions, Daniel definitely comes out on top. And we all finish singing “Dare to Be a Daniel!” “I’m going to be Daniel. Daniel…” All the little Daniels all going out through the place, and we’re all “Daniel, Daniel, Daniel.” No, and Daniel would have come in and said, “It’s not… No, no, no, no, no. It’s Daniel, servant of the living God! The living God. God lives!” says Daniel. “That’s what you need to know. I just trusted him, and he looked after me. I want to tell you about the living God.”
That’s actually what’s so striking, isn’t it? Because Darius, the Medo-Persian king, essentially ends singing, “To God be the glory, great things he has done!” That’s how the chapter ends! It’s fantastic!
“Did you hear Darius? He was singing ‘To God be the glory.’”
“He was not!”
“Yes, he was! Somehow or another, he’s got caught up with that living God of Daniel.”
“Yeah, but I thought he dumped Daniel.”
“Well, he did dump Daniel. He didn’t want to, but he did. He put him in there.”
Verse 14: “Then the king, when he heard these words”—that’s the words of the opponents of Daniel—“was much distressed.” This is different, isn’t it? Nebuchadnezzar was furious. This fellow was distressed. And he “set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored [until] the sun went down to rescue him.” There’s a lot in that sentence, isn’t there? It makes me think Washington, DC. And I don’t know much about Washington, DC. I know how the British Parliament works more than how the American government works—if the American government works… There’s a strong case for parliamentary government looming over the horizon. But anyway. Sorry!
But they shuttle back and forth, and Mr. Boehner does something, and he goes over to another office, and he comes back, and I’ve got the picture that’s just there: “And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him.” “If I can find a way out for this… There’s gotta be some way that we can get some lawyers in here. They’ll get this fixed. I know it’s an injunction, but injunction minus two, plus one, and we got seven votes over there, nine there, forty-three satraps. We can probably fix this!” And then, eventually, “There’s nothing I can do.” No, he’s actually trapped by his own decree. It’s almost funny, isn’t it? It’s ironic.
Remember I told you about Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the inventor of radar? It’s a Scotsman, actually, who invented radar, and he was rewarded a hundred and forty thousand, which was the highest award ever made for a wartime invention. It’s true! And while he was driving in Canada, he was caught for speeding in a radar trap. And he wrote this little verse about it:
Pity Sir Robert Watson-Watt,
Strange target of [his] radar plot
And thus, with others I [could] mention,
[A] victim of his own invention.
And that’s exactly what has happened here with the king. He’s a victim of his own invention, and there’s nothing that he can do except execute this irreversible decree.
But of course, we’re told that there was a lot of sleeplessness. And the king was not sleeping; he “spent the night fasting,” as fast as possible; and “no diversions were brought to him,” which covers a multitude of… I was going to say “sins,” but just covers a multitude of things. In other words, he wasn’t watching videos or anything like that. He just… But he couldn’t sleep.
And “at break of day,” verse 19, “the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.” And “as he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish,” because remember, this was not something that he wanted to happen. And “the king declared to Daniel, ‘O Daniel,’” notice, “‘servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?’” And he says, “Yes, he has, and here I am. I have trusted God. God has honored his word, and I have reason to rejoice before you.” And as a result of that, King Darius then does one of these big letters, sends it out “to all the peoples, [and] nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth,” and he wants the people “to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,” because “he[’s] the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom [will] never be destroyed,” and so on, all the way right to the very end.
Well, let me end in this way. Because we’re familiar with all of this, aren’t we? I think of all the chapters—if we go back to where we began the other day, where I said that there is another mood amongst the people of God, there is a drift—probably this chapter more than any of the others confronts us with what will one day be a challenge for us. It seems almost inevitable. Because Daniel had to choose between loyalty to Yahweh or an obedience to a sinful government—a government that was commanding him to engage in something and tolerate something that he wouldn’t tolerate. All the years before, when he had refused the food, he had established his course. And now, in the latter stages of his life, he wasn’t going to deviate. He was trapped, but he was the servant of the living God.
And in many ways, Daniel serves as a great foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus himself. Now, let me just identify this for us to make the point, ultimately, that the book of the Bible is a book about Jesus. Daniel, amongst the presidents and the satraps, was conspired against, in the same way that the chief priests and the elders of the Jews conspired against Jesus. The political friends of Daniel could find no basis for the charge, nor could they who opposed Jesus. He was found guilty of transgression in the law of the Medes and the Persians; Jesus has transgressed the law of the Jews. “We have a law,” they said. Darius tried unsuccessfully to intervene on behalf of Daniel; Pilate made a poor attempt to intervene on behalf of Jesus. Daniel trusted in God; Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours, be done.” Daniel descended into the pit; Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb. The den was covered over with a stone and sealed, as the tomb of Christ was sealed with a stone. Daniel was found alive early the next morning; Jesus rose triumphantly on that glorious Easter morning. “Daniel prospered,” we’re told at the end of chapter 6; and Christ, of course, was exalted to heaven’s highest place. Daniel was saved from certain death but rose again only to die later; God raised Jesus from the dead and always to live forever. And Daniel in this incident provides hope to the exiles of his day, and Jesus provides hope to we who are the exiles in our day. Our God is the living God who is able to deliver from death those who put their trust in him.
And the story of Daniel, I think, is here for us primarily for two reasons. One, so that the exiles would be encouraged to remain, like Daniel, faithful to God’s law, so that the conflict between the law of the land and the law of God, they must submit to the law of God. And loved ones, that is going to come somewhere along the line. It’s almost inevitable. You read the opening chapters of Acts: “Judge for yourselves,” they said, “whether it is right for us to submit to you or to submit to God.” And they brought them in, and they gave them a beating, and they commanded no more to proclaim the name of Jesus, and they went out and proclaimed Jesus. Well, remember, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but he or she who does the will of my Father in heaven…” So the story in Daniel is then in part to encourage those who, like Daniel, were confronted by the opposition of a secular world to remain true to the instruction of God.
And secondly, to learn, like Daniel, to trust God. To trust God. Daniel was not trusting God in vain. When you read the rest of Daniel, as I’m sure many of you will, you will discover that chapter 9 begins,
In the first year of Darius the son Ahasuerus, by decent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
And what he’s referring to there is the prophecy of Jeremiah, which actually is then referenced in the book of the Chronicles—which I’ll just close the gap for you. Some of you will want to know how to find this. It’s in 2 Chronicles chapter 36. And this is what we read: “Now in the first year of Cyrus [the] king of Persia”—remember I said Darius, Cyrus, often the names are interspersed—“now in the first year [the king] … the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah [must] be fulfilled.” Jeremiah had prophesied what would happen. It must be fulfilled because he’s the prophet of God, and God did not enable his prophet to tell things that wouldn’t happen.
The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus [the] king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says [the] king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’”
Go up where? Go up to Jerusalem!
Now we’re at Nehemiah and Ezra and the rebuilding of the walls in 538 BC. On account of the fact that the Babylonian Empire had crumbled, the Medo-Persian Empire had been exalted, the first exiles returned to Jerusalem. Can you imagine as they took the Psalms of Ascent and they sang them with one another? “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” “Let us go up to Jerusalem. Let us see what God will do.”
And that is it for us. We have, says the writer to the Hebrews, come to this Jerusalem. We look forward to a day when we, as exiles who trust in Jehovah, will see all of the fullness of its kingdom.
Frances Ridley Havergal wrote some great songs, I think none better than the one that begins, “Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,” with that wonderful stanza, “Every joy or trial falleth from above, traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love. We may trust him [wholly]”—w-h-o-l-l-y—“we may trust him wholly,” that’s “all for us to do,” and “they who trust him wholly find him wholly true.”
Go back and read chapter 6. Daniel says, “God rescued me because I trusted him.” Direct relationship. Those “who trust him wholly find him wholly true.” Are you putting your whole weight on this?
This morning, as I saw again the beauty of the day, my mind went to another song by another of our friends—not that Frances was my friend, but I would’ve had her as a friend if I’d been around. But little Fernando Ortega. And we look out and see this scene. You remember his song?
When the morning falls on the farthest hill,
I will sing his name, I will praise him, still.
[And] when dark trials come and my heart is filled
With the weight of doubt, I will praise him, still.
For the Lord our God, he is strong to save
From the arms of death, from the deepest grave
And he gave us life in his perfect will,
And by his good grace, I will praise him, still.
Father, grant that that may be part of the refrain that emerges from our time together in these mornings. Thank you that you are the living God, that to serve you is to be servants of the living God. Thank you that when our hearts are stayed upon you, you will “keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
O Lord, there is so much that threatens our trust, causes us to question. But please come and assure us again by your Word, enable us and quicken us by the Holy Spirit, that we might be a help and not a hindrance to one another as we seek to follow Christ until that day when we see him and are made like him.
And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God our Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with us all, now, and until Jesus comes or calls us to himself, and then forevermore. Amen.
 Matthew 5:11 (NIV).
 See John 14:6.
 Acts 4:12 (ESV).
 Isaiah 53:3 (KJV).
 Fanny Crosby, “To God Be the Glory” (1875).
 See Daniel 3:19.
 Robert Watson-Watt, “A Rough Justice” (1959).
 See Matthew 27:1.
 See Luke 23:4, 14.
 John 19:7 (ESV).
 See Matthew 27:11–14; Mark 15:2–15; Luke 23:3–25; John 18:29–40.
 Luke 22:42 (ESV). See also Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36.
 See Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53; John 19:42.
 See Philippians 2:9.
 Acts 4:19 (paraphrased).
 See Acts 5:40–42.
 Matthew 7:21 (paraphrased).
 Daniel 9:1–2 (ESV).
 2 Chronicles 36:22–23 (ESV).
 Psalm 122:1 (ESV).
 See Hebrews 12:22.
 Frances Ridley Havergal, “Like a River Glorious” (1876).
 Fernando Ortega, “I Will Praise Him, Still” (1997).
 Isaiah 26:3 (ESV).
 See 1 John 3:2.
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.