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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 16

3. The Kingdom and the Name (continued)

The God of Heaven (continued)

Daniel's story makes it very clear that this shaping is done mainly in the daily test of ordinary life. He was no cloistered visionary - though he jealously set aside time for the secret place - but he was a man who had to earn his living among men of the world: a business man, and a conscientious and efficient business man at that. How often today one hears of Christians who have been so sickened by Christian employers that they prefer to work for unbelievers. How often, too, do Christian employers have to say that they really do not think that they can have a Christian working for them again; the ones they have had have been so unsatisfactory that they would rather not. This is most distressing, but it is all too common. Think of Daniel! Sooner or later every one of the various emperors of his day said, in effect, "I must have Daniel; he is the man for me!" Chapter 6 marks the climax of his long career, and in it we read: "This Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the kind thought to set him over the whole realm" (6:3). It is true that this made the others jealous, but with all their anxiety to find some fault in him and the opportunities given by the exposed position he occupied, we are told that "as touching the kingdom ... they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him" (6:4). Yet what was there spiritual about his job? It was entirely secular. Earning his living in work which must have been uncongenial to him, surrounded by jealous, malicious colleagues, working for the most capricious of employers, Daniel lived  the kingdom of Heaven even in Babylon. There was nothing spiritual in his work except what he put into it, and it was thus that he had fellowship with the God of Heaven.

The kingdom of Heaven is not a matter of offices or titles, but of character. When our blessed Lord was stripped even of his earthly garments, when He had no royal throne, no reputation, no friends, even on the Cross He was King of kings. And when Daniel was stripped of all his earthly dignity and official position, when he was a lonely outcast in a foul den of lions, he only gained in spiritual stature. They could take away his earthly authority but they could not prevent him from reigning, even in the lions' den. He took Heaven with him into that pit: not only the blessedness and peace of Heaven, but Heaven's power, Heaven's authority. Daniel did not describe it like that, for he was a truly humble man. He said that his God had sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths. But the fact was, and is, that those who are in living fellowship with the God of Heaven have ascendency over all the power of evil. They reign in life even now, and they are being prepared to reign in glory in the eternal kingdom.

The Most High God

Few titles seem to us so apt and timely as this one of "the Most High God" (3:26). If you have to live in Babylon you need the Most High as your God. Babylon was high in its pride and power: the image was high; the opposition was high: but the four men knew One who was higher than all - the Most High God.

They testified to the Lord's superiority over all the riches of this world. Daniel's prophecies open with this simple but powerful assertion that he could find in the Lord something better than could be provided by all the wealth of Babylon. He challenged those concerned  to put it to the test, and showed in his own person that there is sufficiency in the Lord which can be found nowhere else. We must prove and demonstrate that He is the Most High God in such personal experiences, or it is futile, and worse, for us to be talking about possessing the kingdom.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

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