Standing on the Rock

“For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:3-4)

This is a verse from what is known as the Song of Moses. Here Moses is in awe of the greatness of God and states that it is He wo is the Rock. All in this world may pass away but God who is love remains, He is the Rock upon which all can find refuge. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)

As Christians we have a tendency to be critical of all the unrighteous and wicked ways of the world about us. We think that it is our duty only to take a stand and reproof the misbehavior of those in the world. Vengeance belongs to the Lord and this is not our calling. (Deuteronomy 32:35) We are not to stand against the evildoer but to stand before him in the truth of God’s Word in the prayer and hope that he will see the light that sines from within. That the evil doer will see by our right living the path that he should follow. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

A young Judean boy by the name of Daniel was taken from his home in Jerusalem and carried away to Babylon by the forces of King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel along with his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were taken because the king wanted the best and the brightest of the Jewish youth to assimilate into the Babylonian culture. They would not waver and would not depart from the old ways that their God had showed them. As their great King David had written, “He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” Psalm 62:2)

But King Nebuchadnezzar was to test that faith they had in their God and demanded that they would be trained into the Babylonian ways and culture including the foods that they would eat. The Israelite people had very strict laws concerning their diet and it would have gone against the word of the Law of God for them to obey the king. The king’s food was unclean to Daniel and his friends because it had wine and meats that were sacrificed to the pagan gods of the Babylonian Empire. But they did not stand against the beliefs of the Babylonians but stood upon the Rock of God’s truth. The Apostle Paul addresses this very truth, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

When we stand firm for the glory of God He will work on our behalf. Daniel was not going to fall into the evil ways of the Babylonian people even if it was the order of the king. He may be in Babylon but he was a child of the Jewish nation and would live serving the God of the Hebrews. As Daniel was not a Babylonian nor a citizen of Babylon but of God, who is sovereign over all the nations of the earth and God was at work with the man who was in charge of Daniel. God who is able to change the hearts of men caused the heart of Daniel’s commander to find favor with him and listen to him in a reasonable way. “Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials.” (Daniel 1:9)

Daniel rather that rebuking the religion of the Babylonians proposed a contest between the law of God and the false gods of the Babylonians. In other words instead of just saying their way was wrong let me show you that God’s way is right. We have seen this kind of wonderful wisdom in the story of Elijah when he instigated a contest against the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18:20-35) Daniel asked his commander to be allowed for 10 days to eat that which was of the Jewish custom and then be observed if it was not better than the king’s diet. The commander agreed. “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink.” (Daniel 1:12)

God honored their faith in His Word and at the end of the ten days it was clear that Daniel and his friends were the better off. When we live according to the Word of God no matter the obstacle ahead of us the outcome will be to our favor. Worldly wisdom is far less a path to victory than the wisdom of the Almighty God. It may not be the easy way to follow in the world, in fact it may be the hardest way, but in the end it will always be the very best way for the Children of God. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

After the ten days the commander tested Daniel and his friends against the others and the result was remarkable. They were not only just as well fit as the others but they were superior to the others. God had blessed them for their faith and had increased their stature. “At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food.” (Daniel 1:15) When the commander had presented to the king all those who were in his charge, King Nebuchadnezzar found that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were the prime candidates to serve the king “The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service.” (Daniel 1:19)

We all have temptations that try to pull us off the straight path that we are striving to stay on. It can seem to be little things or big things but it really doesn’t matter. Going against God’s way is always wrong. When this happens and we choose the easy way and go along we find ourselves convicted and in need of confession. Then we have to turn back around and get on the straight and narrow way. But Daniel gives us a key to play ahead of the devil and his crooked ways. Rather than having to back track from our mistakes Daniel’s advice is to purpose our heart ahead of the traps the devil lays in our path. Before the temptation comes, before the devil seeks a crack in the wall of our temple, we must propose in our heart that we will remain faithful. Then we can take the next steps filled with resolve to not be misled. “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank.” (Daniel 1:8)

We do not need to point out the sin, as people know in their heart that they are living in error and they have resigned to it. What they need is to see the strength of one who will not detour from the righteous way. It is not a battle against men in the flesh but a battle against the spirit and the evil that influences it. Our purpose is to be lights that men might see the holiness of Christ living in us and desire the liberty that we have through Him. Jesus said the spirit is wiling but the flesh is weak. They need to see Jesus in us that they might seek Him and receive the power of the Holy Spirit to guide their lives. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

We need to trust and obey as Daniel and find our refuge upon the Rock of Ages. As Augustus M. Toplady wrote, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure.”

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, November 1, 2015

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