Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Decree unto Life 8.16.2015
Dear friend,

May we be renewed in the knowledge that our God, Who is the I Am, is reigning over heaven and earth now and forever. He is the one who rules over nations as well as over the lives of us as individuals. As we come to chapter 6 in the book of Daniel, we come to the most well known historical account in the life of Daniel, where we find the law of the state and the highest law of God in direct conflict. We come to two decrees: One unto death and one unto life....

Daniel is around 80 years old at this point in his life, has served faithfully in the Babylonian government since he was placed in positions of leadership when he was but a young man. As we heard at the end of chapter 5, the Babylonian dynasty had fallen to the Medes and Persians and Daniel now had a new king whom we was serving, Darius. The new king began to set up his administration. Let us pick up the story now in chapter 6.

The setting
KJV Daniel 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;
2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.
3 Then this 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.
4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel 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.
5 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.

Daniel had been given the abilities which he possessed by God, he was using them in his service within a pagan kingdom and as the king considered putting him over the whole kingdom, the spirit of envy and jealousy began to rise up in his peers. They wanted his position and to be in the king's top favor, and did not want Daniel to be over them.

Because Daniel was faithful, and had not error or fault, they could not find any way to get rid of him. So......they sought to bring a conflict between the law of the state and the law of His God........a Decree of Death

The Trap
6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

They came to him with flattery and did not speak the truth in saying that all were on board with their proposed law concerning prayer. They did tell the king that the law could not be changed once it was signed, which the king did sign.

Daniel's Response
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

Daniel, knowing that the writing was signed, did not alter his habit of praying at all, but continued to do as he had always done. He looked towards Jerusalem and not towards Babylon when he prayed, for Jerusalem was the center of worship for the Israelite people. The three men got back together and found that Daniel was continuing to pray before his God. So they went back to the king.....with a question for him..

The Trap is Sprung
12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
After the king answered the question, the three conspirators knew that they had Daniel just where they wanted him. In verse 13, they brought down the hammer on Daniel as well as on the king...

13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

They referred to Daniel now around 80 yrs old, who had served in the Babylonian government and now was beginning to serve in the Mede-Persian government as "of the children of the captivity of Judah," (in other words, he is not one of us) as well as told the king that "he does not regard you, O king" which was not true. They did get it right in saying that Daniel has not regarded the decree that the king had signed which forbid prayer to anyone but Darius. Now the king realized that he had been deceived by the three men...

The King's Faith in the Midst of His Regrets
14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
16 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.
17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

The king worked hard to undo that which he had so foolishly done, the three men came before him to remind him that there was no going back on what had been signed into law and Daniel was put into the den of lion's. The king spoke powerful words of faith, saying "Thy God, whom you serve continually, he will deliver you." The den was sealed in order to make sure that things would go according to their plan. The king was beside himself at what he had done, so he called in faith upon the highest law, the law of God, for it was the only law which could overturn the law that these envious men had tricked him into putting in place in order to get rid of Daniel. That night neither the king ate and....neither did the lions. Very early in the morning the king hustled to the den, crying with a pained/grieved voice spoke out into the den....believing in the power of the living God, but yet wondering if he would hear any response from Daniel......

The King's Long Night
18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

To his joy, the king heard the voice of Daniel. The king heard the wonderful words of life coming from the den instead of the silence of death..................

21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
22 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.
23 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.

The consequences of their action in deceiving the king came quickly to the three men, to their children and to their wives....

The Awful Consequence to the Trappers and Their Families
24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

Then King Darius wrote to his people in peace and declared another decree all people, nations and languages.

The Decree Unto Life
25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

This decree was much different than the first one, with the first one being a decree of death. This last decree was a decree unto life, through the Promise of the kingdom which shall not be destroyed, and the dominion of God shall be even unto the end. This God delivers and rescue, he works signs and wonders in heaven and in earth and has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. Daniel continued to serve the kings and he prospered in doing so, because the Lord of heaven and earth was with him.

Well, now let us think deeply over what we have read and heard about. As stated earlier, the first decree was one unto death, a decree which the three men under the motivations of pride, position and possessions lived by. Human pride will stop at nothing to attain that which it desires and through the motivations of envy, jealousy, lust, covetousness and so on, it is motivated and empowered to seek that which is so greatly needs in order to find fulfilment of the flesh. These men were merely operating by their principles when they sought destroy God by destroying Daniel.

A decree unto death was taken upon ourselves through our choice to reject our Creator, but He made a decree unto life through the Promise of Life!!!! For our Seeking and Gathering God did not leave us in that state, but made the Promise to us (Genesis 3:15) that He would send a rescuer to redeem us and would reverse the effects of our fall into sin. He did not take away the sentence of physical death, but did take away the penalty of sin by laying our guilt upon His Son, He took away the power of sin through the indwelling presence of His Spirit and one day will take away the presence of sin by receiving us into our everlasting home with Him. May we be reminded this morning that we live in that kingdom which will never pass away, but is eternal made not with human hands, but by God. We will inherit this eternal joy because God made a decree which the Apostle Paul wrote about in one of his letters..

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

God took away our sin and gave us His righteousness through the Sinless offering of His Son and in so doing, He made a decree unto life which is for all and unto all. Have you received this decree unto life? If not, receive it today, for through the redemptive work of Christ, you have the right to be one of his children through believing upon His name. (John 1:12)

May His grace be abundantly experienced by you today as you live another day in this glorious land of plenty which He has given us to live on and to care for in anticipation of a much greater heaven and earth.

Living in the Decree unto Life.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 16 Aug 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Handwriting on the Wall 8.9.2015
Dear friend,

Grace and Peace from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be to you now and always!

The Occasion
As we move to chapter five of the book of Daniel, we find a great party being held by a successor (Belteshazzar) of King Nebuchnezzar. Belshazzar was not worshipping the living God as his predecessor had, but was steeped in his worship of his pagan gods and went so far as to blaspheme the Living God by profaning the holy vessels that had been carried from the Temple in Jerusalem. It was while this party was going on that the following happened:

God Speaks
Daniel 5: 5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
6 Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
(The hand wrote the following words: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

Daniel explains why the words were written:
5:22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

Daniel explains the meaning of the writing on the wall.
Daniel 5:24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.)
25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

That which came to pass....
29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

Before I began to preach the first sermon on the book of Daniel, I asked the congregation to share with me of what they remembered most about the book of Daniel and immediately they shared with me: Daniel and the Lion's Den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. We have already spent some time considering the account of the three men who were put into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and next week hope to get to the account of Daniel being put into the lion's den because of his refusal to obey the demand to pray only to the King of Babylon. In between those two stories, we find in chapter 5, which we have briefly outlined at the beginning of this writing: The "hand" writing on the wall.

As I have spent time reading this chapter, thinking about it, meditating over it, sorrow began to seep into my soul as I considered the end that came upon the Belshazzar because of his rejection of the Living God. After witnessing the amazing grace of God towards his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar in the previous chapters and of the transformation of the mind and the soul that came to him, it is such a contrast to read of that which came to Belshazzar. So it is with great difficulty that I put together this message on this particular chapter this morning and find myself before the throne of God in deep sorrow over the manner and over the end of the life of one of God's created sons: Belshazzar......asking Him to give me His mind and heart as I share with my beloved congregation this morning in our worship service. May this sorrow for the end of Belshazzar be turned into compassion for those who are in similar conditions, but mingled with hope as we think of the power of the Gospel of Christ.

So, with a great need for help from the Holy Spirit, let us begin...First of all it has been helpful for me to remember the three main themes in this book: God's care for those who rely and trust upon Him in the darkest of times, His superintending over all of human events, and most importantly, the preeminence of the eternal kingdom of which the Messiah will reign over. Of the three, the last one is the most important as it is because of one's trust in that which the Gospel of Christ has delivered to us that we, like those in Daniel's time, are able to rest in the knowledge that in the end all is well, for we are victorious in Christ and the events of the world are going to be governed by our God according to His purposes.

I would like to consider this portion in two ways: One from the context of the entire scriptures which would apply to us in a personal way and then we will look at how sorrow for those living yet in darkness can be turned to compassion and action.. I will use an object lesson for the first part, using one of the crafts that were made by those young ones who attended our annual VBS this week. A scene was constructed which gives an overall view of what we could say is pictured in this fifth chapter of Daniel and it looks like this: Three empty crosses are on a hill top along with an empty tomb at the bottom of it. (The students planted grass on the knoll on which the crosses are and they were asked to water the grass and cut it as it grows).

The Gospel is pictured on that craft: The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. In the three crosses, we see all of mankind represented: Christ the Redeemer is there because of mankind's fall into sin, the two guilty sinners, but only one repentant and the other with no apparent signs of repentance. We also see the empty tomb which is evidence of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and so therefore He now lives!!!

When we read the Old Testament, we know that the Gospel is always present, for if we have difficulty seeing it in our present story, we must always go back to the first time it was prophesied, in Genesis 3:15 " And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The Promise of the Messiah was progressively revealed over the years and so it is always present in any scripture that we are reading. For we remember that the Gospel is that which God has done for us and not that which we have done or do for Him. In God's timing, His Son was slain before the foundation of the world and in our way of counting time, we mark the time of its actual historical happening, which was around 2015 years ago. Either way, whether in the OT or NT, it is a done deal!

Belshazzar rejected the God of Daniel and of Nebuchhadnezzar, and in the end was found wanting as he was weighed in the balances of God, who from the beginning has spoken to his human creation because He loves them and wants to gather them to Himself. The vessels that had been consecrated to the worship of the Living God in Jerusalem and which pointed towards the coming Messiah were not only taken by Nebuchhadnezzar from Jerusalem, but Belshazzar used them in praise of their false gods. In this way he gave evidence outwardly that his loyalties lay towards his Babylonian deities, "which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:" In this we see that God is long suffering, desperately wanting all to come to Him, but there is a day that comes that the door of grace closes.......

On the hill of Calvary, our guilt was shown to the entire world in the two sinners on the cross, and the love of God was shown to the entire world in the presence of Jesus Christ, the Innocent Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Let us look through the eyes of Jesus, as He peered through the pain of a heart that throbbed with joy as He bore our guilt and shame. Previously there had been two instances in which Jesus wept..The first one is due to the pain for those who did not want to be gathered....

Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

In the next one, Jesus wept at the fallout of our fall into sin: Death, but He then showed them how He had power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead in full view of them, which was a precursor of His resurrection from the dead!!!!

John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Now let us gather our thoughts and conclude this with some application which would help us in applying this to our lives as we seek to share His message of reconciliation with those around us, who may not yet have been gathered. The reason I shared the two scripture reading is because they point out the heart of God, of Christ and of the Holy Spirit towards all of humanity: All have been reconciled back to God and all that is left is for those to come to that knowledge and to believe in that reality. The Trinity who lives in us longs for all to come to that knowledge and experience through faith. Our difficulty at times is that we lose hope, we think that it is hopeless for a loved one, but is it? Perhaps a couple of illustrations will give us some encouragement as we close this meditation today.

A few years ago my youngest son spent some time in China, and through that experience and in that experience of being without Christian fellowship in living in that culture, he began to feel alone and somewhat distant from our God. As he struggled in that experience, he reached out to a trusted Christian peer and shared of his difficulty. It was presented to him that perhaps through that experience, he was being drawn into the heart and mind of the Chinese people who has been conditioned and trained not in the things of the Living God. He was asked to consider the question: Are you being prepared for being able to understand and relate to them so that you will be able to build relationships with them for the purpose of sharing the gospel of Christ with them? At this time in his life, he now ministers in the country of Thailand, in Southeast Asia.

Last week one of my grandsons was outside with his younger brother who had eaten an apple. Seeing some apple seeds on the ground, my grandson asked me if we could plant them. I said, sure, so we got a clear plastic cup, put the seed in some soil in the cup, watered it and placed it on the window sill so it would get adequate sun. As he happily walked away, his voice could be heard: "And we can have apple pie...."

The Word is likened unto a seed, may we keep planting it whereever we are able, may we water it abundantly and may we continually pray for God to give great increase to that Seed: Christ, in us, the hope of glory!

Yes, the writing was on the wall concerning our sin, but through Christ the handwriting has been taken away on the cross and so therefore by grace through faith, we are counted as righteous before our God. Today He says to you: "You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased!"

In Him we are redeemed, in Him we stand, and through Him, we will perservere!!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 09 Aug 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Decree unto Life 8.16.2015
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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