If Daniel Were an American President
January 28th, 1979 @ 8:15 AM
IF DANIEL WERE AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-28-79 8:15 a.m.
The people who belong to the American Board of Missions to the Jews have arranged this week, today through Thursday night when we have our fellowship banquet, they have arranged for a conference on prophecy. They call it a “Conference on Prophecy and Israel.” And tonight, one of the gifted preachers of America, Dr. John McArthur of California, will be here to preach at seven o’clock. Then they asked me if I would not deliver a sermon, a message on prophecy at this morning hour, which pleased me to do so. It would be not anything more pertinent to us than to see what God says about us and what is the future for our nation, our people.
So in my turning over in my heart, I thought I would speak about one whom Jesus called “a prophet,” and because he is a statesman and a ruler, it just fit everything that I turn over in my heart: the prophet statesman Daniel. And then as I considered it, I thought what if he were president of the United States? What would it be like If Daniel were an American President?
Now when we enter into this it will not be by contrast. We are not going to compare Daniel and our present president, or Daniel and some previous president. We are going to speak of Daniel in his continuing character. However our present president may be or any predecessor may be, how would it be if Daniel were in the White House and if this prophet statesman were the leader of the American people? What kind of a White House would we have? What kind of a chief executive would we have elected, and how would he conduct the business affairs of the state?
Well, I can tell you that it was an intriguing study for me as I prepared the message. And I pray it will be a something that will be of God blessed profit to you as we look at Daniel and see him as the chief executive, the prophet statesman of our American Republic.
All right, number one: if Daniel were president of the United States, everything that you see in the White House in the habitual daily living of our president would be of all things chaste, and temperate, and dedicated to God.
“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine that he drank” [Daniel 1:8]. See, the king had just said, “We are going to provide these young men with a provision from the king’s table” [Daniel 1:5]. All of those things that the king ate, they were to eat, and of the wine which he drank, and I suppose the finest vintage in the land; but Daniel purposed in his heart he would not defile himself with those portions, nor with the wine that he drank [Daniel 1:8].
And when the head of the eunuchs hesitated about taking away all of these things that the king had commanded to feed and to have them to drink, why, he said to Melzar, the prince of the eunuchs, “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us vegetable soup to eat.” Amen! I like vegetable soup. “Let them give us vegetable soup to eat and water to drink” [Daniel 1:12]. Thus Melzar took away the king’s food and the wine that they should drink, and gave them vegetable soup to eat and water to drink [Daniel 1:14]. And when the king at the end of the three years had them appear before him [Daniel 1:5], there was none like Daniel, and Hananiah, and Mishael, and Azariah. “In all matters of wisdom and understanding, he found them ten times better than all of the sages and wise men of the realm” [Daniel 1:20].
So if you had Daniel as the president of the United States, you would never find on the table food that was not good for the body. Nor would you ever find wine or liquor in the glass. This is according to the wisest admonition of the Lord. This is the thirty-first chapter of the Book of Proverbs: “The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy which his mother taught him.”
What, my son? And what, the son of my womb? And what, the son of my vows? . . .
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes to drink strong drink:
Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
[Proverbs 31: 2-5]
Then the wisest man who ever lived wrote in this Book of Proverbs:
Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babblings? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?
They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed drinks.
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”
[Proverbs 23: 29-32]
The present greatest curse in America is the increasing consumption of alcoholic liquors. The carnage on our highways, the decimation of our labor force, the loss we find in our homes, the breaking of wedding bands, and the orphaning of children is coming to tragic proportions. If you had Daniel as president of the United States, you would find in the White House temperance, chastity, all of the fine habits of dutiful, holy living; that’s the first one.
All right, I come to the second one: if Daniel were president of the United States, you would find around him friends who were men of God. This man, Nebuchadnezzar—this tyrant, this king of Babylon—had a dream, forgot it, asked his wise men to recount it for him, bring it back to memory. And the men said such a request was never made since the creation of the world. “You tell us the dream, and we will tell you the interpretation thereof” [Daniel 2:1-4].
And the king said, “That just shows me that you are charlatans. If you cannot tell me the dream, how do I know you can tell me the interpretation thereof?” [Daniel 2:5-9], and so it was a proposal of the king to destroy, to slay, execute all of the wise men, the astrologers of Babylon [Daniel 2:12-13]. Now of course in that group of sages was Daniel. And when he knew the decree, why, he went to his house and there he laid it before Hananiah; that means “God is gracious.” And he laid it before Mishael; his name means, “Who is equal to God.” And he laid it before Azariah; his name means, “God Jehovah is our helper.” Isn’t that wonderful? Daniel’s name, “God is my judge,” and he laid it before those men, his companions, that they would pray [Daniel 2:17-18]. Isn’t that a marvelous thing? They’re seeking an answer to this tremendous assignment in prayer asking the wisdom of God. So as they prayed together God answered from heaven. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a vision [Daniel 2:19].
Let me show you something in the Bible: God never does anything but first He reveals it to His prophets, always, always. Somehow there’s something in the makeup of God’s character that He never does anything by surprise. He always reveals beforehand what He is going to do. When the Lord said, “I am going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah,” the Lord said, “Shall I hide this from Abraham? [Genesis 18:17] No!” So He told Abraham what He was going to do [Genesis 18:20-33].
In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Numbers we are told that God reveals to His prophets what He is going to do [Number 12:6]. The coming of our Lord, for example, into the world was no surprise; the Lord had been announcing it and preparing us for it for centuries. And when He comes back, it is to be no surprise; God has been telling us about it through His holy Word through all of these pages. And in this instance, the Lord reveals the whole course of human history [Daniel 2:26-45]. God knows the tomorrow. Things don’t surprise Him. And if we would rule in the wisdom of God, let us ask Him who knows all of the developments of the future.
And that’s what Daniel did, counseling with his men of God, men who could pray, men who knew the Lord by name; he found his answer [Daniel 2:19].
That’s what would happen if Daniel were president of the United States. Every great decision that affects the welfare and destiny of our country would be matters of prayer, not only on his part, but by the men with whom he had surrounded his government, his cabinet. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing to have a cabinet made up of men who knew God? Ah, it’d be a new day! And it would deliver us from a thousand tragic consequences that we now face.
All right, number three: if Daniel were president of the United States, you would have a man in the White House who was conscious that all of government and the destiny of all of the rulers of the earth lie in the imponderables of Almighty God. It is God who is over all; not these men. Never has been. The destiny of the earth has never been in the hands of a Genghis Khan, or a Tamerlane, or a Caesar, or an Alexander, or a Napoleon, or a Hitler; it lies in the hands of Almighty God. Thus it was that when this dream that so troubled Nebuchadnezzar, the great tree that was cut down but the stump remained [Daniel 4:23], Daniel says:
This is the interpretation, O King. This is the decree of the Most High, till you know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will—
now he says—
O King, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee; break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy.
He didn’t do it. As he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon, he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” [Daniel 4:29-30]. And no sooner had he said it than there came a voice from heaven saying, “Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee” [Daniel 4:31], and he lost his mind. And for seven years he was a man without his mind. He was an animal and he lived out in the fields, wet with the dew of heaven, and his hair growing like feathers, and his nails like bird claws [Daniel 4:33]. And at the end of the seven years he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and God gave him back his understanding, and his reason returned to him. And the Lord gave him back his kingdom when he extolled the name of the great God in heaven [Daniel 4:34-36].
I would suppose, as a deduction from that, that when a man seeks to make decisions and to rule in his own power and wisdom, he is a man who has lost his mind; he has lost his reason. It is God that makes a nation great. It is God that prospers and blesses a people. It is God that leads a nation into heights of glory and happiness and welfare that is sanctified and blessed. And if we’d had Daniel as president of the United States, that’s what he would be pleading with his people; “Let us return to God. Let us remember it is the Lord who ultimately rules, and our lives are in His gracious hands.” Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?
If Daniel were president of the United States how would it be? All right, if Daniel were president of the United States, you would have in the White House a man who pored over the prophetic books of the Bible.
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was king over the realm of the Chaldeans—
king over all of the country of Babylon—
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by the Scriptures the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
[Daniel 9:1- 2]
And then at the end of the seventy years the people would have the opportunity to return to their homeland. Daniel studied the books of prophecy. And as he studied the books of prophecy, he found the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet that this captivity was to last for seventy years [Daniel 9:2]. Then, of course, follows after this the incomparable ninth chapter, one of the greatest chapters—it is the keystone chapter of all prophecy in the Bible. Well, if we had Daniel as president of the United States, you would have a man who pored over the prophetic Scriptures.
Now as he pored over those prophetic Scriptures, what would he find? What would he learn? What would he say? This is what he would find, and this is what he would learn, and this is what he would know as he shaped the foreign policy of the United States of America: first of all, as he pored over the Scriptures, he would learn, in Ezekiel chapter 37, that out of all the nations of the world where Israel is buried, God is going to raise them up [Ezekiel 37:1-28]. Israel is the keystone in the prophetic future of the whole human race. It’s a blind man that is not sensitive to that today. Do you know how big Israel is? About like Dallas; about like this metroplex. That’s how many people over there you’re talking about, yet we have in this world approaching four billions of people. But when you look at a magazine and when you read a newspaper, how many times unendingly will you find headlines, headlines, headlines, discussions of that tiny little country in the Middle East that is so small you can’t put its name on the map. The name of Israel always is out there in the Mediterranean Sea. The country is so tiny you can’t put its name on the globe.
That’s God. The eye of the Lord God is on that land. The eye of the Lord God is on those people, and you can’t change it. That is in the imponderables of the Almighty. God’s attention is on that land, and the attention of the world will forever be riveted on that land, that spot right there. And if Daniel were president of the United States and he read these prophecies in the thirty-eighth and the thirty-ninth chapters of Ezekiel, he would read about Russia. You play with your life when you are playing with Russia. No wonder they call it Russian “roulette.” And you have the destiny of your whole country in your hands when you confront Russia.
Then if you read the prophecies, such as the ninth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, at that great final confrontation, there is a nation from the East that has an army present of two hundred million men [Revelation 9:16]. What nation in the earth in the East could confront the people of God with an army of two hundred million men? That’s China, that’s China! And when we read these prophecies—and that’s what Daniel would be doing—he would be reading of these giants who stir themselves against God.
Last night, I was reading about China. They have a church over there, a church over there, they’ve got a church over there in China—they have eleven people attending it, all of whom are foreigners. China has destroyed the Christian church. Underneath there may be a few Christians left who are submerged. These nations are antithetical to God. They double up their fist in the face of God, and Daniel would realize that. And as Daniel pored over these Scriptures, he would find some things that God is going to do that are amazing. And I haven’t time even to begin to list them, even approach them, but God has spoken page after page about what this lies ahead, and the future.
May I return to the first thing that Daniel would know? Look what God says about Israel:
Thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the judgment—
after the judgment—
He hath sent Me unto the nations which have spoiled you; for he that toucheth Israel toucheth the apple of His eye.
Isn’t that a remarkable thing? God said back there in the beginning, “Whoever curses you I will curse; whoever blesses you I will bless” [Genesis 12:3]. And here in this prophecy in the second chapter of Zechariah: “He that touches you touches the apple of My eye” [Zechariah 2:8]. That’s God; Israel, in God’s prophetic future, has a keystone place assignment. Then he says—and you know, last night I was reading a sermon of Spurgeon on this, and I want to show you what God says and then what Spurgeon said about it. In this prophesy in Zechariah:
I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and there was a man with a measuring line in his hand.
And I said, Where are you going? And he said, To measure Jerusalem, to see the breadth and the length of it—
how big it is.
And an angel that talked with me went forth,
And said to him, Speak to this young man, saying—
you know, the fellow that has the measuring line in his hand—
Jerusalem shall be immeasurable, it shall be inhabited as towns without walls for multitude of people in it:
For I, saith the Lord, shall be unto her a wall of fire round, about and will be the glory in the midst of her.
Now, what Spurgeon said about that; the young man who’s going to measure Jerusalem was told by the angel, “You cannot do that, for Jerusalem is going to be so large it cannot be held within those walls. But God is going to be a wall of fire around it.”
Now hear what Spurgeon said. Spurgeon said, “You know Jerusalem is entirely contained within those walls around the city. And, of course, when Spurgeon lived it was a part of the Ottoman Empire, of the Turkish Empire. The Turks ruled it. And he said, “I don’t understand how that city is going to be so large that it can’t be contained within its walls.” But Spurgeon said, “The prophet avows it, and I believe it.” The day will come when Jerusalem will be so large that it cannot be contained within its walls. Have you been to Jerusalem? Why, you couldn’t start to begin to commence to put Jerusalem now in the walls of that old city. It has so grown and so expanded that I would think there is more of Jerusalem on the outside of those walls than on the inside. That has come to pass in my day. When Spurgeon read that prophecy he couldn’t understand. But God has brought it to pass, and God will bring to pass all of the other things that He has prophesied. And the end of this prophecy is:
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord . . .
And the Lord shall inherit Judah as His portion in the Holy Land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.
[Zechariah 2:10, 12]
I don’t see how that’s coming to pass, but God said it, and I believe it. The center of the whole world someday will be there in that city of Jerusalem. And the Lord Jesus the Messiah shall reign over this earth from that holy and heavenly city [Revelation 2:27].
If Daniel were president of the United States, one of the foundational commitments of his government would be we’re going to be friends to the people chosen of the Lord, for “whom you bless I will bless; whom you curse I will curse” [Genesis 12:3]. I think one of the reasons for the blessing of God upon America has been because of its friendship to the Jew; “I will bless them that bless thee”—if Daniel were president of the United States [Genesis 12:3].
One other, for our time so speedily goes away: if Daniel were president of the United States, he would be a man of quiet rest in the Lord, and he would lead us into that same quiet trust in the Lord. “Now when Daniel heard 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 thanked God as he had always done” [Daniel 6:10]. Then they accused him, and convicted him [Daniel 6:11-15], and cast him into the den of lions [Daniel 6:16-17]. Over there in the hallway where my study is, in that building across the street, there are two pictures over there of Daniel. And I look at them often: undisturbed, with the light of heaven on his face and the guardian angels above, God’s prophet statesman stands quiet, unafraid, and those lions all around him. That is the most glorious peace that passes understanding: when the world’s on fire, when the very foundations of the earth are shaken, to be quiet in the presence of the Lord. Dear me, dear God, what a wonderful way to be!
I close with the last words of the apostle Paul:
At my first answer before Caesar no man stood with me . . .
Notwithstanding the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me . . . and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
[2 Timothy 4:16-18]
Now, what does he mean by that, “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion”? [2 Timothy 4:17]. Caesar’s court, “And the Lord shall deliver me” [2 Timothy 4:18]. Why, man! He was executed a few days after he wrote this letter. No, not that; he had just written, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” [2 Timothy 4:6]. “The Lord shall deliver me” [2 Timothy 4:18]: He’s not talking about God would make it that he’d never die, never face execution. What he’s talking about is “The Lord shall deliver me and preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom [2 Timothy 4:18]. When they cut off my head, when my execution has been accomplished, I’ll be in the presence of the great King; my finest hour, the day of my triumph and carnation is come” [2 Timothy 4:18].
Wonderful to be quiet and to be at rest in the presence of the Lord. In a den of lions, God is with us [Daniel 6:21-23]. In the face of a certain and inevitable pronouncement, his time is come, death is nigh; to be quiet and to rest in the Lord, that’s great. That’s Christian, and that’s God’s gift to us, walking in the peace of the blessed Jesus [John 14:27]. Whatever the providence, however the turn, God’s will be done, and in it we find our perfect rest.
O dear Lord, grant to me that growth in grace and in the leaning on Thy kind arm; that all of life is just one precious walking with the Lord, nearing home, loving His name, praising Him for His goodnesses to us. Lord, Lord, may that be His blessed gift for us all.
We must sing our song of appeal, and while we sing it, a family, a couple, or just you: “Pastor, I have decided to go that way with the people of God. I want you to enroll me as a fellow pilgrim; put my name down. When the roll is called up yonder, I want the Lord to call my name too,” and that’s why this invitation before men and angels. “I want to walk with the people of God. I want to be numbered in their group. I want to be on their side, and I’m coming, pastor.” Maybe the first time accepting Jesus as Savior; maybe to be baptized, as God has asked us to be [Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:3-6], into the fellowship of His church; maybe to put your life with us, having come to our queenly city of Dallas. God extends the appeal [Revelation 22:17]; I just feebly, stutteringly try to verbalize it. It is God that woos the heart, that speaks to the soul, and as the Lord speaks, answer with your life today: “I’m coming, pastor, here I am,” while we stand and while we sing.