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Daniel 6: The Witness of Continued Obedience Print E-mail
Daniel
Sunday, 14 October 2012

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Most of us have some sort of routine to our lives. We get up in the morning, do what we do before work (spend time with the Lord, eat, get dressed, etc.), and go to work. At work, we spend our days doing whatever it is that we have to get done that day and then head home when we are done (or at least when it is time to call it quits). Once we get back home, we eat some dinner, hang out with the family, relax a little, and go to bed. Then we get up the next morning and go through the same routine. Things might change from day to day and week to week, but for the most part, we follow some type of routine in our lives. What does yours look like? Some will claim that such a routine makes life boring and should be avoided, while others claim that a good routine is one of the keys for success in life. Although I understand the former and the need for some excitement at times, I have come to realize that believers need some routines in their lives that include the disciplines of prayer, bible study, and fellowship with other believers.

In Daniel 6, we read the story of how Danielís daily routine of prayer got him into some trouble.  We should note at this point in the book, Daniel is now around eighty years old.  He has lived in Babylon for almost seventy years.  He has served under at least three different rulers: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and now Darius the Mede (who was probably a representative for Cyrus, the King of Persia).  He has prospered under all of these rulers, but as we see this morning he has made some enemies as well.  As we look at the story in our passage this morning, we need to note the impact of Danielís life, even his daily routine, in the kingdom once again and how God uses his faithfulness to bring glory to Himself.  So then, what happens?

The Story:

The story begins with a wicked plot against Daniel.  We are told that Daniel had found favor with the new king of the land, who was going to set him over the whole kingdom.  God had continually given Daniel favor in the eyes of the pagan kings.  Of course, not everybody was happy about Danielís success.  There was a group of men who did not want Daniel to be promoted.  They began looking for ways to bring him down.  They wanted to start a smear campaign against him, but couldnít come up with anything to put in the commercials because Daniel was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.  He was hard man to bring down.  Yet, there was one area where they felt like they could exploit: his continued devotion to God.  Look at verse 5.  So they came up with a plan.  They would go and convince the king, through flattery no less, to issue a decree that people should only pray to him for thirty days.  If they refuse, they will be thrown in the lionsí den for their disloyalty.  The king falls for the flattery and goes along with the plan.

What will Daniel do?  Perhaps he will rally the troops and start a campaign against the king.  Maybe he will stand in the streets and preach a message of injustice.  Maybe he will devise a brilliant counter-strategy against his enemies.  What does he do?  Look at verse 10.  When Daniel gets word of the decree, he doesnít do anything radical.  He doesnít even do anything different.  He just maintains his routine: he gets up in the morning and he prays, he waits till later in the day and he prays, and before the day is done, he prays one more time.  And notice his attitude in prayer: heÖgave thanks before his God.  He is not angry.  He is not questioning God because circumstances have gone against him.  No, he just prays and gives thanks as he had done previously.  He just continues with his routine of casting his cares upon the Lord, believing and trusting that He will do what is best.

Meanwhile, his enemies waste no time.  They remind the king of the decree and report the disobedience of Daniel.  They emphasize the fact that the decree cannot be revoked.  All of this puts the king in a terrible predicament.  He supports Daniel.  He was going to appoint him over the whole kingdom.  Yet, he cannot go back on his decree (at least, not without losing much face).  So, reluctantly, he gives in and orders that Daniel be thrown in the lionsí den.  Before he throws him in, he offers a final word: May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you.  He spends all night fasting and worrying about Daniel.

In the morning, the king races to the lionsí den to see what has happened to Daniel.  He cries out: O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?  And Daniel answers in verses 21-22.  Look at those with me.  God delivers Daniel from the lions by sending an angel to shut their mouths.  The God of Israel once again demonstrates that He can do what no other can.  He saves Daniel from certain death and shows King Darius that He is able to deliver.

Darius responds by throwing Danielís enemies into the lionsí den and lest we think that the lions were full or not capable of killing, we are told that they consumed them immediately.  Then Darius makes a new decree that people under his rule are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.  He gives the reasons in verses 26-27.  Look at those with me.  The chapter concludes by telling us that Daniel continued to prosper under the reign of Cyrus.  The Lord was with him throughout his exile in Babylon.

Lessons:

What lessons can we learn from Danielís deliverance from the lionsí den?

First, we should obey continually, no matter the cost.  When Daniel decided to continue in his routine of praying three times a day, he knew the risk.  He counted the cost of obeying God in this situation and he was unwilling to disobey even if it cost him his own life.  Like his three friends, Daniel believed that God and His glory were more important than his own life.  He had a reputation of trusting this God and praying to this God.  He had been doing that in Babylon for almost seventy years and he was not going to stop now, not even for thirty days.  He was ready to die for what he believed.  One of my commentatorís write: ďWhen Daniel heard about the law forbidding his prayer, he did not rally the troops for a strike or armed resistance, he prepared himself for deathÖChristians do not fight for their beliefs by assaulting or killing, but by dying.Ē 1  Daniel would rather die than spend thirty days without communing with his God.

Two details from the story really strike me about Danielís continued obedience.  First, his enemies knew that he would not stop praying.  Their only concern was getting the king to agree to the decree because they knew if he did then Daniel would be in trouble.  One of my commentatorís writes: ďDanielís enemies were totally confident that he would rather die than disobey God.  They knew that he would sooner go to the lions than give up his practice of daily prayer.  Would our friends and acquaintances, never mind our enemies, say that about us with equal confidence?Ē 2  What a reputation he had!  Second, the King marvels that Daniel would not give up praying for even thirty days.  He notes twice that Daniel serves his God continually (v. 16 and 20).  You can almost hear the king pleading with Daniel: ĎLook, I am sorry about the mix up, but if you will just not pray for thirty days then everything will be fine.  Why do insist on serving your God continually?í  But his question is answered by Godís deliverance of Daniel, which leads to our second lesson.

Second, God is able to deliver for our good and for His glory!  Once again we are taught that the God of Israel is always able to save those who are faithful to Him.  He shows the conspirators that to set themselves against Godís people is to set themselves against God Himself, which is a battle that they will never win.  Likewise we see that God was able to do what even the king could not do, namely rescue Daniel from the kingís foolish decree.  And God saves Daniel because He loves Daniel and delights in doing good to him.  Look again at what Daniel says in verses 21-23.  No harm to Daniel after spending a night among hungry lions.  Not only this, but the last verse tells us that Daniel continued to prosper.  God loves His people and delivers them for their good.  But God also delivers them for His glory. 

Once again God is showing the most powerful man in the known world that He is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.  Likewise, he delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth.  The God of Daniel reveals who He is through His deliverance of Daniel from the lionsí den.  He is making Himself, His greatness and power and love, known through saving Daniel.  The question is not why would Daniel keep praying to God for thirty days at the risk of his own life.  The question is why would anyone not want to commune with this God?

Continual, day after day, week after week, year after year, obedience to God can be difficult.  We may not face a den of lions, but the cost is no less great.  Yet, one final lesson that we could learn from this story is that Godís regular pattern of redemption is to deliver His people through difficulty.  God does not save us from suffering, but through suffering.  We see this in stories like that of Joseph and Daniel and Paul.  The circumstances are different.  The temptations and trials are not the same, but the pattern stands.  Of course, the most obvious place that we see this is in the work of Christ. He chose to leave glory, take on flesh, and live as a servant among men.  He lived perfectly in obedience to the Father.  And He continued in His obedience, even when it became excruciatingly hard.  He prayed with drops of blood spilling off His face: Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:41).  Even on the cross, even while He was facing the wrath that I deserved, He continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). 

Daniel faced his lions without a scratch.  But Jesus faced sin, Satan, and death, by giving His life on the cross.  And on the third day, when they came to His tomb, God once again demonstrated His power and victory over all by raising Christ from the dead.  Such a Savior is worthy of our repentance and belief.  He is worthy of our devotion and routines.  He is worthy of our sacrifices.  After all, even if the lions of this earth get their jaws on us, the mouths of sin, Satan, and death, have been effectively closed by the death and resurrection of Christ!  He will deliver.  Amen.

1 Tremper Longman III, Daniel NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1999), p. 171.
2 Iain M. Duguid, Daniel REC (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), p. 94.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 October 2012 )

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