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DANIEL

AND THE LIONS' DEN

DANIEL 6

 

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6:1-9

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, 'We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.'

So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: 'O King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.' So King Darius put the decree in writing.

We come here to a well known story of the Bible. Also, this is the end of the history section of the book of Daniel. With chapter 7, we will begin the prophetic section of Daniel. We will have covered the head of gold of Nebuchadnezzar's statue, representing the Babylonian empire, and also its breast and arms of silver, representing the Medo-Persian empire. The Darius, recorded here in chapter 6, is Darius Cyaxares II. Although, historically, he is somewhat obscure, apparently he was the nephew and son-in-law of Cyrus and was the initial ruler over the Babylonian area after the fall of Babylon. He was a weak ruler, under Cyrus, however, and lasted only two years.

Daniel lived through the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, Nergel-Sharezer, Nabonidus and Belshazzar (all Babylonians) ... then, Darius Cyasares II and on into the reign of Cyrus (the Medo-Persians). As you can tell from our text above, the Palace was more dangerous than the lion's den! Especially to a man of integrity and spirituality that Daniel was. Psalm 1:1-3 fits Daniel like a glove. It describes him to a tee. And, being that type of a man of God, it insured him both promotion as well as ... extreme opposition.

Blessed is the man
       who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
       or stand in the way of sinners
       or sit in the seat of mockers.

 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
       and on his law he meditates day and night.

 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
       which yields its fruit in season
       and whose leaf does not wither.
       Whatever he does prospers.

The scheme that was cooked up against Daniel by Darius' staff, was a set-up. It was designed specifically to entrap and do away with Daniel. They were jealous of him ... having been placed as second in command in Darius' realm. Not realizing this, however, Darius signed the decree and, theoretically, sealed Daniel's fate.

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6:10-15

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: 'Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?' The king answered, 'The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.' 

Then they said to the king, 'Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.' When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, 'Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.'

Daniel was caught red-handed, asking God for help, and thus breaking the thirty day law that had been enacted by Darius. His enemies hastened to bring the news to Darius. From a human perspective, it truly was a black day for this man of God.

May we chase another rabbit here for a moment? I just wanted to say that one's circumstances cannot block God's blessing and favor on one's life. Every child of God has a wall of safety and protection around them at all times. And, Satan himself, cannot penetrate that wall without getting permission from God, first. This truth is illustrated in the book of Job. There we read,

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.  And the LORD said to Satan, gFrom where do you come?h So Satan answered the LORD and said, gFrom going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.h Then the LORD said to Satan, gHave you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?h So Satan answered the LORD and said, gDoes Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!h And the LORD said to Satan, gBehold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.h So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

Psalm 55:22 says,

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Daniel knew this scripture and he obeyed it. In spite of his circumstances, he put the Word of God first and was willing to let the chips fall where they may. Once, I asked my dad, What would you do if you were unjustly thrown into prison for the rest of your life? He answered, I'd start a Bible study. Child of God, never let circumstances or opposition dictate your responses and actions. Always let your faith in your God and your knowledge of his Word dictate your responses and your actions. Our God is a wall of safety around his own. He stands against any scheme of men and Hell that is directed at his children. As you have it in Psalm 34:7-8,

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

That Psalmist goes on to say,

Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:21-22

Now, it is important to understand that the safety and security that is ours in the Lord is not defined by what happens to us. It is defined by the fact that our lives are in God's hands. And, even if we find ourselves in a circumstance that might cost us our physical lives here on Earth, we don't have to sweat it. Jesus said in Luke 12:4-5,

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Psalm 91:1-2 says,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'

Psalm 62:5-8 says,

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Daniel was that kind of man. Throughout his life, and his many trials and perils, he simply trusted the Lord and stood on His promises. Being human, he probably had his moments but, he simply talked to God about them. We are so human. How will he deliver me, we ask? The answer is simple. He just will. You can take it to the bank. Sometimes he delivers from the peril and sometimes he delivers through the peril; sometimes from the persecution ... sometimes through the persecution; sometimes from the fire ... sometimes through the fire; sometimes from the mob ... sometimes through the mob; sometimes from death ... sometimes through death; but, HE ALWAYS DELIVERS US. Daniel didn't know in advance that God was going to save him from this peril. If he hadn't, he would have saved him through the peril ... as he did with Stephen in Acts 7. Let's look at a bit of that passage.

When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.' At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Daniel wouldn't have obeyed Darius' edict ... if it had only been for one day. For Daniel, God's Word and God's directives over-ruled all other directives in his life. He was a spiritual man.

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6:16-18

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, 'May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!' A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

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Ruben's painting of Daniel 
														sitting in the middle of a pit full of lions.

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You and I can only imagine this scene. The lions' den was a place of horror ... a gruesome place of capital punishment. A place where cruel men enjoyed the short-lived agony and screams of their victims. Daniel was thrown alive into its black hole. However ... praise God ... even in the blackest holes imaginable, our God is always there with his own. Psalm 139:8-12 says,

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
         If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
 If I take the wings of the morning,
         And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
         And Your right hand shall hold me.
 If I say, gSurely the darkness shall fall on me,h
         Even the night shall be light about me;
 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
         But the night shines as the day;
         The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

It would not surprise me if, down in that dark pit full of lions, Daniel didn't meditate on the very words of that scripture. The last words he heard from Darius' lips were, May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you. Apparently, Daniel had been talking to Darius on the way to the lions' den. Perhaps he had even been witnessing to him about the one true and living God. Darius' words seem to indicate that. Daniel knew that his God would, in fact, deliver him ... either through the lions' den or by the lions' den ... whichever way God chose.

Darius' favor towards Daniel is also clear in the text. At first, he tried to save him. Then, not being able to do so, he went to bed  greatly disturbed and could neither sleep nor be consoled.

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6:19-23

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?' Daniel answered, 'O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.' The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

I would just like to say that the ability of Omnipotent God, coupled with the faith of his people, is an awesome thing. As you have it ... in that great roster of men and women of faith found in Hebrews 11:33-36,

...who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.

You will notice, in verse 22, Daniel said that his deliverance had been accomplished by an angel. No doubt, Daniel actually saw him and they probably spoke together. Angels are awesome beings with amazing power. Their sole function, according to Hebrews 1:14, is to minister to God's people. Did you know that? Are you aware that your God has assigned angels to protect you? Let's look at it.

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Awesome! Remember what Psalm 34, said? The angel of the Lord camps round about those who fear him... That's security, brother. The only security any child of God will ever need. You and I are specifically looked after by God's angels.

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6:24-28

At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: 'May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

       For he is the living God
       and he endures forever;
       his kingdom will not be destroyed,
       his dominion will never end
.

        He rescues and he saves;
       he performs signs and wonders
       in the heavens and on the earth.
       He has rescued Daniel
       from the power of the lions
.'

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Someone is bound to object, They threw the wives and children to the lions too? That's not right! That's correct, it wasn't right. Darius overstepped his bounds when he did that. Keep in mind, however, that we are reading history here. This is a record of what happened. It is not a record of what God condoned. Darius had the right to execute the bad guys. They had plotted to murder a friend and loyal servant of his ... and his kingdom ... and they had even used Darius to carry out their devilish plot. As for their families ... that is a different matter. Such practices are expressly forbidden in God's word, by the way. As you have it in Deuteronomy 24:16 (as well as the entire 18th chapter of Ezekiel),

Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.

Although Darius grossly erred in his judgment on those innocents, he surely got it right in his words about about the true and living God. His edict, that went out to all the peoples of his realm, is amazing. This man, too, I expect to meet in Heaven. He not only believed, you see, but he demonstrated his faith in shoe leather by giving testimony to the Lord before the whole world.

In conclusion, let me re-emphasize that God is a very near and dear God to his people. He is always is there for us ... to love us and to keep us. You and I became his children, you see, when we believed in his Son, Jesus Christ. As you have it in John 1:12-13,

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

Once we believed, we were placed in Christ by his Holy Spirit and we were home free. We had arrived in port. We were in Christ, God's impregnable fortress. We were on the Rock which cannot be moved. As we have it in Jesus' own words,

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one. John 10:27-30

And again, in Psalm 118:6,

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 

Proceed to the next chapter

 

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