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it in writing so that it cannot be altered -- in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.'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 one of the best known stories 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. 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 territory after the fall of Babylon. However, he was a weak ruler under Cyrus and lasted only two years.
Now, 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 (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 ability, integrity and spirituality that Daniel possessed. 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.
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' court was a set-up. It was designed specifically to entrap and eliminate Daniel. They were green-eyed jealous of him because he had been promoted to second in command in Darius' realm. Not realizing their scheme, however, Darius signed the decree and, for all practical purposes, sealed Daniel's fate.
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 giving thanks and asking God for help ... which was his custom ... and, thus, breaking the thirty day law against praying to any other god but Darius, that had been enacted. His enemies then 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 current 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, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have 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?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does 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!" And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." 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 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,
That Psalmist goes on to say,
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 down here in this dark world. It is defined simply 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,
Psalm 91:1-2 says,
Psalm 62:5-8 says,
Daniel was that kind of man. Throughout his life and his many trials and perils, he simply trusted the Lord and believed and stood on His promises. Being human, he probably had his moments but, he simply talked to God about them. We are all so very human. How will he deliver me?, we ask. The answer is simple. Never mind how. He just will. We can take it to the bank. Sometimes he delivers from the circumstance and sometimes he delivers through the circumstance; 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 the lions' den. If God didn't, Daniel knew that his God would see him through the peril ... regardless. Our brother, Stephen, in Acts 7, comes to mind here. Let's look at a bit of that passage.
Daniel wouldn't have obeyed Darius' edict ... even if it had only been for one day. For him, God's Word and God's will over-ruled all other things and directives that came along. He was a spiritual and mature saint.
You and I can only imagine this scene. The lions' den was a place of horror ... a gruesome place of torture and cruel 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 within the blackest holes imaginable, our God is always there with his own! Psalm 139:8-12 says,
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, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me,"
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 those very words of 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, Daniel was content to rest in his Lord's decision.
Darius' favor towards Daniel is also clear here 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.
The key phrase above is undoubtedly ... because he had trusted in his God. Dear believer, the ability of our Omnipotent God, coupled with the faith of his children, is an awesome thing to behold. As we have it laid before us in that great roster of men and women of faith 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.
daily decisions that you and I make concerning our trust and walk with
God not only affect those who are watching us ... but, they affect our
eternal standing in Heaven as well. Many a saint have laid down their
lives knowing that by doing so they were gaining an eternal testimony
and a better resurrection! May you and I have the faith and courage to follow in their footsteps if it is required of us. Amen?
in verse 22,
by God's angel.
awesome spirits with
1:14, is to
God has angels assigned to minister to you?
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 real, shoe-leather security, brother and sister! God directed care and security is the only care and security any child of God is ever going to need. You and I are specifically looked after by God's directed angels.
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.
Don't you know that the story that accompanied that decree spread like wildfire!
of the executions recorded here, may we chase another rabbit for a
moment? Capital punishment was instituted by God in the Noaic covenant
(Genesis 9). At that point in time in human history, and with that
covenant (ruling directive to man), God delegated to human government
the duty and authority to execute murderers. That duty and authority
has not been reascended. There is a movement in our country today to do
away with capital punishment on the grounds that, in some cases, it has
been proven that innocent people have been mistakenly executed. In some
minds, this alone is grounds that capital punishment should never be
used in the first place. I couldn't disagree more. God knew what he was
doing when he set up capital punishment and delegated it to human
government. He knew human government was imperfect and that it would
make mistakes. Regardless, God instituted capital punishment anyway
because the overriding issue of the
inestimable value of a human life, made in the image of God, by far
trumped any error a given government of man might make.
addition, those who do not believe the Bible, and therefore disagree
with capital punishment, base their opposition on their own personal
value system ... attacking government's right to execute murderers with
the argument that when government executes someone it, in itself, is
"murdering" and compounding murder. NOT. God determined and determines
what murder is and what it is not as defined in his Word, the Bible.
Men do not have that privilege. Even a casual study of God's Word will
come to the conclusion that capital punishment is no more "murder" than
killing in a battle in war is "murder" or accidental killing is
Now, Darius was a dictator and as such was the "government" and had the duty and authority to carry out capital punishment. However, capital punishment is not being carried out when a dictator simply executes people for his own reasons or on a whim as was the case here. Keep in mind that we are readying history here. This is what happened. It is not what God directed or condoned. When Darius threw these men and their families into the lions' den, according to the strict guidelines on capital punishment in the Bible, he was wrong. These men were guilty of attempted murder but had not actually murdered anyone. But, even if these men were guilty of murder, government certainly had no right to execute their families. Such practices are expressly forbidden in God's Law to the Jewish people, 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.
Take it for what it is worth. Capital punishment, correctly carried out by government, is from God.
Darius surely got it right, however, in his words about about the true and living God. His edict that went out to all the peoples of his realm, is striking. Frankly, I would not be surprised to meet this man in Heaven one day. He not only believed, you see, but he demonstrated his faith in shoe leather by giving testimony to the Lord God of Daniel in writing 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 there for us ... to love us and to keep us. You and I became his own dear children 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.
When 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 are 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?
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.