The story of Daniel is a story that many know from heart. It is one that has been told in every Sunday School class I was in from the age of 5 to even today.
Daniel's very life can be summed up as one who loved and honored God. What we must keep in mind though is Daniel's life began in the nation of Israel. He learned about God from his family and the religious studies he had. It is because of Daniel's understanding about who God is that he was greatly used by God and why he was saved from the mouth of lions.
In the 6th chapter of Daniel we read how Daniel was honored as a person and became one of three who ruled over the 360 provinces in the land. This is the opening of Daniel 6.
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 princes, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these princes should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss.
Daniel had a great opportunity which was given to him by God, because ultimately it was God who put it in the heart of Darius to honor Daniel. As we continue to read this chapter we begin to notice something that becomes known to the king.
Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
We can learn a very important lesson from Daniel from this passage. What we learn is the spirit which was in Daniel was an excellent spirit. What do you think that means? It means that all which Daniel had set up to do he only did so after going to God in prayer to make sure that it would bring honor and glory to God.
We may have a time when an opportunity comes up like in Daniel's life. What we do with that position will determine what type of person we are. For Daniel we learn he was given a much higher role. However some didn't seem so pleased with it.
Then the high officials and the princes sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
We shouldn't be surprised that no fault or complaint could be made against Daniel. This again should be true about our life, about how we live. Just think that you have been honored with a position and people who serve under you hate the idea that you are where you are, so they look for reason to have you removed but because of your love and honor for God nothing at all is found to find you guilty. If this isn't the case with us, we have work to do in our lives.
Well those who served under Daniel finally came up with a way to have Daniel found guilty in the eyes of the law, so they went to the king and began to flatter the king.
“O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the princes, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
I want to first bring attention to the open statement which was made. They said to Darius that all the high officials came into agreement with this new law, but we know that to be a lie because Daniel would never agree to this. He was excluded in order that they could entrap him. Then they wanted to make sure the king would not undo the law they made it impossible for even the king to revoke the law he wrote and signed. If Darius would have actually knew they were trying to have Daniel killed he would have never signed it. Darius entrusted Daniel with the whole kingdom. Daniel was never a threat to the king.
Let's look at what happened with Daniel now.
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Looking at this passage, Daniel didn't go to God in prayer because of this new law. He went to God in prayer because this was something he had always done. Daniel was a praying man, he prayed to God three times a day and did so with his window opened. He was not ashamed of God and would not allow a silly law to come between him and God even if it would cost him his life.
Since the rulers knew Daniel would pray to God like before they waited for him and ran to the king when they saw Daniel saying.
“O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Of course Darius was asking and said who is the man you are talking about and they replied
Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
When the law was written sentence had to be carried out before the night was over. Darius was distressed and wanted to find a legal loophole to get Daniel set free but nothing could be found in the law to save Daniel. Those who had tricked the king were about to have their way… so they thought.
Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
Darius was so sick over this matter that all he could do was fast and pray all night long for Daniel's sake. Darius knew that Daniel was a man who feared God, and served Him continually, Darius had some faith that the only hope for Daniel was his God.
The good news is, daybreak is around the corner and people are in for a huge surprise.
Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”
Daniel never blamed the king for what had happened because he knew the king was tricked. The good news is that though the law of man showed Daniel to be guilty, the law of God proved him innocent. This is sometimes the case in our lives. When a stand must take place and we may have to stand for God instead of caving to man.
The story however does not end there. They is a time when justice happens here on earth, and sometimes we have to wait till the other side of heaven to have our justice. In Daniel's case it happened that day.
And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
The end of this chapter was a decree in which Darius wrote and had translated for all the people groups which he had ruled over.
Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
Darius wanted to be certain that the world heard about the story of Daniel. That the God of Israel was alive and active in the lives of those who serve Him.
Darius knew that Daniel was a man of honor and saw that play out when he went to the lion's den.
Times come up in our lives when we have to make a difficult decision. We may have to avoid certain parties, or people, we may have to be the only one standing up for the things of God when it seems the world and even now the church is showing a lack of back-bone. These decision do not come lightly and may cost us our well being. Daniel went all the way to the den of lions for his faith, for his obedience to God, what will you do? Can you say the same thing? Will the life example of Daniel play a role in our lives, following God even when the world is against us? Maybe we have had to make decisions already and maybe we made the wrong one. God is willing to forgive us if we just ask. As we seek God out daily and pray continually we will have a life which can impact this world for Jesus.