Summary: We sometimes hear "I felt like Daniel in the Lion's Den" but who was this Daniel and what was he doing in the lion's den? This message looks at the prayer that got Daniel in trouble
Daniel in the Lion’s Den
It’s one of those phrases that you hear every once in a while but I’m not always sure that those using it are aware of the context. It often involves someone who is in a tough spot and they will say “I felt like Daniel in the lions den.”
But it is just something they say? I wonder if they actually know who Daniel was or why he was in the Lion’s den? Or if it’s just something that’s said. In Australia people would sometimes say “It’s a bit of a sticky wicket”, which originated from the game of cricket, which if I tried to explain here would take up more time than I have this morning.
But you are in luck, because this is week four of Old School Sunday School here at Cornerstone So far we’ve had to opportunity to learn about Jonah and the Whale, David and Goliath and last week we looked at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s adventure with the fiery furnace. And this week our lesson will be “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”
Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the concept of Sunday School, perhaps you attended as a child or you know someone who did. But how many of you know that it was started in 1780 by a Jesus follower, named Robert Raikes, as a means to teach children of common people how to read and write. In that day and age children worked 6 days a week and his dream was to give them an opportunity on the seventh day to learn regardless of how much or how little they had. Five years from it’s beginning it is estimated that there were 250,000 children enrolled And within 50 years we are told that there were 160,000 Jesus Followers teaching 1.5 million children how to read and write and how to love God with all their minds.
And while we are seeing fewer and fewer Sunday Schools thirty years ago they were the primary outreach of churches. We had contests to encourage children to bring their bibles and their friends. If your church was any type of church at all it had a fleet of old school buses that drove through neighbourhoods picking up kids and driving them to Sunday School. It was called the “Bus Ministry”. And there was a virtual army of volunteers who kept that ministry alive, driving and maintaining buses, going door to door inviting kids to come to Sunday School. Hillside Wesleyan Church in Cole Harbour was recognized as the fastest growing Sunday School in Nova Scotia in the late 70’s and it was primarily because of their bus ministry, they had seven buses and a crew of 30 volunteers.
Imagine today, a stranger coming to your door and inviting you to put your kid on a bus that had been bought at a surplus auction to take them to a church you may never have attended. And it worked, back then. As proof of that one day in 1974 a young couple came to a house in Lawrencetown and invited a couple to put their kid on a bus and send her to Sunday School, and they did. And eight years later I married her.
One of the highlights of Sunday School were the songs, full of action and enthusiasm. The songs were printed in song books and song sheets and eventually they went high tech and the person with the best printing would write them on a transparency for the Overhead Projector.
And I’m going to invite Pastor Jason to come back up and lead us in Deep and Wide.
But Daniel in the Lion's Den isn't just something we say, it's got a story behind it, and for those of you who were brought up going to Sunday School you might be familiar with the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, it really is a great story.
It begins when Israel is conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and many of the people are taken into captivity as slaves. We pick up the story after Nebuchadnezzar returns home with the captives and he’s looking for personal attendants to work in the palace and we read in Daniel 1:4 “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.”
Last week our lesson was about three of these young men and how they took a stand for righteousness and refused to bow down to the Idol set up by King Nebuchadnezzar. But that was last week.
This week we are looking at another one of those young men who was selected to be groomed in the courts of Babylon and he is the hero of our story Daniel. Except he’s no longer a young man. Now I know that’s how we often picture him, in his late teens or early twenties, as a matter of fact many of the classic paintings show Daniel in that light. But while that may be perception it’s not reality.