Summary: Daniel in the Lions' Den has been called the "one of the best loved stories in the Bible." But have you ever thought that God had a message in the story that could change your life?
ILLUS: A 1st-grader stood in front of his classroom to make a speech about "What he wanted to be when he grew up." He stood up in front of the class and said, "I’m going to be a lion tamer and have lots of fierce lions. I’ll walk into the cage and they will roar… and they’ll roar… and they’ll…" And suddenly it occurred to him what he was saying… and he STOPPED, and he said, (PAUSE) "But of course, I’ll have my mommy with me."
APPLY: Now, why did that little boy suddenly decide he wanted his mommy with him? Because being surrounded by fierce roaring lions is pretty scary. In fact it was downright dangerous.
ILLUS: Back in 1898 two male lions stalked a Railroad construction crew in Uganda. and were believed to have killed about 135 victims. Then in 1932 a pride of lions went on a killing spree that left 1500 men, women and children dead.
Lions are dangerous animals.
Now Lions don’t ordinarily kill PEOPLE, but if there’s nothing else to eat… they WILL eat you. In Babylon the King apparently kept a few lions around to do just that. If somebody angered him… the offending parties became the main course and the menu.
Now KIDS love this story. It has everything. Danger, adventure, suspense… and a really cool ending. In fact, one source called this “One of the best loved stories in the Bible.”
That’s nice. But the question is… WHY? Why is this even a story in the Bible? Why did God put it here for us to read? I ask that kind of question every time I prepare a sermon to preach on Sunday: Why is this story important to me?
Every week when I prepare my sermons I do a great deal of searching on the Internet to get background information on the text I’m using. As I googled this story about Daniel and the Lions’ Den, I kept repeatedly coming across an interesting “search tag”. It read: “The Most Important Bible Story - This One Can Change Your Life.” Well alright! That’s got to be pretty good stuff. So I clicked on it and found (pause) it had nothing at all to do with Daniel. I mean it talked a little about Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection… but essentially it was simply a 3 minute video with a talking head (the preacher at that church I presume) advertising a certain church. Apparently it’s a sales concept that various churches have purchased because they all used the same search tag but there were different talking heads each time.
Now, I understand the importance of advertising on the Internet and these churches are free to spend their money any way they see fit… but I have to admit: I WAS REALLY ANNOYED BY THIS.
Then I shared my experience online with our associate Scott. He googled the story but never once found the tag line I’d seen. So I thought – I’ll search for it on my cell phone… and I couldn’t find it. I went back home to my computer and there they were about 8 times this “The Most Important Bible Story…”
And I started to wonder… was God trying get my attention here? Was God actually trying to get me to see that this story of Daniel in the Lion’s Dean really was “A Very Important Bible Story - One That Can Change Our Live?s?” Well, of course it is… but the question was why?
Then I started putting it together. 1st – this story about the Lion’s Den was a story about weakness.
Hebrews 11:33-34 talks about those “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions… (and) out of weakness were made strong…”
Then in 2 Corinthians 12:9 God tells Paul “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness….”
ILLUS: I don’t know how many of you have noticed that I’ll often close the worship with a prayer where I say this: “God we’re not a strong people. We don’t come before you because we deserve to be here… but because we NEED to be here.”
I keep driving the fact home, that without Jesus we’re weak. We need Jesus or we’ll accomplish nothing of any lasting value. No matter how important you may be, no matter how rich, how well connected, how famous… you have nothing of value without Jesus. We’re weak. We need Him.
Now, think about this - in this story Daniel’s an old man. He’s probably in his late 70s or 80s. He’s well-respected and highly honored by the King… but he’s no spring chicken anymore. And his enemies believe that he’s just a doddering old fool they can easily destroy. All they need do is find a chink in his armor and he’ll fold up like a cheap suit. He’s an old man. He’ll never stand up against the criticism. They’re jealous of the respect he has in the King’s court and they think any guy that’s been in government as long as Daniel has gotta be corrupt. So they go digging for dirt… but there isn’t any!