Summary: Daniel faces the lions because of his loyalty to the Lord. In his deliverance God demonstrates that God's kingdom shall never be destroyed.

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We have heard the story of Daniel in the Lion Den since we were wee ones in Sunday school. We learned what it meant to be people of integrity and we were told that God would always be our strength and deliverance.

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. We officially begin our preparation to receive Jesus as the Christ child born in a manger and as the King of kings who has promised to return. Our Sunday school lessons may not be enough as we face times when we and others have not been delivered. A few of us have been devoured by the lions--or at least severely chewed and we have the bite marks to prove it. What does this story have to say to us?

Keep Your Identity

Daniel's story takes place during the exile, what is commonly called "The Babylonian Captivity." The story was meant to be instructive to the People of Israel who were separated from their temple and their land and who were living as aliens in a foreign country.

The story of Daniel encourages its readers to remember who they are and to keep their identity. At the beginning of the story, Daniel requests that his captors allow he and his friends to eat kosher meals. (Keeping their dietary laws was one way that the Israelites kept their identity.)

The New Revised Standard Version Four Young Israelites at the Babylonian Court

8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself.

When Daniel learned of the interdict he went to his house, open the windows in an upper room, so that everyone could see what he was doing, and prayed. To the readers of the book of Daniel the message is clear. They are to remember who they are through worship.

The New Revised Standard Version Daniel in the Lions’ Den

10 Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously.

The lesson for us is also clear. During the difficult times--those times when we are facing the lions we are to remember who we are.

• We are people for whom Jesus lived, died and rose again.

• We are people who have been baptized--adopted into God's family and filled with the Holy Spirit.

• We are people whom Jesus has commanded to love one another as he has loved us.

Continue to Pray

Daniel's first act of defiance was to pray. He kept up his religious practice of praying three times a day--morning, noon, and night.

Daniel focused on the relationship that God had with him. Daniel nurtured that relationship through prayer, praise and seeking God's mercy.

The New Revised Standard Version Daniel in the Lions’ Den

11 The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God.

It is interesting to note that Daniel did not pray for deliverance. I think that Daniel did not need God to deliver him in order to believe that God loved him and was with him. Instead, Daniel placed himself in God's hands.

Face Toward Jerusalem

When Daniel prayed he faced toward Jerusalem. This was a common Jewish practice and one that I suspect the Muslims copied in their practice of facing Mecca when they pray. Facing Jerusalem Daniel focused on God's eternal kingdom.

The kingdoms of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon were no longer. The Persian Kingdom would soon cease to exist. It would be followed by the Greek and Roman Empires that would eventually become ancient history. Daniel reminded himself and others that God's kingdom was greater. God's kingdom would never end.

We are reminded that the United States of America will one day be no more. Its devotion to affluence and materialism, success and power will fade away. God's kingdom, though, a kingdom of love, peace, freedom and abundance will continue and persevere. We live in a kingdom that will never end.


No matter what our circumstances some things never change. God will always be God. We will always be God's children, and we will be invited and encouraged to live in this reality.


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