Summary: In spite of appearances, God is in control. Keep your trust in God.
Title: In spite of appearances—trust.
Text: Daniel 6:1-27
Truth: In spite of appearances, God is in control. Keep your trust in God.
Aim: I want the church to remain faithful when it is difficult.
If you had to summarize your life in six words, what would they be?
John Ortberg tells of an online magazine that asked that question several years ago. It was inspired by a legendary challenge posed to Ernest Hemingway to write a six-word story. He wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
The magazine was flooded with so many responses that the site almost crashed. The responses were turned into a book by the title, count the words, Not Quite What I Was Planning. Some writers were famous and others were unknown. They ranged from humorous to heartbreaking. For example:
• “One tooth, one cavity; life’s cruel.”
• “Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends.” (That was written by a nine-year-old boy.)
• “Found true love, married someone else.”
I wondered what the characters of Scripture might write for their six-word memoir?
• Adam: “Eyes opened, but can’t find home.”
• Noah: “Hated the rain. Loved the rainbow.”
• Moses: “Burning bush. Stone tablets. Charlton Heston.”
• Daniel: “I won’t eat. Neither will lions.”
You might say that Daniel’s life was not quite what he was planning. He could never have predicted that, as a teenager, he would be a captive alien serving the government that destroyed his nation. He could have never imagined he would be the advisor to the most powerful men of his generation, and reveal the sovereignty of the living God of Israel to his captors. He was neither the author of his life nor the pawn of fate. Instead, as he followed and trusted God, he became a partner in what God was accomplishing. An example of this is the story of Daniel in the lion’s den.
This is the most famous story in the book of Daniel. Why did the writer include this story? This is the question to which we have been seeking an answer as we have looked at other famous Bible stories: David and Goliath and Joshua and the fall of Jericho. The answer about why Daniel and the lion’s den was included is easy: the entire book of Daniel is about the sovereignty of God. The first half of Daniel is made up these famous stories, each story being a testimony that God is in control. The second half of Daniel is predictive about future kingdoms. They all pass away but there is one kingdom that remains and rules all kingdoms; God’s kingdom. God is in control.
Because Daniel and his three friends are convinced of the sovereignty of God, they trusted God. Even when it puts their lives in direct conflict with the demands of the culture, they obeyed God and trusted Him to care for them. This is the message of Daniel. It is memorably demonstrated by the story in chapter six.
There are four major movements to the story: the enemies’ plot (vv. 1-9), Daniel’s persecution (vv. 10-18), Daniel’s protection (vv. 19-24), and the king’s praise (vv. 25-28). Let us briefly examine these, and then conclude with what it means for God to be in control and for us trust Him.
I. THE ENEMIES’ PLOT (DANIEL 6:1-9)
(1)Darius decided to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, stationed throughout the realm, (2) and over them three administrators, including Daniel. These satraps would be accountable to them so that the king would not be defrauded. (3) Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm. (4) The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could find no charge or corruption, for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him. (5) Then these men said, "We will never find any charge against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God."
The Persian kingdom stretched from India to North Africa. Alexander the Great’s kingdom was larger only because he conquered Persia and Greece. The king had the realm efficiently organized, not so the people would have justice or prosperity, but so his treasury would be full. This was all for taxes. Of all these government officers, Daniel, a holdover from the previous empire, was clearly superior to all the others. What made him outshine the others was an “extraordinary spirit.”
The Hebrew word means Daniel not only did his work correctly, but he did it with a winsome, pleasant spirit. Have you ever worked with someone who did the right thing in an irritating sort of way? Have you ever worked with someone who is the nicest person you would ever want to meet but, bless their heart, they do not always do the job correctly, or you cannot always depend on them? Every once in a while, you work with someone who does excellent work, and they do it with an infectious joy. We will learn later in the story that the source of Daniel’s commitment to excellence and enthusiasm was found in his sincere devotion to God.