We’re continuing our series on O.T. Old School, with stories you’ve learned since you were a kid. Last week, we talked about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and the Fiery Furnace. Tonight, we’re going to look at their friend, Daniel.
I was looking for a good illustration to start off this lesson,
and I just couldn’t find anything about a lion,
but I did find something about a cat,
so that’s pretty close.
This is very valuable information,
especially if you’re a cat owner.
Memo: HOW TO BATHE YOUR CAT IN 8 EASY STEPS
1. Thoroughly clean toilet.
2. Lift both lids and add shampoo.
3. Find and soothe cat as you carry him to bathroom.
4. In one swift move, place cat in toilet, close both lids and stand on top, so cat cannot escape. 5. The cat will self agitate and produce ample suds. (Ignore ruckus from inside toilet, cat is enjoying this) 6. Flush toilet 3 or 4 times. This provides power rinse, which is quite effective. 7. Have someone open outside door, stand as far from toilet as possible and quickly lift both lids. 8. Clean cat will rocket out of the toilet and outdoors, where he will air dry.
I can bet that if you tried to do this to a lion—first of all, he wouldn’t fit in the toilet, and secondly, he’d eat you before you knew it. In Daniel 6, we have the story of Daniel in the Den of Lions. Turns out that Babylon had gone through several king since Daniel was a teenager. He first was serving Nebuchadnezzar, then Belshazzar, and now Darius. When Darius came on board as King, some things changed. Let’s read the story—Daniel 6.
This is a very well known story,
but today I want to dig below the facts in the story,
and look at what was happening spiritually.
You see, it was no accident that some of these other leaders in Babylon were trying to figure out ways to get Daniel.
Daniel at this time was one of the most powerful people in the kingdom,
and he was also absolutely committed to God,
faithful, honest, full of integrity.
And as a result, everything he did was blessed by God,
which made him even more successful,
and he was on track to become even more powerful in the kingdom.
Now someone like that is going to be loved by everyone right?
Someone who is full of integrity, successful in everything they do,
and getting continual promotions,
they won’t have any enemies, will they?
We know better.
The Greek philosopher Plato predicted in 300BC that if ever a truly good man were to appear, a man who would really tell the truth, he would have his eyes gouged out and in the end be crucified.
300 years later a man like that appeared
He told the world the truth - about itself -
and even made the incredible claim: "I am the Truth."
And just as Plato predicted, Jesus was crucified.
Like Jesus, Daniel had lots of enemies,
because he was so successful,
because God blessed him so much.
But there’s no doubt that Daniel also had another enemy,
that we don’t read about here,
but that was certainly at work behind the scenes.
You see, Daniel was not just the most powerful leader in government,
he was also a spiritual leader.
If you read the last half of the book of Daniel,
you read all the visions he had,
and prophecies about when Jesus would come,
and about the end times.
Its incredible stuff.
And so Daniel had another enemy, Satan,
who was not happy with Daniels success,
and was not happy with his commitment to God.
So Satan was out to destroy Daniel,
any way he could.
1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I believe that Satan, the roaring lion,
was using those other government officials
to have Daniel thrown to the lions.
We often don’t think about the fact that there’s a spiritual battle going on all around us every day.
We don’t see it, so we ignore it, and forget about it.
But there is a battle going on.
When I was growing up, I really didn’t like to fight. When I was in 5th grade, my brother and I were picked on by a bully. One day at field day, that Bully was picking on my brother, and my brother was just taking it. So, I was sitting next to him, and I got up and hit the bully 3 times, and then sat down again. My brother got in trouble for fighting, even though I threw all the punches. Then, a little later in my life, I went to a boys club with my cousins for the day. It was cool—there were plenty of games, and fun with the guys, and I remember stooping down to tie my shoe, when a little boy came and leap frogged over me. My cousins said, “are you going to take that?” so I said, “no.” I kicked the guy in the leg, and then the boy squared off and punched me right in the mouth. That was a fight that I didn’t want to fight, and it probably wasn’t fair that I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s kind of like that in spiritual battle. Most of us really don’t want to fight—maybe because we know the enemy doesn’t fight fair, or we don’t even realize there is a fight. But there is an enemy out there who is out to get you, and even if you ignore it, it doesn’t go away.
So, we can’t be blind to this fact. In fact, Daniel wasn’t impervious to this either. In Daniel 10, after he’d been through the lion’s den, and was back to interpreting dreams and having visions. Daniel saw something—He had been fasting, going without food, and then in verse 4, “on the 24th day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude of people.”
- so Daniel sees this angel, and this is what the angel tells him.
Verse 12 Then he said, "Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.
So this angel says,
Hey Daniel, sorry it took so long to answer your prayer,
but I ran into a little trouble along the way,
You see, this mean dude from Satan’s army met me,
and I had to fight him to get through,
but he blocked my way for 21 days
until finally I got some reinforcements,
Michael came along to help me,
and of course Michael is the general of God’s army,
so you don’t want to mess with Michael, and while Michael was fighting the bad guy,
I was able to slip away and get to you with the answer to your prayer.
Have you thought about the possibility that
maybe when you’re praying for something
and you don’t get the answer right away,
Maybe its not because God is saying no.
Maybe its just because there’s some spiritual battles going on behind the scenes,
and maybe the answer is on its way,
but you need to keep praying for a while longer,
till the answer to your prayer gets through the battle lines.
I know it sounds a little strange,
but the truth is,
whether we realize it or not,
there’s a spiritual battle going on.
Max Lucado describes it really well: "(Satan) is the master of the trapdoor and the author of weak moments. He waits until your back is turned. He waits until your defense is down. He waits until the bell has rung and you are walking back to your corner. Then he aims his arrow at your weakest point and...Bullseye! You lose your temper. You lust. You fall. You take a drag. You follow the crowd. You rationalize. You say yes. You sign your name. You forget who you are. You walk into her room. You look in the window. You buy the magazine. You lie. You covet. You stomp your feet and demand your way. You deny your Master. It’s David disrobing Bathsheba. It’s Adam accepting the fruit from Eve. It’s Abraham lying about Sarah. It’s Peter denying that he ever knew Jesus. It’s Noah, drunk and naked in his tent. It’s Lot, in bed with his own daughter. It’s your worst nightmare. It’s sudden. It’s sin."
Now, back to the story of Daniel. He did 3 things to help him excel in life. The first one was this: Daniel chose CHARACTER OVER COMFORT. In Daniel 1, when Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were first exiled to Babylon, they were to be forced to learn the language, culture, and even eat the food. Instead of eating the royal food that was given to them, Daniel, and his friends got the king’s guard to serve them only vegetables and water. They didn’t want to defile their bodies by eating something God didn’t want them to eat. Daniel had gotten a reputation for being trustworthy, and neither corrupt nor negligent. He was a man of integrity. Integrity is who you are when no one’s looking. Daniel didn’t have skeletons in his closet, those things that could come out and haunt him if found out. He was found blameless. Even his enemies couldn’t find anything wrong with him, and his biggest enemy-Satan, couldn’t find anything to get him with. That verse that says Satan is looking for someone to devour…means he’s looking for an easy target. Someone who’s let their guard down. Don’t let that be you. In Spiritual warfare, Ephesians 4:27 says, “do not give the devil a foothold.” A foothold is something you do or don’t do that allows Satan to have an entry point into your life. For Daniel, it was easy. He lived a life of integrity so there was nothing they could do to trap him, except only if it was something to do with his God.
The second choice Daniel made was DISCIPLINE OVER DISORDER. He chose to live a life of discipline. He had a disciplined prayer life. The Bible says that “three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before.” This was Daniel’s discipline. He made it a habit to spend time with God each and every day. Many people excel because of discipline. Whether it’s discipline in sports, music, work, or whatever. It takes discipline to succeed. And it takes discipline in the right areas: James 4:7, “submit yourself to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The final thing Daniel did was choose LOVE OVER LIFE. Daniel learned of the law that was passed that he couldn’t pray, or he’d be thrown to the lion’s. But he had a choice to make. He decided to choose his relationship with God, over potential death. He knew that choosing his relationship with God would benefit him more than giving in, and that choosing God meant that he’d never ultimately die. The lion’s could have eaten him, and he’d still be with God, either way.
I’m reminded of the choice that Cassie Bernall made. She had a choice to make. A young gunmen asked, with a gun pointed to her head, if she believed in Jesus, and she said, “yes, I love Jesus.” She was killed that day, but she also chose love over life, and now she’s with God forever.
I wonder how many people in the world have made such decisions—some, I’m sure have been spared, and rescued. Others have died, or been tortured. Yet, their choice was the same. They chose character, discipline, and love.
Romans 5:6-8, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Some people will choose to die for their relationship with Christ. Some will face the consequences of choosing character, discipline, and love. Christ’s choice was love as well. He chose to die for you, will you choose to live for Him?