Summary: Daniel gives us a great example of how we ought to live and behave. Just as he was a child of God living in a foreign, pagan culture, you and I are children of God living in a culture that is becoming less and less Christian with each passing day.
The title of this series from Daniel is “Turning Chaos into Character.” In chapter one, Daniel refused to eat the king’s rich food. He went on what I call the “Daniel Diet.” In chapter two, the king saw a vision of a multi-metallic statue representing Gentile Kingdoms. Here in chapter six we are in the time of the second kingdom, that of the Medes and Persians. In chapter three the three Hebrew friends refused to bow down to the image of gold, so they were thrown into a fiery furnace. But they found that it was cool in the furnace when Jesus is walking with you. In chapter four, we read the testimony of proud King Nebuchadnezzar who is humbled until he turns to the living God. Last week in chapter five we read the Handwriting on the Wall.
If there is any story from the book of Daniel that most people know it is the wonderful story of Daniel in the lions’ den. Most of us first heard this story as children in Sunday School or when our parents taught us Bible stories. Someone asked me if this title was a misprint. No. Today I want us to study “The Lions in Daniel’s Den.” You’ll understand what I mean by that toward the end of the message.
Most of you know the story, let’s read the highlights to review the details of this great story, then we’ll talk about what it means to us today.
Daniel 6:1-7. “It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent…So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: ‘O King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lion’s den.’”
They were appealing to Darius’ ego. They were applying a double coat of flattery to his pride. Years ago there was an old TV show called “Queen for a Day.” They would take an ordinary lady and load her down with all kinds of personal, feminine gifts like a washing machine, a vacuum cleaner, and a dishwasher. Darius was already king, so they said, “King we want you to be ‘god for a month.’” Darius liked the sound of that, so he signed the paper.
Daniel 6:10-11. “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”
So they went to the king and told on him. To Darius it was a precarious dilemma, because when the Law of the Medes and Persians was signed, nothing could break it and he was fond of old Daniel. But to these conspirators, it was hilarious, because they had trapped the king.
Daniel 6:16-24. “So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’ A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?’ Daniel answered, ‘Oh, king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Oh, king.’ The King was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.”