Read Daniel 6:16-28
16So 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!" 17A 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. 18Then 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.
19At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. 20When 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?"
21Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! 22My 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, O king."
23The 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.
24At 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.
25Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: "May you prosper greatly!
26"I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
"For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.
27He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions."
28So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (NIV)
When reading Daniel, we must always remember that Daniel is a book of hope, a book that reminds people that no matter how bad things look today, God is in control and that God will save and will restore. This is part of our message today of Christ. We know that no matter how bad things are here on earth, God, through Christ, has prepared a place for us that is free of all the problems we suffer and might still suffer.
As we talked last week, we see there are people who oppose our faith. And in today’s world, I see this increasing more and more unless the church can become more relevant to young people. It is not a forgone conclusion, but we are trending in the wrong direction with those under 35.
To our story of Daniel in the lion’s den. We see that the king has become found of Daniel and does not want to see him harmed. But he feels he has to go through with the punishment of Daniel to save face with the people and not be seen as one who goes back on his decrees. As a side note, I have found this is important in raising children. Children want to know where their parents stand. So I have counseled parents to never threat a punishment on a child that they are not willing to carry out. Otherwise, the child will never know where you stand.
So Darius is forced to follow through with his punishment of Daniel. But we see that in dispensing his justice, he shows his concern to Daniel and we see from verses 18 and 19, he cannot sleep and at the next morning, rushes to the lion’s den to see what has happened.
We see a couple of things that come out of Daniel being saved. The first is that God is glorified when we give God our all. Darius’ proclamation of God’ glory came because of Daniel’s faithfulness to serve God and God alone. There would have been no decree without Daniel’s faith. That is important for us to remember, we point to God’s glory and love when we walk in the ways he calls us to.
The second thing we see is that it is possible to sever a ruler who does not believe in the God we believe in. We can still be a model citizen. This is how Daniel one the praise of Darius. We also see it in Daniel’s response to Darius in the last part of verse 22 where Daniels says, “Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” This was an important concept to the early church, the church during the first 300 years after Christ’s death. The leaders of the church encouraged the believers to be model citizens. We see it in the writings of Paul and Peter. The church did not want to be seen as counter culture. They wanted to be seen as normal to the people. They wanted to show that walking with Christ actually made them a better neighbor. And that is how it should be. We should be a good neighbor. We should have a positive influence on the communities we live in.
And finally, we want to show that punishing believers for being a bit different in who they prayed to is wrong. This was a powerful witness also in the first 300 years after Christ. We see that they people grew tired of watching the Christians be killed in the arena. One powerful story is the The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity. This is from the late 3rd century and according to the passion narrative, a slave named Revocatus, his fellow slave Felicitas, the two free men Saturninus and Secundulus, and Perpetua, who were catechumens – that is, Christians being instructed in the faith but not yet baptized were killed. The reaction of the people was not a positive reaction. It was people standing for their faith and willing to die that lead to the changes for the better for Christians. Daniel is a book to help the reader remember that there is strength in our standing firm in our faith.
Blessings and Peace