We continue looking at Daniel 6, and the story of Daniel’s deliverance from the lion’s den. We also explore his life as a whole and his example of what it takes to be a faithful witness. We pick up the story with King Darius having just signed a decree into law demanding the people worship him.
Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
This is nothing new. This is what he’s always done. He’s like, “I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I’m not going to change because of this law.”
Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God, which they knew he would.
And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: “Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?”
See, “You signed this law, right, King?”
The king answered and said, “The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.”
So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
The king regrets his edict
Now watch this. This is really cool.
And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself—
You don’t conquer the whole world because you’re a dummy. He’s already been considering putting Daniel over everybody. Why? Because he didn’t suffer as much loss. The revenue is coming in under Daniel. He knows Daniel’s honest.
And now they come in and say, “You’ve got to eliminate Daniel.” He’s like, “They duped me! What an idiot I am! How did I let this happen?” He knew exactly what they’re doing.
The reason he’s considering putting Daniel over everybody is because he knows that there’s an overdipping going on on the part of the satraps. But the bureaucracy is so vast, you can’t do without it! “So, maybe if I put Daniel in charge…” And now they’re getting rid of Daniel! And he’s like, “Dummy! Dummy! Dummy! Why—I should have known!” He’s greatly displeased—with himself! So what does he do?
Well he set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
He got all his lawyers in and said, “Find a loophole in this law I made! Find some way for us to deliver Daniel. I do not want to throw this guy in the lion’s den. He’s my best guy! And they’re trying to knock him off!”
Verse 15. Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.”
You made the law. You have to keep the law! Come on! Don’t discredit yourself.
So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.
The king’s faith
But here’s what the king says. Get this!
But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.”
How many Christians have that kind of faith? This is a Persian king, for heaven’s sakes! The one whom God appointed, his shepherd, as we read earlier.
Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.
The same thing they did with Jesus, right? You put a wax seal on there, and you put your signet ring on there because you can’t break the seal, or you’re violating the authority of the person who ordered that shut. That’s the idea. Only the authority can open it.
The king prays that God will intervene
Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting;
Now kings, if you don’t know, didn’t fast all that much. You’ve seen pictures—it used to be the only obese people in the world were kings and royalty. Being obese meant you were rich. And until about a hundred years ago, that was pretty much the case. Poverty used to mean not enough to eat. That’s what it used to mean. Still does many places in the world. Not in the West anymore.
He spent the night fasting, and no musicians were brought before him. This word musicians, they’re not really sure what that word means. It doesn’t occur elsewhere in the Bible, but it appears to mean some entertainment is probably a better word to use. No entertainment was brought to him.
And think of this, too: how many people in the world got entertainment every night? If you were rich, you could have entertainment. And there’s only a handful of rich people. Probably the satraps could have entertainment.
In our world, how many people can have entertainment every night? Everybody. And if you don’t happen to be at home, you’ve got it on your cell phone. If you’re at the bus station, heaven forbid that we would go five minutes without any entertainment, right? You have to have a portable device to do that.
You know, when I was a kid, I used to have to look out the window when we were driving. Kids these days are not aware that there are any windows. They would have no way of knowing because they’re being entertained.
But no entertainment tonight. This is how distressed the king was.
Also his sleep went from him.
He knows he got duped. He really loves Daniel. And he really wants Daniel to succeed. And he’s like, “God, would you please do this? It’s the only way. You can do it.”
Verse 19. Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions.
And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!
My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.”
Now the king was exceedingly glad for him—
So we go from the pit of despair to mountain of joy from the king.
—and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.
And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions—them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.
My guess would be, just a guess, just a hunch, that the tax revenues really went up right after this.
The king honors God
Then King Darius wrote:
To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth:
Half the world’s population, according to Wikipedia.
Peace be multiplied to you.
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
This happened under Nebuchadnezzar who wrote a chapter of Daniel, and now it’s happening under Darius—Cyrus, most likely.
Peace be multiplied to you.
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
For He is the living God—every other god is just wood and stone.
And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed—Now isn’t this isn’t this fascinating? It was Nebuchadnezzar that saw the statue with the four kingdoms on it and the stone not made by hands coming and crushing the statue and blowing it over. I don’t know how Cyrus knew this. Maybe it’s divine revelation—but he knows it.
And His dominion shall endure to the end.
He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
So ends the historical account of Daniel.
Lessons from Daniel’s life
Real briefly, let’s just take a look at this life of Daniel and what it means to us.
We’ve looked at the historical background and bureaucracy. We’ve looked at this story of great courage, now let’s look at the application.
Let’s just go to Ezekiel 14:14 real quick. We’ve done this once before. But this is a contemporary to Daniel. And Ezekiel is speaking to the Israelites, and he’s talking about the certainty of judgment upon them, and he says, Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it—the world—they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God.
So Daniel—while he’s still alive—is put into the same category as Noah and Job in terms of righteousness. That is what the Bible thinks of Daniel.
Therefore, we can take from Daniel, as we’ve seen all through these chapters–we’ve seen God is in control.
Obviously we’ve got a bunch of captive people. These captive people are wondering, “What happened to us? I thought the temple was supposed to save us!” No, it’s not because God has decreed. And the point of Daniel, in large part, is—nothing happens unless God lets it happen. He is sovereign over the affairs of men, even the pagan kings. God is in control. So God has not forsaken you, you’ve forsaken him, and there are consequences for forsaking him.
So that’s one. God is in control, the same as Revelation.
And then by his example of his life, we get the same basic other major message of Revelation: be a faithful witness and don’t fear death.
Let’s just think about this life of Daniel. He’s a teenager. He’s ripped out of his home, taken to a foreign land, probably “euniched” at that point in time. Does he have reason to be bitter? Does he have reason to say, “God failed me, so I’m not going to believe him anymore”? Of course he does!
What does he do? He doubles down, and he says, “I’m going to serve God all the more faithfully.” As a teenager!
Then we have him going to Babylonian University, every opportunity to adapt to Babylon. Or just reject it and say, “I’m not going to have anything to do with you pagans!” Instead what he does is he masters it, ten times over, ten times better than anybody else without really believing it.
He becomes a master. He becomes excellent at what he does without changing his character.
Isn’t that amazing?
He’s now still a teenager at this point in time.
Then he goes into the service corps of the Chaldeans, the wise men. And they’re going to kill them all. “Hey! Hang on a second. Let me and my friends pray.”
He doesn’t freak out. He goes and prays. He gets the interpretation of the dream. He goes and makes the interpretation of the dream and saves everybody, probably including the people that later try to knock off his friends, and potentially even him, at some point in time. He saves them all because he’s able to give the dream. And when he does, he says, “This wasn’t me; it was God.”
So he has an opportunity to testify. Is he going around condemning all the evil around him? No. He’s just living a faithful life. And when he has opportunity, he speaks.
If you go into the New Testament epistles, you’ll find one instance where it says share your faith with your mouth. And it is when it says—when someone asks you why you’re living righteously in the face of persecution and are happy about it, then tell them the defense of the hope that’s within you.
But on every page of the New Testament epistles it tells you, live a faithful life. Be a faithful witness and don’t fear death. Live as though God’s in control because he is. Every page, it’s in there.
Daniel’s doing that, and look at the impact his life has. He becomes the greatest guy in the kingdom next to Nebuchadnezzar. He’s on the mountaintop, and does he let it go to his head? Not at all.
Then under Belshazzar, the grandson, he’s totally forgotten. Belshazzar doesn’t even know who he is.
He’s been on the top; he goes the bottom. Does he say, “Well they forgot me, I’ll forget them. I’ll just go to my river house and live out the rest of my days. I’m in my 80s”? Does he do that? No. He’s right nearby when the handwriting-on-the-wall event happens. They just go get him. He’s right there. He’s still in the midst of it all.
And he gives the interpretation again. He’s in his 80s. And then the new king comes in and elevates him, and he takes this stand in his 80s. Is that steadfast, or what?
What an amazing life.
The Great Commission
Let’s close with the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Has it not been clear from revelation who has all the authority? Has it not been clear from Daniel who has all the authority?
Who’s on the throne? God’s on the throne. He’s on the throne during the time of Daniel, he’s on the throne during Revelation. He’s always on his throne.
But now all authority’s been given to Jesus in heaven and on earth. Not just God, creator of the universe, but also as a man. He’s the Son of Man now not just the Son of God. Son of God and Son of Man.
This would have freaked out the disciples. All they wanted Jesus to do was have all authority over Israel. That’s really all they cared about. And here comes Jesus who they thought had just totally ejected on them; and he comes and says, “Hey, I’ve got authority over all the earth including the Romans and heaven.” Mind blowing statement.
So what are you going to do with this amazing authority, God? What are you going to do with it? I’m going to give it to you. Go therefore—am I right as you go? So as you go—this is a participle phrase—as you go make disciples—make disciples is imperative. Do this. You do this as you go, teaching them—make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you—
How do you teach as you go? We usually think of teach as what I’m doing here, standing up front, and you voluntarily came and listened for whatever reason you had.
But how do you teach “as you go?” Are you supposed to carry your iPad along with you and, “Hey, everybody listen! Turn to chapter…”
You teach as you go by living the kind of life Daniel lived. A faithful witness and not fear death. To understand the wisdom of the world without buying the wisdom of the world and using it and living. To be excellent at what you do. To be honest even when there’s a price to pay for being honest. To be a great servant even when the person you’re serving is a jerk or even corrupt. That’s what teaching and discipling is.
And we’re all called to be Daniels. That’s what we’re called to do.
And there’s no retirement from this. We can retire from jobs. We can retire from parenting. We’re supposed to, right? We’re supposed to have our kids grow up and leave home. That’s what we’re supposed to do. But there’s no retirement from being a disciple-maker. There’s no retirement from the Great Commission.
Maybe “as you go” is in the nursing home. Maybe “as you go” is very limited because of your station in life. You know what? It doesn’t matter. What matters is “as we go” we do these things with our life.
It’s stunning, isn’t it, what one man’s impact can be. Well, that’s our charge: to be that person where God has called us.
Remember Daniel never gave a sermon at a crusade. We don’t know that he went door to door doing evangelism. He did not start any churches. He was not a pastor. He was a bureaucrat in a giant administration. A eunuch. A dream teller. But because he was faithful and didn’t fear death, God changed the world through him. And that’s our call no matter where we are in our lives.