Bible Ballistics: Courage To Live With Integrity!!! Vol. 6#18
Well here we are at Daniel chapter 6. A chapter that is chock full of powerful spiritual lessons that we often overlook because all we think about is the “lion’s den”. But this chapter and this man of God has so much more to say to us, I can’t wait for us to dig in. So, let’s go!!
Remember last week in chapter 5 we saw Belshazzar’s fall-literally! Daniel prophesied and saw his last night as king, as the Medes and Persians conquered the city and kingdom of Babylon as surely as Babylon had taken Jerusalem. And as a matter of fact by the same God’s sovereign control and prophecy of what HE would accomplish in Israel’s national life through Nebuchadnezzar first and now Cyrus and Darius.
“And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.”. Daniel 1:21
“Thus saith the Lord,
and he that formed thee from the womb,
I am the Lord that maketh all things;
that stretcheth forth the heavens alone;
that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
25 That frustrateth the tokens of the liars,
and maketh diviners mad;
that turneth wise men backward,
and maketh their knowledge foolish;
26 That confirmeth the word of his servant,
and performeth the counsel of his messengers;
that saith to Jerusalem,
Thou shalt be inhabited;
and to the cities of Judah,
Ye shall be built,
and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:
27 That saith to the deep,
and I will dry up thy rivers:
28 That saith of Cyrus,
He is my shepherd,
and shall perform all my pleasure:
even saying to Jerusalem,
Thou shalt be built;
and to the temple,
Thy foundation shall be laid.” Isaiah 44:24-28
If you remember (if not go back and read it) chapter two identified the kingdom that would replace Babylon as a two-armed kingdom; weaker than Babylon but by God’s sovereign design they would rule the known world, and they would allow for His people to return to Jerusalem and Judah. And now we find Daniel serving in the Medo-Persian kingdom under Darius-the Mede (Who was co-ruler with Cyrus—the Persian). So now that we have a little background we’ll see what causes Daniel’s dilemma.
“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” Daniel 6:1-3
Here we find Daniel making the transition to a new regime, and God is still using and bringing Daniel into favor with the ‘powers that be’. Darius is a delegator and sets up 120 princes (satraps or governors), and 3 presidents (commissioners) over these 120 that “the king should have no damage”, in other words to keep down on the graft, greed and shady dealings of high officials! And once again we find Daniel at the top of the heap! In fact Daniel’s character and integrity is such that the king was considering setting Daniel over the whole realm. One of the things that we miss in this account is the fact that Daniel has already served some 70 years in the Babylonian ‘civil service’. Now if he was an older teenager at his transport to Babylon, and this is 70 years later—Daniel would be maybe 85-90 years old. A different perception than the old Sunday School pictures present. If you’ll think back to your childhood you probably remember a very “young” man pictured in that “lion’s den”! But the truth is Daniel is an older man, and one who has served his God with honor and integrity not in only his private life, but in all his public endeavors. So he must have been a really popular guy, right? WRONG!!! As Paul reinforces in the New Testament, serving God can often have a price.
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12
Serving God with devotion, honor and total integrity will have a price tag—one that many are not willing to pay. I will do some things that others refuse to do, and I will refrain from doing some things that others find it completely acceptable to do. Righteousness and integrity can bring ridicule, resentment, jealousy and many other negative responses from others. What are we willing to endure to stand with God? What was Daniel willing to face?
“Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom;
but they could find none occasion nor fault;
forasmuch as he was faithful,
neither was there any error or fault found in him.
5 Then said these men,
We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel,
except we find it against him
concerning the law of his God.” Daniel 6:4-5
Talk about a ‘hostile’ work environment? Here is a man of such integrity that his co-workers and subordinates couldn’t find anything to charge him with. Now, we’re not talking about Daniel’s best friends glossing over his record, but his enemies who had surely combed through every record in his 70-year history of government service –and all to no avail!! While these men, who were so jealous of Daniel’s integrity, had no desire to seek to copy his integrity, they were set on removing him from their environment and getting him out of the king’s favor. What do we do when we deal with those kinds of people in our lives? Whether at work, or in our families, or in our social settings, or yes, even in our churches? Can people say of us, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God”, or do we get so caught up in the ways of the world that we find that we’ve been doing things that are less than honorable before God and men. Satan’s lies always sound good on the front end but the results:
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Prov. 16:25
Or have we learned that only God’s ways bring fulfillment and success (Spiritual success by God’s standard NOT man’s)? Daniel had made his choice many years earlier and he has stood by his commitment to God, regardless of the cost in the past, and I think he sees no need to change now. Even when people come against us, we can stand fast in our God, HE is trustworthy and faithful to direct our every step.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8
I think it’s entirely possible, even likely, that Daniel was familiar with these verses, because his life certainly reflected this same commitment to God. And when we look back to chapter 1, he had made his choice.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
May we ever learn to be men, women, boys and girls of the Word of God, and devotion to the God of the Word!!
“Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.” Daniel 6:6-9
Talk about a ‘snow job’—did they sell a bill of goods? Let’s examine this scenario:
They assembled together—WITHOUT DANIEL–
They devise a plot to trap Daniel—IN REGARD TO HIS GOD—
They then deceive the king—that “ALL” the leaders agreed on this plan (except Daniel, their victim)—
These enemies were so sure of Daniel’s character that they knew it was a fail-safe plan—EXCEPT FOR GOD—
While they put their plan into effect—Daniel’s God had a different plan—
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed,
he went into his house;
and his windows being open in his chamber
he kneeled upon his knees three times a day,
and gave thanks before his God,
as he did aforetime.
11 Then these men assembled,
and found Daniel praying
and making supplication before his God.” Daniel 6:10-11
Now Daniel wasn’t ‘born yesterday’, I have every confidence that he knew exactly what was going on. I think he knew about the plot, I think he knew about the jealousy, I think he knew their evil and selfish motives and that they were out to get him, yet his focus wasn’t on the trouble, but his eyes stayed on task and his trust in his GOD!!! What do we see him do? “Now when Daniel knew” that the law had been enacted, “he went into his house……… and prayed….. and gave thanks before his God”! But be sure not to miss the major phrase here, “as he did aforetime”! Daniel didn’t run to God in a panic! He didn’t start to pray in the crises! He didn’t even call his prayer group together! Daniel simply did what these men knew he would do, because it’s what he had always done—he went to his house and prayed to His God—toward Jerusalem—in front of an open window!!! Daniel simply did what he knew to do, what he had always done, what he was devoted to doing—HE PRAYED!!! He prayed to his GOD even though it was now illegal! How happy these men must have been—he has proven their plan a workable one. But they haven’t even considered the God that Daniel served. They think it’s all in the bag—but Daniel knew it was all in his GOD’s hands. The same God who provided for he and his friends in chapter 1 (Some 70 years ago) is still on His Throne! The same God who answered their prayers regarding the King’s dream in chapter 2 is still on His Throne! The same God who delivered his friends from the fiery furnace in chapter 3 is still on His Throne. The same God who humbled King Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4 is still on His Throne. And the same God who brought down Belshazzar by this new King IS STILL ON HIS THRONE!!! Do you get it? Daniel’s confidence in his God never wavered due to his circumstances, his crises, his prominence or lack thereof—Daniel knew his God. While Daniel had probably not yet received this Word from the Lord, I think it fits his situation, “but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (See Dan. 11:32b)
“Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.” Daniel 6:12-13
The fat is now in the fire, so to speak. These fine upstanding public servants have snapped the trap shut on this “Daniel”, whom they so despise. Do you notice their method—so subtle!! O king, didn’t you….sign the law? O king, didn’t you…..make the irrevocable law? And when the king affirms the veracity of the law, they snap the trap—Daniel has violated YOUR law, O King—your favorite Daniel has disobeyed and disregarded YOUR law. But this King isn’t quite as erratic as Nebuchadnezzar was; instead when he realizes that he has ‘been had’, he is grieved:
“14 Then the king,
when he heard these words,
was sore displeased with himself,
and set his heart on Daniel
to deliver him:
and he laboured
till the going down of the sun
to deliver him.
15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.” Daniel 6:14-15
This King now regrets his ego that was so easily pumped up by these seemingly ‘interested’ servants, but who in reality were men with an agenda!!! Ever been taken? Been tricked into doing something that you didn’t think through? Well, that’s where Darius is! He is mad at himself, and works all day long to think of a way out…………. THEN along come his ‘interested’ servants, who probably gloatingly remind King Darius that his law is irrevocable, that he must follow through and cast Daniel into the den of lions. But as one of my favorite modern proverbs says, “Watch your words, and keep them sweet, you never know, which one’s you’ll eat”. I think these deceitful public servants are in for a surprise!
“Then the king commanded,
and they brought Daniel,
and cast him into the den of lions.
Now the king spake and said unto Daniel,
Thy God whom thou servest continually,
he will deliver thee.
17 And a stone was brought,
and laid upon the mouth of the den;
and the king sealed it with his own signet,
and with the signet of his lords;
that the purpose might not be changed
18 Then the king went to his palace,
and passed the night fasting:
neither were instruments of musick
brought before him:
and his sleep went from him.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning,
and went in haste unto the den of lions.” Daniel 6:16-19
What a drama of amazement we see here. A pagan king so impressed with the elderly statesman of the God Almighty of all creation, that he was grieved to cause his punishment. Yet because of his hasty judgment, he had to follow through, but notice his confidence in not only this faithful man but also the God in whom his faith and devotion are placed. King Darius was caused by Daniel’s integrity and faithful service to make one of the most powerful declarations in all of scripture:
“Thy God whom thou servest continually,
he will deliver thee”
Unlike Nebuchadnezzar in chapter three who declared: “and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” We find Darius convinced of the power of Daniel’s God—I think as much in hope for deliverance from his own hasty actions, yet he did hope for Daniel’s vindication. He spent a sleepless night fasting and denying himself the pleasantries that he could have taken comfort in, and then “arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions”. But expecting what? Can you imagine the things that went through his mind? Could Daniel have a God who could control hungry lions? God this elderly statesman survive a night in a rugged den with ravenous wild lions circling him all night long? But God………..
“And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? 21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 23 Then was the king exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.” Daniel 6:20-24
Be careful whom you go after. God calls us to remember that “vengeance is mine, saith the Lord…..I will repay”! I guess these men hadn’t heard that message! The picture of the anxiety of Darius on his way to the lion’s den, a desperate man hoping in a God he didn’t really know, and yet not understanding how anyone could survive a night in that place! Can you hear that shaky, fearful, uncertain voice calling out to Daniel: “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” And we don’t need Paul Harvey to find out the rest of the story! Daniel answered powerfully and confidently that” My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.” Daniel declared his own innocence and God has confirmed him before the king. What does our life confirm about our faith in God? What do others see in us? Are we the innocent or the guilty? Do our lives testify of the glory of God and our devotion to Him? Our have we allowed so much of the world to creep in that we are ineffective or even an embarrassment to our God, before the world? Remember what Paul tells us in Galatians 6:7:
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
What are you sowing? What kind of crop will our ‘seeds’ bring forth? Or will you find yourself on the side of those who are plotting against God and His own? There is a day of reckoning coming, and only those who have been washed in the “blood of the Lamb” will have ‘everlasting life’. My desire is to finish like Daniel. To be the instrument of God’s grace in the lives of those He places in my path. What did Daniel’s quiet, faithful testimony yield?
“Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:
for he is the living God,
and stedfast for ever,
and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
27 He delivereth and rescueth,
and he worketh signs and wonders
in heaven and in earth,
who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Daniel 6:25-28
May our lives be this kind of testimony to the world. OUR GOD REIGNS!!! Won’t you learn to know Him through His Word? May you draw near to Him, that He may draw near to you—that is my prayer for each of YOU and myself!!!
“Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Resist the devil,
and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God,
and he will draw nigh to you.
Cleanse your hands, ye sinners;
and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:7