Dan in the Den | Daniel 6:1-29
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Daniel 6:1–6:28
Christopher Rich – July 10, 2015
GOD in the Secular World - The Book of Daniel Pt. 1
Wk6: Dan in the Den | 6:1-28
Good Morning! We are continuing our series on the book of Daniel. GOD in the Secular World. God’s people have been taken and placed in exile, some Daniel and his friends have been put in positions of leadership, but there are challenges. God is in control over the affairs of nations and in the lives of individual people. During the first 4 chapters we’ve see several snapshots of the pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar in how he’s ruled over God’s people he’s taken in Exile and how God has been displaying His overwhelming, wisdom, power and ability to humble whoever he wills for the purposes of reminding them where power authority and provision come from. We’ve seen God’s mercy, grace, and justice, as earthly kingdom rise as another falls. Today we look at one of the most famous events in the entire bible.
Part I | v1-9 | Disqualifying Daniel
Daniel 6:1-9 | It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
The Babylonian empire is no longer, it has been struck by the wrecking ball of God’s sovereignty over the kingdoms of the world. Now the Medes-Persians (silver kingdom) rule over the land. They are a different type of kingdom, not centered on/around the worship of one man but they are an organized nation of laws. You have a complex system of government and it’s no surprise Daniel is right there at the top of it. Over his long career, Daniel was attractive and talented at as kid, a protégé in Babylonian school, leader of the spiritual counselors, regional governor, later “briefly” third in power over the kingdom, and now he is one of the top three with as many as 40 satraps working under him. He has distinguished himself above all the other officials because he was the best politician? No “an excellent spirit was in him.” Because of his demonstrable character Daniel is in line for the highest office in the land. You can guess where this is going, Daniel faces jealous opposition. The names and the faces change but the key underlying issues do not.
They start digging dirt on Daniel only there is a problem to their plot. He is found to be “above reproach” (this one of the qualifications for eldership.) This is remarkable! Daniel is a excellent example of being a faithful disciple in an unfaithful land. Faithful disciples in exile, live in such a way that when opponents seek to discredit them, people have to go after the God we serve. If someone set out to find a complaint about you, how hard would they have to look? What would they find? Their goal is clear; eliminate Daniel’s influence from the land, so they pivot from assassinating his character to attacking his allegiance to God and His Law. They approach the King. Let’s pass a new law!! These guys are great politicians, they start out by lying and overstating support for their initiative, “All the High Officials” EVERYONE is for this! You have to pass it now! Well, notably not all. Dan hasn’t signed on. There is a lot of legal language making state sponsored murder sound official (ordinance, enforce, injunction, petition) all leading to a lion’s den.
Darius buys the lie from the beginning that you can rewrite the law and “become like God.” It wasn’t that hard of a sell for an insecure leader and so he ironically signed a law calling people to worship him for his power that made him powerless to do what he desired. An intentional conflict is created for a disciple between the ‘law of man’ and the ‘law of God.’ Daniel has a choice and choices have consequences.
Part II | v10-18 | Disciplined Disciple
Daniel 6:10-18 | 10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.” 16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
While there are obvious similarities with the conflict between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel’s three friends in chapter 3; it is significantly different. They were being forced to actively participate in idolatry. “Bow or burn” This is: for 30 days don’t worship any god but government publically-privately. “Abstain or be slain.” There is the same tension and temptation to simply compromise and conform to the changing culture. Daniel your people have been in exile for 60+ years you’re just a few years away from God’s promise for exile of His people to be over why don’t you just take a break and then you’re ready for when Jerusalem is back in business?! You’re inline for the presidency, if you can just stay clean from being indicted for 30 days imaging the impact you can have on so many people with your leadership over this land rather than the pagan worshiping satraps. Besides, you’ve got decades of faithfulness built up, just coast and live of the interest for a month.” Our faith isn’t something we deposit, it is something deposited into us by God.
Daniel is less concerned with his personal comfort or ambition (even for his people) than he is with maintain his relationship with the Lord. He doesn’t lead a protest, or rebellion, he doesn’t even seek to get the law changed this time. He simply continues to pray “as he had done previously.” Where he faces, what his posture is, and how often is not the issue. Daniel’s life is defined by regular intentional prayer. He is a disciplined disciple. How easy is it for you to abstain from regular spiritual disciplines? If you claim to be a Christian how would you define your current patterns of prayer, bible reading, gathering with the church, serving? I see people regularly, who bemoan the spiritual condition of our country, our laws, our culture, even critical of the church and Christians, but are on self-imposed abstention from gathering with their local church, don’t regularly read/study God’s word, don’t give, don’t serve. It is impossible to imagine if these things ever became outlawed or we were called by government to abstain that we would all the sudden stand up and be faithful in them when it’s is not as we have “done previously”. Faithfulness doesn’t begin when things are difficult; it is revealed during times of trial. It’s more than ok to see Daniel as a model of obedience and faithfulness. He prays what? “Thanksgiving to God” Really?! There was just a law passed that anyone worshiping the God of the Bible will be thrown in a lion’s den. Yet he is still praising God? Yes! because he knows God doesn’t change. He also is praying a petition and plea, “God please engage in this situation, continue to display your power and faithfulness to your people.”
Daniel has seen it all. The kingdoms changed, the leaders changed, the opponents changed, the laws changed, but God hasn’t changed. Daniel is resolved not only to not be defiled but to finish strong. He knows the trajectory of history, all earthly kingdoms will eventually be dust in the wind shattered by God’s rock and His kingdom continue to grow like an all-consuming mountain. Even though grew up in a kingdom of God’s people, learned and served a “kingdom of gold” and now is in a “kingdom of silver”, as good as things were, are, or will be, his hope isn’t in earthly kingdoms but in the God of Heaven. So he prays.
We’ve got um! They quickly remind the king of the new law, the consequences. The king confirms the law and its irrevocability. Then they immediately bring their charges against Daniel to the king. First, he is an exile of Judah, he doesn’t even have a Medo-Persian Birth Certificate, he’s not loyal to and he continually prays to his God, three times a day! Your law is set and the punishment is firm. You’ve got to act! See in this culture when someone considered for high office is found guilty of breaking the nation’s laws there were actually consequences for them.
This is so different from Nebuchadnezzar. His reaction to Daniel’s ‘disobedience’ to his new law is not red hot anger and a chance for Daniel to repent or recant. His heart is broken for the consequences for Daniel. This King is FOR Daniel. He is distressed over what will happen to him. He did not anticipate this scenario when he instituted the new law and now he is actively working in all of his limited power to attempt to save him from the consequences of man’s law being violated. This king has good intentions but he is powerless to effectively save one of his people. The malicious officials cry out “the law, the law!” The law says Daniel is condemned, and should die. This is often the point of Man’s law is to condemn, not to promote flourishing and joy. This king has no choice but to follow through with the sentence, because a kingdom without the rule of law descends in to chaos. Daniel goes into the lion’s den. The king shifts his appeal from the law to the saving mercy of Daniel’s God. May your God “whom you serve continually” deliver you. Legalism says you serve God continually and He will save you. Gospel says you’ve been delivered and saved so now you can serve Him continually. Daniel is sealed in what might as well be his tomb, without protest or even a grand speech. Daniel has a settled-ness that comes from resting in the unchangeable character and promises of God. Opposite of Belshazzar last week, Darius faces the reality of his powerlessness. He is distraught, can’t or won’t eat, avoids distractions, and has a sleepless night.
Part III | v19-24 | Delivered from the Den
Daniel 6:19-24 | 19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
Day beaks, Darius never sleeping, gets up and rushes to the lion’s den. There is a Persian tradition that a person who survives as torturous trial overnight can be released the next day. Crying out, “Daniel, you serve the living God, you have faith in a real true deity, not like me (who people have been praying to and through) who was unable to save you. Was your God able to save? We all know the answer is yes! Daniel replies, “God saved me. He created lions and he can shut their mouths.” Daniel is unharmed. In the den where the world placed him for being guilty of their laws, God found him innocent of the matter. The world can pronounce unchangeable condemnation, but our God provides unchangeable salvation. This is not saying Daniel is “sinless”, only that he is law abiding, his primary allegiance is to God, and he is not an opponent of Darius. God’s angel closed the mouths of the lions; they weren’t drugged or previously feed.
Darius’ anguish is transformed into exceeding joy at the revelation of God’s saving work in the life of his friend. I believe Daniels deliverance is as much a demonstration for Darius as it is for Daniel. Daniel has trusted God and trusts God. Darius has been hopeful but began the morning hesitant, until he saw God’s ability to save another he cares for from injustice where his greatest efforts have failed. Even despite him sentencing Daniel to the den. God can and does overrule the will of sinful men. It’s in the pit that the harshness of the law is overwhelmed by the saving work of God. It is significant that like the furnace of Daniel’s friends no harm done to him as he trusted his God. Comprehensive salvation. Daniel is gracious to Darius his hope has been consistently place in the God. Daniel means “God is my Judge” God also saves.
2 Timothy 4:16-18 | 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Darius turns his attention to the corrupt officials. Jealously was in their hearts. They hoped to expand their personal kingdoms by manipulating man’s law to be in direct conflict with God’s law for the purpose of murdering God’s blameless servant. Proverbs 28:10 | Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. Daniel’s salvation is secure and his legacy is large, these men have their entire family lineages ended with wrath they had intended for Daniel. There is no flannel graph for this scene. The lions, un-muzzled, devour. There is no deliverance this time. This is not is not prescriptive of how Christians respond to opponents. This is Darius enacting justice.
Part IV | v17-28 | Declaration of Dependence
Daniel 6:25-28 | 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
First hand knowledge of the saving work of God leads Darius to use his position as a platform to preach the Gospel of a God who saves. He says, Peace multiplied, at the overwhelming power of Daniels mighty God. God is real, He is alive, He is eternal and unchanging “enduring forever”. While all our kingdoms will come to an end, God’s won’t. So when he saves and rescues it is an eternal salvation being rescued to an eternal kingdom of prosperity. He saved Daniel from the power of the lions. As amazing as that is we need to be saved from something far worse, the pit of hell and the just consequences of our sin. In God showing his power to save Daniel by closing the mouths of lions, emerging from the pit we see foreshadow of the saving work of God’s son Jesus to rescue and deliver his people with His death and resurrection.
Daniel was framed falsely by jealous leaders. Jesus was framed falsely by jealous religious leaders.
Daniel was arrested during a time of private prayer praising the character of God, petitioning him to change circumstances but resolute to follow God. Jesus was arrested praying privately in the Garden of Gethsemane, Take the cup from me but not my will, but yours be done.
Daniel trusts God and is silent before his accusers, Jesus trusts His Father, and is silent before his accusers.
Darius is troubled he cannot pardon Daniel and works for his release. Pilate is troubled he cannot pardon Jesus, works for his release. Both are turned the innocent men over to be executed.
Daniel goes into the pit, lives, and emerges unharmed. Jesus goes to the cross, bloodied, beaten, and dies.
Daniel is sealed by royal decree in the pit and with a stone rolled over it should become a tomb. Jesus is placed in a tomb sealed by royal decree and the stone is rolled away the tomb becomes a pit.
Daniel’s met by a king who expected him to be dead, Daniel is alive (but does one day die) Jesus is met by his followers who expect him to be dead but is alive and will never die!
Daniel comes out and experiences prosperity and authority during the reign of Darius and Cyrus. Jesus is alive and all authority in heaven and on earth is given to him for eternity. Because Daniel lived Darius preaches about a God who saves from lions, because Jesus lives we preach a God who saves for eternity.
When our king labors in distress to save us it is accomplished by our king going into the pit for us! Our king knows we cannot handle the trial of the lion’s den or our day of judgment so he endures it for us in our place dying so we can be delivered with “no kind of harm”. Where is your faith, where is your hope. If not in this God, repent of hostility of the satraps; leave the ambiguity of Darius who praises the “God of Daniel.” Embrace the certainty of Daniel’s faith in the living God who is mighty to save and Trust Jesus!