If you haven’t been up to scratch with our articles this month, we’re currently doing a series looking at common Bible stories from Sunday school and how they can apply to us today – if you haven’t seen some of our other articles so far, I encourage you to go check them out. (After you’ve read this one of course). Stay keen for what’s in store!
How much do you remember of the story Daniel in the Lions Den? Some? A lot? How about we begin with a quick re-telling:
Daniel, previously torn form his home (Chapter 1), is now pretty old, having lived through two generations of kings. We’re in chapter 6 now, and at the end of the last chapter, “Mene Mene Tekel and Parsin” had just been interpreted by Daniel for King Belshazzar to mean “God has brought your kingdom to an end, you have been weighed on the scales and are found lacking, and your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” And Daniel is promoted to third-in-charge of the kingdom.
Chapter 5 ends with King Belshazzar being murdered the same night, and Darius the Mede has now become the king.
With the reign of a new king comes a reorganization of the kingdom. He sets up a new hierarchy of people in charge, 120 leaders are overseen by 3 high officials – one of which is Daniel. Verse 3 tells us that he quickly becomes distinguished above the other two in character and skill, and King Darius plans to set Daniel over the entire kingdom. This causes the other two high officials and some of the leaders to become jealous and plot against him; but alas for them, Daniel’s character is flawless.
The men finally come to the conclusion: “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God” (Daniel 6:5 NIV)
And that’s exactly what they do. They convince the king to create a law stating that for 30 days, no one can pray or make petition to any god or man except king Darius, lest they be thrown into, yes, the lion’s den.
Daniel, hearing about this law, continues in his God-fearing lifestyle, praying three times a day on his knees, facing Jerusalem with his windows open in respect. However, this position is visible from the outside, and it doesn’t take long before word is sent to the king, organized by the leaders and officials.
The king, upon hearing about Daniel, is deeply distressed. How could this be happening to his best man? It’s the last thing he would have wanted. He can’t take back this law, however, as it is a law of the Medes and Persians: one that cannot be taken back or changed… nonetheless, he tries all that he can until sundown to save Daniel – but to no avail.
The king is forced to command that Daniel be thrown into the den of lions.
In sorrow, he speaks to Daniel: “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And the den is closed with a stone and sealed. The king then returns to his palace and spends the night fasting. He can’t sleep, so he counts down the minutes until the next day. It arrives, and he rushes to the den and crying in a tone of anguish: “Daniel, has your God, the God you serve continually delivered you?”
“O 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, Your Majesty.” (Daniel 6:21-22 NIV)
King Darius is overjoyed, and, understanding what has happened, orders for the men who had plotted against Daniel, them and their families, to be thrown to the lions. The text says that the lions “overpowered them and broke all their bones” before they even touched the ground. There’s then a law passed, stating that God, should be acknowledged in all his glory and might.
So what? What’d you think? What stands out for you in this story?
I think the first thing that stands out for me in this story, is that God’s character, through the ages, has not changed. He’s still the mighty God who spoke (literally spoke), and the world came into being – meticulously designed; the laws of physics, matter, time itself… down to the fingernail you have on your hand right now, that you may or may not bite. He’s trustworthy, above our understanding, and the real, tangible, epitome of love. Honestly, the more I read the old testament, the more I appreciate the awesomeness of the God we serve.
The second thing that stands out for me, is Daniel’s godly character; one we can truly and practically learn from. It’s a character of:
Integrity – from the get-go, Daniel’s character was oozing with integrity. Not only was he known for his strong character as a leader, but when analyzed by his foes, it was found to be solid. This is the character we should have in our faith too! (Romans 12:1-2) You may not have thought about it that much, but you are representing Christ. When people look at you, you’re defining what “Christian” means for them. One of my favorite quotes is “For some people, you might be the only Bible they ever read”… Think about that for a second.
However, it should be noted that our motivation for being a good person shouldn’t come from our desire to make Christianity look good, it’s a response to the great work that was done for us on the cross. (2 Cor. 5:17). Some verses that define what a Christian should look like include: 2 Peter 1:5-7, Galatians 5:22-23.
He chose God over his circumstances, and, this being part of his character of integrity, when it was tested, it held steadfast.
Live it Out
Is it not convicting to you that Daniel was willing to be thrown into a den of lions over prayer? It brings a different perspective to skipping morning prayer, which is so commonly done in this day and age, doesn’t it? What about your Bible reading time or Bible study?
Is this really our response to the God of the universe’s dying for us on the cross?
And there is still forgiveness in that too. How awesome is our God.
Daniel understood the reverence that should be had towards God. God was not just a buddy, a friend, someone to confide in; Daniel understood that God is awesome enough, worthy enough that he would be willing to put his life on the line for Him.
Finally, I leave you with these questions: Where do you stand in your faith? Would you consider yourself a mature Christian? What would it take to get there?
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15