Daniel: Be Faithful Unto Death
▸ Promotion of Daniel
When Darius took over Babylon as its king he needed to appoint officers he could trust. Daniel became one of three key administrators over the kingdom. It was eventually divided up into 120 provinces each with its own satrap or governor. By the time of Esther, the Medo-Persian empire had grown to 127 provinces under King Xerxes. Daniel had impressed the king so well, he decided to make this aged prophet of God his number-one administrator over the entire kingdom.
▸ Plot Against Daniel
Daniel’s new promotion did not bode well with the prideful hearts of the other government leaders. They viewed Daniel as an outsider because he was a captive from Judah. They began to dig up dirt to discredit him. They could find nothing improper with Daniel’s dealings with the government. No hanky-panky in the palace. He came out smelling like a rose.
With no evidence of political corruption in which to accuse Daniel before the king, they came up with a plan to trap him in regard to Daniel’s religion. They came up with a law for the king to sign which forbade any man to pray to a god or man for thirty days. Those caught would be thrown into the den of hungry lions. The only exception would be the king. He would be the “god of the month.” Darius must have been very flattered and impressed when the rulers of his kingdom showed up in mass for him to sign this into law. They claimed to be universally in favor of this law. However, there is no way Daniel would have signed off on this. It is noteworthy to consider how quickly the wicked can co-operate when it comes to doing evil against God and His people. “Their feet are swift to shed blood” (Rom. 3:15).
▸ Prayers of Daniel
“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” (Dan. 6:10) Knowing the law Daniel remained true to his religious convictions and his daily habit of prayer. Perhaps he followed the prayer schedule of the Psalmist: “evening and morning and at noon” (Ps. 55:17).
Why didn’t Daniel just lock his door and close his windows. He could have prayed in silence. He could have changed the place and time of his prayers. However, his enemies all knew of his prayer life and his devotion to the true God. To hide in this case would result in Daniel looking like a coward and a hypocrite and God would be robbed of His glory.
▸ Persecution of Daniel
Daniel’s enemies must have caught him in the very act of praying. He was brought before Darius and they reminded the kings of the law he himself had just signed, perhaps that very morning or at least the morning before. The king was set on delivering Daniel until the sun set. The rulers came and reminded the king “that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed” (6:15). Darius had Daniel cast down into the den of lions. A large stone was rolled against the opening. Both the king’s signet and those of the rulers set a seal. The king had a very sleepless night. Yet the safest place in Babylon that night was in the den of lions where Daniel could have had a good night’s sleep.
▸ Protection of Daniel
The next morning the king came and called out 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’” (Dan. 6:20b-22). Daniel knew that his heart was right with God. He did what was right to others. He trusted God with his very life. Finally, Daniel assured the Darius he had done the king no wrong.
“Now the king was 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 injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Dan. 6:23). In chapter one, God was the keeper of the faithful. In this chapter God is the protector of the prayerful. The name “Daniel” means “God is my judge.” God’s judgment of Daniel overturned the unchangeable law of the Medes and the Persians.
▸ Praise of Daniel’s God
Rather than taking the credit and the glory himself, Daniel gives God the glory (27-30). As Nebuchadnezzar had proclaimed praise unto God in Daniel 2:47; 3:29; 4:34-37, so Darius does here in chapter six verses twenty-five to twenty-seven.
▸ Punishment of Daniel’s Enemies
When extracted from the den of lions, Daniel had no injuries. Indeed no bone of his body was broken. Quite an accomplishment for a man approaching ninety years of age. However, “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” (6:24). These enemies of God did not learn that God promised Abraham that he would bless those who blessed His people, and curse those who cursed His people (Gen. 12:1–3). Years later a man named Haman would have Daniel’s position in the Medo-Persian empire. He would use his political power to make a law to destroy all the Jews. With the aid of Queen Esther the plan backfired and Haman was hung on the very gallows he had prepared for the Jew Mordecai.
Application: How to Be Faithful Unto Death
By Numbering Our Days
Daniel labored as God’s spokesman under several kings in two world empires: He prophesied to Babylonain kings, Nebhucahdenezzar in chapters 1-4 and Belshazzar in chapters 5, 7, and 8. He proclaimed God’s greatness to Darius of Medo-Persia in chapter 6 and during the reign of Cyrus came his prophecies of chapters 9-12. We too need to be obedient in serving God all of our lives. Jesus has promised, “be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10b). The psalmist prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
By Continuing to Pray Daily
Daniel was in the habit of praying from an early age (2:17-18). In his eighties he continues to pray. We are to “praying without ceasing” (1 Th. 5:17). Would you be willing to risk your life like Daniel for a daily prayer.
By Enduring Persecution
Like Daniel we too must endure persecution for the cause of Christ. “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:10). Often Christians are under the delusion that as long as they do right all will go right in their lives. God never promised this. He has promised us persecution if we do right.
By Living a Blameless Life
A bank president in Texas once claimed that preachers present the highest risk in bank loans. The prophet of God, Daniel, was a man of great integrity. His peers in government searched for a charge against him, “…but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him” (6:4). So the only way they could trap him is by catching him doing what was right before God. Could you image any politician in high office being so squeaky clean? Christians are commanded to “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
By Obeying God Rather Than Men
Daniel never showed any fear in speaking publicly for God and living for Him openly before the world. He was not going to allow any man or laws of men to keep him for obeying God. The apostles were commanded by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish supreme court, to stop preaching Jesus. They said, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Just before Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC, Ezekiel mentioned Daniel along with the dead servants of God, Noah and Job. Daniel was still alive and under forty years of age when Ezekiel claimed that if he along with Noah and Job were in Jerusalem they could have only saved themselves. “‘Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,’ says the Lord God. ‘…even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness’” (Ezekiel 14:14,20). In Ezekiel 28:3 God asked a rhetorical question to the prince of Tyre which alludes to Daniel’s great wisdom: “Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you!”
– Daniel R. Vess