Year 3 Day 23
Read - Daniel 6
Message - Scott Woodburn
Empires rise and fall but the world's hatred of the church remains. There may have been a new boss in town but his staff were still filled with jealousy towards Daniel. King Darius had recognised that Daniel was a trustworthy individual and planned to put him charge over the whole kingdom (v3). But the other members of the king's cabinet sought to find fault in Daniel (v4) and they eventually realised the only way they could destroy him was by attacking his faith in the Lord (v5).
All the king's men set in motion a wicked scheme. They encouraged Darius to enforce a new law that said the people of his kingdom were to pray only to Darius for a period of thirty days. Anyone breaking this rule would be thrown into a den of lions (v7). Daniel knew that the law had been passed but regardless he continued to pray to the Lord three times a day (v10). His opponents seized on the opportunity to report Daniel's prayer life to the king reminding their master that anyone refusing to pray to him alone should be thrown into the lion's den (v13).
Darius was downhearted by the turn of events. He held Daniel in high regard and so he did his best to avoid punishing him (v14). Nevertheless his advisors reminded him that under the law of the Medes and Persians no law established by the king could be changed (v15). We shouldn't underestimate the vindictiveness of sinful men nor should we underestimate the foolishness of rushed decisions. Both had conspired against righteous Daniel.
So Daniel received the punishment of the lion's den while Darius declared “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” (v16) Darius may have foolishly listened to his advisors but he was genuinely concerned about Daniel. He fasted all night, he did not sleep and in the morning he rushed to the lion's den to see Daniel's fate (v19).
Darius in great anguish cried out “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” (v20) The answer was yes. Daniel reported that the Lord had sent an angel to shut the lion's mouths. No harm had come to Daniel because frankly he had done nothing wrong.
Darius was genuinely relieved (v23) and responded in two ways. Firstly, he had the conspirators, their wives and their children thrown to the lions (v24). Behold the sinful wicked rage of human kings! Secondly, he wrote to everyone in his kingdom and declared “Peace be multiplied to you. 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 for ever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 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.” (v26-27)
In Daniel we see a little glimpse of the Christ to come. Like Jesus, Daniel had to endure the lies and vindictiveness of his enemies. Like Jesus, Daniel called upon the Lord to deliver Him and like Jesus, Daniel came out of his tomb in the morning alive and well.
Brothers and sisters, in this world we will have trouble. Do not be surprised at trials when they come and do not be shocked by the lies and malice of those who hate you for your faith in Christ. But in the midst of the storm know that the Lord remains sovereign over the forces of this world. He will not let you perish and He will vindicate you on the last day. Just as our God shut the mouths of the lions, so too will he shut the accusations of our enemies. Trust Him, call upon Him and once again realise that our God is good to those who fear Him. He is the living God, enduring for ever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end!
Q28 Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation? Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.