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RDean Daniel Lesson 25

Peace in the Lion's Den, Fear in the Palace – Daniel 6:1-8-28

 

Last time I raised the question about civil disobedience: how and under what circumstances should a believer disobey legitimate government authority.  At one time or another in many lives we face the question of someone in legitimate authority, whether it's an employer, whether it's a father, a husband, somebody in position of authority in academics or the government, that wants us to do something that we don't think we should do and that perhaps is wrong or contrary to the Scripture.  What are the guidelines that the Scripture gives us for handling a situation like that?  This is what is known as civil disobedience; it is a non-violent response, and I want to emphasize that, there are other aspects that are violent but it's a non-violent response or disobedience to law, to legitimately passed law.  So we need to look at a few principles.

 

We covered some of the principles last time in how a believer is to live in the midst of the kingdom and in different ways in which the believer can challenge legitimate authority, but this is the case of when there is legitimate authority that mandates a certain law or procedure that directly violates Scripture and the  believer has to decide how they are going to handle that particular situation when the authority is not open to negotiation, when they don't want to talk about it, you can't appeal to them on any basis, and the mandate, the law, the procedure, the rule, whatever it might be, is steadfast.  So how do we handle that?  We'll begin with a few principles. 

 

First, we must recognize that God's law is higher than man's law; this is the fundamental prin­ciple; God's law is higher than man's law.  God is the ruler of the universe, all other authority in the universe is derived from God.  That's the principle we learned when we went through Daniel 4.  Nebuchadnezzar learned it the hard way because he thought he was the king of Babylon on his own and he was arrogant so God had to take him down and allowed him to become animal-like for a period of seven years in order to teach him that God is the one who is the dispenser of all human authority.  So that means that God's law is higher than man's law.  That's the first principle.

 

The second principle: we need to make certain that there is a clear Biblical mandate.  We have to make sure there's a clear Biblical mandate or precedence for violating a government mandate.  We can't just think well, general speaking that there's a principle in the Scripture of stewardship, that I'm responsible for my money, I'm responsible for how my money is used and I don't think the government is using it as wisely as I would so I'm just not going to pay taxes.  You might chuckle at that but I had a friend of mine, I haven't seen him for thirty years and that was the position he took back in his 20s, I don't know what ever happened to him but the last time I talked to him he had not filed any income tax in 5 or 6 years because he was a tax rebel because he felt like the system was wrong and yet that contradicts a clear Biblical principle that we are to render unto Caesar that which is Caesars.  So there is legitimacy in the Scripture to taxation.  Even if you disagree with a graduated type of income tax as some form of socialism, which it is, and even if you disagree with the government as being an illegitimate type of go based on a socialistic philosophy, that does not give us the right to just flagrantly disobey a government authority.  There must be a specific mandate of Scripture that is being violated by a specific mandate of the government, which we will see exactly how that is played out in Scripture.  So we have to make certain before we get involved in any kind of civil disobedience that there is a clear Biblical mandate or precedent for violating the law. 

Third point: all human government is legitimate; all human government and forms of government are legitimate and established by God.  This is covered in the Noahic Covenant which is the initial establishment of government, human government in Genesis 9:1-7, and then it is restated in the New Testament in both Romans 13:1-5 and 1 Peter 2:13-17.  Let's begin by looking at Genesis 9, just a little review on the principle of government and governmental authority.  This is something that so many people, especially since the 60s, have failed to appreciate and understand.  Genesis 9 records the covenant God made with Noah after the flood.

 

Genesis 9:1, "And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth," a restatement of the original creation mandate which was part of the creation covenant in Genesis 1.  Man is still to fill the earth but now he is not to subdue it.  He can't, he is no longer fully functional as the image of God because of sin.  There's a couple of other changes that have to do with man's relationship to animals and man's relationship to everything else on the planet in terms of food, and then in verse 5 we have the principle that is laid down for human government.  "And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it.  And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man.  [6] Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed.  For in the image of God He made man." 

 

This is the principle of capital punishment.  Up until this point in history capital punishment was not authorized by God.  If someone committed any of the capital crimes that we can think about then their life was not in jeopardy.  But now it becomes in jeopardy and the reason is not because it's a deterrent, it may be or it may not be.  The reason is not because of any of the other reasons that sociologists come up with.  The reason is that because man is in the image of God and someone who takes the life of another human being has degenerated to such a level that they no longer appreciate the value of human life as in God's image, for that reason they have forfeited the right to live.  And that's as simple as it gets; they no longer have the right to live.

 

But the most difficult decision that I think any human being can take is a judicial decision to take the life of another human being in terms of a criminal decision.  It may seem easy but I'm sure it's not, and all other law derives from that; that's the most extreme, it's sort of an a fortiori type of argument.  That's an argument from a strongest position, that if the strongest or most difficult thing is granted, then anything less difficult, anything weaker, is also granted.  For example, you have the argument that if God gave everything to us in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ solved the greatest problem we'll ever face, then any other problem that we have in life is also resolved by Jesus Christ.  So if man has the right and responsibility to execute capital punishment, then all other judicial decisions are equally valid and equally delegated to man.  So Genesis 9 is the foundation for human government. 

 

Now turn to the New Testament, to Romans 13"1, here Paul establishes in the New Testament and repeats in the New Testament the same principle of subordination and submission to government authorities.  And you must remember that when Paul is writing this, this is not during a time of perfect government, this is not during a time when there is a wonderful emperor in Rome, this is not during the time when there is judicial objectivity.  He is writing this when Nero is emperor and Nero was one of the worst, one of the most arrogant, one of the most vicious, one of the most self-centered rulers in all of human history.  He was not a believer, he was a pervert and he was a reprobate and under those conditions Paul says: "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities."  Now that is a profound statement, that is saying that obedience to the authority has nothing to do with the goodness, the quality, of the governing individual; it has to do with respect for the office, and that applies to every realm of authority, whether you're dealing with a teacher in an academic environment, whether you're dealing with a superior office in a military environment, whether you're dealing with a political leader in a national environment, whether you're dealing with a parent or with a husband, whatever the authority situation might be, obedience to that authority is not based on whether or not they ear or deserve that obedience.  Sometimes they don't.  But they are in a position of authority and God has established that and that's the principle Paul lays out here.

 

"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."  Even Nero in Rome is established by God; even Stalin was established by God, even Hitler was established by God.  And there is a place for obedience to those authorities.  You say, well those were unjust authorities.  Well, God still established those authorities and that's Paul's argument.  [2] Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God," so civil disobedience is no light thing.  If you resist authority you are opposed to the ordinance of God, "and they who have opposed will receive condemnation" that is judgment from the supreme court of heaven, "upon themselves."

 

Romans 13:3, "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.  Do you want to have no fear of authority?  Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; [4] for it is a minister of God to you for good."  The "it" there refers to government, "government is a minister of God to you for good.  But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword," and that's a metaphor for life and death decisions, life and death decisions in terms of judicial action and capital punishment, and life and death decision in terms of committing troops to war, "it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.  [5] Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake.  [6] For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing."  Now there we think well, that's in a good case, but Paul is talking in one of the worst regimes in all of history.  And there he recognizes that authority is not authority just because it does things the way you want them to, or just because they are virtuous, or just because they have integrity.  He says even when the governing power has no integrity, lacks virtue, is self-centered, it is tyrannical, it is still, neverthe­less established by God. 

 

So four points: first, Christians are to subject themselves to the government authorities.  These four points all relate to what Paul says in Romans 13.  Second, government authorities, whether saved or unsaved are appointed by God.  Whether there virtuous or not they're appointed by God.  Whether they are Christian or not they are appointed by God.  If you are a Christian living in a Moslem country that authority is still appointed by God.  Third observation in this section is that resisting government authority is said to be the same as resisting God and will bring divine judgment.  Therefore when you see these Christian activists going out and doing one thing or another in order to protest some action by the government, they are out of line because I have to have seen any level of Christianity activism that is biblically grounded in terms of their civil disobedience.  The foruth observation is that the governing authority is God's servant, even though he may be an atheist or a pagan.  In fact God demonstrated this very principle, the government is from Him; He demonstrated that do Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4.  So that covers the first three principles: the first principle is that God's law is higher than man's law.  The second principle: make certain that there is a clear Biblical mandate or precedent before you violate the law.  Third, there is a legitimacy to human government that is not based on its virtue or integrity. 

 

The Apostle Peter says the same kind of thing that Paul says in Romans 13.  1 Peter 2:13-17, Peter says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution: whether to a king as the one in authority; [14] or to governors as sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right."  Now this is why Daniel is in a bind because we find Daniel in Daniel 6 in a situation where the king, the governing authority has passed a law that prohibits prayer or intercession to any individual or god other than the king for a period of thirty days.  So now Daniel is in a box; the legitimate authority, even though it's not a believer, is mandating something that directly violates the mandate of a higher authority.  But Scripture is clear, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution: whether to a king as the one in authority, [14] or to governors….  Verse 15, "For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men," being a law abiding citizen, even if you disagree with the law in terms of its spirit or in terms of its basic philosophy, unless it's a direct violation of the Word there is no right to protest or to make an issue out of it, other than through legitimate routes of protest, civil disobedience is not one in the Scripture. 

 

That brings us to the fourth point which is Biblical examples of civil disobedience.  And I'm only going to look at three and I'm going to look at them very briefly because they all illustrate the same thing.  There are two or three other examples that we could go to but they fit the same pattern, but these are the most obvious. 

 

The first is the case of the Jewish midwives in Exodus 1:15; this is before the events of the Exodus when Pharaoh commands the Jewish midwives to take the life of every male child.  "Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah, and the other was named Puah, [16] and he said, 'When you are helping the women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.'  [17] But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live."  Now there's a point, they disobeyed the mandate, the law of the land, they disobeyed the king.  But here's the situation.  The king passes a law, or gives a command that says you are to do X, Y or Z.  And God has said don't do X, Y or Z.  Now I want you to notice that the midwives have to decide, are they going to obey man or God, because there's a direct one to one conflict.  Now this is not a case of somebody else coming in and telling the midwives what they can or cannot do. 

 

About ten years ago there was this radical movement by the anti-abortion crowd called operation rescue, and operation rescue operated under the principle that they could go in and do these interventions at abortion clinics that would even justify… they never did it, others did, would even justify violence or taking the life of an abortion doctor and the basis was that if you were going down the street and you saw somebody out in the backyard drowning a baby then you would have the right to go in and protect the baby.  But that's a fallacious argument for a number of reasons.  And they were using it as the government was forcing people to have an abortion.  But the abortion law, the government doesn't force anybody to have an abortion.  And the people who were doing the protesting, the civil disobedients were not the people who were directly involved with the law; they were a third party.  It did not fit the pattern; the Biblical pattern is you have one person in authority, person A in authority telling person B that they were supposed to do some­thing that God told them they shouldn't do.  And so person B decides not to do it; that's civil disobedience, it's not going out and protesting.  This whole idea that we saw back in the 60s of sit-ins and protest marches and that sort of approach to getting the government's attention to change policy and change law had its origin, really, in the kind of pacifistic non-violent resistance that was developed by Mahatma Ghandi, it doesn't have its origin in the Scripture.  When you look at what the apostles did when they were living in the Roman Empire, in the kinds of inequities and unjust systems and tyrants that they put up with they never once encouraged, they never once laid out a plan of any kind of, well let's go down and have a sit-in around the forum in Rome today, they'd have all been killed.  They knew better; that wasn't their purpose.  The problem is Christians get involved in Christian activism and they're trying to whitewash the devil's world and there's no basis for it. 

 

So the first example has to do with the Jewish midwives and they are told to do something that is a direct violation of the commandment of God, they're told to take life, God says don't take life, so they don't do it.  They don't make an issue out of it and God in turn blesses them.

 

A second example is Rahab in Joshua 2:1-6.  This is the incident where Rahab the harlot…how would you like to go down in history being known as Rahab the hooker, God has a great sense of humor.  This is the case of Rahab who protects the two spies.  When the king of Jericho was informed that the spies were in Jericho, staying at the house of Rahab, he sent word to Rahab to give up the men.  But Rahab refused to do that.  Verse 2, "And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, 'Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come her tonight to search out the land.' [3] And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, 'Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.'"  So he is giving a direct order to her to perform a certain action, but Rahab refuses to do it; that's legitimate civil disobedience because she knows if she does so that they are going to be killed, and she is a believer, how she got the gospel, her understanding, we don't know, but she understood that this was God's plan to give the land to Israel, that it was no longer the Canaanites' land and so she obeyed God, she hid the men and she lied to protect them.  Now this narrative leaves a lot of questions but she is not intervening in some sort of illegitimate manner.  There is once again an authority figure A who is telling some subordinate B to do something that is a violation of God's plan and so they decide not to do it.  Rahab chose to obey God rather than man. 

 

Then we have the third major incidence and that's in the New Testament, in Acts 4, and it involves the two apostles, Peter and John.  And here Peter and John have continued to witness since the day of Pentecost, this is just a few days after Pentecost, and they're having tremendous success and the Sanhedrin is not only angry because somehow Jesus has thwarted their plans and rose from the dead, or convinced people He has from their viewpoint, but they are jealous because of the tremendous success that Peter and John are having as they are proclaiming the gospel.  So they're arrested and they're called before the Sanhedrin and the Sanhedrin attempt to prohibit them from preaching the gospel.  They said we'll release you but you can't preach the gospel, you can't talk about Jesus any more.  And look at how Peter and John respond in Acts 4:19-20.  "But Peter and John answered and said to them, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; [20] for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.'"  The issue is when a civil authority issues a direct mandate or law to do something or not to do something that is in direct violation of a principle in God's Word that is mandated of the believer, then we're justified to disobey. 

 

We've seen one example already in Daniel; the second is in Daniel 6.  The first is back in Daniel 3 with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego when they refused to bow down to the idol that Nebuchadnezzar built.  Here Daniel is faced with the same crisis in Daniel 6.  Last time we got down to about verse 8, so the issue here that we learn is that the believer is only justified in violating and disobeying legitimate authority when that authority passes a law that is not a violation of Scripture in principle, it's not a violation of Scripture generally, but is a direct one to one violation of something that God either prohibits or mandates.  And that's the situation Daniel faces here because we read that these petty little people in the government, who just can't perform in the same efficient excellent manner as Daniel, and Daniel is being considered by the king, he's so excellent at his job, and that ought to be something said of every believer in their job, Daniel is so excellent that Darius is considering elevating him to the highest position in the land, second only to Darius.  And it created a tremendous amount of jealousy and envy among the other leaders in the land that they, figuring out some way to get rid of Daniel.

 

Daniel 6:7, we read, "All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors," so this is a broad based conspiracy, this isn't just the other two commissioners, this isn't just the satraps, it's every upper level official.  It would be equivalent to going into and getting everybody in Congress to unanimously gang up on one individual in order to pass a law for the sole purpose of taking that person out of office and completely discrediting them.  So they have come up with a law, "that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lion's den."  This was one of their favorite ways of practicing capital punishment.  They would have a cave that they had cut out or a pit in the ground and they would have an entrance but into the side, but from up above…we have some archeological evidence of this, that there was a low wall around the top so observers could watch, they were rather blood-thirsty and enjoyed all of the gore when the lions ate some criminal, and there would be a hallway or a track down below where they would take the criminal, they would open the door and he would put him in the first room.  The lions were back in a second room and there was some sort of door or barrier in between the two rooms.  And after they got the intended victim in there then they would go back upstairs and they would raise the door and then the lions would come out, the lions would be starved for several days ahead of time to make sure that they were good and hungry, ready to come out and eat this guy.  And they would just relish that, so this was one of their favorite modes of execution. 

 

So they really want to get Daniel, they don't just want him out of power, they want to torture him and they want to make sure that his exit is as painful as possible and they're going to enjoy every minute of it.  So what we see is this conspiracy going on and what they are going to do is convince the king to put this into law.  Now the Persians had an interesting system with law; they had elevated the law almost to a point of deification, so that they made the law higher than the king.  We have one example of this kind of thinking from Plutarch and he relates the story of one Themistocles who sought an audience with Xerxes.  This is the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther.  And Plutarch writes: "As this great man came into the court of Xerxes, a Persian man stopped him and said to him, 'Before you come in and get an appointment with my king, King Xerxes, I have something to say to you.  O stranger, the laws of men are different, and one thing is honorable to one man, and to others another; but it is honorable for all to honor and observe their own laws.  It is the habit of the Greeks, we are told, to honor, above all things, liberty and equality; but amongst our many excellent laws, we account this the most excellent, to honor the king, and to worship him, as the image of the great preserver of the universe; if, then, you shall consent to our laws, and fall down before the king and worship him, you may both see him and speak to him; but if your mind be otherwise, you must make use of others to intercede for you, for it is not the national custom here for the king to give audience to any one that doth not worship him."

 

So from this we see that there was a trend in the Persian Empire towards emperor worship.  So apparently this had not been fully established at this early stage under Cyrus and so Darius is the one who is being tempted in this area and they are appealing to his approbation lust and to his power lust to be the only man in the kingdom that anyone can go to to present a petition or present a prayer.  Now you can just image a kingdom the size of the Babylonian part of the Persian Empire and the entire Persian Empire that had 120 satraps that this would really break down any kind of bureaucratic endeavor.  Talk about a tight funnel at the end, before anybody can request anything they have to make a personal request to the king.  Well that's certainly going to limit anything and you would think that it would just break down everything in the society and that Darius would think about that, but he didn't.  Apparently he just had a moment of blind arrogance and he was convinced to sign this into law.  And according to the law of the Medes and the Persians there was no way to revoke it and no way to veto it and once it was signed into law even the king had to obey it. 

 

Daniel 6:8, "Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked."  See, they are making sure that he understands this, that according to law you can't revoke this.  Once you put it into law it's law for 30 days.  So everything in the kingdom is going to come to a halt for 30 days so that he can get all of his positive strokes.  Verse 9, "Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.

 

Now verse 10 gives us a tremendous insight into Daniel and his thinking.  Daniel is now in his 80s.  He is at least 80 years of age.  If Daniel was 14 years of age when he went to Babylon in 605 then he was born about 619 BC.  This is now probably 538 BC, that is 62 years after 600. So 62 and 19 is 81, so he is at least 81 years of age at this point.  And he has been studying the Word for years and for a number of years he was out of public office and so he has spent a tremendous amount of time with the Lord and studying Scripture, and he has a daily routine that was apparent to his opponents.  He spent a certain amount of time every day in prayer; he wasn't shy about it, and he would get on his knees and he would face Jerusalem and he would pray.  So he's not going to change one thing. 

 

Now he is not going to be combative about this, he is not going to rub their noses in it; he's just not going to do anything any differently from the way he normally operated.  Now most of us would say gosh, you know if I'm killed then I can't continue to teach my Sunday School class or I can't continue to support my family and what will anybody know, if I just close the drapes or close the blinds nobody will know whether I'm praying to God or not.  Or I'll just pray with my eyes open and nobody will know if I'm talking to God or not, I'll just have silent prayer.  But not Daniel; Daniel realizes that this is point at which the battle is engaged and the issue is for him to continue to conduct his life as he always did, and so he is going to demonstrate the courage and the kind of courage that only comes from years of the faith rest drill.  He has been trusting God again and again and again and so he knows that he is going to trust God and whether he ends up losing his life or not, he is not going to compromise his Biblical position and his spiritual integrity just because this law has been passed.

 

So in Daniel 6:10 we see how Daniel handles the situation.  He probably went up to his upper room, we are told, and the writer makes it a point to make sure we understand that when Daniel knew that the document was signed, so he wasn't involved in it but he knew what was going on.  When he knew that it was signed, he walked home, walked into his house and went up the stairs to the roof.  We're told that "now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem; and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously."  He probably looked out the window to make sure that the conspirator spies were out there and that they were taking notes before he knelt down, he wanted to make sure that they understood exactly what was happening.  And three times a day he would pray, and this was his pattern of prayer.  He had a regular habit of prayer and a regular habit of Bible study and that's something that everybody needs to cultivate. 

 

If you haven't cultivated that, that's what you need to do, a regular time where you listen to a tape, a regular time where you read the Scripture for yourself, and a regular time for prayer.  This ought to be a daily habit.  The Christian life is a relationship with God, it's not something that just sort of happens, it's not something restricted to the academic understanding of the Word but it's a personal relationship based on personal knowledge.  You have to study tapes, you have to come to Bible class and learn the Word but that doesn't mean that you can't learn certain things just from reading the Word on your own.  I think sometimes we get the idea that there are mistaken trans­lations and this problem and that problem so I'm not going to trust any translation.  That may be true in the old days with the King James Version when that was all you had available but that's not true today; most of the translations today, especially the New American Standard are fairly accurate to the original language; they may not have all of the nuances available to you and there may be some questions that come up in your mind but you can always just set those aside and they'll be answered sooner or later while you come to Bible class.  But every believer ought to be reading the Scripture and I would challenge everyone, you ought to get, maybe one of these one year Bibles where you go through the Bible in a year and read through the Bible, just to become familiar with all the people and events in Scripture.  I'm amazed at how many Christians are fundamentally biblically illiterate.  They don't know Zechariah from Zephaniah; they don't know Zaccheus from Abel, and it's because they don't ever read their Bible and Christians ought to be reading their Bible on a day to day basis.

 

Daniel knew that and he understood these procedures and he understood the challenge of the Word of God in prayer, and he knew some of the prophets, he had these in his Bible.  He had Jeremiah; in Jeremiah 29:11 we read, "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope."  See, here the Lord is talking to Israel, that He has a future for Israel and so Daniel knew there was a future for Israel, it wasn't a hopeless situation.  And the Lord goes on to say in Jeremiah 29:12, "Then you will call upon Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you, [13] And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with your whole heart."  Daniel understood that prayer was a vital part of the believer's relationship to God and he was challenged by that and so he made prayer a regular part of his daily activity. 

 

Now why did he pray towards Jerusalem?  He understood the principle in 1 Kings 8:29-30, there we read, "That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day," "this house" is referring to the temple in Jerusalem; the temple in Jerusalem was a place where the Shekinah glory of the Lord had resided.  "That thine eyes may be open toward this house day and night, toward the place of which Thou hast said, 'My name shall be there,' to listen to the prayer which Thy servant shall pray toward this place.  [30] And listen to the supplication of Thy servant and of Thy people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place; hear and forgive."  God had established His presence in the temple and it was the regular procedure for every Jew in the dispensation of Israel to pray facing toward the temple because that was the location of God.  Now that's not true today, we don't face towards the temple because that is no longer part of the Church Age according to what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4. 

 

And then he prayed more than once a day, he knew what David prayed in Psalm 55:17, "Evening and morning, and at noon I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice."  Remember I told you a couple of weeks ago, some of you are so afraid to complain to God you think some how that's sacrilege.  David said I'm going to complain and murmur to God.  The Bible says don't complain and gripe to anybody else, go to the Lord with your complaints.  It's only the person who doesn't have any doctrine that thinks they can't complain to God.  You go through the Scripture, you go from Abraham to Moses to David and Jeremiah, they all complained to God.  That's the sign of somebody who's got a good relationship with God, they can go to their heavenly Father and say okay now, You said this and life's turning out this way, I don't understand it, I want to hold you to Your promises.  And that was typical of a mature believer.

 

So Daniel understood these principles; that's why he prayed three times a day and he faced Jerusalem.  So the men were in a conspiracy against him, and in Daniel 6:11 we read, "Then these men came by agreement," and the word there in the Hebrew means that it was a conspiracy, "these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God."  Now they've caught him, you can just imagine their excitement, we've got him.  If they'd had a Polaroid camera they'd use up a whole roll, they wanted to make sure they had plenty of witnesses that Daniel was praying and violating the law and they couldn't wait, they probably were thinking boy, we've got Daniel and this is really hurt going to hurt Darius, because when you're operating on bitterness and envy you're mad at everybody, and they were jealous an envious of Daniel on the one hand and on the other hand they were angry and bitter towards Darius because he was going to favor Daniel; now they were going to show him, he thinks he's such a good leader, he thinks he's so smart, he's going to elevate Daniel, look at what a disobedient rebellious person Daniel is, he can't even show loyalty to the king for 30 days, so we're really going to make Darius suffer.  So there's a vindictiveness to their attitude. 

 

Daniel 6:12, "Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king's injunction," they just couldn't wait, "Did you not sign an injunction," notice how smarmy in the way they remind him of his injunction, of his law, "Did you not sign a law that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lion's den?'"  Don't you remember that, Darius, don't you remember that, you signed that into law.  You can just imagine that he's getting this…[tape turns]… that some how he was taken and this is going to hurt him more than anybody else.  "The king answered and said, 'The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.'"  It's an absolute law.

 

Daniel 6:13, "Then they answered and spoke before the king," they couldn't wait, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you," notice the emphasis on him being an exile from Judah indicates that there was some anti-Semitic feeling going on here, they were antagon­is­tic toward the Jews and they were probably hostile to the fact that under Cyrus the policy in Persia was very favorable to the Jews.  And these very well could have been Babylonians who, like Daniel, had served in the Babylonian Empire and now they are jealous of this Jew and they are blaming him for all their troubles.  So, "Daniel, who is one of those Jews, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day. 

 

Daniel 6:14, "Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed," that's sort of a weak translation, he was depressed, he was crestfallen, he was probably sick at his stomach because he knew exactly what this meant, by this time Darius had come to truly appreciate Daniel.  He knew what a valuable individual he was to the running of the empire; he knew what a man of integrity Daniel was, that there was no one like him, and when you find somebody like that in a business you just rely upon them for so much and beyond that, he had come to know and appreciate Daniel as a friend.  Daniel was an older man, Darius is 62 and Daniel is twenty years his senior.  And Daniel had much more experience because remember Daniel was one in the upper echelon of leadership in the Babylonian Empire, so he probably had come to rely on Daniel's wisdom and Daniel's experience and Daniel's advice, and now he was being told that this man whom he trusted, this man who he liked and admired was a traitor.

 

So he was deeply depressed, "and set his mind on delivering Daniel;" and that means he called in his attorney general to go through the laws of the land to see if there was some loophole that they could find so that he could get out of this, and there was no hope, he did everything he could, he set all of legal advisors to the task of breaking down this situation and there was no way out, he was bound by the law.  "… and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue Daniel."  This was the last thing he wanted to do.  And then by sunset [15] "these men came by agreement" once again the term "came by agreement" indicates conspiracy, "to the king and said to the king, 'Recognize, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statue which the king establishes may be changed.'"  Now they know he's been trying to get out of it, but they're not going to let him.  You can just imagine the mental attitude sins that were going through Darius' mind in relationship to these men.  He's not a believer and he's being forced to do something that he really doesn't want to do, he's being forced to execute one of his closest friends and one of his most admired advisors.  So he finally does what he has to do, and that shows something about Darius, that he's a man of integrity that follows the law. 

 

Daniel 6:16, "Then the king gave orders and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions' den."  That's a brief summary statement, they probably had a procession where they escorted him down to the blast of trumpets and to all the witnesses standing around to make sure that Darius actually did it, and they took him down and they opened the door and they pushed him into the lion's den.  Now I'm sure from what we know about Daniel that Daniel walked in, poised, calm, relaxed, he was a man who was trusting God and had complete and total confidence that God could and would deliver him.  He had no idea that He would but he was trusting Him that He would.  So Daniel is relaxed; notice, Daniel who is going into the lion's den is relaxed but the king is going to spend the night in the palace is in trouble, he's overcome by depression, anxiety, worry, he's going to have a worse night in the palace because he's going to be surrounded by all those advisors with their overactive sin natures and Daniel is just going to be surrounded by a bunch of lions.

 

"The king spoke and said to Daniel, 'Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.'"  That tells us that Darius has been doing a lot of thinking and he's not just been thinking about some way to get Daniel out of this, he has realized he can't do anything and he knows the story, he has heard the tales of how God delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and he is expecting Daniel's God to do great things, although Darius is not a believer at this point and he is not executing the faith rest drill, he is just sort of expressing hope against hope that Daniel will be delivered but he recognizes a germ of truth in this, and that is that God can deliver him. 

 

So after they took Daniel down and Daniel walked in through the entrance, Daniel 6:17, they rolled the stone "over the mouth of the lion's den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring, and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing might be changed in regard to Daniel." so they had some wax there and they melted this wax around all of the edges and he put the impression of his signet ring there so it would be clear that no one let Daniel out during the night.  You see, there's always solid historical evidence that the Scriptures are true; God doesn't function in a vacuum, he doesn't function in just some sort of quiet mystical internal way.  When God is going to do something He's going to make sure there are witnesses and there is plenty of evidence to its accuracy. 

 

Daniel 6:18, "Then the king went off to is palace and spent the night fasting," notice the contrast, here on one hand you have a believer with doctrine who is more secure and more at rest in a den of lions than the king is in his own palace in one of the most comfortable sumptuous environments that you could ever imagine.  Daniel is surrounded… this is not that sweet little picture you see in picture Bibles that you have in Sunday school; this is a den of lions, this is their abode, that means that there is lion manure all over the place, that means that they've been throwing carcasses of animals and other criminals in there and so there are the rotting remains of other animals and human beings down there.  This is not a pleasant olfactory experience for Daniel either, it stinks down there, and yet he's going to be completely relaxed and get a good night's sleep because he is completely relaxed in the power of God.  Daniel has a soul fortress that he has erected over time because of his study in the Word so that he knows that he is completely protected by God and that because of God's power he doesn't have to worry about the lions.  But Darius doesn't have that so Darius is going to toss and turn all night, he's not going to eat, he doesn't spend the night fasting in a religious sense, he is fasting because he's so upset and so disturbed he can't eat.  He doesn't want to eat. 

 

And when it says "and no entertainment was brought before him," this is an interesting word in the Hebrew, it's a hapax legomenon which means it's only used one time in the Old Testament and the King James translates it music, other versions translate it women, concubines, harem, I think you get the idea, he decides he's going to spend the night by himself that night with no entertainment, musical, female or otherwise.  So he is up all night, pacing back and forth, he can't sleep, "and his sleep fled from him," he is going out to his balcony and looking at the moon every five seconds to see if the night is almost over and the sun is coming up, and finally with the first faint light on the horizon at dawn he gets up and he runs as fast as he can down to the lion's den to see if in fact Daniel's God has been able to deliver him. 

 

Daniel 6:19, "Then the king arose with the dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lion's den."  This must have been the longest night Darius ever had.  He runs down there, [20] "And when he came near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice."  I mean he's got a shaky voice, you can hear the catch in it, he's is so overcome with fear of what he might find there that he just has a quaver in his voice as he calls out Daniel's name.  "…he cried out with a troubled voice.  The king spoke and said to Daniel, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?'"  Now I want you to notice there, "your God, whom you constantly serve," now Daniel wasn't preaching to people on his job, Daniel wasn't sitting down there reading his Bible on company time.  But Daniel had a testimony by the way he worked and everyone knew that he had a relationship with the Lord.  He didn't keep it under a bushel, he didn't hide it from anyone, and everyone knew where Daniel stood on these things, not in an obnoxious way but Daniel just went about his life, everyone knew that his relationship to God was the highest priority.  So Darius recognizes this and he says ahs "your God been able to deliver you from the lions?"

 

Daniel 6:21, "Then Daniel spoke to the king," notice, he's calm, he's relaxed, he continues to exercise every level of royal protocol in addressing the king, he says, "'O king, live forever!'"  Daniel is so relaxed, he's learned the principle of Philippians 4:11, where Paul says, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I'm in and Daniel is completely at rest, completely relaxed, he shows poise in his answer.

 

He says, Daniel 6:22, "My God sent His angel," so the first thing, he recognizes God delivered him and that shows his grace orientation.  He says, "My God sent His angel and shut the lion's mouth," now there's a reason behind that, God just doesn't send the angel to deliver Daniel, we'll come to that in just a minute, He "shut the lion's mouth and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him," see, Daniel doesn't back off to the issue, now he's going to continue to make the issue clear.  The problem here was an unjust law, I'm innocent, the law was not right, and Daniel is not going to back off from it.  He says, "inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime."  He maintains his innocence and continues to maintain the fact of the unjust law. 

 

As I said earlier, the first part he says, "My God sent His angel and shut the lion's mouth" but if we look at Hebrews 11:33 we see a different dynamic.  In Hebrews 11 the writer states, "Who by faith," that is by means of his faith, his application of doctrine, some "conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lion."  See, the way it's framed in Hebrews 11, it was Daniel's faith that moved God to shut the mouth of the lions.  God didn't just intervene on His own; it was because Daniel trusted God Daniel changed history.  If Daniel hadn't trusted God Daniel probably wouldn't have survived the night, but it was Daniel's trust that changed history that night. 

The result of that is that the king is overjoyed, Daniel 6:23, "Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den.  So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him," why, and here the writer of Daniel says the same thing, "because he had trusted in his God."  That was the cause; see, the cause of our protection in many circumstances is our faith in Christ, our faith in His protection, not just because God just generally thinks we're such a wonderful person that He protects us, but because we trust Him he responds to that trust in protecting us.

 

Daniel 6:24, "The king gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them," now this shows something else about Daniel's integrity because Daniel, from what we know of Daniel, Daniel probably would not have wanted this, but here he stands behind Darius' decision, "and they cast them, their children, and their wives into the lion's den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions over power them and crushed all their bones."  That's to show the lions were hungry.  They didn't avoid eating Daniel because they weren't hungry.  They were hungry, and this is not a pretty scene because they're throwing their children, they're being ripped to shreds before they hit the ground, they're throwing their wives in and they're being ripped up and disemboweled by the lions.  It's not a pretty sight to watch a lion kill.  You probably having five or six lions just having a field day with these men, I don't know how many there were but there were a large number of them.

 

Daniel 6:25 we read, "Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language who were living in all the land, 'May your peace abound!'"  Now Darius hasn't learned the principle that you can't force a conversion but he's going to try to force a conversion.  He was probably saved at this point and like some people, they want to go out and make everybody else trust the gospel.  He hadn't learned any doctrine yet, but he passed another evangelistic decree much like Nebuchadnezzar's. 

 

Daniel 6:26, "I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever.  [27] He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.'"  So this is Darius' testimony of Daniel's deliverance and probably his own conversion and trust in God. 

 

Then we come to Daniel 7:28 and this is really the end of the biography of Daniel's life.  The rest of the episodes in Daniel 7 through the end of the book fit into the period of time that we've already studied; they're mostly prophecies about the future history of the human race.  And so the concluding verse on Daniel's life is verse 28, "So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian."  And Jewish legend goes on to say that Daniel lived for about another ten of fifteen years but he never did return to Israel.

 

Next time we'll start the prophecy section in chapter 7 and from chapter 7 through the rest of Daniel focuses on some of the most tremendous prophecies in all of the Scripture.  If you're going to understand Revelation or God's plan for the future we have to understand these prophecies in Daniel 7-12.