July 19, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
Daniel and the lions’ den in Daniel 6:1-28 is one of several stories in the book of Daniel where God shows His people how to thrive in a culture that is at times distant from God. In this story, we are challenged to thrive, not just survive, by following Daniel’s example of trusting obedience in God.
In setting up his government after Belshazzar in Babylon, Darius, the king of the Medes and Persians, is convinced to write a binding decree that “anyone who prays to any god or man during the next 30 days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den” (Dan.6:7).
Daniel made a judgment call, and chose to exhibit trusting obedience to his God rather than compliance to the king. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help” (Dan.6:10,11).
Although the king was distressed because he respected Daniel, he was forced to throw Daniel into the lions’ den and seal it shut. Instead of death, Daniel was rescued by God’s angel and “no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (Dan.6:23). Darius then announced to everyone that the God of Daniel “is the living God and he endures forever” (Dan.6:26).
From this story, we learn that God might call us to scary circumstances, but true safety is only found in continuing trusting obedience to God. God told the Israelites these stories of Daniel and his friends in Babylon because he wanted the Jews to know that although there was no Jewish temple, no community safety net, safety was still found in trusting obedience to Him.
As Christians, we make tons of choices each day, which show where we trust. Do we trust in God Himself, or in such things as accumulating money, in having control over every area of our lives, in education, in our career choices, in our personal truthfulness, in a life where we play everything safe, or in a long-term plan for our lives?
One area of our lives where we must decide where to place our faith is finance. God calls every Christian to give a portion of his income (starting at 10%) to Him. Increasing our giving to God will build our trust and faith in God as we see His provision. We have many excuses why not to give a portion of our income to God: not making enough money, not “safe” to give that much money, fear that we will not have enough money. Yet to grow our faith, we need to depend on Him in trusting obedience.
Another area of our lives where we must act in trusting obedience is sex. God has a simple plan for sexual fulfillment: shower your affections on your wife (and no one else). See Proverbs 5. We struggle in our culture with fidelity before and after marriage, with pornography, and multiple other sexual issues.
The ways of our culture (our Babylon) are not the ways God wants us to live. Instead of fearing rejection by our partners or those around us, we are called to remember that God offers SO MUCH more. Our loving Father’s plan for us is truly what is best for us. Do we not want more for our family and ourselves? Are we accepting the invitation to follow God’s plan with His values?
Living in trusting obedience starts with the Gospel.
The Good News is that God loves us. He is for us; crazy about us; and even gave His Son to restore His relationship with us. Our God does not want to control or condemn us, but wants what is BEST for us.
In this story of Daniel and the lions’ den, we see a mini picture of the Gospel with the lions’ den (the tomb of Jesus), the stone sealing the grave in both cases, and the angel present as Daniel’s (and Jesus’) saved/resurrected life is announced.
In the Old Testament, the Jews were told many stories of God rescuing them from destruction, but this was expanded in the New Testament, as the death and resurrection of Jesus promised eternal life. Now we know that resurrection is coming for all of us, and that we have safety in knowing that whether we live or die, our lives are eternal with Him as we choose His way in trusting obedience.