Daniel 6:1-28

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Text: Daniel 6

DANIEL IN THE LIONS' DEN

INTRODUCTION:

Although the persecution of believers has been normal for believers in most places in the world, we have not really experienced a great deal of this in the United States of America for which we are thankful. But, don't be surprised if this changes in the future. There is a growing aggressiveness against God, Christ, Christianity, and the teachings of the Bible.

You can see it lurking on the horizon that if you believe that God created the heavens and the earth as well as humanity, you will have conflict with those who do not believe in the existence of God who promote evolution.

If you believe that God chose Israel to be His people through whom He would bring forth the Messiah, you will encounter opposition from those who hate Jews and Christians.

If you believe that God created marriage between one man and one woman, you are liable to experience difficulties from those who promote same sex marriage.

If you believe that abortion is murder, you will not be appreciated by those who try to convince themselves that abortion is a matter of women's rights and women's health. What about the baby's rights and the baby's health?

If you believe that God is in control of the universe, you are liable to run into opposition from those who believe in global warming and climate change.

II Timothy 3:12 - Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

I Peter 3:13-17 - 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God [i.e. set apart God as Lord or sovereign or master - recognize God's Lordship in the matter] in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation [i.e. manner of life] in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

I Peter 4:12-19 - 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached [i.e. reviled or insulted] for the name of Christ, happy [i.e. blessed] are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Chapter 5 ends with the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.

Chapter 6 occurs within a few years of the Persian conquest of Babylon. Daniel was already in his 80s by the time Babylon was conquered.

I. THE POSITION OF DANIEL - 6:1-3

Daniel 6:1 - It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;

An hundred and twenty princes. 120 assistants to Darius.

Daniel 6:2 - And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.

The king should have no damage. i.e., have no financial loss. That is why he wanted someone trustworthy like Daniel.

Daniel 6:3 - Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

II. THE PLOT AGAINST DANIEL - 6:4-9

Daniel 6:4 - Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Daniel 6:5 - Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

Daniel 6:6 - Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.

Daniel 6:7 - All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

Although they claimed that all the presidents and princes had consulted together, it seems that they neglected to include Daniel in their consultation.

Daniel 6:8 - Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

The unchangeableness of Medo-Persian law is seen in Esther 1:19 and 8:8.

Esther 1:19 - If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.

Esther 8:8 - Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you [i.e. as it seems best, as you see fit, or as you please], in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse.

Daniel 6:9 - Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

III. THE PRAYER OF DANIEL - 6:10-11

Daniel 6:10 - Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime [i.e. as he did previously].

Toward Jerusalem. A practice suggested by David and Solomon (Psalms 5:7 ; I Kings 8:33 ).

Psalms 5:7 - But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

I Kings 8:33 - When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house.

What Daniel did is an example of legitimate disobedience to the government (cf. Acts 5:29 ; Rom. 13:1-2).

Under ordinary circumstances believers are commanded to obey the government.

Romans 13:1-2 - 1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God [i.e. what God has ordained]: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation [i.e. judgment].

But there is an exception to this. When the government commands believers to do something which would disobey God, believers are to obey God rather than men and accept the consequences.

Acts 5:17-32 - 17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, 23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. 24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them [i.e. they were perplexed, they were puzzled, they wondered] whereunto this would grow [i.e. how this would turn out, how this would develop, what the result of this would be]. 25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. 26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly [i.e. strictly] command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

We have seen another example of this in the episode of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah also known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the episode of the fiery furnace.

Daniel 3:15-30 - 15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen [i.e. trousers or leggings], and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

What do the believers in a local church do if a pastor begins preaching, teaching, or practicing things which are unscriptural? We ought to obey God rather than men.

What if he starts promoting the unscriptural teaching of Calvinism? We ought to obey God rather than men.

What if he fails to feed the flock, i.e. fails to proclaim the whole counsel of God but preaches only the gospel message in all the services? We ought to obey God rather than men.

What if he begins to promote same sex marriage? We ought to obey God rather than men.

What if he demands that the people always obey whatever he says when he should remember that he is only an under shepherd and not the Chief Shepherd and is not to be a lord over God's heritage, i.e. over the local church? We ought to obey God rather than men.

What if he conveys the impression that the only question a church member may ask whenever he commands them to jump is, How high? We ought to obey God rather than men.

What if he demands blind loyalty? We ought to obey God rather than men.

Blind loyalty may only be given to the Lord and the Scriptures and not to any man. This, of course, includes me.

The Biblical answer is simple. Just as the church voted him in as pastor, they must vote him out as pastor before he destroys the local church ministry..

What if he answers that God put him in his position? Well, the vote of the church may be indicating that God is removing him from his position for being unscriptural.

Daniel 6:11 - Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

IV. THE PROSECUTION OF DANIEL - 6:12-17

Daniel 6:12 - Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not [i.e. which may not be changed, altered, or revoked].

Daniel 6:13 - Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

Daniel 6:14 - Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore [i.e. greatly] displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

Daniel 6:15 - Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.

Daniel 6:16 - Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The den of lions. A large (v. 24) underground cave with an opening at the top (v. 23) and probably one at the side.

Daniel 6:17 - And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

V. THE PROTECTION OF DANIEL - 6:18-28

Daniel 6:18 - Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.

Daniel 6:19 - Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

Daniel 6:20 - And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable [i.e. troubled, pained, grieved, anguished] voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

Daniel 6:21 - Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.

Daniel 6:22 - My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

Daniel 6:23 - Then was the king exceeding 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 manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

Daniel 6:24 - And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them [i.e. overpowered them], and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at [i.e. before they ever came to] the bottom of the den.

This cruel punishment is typically Persian.

Daniel 6:25 - Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.

Daniel 6:26 - I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

Daniel 6:27 - He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Daniel 6:28 - So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and [possibly even if Darius is Cyrus] in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

CONCLUSION:

No matter what happens in life, live faithfully for the Lord in accordance with the teachings of the Bible.