Our study this week tells us that Daniel stands out as one of the greatest men of Old Testament history. They gave us insight to some history and understanding of who Daniel was and his time spend in exile in Babylon.
He was a teenager in the year 605 BC when Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and began his conquest of Judah. There were several "deportations" of Jews to Babylon, and Daniel was in the first group because he was of the princely line (2 Chron. 36). It was the practice of Babylon to deport the "cream of the crop" and train them for service in their own palaces. (A result of prophesy - Isa. 39:3-8).
Daniel was still active in 539 BC when the kingdom was taken by Cyrus; so he lived and ministered in Babylon for over 60 years. In fact, he lived through the reigns of four rulers (Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus) and three different kingdoms (Babylon, Media, and Persia). His name means "God is my Judge". He held several important positions and was promoted greatly because of his character and wisdom, and because the blessing of God was upon him. Nebuchadnezzar named him chief of the wise men and a ruler of the land (2:28), a position similar to a modern Prime Minister. Nebuchadnezzar's grandson, Belshazzar, called Daniel out of retirement and because he explained the handwriting on the wall, made Daniel third ruler in the land (5:29). Darius named him leader over the whole realm (6:1-3). Certainly Daniel was God's faithful witness in a wicked and idolatrous kingdom for at least 75 years.
Chapter 6 gives is a real look at Daniel's daily activities. In verse 6:10 we are told that Daniel prayed to the Lord 3 times a day. He did this in his special room where the windows faced Jerusalem.
"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before."
So we can see that prayer was a very important part of Daniel's life. He did it 3 times a day, everyday.
The other governors had become jealous of Daniel and the relationship he had with the king. So the seed of jealousy is deep within them and they begin trying to find fault in Daniel and a way to accuse or discredit him in the eyes of the king. They realize the only way to do this is was to use Daniel's very own spiritual law against him.
These men approach the king and they get him to sign into law an order that anyone found worshiping any god or human during the next 30 days; other than the king will be thrown into the lion's den. They get the king to agree and he signs the proclamation into law. The real trick here is not even the king can reverse it. Then they sit and wait for the very next time Daniel goes upstairs to his room to pray...Daniel knows what they have done...and it doesn't stop him from the worship and devotion to the one true God.
Now, I want to stop and reflect here just a minute. We have so much to be thankful for. We live in a country that we can freely express our religious beliefs. I am able to go and worship God openly. I can stand on a street corner and profess my belief and no one is trying to through me in a lion's den for doing this. But, there are places still today that Christians are persecuted for any acknowledgment or profession of Christianity. They are drug out into the street and stone to death for openly professing their faith. They accept the fact they are going to die for believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
My question is, "Would I go up the stairs to my prayer room knowing I will die if someone is watching me do this..and it is now against the law?" Wearing my cross on my neck to display my Christian faith during a prayer ceremony of another belief system is one thing...it wasn't life threatening...but what if it was life threatening? What if I knew I could die for my actions...would I stand up for Jesus? I can't say I would be so brave. It is my hope God will continue to teach me how to trust Him. That I would be faithful and I wouldn't allow anything to keep me from worshiping Him with my whole self!
Now the other men...the governors in this chapter are jealous that Daniel is about to be made 2nd in command to the king. Satan can do horrible damage to the heart when he turns it to jealousy. Daniel has proven himself to be trustworthy, just and fair. The others must have been stealing from the king and their own guilty behavior was what consumed them to jealousy.
Now they witness Daniel go upstairs for his prayer time and they immediately go running to the king and "tattle" that Daniel has broken the new law established by the kings own hand. The king is very upset at this news...he even tries to put them off for a while to figure out how to save Daniel.
"Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him" (Daniel 6:13-14).
Their evil plot works...they have Daniel where they want him...and the king surrenders and gives the order for Daniel to be thrown into the lion's den for his worship to God.
We learn so much about compromise here. We compromise everyday in one way or another. "Everyone else is doing it...why not me?" "No one else can see me this time...so, I'm going to text on my cell phone this one time and drive."
Have you ever thought about the eyes of others watching? Many times throughout the ministry of Jesus...the Bible tells us, He was teaching and He would remove Himself to a quiet place...and they crowds would follow. Mark 3:7 says it this way, "Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed." The crowds were always watching Him. They were continually pressing in on Him to see if He would compromise Himself. He never did...and He has such compassion and love for them all!
Daniel went to his room where all eyes could see him and he lifted his hands and prayed. It wasn't a first time only prayer...he had done this since his youth. From the very day we find him in Babylon...he prayed, Daniel prayed without ceasing. God honored him and the Bible tells us He shut the mouths of the lions that day..and Daniel was spared.
"Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty" (Daniel 6:21-22).
The king was so overjoyed that he immediately ordered for Daniel to be lifted from the den. Then the king turned to Daniel's accusers and had them thrown in the lion's den, along with their families. In the end King Darius writes to all nations and in every language that Daniel's God is to be reverenced and feared!
A huge lesson here is, when we stay in relationship with Christ...study His Holy Word, pray and worship Him for the blessings He gives freely...when we are challenged to compromise our beliefs...we can stand strong in KNOWNING Him as our Rock! He will save us from the lion's den!
"But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth" (1 Timothy 4:17).