David Jeremiah - The Lion King
As the story begins, Daniel has been out of the mainstream of political power since Babylon was defeated by the Medes and the Persians. Now, after almost two years have passed, at the ripe old age of 83, he is summoned by Darius, the Medo-Persian king, and given a very prestigious assignment in his new administration. The first thing you learn from Daniel 6 and the first 3 verses is this: stand-up people get promoted. Say that with me. Stand-up people get promoted. Listen to these words from Daniel.
Daniel 6:1-3 — It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps... and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself... because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.
Now, back in 538 B.C., King Darius is establishing the second great world empire following Babylon. But unlike Babylon, which was a monarchy ruled by Nebuchadnezzar, one man, King Darius is setting up an oligarchy, which is gonna be ruled by many. And he determines to reorganize the government and put 120 men in charge of the conquered provinces that are a part of his new kingdom. And apparently, part of their responsibility was to collect taxes for the king. And because there was dishonesty among these lower-level officials, Darius selected three men as governors. And the text actually says, "so the king would suffer no loss".
He didn't want to get ripped off by his governors. Of these three governors, Darius was most impressed with Daniel and selected him to function as the prime minister over the land. According to the description in Daniel 6, Daniel was preferred above the other governors because an excellent spirit was in him. This means he had a good attitude. It means he worked hard to fulfill his responsibilities. And most of all, in this situation, he was honest. And Daniel continued to honor God with his life. And now, even at the age of 83, God is once again honoring Daniel. Daniel would become the second-in-command over all the Medo-Persian empire, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by his peers.
Let me stop for just a moment and remind you that while you may not be popular where you work because you're a stand-up person, when the people you work with get in trouble, you're the ones they're gonna come and see. They're not gonna go to the goof-offs and the partiers and all of that. They're gonna come to the people that they will look at and know that person believes in something. That person stands up for something. That person's got a moral center. They're gonna come to you. They may not like you. They may make fun of you. They may trash you. But when they are in trouble, when their marriage is upside-down, or they got a sick child, or their mortgage can't be met, they're gonna find the person they trust, just like Daniel, who was promoted to a high place.
Notice the second thing about stand-up people. This is a hard one. But it's true, isn't it? Stand-up people are persecuted. It says in verses 4 through 9.
Daniel 6:4 — So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel...
At the core of the hatred of Daniel's colleagues was the fact that he was being promoted above them. Now, think about it. The other were Babylonians, and this Jew is being promoted ahead of them; they don't like it. In fact, they hate it. They hate Daniel. If Darius's appointment was carried out, Daniel would have power over all the governors and administrators in Medo-Persia. So they decided they would try to get him in trouble. They would try to find him committing some trespass so he could be indicted. But the Bible says they couldn't find anything against him. The more they searched to try to get him caught in some illegal thing or some immoral thing, the more they searched, the angrier they got. The final conclusion of his adversaries after their exhaustive scrutiny is summarized in Daniel 6. Listen to what the scripture says.
Daniel 6:5 — ..".We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God".
What a testimony that would be. We can't find anything against you, Jeremiah, except your love for God. Unable to find any legal way to stop him, you never want to underestimate the enemies of the faith. They decide to come up with a made-up story. And we read about it in verse 7.
Daniel 6:7 — All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.
Daniel's enemies assembled, without him present, obviously, and they came up with this idea that if you prayed to any god but to Darius, who was the king, for a 30-day period, you would be put to death in the lions' den. There was a lie in their proposal, because not all of the officials had consulted. Daniel wasn't involved in it. So they go to the king with this story that they've made up. And they present it to him and urge him to sign their document.
Daniel 6:8 — Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.
In effect, the proposal would make Darius God for a month. These leaders did what they could to get the king to sign the edict, which according to law, could not be revoked once it was put in place. Have you ever heard about the law of Medes and Persians? That means if you say it, you can't un-say it. If you promise it, you can't un-promise it. In Medo-Persian empire, if the king wrote an edict, it could never be changed, because if you changed it, it would look as if the king made a mistake. And the king didn't make any mistake. He was infallible according to the Medo-Persian culture. So once the king signed an edict, even if he didn't like what he had signed, he couldn't undo it. And along with that, the edict had to be carried out on the day that the offense was committed. Stand-up people are promoted. And they're persistent. Number three, notice verses 10 and 11 in our text.
Daniel 6:10 — When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day and prayed and gave thanks before God.
Now, I've heard some preachers say when this happened, what Daniel did was, he said "I'll show you". So he went home. He threw his windows open, half-hung out the window, shouting his prayer before God so the whole kingdom could hear him. Not. What he did, the Bible says, was, he went home. He knelt down on his knees. He did it three times that day and prayed and gave thanks before his God. Listen to the last phrase.
Daniel 6:10 — ...as was his custom since early days.
When the king said he couldn't pray to his God, Daniel said, "I'm sorry". And he went home and prayed to his God. Stand-up people are often promoted. They're always persecuted. And they're usually very persistent in what they do. I want you to notice that what Daniel did when he found out what the deal was was this. He didn't stand down. That would've been cowardice. He didn't stand aside. That would've been compromise. He really didn't even stand against. He didn't rail against the king. What did he do? He stood up. He stood up for his courage and his conviction. And that's what I believe God is calling us to do. We can stand up for what we believe. We can stand up and be counted. And if we just do what we should do, we should be standing up all the time. Amen?
We come to the conclusion of this story. We learn, number four, that stand-up people are protected. How many of you know that the God you and I serve has promised to be with us? He says, listen to this:
Matthew 28:19-20 — Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations... and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
When we're serving the Lord, when we're in His will, when we're doing what God has called us to do, God is with us and He takes care of us. That doesn't mean He won't let any trouble come to us, but it means He'll always be with us when it comes. I have in my Bible a little motto that I started to follow years ago when I got a little bit afraid of flying. And this is what the motto says: "God's man in the center of God's will is immortal until God is finished with him". Daniel didn't worry. We shouldn't worry. If we're doing the will of God, he's gonna protect us. Watch how God took care of this courageous old man. First of all, he was protected from the law. Daniel 6:13-15 record how this was going to work if God didn't get involved. I mean, this is a pretty serious time in the kingdom. It's a pretty serious time for Daniel.
Daniel 6:13-15 — So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel... does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day. And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself...
Not with Daniel, he was displeased with himself because he'd gotten himself in a really tough spot. He didn't want to hurt Daniel. He promoted Daniel. Daniel was running his whole deal. But he got undermined by the people who came, and he says:
Daniel 6:13-15 — ...and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed”.
Darius's conscience was tormenting him. He knew the danger he had put Daniel in by signing into law the preposterous 30-day prayer ban. He worked all day trying to find a loophole in the law. He knew if he couldn't find one, he'd have to sentence Daniel to death. Persian law dictated, as I mentioned, that sentences for crimes were to be carried out on the day the crime was committed. The lower the sun set in horizon, the louder Darius's conscience became, screaming at him to find a solution that would save the man who was the most important man in his kingdom. And then Daniel was protected from the lions.
Daniel 6:16-17 — So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.
And finally, he was protected by the Lord.
Daniel 6:19-20 — Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel... “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
When Darius cast Daniel into the lions' den, he expressed faith that Daniel would survive. Remember he said:
Daniel 6:16 — ...“Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.”
But his faith wasn't very strong, as is evidenced by his anxiety through the whole night and by the first words out of his mouth next morning.
Daniel 6:20 — ...has your God... been able to deliver you...
Not only was the king uncertain of God's will, he wasn't even sure God could save Daniel. He was no saint, this king of Persia.
Daniel 6:21 — Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.”
The famed London preacher Charles Spurgeon observed that it was a good thing the lions didn't try to eat Daniel. They wouldn't have enjoyed him since he was half-grit and the other half, backbone. The Bible says God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouth so that they didn't hurt him, because he was innocent, and he did no wrong before the king.
Daniel 6:23 — Now the king was exceedingly 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 injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.
And the Bible vividly portrays the king's delight in Daniel's survival. He checked him over carefully to be sure he was unharmed, just like Daniel's friends who escaped the furnace unscathed. Daniel came out completely uninjured. When we see how ferocious the lions were with the people who were thrown into the den the next day, it's obvious that Daniel was able to escape without a scratch because God intervened in his behalf. My friends, have you ever had God intervene in your behalf?
Here's my experience. God usually intervenes in our behalf when, with all of our hearts, we're standing up for what we know to be right and true. We can almost expect God to do that when we stand for Him. And that's why we should never be afraid to stand for God. I know that sometime this week, having heard this message, something's gonna happen. You're gonna be in a place where you're gonna have to do the right thing or the wrong thing. And the right thing is gonna be hard. Just remember Daniel. He stood up when everything was against him. And in the midst of his standing up, not only did he feel the blessing of God on his life, but almighty God intervened in his behalf and helped him come through it with his hands up high. The last phrase of verse 23 gives us the underlying reason for God's intervention in Daniel's life.
Daniel 6:23 — ...because he believed in his God.
Daniel believed in his God. Let me ask you this: do we believe in our God? Do we believe that God can help us? People throw things at you that are so unfair and unrighteous. But if we don't start standing up, then we're gonna lose everything. We don't have many more years to be floating in reverse. We're floating downstream about as fast as you can go. A few more years of the cultural losses we've sustained in this one last year, and America as you and I know it will be just like Europe if God doesn't intervene. The Bible says in verses 24:
Daniel 6:24 — And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions—them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.
I guess you could say you don't want to mess with God. So if you look back over the story, you see the picture of a man who walked into a culture of Babylon, probably far more difficult culture than we will ever know. And he lived in that culture from the time he was 14 until he died in his mid-90s. Interestingly enough, God never took him out of Babylon. I hear people say all the time, "Well, I just wish I could get away from", and they talk about their problem. How many of you know that sometimes God doesn't want to take us away from our problems, he wants to show us His strength in the midst of our problems? He wants us to be stand-up people who stand up in the secularism of our day so that we can be a testimony to the world around us.
Only one truth saves. Only one gospel brings eternal life. There is only one escape from hell. We need to go to men and women and children with the precious gospel of Jesus Christ and declare His love for them. The same gospel that worked in your grandparents' generation, that worked in your parents' generation is the gospel that is working today. It is the power of God unto salvation. It is relevant forever. It still changes lives. And that's a message every one of us need to share. Don't let the gospel be changed. Don't let the gospel be rendered ineffective by taking away the message of the exclusivity of Christ. C.S. Lewis once said, "Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every unsaved person this side of hell". There isn't any way for people to get to heaven except through Jesus Christ. You say, "Dr. Jeremiah, are you sure about that"? Absolutely certain. Jesus Christ sais in this way:
John 14:6 — Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
He didn't give us any options. He didn't say, "I am one of the ways". That's the message we're hearing today, there are many ways to God. No, there are not many ways to God. There's one way. And He is that way. We need to be unashamedly declaring that. Pastors, if you're here tonight, and you've been wavering on that message, I urge you to go home, get on your knees, and ask God to give you the strength to stand up for the gospel.
And, friend, I told you that the most important thing you can stand up for in your own life is your own eternal destiny. One of these days, the Lord Jesus Christ is going to come back. I believe it could be very soon. One of the reasons I've written all these books on the future is to help people get ready for His return. And I want to tell you that if you don't know Jesus, you will not go to heaven. If you don't know Jesus Christ when He comes back, you will be left behind. And so I want to ask you tonight to do this. Ask yourself in your heart, "Have I ever personally accepted Jesus Christ as my savior? Has there ever been a time in my life when I ask him to be the savior of my life"? Not be the savior of the world, not join the church. He is alive. He is waiting. He is opening his arms to receive you. And He will receive you if you will just trust Him.