When we left Daniel in Chapter 5, the Babylonian kingdom had just been overrun and conquered by Darius the king of the Medes. The Babylonian king Belshazzar had been killed after Daniel interpreted the dream of Belshazzar. Daniel has shown himself once again to be faithful to The Lord even at the risk of his own neck.
Back in chapter 4 when Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to interpret the king’s dream, it was not a very promising prophecy for the kings’ future. The king could turn from his pride and save himself the coming trouble, or if he did not he would encounter seven years of madness. It took incredible faith for Daniel to speak that truth into the king’s life. Yet Daniel believed God and stepped out in faith that God’s word is true, and that it was more important for the king to hear from God than for Daniel to live. What a great lesson that is for us!
When given the chance to interpret the handwriting on the wall, Daniel was again putting his own life at stake by giving the king an unfavorable interpretation. That must have taken tremendous faith!
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
~ Joshua 1:8-9
You see, Daniel has chosen to follow God and His word. The Lord is NOT saying if you follow His word you’ll make lots of money. He’s not saying if you read the Bible every day, your business will do fantastic things and your job future is incredibly bright.
God is saying if you read/study/follow His word, He will go before you like He did with Joshua. He will fight your battles, He will walk with you. He will love you and He will show His love through you. You will have success in Christ. That can look much different than worldly success.
In Daniel’s life, God used Daniel’s worldly success and continued to increase his position and his influence. God blessed him in it so that he would have the ear of each king that came along into power over the Jews. (You and I don’t have the ear of the United States president, but perhaps God has someone in that position that we don’t even know about! We should pray that He does and that God would help that person.)
The people around you and me need the Lord as much as we do. I believe that God has you and me exactly where he wants us to be (in school, work, or home), and for His purposes and His glory we should stay until He moves us.
This week we see Daniel again go through a time of faith-stretching where he will have to stand firm, trust his God, and watch Him work.
Now let’s look at Daniel 6.
1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom;
2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss.
3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
Daniel is given career success. Again, you and I may not have jobs or careers that are deemed highly successful by the world’s standards. But that doesn’t matter to God. What matters is that we serve Him right where He has put us.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:31
In whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. That doesn’t mean simply “do a good job”, or “work hard and God will reward you”. To do all to the glory of God goes far beyond that. How do we glorify God in our work, or in our daily life? If you are a framer on a construction crew and you fire a nail gun through your big toe, that may mean not cussing in your moment of pain. Or instead of telling your friends dirty jokes on your lunch break, talking about what God is doing in your life. It may mean that when you find an extra few hours on your paycheck that you know you never worked, going to your boss and letting them know of the mistake. And when your boss thanks you or asks why you told him/her, simply saying that you know God wants you to be honest in all parts of your life.
My wife, daughter, and I worked at a camp this week for underprivileged kids for the local Gospel Mission. There was archery, floating the river in tubes, challenge courses, devotions, games – all kinds of great stuff for the kids this week. There were also a couple of occasions where the kids had a chance to go fishing on the river.
Now, I love fishing. I relish the time of casting my line in the water, reeling it in slowly, and then strategizing in my mind how I’m going to outsmart the fish. One thing I don’t enjoy as much is teaching kids to fish. (I’m a sinner just like you. This is a moment of confession.) To stand there with a group of kids and untangle lines, bait hooks, cast for them, and watch them turn around and tangle up their line after the cast is really hard for me! At camp this last week, I went down to the water dreading it a bit, and I watched as other cabin leaders demonstrated love and patience with the kids. They showed them casting, they untangled lines on cheap old rods/reels, they patiently baited the hooks, and they did it over and over again. These leaders were doing all to the glory of God for these kids. And in that short period of time, the kids saw and felt the love of Christ. Those leaders taught me a lesson.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
~ John 13:35
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
~ Romans 5:8
God is so patient with me, loving me and showing me His love! He has called you and me to do the same with those around us, even if it means doing something we don’t particularly enjoy. You see, those leaders who were helping the kids fish may not enjoy untangling lines. What they do enjoy is sharing God’s love with kids in whatever form that takes.
4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.
5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever!
7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.
8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
These leaders were obviously NOT doing their work for God’s glory, but for their own gain and glory. When we are serving God and doing everything for His glory, the desire to elevate ourselves falls away and the desire for God to be glorified rises to the top.
A great example from God’s word:
King David – A shepherd boy who simply served God while herding sheep in the desert, he was given his first shot at glory in slaying Goliath. David could have started the day by making a statement about how skilled he was with a knife or spear, how accurate he was with a sling, or offering an exact count of how many wild beasts he had killed. In today’s business world, that would be like me pulling out a spreadsheet to show all the great things I’d done in my work and taking credit for the numbers. Or a kid in school pulling out their report card and talking about how many hours it took to get all those fantastic grades. But that’s not David’s heart.
And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”
~ 1 Samuel 17:37
David begins by predicting in faith that God will deliver! Then David meets the challenger Goliath down in the valley. Goliath has all sorts of big talk and puffed up pride.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear.” For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
1 Samuel 17:45-47
I love David’s heart! He gives all the glory to God ahead of time in complete faith “that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear.” It also encourages me to know that “the battle is the LORD’s” and he will deliver. It’s not our battle, it’s God battle!
When a nation goes to war soldiers are trained, prepared, and sent to the battlefield. But the war is not the individual soldier’s war, instead the soldier is fighting for his entire country. In the same way, as soldiers of Jesus, we are fighting the battle not for our own selves or for our own glory. We are fighting and soldiering for Jesus. The battle belongs to the Lord!
I had a great-great grandfather who emigrated from Germany to the United States in the 1850s because the king of his country was conscripting young men to go fight for other countries. Germany at that time had an army of soldiers for hire (Hessians), and the king would get paid money to send his young men to fight a war for someone else. My great-great grandfather – John Hess – came to the US and lived in Iowa. The Civil War came upon our nation and he signed up to fight for the North. He joined the war effort as a soldier because he believed in his new country and he felt the cause was right. He knew it was not his war but a war for the entire country.
The same idea is true for David with Goliath, and the same is true for Daniel. Daniel knows that God is in control and has put him in this position for a reason.
10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Even though the order had been signed, Daniel’s prayer habits continued just as they had been. Even knowing that what he was doing violated the king’s new law, Daniel also knew that God had called him to worship the Lord and Him alone. He had faith that God would deliver him if He honored the Lord and that the “battle is the Lord’s” to fight.
11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God.
12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him.
15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”
17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.
18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.
20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!
22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”
Daniel gives God the glory because Daniel knows it is God who delivers and saves. There were many times in my past work-life when I should have given God the glory for any and every success I had. It was so hard for me when talking with non-believers to say “God did the work, I just showed up.” But it is so true that the work done is truly God, we simply step forward and obey. I’m still learning that lesson today.
23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
For boys, husbands, and dads, this is an incredible lesson right here in one single verse (vs 24). God has ordained us to be the “pastor” of our family. Sometimes we take that role seriously and follow Jesus and lead our wife and kids. Sometimes we don’t take that role seriously. Other times, we as men completely abandon that role as leader of the family. Being a dad is hard, there is no question about it. However “the battle is the Lord’s”, and all we need to do is show up and obey. I know I make it sound easier than it is.
Here these men in the king’s court were given incredible opportunity and responsibility. They used it for their own selfish goals and tried to get Daniel killed to get him out of the way of their own career. We as husbands and dads were also given incredible opportunity and responsibility.
Some dads will make career choices that take them away from their family, or they love other women besides their wife, or perhaps they love alcohol or a drug more than they love their family. I’d like to encourage you husbands and dads out there to do what God has called you to do. Be a man, stand with your family, make the hard choices, and follow Jesus in all you do. These men in the kingdom made terrible choices, and their entire family suffered as a result. That still happens today.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
~ 1 Corinthians 16:13
Remember the exhortation in the book of Joshua? Be strong and courageous!
(Please know that I am aware of all you women out there filling the role of both mom and dad and I salute you! God bless you for all that you are doing to pour into the lives of your children, and I can’t say this enough: God can help you! Choose Jesus Christ as your savior and cry out to God every day for your kids. God will help you as “the battle is the Lord’s.”)
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you.
26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Once again, Daniel glorifies God and steps out in faith that God will deliver him even from hungry lions. God took care of Daniel when he did that. God took care of David when David gave God all the glory. God will take care of you and me when we choose to follow Him and glorify Him in all that we do.