How Can We Impress People Who Don’t Believe in the God of the Bible? #299 + How Was Daniel Rescued From the Lion’s Den?
Happy Wednesday, friends!! Let’s open with a couple of great listener feedback comments:
From episode 296: It seems to often shock non-Christians that even a vile sinner can saved from God’s judgement. It seems to be based in the idea that, sinner though I might be, I am at least better than that evil ungodly Samaritan over there, and thus should be judged kindly. Just today I was reading the parable of the servant who, forgiven an unimaginably huge debt, still had the audacity to demand a small sum from his own debtors with threats of judgment and torment. In the same way, wishing not to be judged, we judge others and hold them unforgivable. If only we understood how great a debt we have been forgiven, and could see the pettiness of the debts we are owed.
From episode 298: Something I noticed about the Daniel 5 passage… When Daniel interpreted the vision of the tree to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel said, “Let this not happen to you, but to your enemies.” With Belshazzar, Daniel is less friendly, and declines the rewards …. It makes one think of Abraham’s remarks to the King of Sodom, ” … Lest you say, I have made Abram rich.” Daniel, in an earthly environment, was friendly towards Nebuchadnezzar (who eventually acknowledged God), while refusing to accept anything from Belshazzar. Abraham, in a possibly not-entirely earthly sense, was friendly to the King of Salem, and received his blessing, but declined the rewards offered by the King of Sodom. Does this highlight the difference between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, or is it merely an example of Godly discernment on the part of the prophet?
Well spotted, WWH – I had not noticed that in the text, and I think you nailed it. I note here that the Bible doesn’t always spell everything out for us. Some truths are subtle, some details are important. For instance, the Bible doesn’t directly tell us the foibles of polygamy in the Old Testament, but SHOWS us time and time again the folly that comes from it.
Our readings for the day include 2 Kings 2, Psalms 112-113, Daniel 6 and 2nd Thessalonians 2. I’d love to talk about who the Man of Lawlessness is, but we covered that already in episode 104. I am also quite tempted to discuss a different big mystery in the Thessalonians passage – who is restraining the man of lawlessness. Unfortunately, there would probably be too much conjecture in that discussion, and not enough solid and biblical evidence, so I think I’d better pass on that. I believe the answer is the Holy Spirit…or perhaps a mighty angel, but I honestly am not sure how to go about making a big case for that from the Word of God, though I have seen a few attempt to do so. Instead, we will spend our seventh straight day focusing on an Old Testament passage, which I am quite sure is a record of some sort. Today’s Daniel 6 reading features an iconic Bible story – almost certainly one of the top 5 most well known Bible stories. Of course, I’m talking about Archibald in the rabbit warren. Actually, no – we are talking today about Daniel in the Lion’s Den, which is at least 100 times better than the rabbit story. I do want to briefly mention and marvel at God’s rescue of Daniel, but our big Bible question is instead focused on a different aspect of the story – the reaction of Darius the pagan king of the Persians and Medes. Here’s the story in a nutshell: Daniel rises to a high rank in the kingdom of Darius, and the others are jealous of him and plot against him, ultimately tricking Darius into signing a law that will condemn Daniel for praying to God. Daniel keeps praying to God, so Darius is forced to allow Daniel to be put into the lion’s den for his execution. Not only does Darius feel terrible about this, but he stays up all night fasting, and avoiding sleep, restless and worried about Daniel. In the morning, he runs to the lion’s den hoping against hope that God had delivered Daniel, and when he finds out Daniel had been saved, he is overjoyed.
Here’s my big question. WHY does Darius care so much about this Daniel guy? Consider: Daniel was from another country and another religion and a totally different social class and ethnic group – how could Darius care so much about this guy? And the answer to that question is important for us who are followers of Jesus as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission and share the good news with the world, because the way that Daniel acted gives us a good blueprint for how we should act as followers of Jesus. Let’s read the passage, and see if you can see it.
Daniel was absolutely above reproach. Full of integrity, but also humble. Hard-working and excellent at all of his jobs. He was reliable. He was effective and conscientious. Listen to this description:
3 Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm. 4 The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could find no charge or corruption, for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him.
What a great testimony! Daniel had an extraordinary spirit and attitude about him. He was absolutely trustworthy, above corruption entirely and wasn’t negligent about any aspect of his job. See how this kind of behavior was a tremendous witness to the Medes and Persians! How should we Christians be as workers? I would say that Daniel gives us as great as an example as anybody in Scripture…and see how it caught the attention of king Darius? When he went to the Lion’s den to check on Daniel, this is what happened:
20 When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. “Daniel, servant of the living God,” the king said, “has your God, whom you continually serve, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20
Did Daniel keep his head down, and act like a secret agent follower of God? Absolutely NOT! Daniel was a very obvious follower of Yahweh, and even the ultimate boss knew it, calling Daniel a servant of the living God and noting that he CONSTANTLY SERVED GOD! You can be an amazing worker and constantly serve God at your job…just be sure to nail the amazing worker part – be diligent like Daniel, humble like Daniel, have a great attitude like Daniel, be above corruption like Daniel, be absolutely trustworthy like Daniel and be honest in a kind way like Daniel. Daniel shows us how to be a witness for God. Perhaps you’ve heard of that old quote that is tossed around, supposedly said by Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words.” First, that quote was not ever said by Francis of Assisi, second, it makes no sense whatever – the gospel is a message in words that must be communicated, there’s no way around that, and third, I think the Daniel method of evangelism is the superior way. Be an excellent worker with great attitude, diligence and integrity, and obvious asset to your job or boss or whatever, and be an obvious follower of Jesus. When you do that, perhaps your boss will marvel at the God who empowers you and leads you in being such a good asset to your organization. Maybe he will even praise God like the pagan king Darius did:
25 Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live on the whole earth: “May your prosperity abound. 26 I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel: For he is the living God, and he endures forever; his kingdom will never be destroyed, and his dominion has no end. 27 He rescues and delivers; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth, for he has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
One more thing: How did God deliver Daniel from the lions? And the interesting thing is that, despite this being one of the most well known Bible stories ever, there is almost zero written here about Daniel’s time IN THE LION’S DEN! In fact, there isn’t a single description of Daniel’s time in the den, except for his reply to the king when the ordeal was over:
21 Then Daniel spoke with the king: “May the king live forever. 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths; and they haven’t harmed me, for I was found innocent before him. And also before you, Your Majesty, I have not done harm.”
Did Daniel pray? Did the lions try to attack? Did the angel stand between Daniel and the lions? We have no idea and no description beyond vs 22 about what happened. God sent His angel and shut the lion’s mouths, end of story. Wouldn’t you like to see some hidden camera footage of all of that? I sure would have!