DUNCAN/Daniel in the lion’s den
Please turn with me in your Bible to Daniel 6:1-28. In Daniel 6, we notice a new king on the throne. And that is in itself an indication of the theme of the book. First there was Nebuchadnezzar, then there was Belshazzar, now there's Darius. Kings of Babylon come and go, but God's kingdom persists and Daniel intends to comfort us with the truth that we serve the God whose kingdom has no end. The book of Daniel also encourages us to sacrificial obedience even against persecution because we serve the God of whose kingdom there will be no end. There are four things that we observe in this chapter. First, we see that Daniel is a picture of God’s sovereignty in spiritual warfare. Secondly, we see Daniel’s decisiveness in his faithful worship of the sovereign God. Thirdly, we see how the king responds to Daniel’s situation. Fourthly and finally, we see how God responds to Daniel’s situation.
I. Daniel is a Picture of God's Sovereignty in Spiritual Warfare.
In verses 1-9, we see a picture of spiritual warfare because of the culmination of the temptations brought against Daniel. In the midst of insecurity and corruption in the government in Babylon, the king has attempted to set up a government organization to prevent people from undercutting his rule and taking advantage of their power. But in the midst of this insecurity and corruption, there was Daniel, whom Darius could trust.
It is also important to notice that this temptation that Daniel faces is part of a larger Satanic strategy. Satan had been attempting to wear down Daniel since the first day of his captivity and this is just another expression of Satan’s assaults on Daniel. We see here war between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world and Satan. The satraps were tempting Daniel because they wanted to get him out of the way, but the satraps were just dupes for Satan, as he was simultaneously working in the designs of these petty officials, and trying to use Daniel’s own integrity as leverage against God's kingdom in the time of Darius. And that reminds us, my friend, that temptation is not a battle, it's a war. Satan doesn't tempt you once and leave you alone. He is always looking for an opportunity to undo you. But in his gracious sovereignty, God uses temptation to prepare us for the next assaults of Satan and to make us more faithful and more able to endure the slanders and attacks of the evil one.
II. Daniel's Decisiveness.
In verses 10-17, we see a picture of Daniel’s spiritual resolution. The minute Daniel heard about the injunction and trap of his bureaucratic colleagues, he kept on doing exactly what he had been doing. There was not the slightest hesitation in Daniel's heart or mind or conduct as to what he ought to do now that this injunction had been made against prayer. Daniel knows his God, and he shows it in his decisiveness in this circumstance of crisis. In verse 10, Daniel continued the practice he had been doing previously. We are told that he continued to pray three times a day as was his custom. He was not trying to make a publicity statement. Daniel was simply continuing the godly pattern of devotion that he had carried out his entire life. And that's a witness to us as well. Sometimes we feel like, when our faith is challenged, that we need to make some sort of public display in response. But Daniel wasn't praying simply so that people would think that he was a godly man, nor was he praying merely to make a point. Daniel simply keeps on doing exactly what he had done before. The only thing he could do was to continue to be faithful. As was the case in chapter five, Daniel could not wait to put his life on the line for his Lord.
III. The King's Response.
Now, notice the contrast between Daniel's response in verse 10, and the king's response in verse 14. Here is Daniel in perfect calmness, continuing in his pattern of devotion to the Lord, and here is the king of the greatest empire on earth, fretting over what he can do. It is a picture and contrast of the power that a man who is weak, but strong in Christ has, and the weakness of a man who is strong in the world, but weak in the things of God. That is because Daniel, as we see in verses 10-16, was in prayer, regularly reminding himself of the words of Scripture and of the promises of God. Daniel precisely understood the nature of the temptation that had been put before him by these officials. The choice was, save your life, or fellowship with God. For Daniel, fellowship with God was the clear choice. Only a man steeped in the word of God and prayer would be able to have this kind of decisiveness in crisis. Daniel's allegiances had been set long before this crisis ever came. That is one reason why it is so important for us to prepare ourselves in allegiance by God's grace beforehand, because when the hour of crisis comes, who knows what direction our fickle heart will lead us if we have not set our hearts toward love for God.
IV. God's Response.
Now, in verses 18-28, we see God's verdict revealed in this great passage. A picture of God's sovereignty is set before us here. Verses 1-9 give us a picture of spiritual warfare, verses 10-17 give us a picture of spiritual resolution and grace, and verses 18-28 give us a picture of God's sovereignty. Notice in verses 19-21 the contrast between King Darius and Daniel. Here is the king fretting, and here is Daniel in perfect composure. Daniel's composure is in stark contrast to Darius’ anxiety. And again, it's a contrast between the peace of the kingdom of God and the lack of peace of the kingdom of this world. The picture there is designed to show us again the powerlessness of the king of this world, and the calmness of the child of God in the same crisis. Then, after witnessing the faithfulness of Daniel’s God, there is Darius’ confession of God's sovereignty. Darius basically says here, “A mighty fortress is Daniel's God, He is sovereign over all.” And so again, we have, for the third time, a king of Babylon confessing the sovereignty of the God of Israel. This passage is an encouragement to persecuted believers to stand firm, but it's also a call to integrity, to those of us who are hard pressed by the culture around us, because God is in complete control of our situation. And because God is sovereign, we ought to trust Him, and believe Him, and put our faith in Him. Put your faith in the God of Daniel, there to stand on His principles, and the Lord's blessings will come, both here and here after.