Our God Reigns over Kings, Nations, and Lions
“That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.“ (Dan 5:30-31) “He (God) made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26) Before we get to the message in Daniel 6, let’s pause and get God’s perspective on the rise and fall of nations especially in light of the increasing spiritual decline in America. The powerful nation of Babylon falls to the Medes and Persians and Scripture notes it in two brief verses. To God, nations come and go and are like a “drop in the bucket or a speck of dust on the scales” (Isa. 40:15) as His unstoppable plans go on. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, the Medes and Persians, Greece, Rome, the Mayans, Incans, Aztecs, England, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, all rise and fall as God’s redemptive plan marches on. “This matter is by the decree of the watchers and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever He will.” (Dan. 4:17) God rules the nations and as individuals that comprise government and nations rebel against God and go their own way, God brings them down, sometimes gradually and sometimes suddenly. So the question for America as a nation is not, is God on our side, but is America on God’s side? After “legally” murdering 52 million innocent babies, the answer is obviously, no! Our only hope is repentance and revival. (For a very insightful commentary on God’s dealings with nations in relation to Israel see http://artkatzministries.org/articles/a-message-for-the-nations/)
“It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom, and over them three commissioners/presidents (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.” (6:1-3) Without taking too much time on this, commentators disagree on the identity of Darius because his identity in Scripture is unclear and there is no extra-biblical data to tell us who he is. Some think Darius is a title for a ruler, like Pharaoh, or Caesar, etc. [“The view, held by the conservative scholar, D.J. Wiseman, has simplicity in its favor. It claims Darius the Mede is another name of Cyrus the Persian. This is based on the translation of Daniel 6;28 which the Aramaic permits to read, “Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” The fact that monarchs had more than one name is common in ancient literature.” (John Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, 132-133.)] (Cyrus is the king God raised up to release the Jewish captives to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple and the city in the first year of his reign. See Ezra 1.) Daniel probably remained in Persia due to his age and to maintain favor with Cyrus on behalf of the Jews.
Under the rule of Belshazzar, Daniel was a political exile, but now he is raised up as the prime minister over all the other satraps and commissioners (governors and presidents). Most likely, the news of his high regard with Nebuchadnezzar and even his indictment of Belshazzar had come to Darius. Daniel’s promotion over them was the reason for their jealousy and desire to have this “exile” killed. This along with Daniel’s integrity to make sure the king might not “suffer loss” (lose tax revenues through bribes and graft/embezzlement of funds, etc.) made Daniel very unpopular with his fellow “politicians.” Daniel’s “extraordinary spirit” is a way of saying he had an excellent attitude. Knowing the goodness and power of God to ultimately usher in His kingdom of righteousness and peace as Daniel did, gave him joy and hope even as an exile in a foreign land. The writer of Hebrews says the same can be true of all believers as “strangers and exiles on the earth.” (See Hebrews 11:8-16)
“Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.” (6:4-5) This is absolutely amazing! Daniel’s arch enemies could not find one thing he did wrong or anything he failed to do that he was supposed to do. After the recent vetting of candidates for the Republican nomination for President and then the dirt slinging among the two presidential candidates, we can realize just how amazing this is. The only thing they could find against him was his absolute devotion to God. Likewise, the jealous Jewish leaders of Jesus could find no sin in Him so they could only bring false accusations. (Matt. 27:18) If you were on trial for your faith and devotion to God could your enemies find enough evidence to convict you?
Vv. 6-9 – The appeal to Darius’ ego – Remember “Queen for a Day? “How about god for the month? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Daniel’s enemies tricked Darius through flattery to set up Daniel’s execution. As we see later in this chapter, Darius thought well of Daniel and deeply regretted his error of judgment (v.14) and was also furious for being duped by the other leaders (v.24). Note the boldface lie in verse 7: “all” the leaders have consulted together.” Daniel was the #1 leader and he was not consulted.
Vv. 10-13 – Daniel’s commitment to God was non-negotiable – The greatest act of dependence on God is the amount of time we spend in prayer. His enemies had probably seen Daniel praying through the open windows on his roof chamber many times in the past and gathered there to catch him in the act. To try to hide his commitment to God by praying with closed windows, etc., would be admitting that he feared man more than God. Neither did Daniel make an appeal to Darius for he knew the laws of the Medes and Persians was irrevocable and his commitment to God was unchangeable. This is an example of man trying to be like God for only God’s laws are unchangeable. Yet both kings and popes have claimed “divine rights” as gods in state and church affairs. The Antichrist will attempt to change God’s moral law in his brief rule. (Dan. 7:25)
Vv. 16-18 – Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den – Many Sunday school lessons and pictures of Daniel among the lions don’t do justice to what the Scriptures describe. As we see later (v. 24) there must have been hundreds of hungry lions because they quickly devoured several hundred people before they reached the bottom of the den. But for Daniel’s protection God sent one angel (V. 22 – some say this was the pre-incarnate Christ) and took dominion over the lions. Remember this is the dominion man had before the Fall (Gen. 1:28-30), that Jesus had as a Man (e.g., Mark 1:13), and that believers will have in the Millennial Kingdom. (Isa. 11:6-9)
“The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.” Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” (Vv. 20-23) Daniel trusted God (v. 23) to either deliver him from the lions or to deliver him to heaven (death) by the lions. The worst that evil men can do to us is to expedite our home going and only then if God knows our purposes for Him have been completed.
“The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.” (V. 24) “He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.” (Psalm 7:15) Either in this life (as we see here) or in eternity, God will execute perfect justice. When the psalmist lamented over the wicked prospering and the righteous suffering in this life, God gave him an eternal perspective: “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!” (Psalm 73:17-19)
Vv. 25-27 – The king breaks the law of the Medes and Persians – What he wouldn’t do before this miraculous intervention of God, Darius now does as he commands all in his kingdom to worship God. Maybe we will see him in heaven too, along with Nebuchadnezzar. “Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound! I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” [“Darius’ decree is prophetic; the nations will know that Jehovah is God after Israel’s tribulation. Cf. Ezekiel 36:23, 36; 37:28; 38:16, 23; 39:7, 21, 27. Israel will be brought into tribulation by a king made into a god by his subjects (Antichrist); an attempt will be made to destroy Israel, but God will deliver it. Then the persecutors will be destroyed (Zech. 14; Rev. 19), and Christ will be proclaimed Lord over all the nations.” http://www.kenboa.org/search/?q=DANIEL]
“So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (V. 28) In God’s kingdom growing in Christ-like character is far more important than seeking earthly promotions. As we do so God may promote us to serve His purposes even in the midst of a corrupt government. (e.g., William Wilberforce) [“Daniel lived in an environment of sensuality, self-seeking, idolatry, and ruthlessness but maintained a pure and stainless character that could not be impugned even by his enemies. In 1908 Alexander McLaren wrote: “There are no circumstances in which a man must have his garments spotted by the world. However deep the filth through which he has to wade, if God sent him there, and if he keeps hold of God’s hand, his purity will be more stainless by reason of the impurity round him.” Integrity and consistency (vv. 4-5), courage and devotion (v. 10), and faith (v. 23). Daniel lived a life that demanded an explanation. http://www.kenboa.org/search/?q=DANIEL]
“All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-6) “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:5-11)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. How does the nation of Israel differ from all other nations in the plan of God?
2. Daniel’s “extraordinary spirit” is a way of saying he had an excellent attitude. Knowing the goodness and power of God to ultimately usher in His kingdom of righteousness and peace as Daniel did, gave him joy and hope even as an exile in a foreign land. The writer of Hebrews says the same can be true of all believers as “strangers and exiles on the earth.” Read Hebrews 11:8-16 and discuss the reasons we can have joy and hope, an excellent attitude, even as our country and the world grows increasingly evil.
3. The only thing they could find against Daniel was his absolute devotion to God. Likewise, the jealous Jewish leaders of Jesus could find no sin in Him so they could only bring false accusations. (Matt. 27:18) If you were on trial for your faith and devotion to God could your enemies find enough evidence to convict you?
4. Vv. 10-13 – Daniel’s commitment to God was non-negotiable – The greatest act of dependence on God is the amount of time we spend in prayer. ”But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5:16) Why is alone time with God so critical?
5. “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) What “lion” is testing your faith in God and what did you learn from Daniel?
6. “So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (V. 28) What is God’s way to promotion? (1 Peter 5:5-6) Describe the attitude of Jesus and why God promoted Him to the highest place. (Phil. 2:5-11)