Obeying God Can Be Costly Daniel 6
Dr. Jerry A Collins
Daniel is about 80yrs old now like many others who excelled at old age for the work of the kingdom of God (Abe, Moses, Joshua and Caleb). Daniel defied government authority that infringed upon God’s. But what if it conflicts with government authority? Our devotion to God is the priority. It may be costly.
LOYALTY TO GOD MAY CAUSE YOU SOME TROUBLE
Verses 1-2—It seemed good to Darius—There is no historical evidence outside the Bible for his reign. Darius may have been another name for Cyrus the Persian, or Darius was appointed by Cyrus to rule over Babylon, or Darius (another name for Gubaru) was appointed by Cyrus to rule over Babylon, or some think Darius is Cambyses, Cyrus’ son. No one knows for sure.
—to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss—Darius organized his newly conquered kingdom. Three commissioners were responsible for possibly 40 satraps each. Daniel began to distinguish himself.
Verse 3—Then this Daniel (1) began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps (2) because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and (3) the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom. Daniel is now in his 80s and had extensive experience in the governing of the Babylonian kingdom, possibly why he quickly got this Persian job as administrator. Or maybe his reputation of predicting the Persian victory over Babylon at Belshazzar’s feast, preceded him (5:29). But how do these satraps feel about a Judean captive in authority over them? They wanted to get rid of him.
Verses 4-5—Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs. However, (1) they could find no ground of accusation (2) or evidence of corruption, inasmuch (3) as he was faithful to the king, and (4) no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. They conclude that they cannot find anything against him— (5) unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.
The quality of service Daniel rendered soon became a barrier to the ambitious princes and leaders. Daniel’s integrity made it impossible to accuse him of improprieties. His favor with the king aroused the jealousy of his fellow officials. They observed that Daniel’s loyalty to God was greater than his faithfulness to the king. His “vulnerability” was in his commitment to God. So they concluded they needed to find something against Daniel with regard to Daniel’s God.
PT—These four things should describe our job performance.
Verses 6-7— “King Darius, live forever! All the commissioners... have consulted together...This, of course, was a lie. Daniel was one of those commissioners, whom they did not consult. But the king believed it was all of them. There were 122—how would the king know one was missing? This position in government gave Daniel the opportunity for greater responsibility. However, it also caused others to be jealous and seek to topple him. So these commissioners, et. al., came to the king to recommend.
that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den—All prayers were to be addressed to the king in recognition of his religious power (as Nebuchadnezzar did in chapter 2). Apparently they quickly hatched a plan and wasting no time, brought it to the king. Their idea is that no one could pray to anyone else for 30 days. It’s not that these commissioners had some religious hostility toward Daniel. They could care less who he prayed to. Daniel’s prayer life was important to him, therefore, it was what they considered to be his “weak” point.
PT—How much did Darius realize? He appears to not know of Daniel’s prayer life, as he is deeply distressed when he finds out he must put Daniel in the lions’ den (v. 14). At this point, he did not seem to realize that he was being manipulated as a puppet by his own ministers. The fact that they made the law for thirty days is interesting. Daniel could have reasoned: “I can just skip praying—it’s only for 30 days!” Or, he could have prayed silently. On the other hand, 30 days is a lot of proof that Daniel continued to pray each and every day, so the ministers would be sure to catch him in the act on one of those days. These ministers suggested punishment as the consequence. Persian punishments were cruel.
Application—That same hostility toward those who believe in God has been seen throughout the centuries, right into our own time. You can worship in any religion, and the world thinks it’s okay. But if you worship the God of the Bible, it’s not allowed. Satan hates God and anyone or anything associated with God. That’s why there are no secular attacks against Islam or Buddhism. World religions are demonic fronts so not under attack. He regards your dedication to God to be your weakness and vulnerability. Dedication to Gods Word makes you vulnerable to attacks—even from other Christians.
Verses 8-9— “Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” We see this law of the Persians also in Esther 1:19 and 8:8. The thing is—God’s law makes an absolute demand. But so does the king’s law. Governments often think their laws are to be the absolute authority. No one should disobey these laws. Therefore, King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction—This could be a good law, if it was a good decision but if it’s a poor decision, then the law becomes a disaster. Why did Darius not investigate before signing—possibly because he trusted all 122 of his ministers! But this is also an ego trip isn’t it?
PT—We know one of the things Daniel was praying for was the end of the Babylonian Captivity and that the Jews could return to their Land (chapter 9). The 70 years prophesied by Jeremiah was done (Jeremiah 25:11). Daniel was praying according to God’s plan. That plan included the Persians conquering the Babylonians and allowing the Jews to return to their Land (Ezra 1:1-4). The reason these Persian administrators were even in power and existed was because of Daniel’s praying and God honoring His Word!!!
Application—When your righteousness endangers someone from getting what they want, or hinders giving to them what they demand, their jealousy or rage will connive to inflict damage upon your person in some way. But that is to be expected from those who are not interested in God’s interests.
LOYALTY TO GOD NOT FEAR OF CONSEQUENCES GOVERNS RESPONSE
Verse 10—Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed—Daniel intentionally broke the law. This was no accident, He intended to do it. Civil disobedience is required when civil laws demand that we break the Word of God. Daniel’s breaking the law revealed a hierarchy of values—loyalty should ultimately be given only to God. Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). But, as Peter experienced, when you disobey the government, you pay the consequences (as Peter went to jail).
PT—What’s important here is discerning what is and is not the will of God. The social landscape is littered with many kinds of issues that demand biblical discernment to negotiate properly.
—Daniel’s prayer principles: (1) he entered his house (2) (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); (3) and he continued kneeling on his knees (4) three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, (5) as he had been doing previously. It was his habit. There is no spiritual significance in mechanical acts, but we can gain insight from these. Kneeling is just one position mentioned in the Bible. There is standing, laying down, sitting. However, praying this way was physical proof that he was, in fact, praying. This is the only place praying three times a day is mentioned in the Bible, but of course, there is no prescribed number of times a day you should pray. Notice that Daniel was not making a public statement in his prayer. He was in his own house. But neither did he hide it—he could have closed his windows. Praying toward Jerusalem was a practice suggested by David and Solomon in Psalm 5:7 and 1 Kings 8:33-34, after the people repented of their sin.
Application—In our age, we are given some suggestions regarding prayer: Jesus said it should be done in secret, not as a show before men (Matthew 6:6), and it should not use meaningless repetition (6:7) or even think that God is more likely to hear you if you use many words (6:7). Paul added that we should be devoted to prayer, and keep alert in it (Colossians 4:2).
Verse 11—Then these men came (lit. “rushed”) by agreement and found Daniel—they were waiting to catch him in the act of praying and therefore, breaking the civil law—as we knew he would.
—making petition and supplication before his God—We know from chapter 9 that Daniel was familiar with Jeremiah’s writings. Perhaps he knew this verse: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “...Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
Verse 12—Then they approached and spoke before the king, reminding him of his injunction and that it may not be revoked—The king planned to appoint him [Daniel] over the entire kingdom (v. 3), so obviously, the king had respect and feelings toward Daniel (seen again in verse 14). These commissioners reminded the king that, in spite of his favoritism toward Daniel, the injunction the king signed cannot be broken no matter how much the king may wish to do so.
Verse 13—Then they answered and spoke before the king, “Daniel, (1) who is one of the exiles from Judah, (2) pays no attention to you, O king, or (3) to the injunction which you signed, (4) but keeps making his petition three times a day.” After 70 some years, they still call Daniel one of the exiles from Judah. This was a familiar accusation about Daniel by Arioch (2:25) and Belshazzar (5:13). Maybe stressing this fact implied that Daniel could not really be trusted, that his religious practice was really a political act against the Persian laws and king, even an act of rebellion.
Verse 14—as soon as the king heard...he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel… Distressed... “perhaps with Daniel, for ignoring his injunction; perhaps with the ministers, for engineering his downfall; perhaps with himself, for being manipulated by them into becoming the victim of his own power and authority; perhaps with the situation in general into which he is now cornered”. PT—Realizing he made a mistake, he attempts every legal way to find a loophole, but the decree is binding. The law of the Persians cannot be altered. Law was more important than a dictator and prevented his overthrow because he’s not one with the power, the law is. It’s interesting that all three kings mentioned in Daniel were distressed: Neb in 2:1 and 3:13; Belshazzar in 5:6, 9; and now Darius.
Verse 15—Again, they reminded the king that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed—The law is more important than the dictator (even though it is the dictator who makes the law!). It prevents overthrow of the dictator because he’s not the one with the power, the law is. Also, he had no god that was greater than the law to appeal to.
Application—God’s law shows something about God, but God is much greater than the law! God was never confined to His own law as Darius. Daniel did not have the problem Darius had. He had no problem violating law of the land, which he otherwise followed, because of his superior loyalty to God.
Verse 16—Darius couldn’t get beyond his law. So Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The Persians had many inhumane punishments, but this one was specified in this law. But the king ...said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.” Darius knew that Daniel served his own God and he’s not offended by that. Darius could not go beyond his law but the king let’s Daniel know, “I have tried to save you but have failed. Now your God must save you”.
PT—Suffering consequences of loyalty to God can be really hard. People have lost so much to be loyal to God while disloyal to law of the land! Darius allowed Daniel to worship his own God, except for 30 days when Darius wants Daniel to worship him, too. But Daniel will only worship the one God of Israel.
Application—Most other religions and cults are not offended by Jesus as they define Him. But if He is defined by the Bible, as the ONLY way, the ONLY truth and the ONLY life (John14:6), then He becomes offensive to them. Darius seemed to have no problem adding the God of Daniel to his life, but Daniel said, “He’s the ONLY God.” Now that’s causing problems for Darius.
Verse 17—A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to
Daniel. “It will neither be possible for his friends to feed the lions or to engineer his survival in some other way, nor for his enemies to kill him if the lions do not”. “The king has spoken of the possibility of God’s delivering Daniel, and the sealing will make it necessary for God to prove Himself in an extraordinary way if He is to act at all. In testing Daniel, the king knows...that he is testing God”.
Application—It sounds so much like the extraordinary precautions the Pharisees and Romans made at Christ’s tomb to ensure that His body would not disappear. Didn’t work for them either!
Verse 18— Then the king...spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him—We get the idea that the king’s night was much more distressing than Daniel’s in the lions’ den!!
Verses 19-20—Whereas Nebuchadnezzar could look into the fire where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were, evidently this was like a closed cave. With the stone over the mouth, no one could see into it.
—Then the king arose at dawn...and went in haste to the lions’ den...he cried out with a troubled voice... “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Reminding us of what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego said: “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us...and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king, but even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (3:17-18). The issue, of course, is not if God is able. We know He is able. The issue is, what is in His plan, and are we trusting in Him no matter what He decides to do?
Application—This contrast is made many times in the Old Testament. We serve the living God, compared to the pagans who worship idols, who are like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, for they can do no harm, nor can they do any good (Jeremiah 10:1- 10). Isaiah pictures it as a man who cuts down a tree. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast, and is satisfied...but the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for thou art my god.” ...no one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say... ‘I fall down before a block of wood!’” (Isaiah 44:9-20).
Verses 21-24— Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! —declaring that Daniel had no political agenda in his praying, my God sent His angel—most feel this is the same one who walked in the fiery furnace. We don’t know for sure. His form was glowing brighter than the fire. We don’t know if the angel even appeared to Daniel. We just know that Daniel said an angel shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me.
—It’s not that the lions were not hungry because a few moments later, 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. The ringleaders and families thrown into the lion’s den. The wives and children were often killed with the husband/father because they were complicit with him (for example, see Haman in the book of Esther).
—inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him—Daniel was innocent before God because he did not bow down before Darius. Daniel attributes deliverance to God’s power and his innocence of any crime.
—and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime—He could also say he did no crime because his praying was not against Darius. He did break the law, if the law is the final word. But he did not commit any crime against the heart of God of king. He did nothing against the satraps who hatched this plan. He simply continued to practice what he already practiced before there was a law. Of course, once there was a law, he broke that law and paid the consequences.
—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—Again reminding us of the men who came out of the fiery furnace without even the smell of fire on them. Daniel was not only still alive, there was not a scratch on him.
Verses 25-27—Darius then made a new decree to his kingdom. “I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel—Notice that
Darius identified God as the God of Daniel, not the God of Israel.
PT—People will identify God as your God and see your faith, as they see God working in your life. Whether you like it or not, you are a representative of God.
—Darius again called God the living God and enduring forever. Although the Babylonian Empire came to an end, and the Persian Empire would come to an end, God’s kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever. And He is a miracle-working God, who delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders...who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions (and from the power of Darius, we might add!).
Verse 28—So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
(1) God is revealed to unbelievers through ministry of God to believers as they see that ministry in the flesh, in believers. Ministry is first and foremost incarnational. People will identify God as your God and see your faith at work like Daniel. Whether you like it or not, you are a representative of God. Darius identified God as the God of Daniel, not the God of Israel.
(2) People do not cause your problems. God does. The resolution of your problems is not other people changing. The resolution to your problems is God. Our maturity depends on our ability to have a vertical perspective especially in conflict situations. Daniel did not go to the king; he went to God. The satrap’s jealousy was not the problem. God was in control of this plot and it was God’s business.
(3) We must remain loyal to God regardless of the cost. Our part is to stay faithful to God in spite of the consequences that faithfulness may cost us.